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Published October 17 2011

Boy Scouts of America chief executive to speak in Fargo

FARGO – Since Bob Mazzuca became chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America in 2007, he’s been on a mission to get the nation excited again about the 101-year-old organization.

That means travel, and lots of it: Last year, Mazzuca spent 232 nights in hotel rooms. He’s visited every state in the country to date, with one exception: North Dakota.

That will change Wednesday when Mazzuca comes to Fargo as part of a three-city tour to visit and honor local scouting groups.

“You’ve got a great Boy Scout Council,” Mazzuca said in a phone interview Monday in advance of his visit. “I want to tell them how proud I am of them.”

His first stop in North Dakota will be Minot, where he’s touring Big 4 Scout Camp, which was damaged in the city’s flooding this year. There, he’ll accept a check from local firm Ackerman-Estvold Engineering to aid with flood recovery at the camp.

From there, he heads to Bismarck to speak at the Rotary Club. He’ll present 12 Boy Scouts and adult leaders from Bismarck Troop 123 with the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, part of the organization’s new national healthy living initiative.

He said getting young people involved in active lifestyles is one of Boy Scouts’ biggest goals.

“It’s just very difficult these days,” he said. “Organizations like ours have a role and a responsibility to do something about health.”

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Mazzuca will be in Fargo to speak at Butler Machinery Co. about the importance of the organization going forward.

Boy Scouts, which turned 100 last year, has taken steps in recent years to stay relevant in an era in which outdoor recreation competes with video games and the Internet for the attention of today’s youths. Mazzuca said he’s had to convince some more-traditional scout masters, for instance, that it’s not sacrilege for Scouts to bring now-ubiquitous electronic devices on camping trips.

“That’s where they get their information,” he said. “Those are the tools of the day. “

The increased focus on technology is “brand-new territory for us,” Mazzuca said, adding there’s nothing wrong with the organization evolving to fit the times.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502