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Families flee Boy Scouts of America as organization moves toward ‘progressive vision’

Some families are eyeing faith-based alternatives to the Boy Scouts – soon to be rebranded to Scouting America – as some say the organization has left its founding mission behind.

“Anytime organizations lose their rootedness, and especially if we chase these progressive visions, we end up waking up in a world that’s really hard to recognize and very difficult to navigate, and I think that’s what’s happening to some of these organizations,” Matt Markins, president and CEO of faith-based organization Awana, told ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ on Sunday.

His organization focuses on the discipleship of children, bringing them closer to Christ and preparing them for leadership through a Bible-based youth ministry program. That mission is one Markins says the organization will maintain.

“We have a saying in our organization that Awana is rooted in Scripture, centered on the gospel. We’re never going to move one inch off of that,” he said, speaking to co-hosts Will Cain and Pete Hegseth.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reemerged onto the news scene recently after announcing plans to rebrand to “Scouting America” next year. It was far from the first controversial change, however. Its prior decisions to allow openly gay scout leaders and members, as well as girls and transgender youth to join, also sparked backlash among some but support from others.

A female scout receiving her blue Eagle Scout neckerchief at a ceremony in Tacoma, Washington
Enrollment in the Boy Scouts has declined over the past few decades. Getty Images

The organization’s name change is its most recent shift toward inclusivity.

In the meantime, numbers reported by the Associated Press indicate a sharp drop-off in membership, falling to 1.12 million last year from 1.97 million in 2019.

The Boy Scouts of America President and CEO Roger Krone told the outlet prior to the name change that the goal is to reduce as many barriers as possible to ensure everyone can accept the organization and join.

BSA did not respond to a request for comment. 

Selby Chipman, a 20-year-old inaugural female Eagle Scout, speaking at the Boys Scouts of America annual meeting in Orlando, Fla
BSA began allowing girls to join amid financial difficulty caused by a myriad of lawsuits. AP

Awana has been around for 74 years and has grown, according to Markins. On a global scale, it operates in 135 countries.

“Our mission is to equip leaders to reach kids with the gospel and to engage them in lifelong discipleship. What does every parent want? Parents want their kids to have a thriving future, so I think over the last few years, we’ve gotten more and more visibility into organizations, what they’re doing, and sometimes we’ve become quite alarmed,” Markins said.

“And so we help come alongside parents, churches, coaches and mentors and help them to shape children and youth with lifetime faith. That’s going to help them be resilient in the future and to be able to thrive no matter their cultural context.”

Another faith-based alternative is Trail Life USA, an organization founded in 2013, which aims to teach young boys how to handle real-world challenges while learning outdoor skills and bolstering their faith.