Intro to Troop Organization in Scouts BSA (All Scouting is Local).

This is the first note in “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA troop lineon February 1, 2019).  If you’ve read this page (an Overview of Ideas to Prepare for Scouts BSA Troops of Girls) or followed the news about Scouts BSA, you’ve got at least an initial handle on the Who, What, When, Where, Why of Scouts BSA – and you have made, or will make, your community’s decisions on whether to establish a Scouts BSA troop of girls (a decision that may evolve and change over time).  But to help hone that process, it’s useful to review How” Scouts BSA troops of girls can operate, so that decisions are made with a full understanding of how Scouts BSA troops can succeed in your community with your Scouts and families and resources.

troop trailerFirst point:  Scouts BSA troops of girls will operate just like Scouts BSA troops of boys.  But that does not mean that every troop of girls will operate exactly the same way, just as not all troops of boys operate exactly the same way.  Because, in practice, All Scouting is Local.  While certain core elements are the same in all troops, like the Oath and Law, Youth Protection rules, and standards for advancement, every troop is different, sometimes in significant ways.

  • A troop of 7 Scouts operates much differently from a troop of 70 Scouts – both are troops, but their organizational structures, like the Patrol Leaders Council, will be dramatically different.small troop
  • Some troops have legions of adult leaders in Assistant Scoutmaster and Committee roles, with support functions running as a well-oiled machine over the years, but others will have the minimum 4 or 5 adult leaders (and not all fully engaged), and tackle tasks only when they become urgent for the program.
  • Some troops will have ambitious outdoor agendas, with backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing and other regular monthly outings, while others may have more limited camping calendars, or may focus more on other methods of Scouting, like advancement.climbing girls
  • Some meet more often, some less.
  • Some troops have a Scout hut, a trailer full of camping gear and plenty of space to operate at their Chartered Organization.  Others?  Maybe some gear, maybe cramped quarters.
  • Some troops vigorously empower the youth leaders to run their troops, despite the inevitable challenges and failures that may result, while others have very heavy coaching (if not direction) by adult leadership.
  • And in all kinds of troops, the turnover of youth and adult leadership over time may result in changes in troop operations, meeting format, communication, activities and emphasis, as new corps of leaders run their troop (maybe not like they did last year).

Troops that are different from other troops on these scales are usually not doing campfire girlsanything wrong – Scouting teaches to “use your resources”, and so troops do the best they can with the resources (time, leadership, space, gear, money, skill, family support) they have at their disposal, and so we as fellow Scouts don’t judge.  And all Scouts BSA will be local too … units will approach their operations differently.

Ways that all Scouts BSA troops of girls will be the same:

  • Scouts BSA troops are either all-girl or all-boy.  So you don’t have one troop with patrols of boys and patrols of girls.  You have separate troops, boys or girls.
  • For a Scouts BSA troop of girls, there must be at least one female registered adult leader age 21 or older.  It need not be the Scoutmaster – it can be any registered role (SM, ASM or Committee Member).  But you’ll want multiple registered adult females, because …
  • … at events that include female Scouts, at least one female registered adult leader age 21 or older must be in attendance.  Again, it can be any registered role (SM, ASM or Committee Member).  So you will want several female leaders 21 or over available, to be sure you have coverage.sbsa robotics
  • There will be a separate Scout handbook for girls, identical in all respects to the Scout handbook for boys, except for the photographs (of girls) and certain hygiene information.  But advancement is the same.

Ways that all Scouts BSA troops of girls can be different:

  • All of the ways that troops of boys can be different, as noted above, like size, adult leader depth, outdoor schedule, meeting schedule, equipment/space, youth-run, leadership turnover, and more.
  • So don’t worry if your troop is not like a perfect well-resourced large troop … all troops are on a “journey to excellence”, because whatever your circumstance, you’re in a process of improvement.
  • Relationships with an existing “brother” troop at the same Chartered Organization will be another way that Scouts BSA troops of girls can be different.  More on this in the next BP Pointer about “Troops of Boys and large troopTroops of Girls”.

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.

Troops of Boys and Troops of Girls at the Chartered Organization Level

This is the second BP Pointer in “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on February 1, 2019).  This is about how Scouts BSA troops of boys and troops of girls chartered by the same Chartered Organization might – or might not – coordinate Scouting activities.

Echoes of the prior BP Pointer apply:  All Scouting is Local, and Use Your Resources.  sbsa classroom 2Provided that you follow key rules (like Youth Protection, including adequate female adult leadership), Chartered Organizations and their troops have significant discretion in how to operate Scouts BSA troops of boys and troops of girls and in how much the two troops do together.

