Girl Scouts

My oldest is going to be in Kindergarten next year at the local public school. In the meantime I’ve learned a bit about the Girl Scouts and it seems like a cool thing to try with/for my daughter. I wonder if anyone has any experience with the Girl Scouts and what it’s like?

My daughter did brownies for a few years (precursor to girl guides). She enjoyed it, it’s mostly a social event.

My first girl was brownie for a couple of years, then gave up on it.

My 2nd and 3rd we did the Indian Guides/ Indian Princesses, which were formerly a YMCA program. YMCA still has essentially the same programs now, just without a native American theme to them. Consider these “scouting” programs in the wider sense. The difference is that the YMCA programs are parent / child together programs. Everything is done in groups of parents with their kids, whereas the Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts are more or less a “drop off you kid and pick them up later” program with a small number of parents running the show. The Y programs were a much better fit for us.

My daughter enjoyed it. But you’d better be ready to sell those cookies. It becomes something of a point of pride for the girls. (You don’t have to be top seller, but you don’t want to be the person who only sold a few boxes to family.)

:laughing: How does it work with the Troops? It looks like I can sign up me and my daughter to a local one in my zip code, but there are loads and some appear to have very few people? Seems tempting to sign up for one a town over that’s half full.

This will vary greatly by troop (for kids in junior high or older).

Note that the “Boy Scouts” have recently expanded to include girls in their programs and are now referred to as “Scouts BSA”.

A close friend had both of her daughters in Girl Scouts and they enjoyed the program (both earned the Gold Award). My daughter would’ve done the Scouts BSA thing if it was available to her rather than Girl Scouts. She liked the program better overall.

As it is, I am a committee member of a local girl troop of Scouts BSA, and all of the girls that I’ve talked with about why they went this route boiled down to one of two reasons:

  1. They liked the outdoor focus more
  2. They have an older brother in the program, and along with #1, the family wanted to keep their logistics around their kids activities a bit more simplified.

FTR, “mixed gender” troops are not authorized. While a girl troop can do activities with a boy troop, there are strict protocols to be in place for this to happen. Primarily, for mixed-gender activities, there needs to be at least one adult (over 21) female present at all times that a female scout is present.

I suggest that you arrange to visit several–including the one that is in the “next town”–and see how things are organized and run.

In most cases, in one meeting, you can see just how active the troop is (are there reminders of upcoming events; how often are campouts planned; etc.). You can also see if there’s a “good match” with some sub-set of kids that your kid could fit in with.

I see so are the Troops then typically pretty autonomous?

Within the Scouts BSA program, yes.

Can’t say the same for the Girl Scouts (mostly due to lack of direct experience, but “I've heard stories, man!

Makes sense. I wonder if you have any thoughts on Scouts BSA vs Girl Scouts?

And what is a typical meeting (assuming that’s what it’s called) like, at least for Scouts BSA?

I would say a lot depends on the girl and the family. Note here that I’m talking about the program for kids in junior high (and older):

typical troop meeting (ideally speaking):

  • Opening ceremony that usually involves the Pledge of Allegiance and reciting “Scout Lore” (like the Scout Oath and Scout Law).
  • Overview of the meeting’s activities
  • Updates on upcoming activities
  • Split off into patrols to attend to activities specific to the patrol’s need:
    ** One patrol might need to learn about first aid for rank advancement while another patrol is preparing for the next week’s troop meeting presentations
  • Once a month, a patrol will do some presentation on a topic of general interest (e.g., rock climbing safety or how to build a snow cave)
  • Toward the end, game/team-building activity (where a patrol forms a team for team activities)
  • Final announcements
  • Closing ceremony that usually involves something specific to the troop

what if you are this person who only sold a few boxes?

My daughter is a Junior and joined when she was a Brownie. It’s been really great for her. She belongs to a multi-level troop, but that is not the norm. That is an organizational difference from BSA, as usually girls are grouped by age to form a troop and then stick with that troop through the levels. A multilevel GS troop is closer to the structure of the BSA “patrols.” So, that’s something to think about when choosing a troop. There are pluses and minuses to either.

