General Question

jca's avatar

What do you think about girls being part of the Girl Scouts organization?

Asked by jca (35976points) July 5th, 2012

I have a child that will be entering kindergarten in September and I know that her school has Girl Scouts. I am wondering about whether or not it’s a good organization for girls to be a part of, or not.

What do you think about girls being part of the Girl Scouts organization? Is it helpful to their self esteem? Is it a positive thing to be a part of? Is it a money-grubbing organization?

I was a Brownie in elementary school, but I understand that an organization 30 years ago is very possibly very different then than it is now.

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30 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

It never hurts to try it. My aunt has been involved in girl scouts for 73 of her 80 years of life so far.
It has changed a lot, but if you have a good local scout group it is more positive than negative.

If nothing else it helps them with socialization skills

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t like their politics, they’re homophobic and transphobic. Just for that and because I dont’ like my kids doing anything in a same-sex only environment, I’d definitely pass.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s a nice place for young girls to socialize with peers outside of school.

Simone, I don’t think the girls scouts have the same issues as the boy scouts. Case in point—the Catholic Newsletter is really pissed at them.

syz's avatar

I think it’s potentially a positive influence (or at least fun), and should be monitored and supplemented by a parent’s own belief system, morals and world view.

augustlan's avatar

There are some good things about being in Girl Scouts, but I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the organization. My kids were members when they were quite young, because a lot of their friends were scouts. They liked it, but when push came to shove and we couldn’t afford the time and money to have three kids in multiple activities, Girl Scouts was the thing we decided to ditch.

gorillapaws's avatar

I’m for things that empower women and give them self-confidence and knowledge. @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s points are concerning—I don’t so much have a problem with same-gender activities, but the homophobia isn’t ok to be teaching young women. Are there better alternatives? What about Indian princesses?

jca's avatar

I know Boy Scouts is homophobic, and it was (I think) supported in it’s homophobia by the Supreme Court because it’s a private organization. Not sure if the Girl Scouts is – but I’m going to google it asap!

Kayak8's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You are describing Boy Scouts . . . Girl Scouts are inclusive (and got beat up in the press for accepting a transkid into Girl Scouts—the local troop had issues, but national did not).

As for Girl Scouts, I have been one for 45 years (in the US and a Girl Guide abroad). I have been a camp counselor as well. I think this organization has done a good job of changing with the times and understand how important it is for girls to feel good about themselves. I am very proud to have been a scout and still have friendships I made through scouting.

jca's avatar

I just googled them and looked at the Wikipedia article. I see the Girl Scouts overturned a Colorado Girl Scouts troop’s rejection of a transgender kid. They said “if someone identifies as a girl we accept her as a Girl Scout” or something like that. They also have no official stance on prayer in the Girl Scouts and they don’t sanction prayer, nor do they reject it, or something similar to that. It seems like they’re trying to be inclusive, which is good, and better than anybody could say for the Boy Scouts.

BhacSsylan's avatar

I am also confused by @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s points, I was also under the assuption they were quite good (which is precisely why the catholic church and the religious right is so angry at them right now, and hold up the Boy Scouts as wonderful). I remember at least one recent story of a trans girl being let in, followed by the predicable ridiculous actions by opposed groups (i bought two boxes of cookies the next time i saw them, to do my part to help :-p). So, I’m not sure. Hopefully Simone will be back to clear it up.

I do know the the boy scouts is terrible, and unless something changes in the following years I won’t want any boy of mine joining, unless the local troop is very different then the leadership, and even then I’d be wary. They are very homophobic and transphobic as well as religiously intolerant (the fact the I’m an atheist means the local troop may very well not accept my kid, anyway, me being an atheist). And yeah, you are correct, @jca, the SCOTUS did uphold their right to be bigots, since they are a ‘value-teaching organization’. I can understand the ruling, but it certainly makes me very hesitant to ever again be connected to them.

geeky_mama's avatar

Hi there. I’ve been a Girl Scout leader for the same troop of girls who’ve been together from Kindergarten Daisies all the way thru Cadettes. (The 16 girls in my troop are all entering 6th and 7th grade this coming fall.)

GS is the opposite of Boy Scouts on gender issues and homophobia. We are VERY inclusive. (As mentioned by other posters – or just google the Bobby Montoya story.)

Here is what I would say about Girl Scouts and what it’s done for both of my daughters:
– Girl Scouts introduced our younger daughter to archery – and she LOVES it.
– Girl Scouts has given them a circle of girls and families that have been a constant in their lives even when we’ve moved or they’ve switched schools.
– Girl Scouts has given them a chance to try things (camping, life skills, community service, museum events, travel) that they might not have tried otherwise.
– Girl Scouts has inspired our girls in STEM activities (Science Math Engineering)
– Girl Scouts has been fun for me (as the leader) and a way for me to do fun things with a large group of girls.

