For the first time in Sea Scout history, all existing Sea Scout Regional Boatswains, as well as the National Boatswain, were present at the same place, at the same time.  We were all there, among the Venturing National Cabinet, both past and present, ex-National Boatswains, Order of the Arrow Section Chiefs, Eagle Scouts, and youth that had aged out, but were still active in Boy Scout programs, to plan the BEYOND (Building Experienced Youth – Outstanding New Youth Development) Conference for the summer of 2012.  The topic at hand: change.

Bob Mazzuca, the Chief Scout Executive came and spoke with us the very first morning of the conference.  He made it quite clear to us that he wanted our opinions and our voices to be heard in the decision making process.  And so, as adult advisors, professional and volunteer, stood back and watched, we youth began to discuss topics, address issues, and break out into groups to plan the conference.  Of things discussed were topics such as Families and Scouting, and Environmental Stewardship.  The main question we kept asking ourselves during each discussion was, “How could we adapt the scouting program to be relevant for the next one hundred years?”

It wasn’t a question we could answer in our five day conference though.  Our goal for then was to start planning next year’s conference, were 300-500 of BSA’s youth leaders from all over the nation, representing all programs, could come together and discuss the same issues that we had just discussed.  We wanted, and still want, to walk away from the conference next year with ideas exchanged, goals written out, and actions taken.

 This year’s week of discussions and planning was quite successful.  While there is still a lot to be done, Scouting is closer to the youth than ever before, and will continue to get closer in the next hundred years as youth make decisions on topics that they deem relevant to the time.

I look forward to seeing my peers next year at the conference, and discuss with them the issues that we, as youth, feel need to be discussed.  While this was the first time that all existing Sea Scout Boatswains – Regional and National – were in the same place at the same time, it certainly won’t be the last.  After all, this planning conference was just the beginning of something great.

Eva Hogan

National Sea Scout Boatswain

Ship 502 – Houston, TX