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The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.
Updated: 3 days 49 min ago

Scout Shop launches first-of-its-kind sale on uniform shirts for all BSA programs

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 8:00am

School’s back in session, but here are two pieces of news to soften the blow.

One: Fall, with its perfect camping weather, might be the greatest Scouting season of all. And two: The BSA is having a uniform sale.

Yes, beginning today (Aug. 19), the Scout Shop is offering a not-to-be-missed sale on uniforms. You’ll get 25% off any uniform top (Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and leaders) when you buy a uniform bottom from the same program.

It is the first time ever the Scout Shop has held a sale for uniform shirts from all BSA programs.

That makes this sale a big deal for …

  • New Scouting families as they prepare for the excitement of fall.
  • Current Scouting families looking to refresh their uniform collection.
  • Parents with a son or daughter joining a pack or troop for the first time or crossing from Cub Scouts into Scouts BSA.
  • Moms and dads looking to replace the uniform that no longer fits their fast-growing Scout. (“I swear those weren’t capri pants last year!”)
  • Leaders ready to replace their own uniform.
  • Scouters who, in the spirit of kindness, this sale is an excuse to get a completely new uniform and donate the old one to a Scout in need.

Whatever the reason, now’s the time to save some money.

The only thing to consider now is how to spend the money you saved. A merit badge pamphlet or two? A glow-in-the-dark camp mug? Extra ingredients for s’mores??

What’s the fine print?

There really isn’t any. Here’s what you do:

  1. Head to the Scout Shop’s online store or your local Scout Shop. (The sale terms and prices are the same in-store and online.)
  2. Select any uniform bottom. Choose from pants, shorts, roll-up pants or skorts.
  3. Select any uniform top from the same BSA program. It can be long-sleeve or short-sleeve — as long as it’s from the same program as the item you selected in step 2.
  4. Enjoy 25% off the uniform top. Boom. Embrace the savings.
  5. Show up to your next meeting in style.

One other thing to note: The sale runs until Oct. 13, 2019.

Which uniform does my Scout need?

The Scout Shop has you covered there. Its handy Uniform Builder tool takes all the guesswork out of shopping for a uniform.

Just fire up the Uniform Builder, answer a few simple questions and you’ll have all the components you need faster than you can recite the Scout Law.

With new Deluxe Tents, Philmont Training Center broadens appeal to more families

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 8:00am

The Philmont Training Center experience you love just got an upgrade.

With its new Deluxe Tents — complete with a queen bed with premium linens, electricity and ceiling fan, and covered porch with cozy chairs — the Philmont Training Center is broadening the appeal of its world-class conferences and Family Adventure Camp like never before.

In short, the new lodging option makes the Philmont Training Center, or PTC, a can’t-miss destination for more families than ever before.

Wondering about the “roughing it” aspect of camping and PTC’s reasoning behind these deluxe tents? We’ll get to that in a bit. But here’s one thing to keep in mind: Encouraging more people to experience the magical power of Philmont is something everyone can get behind.

To learn more about these game-changing new tents, I spoke with Nick Hutchinson, PTC director.

What’s different about the Deluxe Tents?

To understand the Deluxe Tents, let’s first talk about the “standard” tents at the PTC.

For years, families visiting the PTC — including multiple trips with my own family when I was a Scout — have stayed in tents that are far roomier than the one rolled up in your basement.

PTC’s standard wall tents are spacious. They have two cots, zip-open windows, electricity, a chair and a light.

The Deluxe Tents (also known as Eco-Tents), offered for an additional fee on a first-come, first-served basis, take the PTC tents to the next level.

  • Room for six: Each tent features a queen-size bed in the main room and two sets of bunk beds in a separate side room.
  • Covered porch with chairs: Perfect for watching your kids play, catching up on some reading or just watching the sunset.
  • Queen bed with premium linens: Leave your sleeping bag at home. If you opt for a Deluxe Tent, the PTC has you covered.
  • Dressers: So you can unpack and stay a while.
  • Power: Electricity in each tent keeps your phone charged. A ceiling fan keeps you comfortable day and night.
  • Huge screened windows: Open your windows to let in the mountain breeze and get an immersive view of your surroundings. Close them at night to relax in privacy and prepare for the next day.

What about bathrooms? Whether you opt for the standard or the Deluxe tents, you’ll have access to the PTC’s new, private shower houses. Each stall includes a shower, a sink, a mirror and a toilet — all behind a locking door.

Each Tent City also has larger family showers to help those with small children.

Why did the PTC add Deluxe Tents?

If camping is traditionally about “roughing it” outdoors, why did the PTC decide to introduce these well-appointed new tents?

It’s all about making the PTC experience enjoyable for everyone in the family — young and older.

Hutchinson says the decision stemmed from the success of the Philmont Family Adventure Camp, which I reported about earlier this year.

“This year, during Family Adventure Camp weeks, we have noticed a change from the traditional participants at the PTC,” Hutchinson says. “The average family who has been participating in the Family Adventure Camp experience was one with parents in their mid-30s who have brought the family to experience Philmont together.”

In other words, not every family is ready to try camping with their 5-year-old. The Deluxe Tents give these families an opportunity to experience “Scouting’s best family vacation” in a way that’s a little more comfortable.

I can speak from experience when I tell you that once you’ve been to Philmont once, you’ll “wanna go back.” Odds are the 4-year-old boy or 5-year-old girl camping in a Deluxe Tent today will be back in a decade to hike Philmont’s trails.

“These tents really do open up the opportunities of Philmont to a much wider audience — of all ages,” Hutchinson says.

All photos courtesy of Alex Cenci, photo manager for Philmont’s Marketing and Photo Services team.  

Scouts Then and Now, Chapter 17

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 10:30am

Welcome to Scouts Then and Now, a Bryan on Scouting blog series. The premise is simple. We share two photos of the same Scout or Venturer: once in his or her early Scouting years (Cub Scout, younger Scout, younger Venturer) and again in his or her later Scouting years (Life Scout, Eagle Scout, older Venturer).

Find Chapter 17 below. And click here to learn how to submit your photos.

Darren from Texas Luke from Michigan Tyler from Ohio Grant and Alex from South Carolina Cole from New York Eric from California Will and Kyle from Arkansas Colton from Mississippi Ryan from Maryland Benjamin from Missouri Cordell, Trent and Evan from Wisconsin Send in your photos and see more

Click here to send in your photos. Click here to see more in this series.

2019 Western Region Eagle Project of the Year: Backpacking for underserved youth

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 8:00am

The statement was equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful.

And at just five words long, it encapsulated the profound need for and transformative power of Zack Moore’s Eagle Scout project.

“I forgot there were stars.”

It was a cloudless final night of a four-day backpacking trip through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The group of 11 was in the middle of “thorns and roses,” where everyone takes turns saying what went well that day and what didn’t.

One young man, on his first ever backpacking trip, pointed to the skies. His rose was something made invisible by big-city light pollution back home: millions and millions of stars.

That type of ah-ha moment is exactly what Zack, an Eagle Scout from California, dreamed of when planning, developing and leading a once-in-a-lifetime backpacking trip for underprivileged youth.

“My goal is to expose kids to these beautiful natural places,” Zack says. “Then develop and support the leaders among them to bring more and more people from their community out each year.”

For his visionary steps to introduce the great outdoors to underserved communities, the Eagle Scout from the Pacific Skyline Council received the 2019 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for the Western Region.

The 2019 Adams awards, detailed in greater depth at the end of this post, recognize outstanding Eagle projects completed by young people who earned Eagle in 2018.

New experiences

For many kids from lower-income families living in a big city, even the closest natural spaces can seem a million miles away.

