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The Tanking of Scouting September 10, 2020

Posted by geoff in News.

Was looking at the sidebar when Michael’s 2007 post on the wimpification of the Boy Scouts caught my eye (Boy Scouts Celebrate PC 100th World Jamboree). It made me wonder how the Boy Scouts are doing these day, after allowing the participation of:

  • Gay scouts (2013),
  • Gay leaders (2015),
  • Trans scouts (2017), and
  • Girls (2019).

(The last change having been accompanied by a name update to Scouting BSA.)

So I figured I should see check on membership trends, given my fond memories of the traditional (i.e., 70’s) scouting program. Which meant, of course, that some graph plotting was inevitable:

The membership has been divided by the population of the US, so what you see is the percentage of US citizens participating in the scouting programs.

And, as you can see despite the annoying gaps in the data, the scouting program is cratering. The demise has only accelerated since 2012, meaning that all of the changes listed above did not save the organization.

Rather, they appear to have sealed its doom.


1. Sobek - September 10, 2020

I just found out there will be no in-person voting in my state, only mail-in. I am not pleased about this.

The governor who ordered mail-in voting is also running for the Senate, and thus stands to personally benefit from mail-related election fraud.

2. Jimbro - September 11, 2020

My days in the BSA were in the 70’s and early 80’s which, per your graph, was on the rapid down slope in membership. It was a good program, my dad was our Scoutmaster so I suppose it gave him time with us we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Watching the slow motion destruction of the BSA has been disheartening.

3. geoff - September 11, 2020

It did have a steep decline during that period (I remember scouting not being considered ‘cool’), but then kind of leveled out from 1980 to 2008. After that, though…

4. Jimbro - September 12, 2020

Yeah, after my freshman year in high school me and my fellow scouts didn’t discuss our scouting participation. My friend’s dad who was also a scoutmaster created a Sea Scout troop that was pretty informal. We’d wear a uniform of jeans and a blue shirt with a couple of patches on it and still go to the occasional camp out and hang out together. Nary a boat was ever seen. My mother was the primary motivation for me finally getting my Eagle Scout award. I had everything done but a single merit badge (Emergency Preparedness) and the application. She pointed out that my older brother had his and my younger brother was closing in on his. I did it for them and I’m forever grateful she gave me that pep talk.

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