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History - 1980 to 1989


The youth anniversary year concluded with gains in both membership and units. Outfitted in colorful new uniforms designed by Oscar de la Renta, the movement advanced into another decade of service to the nation. In support of the 1980 National Census, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorers passed out fliers to houses and apartments across the country urging participation in the census taking. Cub Scouting celebrated its 50th anniversary during 1980 and was highlighted by the registration of the 30 millionth Cub Scout since 1930. The annual Report to the Nation presentation ceremony was held in February, with youth representatives of Scouting's three divisions having the opportunity to meet with President Jimmy Carter. Dr. Thomas C. MacAvoy of Corning, N.Y., was elected president of the BSA during the 1980 National Council meeting in New Orleans, La. A new Official Patrol Leader Handbook was issued, giving strong emphasis to the patrol method for instilling qualities of leadership. A year-long health education program called "The Fabulous Human Machine," funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was introduced to emphasize the tenets of the Scout Oath, "... To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." More than 1,200 Explorers and leaders attended the l0th National Explorer Presidents' Congress in Phoenix, Ariz., and more than 2,300 participants took part in the biennial National Explorer Olympics in Fort Collins, Colo. The first National Explorer Winter Olympics was held in Squaw Valley, Calif., featuring Olympic-style competition in downhill and cross-country skiing, biathlon, and skating. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, kits containing materials related to energy education and conservation were sent to councils throughout America. An agreement was signed with the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior whereby Boy Scout troops and Explorer posts would monitor natural landmarks administered by HCRS. More than 500 Boy Scouts and leaders represented BSA at jamborees and activities in Switzerland, Scotland, Denmark, and Canada. A fire destroyed the second floor of the national office in November, but rebuilding plans were prepared immediately and satellite offices were leased to provide space for displaced employees until reconstruction was completed. Membership on December 31 was 4,326,082. Total members to date, 64,840,661. 


For the second consecutive year, the Boy Scouts of America showed gains in membership and total units. The l0th National Scout Jamboree was held at Fort A. P. Hill, Va., July 29-August 4, with more than 30,000 boys and leaders participating from across the U.S. and 22 other countries. The annual Report to the Nation, which included a visit with President Ronald Reagan, was held in February. Dr. Thomas C. MacAvoy, Corning, N.Y., was reelected president. The National Explorer Presidents' Congress was held in Indianapolis, Ind., and the National Order of the Arrow Conference convened at the University of Texas at Austin. Philmont Scout Ranch and four other national high-adventure bases had attendance of 15,517. A new Official Scoutmaster Handbook was released, completing the trilogy of basic literature of Boy Scouting. Murray, Ky., was picked as the site for the new Boy Scout Museum. Nearly 64,000 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorers earned religious emblems while 4,140 adult volunteers received religious recognition. More than 3,000 Boy Scouts and leaders represented BSA at jamborees and Scouting events in Switzerland, Scotland, Denmark, and Canada. The year-long program emphasis, "Save Our American Resources (SOAR) ... for the Better Life," continued through August 1982. Membership on December 31 was 4,355,723. Total members to date, 70,774,443.


A milestone in the history of the BSA was passed in September with the registering of the millionth Eagle Scout, Alexander M. Holsinger. For the third consecutive year, the BSA showed gains in membership and units. "Shaping Tomorrow," a project aimed at developing an effective strategy for addressing crucial issues of the 1980s, was initiated in January. Four of the program concepts from Foundations for Growth-Tiger Cubs, BSA; Bear Enrichment; Prepared for Today; and Explorer Marketing-were field tested and implemented. "Campaign for Character" continued through 1982 with $40 million of the $49 million goal reported as of December 31. Representatives from Scouting's three program divisions presented the annual Report to the Nation and had the opportunity to meet President Ronald Reagan. Edward C. Joullian III of Oklahoma City, Okla., was elected president of the BSA during the 1982 National Council meeting in Atlanta, Ga. The National Explorer Presidents' Congress was held at Philadelphia, Pa., and the National Explorer Olympics convened at Fort Collins, Colo. Cub Scouting published the Cub Scout Leader Book which combines five separate books-the Cubmaster's Pack Book, the Den Leader's Handbook, the Webelos Leader's Book, the Den Leaders Coach Book, and the Pack Committee Book-into one volume. Philmont Scout Ranch and the other four high-adventure bases had an attendance of 24,833. The Backpacking merit badge was introduced. "Catch the Scouting Spirit" was announced as the national program theme for 1983-84. More than 3,800 Boy Scouts and leaders took part in international Scouting events in Canada, Australia, China, and Liechtenstein. Membership, December 31, was 4,542,449. Total members to date, 68,140,738. 


