- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2000

Michael Fichten is pitching his troop's apple spice and blueberry cobbler, but he's having trouble on this sweltering summer day.
The Boy Scouts' recent "Scouting on the Mall" exhibit pulled in thousands of Scouts, scoutmasters and interested spectators, but none of them, it seems, wants any cobbler.
Finally one accepts, and Nick Lewis, another member of Troop 1420 in Woodbridge lifts a steaming ladle of apple spice cobbler from the cast-iron pot and dumps some into a small Dixie cup. It's a snapshot that captures the essence of Scouting since its founding in 1910 a group of boys in pressed shirts, shorts and kerchiefs stirring a recipe that millions of Scouts over the years have perfected at campsites across the country.
Nick is asked what his favorite merit badge is among the 10 he has earned so far.
"Atomic energy," he says after a moment of thinking.
Atomic energy? This isn't your father's Scouting movement anymore, much less founder Robert Baden-Powell's movement. Similarly, the Girl Scouts are doing service projects on safe dating and osprey nest preservation and offering patches on self-esteem. They provide science workshops and "GirlSport" activities with the LPGA and the Women's World Cup.
Today's Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are about more than helping ladies across the street and selling cookies. Despite a multitude of challenges and changing societal mores, they work hard to maintain their core values as they move into the 21st century.
'A juggling act'
Tom Wertz, an official for a Boy Scout troop in Bladensburg, knows how challenging it is for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to keep up with the changes in society and still remain true to the foundations and roots the founders designed back in the 1910s.
"It's a tough balance, a juggling act," Mr. Wertz says. "This is a tough job."
Society today, if the polls are correct, is more cynical than it was at the beginning of the last century, especially in the area of citizenship and "duty to country."
"Children today have more options, more undesirable options," says Ron Carroll, Scout executive for the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. "It's tougher today than it ever was, and I've been working with Boy Scouts for 30 years. There are more kids in single-parent families. We're a more transient society; there are more moves and fewer roots."

