This Week in Girl Geek: Video Game Merit Madge for Boys Only!

Posted at 5:00 AM Apr 30, 2010

By Kiala Kazebee


Ah, the Boy Scouts of America. That venerable club of "packs" and "pack leaders," homophobes and pedophiles, knot tie-ers and knot tie-ees. BSA, you old dogs you, what have you come up with now in a vain attempt to distract the world from your Roman Catholic Church-like offenses? A what? A VIDEO GAME MERIT BADGE? Wait just a minute there Boy Guys of Murka, that sounds almost decent of you! What molestations, I say? I can't even think about them through this warm haze of fuzzy, feel good emotions I have towards you now due to this Video Game Merit Badge gambit! And well, one would assume where there is a Boy Boys of The Americas Video Game Badge, there is a Girl Scouts of America Video Game Badge. I mean, this just makes good science sense. So anyway, I..what? THERE IS NO GIRL SCOUTS OF AMERICA VIDEO GAME MERIT BADGE?

I am shocked. And by "shocked" I mean, of course, whatever, gah.

I did some Googling, I MEAN JOURNALISTIC RESEARCH, and could only find this lame Girl Scout-produced web site which allows girls to play games and talk about sports and makeup and stuff (ugh), but as far as I can tell, there is no merit badge for girls who like their XBox just as much as the world thinks they like their ponies.

And the badge actually sounds worthwhile, requiring the scout to:

  • With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
  • Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
  • Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
  • Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
  • List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
  • Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
  • Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
  • Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer's warranty.
  • With an adult's supervision, install a gaming system.

I mean, yes, this isn't as sexy as earning a badge by killing a shitload of Geth, but it is incredibly practical and would go a hell of a long way towards building girls' confidence and self-esteem when it comes to the world of gaming. And these same qualities, of course, would be invaluable while navigating the treacherous waters that are middle school, high school and beyond in the same way playing sports and excelling academically are touted by the GSA as being integral to building a healthy ego for young women.

So what say you, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Bluebirds, etc? How about a Video Game Merit Badge for the ladies? I buy your goddamn cookies, so you owe me at least this much. Quid Pro Quo.


Bobbyskizza said:

I dont understand why the cant have just one unisex organisation, thats how they should modernise. That said I would totally try and rejoin the scouts if there was the possibility of earning the 'killing a shitload of geth' badge

Jen said:

The Girl Scouts established years ago a fantastic technology initiative called Girls Go Tech - - that teaches girls about real technology, including math and science foundations. Why tell girls to go play video games when they're already learning how to PROGRAM video games?

CTrees said:

There isn't a video game merit badge, and these aren't for Boy Scouts. There's a pin and a belt loop, which are Cub Scouts award, which ends at fourth grade, I believe? Both are run by the BSA, but the distinction is rather significant.

Kiala said:

I don't think the distinction is significant @CTrees. The Cub Scouts are owned by and part and parcel of the Boy Scouts of America. As for the pin and belt loop, you're just arguing semantics.

The issue stands.

Kiala said:


I did not see Girls Go Tech in my googling so thank you. That is a step in the right direction.

RachelB said:

I understand that the world is changing, but allow me a moment to defend my lawn from these damn kids. When I was in Girl Scouts, we did actual SCOUT things. I got my badges in things like swimming, compass reading, fire building, star gazing, and knot tying--things that actually come in handy in the wilderness.

So, video games? Maybe that helps one navigate the wildnerness of gaming and shopping, but that shouldn't be what the scouts is about, not for boys OR girls. Call me a purist, but the scouts should be about introducing kids to nature and helping them develop basic wilderness survival skills. Don't even get me started on the makeup application Girl Scout badge.

Think about it: when the zombie apocalyse comes, or you're stranded on an alien planet, which scout do you want: the one with the badge for killing electronic Geth or the one with a badge in killing actual Geth (only available for Eagle and Senior Scouts who have earned their certification in plasma guns and machete)?

Paul said:

Okay, so that's one for the boy scouts.

Meanwhile, the girl scouts do not prejudice based on sexual orientation or religious belief.

Also, they have thin mints.

