By now, you’ve heard or read about the Boy Scouts of America’s plan to change the name of our venerable flagship program, Boy Scouts, to “Scouts BSA” in February 2019.
The decision is part of the BSA’s Scout Me In campaign to recruit girls as well as boys into our ranks. As you might expect, though, the name change has seen considerable pushback from the old and new guard alike. After all, our organization is still called the Boy Scouts of America. And boy has been part of Scouting since Lord Robert Baden-Powell first published Scouting for Boys.
But change had to happen. With girls being allowed in for the first time, it really couldn’t remain just Boy Scouts. And “Boy and Girl Scouts” doesn’t work, especially since there is already the similarly-named Girl Scouts of the USA (which isn’t exactly happy about our changes). Regardless of how the separate-but-equal program model works out (and how troops and chartered organizations will choose to deal with it), most people admit it’s time to allow girls to have the same experiences and opportunities as we’ve been providing our boys for over a century. The name is just one thing that’ll be changing – Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh says “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women” – but what won’t be changing will be our values.
The change begs the larger question: What do we call them?
Where are the boys going camping next month?
The boys did a great job on the troop gateway at the Camporee.
We have a few boys who would like to help with a service project.
We’re so used to working exclusively with boys that we sometimes just call them that as a matter of course. But with girls coming in, we’ll have to adapt. “Boys and girls” sounds more like kindergarten, and calling them “kids,” when some are sporting facial hair and driving cars, doesn’t seem appropriate either.
Why not call them what they are: Scouts.
Substitute Scouts for boys in the sentences above and you’ll find that it works just fine. And calling them Scouts sets them apart from “mere” boys and girls – for they are young men and women who are doing their best to adopt the values of the Scout Oath and Law and let them guide their daily lives, both in and out of troop life. (By the way, Scout is always capitalized.)
For a hundred and eight years they’ve been boys in the traditional programs. As we get ready to welcome girls, let’s recognize them for what they are: Scouts.