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Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine)

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The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.
Updated: 4 min 24 sec ago

Spin some fun with BSA-branded Duncan yo-yos — or customize your own

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:30am

Perfecting the “breakaway” or “elevator” yo-yo tricks is really cool. It’s even cooler when you complete the tricks with your yo-yo emblazoned with the Boy Scouts of America logo or your favorite camp’s logo or your pack number.

You can do that with Duncan Yo-Yo’s customizable packs. Choose between three quality yo-yos; add your image and select the color, creating a cool custom toy. These are great for recruitment events and fundraisers. For Cub Scouts, you can offer them to your Scouts while they work on the Cub Scout Yo-Yo Preview Adventure. For older Scouts, they can earn patches through Duncan’s teen program. A great activity resource is this Duncan BSA guide, which helps you establish a family contest where families and Scouts try out 10 different yo-yo tricks.

Available just for Scouters are Scout Leader Case Packs, priced well below retail, each featuring assorted yo-yos in multiples of 12. These high-performance models allow for longer sleep times (the yo-yo spins at the bottom of the string, giving you more time to do more tricks) than models you may find at your local superstore. Some Duncan models can only be found online, designed specifically for school groups and Scouting units.

The Duncan BSA Hornet yo-yo, retailing for $9.99, is made just for Scouts. It’s balanced perfectly for looping tricks, and its ball-bearing axle help the yo-yo to spin for a long time. Check for its release soon on Duncan’s website and the Scout Shop online.

Yo-yo lessons

Do you follow Duncan Toys on Facebook? If not, you’ve been missing out on some great yo-yo tricks and tips from Duncan Yo-Yo Pro Christopher Chunn. Every Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET, he’s been logging online to share techniques and help for completing requirements for the Cub Scout Yo-Yo Preview Adventure. Catch up on some of the lessons here:

Meet Tyler Grey, Venturing’s top youth leader for 2020-2021

Mon, 06/01/2020 - 8:00am

Youth-led isn’t just for Venturing crews. It applies to the entire Venturing program, as well.

Tyler Grey, an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, has been named the 2020-2021 National Venturing Officers’ Association President. His term as the Venturing program’s top youth leader begins today — June 1, 2020.

A Venturing officers’ association, or VOA, is a group of Venturers that works together to provide support for Venturing crews, share resources and organize events. There’s a VOA at every level of Venturing: district, council, area, regional and national.

Tyler, 19, is a member of Crew 1956 of Simi Valley, Calif., part of the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council.

During his term, which lasts until May 31, 2021, Tyler will attend and help plan council, regional and national Venturing events, work to recruit more young people into Venturing and serve on national committees to shape Venturing’s future.

Throughout his term, he will continue to meet Venturers from across the country, uniting in the bond that all “Greenshirts” share.

“My favorite part of my Venturing experience has been making so many genuine friendships and connections with Venturers from across the country,” Tyler says. “Everyone I have met has been very genuine and kind to me, and it’s truly inspiring to see Scouting’s values in action in everyday relations.”

I reached out to Tyler to learn more about his Scouting journey, his favorite Venturing memory and the biggest misconception people have about Venturing.

Tyler at Philmont Scout Ranch Tyler’s Scouting résumé

Tyler joined Venturing in 2015, but his Scouting journey began in second grade.

“When I joined Cub Scouts, my sole priority was to become an Eagle Scout, just like my father,” he says. “Throughout all my endeavors in the Scouting program, my father has always provided support and has truly believed in me — something I appreciate immensely.”

Tyler moved to Scouts BSA (then called Boy Scouts) in 2011. In 2013, he completed his goal and became an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle project, Tyler repaired, primed and painted a 300-foot wall at his elementary school. He also painted a mural inside the school.

“Becoming a second-generation Eagle Scout and having my dad at my side through my tenure in the program has been such a fulfilling experience,” Tyler says.

But the young man didn’t stop there. From 2011 to 2018, Tyler earned 111 merit badges and 18 Eagle Palms.

He’s also a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

Branching out

Tyler says a three-day whitewater rafting trip down the American River in Northern California shows what the Venturing program can do for young people.

It was 2015, and Tyler was still new to Venturing.

“I wasn’t too familiar with everyone in my crew,” he says. “At first, I spent a lot of time with my mother, father and sister.”

But eventually, he started to branch out and connect with other members of the crew. They played cards, listened to music and talked about life.

“By the end of the second day, I had almost forgotten my family was there with me,” he says. “I think this was my turning point in the Venturing program. Once I was able to connect with the people around me and form friendships, I actively wanted to go to crew meetings and participate in all activities.”

Misconceptions about Venturing

Tyler has heard some Scouts BSA youth and adult members express concerns that Venturing crews steal young people away from their troop.

“This is not true,” he says. “The aim of the Venturing program is to enhance leadership skills and opportunities. Ideally, Venturers will return to their Cub Scout pack or Scouts BSA troop to provide service as a den chief or a troop guide.”

As Tyler himself proves, a young person can be active in both programs. Young people often find that Venturing crews enhance and extend their Scouting experience. With older youth, crews can plan longer, more extreme high-adventure trips.

He also points to one more misconception he’d like to gently correct: “It’s Venturer and Venturing crew, not Venture Scout and Venture crew.”

How to recruit Venturers

So how can Venturers invite other young people into their crew? Tyler says it starts at high schools.

“Youth in ninth and 10th grade are looking for opportunities for adventure, leadership, personal growth and service,” he says. “We just need to show them it’s there and it’s easy to join. The beginning of high school is a crucial time period to engage these youth while the scope of their interest is still broad.”

Tyler and the 2019-2020 National Venturing Officers’ Association. Follow Tyler’s journey

As National VOA President, Tyler wants to:

  • Unite the National VOA to strengthen ties with the National Venturing Committee
  • Increase transparency and visibility through Twitter outreach
  • Launch National VOA open house events
  • Create orientation resources for regional and area VOAs to use when training their incoming officer teams

To follow his journey, find him on Twitter: @NVOAPresident. Best of luck to Tyler as he begins this new chapter.

Life Scout performs lifesaving CPR on brother with illness linked to COVID-19

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 8:00am

It wasn’t just knowing the proper technique that allowed Tyron Hardowar to perform lifesaving CPR on his younger brother, Jayden.

It was something else he learned in Scouting, too.

“It takes courage and the 10th point of the Scout Law: being brave,” Tyron tells Bryan on Scouting. “If there’s any emotions and thoughts building up, you need to push it aside.”

On April 29, Jayden called out weakly from his room. When his family rushed in, they found Jayden struggling to breathe and turning blue.

While his dad called an ambulance, Tyron began performing CPR. The 15-year-old followed the procedure he’d learned — and practiced — while earning the First Aid merit badge as a Scout in Troop 177 of Richmond Hill, N.Y., part of the Greater New York Councils.

“It was hard to think,” Tyron says. “It felt like I was in a dream. Eventually, I told myself I have put these emotions and thoughts to the side and help my brother.”

The Life Scout started to perform CPR, fighting for his 8-year-old brother’s life until emergency responders arrived and took over.

Jayden was hospitalized and later diagnosed with a mysterious disease called Pediatric Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome, which doctors believe is related to COVID-19.

