A look at 2015 and the strides we took in shaping the lives of America’s youth
“Every day, and in every community in America, Scouting is changing the lives of boys and young men, teaching them skills and leadership, helping them build character and integrity. Every day, in every community, Scouting makes those communities a better place to live. We have been doing this for 105 years, and I’m confident we will do so for another 105 as long as we stand together, united in our singular mission to serve American youth.”
“I am honored and humbled to have been selected as the Boy Scouts of America’s 13th Chief Scout Executive. I am committed to continuing the legacy of leadership to solidify Scouting’s role in the development of America’s youth and to empower our volunteers to deliver the kind of life-changing experiences that can only be found within Scouting.”
“For me, Scouting all started with one Scoutmaster, and the Boy Scout program, when I was 13 years old. My Scoutmaster absolutely believed that the mission of the Boy Scouts of America was to create teamwork, spread understanding, and build character. He was right, and I was hooked.”
13th CHIEF EXECUTIVE NAMED
Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s former group director of HR, Innovation, Exploring, and Learning for Life, began serving as the 13th Chief Scout Executive in 2015. As the organization’s top professional, he is charged with providing vision and direction to BSA staff members and volunteers across the nation.
“I am honored and humbled to have been selected as the Boy Scouts of America’s Chief Scout Executive,” said Surbaugh. “As I transition into this role, I am committed to continuing the legacy of leadership to solidify Scouting’s role in the development of America’s youth and to empower our volunteers to deliver the kind of life-changing experiences that
can only be found within Scouting.”
Scouting has been a central component of Mike’s life from an early age and he has a long history of service in the organization. He began his career in 1984 as a district executive in Jacksonville, Fla., and then served as a senior district executive and program director in Syracuse, N.Y.; director of field service, director of development, field director, and development director in Minneapolis, Minn; and as a Scout executive in Sioux Falls, S.D., Appleton, Wis., and Pittsburgh, Penn. As both a youth and adult member, he also served as camp director and a member of summer camp staffs for 12 years.
Mike is an Eagle Scout, a Vigil Honor
Member of the Order of the Arrow, and has participated in Wood Badge. Before joining the BSA, he graduated from Salem College with a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Agency Administration.
When he is not working to advance the BSA’s mission, Mike spends his free time with his wife Lisa, visiting and hiking in the U.S. national parks and riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“As Scouts, we have a duty to God and to country, and serving others,” he said. “We proudly embrace that responsibility. And I proudly embrace the responsibility of being the 13th Chief Scout Executive.”
Wayne Brock wrapped up a 43-year Scouting career — including just over three years as the 12th Chief in BSA history — on September 30. He began his professional Scouting career in 1972 as a district executive in New Bern, N.C., and then served on the staff in Knoxville, Tenn. He also served as a Scout executive in Athens, Ga., and Orlando, Fla.; regional director of the Southern Region; assistant Chief Scout Executive; and as deputy Chief Scout Executive.
Wayne is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award, and received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from East Carolina University.
“As I reflect back, I can’t help but think of my time in Scouting as a youth and my Scout leaders who made the experience meaningful and fun; the positive impact I hope my service had on thousands of young
people; the volunteers who give so unselfishly of their time, talent and treasure; the employees who work way beyond the paycheck out of love for Scouting; the vast number of donors and supporters; and my family who supported me by putting up with seven moves and sacrificing family time so that I could give my all to Scouting. To all of whom I will be forever grateful,” Wayne said.
“I am often asked what I think my legacy as Chief will be,” he said. “I can only hope that I will be seen as a Chief that tried very hard to live up to the values of the Scout Oath and Law. As someone who tried to do his best for God, country, and others. To me, that would be the best legacy any Scout could ask for.”
Mike Surbaugh, who follows Wayne as the 13th Chief, said, “All of Scouting owes Wayne a debt of gratitude for his leadership as our 12th Chief Scout Executive. While at the helm of the BSA, he guided us to numerous historically significant milestones in a way that honored the BSA’s rich heritage and positioned us for a successful future. I am fortunate to follow someone who loves this organization as much as I do and who demonstrated that every day on the job. On behalf of our entire Scouting community, we thank Wayne and wish him the best on the road ahead.”
