Girl Scouts vs Scouts of America


Faith Smith

For several years, I have constantly been asked which is better, Girls Scouts or Boy Scouts? This question is tricky because I can only speak about my experiences, not the organizations altogether, which leads to a biased point of view. The organizations are very different, and one of those differences lies in the fact that it’s all about who is in your troop.

Troop 42954 is one of two Girl Scout troops on the Key Peninsula. Other than meetings, 42954 doesn’t take many camping trips, but as I said earlier, that doesn’t mean every troop is like that. In the earlier years of 42954, they were more active in the Girl Scout community. However, as the troop members got older and moved on to high school, they had less time to meet and do activities. Since everyone in the troop is in their last year as a scout, it’s become more of a social club that meets twice a month. An age requirement isn’t a problem because you can join Girl Scouts at any age, from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Since girls are now allowed into the BSA organization, it’s now ‘Scouts of America’ instead of ‘Boy Scouts’. While boys and girls can be in the same troop, they split into the boys’ half and the girls’ half. Troop 220 is the only BSA troop on the Key Peninsula. 220 meets every Tuesday to work on merit badges, plan camping trips, advance ranks, and prepare for upcoming events. Aside from meetings, 220 often has two or more events planned per month, usually a camping trip if the weather is good and a volunteer event that benefits the community. In the fall, the biggest events Troop 220 has are cutting and selling firewood, Scouting For Food, and volunteering at the Haunted Forest. BSA requires troop members to be at least ten years old and in the fifth grade. Anyone younger would have to join a Cub Scout Pack.

There are some similarities between the two organizations. For instance, both have mandatory product sales to raise money for troops and the organization; Girl Scouts has cookies, and Scouts of America has popcorn. In both organizations, you age out at 18, although in BSA, you age out as soon as you turn 18, whereas, with Girl Scouts, you age out your senior year of high school. Both Girl Scouts and BSA have badges you work on throughout the year. There are some differences between the badges in terms of how in-depth they go. To give an example, the requirements for the BSA first aid badge are much more hands-on and detailed than those for Girl Scouts. Some badges BSA has, Girl Scouts doesn’t have, and vice-versa. For those in Girl Scouts, the badges you earn do not affect your ‘rank’, whereas it’s just the opposite in BSA. BSA has certain requirements, such as badges to be needed and time in a leadership position, that need to be filled before you can rank up. In Girl Scouts, your ‘rank’ is by age and school year.

Each organization is unique, and there’s no cause to say one is better than the other. I enjoy being able to go camping with Troop 220, but I also like having friends my age in Troop 42954 I can hang out with. I don’t support one organization over the other. Occasionally, I encourage people to join one or both. Both organizations have upsides and downsides. In the end, it’s all about finding the right fit for you and your interests.