When asked about his favorite memory in Scouting, Derek Porter, the national chief of the Order of the Arrow, recalled a two-week, 180-mile-plus trek at the Northern Tier high-adventure base. It was “tough, but rewarding.”
“I think that sums up what we do in Scouting,” Derek says.
That would describe 2020 as well. This past year, Scouts faced the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which cancelled outings and forced them to often stay at home. Yet, Scouts rose to the challenge and continued learning valuable life skills and serving their communities.
Five Scouts, including Derek, shared how Scouts persevered in 2020 when they virtually presented the BSA’s Report to the Nation this week.
What is the Report to the Nation?
Every year since 1917, the Boy Scouts of America has presented a report of its previous year’s activities and accomplishments to the U.S. Congress. The recap is entered into the congressional record.
Section 8 of the BSA’s 1916 congressional charter requires the organization to present the report by April 1 of each year. Usually, the BSA selects youth delegates from across the country to hand-deliver it to key officials in America’s executive, legislative and judicial branches.
This year was different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was still submitted to the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate; however, instead of an in-person presentation, the delegates spoke on the BSA’s successes on a virtual call.
You can read the 2020 report here. Here are some highlights:
- More than 48,500 Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank
- More than 1.1 million merit badges were earned, predominantly in a virtual setting
- The “Be the Change” online event honoring the historic inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts was viewed more than 343,000 times. News coverage about the female class generated more than 2.5 billion impressions locally and nationally.
- More than 475,000 people participated virtually in the first National Camp-In.
Why is this called the 2020 Report to the Nation and not 2021?
The report recaps the previous year, so the 2020 Report to the Nation is a summary of everything that happened in 2020. It’s presented in 2021.
Who did the delegates visit?
In past trips, youth delegates have visited the President of the United States, their representatives in Congress and Scouting supporters in museums and organizations around Washington, D.C. Again, because of the pandemic, it was difficult to do that this time.
Instead, Scouts connected online, making presentations to BSA staff, volunteers and Scouting supporters from the U.S. Naval Academy and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before presenting to Cheryl Johnson, the Clerk of the House, and Sonceria Ann Berry, the Secretary of the Senate.
Johnson says her staff writes bios for Congress members, and so many Congressmen who are Eagle Scouts want to include that accomplishment.
“They are so proud, as they should be,” Johnson says. “In years to come, we will have women members of Congress who will have ‘Eagle Scout’ in their bios. I find that so heartwarming.”
Who were the 2020 Report to the Nation delegates?
Let’s meet the five outstanding Scouts who were this year’s delegates, in alphabetical order by last name.
Aven Alexander, National Boatswain from Texas
Program: Sea Scouts
From: Ship 1, Palestine, Texas (East Texas Area Council)
- Eagle Scout with four palms and Quartermaster
- Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow in the Tejas Lodge
- Earned the Gold Congressional Award Medal
Tyler Grey, National Venturing Officers’ Association President from California
From: Crew 1956, Simi Valley, Calif. (Western Los Angeles County Council)
- Eagle Scout with 18 palms
- Served on staff for national events, including the 2017 National Jamboree, VenturingFest 2018 and the 2019 World Scout Jamboree
- Has received the OA Malibu Lodge’s Silver Shark Award, the Founder’s Award and the James E. West Fellowship
Kendall Jackson, Eagle Scout from Indiana
Program: Scouts BSA
From: Troop 53, Schererville, Indiana (Pathway to Adventure Council)
- Eagle Scout
- Her Eagle Scout project involved mentoring high school students, providing them with resources to guide them through their senior year
- One of her favorite Scouting trips included zip lining over Niagara Falls
Tiffany Lebron, Explorer from New York
From: Post 1000, Massapequa, N.Y. (Theodore Roosevelt Council)
- Commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s law enforcement Exploring post
- Participated in the Leadership Academy, Nassau County Team-building Academy and the DEA Training Academy
- Competed at the 2018 National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference
Derek Porter, Order of the Arrow National Chief from New Jersey
Program: Scouts BSA
From: Troop 104, Scotch Plains, N.J. (Patriots’ Path Council)
- Eagle Scout
- Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow with the Woapalanne Lodge
- Served as lodge chief and section chief