As we approach the end of 2013, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for everything that you do every day to make Scouting possible here in the Greater Yosemite Council. I know that 2013 presented some unique challenges as we worked through the national debate on membership standards in the early part of the year. I appreciate all of the time that each of you took to write, call, e-mail and express your views on every side of this subject. In the end, the vote was taken and we moved forward continuing to serving kids. I thank all of you for keeping a positive attitude as we worked through that issue. I know that there is still work to be done as we implement the new policy on January 1. We can’t plan for every potential question that might arise, but If we approach each challenge in a scout-like manner, maintain a positive attitude, work together, and do what’s best for young people, I believe that we will make the right decision every time.
Despite our early challenges, we can point to some great achievements. We had record attendance at Camp John Mensinger and the Pendola Sierra Adventure Base. In fact, if you include all programs, we camped over 1,000 campers. Likewise, we hosted over 900 Cub Scouts at our various Day Camps. Because of the quality programs that each of you offers, total membership grew and we increased retention for the third year in a row. We will have awarded 151 Eagle Ranks this year and several thousand other advancements. You collected more than 15 tons of food during this past Scouting for Food campaign, and have completed more than 30,000 hours of community service. At $10.00 per hour, that’s $300,000 worth of community service. The next time someone questions the value of Scouting, feel free to share these numbers. Finally, we just finished the most successful popcorn sale in our history, selling just over $345,000 in popcorn. Congratulations!
I am very excited about everything that we will accomplish in 2014. I expect record numbers at all of our camps. We are launching a new Cub Scout Summer camp program at Camp McConnell during two weekends in June and July for Cub Scouts and their families. I hope that each of you have already made your reservations. We have forged new strategic partnerships with other organizations that will enable us to serve even more young people, and we will be hosting our first annual Health Fare and 5 K run in October! It should be an exciting year.
I hope that each of you takes pride in the important contribution that you are making to the future of America. Young people are our greatest and most important “crop” here in the valley. Thank you for making sure that they grow up Prepared. For Life!