As we look back on this year, it is easy to see the challenges that have become synonymous with 2020. While these challenges are significant, I believe they are outnumbered by the joy, opportunity and hope that surrounded us. 

After all, this was the year when we found unique means to bring Scouting to young people – often in ways we never considered possible. Like when stars like Nick Jonas, Kevin Hart and Mr. Beast donned Scout uniforms to try their hand at learning and showing off the skills millions of Scouts learn every year. Little did we know exactly how much we would inspire skill-building Scouting through digital content.

And when the pandemic hit, Scouting stepped up to the challenge, and Scouting found a way to make a difference.

When children yearned for a sense of normalcy during stay-at-home orders, Scouting provided countless hours of programming through virtual meetings, adventures, council merit badge clinics and even a National Camp-In and two virtual Family Fun Fest events. In fact, of the one million merit badges and adventures that Scouts worked on and earned this year, a tremendous number of those were earned virtually. And, when it was safe for youth to enjoy some adventures in the outdoors, Scouting stepped up to make socially distant experiences possible.

When communities struggled to find face coverings, Scouts rallied to donate neckerchiefs, sew masks, make face shields, and help those on the front lines and throughout our communities stay safe.

When families struggled with how to put food on the table, Scouting helped raise more than $100,000 for Feeding America and helped restock countless local food banks with Scouting for Food initiatives throughout local councils.

When teachers and schools faced the task of preparing for this unusual school year, Scouting offered support by supporting AdoptAClassroom.org, so teachers could access the supplies they need to welcome students back to class – both online and in person.

Importantly, Scouting has continued to build character, confidence, and leadership during this turbulent year – just consider these amazing Scouts that have inspired us this year:

These are a few of the remarkable stories that remind us of the power of Scouting.

This power does not come from the recognition our efforts receive, but rather from the kindness that prompts our work and the impact we make.

Scouting teaches young people how to respond to challenges with solutions and that their potential to be a change for good in the world is limitless – encumbered only by the limits of their imagination and will. It is a life lesson we should all carry with us.

As we take stock at the end of the year, I hope you will also look to find the silver lining that inspires you, your families, your units and communities.

I hope you know that you – Scouts, volunteers, employees, families, donors, partners and alumni – are an integral part of the BSA’s silver lining. Thank you for your continued support of the Scouting movement – your commitment, work and support have helped make some incredible things possible, and you are an essential part of our ability to empower young people now and in the years to come.

I wish you the happiest of holidays and a new year where many more youth will be able to learn, grow and Scout on!

Roger Mosby

President and CEO

Watch and share this video!

BSA 2020 A Look Back from Boy Scouts of America on Vimeo.

It’s a story being called a “holiday miracle.” When their sled crashed into an icy pond, two young children were saved from drowning by a Scout who led his friends to form a human chain to rescue them.

Reminiscent of a scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this real-life accident terrified the children and their parents, but the nearby Scout and his friends knew what to do to help save the day. 

Rich Heid, the children’s father, and Stephanie Irlbeck, the children’s mother, shared the story with Good Morning America.

“I started screaming, ‘Jump off, jump off!'” Rich said, recounting how he tried in vain to keep his children, four-year-old RJ and eight-year-old Olivia, from careening into the frozen pond on their sled. 

“You could see the fear in their eyes,” Stephanie said, adding that she also started yelling for help. 

That’s when Kieran Foley, a Scout who was nearby with his friends, heard the commotion, assessed the situation, and started putting a plan into action to help. Kieran and his friends formed a human chain to go in and rescue the children, and got them back to their parents.

Check out the amazing story from Good Morning America below.

all photos: Good Morning America

Congratulations to Marcus Ragland as Scout executive of the Westmoreland-Fayette Council in Greensburg, PA, effective January 15, 2021.

Marcus began his Scouting career in 2002 as a District Executive at the Heart of Virginia Council in Richmond, VA where he moved on to become the Field Director. In 2016, Marcus went on to serve as Director of Field Service at the Seneca Waterways Council in Rochester, NY.

Marcus is an Eagle Scout who enjoys woodworking, camping, and spending time with family.

Marcus and his wife Heather, have a 7-year-old daughter named Sadie who is a Wolf Scout, and a 3 year old son named Emmett who can’t wait to follow in his sister’s footsteps.