  • So if your community (Chartered Organization, Adult Leaders, Youth Leaders, Scouts, Families, Community) wants to have fully gender-separate programs, activities, space, and adult leadership, that’s fine.  You have that option.scouts shouting
  • And if your community wants to have joint programs, activities, space, and adult leadership between the two troops, that’s fine too, with just a few caveats.  You have that option.

Most pairs of troops will do some things jointly, and some things separately, because there can be advantages to both approaches in the right time and place and with the right people.  All Scouting is Local.  Use Your Resources.

This BP Pointer will focus on “upper level” troop cooperation and administration … the next note will address troop program level joint and separate activities.

What Must Pairs of Troops Do Together?  Only one thing: cooperate with Chartered sbsa canoe 2Organization rules, like schedules for use of space.  Both troops will report to the Chartered Organization through the Chartered Organization Representative (who will also be supporting any pack or crew or ship chartered there), and so use of space must be coordinated with the other troop, as well as all other organizations sponsored by the Chartered Organization.

  • As a reality check for troops with lots of “stuff”, like gear, trailer, Scout hut, library, etc.:  your ‘troop’ doesn’t own it!  Your troop, and all troop “stuff”, is owned by the Chartered Organization.  Usually, there’s no resulting discord or dispute, since troops and Chartered Organizations usually remain on good terms.
  • So, the new dynamic of a Scouts BSA troop of girls will lead to the question of whether, or under what terms, a new troop of girls gets to share “stuff” like space and gear.  How that is determined will depend on the three parties: the troop of boys, the troop of girls, and the Chartered Organization.

What Should Pairs of Troops Do Together?  Following on that note, you’ll see that it tent 1would be best for the first two parties (the troop of boys and the troop of girls) to find a way to cooperate with each other on matters like use of space and gear and libraries – putting the Chartered Organization in the middle of every issue will be dysfunctional at best.  There no one way to implement a foolproof solution, but here’s some basic concepts:

  • Short on Separate Space?  Consider all options (use your resources).
    • If you’ll meet at the same time as the other troop, consider whether there is other space at (or near) the Chartered Organization that might be used.
    • As part of that, consider the outdoors (psst: it’s one of the methods of Scouting), because a troop meeting does not need to be done indoors.
    • Maybe you’ll be able to use the same space, but at different times.
    • Maybe rotating when you meet if one day and time is better for both.
  • Yours? Mine? Ours?  A new troop of girls getting to use “your” troops gear kayaking girlsdoesn’t have to be a loss.  It might be a challenge, at least temporarily, but in most cases not worse than if your troop increased in size overnight – you’ll find a way to make it happen.
    • Yes, you might have to split up the gear if you’re doing separate campouts on the same weekend, but … you have to split up gear as patrols go to separate campsites too.
    • True that a trailer can’t be in one place at one time, but … many troops camp without trailers.
    • Some wags have noted that maybe when another group is using the same patrol box later, this weekend’s patrol just might clean it better!
  • Not forever, just for now!  The 2019 sharing of patrol boxes, cooking gear – and sbsa cookingeven trailers – need not last forever, as one or both troops might use the launch of a new troop as the launch of fundraising for new gear for both Troops.
  • Committee Cooperation.  A later note will focus on the concept of “linked” troops with a common committee for both, but whether “linked” or not, committees need to consider effective ways of cooperation and communication with each other and their troops.
    • [1/12/19 Update: turns out the whole “linked” committee choice is a bit of “much ado about nothing” in terms of BSA Charters and Applications, though coordination is a terrific option for Chartered Organizations and units they sponsor generally – and not just two troops.  Here’s the update:
    • The BSA, and the Council, won’t differentiate at all about whether two troops will be linked, or will share a committee, and you won’t Charter as a “linked” committee at all.
      • As far as BSA and Charters go, you’ll have two committees.
      • Yeah, there was this sort of big deal announcement about how the BSA Board “approved the option of a linked troop structure”, but it turns out they just meant this: two Committees can meet together if and when you want.
      • But to be on both troop committees you have to register in both troops.
    • More at this Unit Launch/Committee Structure post about how two committees might cooperate. ]
  • The Kids Are Alright.  Stewardship over troop “stuff” will be part of the responsibility of youth leaders like Quartermasters and Librarians, and they may be able to work it out between themselves, but can use the guidance of kind and cooperative adult advisors.

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.