Despite the challenges, the Washington-area councils of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are among the largest and most successful in the country. The National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts is the fourth largest in the country, with 70,000 registered Scouts, and last year it produced the most Eagle Scouts (987) of any council in the United States.
The local Girl Scout council is the country's largest, with 46,207 girls registered last year. Also last year, it enjoyed the largest cookie sale in the country, selling 3.6 million boxes.
But both councils wrestle with the question of how to stay current without abandoning the movement's roots.
Mr. Carroll says the Boy Scouts do it largely through volunteers, of which his council has 22,000 registered and "probably twice that number" who haven't filled out official paperwork.
"We have monthly round tables with grass-roots volunteers, and we stay in touch constantly with newsletters," he says. "We have long-range plans that we update annually and review every year. We look at every aspect of our operation."
Renee Feirrer, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scout national headquarters in Irving, Texas, says the Boy Scouts track the number of merit badges earned nationally each year and over a five-year period to see which ones might need to be dropped.
New merit badges start with a letter of request, which is then reviewed by a Boy Scout committee and then reviewed by a panel of experts in that field. She says the process for adding a new merit badge usually takes between three and seven years.
Camp CEO
Bejay Myers has been involved in Girl Scouts since the 1930s, when there were no such things as Brownies or Cadettes, and girls all wore the same long-sleeved, one-size-fits-all uniform. She was there when the Girl Scouts focused more on the home, with badges in sewing and laundry, and dues were 10 cents a week.
"We had inspections every week," she said at a recent round-table discussion with several current Girl Scouts. "You couldn't have nail polish. You wore your uniform at every event. You wouldn't think of not appearing in public without it."
From polish-free nails to eyebrow rings only a few seats away from Ms. Myers sat Destiny Karis, 17, a current Girl Scout who sports a ring in her right eyebrow.
Ms. Myers says she tries to change with the times, except for one thing. She refuses to wear the "modernized" membership pin introduced in 1980.
"[The old pin] is what I was given and that's what I know," she says proudly. "But I understand the Girl Scouts' philosophy keep the past but look to the future."
Today's Girl Scouts laugh out loud at the thought of badges for laundry and sewing. One of them, Maria Paoletti, 18, of University Park did her Golden Award service project on car maintenance, persuading a mechanic and family friend to show some of her friends some basics of changing tires and oil and rudimentary engine upkeep.
Today, the Girl Scouts hold an annual event called "Camp CEO," a weeklong getaway created three years ago to give Girl Scouts the chance to meet prominent Washington-area women and learn what they do.
"The goal is for the CEO to leave behind their briefcase and for the girls to have fun and talk to the women who have made it, and to not see them in a corporate setting," local Girl Scout spokeswoman Leslie Gilliam says.
"We have presidents of banks cleaning latrines, camping out, singing songs, dressing up in silly outfits at dinner, that kind of thing," she says. "But they also put the silliness aside and talk to the girls about dreaming your future and showing them you can do anything, even in a field that's typically not a woman's field."
But today's Girl Scouts talk about the pride and self-confidence they have from their experiences in the organization, qualities their leaders say will keep Girl Scouts (and Boy Scouts) relevant regardless of what happens in the culture at large.
"I like the experience I've gotten," says Tiffany Donaldson, 15, a sophomore-to-be at St. John's College High School in Washington. "If you make a mistake, you're still always learning. I feel more prepared for things that might happen."
Arame Ngom, 16, of Washington echoes that.
"You know what to do in any given situation," she says. "A lot of things we do in Girl Scouts a lot of other kids wouldn't know. A girl at school went into epileptic shock one day and a lot of my friends were saying, 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,' but we [Girl Scouts] knew what to do until help arrived. We weren't nervous."
Miss Paoletti says many of her peers think Girl Scouts is just the "female version" of Boy Scouts, which is wrong.
"It's not just rubbing two sticks together and making a fire," Miss Paoletti says. "It's stuff you need to know about life."
Miss Karis, a veteran of "too many [camping trips] to count," says friends who tease her about selling cookies are usually silenced when she recounts just one of her many Girl Scout adventures.
"I went to Cancun," she says with a smile. "That usually gets them interested."
'Learning for Life'
In 1991, the Boy Scouts of America developed a program called "Learning for Life," to be used in the nation's public schools. The program's mission statement is to "instill core values in young people" and to "prepare them to make ethical choices throughout their lives."
The Boy Scouts say almost a million students across the country were participating in the program in 1997. The Boy Scouts fund the program but the teachers provide the instruction during and after school hours.
The elementary school curriculum, one of the fastest growing parts of "Learning for Life," covers such subjects as gangs, money management, respecting differences and violence prevention.
The middle school program builds relationships between students and business leaders in the surrounding community to help participants prepare for career choices and job training.
The senior high program builds on the school-to-career path and teaches practical skills for getting and keeping jobs, such as resume writing, interviews and money management.
Locally, "Learning for Life" was used in 40 schools in the District and Prince George's County last year, and 19,000 students participated, says Earnest Devoe, the program's director. He also is a former teacher, principal and administrator in the D.C. public school system.
"Basically, we covered character education," Mr. Devoe says. "We covered ethical decision-making, character development, career education and drug prevention."
He says the Boy Scouts hope to add more schools in those two jurisdictions next year and expand into other counties in the future.

'A juggling act'

Tom Wertz, an official for a Boy Scout troop in Bladensburg, knows how challenging it is for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to keep up with the changes in society and still remain true to the foundations and roots the founders designed back in the 1910s.
"It's a tough balance, a juggling act," Mr. Wertz says. "This is a tough job."
Society today, if the polls are correct, is more cynical than it was at the beginning of the last century, especially in the area of citizenship and "duty to country."
"Children today have more options, more undesirable options," says Ron Carroll, Scout executive for the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. "It's tougher today than it ever was, and I've been working with Boy Scouts for 30 years. There are more kids in single-parent families. We're a more transient society; there are more moves and fewer roots."
Despite the challenges, the Washington-area councils of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are among the largest and most successful in the country. The National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts is the fourth largest in the country, with 70,000 registered Scouts, and last year it produced the most Eagle Scouts (987) of any council in the United States.
The local Girl Scout council is the country's largest, with 46,207 girls registered last year. Also last year, it enjoyed the largest cookie sale in the country, selling 3.6 million boxes.
But both councils wrestle with the question of how to stay current without abandoning the movement's roots.
Mr. Carroll says the Boy Scouts do it largely through volunteers, of which his council has 22,000 registered and "probably twice that number" who haven't filled out official paperwork.
"We have monthly round tables with grass-roots volunteers, and we stay in touch constantly with newsletters," he says. "We have long-range plans that we update annually and review every year. We look at every aspect of our operation."
Renee Feirrer, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scout national headquarters in Irving, Texas, says the Boy Scouts track the number of merit badges earned nationally each year and over a five-year period to see which ones might need to be dropped.
New merit badges start with a letter of request, which is then reviewed by a Boy Scout committee and then reviewed by a panel of experts in that field. She says the process for adding a new merit badge usually takes between three and seven years.

