Boy Scouts celebrate 100th anniversary with membership drive

IRVING, TX: The Boy Scouts of America has launched a year-long campaign around its 100th Anniversary aimed at reversing its membership decline.

IRVING, TX: The Boy Scouts of America has launched a year-long campaign around its 100th Anniversary aimed at reversing its membership decline.

The key component of the campaign is a series of events, aimed at engaging both kids and moms. Internal research shows that typically kids join the Boy Scouts at the suggestion of their school, a friend, or mom.

The largest event is called Adventure Base 100, a 10,000-square-foot, hands-on “campus” that is touring 42 cities nationwide. The experiential campus features a museum, IMAX-like video, high-adventure rope course, and a variety of interactive displays.

The campus, which debuted at the Tournament of Roses January 1, closes at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in November. “It really gives kids the opportunity to get all their senses activated and experience what it means to be a Boy Scout in a new and invigorating way,” said Jill Friedman-Wilson, SVP and partner, Fleishman-Hillard, the BSA's AOR for the 100th anniversary. (Edelman supports BSA on crisis communications, while Hispanic Communications Network, in tandem with the FH Hispanic practice group, handles outreach to Hispanic media.)

Fleishman leveraged the Adventure Base 100 stops to produce a series of three- to four-minute webisodes called “Tales from the Trail”, which highlight the local aspect of each city and also feature an inspiring story. The webisodes are posted on the Adventure Base 100 Web site and “are used for promotional and social media word-of-mouth efforts,” said Friedman-Wilson.

Other major engagement programs include Pitch for Scouting, a partnership with professional baseball that will take place at baseball parks spring through fall.

The centennial celebrations aim to not only recruit more Boy Scouts and volunteers, but also help the 300 local councils across the US improve their financial stability and viability. For the last 10 to 15 years, BSA has seen a decrease in registered members, which currently number about 2.7 million Boy Scouts, according to Friedman-Wilson.

“We refer to our 100th Anniversary celebration as ‘purpose-driven' because it is all about delivering results to make the Boy Scouts of America stronger for our next century of service,” Bob Mersereau, national director, BSA 100th Anniversary Project, told PRWeek in a statement. “Even our tagline, ‘Celebrating the Adventure, Continuing the Journey' gets at that future-focused approach.”

In the lead up to its 100th anniversary, BSA has also increased its media outreach. Fleishman has positioned chief scout executive Bob Mazzuca as a brand ambassador in media. BSA also adopted social media channels, Facebook and Twitter, to connect with both scouts and volunteers. “For a number of years, the BSA found itself in a bunker mentality,” said Friedman-Wilson. “Now it is spending more time proactively communicating the value of Scouting.”

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