You are here

Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine)

Subscribe to Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine) feed Bryan on Scouting (Scouting Magazine)
The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

Details on Scouts BSA uniform, handbook availability in advance of Feb. 1 launch

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 9:00am

We’re now just weeks — not months — away from the launch of Scouts BSA.

In anticipation of the program’s Feb. 1 debut, Scouts BSA uniform items and the Scouts BSA Handbook for Girls have begun arriving at Scout shops and will soon be in stock at

You’ve been asking for details about these new items, and today, I’ve got answers to share.

But first, a quick note to leaders and Scouts in existing all-boy troops: your uniforms and handbooks won’t need to be replaced. You’re good to go.

For leaders of new Scouts BSA troops, as well as new Scouts BSA members — boy or girl — keep reading for the latest info.

Scouts BSA uniforms: Your questions answered When will the new Scouts BSA uniforms be available?

Scouts BSA launches Feb. 1, but uniform parts are available now at some nationally operated Scout shops.

They’ll be in stock at by the end of January. That will include the roll-up pantsgirl’s short-sleeve shirt and more uniform items available in sizes for women and girls.

I recommend you call your local store to confirm availability before making a trip.

What’s new or different about the Scouts BSA uniform?
  • The Scouts BSA uniform shirt comes in sizes and cuts for women and girls.
  • New uniform pants for women and girls can be rolled up at the leg to be worn as capri pants. Women and girls can also purchase the current, switchback-style uniform pants that zip off at the knee.
  • The new shirt is tan and features a BSA fleur-de-lis emblem and the letters “BSA” in red over the right pocket. The existing inventory of tan shirts, with “BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA” in red over the right pocket, will be available until they’re all sold out.
Can I still wear previous-generation uniform pieces?

Yes. With BSA uniforms, the rule is: once official, always official.

Can I mix and match old and new uniform pieces?

Yes. For example, you could wear the new tan Scouts BSA uniform shirt with previous-generation green uniform pants.

Scouts BSA Handbook: Your questions answered When will the new Scouts BSA Handbook be available?

Scouts BSA launches Feb. 1, but the Scouts BSA Handbook for Girls is now available at and will be available at nationally operated Scout shops by Jan. 25.

I recommend you call your local store to confirm availability before making a trip.

The Scouts BSA Handbook for Boys will be shipped to Scout shops this summer as current inventory decreases. Boys can continue using the 13th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, which remains available at Scout shops and online.

Why are there two different handbooks?

The volunteer-led board of directors wanted to ensure Scouts can see themselves represented accurately in the pages, and having two handbooks was the most effective way to do that.

The photos reflect the troop of which the Scout is a member. In other words, boys will see images of other boys in the Scouts BSA Handbook for Boys; girls will see images of other girls in the Scouts BSA Handbook for Girls.

Is the content the same between the Scouts BSA Handbook for Boys and the Scouts BSA Handbook for Girls?

Yes, the content, requirements and page numbers are exactly the same. All that’s different is the photos.

What did and didn’t change from the Boy Scout Handbook to the Scouts BSA Handbooks?

What didn’t change:

  • Requirements
  • Program elements

What did change:

  • Images, which reflect the troop of which the Scout is a member
  • The program name — Boy Scouts becomes Scouts BSA
  • Youth Protection guidelines, which are regularly updated to keep young people safe
  • Minor grammar and formatting fixes to the 13th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook
Can a Scout continue to use the 13th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook?

Absolutely. But be aware that rules and requirements can be updated, so always look for the latest requirements online or in Scoutbook.

Eagle Scout owns Guinness World Record for longest chain of carabiners

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 9:00am

One carabiner can help you carry a water bottle, organize your keys or climb a mountain.

But 1,856 carabiners? That’ll help you get a Guinness World Record.

Charles Boone, an Eagle Scout from Dormont, Pa., was honored by Guinness World Records for creating the longest chain of carabiners ever.

The certifier of superlatives says the record-setting chain was created on Feb. 25, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

Charles spent two hours linking all the carabiners together.

The finished chain extended 250 feet, 10.5 inches. If placed on a football field, Charles’ chain would extend from one goal line across midfield and almost to the 16-yard line on the other side. Not quite a touchdown, but definitely in the red zone.

Where’d he do it?

Guinness World Record attempts must occur in a public place.

