ScoutingJanuary-February 2000

Celebrating 90 Years of Strong Values and Leadership

By Robert Peterson
Featuring the illustrations of Norman Rockwell

The Boy Scouts of America will be 90 years old on Feb. 8, the date in 1910 when Chicago publisher William D. Boyce filed incorporation papers for it in Washington, D.C.

The BSA is marking that milestone with a yearlong, three-phase celebration focusing on values and leaders—past, present, and future—in Scouting and in the community.

Honoring role models

The first phase of the celebration, Salute-A-Leader, began on Nov. 1 of last year and ends Feb. 5, just before the start of Scouting Anniversary Week.

Salute-A-Leader helps remind people of leaders who were the role models of their youth, and it highlights Scouting's role in developing young leaders.

Many local councils have incorporated the Salute-A-Leader theme into activities like Eagle Scout recognition banquets, fall camporees, and Klondike derbies. Councils distributed special Salute-A-Leader postcards for people to send to leaders who were important to them in childhood.

Back into the fold

The anniversary's second phase, Rekindle the Spirit, from Feb. 6 to June 15, is designed to draw BSA alumni, primarily adult Eagle Scouts and Order of the Arrow members, back into the fold as volunteer leaders.

Unit leaders are urged to make a presentation to their chartered organization focusing on the place of Scouting in the community. The presentation concludes with an invitation for chartered organization members to become Scouting volunteers.

Similar presentations are suggested for the members of the Scout council's National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) chapter and the Order of the Arrow (OA) lodge. NESA and OA members may be invited to a daylong outing or weekend camp-out that will evoke pleasant memories of Scout camping.

Some Scout troops have scheduled reunions at which adult alumni are invited to become leaders. To reach other former Scouts, news releases and op-ed pieces telling about the local council's search for old Scouts may be submitted to community newspapers.

Some local councils may try other ways of recruiting leaders, such as "Seniors on Scouting," or S.O.S., in the Jersey Shore Council, Toms River, N.J. S.O.S. is a small group of older Scouters who recruit others among their fellow senior citizens.

S.O.S. founder John Thuss said, "It's a slow process, but there's a spark in some of them, so what I try to do is get the spark going."

Exemplary leaders

The final phase of the anniversary celebration, from June 15 through Oct. 31, is called the BSA Great Leadership Search.

The council promotion will showcase adults and youths who are exemplary leaders, both in- and outside of Scouting. Adult nominees might include teachers, pastors, mentors, and others who have a strong commitment to instilling the principles and spirit of the Scout Oath and Law in young people.

A volunteer in each community within a local council will collect nominations and assemble a team of judges. As many as five adults and five youths might be nominated and publicized as the community's finalists. Their nominations then will go to the council's Activities and Civic Service Committee, which will choose the five adult and five youth winners for the council.

The winners will be honored at a special council event. They will receive a certificate or other gift. They might also be featured in a full-page ad in the local newspaper. In addition, if the council can find a corporate or individual donor, each winner might be given a scholarship. (Scholarships for adult winners would benefit a nonprofit, youth-serving organization in which they are involved.)

A different type of celebration

The 90th Anniversary theme, "Celebrating 90 Years of Strong Values and Leadership," emphasizes how the BSA has been and will continue to be the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership development.

The segments that follow describe some elements of Scouting—from the ideals and values, as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law, to the dedication to service as reflected in the Good Turn, to the impact and significance of the Eagle Scout Award—that have helped to shape the lives of the more than 100 million Americans who have been members of the BSA since 1910.

The illustrations, which capture so well the BSA's emphasis on "strong values, strong leaders, character counts," are from the more than 50 annual paintings produced by artist Norman Rockwell for the BSA from 1925 to 1976.

Contributing editor Robert Peterson is the author of The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure.

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