Should the Girl Scouts be ashamed at this?

This story is that 5 girls in California want to join the Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts they feel, are boring, unchallenging, and lack the outdoors and camping emphasis the Boys get.

This is understandable. Check out the Girl Scout store vs. the Boy Scout store. Notice how much more camping equipment is offered for the boys? Also GS years ago dropped formal merit badges and substituted “Make your own Badge”.

I’ve heard this from many sources about how girls become jealous of all the cool things the boys do while their GS troops only do crafts and sell cookies. Most girls get tired of it and quit by around age 10. Why the heck GS doesnt do the Pinewood derby is crazy. The only thing GS offer that seems popular is summer camp and quite frankly GS camps are totally wimpy compared to BS ones. Their is no Girl Scout equivalents to Philmont Ranchor the BS High Adventure bases. Plus they have been selling off many of the top Girl Scout camps to pay for corporate salaries.

Here is another interesting on the subject: “Girl Scout Dropouts Want Camping, Not Cookie Sales”.

Frankly I dont know why the Girl Scouts dont get a clue and make their program just as fun as the boys is. IMO if they did open Boy Scouts to girls you would see a HUGE drop in GS membership.

Finally I know that scouting is coed everywhere in the world except for the US and Boy Scouts will probably go coed within the next few years or will start a program for girls.

What do you all think?

In Canada, girls have been allowed to join Scouts Canada for some time. The girls in my son’s scout troup all wanted to do the camping, kayaking, canoeing, etc. etc.

They all had a great time.

Actually the Explorer program (as well as its newer cousin, the Venturing Program) have both been co-ed since the 70s if not earlier. Operated through/by the BSA they cover both sexes ages 14 to 20 I believe.

I just can’t think of anything that could *possibly *go wrong if you mix teenage girls and boys, alone in the woods in tents with a small number of adults to supervise.

It *has *to be all sexism and mean old men forcing specific gender roles on little girls. There’s no other explanation for it!

Just like there’s no possible reason we can’t have a gay scoutmaster, alone in the woods to supervise a bunch of extremely physically attractive young men. It’s *gotta *be homophobia, there is no legitimate reason to even consider this restriction!

I look forward to the world when we dump all these biases and prejudices. I am sure that there will be no cause whatsoever to regret this decision.

(my post is sarcasm. I don’t actually know if the benefits of relaxing these rules outweigh the costs, but pretending like it’s all homophobia/sex discrimination is disingenuous. There *would *be costs : young women coming back from camping trips reporting they had been raped or coming back pregnant. Scoutmasters occasionally do inappropriate things with young boys. Maybe this would be so rare to be worth the benefits, I’m just saying we shouldn’t overlook the obvious in our haste to make the world a more equal place.)

My girl is going up from Cubs to Scouts on Friday. SA Scouting has been co-ed since 2000. Girl guides/brownies still exists as a thing, though. Her choice was driven primarily by the possible activities each presented - although SA Girl Guides do take part in the fun stuff likeKon-Tikiand the like, the week-to-week activities are not the same.

Just because some girls would be into more camping-style activities doesn’t mean they all would. It would make far more sense to divide into different groups by the types of activities than by gender.

And–duh–you don’t give girls and guys a sleepover together out in the wilderness. You can still take them separately. Co-ed doesn’t mean stupid.

Whyever not?

I was a Girl Scout who was “into camping” myself, got my Gold Award, and became an adult volunteer and board member.

I am LOL at the idea that the organization should be “ashamed” because it is not as focused on the outdoor experience anymore. The fact is, the Girl Scouts moved away from camping and outdoor activities after about the 1970s because girl members simply weren’t as interested in those things anymore–and their parents weren’t as interested in volunteering to participate in creating those opportunities. Girl Scouts is led mostly by volunteers and the girls themselves.