So Charles asked the manager of the Walmart in Carnegie, Pa., to use their parking lot. The manager agreed to allow Charles to section off a portion of the parking lot for the job.

The completed chain stretched from the Walmart building, across the parking lot and to the Ford dealership on the other side.

How’d he do it?

Getting the Guinness World Record required more than just carabiners and patience.

Charles needed to work within the very specific Guinness guidelines. That meant witnesses, documentation and verification.

He enlisted the help of some local teachers to serve as witnesses and to complete the official measurement. His parents took photos and video of it all.

Who is Charles?

Charles Boone is an Eagle Scout from Dormont, Pa. For his Eagle project, Charles led the collection supplies for Animal Friends, a shelter in Pittsburgh. Charles and his volunteers collected more than 1,500 items — the largest single donation ever made to Animal Friends.

He’s now a student at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.

He has earned the Triple Crown of High Adventure and served on staff at the 2017 National Jamboree.

He’ll be on staff (officially called the International Service Team) at this summer’s World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

What happened to all those carabiners?

Charles gave most of the carabiners to his home BSA council, the Westmoreland-Fayette Council, based in Greensburg, Pa. That’s Charles above presenting the haul to council Scout Executive Martin Barbie.

The council will distribute the world-record carabiners to Scouts this year at summer camp.

Cub Scout handbooks are now available in Braille versions

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 9:00am

There’s room for everyone in Scouting, especially Scouts who are blind or visually impaired.

That’s why the Boy Scouts of America has released Braille versions of all four Cub Scout handbooks: Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos.

Now every Cub Scout can follow each chapter of his or her Cub Scouting journey.

Families order the handbooks directly from the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute (details below).

The cost, while higher than the non-Braille versions, includes only the actual cost of producing the books. The BSA paid for the transcription, and shipping is free.

How much do the Braille Cub Scout handbooks cost?

Some Braille transcription services charge 75 cents per page or more. That would mean a cost of $226.50 for the 302-page Tiger Handbook or $397.50 for the 530-page Webelos Handbook.

Thankfully, the actual cost of these Cub Scout handbooks is a fraction of that.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Tiger Handbook (two volumes): $50
  • Wolf Handbook (two volumes): $56
  • Bear Handbook (two volumes): $56
  • Webelos Handbook (four volumes): $96

How does a family or Cub Scout leader order a Braille Cub Scout handbook?

Customers order directly from the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute.

Call 316-265-9692 during business hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday.

You may also email

What about the Scouts BSA Handbook?

The Scouts BSA Handbook (14th edition) also will be transcribed.

It will be ready when Scouts BSA, the new name for the BSA’s Boy Scout program, launches in February 2019.

What about Boys’ Life magazine?

The official magazine of the BSA is available in Braille at no charge through the National Library Service.

What other resources are available for Scouts with special needs?

There are a number of resources on this page, which is updated regularly to provided the latest guidance.

Also, be sure to pick up your March-April 2019 edition of Scouting magazine for a cover story about a troop for deaf and blind Scouts. Senior Writer Aaron Derr learned how the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind started its own pack and troop to serve these Scouts.

Photos by W. Garth Dowling/BSA

This troop honored its late Scoutmaster with a really cool patch

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 9:00am

Troop 121 in Granite Bay, Calif., celebrated its 50th anniversary last fall with a special program, featuring a video presentation, group photo and ice cream and cake afterwards. More than 300 Scouts reached the Eagle Scout rank in those five decades, and more than 255 of them were mentored by Scoutmaster John Hooten, Jr.

Earlier in the year, Hooten, who served as the troop’s Scoutmaster for 22 years, died while rowing, another passion of his. To honor him, part of the anniversary program highlighted Hooten’s devotion to the troop of 100-plus boys.

“A major force in the success of Troop 121 was the presence of John Hooten,” said U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, who attended the event. “His contributions will never be forgotten.”

His contributions were also commemorated in a patch the troop designed for the occasion. The patch, emblazoned with stars and ribbons, is adorned on one side with an Eagle’s bust to honor the troop’s 300 Eagle Scouts, and on the other side with Hooten’s image. Centered between the two is a Philmont Scout Ranch expedition achievement patch. Wooten encouraged Scouts to go on high adventure treks to Philmont, Northern Tier and the Florida Sea Base. He also emphasized to them the values of service, preparedness and living by the Scout Oath and Law. The troop’s Eagle advisor Tim Darcey and artist Jim Fitzpatrick worked on the patch’s design.

