NEW YORK -- With the Boy Scouts of America entangled in a furor over its ban on gays, lesser-known youth organizations across the ideological spectrum see an opportunity. They wonder if the turmoil might prompt some families to give them a closer look as options for their boys.

They range from Bible-based programs run by conservative religious organizations to coed, inclusive groups, including one founded on the basis of pagan beliefs.

None of the groups has the size or iconic status of the BSA, though some have been around for many decades.

Leaders of several of the groups, in public statements and interviews with The Associated Press, made clear they are following the Boy Scouts' predicament with interest and pondering possible ramifications for their own prospects – though not seeking to profit from "someone else's misfortune," as one leader said.

The BSA, founded in 1910 and now serving about 2.66 million boys, is deliberating a possible shift in its long-standing policy of excluding gays as youth members or adult leaders.

In May, the BSA's 1,400-member National Council is expected to consider a proposal to ease the ban by allowing sponsors of local Scout units to decide for themselves whether to admit gays. Gay-rights groups say the plan is inadequate, and that no units should be allowed to discriminate, while some conservative religious leaders and advocacy groups want the ban to stay in place nationwide.

As a result, there has been consternation on both the left and right of the Scouting community, and warnings of possible defections depending on what decision is made in May.

For families that do seek an alternative to the Boy Scouts, here are some of the options:

FAITH-BASED PROGRAMS

_The Southern Baptist Convention's Royal Ambassadors http://bit.ly/y1p6ck

Founded in 1908, this is a program run by Southern Baptist churches for boys in first through sixth grade.

The SBC's Women's Missionary Union, which oversees the program, estimates that it has about 6,300 adult leaders and 31,000 youth members. Its curriculum shares many features with the Boy Scouts – including camping trips and model race-car competitions – but it also stresses a goal of providing boys with "godly characteristics" and a "biblical worldview."

Of the major religious denominations which sponsor large numbers of Boy Scout units, the Southern Baptists have been among the most outspoken in urging the BSA to keep the ban on gays.

The SBC's official news agency, Baptist Press, recently reported that the Royal Ambassador program might spread to more Southern Baptist churches if the BSA's ban is lifted.

The article quoted Don Hinkle, editor of the Missouri Baptist Convention's newspaper, as reminiscing fondly about his boyhood experience with the Royal Ambassadors.

"Perhaps in these sad, self-destructing days for the Boy Scouts of America, God will use RAs in a new and powerful way to bring honor and glory to Him," Hinkle told Baptist Press.

In addition to the Royal Ambassadors, the SBC also oversees the Challengers, a program for boys aged 12-17.

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_The Assemblies of God's Royal Rangers http://royalrangers.com/

Founded in 1962 by one of the largest Pentecostal denominations, the Royal Rangers have about 81,000 youth members in about 4,000 units, according to church headquarters.

"We provide Christ-like character formation and servant leadership development for boys and young men in a highly relational and fun environment," says the Rangers' mission statement.

Every four years, the organization brings together several thousand boys and adult leaders for a "Camporama" at the Rangers' campground in Eagle Rock, Mo. Last summer's event featured a high-ropes course, two zip lines, a water slide, and a lumberjack show.

Like the Southern Baptists, the Assemblies of God considers homosexuality immoral and has urged the Boy Scouts not to lift the ban on gays. A statement to that effect, from the denomination's leader, has been posted on the Rangers' website.

"We are saddened and disappointed to hear that Boy Scouts of America, an organization long devoted to biblical values, is now considering loosening the principles in which it was founded," says the Rev. George O. Wood. "We pray the BSA will give careful consideration to this matter and hold firm to the beliefs that have made it a strong and influential organization for more than 100 years."

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_The Seventh-day Adventist Church's Pathfinders http://bit.ly/ViNzhg

Dating back more than 60 years, the coed Pathfinders program serves about 35,000 boys and girls ages 10-15 in the U.S. and Canada, according to James Black, the church's director of youth ministries for North America.

Black said the program resembles the Boy Scouts in many respects, with an emphasis on camping, plus an array of honors and patches that the youth members can work for.

Unlike the Scouts, however, the Pathfinders operate as a church-based ministry, with a priority placed on community service. However, Black said boys and girls are welcome to join even if not from Seventh-day Adventist families.

Amid the Boy Scouts' turmoil, there's been an upsurge of inquiries from parents about possible participation in the Pathfinders, Black said.

