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Why you’ll want to get to Rocket City this summer to celebrate the moon landing

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 10:00am

We’re T minus three months and counting until the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

And over at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., they’re planning a celebration worthy of the occasion.

Why Huntsville? Because that’s where scientists developed the Saturn V rocket that carried Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong and his fellow space pioneers to the moon.

Fifty years after that historic day, the Rocket Center, home to Space Camp and one of just three remaining Saturn V rockets, will host a series of epic events to honor the golden anniversary.

There’s a car show featuring vintage vehicles from the Apollo era, a Space Camp Hall of Fame dinner to honor outstanding Space Camp alumni (still waiting on my invitation!) and an attempt to break a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets at the same time.

People from all over the world will travel to Huntsville this summer, and you can join them at the once-in-a-lifetime celebration. (But if you can’t make it, keep reading to learn how you can still be part of the fun!)

Here’s the plan.

The sunset provides a beautiful backdrop for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s replica of the Saturn V rocket. An actual Saturn V rocket — one of just three in the world — is displayed inside the facility. All summer long: Space Camp and Aviation Challenge

Ever since the programs began in 1982, Space Camp and Aviation Challenge have introduced more than 800,000 young people to the wonders of space and aviation.

This summer will be an especially exciting time to visit Space Camp, because participants will get to talk to real NASA astronauts each week — May 31 to Aug. 23.

July 13: Celebration Car Show

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Celebration Car Show will feature vintage cars from the Apollo era.

The Rocket Center will select 100 cars built during the years when American and German rocketeers developed the U.S. family of rockets, from 1945 to 1975. The best entries will get hand-engraved trophies, and everyone will get to see some really cool classic cars.

Also, the Center will showcase a full-scale working replica of the Apollo Lunar Rover, built by the fine folks at Polaris.

July 13: Space Camp Hall of Fame Dinner and Ceremony

Held as part of Rocket City Summer Fest, the 12th annual Hall of Fame Dinner will honor this year’s class of outstanding Space Camp alumni. Those recipients are still to be announced.

Proceeds from the event go to the Space Camp Scholarship Fund.

Hundreds of model rockets were launched simultaneously during a test launch at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. July 16: Guinness World Record attempt

One giant rocket carrying three astronauts to the moon? That’s historic.

Five thousand model rockets launching 50 years to the minute after that historic moment? That’s record-setting.

The Rocket Center will attempt to secure a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 Estes model rockets simultaneously. The rockets will be assembled, wired and placed by trained experts — meaning this is purely a spectator event.

However, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center encourages everyone to participate wherever they are on July 16. Their motto is “any rocket, anywhere, any time of day.”

Packs, troops and crews can — and should! — build their own rockets, taking the chance to learn more about Apollo 11, which launched on July 16, 1969.

The Guinness launch will take place at 8:32 a.m. Central Time, meaning you could even time your launch to go off exactly then. In order to be counted in this worldwide event, you’ll want to sign up at this link.

July 16: Boys’ Life Facebook Live

With something this epic, you know Boys’ Life has to be there. Watch the BL Facebook and BL Instagram channels on July 16 to join the celebration wherever you are.

July 20: Rocket City Summer Fest Moon Landing Concert

Held in front of the Saturn V moon rocket, this will be an all-ages party to celebrate the moon landing.

… and more

Learn about all the fun in “The Rocket City” this summer at this page.

Seven ways Scouts and Venturers can celebrate National Park Week 2019

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 9:00am

During National Park Week, the country celebrates “America’s best idea” with nine days of adventure, service and fun.

In other words, the rest of the U.S. does exactly what Scouts do the other 51 weeks of the year.

National Park Week 2019 is so big it can’t be contained to a standard seven-day week. It runs nine days: from April 20 to 28.

With the big week approaching fast, check out seven ways to celebrate the decades-long friendship between Scouting and the National Park Service.

Acadia National Park in Maine 1. Save money on April 20, a fee-free day

National Park Week 2019 kicks off with a free-entrance day on Saturday, April 20.

Parks that normally charge an entrance fee — from Acadia National Park in Maine to Zion National Park in Utah — are free on April 20.

The fee-free list includes parks in 36 different states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Can’t make it out on April 20? Here’s a full list of this year’s fee-free days.

Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania 2. Go to a park you haven’t yet visited

Have you tried the park service’s Find a Park tool?

It lets you organize the 490 listings by state, activity (astronomy, caving, paddling) or topic (American Revolution, geology, women’s history).

When you select a state, the site gives you a fascinating “by the numbers” box detailing the National Park Service’s impact on that state. Pick Pennsylvania, for example, and you’ll see that the state has 19 national parks with more than 10 million visitors each year.

Try it with your state and find a new-to-you historic site, scenic trail or battlefield to visit during National Park Week.

3. Organize a hike + park cleanup day

Before Scouts leave a national park, monument or historic site, they do more than just clean up after themselves. They pick up other people’s trash, too, gathering garbage left by people who will never know that someone erased their trace.

We call that “leaving a place better than you found it,” and it’s one of the core tenants of Scout camping.

National Park Week, which includes Earth Day on April 22, presents a great opportunity to combine a national park visit with a cleanup project.

Contact the park before you go to learn about the area of greatest need. Unlike projects that involve trail maintenance or erosion mitigation, trash pickup requires little advance notice or lead time. All you need is some garbage bags and gloves.

4. Remember microtrash

Litter that’s small enough to be ingested by wildlife is called microtrash.

Bottle caps, gum wrappers, glass, cigarette butts, fruit labels, and other broken-down bits of trash present a danger to animals, who could choke on the items. 

The next time you’re picking up garbage, leave no detail overlooked by focusing on microtrash. Make it into a competition: The patrol or den that finds the most gets a prize.

5. Incorporate some National Park Week theme days

Each day of National Park Week has its own theme. See which one corresponds to your next pack, troop or crew meeting and make that part of the meeting plan.

  • Saturday, April 20: National Junior Ranger Day
  • Sunday, April 21: Military & Veterans Recognition Day
  • Monday, April 22: Earth Day
  • Tuesday, April 23: Transportation Tuesday
  • Wednesday, April 24: Wild Wednesday
  • Thursday, April 25: Throwback Thursday
  • Friday, April 26: Friendship Friday
  • Saturday, April 27: BARK Ranger Day
  • Sunday, April 28: Park Rx Day

6. Recognize your troop’s Eagle Scouts

Honor your Eagle Scouts at the next troop meeting with this certificate from the National Park Service.

The certificate is free to download, but it’s posted based on the honor system. That means it should only be used after the Scout earns Eagle.

7. Earn the Scout Ranger certificate or patch

The National Park Service’s Scout Ranger program encourages Scouts to build greater connections to their national parks.

There are two levels of Scout Ranger: certificate and patch.

  • Scout Ranger certificate: Scouts participate in organized education activities and/or volunteer service projects for a minimum of five hours at one or more national parks.
  • Scout Ranger patch: Scouts participate in organized educational activities and/or volunteer service projects for a minimum of 10 hours at one or more national parks.

Learn more here.

Looking for volunteer opportunities scheduled in your area? Go here.

Are dogs ticklish? And exactly what does that have to do with Scouting?

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 9:00am

The wonders of the world are all around us. And young people, like your kids and the Scouts you lead, have all kinds of questions about them.

That’s why we’re tackling kids’ toughest questions in an entertaining and educational podcast called PodAsk, brought to you by Boys’ Life. You can listen to the latest episodes now.

What is PodAsk?

Young readers and listeners can leave us anonymous voicemails asking their most puzzling questions. Quandaries so far have ranged from “Why is the sky blue?” to “Is Pizza Hut’s newest creation any good?” to “Why don’t people wear cool hats anymore?”

We take each of these questions and devote an entire episode to the topic. We play the original voicemail, talk to experts, welcome cameos from goofy guests and get to the bottom of each mystery. The result? A kid-friendly podcast you can access from your favorite podcasting platform. And it’s totally free!

How you and your Scouts can get involved in PodAsk

With 10 to 20-minute episodes at the ready for a busy Scout leader, PodAsk provides an awesome, thought-provoking gathering activity for unit meetings.

Plus, Scouts can call 214-659-1251 (with parent permission) and leave a voicemail. They might even hear their voice on an upcoming episode! They could even call in as a den, pack, troop, crew or group of friends to leave a group question. Just be sure to stay anonymous and never reveal last names.

How to support PodAsk

OK, you’ve listened. You like it. And now, you want to make sure the show lives on.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Subscribe. That’s how we know how many people are listening, and you can be sure to never miss a new episode.
  2. Share it with your fellow leaders, volunteers, parents and friends. And don’t forget to let your kids check out the show too.
  3. Give it a 5-star rating! This let’s us know you like PodAsk and want us to keep making episodes.

We’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions for future episodes, too. If you have advice, be sure to leave it in the comments below.

When do you cancel an event because of weather?