Really, if I had a choice, I'd join the girl scouts.

scaryjoann said:

Okay Paul, you spend your afternoons learning to sell cookies by using the power of braids and being reminded you suck at makeup application. Also, they sell the cookies, they don't get to eat them.
My girl scouts consisted of building freaking animals from toothpicks and fruit, selling cookies, and learning to celebrate femininity and feel ashamed when you don't excel at makeup.
That said, this is the closest thing to a gaming badge I've found.
Where learning to play a game is next to learning to use the computer to add and subtract.

Andrea said:

My girl scout experience consisted of sewing a pillow and being pressured to sell a bunch of cookies even though I hated selling stuff to people, even cookies. When we weren't sewing pillows, we were jumping on couches and singing "Friends in Low Places" in my troupe leader's trailer. I quit after six weeks.

The boy scouts always sounded more put-together and awesome. I mean, camping! Versus pillow-making? Come ON.

Paul said:

So wait, let me get this straight, you're both arguing FOR the organization that kicks out gays, atheists and agnostics on the basis that it would be more fun.



Andrea said:

All's I'm saying is that creepy conservative practices aside, camping IS a lot more fun than sewing pillows. My 9-year-old self would have far preferred a stint in the BSA's.

CTrees said:

A lot of Boy Scout troops (possibly the majority? hard to tell) are just as lame as most Girl Scout troops. Pretty much just older Cub Scouts, was the prevailing opinion. My old troop? Well, my Scoutmaster had been a Marine Recon sniper in the Vietnam War. We did primitive camping monthly, shot a variety of weapons regularly, learned a whole lot of survival and well... guerrilla tactics, and all in all it was pretty damn awesome. True story: once a couple of the younger boys found and killed a snake. The Scoutmaster made them cook it and eat it, using it as a teaching aide for the whole group. Just the sort of group we were. We had a lot of people switch to "softer" troops, but for lessons that can be used to survive the coming zombie apocalypse, there's no troop that would leave one better trained. Though knowing how to apply make-up to cover zombie-flesh would be important, too, I suppose...

Sad thing is, Boy Scouts (in general, not the outlier, disciplined troops) and Girl Scouts *used* to be a lot more serious. Ah, well. Good ol' days, etc.

Kiala said:

I was a Brownie for like a month. We rode horses once, I remember that. Um...otherwise I was ostracized for having a single divorced mom and not being good at sports.

So basically my Brownie experience set the tone for the rest of my growing up years.

I wish we had gotten to do anything like a Video Game Badge/Pin/Belt Loop thing.

Paul said:

Andrea: At this point, I feel it's fair to ask that if you had a nine year old kid (yes, I know your POV on having kids), which organization would you prefer they were in?

Andrea said:

Well, as the sex of the kid would ultimately determine where they even could join, the point is moot. However, if the kid was just desperate to join, I'd probably let them join whichever organization, with the caveat that I would explain why both of them have serious issues, and why tolerance and understanding is as important as the skills they would learn in a tribe/troupe/whatever they call it. In fact, I'm almost more intrigued by the possibility of demonstrating to my child that there are all kinds of grey areas in life, and that understanding how people and institutions work is a vital part of growing up.

Membership in any large organization, be it religious, secular or whatever, comes with the obligation of dealing with the ideology of that organization. The question is, will membership in this organization do more harm than good? I was a passionate member of my church youth group as a kid, and while I disagree with a lot of religious teaching on homosexuality, sex, etc., I think belonging to the group made me a better person and gave me a sense of purpose and belonging at a time when I really needed it. It's an incredibly hard call. I'd like to think that I could find some kind of outdoors-activity-oriented group for my kid that didn't come with all the homophobic, religio-nuts baggage of BSA.

OldDallas said:

Sorry but your article needed much more research. I volunteer for both groups currently, have for years now.

I get so fed up hearing from people that go - 'I wish my Girl Scout experience was more like Boy Scouts.' Because the reality was and is - your Girl Scout experience is what YOU make of it! If your troop isn't doing outdoor survival stuff and you want to - the tools are there for it, you just have to open a discussion with the troop leader and offer to work with everyone to move the troop in that direction. Its really that simple.

