Beginning in February 2019 the program now known as the Boy Scouts will drop part of its name to become Scouts BSA, a branding change that reflects the decision to allow girls to join. The parent organization remains Boy Scouts of America (hence the BSA) and Cub Scouts will continue to be called Cub Scouts. Officials are also touting the new slogan “Scout Me In.”
“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” Stephen Medlicott, national marketing group director of Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement. “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!’”
Mitch Leff, who along with his two sons has been active with a Decatur troop for years, doesn’t see the rebrand as a big deal, and is glad girls have the opportunity to join.
“I see so many girls who are so excited about the opportunity to be part of this,” he said. One son, Jack, a high school senior, is an Eagle Scout already while the other, sophomore Harry, is pursuing Eagle status. Their dad plans to stick with Scouts even after both have graduated.
“It’s been an opportunity to do a lot of great outdoor activities – canoeing, sailing, horseback riding, hikes and caving,” Leff said. “They’ve learned so much in terms of character development, outdoor skills. There’s a great service element.”
A public relations professional by day, Leff suspects keeping “BSA” in the title is meant to salute the organization’s long history. Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and the organization says “more than 110 million Americans have been participants in BSA programs at some time.”
Leff wouldn’t be surprised to see the name become just “Scouts” at some point, though.
Boy Scouts of America announced in 2017 they would begin enrolling girls, a move Girl Scouts of the USA, founded in Savannah, greeted coolly in a statement: “Only Girl Scouts has more than 100 years of experience helping girls tap into their leadership potential by reinforcing and extending the skills they learn in school in a supportive, encouraging environment in which they feel safe to just be themselves. At Girl Scouts, we are girl experts, and we work every day to help girls develop the courage, confidence and character necessary to make the world a better place.”
In a statement Wednesday, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta CEO Amy Dosik underscored the sentiment:
“Girl Scouts is the best and only leadership organization created by and for girls, and we have an unparalleled record of developing female leaders for more than 100 years. The first word in our name is ‘Girl,’ and girls are at the center of everything we do. Boy Scouts’ decision to admit girls as a matter of convenience does not change these facts. We believe that girls’ leadership development should be more than just a matter of convenience. Girl Scouts’ history, culture and programming differ substantially from Boy Scouts’, and I encourage parents to compare the two programs side-by-side before choosing a scouting experience for their daughter. Girl Scouts is the expert on girls’ growth and development, and we constantly update our program to move at the speed of girls. This year, Girl Scouts released 23 new STEM and outdoor badges covering topics like design thinking, robot programming, engineering, and survival camping. In July, we’ll release cybersecurity badges designed to motivate more girls to go into this career field, where only 11 percent of the workforce is female.”
The Boy Scouts’ current membership stands at about 2.3 million, down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million in peak years, while Girl Scouts count more than 1.7 members, the Associated Press reported.
Shelley Schumaker Callico of Atlanta is a Girl Scout leader whose 13-year-old daughter is a Girl Scout Cadette working on her Silver Award, the highest level of recognition available at the Cadette level. The Boy Scouts’ moves, she said, “just gives girls twice the options and choice.”
“As a very active Girl Scout leader and CPR trainer, I believe in the Girl Scout program for girls,” Callico said. “However, BSA may be a good choice for some families and girls.”