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Maple
12-23-2007, 14:29
I was reading the forum for Eagle Scouts and know there are a lot of women on this site so began to wonder how much scouting has influenced each of you.

I only began scouting with my children but was a leader for my daughters troop for 12 years as she went from Daisies to her Gold Award in Senior Scouting. We did a lot of camping and learned many skills although seemed to fall just short of the backpacking idea.

I am sure these experiences have influenced my daughter over the years and I can now saw proudly that she is a member of the US Armed Forces. She still loves camping and has been a Girl Scout Camp Counsellor every summer for quite a few years now.

Marta
12-23-2007, 14:41
Girl Scouting was very disappointing to me when I was a kid. Lots of crafts; very little camping; no backpacking.

tazie
12-23-2007, 15:06
I'm with Marta, as a Girl Scout in the 70's it was a bit disappointing. I earned the sewing, cooking and first aid badges; but wanted to be outside, doing the fun stuff. I had a crappy Junior troop leader, and after she pulled out the Ouji board at a troop meeting for a fun activity, I left and never looked back. I still have my original Junior scout handbook and recently shared it with my girls for a laugh. My oldest daughter was in the Scouts for a short time, but her interest is athletics. Still, I think with the right leadership the Scouts is an excellent endeavour, for boys and girls.

Cuffs
12-23-2007, 15:12
Same boat as Marta and Tazie... not enough outdoorsy stuff for me. ( but I still love and consume my share of cookies!) Thats why I joined the boy scouts...

tazie
12-23-2007, 15:19
Same boat as Marta and Tazie... not enough outdoorsy stuff for me. ( but I still love and consume my share of cookies!) Thats why I joined the boy scouts...

Cuffs, thanks for reminding me-- the best part about Girl Scouts- the cookies! (laughing) I was my daughter's cookie "mom" for her troop for many years...was nice having a garage full of cookies at our disposal...only part that hurt was writing that check $ out at the end...ouch...;)

Blissful
12-23-2007, 15:26
We did a lot of merit badge work. And sold cookies and candles. One day hike that I remember as a Brownie. But we did do car camping and jamboree type events. Back then it was fine with me. In the late 70's it wasn't the big thing to be doing that I remember. Though my brother's troop went backpacking everywhere. Maybe they thought girls were more vulnerable or something back then. But none of the leaders knew how to do it anyway. At least I'm glad we can take the teen girls in our church on hikes, even if it is only backpacking to a cabin (which is a major achievement with some of them!)

gsingjane
12-23-2007, 16:02
Well guys I think you can tell how I got my name!!

I have been an adult volunteer for seven years... for six of those years I have had two troops (a now-Junior troop of 24 girls and a now-Cadette troop of 10 girls). I have worked at day camp, teaching wall climbing, am currently a Service Unit Manager (town manager for over 400 girls), have run 5 camporees and have held practically every other volunteer GS position you can imagine. Yup, I'm a green neck, too, Maple!

I was a Girl Scout in the '60's and '70's and although we didn't go backpacking per se, we did go on extended canoe trips and did lots of car camping. I also went to summer camp for two weeks each year which was the absolute high point of my entire year. I am a Camp Alice Chester and Camp Northern Hills alum if anyone else attended around that time!

I truly believe in this program, otherwise I would not devote a significant portion of my waking hours to it! Yes, there are ways it could be improved, just as any other organization. I do wish there were more emphasis on the outdoors-y stuff... I consider myself an evangelist for the outdoor experience, but you can only do so much. As a "leader of leaders," I can tell you that if we push the leaders too far outside their comfort zone, then we get no leaders and no troops. So every year it is a balance. My older daughter is now to the age where she is leading girls on dayhikes herself, so it is a family effort to get the girls out there.

For those whose experience was 20-30 years ago and not satisfying, I am sorry. Girl Scouting - more than Boy Scouting, IMO - is so dependent on the strengths and skills of the individual leaders, and if you didn't luck out, that was too bad. (This is the reason I, too, didn't stay past the 7th grade, and a huge reason why I became a leader myself, to insure quality experiences for my own daughters.) My goal, though, is to share as much of my enthusiasm and love for the outdoors with my girls as I can. So, so many of these girls are just never getting out there, and even a day hike or a car camping trip can plant the seed for a lifelong love, something that can be built upon in later years.

Remember, too, that Girl Scouting, unlike BSA, has never been exclusively focussed on the outdoors/camping. (Not that BSA is, either, but it is definitely more of an emphasis.) One thing I like about Girl Scouting is that they do try to do more life preparation stuff and also to broaden the program to make it more widely appealing. Just in the past year, my older girls have gone on a science/technology weekend at Sikorsky Aircraft, learned podcasting, are learning how to use a field camera and editing equipment to make a PSA, earned a fashion badge where we designed our own dresses and learned about the fashion industry first-hand, and earned a paleontology badge that included trips to the field and dinosaur museums and interviewing a woman paleontologist. We also went to New York City where THEY figured out how to get around all day and planned the entire itinerary, and they basically ran a huge chunk of our last camporee for our younger girls. And of course there was the service stuff like the soup kitchen, food drive and all that... plus fun weekends at Y camp... so it's really just limited by the girls' own imaginations, and their available free time.

I would very much welcome any inquiries from anyone interested in getting involved with Girl Scouting. Situations vary from state to state, but I could probably give you enough advice to get you started, if you did want to step up to help in this great movement.

Thanks for starting this thread!

Jane in CT

Marta
12-23-2007, 16:03
Indeed a lot of it comes down to leadership. Most of it, in fact. When my daughter was 7ish, I became a Brownie leader so she'd had a troop to join. (The other troop was full.) I went through the local council's outdoor training, which consisted of staying overnight in a canvas tent with a wooden floor and one person (me) starting a campfire once. What stunned me was that none of the other women--none--had ever done any backpacking or even car camping ever. They were not qualified to lead a group of girls on even the simplest overnight trip. Nor were they likely to become knowledgeable enough to do so. They weren't interested. I have heard of an occasional troop that does outdoor activities, but I don't think it's normal. Girl Scouting is not about that. I don't know what it is about, but it's not about camping.

Marta
12-23-2007, 16:07
While I was composing the above, Jane was answering some of my questions. I do occasionally think I should get involved in Girl Scouting in order to provide some female outdoor leadership, but I haven't gotten around to it. My own daughter is an adult now, and after her one year in Brownies, she was old enough for 4-H and Pony Club (she was horse mad), so we went that direction.

V8
12-23-2007, 16:33
Gee, I guess we lucked out. We had very good leaders in both Brownies and Girl Scouts - our friends' mothers - who were interested in lots of things. We did some hikes, although that was not the dominant influence on my hiking future. (There weren't Daisy or Cadette as such, then - although I think there were Senior scouts. No senior troop as I recall, so we stopped in Junior High at some point.)

We were encouraged and helped to do a lot of badges, and to achieve First Class. It was a really good influence on a lot of us kids to be competent people in the world.

Hammock Hanger
12-23-2007, 16:44
I left in Cadettes, it wasn't cool!! As an adult with 3 daughters I was very involved with scouting. I was a leader to 2 troops, neighborhood chairperson and Out-of-Doors Specialists for the council.

I had one daughter who got her Gold Award and 2 that quit as Cadettes (cuz it wasn't cool!!)

I was much more active in scouting as an adult.

Lellers
12-23-2007, 16:55
I had the same experience back in the 60s and 70s. Not enough outdoor stuff for me. I think it's interesting that I still hear this comment from girls today, and I wonder why there isn't more of an emphasis on outdoor activities for girls in GSUSA. The BSA has noticed that GSUSA has a large drop-out around age 14 or so, and hence, BSA now offers the co-ed Venture program for ages 14-21. The venture program can be focused on outdoor experiences, but I've also seen Venture crews focused on things like theater, law enforcement, and the like. I'm not involved in Venturing, so I don't know how successful it is.

I have sons but no daughters. I'm not sure how I would feel about a co-ed program for them. I'm an assistant scoutmaster with a boy scout troop, and the boys turn into complete idiots when girls are nearby. I wonder if we could keep them focused. But, in most countries around the world, including England where the scouting movement started, co-ed is the way it's done. I've met Canadian scouts, girls and boys, and their co-ed program seems to work well.

Generally speaking, I think that when young people learn to take care of themselves and others in the outdoors, they become more capable human beings. And only good comes from raising capable people.

Hammock Hanger
12-23-2007, 18:24
My troops were very very out-door oriented. I had to turn girls away, as I could only handle so many, that wanted to be in my troops.

We camped a lot!

I even worked at the GS Camp in the summer(I ran the infirmary). My son who was literally born into GS use to run all over the camp in the summer when he was 4-5 y/o. I eventually put him into a BS Troop. All they did was color and build model cars. He asked if he could go back to being a GIRL SCOUT!!

