The Boys Scouts of America (BSA) will change the name of its largest program to Scouts BSA as the push continues to welcome girls into the organization. The name change announcement was buried in a press release announcing a new marketing initiative called Scout Me In.
“Starting in February 2019, the name of the older youth program will be Scouts BSA, and the name of our iconic organization will continue to be Boy Scouts of America,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive, via the announcement. The marketing campaign and name change are intended to further recruitment efforts, said Effie Delimarkos, director of national communications for the BSA.
Opening the doors to girls comes after a 2014 decision to allow openly gay boys to join followed by accepting gay scout leaders in 2015. More than 3,000 girls have enrolled in BSA’s Early Adopter Program and are participating in Cub Scouts ahead of the full launch later this year, according to the organization.
“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible. 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,” said Surbaugh.
The name change will hit as girls are formally permitted to join that BSA program. BSA has roughly 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and approximately 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories. That’s roughly 1 million fewer members than the 3.35 million cited in 2000.
The marketing campaign will target boys, girls and families. “Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” said Stephen Medlicott, national marketing group director of BSA. “That’s why we love ‘Scout Me In’ – because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, ‘This is for you.’”
And, it’s not going to sit well with Girls Scouts of the USA whose CEO, Sylvia Acevedo, has referred to the membership change in media reports as an attempted “hostile takeover.” A call to GSUSA seeking comment was not immediately returned.