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Scouting America CEO: Our name change was long overdue—and today’s divisions prove the role we have to play is more important than ever

Courtesy of Scouting America

In a society defined by spirited debate and diversity, America has long leaned on its shared values and mutual aspirations for the common good to carve a path to prosperity and progress. However, the intensity of today’s division and discourse has me concerned we are losing sight of this path.

Beyond political arenas where we can expect debate, consider the divisions and gridlock plaguing our everyday institutions. Businesses that had been growing more vocal in support of humanity’s basic needs for the environment and a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society are quieting down amid legal and stakeholder uncertainty. Distrust in the media we’ve relied on to inform productive debate is accelerating, with a third of U.S. adults under 30 turning to TikTok to get their news, according to Pew Research.

I look around at today’s divisions, and I cannot help but wonder about the prospects for tomorrow’s leaders. Unless we teach and model the skills of tolerance, integrity, and inclusive leadership to our youth, the future solutions to our greatest challenges risk the paralysis of discord.

We can reverse this trend by restoring young people’s focus on the common interests that transcend our differences, and I believe organizations like scouting can help. For 114 years, Boy Scouts of America has provided young people with the experiences and training required for strong character development and values-based leadership. More than 130 million Americans have been through its programs, developing life skills through the 12 points of the Scout Law.


As an Eagle Scout myself, I camped out, learned scoutcraft, and even made the famed trek to Philmont, while gaining the skills required to work with people of all beliefs and backgrounds. Scouting has had a profound impact on my life: When I became a parent, I wanted my children to experience its joys and lessons, and when I became a business leader, I leaned on its values as I built a track record for turning around businesses by aligning global organizations for growth.

The passage of time and history has compelled the BSA to weather challenges and embrace change, guided by the timeless values of integrity, respect, and service to others. Today, we know these values are not confined to a single gender, race, or identity—and our move to rebrand as Scouting America reflects that.

As we look to this next chapter, I am proud to stand alongside the more than 1 million young men and women and the 460,000 dedicated adult volunteers serving in local councils throughout the country. Last year, Scouts recorded 7.1 million hours of service to their respective communities valued at over $225 million while earning over 1.3 million merit badges that encouraged interest and exploration in future careers, vocations, and hobbies in areas ranging from health care and social services to sustainability and sports.

As we mark the five-year anniversary of welcoming women into our core Scouts BSA program, formally known as “Boy Scouts,” we recognize the 176,234 girls and young women who have joined us, including more than 6,000 who have been awarded Eagle Scout status. Our focus on inclusion of all Scouts and leaders also correlates with a 7% rate of youth earning Eagle Scout status, up from historical averages of 2.5%.

In our digital age, it is easy to assume what’s relevant and needed for young people today lies with technology, but amid a youth mental health crisis, we are also seeing how today’s digital experiences divide us. Through pathways to the outdoors, merit achievement, and community service, scouting provides the formative and uniquely human experiences that shape our bonds and the values we all share.

As division threatens to impede the path to progress and productivity in so many facets of our daily lives, it’s vital our leaders of tomorrow have a place to access these foundational experiences. While its name has changed to reflect the youth of today, Scouting America’s mission to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes hasn’t—and we cannot overlook the important role it plays.

Roger Krone is the president and CEO of Scouting America. An Eagle Scout and aerospace engineer by training, he previously served as CEO of Leidos after holding senior leadership positions at Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and General Dynamics.

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