Scouting America (Formerly Boy Scouts of America)


I anticipate the recent rebranding of the former Boy Scouts of America into Scouting America will not do much to reverse the organization’s decline in membership.

Girls have been included in the organization’s Explorer Scouts segment for many years. But the real changes took place in 2018-19, when girls were formally admitted to the core Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts groups. The stated objective of the current rebranding is to emphasize the organization’s more “inclusive” values and to attract more girls into the organization by removing the word “boy” from the name.

I have my doubts. Others have their doubts too. The Daily Wire’s headline, “Boy Scouts Want to Include Everyone, But Now No One Wants to Join” caught my eye (I don’t have an account so I did not read the full editorial).

Organizational efforts to be all things to all people usually remove the distinctive characteristics that attracted people to the organization in the first place, often resulting in an organization that is attractive to no one.

In its original boy-centric form, the Boy Scouts of America focused on boys by using what made boys distinct to teach those boys how to become men. As a boy-centric organization, it directed male characteristics such as competitiveness, aggression, physical activity, risk-taking, danger (or at least the perception of danger), etc. into productive, personally and socially beneficial results, so that those boys became better men with the discipline and character to use those male characteristics for good. No doubt some girls were attracted to the types of activities that appealed to boys, but their numbers were probably small.

But now if the organization is trying to be more “inclusive” by appealing to a wider range of girls, it will have to de-emphasize or abandon its prior male-oriented characteristics and objectives. So what will distinguish Scouting America from any of a gajillion other youth organizations that are all over society, including the private and government schools?

I have watched Christian church denominations similarly go through efforts to become more “inclusive” by becoming more like the surrounding culture, and thus becoming less distinctively Christian. These denominations assert that by having fewer differences with the surrounding culture, they will attract more people from the surrounding culture. Yet by becoming more like the surrounding culture, they provide fewer reasons for people to join. Human sexuality has been the issue that has received the most publicity, but human sexuality issues are to a large extent just symptoms of whether the churches are going to follow the surrounding culture and become more like that culture, or to stick more closely to scripture and historical church teachings to maintain a distinctive voice for God – the salty salt, the lamp lighting an otherwise dark room, and the city on the hill serving as a beacon in the surrounding wilderness (see Matthew 5:13-16).

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the dominant Presbyterian denomination in the United States, has biennial national denominational meetings. The agenda for those meetings for more than a decade now could be the agenda for any of a number of leftist social and political organizations. The agenda contain virtually nothing distinctively Christian. The denomination’s leadership decided that in the name of “inclusiveness” the church should become more like the surrounding culture.

Many congregations have left the United Methodist Church to join other Methodist organizations after the power brokers of the United Methodist Church made clear that in an effort to be more “inclusive” it was going to allow pastors and other church leaders to follow whatever cultural currents were going on around them, even if those cultural currents run counter to historical or Biblical teachings.

But if a church merely mirrors the surrounding culture, I wouldn’t be surprised if people say, “Why bother attending or joining a church that simply mirrors what I already see going on around me?” Becoming “inclusive” does not seem to have altered the decline in membership and participation in these church denominations.

Why should boys or girls join a scouting organization that offers nothing distinctive from everything around them already?

Every modern effort to be more “inclusive” results in more genericness, less distinctiveness, and less clarity of purpose.  “Inclusiveness” does not seem to be the path to vitality and growing participation that its advocates seem to seek.

Scouting and most other participation organizations are also facing some structural societal issues that lead to less participation and fewer members, but tackling that subject is too much for this post.

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There are 5 comments.

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  1. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)

    I know a family that is into TrailLife.   They are very happy.  Trail Life USA describes itself as “Trail Life USA is a Church-Based, Christ-Centered, Boy-Focused mentoring and discipleship journey that speaks to the heart of a boy. ”   Their homepage picture is intense.

    Christian Boys Mentoring Discipleship

    • #1
  2. She Member

    Huh.  I’m surprised they left the word “America” in there.  Reminds me of the joke at the time that the Washington Redskins were rebranding themselves that, really, the word “Redskins” wasn’t the most offensive part of the name.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge

    What kind of “Scouting” would they be doing?  The kind like “casing the joint” before a robbery?

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  4. JayMiller Coolidge

    I agree that it’s not wise to mess with a formula that has worked for more than 100 years, and yielded outstanding results. I was a Boy Scout as were my sons, and the local troop here (in our very liberal town) is still outstanding due to the long-term commitment of the leaders. My oldest son is now assistant scoutmaster and the boys are on camping trips every month of the year. The only difference I can see  from when I was a scout in the 1970’s is that moms sometimes come on the camping trips. And there are more merit badge choices than there used to be. 

    Our church is a non-denominational bible church that holds to biblical truth, and in contrast to the mainline (read “rainbow”) churches across the street it is full for two services on Sundays and the nurseries are overflowing with babies! Those other churches are fine historical edifices (one was the setting for “Home Alone”), but I doubt the gospel is being preached to the few who attend.


    • #4
  5. davenr321 Coolidge


    As long as Eagle remains Eagle, it’s still one of the top achievements out there. Girl Scouts Gold, too. To me, the merit badges look incredibly easy, my son, on the other hand, has to work. Sort of… good leadership, be it the 17-year old Life Scout, or the adult scoutmaster is very hard to find. What I’ve discovered is that I’ve got to let the boy figure it out for himself, with me just as a guide and supplier of money (for camp).

    On topic, the elimination of a safe-space for boys ruined the Scouts, and this is the stake through its heart. Maybe. 

    You make Eagle, and it’s impressive no matter how idiotic the organization is.

    • #5
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