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 9:00am

You check the weather forecast a day before the troop’s campout this weekend: A 60 percent chance of thunderstorms with possible wind gusts of 30 mph. Should the campout be postponed until a weekend with more fair weather?

It can be a tough call, and there are many factors to consider — what is the terrain where the campout will be? Will you be camping in a place susceptible to flash flooding or lightning strikes? What activities are planned? Would bad weather make those activities dangerous to do? What are the typical weather patterns for the area and that time of year? Are there permanent shelters available near the campsite? What are the capabilities and experiences of your unit?

Robert Baden-Powell wrote “every Scout ought to be able to read signs of the weather” in the 1908 manual Scouting for Boys.

Reading the signs of weather is important. According to “The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety” in the Guide to Safe Scouting:

The risks of many outdoor activities vary substantially with weather conditions. Potential weather hazards and the appropriate responses should be understood and anticipated. Weather hazards training should be up to date for at least one leader on the outing.

You can find the BSA’s free online Hazardous Weather Training, available through the BSA Learn Center at my.scouting.org. The course teaches the essentials and should be renewed every two years.

You can also find severe weather safety tips at the BSA’s weather-related safety moments page and safety alerts page.

Before the storm

When have you canceled an event because of weather? What conditions give you pause when looking at the forecast?

Safety and common sense should dictate whether or not you cancel or postpone an event. Check the forecast right before the event, and because there’s a little precipitation expected doesn’t mean you have to hit the brakes on everything. Here are some tips for camping in wet weather:

If you want to test your severe weather knowledge, you can take our Scouting Safety Quiz and be entered to win a $100 Scout Shop gift card.

Beach cleanup project takes huge turn when Scouts spot something unexpected

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 9:00am

It was a mild, overcast day in March — hardly beach weather — but the Scouts were out there anyway, walking the sandy shoreline at Fort Flagler Historical State Park in Washington.

They weren’t out there to swim or surf. Scouts BSA Troop 319 was there to scour the beach for trash.

They filled a trash bag with all kinds of washed-up waste: loose plastic foam, broken plastic glass and a metal window that appeared to have come from a boat.

Everything was going swimmingly until the Scouts rounded a corner about a mile from camp and realized the found of all those little foam pieces they were collecting.

Right there, tangled in some bushes, was a giant foam buoy. From far away, one of the girls thought it looked like a full-grown cow.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve got to get that!'” says Mena, one of the Troop 319 Scouts.

Rolling with it

They ran toward the buoy to assess the problem. After the flow of questions ebbed (How did it get there? When did it get there?), the Scouts got to work.

They started by disentangling the giant foam cylinder from the bushes.

Next, they rolled it up the beach and carried it over a hill to the park ranger.

What started as a routine beach cleanup project became a moment these Scouts won’t ever forget. But isn’t that often the case in Scouting? The coolest moments often happen in the least expected places.

Thorns and roses

Later, during the end-of-camp “thorns and roses” reflection time, most of the Scouts mentioned how proud they were to do something so significant for the environment.

“At first, I thought the beach cleanup was going to be picking up normal trash and bringing it to the dumpster,” says Alice, a Scout in Troop 319. “When I saw the big buoy nestled up into the hills and all the debris it was dropping, it made me sick to my stomach. I felt so happy that I could be part of something that would make a difference on that beach.”

Troop 319 Scoutmaster Lisa Battern says the beach wasn’t the only thing that was changed for the better that day.

“I was inspired to see the positive impact that their community service made not only on the environment, but also on the girls,” she says.

A new troop tradition

Cleaning the beaches near Fort Flagler is becoming a tradition for both troops chartered by Edmonds United Methodist Church in the BSA’s Mount Baker Council.

The church also sponsors Troop 312, a Scouts BSA troop for boys that cleans a stretch of the beach during the Scouts’ annual Webelos recruitment campout.

Now that Troop 319 conducts a similar project, the impact on this stretch of shoreline has effectively doubled.

Great job to all these great Scouts!

Share your favorite service project ‘twist’

Have you ever had a similar experience during a service project?

In the comments below, share stories about times when your Good Turn took an unexpected turn.

5 features that make the GoPro HERO7 Black a game-changer for troops and crews

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 10:00am

Scouts and Venturers don’t sit still for long.

All that moving around — hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and more — is a big reason why young people join Scouting and invite their friends along.

But that constant motion comes with one downside: It’s tough to capture on video without motion-sickness-inducing shakiness.

GoPro is here to help.

With its new HERO7 Black, the first name in first-person video says it has eradicated shaky videos forever.

That’s big news for Scouts who want to document their adventures in crisp, smooth video. Better video makes it easier to recruit new Scouts, too.

GoPro sent me the HERO7 Black and some accessories for testing. Two colleagues from the BSA Magazines team and I took the gear to a place with plenty of extreme motion: Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

After a full day of hard work (riding roller coasters and eating chicken tenders), we identified five features that make the GoPro HERO7 Black a great option for troops and crews.

But before the list, check out the video from our day at Six Flags. Naturally, it was shot on a GoPro HERO7 Black.

A day at Six Flags Over Texas: Shot on a GoPro

1. Smooth video makes Scouting activities look better.

When bumping down a mountain bike trail or over whitewater rapids, there’s a whole lot of shaking going on.

Through some sort of magic GoPro calls “HyperSmooth Video,” the HERO7 Black eliminates those micromovements that can ruin an otherwise epic video.

It really works, too. While the roller coasters bounced us around, the resulting video — shot with the camera attached to a chest harness — is buttery smooth.

2. The GoPro survives drops and dunks.

Tent poles get broken, hiking boots fall apart and zippers break. But the GoPro is one piece of gear that’ll survive the worst your Scouts — or Mother Nature — throw at it.

The HERO7 Black, like many of the newest GoPro cameras, is waterproof without a housing. We didn’t test this, but GoPro says you can take it down to 33 feet without issue.

We didn’t plan to test the camera’s claims of being “tough as nails” either. But then I dropped it as I was taking it out of my bag, and … yeah. It still worked even after a waist-high fall onto concrete. Phew.

3. It offers live streaming.

For Scouts and Venturers, Mondays are for show and tell. They tell classmates about all the awesome adventures they had over the weekend and show them video proof.

But what if those “wish-I-was-there” moments were streamed live on YouTube, Twitch or Facebook?

With the GoPro HERO7 Black and their phone, Scouts can stream directly to those platforms and more. This could be used for high-adventure outings, weekend trips or even troop meetings, when one or more Scouts can’t make it in person.

4. It gets time lapse right.

I love a good time-lapse video. Sunsets, building construction, interesting traffic patterns — I’ll watch them all.

You can shoot a quality time-lapse video on most newer phones, assuming the camera is stationary. The phone will automatically take one photo every 2 to 10 seconds.

But if you shoot this time lapse while moving the camera, the resulting video is choppy.

GoPro’s TimeWarp Video mode changes all that. It allows smooth, stabilized time-lapse video even when you’re moving. That makes this a game-changer for any linear Scouting adventure — a hike down a trail or paddle down a river, perhaps.

At Six Flags, I held the GoPro in my hand as we walked around. As you can see in the video above, the result is a video that lets you smoothly speed through a scene.

5. You can slow things down — way down.

Sometimes you want to speed things up, and sometimes you want the opposite.

The HERO7 Black can shoot 1080p video at 240 frames per second, which lets you slow things down — way down.

That means you can relive those “it-only-happens-in-Scouting” moments at one-eighth their original speed.

Become a GoPro Adventure Ambassador

Speaking of GoPro, there’s still time — but only a little — to become a GoPro Adventure Ambassador. Learn more here.

And don’t forget about GoPro’s VIP program, where Scouts and others can purchase GoPro products at a discounted rate. Find details on the contest entry page.

About a quarter of this Texas high school’s male graduates are Eagle Scouts

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 9:00am

The mascot for the Episcopal School of Dallas, a well-regarded private school in Texas, is the Eagles.

So it’s only fitting that a dozen seniors from this year’s graduating class are Eagle Scouts. Those 12 Eagle Scouts represent roughly one out of every four boys in the Class of 2019.

We know that about 6 percent of Scouts earn Eagle each year. But that statistical group includes only Scouts, meaning the percentage of Eagle Scouts in the general population of high school seniors is even smaller.

That makes the feat of this terrific 12 even more unlikely and impressive.

And speaking of impressive, keep reading to see what each of these young men did for his Eagle Scout service project. You’ll read about a bike repair station, a set of eco-friendly garden boxes for a preschool, a 25-foot bridge for a mountain biking trail and more.

Will Beck

Will and his helpers built two elevated, 32-cubic-foot flower beds for the fifth grade science class at the Episcopal School of Dallas. Now each class has its own flower bed.

Reece Breaux

Reece and his helpers built an animal therapy ramp and a raised wooden platform for an outdoor storage unit at Operation Kindness, the largest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas. These additions enable the physical therapist to spend more time treating animals, which increases adoptions.

“During the project, I learned to adapt when things go wrong,” Reece says. “The project gave me a chance to use the leadership skills I had learned through my years in Scouting.”

