By Jon C. Halter
Photographs by John R. Fulton Jr., Brian Payne, and Michael Roytek
Retired Scout professional Bob Lundquist skippers (left) as San Diego Sea Scouts Angela Whittaker (at wheel) and National Youth Representative Chris Sokolov take Venturing Division Director Charles J. Holmes (front), National Commodore Jimmie Homburg (right), and Northeast Region Commodore Bruce Johnson on a harbor tour.
For those seeking symbols of Scouting's enduring values, such as duty to God and country and service to community, San Diego was an ideal location for the 1999 National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America.
For the 2,000 volunteer leaders and spouses from 321 local councils who attended the BSA's 80th annual meeting, the southern California city's many inspirational sites and scenes served as reminders of the kinds of ideals that Scouting has instilled in youth since 1910.
There was, for example, the image of the giant aircraft carrier U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN 74), anchored along carrier row across the bay from the meeting at the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina, a daily reminder of how thousands of young Americans are fulfilling their duty to country.
In another part of town, the Mission San Diego de Alcala reminded visitors of the religious dedication of Father Junipero Serra, who founded California's first Spanish mission there in 1769.
And in historic Old Town, a bronze statue of Katherine (Kate) O. Sessions recalled the woman who devoted her life to traveling the globe to bring back and plant the endless variety of trees that now fill San Diego's majestic Balboa Park.
The timeless values these different locations symbolize were among those praised by keynote speaker Dr. Robert H. Schuller at the Duty to God Breakfast, the meeting's opening event.
Schuller: America needs Scouting's "classic values."
Senior pastor and founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., Dr. Schuller thanked Scouting for its adherence to these enduring values, especially duty to God.
"Scouting is the kind of movement we need in America like we have never needed before," he declared, because "never before have these classic values been as challenged - or needed."
Pointing out that the Boy Scouts of America is unique among youth organizations "because you have not compromised these values," Dr. Schuller read aloud the Scout Oath ("I can't come up with a better creed than that!") and the 12 points of the Scout Law ("You can't find any institution that has put it down on paper better than that - not even a religious institution").
America needs "a revival of morality" but we don't want it to come from government or "some TV evangelist or church," he said. "It's got to come from some ecumenical institution ... and if I had to invent [such an institution] ... I would invent an organization called the Boy Scouts of America."
Local leadership's role in bringing Scouting's values-based program to more youth than ever was the theme at the Key 3 Luncheon for council presidents, executive board members, commissioners, and Scout executives.
Gates: Quality leadership is critical at all levels.
Robert M. Gates, former director of the CIA and president of the National Eagle Scout Association, addressed a key critical issue in the BSA National Strategic Plan 1998-2002 - the importance of recruiting the highest quality individuals as leaders.
"It is not just an accident that leadership is listed first among the [Strategic Plan's] five critical issues," Gates observed, "because none of the other issues can be effectively addressed without mobilizing the right people in the community."
At the unit level, "this means volunteer leaders of character who can inspire young people to excel," Gates said, noting that unit leaders are "on the front line of Scouting - in the forward foxholes, if you will."
Unit leaders are "men and women who influence the kids ... the people the kids often will remember for the rest of their lives." And failure or weakness of leadership at the unit level "is fatal to the program."
Equally important is the district, where leadership focuses on providing program support and growth in units and chartered organizations and training volunteers. "If Scouting is to continue - and accelerate - its growth," Gates noted, "it will happen because of leadership at the district level."
New Distinguished Eagle Scout Pete A. Sessions (right) followed the example set by his father, William Steele Sessions, who is a previous recipient of the award.
At the council level, a strong volunteer board made up of "leading citizens who have diverse skills, who are of diverse religious and ethnic background, and who represent all segments of the community, is critically important," Gates said.
Above all, the council board "plays the most significant role in shaping a community's views toward Scouting," he noted. Media, possible donors, and potential chartered organizations will be influenced by "a board comprised of a town or city's most prominent citizens who truly are engaged in Scouting [and] convinced of Scouting's importance to their community and who are prepared to translate conviction into action."
Because of the wide diversity of personalities and temperaments among volunteers, top council leadership "must have the tact of a diplomat, the light touch of an artist, and the manipulative skills of a Machiavelli," Gates noted. "You must persuade rather than command."
Most of all, however, council leaders must be able to act "as a guide who shows the way."
Scouting should continue to seek improvement in the quality of individuals entrusted with management responsibilities, Gates said. But in every council, district, and unit, "we are desperate for leaders - people who have the vision to see what we can and should become....
"Never in the history of Scouting has there been a greater need for leaders who can show the way, who can help guide more boys to live their lives by the precepts of the Scout Oath and Law."
The contributions of unit leaders - the individuals Bob Gates described as "on the front line of Scouting" - were highlighted at the annual Scouter's Luncheon. Several outstanding leaders, representing the thousands of other "unsung heroes who make Scouting great" across the country, described the reasons for their dedication.