After more than three years of work by a committee consisting of hundreds of volunteer Scouters and educational professionals, the new-and-improved Cub Scout program launched on June 1. More than just new advancement requirements, handbooks, and uniform elements for a program originally launched in the 1930s, however, the comprehensive project served to introduce a more relevant, dynamic, and exciting curriculum for today’s youth and families.
The BSA is focused on offering Scouts fresh, new experiences that instill the values of Scouting. Plus, we aim to provide unit leaders with the tools, training, and support they need to deliver the kind of life-changing experiences only found in our programs. In 2015, we took a step toward achieving both of those goals with the acquisition of Scoutbook, a web application designed for mobile devices, that will expand our presence in the digital space and help us connect with our members when, where, and how they prefer.
Scoutbook delivers a suite of easy-to-use Web-based tools that are helpful to both Scouts and unit leaders. It enables units to better communicate, update records, and manage activities. It can also be integrated with our membership system, simplifying the way our members can track their advancement throughout Scouting.
For more than century, we have been leading the way in outdoor education and environmental stewardship. In the fall, we continued the conversation about sustainability with the LeaderSHIFT Forum.
LeaderSHIFT built on the momentum created by the BSA’s Sustainability Summits held in West Virginia in 2013 and 2014, with a live broadcast from the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. That, combined with presentations and local breakout sessions in councils across the country, gave councils a unique opportunity to bring together staff, volunteers, donors, and community members to create a conversation about local issues and solutions.
As Scouts plan activities and progress toward goals, they expand their horizons and build interests in the world around them. In 2015, the BSA broadened its life skills offerings by introducing two new badges: Animation and Signs, Signals, and Codes.
Scouts can now learn about a variety of new and traditional non-verbal languages to earn the Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge. Mastering multiple ways to converse such as American Sign Language, Morse code, or even emoticons can help Scouts develop both communication and leadership skills.
The Animation merit badge is the newest addition to BSA’s trove of STEM-related knowledge and training. Scouts can expand their creativity as they develop a skill that can lead to careers in fields related to science, engineering, technology, and mathematics as they earn the badge.
In addition, interactive digital merit badge pamphlets debuted in 2015, bringing modern technology to content that has been printed traditionally for more than a century. Going digital means Scouts and Scouters can now easily store their anthology of merit badge literature on one device. The BSA introduced a range of the virtual pamphlets in 2015, including versions for all Eagle-required merit badges.
Throughout the year, Scouts continued to pursue new interests
and gain valuable skills, earning a total of 2,011,860 merit badges. An impressive 80,716 Scouts earned the First Aid merit badge in 2015, making it the most earned badge of the year, followed by Swimming, earned by 71,821 Scouts.
Badges ranked 1-14 in popularity were all Eagle-required badges, but camp-associated merit badges such as Archery, Leatherwork, and Wilderness Survival were not far behind.
Established in 2015, the STEM Scouts program encourages youth to pursue STEM-related fields and prepares them for challenging and rewarding careers. The new program allows youth in grades three through 12 to experience age-tailored science adventures, learn from STEM educators and experts, and even have a chance to be published in peer-reviewed journals.
The STEM Scouts pilot program premiered in East Tennessee and saw incredible results. After the pilot’s successful launch, BSA’s National Executive Board approved a plan to extend the pilot program to 12 more councils.
This innovative program launches at a time when careers in STEM-related fields are on the rise. Throughout the year, the program has caught media attention for its efforts to develop the next generation of STEM professionals.
The BSA helps young people make a difference in their communities by providing opportunities for them to serve others. During 2015, Scouts and Explorers across America logged nearly 15.3 million hours of service at an estimated value of more than $352 million (based on a national volunteer-hour value of $23.07).
In July, the BSA acknowledged the sacrifices of those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces with the inaugural Veterans’ Appreciation Day, held at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.
