Boy Scouts dropping "Boys" name from older youth program

Last year, the organization said it will accept girls — now it's changing the name of its flagship program

Published May 2, 2018 4:08PM (EDT)

 (AP/Eric Gay)
(AP/Eric Gay)

The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that it is dropping the "Boys" from its signature program. The older youth program, for kids between 10 and 17 years old, will be called "Scouts BSA" beginning Feb. 2019.

"As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible," Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said. The announcement comes with a new marketing campaign for the group, "Scout Me In" to promote this inclusiveness.

"The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) made history today by unveiling the new 'Scout Me In' campaign that features girls, as well as boys, in its iconic Cub Scout program for the first time," the statement says. "Starting this summer, all kids are invited to say, 'Scout Me In,' as they join the fun, adventure and character-building opportunities found in Cub Scouts."

The organization as a whole will keep "Boy Scouts of America" as its name and the name for Club Scouts, the program for kids between seven to 10 years old, will retain its name, too.

The name change indicates that the organization is continuing to embrace change and rectify its outdated (perhaps oppressive?) rules. In 2015, BSA terminated its ban on gay leaders. And in 2017, the group said it would accept transgender youth and then, later, girls into its programs.

"Since announcing the BSA’s historic decision to welcome girls into Scouting, more than 3,000 girls across the nation have already enrolled in the BSA’s Early Adopter Program and are participating in Cub Scouts ahead of the full launch later this year," the statement added.

"Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids," said Stephen Medlicott, National Marketing Group Director of Boy Scouts of America. "That’s why we love 'Scout Me In' – because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, 'This is for you. We want you to join!'"

Still, the majority of Club packs and Scout troops will be single gender, according to USA Today.

BSA has seen their enrollment decline over the years. In 2012, the organization claimed it had 2.8 million youth members; now, it says it has dropped to 2.3 million. As CNN reports, "The decision to open the scouting program to girls last October was both a reflection of growing progressive attitudes as well as a business decision."

Girl Scouts, by comparison, claims 1.8 million members. The organization seemed to be responding to the BSA announcement on social media. "There's no contest. Girl Scouts is the BEST organization to offer girls unparalleled opportunities to learn 21st-century skills and empower themselves with the experiences they need to succeed in life," the group tweeted.

Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, said in a blog post on the site, "We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls with opportunities to build new skills; explore STEM and the outdoors; participate in community projects; and grow into happy, successful, and civically engaged adults."

The groups, founded two years apart, have coexisted amicably until BSA began to think about opening up their programs to girls. In August, Buzzfeed published a letter from Girl Scouts of the USA's national president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan sent to BSA's national president, Randall Stephenson, and the BSA board.

"For more than 100 years, our organizations have worked in a respectful and complimentary manner, and we have been mutually supportive of one another's mission to serve America's youth," the letter said. It is therefore unsettling that BSA would seek to upend a paradigm that has served both boys and girls so well through the years by moving forward with a plan that would result in fundamentally undercutting Girl Scouts of the USA."

By Rachel Leah

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Boy Scouts Boys Gender Girl Scouts Girls Youth Youth Programming