Girls Scouts vs. Boy Scouts

The Girls Scouts of the USA is mad at the Boy Scouts of America. The Girl Scouts are accusing the Boy Scouts of conspiring to poach their potential members: girls. A letter from the president of the Girl Scouts was sent to the president of the Boy Scouts accusing the organization of considering programs that will be open to girls, in order to please millennial parents and boost the BSA membership count, which has been declining. You will be forgiven if you thought that these were two sides to the same organization; they are not.

A Girl Scouts spokesperson confirmed that Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, GSUSA's national president sent the letter to BSA's national president, Randall Stephenson, and the entire BSA board.

"Through various means we have learned that BSA is very seriously considering opening their programs to girls and we have made repeated efforts to engage with them and talk about the implications," the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

"It's a potentially dangerous and bad idea," the spokesperson said, citing research supporting "single gender programming" which says that girls learn best in an all-girls environment when it comes to scouting.

The spokesperson or the letter did not specify what BSA's proposed programs for girls were.

Read the story and the entire letter at Buzzfeed.

(Image credit: Flickr user Dennis Carr)

What should the scout organizations do?

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Oh, certainly! Our troop leader was quite supportive (I was the assistant) and the regular meetings were great. The problem was regional and council level where there was a pervasive anti-male attitude. I suspect this is very common as I checked the GS website of another area I lived in (Maryland) and it revealed the same annoying policies.

True story; our troop took part in a council sponsored sleep over at the headquarters. I drove a bunch of our girls there in the family van and escorted them to the front door. At the door was a woman in a GSUSA uniform and when I was about 15 feet from the door stepped into the entryway and put her arms up to block me. She counted the girls in, talked briefly with the troop leader then turned her back on me. God how I don't miss that nonsense.
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It really does depend on who your troop leader was. I was in about three different troops throughout the years that I was a Brownie and Girl Scout.. Sometimes they would ask us what activity or badge we would like to try next, but I did notice that one leader would always choose "girly" things to do and was rather strict. The others would let some of the girls bring their little brothers to over night trips.
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Huh? This is largely NOT my experience with either scouting organization. I was a leader in both my son's Cubs Scout pack and daughter's Girl Scout troop. While both were pretty accepting of all kids within routine weekly troop/pack level matters, that went completely out the door once one got out of the standard stuff.

When my son's pack went on a camping trip, girls would routinely tag along and participate in everything. There were even a couple packs in the area which went so far as to have girls as actual members wearing uniforms, being awarded badges, etc. Also, there were female scout leaders at every level I encountered who were treated as absolute equals.

Contrast that with our experience with GSUSA. Males of all stripes (youth, adult, leader, parent) were absolutely prohibited from being around the girls on any outing which went beyond sundown. I mentioned I was a GSUSA troop level leader; GSUSA second class citizen is more like it! I absolutely hated interacting with district and higher organizations or other troops as the ladies by and large resented my presence. There were a handful who even went so far as to pretend I didn't exist.

The GSUSA program itself seemed much better for girls than what my sister told me she saw in the 60s and 70s; much less cake baking and much more life skills involved. But I found the outfit in general extremely closed minded when it comes to gender issues.
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My Girl Scout troop had a couple little brothers do everything with us. They said it was more fun than cub scouts. We learned astronomy, camping skills, and public speaking. Curriculum is pretty much up to the individual troop leaders. So how "girly" it is depends on that. My leaders were a couple of farmers' wives and allowed a lot of independent study with one on one attention with them. I was the only girl scout to achieve a computer badge in my troop (it was '86 so it mostly involved a calculator and BASIC).

Having worked at GSA at the state level, anyone can be a Girl Scout, no matter what age or gender. The only requirement is paying the yearly dues.

The Boys Scouts is very conservative organization with close ties to the US military and the LDS church. GSA on the other hand is very liberal at the National level but the autonomy they give to the troop leaders sometimes leads to a disconnect of values.
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