37 Comments
May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

Thank you for sharing your perspective. When I first saw the headlines about the name change, I just chalked it up to another business trying to demonstrate they are inclusive. However, you have opened my eyes and I now realize its much more than that. If this organization spent the time and energy to change the name, they have lost sight and are not focused on their valuable mission.

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I hope that the backlash against the name change does not undermine parents wanting to send their sons into scouting. My son is a scout and is pushing hard to get Eagle rank. I am also fairly active in the troop. It is important for people to realize that the heart of scouting is not the national organization, it is the troop. If you join a good troop, I think your son will have just as formative an experience as this author did. My son has grown so much as a person over the last two years, and I do not think there is another organization that it could have happened in.

Boys need this so much. Don’t give up on this over a name change.

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Bravo, Michael

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May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

I think you've got this one wrong. The trouble is separating the reality from BSA's pandering press release. The reality is their financial future is bleak. With enrollment devastated by A) the settlements and B) boys turning inward and living online...BSA cannot continue to exist without taking dues from girls and their Dads who want to be involved still. Their PR tried to get liberal applause for the inclusion position, but its frankly misdirection. Girls and their families and have been paying dues since 2019, and it a rebrand was in the works since before that. Wokeness didn't kill BSA, corruption and mismanagement did. And that's really sad.

I would agree of course that the culture left boys behind. BSA could have in theory died on the hill of being there for them no matter what. But my take is that BSA is good no one if it doesn't exist, and to exist it needs members. It's shocking to me working with boys in BSA today, and girls, how much boys struggle with the basics of just being outside. Boy Scouts of America cannot fix that. The real problem is too far upstream.

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author
May 21·edited May 21Author

I appreciate your response. I heard about their financial situation as well and the need for a rebrand due to scandals. I guess my question (that I'll never know) is were there other options besides infringing on your original philosophy. It's like Waffle House selling pancakes because not enough people are buying waffles.

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May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

To go with the Waffle House analogy, if demand for waffles was bottoming out nationwide and you refused to offer pancakes in order to subsidize your classic waffle menu item...you'd be insane / irresponsible from a business standpoint. Having Girl troops is the subsidy so that Scouting of any kind can continue. Demand was there, both with girls who didn't like the Girl Scouts (very lefty btw) program, and their Dads (like myself, which is my bias). Then after adding girls, you had this problem of saying "Ah yes our daughter is in Boy Scouts" which makes no sense and makes recruiting very difficult cause you have to explain how Boy and Girl chartering works, and by then you've lost the potential interest from a kid or parent.

It wasn't workable. Scouting is the Law, Oath, Motto and Slogan. That is its heart. If the heart changes in big ways, I'll have a lot to say about it (such as the softening of BSA's requirements on religion, which has been happening for a few decades) and you can't share the heart of the program with anyone if it ceases to exist.

Boys are in a crisis, and its not because of BSA. BSA is being affected by the crisis.

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author

I think you're right about the bigger problem is what's happening outside of the home. Without volunteers, it starts to fall apart.

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May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

precisely. there is hardly anyone left to do the work of running camps and meetings. Unless....you engage all the former Scouts who ended up with daughters instead of sons lol, and instantly you have doubled your prospects for who could keep these camps and merit badge programs afloat. This is very shrewd, and not actually political. I'm quite peeved at their PR team for leaning into the inclusivity stuff, cause its not sincere.

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author

Right. Their press release cited "inclusion" as one of the reasons when it's a hot buzz word that signals something...maybe something they didn't want it to.

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May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

Eh, they knew what they were doing. It's lame.

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Do you know what percentage of scouts are girls? Based on what I have seen, it is well under 5%. If that is typical, then I doubt that it actually expands membership very much.

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based on their 2023 numbers, 13%. So in 4 years time you're talking about being on track to have girls be 1/5 of the membership. To me that shows why they're looking at this as a way out for the programs finances. A rebrand will also help with selling the program....but the wild card will be if culture warriors keep their boys out over the name change. Dont know what will happen. But I do know my daughter got her Star this week and has a dream of Eagle, and we'll be here for that.

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May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

I think the Mormon church is another big factor. The church ended their relationship with the scouts and no longer encourages their members to participate. They were a huge part of the membership and support for Boy Scouts, so when that ended it had a huge impact.

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author

Interesting. I had no idea about that.

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As an LDS cub scout and Eagle Scout by 17yrs old, I can say I personally know dozens of Eagle Scouts from my LDS troop in Kingston, NY. My 2 brothers in fact. About 10-12 of us met every Tuesday night to complete merit badges and plan campouts in the late 90s to 2004. Enter your local LDS chapel and you'll likely see a plaque proudly displaying all Eagle Scouts earned in that ward and unit. LDS young men represented 20% (400,000) of BSA youth before bowing out in late 2019. Glad it still exists, but it saddened me to see the intertwining of outdoor survival, America, and faith severed because I had connected with men and boys much as Adam describes. Empowered me in U.S. citizenship, personal skills, and faith.

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yes that was a big, big blow.

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Boys need their own spaces too.

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They do. And good news, boys have their own spaces. Boy and Girl Troops are chartered separately. It is a public misconception that they share space actively and operate as united Troops. They do not.

There are some issues with Scout Summer Camp that have cropped up, where boy and girl troops are doing some events together. But I will never forget being in Scouts in 2006 when the Girl Scout camp was on the other side of the lake, "separate"....and it was well known where to meet them and how to row to the other side. And people did.

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Boy Scouts was a very important influence in my life also. At a time where feminist are shouting about saving girls spaces, they don’t bother to mention boys spaces. Boys and men are invisible in our society.