Around 2010, the council I was in had only 7% of girls attending camp. Girl Scouts did investigation into this on a national level, and we held multiple town hall meetings on the local level to find out why. The answers we got were:

–Girls aren’t as interested in outdoorsy stuff anymore.

–Potential volunteers don’t want to lead outdoorsy stuff because they don’t feel “comfortable” or “safe” doing it, even when GS provided training and insurance.

–A large proportion of parents saying they didn’t feel safe letting their girls spend time in an outdoor/rustic setting of any kind, for any period of time.

–A large proportion of parents saying they didn’t feel comfortable with their daughters being away from their parents overnight until they were in their later teens.

Also, the intentions of donors have changed. The organization used to have a lot of donors who would give things for camps, like shelters and activity equipment. Most of those donors stopped giving gifts of that nature in our council. Donors want to support different aspects of Girl Scouts these days (often oriented toward social justice, STEM, female leadership). Our council wanted to add modern activities at its camps (like a ropes course, astronomy, etc.), but between rising property maintenance costs and declining donations for those activities, it wasn’t affordable. And it was a huge risk to invest in those things when girls and volunteers were not acting interested in outdoor activities in significant numbers.

Girl Scouts has never been entirely focused on the outdoors anyway. The organization views itself as a platform for girls to explore any interest they might have, so that girls can develop self-confidence and other leadership qualities.

So, what that means is, for young girls (under 11), you mostly get parents volunteering to lead, and they want to lead the kids to do “safe” activities like crafts and outings to entertainment and cultural events. Our council would have loved to have volunteers who would have led small children in outdoor activities, but even with training and insurance in place, we couldn’t find people willing to do that with any but their own children.

For the 11-18 group, it is hugely difficult to recruit volunteers to work with this age group at all. This is an age where children and parents are often at odds with one another and having parents trying to lead their own teen daughters and their friends is often counter-productive. It is easier to find volunteers who will mentor girls one-on-one around limited projects. And these days, a lot of the girls and volunteers in the teenage group are more interested in investigating career paths and planning for college than they are in camping or the outdoors.

Bottom line: Girls who want a rigorous outdoors experience probably should look at other organizations because girls and volunteers have decided that isn’t what Girl Scouts is anymore. I don’t see any need for the organization to feel “shame” over what has been a popular and rational decision made by the members and donors of the organization. Girls I know who are outdoors-oriented do Girl Scouts plus Venture Crew to get all of their interests met.

Wow, alot of non-American responses. I guess I better explain the American Boy Scout program.
In the US while technically Boy scouts is for boys only, there are actually alot of girls in it. Cub Scouting, which goes from about ages 6-10. Cubs do alot of family camping and events and many of the Cubs’s sisters just join right in so you might say girls are there under the table sort of. Typically Boy Scouts which is about ages 11-18 is boys only. The BS has a coed program called Venturing that girls can join as young as 13 which goes to age 21. Venture Scouts use the same Scout oaths and laws however they have different ranks and advancements. Their is a push now to allow Girls in Venturing to do merit badges and earn ranks such as the Eagle scout.

Boy Scouts already has YPT (Youth Protection Training) that goes a LONG way to ensure safety. For example they do not allow any adult leaders to be alone with a Scout and they require 2-deep supervision.

Actually from what I’ve read from Scoutmasters in other countries with coed troops that really isnt an issue. While the kids set up camp, cook, hike, canoe, smores, and do most everything else together at night they go to separate tents and the Scoutmaster stays up keeping a watchful eye. If anyone is caught sneaking off into the woods together they deal with it. The kids actually seem to do a pretty good job of policing themselves and each other.

A British Scoutmaster said only a certain type of girl seems to be attracted to the program and they only account for about 20% of British Scouts. Britain still has Girl guides. The bigger issues are forcing the kids to share leadership roles and to accept how the other gender does things.

Now from what I’ve heard is that when girls do join Venture scouts at say age 14-15, they have had almost zero camping experience whereas the boys have been doing it since age 11 and therefore their is a “catching up” period for the girls.