Joint and Separate Activities of Troops of Boys and Troops of Girls

This is the third BP Pointer in “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on February 1, 2019).  This is about much – or how little – Scouts BSA troops of boys and troops of girls can do activities together, which is often a key point in developing how to make Scouts BSA work in your local situation.

scout podiumThis note in the prior BP Pointer is worth repeating:  All Scouting is Local, and Use Your Resources.  Provided that you follow key rules (like Youth Protection, including adequate female adult leadership), Chartered Organizations and their troops have significant discretion in how much the two troops do together.

  • So if your community (Chartered Organization, Adult Leaders, Youth Leaders, Scouts, Families, Community) wants to have fully gender-separate programs, activities, space, and adult leadership, that’s fine.
    • You have that option.
    • Your troops can walk their own separate trails apart from each other.troop 18
  • And if your community wants to have joint programs, activities, space, and adult leadership between the two troops, that’s fine too, with just a few caveats.
    • You have that option.
    • Your troops can share the same trail, so long as Youth Protection rules are followed.

Most pairs of troops will do some things jointly, and some things separately, because there can be advantages to both.  All Scouting is Local.  Use Your Resources.sbsa canoe group

While troops will be single gender – all boys or all girls – the chartered organization and the troop leaders (the youth leaders in the patrol leader’s councils, advised by the respective Scoutmasters) can decide meeting times and places, so separate girl troops and boy troops could meet at the same time and place, and plan joint events together (like campouts).  So:

  • Troops of girls and troops of boys may choose to have some – or many (or all) – meetings and activities in the same time and space, with coordination by the respective Patrol Leaders Councils of the two troops, advised by the respective Scoutmasters.
    • In some cases, this is to provide the convenience that some families prize and that the BSA wanted to deliver through Family Scouting, like avoiding separate program dates and times and locations for brothers and sisters.snakes
    • This may also maximize limited adult leader time (especially for leaders with both daughters and sons), so that they don’t have to double their volunteer commitment if the two troops have separate meeting and activity schedules.
  • And troops of girls and troops of boys may change their plans and programs over time.
    • Some years the different troops may “go their own way” if that’s what the youth leaders of the troops plan.  They run their troops, after all.
    • Other years they may do more together.

boys with woman leaderBut but but … what exactly is the National advice on troop meetings?  The 2018 Program Update page from National includes these points in Frequently Asked Questions:

  • “Q: Can a boy troop and girl troop meet at the same time?
    • A: Yes. Based on the preferences of the chartered organization, the boy troop and girl troop could meet at the same time and place.
    • Q: Can a boy troop and girl troop meet as one big troop?
      • A: Opening and closing of the meetings can be together or separate, depending on space and desire of the chartered organization and unit leadership. The other components of the Scout meeting should be run separately.”

So, yes, a troop of girls and a troop of boys can meet at the same time and in the same place.  Certain parts of the troop meeting can clearly be done together, other girl splitems “should” be run separately (note that “should” does not mean “must”).  For context, the components of a troop meeting are (1) Preopening, (2) Opening Ceremony, (3) Skills Instruction, (4) Patrol Meetings, (5) Interpatrol Activity, (6) Closing, and (7) After the Meeting.  The FAQs clearly authorize openings and closings done together or separate.  Review of the other five components may shed some further light on what should be done and when:

  • Since Part 1 (Preopening) is “gathering” time for Scouts and planning, if you do any meeting parts together, you’re likely doing any planning part together.  And Scouts will participate in informal gathering activities together or separately as they choose.
  • For Part 3 (Skills Instruction — or Group Instruction and Skills Instruction), that sbsa classroommay depend on the nature of the instruction: for example, if the two troops PLCs determine to have a Merit Badge Instruction program, maybe all can receive instruction together, but if they have general “stations” of different instruction topics, maybe the Troops do that separately.
  • By definition, Part 4 (Patrol Meetings or Breakout Groups) will be separate, since the patrols in the two troops are separate by definition.
  • It’s easy to see how Part 5 (Inter-patrol Activity or Game) might become also an “inter-troop” activity between the respective patrols of the two troops.  If the PLCs approve.
  • While Part 6 (Closing) can be done together, there are strong reasons to do those separately, including having the separate Scoutmasters tailor their SM Minutes to their separate troops and Scouts.
  • And for Part 7 (After the Meeting), since that involves the leadership team reviewing plans for the next meeting or event, if the two troops do things together, having some planning time together makes sense for the parts done together.