Zack finds that fact remarkably unfair. He considers himself lucky in life. He trekked at Philmont Scout Ranch, hiked across the Grand Canyon and backpacked the John Muir Trail.

“Every person should see what I have seen in the outdoors, regardless of their resources or where they come from,” Zack says.

Zack believes that everyone has a natural affinity for the outdoors. It’s just that not enough people are willing or able to get outside to experience nature.

“Once they’re out there, with the right gear, the right guidance, and set up to have a great experience,” Zack says, “nature will do the rest.”

The right gear

Backpacking is a bargain when compared to a weeklong beach or ski vacation. But the cost of obtaining suitable backpacking gear can be an obstacle for many.

For his project, Zack turned to Bay Area Wilderness Training, an Oakland-based nonprofit that helps underprivileged young people get outside.

Bay Area Wilderness Training let Zack borrow everything his backpackers would need for the trip, including 14 pairs of hiking boots, 12 fleece jackets, one cooking stove and much more.

Someone not affiliated with Scouting might have simply explained how to use this gear. Zack took it three steps further.

Using the EDGE method — explain, demonstrate, guide, enable — Zack helped the campers learn how to set up a tent, use a portable stove and wear hiking boots.

At a series of meetings and shakedown events, Zack built confidence in the young men that made the backpacking trip more enjoyable for everyone.

Ashanti Branch (left) and the group. The right guidance

Zack’s Eagle project beneficiary was the Ever Forward Club, a nonprofit benefiting young men of color.

The club, founded and led by Ashanti Branch, helped Zack identify participants for the four-day, three-night backpacking trip. Branch recruited the young men, and Zack did the rest.

“The kids selected had never gone backpacking before, and the majority of them had never even camped in any form,” Zack says. “Trying new things out of one’s comfort zone can be distressing to kids, so it was important to prepare them as much as possible for the journey ahead.”

Branch, who joined the trip as an adult leader, called the journey “an incredible experience for the young men in our program.”

“I think that the learning continues long after the trip is over,” Branch says. “Our young men had an incredible adventure to learn about their own selves in a more holistic way.”

A great experience

As the trip progressed, Zack stepped more into the background. It wasn’t always easy to stay quiet, but he discovered that as he did so, several of the young men emerged as natural leaders.

“I learned on this trip that leadership was not about doing everything myself,” Zack says. “It was more about leading everyone initially, then letting kids from the group take what they learned to lead themselves and their peers.”

And that’s how the magic of this project will extend far beyond three nights in the wilderness. Even after his Eagle project was completed in summer 2018, Zack continued working. This summer, he recruited two standout young men from the first trip to each lead a trip into the wilderness.

“More leaders will make it possible to take more kids, creating more leaders, and so on,” Zack says. “Some day, as a result of these efforts, I hope to see more diversity in our national parks and wilderness areas, something I didn’t see anywhere growing up.”

Branch agrees. He believes that now is a critical time to introduce every young person to the world beyond iPads and iPhones.

“Where they’re not looking at a device to evaluate themselves — to evaluate what’s important to them … that can change our communities,” Branch says, “That can change our world. And we need more of that.”

Video recap

Zack created the following video about his project

2019 Eagle Scout Projects of the Year

This post is one of a quartet of articles recognizing four outstanding Eagle projects by Class of 2018 Eagle Scouts.

Each project covered in these posts received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award, or ESSPY.

The ESSPY process begins at the council level, where each council can nominate one outstanding project to the National Eagle Scout Association. From there, one project from each BSA region — Central, Northeast, Western and Southern — is selected to receive the ESSPY.

Regional ESSPY recipients get $500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility.

Next, a special selection committee of the National Eagle Scout Association selects a national winner from among those four recipients. The national ESSPY recipient gets $2,500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility.

2019 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award recipients

  • National winner (representing the Southern Region): Garrett Johnson of Troop 81 in Tulsa, Okla. (Indian Nations Council)
  • Central Region winner: Luke Gwartney of Troop 83 in Olathe, Kan. (Heart of America Council)
  • Northeast Region winner: Peter Livengood of Troop 687 in Dunbar, Pa. (Westmoreland Fayette Council)
  • Western Region winner: Zack Moore of Troop 33 in Mountain View, Calif. (Pacific Skyline Council)
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Aviation Explorers help women’s air race take flight

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 9:00am

Forty teams took off on a 2,538-mile airplane race from Tennessee to Canada in June, but before the pilots started the 43rd Annual Air Race Classic from the McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport, they were greeted by Explorers with Aviation Post 214 of Jackson, Tenn.

The Explorers transported pilots and their gear from planes to the airport terminal. The teams were at the airport for a few days before the start of the race for meetings and briefings, and the Explorers were on hand to help where needed.

“This event would be like Oshkosh but on a much smaller scale which is great, plus seeing all the small planes up and close was cool as well,” says Explorer Haden Johnson.

The race celebrates women’s air racing — all 105 competitors were women. After leaving the Tennessee regional airport, they headed to stops in Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada before reaching Welland, Ontario. It took four days to cover the distance.

Some racers were newcomers to the competition; others were veterans — all had stories about their passion for flying.

“I really enjoyed interacting with the pilots,” says Explorer Kaya Phillips. “They were all different people who shared a love for aviation and being a pilot.”

In addition to helping out the pilots and learning a little bit about them, the Explorers assisted the Memphis chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of women pilots, with serving meals and hosting an educational event for youth at the airport.

Serving others can turn into learning moments for your Scouts, especially when it’s an event related to a career field your Scout is interested in.

Aviation Exploring is open to young men and women, from the sixth grade to 20 years old, who are interested in the aviation career field. To learn more about Exploring and other career fields that Scouts get to delve into, click here and here.

Unsung Heroes: Troop stops wildfire along side of road, thwarting potential disaster

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 8:00am

This is Unsung Heroes, a Bryan on Scouting blog series celebrating under-reported acts of Scouting heroism. These are stories that don’t make national headlines — but should. That’s doubly true in this world that can always use more good news. Read the latest story below, and find instructions for sharing your own Unsung Heroes story at the end of the post.

The Scouts were out — asleep the moment they got into the van and headed home. That day’s 17-mile hike through the Grand Canyon had taken its toll.

But no amount of exhaustion stopped these courageous Scouts.

When the young men of Troop 143 from the Las Vegas Area Council came across a wildfire on the side of the road, they demonstrated bravery and determination that might have prevented a massive blaze.

The van was headed southwest through the Havasupai Indian Reservation, where the Scouts had spent the past three nights hiking and camping. The trip to see spectacular waterfalls and gorgeous scenery resulted in memories the Scouts will cherish forever.

They were about 20 miles northeast of Peach Springs, Ariz., when the Scouts spotted smoke coming from a small fire along the side of the road.

Scoutmaster John Miller stopped the van and pulled over.

With no cell service and the nearest town a half-hour away, the Scouts of Troop 143 say they felt they had little choice but to act.

A Scout is brave — but smart, too

I love seeing Scouts who have the desire to do the right thing, but it’s here I should point out that the BSA doesn’t encourage Scouts or Scout leaders to put out wildfires.

Whenever you see, smell or suspect a fire, call 911.

While we’re on the subject of safety, it seems like an appropriate time to share this Campfire Safety Moment from the BSA’s health and safety team. It offers some quick, useful reminders for anyone planning to enjoy an intentionally lit fire in the near future.

OK, back to our heroes …

What the Scouts did

Like special forces on a mission, the Scouts reacted quickly the moment their Scoutmaster pulled over.

“We were all up and out instantly,” says Star Scout Rocco Bonsignore. “We grabbed what we had left for water and headed toward the fire and smoke.”