He was released two weeks later and is now recovering at home. On May 15, Jayden, a Cub Scout, received a celebratory drive-by parade where fellow Scouts and even members of the NYPD showed up to welcome him home.

Making national headlines

Our Unsung Heroes series celebrates those Scouts whose everyday heroism doesn’t make the news. Tyron’s actions are undoubtedly heroic, but they aren’t unsung.

On May 14, Tyron and his dad, Roup, were interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Scouting is mentioned several times in the six-minute segment, which you can watch at the end of this post.

“Tyron, you’re 15 years old, you’re a Boy Scout, clearly — the uniform looks great,” Cooper says. “It’s so amazing what you did. Where did you learn CPR?”

“I learned CPR through Scouting,” Tyron says. “Every Scout needs to learn CPR.”

Tyron later admits he was nervous when faced with the sudden need to act.

“But I told myself I need to put [those thoughts] aside and focus,” he says. “I’m very happy that I made an impact on his life.”

Cooper ends the interview by saying what so many of us are thinking.

“Tyron, thank you so much; it’s so impressive,” Cooper says. “To learn something through Boy Scouts and to be able to actually help save a life, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

CPR: What you need to know

For more about CPR, please read this BSA Safety Moment.

Scoutbook introduces a faster way to track your Scout’s progress

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:30am

Recording service hours and camping nights just got easier. The Scoutbook team has introduced Activity Logs.

Scoutbook, the Boy Scouts of America’s online tool for tracking Scouting advancement, is continuously improving, adding more features to help you save time, stay connected and enhance your Scouting experience.

With this update, unit leaders can easily add multiple registered youth and adults in the same activity entry. Parents and their youth will also be able to make updates through the Scouting app or Internet Advancement, whichever works best for them. All recorded service hours will automatically count toward Journey To Excellence, too.

Personal activities can still be privately recorded and, similar to advancements, be submitted to unit leaders for review and approval.

Watch how this feature works here:

Aspects that are going away include the Good Turn For America service hours website. Councils can still use the Good Turn for America tools for entering Eagle Scout service project hours and Exploring service hours.

Previously recorded logs on service, camping and activities have been migrated to the new logs; Scoutbook users will be redirected to Internet Advancement to access them.

For more on the new activity logs and how to record activities, click here.

What’s the highest award in every Boy Scouts of America program?

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 8:00am

It’s not about the patch or the medal or even that epic cake at the ceremony. It’s about all the incredible Scouting adventures that preceded them.

Scouting awards — from the very first Cub Scout adventure loop to that final Eagle Palm and beyond — are physical representations of the Scouting journey. There are dozens of awards in Scouting, but each BSA program (Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts) has one that towers above the rest.

Each of these pinnacle awards has requirements expertly crafted to guide young people toward new experiences, build confidence and impart essential life skills.

Before we get to the list, a word of warning to your Scouts or Venturers: These awards aren’t easy to earn. They’ll take a lot of work. But because Scouting is rooted in fun and adventure, this work never feels like work — a fact that makes earning one of these amazing awards even sweeter.

What is the highest award in Cub Scouts?

The highest award in Cub Scouts is the Arrow of Light. It’s earned by Webelos Scouts who are active for at least six months, earn five adventures and complete other requirements.

Complete requirements: Here

Recognition items for youth:

  • The award’s official symbol is the Arrow of Light patch worn below the left pocket. It’s the only Cub Scout patch that can be carried over into Scouts BSA and worn on the Scouts BSA uniform.
  • Packs may choose to recognize Arrow of Light recipients with optional plaques, certificates, hiking staff shields and more.

Recognition items for adults: A red, green and yellow Arrow of Light square knot, worn above the left pocket, signals that the wearer earned the rank as a Cub Scout.

Good to know: Arrow of Light is the highest Cub Scout rank — after Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos. But young people don’t have to proceed through the ranks like in Scouts BSA. Any Cub Scout who is an active member of their Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade or for at least six months since becoming 10 years old is eligible to work toward Arrow of Light.

Further reading: Scouting magazine has some picture-perfect craft ideas designed for events like Arrow of Light ceremonies.

What is the highest award in Scouts BSA?

The highest award in Scouts BSA is the Eagle Scout Award. It’s earned by young people who work their way through the Scouts BSA ranks, earn at least 21 merit badges, hold leadership positions in their unit, and plan and lead a massive service project.

Complete requirements: Here

Recognition items for youth:

  • The Eagle Scout Award has two official symbols: the oval Eagle rank emblem, worn on the left pocket of the uniform shirt, and the Eagle medal, worn above the left pocket flap. These are restricted items, meaning they’re available only in the local council trading post or Scout Shop with the required paperwork.
  • Troops may wish to recognize their Eagle Scouts with some of the items found in the Scout Shop’s Eagle Scout collection.

Recognition items for adults: A red, white and blue Eagle Scout square knot, worn above the left pocket, signals that the wearer is an Eagle Scout.

Good to know:

  • Some requirements for the Eagle Scout Award must be completed over many months, meaning Eagle Scout hopefuls will want to keep an eye on the calendar so they don’t run out of time.
  • Venturers and Sea Scouts can earn the Eagle Scout Award, too. If they earn the First Class rank as a Scout in a troop or as a Lone Scout, they can continue working up to their 18th birthday toward the Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms.

Further reading:

What is the highest award in Venturing?

The highest award in Venturing is the Summit Award. It’s earned by young people who show growth in their personal direction, skills and life competencies, and who accept the responsibility to mentor others and serve their communities.

Complete requirements: Here

Recognition items for youth: The Summit Award is represented by a white and green medal worn above the left pocket and a patch worn on the left pocket. These are restricted items, meaning they’re available only in the local council trading post or Scout Shop with the required paperwork.

Recognition items for adults: A white, silver and green Venturing Summit square knot, worn above the left pocket, signals that the wearer earned the Summit Award or its predecessor, the Silver Award.

Good to know: The Summit Award replaced the Silver Award, which was discontinued in 2014.

Further reading: Reach the apex of knowledge with this Scouting magazine explainer about the Summit Award. Read five things one Summit Award recipient learned as a Venturer.

What is the highest award in Sea Scouts?

The highest award in Sea Scouts is the Quartermaster Award. It’s earned by young people who think analytically about Sea Scouting, show significant on-the-water skills, complete a service project and demonstrate their ability to command a vessel on a long expedition.

Complete requirements: Here

Recognition items for youth: The Quartermaster Award medal and Quartermaster emblem, worn on the left pocket, represent this pinnacle award of Sea Scouts. These are restricted items, meaning they’re available only in the local council trading post or Scout Shop with the required paperwork.

Recognition items for adults: A black and white Quartermaster square knot, worn above the left pocket, signals that the wearer earned the Quartermaster Award.

Good to know: Think of the Sea Scout Program Toolbox as the wind behind your ship’s sails. It’s full of volunteer-created ideas for Sea Scouts.

Further reading: Read about the mechanics of advancement in Sea Scouting and learn just how rare this award is.

Home cooking: Scouts practice preparing camp recipe together over Zoom

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 8:00am

Here’s some food for thought: Your Scouts don’t have to be together to cook together.

