America’s most iconic youth organizations – the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA – have been jolted by unprecedented one-year drops in membership.
The decline is due partly to the pandemic and partly to social trends that have been shrinking their ranks for decades. Combined membership in the Boy Scouts’ two flagship programs declined by more than 40% from 2019 to 2020 — and is now well under 1 million.
The Girl Scouts’ youth membership fell by close to 30%, to just over 1 million.
The Boy Scouts’ problems are compounded by their decision to seek bankruptcy protection to cope sex-abuse lawsuits. An eventual trust fund for victims will likely entail large contributions from the BSA and its local councils.