1 million and growing: BSA membership is on the rise

Photo by Kristian Nordmeyer

We started 2022 with some good news on recruiting.

What do you say we start 2023 with more of the same?

I’ve been authorized to announce that BSA membership has exceeded its year-over-year numbers by more than 3%.

Around mid-December, the BSA’s youth membership surpassed 1,025,000, which was the organization’s goal for 2022. By the end of the year, the BSA was serving more than 1,042,000 members.

Coming off the COVID-19 pandemic and the bankruptcy proceedings, BSA officials knew that the 2022 recruiting numbers would go a long way toward determining the future of the organization.

So, they set a lofty goal: 1.042 million members was the result of nine consecutive months of membership growth and a retention rate of more than 70% across the board.

A team effort

The 2022 recruiting success story is the result of extensive collaboration between the local councils and the National Service Center, as each worked together to develop goals and plans for recruiting. As a result, 176 councils exceeded their year-end growth.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the dedicated efforts of our thousands of volunteers, enthusiastic parents … and all of the Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA members, Explorers, Sea Scouts and Venturers who invited their friends to join them on their Scouting adventures.

We encouraged our Cub Scout leaders to recruit new members in the spring, and they did. By fall, we could tell it was working.

Cub Scout youth membership grew by 10.24% over the course of the year.

We asked you to think about how you recruit older youth to the BSA, and you did that, too. Most notably, the BSA’s Exploring program grew by 17.35%.

Photo by Chuck Eaton

What’s next

Where do we go from here? One of the great things about Scouting’s programs is that, in lots of ways, they can recruit themselves during non-traditional recruiting seasons.

When you wear your unit’s T-shirts while picking up trash in your community, going on a hike, or attending a city council meeting, you’re signaling to your neighbors that the BSA is here, and we’re ready to provide kids with the skills they need to succeed in life.

Remember: Nobody ever gets tired of “Normal Friend Activities.”

And there’s a reason why this particular patch might be the most important patch in Scouting.

To all of the volunteers who made this happen, we say “thank you.”

To all of our youth: Keep inviting your friends to join Scouting.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of 2023.

Photo by Michael Roytek

About Aaron Derr 454 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.