Trey Brooks

Trey and his helpers constructed a 25-foot bridge in Harry Moss Park for the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association. The group relies on volunteers to maintain and repair the biking trails in and around Dallas.

John Carrie

John and his helpers created a secure perimeter for the playground at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, a south Dallas high school for at-risk students. John and his team buried guardrail posts and ran heavy wire between the posts, allowing the field to be protected from vehicular traffic.

“Completing my project had been a goal that I set for myself when I first became a Scout,” John says. “The reason I chose the project I did was because cars had been causing damage to the school’s sports field and surrounding walking track as well as posing a threat to the students.”

Miles Cavitt

Miles and his helpers built a bridge for pedestrians and small service vehicles at the Tulsa Boys’ Home. The bridge connects the ballfields to the main campus.

William Greening

William and his helpers redesigned the sandbox on the playground at Mi Escuelita, a preschool in Dallas. He led a crew of volunteers in demolishing the old, unsafe sandbox and building the new sandbox for the children to enjoy. Mi Escuelita avoided fines as a result of his project.

Luke Logan

Luke and his helpers addressed the issue of unorganized inventory at North Dallas Young Life by designing and building shelves for their regional office.

Jackson Mechem

Jackson and his helpers installed a bike repair station on the newest section of the Northaven Trail, which connects two major highways in Dallas with a walking/bike trail.

Scott Neuhoff

Scott and his helpers constructed 10 cornhole boards for the Episcopal School of Dallas. These games are used to promote community and to improve students’ motor skills.

Cooper Newsom

Cooper and his helpers created environmentally safe, non-toxic garden boxes for da Vinci School, a LEED-certified preschool in Dallas. The garden boxes complement da Vinci’s outdoor environment and its focus on science and sensory exploration.

Luke Stanford

Luke and his helpers built planter boxes for the pre-K classes at the Episcopal School of Dallas. The boxes became part of the outdoor exploration area, providing a space for young children to garden.

Christopher Talbot

Christopher and his helpers constructed a path adjacent to the quarry at the Episcopal School of Dallas. This path is used for outdoor education classes and provides easy access to nearby wetlands.

Why did I use the phrase ‘and his helpers’?

Notice how each of the 12 Eagle project descriptions above began with the phrase “and his helpers”?

That’s because the Eagle Scout service project is about more than just a great Good Turn. It’s about a young person demonstrating leadership of his or her peers during that project.

Many teenagers can build a bridge. It takes a special kind of person to guide volunteers — including some that could be decades older — during that bridge-building project.

Bookmark these two essential Scouts BSA resources for new and longtime leaders

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 9:00am

Better make room on your bookmarks bar.

The BSA has refreshed and retooled a pair of online resources for Scouts BSA volunteers.

The first is the Program Resources page. Think of it as your quick-start guide to Scouts BSA. Here, you’ll find a collection of links for starting a Scouts BSA troop, helping Scouts earn merit badges, guiding youth leaders toward more effective troop meetings and more.

The second is the Program Updates page. This one’s for both newcomers and veterans, and it’s where the National Scouts BSA Committee posts the latest information on any changes to the program. If there’s a new program initiative, updated requirement or any change to Scouts BSA printed material, you’ll find it there first.

Feel free to stop reading here and explore the pages for yourself. If you’d like a little more info on what you’ll find at each one, keep scrolling.

Scouts BSA Program Resources page
  • Link: https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/resources/
  • Who it’s for: Adult volunteers, parents and Scouts
  • Why it’s useful: It’s a list of official resources to help your Scouts BSA troop be the best it can be.
  • What’s there:
    • A checklist for a new Scoutmaster who might be unfamiliar with Scouts BSA
    • The main page for family Scouting, which is the BSA’s initiative to welcome all members of the family into all Scouting programs
    • A one-page, customizable document you can use at parent orientation
    • A troop resource survey, which lets you learn the skills of each troop parent to identify potential merit badge counselors and volunteers
    • The latest requirements for every merit badge
    • The complete script for an orientation for new Scout parents
    • Resources to help you plan better troop meetings
    • Information on the National Eagle Scout Association, which is essentially an alumni group of those who have earned Scouting’s highest honor

Scouts BSA Program Updates page
  • Link: https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/program-updates/
  • Who it’s for: Adult volunteers, parents and Scouts
  • Why it’s useful: It’s a single place where you’ll find the latest updates or changes to Scouts BSA materials.
  • What’s there:
    • New or updated language for Scouts BSA printed materials, such as the Scouts BSA HandbookScouts BSA Requirements book or a merit badge pamphlet
    • Updated requirements for merit badges or ranks
    • Information on new Scouts BSA initiatives or opportunities

Share your favorite resources

What other Scouting-related sites are on your bookmarks bar? Leave a comment with your favorites.

How to join the BSA contingent at Scouting events in Brazil or Poland in 2020

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 9:00am

The signature event of international Scouting is the World Scout Jamboree, held every four years. This summer’s World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve will be the first on U.S. soil since 1967.

But the excitement, camaraderie and unity of world Scouting doesn’t end when the tents come down in West Virginia.

In 2020, the BSA will send a contingent of Scouts and adult leaders to international Scouting events in Brazil and Poland.

Registered BSA members who meet the age requirements are invited to attend as participants or unit leaders. They also may apply to serve on staff, known in world Scouting parlance as the International Service Team.

For each event, the cost for youth and adult participants includes event registration, round-trip travel, custom contingent swag and event-specific insurance.

Here’s a closer look at each of these excellent opportunities to meet interesting Scouts from other countries.

JamCam 2020
  • What: The Interamerican Region JamCam, bringing together Scouts and leaders from all over North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. It’s a weeklong jamboree/camporee (hence the name JamCam) that aims to strengthen the bonds of Scout values.
  • When: Jan. 4 to 10, 2020
  • Where: Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, the main base for visiting the famous Iguaçu Waterfalls
  • Age requirements (youth): Boys or girls must be age 15 to 17 (with birthdays between Jan. 11, 2002, and Jan. 3, 2005)
  • Age requirements (adults): Unit Leaders must be age 21 or older (birthday before Jan. 4, 1999); members of the International Service must be 18 or older (birthday before Jan. 4, 2002)
  • Cost: $4,400 for youth participants or adult until leaders, $780 for members of the International Service Team (IST fee does not include travel)
  • Learn more: At the BSA contingent site

European Jamboree 2020
  • What: The European Jamboree, the first such event since 2005. Participants will use their Scouting skills to make new friends and learn how to make a difference in the world.
  • When: July 27 to Aug. 6, 2020
  • Where: Gdańsk, Poland
  • Age requirements (youth): Boys or girls must be age 14 to 17 (with birthdays between Aug. 6, 2002, and July 26, 2006)
  • Age requirements (adults): Unit Leaders must be age 21 or older (birthday before July 27, 1999); members of the International Service must be 18 or older (birthday before July 27, 2002)
  • Cost: $3,300 for youth participants or adult until leaders, $650 for members of the International Service Team (IST fee does not include travel)
  • Learn more: At the BSA contingent site
2019 World Scout Jamboree

There’s still time to join the 2019 World Scout Jamboree as a participant or visitor. Learn more here.

Eagle Scout races along the Appalachian Trail

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 9:00am

For many hikers, the 2,189-mile journey along the Appalachian Trail takes almost six months. Not for Eagle Scout Michael Fibich.

Last summer, he made the trek across 14 states in 94 days, 7 hours and 15 minutes — yes, he timed it down to the minute. He wanted to tackle the task during his summer break from school, so the 19-year-old Hendrix College pre-medical student headed for Georgia right after the spring semester ended. To make it to Mount Katahdin in Maine before the start of the fall semester and not miss any school, Fibich would have to hike about 30 miles a day.

“When I have an idea, it becomes solidified in me,” Fibich says. “I wanted to do the whole trail.”

Eagles inspiring Eagles

For Fibich to achieve his goal, he needed to Be Prepared, so he consulted fellow Eagle Scout Joe McConaughy, who raced along the Appalachian Trail the year prior in a record 45 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes. McConaughy had logged in 250 miles a week to finish the trek in less than two months; Fibich wasn’t going to keep that pace, but felt he could do the hike in 70 days.

To keep up his energy for the rigorous daily mileage, Fibich would have to consume about 10,000 calories a day. If he lagged behind one day, the next day might require hiking in the middle of the night to stay on track.

“This is 24/7,” Fibich says. “I didn’t want to not be on the trail.”

Fibich has always had that drive, says Scoutmaster Frank Williams. Williams was Fibich’s Scoutmaster when he crossed over from Cub Scouts to Troop 107 in Lake Charles, La.

“He was a typical young Scout who was energetic and easily distracted, but early on, I saw how he focused on advancing quickly and loved the outdoors,” Williams says. “When he went to Colorado in 2012 to backpack with us, he was constantly in the front of the group, itching to go faster and see what was around the bend.”

