On Feb. 1, 2019, just over five months from this writing, the Boy Scout program will become Scouts BSA. For the first time ever, girls will be invited into the Boy Scouts of America’s flagship program, albeit in separate girl troops. (I hope this is not new news to you. If it is, you need to get out more!)
In some cases, girl troops will be fully functional come Feb. 1. For example, I recently heard from a Scouter whose new troop already has its number, its chartered organization and 10 adult leaders in place. They plan to start having leader meetings and informal gatherings with their future members this fall so that can hit the ground running come February.
In other cases, Feb. 1 will mark the starting point for planning, which means those troops might be up and running in time for summer camp four or five months later.
In still other cases, chartered organizations will opt to continue serving only boys, which is certainly their right.
Although it makes sense to try to achieve first-mover advantage–to be the first on your block to welcome girls–many experts say first-mover advantage is overrated. In the end, it’s probably better to do things right than to do them right now.
That said, every current troop and chartered organization needs to do something right now–and that’s to talk about what they intend to do. If you’re going to start a girl troop, begin the planning now; good resources are the BSA’s Family Scouting page and its Unit Performance Guide. (There’s also a more concise step-by-step guide at ScoutingWire.org, but the language hasn’t been updated to include girls.) If you’re not going to start a girl troop, make sure you know where in your district potential female members can go should they come knocking on your door. And by all means, make sure your troop and your chartered organization are on the same page. You shouldn’t surprise your chartered organization by welcoming (or turning away) girls, given that it’s really their choice to serve girls or not. And you certainly don’t want to end up in the news because a disagreement escalates.
There will undoubtedly be a few bumps along the road as Boy Scouting becomes Scouts BSA. Good communication and good planning can ensure that you don’t cause them.
Need more great troop program ideas? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.