The problem is that most of the women who are leaders are uncomfortable with the out-of-doors and they bring that baggage into their troops. I use to Train the leaders how to take the girls camping and most thought that the Days Inn was roughing it. :)

Maple
12-23-2007, 18:42
Both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts get invited to a jamboree every year on the Wildwood Beach (Atlantic Ocean) in NJ. Our troop went a few times...you pitch your tents right on the beach, lots of fun. And we had one local trip that went religiously every year and "camped" in a motel.

Maple
12-23-2007, 18:47
Our troop started as first year brownies, learning to roll sleeping bags, dress for the weather, etc. Then we took them on their first campout in one of the leader's back yard. By the time they were Juniors they all had their own tents and knew how to pitch them. They were shown how to make different types of stoves, ovens, etc. Other activities we did included White water rafting (with the boy scouts too), lots of skiing trips, rock climbing, horse back riding and numerous other activities. They also learned the rudiments of sign language. Only as seniors do I remember them doing any sewing when the four that were left each made a pair of PJ bottoms for themselves. I know my daughter still has and wears hers from time to time. We did try to do crafts with them also, as each girl has different interests. We still had eight girls when we started into Seniors and ended up with four who received their Gold Award. I think if we had not lost our first leader to cancer, our group would have been very strong all the way through.

gsingjane
12-23-2007, 19:04
I think that for every girl who wishes we'd do more outdoors stuff, you have at least one other who, as has been noted, thinks a motel is roughing it. This can be the result of what they've heard from parents, it might be the result of a disastrous early experience, it might just be their interest or lack thereof. For sure we know that not every adult is interested in hiking or backpacking, either... maybe that's a good thing for the sake of the trail!

Believe it or not, I have had girls quit because we did "too much" outdoors stuff. Now maybe these were girls that had issues anyhow, but I definitely got that blowback in the 6th grade. Girls who were just extremely unhappy out there on the trail or at the campsite and wouldn't have fun no matter what you tried.

Motivating adult women to go camping, when they have no outdoor experience, is hard. I would welcome any comments or suggestions from other women as to what might motivate them to do it. As camporee director, every year I find myself in the position of having to wheedle and whine to get people out there, even making it as comfortable and user-friendly as I can.

I also have more comments to add, but I'm off for Last Christmas Shopping Version 5.0...

Jane

Lellers
12-23-2007, 22:37
Motivating adult women to go camping, when they have no outdoor experience, is hard.

And therein lies the problem. There are lots of women who love being out in the wilderness, but most of my wilderness sisters had early experience in the outdoors, usually as little girls. It's very, very difficult to get an adult woman with no experience to get past the thought of peeing in the woods. I can't even count how many times I got the "eewwwww" look from fellow women when I mention that I like hiking, camping, backpacking, etc.

So a girl needs to have positive experiences in the outdoors, but how to do that without enough women to guide them? It's a Catch-22, and it makes me think that perhaps I should volunteer with girls, too.

teachergal
12-23-2007, 23:02
I was very active in Girl Scouting from Brownie up to my Silver Award. When we lived in NY I had AWESOME troop leaders and we did all kinds of stuff. We went camping - mostly at Girl Scout camps with the platform tents and cots and "nice" stuff. Every Spring we would do a jamboree style camp-out with all the troops in the area. We even went winter camping in a cabin most winters and would go sledding and stuff...it was so much fun! We also did our share of crafts, cooking and service projects. Girl Scouts was such an important part of my elem school/early middle school years.

Then we moved to OH. The troop sucked. It wasn't as dynamic - most of the other girls were not too keen on me, a newcomer joining them. We camped at a local boy scout camp and it seemed like it rained every time we'd bail out in the middle of the night b/c the tents were flooding. We did take 2 trips - one to Washington DC and one to the Smokies and that was cool. When it came time to earn our silver awards the leaders decided on our service project - we crocheted lap rugs for a nursing home. That made me mad - I didn't like that I couldn't pick what I did. I had no problem with crocheting, I just wanted to pick something.

Roots
12-24-2007, 00:51
I loved girl scouts! But why couldn't we do the backpacking and outdoor adventures the Boy Scouts do...:(

River Runner
12-24-2007, 02:24
I was a Brownie & Junior Girl Scout, and then our leader quit. :(

My best memories from my Girl Scout troop were outdoors - we did day camp (with an overnight in a tent the last night), some hiking, and some outdoor cooking. I have to admit I rather enjoyed the sewing badges we did too.

When my youngest daughter was in kindergarten, I helped with her Daisy troop, and then ended up as co-leader in her second year of Brownies. She stayed with it through her Senior year, earning her Silver Award as a Cadette, and had all the prep work done for her Gold Award, but did not get motivated enough to do the final project to finish it. Oh well, it's the process, not the award, and I think Girl Scouting really helped make her a better citizen with good leadership qualities and a sincere desire to help others.

I still volunteer on a council level, mainly in outdoor activities - canoeing, camping, backpacking, hiking, and archery, both in program for the girls and as a trainer for leaders or those seeking specialist status. I also became a certified lifeguard when my daughter's troop were Juniors, and have kept it up since. It's so difficult to find a lifeguard to come to camp that the girls would not have often had the opportunity to swim otherwise.

Now that was an interesting experience - taking my first lifeguarding course at the age of 40 with all those 16-18 year olds. :)

Obsidian
12-24-2007, 03:52
I did it for a long time just to go to camp (I lucked out and was in a coucil with a primitive wilderness camp), then later work at camp. I mean they paid me to teach kids how to backpack, canoe, and rappel. Best summer job ever! Without the girl scouts I probably wouldn't have half the appreciation I have for the outdoors right now.

gsingjane
12-24-2007, 08:27
I am glad to see that the comments here are perhaps motivating some WB readers to volunteer with GS... one of the the biggest differences between GS and BSA is, the lack of experienced leaders to do all these great outdoor activities that we enjoy. I can tell you, the program itself does not discourage leaders from getting out there... it isn't something institutional to GS, not to encourage troops to go. National does - as one would hope - ask that leaders have some idea of what they're doing before they get out there.

Also, in BSA, there are certain benchmarks that need to be met before the boys can move on in rank. Lots of these benchmarks involve camping and outdoor skills. GS doesn't have a similar rank system, as you know you just move up in program level as you get older, and then if you want to do the awards, that is project-based and doesn't require any specific set of experiences or techniques.

Another issue that we cope with all the time on our town level is the current trajectory or circumstances of so many women's lives. We have many leaders who have young children and then become Daisy or Brownie leaders. It is difficult to get them out for the weekend, because they have little ones at home, and oftentimes hubby is not too keen on childcare so mom can go camping. (I'm not saying this is right, I'm just saying, this is the way it is.)

As we go along, the kids get older and... the moms go back to work! Usually once most or all of the kids are in school fulltime. Once that happens, the woman has to be incredibly dedicated to continue to make GS work, as a leader. We do have several full-time working moms in our town who also manage to lead, but usually they need to do evening or weekend troops. Given that (again this is generally speaking) working moms still maintain most or all of the at-home responsibilities, you can see where leading becomes a burden that is almost too great to bear.

Again, it would seem to me that this is where a younger, enthusiastic female volunteer could make all the difference. You have a situation where the leader is getting pressure from home not to go, you have that natural reluctance where it is something new and different (imagine if you were totally inexperienced in the woods, and somebody said, not only did you have to take care of yourself, but twelve 8 year olds, too?), and where the leader may, in fact, be loath to leave the comforts of home and "civilization." Unfortunately, with all this, it gets to be a whole lot easier to stay home and sew lap blankets.

I would absolutely love to see younger (or older, too!) women with outdoors experience step up to the plate to work with girls in this way. Of course, it won't always be a Kodak moment... I don't think any volunteering I've ever done with anybody has been hassle-free. We don't volunteer because people will be grateful at the time, do we? But, this is a way that a person could make so much difference in a kid's life, and also insure the continuation of that outdoor spirit we all feel and love so much.

Jane

jamarshall
12-24-2007, 11:09
I got more outdoor experience with the 4H, but loved all the crafts we did in Girl Scouts. I was never a Brownie, but made it through the rest.

Maple
12-24-2007, 11:10
Now that was an interesting experience - taking my first lifeguarding course at the age of 40 with all those 16-18 year olds. :)

I know the feeling. I started my first college class when I was almost 50. It has been fun and interesting though.

Red Hat
12-29-2007, 11:58
I think the highest rank in Girl Scouting at the time was the Curved Bar award. (tenderfoot, second class, first class, then curved bar...) I went all the way through scouts, then kept up my membership through college. I became a leader and did over forty years before I stopped my membership. Now my daughters are GS leaders.... (three generations of GS leaders, as my Mom was one too)

yappy
12-29-2007, 12:01
all i remember about girl scouts is eating smores

Red Hat
12-29-2007, 12:10
LOL, yappy, one of my fondest memories... We did camp a lot. We were lucky to have "Clancy" and "Twiggy" (before the skinny one came along) as our leaders. They loved camping and we did a lot. As seniors we got into backpacking a bit (this was the 1960s and equipment was heavy) I did summer camp every year, but winter camping was always the best. When we graduated there were only six left in the troop. One is still my best friend to this day.