Especially to women. They now have the power & megaphone yet they only care about girls & women. Many men have stood shoulder to shoulder with women fighting for their rights. The men in our society need to grow a spine and some balls to start speaking up for boys & men. If they put as much effort into that as they do there sports teams or their beer brand, we wouldn’t have lost every boy or male only space. If anything, can’t we all work together against the radical feminist for equal rights & spaces for boys & men. It’s a win/win.

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May 22Liked by Adam B. Coleman

Thanks for this Adam. Scouting taught me a profound love of the outdoors which has carried through my entire life. Order of the Arrow solo silence retreats taught me about managing fear. Achieving my 21st merit badge and all that went with becoming an Eagle Scout taught me about persistence and brotherhood. I’m mostly sad—another fine institution of our youth that has gone by the wayside for a variety of reasons—as you and your commenters have pointed out.

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May 21·edited May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

This was inevitable once they allowed girls in which was not about inclusion but what they saw as a financial necessity brought about by their staggering ineptitude dealing with years of ignored sexual misconduct and the resulting court judgements. This is a mess entirely of their own making, there is no "wokeness" to blame. What I am truly sorry to see is how this undermines the Girl Scouts who will increasingly lose girls to "Scouts". Everyone will experience a loss because of this.

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I think part of the problem is that their press releases imply "inclusion" as being an important reason for the name change. I didn't necessarily have a problem with select troops having a girl being involved but it's different when they completely remove boys from their name, indicating we aren't their primary concern anymore.

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"To me, the Scouts were always a good experience because I connected with it as a young boy and I think there is something important about having a place for boys to be themselves."

This says it all. Take out all the things that don't matter to the boys, and it comes down to boys need a place where they can be themselves. A place where they can learn how to be a man with men. A place where if they have a question about girls they can ask a man without girls being around. A place where guys can go take a leak by a tree without it creating a big stir because there are girls around. Are the Girl Scouts that bad that girls don't want to be apart of that organization? When the "Scouts" speak of inclusion what or whom do they want to include?

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May 21Liked by Adam B. Coleman

Thank you for articulating how much the Boy Scouts meant to you in particular and to many boys in general. I understand the financial pressures the organization is under, but this move undercuts their (presumed) mission.

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I know someone who sent his son on an inclusive outward-bound type trip. I have always been physical and strong for a female but I am not at the same level as the average man. This is rooted in biology. So in the outward bound trip either girls were pushed beyond their physical limits or boys were restricted from theirs. Either way, it was unfair. I wonder if exclusive male bonding trips will be prohibited at some point. I hope you interview JANICE FIAMENGO. Her dedication to this issue is amazing.

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founding

Just as a side comment. I was a Camp Fire Girl (no Girl Scouts in my home town), and I went with my Dad and brother to the Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings. I really wanted to be a Boy Scout; they seemed to be doing things that were a lot more fun and adventurous! (Today, they’re probably try to get me to “transition”!) It’s sad that all these issues have led to the demise of the Scouts as many of us knew them.

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It ended in 2017, Mr. Coleman, after a twenty-plus year-long series of attacks. The name change is merely a public victory dance.

You will note that GSA did not merge with BSA. Had "inclusion" been the standard, a merger would have been the result.

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I was never in the Boy Scouts but grew up on back issues of Boys' Life magazine my Dad collected from the library giveaway table. There was a pronounced shift from the '70s when it was still about tying knots and avoiding poison ivy to the 90s when it became much more about video games and such. So while I'm sad about this dubious milestone the ruin has been a long time coming.

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Yes, and its a tragedy. Same thing happened to Boy Scouts in Canada, it has now been changed for a long time to Scouts Canada and hence is in decline.

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Parents reading this may be interested in Trail Life USA, which is a Christian, boys-only scoutlike organization. There is also a similar organization for girls, American Heritage Girls:

https://www.traillifeusa.com/

https://americanheritagegirls.org/

I was a Girl Scout as a child, but lost respect for the organization a few years ago when I learned that some troops were admitting 'transgender" boys. I also once read that the Girl Scouts had a partnership with Planned Parenthood to teach girls about birth control, starting at the cadette rank (GS cadettes are middle-school age!), but was unable to verify this one way or the other. Any sex-segregated youth organization that permits "transgender" members, however, would be a deal-breaker for me!

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I heard about trail life and checked it out since I hadn't heard of it, but what upsets me about them is how their founding was due to the BSA allowing for openly gay scouts and adult leaders and just how overt the Christian messaging is. Although I wasn't out while I was a scout (stayed until 18 and got Eagle), I do remember our troop being kicked out of a church that we'd been at for a good while because it was a baptist church. Fortunately a catholic church took us in, but in some sense that was one of my earlier exposures to the politics surrounding my orientation. As for the Christianity, I never minded participating in prayers with all the other (Christian) boys, but I also never felt obligated. It was clear that BSA was guided by Christian values, but I never felt like it was forced down my throat. Based on one of the (positive) articles about trail life, it just seemed like the Christian preaching would have been overbearing and felt forced instead of being demonstrated through good conduct like was the case in BSA. I remain in contact with some of my scout leaders and still look up to them as good men to emulate.

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I usually agree with you, but on this I do not. My husband is an Eagle scout, as are two of my sons with a third working on it. My husband has been a cub scout and boy scout leader since 2002. I was briefly a girl scout leader.

BSA/Scouts USA had not lost their way or focus, it's just that girls who want to camp and learn outdoor skills are now able to do so. Girls and boys still have separate troops. They work together in some instances, but for the most part are separate.

Please, come speak with the scouts, leaders, and parents, and observe a campout or two before passing judgement. The core principals of scouting are still there.

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My issue isn't that a few girls want to do some outdoorsy things, it's that removing boys from their name means the focus is no longer specific but broad. I'm not even saying their principles have changed but that widening their scope is their new objective. Now they can effectively target and market to girls as an organization.

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