A year of celebration leads to a future filled with promise.
By Scott Daniels
As volunteer Scouters gathered for May’s National Annual Meeting in Dallas, they actively engaged both halves of the BSA’s centennial slogan. There was plenty of “Celebrating the Adventure” in this 100th Anniversary year, coupled with a commitment to a five-year strategic plan that provides a crucial roadmap for “Continuing the Journey.”
The plan, designed for implementation from 2011 through 2015, “will be the cornerstone for our second century of Scouting,” said Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca. “This investment in setting our course may well be one of the most significant accomplishments in the history of our movement.”
With the guidance of chairman Steven E. Weekes, a committee of volunteers and professionals forged a document that strengthens and expands Scouting’s influence among its members, chartered organizations, and communities-at-large. The plan’s seven key themes include: Dynamic and Relevant Program; Innovation and Technology; and Youth Advocacy and Strategic Relationships. Download the entire document at digital.scouting.org/strategicplan/strategicplan.pdf.
At the meeting’s Americanism Breakfast, National Eagle Scout Association president Glenn Adams reported that 2009 was another record-breaking year for Boy Scouts attaining the Eagle rank: 52,470. NESA also added $1 million to its scholarship funds and introduced a $25,000 grant funded by the United Health Foundation for an Eagle Scout who pursues a health care career in an underserved community. More information about NESA scholarships will appear in Scouting magazine’s November-December issue.
Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, inspired the morning audience with his moving account of immigrating to the United States from Cuba as a lone 10-year-old in 1962. De la Vega, chairman of the BSA’s Hispanic Initiatives Committee, went on to describe how his grandmother later counseled him to never “let someone put limitations on what you can achieve.” Today, he is the head of a corporation with 87 million customers and $50 billion in annual revenue.
“The advice my grandmother gave me, like the advice our Scoutmasters give our young people, can have an immeasurable positive impact on lives. … No other institution has a bigger opportunity to forge the American soul of today’s youth than the Boy Scouts of America.”
Multiple break-out sessions during the three-day meeting gave attendees insights and updates on topics such as “Our Future Begins With Cub Scouts,” details of the program’s new delivery system that strives for a 25 percent higher retention rate; “Social Media and the BSA,” a primer on communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; and “The Summit—New 2013 Jamboree Site,” a multimedia presentation on the future facilities and program opportunities at the BSA’s newest property in West Virginia.
At the meeting’s closing banquet, the BSA’s new president, Rex Tillerson, paid tribute to this special moment in the organization’s history. Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Eagle Scout, and Silver Buffalo recipient, told the audience that four generations of his family had touched the entire 100 years of the BSA.
“My grandfather was a member of one of the first Scout troops in Texas. My father is an Eagle Scout and was a professional in the Sam Houston Area Council for 28 years. I’m an Eagle Scout, and my youngest son is an Eagle Scout.
“Now it’s up to us to prepare the way, prepare the ground, and secure the future for the next 100 years of generations. … I’m confident, beyond doubt, of our future for this organization and the role that it will continue to play in producing the greatest citizens our country has ever known.”
Scott Daniels is the managing editor of Scouting magazine.