In its latest effort to foster a gender-neutral scouting environment, the Boy Scouts of America announced this week a new marketing slogan and a major change to its namesake program.
According to USA Today, Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh announced the changes Wednesday during a presentation meant to emphasize inclusion within the organization.
In addition to unveiling its “Scout Me In” motto, the organization also revealed that the Boy Scouts program will drop the word “boy” and soon be called Scouts BSA.
The BSA announced last year that it would begin admitting girls into every level of the program, including the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” Surbaugh said at the time.
The name change to the scouting program for kids between 10 and 17 years old is expected to go into effect early next year.
Cub Scouts, the program for younger children, will retain its name. The gender reference will not be dropped from its parent organization, the Boy Scouts of America.
Surbaugh celebrated the changes as part of an overall commitment to accepting scouts from all walks of life.
“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,” he said.
Girls will be officially registered into the Cub Scouts program as early as this summer.
The organization notes that more than 3,000 girls have already begun participating in the BSA’s Early Adopter Program, which allows them to get involved in scouting prior to the general public.
Despite the de-emphasis on gender, the BSA expects the majority of troops to be either all girls or all boys.
Efforts to promote inclusion have been consistent in recent years, notably in the 2015 decision to allow gay scout leaders to serve in the organization.
Shortly before announcing it would allow girls into its programs, the BSA confirmed transgender children would be permitted to join troops.
While the shift toward admitting girls has attracted praise from many supporters, others feel the change is unneeded and could negatively impact the Girl Scouts of the USA. That organization’s CEO did not seem concerned about the potential of competition from the BSA in light of Wednesday’s announcements.
“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” Sylvia Acevedo said. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents.”
Some conservative commentators attempted to portray the move as a tacit act of hostility toward boys.
BSA Marketing Director Stephen Medlicott echoed Surbaugh’s excitement over the new direction, citing the new slogan as a sign of the times.
“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” he said. “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!'”
BSA membership has waned in recent years, down nearly half from its peak of more than 4 million participants annually.
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