Wonder
12-29-2007, 12:15
Girl Scouts was a very positive chapter of my life. Went to all the summer camps, and had a blast learning about the outdoors. THe bummer was that being a "city troop" we disbanded one service project away from my gold. The counsil wouldn't let me complete it without a troop:(
Thinking of getting involved again! There is a major shortage of tough chicks these days.........no shopping badges in my troop!

Turtle2
12-29-2007, 19:58
My dad was a Scout Master my mother was a GS leader. When I got about 8 or 9 I had to quit going on the monthly campouts with the BSs and joined the GS. No fun. I still don't like the housekeeping badge. I finally had a set-to with my mother when she told me I had to put my uniform on to attend the meeting (in my house!) or write her a letter of resignation. That was my first resignation letter. Didn't go back. In fairness, there are more outdoor opportunities today.

Christopher Robin
12-29-2007, 20:30
I was a Girl Guid & an Queen Sout, which id like the Gold Award, the Girl Scout leader for 2 troops, then a Outdoor Trainer for backing. After in early 90s I become a Boy Scout Outdoor Trainer, & ahave my Woodbage. Both my girls were G.S. and loved it, my town was a strogn in scout & did a twon encapment every yr. Also each troop from Brownes- Cardetts did 1-2 trips & camping each yr. Cardetts did Winnter Week-end campout in the snow w/ B.S., doing compertition. To day both girls love hiking & backing packing & all 4 grangchildrens also & not one arein scouts. the teens will be hiking w/me at times this Summer on my hike from Katahdin-N.J.

Christopher Robin
12-29-2007, 20:34
P.S. Also 1st girl as the Silver Award & 2nd girl Gold Award.

Christopher Robin
12-29-2007, 20:44
My dad was a Scout Master my mother was a GS leader. When I got about 8 or 9 I had to quit going on the monthly campouts with the BSs and joined the GS. No fun. I still don't like the housekeeping badge. I finally had a set-to with my mother when she told me I had to put my uniform on to attend the meeting (in my house!) or write her a letter of resignation. That was my first resignation letter. Didn't go back. In fairness, there are more outdoor opportunities today.

That is not all true, it depend on the troop you are in. I forgot my yougngest grandduather had started in Brownies w/a vrey attive outdoor progam, but she is in jounior now & all the girls wont to camp in a cabin & party. So in 07 Jeniffer backpacked w/me, mother on a trip in the Whites & did her fist 4000ft. & love ever min.:sun

Maple
12-31-2007, 18:42
[quote=Wonder;484828]Girl Scouts was a very positive chapter of my life. Went to all the summer camps, and had a blast learning about the outdoors. THe bummer was that being a "city troop" we disbanded one service project away from my gold. The counsil wouldn't let me complete it without a troop:(
Thinking of getting involved again! There is a major shortage of tough chicks these days.........no shopping badges in my troop!

When my daughter was going through they had ZipScouts...as long as you had a parent or someone that would join and sign off on your activities along with you, you could be a troop of your own. I am presuming they still allow this.

gsingjane
01-01-2008, 09:39
Yes, nowadays the "lone Scout" program is called Juliettes. Girls are permitted to operate as individual Scouts as long as someone (generally the mom) is willing to take responsibility for adminstering the program. There are a few wrinkles, like when it comes to fund-raising, but I've met several Juliettes where things seem to be working out well. Especially, sometimes, you meet homeschooled girls whose moms don't want them interacting with "school girls" and they like going for the Juliette option, or also when a girl gets into the preteen or teen years and there isn't a troop, or at least a welcoming one.

Juliettes are fine in theory... it would get a bit depressing to sing around the campfire with just your mom tho...

Jane in CT

aufgahoban
01-01-2008, 13:26
Scouting is so watered down these days that it's hardly worth the effort to keep your daughter involved, depending on what you want to get out of it of course. It's a crying shame, really, because girls today probably need scouting like it use to be more than ever. I'm sure there are leaders out there who take it upon themselves to create adventures for their girls, but most of the programs are not geared towards the outdoors or camping any more. In fact, my old scout camp recently closed down because the head honcho leader of the council decided that girls today don't like roughing it. (read, she didn't like roughing it so she couldn't imagine anyone else would) So unless we agreed to install 'dorm like facilities' with electricity and running water to replace the primitive Adorandak style open faced cabins, they were going to sell the camp. So they did just that. So we basically had to buy it from them, with the help from some friends.. Now all we have to do is find girls who don't need dorms. :-) (the We I speak of is a group of alumni who have gotten together to bring the camp back to life) The other issues with scouts are all the rules and guildlines they are forced to incorporate into everything due to all the frivolous lawsuits and ridiculously high insurance premiums the scouts have to pay. It's just safer if the girls stick with arts and crafts.. They even encourage them now to let their parents sell their cookies for them. It's sad.

4eyedbuzzard
01-01-2008, 14:31
Scouting is so watered down these days that it's hardly worth the effort to keep your daughter involved, depending on what you want to get out of it of course...

Okay, I'll be the first male to chime in.

My wife was a girl scout from brownie through whatever the highest ranking was when she left it at roughly age 16. But even back in the 60's and 70's GSA didn't do as much outdoor stuff as BSA did. And according to a friend of mine who is a BSA scoutmaster, BSA now doesn't do near the amount of outdoor activities as they did years ago. And Cub Scouts has always been pretty watered down. It was lame enough even in the 60's that I never wanted to go any further in scouting. Ironically, as an older teen I wound up being an unofficial assistant to my uncle's troop on long hikes as he could never get the parents to participate.

Some 20 years later, my wife and another mother started a new troop in a town we lived in where the old troop had been dissolved due to lack of interest/participation.

I became an assistant leader of her troop(yes, guys and fathers, you can be a girl scout and ya don't have to wear a skirt). I originally got involved by being "volunteered" to oversee building a float entry for a town parade, but ended up doing a lot of behind the scenes support for the troop, especially their annual summer camp. But despite repeated efforts, in 6 years we never got any other fathers to help with outdoor/camping activities. There was no BSA troop in this town, so it wasn't as if there weren't dads available, and any boys who were interested in BSA had to be driven some 15 miles to the nearest town with a troop. Just no initiative or interest other than lip service from most parents.

The biggest problems with scouting always seems to be parental participation and money. Camping/hiking is an expensive activity compared to community activities and crafts, and it requires adults with at least some basic outdoors skills. Also, transport costs, equipment, food, etc. all add up quickly and many of the kids just can't afford it on their own. We ran a fairly successful fundraising effort and were able to every year send ALL the troop's girls(about 15 to 20) to a two week GS summer camp that included day hiking, swimming, etc. with about half the activities being outdoor stuff. We would have liked to have run a 2 or 3 day hike for those interested, but the interest by the girls was very small, and the logistics and $$$ AND PARENTS just couldn't be brought together. We did what we could for some 6 years until our two daughters chose not to want to go anymore, and the leadership was picked up by others willing to give their time.

No good deed ever goes unpunished - 6 years of dealing with parents and scouts was enough for this lifetime. My friend who leads that BSA troop feels the same way. Most of us who are involved would love to take the kids on multiday hikes, but with all the regulatory hoops now in place in scouting and with rarely getting parental support, it becomes a very thankless task. Much easier just to take your own children hiking and camping and let others do the same if they're interested.

gsingjane
01-02-2008, 08:14
I think that what a lot of posters (on Scouting threads in general) forget is one of the biggest changes that's happened in kids' lives over the past 30 years, and that is the predominance of organized sports as a time sink for kids. Virtually all coaches insist that their sport comes first - I can understand this, who wants to spend all that time practicing, then have 1/2 your starting lineup miss the game? - but given that most sports events take place on the weekends, it really limits the flexibility and time needed to do things like camping trips. In organizing weekend events, I never ever expect more than 50% attendance; everybody else has a game or a match or a performance and you just can't tell the parent to have their kid miss it. Some teams will even "punish" a kid for mssing a game by, for instance, making them sit out the next one... I can't do that to a kid. In planning my events and trips, I am fine with people coming late, leaving early, leaving and coming back, whatever - just so they can make it for part of the time. Take a hardline attitude, or even go so far away that it isn't practical to attend part-time - you're done.

This is a huge, huge change since most of us were young and one that doesn't really get enough focus when people analyze why kids and families don't get out in the woods more often. There was a time when Scouting was one of the only games in town, but it sure isn't anymore. Kids have an amazing range of things to pick from, of which Scouting is only one.

Personally, I find all the emphasis on organized sports a bit misplaced. I don't see kids as being MORE fit than they were 30 years ago, notwithstanding all the supposed conditioning and fitness emphasis of sports. What I do see, though, is that many parents believe that sports will help their child get into, and possibly get a scholarship from, college. Whether that's true, or at least true enough to justify all the time and money that get dumped into it, I don't know, but many parents have this as a fixed belief and you really can't tell them otherwise. I think I could make a great case for why learning how to camp and backpack might even promote better life skills than sports do, but I don't usually get the chance to make it!

