On October 11, 2017 — the U.N.-designated International Day of the Girl — Boy Scouts of America announced that it would be welcoming girls into its troops. This came in response to years of requests and efforts to help busy families consolidate programs for their kids, according to CNN. Since then, 3,000 girls have enrolled in its Early Adopter Program for Cub Scouts — the first girl joined NYC Boy Scouts back in January. And, on Wednesday, the organization said that, come February 2019, the name of its older youth program for 11 to 17-year-olds, “Boy Scouts,” will be dropping the “Boy” and officially becoming Scouts BSA.
This historic name change is part of the Boy Scouts of America’s “Scout Me In” campaign, according to an organization news release, celebrating the “expansion to serve families and welcome girls and boys into Scouting in communities across the country.” The campaign will specifically document how girls have been integrated into the Cub Scout program for 5 to 10-year-olds ahead of Scouts BSA starting next year.
“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 of Boy Scouts of America Mike Surbaugh said in a statement. “That is why it is important that the name for our Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single name approach used for the Cub Scouts.”
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he further elaborated to The Associated Press. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
The organization will not be dropping the “Boy” from its official name, which has been the same for 108 years. It will remain Boy Scouts of America.
Girl Scouts vs. Boy Scouts of America
When Boy Scouts of America first announced that it would start inviting girls into its program last fall, Girls Scouts USA responded in a statement: “The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than it is today — and only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success.”
Though the unaffiliated Girl Scouts organization was not available for immediate comment, according to AP, it’s ready to take action to retain members.
“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo said. “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.”
— Girl Scouts (@girlscouts) May 2, 2018
“How do you manage these strategic tensions?” Northern Illinois Girl Scouts leader Fiona Cummings asked AP. “We both need to increase our membership numbers.”
Girls Scouts youth membership has dropped from 2 million youth members in 2014 to 1.76 million members. Boy Scouts says its youth membership is down from 2.6 million in 2013 to around 2.3 million.
“If the best fit for your girl is the Girl Scouts, that’s fantastic,” Surbaugh said. “If it’s not them, it might be us.”