Prepared for Crisis, Willing to Serve

By John Gottschalk and Robert J. Mazzuca
Illustration by George Angelini

Reflections on two events from the summer of 2008.

As we gather with our families during the holiday season, many of us will pause to reflect on shared joys and sorrows from the past year. This also presents an ideal time for our Scouting family to reflect on two events from the summer of 2008 that we will always hold closely to our hearts.

We cannot forget the tragedy at Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Iowa, and we will remember with pride the unprecedented ArrowCorps5 project. One tragedy, one triumph. Yet both ultimately became shining examples of what America has come to expect from our Scouting program.

In June, a tornado swept through Little Sioux Scout Ranch with almost no warning. Tragically, four of our Scouts died. However, more lives might have been lost if not for the calm, courageous actions taken by the Scouts during and immediately after the storm.

These young men did what they were trained to do during an emergency. They warned others, took shelter as best they could, and afterward called for help. They freed a family trapped in the rubble and performed first aid. When emergency crews arrived, Scouts led them first to the most seriously injured boys. News stories emerging from this tragedy proved to Americans that our motto, “Be Prepared,” is much more than just a slogan.

America watched again with admiration as members of the Order of the Arrow carried out our biggest national service project since World War II. ArrowCorps5 brought together 5,000 Arrowmen — youth and adults — at five national parks. They devoted 250,000 volunteer hours to ecosystem restoration, removal of invasive plants and trees, trail construction and maintenance, bridge work, campsite improvements, and fence removal.

Two dissimilar situations — one poignant, one positive — both ultimately emerged as examples of the very best of the Boy Scouts of America. Both demonstrate what you, as leaders, accomplish every day through your hard work and dedication. Your mentorship molds the character of our young people in so many incredible ways. Your efforts change lives, save lives, and help make our world a better place.

For all that you do, we salute you and offer our deepest gratitude. And we extend our wishes and hopes for peace and joy to you and your families this holiday season and in the year ahead.

John Gottschalk
BSA President

Robert J. Mazzuca
Chief Scout Executive

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November - December 2008 Table of Contents