CHARLESTON, W.Va.— Boy Scout leaders in the Mountain State say the name is really the only aspect of the organization that’s changing.

Following the Boy Scouts of America’s announcement that it would be changing its name to Scouting America in an effort to be more inclusive, Buckskin Council Executive Director, Jeffery Purdy said they are simply better embracing what the scouts have already been doing for the past several years now in allowing girls to participate.

“I don’t know if we feel any different, we’re still scouts,” Purdy said. “We’ve had the girls in our Boy Scouts programs since we changed the name to BSA over five years ago, so almost 20 percent of our membership now are girls and so that’s not something new to us.”

According to BSA, 176,000 girls are a part of the organization with 6,000 of whom have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Purdy said embracing a more inclusive institution not only helps all of the kids feel welcome, but it makes it easier on the parents of both boys and girls as well.

“I think that families that can show up to a scout round up night and they have a son and a daughter in tow and both children can participate in a scouting event that place, that time, that location at the same time is every important, especially now days where you have so many single-parent families,” he said.

Purdy said girls have been doing the same activities boys have been doing since they started incorporating girls into the scouts in 2018.

He said the many girls who have already earned the highest rank is a reflection of the fact that they can fulfill the mission of what it means to be a scout in the exact same way boys can.

“It requires you to do a lot of activities including being outdoors, and obviously, there must be a segment of girls out there that enjoy doing those types of activities,” he said.

The Buckskin Council of BSA covers 40 counties across West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia.

Amid the announcement of the organization’s name change, last week marked the council’s annual Friends of Scouting luncheon, a major fundraising event that brings all of the supporters of the council together.

Purdy said these supporters help contribute the necessary funds needed to keep them operating and able to bring the various activities and resources to the scouts in the area.

“This is some of the most challenging areas in the country to serve scouts and families because it’s right in the middle of Appalachia, but with great support like our fundraising event today, we’ll be able to serve families and youth through scouting,” Purdy said.

The council was presenting its Good Scouter Award at last week’s event honoring H. Bernard Wehrle Sr., the first scout in West Virginia.

Tom Heywood is the chair of this year’s Friends of Scouting campaign, and he said it’s a very successful one this year.

Heywood said the role and mission of scouting in Southern West Virginia has never been more vital.

“There are a lot of challenges and there are a lot of young people who don’t have a lot of programs in the environment we wish they would have,” said Heywood. “And the scouts really help fill that need and meet that need by providing structured activities, leadership opportunities.”

He said there is a vast network of people who volunteer their time and efforts to be involved with the scouts throughout the region.

Even during one of the most challenging times for every organization, the Covid-19 Pandemic, Heywood said the scout leaders and volunteers did not stop the activities they provide to the scouts, or from fulfilling their overall mission.

“Remarkably our leadership team at the Buckskin Council did just that, they were quite creative with how to connect people, how to keep people engaged while everyone was wearing masks and staying inside, plus a lot of the scouting activities generally are outdoors-oriented, which was safer during the time of Covid,” Heywood said.

The scouts at the Buckskin Council now look forward to a variety of camps this summer, including its Outdoor Adventure Day Camp at Coonskin Park in Charleston on June 3-7, and then again on June 10-14 at Camp Arrowhead in Ona.

You can find out more about the camps and other programs by visiting Buckskin Council on its website.