The Scouts split into two groups and flanked the fire on either side. They first focused on the larger flames, kicking sand and pouring water on them to deprive them of oxygen.

It was a seemingly Sisyphean exercise. Every time one flame went out, another seemed to pop up. The dry-as-bone ground and 15 mph winds weren’t helping.

While they worked, a driver stopped and told the Scouts he’d go to town and contact the fire department.

“They did not, however, arrive before we had finished and left,” Star Scout Ignatius Miller said.

Troop 143 members rest at their campsite during the trip. ‘We could not be more proud’

With the big flames gone at last, the Scouts shifted their focus to walking the area and stomping out smoky spots.

“Whatever it was that was burning was very stubborn and kept smoldering and smoking despite a lot of effort to put it out,” Eagle Scout Patrick Stanley says.

Finally satisfied that the fire was out cold, the Scouts got back on the road home.

“We could not be more proud of the emergency response of our troop,” Rocco says.

We’re proud too, Rocco.

We rarely read about wildfires that didn’t get out of control. But this is a worthy exception. It’s a story of Scouts who saved acres of farmland and helped people they may never meet.

My hat goes off to Ignatius, Patrick, Rocco, Adam Miller, Diesel Leano, Romeo Perez, Jacob Cardinali and their excellent adult leaders. Well done, Scouts.

Share your Unsung Heroes story

Stories like these brighten my day — especially because I know this kind of thing happens regularly in Scouting.

Here’s how to share the news of an Unsung Hero in your pack, troop or crew:

  1. Send an email to me with the subject line “Unsung Heroes.”
  2. Include a detailed summary of the heroic act.
  3. Include any “supporting documentation” you can. Examples include links to a story in your local newspaper, paperwork for a Scouting heroism award nomination or eyewitness accounts.
  4. Include high-res photos of the Unsung Hero.

Thanks to Mike Marchese for the blog post idea.

Recharter form confirms Neil Armstrong’s status as Eagle Scout, Boys’ Life subscriber

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 9:00am

Consider it one small step toward confirming something we’ve known all along — and one giant leap toward proving something that hadn’t been reported previously.

A newly uncovered troop recharter form substantiates Neil Armstrong’s status as an Eagle Scout and proves that the first person on the moon subscribed to Boys’ Life magazine.

Jim Mason, development director for the BSA’s Black Swamp Area Council, found the priceless artifact on July 22 — just two days after the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. His council was formed about 27 years ago with the merger of the Shawnee Council, of which Armstrong was a member, and the Put-Han-Sen Council.

Mason discovered the document “in an old file cabinet we had in a storage room, while I was looking for something else,” Mason says.

He says the recharter paperwork had a note attached that read, “this paper contains the only reference we have to Neil Armstrong being an Eagle Scout.”

What the document tells us

The recharter form is from October 1949, when Armstrong was 19.

His address is listed as 601 W. Benton St. in Wapakoneta, Ohio, the house into which the Armstrong family moved in 1944. Today, the house is a private residence but remains a popular drive-by attraction for fans of space history.

Armstrong is listed as 19 years old, “E” for Eagle, and an “Associate Scout,” which was the term at the time for someone affiliated with the troop but unable to be a full-time participant in troop activities.

The reason for Armstrong’s “Associate Scout” status was a noble one. In January 1949, he was called into action with the U.S. Navy to fight in the Korean War.

Armstrong’s younger brother was a member of Troop 14, as well. At recharter time, the 14-year-old Dean was a Life Scout.

Neil Armstrong loved planes, so it’s not hard to picture him sitting down to study the words and pictures in a Boys’ Life story about aviation. The Boys’ Life connection

One simple X tells quite the story.

Back then, recharter forms asked troop leaders to confirm whether members are subscribing to Boys’ Life this year: yes or no.

Troop 14 marked “yes.”

While we can’t say for sure, I like to picture Neil Armstrong rushing to the mailbox to get his copy of Boys’ Life each month before Dean or his younger sister, June, could get there.

Neil Armstrong loved planes as a boy, so he would’ve especially enjoyed Boys’ Life stories about aviation and great aviators.

I also like to picture today’s Scouts — boys and girls — reading the BSA’s iconic magazine and getting inspiration for their own small steps and giant leaps.

More on Armstrong’s Scouting connection

10 Scouting facts you probably didn’t know about Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong

Eagle Scout business leader recalls the time when Neil Armstrong drove him to his council’s Eagle dinner

Neil Armstrong’s success in space didn’t surprise his fellow Boy Scouts

Scouts, leaders honored with awards at the World Scout Jamboree

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 9:00am

What better setting to receive a Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award than with Scouts from all over the world? More than 200 youth from nine countries earned bronze, silver and gold distinctions of the internationally-recognized honor during the World Scout Jamboree. The ceremony was part of several award events during the jamboree, which wrapped up at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia last week.

Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

Youth have been striving for this award since the 1950s. Last year, the Boy Scouts of America partnered with the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA, bringing the opportunity for American Scouts to earn the award. It’s available for young people ages 14 to 24 who devote months to community service, learning new skills and participating in physical fitness and adventurous activities. Nine Americans earned the award, including Chicago-area Venturer Lillian Weihert, who received a Silver Award.

“It has taught me how to stay more committed and on a single goal,” she says.

Worldwide, the award draws more than 1.3 million participants and 200,000 volunteers in more than 130 countries and territories. Some of the other countries represented during the jamboree ceremony included Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Slovakia, Ireland and Australia.

This year, more 700 Americans in 13 states have participated in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program. Read more about the requirements and which councils are offering it here.

“Ask anyone from abroad about the award and likely they will tell you it celebrates what young people are capable of,” says Elizabeth Higgins-Beard, CEO of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA. “The award challenges them to reflect, dig a bit deeper and perhaps try something new.”

Scouts BSA, Venturing Awards

Several Scouts capped off advancement journeys at the World Scout Jamboree, completing Eagle Scout or Venturing Pathfinder boards of review.

A couple of new Eagles include Zachary Cline of Troop 527 in Kokomo, Ind., and Grant Guara of Troop 89 in Bettendorf, Iowa. Will Cooper of Crew 4385 of Princeton, N.J., earned his Eagle Scout Award earlier this summer and completed his board of review for the Venturing Pathfinder Award while at the jamboree.

Zachary Cline Will Cooper Grant Guara Novus Champions

Each camper at the World Scout Jamboree wore a digital wristband as part of a jamboree-wide game called Novus. They could “click” their wristbands with others merely by touching them together; doing so would instantly share contact information and digital profiles, so campers could keep in touch with their new friends for years to come. The more you connected with others, the more you were rewarded with digital badges and points. Winners of the Novus game were selected from each region, base camp and sub-camp and received special neckerchiefs.

Others received participation awards by clicking their wristbands at different areas around the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

The Novus wristbands were a cool element to the jamboree. Not only were they used to help you connect with others, but they lit up during concerts at the stadium shows.

Wood Badge

A handful of leaders earned their Wood Badge beads at the Summit. Read more about Wood Badge courses and why you should consider taking one here.

2019 Northeast Region Eagle Project of the Year: A smarter way to filter stormwater

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 8:00am

When it rains in cities and towns across the U.S., it pours.

And in this case, “it” refers to oil, salt, gasoline and other debris that gets washed down the road and into rivers, lakes and streams.

Bioswales are nature’s filter for this repugnant runoff. Strategically placed along roadsides and filled with mulch or native plants, bioswales absorb the gunk and let clean water pass through.

Or, at least that’s the way they’re supposed to work. Unfortunately, all 30 bioswales in the borough of Ohiopyle, Pa., had seen better days. They were clogged with debris and overrun with weeds.