The Boy Scouts of America showed gains in both membership and units for the fourth consecutive year. The Shaping Tomorrow project began implementing better methods of marketing, servicing, and delivering of our full program and mission. Shaping Tomorrow included strategy and structural recommendations for strengthening the organization. Campaign for Character culminated with $52.5 million reported; this was $3.5 million over the goal for financing major needs in the 19805. The annual Report to the Nation presentation ceremony was held in February, with youth representatives of Scouting's three divisions having the opportunity to meet with President Ronald Reagan. The Boy Scouts of America received the Margaret Pope Hovey Award from the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped for outstanding contributions to rehabilitation and employment of handicapped persons. The BSA had registered more than 2OO,OOO youth with handicapping conditions. Tiger Cubs, BSA, for 7-year-old boys and their adult partners began its second year of existence providing 123,000 families an opportunity to grow closer together (the Tiger Cub motto: Search, Discover, Share). Pilot testing of Varsity Scouting, a program for boys 14 through 17, was concluded with a recommendation for implementation to begin in 1984. Varsity Scouting places emphasis on advancement, high adventure, service, personal development, and special programs and events. Explorer membership reached its highest level, increasing by 25.2 percent over last year, which included 354,286 Career Awareness Explorers. "The Great Outdoor Quest" became the theme for Scout camping as troop camping increased more than 6 percent and Scout attendance increased by 5 percent. The National Order of the Arrow Conference was held in August at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. Order of the Arrow membership increased by almost 7,000 since 1982. This was the year for both the XV World Scout Jamboree and the 29th World Conference. The jamboree was held July 4-16, in Kananaskis Country, a provincial park in the Canadian Rockies. The Boy Scouts of America hosted the World Conference in Detroit, Mich., in July with representatives from more than 100 countries. Membership on December 31,1983, was 4,688,953. Total members to date, 70,014,715. 


Sanford N. McDonnell of St. Louis, Mo., was elected President of the BSA during the 1984 National Council Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The third edition of the Fieldbook was produced. Introduction to Family Camping was published and the Family Camping Association was launched. The new association sought to enhance the richness of family life through experiences in the out-of-doors. Dioxin contamination was discovered at the site of the 1981 National Scout Jamboree, Fort A. P. Hill, Va. After extensive soil testing, it was determined that the extent of any exposure was no danger to individuals who attended the 1981 jamboree and the 1985 jamboree would be held at this facility as originally planned. The Boy Scouts of America completed its fifth consecutive year of membership gain. Varsity Scouting, for boys 14 through 17, was launched nationwide, accompanied by a full complement of literature, training, and program materials. More than 2,000 Varsity Scout teams were organized, serving about 30,000 Varsity Scouts. Exploring membership showed a dramatic increase in 1984, primarily a result of the phenomenal success of Career Awareness and in-school Exploring. The National Eagle Scout Association awarded 30 $3,000 college scholarships from the W. P. Clements National Eagle Scout Scholarship Fund and 6 $1,000 grants from the Elks foundation. The Whitney M. Young, Jr., Service Award was presented to 36 individuals and organizations in recognition of their outstanding service to youth in low-income situations.  Total members to date, 72,014,206. 


