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OFFBEAT: Happy 100th birthday today to Boy Scouts of America
ANOTHER FIFTY YEARS - - The Boy Scouts of America are congratulated on the organization's 50th anniversary in this vintage 1960 celebratory poster, which depicts the marking of the event with laudatory praise from both the group's sister organization, the Camp Fire Girls and also Smokey the Bear. (BSA Archive Image)

Today marks a century of dedication for the wonderful Boy Scouts of America organization.

Growing up, I always wanted to join the Boy Scouts, but for some reason, never did.

However, my other brothers Tom and David were both Boy Scouts.

I'm grateful to reader Julius Ballanco, of Munster, who wrote to me last week to remind of today's special date.

"Phil,

I have enjoyed reading your column for a number of years.

On Feb. 8, 2010, I was hoping that you would mention that it is the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts of America. While the celebration is all year, this is the official birth date of the organization. I hope that Calumet Council has provided you with all the information regarding scouting so you can write about it.

We have a number of special events all year. There is an Adventure Base 100 on April 28 to May 2 on the South Side of Chicago. The Boy Scout councils from the Chicagoland area will all participate with demonstrations of scouting and opportunities for boys to experience scouting.

One of the biggest events will be held July 31 at The Gary Railcats Stadium.

The program is called 'A Shining Light Across America.' The public is invited to this event to witness what scouting does and what it is all about. In the evening, there will be a live broadcast from the National Jamboree in Virginia. Of course, many scouts from Calumet Council will attend the National Jamboree.

We also plan on erecting a monument to '100 years of Scouting' in front of the Calumet Council headquarters in Munster. The plans will be unveiled on Feb.

19. The monument will feature a 6-foot tall sculpture of 'the Ideal Boy Scout.' We are currently planning to embark on a fundraising program to support this monument. The chairman of our Centennial Committee is Todd Dykton, of Crete.

Thank you for all that you do.

Julius Ballanco"

Thank you for your kind e-mail, Julius.

The Boy Scouts of America continue to be one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with more than four million youth members, ages 7 to 18 involved in its age-related divisions. More than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA since it began in 1910.

It was in 1909, when Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce was visiting London, that he encountered the "Unknown Scout" to learn of the scouting movement. He returned to the U.S. and started the organization.

Cub Scouting is the largest of the three programs, available to boys from first to fifth-grade or 7 to 11-1/2 years.

The program, designed to pursue the aims of character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness, is divided into age-based levels of Tiger Cubs, Wolf Cubs, Bear Cubs and Webelos Scouts.

Ever since the Boy Scouts of America's founding in 1910, the President of the United States has served as the organization's honorary president during his term in office. Those members who complete the entire scouting program can be become an Eagle Scout, with the first having been Arthur Rose Eldred. Less than 1.5 million boys have reached Eagle in the 100 years (15,000 a year, roughly). Only two to five of every 100 who joins the scouts ever make Eagle -- that's less than 1 percent of the male population.

There have been many famous men with Boy Scout backgrounds, from U.S Presidents to director Steven Spielberg (who helped launch a merit badge in cinematography) to hot air balloon adventurer Steve Fossett.

More than two thirds of all astronauts have had some type of involvement in scouting, and 11 of the 12 men to walk on the moon were Scouts, including Eagle Scouts Neil Armstrong and Charlie Duke.

Here are some of the famous men who began their successful lives as Boy Scouts: actors Richard Dean Anderson and Jimmy Stewart, singer Jimmy Buffett, U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S President Bill Clinton, Newsman Walter Cronkite, actors Harrison Ford and John Schneider, businessman Bill Gates, actors Richard Gere, John Ritter and Andy Griffith, Newsman David Hartman, Olympic stars Dan Jansen, Mark Spitz and Bruce Jenner, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, singers Paul McCartney, Jim Morrison and Eddie Rabbitt.

And even a step further, here are some of the men to make the rank of Eagle Scout: baseball star Hank Aaron, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Sen. Michael Dukakis, U.S. President Gerald Ford, sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Sen. Richard Lugar, director Michael Moore, actor Ozzie Nelson, U.S. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, singer John Tesh and Walmart founder Sam Walton.

The Boy Scouts of America are very particular about how and when the Boy Scout uniforms and insignia can be used in film and other portrayals. Therefore, their organization is often just parodied with a similar name as opposed to having go through the legal wranglings to get permission.

However, one notable exception to the policy was when permission was granted for the final scene in the June 2007 series finale of the HBO show "The Sopranos," when the character Tony Soprano (apparently about to be murdered) sits down to dinner in a restaurant and at another table, he sees several Webelos Scouts, in full uniform, seated and waiting to be served.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or 219.852.4327.

Today's Celebrity Birthdays

Actor Jack Larson (Jimmy Olson, "Superman" series) is 82. Composer-conductor John Williams is 78. ABC News anchor Ted Koppel is 70. Actor Nick Nolte is 69. Comedian Robert Klein is 68. Actor-guitarist Creed Batton ("The Office") (The Grass Roots) is 67. Actress Brooke Adams is 61. Actress Mary Steenburgen is 57. Author John Grisham is 55. Singer Vince Neil of Motley Crue and singer-guitarist Sammy Llanas of The BoDeans are 49. Actor Gary Coleman is 42. Actress Mary McCormack and guitarist Keith Nelson of Buckcherry are 41. Actor Seth Green is 36. Bassist Phoenix of Linkin Park is 33. Actor Josh Keaton (Disney's "Hercules") is 31. Bassist Jeremy Davis of Paramore is 25. Drummer Max Grahn of Carolina Liar is 22. Actress Karle Warren ("Judging Amy") is 18.

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