For the past seven years, officials had tried, unsuccessfully, to fix the bioswales.

And then, at last, a Scout came along.

Peter Livengood, a member of Troop 687 from Farmington, Pa., orchestrated a massive makeover of every bioswale in Ohiopyle, eliminating a major source of pollution into the Youghiogheny River.

“The work completed during Peter’s project far exceeded any of the expectations of the borough,” Liz McCarty, borough president, writes in a letter praising the project. “The bioswales now function better than when they were originally installed.”

For his tireless effort to beautify and protect the health of his community, the Eagle Scout from the Westmoreland-Fayette Council received the 2019 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for the Northeast Region. He also received a William T. Hornaday Silver Medal.

The 2019 Adams awards, detailed in greater depth at the end of this post, recognize outstanding Eagle projects completed by young people who earned Eagle in 2018.

Making a plan

Big tasks are better accomplished one chunk at a time. Sensing this, Peter divided his project into smaller steps:

  1. Prepare the project plan.
  2. Get approval from his troop, troop committee, council, and the Ohiopyle borough.
  3. Begin fundraising efforts.
  4. Plan workdays and recruit the workforce.
  5. Assess and clean the current bioswales.
  6. Create the improved bioswales.
  7. Place informational signs.
  8. Contact local newspapers to publicize his helpers’ efforts.
  9. Complete paperwork and submit project report.

Raising the money

Peter calculated that he’d need nearly $25,000 to pull this off, but few 17-year-olds have that kind of cash lying around.

To raise the money, Peter created donation bins to place in local businesses, started a GoFundMe page and received a $2,000 donation from the organizers of a local wine festival.

His total cash donations: $8,272.21.

But Peter wasn’t just asking for money. He also asked around for donated materials and supplies, and businesses responded with a resounding yes.

Lowes donated 378 bags of topsoil, while Home Depot chipped in with five 100-foot rolls of commercial weed barrier fabric. Dozens of businesses donated essentials like plants, safety vests for the workers and pizza for a well-deserved lunch break.

In total, Peter secured $16,565.05 in donated supplies. Add that to the cash donations, and Peter raised a total of $24,837.26 for his project.

I think it’s worth pointing out that not a penny of that money was raised by phone, email or text.

“I was dressed in my full Scout uniform and personally visited local businesses when seeking donations,” Peter says.

An Ohiopyle bioswale before (left) and after. Recruiting volunteers

Under Peter’s leadership, 49 workers combined to devote 1,977 hours of service to the project.

At the current value of volunteer time — $25.43 per hour — that’s more than $50,000 worth of service to their community.

Most Eagle Scout hopefuls find enough helpers within their own troop, but Peter knew he’d need additional help.

To recruit Scouts, Peter visited seven different troops and presented at his Order of the Arrow lodge. At each stop, he made a 20-minute presentation on bioswales, complete with visual aids.

“After my presentations, I would ask the Scoutmasters if there were any ways I could have made my presentation more effective,” Peter says. “I incorporated those suggestions into my future presentations.”

What he learned

An Eagle Scout project offers an excellent lesson in something all of us eventually learn about the working world. We come to understand that our job title is more of a suggestion, and our job responsibilities extend far beyond what was outlined in the job description.

So while an Eagle Scout hopeful might be the project supervisor, they end up doing much more than that.

Peter experienced this lesson first-hand.

He was a project manager, a salesman and a recruiter. He immersed himself in the real-world arenas of logistics, human resources, surveying, gardening and engineering — learning on the job when necessary.

When the borough gave Peter a map of the existing bioswales, he quickly realized it wasn’t accurate. So he and his brother, a mechanical engineer, went out and created their own map.

The trend continued once the project was underway.

“Some days, I was supervisor. Some days I was the chief laborer,” Peter says. “Other days, I was a bioswale engineer, weighing different options to help the bioswale function.”

An ongoing solution

Peter didn’t want his project to be a temporary fix for an ongoing problem. So he used the $3,000 left over from his project to create the Ohiopyle Bioswale Maintenance Fund.

He also successfully persuaded the borough to hire a maintenance official to keep the bioswales operating at peak efficiency. The new official’s on-the-job training should be a breeze, thanks to a document Peter developed alongside his project.

“He created an extremely articulate maintenance manual for the borough to help keep the bioswales functioning properly,” McCarty writes. “The borough of Ohiopyle will be forever grateful to Peter for taking on this project.”

2019 Eagle Scout Projects of the Year

This post is one of a quartet of articles recognizing four outstanding Eagle projects by Class of 2018 Eagle Scouts.

Each project covered in these posts received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award, or ESSPY.

The ESSPY process begins at the council level, where each council can nominate one outstanding project to the National Eagle Scout Association. From there, one project from each BSA region — Central, Northeast, Western and Southern — is selected to receive the ESSPY.

Regional ESSPY recipients get $500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility.

Next, a special selection committee of the National Eagle Scout Association selects a national winner from among those four recipients. The national ESSPY recipient gets $2,500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility.

2019 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award recipients

  • National winner (representing the Southern Region): Garrett Johnson of Troop 81 in Tulsa, Okla. (Indian Nations Council)
  • Central Region winner: Luke Gwartney of Troop 83 in Olathe, Kan. (Heart of America Council)
  • Northeast Region winner: Peter Livengood of Troop 687 in Dunbar, Pa. (Westmoreland Fayette Council)
    • This post
  • Western Region winner: Zack Moore of Troop 33 in Mountain View, Calif. (Pacific Skyline Council)
    • Read about his project in a future Bryan on Scouting post

How Scouts stepped up to serve after the Southern California earthquakes

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 8:00am

When Scouts hear about someone in need, they don’t just shake their heads in sorrow.

They spring into service.

That’s exactly what happened after a series of earthquakes shook Southern California last month. A group of Cub Scouts, Scouts and Venturers from the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles rallied their community to help the hardest-hit victims.

Over three days, the Scouts collected more than 20,000 pounds of bottled water and 8,000 pounds of nonperishable food and hygiene products. They worked with disaster relief officials to determine the best place to send the items — somewhere the donations would have the greatest impact.

They settled on Trona, Calif., a town of 2,000 devastated by the earthquakes. A pair of earthquakes — magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 — “cracked the very foundations of the town,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

The Scouts loaded the items into a trio of vehicles: a 26-foot box truck, a full pickup towing a 12-foot trailer and a packed van.

“Being helpful is what we do as Scouts, without the expectation of a reward,” says Rachel Garfield, 15, a Tenderfoot Scout from Troop 145 of Acton, Calif. “But, you know, we did get rewards. We were given smiles, handshakes and hugs.”

A community effort

I like to think that humans are naturally good, and Scouts can help bring out that goodness in everyone.

The Scouts from the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council proved that theory by encouraging strangers to be friendly, courteous and kind to others. The young people’s generosity proved infectious, spreading to people and businesses across the Antelope Valley.

Staples donated a banner and printed hundreds of flyers. Home Depot chipped in boxes, tape and stretch wrap. The local Walmart let the uniformed Scouts and Venturers set up a booth outside to distribute flyers and collect items.

And all along the way, community members donated items to people in need.

“It was a good learning experience for everyone involved,” says Troop 145 Assistant Scoutmaster Olga Garfield. “During the three days, we met many people of different ages, races and socioeconomic status. They all had big, kind hearts and felt the need to help.”

Delivering the donations

When completing a Scouting service project, you don’t always meet the beneficiary. You often have to be content knowing that you did something good and leave it at that.

This time was an exception. The Scouts and Venturers traveled to Trona to help unload and deliver the supplies.

