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Scouting chief talks on goals, challenges

As the Boy Scouts of America prepare to celebrate their 100th anniversary next year, they're proud of how far they've come. Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca told the Modesto Rotary Club on April 28 that his organization serves 3 million youth and remains financially strong.

The Scouts have raised more money each year than the year before for nearly 40 years, with the exception of 2002 because of the fallout from Sept. 11, he said.

Yet, somehow, many people think Scouting no longer exists, said Mazzuca, who started his Scouting career in Modesto. When he travels on airplanes, the No. 1 question he gets from his seatmates is "Are the Scouts still around?"

Mazzuca moved to Modesto in 1971, serving as district executive and Exploring executive. He became a Scout executive in Stockton in 1983. Now based in Dallas, he has been chief scout executive since September 2007.

In his Modesto talk, he outlined the benefits of Scouting and why it is needed. Boy Scouts help young men become self-sufficient and contributing members of society, he said. In today's turbulent world, boys need that more than ever, Mazzuca said. "They need a firm foundation on which to build lives of service and achievement," he said.

He said he is proud that more than 52,000 Scouts became Eagles, Boy Scouts' highest rank, in 2008.

The Scouts are updating themselves by embracing blogs and designing an iPod pocket in the shirt sleeve of the new Boy Scout uniform, Mazzuca said. They're trying to broaden their base by reaching out to Latinos. In May, Mazzuca launched an initiative to double Latino membership by the end of 2010. There are about 100,000 Latino members right now.

He added that the group is working to reinvent itself. "It's coming to grips with modern parents, modern kids."