A funny story: At Camp Bartle Scouting Reservation a few years ago a German scout troop came and they were coed. Most girls were about 16-18. Within the troop they acted like brothers and sisters from what I was told. The impact though was on the American boys in the troops around them. Specifically at pool time when the German girls were wearing typical minimal German bikinis and it seemed every boy on the reservation suddenly wanted to go swimming right then.

Thanks for the great response.

Your comment about volunteers not feeling comfortable taking a group of Scouts into the woods is common to BSA as well. In our society maybe 25% of adults have ever done serious camping and most of these are men. From what I’ve heard in the GSA “camping” is at best in a cabin or maybe in someones backyard. Notice how they dont sell tents thru the GSA store?

In BSA the best Scoutmasters are usually those brought up in Scouting already and have the experience. However few women have that experience and GSA troops usually frown on men being involved since the idea is girl empowerment and learning from women adult leaders.

But why is that? Why dont they allow adults with real Scouting experience to lead? Also why dont they allow the girls to find tents and really get out into the woods? Why dont they accept the idea of girls coming back from a camping trip muddy from head to toe with stories of mud, rain, wind and God forbid, snow and ice? My wife said that when she was in Girl Scouts the couple of real camping trips they tried they would pack up and go home at the first hint of rain.

If a qualified volunteer was willing to take girls to do backpack-type camping, it would be 100% fine with Girl Scouts. The problem is that we don’t have qualified volunteers who are willing to do that, especially with children who are not their own.

Here’s the thing you don’t get: Girl Scouts is NOT just a female version of Boy Scouts. The two organizations have very different missions, values, and philosophies. Girl Scouts doesn’t push any type of activity on its members. Girl Scouts has historically been about choice. You equate “Scouting” with outdoor activities, but that is a very BSA point of view. Girl Scouts do not equate Scouting skills with outdoor skills because of the wide variety of activities that Girl Scouting promotes.

As far as male volunteers leading overnight trips, I know that Girl Scouts has put limits on male volunteers on overnight trips (not sure what the exact current rules are) because of the history of sexual assaults by male volunteers against Girl Scouts, especially during overnight outings. There have been lawsuits and criminal cases over these occurrences.

Girl Scouts in no way disallows girls and volunteers from rough camping. In our council, we occasionally had girls who wanted that and a few volunteers who wanted to lead it. It’s just that few girls these days want those kinds of experiences, and few volunteers want to lead them. Volunteers who want to do that gravitate toward BSA, Venture, etc. They specialize in that kind of experience. Outdoorsmanship is a tiny part of Girl Scouting.

And for insurance reasons, volunteers must always follow current Girl Scout safety protocols.

My girls scout troop did some camping. That was the only part I liked, and I was very jealous of the boys, who had more and better camping. I went to summer camps that included a back-packing component, though.

Of course, that was in the 60s-70s, and I wasn’t able to take shop with the boys, either.

I think it’s very sad that everyone is afraid of taking the girls outdoors these days. I feel like despite some pc trappings, we (in the US) have regressed on women’s rights, or at least on women’s potential, since I was a kid. I suspect one reason for the rise of people using non-standard pronouns is that gender roles are extremely regulated right now.

Oh, and my camping groups were co-ed. I think a few kids had sex. No one was raped, and no one went home pregnant, though, and birth control is better now than it was then.

I was in GS starting about 45 years ago - and stuck with it through Seniors, that is, then end of high school. I was in it mainly for two things: camping, and horses. The GS in the Detroit Metro area had a program involving a horse farm, lots of horse-crazy girls got their fix there.

Even back then, had the occasional problems with scout leaders who didn’t understand the tomboys with zero interest in being “proper young ladies”. Once, a group of us told one of those women “we’re just in this for the camping and the horses, we have no interest in these other ideas of yours” which, let’s say, just didn’t go over well.

