Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future
What brings more than 700 well-wishers and Scouting supporters together on a February evening? Former BSA President Norman Augustine summed it up in his address to the assembly, "There is in fact, a certain kinship among all who have ever been involved in Scouting."
On February 8, 1910, William D. Boyce, a publisher from Chicago, Illinois, walked into an office in Washington, D.C., and filed papers of incorporation for an organization he hoped would shape the lives of American boys. His purpose was "to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods which are in common use by Boy Scouts."
Ninety years later, more than 700 Scouting supporters and well-wishers gathered in the same city to celebrate—in true gala fashion—the organization Boyce helped create: the Boy Scouts of America.
The gala was held in the Great Hall at the historic National Building Museum and included a reception and dinner. At the reception, guests previewed the National Endowment Art Tour, a traveling exhibition of Scouting memorabilia and artwork by well-known artists Joseph Csatari and Norman Rockwell. Csatari was on hand for the celebration, signed autographs, and was recognized for his painting commemorating the Boy Scouts of America's 90th anniversary.
The event was the culmination of a yearlong nationwide celebration that included three phases: recognizing Scouting's leadership over the years, rekindling America's enthusiasm for the organization, and seeking out leaders to usher the Boy Scouts of America into the future.
During the evening, volunteers, community and business leaders, and congressmen and senators, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, paid homage to the more than 100 million young men and women Scouting has served since its founding in the United States. For those young people, Scouting has provided a program of values and leadership, joined with an opportunity to improve themselves by helping others.
The BSA itself was founded because of a good deed. Lost in the foggy streets of London, Boyce was helped by an unknown British Scout who wouldn't take payment for his trouble. Inspired by the incident, Boyce met with Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts movement in Great Britain, to learn more about this remarkable concept called Scouting.
At the 90th Anniversary Gala, supporters celebrated Scouting's proud heritage by listening to tributes from Togo West, U.S. secretary of veterans affairs; Earl Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine; and former BSA President Norman Augustine. Each man, a Boy Scout himself, touched on the role the organization plays in the lives of young boys.
"Scouting teaches our youth about the value, importance, and absolutely irreplaceable nature of honor," said West. "And in doing so, it equips each of them to change the world."
Graves spoke of the importance of volunteers in the organization. He said: "These volunteers ... are giving youngsters the sense of security they need knowing that someone really cares about them. Having that kind of support can make a world of difference in their lives."