Let’s dig in to the 2014 BSA Sustainability Report

At Philmont Scout Ranch last year, crew members helped recycle 59 tons of cardboard, 2.8 tons of plastic and 900 pounds of aluminum, resulting in $91,000 in savings to Philmont.

At Camp Emerald Bay in California, spring-loaded water fountains and pull-string showers have drastically cut water use in a drought-stricken area.

And at Camp Guyasuta in suburban Pittsburgh, a new, 12,000-square-foot education center has achieved green-level LEED certification, turning a struggling camp into one that serves 33,000 visitors a year.

What’s the takeaway? The Boy Scouts of America has this sustainability thing figured out. But we can do more.

These and other great findings were included in the 2014 BSA Sustainability Report, released last week at the 2014 Sustainability Summit in West Virginia.

I’ve included a link to the report below, and I’ve pulled out seven takeaways that jumped out at me.

While reading the report, one thing became clear: Under the leadership of John F. Stewart, BSA Sustainability Director, great things are happening in the Boy Scouts of America as we go from “green to deep green.”

“We in Scouting are intent on helping our members move from leaving no trace to leaving a positive legacy,” Stewart wrote in a recent email to BSA Scout Executives. “We are working hard to integrate sustainability at every level of our organization and are committed to developing the next generation of responsible leaders.”

7 takeaways from the 2014 BSA Sustainability Report

1. 2014 begins a five-year Sustainability timeline

Here’s what’s happening between now and 2018 in the realm of sustainability:

  • 2014: We are defining what sustainability means for the BSA and establishing the scope for our sustainability efforts.
  • 2015: We will gather data to establish a sustainability baseline, define our systems for metrics, and set goals for the future.
  • 2016: We will measure and report on our achievements and launch new initiatives.
  • 2017: The national jamboree will serve as a living laboratory for testing our new initiatives.
  • 2018: We will gauge our five-year progress and redefine our vision of future success.

2. Sustainability isn’t a dirty word

The word “sustainability” has many definitions and has been co-opted by a number of groups with varying motivations.

But the BSA’s Sustainability merit badge pamphlet probably describes it best:

It’s a big word with many aspects. But when you break it down, it goes hand in hand with being a good Scout. Sustainability means the ability to endure. Conserving the land, forests, air, water, wildlife, and limited resources we all share is everyone’s responsibility. Reducing what we consume and recycling, repurposing, restoring, and repairing what we own all are parts of being thrifty, a key point of the Scout Law.”

3. The bottom line gets tripled

Businesses have long prioritized the bottom line, but the BSA Sustainability Report explains that there’s now a “triple bottom line” in businesses and nonprofit organizations like the BSA.

That means “People, Planet and Prosperity. Only by balancing its priorities in these three areas can an organization understand its true impact and success in the world.”

4. Scouts and Venturers are doing awesome things in the name of sustainability

These young people completed projects on the trail to the Hornaday Award, the BSA’s top award for conservation:

  • Sea Scout Victor Otruba of Mansfield, Pa., founded a nonprofit organization to clean up a river; set up demonstrations of limestone treatments that improve water quality; gathered hardwood nuts and planted them on reclaimed mining land; and rerouted a stream that was eroding a coal mine.
  • Boy Scout Matthew Authement of St. Petersburg, Fla., removed invasive tree species at a nature preserve; improved a migratory songbird habitat; constructed nesting boxes and a birdcage for an environmental educational program; and managed a community battery recovery and recycling project.

To see more, read the full report (Page 7).

5. BSA teams are doing their parts

Talking the talk and walking the walk. Here are some examples from the report of ways in which the BSA is reducing our environmental impact:

  • The BSA’s National Distribution Center (which sells and distributes products at Scout Shops and online) has installed motion-activated lighting, zero-waste stations and water-conservation measures.
  • Scouting and Boys’ Life magazines are printed on paper certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
  • More BSA publications are made available electronically, saving trees and printing costs.

6. Examples of sustainability successes are seen at the national level …

  • Summit Bechtel Reserve: The Sustainability Treehouse (which looks like an Ewok village) shows visitors examples they can emulate.
  • Philmont Scout Ranch: Recycling efforts have saved the environment and tons of cash — $91,000 in 2013 alone.
  • Northern Tier: The 13,000-square-foot Sandy Bridges Program Center is green-level LEED certified.
  • Sea Base: On the weeklong Eco Adventure, Scouts learn about the delicate balance of plants and wildlife.

See Pages 12 and 13 of the report for more explanation.

7. … and the local level

  • Sea Scout Base Galveston (Texas): A 60,000-square-foot headquarters has been built to platinum LEED standards, the first BSA building to earn that distinction (but not the last).
  • Camp Emerald Bay (California): Less water usage, lower water bills and an increased understanding of water conservation have helped this drought-stricken area.
  • Camp Loud Thunder (Illinois): The camp is growing crops aquaponically, reducing water needs by almost 80 percent.
  • Camp Guyasuta (Pennsylvania): Rather than shutting down a struggling camp, the council built a green-level, LEED-certified center and now has a thriving camp.

See Pages 14 and 15 of the report for more explanation.

Next steps

  1. Go here to read the full 2014 BSA Sustainability Report
  2. Visit the Green to Deep Green site to watch video from the 2014 Sustainability Summit