Jane

Lellers
01-02-2008, 13:29
What I do see, though, is that many parents believe that sports will help their child get into, and possibly get a scholarship from, college. Whether that's true, or at least true enough to justify all the time and money that get dumped into it, I don't know, but many parents have this as a fixed belief and you really can't tell them otherwise. I think I could make a great case for why learning how to camp and backpack might even promote better life skills than sports do, but I don't usually get the chance to make it!

Jane

I agree with everything you've said, especially the bit quoted above. I can't even count the number of times I've heard parents discuss potential college scholarships while watching their little ones playing tiny tot soccer or t-ball. Want to talk scholarships? Earn the Gold Award or Eagle Scout rank, and many scholarship doors open!

Pennsylvania Rose
01-03-2008, 10:49
I had great fun in Brownies and Juniors (my Junior leader was pretty great), but I quit Cadettes because we didn't do anything outdoors. Instead, we spent 6 weeks of meetings working on a fashion/beauty badge. We talked about how to apply makeup, shaving your legs, and wearing deodorant, had a Mary Kay consultant visit, etc. Granted, we voted on what we wanted to do, and most of the troop picked this, but it was NOT for me. Instead, I joined a BS Explorers post based at my high school that focused on the outdoors.

My two oldest girls wanted to join Brownies and the troop was full, so my friend and I became leaders for a year. We were very disappointed, because there was very little support for us as new leaders - the established leaders made us feel like outsiders and were not very informative at our monthly leaders' meetings.

BarFight
01-03-2008, 11:32
I was a girl scout through cadettes when my interest tapered off and I got much more involved in horseback riding and school. We were really lucky in that we had leaders who were very into outdoor stuff, but the size of the brownie and junior troop was huge and it would have fallen mostly to the one leader, though others like my mother were willing to learn. I also attended summer camps with the scouts which were for years the absolute highlight of the year. And during one summer camp I went on my first backpacking trip in the Green Mountains and met my first LT and AT hikers. I remember stating to our leader that the AT hikers were crazy, but maybe someday I would hike the LT. She laughed and said she wanted to hike the AT herself. I think that would be the first time I ever really considered what a thru-hike would be like. I also kept thinking back to how much fun we had that week. My parents liked dayhiking but would never have thought to expose me to backpacking, so I can really thank the scouts for that !

wystiria
01-03-2008, 12:58
Hey folks! I am a lifetime GS member :) got my gold award in 92' and was a leader and GSUSA trainer up until recently. I was just BURNT OUT and consider myself to be on sabatical. I am 31 and have been a dedicated Outdoor trainer since I was 18. I do not have kids *gasp*

I just wanted to add that there are troops out there that go backpacking! yes indeed. Myself and Mother started the Connecticut Outdoor Group. we functioned in addition to a regular troop and provided outdoor program. We found this worked great for us since we weren't interested in doing "snack and a craft" and tons of the badges. but we ARE interested in going backpacking winter camping etc. We had 45 active girls from all over CT participate!!! We competed in multiple camporees, West Point invitational, Operation Snowflake in MA (winter primitive camping comp.) and we have hiked multiple states on the AT!

In fact my first backpacking experience was with the GSs! My mom took us out on our first trip to Sages Ravine when I was in the 6th grade and my sister was in teh 4th grade. We started learnign leave no trace right away and she would get our locale EMS to do in sessions so we could learn about gear.

My mom went on the write the GSUSA Backpacking training course. SOOOOO there is a course women can take to learn about backpacking. Pre-req's are your councils troop camp certification. the backpacking course is 2 in town sessions and then a 2 night trip. it teaches you how to meal plan, handle all kid issues while backpacking (reduced weight requirements, physical limitations of kids etc.) plan trips, fill out your coucnils documents for sayftey wise etc.

The problem these days is finding someone to teach it! :( sadly not very many women really step up and want to do the outdoors. I have NEVER found though, that kids don't want to do the outdoors. our troop and then group was VERY popular.

For those who read the GSUSA magazine our Troop was mentioned last because we were grand champions in 1995 at Operation Snowflake in Mass. To accomplish this you need to win 3 consecutive years in a row. we were the 2nd senior patrol to do it in 30 years!!! this was of course when I was still a "kid" it was a hoot to have my picture in that mag!!!

Anyway the other way to get into serious outdoor stuff is the Wider Opportunity programs - I didn't see anyone mention those. I did the Idaho Wilderness expedition in 1990 where we backpacked in teh sawtooth range of the rockies. Talk about EYE opening for me as a freshman in HS. and then I was a Staff member for the Oregon Trek in 2001. both my mother and sister have each done 2 wider ops as well.

Sooooo rememebr the outdoors are alive and well in scouting - but it all depends ont eh leaders and what they are willing to do with the girls!

gsingjane
01-03-2008, 13:13
Thanks Wystiria for your interesting post (and especially for your service to GS!!). I wonder, did I run into you and your mom leading a hike to Bear Rock in Durham a few years ago? I was the one where I had 12 Brownies signed up to go, then it rained that morning and we wound up with 2??

Anyhow, I hope I run across you one of these days. It sounds liike you've been doing some awesome stuff...

Jane in CT (Guilford)

wystiria
01-03-2008, 13:56
Hey there! you're in CT>>>? cool! Iam not sure if that was us or not. we have definitely hiked in that area. I haven't been terribly active since 2005. and My mom moved to NJ so I lost my co-leader. Althouhg my DH is a card carring member of the girl scouts :)

How are you liking this combined Council for CT? I actually stopped training due to Trail's restrictions on volunteer hours and how you had to train a smattering of courses. So althouhg I am registered thru Trails I trained for Valley....and now I don't know if I will train at all.

If you have been active for a while you have most likely met me or my mom we are fairly well known in CT scouting circles.

gsingjane
01-03-2008, 19:09
The people I'm thinking about were a mother/daughter team that did hike leading and this was a UFO... they were really into animal tracking and it was cool.

Councils combining... hmmmm... as an SUM, the amount of confusion, changed procedures, new websites for product sales that don't work... and then having to explain all this to 75 teed-off leaders... well, I've had easier jobs! But, we got a new MM&M out of it, whom I love (she is a Trails person but was in New Haven before this) and I also really appreciate that we can now access opportunities, including camps, all around the state. I hear the new CEO is very cool, too - she has a strong fitness emphasis which is wonderful because gosh are there a lot of fat GS leaders out there!!

I haven't gotten into training yet, when I step down as SUM after this year I might go on to doing outdoor training. All mine was so long ago that I have no idea whether I'll have to do it over again or what. Unlike about 99% of the volunteers, I actually don't mind going out and practicing my skills, I figure every time I learn something new (just like I learn something on every trip). After this year, I probably won't be going to any more state-wide or council-wide events, but hopefully our paths will cross one of these days... btw if you are interested, a good friend is working on an extension of the Quinnipiac Trail up in your area and always looking for local support. If you PM me, I can put you in touch with him... Jane

wystiria
01-04-2008, 13:27
*smile* yeah I have heard the horror stories of the combination. It is not effecting me though since I haven't been active. I figure it will all work its self out in time. Though I don't envy you having to explain to all your leaders!!!

Training was a lot of fun. I last trained in 06' for Valley on their Troop Camp. certification. I hope the monster council (my term of endearment) picks up Valley's course as the standard. I think its better than Trail's TCC. and yes yes I have taken them both. lol when we moved to cheshire my mom signed us both up for trails course just to see how it went. the only negative to Valley's is it requires a lot of time from the leaders and well we both know how little time Volunteers have :(

Anyway that wasn't me and my mom - we haven't ever led a UFO. I have some guesses on who it was though :) by your description - there aren't too many folks that fit that bill.

I will shoot you a PM if we can we will help out. I have a few trips already planned for this month - assuming my DH doens't back out due to cold LOL he really is a wuss when hiking in the winter. heh but then I can't really blame him, he did start backpacking because of me (and he is an eagal Scout ;) )

Alrighty - glad to hear scouting is alive and well in CT. One of these days I will get back in to it. but for now I am taking a much needed breather. I was no good to the girls burnt out!!!!!!!!

aufgahoban
01-05-2008, 11:08
I think it totally depends on where you are and whose in charge of the scouts in your area as to weather or not it's a strong program or even has the chance to be. I grew up in N.M. and had the opportunity to attend a very 'rugged' camp in the beautiful Sacramento Mountains. We had so many wonderful adventures over the years. We got to plan and then go on multitudes of backpacking, covered wagon and horse back trips. I wouldn't be on Whiteblaze today had it not been for what I learned at that camp. 20 years later, enter a new council leader who feels that girls today don't want or need a rugged outdoor experience, but rather would like some nice dorm style housing with running water and electricity and lots of dance and drama sessions. Needless to say, the camp is no longer in existance. The scouts sold the land. Now girls who live in N.M. just don't have the option of learning how to survive in the woods. They can go get their dance and drama badges though. It's a shame. Maybe I should move to CT. Sounds like you guys have it going on!

