WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Santa Fe Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America is no more.
Boy Scouts of America Quivira Council has announced that Santa Fe Trail and Quivira Council voted to merge, effective Nov. 1. Santa Fe Trail voted in September, while the Quivira Council voted in October to join.
The Santa Fe Trail Council was comprised of 19 counties in southwest Kansas. They now join the 30 counties in south-central and most of southeast Kansas that comprise the Quivira Council.
“By merging the distinct strengths of each council into a single, cohesive organization, our Scouts and leaders will gain the advantages of enhanced and unified volunteer support, streamlined administrative functions, expanded professional staffing, efficient business management, and improved programming and facilities for our Scouting families,” says Quivira Council President Roger Darrow in a press release. “This endeavor will position Scouting in Southern Kansas for greater success in the years ahead.”
Quivira is now the largest Boy Scout Council in the state of Kansas by territory covered, which includes Coronado, Jayhawk, Pony Express, Heart of America, and Ozark Trail Councils. Quivira says they now serve around 4,300 children active in scouting in Kansas.
A reason for the merger was not cited. However, in the past, scouting numbers had been declining nationwide, despite the inclusion of girls in scouting announced in 2018.
Membership figures from the Boy Scouts of America show that the current scout membership is 995,758, which represents a rebound from 2022 of 233,758. In 2019, before the pandemic, there were 1.97 million members, according to The Associated Press.
The current membership still represents a decline of nearly half the membership of 2019. The decline can partly be blamed on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cutting ties with the scouts. The LDS accounted for about 18% of Boy Scout Troops nationwide.
The pandemic, along with competition from sports leagues, changes in attitudes and perceptions of the Boy Scouts of America, and busy family schedules were also cited as contributing factors.