MY FRIENDS, this is my last column as Chief Scout Executive. I am retiring.
Lord Baden-Powell said, “No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way.”
I am extremely confident about the future of the Boy Scouts of America, because of the remarkable journey we have been on together. And I think together we’ve left more than a few helpful tracks.
- We’ve transformed ourselves as an organization and redefined what we mean by “success.”
- We’ve reintroduced Scouting to the American people and the world through our 100th Anniversary Celebration.
- We’ve stepped out boldly as an advocate for young people, thanks to a combination of our SCOUTStrong health initiative, increased outreach to underserved neighborhoods, and advances in Youth Protection policies.
- We’ve raised the bar, through our Journey to Excellence initiative, to help each council deliver a quality Scouting experience and build a sustainable future for our movement.
And the future is even brighter.
With help from partners like Exxon-Mobil, we are preparing Scouts for the careers of tomorrow by further integrating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into our programs, including the launch of the STEM-NOVA Award program (see Page 33).
Meanwhile, our high-adventure bases—Philmont, Northern Tier, and the Florida Sea Base—are experiencing banner attendance and providing life-changing experiences. And in the mountains of West Virginia, the new Summit Bechtel Reserve continues to receive huge support.
Our vision behind the Summit helps us capture the innovation and creativity that is so important to Scouting’s future. It will redefine how we serve our Scouts and deliver a broad statement about all that we have accomplished in our first century, as well as what we can look forward to in the future.
We’ve also received terrific third-party validation of our mission to help our Scouts become “Prepared. For Life.” A Baylor University study, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and released this year, shows how young men involved in Scouting for more than two years become stronger supporters of their families and communities.
What a great 40 years I have experienced in Scouting! I am so proud of the wonderful volunteers, staff, and Scouting professionals with whom I have worked over the years. And I’m particularly proud of the millions of young people we have brought along the Scouting trail during that time. I wish them all Godspeed in whichever life path they choose to follow.
Yes, it is my time to leave. Now, Scouting’s future is in your hands. But let’s be clear: Our new leadership will keep us on course with an unwavering commitment to delivering a high-quality Scouting experience to every young person.
The goals and initiatives that have been launched and wrapped around the new BSA are not going away. We’ve blazed a wonderful trail together, and I have enjoyed every minute.
The BSA’s new Chief Scout Executive will be announced May 21. Check our blog, blog.scoutingmagazine.org, for the announcement.