With girls joining the ranks, Boy Scouts plan a name change

Tatum Weir, center, carries a tool box she built as her twin brother Ian, left, follows after a Cub Scout meeting in Madbury, N.H., March 1, 2018 | Associated Press file photo by Charles Krupa, St. George News

NEW YORK (AP) — For 108 years, the Boy Scouts of America’s flagship program has been known simply as the Boy Scouts. With girls soon entering the ranks, the group says that iconic name will change.

Read more: Girls in Boy Scouts? In historic change, Boy Scouts of America to admit girls in some programs

The organization announced a new name Wednesday for its Boy Scouts program: Scouts BSA. The change will take effect next February.

Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said many possibilities were considered during lengthy and “incredibly fun” deliberations before the new name was chosen.

“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”

The parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts – the Scout program for 7- to 10-year-olds – will keep its title, as well.

But the program for 11- to 17-year-olds will now be Scouts BSA.

The organization has already started admitting girls into the Cub Scouts, and Scouts BSA begins accepting girls next year.

Surbaugh predicted that both boys and girls in Scouts BSA would refer to themselves simply as Scouts, rather than adding “boy” or “girl” as a modifier.

The program for the older boys and girls will largely be divided along gender lines, with single-sex units pursuing the same types of activities, earning the same array of merit badges and potentially having the same pathway to the coveted Eagle Scout award.

Surbaugh said that having separate units for boys and girls should alleviate concerns that girls joining the BSA for the first time might be at a disadvantage in seeking leadership opportunities.

So far, more than 3,000 girls have joined roughly 170 Cub Scout packs participating in the first phase of the new policy, and the pace will intensify this summer under a nationwide multimedia recruitment campaign titled “Scout Me In.”

The name change comes amid strained relations between the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

Girl Scout leaders said they were blindsided by the move, and they are gearing up an aggressive campaign to recruit and retain girls as members.

Among the initiatives is creation of numerous new badges that girls can earn, focusing on outdoor activities and on science, engineering, technology and math. The organization is expanding corporate partnerships in both those areas and developing a Girl Scout Network Page on LinkedIn to support career advancement for former Girl Scouts.

“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” said Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts’ CEO. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills … and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults.”

The Girl Scouts and the BSA are among several major youth organizations in the U.S. experiencing sharp drops in membership in recent years. Reasons include competition from sports leagues, a perception by some families that they are old-fashioned and busy family schedules.

The Boy Scouts say current youth participation is about 2.3 million, down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million in peak years of the past.

The Girl Scouts say they have about 1.76 million girls and more than 780,000 adult members, down from just over 2 million youth members and about 800,000 adult members in 2014.

The overall impact of the BSA’s policy change on Girl Scouts membership won’t be known any time soon. But one regional leader, Fiona Cummings of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, believes the BSA’s decision to admit girls is among the factors that have shrunk her council’s youth membership by more than 500 girls so far this year.

She said relations with the Boy Scouts in her region used to be collaborative and now are “very chilly.”

“How do you manage these strategic tensions?” she asked. “We both need to increase our membership numbers.”

Surbaugh said BSA’s national leadership respected the Girl Scouts’ program and hoped both organizations could gain strength.

“If the best fit for your girl is the Girl Scouts, that’s fantastic,” he said. “If it’s not them, it might be us.”

Written by DAVID CRARY, Associated Press

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • comments May 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve actually looked into this whole thing and the primary driving force is that membership numbers are way down compared to years past and BSA simply needs the $$$ (the word ‘need is very subjective here, but their executives would like to continue with the lavish salaries). GSA is also an extremely financially mismanaged company at the national level and if girls in BSA catches on in a big way they may be in real trouble, because they can’t afford to lose a huge chunk of their membership dues to BSA. Both organizations have been very mismanaged at the national level. It is a shame, but the whole thing with both companies comes down to the bottom line $$$.

    • NotSoFast May 2, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      Kissing Political Correctness rear-end will save their favorite tax status. And for those who donate. That’s all.

      • comments May 2, 2018 at 6:44 pm

        They’re not threatened with loss of their tax status if they were to keep it a boys only program (they already have had a co-ed program for teens for years). It’s simply about revenue $$$$.

        • comments May 2, 2018 at 6:49 pm

          expanding ‘market share’ and increasing revenue and keeping the lavish salaries and benefits of the tops dogs of BSA.

  • RadRabbit May 2, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Looks like no more overnight camping trips. Great way to ruin the Boy Scouts.

    • comments May 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      They plan to create troops of all girls and leave boy troops all boys, so the camping trips won’t be an issue. But they are actively trying to cut into the market share of GSA, which is why GSA is so riled up about it.

  • ladybugavenger May 2, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Boy scouts looks like it’s more fun. But, girls scouts have cookies. Its seems like they can integrate the two and call it Scouts BGSA, just keep the cookies!

  • Harold S. May 2, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    This is the end of the Boy Scouts of America. I wonder what they will change the name to when they allow the non-genders to join. You know the ones that aren’t identified as boys or girls. They will have to start a third group to separate them from the identified genders. The BSA in on a down hill slope. Good bye BSA it was good while it lasted but now its time to abandon ship. Maybe someone will come up with a better program.

  • comments May 2, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    It’ll be interesting to see the future of both companies. In a lot of ways they are both dying. Changing values and culture has led to really quite drastic membership declines in recent years for both. As far as to how many girl scouts will jump ship and join BSA is anyone’s guess. These two companies are very separate entities and will not be integrating or cooperating in any way unless one buys out the other completely. Both have drifted too far from their core missions about providing experiences to kids and are mainly about revenue these days. Both are completely dependent on volunteers, and I don’t know why anyone would pay to be a volunteer troop leader. If a person is putting in their time and commitment to the company for free then they should not have to pay membership fees. Actually, the member fees are way to high for what a kid actually gets out of the program, when you consider it’s 100% dependent on the volunteer labor. The execs are wayyyyyy too generous with themselves at the national level. And all the recent stuff about gays, and trans, and now they’ve just finally said “oh well, we might as well go all in and let anyone join”. The experience a kid gets out of any of these programs depends on what the person donating their time and effort is willing to put in. LDS church will be pulling out of BSA soon, I hear. Oh well. Maybe it’s time for both of the major scouting programs to fade away. Maybe something better can be created.

  • 42214 May 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    I wonder with the new integrated structure you can still get kicked out for eating a brownie?

  • NotSoFast May 2, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    I wonder how the Boy Scout organizations in other countries feel about this follow the leader new idea?

  • Mike P May 3, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I have an idea. It’s way out there but how ’bout spending some time with, and raising your own kids!! Just a thought.

  • Real Life May 3, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Gonna be weird buying boy scout cookies.

    • ladybugavenger May 3, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      It’s like the cookies went transgender

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