BSA goes to Washington: These 12 terrific young people will represent you in D.C.

Top row, from left: Andrew, Anjali, Anthony, Bailey, Blake and Bogan. Bottom row, from left: Daniel, Donnell, Eden, Mercedes, Michelle and Sean.

Take heart, fellow Scouters: If these 12 young people are the future of our country, there’s reason for overwhelming optimism.

Twelve tremendous delegates will represent the Boy Scouts of America next week in Washington, D.C., to deliver the 2017 Report to the Nation.

The delegates come from 11 different states, all four BSA regions and six different BSA programs: Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing, Sea Scouting, Exploring and STEM Scouts.

You’ll meet each in a second. But first, a brief overview of Report to the Nation.

The 2017 Report to the Nation summarizes another phenomenal year for the BSA. But it’s no mere self-congratulatory exercise.

Section 8 of the BSA’s 1916 congressional charter requires the BSA to present an annual report to Congress. The BSA maximizes this opportunity by selecting youth delegates from across the country to hand-deliver the report to key officials in the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Once again this year, I’ll be your eyes and ears on the ground all week. I’ll report on the Report right here on this blog and on Twitter and Instagram (@bryanonscouting).

What’s in the 2017 Report to the Nation?

The actual 2017 Report to the Nation is a two-page glance at the BSA’s many accomplishments last year. (See the report here.)

Some highlights:

  • The BSA served 2.2 million youth participants and nearly 1 million adult volunteers.
  • Exactly 55,494 young men earned the Eagle Scout rank.
  • BSA members recorded more than 15.6 million hours of service to their communities.
  • Scouts earned more than 1.8 million merit badges.
  • Scouts and Venturers spent more than 5.6 million nights camping.

When is the 2017 Report to the Nation visit?

We call it the 2017 Report to the Nation, because it’s the BSA’s report about all the great Scouting stuff that happened last year.

But the actual trip to Washington takes place in 2018 — Feb. 24 to March 1, to be exact.

How are the delegates chosen?

Each fall, local councils nominate a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venturer or Explorer for this honor. The National Service Center sends these names to a committee for review. Seven to nine young people are hand-picked to be a representative group of all programs from all four regions of the country.

Three more delegates get automatic selections: the National Sea Scout Boatswain, the National Order of the Arrow Chief and the National Venturing President.

Where are the delegates going?

While the exact itinerary must remain confidential because of security reasons, I can tell you the delegates will spend the week meeting with some of the most influential leaders in the nation to help showcase all of the wonderful ways Scouting makes a difference.

What are the plans to cover the 2018 trip?

Watch for daily blog posts here, and follow me on Twitter (@bryanonscouting) and Instagram (@bryanonscouting).

When the schedule permits, I’ll go live on Facebook to discuss the day’s events with the delegates. That’ll be on the Scouting magazine Facebook page, so be sure your notifications are on.

Finally, you’ll be able to see photos from the week’s action — taken by photographers Michael Roytek and Randy Piland — on Flickr.

Who are the delegates?

Let’s meet the delegates, sorted alphabetically by first name.

Andrew Chin

Eagle Scout from New Jersey

Age: 19

From: Troop 228 of Cedar Knolls, N.J., part of the Patriots’ Path Council

Scouting accomplishments: Cub Scout, Arrow of Light Award, Senior Patrol Leader, earned 27 merit badges, Eagle Scout Award

Noteworthy: Andrew has a form of juvenile macular degeneration that has left him with only peripheral vision. For his Eagle project, he raised $4,000 to install 188 braille signs that made Morristown (N.J.) High School more accessible to blind and visually impaired students. He guided 120 volunteers over 600 hours. He then held a Blindness Awareness Day where 13 exhibitors promoted awareness of the activities and daily living solutions for blind and visually impaired people.

What he’s up to now: Andrew is a freshman at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia where he is pursuing a six-year doctorate in occupational therapy.

Anjali Rao

STEM Scout from Colorado

Age: 12

From: Lone Tree, Colo., part of the Denver Area Council

Scouting accomplishments: As a STEM Scout, Anjali was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. She invented a device that detects lead in water faster than any other current technique.