"We don't want to gain off of someone else's misfortune – but we want to be there as an available option for healthy, meaningful programs," he said. "We wish the best for the Boy Scouts. ...Our hearts and prayers go out to them."

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_The Calvinist Cadet Corps http://www.calvinistcadets.org/

Founded in 1952, with a headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., this is a non-denominational but staunchly religious scouting-style program.

Office manager Kathy Door, said the corps currently serves about 9,900 boys in 550 clubs in the U.S. and Canada, with strong bases of support in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and the Pacific Coast.

"When someone who hasn't heard of us asks questions, we tell them we're sort of along the lines of Scouting but we are much more conservative," Door said. "There are Bible lessons at every meeting."

Most of the participants come from churches with Calvinist roots, such as the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church.

Door said the Cadet Corps was not trying to capitalize on the Boy Scouts' current predicament, but had received inquiries in recent days from leaders of several local Boy Scout units interested in learning more about the corps.

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_The Knights of Columbus' Columbian Squires . http://www.kofc.org/un/en/squires/index.html

This organization for Roman Catholic boys and young men ages 10-18 was founded in 1925 and claims a youth membership of more than 25,000, including some in units in Mexico and the Philippines.

The Squires, says the program's Web site, "is an athletic team, a youth group, a social club, a cultural and civic improvement association, a management training course, a civil rights organization and a spiritual development program all rolled into one."

SECULAR PROGRAMS

_Camp Fire http://www.campfireusa.org/

Founded in 1910 as Camp Fire Girls of America, this organization changed its name and became coed in 1975. Boys now comprise almost half of its 300,000 youth participants, according to spokeswoman Catherine Lufkin.

While the Boy Scouts have drawn some criticism for excluding gays and atheists, Camp Fire stresses its inclusiveness and says it welcomes youth and families regardless of race, creed, gender, social status, disability or sexual orientation.

Lufkin said young people view Camp Fire's diversity as an asset and enjoy making friends who are different from themselves.

Like the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and other major youth organizations, Camp Fire has seen its membership ranks decline in recent decades, though Lufkin said the numbers have stabilized in recent years.

Nonetheless, Camp Fire adopted a new logo last year and has striven to develop "rebranding" strategies to attract new participants.

"The hard truth is that the vast majority of parents and youth – from all walks of life – know nothing about us anymore," CEO Cathy Tisdale wrote in a newsletter last summer.

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_Navigators USA http://navigatorsusa.org/

This alternative scouting organization has its roots in a Boy Scout troop based in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood and sponsored by the Unitarian Church of All Souls.

The troop broke away from the BSA in 2003 out of disagreement with the exclusionary membership policies, and some of the volunteer leaders decided to continue independently as a coed, inclusive movement.

The group's growth outside New York was slow at first, but founder and executive director Robin Bossert says the number of chapters has surged from 16 to 42 in the past year, with an average of about a dozen youths per unit. He attributes the growth in part to the controversies surrounding the Boy Scouts.

Bossert said Navigators USA emphasizes outdoor activities – "to combat nature-deficit disorder" – as well as community service projects.

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The Baden-Powell Service Association http://bpsa-us.org/

The BPSA was founded in 2008 by David Atchley of Washington, Mo., who as a leader of his son's Cub Scout pack had a rift with regional BSA leaders over his efforts to adopt a nondiscrimination code.

Atchley, a software engineer, said the BPSA has grown steadily in the past two years, from just a handful of units to 19 now, ranging from Kingston, N.Y., and Exeter, N.H., to Albuquerque, N.M., and Sunnyvale, Calif.

Like the Navigators, the group is coed, with an inclusive membership policy, and Atchley says the contrast with the Boy Scouts has been a factor in its growth.

The organization takes its name from Robert Baden-Powell, whose initiatives in Britain in starting in 1907 launched the international Scouting movement.

Atchley said the BPSA, inspired by its namesake, focuses on outdoor skills and community service.

"It's back to basics, instead of broadening the program to appeal to everybody under the sun," he said, referring to the Boy Scouts' efforts to modernize and diversify their activities.

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SpiralScouts International http://www.spiralscouts.org/

This coed organization originated in 2001 at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church in Index, Wash., which serves a Wiccan community

Though developed on the basis of pagan beliefs and practices, it is open to youth and families of any faith – or no religious affiliation. Its units are known as circles; it also welcomes individual families who are designated as "hearths."