Four years later, Fibich returned to Colorado with the troop; this time, he hiked behind the others in the group. When Williams questioned why, Fibich explained that Williams’ brother-in-law Greg Hawkins (also an Eagle Scout) suggested he help any Scouts who were falling behind.

“It was then that I saw that he was truly an Eagle Scout, even though he hadn’t completed the requirements yet,” Williams says.

After his family moved, Fibich earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2017 as part of Troop 1103 in Katy, Texas.

The journey

Fibich started his trek May 14 from Springer Mountain in Georgia with a friend. They went 18 miles on the first day, meeting several other hikers with the same goal to trek the entire Appalachian Trail. By Day 3, his friend had bowed out 40 miles into the trek. By Day 5, Fibich was alone — the other well-intentioned hikers he had encountered had also left the trail.

It was about this time that it rained for three days, followed by a day of thick fog.

“You could barely see your hand in front of your face,” he says.

Fibich kept going; he would come across other hikers, but most were not going as quickly as he was, so he hiked with them for a couple of days before continuing onward.

Even going at such a fast pace, he didn’t miss the beauty along the trail. Colorful sunrises over the Virginia highlands made the scenery look like “everything was on fire,” he says. In the Maine wilderness, Fibich witnessed a meteor shower, streaking across the night sky already adorned by the Milky Way galaxy.

“It was raining stars; it was really cool,” Fibich says.

The finish line

The trek wasn’t without its setbacks. In Virginia, Fibich unwisely drank from a spring without using a water filter and began feeling ill. One day, he didn’t feel like eating all day, but still hiked 27 miles, finally finishing the stretch at 2 a.m.

“That was the day I proved to myself that I really wanted this,” he says.

He went through six pairs of shoes on the trek; the worst part came after hiking rocky terrain in Pennsylvania that turned the bottoms of his feet raw.

When he reached Vermont, he was forced to take shelter from severe storms after only putting in 4 miles for the day. But if illness and the trail weren’t going to stop him, Mother Nature wasn’t going to either. He waited out the bad weather and then kept going.

“Many times during the trip he could have quit and many people encouraged him to quit,” Williams says. “I knew Michael’s determination to make the whole trip and knew he wouldn’t quit.”

Atop Mount Katahdin is a sign, letting hikers know they’re at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It was a sight Fibich was longing to see.

“You have that sign engraved in your mind and you’re finally able to touch it — I bawled like a baby for 20 minutes,” Fibich says.

Fibich’s parents flew to Maine to meet him at the end of his journey on August 15. A couple of days later, he was back at school.

Here’s a simple, smart way to remind yourself of the Scout Law at the office

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 9:00am

The values enumerated in the Scout Law stay with you for life. But even the most faithful follower of those 12 points needs a reminder from time to time.

That’s why Joel Sampson, who became an Eagle Scout in 1987, printed a small copy of the Scout Law and tacked it to the walls of his cubicle at work.

The list is directly in his field of view — above his office phone and next to his monitor.

“I put it there for a constant reminder of the person I want to be and should be,” Sampson says. “We all fail at times, so it is a continual work in progress.”

What a great reminder to have always in view while you return a call to that pessimistic coworker, reply to emails from unhappy customers or read through those heated posts you saw on social media.

‘A reminder and guide’

Sampson’s Scout Law printout is a lot like Sampson himself: humble and understated.

He doesn’t tell coworkers he’s an Eagle Scout, unless the topic comes up in conversation. But he acts like an Eagle Scout every day, helping others solve their problems without expecting anything in return.

This trend continued when he decided to display the Scout Law at his desk. Sampson simply typed those 12 words into a Word document, hit print and cut it out with scissors.

He didn’t need a frame, fancy font or even a title at the top saying what the words signify. The list means something to him, which was the whole point.

“It serves as a reminder and a guide,” he says. “Unbeknownst to me, it serves as an example to others as well.”

A meeting with his manager

Anyone who visits Sampson at his office at Verifone in Lincoln, Calif., can see the Scout Law on his wall. It’s right where his coworkers sit when they visit his cubicle.

But Sampson wasn’t sure whether anyone had actually looked at the list until one day when his manager stopped by.

“He leaned over me to point at the list,” Sampson says. “Going one by one, he pointed out which ones he was pretty good with and which ones he needed to work on. We all have some we are better at than others.”

The values of the Scout Law aren’t just words Scouts can use. They apply to anyone who wants to be a better person.

That’s why Sampson doesn’t see his Eagle Scout award as the end of a journey.

“Learning these points does not stop at Eagle,” he says. “It is a lifelong journey. The journey to Eagle is the preparation for the lifelong journey to be that person of character and integrity.”

Print your own Scout Law

You could go really simple and just write down the 12 points and post them in your office.

Or you could take Sampson’s approach and copy and paste the list below into a word processor.

Trustworthy
Loyal
Helpful
Friendly
Courteous
Kind
Obedient
Cheerful
Thrifty
Brave
Clean
Reverent

Or if you want to go a tiny bit fancier, you’re welcome to print this simple PDF I made.

Share photos of the Scout Law at work

Do you display the Scout Law in your office? Share your photos below. But be sure to make sure there’s no sensitive info in the picture.

Extreme Makeovers, Round 26: Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 9:00am

Note: This is the 26th in an occasional series where I share Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos. See the complete collection here and submit your own here.

To fully understand the impact Eagle Scout projects have on communities, you need to see to believe. That’s why I asked to see Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos — the same photos prospective Eagles are asked to include with their post-project report.

This week’s batch of 18 projects includes a 24-foot bridge over a creek, a tire-climbing tower for rescued dogs and a pair of outdoor sensory stations for students with autism.

What’s great is that you can multiply each individual act of stupendous service by more than 50,000. That’s how many Eagle Scout projects get completed every single year.

TIP: Click or tap and drag the slider below each image to see the change.

Andrew from Georgia

Who: Andrew, Troop 615, Evans, Ga.

What: Andrew and his helpers built a tire-climbing tower for the rescued dogs at the Humane Society of McCormick County. The tower helps dogs build confidence, learn socialization and burn off energy as they wait for their forever home.

Dylan from Florida

Who: Dylan, Troop 488, Titusville, Fla.

What: Dylan and his helpers designed and installed a new walkway for a veteran’s cemetery that had been neglected.

Mason from Oregon

Who: Mason, Troop 530, Tualatin, Ore.

What: Mason and his helpers installed 1,200 square feet of brick pavers at Byrom Elementary School Garden in Tualatin, Ore. He also was able to donate over $2,000 back to Byrom Garden, which will be used to help fund future Eagle projects.

Chase from California

Who: Chase, Troop 1, Mill Valley, Calif.

What: Chase and his helpers worked more than 500 hours to transform an overgrown and unusable space located behind the Tamalpais High School student center into Tam Unity Garden, an outdoor classroom. The garden is a place where students can eat lunch, hold club meetings and study. It also serves as a community park for the neighborhood.

Zachary from Ohio

Who: Zachary, Troop 214, Milan, Ohio

What: Zach and his helpers built a reading garden in front of his local middle school that included a solar fountain, native butterfly-attracting flowers, and benches. It all was done in his great-grandmother’s honor. The garden connects to the flagpole and gives visitors, students, and teachers a place to read, meet and reflect.

Dylan from Indiana

Who: Dylan, Troop 186, Huntingburg, Ind.

What: Dylan and his helpers refurbished restrooms at the Dubois County Four-H Fairgrounds by filling cracks in the concrete, installing new signs, and repainting both the interior and exterior.

Sam from California

Who: Samuel, Troop 144, Orangevale, Calif.

What: Sam and his helpers built 16 6-foot redwood benches in the Oak Grove behind the troop’s chartered organization, Christ the King Lutheran Church. The benches create an outdoor worship and community area, a gathering space, and just a quiet place to meditate and enjoy nature.

Will from Tennessee

Who: Will, Troop 91, Morristown, Tenn.

What: Will and his helpers built a sidewalk leading to the habitat of Teddy the owl at Panther Creek State Park in Morristown. They installed a donation box, rebuilt and restained the bench, and installed a retaining wall for better drainage.

Sam from Georgia

Who: Sam, Troop 175, Peachtree City, Ga.

What: Sam and his helpers built a 24-by-20-foot pavilion with four 10-by-10 dog runs for the county animal shelter. He selected the shelter build for his Eagle Scout project because he wants to become a veterinarian and saw it as a great chance to help out animals in need.

Vincent from New Jersey

Who: Vincent, Troop 213, Saddle Brook, N.J.

What: Vincent and his helpers designed and built a 15-foot walkway leading to a solar fountain sitting in the center of a circular retaining wall at Vincent’s high school in Fair Lawn, N.J. They built and placed four 5-foot benches along side the path so teachers and students have somewhere quiet to sit and relax while enjoying the sound of the fountain.

Ford from Tennessee

Who: Ford, Troop 757, Knoxville, Tenn.

