Many organizations in their second century look backward, not forward, content to rest on laurels won by generations past. Not the Boy Scouts of America. We recognize that our success over the next 100 years relies on innovation—just as it did in our first century of service.
While holding fast to our mission of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, we are exploring innovative approaches to living out our purpose.
National Council Strategic Plan
In mid-2010—during the height of our centennial year celebration—we rolled out a roadmap to help ensure we remain focused on building the leaders of tomorrow well into our second century. Called the 2011–2015 National Council Strategic Plan, this living document outlines seven pillars that are essential to our health and success.
Within each pillar are a number of objectives designed to challenge us to grow beyond our comfort zone and to mirror what our youth and leaders ask of one another: to be bold, take action, and deliver results.
And deliver, we have. Only one year in, 75 percent of our objectives are on target for completion by their respective due dates. Plus, thanks to an exhaustive quarterly and annual review process, the plan itself is evolving as we learn and adapt our goals to focus on our most urgent challenges.
“Be prepared for what?” someone once asked worldwide Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell. “Why, for any old thing,” B-P replied.
In 2011, we just may have improved on B-P’s answer.
Our new theme—“Prepared. For Life.™”—succinctly describes what sets Scouting apart from other youth programs. Drawing on the heritage of the Scout motto, it distills into three simple words the very essence of Scouting.
To young people, the theme communicates preparation for adventure: racing pinewood derby cars, camping under the stars, shooting rolling rapids. To parents, it communicates preparation for success, which is what they say they want more than anything else for their children. To volunteers, chartered organizations, and society as a whole, it demonstrates the tangible difference that Scouting can make.
In conjunction with the new theme, we also released a new brand identity guide and a host of customizable resources—from business cards to billboards—that local councils can use to project a unified image. Together, these resources show that we do stand ready to prepare young people. For life.
New Merit Badges
Our commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) continued with the introduction of the Robotics merit badge, our most high-tech badge to date. Launched during National Robotics Week, the badge builds on the popularity of school-based robotics competitions by challenging Scouts to design and build their own robots and then match them against others in tests of skill and dexterity.
Robotics is the first merit badge with its own website. Hosted by Boys’ Life magazine, the site lets Scouts find sources for robot kits, quiz robotics experts, and upload videos of the robots they’ve built.
In 2011, we also field-tested our new STEM-focused Nova and Supernova awards in 22 local councils. The Nova award is presented for understanding the basics of STEM, while the Supernova award recognizes Scouts who gain more in-depth knowledge. Based on results from the pilot, the awards should become available nationwide in 2012.
One of the pillars of our Strategic Plan is to offer dynamic, relevant programs in order to attract and retain Scouts. We introduced two activities—personal watercraft and all-terrain vehicles—that support that goal while satisfying boys’ need for speed. The PWC and ATV programs let qualifying Boy Scout camps offer two of the most sought-after activities among Scout-age boys.
Will the new programs help us attract and retain Scouts? It’s too soon to say definitively, but feedback from pilot-program participants is encouraging. When participants swagger back into camp after a day of adventure, younger Scouts often ask what they’ve been doing.
The answer is simple: Come back to camp next year and find out.