Chantilly Lace
01-05-2008, 11:17
My experience in GS in the 60's was mostly crafts and that was mostly making little party favor things for shut-ins. On occasion our leader took us to her cabin in the woods and we took nature walks. I so desperately wanted to join the boy scouts for my brother's troop went camping, backpacking and canoeing all the time. I quit the scouts in junior high school.

Maple
01-05-2008, 15:51
Anyway the other way to get into serious outdoor stuff is the Wider Opportunity programs - I didn't see anyone mention those. I did the Idaho Wilderness expedition in 1990 where we backpacked in teh sawtooth range of the rockies. Talk about EYE opening for me as a freshman in HS. and then I was a Staff member for the Oregon Trek in 2001. both my mother and sister have each done 2 wider ops as well.

Sooooo rememebr the outdoors are alive and well in scouting - but it all depends ont eh leaders and what they are willing to do with the girls!

My daughter did three I believe. Her first was Winter Sports in Traverse City, Michigan which she really seemed to enjoy. They did everything from downhill and crosscountry skiing to ice fishing, sledding, and a number of other activities. Then she did Juliette Low Camp in Kansas City, Michigan with disabled girls. I really believe she learned a lot from that one, and she turned down a WiderOp to England in order to do this. Her last one was an International WiderOp in Ontario with girls that were from England and Australia, Ontario and the US...not sure if there were a few other countries represented or not now.

ScubaDooba
01-08-2008, 16:28
I'm a committee member for both the GSA and BSA. After being exposed to her brother's BSA troop and of course her mom & dad...she wishes her troop were less "crafty" and more "outdoorsy".

She plans on sticking with the GS's until she's old enough (14) to join the Venturers. When she does, I definitely will stay a volunteer.

Hammock Hanger
01-09-2008, 19:48
My daughter did three I believe. Her first was Winter Sports in Traverse City, Michigan which she really seemed to enjoy. They did everything from downhill and crosscountry skiing to ice fishing, sledding, and a number of other activities. Then she did Juliette Low Camp in Kansas City, Michigan with disabled girls. I really believe she learned a lot from that one, and she turned down a WiderOp to England in order to do this. Her last one was an International WiderOp in Ontario with girls that were from England and Australia, Ontario and the US...not sure if there were a few other countries represented or not now.

My oldest went to Hawaii and to TN on W/OP's.
My youngest went to Utah on a W/OP.

Great experiences.

cj_SLU
03-19-2008, 06:43
I was in Girl Scouts for 7 years, 93-99 I think. My mom was a troop leader. Our troop disbanded after one year of cadettes due to lack of interest. I had the option of moving up to Seniors even though I was younger, but they met far away and I didn't have a way to get there (my mom didn't drive). My favorite times were when we actually got to go camping. In Brownies, "camping" was sleeping in a cabin at Camp Whispering Pines and Camp Covington. In Juniors, "camping" was sleeping in a platform tent at Camp whispering Pines and Camp Covington. I don't ever remember pitching my own tent. :-? When we did go camping, we did the normal stuff... learned how to build a fire, cook over a fire, sang songs, ate beenie-weenies :p YUMM! Nature walks, identifying leaves... gotta love those outdoor badges :D. My sister was a Senior scout. That troop got to go on a backpacking trip in Europe :eek:... I was sooo jealous :mad:!

The one thing I hated most was selling cookies... hated it with a passion :mad:
Loved to eat them :D, hated to sell them LOL!

I guess it all just depends... luck of the draw I guess...

Maple
03-19-2008, 07:34
My favorite times were when we actually got to go camping. In Brownies, "camping" was sleeping in a cabin at Camp Whispering Pines and Camp Covington. In Juniors, "camping" was sleeping in a platform tent at Camp whispering Pines and Camp Covington. I don't ever remember pitching my own tent.

The one thing I hated most was selling cookies... hated it with a passion :mad:
Loved to eat them :D, hated to sell them LOL!

I guess it all just depends... luck of the draw I guess...

Our troop did their first overnight camping in a cabin as Daisy's. As first year brownies, they slept in platform tents. By the time they were Juniors, our troop had purchased tents for the girls to use for camping.

My daughter hates even to think about Girl Scout cookies anymore. She hated selling them, especially towards the end, and doesn't care if she eats them or not anymore. She would much rather bake her own goodies.

gsingjane
03-19-2008, 07:55
Yikes, the C-word. This is my least favorite time of the year, to be sure. You will probably not be surprised to hear that *most* families resent having to sell cookies, that it is*etremely* difficult to find cookie moms, and that, especially with the faltering economy, it's getting harder to sell them than ever. The fact that they are $4 for a pretty skimpy box at this point is no picnic, either.

I wish, wish, wish there was another way to do fund-raising for GS that involved a healthier product... or maybe no product at all. The sad fact of it is, unlike in BSA, there is no established "old girl" network of women who have come through the program, achieved something major (like an Eagle Scout award), are economically secure and charity-minded. It isn't to say that BSA is rolling in dough, either, but just that Girl Scouts does not seem to be too high on most women's charitable giving lists. We run a "family partnership" fund-raising effort every year, and our average collected per Girl Scout family is slightly over $1. Now that's pitiful.

If anyone had any serious ideas for a different product or fund-raising tactic, I bet GS/USA would pounce on it. I know they are also very concerned about the organization's association with unhealthy products, and if there were a good alternative... that would sure be great!

Jane in CT

Kara
03-19-2008, 09:57
I was in Brownies with my older sister back in the day with my mom as the leader. Through the years mom stayed registered, and was my little sister's leader when she became a brownie 15 years ago. That's when I registered as an adult to help out and still am today. Now my neices are brownies. We just have a whole family of 'em.

ki0eh
03-19-2008, 11:20
Our little girl just turned 5 and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. She's been in day care since 8 weeks old. I really feel the need to get her out of the house and doing something positive with other little girls.

I know Boy Scouts was a great help for me back home in small town upstate NY without much family. My wife was into 4-H growing up surrounded by many cousins etc. around the family sawmill and farm out in western PA. We both work and my wife increasingly is working out of state and even in Mexico.

We would hope for some outdoor emphasis for anything we get our little girl into but after reading this topic it seems that's not real likely. She just loses her interest without a peer group and we haven't quite gotten the knack of getting something started through our local A.T. club although we have been trying.

Since we have no Girl Scouting background, I'd appreciate any ideas or clues on what we might expect if we go into a younger Daisy troop. After looking through the council web site I still have no idea what the girls will actually DO. Thanks!

gsingjane
03-19-2008, 12:53
Daisies is the starter program for Girl Scouts. It is usually a pretty "light" program, most troops meet once a month or at most once every two weeks, and often it can be a "mommy & me" type experience. The girls wear blue pinafores and they earn their "Daisy petals" where each meeting they focus on one of the Girl Scout laws (courtesy, respect, friendship, etc.) and then earn a petal that reflects that particular value. An outdoor experience for Daisy girls would involve a picnic, day hike, or a day trip to a camporee. It can be a very cute little program... it used to be for kindergarten only, but since most Daisy troops don't get up and running until the middle of the school year, they've expanded it to cover K and 1. Done right, it's a really good intro. to Girl Scouting.

When I had my Daisy troop, we would, as noted above, run "theme" meetings where we would focus on one value. We would play games, do crafts, tell stories, have group discussions, act out little plays, play with puppets... pretty much anything that helped us focus on that one value. For instance, when we did the "use resources wisely" petal, we did a recycling relay race, picked up trash around our meeting place, and did crafts using recycled materials. When we did "respect authority," we did a role-playing game about what authority means, discipline and listening, and visited the police station to learn about obeying the law and what happens if you don't. We brought the girls to our Service Unit wide camporee but only the girls with moms there were permitted to stay overnight.

The Daisy program is similar to the Tiger Cub Scout program, in that the idea is to start out the kids in Scouting, intrduce them to the values and traditions, and start getting the whole family involved with a pretty low-key, easy experience. I would think it would be a rare Tiger or Daisy Scout group that would be going on big-time hikes or backpackiing trips.

If you have strong feelings about what your kids should be doing in Scouting, then the very best thing you can do is to get involved as a parent. You don't need to take over leadership or devote hundreds of hours to it, but you can volunteer to help out as the outdoor-trained person, or to use your camping and hiking expertise to help the girls accomplish their goals. Try not to be down on the leader if she doesn't have prior camping experience: a lot of leaders don't have that, but if they're at least willing to try and learn, that is about 95% of it right there. The most frustrating situation I face as a leader is that there are always parents ready to critique what we do, but a much smaller subset of folks are willing to pitch in and get their hands dirty!