What: Ford, along with 26 adults, Scouts and friends, site-prepped and landscaped a 60-by-60-foot area for the newly constructed outdoor classroom at Green Magnet Academy (a STEM school in Knoxville). Ford and his volunteers removed hundreds of rocks, leveled the ground, sprayed weeds, cleared excess dirt, installed a drainage pipe cover, installed weed barrier, planted a tree and numerous shrubs, mulched around the tree and shrubs, mulched the main area with 25 yards of playground mulch, installed river rock for the barrier between the mulch and playground mulch, installed two concrete paver pathways, and mowed and cleaned outside the perimeter area of the classroom.

Garrett from Ohio

Who: Garrett, Troop 361, Tallmadge, Ohio

What: Garrett and his helpers constructed a picnic pavilion and a nearby flower bed at his church.

James from New Jersey

Who: James, Troop 41, Bound Brook, N.J.

What: James and his helpers constructed a reflection area at St. Joseph Church by building and installing three benches and a platform to hold a statue of Mary.

Jack from Maryland

Who: Jack, Troop 918, Severna Park, Md.

What: Jack and his helpers designed and installed two colorful outdoor sensory stations, a giant abacus and a giant xylophone, for a local elementary school which serves as a regional autism cluster site.

Daniel from Oklahoma

Who: Daniel, Troop 977, Tulsa, Okla.

What: Daniel and his helpers built a half-mile hiking trail and a 6-by-24-foot bridge.

Cal from South Carolina

Who: Cal, Troop 502, Isle of Palms, S.C.

What: Cal and his helpers removed an old playground set, constructed a new swing set and beautified the surrounding area to make it safe for kids to play again.

Andrew from Virginia

Who: Andrew, Troop 314, Exmore, Va.

What: Andrew and his helpers replaced a worn-out wooden dugout with a cast-in-place concrete dugout.

Collin from Texas

Who: Collin, Troop 123, Galveston, Texas

What: Collin and his helpers raised the funds to purchase dog agility equipment for the city of Galveston. Then they installed two courses, one for small dogs and one for medium/large dogs, at Lindale Park.

About the Eagle Before and After series

Like these? See more here.

How to submit your photos

Have before-and-after Eagle photos I can use in future posts? Go here to learn how to send them to me.

About the Adams award for outstanding Eagle projects

The Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award honors outstanding Eagle projects like those included above.

An Eagle Scout, their parents, or any registered BSA volunteer (with the Eagle Scout’s permission) may submit the Eagle Scout service project for consideration by filling out the nomination form found here.

Visit the Boys’ Life Eagle Project Showcase

For even more great Eagle projects, check out the Boys’ Life Eagle Project Showcase.

BSA announces 2019 recipients of National Venturing Leadership Award

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 9:00am

Venturing couldn’t exist without the dedication of young people and adults who plan events, recruit new members and help crews achieve their goals.

Even more remarkable is that most of this work happens behind the scenes, with no recognition expected.

The National Venturing Leadership Award, first presented in 2000, is one way the BSA recognizes these exceptional Greenshirts. (That’s an unofficial nickname for Venturers, derived from Venturing’s unique uniform color.)

The award is presented to Venturers and Venturing Advisors who make major, national-level contributions to Venturing, the BSA’s adventure-packed program for young men and young women ages 14 (or 13 and done with the eighth grade) to 21.

This month, the National Venturing Committee announced the eight Greenshirts who will receive the 2019 National Venturing Leadership Award.

The list includes a young woman who helped plan VenturingFest 2018, a young man who has excelled at promoting Venturing on social media and an adult Advisor who helped establish the concept of area and region Venturing Officer Associations.

Who has received this award in the past?

I blogged about the 20182017 and 2016 recipients. See a list of all past recipients here.

How many people can receive the award?

A maximum of eight awards can be presented each year.

Who selects the recipients?

A task force of youth Venturers makes the final selections, and the recipients are honored at the BSA’s annual meeting, which will be held this May in Denver.

What about council, area and regional Venturers and Advisors?

Venturing Leadership Awards are presented at the council, area and regional levels, too.

Go here to learn how you can honor the outstanding Venturers and Venturing Advisors you know.

Who are the 2019 National Venturing Leadership Award recipients?

Let’s get to the good part. Here are the 2019 recipients of the National Venturing Leadership Award:

Pamela Petterchak, Central Region Venturing President

From: St. Louis

What she did: Pamela has been instrumental in recruiting new leaders to the Central Region and its areas and councils through a coordinated strategy to encourage Venturers to serve as officers. At two national events, the National Order of the Arrow Conference and VenturingFest, Pamela represented the program in an approachable and effective manner.

Reece Kilby, Western Region Venturing President

From: Mililani, Hawaii

What he did: Reece used his abilities to advocate strongly for the role of youth in the Venturing program. He connected Venturers with resources to help them grow Venturing. He’s a great ambassador for the Venturing program, taking time to recruit and work with youth at all levels of the Scouting program.

Jake Brillhart, National Venturing Vice President

From: Collinsville, Okla.

What he did: Jake is part of the National Venturing Committee’s communications team. He has excelled in promoting Venturing on social media platforms. His commitment to telling the story of Venturing has enabled the program to broaden its reach and more effectively express the core values and benefits of Venturing.

Katelyn St. Louis, Northeast Region Venturing Vice President

From: Durham, N.H.

What she did: Katelyn led an incredible team for VenturingFest 2018. She even spent an additional week at the Summit Bechtel Reserve preparing for the event. Moreover, the Northeast Region has shown positive growth in Venturing under her leadership and direction.

Hannah Wheaton, former Southern Region Venturing Vice President

From: Chesapeake, Va.

What she did: Hannah has served as Southern Region Venturing Vice President of Communications and helped contribute to the program nationally. She also represented Venturing during the Report to the Nation. Hannah has been an ambassador for the Venturing program throughout the nation and the Scouting world.

Scott Sorrels, National Vice Chair of Venturing Committee

From: Alpharetta, Ga.

What he did: Scott has served as the National Vice Chair of the Venturing Committee. He’s been the backbone of the Venturing program since its creation — always working behind the scenes so the youth can shine. He has dedicated his life to Venturing and helped develop the structure the program uses today. He promoted and helped establish the modern area and region Venturing Officer Associations.

Aaron Parks-Young, former National Venturing Vice President

From: Garland, Texas.

What he did: Aaron, a former National Venturing Vice President, has interacted with key professionals and volunteers to create a program overview for Venturing. During Aaron’s term, Venturing was undergoing program changes, and Aaron coordinated with the Venturing Program Changes Task Force on every decision. Aaron has continued to contribute his skills to promote Venturing nationwide.

Sherry McGugin, Southern Region Venturing Advisor

From: Cookeville, Tenn.

What she did: Sherry is known for her devotion to a number of leadership training courses, including Kodiak, National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). She has helped make sure all youth have the tools they need to be well-trained leaders. Sherry has served as a course director at the Philmont Training Center for several national courses and helped staff many national Venturing events and trainings.

Lamar Wallace, who was believed to be the oldest living Eagle Scout, has died at 107

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 9:29am

Lamar Ernest Wallace, a World War II veteran who was believed to be the oldest living Eagle Scout, died on March 31, 2019. He was 107.

Wallace earned Scouting’s highest honor on Sept. 17, 1927, in Gotebo, Okla., meaning he could wear his Eagle medal proudly for nearly 92 years.

Officials at the National Eagle Scout Association told me they weren’t aware of any Eagle Scouts older than Wallace, but they said NESA doesn’t have Eagle Scout birthdates before 1983.

One thing is certain: Wallace was an advocate for Scouting throughout his life.

In 2016, he told a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he “used Scouting a lot. I used it with what I did the rest of my life. I was fair in everything I did. Or I tried to be.”

Born in Oklahoma

Wallace was born Nov. 28, 1911, in Romulus, Okla., about an hour southeast of Oklahoma City.

When Wallace was a teenager, his family moved 125 miles west to Gotebo. It’s there that Wallace became an Eagle Scout at age 15.

As a Class of 1927 Eagle Scout, Wallace was one of just 5,713 young men who earned the honor that year. That’s about one-tenth the annual number these days.

Wallace attended the University of Oklahoma and took a job for the Tulsa Tribune after graduation, according to his obituary in The Citizen of Fayetteville, Ga.

Trained in the Army

Like many Scouts, Wallace found a calling to military service. He entered the U.S. Army in 1941 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1942.

Wallace fought in Germany in World War II. Decades later, he told Scouting Newsroom that there was no better preparation for military service than Scouting.

“I tried to use everything I got out of [Scouting], and it’s held me in good stead,” he said.

After the Army, Wallace rejoined the Tulsa Tribune and later became a real estate broker before retiring in 1979.

Throughout his life and career, Wallace pointed to Scouting as the source of his confidence.

“Anything I wanted to do, anything I had in my mind to do, I could do,” he said.

Famous in Atlanta

At 81 years young, Wallace moved to the Atlanta area. Once he reached 100, his status as a centenarian, World War II veteran and Eagle Scout made him a local legend.

