This is the first note in “The BP 2019 List” (or: ways to Be Prepared for Scouts BSA on 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.
First 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.
- 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.
- 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 anything 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.
- 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 Troops 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.