The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 2, 2014

Building new leaders

Boy Scouts look for more members

DANVILLE — Changing times and — specifically — changing attitudes among today’s youths and parents are among the biggest hurdles for the Boy Scouts of America as it tries to teach important skills to today’s children and teenagers.

The Boy Scouts of America will mark its 102nd year in existence on Saturday and through that time the organization has seen a variety of attitudes stemming from the nation’s youth through each decade.

Throughout that time, however, their interest in some of the most basic lessons the Boy Scouts offers has remained the same, according to a local scout leader.

“A lot of their interests haven’t changed,” said Prairielands Council Scout Executive Tim Manard. “Kids are still looking for leadership training, to be good leaders and good citizens.

“They’re looking to enjoy the outdoors and learn some the things scouting offers — first aid and citizenships that the merit badges offer” said Manard, who has been scout executive for the last 16 years.

The Prairielands Council was created in 1991 as the merger of Danville and Champaign factions.

The Prairielands Council covers a total of seven Illinois counties: Vermilion, Champaign, the southern part of Ford, Iroquois, Douglas and Piatt counties and the northern part of Edgar County. In addition, Fountain County and Vermillion County in Indiana also are covered.

According to Manard, it’s not a lack of interest that Boy Scouts now faces in bringing in new members. It’s a problem of too many interests.

“From a challenge standpoint, the business of families has become a challenge,” he said. “Families are doing much, much more and kids are doing more sooner.”

The multitude of potential activities makes it more difficult for packs and troops to find a niche in a potential scout’s busy schedule. Manard said it’s up to the Boy Scouts of America and the Prairielands Council to “tell our story better.”

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