"Scouting creates leadership qualities, citizenship, and moral character-building," said Keith Miller, of the Three Fires Council, St. Charles, Ill., describing why he started a troop for his son when none was available in the neighborhood. (He now heads two troops after the original unit had to split when membership increased so rapidly).
BSA President Whitacre praised today's Scouters.
Dwight Arden, of the Northwest Georgia Council, Rome, Ga., has produced 22 Eagle Scouts in his 35 years as a leader. Equally remarkable, however, is the large number of his Scouts who, inspired by his example, go on to become involved in Scouting as adults.
From the Greater New York Council came the example of Hans Hageman. He grew up in New York City's East Harlem, and, in that urban community, he and his brother started Exodus House, a special school for at-risk youth. The school operates year around, demands strict discipline, requires uniforms, assigns students three hours of homework a day, and requires them to refrain from watching television during weekdays. And this remarkable school uses Scouting as an activity and organization to teach character and values to youth.
Other outstanding adult leaders were recognized at the national meeting for distinguished service to youth. Among these were, at the national level, seven recipients of the Silver Buffalo Award and 43 Scouters honored by the BSA's four regions with the Silver Antelope Award.
The Americanism Breakfast, hosted by the National Eagle Scout Association, focused on the values and character represented by the Eagle Scout Award.
"The essence of Scouting is to take young men of our country and mold them into leaders and responsible men," said U.S. Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, after being presented the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. (The event marked a rare second-generation honor, as Representative Sessions is the son of Distinguished Eagle Scout William Steele Sessions, former federal judge and F.B.I. director.)
The members of each new generation of youth are influenced by different elements, Sessions noted, "but all of them have the same needs." Scouting can play a vital role in meeting those needs, but "if we let someone else tell our story, they [often] get it wrong. We need to tell our story because we tell it best."
Telling Scouting's story, he said, "must start with our mission statement - that we help boys to become better so [society] will have better men." Developing character and leadership in youth today will result "in men and women of character who can lead us back from where we are."
In addition to meeting Distinguished Eagle Scout Pete Sessions, Scouters were introduced to other outstanding examples of quality leadership, both for today and tomorrow.
|Venturers Adam Snyder, Christina Farrell, and Eagle Scout Thomas Henry White were recognized for outstanding achievement, high character, and quality leadership.|
Character in youth (and a future leadership role as an adult) was evident in the remarks by Eagle Scout Thomas Henry White, of Pelham, N.Y., of the Westchester-Putnam Council. Selected from more than 2,300 applicants, he received the 1998 Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke Scholarship, a four-year, $48,000 grant that represents the top award among the grants administered by NESA in its scholarship program.
Currently a student at Williams College and a dedicated volunteer in many areas (including New York's Bellevue hospital), Thomas indicated that service will always be an important part of his life. "I do not know what I want to be or where I will be [in a few years]," he said, "but it will be in service to others."
Adam Snyder, 18, of Venturing Crew 2655 in Waukegan, Ill., was introduced as the first to win the new Venturing Ranger Award, a program of learning and teaching outdoor skills that is "arguably the most challenging award in Scouting today."
Christina Farrell, Arcadia, Calif., an outstanding high school student, athlete, and leader, credited participation in Venturing Crew 105 with helping provide the confidence she needed to enter - and win - the 1999 Tournament of Roses Parade Queen competition.
Sylvester Tan, now 21, was a member of Venturing Crew 406 in Sewanee, Tenn., when he became the first in the nation to earn the Silver Award, the highest achievement in Venturing's new advancement program. [Sylvester was also honored as a winner of a Young American Award.]
Morning and afternoon seminars allowed Scouters to share experiences while improving
Uniforms, then and now, represent highlights in BSA history, from Exploring and Cub Scouting to today's Venturing program.
In the exhibit area, Scouters visited with representatives from the National Council and other sources to learn about all areas of Scouting.
These ranged from the latest details about Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing, and high adventure programs; to the resources and services available from sources like Risk Management, Health and Safety, Council Services, and Finance Support; to the latest Supply Division merchandise, new exhibits at the National Scouting Museum, and Boys' Life magazine's newest edition, designed for readers aged 7 to 9.
Ratcliffe: a need for "leaders of strong character...."
Quality leadership was also a theme at the annual business meeting.
"There's a reason we made leadership the first issue in our current National Strategic Plan," said BSA President Edward E. Whitacre Jr. in observing how that quality is "the key to addressing all other issues."
His first year in office has provided him with "a sense of satisfaction ... from all the great things that [Scout volunteers] are doing," Whitacre said. "...from the local to the national level, [volunteers] have demonstrated the kind of leadership the future of Scouting depends on. Your efforts are positioning us to move to the future with every confidence that we can keep building strong leaders, with strong values."
Chief Scout Executive Jere B. Ratcliffe praised "the great volunteer leadership the Boy Scouts of America continues to enjoy ... leadership like the national presidents [the BSA] has had over the years."
