They are three different organizations facing similar challenges of time and technology while serving York County youth.
Officials from the local branches of the 4-H Club, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts say other interests - such as sports, work and after-school activities - have been drawing away middle- and high school youth for the last three decades.
Membership numbers have dwindled for all three organizations, according to an analysis by The York Dispatch.
The Boy Scouts membership decreased from 11,894 in 2008 to 11,170 in 2010, while the Girl Scouts' York County membership fell from 3,258 in 2008 to 2,989 in the 2011-2012 period.
The 4-H Club has been battling membership decline since the early 1990s, when there were 1,200 members. The organization now serves about 500 youth ages 5 to 18.
"We're in competition for kids' times," said Ron Gardner, Boy Scouts' New Birth of Freedom Council's Scout executive and chief executive officer. "As kids get older, other activities become more demanding. Families are having to prioritize what to spend time on with their kids. All of that affects us. It's a very competitive market."
To bolster participation, these once-popular youths' organizations are revising Programs and turning to technology and social media.
Changing 4-H: The York County 4-H Club - which offers 37 subject areas - continues its farming and agricultural education activities, though most of its members are in the 8 to 12 age group, according to Mary Jo Kraft, youth development and 4-H director with Penn State Cooperative Extension.
But the club offers special-interest clubs, including a sci-tech engineers club, which does online activities, and robotics clubs, which participate in local and state competitions, Kraft said.
She said 4-H also presents lessons and project information online through Facebook and Pinterest.
The organization's teen council program has helped keep more teenagers involved by training them to be club officials and giving them opportunities to teach younger members, Kraft said.
Over the years, the once predominantly male club has seen a change in membership trends, as females now have the higher membership numbers. In 2008, there were 309 girls compared to 149 boys. Today, there are more than 280 girls and 200 boys.
"I think this is reflective of agriculture and society as a whole," Kraft said. "There are more women in agriculture than ever before, women who are buying and running their own agriculture operations. There are more women extension educators than men at this point in time."
Changing times: The Mechanicsburg-based New Birth of Freedom Council, which serves 3,440 York County members among its 11,400 Boy Scouts, had to update camp and merit badges programs to keep youths' attention, Gardner said.
The council beefed up its camps, including Camp Tuckahoe in Dillsburg, adding several features in recent years, such as a medieval castle, pirate ship, Native American village and fitness field, Gardner said.
At the camp, Scouts learn archery, camping and survivor skills, fitness and history, he said.
And the Boy Scouts of America recently added merit badges categories in robotics, game design, welding and inventing to keep up with youths' interests in technology and trades.
There also is a program that incorporates science, technology, engineering and mathematics into scouting activities to encourage Scouts to enter those fields and develop the skills that will help them to one day compete in the world market, Gardner said.
"The scouting program never stands still," he said. "It's always changing and evolving. We're always finding ways to stay fresh and relevant."
Girl Scouts: Like the 4-H Club and Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts organization is developing strategies to grow its memberships, said Jan Ransom, chief executive officer for the Harrisburg-based organization that serves girls from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania serves more than 26,000 girls in 30 counties, including 3,500 in York County. Membership in the state has been declining for the last 20 years, Ransom said.
The Heart of Pennsylvania organization formed in 2008, when Girl Scout councils from eight counties, including York, merged. At that time, the organization had 3,258 York County members.
Local membership dipped to 2,989 for the 2011-2012 period. The Girl Scouts calendar year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
"I don't think we are any different from any membership organization in the United States," she said. "The way people relate to organizations now is different. For us, we have more women in the workplace. There are more opportunities for girls, even with (sports)."
Girls also are interested in computer activities, so the Girl Scouts offer an online program, where girls can create videos to promote the organization, Ransom said. And that includes the annual cookie sale.
Like Gardner, Ransom said the Girl Scouts are vying for youths' time, though her organization has learned to be flexible in the matter.
The Girl Scouts are now allowing girls to keep their memberships while they take time away from Scout activities to participate in sports or pursue other after-school interests, Ransom said.
"So the girl doesn't have to choose between being a Girl Scout or being in sports," she said. "They can do both.""We're in competition for kids' times," said Ron Gardner, Boy Scouts' New Birth of Freedom Council's Scout executive and chief executive officer. "As kids get older, other activities become more demanding. Families are having to prioritize what to spend time on with their kids. All of that affects us. It's a very competitive market." To bolster participation, these once-popular youths' organizations are revising