COLUMBIA — The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday morning it is dropping the "Boy" from the name of its flagship program.
The umbrella organization will keep the name Boy Scouts of America, or BSA, but its program for kids age 10-17 will become Scouts BSA in February 2019. The Cub Scouts, BSA's program for kids age 7-10, will also retain its name.
The name change is part of a new campaign called "Scout Me In" to emphasize its decision back in October to begin programs for girls. The Cub Scouts program will formally begin accepting girls this summer.
Stephen Weise is a leader for the all-girls den in Pack 6 in Columbia. He said his daughter has always wanted to be a part of the Boy Scouts.
"We jumped at the opportunity as soon as it became available," Weise said. "Her reaction when they finally announced that girls were allowed in was 'it's about time.'"
Weise wasn't surprised by the name change.
"In this day and age, with the way things are changing, I think it was only natural that it was going to happen," Weise said.
The girl's den Weise leads is separate from the boy's den within their pack, but the program and activities are all the same. All members can work toward the title of Eagle Scout.
Doug Callahan, the Scout Executive for the Great Rivers Council based in Columbia, said it's too early to tell the impact the name change will have on recruiting girls to join BSA.
"I'm sure there will be some people not happy with the name change because of tradition," Callahan said. "But it would be tough for a young lady to join a program that said 'Boy Scouts' as opposed to one that just said 'Scouts'"
Callahan said the Great Rivers Council is working to determine which Cub Scout packs will admit girls for the fall launch. He said it will be up to each local pack and their sponsoring organization.
"They have a choice if they want to be a family pack, which means having boy dens and girl dens all part of the same Cub Scout pack or if they just want to remain boy only or if they want to start an girl separate Cub Scout pack," Callahan said.
It's also unclear what effect the changes will have on the Girl Scouts of the USA, an all-girls youth scouting program.
In a statement released to the AP, Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said:
"Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls," said Acevedo. "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."