The Boy Scouts program has a new name, but not everyone is happy about it
As Boy Scouts of America (BSA) continues to roll out their plan to welcome girls into more of their programming, they announce today that their flagship Boy Scouts program, for kids ages 11 to 17, will change its name to “Scouts BSA” in February 2019. Although the organization will continue to be called “Boy Scouts of America,” they’re shifting to a more inclusive name, hoping that everyone will simply be called a “scout.”
The announcement is in line with many of BSA’s moves in recent years to welcome girls into their ranks — both because many busy families requested more inclusive programs and because of steadily dropping membership numbers. The organization stressed that many kids came from single-parent homes or had parents who were duel-earners, making it more difficult to cart siblings to separate activities.
Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said, “As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible.” He added, “We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward. We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
The BSA has already been admitting girls into about 170 Cub Scout packs across the country–and about 3,000 kids from 7-10 years old have already joined so far. But despite the integration, there will still likely be gender divides, such as same-sex units that participate in the same activities and pursue the same badges. Finally, though, girls will be allowed to become Eagle Scouts, the highest achievement in the organization.
The BSA plans on promoting these changes with a new ad campaign called “Scout me in,” which will stress that the mission and values of the Boy Scouts will remain the same, while welcoming all kids to learn and have fun.
Not everyone has been pleased with the BSA’s shift to welcome female scouts. More conservative and traditional voices have decried the change as a politically correct move to please liberals.
At the same time, The Girl Scouts have been vocally critical of the BSA’s plan to integrate girls over the next two years, saying that girls need their own space and their own attention–and that research backs their all-girl learning environment.
“Our experiences are created for and with girls,” Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts’ Chief Girl and Family Engagement Officer, told USA Today. “I think that’s important when we consider what appeals to them and what benefits them most.”
While the Girl Scouts have made changes that include new STEM-related badges, aggressive recruitment campaigns, and leadership development initiatives, they have no plans to expand their enrollment to include all kids.
Both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have been struggling with dropping enrollment — and critics of the Girl Scouts say that the organization is pushing back against the Boy Scouts in an attempt to retain what numbers they have. USA Today reports that the Boy Scouts currently have around 2.3 million members, down from 2.6 million five years ago.
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