Honoring leaders

Troop 121’s commemorative patch not only looks great, but it honors a Scout leader who influenced so many people.

How do you remember a leader who has died?

Some units have devoted their buildings and have petitioned their city officials to rename streets. For Eagle Scouts who have passed, they can be featured in Eagles’ Call magazine. You can also memorialize someone through the James E. West Fellowship.

A family tradition: For the Moellers of Ohio, it’s six brothers, six Eagle Scouts

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 9:00am

Birders call a group of eagles a convocation, a congregation or an aerie.

But in the case of Daniel, Tim, Ben, Adam, Sam and Joshua Moeller, a more fitting word is “family.”

Last month, the two youngest members of the Cincinnati-based Moellers earned the Eagle Scout rank. In doing so, Sam and Joshua became the family’s fifth and sixth Eagle Scouts.

That means all six Moeller brothers — whose ages range from 15 to 30 — have achieved Scouting’s highest honor.

In doing so, they join an even larger family: the community of more than 2 million Eagle Scouts in BSA history.

Six (or more) Eagle Scout brothers in one family

While six Eagle Scout brothers is remarkable, it’s not unprecedented.

The Glanzer family of the South Texas Council has six Eagle Scout brothers. Ditto the Gemmell family of the San Diego-Imperial Council.

It’s seven Eagle Scout brothers for the Hartwig family of Arizona.

And in 1984, Scouting magazine found three families that each have 10 Eagle Scout sons.

That’s 10 Eagle Scout brothers in the Dupaix family of Sandy, Utah; 10 in the Dowdle family of Green River, Wyo.; and 10 in the Twa family of Spring Lake, Mich.

Meet the Moellers

The four older Moeller brothers watched their two younger siblings receive their Eagle Scout badges on Dec. 19, 2018.

Troop 641 of the Dan Beard Council held an Eagle Scout court of honor with the whole Moeller family in attendance.

That includes:

  • Daniel, 30, who has a Ph.D. and lives in California
  • Tim, 28, who is an aerospace engineer in Denver
  • Ben, 25, who is a software chemical engineer in Wisconsin
  • Adam, 23, who is working on a graduate degree at Stanford and is interested in teaching
  • Sam, 17, a student at La Salle High School
  • Joshua, 15, a student at La Salle High School

Congrats to Sam, Joshua and all of the Moeller brothers for their excellent achievement.

And because no Eagle Scout earns the award alone, a special shout-out to their mom and dad for their support along the way.

Thanks to Julie Whitaker of the BSA’s Dan Beard Council for the tip.

You can now shop a selection of BSA-licensed products on Amazon

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 9:00am

Repping the BSA is now just a tap or click away.

The Boy Scouts of America has opened a new Amazon store that makes buying officially licensed products easier than ever.

The collection includes more than two dozen unique items, including officially licensed T-shirts, pocketknives and those PopSocket things everyone has on the back of their phone.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be delighted to know most products qualify for free, fast shipping. And if you’re a fan of new stuff, look for more cool gear added throughout 2019 and beyond.

Leaders looking for the latest editions of Scouting handbooks and leader guides will find those in the store, too.

Greg Winters, the BSA’s manager of licensing programs, says his team wanted to create a single destination point to make finding BSA-branded products on Amazon a snap.

“For the BSA, it makes sense to have a presence where consumers are shopping and to create opportunities to help enhance that shopping experience,” he says.

Check out to see what’s available.

What are officially licensed products?

Officially licensed products are produced by a third-party manufacturer and authorized by the BSA’s National Council under a product licensing agreement.

These are different from official products, which are items produced directly by the National Supply Group. You’ll still purchase official products, such as the uniform, through or your local Scout shop.

Can my other Amazon purchases benefit the BSA?

Buying a book, a television or a box of diapers off Amazon?

Learn how to use Amazon Smile to automatically donate 0.5 percent of your purchase to the charity of your choice, including the Boy Scouts of America and its many local councils.

Setup is easy and the donation costs you nothing, making this a great additional way to support Scouting.

How to replace a lost Eagle Scout medal, card or certificate

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 9:00am

The Eagle Scout medal symbolizes a difficult, rewarding journey that, for some young people, spans more than a decade.

While it’s impossible to replace the actual medal pinned on a proud Eagle Scout at a court of honor, the BSA does have a process for obtaining a replacement.

