This BP Pointer from “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on February 1, 2019) is about how your new troop of girls will identify itself: what troop number should it use – or whether it should share a number with the existing troop of boys.
The good news here is that a new troop of girls may either use the same number as the troop of boys or use a new number from those otherwise available. The bad news is that if stakeholders are split about this issue, it may be difficult to reconcile the two views – but we share some factors that might come into play to ease consensus.
The official FAQ National advice is as follows:
- “Q: Can linked troops share troop numbers? If so, how do we tell them apart?
- A: Yes, they can share troop numbers. You will be able to tell them apart in the system the same way that we do when councils merge — there is a prefix in ScoutNet that IDs each troop.”
OK, that’s a bit confusing and a bit irrelevant to most. First, it appears that sharing troop numbers is available to any pair of troops sponsored by the same Chartered Organization (that is, you need not have a “linked” committee). Second, the “prefix in ScoutNet” will be seen by only a handful of adult leaders entering advancement or charter renewal data, or be relatively overlooked in ScoutBook – so just using troop numbers 1234 on a field uniform shirt, or neckerchief, flag or trailer, will just read 1234 without any prefix.
But … you can add to the troop number as it is used in the field, whether you use the same number or a new number, by customizing your troop patches and insignia and gear:
- Troop number patches can be customized with words: so new troop of girls 1234 might have a troop number patch that also has words under the number, like Scouts BSA for Girls, Girl Troop or the like. Maybe even Girl Power? Version 2.0?
- Same with neckerchiefs, flags, trailers and such …
- … a troop’s identity can be more than just the number!
If the current troop of boys has any Scouts, adult leaders or others worried about girls using “their” historic number, an agreement among the troops that the new troop of girls will identify in these ways may alleviate concerns.
Some councils are adding one or more identifying prefix digits to troop numbers for Scouts BSA troops, like “2” in front of a three digit number, so that alongside existing Troop 123 of boys you might see new troop 2123 of girls. (We don’t know yet how the Atlanta Area Council might do this). But … if you both want to be known as Troop 123, do this: on your uniforms and other materials, feel free to drop that “prefix”: just call yourself Troop 123. Of girls. P.S.: Councils already adds prefixes to hundreds of units: if your unit number has 1 or 2 or 3 digits, the Council adds one or two or three zeroes to the front, so Troop 12 is listed as Troop 0012 and Troop 123 is listed as Troop 0123. In practice, most troops just drop those zero prefixes – OK, maybe not Troop 7 (they might just drop one zero, and be known as Troop 007).
[1/8/19 Update from the Atlanta Area Council Program Center: Despite the National advice about ScoutNet prefix digits, evidently, if you want to use the same troop number, the Program Center reports that they can enter the exact same number in ScoutNet, and differentiate them by adding “Girl Troop” in either the name of the Chartered Organization or (perhaps) in another side descriptor. They report that unit numbers have 4 digits, so while Troops 1, 12, and 123 (currently entered as 0001, 0012, and 0123) could most likely have another digit prefix to replace the first zero, 4 digit troops like 1234 cannot be differentiated like that. If there is a change, we will advise … there may be effects in ScoutNet reports, or perhaps boy troops and girl troops will have separate District and Council reports, like packs and troops and crews now. Watch this space.]
If you want to use a new number for your troop of girls, that’s perfectly fine too. To do so, the process involves working with your District Professionals to request a number – they will need to determine if it is available (that it is not held by another Chartered Organization).
- Some units may want to have some variation of the number used for the troop of boys.
- So a new girl troop paired with boy troop 123 might want to use 321. Or 1230.
It is likely (but not absolute) that existing troops of boys that will plan to do more meetings and activities jointly with a new troop of girls may be more amenable to using the same number, and troops that will operate separately may be more desiring of a new number – but Your Mileage May Vary. Some online commentators wonder whether use of the same number will be the norm if troops in the future are allowed to go completely coed (e.g., with single gender patrols), but there is no plan at all whatsoever for that to occur, says the BSA. But even if it did (which is irrelevant because there are no plans to do so), likely it would be only an option, and troops of girls could continue as troops of girls, just like some Venturing crews and Sea Scouts ships are single gender only. Mark this space.