Jane in CT

Frau
03-19-2008, 13:27
I was a Brownie and Girl Scout in the 50s. Jus timagine how much camping WE did! We did all sorts of badge work involving most everything BUT camping. Sadly, my daughter had the same experience in the 80s. I think it is a great program for those who want what the troop has to offer. But, parents should investigate what the troop actually does before signing their girls up.

My colleague across the hall is a Boy Scout Leader, and they are camping every month or two. 21 mile hikes on the AT, canoeing, all the sorts of things I would love to have done in Girl Scouts, instead of sewing and reading, and hygiene....

Frau

Farr Away
03-19-2008, 14:08
I was a Junior and Cadet GS. When it came time to move up to Seniors, we had no one willing to be a leader and the troop died. We did some outdoor activities, and summer camp was an option.

I was a leader for my daughter's Brownie, then Junior troops. We didn't backpack, but did take the girls hiking and cabin camping. Unfortunately when her troop would have moved up to Cadets, none of the girls were interested - too many other competing activities and Girl Scouting wasn't cool. At least the troop didn't die because there wasn't a leader...

Gaiter
03-19-2008, 16:51
i'm a girl scout reject, i was the weird kid, not popular at all, they lost my paper work (but no one elses), and avoided my mother when she tried to get me in.

Gaiter
03-19-2008, 16:58
but those articles -- if they state the facts correctly -- are discouraging.

look at the sources

ki0eh
03-24-2008, 08:59
Jane in CT, thanks for your reply! Maybe my little girl would get into earning "petals". We got a packet from the council but still can't figure out where the specific contact is for the troop meetings. Sounds like they're not as stably located as Boy Scout troops. Seems like there was a merger of councils or something too, maybe that's why specifics are wanting until that settles down.

That's also a good point about volunteering to light a candle vs. cursing the darkness. That attitude works for the Trail too...

I did also check out the AHG links. It doesn't seem that the change in emphasis is aimed at getting the girls outside more. Since their activity is explicitly described as a "ministry" I find it a bit hard to see what AHG does vs. youth groups at one's own faith center. It also doesn't seem that AHG has a significant presence in our area to offer camps etc. - but if the GS council sells some off post-merger, I suppose that's an opportunity for them.

ki0eh
03-24-2008, 09:17
i'm a girl scout reject, i was the weird kid, not popular at all, they lost my paper work (but no one elses), and avoided my mother when she tried to get me in.

I trust you found the Trail more welcoming, I clicked on your link and noted that you're the first set of hiker pictures linked from WB that I've seen that included one of my section (Yellow Springs ghost village in PA, between Port Clinton and Duncannon).

gsingjane
03-24-2008, 17:34
Hi, I found this link for you: http://www.girlscouts.org/councilfinder/results.asp, you enter your zip code and then it gives you the council site for your town. (Sorry I didn't know your zip code, otherwise I could locate it.) If you go to your council's website, there should be an html to click on that says, "locate a troop." Or, you could just call that council and they should direct you to the town manager. We get a lot our new Scouts that way, parents call in to council and then our membership specialist contacts us and we refer them to the specific troops. Or, ask around at your daughter's school. Most of the troops meet at schools, although not all do, and there might be flyers at the back to school night or even in the classroom, depending on what the school permits. Or they might know in the school office.

Girl Scouts isn't a religious or faith-based organization. I have had Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, atheists, fundamentalist and mainline Christians, and pretty much every brand of any other spirituality or faith in my troops, and so far nobody has gone away mad. If you wanted something where everybody was the same faith, or where it was enforced that the girls had to be part of a specific religious tradition, maybe Girl Scouts wouldn't be for your family... although generally we do manage to avoid offending the vast majority of people, at least on that score.

Jane in CT

p.s. feel free to PM me if you're still having trouble finding a troop. I do have some contacts in PA (former CT people) so if need be, I can make some calls.

The Weasel
03-24-2008, 20:11
Not all Girl Scouts are women. Some leaders are men. I am proud of my time as a Girl Scout, as a leader in my daughter's Troop. Minnesota is very wrong, of course; her troop was, at age 16, far more 'woodsy' than every Boy Scout Troop (other than mine) that I knew.

TW

ki0eh
03-24-2008, 20:16
Jane in CT: Is now a good time of year to be finding a troop, or is it better to wait to the fall when our little girl actually enters kindergarten?

MS: I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to the AHG but it seems they would have a ways to go to match the GS Heart of Pa. council in a support network to get children outside since AHG has one troop in all of Pa. according to their website. I'd probably be less interested in the AHG if our church had a youth program for kids our daughter's age, she's just too young for their offerings.

ki0eh
03-24-2008, 20:29
TW: My wife already said that if our daughter goes to GS that I'll be volunteering and not her, so that's good to know!

I just hope the scheduling is such that we can still sometimes travel outside our home area to places, like, Crystal Cove State Park (we were there for both high tide and low tide one beautiful day last month).

flutterby
03-24-2008, 21:59
I'm section hiking (10th year) with a group of friends I met as girl scout leaders. All of us take our girls backpacking. My troop is in high school and planning a "big" one this summer (thinking about the AT in NC/TN...). Nice to see a GIRL scouting thread!

gsingjane
03-25-2008, 07:34
Hi, if your daughter is in K now, the Daisy troop may have just formed at mid-year - I'm not sure, in our town it takes a little while for these things to get off the ground. But if the troop is transferring over to Brownies at the end of K, then you might want to wait until the start of 1st grade to begin - you don't want to buy a uniform she'll only wear for 3 months! On your concern about scheduling, the troop will not, I am sure, run activities every weekend. We do something maybe on average one weekend a month, and we are an extremely active troop. If anything, you may find yourself wishing that the troop would do more stuff.

If you, or anyone considering Girl Scouts, has any concerns about the caliber or screening of the leaders, you would be best advised to contact the council and ask them specifically what they do vis a vis leader qualification and child protection policies, and then make your own decision. This would undoubtedly be a more informative and reliable source than some others.

Good luck!

Jane in CT

ki0eh
03-25-2008, 08:52
Oh, sorry if I wasn't clear, my daughter is 5 now but not YET in K until end of August, should she wait until the fall then?

gsingjane
03-25-2008, 15:23
Yes, there wouldn't be any GS program for her prior to her being in school. And, I would doubt that there will be a Daisy troop for her year organized this far in advance, although you can always check with your council to get the name of your town's manager so you'll know whom to call.

The schools in our town have severely limited the amount of information that can be disseminated in the schools by any "outside" group, which includes Scouts. We are no longer permitted to distribute flyers or hang posters for Girl Scouts, which makes it a bit harder to get the word out when troops are forming or at the beginning of the year, when girls typically join. The best thing to do is, as I say, find out who's in charge of your town, and then follow up on it with her.

Take care, Jane

kizzybean
03-27-2008, 22:29
Hello fellow Girl Scouts,

I have to say I had a wonderful girl scout experiences in the 60's/70's. I was a senior GS did not persue further as I started doing just white water canoeing with AMC and slipped away from the girl scouting. I was very fortunate to have grown up with girl scouts as my mom had been involved since she was young. In fact 2 years ago we attended the 50th year reunion at our girl scout camp Natarswi which is located at the entrance to Baxter Park and the foot of Mt Katahdin. My mom was a counselor there in the 1940's, and I was there in the late 60's. We had a great time playing campers again, even my mom at 82 sleeping in the same platform tent for the weekend we had when I was a camper. We sang all our old songs, teaching them to the young girls that were there for a weekend camporee as they taught us some of the new songs at campfire. I even took a day and climbed Mt Katahdin, across knife edge and down Saddle trail meeting up with some other women at Chimney pond. Spending summers at the foot of Mt Katahdin and Baxter park at our doorstep provided many outdoor camping experiences. The camp is still going strong as one of the few wilderness girl scout camps left. Interestingly most of the campers that attend come from out of the state of Maine. Kids looking for that packpacking, canoeing outdoor experience. Presently Baxter park has grown and now the camp actually sits inside the park boundarys but it is a good relationship for both. Friends of Baxter hope Natarswi will continue the outdoor interests in our future generations. There is concern at the dwindling numbers of overnight campers using the park now as there are no RV's allowed and only primitive camps, lean-to's or tent sites available. They are finding fewer people are willing to venture into the back country to use the wilderness camping and concerns arise at the ablility to maintain these sites with the lack of interest from the next generation who are used to growing up with all comforts, tech items and limited true wilderness camping interests.

It was growing up climbing Mt Katahdin every summer since I was 8 that put me on my path to reach the goal of hiking the AT. At 50, overweight but determined I started section hiking the trail last year. Last year I hiked 350 miles on the trail and hope to reach or exceed that this summer. Family and work sort of dictate my hiking days but I sneak away when ever I can starting in May.

So for me I have wonderful memories from girl scouts and it was one of the reasons I'm reaching back to the woods and returning to hiking after many years of being away. I sing my girl scout songs as I hike alone with my dog on the AT. If you're out there and run into a fat 50+ lady singing it's probably me. lol.