For a taste of what I mean, just check out the skillful Scouts from Troop 301 of Cross River, N.Y., part of the Westchester Putnam Council.

This month, while video chatting from their home kitchens in front of laptops, tablets and smartphones, the Scouts each prepared their own version of “Camp Stroganoff.” Instead of eating as patrols or sharing with the adults, the Scouts then served up their creations to their families.

“All the Scouts shared that the meal was delicious,” says Scoutmaster Crystal Kennedy. “And some brothers had second helpings.”

Each month, Troop 301 picks a theme. May’s theme, which the patrol leaders’ council selected way back in August, is cooking.

This month, the Troop 301 Scouts were supposed to be on a big camping trip at Sandsland Reservation, a Scout property owned by the Narragansett Council in Rhode Island. They had planned to practice camp cooking at troop meetings and then apply what they’d learned during the trip.

Then COVID-19 hit, and the trip was off.

But just like subbing in applesauce when you’re out of sugar, Troop 301 adapted and still came up with something sweet.

“While we can’t camp, we can practice camp recipes together,” Kennedy says. “It was lots of fun and good experience before cooking for their patrol at our next campout.”

Keep reading for more details — and the Camp Stroganoff recipe.

A Scout is adaptable

In April, once it became clear the Rhode Island trip wouldn’t be possible (at least not right now), the Scouts improvised.

The senior patrol leader split the troop into pairs of Scouts, asking each pair to find a simple recipe from a list of ingredients she provided. Then they voted for their favorite.

The Scouts decided they’d cook the winning recipe, Camp Stroganoff, at the troop’s next weekly meeting. They discussed what kinds of pots or pans they’d need, made sure the recipe met MyPlate nutrition guidelines, and had some serious (OK, maybe not so serious) debates like “corn vs. no corn.”

They also opted to adjust their meeting time. Troop 301 usually meets at 7:15 p.m. but moved the start time forward to 4 p.m.

“That way they could cook and serve their family right after cooking,” Kennedy says.

At the designated time, the Scouts and leaders opened Zoom and the Scouts began cooking. The result? A delicious Scout-cooked meal — with a life lesson on the side.

Camp Stroganoff recipe

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 dry onion soup packet
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
  • 1 12- to 16-ounce pack wide egg noodles


  1. In large frying pan, brown the ground beef until it is not pink. Drain off the grease.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles, al dente, following package instructions. Rinse noodles in cool water to stop cooking.
  3. Add to Fry pan with cooked beef, the remaining ingredients. Simmer gently until meat is tender.
  4. If necessary, thin the sauce with a little milk.
  5. Serve over the cooked noodles.

Recipe by Dunlin Stathis, Eagle Scout from Troop 154 of Goldens Bridge, N.Y.

Troop 301 in a photo taken before social distancing guidelines were put into place. Cooking safety

Cooking is a fun life skill — when you do it right.

Be sure to keep your food safe and supervise young chefs. Consult the Cooking merit badge pamphlet (print or Kindle) for further guidance about safe cooking.

Scouts break out the needle and thread to make face coverings during pandemic

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 10:00am

When Washington state’s governor issued a lockdown, 17-year-old Rafferty Escame soon realized the planned workday for his Eagle Scout project wouldn’t abide by social distancing requirements. The Life Scout of Troop 330 in Federal Way, Wash., and his family watched the news about the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the panicked purchasing of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other supplies. Then, there were reports of personal protective equipment shortages.

Rafferty had an idea.

He decided to rededicate his project to making reusable cotton face covers that he could hand out to the public. Hopefully, he thought, that would cut down on any shortages of medical-grade equipment. He went to fabric stores for supplies, creating kits to deliver to volunteers, so they could help him make more. He created a tutorial on how to sew them:

As Rafferty and his team of volunteers finished making hundreds of coverings, he began to look for ways to distribute them. Local bus drivers didn’t have any — 100 donated to them. Two nursing homes asked for face covers for staff and residents — 350 delivered to them. A pilot and her flight crew — another 50. Medical offices — another 100. The rest were handed out in front of a Safeway supermarket. All in all, Rafferty distributed more than 1,350 face covers to his community.

Other Scouts across the country have made similar efforts to protect people.

Learning to sew

In Texas City, Texas, 17-year-old Austin Montalbano, an Eagle Scout with Troop 246, thought of making face covers after seeing social media posts from healthcare workers who needed the equipment. Last November, Austin broke his leg during a varsity football game.

“I was able to see firsthand what nurses and doctors go through and do for us on a daily basis,” he says. “It gave me a new appreciation for them, and when I saw all the media coverage of them asking for help, I just wanted to do what I could.”

Austin asked his mother Pamela for help sewing cloth coverings, using scrap quilt squares. She made the first few, then Austin wanted to take over.

“I had never used a sewing machine before this,” Austin says. “I had learned skills in Scouting for quick fixes with needle and threads, and, of course, knots, but never sewing.”

Together, Austin and his mom worked on covers for weeks, creating more than 1,000 to donate to dental offices, police stations and hospitals. To make one, the whole process of cutting material, sewing it together and adding elastic took about 15 minutes. Because of the response (which included a shoutout from the Texas governor) he’s still making and donating face covers.

Around the country

Kai Gottschalk is using a 3D printer along with fellow Scouts of Troop 941 of Pleasanton, Calif., to make more than 4,000 face shields for local hospitals.

Also using a 3D printer that he bought, Life Scout Jordyn Fender with Troop 700 in Grapevine, Texas, had created more than 400 mask straps for area hospitals. In Chesapeake, Va., Nathan Babcock used a 3D printer to make straps to relieve the tension around the ears caused by masks, which he donated to a local hospital. They both got the idea after seeing a story about Canadian Scout Quinn Roney who made the devices, often called “ear savers.”

Life Scout Ryker Horton of Troop 365 in Round Rock, Texas, dedicated his Eagle Scout project to making and donating reusable face covers to a pediatric doctor’s office and assisted living facility.

Jay Tuttle, a Cub Scout with Pack 81 of Bellefontaine, Ohio, has made more than 750 face covers to donate to local businesses and a fire department.

Professional costume designer starting a cosplay Venturing crew

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 8:00am

Some people watch their favorite characters on screen. Others become them.

A former Venturer from Southern California is giving back to the program by starting a cosplay Venturing crew, blending her self-proclaimed “nerdery” with her professional experience in costume design at Disneyland and beyond.

Caitlin Kagawa grew up in Scouting — at first watching her older brother enjoy the program and then joining Venturing as soon as she turned 14. She was elected crew president, served on staff at the 2005 National Jamboree and earned the Venturing Silver Award (the program’s highest honor until the Summit Award debuted in 2014). She also was a member of Sea Scouts and was her ship’s boatswain.

“I had a great time in Scouting as a youth and have been thinking about coming back as an adult volunteer for years,” Kagawa says. “I even used cosplay back then to complete requirements and teach in Scouting.”

Cosplay, a blending of the words “costume” and “play,” involves fans dressing as their favorite characters from pop culture.

