As the leaves begin to change and the weather becomes colder, we know that fall is upon us. And with that, we know that thousands of new Scouts and their families are experiencing the magic of Scouting for the very first time. As we look forward to another great year of Scouting in our Laurel Highlands Council, I wanted to take a moment and share several updates and highlights from the leading youth development movement in the communities we serve.

Outdoor Adventure and Program
At the core of every Scouting experience is a strong year-round program complemented with a great summer camping experience. We are proud to share some of our camping highlights to date, which include:
  • This summer, our multiple residential and day camps played host to nearly 7,000 youth who experienced the great outdoors, spent time with their friends, and earned Scouting advancements. This is due, in no small part, to our over 300 dedicated seasonal camp staff who spent months preparing for and delivering a world-class program.
  • 299 youth had a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, WV. For 10 days, these youth were able to experience all that Scouting has to offer including two special performances by X-Ambassadors, Jessie Christ, and Plain White T's and headlined by Scouting's very own Class A.

In line with our continued focus on improving the physical plant of our multiple properties, several capital improvements were made including:
  • Hunter's Iron Works, a new 20 lane rifle range at Heritage Reservation.
  • The consolidation of the Camp Liberty and Freedom's Ecology and STEM programs to one location and expanding the program, including adding robotics.
  • Five new comfort stations at Camps Liberty and Freedom
  • Completely refurbished amphitheater stage with custom fire pits at Camp Seph Mack.

Membership Growth & Youth Retention
Membership growth is not simply reflective of a number, but rather a quantifiable way to show how many lives we are changing. The tides continue to change in the Laurel Highlands Council with measurable and sustained success in the area of membership growth and retention, including:
  • So far this fall, nearly 1,700 new families have been welcomed into a new Pack or Troop throughout our council.
  • September marked our council's seventh consecutive month of membership growth.
  • Nearly 20 new packs, troops, and crews have been started in 2017.
  • Our new Scout Fishing Derbies have been a popular success. Just this weekend, over 200 new Cub Scouts attended and had a blast at their first Scouting event!

Fundraising Growth
Fundraising is the fuel that drives our growth in program, membership, and property improvements. While the philanthropic landscape continues to present some challenges, 2017 has been a year of significant growth in our fundraising operations.
  • Year to date, thanks to the generosity of thousands of donors, our council has raised nearly $200,000 more than it did in 2016.
  • Foundation support continues to be a strength of the council, and we are very grateful to our foundation partners including the RK Mellon Foundation, The Education Foundation, The Edith Trees Foundation, PNC Charitable Trust, and so many more!
  • Our council's special events this year have provide a wonderful venue to raise money and awareness and we were very excited to have several exciting keynote speakers who helped us advance our mission including Pittsburgh Steeler great Brett Keisel and United State Senator and Eagle Scout Pat Toomey.

As you can see, there have been wonderful things happening here in your Laurel Highlands Council and we anticipate even greater things happening before the year closes. I extend my personal thanks and the thanks of every Scout we serve for everything you have and continue to do to lead and drive us to success.

In closing, as part of our continued efforts to serve and engage with every district in every corner of our council, I want to extend a personal invitation to visit with me or a member of your council's leadership team at an upcoming meet & greet at the Cumberland Scout Shop on October 12 from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM or at the Johnstown Galleria Scout Shop on October 19 from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM .

Yours in Scouting,
Scout Executive/CEO