Please join us in congratulating Marcus as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Westmoreland-Fayette Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Please join us in congratulating Manuel Ramos, who will serve as Scout Executive of the Chief Seattle Council in Seattle, Washington, effective December 15, 2020.

Manny began his Scouting career in 1998 as a District Executive with the Circle Ten Council in Dallas, Texas. He moved on to become District Director in the Denver Area Council in Denver, Colorado and later Assistant Scout Executive with the Nevada Area Council in Reno, Nevada. In 2009 he was promoted to the Director of Field Service in the Chief Seattle Council before being selected to serve as the Scout Executive of the South Texas Council in Corpus Christi, Texas . He joined the National Council as the Western Region Talent Manager in 2017, before being selected to serve in his current role as Western Region Area 1 Director.

Manny is a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana. He is an Eagle Scout who enjoys boxing, swimming, travel, cooking, and spending time with family.

Manny and his wife Jenny have two children: Shan (Scouts BSA) and Cash (Wolf).

Please help us send Manny our well wishes in the comments below as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Chief Seattle Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Wednesday, 02 December 2020 19:43

TIME’s 2020 Kid of the Year Is a STEM Scout!

TIME 2020 Kid of the Year – STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao. photo: Sharif Hamza for TIME

Each year since 1927, TIME has selected a Person of the Year to feature in the pages of the magazine. In addition to that annual feature, this year, the magazine is highlighting its first-ever TIME Kid of the Year. On the cover of the Dec. 14 edition of the magazine, you’ll find a face familiar to many in the Scouting community – STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao.

In her TIME interview, which you can read here, Gitanjali continues sharing remarkable insights like those from this 2017 Scouting Wire article

Her continued focus on innovation has led her to scientific breakthroughs in detecting harmful contaminants in water and diagnosing early stage opioid addiction. Those advances come in addition to her earlier work developing a life-saving device for snake bites. 

In 2017, she was chosen America’s Top Young Scientist as winner of the 2017 Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge, and the BSA’s own Middle Tennessee Council recognized her as its STEM Scout of the Year in 2017. These honors led to her inclusion in the delegation for the 2017 BSA Report to the Nation.  

Undoubtedly, these outstanding accomplishments are just the beginning for this impressive and inspiring STEM Scout. 

A hearty congratulations to STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao for being recognized as the TIME 2020 Kid of the Year

Be sure to read Gitanjali’s full interview, conducted by Angelina Jolie, in TIME, and watch TIME’s Kid of the Year broadcast special on Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.

You can also watch her interview below:

all photos Sharif Hamza for TIME.

Monday, 30 November 2020 07:33

Conservation Fascination

Story by Peter Livengood, Westmoreland-Fayette Council

Bracing against the wind and bitter cold, I patiently perched atop a mountain early one September morning. The fog in the valley had begun to lift, and the sun was sparkling in the clear blue sky.

I had just one question: Would I see them, or was I standing out here in the cold to test the strength of my thermals? After months and months of research and planning, I was thoroughly prepared for this day, but I could still feel a nagging uncertainty in the pit of my stomach—or was that anticipation?

If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about, I’ll fill in the blanks. As an Eagle Scout, I had discovered the magical, captivating activity of raptor watching, a citizen scientist endeavor where trained volunteers identify and count migrating birds of prey to estimate their populations and chart their patterns. I was on this mountain because that activity had piqued my scientific interest. I had to know more. I needed to analyze and be a part of conserving these majestic raptors.

On that frigid morning, I wished that I, too, could fly away to a warmer place, but even my numbing toes couldn’t tear me away. I wedged myself into a spot protected from the biting wind and gazed upward, still and quiet, observing and recording hundreds of raptors—eagles, hawks, falcons—along their heat-seeking migratory path.

Hawks seized this Eagles heart.
That day, hawks seized and flew away with this Eagle Scout’s heart. The experience inspired me, and I’m a man of action. There were active hawk watch sites on most of the major ridges in Pennsylvania—except one: Chestnut Ridge.

So, I did a little something with that yet untapped ridge to improve the monitoring capacity of the hawkwatching community and made it a part of my quest to earn the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award. My brother Calvin and I established the Summit Mountain Hawkwatch (SMHW) situated atop Chestnut Ridge in southwestern Pennsylvania. This location offers an excellent view of the surrounding terrain and is perfect for watchers to spot a variety of migrating raptors, including broad-winged hawks, sharp-shins, falcons, and eagles.