The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 75th anniversary. "Pride in the Past... Footsteps to the Future" was the theme that told the story through exciting events conducted during the year. Ben H. Love became the BSA's eighth Chief Scout Executive. The high point of the year was the 11nth National Scout Jamboree held July 24-30, at Fort A. P. Hill, Va. More than 32,000 Scouts and leaders from around the world attended this event. First Lady Nancy Reagan was a special visitor at the jamboree. During May, June, and July, the BSA lit a Heritage Campfire outside every state capitol. Campfire ashes were placed in a wooden box the shape of that state. The box was added to a Heritage Campfire Caravan which began in Washington State and traveled 7,600 miles through the country and through 40 state capitals. Following 3 months on the road, the caravan arrived at the site of the 1985 National Scout Jamboree, its final destination. A BSA history book titled The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure was produced in cooperation with author Robert W. Peterson and American Heritage Publishing Company. Youth membership increased for the sixth consecutive year, registering a 2.7 percent gain over 1984. Cub Scouting introduced a new emphasis on Cub Scout sports. The Order of the Arrow presented 104 camperships totaling more than $4,000 to American-Indian Boy Scouts. Membership in the Order of the Arrow increased significantly versus 1984. The BSA Scouting for the Handicapped program was cited for its innovative approaches in serving the handicapped and was the recipient of the 1985 National Organization on Disability Award. Membership on December 31,1985, was 4,845,040. Total members to date, 73,639,425. 


On September 1, the Boy Scouts of America took a new and dramatic step to serve boys in all school grades. Membership requirements for Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts became primarily based on grade in school, rather than age. The plan was expanded to included first-grade boys as Tiger Cubs and second-grade boys as Wolf Cub Scouts. The program included plans for expanding Webelos Scouting to 2 years for fourth- and fifth-graders. In the first 4 months of the expanded program, Cub Scout membership increased by 14.3 percent compared to the previous year. The BSA was touched by the tragic Challenger disaster. Two of the crew members were active in Scouting as youths. Lt. Col. Ellison S. Onizuka attained the Eagle rank in 1964 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Dr. Ronald E. McNair reached Star rank as a youth in Lake City, S.C. Boys' Life magazine, one of the 50 largest magazines in the nation, celebrated its 75th anniversary. The biennial meeting of the National Council held in Louisville, Ky., brought some 2,600 key volunteer and professional leaders in Scouting together. Charles M. Pigott, president of PACCAR, Inc., Bellevue, Wash., was elected president. The National Court of Honor presented 19 Honor Medals, 71 Heroism Awards, and 189 Medals of Merit. There were 26,840 youths that advanced to the rank of Eagle Scout and 13 Sea Explorers who received the Quartermaster Award. The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award was presented to 58 outstanding men. In response to a request by President Reagan, the BSA conducted a nationwide Donor Awareness Good Turn to inform American families of the urgent need for donated human organs and tissue. Families were encouraged to discuss their wishes related to providing "a gift of life" when a member dies suddenly. Some 597,823 Scouts across the country distributed more than 14 million brochures to families in their local neighborhoods and communities. More than 2 million mailing inserts were distributed by 125 public service institutions. The Good Turn message was delivered by 346 newspapers to an estimated audience of more than 21 million readers. The BSA ended 1986 with a 7.5 percent increase, its seventh consecutive year of membership increase and the largest in 30 years. Membership on December 31,1986, was 5,170,979. Total members to date, 83,686,624. 


The Boy Scouts of America began to address five "unacceptables" in American society-drug abuse, hunger, child abuse, illiteracy, and youth unemployment. The nation's largest anti-drug abuse education campaign was launched with the release of eight million copies of a booklet titled Drugs: A Deadly Game for members, chartered organizations, schools, and local institutions. Included in the anti-drug package were a videotape; a poster showing how drugs, alcohol, and smoking damage the human body; and a guide for teachers and parents. The BSA began planning a food collection drive for 1988 to combat hunger. To help parents, teachers, and Scout leaders deal with child abuse, a booklet called Child Abuse: Let's Talk About It was distributed. A second booklet, Child Sexual Abuse: How to Deal with It, was released for training professional and volunteer Scouters. To meet the challenge of youth unemployment, the national Exploring Division promoted Career Awareness Exploring, which exposes high school students to various vocations and shows them what is required to be successful in the adult job market. The division also renewed its effort to encourage major corporations to support Exploring in the communities they serve. The effort, called the Exploring Impact Plan, resulted in the organization of 800 new Explorer posts. The Boy Scout Division reemphasized the importance of a Scout advancing steadily to First Class rank; new materials to foster advancement were made available to troops. New troop leaders were given help for immediate training with the release of three Fast Start videotapes explaining their responsibilities. Cub Scout leaders also received Fast Start videos that discussed their positions. A new edition of the Webelos Scout Book, featuring five new activity badges boys could earn, was published. More Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts went camping this year; total camping participation rose to 817,582 youths, an increase of 8 percent over that of 1986. About 3,000 BSA members attended the i6th World Jamboree in Australia. For the eighth consecutive year, the BSA's youth membership increased; the gain was 3.5 percent. Total membership on December 31,1987, was 5,347,098. Total members to date, 78,353,590. 