At the San Diego Comic-Con, for example, you’ll see cosplayers dressed as Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and a range of both well-known and deep-cut characters from movies, TV shows, comic books and videogames. These aren’t prepackaged costumes sold for $39.99 at Halloween shops; they’re fan-made works of art that showcase their creators’ passionate geekdom.

Left: Cosplay of Ronin from Marvel Comics, made and worn by Kagawa. (Photo from Right: Cosplay of Udur from The Wicked + The Divine comic book, made and worn by Kagawa. (Photo by Richard Perry) Meet Caitlin Kagawa

Kagawa is a cosplayer and professional costume designer. After earning a degree from UC Berkeley and making costumes for Disneyland in California, she began working full-time in film and television. Her credits include HBO’s Westworld and the upcoming Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Like other Scouters with interesting jobs, Kagawa plans to bring her professional skills to a volunteer role.

“I’ve been trying to think of ways to give back to Scouting for all my great experiences as a youth, and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to teach cosplay to the next generation,” Kagawa says. “The idea was a perfect chance for me to be the helping hand that I was so eager to have as a kid.”

Kagawa designed the costumes for UCLA’s production of Medea, directed by Sylvia Blush. Seen here is a photo from the show by Michael Lamont and Kagawa’s costume illustration. How it started

The idea for the cosplay crew began to form soon after Kagawa’s dad, a longtime Scouting volunteer named Rick Kagawa, introduced his daughter to Josh Gilliland, Western Region vice president for high adventure and career programs.

As “fellow geeks who also love Scouting,” Kagawa and Gilliland became fast friends.

“Josh had the brilliant idea to try and bring our geeky convention world into Venturing with this crew,” Kagawa says. “All he had to do was mention it to me and I was in.”

The crew is just getting started and will soon hold a virtual open house to find interested young people.

“The big goal of the crew is to create a Venturing community of cosplayers who are learning how to express their passion through creating costuming and participating in their communities in a positive way,” Kagawa says.

Sure, that means learning how to make a costume, but it’s not just about learning how to sew armor plating onto a jacket.

“It’s about coming together and being yourself,” she says. “These are the next generation who will be a part of the larger geek community. We just want to provide them with the tools provided by Venturing to be great members of their community and thus enrich the cosplay and geek community at large.”

The road ahead

Once the crew is up and running, Kagawa will let the crew’s youth leaders do all the planning. (Venturing crews, like Scouts BSA troops, are run by the youth.)

She expects they’ll hold cosplay events, plan group cosplay work parties, conduct workshops and participate in photoshoots.

“The sky’s the limit,” Kagawa says. “We also hope to create great opportunities for the crew to give back to their communities with costuming, helping create Halloween costumes for those who need help, sewing projects for those in need and whatever the youth can imagine.”

Kagawa encourages other Scouting volunteers with unusual interests to consider channeling those passions into Scouting.

Offer to do a “show and tell” at a den meeting. Become a merit badge counselor. Start a crew.

“If you’re passionate about something, chances are you’re not alone,” Kagawa says. “The best way for you to serve your community is to share your talent, passion or skill with the next generation.” The smart and simple way to recruit Scouts during COVID-19

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:00am

Restaurants and retailers go to great lengths to land on the first page of Google. They know a Google search is typically the first stop for customers wanting to order takeout, stream a movie or buy a new desk chair.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a master of search engine optimization to recruit new families to your pack, troop, crew or ship. You just need to update your BeAScout pin. And thanks to some volunteer-focused changes to this process, it’s now easier than ever to do so.

“BeAScout is the way that families who are looking to join a Scouting unit can easily find your unit and apply,” says Pat Wellen, the BSA’s director of research and strategy. “By setting up your pin, your unit information will show on BeAScout, and you’ll be ready to accept new families into your unit.”

We talked to Wellen to learn more.

What is BeAScout?

When someone Googles phrases like “join Scouting,” “pack near me” or “find Scout troop,” the result in the coveted top spot is the BSA’s BeAScout page:

From there, families can type in their ZIP code, select the program that interests them (Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing or Sea Scouts) and click “Find and Apply.”

What happens next? Well, that’s kind of up to you.

If your pin is updated, a prospective Scouting family will find your leader’s contact info, a link to your website and a brief description about your unit.

If you have also turned on the “Apply Now” button, parents can also fill out the application online directly from BeAScout — or they can send you an email for more information.

Recruiting during COVID-19

The BeAScout site has been around for a while, but its importance has only intensified during the COVID-19 outbreak when peer-to-peer recruiting is more difficult.

Families looking for meaningful at-home activities for their children are turning to Scouting in impressive numbers. Those who aren’t yet involved in our movement are seeing positive stories of service, Scouting achievement and friendship on social media and local news.

When they’re ready to join Scouting, families can use to find you — all while observing their state’s health guidelines.

“This tool give you a touchless way to recruit and onboard members to come to your virtual or live meetings,” Wellen says. “The parent just fills out the online application and pays online.”

After the parent applies, the committee chair, unit leader, chartered organization representative or another registered adult leader who has been granted access goes online and can review and accept the application. Within 24 hours, the member will show in the unit’s my.Scouting roster.

The parent will receive a welcome email from Scouting immediately after the unit accepts the new member. Unit leaders can write an optional second welcome email to go out 24 hours later, telling recipients the time and place of the next meeting (online or in-person) or another message the unit wishes to share.

How to update your BeAScout pin

Who can update the pin? The Key 3 of the unit — committee chair, chartered organization representative and unit leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Advisor, Skipper) — has access to Organization Manager in my.Scouting tools, which will allow them to set up the unit pin.

What’s the process for doing so? A step-by-step guide is available online at this link. Look for the PDF link called “Setting Up Your Unit’s BeAScout Pin.”

What has changed? Pin management is no longer in “Legacy Tools.” It has been updated with a new fresh look and easier navigation. Everything you need to set up the pin is in one tool, meaning no more moving back and forth between tools or pages.

Even more to come

More changes are also coming over the next few months to make reviewing and accepting youth and adult applications in my.Scouting even easier.

Look for more information about those changes as they go live in the tool.

Join next week’s virtual Art-O-Ree to work on the Art Merit Badge

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 8:00am

Imagine getting free art lessons from the most accomplished illustrators from around the country.

Maybe you want to ask them questions about their techniques. Maybe you’re looking for tips for your next art project. Maybe you’re bored and just want to draw along with the pros. And maybe you’re even looking to jumpstart the Art merit badge.

May 25-29,  we’re making all that happen. Each day at 2 p.m. Central, hop onto for live-drawing demonstrations and Q&As with the incredible illustrators of Boys’ Life magazine. Every lesson will cover different art media and how to render awesome art using a variety of tools.

Kids of all ages are invited to join. Even Cub Scouts who aren’t yet earning merit badges can benefit from tuning in.

Come prepared to draw along with the pros. Or just watch to get inspired for your own drawings. Some days you’ll probably have everything you need to follow along. Other tutorials require specific tools you can order ahead of time.

What’s the schedule for Art-O-Ree?

Monday, May 25, at 2 p.m. Central:

The Boys’ Life team kicks off the week with a look at the Art merit badge requirements. And then things get really exciting when Joey Ellis joins live to demo computer-sketched art with Photoshop. He’ll also show how to sketch with pencil and paper.