I am phenomenally proud that, after three watching seasons, the Hawk Migration Association of North America designated this site, part of my BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award application portfolio, an official observation site. I created a page on hawkcount.org dedicated to data collected at SMHW. All migrating raptor count data collected at this site, alongside other hawkwatch sites’ data, will be used by researchers to assess raptor population trends.

Whatever your passion is, pursue it.
Inspired by my experience that day and fueled by a National Eagle Scout Association scholarship, I plan to combine my passion for research with my love for teaching to become a dynamic advocate for the environment––in the field, the classroom and perhaps, one day, the halls of Congress.

Do not be afraid to dream big or soar high. When you do, people will come together to support you. I want to thank the donors, Scouting volunteers, and natural resource professionals who have contributed to make my conservation projects possible. Because of you, I have a purpose and passion to follow, backed by the resources I need to fulfill my dreams.

And if you ever feel adventurous, come visit me at the hawk watch. Sit on the mountaintop, soak up the view, and watch the miracle of migration. Just don’t forget your binoculars!

_____________________________________________________

Peter, thank you for telling your Scouting story! You inspire future Eagle Scouts to follow their dreams.

 

Special thanks to our donors and alumni who graciously give time, talent, and treasure to support Scouting. Peter is able to pay for a great deal of his accelerated education after receiving NESA’s Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke Scholarship. You make a positive impact on young people’s lives. Scouting only happens because of people like you!

 

About Peter Livengood 

Peter has been a Scout in Troop 687 in Farmington, Pennsylvania. since 2013. He is certified as a Conservation Ambassador by the Pennsylvania Wildlife Leadership Academy and attended the Penn State Conservation Leadership School. He currently serves on the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation.

Scouting Family,

This is one of the most important and difficult moments for our Scouting Movement.

As you have likely seen in the media, tens of thousands of survivors of past abuse in Scouting have come forward in the national organization’s bankruptcy case. We are devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who have come forward. We are heartbroken that we cannot undo their pain.

The Boy Scouts of America is taking responsibility for past failures, and we are working to support survivors through the bankruptcy process. We are also working to ensure that we continue to bring Scouting’s unparalleled benefits to youth and families for many years to come – with their safety as our absolute top priority.  

I want to be clear that nothing is more important than the safety of the youth in our programs.

Over many years, we have put in place some of the strongest youth protection policies in any youth-serving organization, which are built on safeguards informed by respected experts in child safety, law enforcement, and child psychology. 

While any instance of abuse is one too many, the overwhelming majority of claims filed in the national organization’s Chapter 11 case relate to allegations of abuse that occurred before our modern youth protection policies were implemented more than three decades ago. That does not in any way absolve us of what happened in the past, but I hope it demonstrates that we take youth protection extremely seriously.

Our commitment to safety is strong not only because of our policies, but also because that commitment is shared by everyone within our organization, including hundreds of thousands of volunteers who bring Scouting to life for youth and families throughout the country. As a local council volunteer, I’ve seen the vigilance myself. I thank you for it and urge you to continue being dedicated advocates for safety – both in Scouting and beyond.  

I assure you that we are up to the challenges and opportunities we face. Scouting has prepared millions of young people to become leaders in their neighborhoods, communities, and the country. Scouting has also been an invaluable partner to millions of families, and we are as committed as ever to ensuring that our support for them never fades and that Scouting continues across the country. Together, we will meet this moment and come out on the other side prepared to serve our nation’s youth for many years to come.

Yours in Scouting,

Roger Mosby

Please join us as we congratulate Brad Bodoh, who will serve as Scout executive of the Five Rivers Council in Horseheads, NY, effective January 1, 2021.

Brad began his Scouting career in 2001 as a District Executive at the Northeast Illinois Council in Highland Park, IL. He moved on to become the Assistant Scout Executive at the Illowa Council in Davenport, IA, Scout Executive in the Heart of Ohio Council, in Mansfield, Ohio and most recently Scout Executive at the Greater Wyoming in Casper, WY.

Brad is an Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and a Cubmaster who enjoys camping, fishing, and hunting.

Brad and his wife Sheri have a son Julius who is a Tiger in Pack 13 Casper.

In the comments below, help us send Brad our well wishes as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Five Rivers Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

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