The Boy Scouts of America are undergoing an epic redefinition. The Cub Scouts, once exclusively open to young boys, is now accepting girls. The Boy Scouts are going to undergo a similar integration next year. And in anticipation of that moment, the organization has chosen a new name, one they hope will honor the addition of girls to its programs.
The Boy Scouts of America will now be called “Scouts BSA.” For those keeping track at home, that abbreviation stands for Boy Scouts of America. So the new name is actually an abbreviation of “Scouts Boy Scouts of America.”
The odd redundancy is meant to honor the long brand identity of the organization, and be welcoming to the girls that the Scouts Boy Scouts of America hope will join.
How easy will it be for the BSA to change its name, and shed its all-male image? Not easy. The institution has been a monolithic presence in the life of some boys, decades of boys, for 108 years.
Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, talking about why the organization landed on the redundant Scouts Boy Scouts of America moniker, noted that they’d looked at many possible names for the new iteration of the Boy Scouts.
“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.”
The organization that heads up Cub Scouts, the Scouts Boy Scouts of America, and Venturing will still be called the Boy Scouts of America.
“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible. 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 Cub Scouts,” said Surbaugh. “Starting in February 2019, the name of the older youth program will be ‘Scouts BSA,’ and the name of our iconic organization will continue to be Boy Scouts of America.”
“Surbaugh predicted that both boys and girls in Scouts BSA would refer to themselves simply as scouts, rather than adding ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ as a modifier,” The NY Post writes.
That’s certainly a possibility, as that is how boys in Boy Scouts refer to themselves now. Yet the aspiration itself–the hope that the children in the organization don’t refer to themselves by the name of the organization itself, but a shorthand, could be an admission by Surbaugh that the new name is already perceived as a flop.
Meanwhile, the BSA’s relationship with the aptly named Girl Scouts remained strained. The move to allow girls into the ranks of Boy Scouts has been seen by many as a sign that both orginizations will begin competing for the same members.
“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” said Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts’ CEO. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills … and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults.”
“If the best fit for your girl is the Girl Scouts, that’s fantastic,” Surbaugh noted. “If it’s not them, it might be us.”