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New National Chair Visits Philmont

Brad Tilden, recently appointed National Chair of Scouts BSA, and former CEO of Alaska Airlines, visited Philmont the first week of June. Tilden is a volunteer member of the National Key Three, along with the National Commissioner and Chief Scout Executive. Tilden’s new duties as National Chair include strategizing, overseeing execution of that strategy, and hiring the Chief Scout Executive. This strategy includes developing the BSA in the following 5 ways:

1. Lead the nation in safety for youth programs.

2. Dramatically improve the relationship between councils and national service.

3. Make sure the program becomes fully relevant and digitized for youth.

4. Broaden the appeal of BSA outside of traditional scouting families.

5. Strengthen the BSA’s financial position.

“I really hope to lead the BSA in a way where people can do their best and Philmont can be their best. But what you really want is people that are passionate, motivated, talented, and have the free reign to go out and do the great things that they want to do.”

Tilden spent 31 years working for Alaska Airlines, but Scouting never left him. 25 years ago, a neighbor extended an invite to a scouting breakfast, unaware of Tilden’s experience in scouting. Next thing he knew, Tilden was invited to serve as a board member for the Chief Seattle Council Board member before joining the National Finance Board in 2014.

“No one asked me to become the National Chair 20 years ago but.. you just keep hanging around, try to be productive, try to be helpful, try to bring something that other people aren’t bringing, and people will invite you to do new things.”

Tilden’s scouting experience starts with his family environment growing up in Huntsville, Alabama. Tilden recounts the envy he felt watching his brothers pack their footlockers before leaving for summer camp.

“I remember being a little guy just jumping off the bed. I was going crazy. I wanted to go to camp so bad. And I didn’t get to go, they got to go. I do remember years later, I got to pack my own foot locker.. and it was as good as I imagined. Camp is a good place to be.”

Tilden first laid eyes on Philmont two years ago, where he fell in love with the landscape. He emphasizes the importance of Philmont, and high adventure in general, as a place where young adults go to keep themselves engaged with nature when their interest might be waning in Scouts.

“It keeps the interest of a scout after they’ve done their 50 miles, or their canoe trip, or they’ve achieved the rank they’re going to achieve, and they’re looking for the next big thing. And you’re out here camping at 10,000 feet. This is a real experience.”

Tilden sees Philmont sticking around for the next ‘500 years’. The types of experiences we create are something that he still values today.

Tilden said to the staff of Philmont, “You may think you’re only doing something that’s an 18 to 21 year old activity.. But I don’t think its a transitory or temporary thing. You’re imprinting them with a really special experience that they’ll that they’ll hang on to. It will affect how they live their lives.”

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