Noteworthy: Anjali published her first book at age 9. The self-illustrated book, Baby Brother Wonders, describes the world through her younger brother’s point of view. The book won second place in a PBS national writing contest. Additionally, Anjali is an anti-bullying advocate. She conducts workshops in elementary schools to educate children about kindness.

What she’s up to now: When she grows up, Anjali wants to study genetics and epidemiology at MIT. She hopes to keep writing, discovering and sharing her knowledge.

Anthony Peluso

Eagle Scout from Virginia
National Order of the Arrow Chief

Age: 19

From: Troop 303 of Virginia Beach, Va., part of the Tidewater Council

Scouting accomplishments: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, elected by his peers to be National Order of the Arrow Chief for 2018

Noteworthy: Anthony has never stopped serving others — from elementary school to today. In high school, he was on the soccer, basketball and tennis teams, and was involved in student government, theater and church groups. He was his school’s National Honor Society president.

What he’s up to now: Anthony is a sophomore at Virginia Tech, where he studies economics with a double-minor in business leadership and political science. After graduation, he plans to attend law school.

Bailey Thompson

Law Enforcement Explorer from Nevada

Age: 18

From: Explorer Post 198 of Boulder City, Nev., part of the Las Vegas Area Council

Scouting accomplishments: Bailey is a Law Enforcement Explorer and soldier in the U.S. Army.

Noteworthy: Bailey was at the concert in Las Vegas last October when a man started shooting at the crowd. Instead of running away, Bailey ran toward the gunfire and began loading victims into his truck to drive them to the hospital. After dropping off 13 victims, he went back to find more people to help.

What he’s up to now: When he’s not involved with the Army or Exploring, Bailey enjoys bull riding, hunting and fishing — anything that gives him the chance to be outdoors. Bailey wants to be a police officer.

Blake Deaton

Eagle Scout from North Carolina

Age: 16

From: Troop 130 of Morehead City, N.C., part of the East Carolina Council

Scouting accomplishments: Cub Scout, Arrow of Light Award, God and Church Award, earned 81 merit badges, Eagle Scout Award

Noteworthy: Blake received the 2017 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. His project, which I blogged about in May, involved building and equipping sensory educational rooms for students with autism or other special needs. He was inspired by his twin brother, Shane, who is blind and autistic.

What he’s up to now: Blake recently starred in his high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. He hopes to be a clinical psychologist, continuing his passion for helping others.

Bogan Garcia

Eagle Scout from Oklahoma

Age: 15

From: Troop 275 of Oklahoma City, part of the Last Frontier Council

Scouting accomplishments: Cub Scout, Arrow of Light Award, two-time top popcorn seller in his council, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Eagle Scout Award

Noteworthy: Bogan had quite the busy summer last year. He was the crew leader on a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, completed National Youth Leadership Training and attended the 2017 National Jamboree.

What he’s up to now: Bogan is his school’s freshman class president. He hopes to attend the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics as a junior, in preparation for applying to MIT.

Daniel Yu

Eagle Scout from Illinois

Age: 16

From: Troop 209 of Palatine, Ill., part of the Pathway to Adventure Council

Scouting accomplishments: Webmaster, Scribe, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Eagle Scout Award

Noteworthy: Daniel designed and built with his troop a project that was sent to the International Space Station. The experiment looked at the rate of carcinogen mutation in microgravity and could impact research on tissue growth and cancer. Daniel and his troop logged more than 5,200 hours over two years to perfect the experiment.

What he’s up to now: Daniel is a member of his school’s Model U.N., vice president of the Gaming Club, volunteers at the local care center and is an award-winning violinist. He aspires to study computer science after high school.

Donnell Thomas

Cub Scout from Michigan

Age: 9

From: Pack 188 of South Haven, Mich., part of the Michigan Crossroads Council

Scouting accomplishments: Leave No Trace Award (now the Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award)

Noteworthy: Donnell loves fishing, going to summer camp and racing cars in the Pinewood Derby. Donnell has two heroes: the superhero Flash, who uses his quickness to help others; and his grandpa, Jeffrey Dick, who sets a good example for him to follow.

