I love Girl Scouts.
I have been a GS leader for 20 years. I am a lifetime member, and have been recognized several times for my service to our GS community.
I’m not bragging, I’m stating facts. I am a good GS leader. I really try to live by the Promise and the Law, and I try to do my best to give my girls what they want, and what they need.
Every year around this time people start GS bashing, because they know it’s cookie season, and they want to try to get people to boycott us. Why? I really think some people are never going to be happy unless they are bashing someone or some group.
So I’m going to try to address a few of the complaints I’ve been seeing lately. I’m going to start with some differences between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts of the USA is not affiliated with Boy Scouts of America. We are completely different organizations. Please do not confuse one with the other.
Membership in both organizations is down, and has been for years. When I was a kid, there was band, cheerleading, and scouts. Now, there are so many things for kids to do, it’s overwhelming. Most kids end up doing so many activities, they never have a chance to just go home and have a normal family life. But with so many options, it’s logical that something’s got to give. And so membership in scouting is down.
A couple of years ago, BSA decided to admit girls for the first time, and change their name to Scouts BSA. I know someone who is a muckity muck in BSA, and he confirmed – it wasn’t that they care about girls, or had any great desire to expand their program to girls. It was because their membership numbers were down, and they thought it would be easier to try to recruit girls who have already shown an interest in scouting – Girl Scouts.
Of course, everyone asked if GS was going to go co-ed, or why don’t we just combine , or some such shit as that. No, No, and No. (More on that in a later post.)
Girl Scouts has always been a rather progressive organization, from its very roots in Savannah, GA. Juliette Gordon Low had girls out playing basketball in their pantaloons. She taught them camping skills and survival skills. And yes, she taught them domestic skills as well. It’s an organization designed to push girls further, to teach them things that they might not otherwise get a chance to learn, to be more than just a housewife. And yes, it’s also an opportunity to learn domestic stuff, because honestly these days, they aren’t really learning a lot of it at home. It’s really more “life skills”, but considered domestic because they are girls. (Teach a boy basic cooking or how to sew on a button, and it’s a “life skill”.)
She taught them to provide service to the community, and to make the world a better place. She encouraged them to help out their community, and their country.
Boy Scouts, on the other hand, is a more militaristic organization. Boys progress in ranks, and if they complete the appropriate badge work, and do a service project, they can become an Eagle Scout, known around the world as THE best possible thing ever.
But historically, boys (especially white boys) didn’t have to battle anyone to learn whatever they wanted. The world loves to encourage them to go to college, to have a career. So BSA didn’t really need to be a progressive movement. They weren’t trying to encourage girls to be groundbreaking. In fact, because so much of their donations come from big businesses, they became more and more conservative over time, embracing the idea of turning boys into perfect little military men, and business muckity mucks.
And because perfect little boys grow up to be big company CEOS, the donations keep coming for BSA, and they keep growing more conservative. GSUSA depends almost entirely on selling cookies to keep their organization running. We get very few big donations to our organization. As with so many things female oriented, we have to work twice as hard for half the result.
I’m not trying to dis Boy Scouts too much. I’m just trying to explain why Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are two VERY different organizations, with a very different approach to almost everything we do.