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How Different are Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts?

2 minute read

The Boy Scouts of America announced it would begin allowing girls to enroll beginning in the 2018 program year.

The Boy Scouts said it received requests from girls and families to make the change and that research found the programming would be relevant for girls. But how different is the programming that already exists at the Girl Scouts?

Many people know that both groups involve collecting badges and selling treats, whether it be cookies or popcorn. However, it’s not just cookies and sewing on one side and camping on the other. Here’s how to two groups actually differ and how they’re alike.


Both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the United States mark achievements by issuing badges. There’s actually a great deal of overlap among the different badge skills, including camping, car maintenance, first aid, fitness, budgeting and even robotics. However, the Boy Scouts have some badges that focus on broader themes such as communication, which includes elements of writing, speaking and blogging among others. Alternatively, the Girls Scouts offer specific badges for things like screenwriting and novel writing.

Programming can also vary among local groups, though both organizations allow children to work on any badge at any point.


The growing field of science, technology, math and engineering has a place in both organizations. The Boy Scouts launched its STEM pilot program in 2015. The initiative has been open to both girls and boys.

STEM is also a focus for the Girl Scouts, though Chief Customer Officer Lisa Margosian noted that older badges like knot tying and cooking have incorporated elements of STEM. As the fields within STEM change, so have the Girl Scouts’ program offerings.

The highest achievement

Both organizations offer a high rank — for Boy Scouts it’s becoming an Eagle Scout and for Girl Scouts it’s the Gold Award.

To earn the Gold Award, girls need to identify an issue, investigate it thoroughly, get help and build a team, create a plan to present and get feedback on, take action and then educate and inspire people.

To become an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts must complete a service project, have 21 merit badges including specific required ones, serve in a leadership position, be an active member, present recommendations and participate in a unit leader conference before the age of 18.

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