To the Speaker of the House of Representatives

Strong Values, Strong Leaders

The accomplishments of 1998 ensure the values of the Scout Oath and Law will remain as strong as ever for a new generation of young people.

Scouting is a movement of volunteers. Driven by a desire to serve, Scouting's volunteers are making a difference in the lives of youth and in their communities.

Many years ago, Forest Witcraft wrote a poignant essay titled "Within My Power." In his powerful prose, often referred to as "The Scoutmaster's Prayer," Witcraft wrote: "All about me are boys. They are the makers of history, the builders of tomorrow."

For almost 90 years, the Boy Scouts of America has offered strong values and strong leaders who have made the difference in the lives of millions of young people. We proudly recall the past because we know the values of the Scout Oath and Law positively influenced generations past.

We also know that today, these values are even more important in the lives of young people as they face drugs, permissiveness, and violence.

In 1998, the Boy Scouts of America initiated a new strategic plan to address issues critical to the future of the movement. The plan focuses on five areas: leadership, total financial development, traditional unit and membership growth, marketing, and endowment emphasis and stewardship.

Scouting today continues to be as strong and as important as ever. In 1998, total youth participation increased by 4 percent. The number of trained Cub Scout leaders increased by 8 percent. The Eagle Scout Award, the highest rank a Scout or Venturer can achieve, was earned by 41,167 young men.

With the introduction in 1998 of the new Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook, and three Cub Scout advancement books, the principles, aims, and ideals of Scouting will continue to be passed along.

The strategic plan was also shared with the BSA professional family as more than 4,000 Scouting professionals gathered at the National Leadership Training Conference. They came together to share, to learn, and to recommit themselves to the mission and vision of Scouting.

Jere B. Ratcliffe
Chief Scout Executive
Edward E. Whitacre Jr.

The accomplishments in 1998 ensure the values of the Scout Oath and Law will remain as strong as ever.

Using Forest Witcraft's measurement of importance, we all share an awesome responsibility to guide others along the trail of Scouting and on the high road of noble character and constructive citizenship. One hundred years from now, the world will be different because we were important in the lives of young people today.