The same steps apply regardless of how the medal was lost — natural disaster, family move or any other reason.

Here’s how to replace a lost or missing Eagle Scout medal, certificate, congratulatory letter or pocket card.

Step 1: Purchase a replacement card and/or certificate

To get a replacement Eagle Scout medal, you’ll first need an official Eagle Scout card or certificate.

Go here to order one.

When ordering these Eagle Scout credentials, you’ll need the following information:

  • Name of Eagle Scout
  • Eagle Scout’s birth date
  • Month and year when the Eagle Scout award was earned
  • City and state where the Eagle Scout award was earned

The BSA, at its National Service Center in Texas, will verify the person’s Eagle Scout status. Once verified, the Eagle Scout card, congratulatory letter and/or certificate are shipped to the address provided.

Step 2: Purchase a new Eagle Scout medal and/or badge

Once the credentials (card or certificate) are in hand, the Eagle Scout can go to a local Scout Shop or council office to purchase a new medal and badge.

The Eagle Scout Award Kit, which includes the medal, pin and badge, is a “restricted item.” This means it’s only available in a local council trading post or Scout Shop with required paperwork.

Step 3 (optional): Consider re-presenting the medal at a court of honor

If the medal was lost because of a natural disaster or some other tragedy, consider making a big deal out of re-presenting it to the Eagle Scout.

This could be done at your troop’s next court of honor, further solidifying the message that “once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”

Thanks to the BSA’s Michael Lo Vecchio and Jeff Laughlin for the info.

What questions should you ask when selecting a Scout troop?

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 9:00am

Eric Dorre’s family has a bit of a problem, but it’s a good problem to have.

They’re moving to Mercer Island, Wash., and they want to find the right troop for their son Magnus.

“We are spoiled for choice, with three troops within a few minutes of our new home,” Eric Dorre writes. “The curse of choice is not knowing the cultures of these troops and which might be the right fit.”

They can start by asking each troop’s Scoutmaster a few essential questions. But what should they ask? I polled our Facebook audience and came up with this list below.

Note: This list isn’t just for families selecting a troop. It works the other way, too.

Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters should review the list to see which questions prospective members might ask. Don’t have an answer for each question? Now’s the time to Be Prepared.

Questions to ask when selecting a Scout troop
  1. Does my child feel comfortable in this troop?
  2. When does the troop meet?
  3. Where does the troop meet?
  4. How often do you go camping?
  5. What are some of your troop’s core/signature events?
  6. Is the troop youth-led?
  7. Does your troop participate in high-adventure trips?
  8. What other activities are your Scouts involved in?
  9. How are activities funded?
  10. Are service projects a priority?
  11. At what pace do Scouts advance in rank?
  12. Has the troop achieved Journey to Excellence bronze, silver or gold status?
  13. Are youth and adult leaders trained?
  14. How big is the troop?
  15. How are Scouts with special needs welcomed?
  16. Is caffeine available?
Why these questions? A closer look 1. Does my child feel comfortable in this troop?

This is the first and most important question. What vibe did your Scout get when checking out the troop? If possible, it’s smart to visit a few different troops to find the one with the best fit.

“When visiting the troops, we stepped back to allow our son to make the final decision about which group of boys he wanted to hang out with,” says Rebecca H.

2. When does the troop meet?

Check your family schedule. Does the troop meet on a night when your Scout absolutely can’t attend?

That might be a deal-breaker.

3. Where does the troop meet?

Plug the address into Google Maps and see how long it’ll take to drive to the meeting site from your house.

“I kept it within 30 minutes driving,” says Todd K.

4. How often do you go camping?

“Once a month” is a great answer!

5. What are some of your troop’s core/signature events?

Find out if the troop has a favorite place it returns to each year or is planning some sort of epic trip.

6. Is the troop youth-led?

One way to find out might be to ask a Scout where they go with questions. If they answer “my patrol leader,” that’s a good sign.

“Witnessing a meeting and how it’s run can tell a lot,” says Reed T.

7. Does your troop participate in high-adventure trips?

Jacob C. says this question is important because “high adventure is a big help in keeping the older youth around to lead and teach the younger Scouts. It’s also a great recruiting tool for new Scouts.”

8. What other activities are your Scouts involved in?

Scouts are busier than ever these days — with school, sports and other non-Scouting activities all pulling on their time. The best troops encourage this. With a little planning and support from Mom or Dad, young people can make time for everything.