The event was presented in partnership with Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the West Virginia National Guard. Veterans, active duty service members, and Scouts enjoyed a day of activities that ranged from archery, basketball, and fishing to rock climbing, tomahawk throwing, and zip lining—including a para-zip, one of only a few in the country to accommodate wheelchairs.
The BSA prepares young people for leadership by giving them the skills to take responsibility and teach by example. For example, Eagle Scout is the highest attainable rank in Boy Scouting, and Scouts must demonstrate proficiency in leadership, service, and outdoor skills at multiple levels before achieving the Eagle rank.
In 2015, 54,366 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle Scout. This was the fourth-largest Eagle Scout class in history. In addition to the 21 life skills merit badges required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, each Scout must complete an extensive service project that he plans, organizes, leads, and manages before his 18th birthday.
Young men who earned Eagle in 2015 combined to record more
than 8.5 million hours of service on Eagle Scout projects, which represented a value of more than $196 million in service to communities across the nation.
A study completed by Tufts University in 2015 found that youth who participate in Scouting exhibit strong moral values and positive character attributes, allowing them to embrace new opportunities, overcome obstacles, and become better prepared for future success. Nowhere is this more evident than with Eagle Scouts — those who reach the highest attainable rank in Boy Scouting. Those who inhabit this lofty perch are more likely to volunteer, donate money to charity, vote, and work with others to improve their neighborhoods than those who have never been in Scouting.
In Scouting, our members go places, test themselves, and have one-of-a-kind adventures that can’t be found anywhere else. More often than not, these adventures happen outdoors, in classrooms without walls to confine or ceilings to protect.
While healthy living, fitness, and overall wellness have always had a place in Scouting — with multiple exercise and fitness requirements at every level — Scouts really hit the ground running in 2015. In all, they earned 377,399 fitness-related badges. Nearly 1.1 million Scouts attended our thousands of day and summer camps, as well as our high-adventure camps in New Mexico, Minnesota, Florida, and West Virginia. This translated to a total of 6.5 million nights spent camping during the year.
Additionally, approximately 1,650 youth member delegates, adult leaders, and volunteers participated in the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan, where they met Scouts from 155 countries across the globe and formed lasting friendships based on the values of Scouting.
The BSA’s four national High-Adventure bases also reached several notable milestones in 2015:
Florida Sea Base
At the Florida Sea Base, 8,974 youth members took part in a range of activities, including swimming, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, rustic camping on an undeveloped barrier island, and fishing. The BSA’s most comprehensive aquatics facility operates 14 different adventures out of four locations: two in the Florida Keys, one in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and one in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas.
At Northern Tier — the BSA’s oldest national High-Adventure base and the “gateway to adventure in the Great Northwoods” — a new shower/sauna facility was unveiled in the fall.
In all, 3,720 youth members participated in treks at the facility’s three wilderness canoe bases in 2015, where they explored millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests, and wetlands in northern Minnesota, northwest Ontario, and northeast Manitoba.
Philmont Scout Ranch
At Philmont, 15,332 Scouts and Venturers wandered the 137,000 acres of our largest national High-Adventure base. In all, attendees consumed 385,910 trail meals as they pursued fun and adventure at Philmont’s 35 staffed backcountry areas and 55 trail camps. At base camp, a new 20-unit shower house was constructed for those staying in tent city.
The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve
At the Summit Bechtel Reserve, the BSA has been developing an amazing destination for Scouts, Scouters, and visitors. A new welcome center broke ground that will serve as the main entrance and parking area for the Summit.
The base also opened the James C. Justice National Scout Camp, which hosted the very first Senior Scout Camp program. The Summit also announced the soft opening of the John D. Tickle National Training and Leadership Center welcoming Scouters to several training conferences.
In early May, construction began for new pavilions at each of the Summit’s adventure areas. Now complete, these structures are equipped with electricity, lighting, and built-in storage for all kinds of gear. The pavilions also double as shelters to keep guests safe. Through the year, the base also added special touches like the “B-B-Bear” mural, which features a grizzly amid an expansive Scouting scene, which welcomed the base’s 2,124 youth attendees.