Bottom line is that troop activities can be as separate or together as the chartered high fiveorganization and the troop leaders want.  No answer is always right, nor is any answer always wrong.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each choice.  For some tips on how to navigate the decision, and how to get to the best possible (or least worst) decision on joint activities, see the BP Pointers to follow on building consensus with adult leaders, Scouts and families.

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.

Adult Leadership of Troops of Boys and Troops of Girls

This is the fourth BP Pointer in “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on February 1, 2019).  This is about how adults might be registered as leaders in Scouts BSA troops of boys and troops of girls – either in one troop, or in both troops.

The basic rule is simple: any adult leader registered in a troop may register as an adult leader in another troop, at no charge (no BSA registration fee), by registering sbsa screenas a “multiple”.  On the “paper application” (an online version is here), check “multiple” to avoid transferring “out” of the first troop.  Online application should have a similar option (but, sadly, it did not exist as of spring of 2018).

The only restriction is that the two troops are not to have the same Scoutmaster, but it is OK for the Scoutmaster of a troop of boys to be an Assistant Scoutmaster in the troop of girls, and vice versa: the Scoutmaster of the troop of girls can be an Assistant Scoutmaster in the troop of boys.  It will not be unusual for two Scoutmaster to collaborate a fair deal, and may not be unusual for the more experienced of the two to mentor the newer Scoutmaster.

So:

  • A current leader in a troop of boys can, if desired, also be a leader in a troop of girls.  Or not.  It’s up to the leader.
  • A new leader in a troop of girls can, if desired, also be a leader in the troop of fireboys.  Or not.  It’s up to the leader.
  • Except for the Scoutmaster role, you can be in the same role, or a different role, in the other troop.
  • Many troops will make clear that the “multiple” registration need not result in “multiple” time commitments:
    • Most Chartered Organizations are grateful for volunteer time, whether the volunteer makes all, most, or only a few events.
    • Troops that have many joint activities (meetings and campouts) will find it most convenient to have “multiple” adult leaders on both rosters.
  • If you “multiple” in a bunch of leaders from an existing troop of boys, be sure that there is at least one female registered adult leader age 21 or older.  You’ll want multiple registered adult females, because at events that include female Scouts, at least one female registered adult leader age 21 or older must be in attendance.

A note about the Scoutmaster role:  the National FAQs include this:

  • Q: Can a boy troop and a girl troop share the same Scoutmaster?
    • A: No. Chartered organizations should have separate Scoutmasters for their boy troop and girl troop.”

troop service 2So … No you can’t.  But: why does it say “should”?  And not “must always”?  Probably because separate Scoutmasters are absolutely the optimal right answer for healthy units to enable them to grow and avoid problems (like ensuring enough attention to each troop), but there may be other reasons that may (rarely) from time to time arise in some situations.

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.

Adult Leader Coverage Requirements

This BP Pointer from “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on February 1, 2019) is about how adult leader coverage requirements – some new for Scouts BSA troops of girls, and some new for all effective October 1, 2018.

New Rule for all: effective October 1, 2018, two registered adult leaders 21 years of troop service 3age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings.  This is a huge change from prior BSA policy where only one adult needed to be registered, and one adult could be age 18 – so troops that plan high adventure treks in reliance on 18-20 year old Scouters as the second trek advisor will need to re-calibrate trek recruiting!

  • Reasons for the change:  Safety and Precaution.
    • A second adult who is actually registered as a volunteer with the BSA will have gone through a background check, and must be up to date on Youth Protection training.
    • And should the first adult become incapacitated, the second will be registered and with Youth Protection training.
    • 21 year olds are usually more mature than 18 year olds.
  • Steps to Take:  Register and train more adults as leaders.
    • After all, the information in Youth Protection training is good information for parents to be aware of.

sbsa archery profileRules for Units with Girls:  There must be at least one registered female adult leader over 21 in every unit serving females.  A registered female adult leader over 21 must be present for any activity involving female youth.

  • Reasons for the change:  Safety and Common Sense.
  • Steps to Take:  Register and train more female adults as leaders.

But but but … does that mean I have to have a second registered leader participate in post boarda Scoutmaster’s Conference?  And a female leader if I’m a male Scoutmaster with a young woman?  Answer:  No.  The Guide to Safe Scouting says: “in situations requiring a personal conference, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or youth.”  The same answer would seem to apply to a conference regarding a merit badge.

But but but … does that mean we need two registered leaders over 21 at an Eagle Scout Service Project?  Answer:  well, it appears so.  The good news is: you can enlist the aspiring Eagle to recruit for his or her project.troop service

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.