It started as a fun way to continue Scouting traditions and build camaraderie while everyone was staying home during the pandemic.
Sixteen months and 24 episodes later, it has grown into a global phenomenon that transformed a group of Scouts from across the U.S. into “true international Scouting ambassadors,” to quote a group of British Scouts from London.
Now that Scouts — while following local, state and federal health guidelines — are resuming in-person activities, the web series Scout Saturday Live! has reached its natural end.
The YouTube show created by Scouts for Scouts will air its series finale at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, July 3. Watch it at this link or in the embedded video player at the end of the post.
Tune in live to interact with the hosts and fellow fans in real time. Or if you can’t watch live — perhaps because you’re on your way to or from summer camp that day — use that same link to view the recorded version after it airs.
To learn more, we spoke with Jeff Rudner, special event chairman for the Western Los Angeles County Council. While he created Scout Saturday Live!, assembled the team and mentored the Scouts, Rudner insists on deflecting the spotlight.
“I could not be more proud of the 10 Scouts involved with the show, the eight hosts, one editor and one associate producer. They are the show — not me,” he says. “I only nudged and pushed things in the right direction. The Scouts did everything else, and they deserve the credit.”
Ending the show at the right moment
In the world of television, some shows end too soon (we miss you, Freaks and Geeks), while others overstay their welcome (sorry, 24).
With Scout Saturday Live!, Rudner and his team of Scouts wanted to end their run at just the right moment.
“When I began the program, I told the Scout hosts that I’m not sure how long we would do the show, but I always left the decisions to the Scouts,” Rudner says. “The hosts unanimously wanted to continue until the show’s purpose had run its course.”
That purpose: bring the fun, education, entertainment, enthusiasm and engagement of Scouting to all Scouts, especially those who can’t leave the house. With pandemic restrictions lifting, it’s safe to say that purpose has been fulfilled.
“As much fun as we have had with our viewers over the last 16 months,” Rudner says, “we are excited to get back to our normal Scouting lives — back to camping, hiking, sailing and adventure.”
There was also a practical reason: half the cast has now graduated high school and will be heading to college this fall.
An international audience
Scouting is global, and so is the audience for Scout Saturday Live!.
Viewers have tuned in from around the world to watch Scout hosts Bailey, Cameron, Miranda, Nathaniel, Sam, Swayzee and Taylor share fun Scouting moments. The hosts represent three councils — Middle Tennessee Council, Greater Los Angeles Area Council and Western Los Angeles County Council — but the season has also included guest hosts from other parts of the country.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Rudner shared a few with us:
- “Superb job, team. We may be getting back to the way things were, but you made a huge difference.” — Scouts from South Africa
- “At a time when the world needed connection and hope, you delivered.” — Scouts from London
- “Thank you for giving our family the opportunity to educate about our home and promote our love of Scouting. Our Scouts have enjoyed watching and being a part of a moment in Scouting history.” — Scouting family from Benton, La.
- “This show must-see Scout TV!” Scouts from Hamburg, Germany
- “Because of you all, the kids didn’t forget about the Scouting program. You all made it fun.” Scouts from Sylmar, Calif.
Increasingly led by Scouts
As Scout Saturday Live! matured, the Scout-led crew became more comfortable with the steps needed to produce the show.
So comfortable, in fact, that Rudner has been able to reduce his role over time.
In the beginning, Rudner served in an executive producer role, working closely with the Scouts to develop the script, recruit guests, manage filming and oversee editing.
But near the end of the show’s run, “as a natural progression for this Scout-led initiative, I took a step back, and the Scouts did absolutely everything needed for the show,” he says. “My only involvement was to conduct final review of the show prior to its broadcast.”
That journey parallels the Scouting journey. When working with Cub Scouts, adults expect to plan meetings, guide activities and deliver more direct instruction. By the time young people reach Scouts BSA, they’re ready for more freedom. And once these Scouts are 15, 16 or 17 years old, they can do pretty much everything themselves.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Rudner says. “It was so exciting to see that happen.”
For Rudner, the joys don’t end there. As viewers know, each episode features a segment called “Unit Shout-Outs” when the hosts read the unit numbers of packs, troops, crews and ships that have reached out since the previous episode.
About 50 units get this shout-out in each episode. But what viewers don’t know is that Rudner has added a fun Easter egg to the list.
“I have sneaked in a very special unit from time to time,” he says. “Troop 202 of Rochester, N.Y.”
Rudner’s grandfather Harry Hamburg, an Eagle Scout, was the Scoutmaster of Troop 202 from 1947 until 1953.
“I remember as a child, my grandfather taught me his troop’s yell: ‘As a cow goes “moo-moo,” yay-bow 2–0–2!’” Rudner says.
Watch the series finale of Scout Saturday Live!