Robert Mazzuca: We have to become more effective in the use of technology and in the whole world of cyberspace. MySpace, YouTube -- places like that where kids spend an inordinate amount of time engaging with each other and engaging with ideas. We have not been particularly effective in being creative in that arena and my goal short-term and intermediate term is the drive to understand that world to the point where we could actually participate in the dialogue that happens there.
However, the magic of scouting begins outdoors. Challenging them both physically and mentally teaches them leadership skills. You can't do that in a virtual environment. But if where they are right now is in that virtual world, then the best chance of having them come with us on this adventure in the outdoors is to figure out how to deal in that world.
Forbes.com: What are some of the challenges the organization faces in getting young men into the classic outdoor activities the Boy Scouts are known for, and then keep their interest?
Robert Mazzuca: We have an epidemic of childhood obesity in our country. And I think a large part of that has to do with the sedentary nature of our children's lives today. A lot of that has to do with them being in front of a keyboard or in front of some sort of electronic engagement.
The highly competitive, good athletes will always find a place to exercise that highly competitive skill. But in the real world most kids are not highly competitive, good athletes. They're just kids. They want to be kids. They need an opportunity to be kids and the opportunity to exercise. It's things like scouting that we're going to have to rely on if we're going to have healthy children.
Once we get them, they stay interested.
Forbes.com: How do you keep the interest of young men when there are so many other extracurricular activities to choose from?
Robert Mazzuca: Our biggest problem frankly isn't so much an issue of getting kids involved, but we have to be able to articulate our message better to parents who make decisions about how they and their children are going to engage with their time. Our objective is to help parents make rational and intelligent decisions.
We're not a recreational organization. Our goal is not to teach kids how to build fires and pitch tents. That's the laboratory in which we do the things that we do, which have to do with character and leadership and all the things that scouting brings to a young kid's formation.
Forbes.com: What's planned for the 100th anniversary of the organization in 2010?
Robert Mazzuca: This is the absolute quintessential opportunity to reintroduce scouting to the American people. I really believe that we're making a huge mistake as an organization if all we do is celebrate our past. If we don't use this as an opportunity to put a stake in the ground and proclaim our future, we've missed it completely.
We have mission-driven projects ramping up now, encouraging every community in America to celebrate in their own way, but around the same messages we're trying to accomplish.