WINDHAM — The Boy Scouts honor their best achievements with the Eagle Scout rank. The Girl Scouts honor their best with the Gold Award.
In Scouting, the two achievements are considered equivalent. But while the the Boy Scouts' accolade enjoys instant name recognition with the general public, in contrast, the Gold Award has an unfamiliar ring.
That doesn't bother Victoria Berger of Windham. Berger, now a student at Northeastern University, recently earned a Gold Award. Her Gold Award service project was helping to restore the Windham Wonderland Community Playground.
"Generally, not a lot of people hear about the Gold Award," she said. "More boys go out for Eagle Scout, and usually, you hear about the Eagle Scout award. But it seemed like in our town we got equal recognition. We both were in the local newspaper."
Berger collaborated on her service project with three other members of Windham Girl Scout Troop 01007 — Cynthia Simonoff and Lauren Satkwich, both of Windham, and Krystal Cummings of Bow. All four earned the Gold Award.
Only 5.4 percent of all U.S. Girl Scouts achieve the Gold Award annually, according to Mary Ellen Hettinger, public relations manager for Girl Scouts of Swift Water Council. The percentage of Boy Scouts who attain Eagle Scout rank is about the same as Girl Scouts who earn the Gold Award.
The Yankee Clipper Council's Randy Larson was an Eagle Scout himself. He respects the Gold Award and says the Girl Scouts probably are being slighted compared to the Eagle Scouts. But the reason Eagle Scouts are better known than Gold Award Girl Scouts may not be due completely to social biases in favor of boys.
The reason may be dumb luck, Larson said. "Part of the marketing and the familiarity has been due to the eagle," he said. "It's our national symbol."