For 108 years the Boy Scouts of America organization has been known by the name of its leading program, Boy Scouts. On Wednesday, the organization announced that starting in February 2019, it will begin to refer to its older youth program as, "Scouts BSA" instead of "Boy Scouts". The announcement comes nearly a year after the Boy Scouts of America organization opened its doors to girls last October. Along with the name change, the organization has revealed its newest recruitment campaign slogan, “Scout Me In,” which is intended in part to emphasize the organization’s addition of girls to the Boy Scouts. While the program currently called “Boy Scouts”, which is for children ages 10-17, will be re-named, the Cub Scouts program, which is intended for children ages 5-10, will not be undergoing any name change.
Before the decision last October to open the scouting program to girls, The Boy Scouts of America organization had been seeing rapidly declining numbers of youth for years; the organization stated they currently had roughly 2.3 million youth between 5-21, a decrease from the 2.8 million youths they had in 2012. In its recent statements, the Boy Scouts said that more than 3,000 girls have already joined the Early Adopter Program, a program which allows girls to participate in the Cub Scouts ahead of the 2018-2019 launch.
While the Boy Scouts of America will be opening its doors for girls, the Girl Scouts organization – which has also seen a decline in its membership, with a current membership of roughly 1 million girls, down from 2 million in 2014 - has stated that the organization will not admit boys to the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts organization, which has previously criticized the Boy Scouts organization for recruiting girls and has warned them against the recruitment of girls, has stated that they were, “blind-sided” by the Boy Scouts announcement. In an official statement, the Girl Scouts CEO, Sylvia Acevedo said, "Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls," adding that, "We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and the parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills... and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults."
As a young girl, I remember joining the Girl Scouts and being involved with their Brownie program. I have memories of earning badges, selling Girl Scout cookies and even having sleepovers with my friends. I knew that there was a clear difference between the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. I heard stories from friends who were in the Boy Scouts of things they had to do. While admittedly I would think to myself, "Wow, that sounds like fun. I would love to try that!" I knew that there were differences between the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts organizations.
There were some things that boys could do that girls couldn't, and then there were some things that girls could do that boys couldn't. I knew that boys were boys, and girls were girls. It's biology. I'm all for equality and fairness between men and women, boys and girls. In fact, most of my life people have referred to me as, "Herculina" because I have a fair amount of muscle in my arms that most girls generally don't have. My friends often tell me that I put most men to shame muscle wise. Whether that's true or not, my point is that I'm all for girls stepping outside of their comfort zone and defying social norms of what may be expected of girls, and the same goes for boys. I'm all for individuality and each person trying to express themselves how they see fit. If a girl wants to play with G.I. Joes instead of Barbies, let them. If a guy wants to wear a pink t-shirt, let him. If a girl wants to play video games, let her. If a boy wants to learn how to knit, let him. If a guy wants to bake, let him. If a girl wants to learn how to shoot a gun, let her.
I've heard responses from people stating, "Well, I was in the Girl Scouts and it's nothing like the Boy Scouts! I didn't get to do the same thing that the boys did."
My response to that?
I agree. Mind you, I wasn't in the Girl Scouts that long because I got bored with it. However, I do agree that I didn't do some of the same things that the Boy Scouts got to do. In fact, there were times that I wished I could join the Boy Scouts. The thing is though, we have Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts for a reason. One focuses on empowering girls and molding them into strong and capable women, the other focuses on molding young boys into strong and capable men. Thus, each organization has slightly different activities and focuses. Both organizations however have similar common ground in that they both value and instill a sense of innovation, leadership and community service into boys and girls.
Our society is trying to wage a war on boys being boys. It’s no longer acceptable for boys to have “boys only” activities without someone being offended that girls can’t participate. There is nothing wrong with having the Boy Scouts remain just for boys, and there is nothing wrong with having the Girl Scouts remain just for girls. Women know best how to prepare young girls, and men know best on how to prepare young boys. Looking back, I appreciated my time in the Girl Scouts and that it was separate time that I could spend with other young girls my age and connect.
While the Girl Scouts seem to understand that their focus is on girls, the Boy Scouts organization seems determined to take the, "boys" out of the scouting program rather than focus on trying to re-vamp their current program. Essentially, they are abandoning their focus on preparing young “boys” with the leadership and tools necessary, and instead trying to create a “Girl Scouts” that already exists.
Their new slogan should instead be: Boy Scouts of America, “Taking The Boy Out Of Boy Scouts”.