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EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story included a taped report by Gadi Schwartz. That report has been removed because it did not make it clear that while the Boys Scouts of America is only changing the name of its scouting program for older youth to “Scouts BSA,” the name for the entire organization remains “Boy Scouts of America.”
The Boy Scouts of America are changing the name of their signature program for the first time in the organization's 108-year history.
Prompted by the addition of girls to the ranks, the iconic Boy Scouts program for kids ages 11 to 17 will be called Scouts BSA starting in February 2019, according to a news release on Wednesday.
"We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward," Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh told The Associated Press. "We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women."
Dropping the "Boy" in Scouts will allow boys or girls to simply identify themselves as scouts without referring to gender, Surbaugh said.
Scouts BSA will remain under the umbrella of Boy Scouts of America, and Cub Scouts will remain the name for its program for children ages 7 to 10.
The organization announced in October that it would be allowing girls to join Cub Scouts and earn the rank of Eagle Scout for the first time in its history. Cub Scout dens, or small groups of scouts, will remain single-gender, allowing for all-girls and all-boy groups.
Boy Scouts of America also unveiled its "Scout Me In" program on Wednesday that welcomes girls into the ranks while also noting that more than 3,000 girls nation-wide are already participating in Cub Scouts ahead of the full launch later this year.
The announcement of the name change comes at a time of friction between the BSA and the Girl Scouts of America, which is a separate organization with a similar mission.
Both organizations have had declining numbers in recent years and they are now competing for girls to be part of their programs.
"Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts’ CEO, told the AP. "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."
The BSA, which counts former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and late president Gerald Ford as its alumni, said it has 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21, down from 2.6 million in 2013.
The Girl Scouts say they have 1.8 million youth members, down from 2 million members in 2014.
"If the best fit for your girl is the Girl Scouts, that’s fantastic," Surbaugh said. "If it’s not them, it might be us."
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