Supplies to have on hand for the pencil sketch:

    • A few pieces of tracing paper or regular computer paper
    • A pencil
    • An eraser
    • A marker (or a permanent marker)

Tuesday, May 26, at 2 p.m. Central:

Eric Ottinger shows how to make a work of art with acrylics.

Supplies to have on hand:

    • Synthetic bristle brushes
    • A wax- and oil-free canvas
    • Water in a disposable or painting cup
    • Paper towels or clean junk rags
    • A workspace you can get messy (protect surfaces you want to avoid staining with paint)

Wednesday, May 27, at 2 p.m. Central: Daryll Collins demonstrates a pencil-and-paper sketch and takes your questions live.

Supplies to have on hand:

    • A few pieces of tracing paper or regular computer paper
    • A colored pencil (Darryll likes a Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencil – carmine red)

Thursday, May 28, at 2 p.m. Central: Kevin Hurley is live for a watercolor demonstration. He’ll stick around to answer questions, too.

Supplies to have on hand:

    • Basic tray of watercolors
    • Set of watercolor brushes
    • Textured watercolor paper (140 lb. weight recommended)
    • Water in a disposable or painting cup
    • Paper towels or clean junk rags
    • A workspace you can get messy (protect surfaces you want to avoid staining with paint)

Friday, May 29, at 2 p.m. Central:

Mike Moran shows how to create art with pen and ink.

Supplies to have on hand:

    • A pen with plenty of ink (fountain, rollerball or felt-tipped)
    • A few pieces of heavyweight paper
Drawing from the Art merit badge

Check out requirement 4 from the Art merit badge:

4. Render a subject of your choice in FOUR of these ways:

      1. Pen and ink,
      2. Watercolors,
      3. Pencil,
      4. Pastels,
      5. Oil paints,
      6. Tempera,
      7. Acrylics,
      8. Charcoal
      9. Computer drawing or painting

If you tune in all week and draw along with the experts, you may have four (or more) great pieces of art to show your merit badge counselor. This could help you complete a key, challenging requirement. Ultimately, only your merit badge counselor can give you the final sign-off. Either way, you’ll be working toward developing the skills you need to earn this badge.

And if you need a hard copy of the merit badge pamphlet, you can order it online here. If you’re looking for the Kindle Edition, you can find it here.

Add it to your calendar now

Set a reminder. Tell your troop. Share with your Scout and Scouter friends.

What: The Ultimate Art-O-Ree

When: May 25-29, 2 p.m. Central


See you there!


‘Social distancing court of honor’ held in new Eagle Scout’s front yard

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 8:00am

The stage was a grassy front yard with a brick-house backdrop. The guests wore face coverings and stayed at least 6 feet apart the whole time. At the end, a parade of cars saluted the latest recipient of Scouting’s highest honor.

But other than that, Phillip LaVell Twilley had a pretty standard Eagle Scout court of honor. Well, as much as any Eagle court of honor can be considered “standard,” given how rare the honor is and how difficult the journey.

Phillip, a member of Troop 457 of Memphis, Tenn. (Chickasaw Council), received his Eagle Scout Award on May 9 at a special court of honor held in his front yard. (Read the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQs.)

There was a table that documented Phillip’s Scouting accomplishments through the various “things” he collected along the way — handbooks, badges, Cub Scout neckerchiefs. There was a display of congratulatory letters sent to Phillip, including ones from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, former President Jimmy Carter and Pedro, the Boys’ Life mailburro. There were American flags and Eagle Scout banners and cupcakes.

“My parents have raised me with strong Christian principles and a passion for community service,” Phillip says. “Achieving the rank of Eagle and celebrating the biggest accomplishment in my life with all of the people that have supported me was a dream come true.”

A council first

Officials from the Chickasaw Council say this is the first time in council history that an Eagle court of honor has been conducted in this way. COVID-19 has forced many Scouting units and councils to find new ways to teach merit badges, conduct meetings and perform service projects as we all continue Scouting at Home.

“We recognized that the COVID-19 crisis has interrupted many young people’s life achievements,” says Richard Fisher, Chickasaw Council Scout Executive. “We wanted to celebrate Phillip’s accomplishment using traditional but innovative methods that councils nationwide can replicate.”

After Phillip recieved his Eagle Scout badge and medal, Troop 457 held a drive-by parade, allowing every troop family to congratulate Phillip from a safe distance.

An exceptional Eagle

Phillip, who joined Cub Scouting in second grade, earned 60 merit badges in Scouts BSA Troop 457.

For his Eagle Scout service project, he completed a “Garden of Love” seating area for a local church. Phillip led a group of volunteers as they built two picnic tables and three flower beds and installed a bird bath and charcoal grill.

“If you have fun, and stay on task and keep looking towards your goals, you can complete anything,” he told WMC-TV of Memphis.

Phillip just graduated from Cordova High School east of Memphis and plans to join the U.S. Navy this fall.

“I want to be able to serve God, my family, my country and my community,” he says.

Thanks to Holly Cooper of the Chickasaw Council for the help with this post.

Scoutmaster finds refreshingly analog way to reach out to her Scouts

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 8:00am

A text feels impersonal. An email can get lost in spam.

But a handmade card with a personal message? That bit of extra effort makes the recipient feel special.

With that thought in mind, a Scoutmaster in the North Florida Council mailed handcrafted letters to each member of her troop, telling them that she’s thinking of them during this difficult time for us all.

“I thought it would be nice for the girls and their families to receive a personalized letter,” says Elaine Mitchell, Scoutmaster of Troop 291 of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “With so much technology, we forget to write letters, which is more sentimental and personal than sending an email.”

Plus, Mitchell says, children of Scouting age don’t get a ton of actual physical mail. Receiving something addressed to them is a rare treat. (I remember from my own childhood how exciting it was to receive a letter or the latest copy of Boys’ Life in our family mailbox. Some things never change.)

Troop 291 continues to meet virtually via Zoom. While Mitchell and her fellow leaders watch, the Scouts lead games, learn new skills and break out into smaller groups for patrol time.

“Just like actual meetings, I’m only heard at the end — for my Scoutmaster’s minute,” she says. “It’s great to see the Scouts plan, lead and succeed during these difficult times.”

But even as they’re staying connected online, Mitchell felt it was important to support her Scouts in an offline way.

How she did it

Buying premade cards is certainly appropriate — it’s the thought that counts — but Mitchell chose to make her own.

She used a BSA stamp to emboss the front of the notecards with the iconic fleur-de-lis. Inside, she stamped “Thinking of You” and wrote “Keep on Scouting!”

In a nod to her love of all things Disney, Mitchell added a Mickey Mouse thumbs-up inside the card. But this was no two-dimensional image.

To make it pop out, she cut a paperclip and coiled it around a pencil to form a spring. She used hot glue to attach the thumbs-up to the spring and the spring to the card.

She made 19 of these: 18 for the Scouts and their families and another for her committee chairman.

“We’re just trying to keep ourselves busy while we have some free time,” Mitchell says.

