Yes I have, the basics, as I understand it, will be girl-only dens within mixed-gender cub packs, and girl-only troops at older levels. Explorers and Ventures will remain co-ed. It's up to the council & charter organization to decide if they will be girl-only, boy-only, or co-ed in the larger sense.
There is far more animosity than I expected from the girl scout ranks - everything from "they're stealing our girls" to "girls shouldn't have to compete with boys to win merit badges" - a LOT
of misinformation & uninformed people ranting.
Of the "outdoor active troops" I know, some are considering switching immediately, though there will be a time lag for the older girls, 2019 for the new program, and that will make it difficult to see the benefit for high school kids right now. My own troop is poised well - we could bridge into BSA cleanly in two years instead of going along the older girl scout ranks, but I'll leave that up to the scouts, and we can discuss it over the next few years.
GS is supposed to be a great leadership program, but the structure of it makes it heavily dependent upon the two or three troop leaders. In GS, a troop is (most often, not always) about 8-12 girls, all in the same school and same grade. Parental support is mixed, and the required adults are 2 co-leaders to form the troop. The troop stays together from 5k through 12th grade in their ideal program, but most fall apart in 6th grade, when many girls no longer continue and a troop with 2 girls is sort of silly. If a troop wants to do a badge, it is up to the girls and their 2 co-leaders to find an expert in whatever, interpret the often vague requirements, and set it up. In many cases, those same 2 co-leaders stay with the girls their entire time, and those adults need to re-learn badges, leadership work, etc, every 2 years when the girls "age up" into a new set of books, guides, and goals. Those same 2-3 adults generally get burned out planning & coordinating every.single.activity, and often are ready to quit at 6th grade themselves.
GS troops have "kapers" (jobs) at meetings, which are akin to classroom jobs, there is rarely an assigned "Girl troop lead" or "Girl patrol lead". Though some troops do use this model when they become large enough. I have toyed with 4-girl patrols (rotating leaders) for my scouts, just to get them into the structure & it seems to work, but I have ~17 girls, and you really need a quorum for this to actually happen. You can't make patrols of 2 girls, and having multi-level ages helps fuel the leadership pipeline.
BSA, however, has the den-pack coordination at the younger grades, and then the older scouts have a large troop, sometimes 50-100 scouts, with a leadership team where the scoutmaster has a cadre of adults to assist. The troop is broken into patrols of 8-ish scouts, and the patrols are boy led
. There are often "Merit badge councilors" who are experts in one or more merit badges, and many troops keep a list of these. The enormous benefit to a BSA troop is the longevity and tribal knowledge base of how the program runs. The badge requirements evolve over the years, but the basic structure has not changed as much as in GS. A man bringing his son to a BSA troop will recognize some of the structure from his own troop 20 years prior. A troop has enough adults associated with it that the burden of day-to-day operations falls on many, not one. They often have "troop equipment" and a quartermaster to manage equipment loans, so you are not having every single new crop of scouts buy gear. Fun fact - when a GS troop disbands, it is supposed to distribute the gear/supplies among members - there is no precedent to hand down supplies to a younger upcoming troop. I asked about buying tents and immediately was asked "what will you do with them when your troop disbands?"
Both programs CAN be great.
To most people, however, GS = cookies, crafts, etc. BS = camping, mechanical/tool/skills, and getting dirty.
Even the programming and badges in GS have been poorly thought out. These are the badges for 9th & 10th grade
Looks thrilling, right? How many badges do you want to earn from that list? This will be your choices for 2 years. Take an example of the first aid badge - the requirement at this level is basically "Go get certified in CPR/First Aid" - here is what the "badge handbook" tells you to do
. Oh, that handbook is only available as part of a $22 Girl's Guide, and is expected to be purchased for every scout individually, and if the leader wants a copy for herself, yep, go buy one. There is no easy online source except for unofficial sites (probably in copyright violation).
IMO, a lot of program value was lost by trying to be all things to all people. Camping badges for the younger girls (younger than 6th grade) do not require actual camping in tents. You can fulfill them by staying in a council property that is very much akin to a hotel - cots, flushies, full kitchen, fireplace, lighting, furnace & AC. Will some disabled scouts not be able to use wheelchairs on a tent campsite? Yes. Should inclusion force the rest of the troop to never
camp in tents? <I'll leave this up to you> One troop I know of has a girl with a gluten allergy. She goes on activities with them. The troop wanted to make sandwiches or something to eat on the outing, they are in 4th grade. Did they have gf bread for the one girl? Yep! the whole troop was expected to eat gf bread, at a not-so-insignificant price increase. Is that a problem, not really, but the extra $$ could have been used elsewhere & a $1 loaf of wonder bread would have served the rest of the girls. Sometimes, reasonable accommodation means treating people differently according to their needs. I can't wait to find out what the solution is when a transgender girl wants to go camping - does the entire troop have to sleep one to a tent because that one girl must?
I have already considered pushing my own children into Civil Air Patrol as a leadership organization when they are 11/12, this move by BSA may open another alternative to that.