Spokeswoman Rachel Scott said the U.S. component comprises about 150 adult volunteers and 350 youth scouts, ages 3-18, in 45 circles and hearths.

The mix of genders is a key principle, according to the group's Web site.

"Our program encourages girls and boys to learn, play, and work together under the direction of leaders of both genders as a way of showing by example that both men and women are capable and cooperative leaders," it says.

SpiralScouts has gone public with its disapproval of the Boy Scouts' membership policies, offering to extend its highest rank to Eagle Scouts who have returned their badges to the BSA in protest over those policies.

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Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP

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  • Betty Crocker

    The staple of American domesticity is part of the General Mills family of products, which has been <a href="http://www.dumpgeneralmills.com/?REF=EB120625NANT" target="_hplink">boycotted by the National Organization for Marriage</a> for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. What better way to celebrate the stand against intolerance than Betty Crocker's <a href="http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/supermoist-cakes/products/supermoist cake mix/rainbow-chip" target="_hplink">Rainbow Chip</a> cake? <em>Correction on July 24 at 1:35pm ET: The original version of this slideshow misidentified the name of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. It has been corrected on this slide and several others throughout the slideshow.</em>

  • Levi's

    In 1992, Levi's found itself at odds with the Boy Scout's 'Three Gs' principle that had guided the Scouts' membership model for more than 80 years -- that everyone is welcome, provided they are not gay, godless, or a girl. San Francisco-based Levi's <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/boy-scouts-battle-on-antigay-policy-levis-the-denim-firm-has-withdrawn-its-sponsorship-over-the-movements-refusal-to-accept-homosexuals-writes-david-usborne-in-washington-1550450.html" target="_hplink">pulled its Boy Scout funding</a>, due to the group's exclusion. In response, Republican Dana Rohrabacher encouraged a 'grassroots' counter-boycott of Levi Strauss and his Texan colleage, Tom DeLay, was even more extreme in his reaction: "When Texans find out that the Levi's they have on go toward attacks on the Boy Scouts of America... they'll take off those Levi's and burn them in the streets."

  • Cheerios

    Not only will this breakfast cereal reduce your family's cholesterol but it will reduce your family's moral integrity as well, according to The National Organization for Marriage. As part of the General Mills family of products, Cheerios is one of the brands that has been <a href="http://www.dumpgeneralmills.com/?REF=EB120625NANT" target="_hplink">boycotted by NOM</a> for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

  • American Apparel

    In 2009, <a href="http://www.americanapparel.net/" target="_hplink">American Apparel</a> put its "Legalize Gay" t-shirt in storefront windows in Washinton, D.C. When a group of <a href="http://news.change.org/stories/american-apparel-pushes-back-against-anti-lgbt-vandalism" target="_hplink">anti-LGBT vandals broke the store's windows</a>, the company didn't back down, but rather agreed to send shirts to any group in D.C. that was fighting for gay rights.

  • Disney World

    Although Walt Disney World's <a href="http://www.gaydays.com/" target="_hplink">Gay Days</a> are not officially sanctioned by the theme park, they were the object of a <a href="http://floridafamily.org/full_article.php?article_no=158" target="_hplink">Florida Family Association warning</a>. The anti-LGBT group paid to have two planes fly over the park, with warning banners, to deter unsuspecting families from attending the park during Gay Days.

  • Starbucks

    In January 2012, when Starbucks released a <a href="http://www.dumpstarbucks.com/documents/memo.pdf" target="_hplink">memorandum</a> voicing support of gay marriage, NOM launched <a href="http://www.dumpstarbucks.com/" target="_hplink">DumpStarbucks.com</a> to urge people to boycott the coffee chain.

  • Wheaties

    As part of the General Mills family of products, which has been <a href="http://www.dumpgeneralmills.com/?REF=EB120625NANT" target="_hplink">boycotted by NOM</a> for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, there are attempts to dethrone Wheaties as the "Breakfast of Champions."

  • Tide Detergent

    In 2004, Procter and Gamble <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/17/news/fortune500/pg_gay_rights/" target="_hplink">angered conservatives</a> by opposing an anti-gay rights statute that would exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection in its hometown of Cincinnati. In response, the American Family Association <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/17/news/fortune500/pg_gay_rights/" target="_hplink">issued a boycott</a> of some of P&G's most popular products, including Tide Detergent, and gathered petition signatures from almost 365,000 families urging Procter & Gamble to change its policy.

