2023 was a record year on multiple fronts for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) LaSalle Council. Out of 245 Boy Scout councils nationwide, the LaSalle Council ranked second in percentage growth last year with a 21% growth rate of new Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA youth members.
Other points of growth include the addition of many female scouts, increasing by approximately 7%, and new programs for Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops, increasing by 5%. More than 500 new volunteers were recruited, which is about 5% growth, and hundreds more parents throughout Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan have become engaged with scouting.
“The excitement and energy surrounding the recent achievements of the BSA LaSalle Council is like nothing I’ve ever seen before in my career. We’re not just growing – we’re thriving – and this momentum is showing no sign of slowing down,” said John M. Cary, CEO, of BSA LaSalle Council.
“The factors behind this are crystal clear. We grew because we have great partnerships with our schools, we have great volunteers, and we were able to maximize a Lilly Endowment gift that allowed us to make scouting affordable for kids in economically challenged areas,” Cary added.
The Lilly Endowment has funded the LaSalle Council with $1.35 million over three years (2023-2025) to expand programming into diverse communities throughout Indiana counties. Through that gift and support from the local community, the council was able to provide over 600 kids with a scouting program during or after school in 2023. Four weeks of summer STEM Day Camps were also added, of which 500 kids participated. Those partnerships are projected to grow even more in 2024.
The council also created the first Latino-based scouting program, which is a fully functional program in Elkhart County that has over 30 kids enrolled. This program is expected to serve as a model for future growth.
Additionally, the LaSalle Council invested over $1 million in camp properties last year. For example, at Camp ToPeNeBee located just outside of Michigan City, the council partnered with the United States Marine Corp. to establish three new storm shelters and three new program-delivery pavilions. The goal of that investment was to improve safety for scouts during inclement weather. Plus, the new pavilions provide space that will be used for activities year-round.
“Going forward, these recent achievements provide us with a new baseline from which to expand, and even more opportunities for a very bright future for all of our scouts. And we’re ready for it!” Cary said. The LaSalle County of the BSA is made up of Saint Joseph, Marshall, LaPorte, Elkhart, Starke, and Porter Counties in Indiana and Berrien and Cass Counties in Michigan.