“I saw the faces of Trona’s residents,” says Leah Garfield, 13, a Tenderfoot Scout from Troop 145. “Their smiles made me happy and proud of what we did.”

I think I speak for the entire Scouting family when we say we’re happy and proud of what you did, too.

Life Scout’s ingenious method for recycling plastic foam may just save the planet

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 8:00am

It can take a plastic foam cup 500 to 1,000 years — or longer — to biodegrade.

Keerthin Karthikeyan refused to wait that long.

Keerthin, a 14-year-old Life Scout from Troop 45 of Oxford, Miss., discovered an innovative new method for recycling a substance so environmentally harmful that it has been banned in dozens of cities.

He’s turning this waste material, which Keerthin calls “one of the deadliest things humanity has ever created,” into a sustainable product with numerous applications.

For his efforts, Keerthin won a Silver Medal at last month’s Genius Olympiad International Project Competition in New York.

But here’s my favorite part. Keerthin’s inspiration for this potentially Earth-changing development was his time camping, hiking and building fires as a Scout in the Yocona Area Council.

“Scouting has helped me become more aware of nature and my surroundings,” he says. “Otherwise, I would not have realized how catastrophic Styrofoam pollution is to the Earth.”

How it began

It all started at a picnic with his family.

Two years ago, Keerthin finished eating an orange and placed the peels into a plastic foam cup. When he collected his trash and prepared to leave, Keerthin noticed some unexplained scratches inside the cup.

Something clicked inside Keerthin’s brain, and he began to examine how oil from citrus fruits will dissolve plastic foam.

While researching other ways to dissolve this foam, he came across the idea of charring it like firewood.

How Scouting helped

This, naturally, is where the Scouting connection comes in.

Keerthin knew from his time with Troop 45 that it was possible to make charcoal, a lightweight black form of carbon, from wood. You simply char the wood in a low-oxygen environment.

Keerthin wondered whether he could char plastic foam in the same way. He tried it, and it worked, creating a black substance he calls Styro-Carbon.

Carbon has nearly limitless uses — it can whiten your teeth, treat emergency room overdoses and purify water.

It’s that last application that intrigued Keerthin the most.

“During hiking trips, we purified dirty water using carbon filters,” he says. “I understood the importance of carbon filters.”

Scouting and STEM

When people think of Scouting, their minds conjure images of backpacking through lush valleys and ascending rugged mountaintops. They don’t always think of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.

Keerthin says it’s time for that to change.

“They view Scouts as outdoors, while they view STEM as in a laboratory or having to do with robotics,” Keerthin says. “If you dig deeper, though, you can realize that a whole section of STEM has to do with outdoor science.”

He suggests that his fellow Scouts invite scientists to their troop meetings or campouts to solidify this connection.

Doing this, he hypothesizes, will “create a bridge between Scouting and STEM — the bridge being the outdoors.”

Scouting is ‘one of the greatest decisions’ he’s made

Keerthin says he joined Scouting because someone came to his school and “gave us a cool flashlight.”

“But, in retrospect, it was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made,” Keerthin says.

Beyond enjoying time outdoors, Keerthin appreciates the leadership skills he’s learning in Scouting.

At summer camp this year, Keerthin served as acting senior patrol leader — experience that built his confidence and ability to lead a group of his peers.

“I had to make sure we all left for flag ceremony and breakfast in the morning, made sure all the Scouts left for classes early enough to get to their respective places on time, and made sure everything was neat and orderly for camp inspection,” he says. “We were proud to earn the ‘Best Troop Award’ this year.”

Those leadership skills also served Keerthin well during his Eagle Scout service project. He built a flag retirement box at the Oxford, Miss., police station.

Thanks to this soon-to-be Eagle Scout, local residents can place worn-out American flags inside the box, and Keerthin will ensure that they are retired in the proper way.

Thanks to Ty Robinson, Yocona Area Council commissioner, for the post idea.

Celebrating culture at the World Scout Jamboree

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 10:30am

Last week, Scouts at the World Scout Jamboree took a break from the high adventure activities that the Summit Bechtel Reserve offers to share what they love about their home countries with their fellow campers.

Games, food, dances, traditions — they were all available for Scouts to enjoy as they ventured from their campsites to neighboring sites. English Scouts served biscuits and tea; Italian Scouts cooked pasta; Japanese Scouts made origami, and some American Scouts shared how to play this country’s pastime: baseball.

For those who wanted to cook, Scouts shopped at the food markets that are available at the base camps. During the two weeks of the Jamboree, these shops are equipped to accommodate millions of meals.

As a side note, let’s look at the totals of food available across all these markets:

  • 774,345 bread products (sliced bread, bagels, tortillas, hamburger buns, etc.)
  • 190,000 boxes of cereal
  • 19,000 half-gallons of milk
  • 20 tons of rice
  • 92,000 Rice Krispy Treats
  • 415,120 eggs
  • 3 tons of American cheese slices
  • 1 ton of goat cheese
  • 1 ton of Brie cheese
  • 98,000 tomatoes
  • 4,476 gallons of marinara sauce
  • 15,000 onions
  • 120,000 apples
  • 4,000 gallons of apple juice
  • 82,416 cups of apple sauce
  • 39,312 individual apple pies

That’s plenty to work with to create some delicious dishes to share.

Live from the Jamboree

We reported via Facebook Live during this day, checking out the different camps and what they were sharing about their home countries.

In this video below, at the 2:40 mark, I play Sjoelen at a Dutch camp. Six minutes into the livestream, I visit a New Jersey troop, playing cards. Skip ahead to the 9-minute mark where I talk with Scouts from Australia and the United Kingdom, sharing how great it is to connect with Scouts from all over the world. At the 16-minute mark, a Japanese Scout writes my name in Japanese. In between these highlights, you can see Scouts playing games and serving tasty dishes from their homeland.

In this livestream, it starts with an impromptu game in a Danish camp. At the 3-minute mark, it’s over to a Belgian campsite for a card game. The rest of the video features patch-trading with a sudden musical appearance.

This livestream below starts with a lesson on Portugal. The Scout leading the lesson told me she wanted to set up a booth to educate others about her country. Nine minutes in, I talk with Scouts from the U.K. about what they’ve liked about the Jamboree. Then, I find some more Scouts trading patches.

Finally, in the last livestream of the day, I walk around the crowd at the AT&T Summit Stadium before the Unity Show.

Unity Show

The day ended with a colorful and insightful show at the AT&T Summit Stadium. A mariachi band played, Scouts shared aspects of their religious beliefs and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake from Sri Lanka delivered an inspiring speech on making a difference. More than 408 million youth live in conflict-stricken areas around the world, she says. For true, lasting peace, change needs to come from communities, especially young people.

“You don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman with a cape,” Wickramanayake says. “A Scout in a neckerchief can change the world.”

Shortly after her speech, the stage transformed in color to symbolize a spiritual campfire, and it spread into the crowd as every camper’s Novus wristbands began glowing orange. These wristbands have been used to digitally connect with others, but they took on a new role for the Unity Show.

Then, the 45,000 Scouts and leaders in the crowd were treated to a surprise concert by Broadway performers, singing Disney songs from Tarzan, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. “Let It Go” was a crowd favorite, for sure, as the Novus wristbands lit up again in blue and white.

The World Scout Jamboree wraps up this week. Watch the Closing Show tonight at 8 p.m. EST here.

Emails that make Scouting more fun: Introducing BL BAM!

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 9:00am

You’ve never seen an email newsletter like BL BAM!

It’s the first and only newsletter for Scouts.

