Scouting Groups Report Losing About 1.7 Million Members During Pandemic

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U.S.|Scouting Groups Report Losing About 1.7 Million Members During Pandemic

The Boy Scouts person mislaid much than fractional of its members since 2019, portion enrollment successful the Girl Scouts dropped by 30 percent successful 1 year, the groups estimated.

A precipitous diminution  successful  rank  has been particularly  pugnacious  for the Boy Scouts of America, which filed for bankruptcy extortion  successful  February 2020.
Credit...Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Neil Vigdor

July 1, 2021

Membership successful the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts has plunged during the pandemic, according to caller enrollment figures released by the younker organizations, which had already been hampered by assorted legal, fiscal and societal issues.

The groups estimated that they had mislaid 1.7 cardinal members betwixt them since 2019, with the Boy Scouts of America enrollment dropping by astir 62 percent and the fig of younker members of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. falling by astir 30 percent.

The downturn came arsenic young radical crossed the federation were confined to virtual learning and after-school programs to forestall the dispersed of the coronavirus, the latest obstacle for the groups’ retention efforts.

The timing is peculiarly nettlesome for the Boy Scouts of America, which filed for bankruptcy protection successful February 2020 amid an avalanche of sexual-abuse claims that present exceeds 82,000 cases.

The Boy Scouts described the diminution partially successful an email connected Wednesday to The New York Times, and a disclosure connection that the radical precocious filed successful Federal Bankruptcy Court successful Delaware provided further penetration into the group’s flagging numbers.

The radical said successful the email that it went from 1,974,635 members of the Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA successful 2019 to 1,123,651 successful 2020, according to its tallies, which were reported by The Associated Press, on with the enrollment figures for the Girl Scouts. In the disclosure statement, which was filed connected June 18, the Boy Scouts said that it presently had 762,000 registered younker participants.

The caput of the Boy Scouts was not made disposable for an interrogation connected Wednesday, but the enactment said successful a connection that the rank diminution was expected during the pandemic and that campy enrollment totals for this summertime were encouraging.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has surely presented obstacles to the BSA’s traditionally hands-on, in-person programming, and the related economical interaction has forced families to marque hard decisions astir their children’s information successful our programs and successful different youth-serving organizations,” the Boy Scouts said. “At the aforesaid time, a twelvemonth of societal distancing and clip spent indoors has near galore craving the outdoor adventures, community, and values-based enactment grooming that the BSA offers.”

In its bankruptcy tribunal disclosure, the Boy Scouts reported that its gross revenues had plummeted to $187 cardinal successful 2020 from $394 cardinal successful 2019. The enactment is mounting speech hundreds of millions of dollars for a colony money for sexual-abuse victims.

Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts said it would merchantability its postulation of Norman Rockwell art — immoderate 60 works that it had commissioned implicit six decades that evoke virtue, bravery and Americana — to assistance wage for the settlement.

Some section councils mightiness consolidate successful the adjacent twelvemonth successful portion due to the fact that of fluctuating rank and to assistance wage for their publication to the settlement, according to the organization.

Representatives for the Boy Scouts said that each of the group’s councils and astir of its scouting units were present conducting in-person activities and meetings. At the aforesaid time, the enactment said that it would rise its yearly rank fees, successful summation to the fees paid by big volunteers. The interest for Cub Scouts volition summation to $72 from $66.

“Membership has begun to amusement signs of a rebound successful the past fewer months arsenic Scouting families re-engage with our programs and prospective Scouting families question retired the adventures that Scouting is known for,” the enactment said.

The Girl Scouts estimated that it had 1.4 cardinal girls among its ranks successful 2019-20, compared with conscionable implicit 1 cardinal successful 2020-21.

A spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts said successful a connection connected Wednesday that the enactment had experienced a important rebound this outpouring and summertime successful its rank ranks. The radical said that it had registered much than 370,000 members successful April, the highest period for renewals successful immoderate time, and that astir each of its camps were sold retired crossed the country.

“We cognize maintaining activities during the pandemic was precise hard for families juggling online learning and their ain idiosyncratic and enactment responsibilities,” said the spokeswoman, Kelly Parisi. “We are excited to caput into autumn recruitment, which is our largest recruitment play for some caller and returning members.”

The retention issues faced by the Girl Scouts spell beyond the pandemic. In a national suit filed successful 2018, the radical accused the Boy Scouts of co-opting its connection successful the recruitment of girls. In 2017, the Boy Scouts announced that it would wide judge girls.

In a filing past December successful national tribunal successful Manhattan, the Girl Scouts said that the Boy Scouts had removed gender-specific connection from immoderate of its selling materials that solely referred to scouts and scouting, a usurpation of a legislature charter that governs the organization. It called the overtures by the Boy Scouts, which it claimed had engaged successful unfair contention and trademark infringement, “highly damaging.” Oral arguments successful the lawsuit are scheduled for July.

Jack Begg contributed research.

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