Boy Scouts Celebrate 100 Years of Camping, Service

"Well, I heard that my grandfather and my dad was in it. [They] told me about camping trips. And I decided to join up 'cause I heard about all the fun stuff that they do in it," he said. He's quickly earning merit badges, and he hopes to make Eagle Scout in just three years.

Famous Alumni Shaped America

Supporters say the scouting experience builds strong, confident leaders. They point with considerable pride to its roster of former Scouts who went on to great achievement, including President Kennedy, astronaut Neil Armstrong, baseball great Hank Aaron and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

"I think the Scouts have changed America profoundly, because as of now, 110 million people have worn the Scout uniform in one way or another. And the moral lesson and the experiences that have been imparted to them have obviously percolated through society as a whole just too profound to really enumerate," said Wills.

But in recent years, the Boy Scouts of America has hit some rough times. The association has been rocked by controversies over allegations of sexual abuse by adult leaders and its refusal to accept gays, girls or atheists.

And membership has declined steadily. Today it's down to 4 million as young boys find other ways to fill their time.

Still, its supporters say scouting is as relevant as ever, and that as long as America needs leaders, it will need the Boys Scouts of America to help form them.

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