He told neighbors, news reporters and strangers how he had voted in 22 presidential elections. He shared that, when he was a kid, he met old men who fought in the Civil War.

Wallace is survived by three nieces, one nephew, three step-children, five step-grandchildren and 12 step-great grandchildren.

She was a single mom to 3; he was a single dad to 2. Scouting made them a family.

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 9:00am

Asia Preciado was a “clueless but excited den leader” when she and her family began their Scouting journey six years ago.

Asia’s son, then 6 years old, was an eager Tiger Cub Scout. Her daughters, then 2 and 8, couldn’t officially join Scouting at the time, but they tagged along at every camping trip, meeting and pack outing.

“They learned valuable skills, went on adventures and made new friends,” Asia says. “Being a single mom, these little adventures made a huge difference for us all.”

Asia’s assistant den leader was a single dad named Juan Evans. His son was a Tiger, too.

Asia and Juan became best friends as they watched their boys advance through the Cub Scouting ranks. They laughed together through their sons’ many Scouting successes — and occasional failures.

“We have supported each other through personal struggles and celebrated awards our boys earned in Scouts,” Asia says.

About a year ago, Asia and Juan started dating. In November, they got married, and Asia and Juan Evans are now a family of seven.

This blended family, brought together through Scouting, is a testament to the way the BSA can help families make the most of their time together.

A true Scouting family

Everyone in the Evans family is involved in Scouting as members of the Sacramento-based Golden Empire Council.

Asia is her district’s program chair and a committee member for three different units. Juan is a den leader. All five of their kids are in Scouts: a 14-year-old girl in Scouts BSA, two 12-year-old boys in Scouts BSA, an 8-year-old Bear girl and a 7-year-old Tiger boy.

“Six out of seven days we are involved in Scouts,” Asia says. “Monday to Wednesday are den or troop meetings. Thursdays are leader meetings, and the weekends are packed full of Scout events.”

How they make it work

Asia says getting to all these events and meetings takes “a great deal of strategic planning, time management, cooperation … and a little bit of luck.”

The key, she says, is teamwork.

“Make everyone feel like they have a pivotal role that will allow the adventure that you’re on to be completed,” she says. “These kids know the value of hard work and a good deed — even if it doesn’t result in a patch or reward.”

Making magical memories

Scouting offers an unrivaled opportunity for blended families, Asia says. It empowers everyone in the family to feel like part of something special.

“Especially now that girls are a part of Scouts BSA,” she says. “It enables kids to connect and share so many moments together.”

Moments like an overnight trip to Santa Cruz — a place Asia hadn’t been before joining Scouts.

Or Wood Badge training, which helped Asia learn about all the resources available to help volunteers get the most out of Scouting.

Or the fact that “every one of our kids is known and respected in the world of Scouting,” Asia says.

No matter what your family looks like, Scouting’s for you. Scouting helps you discover memories you simply won’t find anywhere else.

Now it’s your turn

How has Scouting strengthened your family? Please share your story in the comments section.

Missouri council empowers Scouts to become incredible innovators

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 9:00am

With 3D printers, laser engraving equipment, and computer-aided design software and machines at the Sinquefield Invention Lab, it’s no wonder Scouts in Missouri’s Great Rivers Council have been able to make some pretty cool stuff, like action figures, robots and computers.

“In terms of things created, there are honestly too many to count,” says Thomas Yang, who oversees the program based at the Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation.

The pilot program launched a few years ago on an idea from Great Rivers Council board member Jeanne Sinquefield, Scoutmaster Steve Goldstein, and Steve’s son Sam. The three had made a pocket-size chess set together and thought there should be more opportunities for Scouts to be innovative and creative. So, they worked on outfitting a 24-foot trailer with equipment that could be wheeled to schools, council events and Scout camp — a mobile invention lab.

More than STEM

With some of the lab’s high-tech equipment, you’d think this program only focuses on inventing, electronics and engineering, but the Sinquefield Invention Lab offers so much more. The program can cater to almost 30 merit badges, including Salesmanship, Woodwork and Farm Mechanics.

Leaders teach youth not only how to make something, but how they can use it in the real world. So, they teach about patents and trademarks, and how to be business leaders in their communities.

“What we didn’t expect was how easily we could integrate it into Cub and Scouts BSA programs,” Sinquefield says. “We’re doing new things that have never been done before.”

Sinquefield and her husband’s charitable foundation was the linchpin for the lab’s launch. What started as a single trailer is now two trailers and multiple climate-controlled buildings at the Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation in Gravois Mills, Mo. The 6,000-square-foot lab and woodworking building at the camp hosts invention weekend events throughout the year: Cub Scout NOVA family camps, Order of the Arrow lock-ins and summer events for adults. This September, more Scouts will be introduced to the program as the Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation will host an Invention Jamboree.

The camp recently broke ground on another building to house two forges for blacksmithing, welding and metalworking activities. Future plans include adding a plasma cutter.

“Many of the Scouts who come to our camp have little to no experience with our cutting-edge equipment,” Yang says. “However, once they master the knowledge, you notice that their confidence goes up significantly. And from there, the ideas come forth.”

And, of course, some of those ideas are a lot of fun, like inventing new games, some of which involved stick-horse races and drone races. One Scout made a chess set, which is now in the World Chess Hall of Fame.

“Each year the program gets better, as staff and volunteers come up with new ideas for using the equipment, and integrating the program with traditional Scouting,” Sinquefield says.

Philmont prepares to give the Tooth of Time a good brushing

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 8:00am

Wildfires forced Philmont Scout Ranch to cancel treks in 2018, but the BSA’s hiking paradise in New Mexico will be ready to welcome trekkers in 2019.

To get ready for the busy summer season, Philmont staffers and volunteers are clearing debris, mitigating the risk of future fires — and preparing to give the Tooth of Time a good brushing.

Yes, you read that right. Philmont Scout Ranch has announced plans to build a giant toothbrush to clean its most famous mountain.

“The Tooth of Time hasn’t been brushed since the 1940s, so there’s quite a bit of dirt up there,” says Tooth of Time consultant Olaf Sprilo, D.D.S. “Imagine if you hadn’t brushed your teeth in more than 70 years. I have to think you’d have quite a bit of buildup.”

Picking a dental plan

Sprilo and the folks at Philmont considered several different options for cleaning the Tooth. Rejected ideas included:

  • Equipping a fleet of helicopters with power washers
  • Sending Alex Honnold up the face with a mega-size roll of paper towels and a bottle of the leading household cleaner
  • Just waiting a few days for it to rain

Ultimately, Sprilo settled on the simplest, most obvious solution for cleaning the Tooth of Time. And his ah-ha moment came in the likeliest of places.

“I’ll tell you exactly where I was when I came up with the idea,” Sprilo says with a sparkly smile. “I was at my bathroom counter, brushing my teeth. I remember looking at my teeth and thinking, ‘these look just like the Tooth of Time.'”

A photo, which historians have dated to some time in the 1940s, shows the last time the Tooth of Time was brushed. Nobody knows what happened to that toothbrush, though most experts believe it was thrown away. Getting to the root of the problem

Geological estimates put the rocky, canine-shaped protrusion on the Tooth of Time at around 500 feet tall.

An average adult’s tooth protrudes about 10 millimeters from the gums. Mental math tells me that means the Tooth of Time is approximately 15,239 times larger than the Tooth of Human.

Your typical toothbrush measures about 8 inches. Multiply that by 15,239, and you get 121,912 inches. That’s 10,159 feet, or nearly 2 miles long.

“After we spent a few days figuring out those calculations, we assumed the next part would be easy: finding a toothbrush that’s 2 miles long,” Sprilo says. “Boy, were we wrong!”

Sprilo called all the major drug store chains to check their stock of giant toothbrushes. No luck.

“Every store hung up on me and asked me never to call again,” Sprilo says. “That reminds me — Bryan, do you mind sending me an email so I remember to move my prescriptions? I don’t have my phone. Bryan? Hello? Why aren’t you saying anything? Stop writing for a second. Are you just going to keep writing down everything I say? You’re not going to use any of this in your blog post, are you? Bryan?”

A titanic toothbrush, seen in this artist’s rendering, will clean the Tooth of Time. The OA’s brush with fame

It seems like whenever Philmont needs skilled, service-minded Scouts to help solve a problem, the Order of the Arrow is there.

Scouting’s national honor society has helped Philmont recover from wildfires, build trails and complete conservation projects.

“When you consider all that OA members have done in the name of cheerful service, constructing a 2-mile piece of plastic didn’t seem like a huge ask,” Sprilo says. “Boy, were we right!”

The OA arrives today — April 1, 2019 — to begin working on the project officially known as “ToothBreak 2019: The Toothbrush of Time: An Order of the Arrow Project to Build a Big Toothbrush to Brush the Tooth of Time: On Time and In Time for Philmont’s Backpacking Season 2019.”