Speaking of, Mitchell has been spending some of that free time making decorations for a future Eagle Scout court of honor. Once one (or more!) of the young women in her troop completes the requirements for Eagle, Mitchell wants to be ready.

She made table signs (“Reserved for Eagle Family”), turned recycled jars into centerpieces, and used leftover paint stirrers to make signs representing the BSA and Order of the Arrow. When it’s time for a court of honor next year, she’ll be prepared.

“I want it to be super special,” Mitchell says. “We’re making history.”

Troop 291 in January 2020. Mitchell made this sign (seen back and front) out of paint stirrers. Mitchell reused jars to make these centerpieces.

When you get in again, vow to stay safe in the water

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 7:00am

We all can’t wait to get back to outdoor Scouting adventures — camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming and more. As restrictions from COVID-19 shutdowns slowly lift, it’s important to Be Prepared for any future activity. Now may be a great time to review aquatics safety rules, appropriate guidelines and other safety resources.

It’s also vital to have the right gear. Did you know there are five main types of life jackets? The BSA requires properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jackets when boating, and Type III jackets are recommended for general recreational use. Check the label before you buy because some are not approved by the Coast Guard.

Another resource is Water Safety USA, a roundtable of nonprofit and governmental organizations committed to preventing drownings. The Boy Scouts of America is a member.

Today is International Water Safety Day, and the roundtable is promoting a #GetInAgain Challenge. Encourage your Scouts to join in by coming up with an intention, starting with “When I get in again…” For example, they can say:

  • When I get in again, I am going to pass my swim test.
  • When I get in again, I am going to earn my Webelos Aquanaut adventure.
  • When I get in again, we are going to swim at family camp.
  • When I get in again, I am going to earn my Swimming merit badge.
  • When I get in again, I am going to go boating at camp.

They can share that message with others on social media. Another message they can help share is another Water Safety USA promotion: #BeBuoyant

Like I mentioned earlier, there are different types of life jackets, and they are important to wear. In the last decade at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes, 87% of people who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. When you plan your unit’s next aquatic adventure, make sure you have the right type:

  • Type I: Offshore. Often bulky and buoyant. They’re designed to turn an unconscious person face-up; however, they are not Coast Guard-approved.
  • Type II: Near-shore. Many are the bright orange, square PFDs. Not as buoyant as Type I.
  • Type III: Flotation Aid. These fit well and keep a conscious person afloat. Recommended for general recreation use.
  • Type IV: Throwable Device. These are ring buoys, square cushions, etc. They’re what you’d use in rescue situations.
  • Type V: Special-Use Devices. Used only for specific activities, like whitewater rafting.

Wherever you go (whenever that may be), wear the appropriate gear and follow local laws and safety rules.

Councils coordinate donations, lead initiatives during COVID-19 pandemic

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:15am

The need for lifesaving blood doesn’t stop during a pandemic.

Scouters in the Chickasaw Council in Tennessee and Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rhode Island have been doing their parts to facilitate donations from healthy donors. Chickasaw Council partnered with the nonprofit Vitalant for a donation day at the council office. A single blood donation can potentially save up to three lives. With 19 units of blood collected that day, that’s potentially 57 lives saved from six hours of work.

At Camp Yawgoog, blood drive days have been part of an ongoing summer effort there for the last several years. To date, 1,753 pints have been donated at the camp — that’s up to 5,259 people impacted! With the COVID-19 crisis in mind, the camp added donation days this spring. Camp directors anticipate hitting the 2,000-mark this summer, if not sooner.

Blood drives are just one way Scouters are helping others.

A blood drive bus at Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rhode Island. Help other people at all times

The Ozark Trails Council in Missouri donated more than 30,000 gloves to CoxHealth, a six-hospital healthcare system based in Springfield, Mo. The gloves originally were going to be used at camp, but council directors decided the hospitals could use them now.

“Scouts are taught to always Be Prepared and always live by the Scout Oath and Law,” says Kurtis Grothoff, council development director. “Our council is doing its part to live by the words we teach and preach.”

In Texas’ Golden Spread Council, Scouters in the Golden Eagle District organized an effort to participate in the city’s “All In Amarillo” initiative, which called on residents to place yellow items in their yards or windows in support of first responders. Scouters came up with a yard sign and poster contest for Scouts to participate in.

These were just a few callouts of the many efforts councils are doing during the coronavirus pandemic on top of offering online merit badge classes and facilitating virtual campouts. If your council, district or unit is working on a great project, we’d love to highlight it. Remember, in whatever you do, to follow local and state health guidelines. Send us information on your projects here.

Scouters with the Ozark Trails Council in Missouri donate medical gloves.

Meet your 2020 recipients of the National Venturing Leadership Award

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 8:00am

A Venturer from Pennsylvania who’s strengthening the link between Venturing and the Order of the Arrow. An adult volunteer from Texas who’s finding innovative ways to keep Venturing exciting and relevant to today’s youth. The young man who will become Venturing’s top youth leader next month.

These are just three of the 11 exceptional Venturers and Venturing volunteers who will receive the National Venturing Leadership Award this month.

The award, first presented in 2000, recognizes past accomplishments by these great Greenshirts (that’s an unofficial nickname for Venturers, derived from Venturing’s unique uniform color). But it’s also an acknowledgment of what these Greenshirts will continue to do for Venturing into the future.

Like the Eagle Scout Award in Scouts BSA, Quartermaster Award in Sea Scouts or Summit Award in Venturing, the National Venturing Leadership Award doesn’t mark the end of a long career. It’s more of a checkpoint to say “you’re awesome, and we can’t wait to see what you do next!”

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.

Who has received this award in the past?

I blogged about the 2019, 20182017 and 2016 recipients. For a list of all recipients since the award’s 2000 debut, go here.

Who selects the recipients?

A task force of youth Venturers makes the final selections. In a normal year, the recipients are honored at the BSA’s annual meeting. That meeting won’t take place this year, so recipients will be recognized virtually.

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 2020 recipients of the National Venturing Leadership Award?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a closer look:

April McMillan

Irving, Texas

  • Active member of the National Venturing Committee
  • Program director for the BSA programs
  • Serves as Crew 46 Committee member, GSMC VSOA Associate Advisor and Southern Region Area 6 VOA Associate Advisor
  • Powder Horn Course Director, Wood Badge SPL, Seabadge trained
  • Has shown enthusiasm for Venturing, outstanding leadership and endless contributions to the program
Bob Sirhal

Kingston, R.I.

  • Training chair for the National Venturing Committee
  • Coordinates training sessions at the Philmont Training Center
  • Served as the Northeast Region Advisor and also was part of the National Venturing Steering Committee when the structure of the National Venturing Committee was being redesigned
  • Helped shape the program into what it is today
Clare Toman

Spring Lake Heights, N.J.

