Name: Golden Gate Area Council
Location: Pleasanton, California
Established: April 2020
NESA Committee Established: 2020
Scout Executive: Mike Hale
NESA Chairman: Calvin Masuda
NESA Staff Advisor: Frank Yoke III
The Golden Gate Area Council (GGAC) was founded in April 2020 via a merger of the Alameda, Mount Diablo Silverado, and San Francisco Area Councils. The merger provided the newly formed NESA committee with two challenges: The first was operating within the newly enlarged council territory involving fourteen districts covering six counties. The second was the merger of two Eagle Scout Alumni groups, the San Francisco Bay Area Council’s NESA Committee and the Las Aguilas de Diablo of the former Mt Diablo Silverado Council. Outstanding Eagle Scout and NESA Life Member Calvin Masuda was selected to lead the newly formed GGAC NESA Committee through the challenges.
“As a Lifetime member of NESA, it is always an honor to remember my journey towards the rank of Eagle Scout and desire for all Scouts to have that same opportunity and experience. Remembering when NESA was first created in the early 70s, it has been a great part of Scouting which brings together all Eagles, having that common experience and camaraderie of being part of the small number of Scouts who achieve Scouting’s highest rank. Local councils such as the Golden Gate Area Council strive to recognize all new Eagles at a council level and bring together all Eagles, reuniting them and their Scouting values, upholding the three parts of the Scout oath; Duty to God & Country, Duty to Others and Duty to Self. Across our great nation, we are proud to help keep Eagles engaged through the National Eagle Scout Association. Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle!”
One step forward in meeting the committee’s challenges was establishing a subdomain on the council’s website (https://eagles.ggacbsa.org/). The creation of the website served three purposes.
(1) The first was to preserve the NESA history of the legacy councils and to maintain GGAC’s history moving forward.
(2)The second was to provide a centralized location that could reach all corners of the council to share NESA and Eagle Scout-related information.
As a result of the website’s success, the GGAC’s Advancement Committee partnered with the NESA Committee to develop a Trail to Eagle section of the website, meant to give a standardized road map for all council Eagle Scout Candidates.
(3)The final objective was to bring award and scholarship nominations and applications to the digital age. Modernization was vital as it reduced barriers for individuals to submit the forms and was necessary due to issues related to COVID. Accepting all digital submissions allowed the selection committees to meet online while accessing the same information equally.
As a result of COVID and California’s response programs, many of GGAC’s NESA Committee plans were put on hold or done virtually. One example was a virtual recognition ceremony for the Inaugural Class of Female Eagles. The ceremony was streamed live on a private domain and Facebook Live. Being a virtual event gave the committee a unique opportunity to archive the ceremony on YouTube (https://youtu.be/m7SkCG_hiEY).
The Golden Gate Area Council held its first Eagle Scout recognition ceremony in May this year. However, planning for the event began in 2019 by one of the legacy alumni groups, Las Aguilas, within their legacy council. Las Aguilas could not hold the event due to the pandemic but has already made a financial deposit reserving a venue and food. During the past year and a half, the Las Aguilas Dinner Committee worked with the new GGAC NESA Committee to host the first GGAC recognition event, marking another in a series of “firsts” for the new council.
The event occurred at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, with the program occurring among the museum’s classic car collection. The evening included self-introductions by new Eagle Scouts, Quartermasters, and Summit awardees in attendance and remarks from GGAC NESA Chairman Calvin Masuda and Scout Executive Mike Hale. Recognitions included the presentation of local scholarships and the National Service Territory 3 Eagle Project of the Year Award to Apara Sai Jella, the recently announced National Winner. The program concluded with a keynote address by Eagle Scout Rear Admiral Peter E Gautier of the United States Coast Guard. Distinguished Eagle Scouts Brian Thiessen, and Bill Baker were in attendance, with Bill serving as event master of ceremonies.
Eagle Scout, NESA Member, and GGAC Scout Executive Mike Hale shared his thoughts on the benefits of having a NESA Committee in the council:
“I have been a part of several different councils. I know from comparison that the Golden Gate Area Council has a top notch NESA Committee that is focused on engagement. Our team really gets the importance of maintaining contact with our nearly 30,000 Eagle Scouts and how that relationship can benefit our council, outreach to the communities we serve, and how it can perpetuate our movement for the future.”