Camp CEO

Bejay Myers has been involved in Girl Scouts since the 1930s, when there were no such things as Brownies or Cadettes, and girls all wore the same long-sleeved, one-size-fits-all uniform. She was there when the Girl Scouts focused more on the home, with badges in sewing and laundry, and dues were 10 cents a week.
"We had inspections every week," she said at a recent round-table discussion with several current Girl Scouts. "You couldn't have nail polish. You wore your uniform at every event. You wouldn't think of not appearing in public without it."
From polish-free nails to eyebrow rings only a few seats away from Ms. Myers sat Destiny Karis, 17, a current Girl Scout who sports a ring in her right eyebrow.
Ms. Myers says she tries to change with the times, except for one thing. She refuses to wear the "modernized" membership pin introduced in 1980.
"[The old pin] is what I was given and that's what I know," she says proudly. "But I understand the Girl Scouts' philosophy keep the past but look to the future."
Today's Girl Scouts laugh out loud at the thought of badges for laundry and sewing. One of them, Maria Paoletti, 18, of University Park did her Golden Award service project on car maintenance, persuading a mechanic and family friend to show some of her friends some basics of changing tires and oil and rudimentary engine upkeep.
Today, the Girl Scouts hold an annual event called "Camp CEO," a weeklong getaway created three years ago to give Girl Scouts the chance to meet prominent Washington-area women and learn what they do.
"The goal is for the CEO to leave behind their briefcase and for the girls to have fun and talk to the women who have made it, and to not see them in a corporate setting," local Girl Scout spokeswoman Leslie Gilliam says.
"We have presidents of banks cleaning latrines, camping out, singing songs, dressing up in silly outfits at dinner, that kind of thing," she says. "But they also put the silliness aside and talk to the girls about dreaming your future and showing them you can do anything, even in a field that's typically not a woman's field."
But today's Girl Scouts talk about the pride and self-confidence they have from their experiences in the organization, qualities their leaders say will keep Girl Scouts (and Boy Scouts) relevant regardless of what happens in the culture at large.
"I like the experience I've gotten," says Tiffany Donaldson, 15, a sophomore-to-be at St. John's College High School in Washington. "If you make a mistake, you're still always learning. I feel more prepared for things that might happen."
Arame Ngom, 16, of Washington echoes that.
"You know what to do in any given situation," she says. "A lot of things we do in Girl Scouts a lot of other kids wouldn't know. A girl at school went into epileptic shock one day and a lot of my friends were saying, 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,' but we [Girl Scouts] knew what to do until help arrived. We weren't nervous."
Miss Paoletti says many of her peers think Girl Scouts is just the "female version" of Boy Scouts, which is wrong.
"It's not just rubbing two sticks together and making a fire," Miss Paoletti says. "It's stuff you need to know about life."
Miss Karis, a veteran of "too many [camping trips] to count," says friends who tease her about selling cookies are usually silenced when she recounts just one of her many Girl Scout adventures.
"I went to Cancun," she says with a smile. "That usually gets them interested."

'Learning for Life'

In 1991, the Boy Scouts of America developed a program called "Learning for Life," to be used in the nation's public schools. The program's mission statement is to "instill core values in young people" and to "prepare them to make ethical choices throughout their lives."
The Boy Scouts say almost a million students across the country were participating in the program in 1997. The Boy Scouts fund the program but the teachers provide the instruction during and after school hours.
The elementary school curriculum, one of the fastest growing parts of "Learning for Life," covers such subjects as gangs, money management, respecting differences and violence prevention.
The middle school program builds relationships between students and business leaders in the surrounding community to help participants prepare for career choices and job training.
The senior high program builds on the school-to-career path and teaches practical skills for getting and keeping jobs, such as resume writing, interviews and money management.
Locally, "Learning for Life" was used in 40 schools in the District and Prince George's County last year, and 19,000 students participated, says Earnest Devoe, the program's director. He also is a former teacher, principal and administrator in the D.C. public school system.
"Basically, we covered character education," Mr. Devoe says. "We covered ethical decision-making, character development, career education and drug prevention."
He says the Boy Scouts hope to add more schools in those two jurisdictions next year and expand into other counties in the future.

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