Boy Scouts of America has announced that it will be dropping the word “Boy” from its official name. The signature program for 10 to 17-year-olds will be known as Scouts BSA starting in February. The umbrella organization will continue to be called Boy Scouts of America or BSA.
The name change is part of a marketing push to combat declining membership numbers. The organization’s “Scout Me In” campaign is aimed at increasing 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,” Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said.
The organization began admitting girls in October. Earlier last year, it announced that would begin accepting transgender youths into the organization. It ended its ban on gay leaders in 2015.
Boy Scouts of America has almost 2.3 million members. That’s down by more than 10% from the 2.6 million members it boasted five years ago. At its peak, BSA had more than 4 million members. The organization also includes roughly 1 million adult volunteers that provide much of the framework of the organization.
BSA has come into more direct competition with Girl Scouts of the USA in recent years as both organizations struggle with declining memberships. Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts’ program for 7-10-year-olds will begin accepting girls this summer and more than 3,000 girls have already enrolled in the organization’s Early Adopter Program, according to the organization.
Allowing girls into the Boy Scouts creates efficiencies for busy families, the group says, because it allows families to consolidate activities. The Boys Scouts also say that although they will begin admitting girls to their signature program, most of the actual Cub packs and Scout troops will remain gender specific.
The Girls Scouts says the decision will have no effect on their strategy of being the foremost youth program for young girls. “Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” Sylvia Acevedo, Girl Scouts CEO said in a statement. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents.”
Girl Scouts of the USA currently has about 1.6 million members.
Still, employees say the marketing efforts have had a chilling effect on a once collegial relationship between the two organizations. “How do you manage these strategic tensions?” Fiona Cummings of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois told the Associated Press. “We both need to increase our membership numbers.”
Photo by U.S. Department of Defense