No sales pitch. No lengthy reads. Just family-friendly jokes and electrifying how-tos brought to you by Boys’ Life. Read on to learn more, or jump ahead and sign up for BL BAM.

5 reasons Scouts and parents already love BL BAM!

If your Scouts have email addresses, you can feel safe knowing this newsletter is hitting their inboxes. Here’s why:

  1. BL BAM is packed with kid-safe, curated content from the team who knows what kids love. Boys’ Life has been on the ground with Scouts for more than a century. And, like always, we’re committed to meeting kids on their terms (whether that’s in print, on their social media feeds or in their inboxes).
  2. You heard us mention jokes at the top of this post. But it stands to be repeated just how many jokes we’ve got queued up to make your Scouts laugh. Honestly, we’ve got more jokes than your dad. Plus, each joke of the day is submitted by a Boys’ Life reader.
  3. Know how to make a mason-jar bird feeder? Or fold an origami X-wing Starfighter? Or tie a friendship knot? We do. And if your Scouts subscribe to BL BAM, they’ll learn, too, with help from step-by-step instructions tailored to all kinds of learning styles. Scouts even have chances to submit their finished creations to be featured on
  4. BL BAM aims to inspire creativity in every Scout! Getting your kids’ minds working is what we do. Your Scout may be inspired to write and submit a joke, have a better and brighter day, or complete a how-to project that builds major confidence.
  5. Newsletters are easy to share! With a few taps or clicks, your Scouts can share family-friendly jokes, games and mind-blowing articles with their friends.
Subscribe to the only newsletter for Scouts

Are you and your Scouts ready to sign up for a fun and safe newsletter for kids? It’s easy. Just subscribe here or using the form below.

Sign Up for BL BAM

Online Form – BL BAM Email Large Widget

If you’ve already signed up or have initial thoughts on what your Scouts would love to see in a newsletter, let us know in the comments below.

Balloon launched from World Scout Jamboree floats across the Atlantic Ocean

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 10:00am

You can reach practically any corner of the globe via amateur radio. That’s the message K2BSA wanted to show Scouts at the World Scout Jamboree. Those in the amateur radio association launched four mylar balloons from the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, in hopes that one would catch the jet stream and end up on the other side of the world.

One did.

Each balloon, about 3 feet in diameter, was equipped with a global positioning system and an amateur radio transmitter. This combination of devices could relay information about weather conditions, the balloons’ movement and location. Solar panels power the transmitter, sending signals during daylight hours. Filled with high-grade helium, each balloon could reach a height between 28,000 to 32,000 feet — that’s nearly as high as most commercial planes fly.

Watch the launch of the first balloon here:

The first balloon, launched July 21, was only in the air for several hours before it was last tracked northeast of The Summit, still in West Virginia.

The second balloon, however, which went up July 24, sent its last message two days later — from Spain. Specifically, the balloon reported back from the north-central part of the country, near the village of Bordecorex.

The third balloon was launched July 27. The next day, signals were sent back from New Jersey; the next day, it appeared to be floating by Newfoundland.

“We’ll continue to monitor this payload as it progresses,” says Bill Stearns, K2BSA vice president.

The final balloon went up July 29 and is tracking the opposite direction, last tracked over eastern Kentucky.

Radio into space

The amateur radio association also arranged communication with the International Space Station on July 27. Scouts were able to ask astronaut and assistant Scoutmaster Andrew Morgan some questions about space and his 8-month mission in space.

Watch the communication during the first 10 minutes of the video below. The rest of the video shows some of the cool tents set up around the World Point Stage, where the transmission happened.



For more than 60 years, amateur radio has been a fun part of the World Scout Jamboree. The Jamboree-on-the-Air was launched during the 1957 World Scout Jamboree in the United Kingdom.

Scoutbook should be your go-to app for your next den meeting

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 9:00am

If you’re a den leader, you’re going to love the latest update to Scoutbook! The Boy Scouts of America’s online tool for tracking Scouting advancement just rolled out a new update that’s going to make it easier than ever for den leaders to prepare for and lead meetings, track advancement and attendance, and more.  

“We want to help all den leaders — both new and experienced — feel equipped to run awesome den meetings that the kids enjoy and that parents consider to be a valuable use of their family’s time,” says Ryan Hill, the BSA’s national director of DigitalStrategy.

Rather than having to juggle leader books and other resources, den leaders will be able to do everything they need from within the app — from organizing meetings for the year to preparing for their next meeting to tracking attendance and advancement. They will even be able to communicate with parents of absent Scouts about what their kids need to do at home to get caught up.

Also new in Scoutbook for den leaders, now the Cub Scout required adventures for each rank have been thoughtfully organized into roughly 12 meetings, making planning out meetings for the year simpler than ever.

“If you attend these required meetings, and your den leader simply keeps attendance in the app, then you have earned your advancement and you’ve also received the full value that we’ve always designed for you to get out of Scouting,” Hill says.

These changes are designed to help streamline and simplify work for leaders, so they can be more prepared for their Scouting adventures. It’s the same great program, just made easier.

“We know how busy families today can be, and that your time is valuable,” Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh says. “You want more time for you and your Scouts to explore, have fun and create positive life-changing memories in the Scouting program. The Scoutbook app helps accomplish that.”

These exciting new improvements to Scoutbook are specific to the Cub Scout den leader experience at this time, but it’s only a matter of time before leaders of other Scouting programs will see upgrades to their Scoutbook experience too.

“We’ve spent a lot of time interviewing den leaders, parents and Scouts from around the country,” Hill says. “We’ve received a lot of really great ideas we’re excited to roll out in future phases to bring new levels of fun and simplicity to everyone in Scouting.”

Scoutbook answers

Log on to Scoutbook to make sure your unit is ready to adopt these updates this fall.

If you are a den leader and your pack is onboarded to Scoutbook, your pack administrator will send you an invite to connect in Scoutbook. This will prompt you to create an account.

Read more answers to frequently asked questions here.

2019 Central Region Eagle Project of the Year: Memorial for fallen peace officers

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 8:00am

As a member of his school’s Public Safety Academy, Luke Gwartney knew his Eagle Scout project would benefit local law enforcement heroes.

The 17-year-old has a beyond-his-years appreciation for the brave individuals who protect our communities.

But Luke hadn’t settled on a specific project until some deputies from the sheriff’s office in Johnston County, Kan., came to visit his school. That’s when Luke learned of Brandon Collins, a sheriff’s deputy killed in 2016 while conducting a routine traffic stop.

Luke, a member of Troop 83 from Olathe, Kan., wanted to find a way to honor peace officers like Collins who died protecting and serving their fellow citizens — people who “put the uniform and badge on, protecting our cities, counties and nation, and not knowing if they will return home to see their families,” Luke says.

Luke designed and led the construction of a touching, thoughtful memorial to fallen heroes.

“No matter how dark times get,” Luke says, “this memorial will shed light on those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

For his selfless service and commitment to helping his community heal, the Eagle Scout from the Heart of America Council received the 2019 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for the Central Region.

The 2019 Adams awards, detailed in greater depth at the end of this post, recognize outstanding Eagle projects completed by young people who earned Eagle in 2018.

A meaningful memorial

The memorial sits on a circular patch of grass encircled by white poles and chains.

A concrete path leads to a device called a Tribute Stone, which uses audio recordings to tell the story of Collins’ death — and, just as importantly, his life. The stone sits in front of a wall and a sign reading “Duty. Honor. Service.”

To the right rests a granite bench bearing the name of Collins and two other officers killed in the line of duty: Sgt. Willard N. Carver and Detective Gerald A. Foote.

Before Luke came along, the Tribute Stone had been stored inside while the sheriff’s office tried to find a permanent location. Now it has a long-term home sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who walks by.

