This BP Pointer from “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on February 1, 2019) is another about how to build consensus with current leaders about whether – or how – to establish a Scouts BSA troop of girls at a Chartered Organization.
Assuming that the Chartered Organization approves of a Scouts BSA troop for girls (or will if the unit organizers can demonstrate that the troop will be successful), here are some topics to consider as you pitch current adult leaders of your troop of boys to “multiple” register with a troop of girls.
A key element of all discussions with leaders in your current troop of boys is to be sure that all are aware of how your two troops might operate, and what the current plans are for separate and joint operation – though those plans may well change over time, including as you conduct planning for launch of a troop of girls and get feedback from leaders in your troop of boys. But many may have “heard about” how things must be done, which often may be exaggerated or misunderstood.
As you address current leaders in your troop, you want to be sure to seek not only “addition” responses (like “sure, I’ll also be an ASM for the troop of girls”), but also “subtraction” responses (like “if we start a troop of girls, I’m done”). The latter may be rare, and not always be as obvious – but in some cases may be more critical than adding another “multiple” leader, because you want to be careful if decisions will reduce leadership corps of an existing troop of boys. That doesn’t mean that any one current leader necessarily has a “veto” over whether to start a troop of girls (or how to run it), but it’s important to evaluate the impact.
And it will be important to ensure that leaders you approach feel free to respond, and free to share their thoughts – in some cases the position may be intractable, but in other cases, there may be the potential to secure continued valuable volunteering by education, and by reaching understanding and consensus about what the troop of girls will mean for the adult leader in question. This consensus might occur either on a macro basis (e.g., whether the troops will meet and camp mostly or completely separately), or on a micro basis (e.g., that the leader won’t be expected to participate with the troop of girls, or at events that include them). The ideas of other leaders might often result in a change of how the two troops will operate for the better.
When you poll your leaders, some will be eager to help a Scouts BSA troop of girls – others, not so much. Reasons for reluctance include ones noted in the BP Pointer about Chartered Organizations, as well as the following (and some notes about mitigating factors that might keep a leader engaged in the existing troop of boys are added below):
- The leader may be worried about whether the “multiple” registration will in fact “multiply” the leader’s commitment of precious time.
- This is a common concern, and organizers of a possible Scouts BSA troop for girls are wise to assure leaders that they are not, in fact, asked to increase their overall time commitment.
- Where troops of boys and troops of girls have some level of joint meetings and campouts, having a leadership role in both troops should result in little or no increase, similar to years when the troop of boys has grown with a strong recruiting year. Most are happy to see that sort of increase in Scouting.
- The leader may be worried about how to deal with girls in Scouting, as many (especially men) know how to deal with boys, but not girls.
- This is a very valid concern, and organizers of a possible Scouts BSA troop for girls are wise to assure leaders that there have been, and will continue to be, robust recruitment of female leaders. Share the status of successful recruitment.
- The leader may be adamantly opposed to anything like a “co-educational” program, or may believe that Scouting is a last bastion of “boy only” program, and must be protected as such.
- If your troops will operate completely separately, this may not be a significant issue, since there will be minimal joint activities of the two troops.
- If there will be joint activities, it may be possible to describe or develop how there will be sufficient separate activities that recognize the value of single-gender time.
- And troops will want to implement “joint” camping protocols. While some are directed by Youth Protection rules (like no sharing of tents between boys and girls, separate facilities or times for showers/latrines), others must be developed by the troop and adapted to your local campsites, like putting the separate troops apart from each other, with watchful eyes and waking ears between or among them. Of course, it is said that patrols on campouts should be separated at some distance from each other to operate properly.
- The leader may be worried about whether there is sufficient commitment to successfully launch a Scouts BSA troop of girls, whether numbers of Scouts, numbers of adult leaders, space/planning issues, or similar issues.
- Another valid concern, and organizers of a possible Scouts BSA troop for girls are wise to get consensus with the leader that there have been, and will continue to be, sufficient progress on all fronts to allow success.
These are not all the reasons why a leader might be reluctant to be a “multiple” leader in a troop of girls, so be sure to get the feedback of your current leader team … it’s a gift.
For more, see posts here and to follow for past and upcoming items in the BP 2019 List (and for upcoming items that are not complete, shoot your comments to this Family Scouting email, as that might result in updates and clarifications). More about what troop leaders might want to know about family scouting and girls is found on this District page of Scouts BSA resources and ideas.