This fall brings a big change to my daughter and myself. We are no longer part of a Girl Scout troop. Instead, I chose to switch my daughter to Independently Registered status, and I will be working with her much as I would as a leader…but without being a leader.
There are a few reasons for this. But the main one is uniform (the adjective, not the noun) requirements for troop size.
Last year the council rolled out a new system, which included new procedures and rules. First and foremost was the ability for parents to register online (YAY!) and then also have the ability to pick a troop that met their requirements (YAY for the parents, not having to wait on a placement specialist). Along with that was the rule that a minimum troop size was 12. The leader cannot turn away anyone if she has less than 12 girls.
The purpose behind this is to open up troops of younger girls to new members. It is difficult to find troops that will accept girls, and this is a good way to make sure there are enough troops to go around. What used to happen is that girls would wait months until their placement was finalized, so this is a good thing all around.
Unfortunately, troops of older girls are much smaller. As girls get older and other interests and activities become prominent, many drop out of Girl Scouts. That means that with the smaller troop sizes people can add girls to the older girl troops…up to 12.
This is fine in theory. In practice, in the city in which I live, it is not.
My city has 12 high schools. Most of these high schools have academies, where students leave their home schools and are bused to other high schools to receive specialized education. We have International Baccalaureate, math and science, performing arts, languages, business, law, health sciences and STEM academies, to name a few. What that means is that for the troop of 8 girls I had, I was dealing with 7 different schools with 7 different schedules with 7 different transit times. In other words, an impossible schedule. We lost our meeting place because we couldn’t find a day and time that worked for all in the fall, forcing me to hold meetings in my home.
So rather than opening up my troop, each girl added meant more scheduling difficulties. What should be a great idea for the younger girls was an insurmountable problem for my troop of older girls.
I applaud the Girl Scouts for doing their best to attract and place the younger girls. But one-size policies don’t fit anymore than one-size uniforms.
I do wish the Girl Scouts had looked at the various age levels and planned the rules according to the needs of the girls of that age. They do that for supervision and travel restrictions; they should do that for troop size as well.
But as it stands, we have a workable solution. I can still work with the independent girls, outside of the traditional troop context, and see them through to the end.
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