From what I hear things have just gotten worse.

Yeah, the boys got to do much cooler stuff. If I was young now and into scouting I would want to run with the boys. Never did really understand what it was about what we did that required gender segregation anyhow. Well, sleeping and toilet arrangements at camp, but that was it and could be accommodated at a co-ed camp.

When I was in GS I did have the opportunity to do rough backpacking for up to two weeks at a time. We bought our stuff from military surplus or went to the boy scout store - they were entirely happy to sell us stuff.

Whether due to nature or nurture girls and women who want to do that sort of camping are very much a minority. We all knew that the mainstream GS system wasn’t going to accommodate us, but there was some effort to connect girls and volunteers so those with that interest could be accommodated. If the parents were willing. We were minors, after all. I was lucky to have parents that support my interests instead of insisting I be a girly-girl.

When I was involved with horses I’d home not only muddy from head to toe or chilled from working outside in the winter. I came home bruised and bloody a few times, too. We had girls occasionally break bones either falling off a horse or getting stepped on by one of the larger ones. Given today’s litigious society that sort of thing would result in lawsuits by the dozens these days, which is unfortunate, because having some of those outdoor experiences early in life can be wonderful and character-forming and all sorts of positive things (the injuries, of course, were to be avoided as much as possible). It was the soaring cost of insurance that eventually killed the horse farm I used to work and ride at.

Except there is a segment of girls that is NOT served well by GS. What about their choice? Granted, it is better now but back in my day girls had much fewer options for alternate organizations (maybe that’s why we had more of the outdoor stuff - captive audience demanding it).

Honestly, by the time I hit my teens I was feeling a LOT of pressure to conform to gender role norms. Camping was discouraged. Us horsey girls were an outlier and treated differently than the girls who didn’t participate in that. Yes, it was about “choices” - what the majority chose, if you weren’t in the majority you didn’t get your choice. There were considerable lessons there about being a minority and marginalized. None of that stemmed from malice, of course - the scout leader trying to “reform” me and my fellow tomboys genuinely thought she was doing the right thing and had our best interests in mind.

And, of course, this varies enormously from council to council. Detroit Metro’s Ivory Farms was in many ways unique, I doubt many other councils ever had a former polo pony farm donated to them. We were extremely lucky to have it and knew it. I’m sure a lot of other councils had unique donations or resources, too.

Those of you promoting alternative organizations are correct that such girls as I was probably are better off in those other organizations. I would like to think girls have more options these days.

The Detroit area GS summer camps did have male counselors, though - never seemed to be a problem. I’m sure there were rules and oversight we girls were not aware of, but the GS have always had a certain number of men involved.

I trust the women remembering their own rough & tough GS experience are volunteering now. To ensure the girls of today have those same options.

Mom could only afford to send me to GS camp once–for a week. Alas, I was homesick–first time away from home. By the time I recovered it was time to leave. (Rich Houston girls go to private camps in the Hill Country.)

That old camp was on Clear Lake; the land has now been developed. Who is donating fine campsites to the Girl Scouts nowadays?

When–and where–my wife was interested in joining GS, it was operated as an exclusionary social club–Jews need not apply–and she has had a negative opinion of GSA ever since. Our daughter was a member of Girl Guides here in Canada for years and thoroughly enjoyed it. They did do outdoor activities, including winter camping that she glad to do once, but would not repeat.

In fact, my sister and her Girl Scout troop went to the Boy Scouts’ Florida Sea Base after I went there with my Boy Scout troop back in 1986.

I don’t know if it’s still there or not, but when we went, there was a sign as you enter Islamorada, Florida that said “Welcome to Islamorada. Coke adds life.” Ah, Miami Vice memories. :smiley:

It works the other way too. As a boy I joined the Girl Scouts. But I got kicked out for eating a Brownie.

(apologies, I just can’t resist those stupid immature jokes)