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Mike Terry, Deseret News
The color guard posts American flags at a banquet held in commemoration of the 100th birthday of the Boy Scouts of America at the Salt Palace on Thursday.

SALT LAKE CITY — The headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America may be in Texas, but the \"capital\" of the BSA is in Utah.

That's

what Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell said at what was believed to be the

largest gathering of Scouts and leaders in the nation to celebrate

American Scouting's centennial.

Some

2,500 Scouters gathered Thursday night in the Grand Ballroom of the

Salt Palace Convention Center for a sold-out anniversary gala,

sponsored by the Great Salt Lake Council of the BSA. It was truly the

celebration of a century, amid an ocean of Scout uniforms.

__IMAGE1__\"What

a hoot! Look at this,\" Robert \"Bob\" Mazzuca, the chief Scout

executive/CEO of the Boy Scouts of America from Irving, Texas, said in

amazement as he looked at the huge audience as its keynote speaker.

For the fifth consecutive year, he said, the number of Eagle Scouts earned in the nation increased.

Of

the record-high 52,470 Eagle Scout awards earned in the United States

during 2009, 5,640 of them — almost 10.8 percent of the total — came

from Utah.

\"We did not make it less difficult,\" Mazzuca said. \"Something is working out here.\"

He

reflected on the century of progress in Scouting, but stressed it is

really all about the future and the challenges that lie ahead.

\"There

are 50 million living (Scout) alumni out there. The need is enormous,\"

he said as he explained that Scouting is needed today more than ever.

The

rare \"Honor Medal with Crossed Palms\" award was also given at the gala

to two council Scouts, Cole H. Carlstrom and Clayton S. Holding. They

had both risked their lives to try and save Cole's mother in what

proved to be a fatal fall for her on Mount Olympus.

The

\"Spirit of the Eagle\" award was also given posthumously to Pfc. Aaron

Thomas Nemelka. a former Scout in the council, who lost his life at

Fort Hood last November in the service of his country.

Earlier Thursday, a special Scouting in Utah report was given to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert at the state Capitol.

\"Scouting

is strong in Utah,\" the report states, with 189,920 youth involved;

95,390 adult volunteers and 14,794 Scout units in the state.

Boy

Scouts in Utah — through its three Scout councils (Great Salt Lake,

Trapper Trails and National Parks Council) — provided 1.2 million hours

of community service during 2009, valued at nearly $25 million.

Utah

Scouts also earned 219,765 merit badges last year, and public

contributions to Scouting in 2009 totaled nearly $7.3 million through

the Friends of Scouting program.

\"Scouting

is so important as it influences our young people,\" Herbert said. If

we're concerned about the future, look to our youths and make sure they

get into Scouting, he stressed.

He also signed a proclamation declaring this week as a historic occasion for celebrating a century of American Scouting.

The BSA was incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910.

Utah

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, himself an Eagle Scout and recipient

of the Silver Beaver award, conducted the report meeting with the

governor.

\"It (Scouting) all started

with the good turn in England,\" he said, explaining Scouting is a great

tradition and something he loves.

Shurtleff

also read portions from a 1933 Boy Scout handbook that belonged to his

father, that gave examples from that era for doing a good turn. They

included: putting out a forest fire; taking a live wire to the curb;

setting a dog free from a trap; giving water to a crippled dog; or

helping an elderly woman across the street.

Some Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from the National Parks Council were dressed in vintage uniforms at the event.


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