Friday, February 17, 2017

2016 was a big year for local Boy Scouts

Some readers may not know that I am the president of the board of the Iroquois Trail Council, which serves the cub scouts, boy scouts, and explorers in eastern Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming and Livingston counties.

Last weekend, the council held its annual dinner at which we celebrated the 2016 accomplishments of our scouts and the volunteers who deliver quality programming and mentorship to them. It was nice to reflect on such a great year and share with them the good news of what they did and who they impacted.

That got me thinking that perhaps I should share the same with the readers of this paper because everyone, in some way, is a stakeholder in the Scouting movement. You or your organization might have donated to the BSA. Your son or grandson might be a scout.  You might have bought popcorn from a scout, which helped him go to summer camp. Your community might have been impacted by a service project or food drive. You might have even been a scout yourself at one time and place value in what that contributed to your development.

You can rest assured that your investment, be it monetary or emotional, in the local scouting program paid huge dividends in 2016.

This can be said with certainty because the Iroquois Trail Council was officially recognized by the BSA as a gold level council last year. The BSA’s Journey to Excellence system rates each unit and council on a wide array of metrics that ensure effectiveness and sustainability of their programs. Less than a quarter of all 272 councils nationwide achieve the gold ranking in a given year and 2016 was the second time in 3 years we reached the pinnacle.

The council’s gold status was based on a cumulative effort of our small regular staff, our summer camp staff and our army of 1,000 volunteers working hard to develop tomorrow’s community leaders through Scouting’s unique outdoors-oriented program.

Just check out these amazing numbers:

20: That’s the percentage that fall recruitment exceeded 2015’s numbers. We recruited an incredible number of new scouts despite the local population of available youth having tailed off dramatically in the past few years as young people have left WNY. Boys want to be scouts!

20: That’s also the percentage of cub scout-aged boys in our five-county region who are cub scouts. It’s pretty awesome to think that one out of every five boys is a scout.

55: That’s how many young men earned the Eagle Scout award in our council in 2016. Each one oversaw a public service project that impacted a community or non-profit. These scouts and their peers renovated veterans’ museums, outfitted parks with bird houses and bat houses, and brought flag retirement boxes to local town halls.  

80: That’s the percentage of our scouts who camped in 2016. We led all 9 councils in upstate New York and Vermont by a wide margin…for the tenth year in a row. Our scouts love the outdoors, which offers a stark contrast to the world we live in which is so addicted to computers, phones, and televisions.

100: This is the number of local organizations that host our units’ meetings. It might be your church, fire hall, conservation club, or police headquarters.

400: That’s how many scouts and leaders from the Mormon Church visited our beloved Camp Dittmer in one week as a part of our new Zion’s Camp program which has made Camp Dittmer an international destination for the Church of Latter-Day Saints thanks to its proximity to their holy ground of Hill Cumorah in the Finger Lakes. 

2,500: This is the number of scouts and explorers now served by our council.

20,000: That’s how many recorded hours our scouts gave in terms of service to projects that weren’t necessarily Eagle projects. I wouldn’t be surprised if just as many hours went unrecorded. These scouts cleaned up the Letchworth Trail, participated in Veterans Day ceremonies, and ran food drives.

25,000: That’s how many pounds of food the scouts collected in those food drives. Those 12.5 tons of canned and boxed goods were then distributed to food pantries throughout the region.   

While all those numbers are pretty significant, their impact can’t be measured. The scouting program has an incredible transformative effect on boys and young men; the foundation of character and maturity that it gives them puts them on the path to becoming great husbands, fathers, and leaders -- God knows we need that in this day and age.

To learn more about what we do at the Iroquois Trail Council, visit our website at

From the 20 February 2017 Greater Niagara Newspapers 

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