  • Microsoft

    In 2005, Microsoft <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1490060/Religious-Right-to-boycott-Microsoft-over-support-for-gay-rights.html" target="_hplink">came under fire</a> from anti-LGBT activists, including evangelical preacher Ken Hutcherson, for its support of a bill in that would outlaw discrimination against homosexuals at work in the state of Washington. In response, Microsoft <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1490060/Religious-Right-to-boycott-Microsoft-over-support-for-gay-rights.html" target="_hplink">withdrew its support</a> of the bill, prompting outrage from gay and liberal activists and criticism from its staff and other big businesses. In response, Bill Gates backtracked again and admitted that he was surprised by the vehemence of the reaction. When the bill was defeated by a single vote, Microsoft's liberal critics blamed its withdrawal of support for the loss.

  • Home Depot

    A May 2012 <a href="http://action.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147521725" target="_hplink">post</a> on the American Family Association web site proclaims, "AFA is promoting a boycott of Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in the homosexual culture war. The total number of people who have signed the Home Depot boycott pledge is 719,037." The <a href="http://action.afa.net/item.aspx?id=2147496231" target="_hplink">pledge</a> condemns Home Depot for giving "financial and corporate support to open displays of homosexual activism," because this helps expose "small children to lascivious displays of sexual conduct by homosexuals and cross-dressers." In response to the <a href="http://action.afa.net/item.aspx?id=2147496231" target="_hplink">pledge</a>, which was delivered at Home Depot's annual shareholder meeting, Chairman Blake <a href="http://action.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147521725" target="_hplink">responded</a>, "We are, and will remain, committed to a culture that fosters an inclusive environment for our associates, our customers and communities in which we exist."

  • Pampers Diapers

    Diapers are essential to fulfilling the straight family-making dream, which make them an odd target of a 'pro-family' boycott. However, in 2004, Proctor and Gamble <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/17/news/fortune500/pg_gay_rights/" target="_hplink">angered conservatives</a> by opposing an anti-gay rights statute that would exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection in its hometown of Cincinnati. In response, the American Family Association <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/17/news/fortune500/pg_gay_rights/" target="_hplink">issued a boycott</a> of some of P&G's most popular products, including Pampers Diapers, and gathered petition signatures from almost 365,000 families, urging Procter & Gamble to change its policy.

  • PepsiCo Products

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  • Safeway

    In June of 2009, Safeway honored Pride by putting large gay/lesbian Pride posters in its stores across America. In response to this celebration of the "gay lifestyle," the American Family Association <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147484828" target="_hplink">urged conservatives</a> to contact their local Safeway, and ask it to "stop promoting homosexuality," and "let Safeway know if they continue, you will consider grocery shopping with their competitors."

  • Crest Toothpaste

    In 2004, Procter and Gamble <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/17/news/fortune500/pg_gay_rights/" target="_hplink">angered conservatives</a> by opposing an anti-gay rights statute that would exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection in its hometown of Cincinnati. In response, the American Family Association <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/17/news/fortune500/pg_gay_rights/" target="_hplink">issued a boycott</a> of some of P&G's most popular products, including Crest Toothpaste, and gathered petition signatures from almost 365,000 families, urging Procter & Gamble to change its policy.

  • Old Navy

    In 2011, when Old Navy planned to sell shirts to benefit the anti-suicide, anti-bullying <a href="http://www.itgetsbetter.org/" target="_hplink">It Gets Better</a> project, the American Family Association <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-gays-ought-be-ashamed-national-borders-were-set-god" target="_hplink">urged members</a> to "drop by your Old Navy store in your community and tell them you're not going to shop at Old Navy until they get their minds right."

  • Girl Scouts

    In 2011, when The Girl Scouts decided to allow a transgender youth to participate, The American Family Association <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147513279" target="_hplink">urged members</a> to contact Girl Scout leadership, "expressing your disappointment in their recent decision to allow boys as troop members," and to "let them know you will not support the Girl Scouts as long as it continues down a path of destructive policies."

  • Macy's

    In December 2011, a Macy's dressing room attendant prevented a transgender woman from using a female dressing room, because it violated her religious beliefs. After the woman was fired for refusing to abide by Macy's pro-LGBT policies, the American Family Association <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147514523" target="_hplink">lamented</a>, "The LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd" and <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147514523" target="_hplink">urged</a> members to contact the Macy's headquarters to "express... outrage at this injustice to female employees and customers."

