On February 8th, I’m going to wear my Scouting uniform, and I encourage you all to do the same as we celebrate the Boy Scouts of America’s 111th birthday.
It’s a moment to acknowledge the contributions made by millions of young people and adults to Scouting, as well as the power of our Movement to bring people together to make a positive difference in our communities, our country, and the world. It is a moment to both reflect and look forward.
This past year demonstrated that the BSA’s mission is more important than ever before. When the pandemic uprooted our lives, seemingly overnight, our volunteers and employees found innovative ways to continue delivering programming and a sense of normalcy, which were foundational to so many young lives. Thousands of Scouts tuned in to virtual events for activities and adventures from home. Units across the country volunteered in their communities at a time when their service was needed most. And in cases where it was safe to do so, Scouts escaped the great indoors with their families or with socially distant Scouting activities.
As much as we persevered, there’s no denying that this past year was filled with extraordinary challenges—some we faced as a country and others as an organization.
But here’s one thing I know about the Scouting family: no matter how insurmountable challenges may seem, we can and do rise above when we do so together.
Difficult moments do not define us. What defines us is how we address those moments, learn from them, grow from them, and move forward as one Movement dedicated to preparing young men and women for life.
As we look to 2021, we all have much to celebrate as we welcome the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts: a group of incredible young women who now share a remarkable achievement with all those who have earned the prestigious rank through the years. These young women are among the many Scouts who continue to find opportunities to serve their communities even on our most challenging days. This perseverance speaks to the resiliency and adaptability of our young people, our programs and our organization.
I have many hopes for the year ahead—a year when I expect more Scouts will be able to safely explore the great outdoors, go camping, and learn the many life lessons and skills that Scouting has to offer; I look forward to Scouting’s continued role as a partner to families in building character, friendships and memories; and I look forward to coming together, however conditions allow, to continue to help other people at all times and showcase the immense good our Movement can do.
Whether you’re a Scout, a volunteer, an employee or one of the millions of Scouting alumni, I ask you to join me in wearing the Scouting uniform, neckerchief, or a Scouting emblem on February 8th as a gesture of commitment to and celebration of Scouting’s mission. Whether you’ll be at home, at the office, at school, or connected virtually with others, show your Scouting spirit with me that day in some fashion that might get others to ask you about the BSA.
And if given the opportunity, I ask you to share with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues what Scouting means to you. I am sure each of us will share something unique, but I also believe our stories will share core threads: memorable adventures, character-building moments and leadership-defining lessons. Our unique Scouting story helps define us as individuals, and—collectively—they define us as a Movement. I am proud of what we have accomplished in our 111-year history, and I’m energized by what I know we will accomplish in the next 100 years and beyond.
Yours in Scouting,
President and CEO