Behind the scenes: A salute to the adults who made Report to the Nation possible

In every pack, troop, post, ship or crew, dedicated adults work behind the scenes to make the Scouts and Venturers look good.

The same can be said for every Report to the Nation delegation.

Orchestrating and supporting a week of high-profile visits in Washington, D.C., takes patience, flexibility and a pair of really good walking shoes.

I’ve told you all about the 2017 Report to the Nation delegates and the people they met last week in our nation’s capital.

Now, a few words about the adults who made it possible.

Dan and Allison Ownby

The Report to the Nation host couple is supposed to serve as the unofficial “mom and dad” of the trip. And, sure, Dan and Allison Ownby of Texas picked up left-behind jackets and fixed crooked neckerchiefs.

But they did so much more. They offered mentorship to the Scouts and listened to their stories with genuine interest.

And even though they got unrivaled access to some of the top officials in government, that wasn’t what impressed the Ownbys most.

“We got to see some of the top world leaders,” Dan Ownby said. “But, for us, we’re with some of the top leaders of the future. And that’s what’s great. For us, [the highlight] was getting to meet each one of y’all and spending time with y’all.”

Keith Christopher

Keith Christopher served as delegation director for the 10th — and final — time. He retires later this year.

Christopher wears many hats within the BSA: Council Services department manager and national director of Sea Scouts among them. Report to the Nation delegation director is another year-round job. It begins immediately after the previous Report to the Nation trip ends. Christopher helped select the delegates, prepared them for a whirlwind week and made travel arrangements. He spent countless hours coordinating visits with cabinet secretaries and U.S. senators.

These officials’ schedules change constantly, so several of those appointments had to be rescheduled the night before. During the Report to the Nation week, Christopher stayed up as late as 1:30 a.m. dealing with the changes. But he didn’t complain.

“I’m passionate about what I do,” he told the delegates. “It’s all because of y’all. You make me feel good about what I do. So, thank you.”

Frank Reigelman

Frank Reigleman was the associate delegation director. His main role was to observe Christopher’s work as he prepares to take the reins in 2019 and beyond.

He helped answer Scouts’ questions, planned the day and kept everyone on schedule.

This was Reigelman’s first time on a Report to the Nation trip, and he noticed that each dignitary with whom the delegates met seemed genuinely interested.

“The sincerity of their interaction with you was so evident,” he told the delegates.

Mike and Lisa Surbaugh

Government leaders weren’t the only high-ranking officials the delegates got to meet. They also spent time getting to know BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh and his wife, Lisa, the “First Lady of Scouting.”

Because of his busy schedule, Mike Surbaugh wasn’t able to join the delegates for the entire week, but he did get a chance to talk to each young person and learn about their Scouting experience so far.

Michael Roytek and Randy Piland

The official photographers of Report to the Nation, Michael Roytek and Randy Piland ensured that these once-in-a-lifetime meetings were preserved forever.

Working in tandem, they photographed each interaction, meeting and VIP tour. You can see those fine photos here.

While reviewing the photos on his computer one night, Roytek noticed something. He compared the photos these officials take on a daily basis to those taken when they met with the Report to the Nation delegates.

“You young people put a light in their face that we don’t see all the time,” Roytek said. “It’s a tribute to you. They are just so totally impressed with you all.”

Read about the Report to the Nation

Find the coverage here.

Photos by Michael Roytek and Randy Piland.