1998 in Review

In 1998, close to 4.8 million youth actively participated in the values-driven programs of the Boy Scouts of America. To our youth members, Scouting is learning new skills, being a team member, and having fun outdoors. But Scouting is more than fun and games. It provides an environment that fosters in youth the initiative to grow and learn while instilling strong values and morals that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Our Mission

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Scouting helps develop strong values that stay with youth throughout their lives. This is particularly true for boys who stay in Scouting for five or more years.

The Boy Scouts asked Louis Harris & Associates to accept the challenge of scientifically uncovering the foundational elements to the success of Scouting programs. The research determined that Scouting is effective because it meets six critical elements of healthy youth development:

  1. Strong personal values and character
  2. A sense of self-worth
  3. Caring and nurturing relationships with parents, other adults, and peers
  4. A desire to learn
  5. Productive and creative use of time
  6. Social adeptness

This past year our youth participation increased 4 percent to 4,757,184, with growth in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Venturing. This growth follows our programs' strong growth in 1997.

Cub Scouting

Cub Scouting membership - Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts - grew to more than 2.17 million. This increase marks our fourth consecutive year of growth.

  • The percentage of trained Cub Scout adult leaders increased 8 percent over 1997 figures.
  • Cub Scout day, resident, and family camping continued to grow in popularity, with almost 39 percent of members - more than 583,000 boys - participating in one of these outdoor experiences.

Boy Scouting

As a result of membership increases in 1998, Boy Scouting now serves more than 1 million 11- to 17-year-olds.

  • Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Scout or Venturer can achieve, was earned by 41,167 young men - an increase over 1997.
  • The number of Scouts who went on a long-term camping expedition reached its greatest level ever in 1998, with 57 percent of all Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts participating in this outdoor educational experience.
  • The 1998 National Order of the Arrow Conference was the most successful to date, with more than 7,000 members of Scouting's national honor society attending the event held at the University of Iowa in Ames, Iowa.


The Boy Scouts of America launched a new program in 1998 called Venturing. Designed for young men and women 14 through 20, Venturing's purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible, caring adults.

  • Venturing posted an impressive first-year total membership of 188,075.


The prestigious Silver Buffalo Award is presented to distinguished citizens for exemplary national service to youth. John C. Cushman III, Allan D. Fisher, Vertella S. Gadsden, Herbert T. Olson Jr., Edward Allan Pease, Elliott Waite Phillips, Ronald J. Temple, Ph.D., K. Gregory Tucker, and Don R. Watkins earned Scouting's highest commendation in 1998.

The National Court of Honor awarded Honor Medals With Crossed Palms to 12 Scouts and Scouters "who demonstrated heroism and extraordinary skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save life at extreme risk to themselves." Other awards for lifesaving and meritorious action were granted to 306 Scouts or Scouters.

Young American Awards recognize excellence in the achievements of young people ages 15 to 25. The 1998 recipients were Amanda Gayle Cox, Kirk Cristman Fistick, G. Christopher Jones, Denise Yvette Margo, and Hataya Kristy Poonyagariyagorn.

Looking Ahead

Our achievements on behalf of our nation's youth during 1998 stand as a testament to the vision of Scouting's founding fathers. With valuable input from volunteers and Scouters from the council, regional, and national levels, the Boy Scouts of America reestablished its vision in 1998 to set the stage for continued growth and success in the years ahead.

A Vision for the Future

The Boy Scouts of America is the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the future Scouting will continue to

  • Offer young people responsible fun and adventure.
  • Instill in young people lifetime values and develop in them ethical character as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Train young people in citizenship, service, and leadership.
  • Serve America's communities and families with its quality, values-based program.

In 1998 the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America adopted a new strategic plan to realize this vision. The plan identifies five critical issues and strategies our movement will address in the coming years. The five areas are:

  • Leadership
  • Total Financial Development
  • Traditional Unit and Membership Growth
  • Marketing
  • Endowment Emphasis and Stewardship

As we move into the next century, Scouting's role in the lives of young people will become more vital than ever. Guided by our strategic plan and the ideals and principles found in the Scout Oath and Law, the Boy Scouts of America stands ready to deliver the promise of Scouting into the 21st century.