By Chester Martin, Special to the Times
Throughout the world today there are over 30 million youth and adults involved in Scouting in some way. Of this total 3,986,619 youth and adults in the United States are involved in Scouting.
At the world wide level, there are 161 countries that have a Scouting program. There are only six countries in the world that are not involved in Scouting.
In the United States the almost four million people involved with Scouting are a member of one of the over 100,000 individual units such as Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, or Venturing units. There are Scouting programs in the United States starting at age 7 and ending when one reaches the age of 21.
Anyone over the age of 21 can remain in Scouting by serving a unit leader position such as Scoutmaster or other leadership capacity. These figures are current as of the end of 2012.
In 2011 51,473 Scouts achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. These were added to the total of over two million others that achieved the highest Scouting rank. Service projects for the Eagle Scout award accounted for 11,963,746 hours expended. Each individual service project benefited a church, community, or organization not a part of Scouting in any way. An estimated worth of $206,690,025 was calculated based on a reasonable value of each service hour donated.
In Lincoln County Eagle Scout service projects benefited several churches, the city parks and recreation department, schools, and similar organizations.
Throughout the United States there are local Boy Scout Councils chartered by the national Scouting organization with the official name of The Boy Scouts of America. Each Council has a defined service area for developing and supporting individual units.
The local council has a paid professional staff that provides support to each unit as necessary. This support consists of developing and maintaining council owned camps for outdoor activities. The Middle Tennessee Council, which Lincoln County Scouting is part of, has some of the finest camping and activity facility found anywhere in the country. The council also provided training for Scouting volunteers such that the aims and methods are traceable back to the ideas of Sir Robert-Baden Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. The professional staff is at the top of the ladder and in professional competence.
Scouting would not be possible without the willingness of groups and organizations to sponsor a Scouting unit. A sponsor has three primary responsibilities. They must provide adequate meeting place facilities, qualified adult leadership, and adherence to the basic requirements of the national scouting organization. Unit sponsorship is provided by faith based groups, civic clubs, and educational organizations. Nationwide about 73% of sponsors are faith-based organizations. In essence the sponsor “owns” the unit and is responsible for it and its activities.
Each council is further divided into smaller geographic areas known as districts. Each district has a professional assigned to coordinate between the council and the individual unit. The professional staff member lives in the community to which he is assigned. Their position is as a district executive. They must attend Scouting “basic training” provided by the national council soon after becoming employed as a Scouting professional. This training is specifically aimed at ensuring that all district activities are adequately planned and conducted, that “unit service” to the volunteer unit leaders is available.
This system has been in place long enough to be known as an effective means of providing communication and coordination between the unit, other district members and the Council.
So, from the above I hope it is easy to understand why scouting is the way it is. The Boy Scouts of America celebrated their 100th year of service to youth just a short while ago. Lord Baden-Powell was right when he originally developed his aims, methods, and procedures to develop in boys and young men good character, a sense of personal responsibility, and above all a knowledge of duty to god, country, family, and self. It is easy to see why scouting has flourished throughout the world in the past and hopefully will continue to do so.