Boy Scouts will become “Scouts BSA” as it adds girls in 2019

MANHEIM TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY--- For more than a century, the older youth program of the Boy Scouts of America has been known as "Boy Scouts."

Starting in February 2019, it becomes "Scouts BSA."

Matthew Adams, scout executive and CEO of the Pennsylvania Dutch Council that serves Lancaster and Lebanon County, said this comes as the organization prepares to welcome girls to their ranks.

"Starting February 1, girls will be able to join Scouts BSA, which will give them a pathway to our highest award in scouting called the Eagle Scout rank," said Adams.

He said packs allowing girls to join will identify as "family scouting."

He also said the Pennsylvania Dutch Council has more than a dozen of their charters already planning to be family scouting.

But while the age 11-17 program will allow girls, AAdams said it will not be co-ed: meetings, volunteers and leadership will be separated.

He said their aim is to open Cub Scout opportunities to girls, rather than recruit away from Girl Scouts, for example.

"Families that have boys that are in the program that have sisters that are saying 'my daughter is loving what she says when my son goes out on these campouts or participates in cub scouts. Is that something we can provide for her?'" said Adams.

Amy Mountain with the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania said their membership numbers are at a five-year high.

She said there is no plan to bring boys into the Girl Scouts but they've always worked, in tandem, with the Boy Scouts of America.

"We try to work really hard to make sure we're serving youth, whether they're boys or girls and regardless of the organization that kids want to be a part of, we try to make sure we deliver the programs to the kids that they're interested in," said Mountain.

While it is a historic change, Adams said they see their message of character development, citizenship training and mental and physical fitness as gender neutral.

"We're excited about the opportunity to provide more kids with those values," said Adams.

He also said there isn't going to be a huge change in uniforms, other than the addition of "skorts" or skirts that are shorts.

He said they're planning to launch their marketing campaign for girls this fall.