Kizzy (aka trailname: Pokey)

gsingjane
03-28-2008, 07:10
Pokey, what great memories... thanks for posting! I am a Camp Alice Chester (Wisconsin) girl myself and boy oh boy, those days do rate as some of the finest of my life. Like you, GS gave me that special outdoors experience and wonder as a kid... something that was waiting to be unlocked when life finally grew calm enough to start pursuing this interest again. I don't, myself, think it's SO much the exact experience kids have ("classic" backpacking, versus some other kind of cool outdoor stuff) that gets them turned on to nature, it's more just the getting out there, with friends and fun, that gives a kid something to remember fondly and try to re-create as an adult.

Girl Scout songs, ay? We are the exact same vintage and I'm willing to bet we share more than a few. I went to a GS regional conference in Sturbridge MA a few years ago, and the absolutely most fun thing was when a big bunch of us got together in a hotel room at night and ran through decade after decade worth of songs. We had leaders in their 70's and 80's... it was just so neat to see how the songs evolved and changed over the years, and who knew what.

Have you ever considered getting involved with GS again? Many things have changed since our days, but the basics really haven't. Some of my most rewarding experiences have involved introducing excited girls to campfires, night-hikes, Scout's Owns and... yes... those songs!

Jane in CT

skinny minnie
03-28-2008, 08:57
I was a lapsed brownie. I don't think we went camping once. Lame.

gsingjane
03-28-2008, 13:56
Hi SM, I'm sorry your program was "lame." What year did you quit, may I ask? If it was prior to third grade (Brownies ends after 3rd grade), so far as I am aware, very few youth programs take kids of this age camping. It is a rare Cub Scout troop that has the boys out and camping much before 3rd grade, maybe Indian Guides does it but I don't remember my brothers going much before that age, either. Campfire Girls? Maybe, but that's not a highly developed program anymore. My experience has been that unless a child's family is into camping, most kids under the age of say 8 or 9 do not get that overnight outdoors experience. I'd be happy to hear about any national youth program that does get kids out in first or second grade, that would add to my knowledge bank.

Jane in CT

kizzybean
03-29-2008, 10:03
Jane,

I've thought about being involved again with girl scouts but my life has me traveling alot right now. For many years I was very involved in another youth group my daughters were in and volunteered at local, regional and national level. It consumed all my spare time for years so now taking a break and using my spare time for "me". I still support my old girl scout camp with financial donations (know volunteering is better) but it's what I can do now.

Don't you just love singing the songs with a group. It must have been fun sitting at the hotel, probably surprised some of the other guests with the singing. I don't have a good singing voice but love singing away with everyone else. Songs have such memories attached to them. I have a golf buddy that was a girl scout and had attended the same camp in the 50's. She and I occasionally break out in song and laughing totally confusing our golf group as they don't understand.


Pokey

mkingsva
03-29-2008, 20:58
I always wanted to be a Boy Scout...because they got to camp overnight. We did a lot of crafts and community service. The only way I got to experience the outdoors was that my mother sent me to Girl Scout camp for two years. The best camp I remember was Camp Redwing in Pennsylvannia. I don't even know if it is still there. But there I went canoeing and harvested clay from the stream...then made pots from this harvest. I hiked and we had an overnight campfire and overnight sleep outside. I loved it! I saw my first snake there, too. We all screamed and ran for the safety of the tents (which were set on wood platforms).

desdemona
03-30-2008, 02:29
I was a Girl Scout until in my later teens. This was a before the Daisies and so forth. We had a pretty outdoorsy group. My camp, though it was an ugly camp as they go, we went on a canoe trip carrying all our gear and portaging various rivers. Older scouts also did primitive hiking, digging latrines and cooking all meals.

--des

BA_Colt
04-27-2008, 22:37
I do not have such fond memories of the GS. The two years I was a member we went camping three times. Twice it was at a barrack type boy scout camp. We slept indoors in bunk beds. There were hiking trails but we did not venture away from visual distance of the bunkhouse, even with an adult. There was a pond and I did bring my fishing pole but was not allowed to fish. My pocket knife that my father gave me and I always carried with his blessing was confiscated, and I was told it was not ladylike to have a knife. Basically we spent two days cleaning the two buildings in the camp. The other time we "camped out" was at a mall. Really. There were about five other troops and we went shopping and at closing time we were allowed to stay and sleep on the floor of the mall.

Luckily for me my father took me fishing and hiking and my grandfathers took me camping, taught me outdoor skills, and how to shoot. I knew how to clean house, cook, sew, and act like a lady before I was a GS, my mom made sure of that.

Granted this was back in the early 80's. I am grateful that the GS have evolved.

Connie
04-28-2008, 16:40
I had the same experience as Tazie, my mother pulling me out of Girl Scouts.

I had been in the Brownies. I liked all my badges: we even had a Backyard Camping badge.

I wanted a lot more outdoor stuff, and astronomy and amateur radio.

The Boy Scouts had a crystal radio kit!

My mom was a Den Mother. No babysitter, so I had to sit quiet through their meeting. I really wanted a crystal radio set.

I was a little young: I had heard the guest-instructor say the "sat's whisker" was the critical component. I cut the whiskers off the cat! I really got in trouble for that, if my parents and my brother could stop laughing!

Anyway, now that I am all grown up (yeah, right!) I have my amateur radio license, and yes, I did join the United States Army in the Viet Nam era "to help the men". Boy, was I an idiot!

I'd rather be hiking in the wilderness! I'd rather be kayaking! I'd rather be sailing!

In the girl scouts, we didn't get any wilderness experience. I don't mean "survival". I mean, we were not shown authentic nature, only man-made "parks" and "excursions". Only one time, we got an 18-day "pack-trip" hiking with two mules for our heavy gear and supplies. It was part of the Pacific Crest Trail.

mumbles mcgee
01-11-2010, 01:43
If the girl scouts are anything like the boyscouts - I'm glad I didn't join. In my experience, I've crossed paths with large groups of boyscouts several times in the Whites and have *always* found the group to be the least prepared and entirely irresponsible group I come across. I was out after labor day and crossed a group of scouts - at least 1/2 of them were in cotton hooded sweatshirts and about the same number in blue jeans. Um, hello?!?! I understand that not everybody can afford nice gear, but come on! Who let them go out like that?
I also did a hut tour in the Whites after I graduated high school, only to have the misfortunate of hiking along side a group of scouts for 8 days & staying with them in every hut. Not only did their leader offend and annoy me with his unsolicited religious preachings, but the boys were caught trying to STEAL memorabilia from the hut & hut croo in the middle of the night. No respect, whatsoever.
I can't even tell you the times I've heard of boyscout groups (or people just in the scouts without their troop) bush-wacking, separating (leaving 10 year old boys alone!), and being otherwise entirely unprepared.

This has happened enough that I'm convinced it's a lack of strong group policy and the scouts inability to find qualified leaders. My children will not have anything to do with the scouts, boy or girl.

scooterdogma
01-11-2010, 07:48
I was in the scouts in the late 60's and 70's had a great time. My mom was the leader from Brownies up until Cadets. She was the one who instilled a love and respect of the out doors in all of us. We would go camping, backpacking, fishing, canoe trips. I think my mom was the original Leave No Trace camper. It was an amazing time. I quit after trying Cadets for a bit, no camping, no outdoors, just makeup and house keeping tasks, boring! Joined 4-H and never looked back, we did a lot of community service with homes belonging to the elderly. Building and remodeling and painting, it was a blast.

I tried being a brownie leader when my daughter was in Brownies. A lot of "no, you can't do that" and very conservative management. Wore me down and my daughter was bored. Left after one season sad that my daughter wouldn't have the experience I had with my Mom.

I started taking some of her friends camping and hiking and THAT was a wonderful experience. We even took some Mom's that had never been out in the woods. Great memories ... take a child to the woods ... best thing you can do!

Blissful
01-11-2010, 11:06
This has happened enough that I'm convinced it's a lack of strong group policy and the scouts inability to find qualified leaders. My children will not have anything to do with the scouts, boy or girl.


All I can say is then - get involved. It is an excellent service organization motivating young teens to be responsible and to take pride in themselves, their community and the outdoors. And yeah the kids may be in cotton sweatshirts but at least they are off their butts and out there. Instead of complaining, use your knowledge to help others. Be a speaker at a leadership round table and share your outdoor prowessness.

Hoop Time
01-11-2010, 12:08
As the father of a young female hiker who is a former Girl Scout, it was interesting to see the comments about not enough outdoor activity. That was why my daughter quit Girl Scouts. She loved the camping and going on hikes, but had no interest in doing volunteer work cleaning doodie at an animal shelter -- one of her troop's volunteer projects, or other non-outdoors stuff.