  • Target

    In May 2012, Target <a href="http://action.afa.net/uploadedImages/Activism/AFA_Action_Alerts/Action_Alert_Related_Items/targetpride.jpg" target="_hplink">announced</a> that 100% of the purchase price of any of its Pride merchandise would be donated to the pro-LGBT <a href="http://www.familyequality.org/" target="_hplink">Family Equality Council</a>. The American Family Association <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147521799" target="_hplink">lamented</a> that "Target is joining President Obama in ramming same-sex marriage down the throats of the American people" and urged members to contact Target Chairman Gregg Steinhafel, to "let him know that a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage and are able to use their pocketbooks to voice their opposition to companies that support it." It should be noted that Target has also come under fire from gay advocates. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/08/lady-gaga-ends-target-lgbt_n_833209.html" target="_hplink">In 2011, Lady Gaga nixed a deal with Target</a> for an exclusive special edition of her "Born This Way" album after it was revealed that the brand had donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a group that was backing Tom Emmer's gubernatorial bid in Minnesota. Emmer was known for being especially conservative and not supporting equal rights for LGBT citizens.

  • J.C. Penney

    Aside from One Million Mom's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/ellen-degeneres-jc-penney_n_1247657.html" target="_hplink">infamous boycott</a> of the department store for choosing Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson, J.C. Penney also came under fire in June 2012 when its <a href="http://calendar.jcpenney.com/june/#!book/thebook/16" target="_hplink">catalog</a> featured two men on the floor playing and hugging their two children at home indicating, <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147522587" target="_hplink">according</a> to the American Family Association, that the company made a "departure from its moorings to God's Word and Mr. Penney's leadership by taking sides in the cultural war in celebration of homosexuality." The AFA <a href="http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147522587" target="_hplink">urged members</a> to "call or visit your local J. C. Penney store manager to politely inform them that you will not be shopping at their store this Father's Day," and added, "If you have a store credit card or hold stock with the J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP), you might consider closing your account and divesting until they become neutral in the culture war."

  • Pillsbury

    Pillsbury is part of the General Mills family of products, which has been <a href="http://www.dumpgeneralmills.com/?REF=EB120625NANT" target="_hplink">boycotted by NOM</a> for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

  • Walgreen's

    In 2006, Walgreen's was a Platinum-Level sponsor of the Chicago "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_Games" target="_hplink">Gay Games</a>." According to Tom Kovach of <a href="http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kovach/060319" target="_hplink">RenewAmerica.com</a>, "by its very definition, the 'Gay' Games will invite people from all over the world to come to Chicago this summer and have homo-sex," and Walgreen's support contradicted it "squeaky-clean, family-friendly corporate image." Kovach wasn't alone in his condemnation -- the Illinois Family Institute <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-10-19/news/0510190382_1_walgreens-gay-games-vii-michael-polzin" target="_hplink">voiced opposition</a> and considered urging members to boycott the Pharmacy chain.

  • Ford

    In 2005, the American Family Association <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8047423/ns/business-us_business/t/another-swing-pocketbook/#.T-x3GCtSTDV" target="_hplink">launched a boycott campaign</a> against Ford for being "the company which has done the most to affirm and promote the homosexual lifestyle." The group criticized Ford for donating money to gay-rights organizations (Ford offered to give up to $1,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for every Jaguar and Land Rover it sells to a member of GLAAD) and complained that Ford had sponsored Pride celebrations, advertised in gay-oriented publications and was "redefining the definition of the family to include homosexual marriage."

  • Gap

    When Gap launched an ad campaign featuring two men pressed together under a shared t-shirt, anti-LGBT group One Million Moms, which is part of the American Family Association, launched a boycott, <a href="http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/gay-issues/one-million-moms-protests-gap-clothing-gay-billboard" target="_hplink">stating</a>, "GAP Inc. Brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta, does not deserve, nor will it get, money from conservative families across the country. Supporting GAP is not an option until they decide to remain neutral in the culture war. GAP needs to seriously consider how their immoral advertising affect the youth of our nation."

  • Green Giant

    The frozen vegetable brand is part of the General Mills family of products, which, in June 2012, was <a href="DumpGeneralMills.com " target="_hplink">boycotted by NOM</a> for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.