In a place that never really dresses up, they’re preparing for a party.

“This weekend’s gonna be wonderful,” says Grant Riegelman, of the Mid-Iowa Council of Scouts. “We’re celebrating our 100th birthday at Camp Mitigwa.”

100 years of getting Iowa kids outside to find out what’s inside.

“It’s a chance for us to show not only our Scouts but also our supporters over the years where Mitigwa’s come over the last hundred years,” says Mid-Iowa Council CEO, Matt Hill, “but also what our vision is for the next hundred years.”

The last century finished with a flurry of gut punches, and the wounds are still fresh.

The derecho left brush piles and the pandemic left stories.

“That summer, the kids cooked in the campsites instead of the dining hall,” Hill says.

But the toughest part of all has been the change in the numbers.

In the 1970s, there were nearly five million Boy Scouts in America. Today there are just one million–and they aren’t all boys.

“We’re starting to see more girls join the program,” says Hill, who has an 8-year-old daughter in Cub Scouts. “And they have the same experiences that the boys do. They do the same activities, they camp out just like the boys do, and it’s been incredible to see.”

The girls have helped the numbers, but they haven’t solved the problem.

“I think it is harder to get young people to focus on Scouting,” Riegelman says, “because there’s so many other things going on in their lives.”

They can’t experience Mitigwa’s new climbing course on an iPhone. They won’t find a rifle range online. And the lessons and legends will only be learned and earned in a place like this.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed,” says Hill, “is the Scout Oath and Law and the values that we’re instilling in our scouts, and I believe that those values are just as important now if not more important than they were a hundred years ago.”