Girls Scouts is largely WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT.
Sure, there is a core curriculum – badge books and council sponsored events and camps..
But our meetings can be whatever the GIRLS want them to be about.

Our girls love to do crafts – and we’ve tried some cool ones over the years.
The girls in my troop love to travel and camp and cook outdoors – and we’ve done a lot of that, too.
The girls in my troop love going to “Spookamaga” – a Halloween event nearby that’s a little bit spooky and a LOT of fun (led entirely by older girls).
The girls in my troop are unfailingly kind and fair to new girls that join and to each other. It is amazing to see them work things out together and vote on what to do next.

The girls in my troop have done some of the neatest projects and helpful things for their community. Leaf raking for shut-ins (every fall), park clean-ups, Cancer Caps they sewed themselves, cookies they baked and delivered along with singing Christmas Carols to shut-ins. They’ve also helped serve meals for people in the community who needed a meal.

When you first go to a “round-up” – where they form the troops and parents get together to learn more about Girl Scouts they’ll ask for volunteers. If you have any concerns about what scouting will be like for your girl I strongly urge you to sign up as a leader or co-leader.

It’s a totally supportive pro-girl (almost like the 70’s Free to Be You & Me thinking—it’s all very “Girl Power” and “Girls Can Do Anything”) environment and can be a TON of good, constructive FUN.

It will be whatever your troop makes it—so it really comes down to the leaders and their council. Our troop is a blast…and I think that’s why we still have 16 girls even as they are going into Middle School.

zenvelo's avatar

My daughter loved Girl Scouts from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. She would have continued in Middle School except for not liking the troop – the other girls wanted a “social’ focus, my daughter was more interested in activities like camping, bike riding, skating, etc.

I think they help girls be empowered and confident

Rarebear's avatar

Just realized my link wasn’t to the Catholic website. Sorry. Cut and paste error. Here it is.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I was a member of the Girl Scouts for 11 years, ending in 1981 when I graduated from high school. I loved it and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. For me, it wasn’t about being a member of a group, but being in an environment where we learned a variety of basic skills in a hands-on way.

My recommendation would be to allow the daughter to attend. But: make sure that the leaders are the right people. Meet them and get a feel for their personalities and goals for the girls. Also, have your daughter talk to existing members to find out what it is like, including what will be expected of her. She may decide that it isn’t her cup of tea.

@geeky_mama I just read your post. Thank you for the time you have devoted to the Girl Scouts.

Two examples I’d like to add from my days as a Senior Scout (high school):

When our troop signed up to attend a regional jamboree. I was asked to take on the leadership role for a canoeing trip. I had never officially led anything, so this was a bit scary. The leaders talked me through it, and it turned out just fine. The experience taught me that I can stretch beyond what I thought my limitations were and still be successful.

The other is when our asst. leader was raped while sleeping in her apt. With the permission from all of our parents, she and the leader were allowed to provide the basic details of her experience, plus show us a film on what to do in a similar situation. It was the first time I had ever heard of rape, and I am truly thankful that someone armed me with that information.

marinelife's avatar

I got a lot of scouts. A sense of achievement for making merit badges. A lot of fun activities. Some friendships.

Supacase's avatar

My daughter joined as a Daisy this year and I’m very happy with the things they focus on. Compassion, helpfulness, trustworthiness, etc.

The one thing I would caution you about is to find the right troop and the right leader for your daughter. Our leaders and troop are all new so we’re flying by the seat of our pants. I felt they rushed the lessons, but it is getting worked out. Just know that the vibe does differ from troop to troop.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think the Girl Scouts is a fabulous organization, even though my own daughters have never shown interest in joining. Maybe you should just let her try it out, and see what she thinks? If she doesn’t like it, she can bail; it’s not Hotel California, LOL!

ETpro's avatar

I second @WillWorkForChocolate My daughter spent some time as a brownie and loved it. Let your daughter decide.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t need to back these things up – the transphobia people know about – a troupe disbanded rather than let a transgirl in, that’s in the news…as to the homophobia, a friend’s child went through that kind of taunting – good enough for me…otherwise, this q asks for what I think of the Girl Scouts and not for backing up of facts around their problems… like I said…another reason is that none of my kids need to be involved in a thing that some other gender doesn’t get involved in…I really dislike that…

gorillapaws's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m curious, because I have a lot of respect for your thoughts on gender. I thought studies have shown that when girls engage in all-girl activities they end up demonstrating higher self-confidence, learn more, etc. I’m not that familiar with the evidence though, so I was hoping you might be able to clarify if this may in-fact be false. I appreciate there may be other significant drawbacks to gender segregation that of course should be considered.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@gorillapaws Yes, that’s true because, sadly, we live in a sexist world and girls must get together to get anywhere self-esteem wise. But, that is not a reaction to a problem and not how things should be.

Aethelwine's avatar

Our daughter wants to join this year and we will probably sign her up when the school year starts. Most of her good friends are already in a local troop and they talk about all the fun activities they get to do throughout the year with my daughter. I know the parents of these girls and they are great people and really involved with the kids and the school system. I’m so happy to see the positive comments made in this thread by people who have actual experience with the scouts.

