2002: The Year in Review

Community service and patriotism are important to Scouts. They develop both qualities as they advance through the ranks toward the Eagle Scout Award.

For the Boy Scouts of America,2002 was filled with opportunity and success. A new four-year National Strategic Plan was launched. Attendance set a record at the three national high-adventure bases. The improved National Scouting Museum reopened. Exciting large-scale training was held in all four regions. Innovative books and computer tools were implemented to more effectively reach and support youth and adults.

A New Leader, A New Plan

The Boy Scouts of America continued its tradition of strong leadership with the election of Roy S. Roberts as BSA president in May. As president, Roberts joined the National Executive Board and the more than 1.3 million volunteers nationwide in implementing a new four-year National Strategic Plan.

The 2002-2005 National Strategic Plan focuses on five critical issues: traditional unit and membership growth, Scoutreach, leadership, marketing and strategic positioning, and financial development.

Recognizing the contributions and efforts of both youth and volunteers is a vital component of Scouting's success. Here are a few of the awards and honors bestowed by the BSA in 2002:
  • The Eagle Scout rank, the top award a Scout can achieve, was earned by 49,328 young men—the most ever in a single year.
  • The Honor Medal With Crossed Palms was awarded to 16 Scouts and Scouters who demonstrated unusual heroism and extraordinary skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save a life at extreme risk to self. Other awards for lifesaving and meritorious action were presented to 286 Scouts and Scouters.
  • The BSA's Young American Award recognizes exceptional achievements of young people ages 15 to 25. The 2002 recipients were Michael John Beckel, Lindsey D. Cameron, Christina Hsiung Chen, Mark Alan Mallak, and Edward J. Walneck.
  • The National Court of Honor presented the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award to 10 distinguished citizens for their exemplary national service to youth. In 2002, recipients of Scouting's highest commendation included James H. Bean, Dr. Raymond V. Biondo, Fred S. Faber Jr., John Gottschalk, Lee Greenwood, Carl E. Stewart, Milton H. Ward, Sue J. Weierman, H. H. "Zig" Ziglar, and President George W. Bush.

Meeting Membership Goals

In 2002, the BSA had a great start to its long-range plan, experiencing its second consecutive year of reaching more than 5 million youth with the message of responsible citizenship, mental and physical fitness, and strong moral character.

Cub Scouting, for boys in the first through fifth grades, served more than 2 million youth. Boy Scouting, for 11- to 17-year-olds, reached more than 1 million boys and young men. Venturing, a high-adventure program created in 1998 for men and women ages 14 to 20, continued its growth trend and reported 315,296 members at year-end.

Through outdoor activities and learning by doing, each of these programs helps youth grow as individuals and members of a team. One of the best places to learn teamwork is a national high-adventure base. A record number of youth canoed the boundary waters of the Northern Tier High Adventure Program in Minnesota and Canada, explored the New Mexico mountains of Philmont Scout Ranch, and discovered the crystal-blue waters of the Florida Sea Base.

Even more impressive is the fact that this new attendance record—a 13.2 percent increase over 2001—was reached despite a fire that swept through 28,000 acres of Philmont in June. Within six weeks of the lightning strike that ignited the fire, Scouts and Venturers were hiking through the burned area. They were taking advantage of the chance to learn more about fire safety and the environment. Youth worked on conservation projects involving erosion control, water diversion, and tree planting.

Remembering Our Past

In the fall of 2002, the National Scouting Museum reopened in a new 50,000-square-foot facility next door to the national office in Irving, Texas. The museum features a half-million Scouting artifacts and memorabilia, the largest display of Scouting art in the world, and interactive displays that help visitors understand what it means to be a Scout.

High adventure lets young people test their limits. As their physical abilities grow, so does their character.

Training for the Future

Scouting professionals play an important role in the growth of Scouting and in helping our volunteers succeed. And while the job requirements are simple, it is not an easy occupation. To give professionals a chance to share ideas and discover the best ways to accomplish their objectives, the BSA conducted a meeting in each of its four regions during August 2002. More than 4,200 professionals and family members attended.

Each regional leadership training conference was designed to address that region's specific needs through case studies based on real-life situations and the five elements of the BSA's National Strategic Plan.

The conferences were a great success, with 92 percent of the participants agreeing that they were provided basic tools to deliver a quality Scouting experience and ensure a strong Scouting movement for the future.

New Opportunities Through New Resources

New methods for reaching and supporting youth and volunteers were introduced in 2002. The first in a series of comic books featuring the Power Pack Pals—the Cub Scout characters Akela, Baloo, and T. C.—was introduced in February. The comic books, a collaborative effort of the BSA and several leading youth advocacy groups, are designed to help inform and educate Cub Scout-age kids about a number of youth protection topics.

Cub Scouts take careful aim on the archery range. Cub Scouting introduces boys to many outdoor activities.

Computer technologies were given an increasing role in youth protection in 2002. In the fall, the BSA adopted a policy requiring an Internet-based criminal background check on all new adult volunteers for traditional programs. The new policy was to be implemented nationwide by the spring of 2003.

Finally, one of the most exciting developments in 2002 was the growing number of Scouting materials available in Spanish. By year-end, the BSA had materials for its Spanish-speaking youth and adult leaders on ideas for Cub Scout and Boy Scout crafts, games, projects, and outdoor activities; policies for safe Scouting; training videos and manuals; and the Tiger Cub Handbook.

While statistics and facts show that Scouting seized numerous opportunities for growth and success in 2002, figures provide only a glimpse of Scouting's powerful impact on American youth, families, and communities. The real results will be apparent in tomorrow's leaders who demonstrate the timeless values they learned through Scouting.