The Boy Scouts celebrated the official opening of a unique recruitment center Saturday with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall.
Video games, athletic leagues, more stringent academic commitments and even politics have eroded the ranks of the nation's Boy Scouts over the decades. The Discovery Outpost is an attempt to market Scouting and recruit youngsters -- about 1,000 to 1,500 more a year -- to the century-old "youth development" program.
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"We'd be thrilled if we could reach those numbers," said Matt Thornton, interim Scout executive of the Northwest Suburban Council. "And this is the first one ever, so we're just finding out what works best."
A team of students from Hoffman Estates High School built a Scout-themed Rube Goldberg machine to cut the ceremonial ribbon at Saturday's unveiling. Combining elements of camping, fishing and the Scouts' renowned pinewood derby, the machine was touched off by Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson and ended with an oversized pair of scissors cutting the ribbon remotely.
Scouts from all over participated in the celebration and urged any youngsters with an interest to visit the center.
"It's really fun and you should join because I have lots of friends you can meet," explained Simon Keller, an 8-year-old Cub Scout from Palatine.
"Scouting is a commitment, but it's not your whole life," said Matt Pierucci, a 16-year-old Eagle Scout from Park Ridge. "You can be a Scout and still do everything else. Scouting is a great way to sharpen your leadership skills while having fun with friends."
The Discovery Outpost is open during regular mall hours and is located just outside the first floor Macy's entrance