As vice president of Marketing and Communications for the National Eagle Scout Association, I consider it part of my responsibility to actively listen to and consider Scouting-related comments from the Eagle Scout community, on social media, via email, or in conversations. Most Eagle Scouts I meet are faithful, level-headed, and examples of daily living guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. They personify the tenet that “an Eagle badge is not just something we wear on our uniform; it is an ideal we carry in our hearts” and serve as examples to follow.
I also recognize that misinformation can lead to inaccurate perceptions. As Eagle Scouts are considered bastions of integrity for the Boy Scouts of America, I’d like to clear up some of those misconceptions that are causing consternation across the NESA organization.
In this role, I hope to broadly communicate the issues that matter to NESA members, including some of the following common concerns and perceptions:
- Membership cost increase
- The discontinuation of the printed Eagles’ Call magazine
- The quality of membership certificates and cards
- Accessibility of NESA member services
I’m happy to address each of these points.
Membership Price Increase
Just as you and your family must keep pace with rising costs, so must NESA. In 2022, NESA raised membership fees for the privilege of being a member of this organization. Your membership fee is not simply a price you pay for a certificate and membership card, or for a listing on your résumé. NESA membership fees fund, among other things, the association’s most important service to the BSA: scholarships for Eagle Scouts.
The NESA Committee studied similar alumni organizations and found our current fee structure to be in line for value-added and for the prestige of membership.
A wholehearted thanks to all who continue to support NESA through NESA membership and donations to scholarship funds and the NESA Legacy Society. Your gifts and memberships are the heart of our organization and allow us to perpetuate the mission, values, and time-honored traditions of Scouting.
Eagles’ Call Magazine Gets a New Format
Even TIME magazine has gone to an online-only format. NESA has launched Eagles’ Call Insider––a regular e-newsletter boasting exclusive Eagle Scout content and emailed only to NESA members. NESA volunteers and staff now create as much as 80 percent of the content in Eagles’ Call Insider, and many of the much-loved sections of the printed magazine, such as Faces & Places, are recreated digitally.
Quality of Membership Items
The cost of the swag delivered with a NESA membership has also been hit by increasing printing and postage costs. We recognize the symbolic value of such items as certificates and membership cards, and we still want to maintain our posture as a good steward of resources. The national staff has negotiated costs to provide the current level of membership merchandise and reduce turn-around time from 90 days to approximately two weeks. NESA wants the majority of your membership fees to go toward the work of the organization (i.e., scholarships and other services), so we strive to keep costs as low as possible while maintaining the highest possible quality. For example, in 2020 the cost of a single membership packet was $10.80—almost half of the traditional new member fee at the time. These changes help put your gifts to NESA work for Eagle Scouts!
Over the past three years, the NESA team at the National Service Center has been streamlined and has welcomed a new director with an amazing vision for our future. In the span of a year, the national staff have helped rebuild the fundamentals of our membership program. But that’s just a start.
We are working hard to deliver tools that help you get engaged and get the most out of your NESA membership. Here are some examples:
- Get involved with your local NESA council committee by using the new NESA council committee finder.
- Update your address and email information using SPARK! the new BSA Alumni Directory.
- Questions? Send us an email using this form. We have a dedicated team of volunteers who have spent countless hours cleaning a backlog of emails that accumulated during staff transitions at the national office. To date, they have responded to more than 10,000 emails!
- Engage with your fellow Eagles on the NESA Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages.
NESA Is You
As Eagle Scouts, we are charged with encouraging both those Scouts who follow in our footsteps and the public who has its eye on us at all times.
Ask yourself why you joined NESA in the first place? Perhaps, when you were a young Eagle Scout, it was for the pin and the membership card so you could show your Eagle pride. But maybe now, it’s about giving your Eagle pride a purpose by perpetuating the mission, values, and time-honored traditions of Scouting for future generations. Maybe now you’re in a place where you can give back through Scholarship donations or by becoming a member of the NESA Legacy Society.
We need all Eagle Scouts to do their part to recruit members to NESA. Have you recruited new members so we have a dynamic, diverse group of leaders charting the future of Scouting and NESA? Every single Eagle Scout should have a role in NESA, such as participating on a NESA committee so the organization reflects the vision of its members. If your council does not have a NESA committee, consider this your challenge to establish one! Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.
While the National Eagle Scout Association has a national mandate, just as all Scouting is local so is NESA. NESA is you—and YOUR Association is only as strong as its members. So while they might not be the same tools as when you joined, you have the tools you need to make an impact, right where you are.
We need your help, and we want to get to know you. I urge you to reach out with an open mind and a servant leader’s spirit.
It’s Up To You
This is a critical time for the BSA and for the future of American Scouting. As perhaps the most recognizable Scouts in our nation today, Eagle Scouts have a heavy task to help ensure the mission, values, and time-honored traditions of Scouting are available for future generations. Whether you are leading, following, communicating, or setting an example, there is always room for improvement.
Here are some ways you can help NESA and steer Scouting’s future through your local council’s NESA Committee:
- Provide mentoring, leadership, andfinancial support for members to attend college and trade schools
- Nominate the best Eagle Scout projects, and join Eagle Affinity groups such as the military, first responders, firefighters, law enforcement, and education.
- Honor truly Outstanding and Distinguished Eagle Scouts by nominating worthy Eagle Scouts for awards.
- Support the National Order of the Arrow Conferences, Jamborees, and National Annual Meetings by attending these events as a NESA representative.
I ask you to take a moment to consider how you will commit yourself to the future of Scouting through NESA.
In closing, remember: We are the Boy Scouts of America—we reflect American culture and its values. The millions of American Scouts, Scouters, and Eagle Scouts, from all walks of life, represent what is right with America.
We can and will do better, but only if we can work together to lead, follow, or—(gasp)—get out of our own way!