  • Northeast Region Venturing President
  • Served on staff for National Youth Leadership Training, Wood Badge, NAYLE and VenturingFest
  • Brings a large degree of enthusiasm to the Venturing program that inspires other Venturers
David Bush

Tyler, Texas

  • Serving as part of the Program Development Team for the National Venturing Committee
  • Works tirelessly on investigating, researching and developing proposals to better the Venturing program
  • Excellent mentor to youth and adults in the program
Ella Hirsch

Boerne, Texas

  • Southern Region Venturing President
  • Served on Wood Badge staff, National Youth Leadership Training staff and VenturingFest staff
  • Has been an exceptional role model to other youth and adults in the Venturing program throughout her career
Jim Lynch

San Antonio, Texas

  • Chair of the Program Committee for the National Venturing Committee
  • Has worked to analyze and develop plans to build a sustainable Venturing program, ensuring that this outstanding program remains strong and vital for future generations
  • Provided outstanding leadership over the program
Julie Dalton

Wichita, Kan.

  • Central Region Venturing Advisor
  • Powder Horn Course Director, helped with VenturingFest as the Central Region Chief of Staff, and previously served as an Area Advisor and Region Associate Advisor
  • Tackles any challenge head-on with her outstanding leadership skills
Lyndsey Nedrow

Lancaster, Pa.

  • Has strengthened the new link between the Venturing program and the Order of the Arrow
  • Working to ensure Venturing has a strong female presence in the Order of the Arrow
  • Sets a strong example for fellow Venturers and OA members
Natalie Nichols

Eden Prairie, Minn.

  • Served as a Council Venturing President, Area Venturing President and currently is serving as the Central Region Venturing President
  • Worked to improve the image of the National VOA and worked to increase region collaboration to help strengthen all regions and the National VOA
  • Encourages productivity and success at all levels of Venturing
Ryan Davis

Coral Springs, Fla.

  • VenturingFest youth lead and member of the National Venturing Program Committee
  • Served as an Area President and Southern Region Venturing President
  • Has outstanding leadership and organization skills that he has used to strengthen the program
Tyler Grey

Simi Valley, Calif.

  • Western Region Venturing President and the incoming National Venturing Officers’ Association President
  • Served as part of the National Venturing Communications Committee, National Venturing Strategic Planning Committee and VenturingFest Western Region Base Camp staff
  • An inspiration to all Venturers, offering outstanding leadership to continue the Venturing program
Join the Virtual Venturing Reception

Help celebrate these outstanding Venturers and Venturing Advisors at a Virtual Venturing Reception, scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT on May 23.

The event can be seen live on the Venturing Facebook page.

Friends, family congratulate new Eagle Scout with a surprise parade

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 8:30am

Waving American flags, holding up congratulatory signs and honking, drivers filed past Blake Kenney’s home, honoring the new Eagle Scout. The 15-year-old of Troop 908 in Pleasanton, Calif., watched the parade of cars, filled with family members, friends, teachers, coaches and Scouting families.

Dressed in his field uniform, Blake was in the front yard as photographer Rebecca Harper snapped photos to add to an Eagle Scout display at the San Francisco Bay Area Council office in San Leandro. His court of honor — originally scheduled for that day — had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His parents secretly put out a call for a parade to coincide with the photo shoot.

“The response was amazing,” Blake’s mother Julie says. “So many, many cars drove by, all decorated with signs and flags. It was a memory we will all never forget. We heard many people had tears of joy as they were driving by.”

Not only did drivers roll by, but neighbors stood in their yards, waving flags and cheering. Some set up yard signs to congratulate Blake.

“It was the happiest day of my life,” Blake says. “I was so surprised to see everyone coming out to celebrate my Eagle Scout during this unprecedented time.”

Watch the parade here (have some tissues close by):

Road to Eagle

Blake became a Cub Scout in 2010, received the Arrow of Light award and joined Troop 908. He served as a den chief twice for his former Cub Scout unit, Pack 910. He went on a high-adventure trek at Florida Sea Base a couple of years ago.

For his Eagle Scout project, Blake collected about 360 children’s books and just under $500 for the Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare Charitable Foundation for young hospital patients and visitors to read. Members from the foundation also attended the parade.

Not everyone was able to attend Blake’s surprise parade, so he plans to have his court of honor when things start getting back to normal.

“I hopefully will still have my official Eagle Scout court of honor ceremony soon,” Blake says. “A lot of my out-of-town family members were not able to make it, including my grandparents due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I really want them to see this special day as they both were such a big part of my Eagle journey.”

A world of good: Virginia Scouts hold virtual meeting with Scouts from Afghanistan

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 8:00am

While staying home protects us, Scouting connects us.

As virtual meetings and camp-ins link families within cities and towns, this same technology allows Scouts to reach across oceans to share in the Scouting spirit.

Last month, Scouts BSA Troop 1345G of Burke, Va. (National Capital Area Council), enjoyed a 90-minute Zoom call with Scouts from Troop 2 of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Through an interpreter, the girls talked about their country’s traditions, values and holidays. They spoke about hobbies, school subjects and sports.

While they struggled a bit with unfamiliar expressions and explaining traditional foods (like bolani, a stuffed flatbread), they soon realized they have more in common than you might think.

The biggest similarity: They’re all Scouts.

More than just a Zoom call

At first, the girls of Troop 1345G and Troop 2 thought their uniforms were nothing alike. But when the girls started looking closer and explaining what each patch means, they began spotting similarities. 

The big one: Scouts in both countries wear the World Scout Emblem, a purple patch that signifies membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement, or WOSM.

The BSA is a proud member of WOSM, and in January 2020, Afghanistan rejoined the movement, becoming its 171st member.

“It was a wonderful exchange and very rewarding to be a part of,” says Alyssa Hoseman, development director of PARSA, the nonprofit organization that helped re-establish Scouting in Afghanistan. “And the Kabul internet connection held up to allow a 90-minute call, which was equally impressive.”

During their call, the girls learned that Scouts in both countries:

  • Focus on life skills
  • Care about protecting the environment
  • Serve their community
  • Practice leadership skills
  • Work on merit badges and rank advancement
  • Wear uniforms that show where they’re from and what they’ve accomplished

How it happened

Overcoming the unusual 8.5-hour time difference — when it’s 9 a.m. in Virginia, it’s 5:30 p.m. in Kabul — was the easy part. Connecting the two troops took innovation and hard work.

It began with an idea from a First Class Scout in Troop 1345G.

The Scout was inspired by one of the leaders in her troop: Lt. Col. Natalie Trogus of the U.S. Marine Corps. Trogus is currently deployed in Kabul as a gender advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Defense and is the mom of one of Troop 1345G’s Star Scouts.

Trogus helped set up the call, working with families in both countries to coordinate the timing and make sure everyone had Zoom set up on their computers. She verified there would be adults present to ensure Youth Protection rules were followed.

Once the call began, everything just fell into place.

The Virginia Scouts learned that Afghan Scouts meet weekly, earn merit badges, host an annual camporee in the summer, and conduct regular community service activities like planting trees, distributing care packages to hospitals and distributing cloth shopping bags as part of of “Say No to Plastic” campaign.

The Afghan Scouts learned that the Virginia Scouts have gone backpacking, canoeing, climbing and swimming — all in the troop’s first year of existence.

The connection between these two troops is just beginning. They plan to stay in touch, sharing stories, exchanging recipes — and proving that Scouting can unite people across cultures.

Thanks to David Miura of the BSA’s Pacific Skyline Council, who sits on the PARSA board, for the blog post idea.