The largest national Good Turn since World War II was held in November when Scouting for Food sent the BSA's youth and adult leaders into their neighborhoods to collect food for the needy. The harvest was more than 60 million containers of food. Cooperating in the drive were Quaker Oats, United Way of America, the National Guard, scores of food store chains, and many local organizations. Drugs: A Deadly Game was again used by thousands of Scouting units, schools, and community organizations to educate young people to the hazards of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Coca Cola USA lent its support to the campaign, which received the prestigious 1988 Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives. In its efforts to reduce child abuse, the BSA distributed two publications, How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse and Drug Abuse: A Parent's Guide, plus a videotape with an instructor's guide for training volunteer leaders. A 2-year Webelos Scouting program was introduced; for the first time fourth-graders were eligible to become Webelos Scouts. Henceforth, both fourth- and fifth-graders could participate in Webelos Scouting to prepare for Boy Scouting. Resident camping for Cub Scouts was approved, and many councils opened weeklong camps for Cub Scouts while continuing to operate Cub Scout day camps. Boy Scouting received a big boost in March from a closed-circuit teleconference broadcast nationwide by satellite. Television personality Hugh Downs, a longtime Scouting supporter, hosted the teleconference, which led to the organization of 8,132 new troops. The Exploring Impact Plan was continued and brought scores of national corporations into sponsorship of Exploring. The Exploring Division also implemented ExplorEmphasis, a program to increase membership and the number of special-interest Explorer posts through improved training of volunteer and professional Scouters. At the biennial meeting of the National Council in San Diego, Calif., Eagle Scout Harold S. Hook, chairman and chief executive officer of American General Corp., was elected BSA president. Youth membership rose by 1.3 percent, the ninth straight annual increase. Total membership on December 31,1988, was 5,377,493-Total members to date, 80,589,269. 


The 12th National Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Va., drew 33,000 Scouts and leaders for a week's worth of challenges and fun. A highlight was the appearance of President Bush, who praised the Scouting movement for its fight against drug abuse. "You are leading the youth of America by example," the President said. Boy Scout advancement and troop operation were revamped to give Scouts a more contemporary program. The changes brought by the new Troop Operations Plan included separate patrols for new Scouts, new advancement requirements to foster a Scout's progress, enhanced activities for Scouts with a year or so of experience, and advanced activities for older Scouts. The changes are reflected in the l0th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, which was scheduled for release in January 1990. Cub Scouting instituted a "Renewal Plan for Separated Cub Scouts" to invite dropouts back into the program. Local councils that tried the plan reported a 40 to 50 percent return of dropouts. The Exploring Division continued ExplorEmphasis for the second year, seeking to expand and improve Exploring in local councils. To help market the program, videos titled Let's Go Exploring and A Choice to Participate were introduced. The BSA continued its attack on the "unacceptables." The second annual Scouting for Food drive netted 72 million containers of food for the nation's needy. A new package of materials for Drugs: A Deadly Game was distributed. It included an i8-page brochure, a comic book-style true story of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, a body chart showing the effects of drugs, alcohol, and smoking on the human body, and a teacher's guide. Advice for preventing sexual abuse of children was incorporated into all training of adult Scouters, and a video called A Time to Tell was produced for showing to Boy Scout troops. The BSA continued its effort to reduce illiteracy by establishing a book service called BSA Book Power. Youth membership rose by .3 percent, the l0th consecutive year of gain. Total membership on December 31,1989, was 5,363,593-Total members to date, 82,998,087.


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