Read what our nation’s leaders said about Scouting

Scouts with the Report to the Nation delegation leave the White House.

As soon as she returned to the hotel, Star Scout Isabella Tunney grabbed a pen and paper. Her fellow Report to the Nation delegates huddled around her, recounting what happened in the Oval Office. Since no cameras, cellphones or recorders were permitted in that part of the White House, they wanted to jot down everything they remembered from their meeting with President Donald Trump.

Part of the BSA’s Report to the Nation trip is to deliver copies of the report, which summarizes all the great things that happened in Scouting in 2019, to national leaders. Per the Boy Scouts of America’s 1916 congressional charter, an annual report is submitted to become part of the U.S. congressional record (as recorded here this year under item EC–4189). Here are a few highlights from the 2019 report:

  • The BSA had more than 2.1 million youth participants.
  • Nearly 800,000 adults volunteered in approximately 261 local councils throughout the United States and its territories.
  • In 2019, 61,353 young men earned the Eagle Scout rank.
  • At the close of 2019, the BSA was serving more than 150,000 young women in Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA.
  • BSA members recorded more than 13.2 million hours of service to their communities, at a value of more than $335 million. Eagle Scout projects alone accounted for more than $218 million worth of service.
  • Scouts earned more than 1.7 million merit badges in 2019.
  • The Exploring career exploration program celebrated its 70th anniversary.
  • Nearly 900,000 Scouts attended BSA day camps and summer camps across the country. Add in all the camping at the BSA’s high adventure bases over the year, and Scouts tallied more than 5 million camping nights.
  • After the devastating 2018 Ute Fire in and around Philmont Scout Ranch, the New Mexico base reopened and welcomed more than 24,000 campers, making it Philmont’s largest summer ever.

Needless to say, everyone the Scouts presented the report to was impressed.

President Donald Trump

The 13-Scout delegation stood behind the President’s desk to deliver the report, a challenge coin, a “Scout Me In” neckerchief and a membership card (the President is the honorary chair of the BSA). However, these items were still being screened by the Secret Service when President Trump entered the Oval Office. The Scouts soldiered on sans the presentation items.

Isabella was supposed to hand the President the neckerchief, which was tied with a friendship knot.

“So, is the friendship knot important?” President Trump asked.

“Yes, it is very important in the BSA as it symbolizes the unity of the young men, and now, women in the BSA,” Isabella replied.

“That’s very wonderful,” the President said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California exchanged challenge coins with the delegates and asked where they had toured so far in D.C.

“When you come to Washington, it’s all about honoring through statues and monuments to our founders and leaders of our country, and that is appropriate. That is our inspiration,” Rep. Pelosi said. “But our purpose is you — the future. Honor the past; respect our legacy; be worthy of it as we prepare for the future as our founders would want us to do. It’s you that it’s all about.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

After Eagle Scout Zachary Schonfeld flawlessly recited his presentation speech to Sen. McConnell and handed him a copy of the report, the Kentucky senator had a question.

“When are you announcing for public office?” Sen. McConnell asked him.

A few laughs and photographs later, Star Scout Laura Sun eloquently delivered her speech and gave the senator a neckerchief.

“So, when are you announcing for public office?” Sen. McConnell asked her.

Presentation at the U.S. Capitol

To fulfill the requirements of the BSA’s congressional charter, the Scouts delivered copies of the Report to the Nation to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Over breakfast in the U.S. Capitol, Julie Adams, Secretary of the Senate, and Robert Reeves, Deputy Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, received the reports.

Adams’ brother is an Eagle Scout.

“My brother is always very jealous when I get to have this breakfast,” she said.

Both she and Reeves shared what their job duties are with the Scouts and encouraged them to keep their eyes open for opportunities when they enter the workforce. Originally, Adams had her sights on being a teacher and Reeves was in the information technology field before the chance came to work in the legislature. They both said how impressed they were with the Scouts’ accomplishments.

“It’s nice to see the future of America is in good hands,” Reeves said.

Sen. Mike Enzi, Wyoming — Eagle Scout

The National Eagle Scout Association and Holland & Knight LLP hosted a reception in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building, called “Eagles on the Hill.” Dozens of Eagle Scouts socialized before hearing remarks from Sen. Mike Enzi (Eagle Class of 1957) of Wyoming. He urged Scouts to strive to earn the Eagle Scout Award, but emphasized that Scouting isn’t just about the accolades.

“At one point, we had as many as 12 Eagle Scouts in the United States Senate, but we had a lot more that made it to Life,” Enzi said. “There are so many adventures on the way to Eagle, but even those that didn’t make it that far learn a lot. You learn things in Scouting that you can’t learn anywhere else.”

Rep. Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania — Eagle Scout

Rep. Glenn Thompson (Eagle Class of 1977) of Pennsylvania also spoke at the Eagles on the Hill event. He has heard people call Scouting “old-fashioned” and that its “time has passed.”

“Our youth — what they’re up against, the way the world is — Scouting is more needed today than when it was first created,” Thompson said. “Scouting is still the same force for good as when it was originated in the United States of America.”

About Michael Freeman 191 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.