As we look back on this year, it is easy to see the challenges that have become synonymous with 2020. While these challenges are significant, I believe they are outnumbered by the joy, opportunity and hope that surrounded us.
After all, this was the year when we found unique means to bring Scouting to young people – often in ways we never considered possible. Like when stars like Nick Jonas, Kevin Hart and Mr. Beast donned Scout uniforms to try their hand at learning and showing off the skills millions of Scouts learn every year. Little did we know exactly how much we would inspire skill-building Scouting through digital content.
And when the pandemic hit, Scouting stepped up to the challenge, and Scouting found a way to make a difference.
When children yearned for a sense of normalcy during stay-at-home orders, Scouting provided countless hours of programming through virtual meetings, adventures, council merit badge clinics and even a National Camp-In and two virtual Family Fun Fest events. In fact, of the one million merit badges and adventures that Scouts worked on and earned this year, a tremendous number of those were earned virtually. And, when it was safe for youth to enjoy some adventures in the outdoors, Scouting stepped up to make socially distant experiences possible.
When communities struggled to find face coverings, Scouts rallied to donate neckerchiefs, sew masks, make face shields, and help those on the front lines and throughout our communities stay safe.
When families struggled with how to put food on the table, Scouting helped raise more than $100,000 for Feeding America and helped restock countless local food banks with Scouting for Food initiatives throughout local councils.
When teachers and schools faced the task of preparing for this unusual school year, Scouting offered support by supporting AdoptAClassroom.org, so teachers could access the supplies they need to welcome students back to class – both online and in person.
Importantly, Scouting has continued to build character, confidence, and leadership during this turbulent year – just consider these amazing Scouts that have inspired us this year:
- Alex Saldana, the Scout whose touching tribute to veterans who died from COVID-10 was featured on NBC Nightly News
- Jacob Finch, the Scout who rallied the donation of thousands of neckerchiefs to help meet PPE shortages in New York and New Jersey
- Ryanne Fisher, one of the Scouts in the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, who built an outdoor classroom for her school to utilize during the pandemic
- Alexander Mather, the Cub Scout who won the competition to name the next Mars rover
- Alex Arehart, the Scout whose award-winning project used STEM to build needed seating for his school
- Gitanjali Rao, the inventor and STEM Scout named TIME Magazine’s Kid of the Year
- Kieran Foley, the Scout who used Scouting skills to save two children from an icy pond
These are a few of the remarkable stories that remind us of the power of Scouting.
This power does not come from the recognition our efforts receive, but rather from the kindness that prompts our work and the impact we make.
Scouting teaches young people how to respond to challenges with solutions and that their potential to be a change for good in the world is limitless – encumbered only by the limits of their imagination and will. It is a life lesson we should all carry with us.
As we take stock at the end of the year, I hope you will also look to find the silver lining that inspires you, your families, your units and communities.
I hope you know that you – Scouts, volunteers, employees, families, donors, partners and alumni – are an integral part of the BSA’s silver lining. Thank you for your continued support of the Scouting movement – your commitment, work and support have helped make some incredible things possible, and you are an essential part of our ability to empower young people now and in the years to come.
I wish you the happiest of holidays and a new year where many more youth will be able to learn, grow and Scout on!
President and CEO
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