‘Boy Scouts’ Changing Name to ‘Scouts’

Now that girls are joining the Boy Scouts, the organization has quite reasonably changed its name accordingly.

USA Today (“Boy Scouts are dropping the word ‘boy’ from the name of flagship program“):

The Boy Scouts of America doubled down Wednesday on its quest to become the scouting organization of choice for boys and girls, announcing it will drop “Boy” from the name of its signature program.

Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh also unveiled the group’s new “Scout Me In” marketing campaign aimed at promoting inclusiveness.

“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,” Saurbaugh said.

The umbrella organization will retain its name, Boy Scouts of America or BSA. The term Cub Scouts, for kids 7-10 years old, is gender neutral and also will go unchanged. Boy Scouts, which includes kids from 10 to 17, will become Scouts BSA in February.

Change has been coming quickly to the iconic if shrinking organization. In October, it announced it would provide programs for girls. Several months before that, the group announced it would accept and register transgender youths into its organization.

In 2015, it ended its ban on gay leaders.

Cub Scouts will formally accept girls starting this summer. But Saurbaugh said more than 3,000 girls nationwide already enrolled in the BSA’s Early Adopter Program and are participating in Cub Scouts ahead of the full launch.

Allowing girls into the organization allows busy families to consolidate programs for their kids, BSA says. Most of the actual Cub packs and Scout troops, however, will be single gender.

“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” said Stephen Medlicott, BSA marketing director. “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!'”

Boy Scouts of America claims almost 2.3 million members, down from 2.6 million five years ago. That includes Venturing and Sea Scouting programs, the latter allows membership up to 21 years of age. In its peak years, Boy Scout of America had more than 4 million participants.

There’s no official announcement, oddly, at the organization’s website—which, incidentally, is simply Scouting.org.

But this was a logical step. The umbrella organization doesn’t change its name but that really doesn’t have much impact. All of the individual programs except this one already had gender-neutral names:

Indeed, it’s worth noting that Venturing, Sea Scouting, and Exploring have always been co-ed. So, dropping “Boy” from the program name will have next to no impact. One wonders whether when “Boy Scouts of America” will disappear from the uniform in favor of simply “Scouting” or “BSA.” (I do think it’s a matter of when not if.)

The next logical move, I suppose, is for the two scouting organizations, which oddly have nothing to do with one another, to merge. It won’t happen any time soon. The Girl Scouts have a mission that all but precludes going co-ed and they have been very hostile to this move:

The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has been vocal in its opposition. Girl Scouts president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote to BSA in August, two months before BSA announced it would accept girls, asking the BSA board to refrain from recruiting girls.

“Our experiences are created for and with girls,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts’ Chief Girl and Family Engagement Officer. “I think that’s important when we consider what appeals to them and what benefits them most.”

Girl Scouts, founded two years after Boy Scouts, currently claim a membership of about 1.8 million. The organization is developing their own campaign to recruit and retain girls. Last month it unveiled a LinkedIn network aimed tapping a major resource — the group’s 50 million alums.

The goal of the network is “to support female advancement in the workforce and help prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership and career success.”

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, told the Associated Press 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.”

My girls, both of whom started with Daisies in kindergarten and continue on, are not likely to switch over. Still, Girl Scouts may have to up their game in terms of pushing for more outdoor adventure, especially in the Daisy and Brownie years, to keep girls from going over to the BSA.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Slugger says:

    Every organization has to continually assess and reassess its position in the market or face extinction. I view this change as I view Ford’s change in its product line. Sometimes these changes work, and sometimes they don’t.
    I liked the BSA. It was fun and useful to me when I was 11-14 years old. It did undermine my religious and cultural upbringing. The smell of bacon frying in a skillet on a crisp October morning on a camp-out made me begin to question the teaching of my parents. A certain skepticism about received wisdom is healthy.




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  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    As an eagle scout and recent first-time-dad, I’m incredibly excited about all of the changes BSA have recently made. Growing up in scouts, my sister’s experience in GSA always paled in comparison to my experience in BSA. Overall, I think GSA has some major quality control issues in ensuring each troop is doing a good job of instilling leadership qualities, teaching relevant life skills, and promoting outdoor recreation (as you mentioned). There’s no reason that, if there’s not a good GSA troop in my area, my daughter shouldn’t be able to have access to all of the wonderful experiences I had in scouts.




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  3. michael reynolds says:

    My scouting experience: My father became some kind of Explorer leader and convinced me to try scouts. First event, a campout, for which we were told we’d need a knife. I didn’t have a knife so my dad loaned me one he had – a blued-steel Marine Corps bayonet so sharp just looking at it made you bleed. While in my little tent I heard that midnight hazing of new scouts was on the program. So, I explained that if anyone came into my tent I would without hesitation stab my Marine Corp bayonet into them.

    I was not bothered. The next morning I quit, left the campground and walked home. Parental efforts to get me to fit in, ceased.




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  4. Tyrell says:

    Can Boy Scouts join the Girl Scouts? My understanding of this this issue is that many of the Girl Scouts wanted to join the BSA because of their camping program. One GSA leader told me she doubted that. Is this something being pushed by some group’s agenda?
    I know that the BSA has lost a lot of members and units because of changes they have made in recent years. Churches in this area that had been longtime sponsors went to other organizations.
    The GSA seems to be the one standing firm on their standards and mission instead of changing with the winds.




