Boy Scouts march in last year's Babylon Memorial Day Parade....

Boy Scouts march in last year's Babylon Memorial Day Parade. The Boy Scouts of America has announced that it will officially change its name to Scouting America in 2025. Credit: Gary Licker

Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, David Hunt said, the Boy Scouts of America changed his life, teaching him leadership skills, goal setting and personal advancement.

Hunt, of Northport, returned to the organization decades later, coaching Eagle Scout candidates and later serving as president, and now chairman of the Executive Board of the Suffolk County Council.

And when the tradition-rich organization announced it would allow gay youths, and later females, to join their ranks, Hunt knew it was time for the Scouts to change their name.

On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America said it would do just that, announcing that a change to Scouting America will be official on Feb. 8 — the organization's 115th anniversary — to reflect the Texas-based organization's new, inclusive policy.

“I think it's a great move,” Hunt said. “Times change. I think it makes a lot of sense to take the name 'boy' out of our program. … And why shouldn't every child — special needs, LGBT, transgender — have the opportunity to be a Scout?”

The rebranding comes amid more than a decade of turmoil for the Scouts, including a $2.4 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan stemming from more than 82,000 claims of childhood sexual abuse. The group has also struggled to maintain and recruit new members.

Nationally, the Scouts currently serve about 1 million young people, including more than 176,000 girls and young women, down from more than 2 million members in 2020, officials said.

In Suffolk County, Hunt said, membership dropped from around 10,500 before the pandemic to around 6,500 currently — 10% of whom are female.

Nassau County's Theodore Roosevelt Council has seen its membership drop from about 8,400 youths before COVID-19 to 5,500 current registrants, said Chris Coscia, the group's chief executive officer and Scout executive. Nassau, he said, has admitted 500 female Scouts since 2018, including 16 who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Coscia said the new name reflects a pathto inclusivity that scouting should charter for the next century.

“The Boy Scouts of America has been an iconic and traditional American brand for 114 years, so we do understand there may be some surprise and sadness about the sunsetting of the name,” he said. “However, the core of our mission remains the same. Scouting America’s goal will be to continue providing young people fantastic experiences in both the outdoors and in their communities, where they can grow and learn with us in a safe environment. Our organization welcomes all youth. Scouting is an environment where everyone should feel respected and valued.”

Anthony Colao, a troop leader from St. James who has two sons in the Scouts — one an Eagle Scout and the other about to become one — had a different view of the name change.

“I’m not for it,” Colao said. “I think boys and girls need a place to be boys and girls. Now it’s getting clouded up.”

He contended that the rebranding was done to make “a splash” after the negative attention from the sex abuse scandal and the decline in membership.

“I think it’s all about business and money,” he said. “I think it’s posturing. That’s what disturbs me about it.”

The Girl Scouts of the USA, a separate group, has clashed with the Boy Scouts over its recruitment of females, including a 2018 trademark lawsuit that was settled in 2022.

Kristine Sanders, a Girl Scout troop leader from Sound Beach with two daughters who are Girl Scouts, wasn't surprised the Boy Scouts chose to make the change. She was more surprised it took them so long.

“I figured it was coming,” Sanders said. “They can’t have girls in there and still call it Boy Scouts.”

Cassie Colgan, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, said the Boy Scouts “must make the business decisions they think are necessary for their organization and the members they serve.”

In a joint statement, the Nassau and Suffolk Girl Scout organizations said they remain focused on their respective programs “so Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges — whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike, or make their first best friends.”

Anjali Mathai, a social worker whose son is a member of Boy Scout Troop 240 from West Hempstead, where she serves as a committee member and merit badge counselor, said the name change strengthens opportunity and diversity.

“But it's not just diversity of what the troop looks like,” said Mathai, whose daughter is also considering joining the Scouts. “It's diversity of perspective, of traditions, cultures and experiences. And diversity is strength. So this change will strengthen troops. It'll strengthen families and communities. Because every family has a different relationship with scouting.”

