Boy Scouts of America changes name for 1st time in its 114-year history

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Boy Scouts from Troop 55, of Falls Church Va., prepare for the approaching the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C. on July 4, 2019. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty

For the first time in its 114-year history, the Boy Scouts of America is changing its name and will become Scouting America. 

The organization won't officially become Scouting America until Feb. 8, 2025, the organization's 115th birthday.

The move comes amid bankruptcy following a flood of sexual abuse claims and seeks to focus on inclusion.

Seismic changes after decades of turmoil has already taken place, from allowing gay youth to welcoming girls throughout its ranks. 

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"In the next 100 years we want any youth in America to feel very, very welcome to come into our programs," Roger Krone, who took over last fall as president and chief executive officer, said in an interview before the announcement.

The organization began allowing gay youth in 2013 and ended a blanket ban on gay adult leaders in 2015. In 2017, it made the historic announcement that girls would be accepted as Cub Scouts as of 2018 and into the flagship Boy Scout program — renamed Scouts BSA — in 2019.

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There were nearly 1,000 young women in the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts in 2021, including Selby Chipman. The all-girls troop she was a founding member of in her hometown of Oak Ridge, North Carolina, has grown from five girls to nearly 50, and she thinks the name change will encourage even more girls to realize they can join.

Like other organizations, the scouts lost members during the pandemic, when participation was difficult. After a highpoint over the last decade of over 2 million members in 2018, the organization currently services just over 1 million youths, including more than 176,000 girls and young women. Membership peaked in 1972 at almost 5 million.

The move by the Boy Scouts to accept girls throughout their ranks strained a bond with the Girl Scouts of the USA, which sued, saying it created marketplace confusion and damaged their recruitment efforts. They reached a settlement agreement after a judge rejected those claims, saying both groups are free to use words like "scouts" and "scouting."

While camping remains an integral activity for the Boy Scouts, the organization offers something for everyone today, from high adventures to merit badges for robotics and digital technology, Krone said: "About anything kids want to do today, they can do in a structured way within the scouting program."

The Boy Scouts’ $2.4 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan took effect last year, allowing the organization to keep operating while compensating the more than 80,000 men who say they were sexually abused as children while scouting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.