W.D. Boyce Council marks 50 years of Central Illinois Boy Scouts with 18 month-long celebration
The W.D. Boyce Council for the Boy Scouts of America just hit its 50-year anniversary since the council was formed. To celebrate, the next 18 months will be filled with various service opportunities and educational events for scout troops in Central Illinois.
The council was named after William Dickson Boyce, a former Ottawa newspaper publisher who played a role in the development of scouting in the United States in the early 1900s.
Today, the W.D. Boyce council consists of 14 counties in Central Illinois.
Ben Blumenberg is the scout executive and CEO of the W.D. Boyce Council.
Blumenberg said the 50-year celebration is about instilling scouting’s values through being engaged in their communities.
“We’re encouraging all of our packs, troops [and] crews to continue their community service but to do it in a “50 mindset.” Build 50 birdhouses for a local park, do 50 hours of community service, read 50 books in the senior citizen home, anything 50 centered,” Blumenberg said.
Blumenberg said these next 18 months will feature not only service opportunities but fun activities for scouts and their families to do together, such as camporees and a council-wide Klondike derby.
“The most important thing that kids walk away from scouting with are the character and values that scouting instills,” Blumenberg said. “It’s character, citizenship, leadership, physical and mental and emotional fitness.”
Blumenberg said it is important for kids to learn about these scouting values through community service and outdoor adventure, especially today.
“We know that outdoor time is good for kids’ mental and social development. We know that kids who spend time in the outdoors have a lower incident of depression, and we know that kids who are paired with great adults in the outdoors are best off,” Blumenberg said. “They thrive. They score better in schools, they end up being more productive adults, and that’s what scouting’s all about.”
Phil Jordan is on the board of directors for the W.D. Boyce Council. Jordan said now more than ever, families should consider the importance of becoming involved in scouting.
“We really believe that the numbers tell a story. In 50 years, the W.D. Boyce council has served 200,000 scouts, about 6,300 Eagle Scouts, which is considered the top of scouting, and then 1.7 million hours of service to the community in 14 counties throughout all of central Illinois working in parks fixing trails, putting up bridges, helping clean up trash, stuff like that, [which] scouts use for service hours,” Jordan said.
Field director for the council Charlie Zimmerman said scouting is not only about the lessons scouts learn while serving their communities.
“I think sometimes, people get lost in that. Scouting is a fun activity. It’s fun for the kids, it’s fun for their parents, it’s fun for the volunteers. So, you get that combination of the fun with the values, and it becomes a very rewarding experience that really transcends generations,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman himself is a self-described ‘lifelong scout’ after joining as a child, volunteering and eventually working with the council. He said there is nothing more he would rather do than pour his time into scouting.
“Kids are in sports, kids are in school activities, kids are studying, parents are busy with their work. This is an opportunity for families to come together and spend time together, and that quality time is hard to find these days. That’s something we offer.”Charlie Zimmerman, field director for W.D. Boyce council
“I’m able to give back to an organization that gave me so much as a youth. This is just my perfect opportunity to share what I learned and my experiences and give back,” Zimmerman said.
With that, he hopes families see and take advantage of opportunities to grow through scouting.
“Kids are in sports, kids are in school activities, kids are studying, parents are busy with their work. This is an opportunity for families to come together and spend time together, and that quality time is hard to find these days. That’s something we offer,” Zimmerman said.