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  5. Mikey says:

    @Slugger:

    It did undermine my religious and cultural upbringing. The smell of bacon frying in a skillet on a crisp October morning on a camp-out made me begin to question the teaching of my parents.

    Jewish or SDA? I was the latter. Bacon did it for me, too. Mmmmm…bacon.




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  6. Mister Bluster says:

    I suspect that they will not be adopting the Motto that our Troop came up with circa 1964.

    On my honor I will do my best
    To help a Girl Scout get undressed!




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  7. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..Is this something being pushed by some group’s agenda?

    Enlighten us Ty. Who do you think is pushing this agenda?




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  8. mattbernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    As another Eagle Scout (though not a parent), I also 100% support these changes.




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  9. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: My troop wasn’t so much interested in the girls… I mean, if there were girls around we would have been interested, but one has to make do with what one has.

    We also learned how to tie knots.




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  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    Can Boy Scouts join the Girl Scouts?

    Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America are entirely separate and distinct organizations. The BSA has decided to let in girls. The GSA has not reciprocated, as is their right.

    My understanding of this this issue is that many of the Girl Scouts wanted to join the BSA because of their camping program. One GSA leader told me she doubted that.

    There are many reasons for this change, including demand from girls, either because their troop is not up to snuff, or there is a lack of troops. Another reason is that membership in Boy Scouts–like all membership organizations–is dropping. This opens up a new avenue to gain members. A third reason is that a lot of the gendered reasons for separating the two are outdated. Like any shift in an organization, the reasons are manyfold.

    Is this something being pushed by some group’s agenda?

    Yes, the Boy Scouts of America.

    I know that the BSA has lost a lot of members and units because of changes they have made in recent years.

    The decline started around 2003/2004. The BSA started the review of their LGBT policy (which I assume you are alluding to) in 2010, 7 years after the decline started. The first major change to their LGBT policy was implemented in 2012, 9 years after the decline started. While I’m sure *some* scouts have left because of the changes to the LGBT policy, in my (ample) experience the actual boys don’t really give a sh*t, because the kids are pretty alright these days. It’s their parents who cause all the hoopla.




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  11. CSK says:

    My very brief experience with scouting involved going to someone’s house, basically doing nothing, and once being taken fishing, except our peerless leader forgot the equipment. I suspect, in hindsight, that that person was a drunk. So much for the wonderful world of scouting.




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  12. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    My own experience was 90% cool sh!t, and 10% avoiding Mr. Huggypants.

    I learned how to construct a fire pit with the the teepee stick method, and, also, how to not be raped by the adult “care taker.”

    (The secret is to always stick around the other guys and never be alone with, or allow anyone else to be alone with, Mr. Huggypants.)

    Good times!




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  13. Moosebreath says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Tom Lehrer has some further suggestions for mottoes.




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  14. mattbernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    While I’m sure *some* scouts have left because of the changes to the LGBT policy, in my (ample) experience the actual boys don’t really give a sh*t, because the kids are pretty alright these days. It’s their parents who cause all the hoopla.

    And to some degree, we are specifically talking about the Mormon church, which has historically been the largest religious organization that was intertwined with BSA. Up until this point, they’ve largely been able to play by their own rules. And when they cannot, they opt not to participate in given programs.




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  15. James Joyner says:

    @Neil Hudelson: @mattbernius: Yeah, I know that a Girl Scout-like organization, the American Heritage Girls, sprung up as a “Christian” alternative once GSA changed its policies regarding homosexuality. I don’t know if a similar thing has happened with Boy Scouts. But, yes, member organizations have been dying on the vine forever. I was a member, and even president, of the Troy Kiwanis Club way back in the day and I was one of very few members under 60. I never had much interest in the American Legion or VFW, either, because it was just a bunch of old dudes.




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  16. Timothy Watson says:

    @James Joyner: Weren’t conservatives boycotting the Girl Scouts even before that? I seem to remember some “controversy” involving a couple Girl Scouts Chapters and an affiliation with Planned Parenthood or something in Texas.

    Of course, I think the Girl Scouts have always had a different political (and religious) culture than the Boy Scouts.




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  17. James Joyner says:

    @Timothy Watson: The Boy Scouts are very Pack driven, and the Packs are quite often church-sponsored. The Packs are essentially franchisees and virtually independent. The Girl Scouts are a much more centralized organization.




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  18. Slugger says:

    @Mikey: Ashkenaz from Ashkenaziland here. We were into that Seventh day thing long ago.




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  19. Argon says:

    @James Joyner: The Boy Scouts are very Pack driven, and the Packs are quite often church-sponsored.

    ‘Troop’. Not ‘pack’. Or rather, that portion of scouting aimed at younger kids, the Cub Scouts, are organized as ‘Packs’. The older kids in Boy Scouts are organized in ‘Troops”. Troops are further sub-organized as ‘Patrols’ and Packs as ‘Dens’.




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  20. James Joyner says:

    @Argon: Ah, that’s right. I never made it past Webloes.




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  21. Scott says:

    As a former Scout and Dad of a scout, I like this move. My daughter was in Girl Scouts but she was really more desirous of the camping and adventure aspect of the Boy Scouts. We also participated in the YMCA’s Adventure Guides (formerly Indian Guides) for the K-4 grade level. That was more parent-child interactions but it included a lot of camping and outings.

    I also think that the financial pressure on the Scouts played a factor. There are a lot of camps that are underutilized and there is always pushes to sell them.




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