A vest covered in various badges and patches– it’s an image quickly associated with Girl Scouting!

There’s a badge or patch for pretty much everything, and earning each one is a special and rewarding experience.

But with so many badges and patches out there, sometimes we get ahead of ourselves. So let’s get back to the basics: What exactly is a badge, and what exactly is a patch? What’s the difference?

Everyone has had these questions at one point or another! Let’s dive in.

Asking the difference between a badge and patch is like asking the difference between a square and rectangle:

A badge is a specialized type of patch.


  • Created by GSUSA, with specific criteria to earn them.
  • Each Girl Scout level has its own unique badge shape.
  • Badges go on the front of a vest/sash/tunic.
  • Check out the Badge Explorer!


  • Guidelines to earn a badge can be found online and in your Girl Scout badge book. Begin by reading through the requirements for a badge.
    • Remember, you only have to choose one activity for each step. Consider combing multiple steps in one activity.
  • Think about going on a field trip to complete all or some of the requirements.
  • Spend a meeting planning your badge work for the year and have your Girl Scouts choose which badges they want to work on. This will alleviate the stress of badge planning and empower your Girl Scouts to choose their own fun!


  • For everything else! There are Council’s Own Patches and Fun Patches.
    • Council-sponsored programs, Council Quests, troop activities…even a trip to the zoo can earn you a patch.
  • Patches go on the back of your vest/sash/tunic.
    • Run out of space for your patches? Try putting them on bags, pillows, blankets, hats, or whatever else you like!


  • Council’s Own Patches are created by Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee. They each have their own list of requirements developed by our council or a partner organization. They are great options when planning troop meetings or excursions!
  • Fun patches can be earned for any number of fun activities your troop or service unit complete together. These can include camporees, pool parties, a trip to the movies, or a visit to a museum. If your troop has a meaningful experience, mark the occasion with a patch!
  • Council’s Own Patches and fun patches are available for purchase in The Cabin. Email nashvilleshop@gsmidtn.org to check availability.
    • If you need a specialty patch for an event we do not keep in stock (like goat yoga), we can order them for you with no additional cost.
  • Many of our partner organizations offer opportunities for your troop to earn a patch for activities like visiting museums, attending workshops, or going to sports games. Check out our Community Opportunities page!

Your badges and patches document your Girl Scout experience! Each one is not only a memento, but a reason to be proud of yourself and all you’ve learned.

If you have any questions about patches or are just looking for some fresh ideas, our Volunteer Resources department is always available to help!

Pictured: Troop 1239 earned this year’s GSMIDTN Summit patch by attending the program together and working on several skills throughout the day!