Boy Scouts rebrand to appeal to female members
Boy Scouts of America is rebranding—and it’s dropping gender-specificity
from one of its well-known programs.
In February 2019, Boy Scouts of America will change to Scouts BSA. The
switch is not affecting the entire organization, which will keep the
original name, nor will it affect the Cub Scouts (the organization’s
program for children ages 7 to 10). Instead, the new name will be applied
to the program available to those ages 10 to 17.
The name change is a part of the group’s attempt to appeal to a broader
base, namely little girls. “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 Mike Surbaugh said.
“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
Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said many possibilities were considered
during lengthy and “incredibly fun” deliberations before the new name was
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the
inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he said. “We’re trying to
find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
“Surbaugh predicted that both boys and girls in Scouts BSA would refer to
themselves simply as scouts, rather than adding ‘boy’ or ‘girl,’
The Denver Post
The Boy Scouts announced in October 2017
that the organization would open its membership to girls. In 2015,
it lifted its ban on transgender members, but it left leadership decisions up to local chapters’ discretion.
Although the program is changing its name to signal inclusivity, the boys
and girls that are part of it will generally be placed in gender-specific
units. There, they will work on similar activities and earn the same merit
badges, with both groups moving forward on the path to the organization’s
Eagle Scout award.
The Denver Post
Surbaugh said that having separate units for boys and girls should
alleviate concerns that girls joining the BSA for the first time might be
at a disadvantage in seeking leadership opportunities.
Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh unveiled the group’s “Scout Me In”
marketing campaign aimed at promoting inclusiveness. “As we enter a new era
for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in
Scouting in every way possible,” Surbaugh said.
Change has been coming quickly to the iconic if shrinking organization. In
October, it announced it would provide programs for girls. Several months
before that, the group announced it would accept and register transgender
youths into its organization.
The Denver Post
So far, more than 3,000 girls have joined roughly 170 Cub Scout packs
participating in the first phase of the new policy, and the pace will
intensify this summer under a nationwide multimedia recruitment campaign
titled “Scout Me In.”
The organization has been promoting its campaign on social media, seen in
the following Instagram posts:
#ScoutMeIn welcomes all kids to join in the fun and adventure of #Scouting! #WeOwnAdventure #BoyScoutsofAmerica #Adventure #Discovery #Scouting #Scouts #leadership #nature #outdoors
Where are all our Venturers at?! @venturingbsa is a program for young women and men that focuses on adventure, personal growth, and leadership! Venturing is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week so tag a friend who’s always up for an adventure to help us celebrate!🎉
The name change and move to accept both genders has received mixed—and
To some, this is all long overdue, the century-old Scouts catching up with
changes in society.
“This change will allow local troops to decide the best approach for them
and will eventually allow girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout,” Zach
Wahls, an Eagle Scout who co-founded the group Scouts for Equality, said in
But there remain doubters.
Noah Blumofe, a West L.A. podiatrist who founded a Girl Scout troop and
also has a son in Boy Scouts, said he disapproved of the Boy Scouts’
decision to accept girls.
“Our society is making it so that boys can no longer be boys,” he said.
“While Girl Scouts don’t accept boys, Boy Scouts are now accepting girls.
It’s somewhat hypocritical.”
Many social media users also expressed differing opinions
as the news trended on Twitter.
Critics of the move said they’re concerned that girls might join the Boy
Scouts instead of supporting the Girl Scouts and helping the latter
organization cater to its members’ needs.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
“It sounds like they’re starting a Girl Scouts,” said Kathryn Kolbert,
director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, a program at Barnard
College, a women’s college in New York City. Kolbert has worked with Girl
Scouts on some joint programming with Barnard. “To me this is just an act
of desperation by an organization which has historically been
extraordinarily discriminatory and is now facing the consequences.”
Over my decade as a [girl] scout, I did much more than sell cookies,
participating in events from learning to knit to orienteering in the
freezing rain. While troops adjust activities based on members’ interests,
one of GSUSA’s aims is to push girls to develop skills in areas where women
are typically underrepresented. For example, last year GSUSA launched a
STEM pipeline program, with plans to roll out 18 Cybersecurity and
additional Space Science badges.
Girl Scouts of the USA is gearing up to fight back.
[RELATED: Get the skills you need to become a trusted advisor to leaders.]
Sylvia Acevedo, the group’s chief executive, released this statement:
Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls.
We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to
provide their girls opportunities to build new skills, explore STEM and the
outdoors, participate in community projects, and grow into happy,
successful, civically engaged adults.
The tension between the organizations has been growing. After the Boy
Scouts announced it would accept girls, the Girl Scouts lashed out with a
“The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire. Instead of addressing systemic issues of
continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient
programming, BSA’s senior management wants to add an accelerant to the
house fire by recruiting girls,” a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts
Local Girl Scout groups are calling attention to their offerings.
At the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, where
enrollment is up for the third year in a row, CEO Nancy Wright took the
opportunity to emphasize the differences between the boy and girl scouts.
“We’ve always had the word ‘girls’ in Girl Scouts, because it’s indicative
of where our focus is,” she said. “We believe we’re the experts, based on
our years of developing programs for girls.”
Ultimately, both the Boy Scouts’ name change and the Girl Scouts’ response
are efforts to increase membership in each organization. Waning numbers
have sent both groups scrambling to entice people to join and remain
“Both groups, which have been at odds since the Boy Scouts decided to open
its doors to girls, have been struggling with declining membership,” USA Today reported.
What do you think of the announcement, PR Daily readers?