Boy Scouts begin planning for 100th anniversary in 2010
DALLAS -- The Boy Scouts of America, about to turn 100, have turned to one of their own as part of a marketing campaign to celebrate the anniversary and try to reverse a membership slide.
A logo designed by Philip Goolkasian, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout from Fresno, Calif., was picked from more than 4,000 entries for anniversary events.
The 100th anniversary is still two years away. It will be marked at the 2010 Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill, Va. -- the quadrennial event was pushed back a year to coincide with the anniversary.
Scouting officials expect the event to draw 100,000 Scouts and visitors, and they plan to arrange satellite feeds to beam the proceedings around the country to boys who can't make the trip to Fort Hill.
In the meantime, the Irving, Texas-based organization is looking to strike partnership deals with NASCAR and a half-dozen major corporations to promote its work. It hired a public-relations firm and budgeted more than $4 million for the anniversary and events leading up to it.
The Boy Scouts say membership last year was nearly 2.9 million, including younger Cub Scouts and older Venturers. That's down about 16 percent since 1999 and may reflect 21st century children's preference for video games over camping.
The Boy Scouts have tried luring more urban boys, especially blacks and Hispanics, by waiving registration fees and giving scholarships for camps. Another part of the organization's strategy is to highlight the number of boys who have attained Scouting's highest honor, the rank of Eagle Scout, by earning merit badges and performing community-service projects.
More than 51,000 boys reached Eagle rank last year, a record, including Goolkasian, whose new logo was picked. It won't replace the familiar fleur-de-lis on Scout uniforms, but will be used in marketing materials.
"It's amazingly professional for someone who is only 17," said Kit Hinrichs, a graphics arts professional in San Francisco who was himself an Eagle Scout. He helped judge entries and worked with Goolkasian to tweak the final look.
Goolkasian said he was honored to play a role in the anniversary celebration. He credits Scouting with teaching him to work with others and honing his leadership skills -- the senior is also student body president at his high school.
Scouting, he said, "is really fun, and it's got such a rich tradition. We do camping, a lot of outdoor activities and service projects. Those are timeless values that will stay with us for a lifetime."