As a kindergartner, your daughter would be a Daisy and for the first 2 years would be focused on earning her petals (patches that form a flower), which basically go through the girl scout promise and law, AKA being a good person. There are Daisy badges as well, but from what I have seen, the petals take up a lot of time (we meet 2 times a month). After Daisies, the girls earn badges that fall in a range of areas (STEM, Outdoors, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship). One of the main tenets of GS is that it is girl-led, so troops will vary as far as focus. Some troops will be very outdoorsy whereas others will be more crafty. My daughter’s troop is pretty balanced and she has really enjoyed the variety.

The cookie thing probably varies a lot by troop. Our troop doesn’t push cookies, so we have some big sellers and some who don’t sell a thing, but there’s no competitive vibe at all.

Oh, and more on the GS structure… Troops report into Service Units that make up the Council. There are 4 GS Councils in my state to give you an idea on size. I’m not sure how much that varies from state to state. Anyway, our GS Council also schedules events that the girls can participate in either with their troop or on their own. Some are badge opportunities that they’ve set up in a way to make them more fun like outdoor art with horses or earning an animal badge with a rescue organization. Others are just fun activities like smores by the fire with storytelling.

My daughter did scouts. It’s a great way to meet people and going on outings.
We were the designated cookie pickup van for the troop I got really good at packing those things in a mini-van.
My wife actually became troop leader at some point but most of the troop scattered for other interests around middle school.
Wife and Daughter still go to girl scout camp in the Seirra’s every year for a little over a week.

Social life is ruined forever.

My experience with Girl Scouts is pretty dated. I loved Brownies and then moved, finally finding a “Cadette” troop in 8th grade with a young leader who only wanted to talk about hair and makeup and dating as opposed to badges. I had my older daughter in a Brownie troop but meetings were during my work hours and it was really disorganized. I would have loved to jump in and help out but I was already stretched thin with other volunteer activities. We had one “campout” that year and it was in cabins but it was record breaking cold (for the month of May and we are cold weather wimps) so I was glad. Still I think my daughter would have liked tent camping better. She did LOVE all the activities we did that weekend.

There is a ton of leadership stuff in GS that I liked, although I don’t know if cookie sales has eaten into that. (Ha! Didn’t even know I did that.) There is so much more to leadership than sales.

All that to say, it depends on the troop, and if you want real camping maybe find another organization.

Also my daughter is 25 so lots of things may be different.

This is really helpful! Thanks for the detail. I like the female leadership component to be honest, good for her to have confident female role models beyond family. I imagine for the young ones (Daisies) it’s typically the leader and their kid and then parent+kid for the others?

And it sounds like choosing a troop is slightly a big deal since you’ll ideally be with that group for a while? Online it looks like I can select for the 2021 school year starting in ~October although I wonder if the number signed up is lower because of that? Would you recommend I look for a troop that already shows solid numbers even if it’s a town over? Or better off doing the most local since they’d go to the same public school?

Also is it typically the mom and daughter, or is it OK to do dad and daughter? I’ve got 2 (nearly 3) other kids so hoping this is something I could do alongside her at least while a parent is there. If it goes well I’d do it for my other daughter when she’s bigger although I imagine that would be a separate troop (but perhaps by then my older daughter would go by herself? or maybe we’d need a troop with a looser age range to accommodate the two year gap)

And I’m not super worried about camping or not to be honest. I mean I think outdoor skills are helpful but the key things I’m hoping my daughter will get out of it are:

  1. meeting new people
  2. developing skills (of all sorts) that she might not have been obviously exposed to otherwise
  3. gain general confidence through learning skills, friends, etc.
  4. be exposed to female leadership/role models outside of family

I’ve already got the minivan so perhaps something I’d be suited for :laughing:

I would still suggest visiting these troops before deciding on one. “Having numbers” on paper doesn’t mean that it’ll be a good fit for your kid.

FWIW, girl troops in Scouts BSA will have a female leader in a prominent role. The one that I’m affiliated with have females as the main leaders that interact with the girls (although a dad wouldn’t be ignored). Board of Reviews* have generally been done with predominately males who are very well familiar with the overall program (and that there are very few female committee members for the troop).

*Board of Reviews is a process that a Scout goes through for a rank advancement. This isn’t is check to see if they “know things” so much as it serves as an interview to see where the Scout is in their progress and to help provide feedback to both the Scout on how they can improve and better prepare for the next Board of Review and the troop leaders about how they’re preparing the Scouts.