JLeslie's avatar

I wanted to be a girlscout when some of my friends were and my mom didn’t let me do it. Probably if I had gone on and on about it she would have, but I accpeted her answer. The truth was, for the most part she didn’t want to be bothered with it. The obligation it would put on her. Plus, my family tends to not be part of organizations like that, they don’t tend to be joiners. However, she did let my sister be a bluebird or bluejay, not sure which it was. My parents had more worries about my sister being more withdrawn, so when she showed an interest in participating in something she went along with it.

I think it depends on the individual child. If you give it a try and she loves it, then let her continue. If you give it a try and she doesn’t like it, let her drop out. Or, if she seems to have no interest to begin with, you decide obviously whether to bother introducing her to it. I guess what I wonder is does she already have activities she participates in? Dance, a musical instrument, art class, sports team, etc? I am a huge believer in ballet for children, especially girls. Teaches fantastic discipline, body awareness, grace, following direction, exposure to classical music. Anyway, back to girlscouts, the one thing I don’t like about it is if there is pressure to sell the cookies.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie I also wanted to be a girl scout when I was young. We went to a signup meet and greet and once my mom found out how much they expect the parents to be involved my mom told me I couldn’t join. I think she was hoping it would be something where I could be dropped off at so she could do her own thing. They had asked my mom if she could help with the girls now and then and that was the end of the dream for me. I was really upset about that.

I guess it depends on the troop @jca, but that is one thing to consider. Parent involvement is usually necessary, but it is also a great time to spend with your daughter and other girls her age. Is this something you’ll have the time for? Or were you hoping for an activity to keep your daughter busy and you can have a little down time while she’s interacting with kids her age? There’s nothing wrong with wanting an extra hour to yourself, especially if you are a working mom. My daughter started taking dance lessons at the age of 3 and it was a great experience for both of us. She was home with me all day, so this gave her an opportunity to be with kids her age and it gave me a little down time to walk around the lagoon at the park. I bring this all up because I remember how some of the parents seemed to look down on me when I didn’t have the time to help out when my sons were in cub scouts. I didn’t understand how much parent involvement was needed when I signed them up.

jca's avatar

@jonsblond: My daughter will be in an after-school program which will watch her until I or someone else can pick her up (around 6 or 6:30 pm). If she joins the GS, the meetings will be during the time that she’s in the after-school program, so it won’t give me any free time. Once in a while, if they have an event during a work day or after school hours, I’ll be able to attend but not too often. If there are events on a weekend, like a bake sale or cook out, then of course I’ll be attending or helping out, as I think they’ll expect parents to.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond By jr. high I was glad I hadn’t been one. Some girls made fun of it, and I could proudly say I never was one. You just never know. I don’t blame my mom. If I were a parent I think I generally would want my children in activities that gave me a break. I don’t have kids as you know so I can only hypothesize. I am always the one playing with children, I truly enjoy kids, I find them interesting and funny and all those good things, but I think they should have activities without their parents at times.

momster's avatar

My daughter is in upper middle school and still loves being in Girl Scouts. She’s love it since she joined in first grade and I think it’s all because of the troop leaders. If the girls are teased for being in scouts she’s never mentioned it.

I think scouts has given her a lot of really great experiences because the troop leaders have adpated their activities as the girls get older. They do a lot of service things for the local community and are working on earning a really big award right now. They go to musicals and take overnight or weekend trips to some really amazing places. It isn’t a huge time committment for us at all with the meetings usually being after school and activities on weekends. They have meetings only once or twice a month. I can’t actually think of one single negative thing about it, unlike the boys scouts which my son is involved in and I can’t wait until he doesn’t want to do it any more.

Aethelwine's avatar

Hi @jca, aka update lady! Did your daughter join? My daughter joined this year (she’s a brownie) and she loves it. She has a great troop and leader and they do a lot of fun activities. We are very happy we decided to join and I was just wondering if you have had a similar experience.

jca's avatar

Update here from the Update Lady! She did not join. She just started kindergarten, and I didn’t intend for her to join this year. I wanted to get her into the swing of school first and then am considering it for next year. I did ask someone in the local troop just out of curiosity and she told me they were filled up for this year, anyway, and that she had inquired for her daughter in May. I guess next spring I have to inquire if I want to get in for September 2013.

JLeslie's avatar

Funny this question came up again. I was just at a party where this topic came up and one of the men said when he was very little he wanted to be a Cub Scout and convinced his mom to let him join and buy all the stuff needed, uniforms and whatever else. The first time he attended a meeting they had one of those fake horses and the kids pretended to ride a horse, and he decided that Cub Scouts was not for him, and never went back again. LOL. He and his wife said one of their daughters tried Girl Scouts and after a few meeting she was out. Couldn’t warm up to it.

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