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Many people associate Boy Scouts with camping and knot tying. Over the years, however, the organization has evolved as time and society have progressed.

Thousands of Rio Grande Valley residents have benefited from Scouting membership. For many it is their first membership in a formal organization with stated goals and responsibilities. They gather with peers who have similar interests and work together to learn new skills. Those skills are developed and tested at the traditional campouts and other outings and gatherings, offering a sense of accomplishment that comes from earning merit badges and receiving support and assistance from fellow members.

Recent years have been hard on the Scouts. We hope the most recent changes enable the organization to survive and to continue helping its young members learn valuable life skills that include accomplishing goals and becoming active members of our society.

Those changes, announced last week, include a formal name change; the Irving, Texas-based will become Scouting America, effective next year. That change reflects a move toward more inclusion in its membership.

The announcement already has drawn criticism from some people who apparently prefer the more traditional, and more exclusive, perception of the organization. In reality, Scouting has undergone many changes over the years.

Most recently, change has become necessary to address falling membership and bankruptcy. More than 2 million people participated in Scouting in 2018; currently it membership is about half that number.

Much of the attrition came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Scouts, like other community members, weren’t able to meet. Once activities resumed, many members didn’t return.

In reality, the organization has changed over the years to adapt to its changing environment — just as it teaches its members to develop their own survival skills.

British war hero Robert Baden-Powell began the Scouting movement in 1907 to recruit and train boys to develop skills that might help them form citizen militias. He adapted a military field survival guide he had written to include camping, first aid and other outdoor skills. Over the years, however, Scouting began to focus more on citizenship — thus, the old image of Scouts helping little old ladies cross streets.

As part of that growth, the organization has added more modern skills to its merit badge achievements, such as automotive maintenance, law and crime prevention.

Scouting also has made membership changes, dropping its ban on homosexuals in 2013 and accepting female members starting in 2018.

The group also has addressed revelations of abuse by imposing background checks on Scout leaders and advising Scouts against being alone, utilizing a buddy system, and prohibiting adults from being alone with just one Scout who is not their child.

Most Scouts surely have benefited from membership, which still includes camping and other outdoor activities — the only such activities many youth might experience.

It is hoped that the latest reforms, and outreach, help Scouting continue to provide valuable activity and leadership skills for years to come.