After 108 years, Boy Scouts to change name as girls join programs

After 108 years, Boy Scouts to change name as girls join programs
The Associated Press

For 108 years, the Boy Scouts of America’s flagship program has been known simply as the Boy Scouts. With girls soon entering the ranks, the group says that iconic name will change.

The organization, which last fall announced its plan to integrate girls into its programs, on Wednesday revealed a new name for its Boy Scouts program: Scouts BSA. The name change will take effect next February.

“It’s a more inclusive name,” said Chris Mehaffey, Scout Executive and CEO of the Boy Scouts of America’s Mid-America Council. “It represents how we are working to serve the whole family.”

The parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts — its program for 7- to 10-year-olds — will keep its title, as well.

But the Boy Scouts — the program for 11- to 17-year-olds — will now go by Scouts BSA.

The organization already has started admitting girls into the Cub Scouts, and Scouts BSA will begin accepting girls next year.

So far, more than 3,000 girls have joined roughly 170 Cub Scout packs participating in the first phase of the new policy. The pace will intensify this summer under a nationwide multimedia recruitment campaign titled “Scout Me In.”

Since a “soft launch” in January, which allowed local Cub Scout packs to “opt-in” to admitting girls, about a dozen girls have joined packs under the Mid-America Council, Mehaffey said. Most of those packs are in rural areas, where it may be easier for families to have just one scouting group for the family, he said.

“So far, families have been supportive of the changes,” Mehaffey said.

Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh predicted that both boys and girls in Scouts BSA would refer to themselves simply as scouts, rather than adding “boy” or “girl” as a modifier.

The program for the older boys and girls will largely be divided along gender lines, with single-sex units pursuing the same types of activities, earning the same array of merit badges and potentially having the same pathway to the coveted Eagle Scout award.

Mehaffey said that over the next few weeks, the Mid-America Council will be ramping up marketing and internal communications for families who have girls interested in joining programs.

“I think a lot of our programs are gender-neutral, but we’d just always been the ‘Boys Scouts,’ ” he said. “Now that’s changed.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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