Boy Scouts’ rebranding in 2025 not expected to impact Catholic scouts

A Scout is pictured in a file photo receiving Communion during Mass while participating in Cub Scout Fun and Faith Day at St. Patrick Church in Smithtown, N.Y. On May 7, 2024, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would rebrand itself as Scouting America effective Feb. 8, 2025, when the organization marks its 115th anniversary. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

(OSV News) — A change in name for the Boy Scouts of America will not affect affiliated Catholic scout troops, the executive director of the Catholic Church’s official committee overseeing Scouting programs in the U.S. told OSV News.

“It doesn’t really impact us at all,” said John Anthony, who heads up the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which sponsors Catholic Scouting, the official Catholic organization that uses all BSA programs and activities in line with Catholic teaching and aims to form youth into both good citizens and “committed disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Michael W. Fisher of Buffalo, New York, (also an Eagle Scout) serves as the episcopal liaison for the committee to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On May 7, the BSA announced in a news release that it would rebrand itself in 2025 as Scouting America in order to reflect “the organization’s ongoing commitment to welcome every youth and family in America to experience the benefits of Scouting.”

The announcement comes on the fifth anniversary of the BSA welcoming girls into the Scouts BSA program for youth 11-17; and six years after allowing girls into the Cub Scouting program for youth ages 5-10.

These flagship youth programs, however, still maintain separation by gender: Cub Scouts can be in either single-gender units called “packs,” or part of a mixed pack with boys and girls organized into smaller subgroups by gender called “dens.”

Scouts BSA troops, however, are single-gender only. Once Cub Scouts crossover to the Scouts BSA program, girls can join all-girl troops and boys can join all-boy troops.

While boys and girls experience the same Scouting program in most countries today, philosophical differences over Scouting in the early 20th century led to the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. developing separate and distinct youth programs. The two organizations have clashed over the course of their history — especially recently over the BSA’s decision to open its Scout program to girls — and a merger is considered unlikely.

The BSA has also had co-ed programs for decades prior to its decision to include girls into Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA, including the Sea Scouting, Venturing, and Exploring programs.

According to the BSA, Scouting America currently serves more than 176,000 girls and young women across all programs, including over 6,000 who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

BSA President and CEO Roger A. Krone said in the release about the organization’s name change to Scouting America that “though our name will be new, our mission remains unchanged.”

Anthony told OSV News that the same is true of Catholic Scouting, which counts more than 97,650 Scouts from over 5,000 Catholic units across the country, representing separate boy and girl Scouting formations.

“We support the Scouting program, but we work with the local dioceses and those committees and help people understand that if you’re going to have and call it a Catholic Scouting program, you’d better be Catholic,” said Anthony, who worked full-time for the BSA for 38 years, most recently as an executive regional director in South Florida.

Catholic Scouting partners closely with parish and school-based faith formation as well as youth ministry outreaches, offering age-appropriate religious activities and emblems. Catholic discipleship, service and spiritual development are essential goals of the organization, which is also encouraging members to participate in the National Eucharistic Revival and the National Eucharistic Congress.

“The local bishop decides how the program is going to be administered (in his diocese),” Anthony said. “He appoints the chairman and the chaplain; (and) he approves of members of the local diocesan Catholic committee.”

Anthony told OSV News that fears about the implications of the BSA name change to Scouting America may have been sparked by one media outlet’s choice of photograph to accompany its story on the news.

“You don’t see the person’s face, but the (scout’s) neckerchief slide (clasp) is the rainbow color,” he said. “That gets people going. … You couldn’t use the photo of everybody camping or having a good time or (showing) they’re in church?”

Following the BSA’s announcement, at least one Catholic group issued a blog post “listing all the alternative programs to Boy Scouts — and one they recommend is Catholic Scouting,” said Anthony, chuckling.

According to the BSA, the rebranding to Scouting America will be effective Feb. 8, 2025, when the organization marks its 115th anniversary.

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