That’s a bit of a mouthful, so most people have been calling it “ToothBreak 2019: The Toothbrush of Time: An Order of the Arrow Project to Build a Big Toothbrush to Brush the Tooth of Time.”

Nothing to bristle at

You probably have lots of questions at this point, but I only have time for two.

How can Scouts and adult volunteers help?

Scouts, Scouters and families who visit Philmont this summer will have a chance to brush the Tooth and earn the patch seen above. (If you can’t make it, Philmont Scout Ranch continues to accept donations to help with fire disaster relief.)

Considering the toothbrush will be the length of 30 football fields, this will be an all-hands-on-brush undertaking.

But don’t feel like you need to start pumping iron. Given the toothbrush’s length, it’s expected to be surprisingly light: about 700 pounds. That should make it rather easy to get into the Tooth’s hard-to-reach areas.

What about toothpaste?

Philmont is finalizing a deal with one of the world’s leading toothpaste companies. The company, which I can’t yet name, plans to donate 200,000 tubes in exchange for naming rights to the Toothbrush of Time.

Unfortunately, the donation is expected to come in the form of travel-size tubes.

Fortunately, a group of OA members has volunteered to ascend in (tethered!) hot air balloons to squeeze each tiny tube onto the brush. That project is expected to take the OA about 45 minutes.

What about mouthwash?

Sorry, I only had time for those two questions.

Insert toothy pun here

After the gargantuan toothbrush fulfills its dental destiny, it will be carried down the road to the National Scouting Museum, which opened in 2018 at its new location at Philmont.

Museum visitors will be able to pose for photos with the most famous toothbrush in BSA history.

“Some might say, ‘why not reuse the toothbrush year after year?'” Sprilo says. “A good question, but dentists recommend replacing a toothbrush every three to four months.”

Photos by Marcie Rodriguez. Patch design by Kevin Hurley.

Golden Spoon Award ignites friendly but fierce intratroop cooking competition

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 9:00am

It all started with open minds and empty stomachs.

A troop in Illinois, fed up with soggy pancakes for breakfast and boring hot dogs for dinner, launched a cooking competition that has improved the Scouts’ culinary skills and promoted healthier eating on campouts.

They call it the Golden Spoon Award.

Patrols in Troop 237 of Frankfort Square, Ill., part of the BSA’s Rainbow Council, compete for the coveted prize each campout by preparing their most delicious dish.

The competition is so fierce that Scouts have been known to practice their cooking at home so they’re better prepared.

Recipe for success

Scoutmaster Earl Bonovich serves as judge and helped the Troop 237 patrol leaders’ council (PLC) come up with the idea.

“We discussed with the PLC that we wanted to push Dutch oven cooking and get away from the same old, same old on campouts,” Bonovich says.

Rather than telling the Scouts about the merits of Dutch oven cooking, the adults showed them. The adults prepared their own meals in the cast iron cookware, but they intentionally made more than they could eat.

“We cooked extra, on purpose, so that the Scouts could taste some of it — and realize what they could cook,” Bonovich says.

It didn’t take long before the Scouts’ passion for cooking started boiling over. Bonovich and the PLC channeled that energy into a friendly competition.

The prizes for Troop 237’s first Golden Spoon Awards, presented in May 2018, were more like golden forks. The Golden Spoon Award

Troop 237 held its first Golden Spoon competition in May 2018. Two patrols entered. One cooked chicken jambalaya with rice; the other prepared Swedish meatballs and pierogies, which are filled dumplings.

“Both dishes were outstanding, and the youth ate like kings,” Bonovich says. “They loved the challenge.”

Bonovich had a tough decision to make. He ultimately crowned the chicken jambalaya, which meant the dish made by a Scout named Ryland Hart came up short.

Ryland was a rising star in the troop’s foray into improved camp cooking. For one of his first dishes, Ryland made tasty tacos from scratch — with no seasoning packet in sight.

But this was a setback, and Bonovich could see the disappointment on Ryland’s face. That night, he got a message from Ryland’s mom on Facebook.

“At first, I thought it was going to be, ‘how could you not give my son the award, etc.,’ but it wasn’t,” Bonovich says. “He was asking permission to up his game for the next campout.”

Ryland wanted to bring food samples to the next troop meeting so his fellow Scouts could try different dishes. Turns out Ryland was more interested in preparing Scout-approved dishes than winning an award.

This is Ryland, Troop 237’s Troop Chef. A new troop position

Seeing Ryland’s passion for cooking gave Bonovich an idea.

At the next troop meeting, Bonovich congratulated the winners of the Golden Spoon Award. Then he asked Ryland to come forward.

Bonovich, with approval from the PLC, wanted to launch a new, unofficial troop position: Troop Chef. This person would teach cooking basics to his fellow Scouts and promote better, healthier camp meals.

“He accepted, and the entire troop welcomed him with a cheering ovation,” Bonovich says. “The smile on his face was priceless.”

Now you’ll find Ryland at every campout wearing his black Troop 237 chef’s hat.

And you’ll find him at every troop meeting listening to menu ideas from his fellow Scouts. One Scout suggested bringing live lobsters on the next campout, but that idea was nixed because of budget.

“I love the ideas they’re coming up with,” Bonovich says. “I’m excited to see what they do.”

What’s cooking in your troop?

Does your troop or crew have any innovative cooking ideas? Share them in the comments section.

What was the first Scout troop in the United States? The answer isn’t so simple

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 9:00am

There were Boy Scout troops in America before there was the Boy Scouts of America.

A handful of Americans, having heard about or witnessed firsthand an exciting new program called “Scouting” in England, wasted no time bringing that idea to our shores.

By 1909, a year before the BSA was founded, Scout troops had sprouted in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma. These pre-BSA troops modeled their program after Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting program in England. They had handbooks and uniforms shipped to them across the Atlantic.

When the Boy Scouts of America was officially founded at 11:03 a.m. on Feb. 8, 1910, most of these unofficial troops made it official with their very own BSA charter.

But which troop was the first in existence? That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. The BSA, like most members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, doesn’t formally recognize a “first troop ever.”

This mystery might never be solved, but diving into everything we do know about these early BSA troops is both fun and fascinating.

A newly uncovered letter from 1940 — the year the Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 30th birthday — offers some excellent insight into this subject.

A group of Philadelphia Scouts at an encampment in 1912 in Washington, D.C. The letter from the BSA

The letter was written by George W. Ehler, who was serving as assistant to the Chief Scout Executive in 1940, in response to an inquiry from a man named O.D. Sharpe.

Sharpe wrote the BSA headquarters — then in New York City — to ask which troop was the first organized under the Boy Scouts of America.

Ehler was the right person to ask. He was in charge of BSA registrations in 1940, making him the go-to guy for questions about Scouting history.

But Ehler’s response likely wasn’t what Sharpe wanted.

“After several years of experience with these inquiries and claims, I came to the conclusion that it was not possible from any accepted record to determine which was the first Troop.”

Keep in mind when this letter was written: Nov. 12, 1940.

If, as Ehler writes, “it was impossible to make a definite decision as to the first troop” 30 years after the BSA was founded, I can’t imagine the picture has become clearer in the eight decades since.

Edgar M. Robinson One troop stands out

Ehler wrote that, in his view, all troops formed in 1910 had an equal claim at the title of “first troop ever.”

Somewhat contradictorily, though, he singled out a troop as having “the best showing toward this claim.”

He identified that troop as, simply, “the Troop in the Y.M.C.A. at Springfield.” But that only adds to the mystery, because Ehler identifies neither the state nor chartered organization of this Springfield troop. There are cities and towns called Springfield in more than half of all states in the country.

My guess is he’s talking about the YMCA at Springfield, Mass., known at the time as the YMCA International Training School. (This is where, in 1891, James Naismith invented basketball.)

That’s my guess because it’s the Springfield most associated with Edgar M. Robinson, a forgotten member of Scouting’s “founding fathers.” Robinson, a YMCA executive, helped get the BSA through most of its first year without a stumble.

From left: Scouting founders Ernest Thompson Seton, Robert Baden-Powell and Daniel Carter Beard What other sources say

Wikipedia lists a number of claimants for the first troop in BSA history, and many of these were formed before the BSA was officially founded in 1910.

But anyone can edit Wikipedia, and none of these claims could be verified by any BSA records I could locate.

I scoured the archives of Scouting magazine, too, but that didn’t provide much clarity. When talking about early troops, my Scouting magazine predecessors used qualifying phrases. One troop is “said to be” the first in its state, Scouting magazine wrote. Another is “one of the first in BSA history.”

As I mentioned, if the head of registration for the BSA couldn’t identify a singular first troop in 1940, I don’t expect to have much luck now.

A historical marker in Burnside, Ky., commemorates the location of one of the claimants for first American Boy Scout troop. 40 troops that lasted from 1910 until at least 1976

A separate document, published in February 1976, offers even more interesting data. It’s a news release that lists 40 BSA troops that were in continuous operation, without a registration lapse, from 1910 until at least 1976.