‘We will miss you!’ Troop salutes departing Scoutmaster in safe, heartwarming way

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 8:00am

Scouts don’t get discouraged when life throws a curveball. They get creative.

When Aaditya Gulati realized his troop couldn’t give its longtime Scoutmaster a more traditional send-off at a court of honor or special going-away party, the Life Scout devised another way. And he did so while maintaining social distancing guidelines designed to keep us safe.

The young man from Troop 125 of Fremont, Calif. (San Francisco Bay Area Council), planned a drive-by parade for Scoutmaster Craig Cooper, who is retiring and moving to Philadelphia to be closer to his wife.

Aaditya rallied more than 100 Scouts and their families to drive by Mr. Cooper’s house. They honked their horns, waved and saluted. Many held signs, including one that read, “Mister Cooper, the incredible T125 Boy Scout leader. We will miss you!”

Aaditya says his Scoutmaster, who served Troop 125 for more than 20 years, “treated the troop like his family.”

“On my track to Eagle, he has been an amazing mentor, and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better,” Aaditya says.

Aaditya Gulati organized the car parade. A Scouting hero

Aaditya could tell from his first day in Troop 125 that Mr. Cooper would be a positive influence on him.

Like all great Scoutmasters, Mr. Cooper put the youth in front. He allowed the Scouts to lead — and, yes, even to fail — all while keeping everyone “safe, healthy and always having fun,” Aaditya says. “He has inspired us all to make a positive contribution to this world.”

When Aaditya learned that Mr. Cooper was moving across the country, Aaditya (with his parents copied) began emailing leaders in his troop to share his idea for a special send-off.

Craig Cooper watches a parade of cars pass his house. A parade of cars

After days of planning, the big moment arrives. Mr. Cooper emerges from his house and stands in the driveway. Someone points to a line of headlights approaching in the distance and tells Mr. Cooper, “that’s for you.”

Mr. Cooper stands on the sidewalk, hands on his hips and mouth open in disbelief.

First he sees a truck with a U.S. and Troop 125 flag waving from its bed. It’s followed by a car with its windows down as the passengers wave and cheer. There’s another car behind it. And another. The line stretches far into the distance — each vehicle full of Scouts and their family members wanting to express their gratitude.

“Thank you so much,” Mr. Cooper shouts at one car. He’s smiling and blinking back tears. That smile doesn’t leave his face as the parade continues for a solid five minutes.

During these uncertain times, this tribute makes one thing certain: Leaders like Craig Cooper make a huge difference in the lives of young people.

Consider this your daily reminder that what you do as Scout leaders really matters.

“The drive-by thank you was so meaningful to him,” Aaditya says, “and to all the Scouts who will deeply miss him.”

How three Eagle Scout brothers are working to make more ventilators

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 10:00am

It’s not like Tyler, Ryan and Preston Mantel didn’t have anything else to do.

It’s just that, back in March, when the three Eagle Scout brothers from Troop 804 of the Crossroads of America Council in Indianapolis found out that the world needed more ventilators, they knew everything else had to put on hold. Only one thing mattered for now.

“A ventilator is not really a complicated mechanical design, but it is a very complicated supply chain problem to get 13 million out in a few months,” Tyler told UC News, the online news outlet of the University of Cincinnati. “The only people in the world that can rise to that sort of scale is startups.”

And so, The Ventilator Project was born.

Switching Gears

Tyler was working on a project called Watertower Robotics, a noble enough cause already — WTR’s mission is to use robotics to reduce the 20 percent of the world’s water supply that is currently lost through deteriorating infrastructure.

His friend, Alex Frost, had just created FloraBot, a company that uses robotic arms to create floral arrangements.

Alex and Tyler

But all that could wait. Tyler and Alex quickly recruited a team, including his brother Ryan, director of operations for the Ohio State University wrestling team, who works on fundraising for The Ventilator Project; and his other brother Preston, a business technology analyst at Deloitte Consulting, who works on marketing for The Ventilator Project.

Of course, it would take still more manpower. So, Tyler called on some former Scout leaders, and within a few hours he had connected with a pulmonologist, an anesthesiologist and an emergency medical technician.

The Team Grows

The team grew beyond that rather quickly, eventually topping out at around 200 people, around 10 percent of which are Eagle Scouts.

“We all have the same moral compass and our preparation has put us in a spot where we can save a lot of lives,” says Ryan.

Many of the team members are connected to the University of Cincinnati Carl H. Lindner College of Business, where Sue Mantel, mother of Tyler, Ryan and Preston, is a professor of marketing.

In less than two weeks, The Ventilator Project had created a functioning prototype that addresses two problems associated with the ventilator shortage: affordability and speed of delivery. They also delivered 100 3-D-printed face shields to a New York City hospital.

Goal Achieved … Almost

The Ventilator Project had raised $70,000 by the end of April and completed development of its flagship product, Aira. They plan to submit Aira shortly for review by the Emergency Use Authorization authority, part of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Follow their progress at their blog:

What are the odds? They have the same name, patrol, birthday, Eagle board date

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 8:00am

Each year, about 6% of eligible Scouts become Eagle Scouts. Zoom out to consider the entire population of Scout-age youth in the United States, and that percentage drops to about 0.3%.

So yes, becoming an Eagle Scout is extremely rare. (When you look at the award’s challenging requirements, it’s easy to see why.)

But what are the odds that a single Scouts BSA patrol would have two young men with the same name and same birthdate earn the Eagle Scout Award on the exact same day?

That unlikely scenario played out earlier this year in Troop 120 of Mill Creek, Wash., part of the BSA’s Mount Baker Council.

On Feb. 6, 2020, Life Scouts Andrew Buchanan and Andrew Nelson each passed his Eagle Scout board of review and officially earned the highest award in Scouts BSA.

Andrew and Andrew are members of the Sparta Patrol. They were born on the same date: March 6, 2002.

Meet Andrew … and Andrew

For his Eagle project, Andrew Nelson repainted a faded world map on an elementary school playground in Mill Creek, Wash.

He calls his Scouting journey “long and fun.”

“It truly means a lot to me because of the friends I have met, the badges I’ve completed and the experiences that I have gained through my years of Scouting,” he says. “The morals of Scouting have helped me become the person I have wanted to become.”

For his Eagle project, Andrew Buchanan replaced an aging playground at a local airport in Snohomish, Wash.

He calls his Scouting journey “extremely valuable.”

“It has taught me that in order to gain something you want, you must be prepared to put in the work that it takes to achieve it,” he says. “I feel that Scouting has taught me what the true definition of persistence and hard work is.”

From left: Andrew Buchanan, Adam De Paolis and Andrew Nelson A noteworthy postscript

Just to make things a couple of degrees more interesting, there was actually another Troop 120 Scout who passed his Eagle Scout board of review that night last month.

And his name also starts with the letter A.

For his Eagle project, Adam De Paolis designed and installed trail markers for his heavily wooded neighborhood.

“My Scouting journey prepared me for life by teaching me the skills that school and other institutions simply could not provide,” Adam says. “Skills such as leadership, effective communication and budgeting — all of which are crucial in both the professional world and everyday life.”

Congratulations, Andrew, Andrew and Adam! That’s an A-plus effort right there.