This past month, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Washington, D.C. It had been about 15 years since I had been to our nation's capitol, and I didn't recall much about the historical monuments and markers that I witnessed as a teenager. This year's visit will forever be engrained in my memory.
In just three days, I visited the National Mall (the main piece of downtown D.C., that features the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Smithsonian Museums and much more) on three separate occasions. Each time was just as invigorating and insightful as the previous.
One monument that isn't spoken of as much as some of its much larger counterparts is the one honoring the Boy Scouts of America. I'm sure most of you are thinking that you weren't aware that a memorial exists in Washington, D.C., to honor scouting. And, sadly, I have to admit that I wasn't familiar with the Boy Scout Memorial Statue until I started planning for this trip. Yet for me, this small-size statue, probably no taller than 20 feet, hit home in a way much different from the other monuments. You see, this year is the 100th anniversary of scouting in America and, on a personal level, marks 20 years since I started on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout.
"Celebrating the adventure. Continuing the Journey," is the theme for this milestone countrywide celebration of Boy Scouting. The recently revitalized program of scouting is looking to become more responsive to the 21st Century scout, their life, their desires, their goals. To find out more about how scouting is honoring 100 years of tradition, go to (www,scouting.org.)
On a statewide level, packs, troops and crews from the Northern Lights Council will converge (for a campout) on the grounds of North Dakota's Capitol Building, June 4-6 for a Capitol Celebration. Organizers expect more than 2,500 youth from a four-state region to make this 100th Anniversary an event to remember. On June 5, the camp grounds are open to the public to learn more about scouting and the impact scouts have on our communities.
And to end our focus on 100 years of scouting, a few "Did you know?" questions.
Did you know that there are memorials or plaques honoring scouting in more than 20 countries on all of the six major continents?
Did you know that "Scouting for Boys," the first Boy Scout handbook, written in 1908, sold more than 150 million copies and is the fourth best-selling book of the 20th Century?
Did you know that since it started in 1910, more than 110 million Americans have been a part of the Boy Scouts of America?
Did you know that fewer than 2 percent of all those who start in the Boy Scouts of America end up earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout?
Did you know that individuals, like Steven Spielberg, Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford and Robert Gates are among the many famous Americans who earned their Eagle Scout award as young men?
Did you know that in the northwest part of the state, more than 1,000 scouts and scouters (adult supporters) participate every year in campouts, service projects and weekly meetings?
Thank you to the Boy Scouts of America, to all the many leaders and to a simple statue in Washington, D.C., for making the scouting program the successful endeavor that it is today.
(Mark Lyman is one of four community columnists for The Minot Daily News)