100 WVIA Way
Pittston, PA 18640

Phone: 570-826-6144
Fax: 570-655-1180

Copyright © 2024 WVIA, all rights reserved. WVIA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'Scouting is for everybody:' Boy Scouts of America will change name

Members of Troop 1016 pose on a trip to Gettysburg.
Jake Ganz
Submitted photo
Members of Troop 1016 pose on a trip to Gettysburg.

When Cub Scout packs started accepting girls in 2018, Jake Ganz of Scranton said it only felt like girls were being “allowed” to join.

Now, after Scouts BSA announced it will change the organization’s name to Scouting America, the troop leader feels like everyone is truly welcome in scouting.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It shows that scouting is for everybody.”

Ganz leads Troop 1016 out of Hickory Street United Presbyterian Church in Scranton. It’s made up of 14 girls, one of whom is his daughter.

“They really feel like it’s their program now, it’s everybody’s program,” he said.

Kevin Bishop is Scout Executive for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Council of Boy Scouts of America. He was at the national meeting in Florida on Tuesday where officials announced the name change to Scouting America.

“The vast majority of people have been supportive,” Bishop said.

This is the first time in 114 years the organization has changed its name. According to the Associated Press, the change will take effect in February 2025, coinciding with the organization’s 115th birthday.

The organization has made several significant changes in recent years. The announcement that girls would be accepted as Cub Scouts, the program for elementary school aged children, came in 2017. By 2018, girls were allowed to join the flagship Boy Scout program, and it was rebranded to Scouts BSA.

Bishop says changing to Scouting America brings the organization more in line with its mission and makes it more welcoming.

“Because we’re serving both boys and girls, calling the organization Boy Scouts of America was no longer describing who we truly were,” Bishop said. “Our goal is to serve families by allowing boys and girls to participate in a scouting program.”

For Ganz, who grew up in Troop 16 in Scranton, having his daughter able to participate in the same scouting program as his three sons has been a blessing.

“My daughter is a founding member,” he said. “It was like, if I want my sons to be in this awesome program, why wouldn’t I want my daughter in it too?”

Troop 16 is the boys’ troop that also operates out of Hickory Street United Presbyterian Church, Ganz said. He said the girls’ troop has members from all over the region - he even drives in from Albrightsville for weekly meetings.

“This group of girls is amazing,” he said. “It’s like sitting down at family dinner.”

They’ll be heading to Washington, D.C. for Memorial Day to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Bishop said troops will continue to operate in the way that Troop 16 and 1016 do. Cub Scouts will remain co-ed, and older troops will be separated by gender. But the organization does want to try co-ed troops for older scouts. Bishop says they’ll be “piloting” that idea soon.

“The pilot program will allow councils to apply to participate in a pilot that has coed troops,” he said. “We’re still getting the criteria for that.”

Ganz is looking forward to how scouting will grow as these changes are made.

“We want everybody to be here,” he said.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of Morning Edition on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.

You can email Sarah at sarahscinto@wvia.org