Boy Scouts of America will celebrate 50th birthday in 2023

Celebration held in Peru for organization with roots in Ottawa

Mary Johnson, director of the Cub Scout Day Camp at St. Bede Academy in Peru, introduces Cub Scout campers to her friend the bearded dragon June 16.

The W. D. Boyce Council, Boys Scouts of America, will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2023.

More than 100 cheering, shouting Cub Scouts greeted Scout Executive Ben Blumenberg as he visited the Wild West Cub Scout Day Camp at St. Bede Academy in Peru and told them what is in store in the next 18 months.

“Fifty years is a long time,” he said. “We need you to tell your friends and keep reminding people about the fun and adventure you and your family have in Scouts. And you can make the birthday party last all year if you ‘think 50′ for the next year and a half.”

Among the suggestions: Meetings with a “50″ themes, giving 50 hours to a community service project, collecting food for 50 people, sending 50 cards to nursing home residents and picking up 50 pieces of litter.

The coming months also will feature events and activities that draw attention to five decades for Scouts of all ages, including a Klondike Derby in January 2023 and Council-wide Camporee in fall 2023.

A 50th anniversary history book is being written, as well as a collectible patch and other items.

Nearly 5,000 youth and 1,800 volunteers are active in 187 units across the region. Core programs include Cubs Scouts (boys and girls grades kindergarten through fifth grade), Scouts BSA (co-ed youth 11 to 17 years old) and Venturing (co-ed youth 14 to 20 years old), along with Sea Scouting, Exploring and STEM Scouts (co-ed youth 14 to 20 years old).

The Scouts’ history is rooted in Ottawa.

The W. D. Boyce Council was formed in 1973 from the merger of three regional councils, including the Starved Rock Council based in Ottawa. Scouting has been in Central Illinois since the 1920s.

The council’s name recognizes William Dickson Boyce, the Ottawa newspaper publisher who brought Scouting from England to America in 1910. He is buried at Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa.

Ottawa also is home to the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum, 1100 Canal St.

The W. D. Boyce Council covers most of Central Illinois, from Lincoln and Clinton in the south to Ottawa and Princeton in the north, from Pekin, Peoria and Canton in the west to Bloomington and Pontiac in the east.

The council has served about 200,000 youth since 1973, with 6,300 achieving Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting. Scouts have performed an estimated 1.7 million service hours in communities across 14 counties, everything from food collection to historic preservation and conservation.

“Scouting thrives because it has adapted to changing times without straying from its core values and purpose,” said Phil Jordan, a longtime Scouter and member of the council board of directors. “The W. D. Boyce Council is proud to have had such a positive impact so many young lives over the past 50 years.”

Details of 50th anniversary events and activities are at wdboyce.org/50th.