Thomas Donohue, a Distinguished Eagle Scout who is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has a message for the 3 million businesses — companies large and small — who are members of the Chamber.
He says Exploring, the BSA’s hands-on career-development program for young people ages 14 to 21, is a powerful tool for companies looking to develop a talent pipeline.
“Exploring is not just a good thing to do,” he said. “Exploring is a smart way to identify, train and recruit young talent.”
Donohue, a former professional Scouter with three Eagle Scout sons, delivered a keynote address Thursday morning at the BSA’s Top Hands meeting in New Orleans. He says companies who create and sponsor an Exploring post will inevitably have a position to fill down the road. And when they do, he says, they’ll think of Exploring. Because they know hiring a former Explorer isn’t like hiring some stranger off LinkedIn.
Explorers acquire the skills, experience and character to succeed. They learn things like duty, honor, teamwork, confidence and the ability to always Be Prepared.
Donohue, who has built the Chamber into a lobbying powerhouse on Capitol Hill, knows this well because he got his start in Scouting.
“The character and leadership skills I learned as a Boy Scout and then as an Eagle Scout have served me well,” he said.
Scouting skills helped Donohue in some unexpected ways. When he visited 140 cities in a single year, he had to Be Prepared for life on the road. A 2000 story in the New York Times offered a look inside this Eagle Scout’s briefcase:
His briefcase contains an elaborate array of toiletries and first-aid gear — ”my travel-everywhere packet” — as well as vitamins, a two-year appointment calendar, schedules for basketball and hockey games at Washington’s MCI Center, a road atlas, earplugs and a small screwdriver for repairs to eyewear.
So what can you do?
Donohue encourages council professionals and volunteers to establish relationships with their local chambers and grow Exploring.
“If we combine our resources, our reputations, our reach and our shared message. … And let people know that we’re committed to improving our communities and the lives of young Americans, we can make a real difference,” he said.
When Exploring grows, a council develops powerful contacts within its community. That leads to new board members and potential donors, which lead to more capacity to grow Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting.
Translation: When Exploring grows, Scouting grows.
And when Scouting grows? America benefits.
“The leadership and values of Boy Scouting are needed more than ever before to help solve our nation’s great challenges,” Donohue said. “If you do nothing else in your work, give America’s young people a positive view about our country and their future and help them get there.”
Photo by Tim Lawler. Tom Donohue (left) accepts a campership for a Scout in his council at the BSA’s Top Hands meeting on Aug. 25, 2016, in New Orleans.