What he’s up to now: Donnell loves school, and his favorite subjects are reading and gym. In addition to Cub Scouting, his extracurricular activities include football, baseball and church. When he gets older, Donnell wants to be a firefighter so he can help people when they get in trouble.

Eden Tillotson

Venturer and Sea Scout from California

Age: 15

From: Crew 500 and Ship 1886 of San Diego, part of the San Diego-Imperial Council

Scouting accomplishments: president of her council’s Venturing officers’ association, ship boatswain

Noteworthy: Since joining the BSA, Eden has spoken about invasive species and the need to keep our beaches clean. She even set up beach cleanup in her area. She’s also an advocate for ending bullying and participated in Circle of Friends, a program within schools where students have lunch with children with special needs. She’s also an avid traveler, having hiked in Alaska, Peru and Japan.

What she’s up to now: Eden is a freshman at University City High School, taking an AP Environmental Science Course and other advanced courses. She plans to earn a degree in science, possibly majoring in epidemiology or neuroscience.

Mercedes Matlock

Quartermaster Sea Scout from Maryland
National Sea Scout Boatswain

Age: 19

From: Ship 59 of Bethesda, Md., part of the National Capital Area Council

Scouting accomplishments: Quartermaster Award (Sea Scouting’s highest award), Northeast Region Boatswain Mate and Boatswain, Girl Scout Bronze and Silver awards, graduated from NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) and SEAL (Sea Scout Advanced Leadership)

Noteworthy: Mercedes has tirelessly supported Sea Scouting, helping grow and promote the program at council, regional and national events. As National Sea Scout Boatswain, she represents Sea Scouts on ships from sea to shining sea.

What she’s up to now: Mercedes attends Hampton University in Virginia where she’s a pre-med biology major who hopes to become a pediatric cardiologist and complete medical research.

Michelle Merritt

Venturer from Massachusetts
National Venturing President

Age: 19

From: Crew 345 of Kingston, N.H., part of the Spirit of Adventure Council

Scouting accomplishments: Northeast Region Area 1 Venturing president, National Venturing Vice President, Venturing Silver Award, Venturing Pathfinder Award, National Venturing Leadership Award

Noteworthy: Michelle joined Venturing at 14 to experience what the outdoors had to offer, and she was hooked. Five years later, Michelle was elected by a group of 16 Venturers to represent the program as National Venturing President.

What she’s up to now: Michelle attends Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., as a chemical and biological engineering student.

Sean Golding

Life Scout from California

Age: 13

From: Troop 649 of San Diego, part of the San Diego-Imperial Council

Scouting accomplishments: Cub Scout, Arrow of Light Award, Senior Patrol Leader

Noteworthy: Sean loves earning merit badges, learning new things and teaching skills to others. He’s a fan of any adrenaline-filled activity, such as snow skiing, wakeboarding, hiking, boating, surfing and boogie boarding. Last year, he rescued a girl who was having an epileptic seizure in the ocean.

What he’s up to now: Sean is active in the San Diego youth theater scene. He has been in a dozen productions, but his favorite role so far has been playing Lumière in Beauty and the Beast Jr. His onstage experience has helped build confidence for when he mentors others. Sean is fascinated with the human mind and would like to be a brain surgeon or lawyer.

Dan and Allison Ownby

Host couple from Texas

Longtime Scouting supporters Dan and Allison Ownby will join the delegation as the host couple.

About Dan Ownby: Dan, an Eagle Scout, is vice chairman of the World Scout Committee, which oversees more than 50 million Scouts in 165 countries. He was the youngest BSA member ever elected to this world governing body. Dan is chairman of the BSA’s International Committee and will lead the BSA contingent at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.

Dan is a 2017 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the BSA’s highest honor for adult volunteers.

In his non-Scouting life, Dan is president of West Shore Pipeline and lives with his wife, Allison, in Houston.

About Allison Ownby: Allison is the assistant dean for faculty and educational development at McGovern Medical School, part of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

She provides educational expertise in curriculum design and development, learner assessment, and program evaluation for the medical education programs.

In her free time, Allison enjoys horseback riding, attending theater events in Houston and swimming.

Allison and Dan are proud owners of an Australian Labradoodle named — wait for it — Scout.