Get involved in Scouting this year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not many things last a hundred years. Few people do. Most businesses do not. Twinkies might. The Boy Scouts of America, however, has done just that. In our centennial year, we have raced in the Indianapolis 500, held a National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia for the last time, launched a 35-city tour of a 10,000-square-foot interactive high adventure base camp, and now in the Louisiana Purchase Council, we are gearing up for the most significant event in our council’s history.

Sept. 2 marks the largest recruiting drive in the history of our council. We will have volunteers set up at approximately 140 schools in 20 parishes across Central and Northeast Louisiana ready to help you and your son. If you want your son to have the opportunity to realize his full potential, attend School Night for Scouting with him at an elementary school near you for more information. This fall could change his life.

In 1909, William D. Boyce, an American businessman, was in London, lost in a thick fog and late for a meeting. He saw a boy on the street, asked for directions and the boy showed him to the address, which was not far away. When Boyce offered payment, the nameless boy refused saying, “No thanks, I’m a Boy Scout” and explained that he was doing his daily good turn. Boyce was impressed and gathered more information on the new organization. Four months later the Boy Scouts of America was born in 1910 and the rest is history.

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Scouting has evolved since then. Cub Scouts was added in 1930 and now includes boys ages 7 through 11, and Venturing for young men and women ages 14 through 21 became available in 1998.

We’ve also added four national high adventure bases and the flagship, Philmont Scout Ranch, is the largest youth camp in the world at 137,000 acres and over 30,000 campers passing through its gates every summer.

The BSA has certainly been the center of controversy over the years too though. We have made the decision at the national level to stand by our ideals and have remained steadfast to our mission statement, which is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

A few friends and I recently had a good conversation about the significance and relevance of scouting in today’s society. One friend who is not sold on the Boy Scouts was not involved in the program in any way as a boy and is well aware of my scouting background. He said that he could teach his future son everything that scouting can offer, and that the program is archaic.

Arguing this point in front of two Eagle Scouts may not have been a great approach, but we could understand his reservations.

But when I pointed out that the BSA boasts presidents, governors, astronauts, athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, justices, journalists, generals and many more important public figures as alumni of the program, he discounted it as a fluke.

His thinking is that all would have ended up in the same positions had they not been scouts. For some, maybe, but many, if not most of those once young boys gained a great deal of leadership, confidence, and important connections through scouting that helped them throughout their lives.

North Louisiana’s own Charles and Sam Wyly, now billionaire philanthropists in Dallas are Eagle scouts along with Sam Walton, Ross Perot, Steven Spielberg and Michael Bloomberg, all billionaires. Presidents Kennedy, Ford, Clinton and Bush Jr. all have scouting experience. And since 1959, 207 astronauts have had a background in scouting, with 39 of those being Eagle Scouts.

It is not a coincidence that all of these influential men were taught a set of skills in scouting that helped them achieve their goals later on in life.

The largest youth organization in the country, the BSA has given an advantage to an estimated 115 million boys and over 2 million Eagle Scouts over the last 100 years and on Sept. 2, you can give your son that same opportunity.

David McGuirt is the district executive for the Louisiana Purchase Council of the Boy Scouts of America.