In the release, the BSA reiterates that “it is impossible to pinpoint the first American Scout troop.”

These 40 troops have “a continuous, formal tie to those early days, when Chicago businessman William D. Boyce, prompted by the help he received from a young man in England, brought the Scouting program to the U.S.A. and incorporated the Boy Scouts of America.”

Here’s the list. Two things to note:

  1. Information like the council name, chartered organization and Scoutmaster was current when the document was published in 1976.
  2. It’s possible that some troops not listed might have been in continuous operation from 1910 until at least 1976. This list is based on BSA’s official records available in 1976.
East Central Region
  • Troop 309, Chicago
    • Chicago Area Council
    • 1st Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Ernest E. Childs Jr.
  • Troop 1, Indianapolis
    • Crossroads of America Council
    • Tuxedo Park Baptist Church
    • Scoutmaster: Patrick M. Cobb
  • Troop 3, Indianapolis
    • Crossroads of America
    • Irvington Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: Robert J. Gelarden
  • Troop 2, Detroit
    • Detroit Area Council
    • Fort Street Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: Albert Thomas
  • Troop 1, Parkersburg, W.Va.
    • Kootaga Area Council
    • American Legion Post #15
    • Scoutmaster: Paul Polsey
North Central Region
  • Troop 2, St. Louis
    • St. Louis Area Council
    • Pilgrim Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: David Anderson
  • Troop 301, Webster Groves, Mo.
    • St. Louis Area Council
    • 1st Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Marion C. Skouby
Southeast Region
  • Troop 1, Paducah, Ky.
    • Four Rivers Council
    • Grace Episcopal Church
    • Scoutmaster: Danny Middlton
  • Troop 3, Nashville, Tenn.
    • Middle Tennessee Council
    • East End United Methodist Church
    • Scoutmaster: Robert C. Ramsey
Northeast Region
  • Troop 1, East Hartford, Conn.
    • Long Rivers Council
    • 1st Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Leroy Spiller
  • Troop 3, Jamaica Plain, Mass.
    • Boston Council
    • Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Woodbury Morrison
  • Troop 2, Cambridge, Mass.
    • Cambridge Council
    • North Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Edward J. Benoit
  • Troop 1, Leominster, Mass.
    • Nashua Valley Council
    • 1st Unitarian Universalist Church
    • Scoutmaster: Michael E. Young
  • Troop 16, Danvers, Mass.
    • North Bay Council
    • Maple Street Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Michael W. Smith
  • Troop 603, Malden, Mass.
    • Minuteman Council
    • 1st Baptist Church
    • Scoutmaster: George H. Burgess
  • Troop 17, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
    • Norumbega Council
    • Church of the Redeemer
    • Scoutmaster: John W. Reading
  • Troop 1, Hingham, Mass.
    • Old Colony Council
    • Group of the Citizens
    • Scoutmaster: Herbert Muscato
  • Troop 42, Norwood, Mass
    • Old Colony Council
    • 1st Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Paul Thompson
  • Troop 7, Worcester, Mass.
    • Mohegan Council
    • 1st Baptist Church
    • Scoutmaster: John T. Heffernan
  • Troop 2, Bloomfield, N.J.
    • Tamarack Council
    • Presbyterian Church on the Green
    • Scoutmaster: Stanley Politowicz
  •  Troop 59, Collingswood, N.J.
    • Camden County Council
    • Tatem Shield American Legion Post #17
    • Scoutmaster: James Scott
  • Troop 13, Montclair, N.J.
    • Essex Council
    • Union Congregational Church
    • Scoutmaster: Thomas McDermott
  • Troop 7, Newark, N.J.
    • Essex Council
    • Forest Hill Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: Herman F. Seeger
  • Troop 1, West New York, N.J.
    • Hudson-Hamilton Council
    • Trinity Reformed Church
    • Scoutmaster: Kenneth A. Glockner
  • Troop 505, Jersey City, N.J.
    • Hudson-Hamilton Council
    • United Reformed Church
    • Scoutmaster: Richard J. Hunter
  • Troop 2, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
    • Westchester-Putnam Council
    • Men’s Club of the 1st United Methodist Church
    • Scoutmaster: Perrin Smith Jr.
  • Troop 3, Paterson, N.J.
    • Passaic Valley Council
    • Eastside Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: Ferdinand Miller
  • Troop 1, Unadilla, N.Y.
    • Otschodela Council
    • Freedom Lodge #324
    • Scoutmaster: Thomas W. Jones
  • Troop 1, Schenectady, N.Y.
    • Schenectady County Council
    • 2nd Reformed Church
    • Scoutmaster: Herbert J. Roes
  • Troop 1, Babylon, N.Y.
    • Suffolk County Council
    • Christ Church Episcopal
    • Scoutmaster: David L. Williams
  • Troop 2, Amityville, N.Y.
    • Suffolk County Council
    • 1st United Methodist Church
    • Scoutmaster: Charles Dequillenfeldt
  • Troop 4, Lewistown, Pa.
    • Juniata Valley Council
    • Men’s Barraca Class of United Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: William D. Johnston
  • Troop 4, Ardmore, Pa.
    • Valley Forge Council
    • 1st Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: John W. Widtfeldt
  • Troop 16, Bala-Cynwyd, Pa.
    • Valley Forge Council
    • St. Asaphs Episcopal Church
    • Scoutmaster: Nuel Bardwell
  • Troop 63, Lansdowne, Pa.
    • Valley Forge Council
    • Fellowship Bible Class of the 1st Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: Robert Dongan
  • Troop 1, McKeesport, Pa.
    • East Valley Area Council
    • Central Presbyterian Church
    • Scoutmaster: Allen G. Filson
  • Troop 1, Providence, R.I.
    • Narrangansett Council
    • Broad Street PTA
    • Scoutmaster: Robert Carvalho
  • Troop 20, Brooklyn, N.Y.
    • Greater New York Council
    • New Utrecht Reformed Church
    • Scoutmaster: Alphonese DeLeo
  • Troop 1, Flushing, N.Y.
    • Greater New York Council
    • Dads Club of Troop 1, Flushing Inc.
    • Michael F. Roberti
  • Troop 2, College Point, N.Y.
    • Greater New York Council
    • St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran School
    • Scoutmaster: John Spero
Tell us about your troop’s history

Whether your troop was formed in the 1910s or the 2010s, you have a story to tell.

Please share anecdotes, memories and photos in the comments section below.

Scout builds ‘duck factories’ for his Eagle Scout service project

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 9:00am

Duck factories, fowl poles or giant Twinkies on a stick. Call these mallard duck nesting tubes whatever you’d like; I’ll call them “one Eagle Scout candidate’s big idea for conservation.”

For his Eagle Scout service project, Tapp Rhoads of Troop 997 in Ashburn, Va., part of the National Capital Area Council, led a group of more than 30 Scouts in an effort to build and place mallard duck nesting tubes, also called hen houses.

These raised, hay-covered cylinders give mallard ducks a safe place to lay their eggs — away from predators like raccoons and skunks.

Some studies show an 80 percent survival rate for hatchlings born in nesting tubes like these. That’s an improvement over the 0 to 20 percent survival rate for eggs that hatch on the ground.

Tapp Rhoads (wearing red in front) and Scouts in Troop 997 with some of the nesting tubes. Tapp’s big idea

After researching the need and learning how to build the nesting tubes, Tapp contacted the project beneficiary. He worked with Chip Matthews of the Ashburn Farm Homeowners’ Association to map out exactly where the tubes would go.

After that, Tapp and his helpers got to work.

More than 30 Scouts and adult volunteers from Troop 997 participated in the project. First, they built the tubes out of straw and wire fencing. Next, they placed the tubes in waist-deep water.

Ian Pender, one of the Scouts in Tapp’s troop, said he’s done a number of service projects in Scouting, but this one stood out.

“It was something special, as it’ll provide strong protection for the young ducks,” Ian said.

An ongoing effort

The nesting tubes were placed in early March, marking the end to Tapp’s Eagle project. But the work isn’t over. Tapp and his fellow Troop 997 Scouts plan to return to the tubes to clean and repair them as needed.

That’s good news for the duck population — and for future Scouts, who will have conservation-related service opportunities for years to come.

“This has been a rare undertaking, and I’m proud of the massive support we’ve seen by Troop 997 Scouts,” said Troop 997 Senior Patrol Leader Paul Lynch.

Because of this Good Turn for the planet, Lynch and Troop 997 Scoutmaster Terry Kolb plan to apply for the William T. Hornaday Unit Award.

This award goes to packs, troops or crews that “contribute to sound conservation and environmental improvement in the local community, the region or the nation.”

The fact that this project also served as an Eagle project does not disqualify it from Hornaday Unit Award consideration.

According to the Hornaday Project Workbook, “one Hornaday project can be your Eagle project if it also meets all of the other standards for a Hornaday project.”

In a twist on the old cliché, let’s call that saving two birds with one stone.

Build your own mallard duck nesting tubes

Want to try something similar in your troop? This site offers step-by-step instructions.

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