With AP

Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, David Hunt said, the Boy Scouts of America changed his life, teaching him leadership skills, goal setting and personal advancement.

Hunt, of Northport, returned to the organization decades later, coaching Eagle Scout candidates and later serving as president, and now chairman of the Executive Board of the Suffolk County Council.

And when the tradition-rich organization announced it would allow gay youths, and later females, to join their ranks, Hunt knew it was time for the Scouts to change their name.

On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America said it would do just that, announcing that a change to Scouting America will be official on Feb. 8 — the organization's 115th anniversary — to reflect the Texas-based organization's new, inclusive policy.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The Boy Scouts of America is changing its name next year to Scouting America.
  • The change will be official on Feb. 8.
  • Leaders of the venerable youth organization said the change was made to be more inclusive and also boost declining membership.

'A great move'

“I think it's a great move,” Hunt said. “Times change. I think it makes a lot of sense to take the name 'boy' out of our program. … And why shouldn't every child — special needs, LGBT, transgender — have the opportunity to be a Scout?”

The rebranding comes amid more than a decade of turmoil for the Scouts, including a $2.4 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan stemming from more than 82,000 claims of childhood sexual abuse. The group has also struggled to maintain and recruit new members.

Nationally, the Scouts currently serve about 1 million young people, including more than 176,000 girls and young women, down from more than 2 million members in 2020, officials said.

In Suffolk County, Hunt said, membership dropped from around 10,500 before the pandemic to around 6,500 currently — 10% of whom are female.

Nassau County's Theodore Roosevelt Council has seen its membership drop from about 8,400 youths before COVID-19 to 5,500 current registrants, said Chris Coscia, the group's chief executive officer and Scout executive. Nassau, he said, has admitted 500 female Scouts since 2018, including 16 who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Path to inclusivity

Coscia said the new name reflects a pathto inclusivity that scouting should charter for the next century.

“The Boy Scouts of America has been an iconic and traditional American brand for 114 years, so we do understand there may be some surprise and sadness about the sunsetting of the name,” he said. “However, the core of our mission remains the same. Scouting America’s goal will be to continue providing young people fantastic experiences in both the outdoors and in their communities, where they can grow and learn with us in a safe environment. Our organization welcomes all youth. Scouting is an environment where everyone should feel respected and valued.”

Anthony Colao, a troop leader from St. James who has two sons in the Scouts — one an Eagle Scout and the other about to become one — had a different view of the name change.

“I’m not for it,” Colao said. “I think boys and girls need a place to be boys and girls. Now it’s getting clouded up.”

He contended that the rebranding was done to make “a splash” after the negative attention from the sex abuse scandal and the decline in membership.

“I think it’s all about business and money,” he said. “I think it’s posturing. That’s what disturbs me about it.”

Change was coming

The Girl Scouts of the USA, a separate group, has clashed with the Boy Scouts over its recruitment of females, including a 2018 trademark lawsuit that was settled in 2022.

Kristine Sanders, a Girl Scout troop leader from Sound Beach with two daughters who are Girl Scouts, wasn't surprised the Boy Scouts chose to make the change. She was more surprised it took them so long.

“I figured it was coming,” Sanders said. “They can’t have girls in there and still call it Boy Scouts.”

Cassie Colgan, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, said the Boy Scouts “must make the business decisions they think are necessary for their organization and the members they serve.”

In a joint statement, the Nassau and Suffolk Girl Scout organizations said they remain focused on their respective programs “so Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges — whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike, or make their first best friends.”

Anjali Mathai, a social worker whose son is a member of Boy Scout Troop 240 from West Hempstead, where she serves as a committee member and merit badge counselor, said the name change strengthens opportunity and diversity.

“But it's not just diversity of what the troop looks like,” said Mathai, whose daughter is also considering joining the Scouts. “It's diversity of perspective, of traditions, cultures and experiences. And diversity is strength. So this change will strengthen troops. It'll strengthen families and communities. Because every family has a different relationship with scouting.”

With AP

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