Deputy Claire Canaan, a spokeswoman for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, tells me that the impact of Luke’s project “will be felt for years to come.”

“It will also cause all people — sheriff’s office employees, visitors, citizens — to pause for a moment and remember those public servants we have lost across the nation while simply doing their job,” she says. “It will serve to remind all future employees what level of dedication and valor is necessary to put on this uniform and wear this badge.”

What he learned

An aspiring Eagle Scout quickly learns that an Eagle Scout service project is far different from a standard service project.

There’s the whole “plan, develop and give leadership” part I’ve blogged about before.

As Luke watched his helpers pour concrete mix, plant Colorado blue spruce trees and install metal poles, this fact became abundantly clear.

“I learned that being the leader is very different from being the worker,” he says.

At the beginning of each of five different workdays, Luke gathered his helpers, explained the goal for that day and delivered reminders about safety. He then split the group into smaller crews and outlined each crew’s specific job.

During the hours that followed, Luke circulated from crew to crew to see if they needed extra supplies, had questions, and were staying safe and hydrated. He pitched in, too, demonstrating that leaders do more than stand around with their arms crossed.

And when the Pizza Hut delivery driver arrived with lunch, Luke paid the bill and made sure his workers got fed before he grabbed a slice. Leaders eat last.

Looking back, Luke says the project helped him with presentation skills, communication and the ability to rally a team behind a cause.

“I had some leadership skills before, but this project definitely advanced those skills,” Luke says. “Before this, I was kind of a shy-ish leader, but I learned a leader can’t be shy.”

How he raised money

I’ll add another skill Luke demonstrated: fundraising.

He initially estimated the project would cost about $2,000. But as his planning continued and the donations poured in, he increased the size and features of the memorial — adding touches like the memorial bench and four light poles.

“I needed to raise a good amount of money to make this project as beautiful as possible,” Luke says.

To raise that money, Luke set up a concession stand outside of a nearby Bass Pro Shops location.

He also visited local businesses in person, securing more than $6,000 in donated supplies and equipment.

Combining funds raised and the value of donated materials, Luke secured more than $12,700 for the project.

In the end, Luke raised too much money. He was able to donate the excess — totaling more than $3,000 — to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

This practice is in line with the BSA’s rules, as outlined in the document titled “Procedures and Limitations on Eagle Scout Project Fundraising,” found in the Eagle Project Workbook.

Here’s the relevant line: “All proceeds left over from fundraising or donations, whether money, materials, supplies, etc., regardless of the source, go to the beneficiary.”

Luke’s project is about giving back to those who gave their all, and we couldn’t be more proud. Nicely done.

2019 Eagle Scout Projects of the Year

This post is one of a quartet of articles recognizing four outstanding Eagle projects by Class of 2018 Eagle Scouts.

Each project covered in these posts received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award, or ESSPY.

The ESSPY process begins at the council level, where each council can nominate one outstanding project to the National Eagle Scout Association. From there, one project from each BSA region — Central, Northeast, Western and Southern — is selected to receive the ESSPY.

Regional ESSPY recipients get $500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility.

Next, a special selection committee of the National Eagle Scout Association selects a national winner from among those four recipients. The national ESSPY recipient gets $2,500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility.

2019 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award recipients

  • National winner (representing the Southern Region): Garrett Johnson of Troop 81 in Tulsa, Okla. (Indian Nations Council)
  • Central Region winner: Luke Gwartney of Troop 83 in Olathe, Kan. (Heart of America Council)
    • This post
  • Northeast Region winner: Peter Livengood of Troop 687 in Dunbar, Pa. (Westmoreland Fayette Council)
    • Read about his project in a future Bryan on Scouting post
  • Western Region winner: Zack Moore of Troop 33 in Mountain View, Calif. (Pacific Skyline Council)
    • Read about his project in a future Bryan on Scouting post

How you can welcome families moving from LDS units to your pack or troop

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 8:00am

Mati Mayfield has a helpful, friendly and courteous message for Scouting families who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She wants them to know that their Scouting journey doesn’t have to end at the end of 2019.

Last year, we reported that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is bringing its youth programs in-house, meaning the Church will no longer charter Scout units beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

The dedicated volunteer from the BSA’s Utah National Parks Council has a plan to welcome those families into community-based packs and troops.

This advice didn’t come from thin air. Mayfield has hit the trail to talk with Church members and fellow Scouting volunteers. And because a Scout is helpful and kind, she’s sharing what she’s learned with Bryan on Scouting readers.

Meet Mati Mayfield

You probably know a volunteer a lot like Mayfield — the kind of Scouter who makes friends everywhere she goes.

She’s the one who bakes cupcakes that say “Den Hike: Thursday 9 a.m.” to remind pack members of an upcoming event. She’s the one who rallies hundreds of her fellow Scouters at the Philmont Training Center. And she’s the one in the bright red New Member Coordinator polo introducing Scouting to new families at recruiting events.

She does all of this with a smile that serves as an immediate icebreaker. By meeting Mayfield, families get instant confirmation that Scouting is the right fit for them — and they get a delicious treat that makes the encounter even more memorable.

“She enjoys inviting new members to join in the fun — finding their talents and interests,” says Linda Baker, a Silver Buffalo Award recipient and chair of the New Member Coordinator Task Force. “Delivering personalized, homemade cakes is part of her repertoire of involving everyone.”

Now that you’ve met Mayfield, let’s get back to her latest mission: Making sure Latter-day Saints feel welcome as they continue their involvement with Scouting.

For Church members looking for a new Scouting home

Mayfield encourages members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to explore the BSA’s unit locator tool, found at

Families can enter their ZIP code, and the site shows the closest Cub Scout packs, Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships. (This is a good reminder to unit leaders to make sure your BeAScout pin is up to date!)

Once families have identified a few nearby units, Mayfield suggests a few more steps:

  1. Visit more than one unit. “You might find that one suits your family more than another one, even if it’s a bit farther away,” she says. “Not all units Scout the same way.”
  2. Visit your top unit more than once.
  3. Take the family and a friend to the unit meeting.
  4. Ask questions and get contact information. “Getting contact information from their New Member Coordinator means that you can ask questions when you get home,” Mayfield says. “Not all questions come to mind while at the meeting.”
For community packs and troops welcoming Church members

Mayfield might be biased, but she believes all packs and troops should have a New Member Coordinator. (We agree and have been making that case for a while, both here and on Scouting magazine’s ScoutCast podcast.)

“It’s a relatively new position — but one that is extremely valuable,” Mayfield says. “This person, or group of people, can have a variety of responsibilities and can help new families feel welcome when they arrive for meetings or events.”

She offers these reminders about the New Member Coordinator:

  • The New Member Coordinator doesn’t wear a uniform because a new family might feel more comfortable being welcomed by someone in casual clothing. The BSA has a whole line of New Member Coordinator accessories to help you be identified.
  • Provide new families with a welcome packet that includes information about the unit, meetings, outings, fundraising, membership, uniforming and more.
  • Sit with the new family during the meeting, get their contact information and invite them back for the new meeting. “I hand them my business card with my information and get their cell number and text them a thank you right away,” Mayfield says.

Beyond the importance of a New Member Coordinator, Mayfield offers three more tips:

  • Keep your website and social media accounts up to date. When families who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are looking for a new unit, they’ll likely scout you out online.
  • Be warm, welcoming and willing to talk. Latter-day Saints understand the aims and methods of Scouting, but because of the unique nature of their involvement, there are some aspects of Scouting they haven’t experienced. For example, they might be less familiar with recruitment strategies or fundraising projects.
  • Welcome people the way that you welcome them. For Mayfield, that’s baking. “I’ll make cookies, cupcakes and even cakes to welcome people,” she says. “There’s nothing quite like the personal touch of having a treat delivered to your door.”

