It happened on September first. Roy Williams, our national chief Scout executive for the past seven years, retired. I believe Mr. Williams had a rough seven years. At least I would call them rough. The BSA has had its share of problems lately. And, at least at the troop level of the organization, I really have not seen a lot of leadership from the national office lately, though I will give them credit for sticking to the principles and ideals of Scouting during all the media hub-bub and not backing down. I wish there would have been more done and said by national, but for some reason they decided to stay pretty quiet during these last few years.
We now have a new chief Scout executive. His name is Robert “Bob” Mazzuca, and according to his profile found at scouting.org he has held a lot of district, council, regional, and national positions during the last 36 years. While this may be a good thing for the BSA at the national level, I am afraid that those of us “in the trenches” may not see much of a change in the national organization. Here is a piece of the news release:
“Mazzuca’s most recent position was with the National Council of the BSA as assistant Chief Scout Executive, a position he’s held since 2006. He received a bachelor of arts in history from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He and his wife Nanette have two sons. Bob began his Scouting career in 1971 in Modesto, Calif., as a district executive and an Exploring executive. He became the Exploring director in Sacramento in 1975 and eventually served as a field director and the director of field service. In 1983, Mazzuca became the Scout executive in Stockton, Calif. In 1987, Bob became area director in the Western Region and he was promoted to Scout executive of the Golden Empire Council in Sacramento in 1988. In 1992, he was named assistant region director for the Southern Region and in 1995, the Scout executive in Pittsburgh.”
Of course, this is just my opinion, but I think Mr. Mazzuca may have been out of touch with Cub packs, Scout troops, and Venture crews for too long. I fear that someone who has been on the regional and national level for as long as Mr. Mazzuca has been could be out of touch with the real reason for Scouting, namely, the boys. Has he gotten so involved with the politics on the national level that he will fail to help the program of Scouting? Has he become so entrenched with other national officers and pencils pushers that he will forget about the volunteers at the troop and pack level? Will he be a leader who’s number one concern is financial, or will he concentrate on the Scouting program and lead us into a new resurgence of Scouting?
Mr. Mazzuca, I have a few suggestions for you. First, take the time to meet the volunteers on a local level from across the country. Get out and meet the scoutmasters, and Cubmasters, and crew advisers. Listen to their concerns. See how things are going from their perspective. There is no way to get this type of information by sitting behind a desk in Texas.
Second, I would like to see National begin to promote Scouting more on a national level. The BSA has been beat up a bit during the last several years. It is time to start promoting the good that Scouting does locally and nationally. The BSA has done well informing it’s councils and regions about how well things are going, but I think it is time to start letting the common folk know about Scouting. Advertise! It is not a dirty word. Yes, it may cost some money, but I think this organization is worth it, don’t you? Use the internet! I have posted Scouting videos on YouTube and our troop’s website. And guess what? People do watch them. I think national has mostly overlooked this avenue of communication.
Third, how about making things less costly within the Scouting organization. Oh, I am not talking about our yearly fees. I think they are reasonable. I would like to see the cost of Scout uniforms and equipment come down in price to a more reasonable level. Requiring us to pay $35-$40 dollars for the uniform shirt is pretty high, especially for the quality of the shirt. I pay less for dress shirts. And don’t even get me started on the pants and shorts. I can buy two or three pairs of great quality jeans for the cost of one Boy Scout trouser that will not wear near as long. If you want the boys to dress in the full Scout uniform then make it affordable for the boys and adult leaders.
Well, that is enough of my personal opinion for the moment. I know that Mr. Mazzuca will probably never see this blog, but it feels good to at least write about a few of my concerns. And if you do read this, Mr. Mazzuca, I invite to post a response and let us know what you have planned for the Boy Scouts of America.