Scouting Groups Report Losing About 1.7 Million Members During Pandemic

Membership within the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts has plunged through the pandemic, in response to new enrollment figures launched by the youth organizations, which had already been hampered by assorted authorized, monetary and societal points.

The teams estimated that that they had misplaced 1.7 million members between them since 2019, with the Boy Scouts of America enrollment dropping by about 62 % and the variety of youth members of the Girl Scouts of the united statesA. falling by practically 30 %.

The downturn got here as younger folks throughout the nation have been confined to digital studying and after-school packages to stop the unfold of the coronavirus, the newest impediment for the teams’ retention efforts.

The timing is especially nettlesome for the Boy Scouts of America, which filed for chapter safety in February 2020 amid an avalanche of sexual-abuse claims that now exceeds 82,000 circumstances.

The Boy Scouts described the decline partly in an e mail on Wednesday to The New York Times, and a disclosure assertion that the group not too long ago filed in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware offered additional perception into the group’s flagging numbers.

The group stated within the e mail that it went from 1,974,635 members of the Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA in 2019 to 1,123,651 in 2020, in response to its tallies, which have been reported by The Associated Press, together with the enrollment figures for the Girl Scouts. In the disclosure assertion, which was filed on June 18, the Boy Scouts stated that it at present had 762,000 registered youth individuals.

The head of the Boy Scouts was not made accessible for an interview on Wednesday, however the group stated in a press release that the membership decline was anticipated through the pandemic and that camp enrollment totals for this summer season have been encouraging.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly presented obstacles to the BSA’s traditionally hands-on, in-person programming, and the related economic impact has forced families to make difficult decisions about their children’s participation in our programs and in other youth-serving organizations,” the Boy Scouts stated. “At the same time, a year of social distancing and time spent indoors has left many craving the outdoor adventures, community, and values-based leadership training that the BSA offers.”

In its chapter courtroom disclosure, the Boy Scouts reported that its gross revenues had plummeted to $187 million in 2020 from $394 million in 2019. The group is setting apart a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of for a settlement fund for sexual-abuse victims.

Earlier this yr, the Boy Scouts stated it will promote its assortment of Norman Rockwell artwork — some 60 works that it had commissioned over six a long time that evoke advantage, bravery and Americana — to assist pay for the settlement.

Some native councils would possibly consolidate within the subsequent yr partly due to fluctuating membership and to assist pay for his or her contribution to the settlement, in response to the group.

Representatives for the Boy Scouts stated that all the group’s councils and most of its scouting models have been now conducting in-person actions and conferences. At the identical time, the group stated that it will elevate its annual membership charges, along with the charges paid by grownup volunteers. The payment for Cub Scouts will improve to $72 from $66.

“Membership has begun to show signs of a rebound in the last few months as Scouting families re-engage with our programs and prospective Scouting families seek out the adventures that Scouting is known for,” the group stated.

The Girl Scouts estimated that it had 1.four million women amongst its ranks in 2019-20, in contrast with simply over a million in 2020-21.

A spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts stated in a press release on Wednesday that the group had skilled a considerable rebound this spring and summer season in its membership ranks. The group stated that it had registered greater than 370,000 members in April, the very best month for renewals in a while, and that just about all of its camps have been offered out throughout the nation.

“We know maintaining activities during the pandemic was very difficult for families juggling online learning and their own personal and work responsibilities,” stated the spokeswoman, Kelly Parisi. “We are excited to head into fall recruitment, which is our largest recruitment season for both new and returning members.”

The retention points confronted by the Girl Scouts transcend the pandemic. In a federal lawsuit filed in 2018, the group accused the Boy Scouts of co-opting its message within the recruitment of women. In 2017, the Boy Scouts introduced that it will extensively settle for women.

In a submitting final December in federal courtroom in Manhattan, the Girl Scouts stated that the Boy Scouts had eliminated gender-specific language from a few of its advertising supplies that solely referred to scouts and scouting, a violation of a congressional constitution that governs the group. It referred to as the overtures by the Boy Scouts, which it claimed had engaged in unfair competitors and trademark infringement, “highly damaging.” Oral arguments within the case are scheduled for July.

Jack Begg contributed analysis.