While she would share your criticism in that regard, I think Girl Scouts deserve a lot of credit for helping her develop her love for the outdoors. And she also learned some decent basic skills from scouting -- how to pitch a tent, build a fire, basic survival stuff like building a lean-to or similar shelter ... so while Girl Scouts ended up not being for her when she was in about 6th or 7th grade, I feel she really benefited from the experience.

Spirit Walker
01-11-2010, 13:19
I started as a Brownie (no Daisies then) and had a good Junior leader when I was about 9-10. She took us camping and on short hikes. I earned lots of badges. Worked hard at it and enjoyed learning about different things. We went to day camp and participated in a movie about Scouting that filmed us supposedly hiking in the desert sun, singing "Valerie Valera, my knapsack on my back." (Was that ever a pain.)

In Junior High I continued for a year or two with a troop that did things like makeup and modeling classes. I quit. Not just because of the lack of outdoor activity, but because it wasn't considered 'cool' to be a scout. And at age 11, that matters. We moved and in my new school the scouts were among the 'cool' kids, but I never went back. Too many problems at home to deal with. Scouting would have added to the logistics issues of a single working mom and two non-driving teenagers.

ShelterLeopard
01-11-2010, 13:41
Indeed a lot of it comes down to leadership. Most of it, in fact. When my daughter was 7ish, I became a Brownie leader so she'd had a troop to join. (The other troop was full.) I went through the local council's outdoor training, which consisted of staying overnight in a canvas tent with a wooden floor and one person (me) starting a campfire once. What stunned me was that none of the other women--none--had ever done any backpacking or even car camping ever. They were not qualified to lead a group of girls on even the simplest overnight trip. Nor were they likely to become knowledgeable enough to do so. They weren't interested. I have heard of an occasional troop that does outdoor activities, but I don't think it's normal. Girl Scouting is not about that. I don't know what it is about, but it's not about camping.

This is what always stunned and disappointed me as well. I never went on a camping trip with my troup (it was always on my birthday), and the last trip they did was walk a quarter mile, try to sleep in a barn and fail. ??? I quit after brownies. Then I got into camping and all on my own. Brownies/girl scouts could've been so cool with the right leaders though!

Lostone
01-11-2010, 14:00
The daughter was in GS for a bit. She quit that and joined a Boy Scout Venturing Crew Specializing in High Adventure. They backpack couple of times a year, White Water Rafting twice last summer and have gone to a couple of Cope courses.

tothetrail
01-11-2010, 19:16
I started out in Mini Scouts in 1977 in The San Fernando Valley in Southern California. My Mom had to make my uniform and I still have it, hanging in a prominent place in my room, next to my Girl Scout jacket. My first patch is also from that year which was also homemade. Our leaders, my mom included, made the patches. We did get an official Girl Scout patch for selling calendars that year. My aunt was a nurse at Camp Hollywoodland and we went to visit her there. I wanted to go to camp there so bad but I was just under the age limit. Our Brownie troop finally went and I remember being ecstatic about getting to go.

I can't agree enough about the importance of good leadership. My mom also led our Brownie troop in elementary school. The best part was that we could wear our Brownie, or later, our Girl Scout uniforms to school on meeting day. This was a real treat, given the fact that it was Catholic School with uniforms required. My Mom eventually went to work and I remember bridging to Juniors, but I can't remember why I eventually found another troop for Cadets. It was a great troop, and we did tons of camping and hiking. I earned every badge I could get my hands on. I learned so much about what it is to work as a team and that really laid the foundation for my life. I have fond memories of Camp Lakota and was very saddened to learn that the main lodge just recently burned down.

By the time I entered High School, I became friends with someone who was in an incredible Senior troop. It only took one meeting to realize that this was the troop for me. We were a very competitive Mariner Troop, MSS Catalina. I can't even count the number of times we camped and backpacked, a very active troop. We competed in Tambu and GAM. While my aunt took me on my first actual backpack trip and really opened my eyes to the outdoors, Girl Scouting provided a means to immerse myself in it on a weekly basis, even if it was only planning the next trip.

I eventually earned my Marian Award and Gold Award and served as a delegate for a couple of years. I canít tell you the number of people who donít realize that the Gold Award is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout. This is usually a nice topic for discussion during an interview and it is usually the time when the panel is writing feverishly. Needless to say, I am very proud to have been a member of such a worthwhile and satisfying organization.

Thereís no way I could have been so successful in scouting, or in life for that matter, without my parents. My mom was the one who introduced it to me, made my uniforms and later bought them, sewed my patches on my jacket, bought gear for trips and activities, did ďboothing,Ē drove me to the meetings, and made all the sacrifices necessary for me to be involved and thrive.

I still managed to play sports during every season, volleyball, basketball, and softball, along with gymnastics from fourth grade through twelfth. There were some GS activities I had to miss and some sports games that I didnít make, however, I still managed to do it all. Additionally, my family was very into ATV riding in the sand dunes, along with other off-roading. We probably went camping once a month, on all the major holidays. Fortunately, GS and sports usually didnít schedule any activities during holidays, so I rarely missed a family camping trip either.

Wow, looking back, I was pretty lucky!

ShelterLeopard
01-12-2010, 12:47
You were lucky- sounds like you had an awesome time!

ShoelessWanderer
01-12-2010, 12:54
So glad you started this Thread!! The girl scouts never get the recognition the boy scouts do.

I got started in backpacking because of the girl scouts, so glad to see there are some more girl scout alumni out there that are still hiking!

Twizzler
01-13-2010, 06:49
I was in Brownies and I guess our leader was more focused on domestic activities; cooking, sewing, crafts, etc. I joined the county Search and Rescue when I was 14 and that's where I learned how to set up tarps for sleeping as well as spend the weekend in a snow cave. I remember sleeping in my rain gear because I set up my tarp with such skill, I had a small stream flow through the middle when it rained :). (My skills have improved.) I ended up being the first female Field Leader for the county's Search and Rescue. I did have to join the Boy Scouts to be a part of Search and Rescue though.

ShelterLeopard
01-13-2010, 12:20
Wow- cool twizzler!

BumpJumper
01-14-2010, 20:10
I tried to climb the ladder but BOYS got in the way....:D:D

Lillianp
01-18-2010, 11:12
I was in girl scouts and we had some outdoorsy stuff as my mom helped out with the troop. But for the most part, it was a lot of indoors things. We did go horseback riding a couple of times and camped in some old building, but I can't remember what it was.

Twizzler, that sounds awesome.

lmpowell1
01-18-2010, 14:15
I enjoyed girl scouts, although because of stupid rules our best outtings were 'as a bunch of friends who happened to be in the same troop.' Boyscouts get to build ice caves and sleep in them, and my troop (all swim team members most of us lifeguards at our high school) couldn't go swimming because we weren't 'gs' certified. Sign your girls up for boyscouts, they'll get over boys teasing them and will get to experience and learn much more than girl scouts are allowed to.

ShelterLeopard
01-22-2010, 14:34
Girl Scouts whould set up their little cookie tables near a trailhead- they'd make a flipping fortune! (Maybe to be on the safe side, they should set up near an ATM) I know I'd buy as many boxes of those carmel d-lights (or de-lights?) as I could carry... Someone mention that to some grilscouts in trail towns, and tell 'em to pass on the message.

botanista
03-06-2010, 21:53
I was very disappointed by the GS. We didn't do much fun stuff (to my tastes) but mostly worked on collecting badges for cooking, macrame, doing chores... I wanted to go camping, learn to start fires (okay, I already knew that one) and practical skills. I heard later that Campfire Girls was more outdoorsy, but I was too old for it by then. I got most of my outdoors experience with my mom, Sierra Club, and a friend of ours who is a instructor for such things. Honestly, I've never had much use for gender-based groups. They tend to bore me.

Sounds like the GS has improved (or at least diversified) significantly since my experience.

botanista
03-06-2010, 21:55
Oh, and what ShelterLeopard says- I would buy at least one box of cookies at EVERY road crossing.

Hawkwind61
03-07-2010, 10:19
I went up to juniors, but then I got my first horse and that was more interesting for me! ;)

I did learn some very basic outdoors skills in brownies and girl scouts. But I got my start in backpacking, canoeing, and road biking, archery, and riflery through our local YMCA summer day camp. My first 'taste' of the AT was because of a trip I took with them. I was a certified lifeguard for three years in my teens through them as well.

Sadly the camp closed before I could send my kids there. But as I was/am still an avid outdoors woman I took them to do all the types of things I had done. Plus I got them started in 4-H and they were able to do some camping with their group a few times as well as canoe and bike trips with our churches youth group. And since I come from a hunting/fishing family they learned how to hunt and fish as well.

Myself and my family have been well blessed with scouting, 4-H and youth group. Sadly it is getting hard to find good groups.

But I'm a firm believer in being an active role model to my children and grandchildren so a lack of groups hasn't stopped me from taking my kids out when they were young and not taking my grandkids out. :)

Hawkwind61
03-07-2010, 10:20
*now (verse that not!)...I really dislike not being able to edit sometime! LOL!