Ratcliffe reviewed not only the highlights of 1998 but also key developments since the late 1980s. He noted the specific contributions of BSA presidents, such as Harold Hook (1988-90), "a thinker, a planner, who brought stability to much of the organization of Scouting," and Charles Pigott (1986-88), who helped "focus our attention on the whole idea of improving the quality of the Boy Scout program and membership retention."
Other milestones included
The BSA enters the new century with a new National Strategic Plan with a vision that "demands our attention to select critical issues," Ratcliffe noted.
These five issues - leadership, total financial development, traditional unit and membership growth, marketing, and endowment emphasis and stewardship - "help us focus on those key elements that make a difference in how well councils will operate," he said.
"It's by selecting the right volunteer leaders ... leaders of strong character, leaders who set good examples ... who can remain focused on these critical issues and this vision for Scouting - that will cause us to continue to be successful," Ratcliffe concluded.
"Thanks to leaders [such as those at the annual meeting], the Boy Scouts of America will continue to grow and ... to be the nation's foremost youth program of values-based leadership training."
Jon C. Halter is the editor of Scouting magazine.
Councils Recognized for Marketing and Endowment Program Achievements
The BSA 1999 National President's Awards for Marketing Excellence program recognizes effective local council efforts to reach prospective members, parents, volunteers, and donors.
The following councils were honored as the top winners in each category:
Best Overall Marketing Effort
Best Collateral Material
Best Public Relations Story
Best Marketing Campaign
Best Web SiteHousatonic Council, Derby, Conn.; South Florida Council, Miami Lakes, Fla.
Nearly 300 of the BSA's 321 local councils qualified in 1998 for one of the four awards in the program for recognizing achievement in the nationally coordinated campaign for local council endowment.
Platinum Record Award, for adding $5 million or more to the endowment fund through new gifts, disposition of council assets, or Fund 3 asset growth: 20 councils.
Gold Record Award, for adding $1 million or more in the same manner as the Platinum Record Award: 50 councils.
Gold CD Award, for endowment fund growth by adding new gifts, promoting the James E. West Fellowship Program, showing an increase in the percentage of operating income from endowment Fund 3 earnings, and holding an annual Scouting Heritage Society recognition event: 121 councils.
National Endowment Achievement Award, for reaching the approved endowment income goal for the year: 108 councils.
Bob Gates on Leadership: "You Must Have a Vision"
In his Key 3 Luncheon address at the BSA national annual meeting, Robert M. Gates, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and current president of the National Eagle Scout Association, described the qualities needed in the men and women Scouting must recruit to ensure the increased growth and success of the program:
... I believe that if you would be a real leader in Scouting, you must be able to see beyond day-to-day tasks and challenges. You must have a vision of what this movement is doing and can do for our country and for your community - a conviction in your heart that Scouting can build character, can help boys - including those at risk - become good men of strong character. And then you must have the determination and willingness to be a guide, to show the way.
... there is a war going on ... in every community, which will determine our future as a country. It is a war for the very souls of our boys and young men.
The Boy Scouts of America represents a powerful weapon in that struggle ... we seek not merely to divert young energies [but] to build character in young men. We have been at this for some 90 years, and we know what we're doing.
It is not just coincidence that in the Colorado and Oregon school disasters, a Boy Scout in each high school stepped forward and risked his life to save others. With good leadership, a committed community can build character in its boys and young men. And heroes, too.
'...a fire in the mind'
Leadership is more than good management skills. It is a fire in the mind that transforms all who feel its warmth, that transfixes all who see its light in the eyes of a man or a boy. It is a strength of purpose and belief in a cause that reaches out to others, touches their hearts, and makes them eager to follow. ...
No one in this room is here in San Diego because he or she wants to be a manager or spend more time being a manager. We are here because we believe in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its boys and young men.
We are here because we believe that every boy who joins the Scouts is a boy on the right track. We share a vision of a community of involved, committed adults who provide the chance for every boy to have friends his own age with whom he can camp and learn and laugh - led by caring adults who set an example, not just of skills, but of character, of the joy of service and the joy of life. Adults who truly are leaders and who teach boys to be leaders.
'...be a believer'
... if you would be a leader, you must be a believer. You must return home and share with your community your vision of an alternative for today's youth - an alternative that builds character instead of undermining it; that teaches values and virtue instead of subverting them; that develops young leaders of integrity and courage, and bright hope - builders, not destroyers.
An alternative called Scouting, that develops young leaders who embrace the stern virtues by which a civilization is made and sustained. ...
Highlights and Accomplishments
Among the BSA national meeting highlights were these accomplishments for 1998:
The BSA honors distinguished adult leaders and outstanding young people for high achievement and service.
Silver Buffalo Awards
Silver World Award
Young American Awards
Clockwise from upper left:
Justin Daniel Guerra
John J. van Velthuyzen
Erica Camille Quick
Sylvester George Tan
Michelle Irene Towle
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