Hi - I am a Camp Fire leader currently and wondered about the differences myself - the below was published from our Camp Fire office. Both programs are great however. I found this very interesting...
Here are some distinct differences: 1. Camp Fire believes there are times for all girl activities, for all boy activities, and for co-ed activities - and we have all of those times in Camp Fire. Everyone lives in a co-ed world and needs to know how to have friends and equal relationships with members of the opposite sex; one way to develop this knowledge is through cooperation and teamwork.
2. Camp Fire's meeting plans and activities, besides being fun and outcomes rich, form the only youth program tied to academic standards (the MCREL standards) to help youth achieve academically, as well as socially.
3. Camp Fire USA states plainly on all our materials that we are an inclusive organization. Girl Scouts in this area is inclusive in practice with regard to religious beliefs and sexual orientation. The national organization relies on individual councils' interpretations and practices, rather than stating a national position and requiring councils to hold it.
4. Everyone can succeed in Camp Fire. The way CF and the scouts earn awards in elementary school is different. Camp Fire kids earn emblems by participation in activities with their groups; Scouts must demonstrate achievement of individual skills - it's a personal check off for each requirement. Camp Fire emblems are to remind members of their activities; Scout emblems are to allow another person to read the member's achievements and rank, as these are placed in pre-determined areas of their uniform. Camp Fire uniforms are considered an expression of the individuality of each youth, and Camp Fire youth determine their own design placement for their emblems and beads. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts use rank to classify members. In Camp Fire, youth can start at any level, and not be delayed by needing to achieve a rank. Also, they will not be stopped in the program at any point for failure to achieve an award. Parents should decide which system seems better for their child’s personality and needs.
5. Camp Fire has reviewed the child development research, and it repeatedly shows that the best youth development occurs in the small group setting. In general, Camp Fire clubs tend to be 2 to 3 times smaller than other youth groups. The ideal size of a classic Camp Fire group is 8 to 10 youth.