How the Boy Scouts rolled out their rebrand and weathered name-change controversy

Scouting America will take the place for the century-old name.

Boy Scouts is becoming Scouting America

After 114 years, the Boy Scouts of America are changing their name — but little else about the organization.

The “boy” is dropping out of the name, which will become simply Scouting America.

“Certainly, Boy Scouts of America’s got to be one of the most highly recognizable names out there in terms of youth service, but you’ve got to do something to retain that, but also make sure that everyone feels welcome,” Michael Ramsey, chief marketing officer of the organization, told PR Daily.

The change is designed to create a bigger tent and welcome more people — namely, girls — to the organization. But girls have been involved with the scouts in various capacities for decades, starting with the Exploring program in 1969, to women serving as Cub Scout leaders. But five years ago, girls were formally welcome to become involved as Cub Scouts all the way up to Eagle Scouts. Boys and girls remain in separate Dens and Packs under the same organizations, but otherwise, the experience remains the same for both groups: camping, hiking, tying knots — the whole traditional scouting package.



Today, 176,000 girls are involved in scouting, and 6,000 have earned the elite rank of Eagle Scout.

“I think there may be some people that didn’t know that girls were involved in the scouting program as deeply as they are, because the name still said boy over the door,” Ramsey said. “So, it’s important for us to change that. We think a lot more girls will become involved in the program simply by changing the name.”

This is how Scouting America changed the name, rolled it out to the public and its massive volunteer base, and weathered criticism.

‘Weren’t aware they could join’

Like any good major rebrand, the scouts’ journey began with focus groups. Namely, it was with families that weren’t involved with scouting — yet.

Because growth is imperative for the organization. A combination of the pandemic, changing hobbies and interests, and the revelation that many boys were sexually abused during their time in the scouts led to a crash in membership. The AP reported that between 2019 and 2021, membership plummeted from 1.97 million to just 762,000. The organization filed for bankruptcy in 2020 to handle the flood of sexual abuse lawsuits.

So, getting girls into the organization is a path to survival, increasing potential scouts by 50%.

When hosting focus groups with families, the organization found that families loved the activities and what the scouts stood for, but still weren’t clear that girls were welcome.

“For whatever reason, they just weren’t aware that they could join,” Ramsey said. “So, for us, this is an opportunity to refresh the brand, to reintroduce the brand to families today, and also re-invite people to join, let them know that young men and young women can both be involved in scouting.”

They played around with multiple variations of the name before settling on Scouting America.

“Scouting America just seems to resonate. And, quite frankly, it’s a lot of fun because it’s a noun and a verb. So, we’re gonna have some fun with that going forward,” Ramsey said.

Announcing the change

There were two major constituencies for the rollout announcement: the general public, including prospective scouts and their families, and the 477,000 adult volunteers who make the organization run.

“There is a relatively small cadre of paid professionals in the organization. It’s volunteers that deliver the program, that raise the funds, that just make scouting possible,” Ramsey said. “So, it’s critically important that we let the community know about the change.”

That was mostly delivered through a classic cascade since the organization is decentralized and divided into thousands of dens and troops. On launch day, every one of those groups received an email, including a letter from the CEO, logos, key messaging, a press release and more.

LinkedIn has also been a key, surprising part of the rollout. Most of those adult volunteers have day jobs, and they’re on LinkedIn already, making it a strong platform for delivering videos and other information about the rebrand.

Everyone is aware this change won’t happen in a day. In fact, it won’t even become official until Feb. 8, 2025. But the initial blast was the start of that change.

The biggest messaging sent to local organizations was about what wasn’t changing.

“The Scout Oath and the Scout Law, which are just central to who we are as an organization, that’s not changing,” Ramsey said. “The fun, the life-changing experiences, that’s not changing. Duty to God, which is part of the oath and law, those kinds of things aren’t changing. The only thing that’s changing is the name, to make sure that people feel welcome in the organization. And that’s the key message.”

Externally, the most important audience for the rebrand is moms, who make the decisions about what activities kids are involved in.

The organization worked with FleishmanHillard on press for the rollout, targeting outlets that speak to parents. And the messaging involved was not significantly different than that used for internal audiences: the name is changing but nothing else. Everyone is welcome, everyone is invited. Ramsey refers to it as “rebrand, refresh, re-invite.”

Of course, no change is without difficulty. The term “boy” has been central to the organization since its founding. Notably, the Girl Scouts does not allow boys at all. And there has been some blowback, especially from conservative media, which has dubbed the rebrand “woke” and “progressive.”

Ramsey acknowledged that change is hard but stood behind the rebrand.

“For us, as an organization, we are not standing still. We want to make sure that we’re serving the entire country with scouting. Anybody that wants to be involved in scouting, should be welcome in the program. Our message back to those families has been, scouting hasn’t changed. This is the same scouting experience that they had as a young person.”

What’s next

The organization has a whole year plotted out already, leaning on the rhythms of the year: a push for Cub Scouts to join during the back-to-school registration push, then a celebration of the official name change in February, followed by a spring call for older kids to join the BSA Scouting program. Video will remain a key component of the rollout, as will leaning on female scouts to tell their stories, as Eagle Scout Selby Chipman did during the initial rebrand announcement.

“The voices of young women in our program that are having an amazing experience, they’re doing amazing things, is very powerful,” Ramsey said. “So we’re gonna lean on the voices of our members to help us tell the story and invite other people to join.”


Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on or LinkedIn.


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