Astronaut talks from orbit to Scouts at the World Scout Jamboree

Sat, 07/27/2019 - 10:30am

The World Scout Jamboree reaches Scouts and Scouters from nearly every corner of the globe. This week, it connected with a Scouter who is out of this world.

Astronaut and assistant Scoutmaster Andrew Morgan of Troop 452 in Friendswood, Texas, answered Scouts’ questions while aboard the International Space Station. He arrived on the ISS just a few days prior to the video call with Scouts, and he was prepared for it, wearing his Scout uniform and displaying a World Scout Jamboree flag during the call. He will be in space until March 2020, serving as a flight engineer while the crew conducts science experiments and does spacewalks to make repairs.

As an assistant scoutmaster and a father of scouts, it was a pleasure to join the World Scout Jamboree from @Space_Station. The #ScoutJamboree, much like Station, brings out the best of international cooperation and service for something bigger than ourselves!

— Andrew Morgan (@AstroDrewMorgan) July 25, 2019

Talking with Scouts

The call only lasted about 20 minutes, but that was enough time for Scouts to ask about Morgan’s mission and his connection with Scouting. Morgan will be in orbit for two expeditions, which will focus on experiments ranging from robotics to RNA sequencing.

NASA selected Morgan, an emergency physician in the U.S. Army, in 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. After two years, he completed his initial training before working in NASA’s robotics and crew operations branches.

“The training we receive is so excellent, and thus far in my mission, I feel like I’ve been fully trained for everything that I have encountered,” he says.

Morgan is used to being prepared. He was a Cub Scout and got involved in Scouting again with his children, his oldest earning the Eagle Scout Award a couple of weeks prior to his launch. He also has three daughters, one of whom is about to join Scouting. He plans to stay involved with the troop while in space.

He also shared why he thinks being in Scouting is so important.

“It teaches you what I believe is one of the most valuable things you can take in life, which is a sense of service,” Morgan says. “A sense of service to something bigger than yourselves, making you a better citizen of the planet, and that is a principle of Scouting around the world, which is why it’s so important that you are all gathered there to celebrate this common bond that you have.”

Morgan requested that he still receive Scouting magazine while in space.

“I will be keeping up with Scouting news,” Morgan says.

Watch the call

Watch the NASA broadcast here:

Officials vow to rebuild Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation in Wisconsin after storm

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 8:00am

Scouters and council leaders are pledging to rebuild Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation, the beloved Wisconsin camp celebrating its 90th anniversary this summer, after an extreme thunderstorm downed thousands of trees and left a scar visible from space.

Miraculously, only one person sustained minor injuries during the storm.

At about 8:30 p.m. on July 19, a severe thunderstorm hit the camp in Pearson, Wis., about 100 miles northwest of Green Bay. The type of storm, known as a macroburst, produces brief, intense wind gusts and is a larger version of the more commonly known microburst.

More than 350 Scouts, volunteers and staffers sheltered in the camp’s two dining halls as the storm raged outside. The macroburst produced wind gusts over 80 mph, sheared off trees, uprooted tents and sent branches crashing into buildings.

“Our camp staff is trained to monitor and respond to the possibility of dangerous weather,” says Nick Roberts, Scout Executive of the Northeast Illinois Council. “Upon learning of the storm’s severity, they immediately took the appropriate action to ensure the safety of all youth members, staff and volunteers.

“It was a divine miracle that with a storm of this magnitude and the widespread damage, only one injury occurred.” 

All 17 troops at camp that week were sent home once it was safe for them to leave. The final two weeks of camp were canceled.

And now this iconic camp, which has operated continuously since 1929 and counts among its alumni actor Charlton Heston and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, enters uncharted territory.

Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation must rebuild so it can get back to what it does best: providing lifelong memories, summer after summer.

Support comes pouring in

The council won’t do this alone.

In the first 24 hours after the storm, community members donated more than $30,000 towards the rebuilding campaign. (That total is now over $55,000.)

Nearby Scout camps offered to host displaced troops, so these young people could still have a summer camp experience.

“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by our Scouting community,” Roberts says.

What comes next

Roberts says it’s too early to accept offers of onsite help.

Large-scale work is already underway, however. While logging companies clear roads, utility companies work to restore electricity and phone service after the storm knocked out both.

“We are still assessing the damage, working with our insurance carrier and developing our plan to rebuild,” Roberts says. “In a few weeks, when camp is safe, our need will be trained chainsaw operators to clear campsites and program areas.”

There are plenty of unknowns right now, but there’s something Roberts knows for certain.

“We will be reopened for the 2020 camping season,” he says.

How you can help

Ninety years of camping tradition — nearly wiped out in a single night. Replacing everything that was lost will take time and money.

Roberts invites anyone who wishes to contribute to the rebuilding effort to visit, text “MKJW” to 71777 or send a check to the following address:

Northeast Illinois Council, BSA
Attn: Rebuild Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan
850 Forest Edge Dr.
Vernon Hills, IL 60061

Sights and Sounds: The fun begins at the World Scout Jamboree

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 9:00am

Scouts from all over the world were greeted with some rain as they set up camp at the Summit Bechtel Reserve for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. But that didn’t dampen spirits at all.

Let’s take a look at some of the fun more than 40,000 Scouts and leaders are already having in West Virginia.

Singing along

Jess Williams with the United Kingdom Contingent wrote the official Jamboree song entitled “Unlock a Brand New World.” You can listen and download it here. She also talked with New World Live! and played the song on her ukulele. New World Live! is where you can watch a recap show of each day’s events, plus live streams of the stadium shows.

Other Scouts have been breaking into song, too, and as you can imagine, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a popular tune.

#ScoutJamboree great moment when tampa contingent taught the Netherlands contingent about John Denver’s country road. @2019_wsj

— @tvskatefox (@katefox45) July 22, 2019

Sharing photos

Scouts and leaders have also been sharing photos from the Jamboree. Attendees and visitors are welcome to share their experiences, photos, etc., with us to highlight by emailing to Here are a few we’ve received so far:

Anthony Moreno, Noah Matus and Thomas Giese, Sea Scouts and Eagle Scouts from California, prepare to leave for the Jamboree. Noah says, “What I would love to experience at the World Jamboree is to make lots of new friends with people from all over the world and to also do a lot of activities while trading lots of patches.”

USA Contingent Troop 131 finds a little time to play some gaga ball.

Sea Scouts talk with Scouts from the Ireland contingent as they help them set up camp in the rain.

Scouts with USA Contingent Troop 228 make new friends.

Cooking and putting on neckerchiefs in camp.

Kok Matim, center in blue, poses for a photo with other Scouts at the Jamboree. He is from South Sudan and participates in a Scouting for Refugees program in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Scouts at the Opening Show.

Find hundreds of more photos on the Boy Scouts of America Flickr page. There is a team of more than two dozen professional photographers there, capturing activities at the Jamboree and posting to that page.

The Opening Show

Tuesday’s opening show featured appearances by Chief Ambassador of the Scout Movement Bear Grylls; Lebohang “Lebo M” Morake, the South African composer of The Lion King films; and American band Recycled Percussion, which was on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

Scouts danced, cheered, made new friends and listened to the on-stage hosts.

“The hosts made the point that we are all different, but that we are united as Scouts,” says Kristin D’Sousa of USA Contingent Crew 141. “We are a force for good in the world.”

The show ended with a synchronized lighted drone show.

Stay tuned

Click here for more ways you can follow along with everything happening at the World Scout Jamboree.