BSA has distinct programs - Cub Scouts (advancement via ranks, boys 1-4 grades), Boy Scouts (advancement via ranks, boys 5-12 grades), and Venturing (14-21 co-ed, no ranks, each unit has a focus of its choice). With advancement in the program being by set points, it makes for a similar experience for everyone. However - I can assure you that with each BSA unit being 'Chartered' (i.e. each unit is owned by a sponsoring organization) that sets the tone for the unit. The Chartering system allows for the group that owns the Boy Scout unit - such as a church, etc. because BSA does not actually own any of its units - to have authority over the activities, leadership, and even membership of the unit. Some units let the boys lead, some do not. Some units go camping all the time - but many go once a month, because its necessary if the boys are going to reach all of the goals. For example - the cooking Merit Badge (only available to those in Boy Scout Troops)each boy has to plan and prepare various menus for various things (car camping, backpacking, at home, etc.) If you have a troop of 80 boys, even split into patrols, that requires several camp outs to occur to get that done.

Girl Scouts (and its GSUSA not GSA!!!) has Program Grade Levels (Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador) and everything is based around the GSUSA Leadership Model (because GSUSA does not allow any outside group to own a Girl Scout Troop). A Troop can be just one Program Grade Level, or a multi-level troop. Without set rank advancements - its up to the adult leadership to partner WITH the girls so that the group is doing things the girls are interested in - be it earning Try-Its, Badges, or Interest Projects (aka IPs), working through one of the Journey series, camping only, travel only, or whatever mixture of things they want to do - all within the framework of the Leadership Model. What this allows for is that GSUSA members come from a WIDE range of interests, and by stressing the 'be a sister to every Girl Scout' in the Girl Scout Promise - its teaching acceptance for everyone because no matter what you choose to have your experience in Girl Scouting be - everyone is just as 'good' a Girl Scout as everyone else.

Regarding a video game badge for Girl Scouts - try reading some of the Interest Projects' Requirements. One IP is called "Couch Potato" - but once you see the requirements for it you realize its about getting the girls thinking about the images of women on tv, and even in video games, today, as well as those watching/playing them and they then have to educate younger girls about the topic as well. When that IP first came out several people were upset about 'a tv badge' - but I have spend years working with a local college to partner up groups of Girl Scouts with Professors to work on IPs in the professor's field - and the Couch Potato hands down is one of the favorite IPs of every college professor I speak with. Because it takes something that has such a negative connotation in our society and challenges girls to THINK about it, ACT on what they have learned, and even EDUCATE a younger generation of girls about it in a fun way.

Lets stop assuming that just because they are called Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts they need to be the same, or are supposed to be the same. Each organization has things it could learn form the other. Nonetheless, each organization is on its own path, and has positives that its contributing to society. Each should be celebrated for the positive impact they have on so many people.

Mary said:

I am a leader for both Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. The requirements that are listed are for the Video Game Pin. The belt loop only has 3 requirements. Our Cub Scout Pack is strong and the parents are the key. Our boys go camping, hiking, participate in Council activities such as the Cub Olympics, Pinewood Derby, and the Cubmobile races. We also march in parades, clean up the neighborhood, and attend patriotic functions. We are teaching the boys respect, duty to country, to God, and to self. The Boy Scout Troop my oldest son belongs to is actually quite awesome. He's gone camping many times and learned fire building, lashings (knots older brother), self-reliance, among other things. Don't judge the entire organization on a few bad apples. There are those of us who strive to make the program the best it can be.

Girl Scouts, on the other hand, is disorganized and needs a total restructure. The books are changed very often which is confusing. Oh, and girls don't earn Merit Badges...that's only for Boy Scouts. But the badges they can earn are changed so often, it's hard to keep track of what the girls have to do to earn them. The GS program is supposed to be girl-lead. So if the girls in the Troop want to learn about make-up, they should. If the girls want to learn how to camp, they should. The leaders should be experienced enough to give the girls a well-rounded program and include things that cover a wide variety of interests.

The cookie program is frustrating, time-consuming, and disorganized. Hopefully the council in my area will sort it out by next year, otherwise we are not selling cookies.

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