“Is it an all or nothing troop?” Janet H. asks. “Can my son show up late due to sports?”

9. How are activities funded?

Is it “fundraising or the ‘bank of Mom and Dad?'” asks Michele K.

Troops that plan one or two quality money-earning projects per year enjoy more Scouting fun for less money out of pocket.

10. Are service projects a priority?

Scouts are supposed to “help other people at all times.” How often does the troop participate in projects that give back to the community?

11. At what pace do Scouts advance in rank?

“Ask a few Scouts when they last advanced in rank,” says Dave S.

If a Scout wants to advance in rank toward Eagle Scout, how will the troop support his or her journey?

This will tell you something, but not everything. Advancement is an important part of Scouting, but advancement alone doesn’t determine the success of a troop.

For proof, look at the Journey to Excellence scorecard, where advancement is just one of 11 categories that determine troop quality. Speaking of …

12. Has the troop achieved Journey to Excellence bronze, silver or gold status?

Journey to Excellence, or JTE, is the BSA’s tool for helping units track the quality of their program.

Participation is optional, but troops that use the JTE scorecard are taking an active step toward improving the ways they serve Scouts.

13. Are youth and adult leaders trained?

Have a number of youth leaders completed their council’s National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) course?

Have any adult leaders taken their council’s Wood Badge training?

Trained leaders — both youth and adult — are signs of a quality troop.

14. How big is the troop?

There are large troops, medium-sized troops and small troops. Determining which one is the best fit for your Scout is a family decision.

“We didn’t want a troop too large that our sons got lost in the chaos and not too small where the workload was heavy for adult volunteers,” says Tracy B.

15. How are Scouts with special needs welcomed?

If your Scout has special needs, you might want to ask whether the troop has experience working with all kinds of Scouts.

If the troop hasn’t yet had this opportunity, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources available to help everyone involved.

16. Is caffeine available?

Tammy P.’s question might be the most important one of all: “Is there coffee on the campouts? If not, then you might have to find another troop.”

What if there’s just one troop around?

Some families might have just one troop within reasonable driving distance.

That makes your decision easy!

In that case, parents should sign up their Scout and sign on as leaders.

If there’s anything they wished was different about the way their new troop is run, they can make that change from the inside.

What other questions do you ask?

Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments. Share the questions you get asked, like to ask — or wish you had asked.

Michigan firefighters’ careers in service started as Boy Scouts

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

Rogers Claussen, a battalion chief with the Rochester Hills Fire Department, recently joined the National Eagle Scout Association and got the Firefighters Affinity Group decal for his helmet. That decal served as a proud statement of his earning the Eagle Scout Award in 1987. It also turned into a discussion-starter among other firefighters on his shift — a shift of 13 personnel, four of which are also Eagle Scouts.

The fire department serves the Michigan city of 70,000 people on the north side of Detroit, fielding about 8,000 calls a year. Firefighters work on 24-hour shifts, so there’s a lot of time to get to know your co-workers.

“The fire department is an extended family,” Claussen says. “There’s a fair amount of camaraderie.”

When he found out four other firefighters on his shift are also Eagles, Claussen was impressed, especially considering the percentages of Boy Scouts that reach the rank. What’s just as impressive is that all five did their Scouting in Michigan, most near Detroit. Their firefighting careers are an extension of community service they began when they were Boy Scouts.

“Scouting instills a lot of the qualities that makes a good, grounded, well-balanced person,” Claussen says.

Start of service

Claussen, a member of Troop 1616 in Royal Oak, Mich., and later Troop 1093 in Clawson, Mich., earned 27 merit badges en route to the Eagle Scout Award. He recalls especially enjoying the Fire Safety and Fingerprinting merit badges.

“Public service has always been there,” he says.

His Eagle Scout project consisted of refurbishing markers and electrical distribution boxes at Clawson’s city park.

Phil Thomas earned his Eagle award in 1998 as part of Troop 60 in Rochester Hills. For his project, he built an outhouse for a one-room schoolhouse on a historical farm the city acquired.

Nick Birchmeier got the Eagle award in 1999 with Troop 90 in New Lothrop, Mich. He sealed a parking lot and painted a map of the United States that could be used for outdoor lessons at an elementary school.

As part of Troop 125 in Rochester, Mich., Chris Ogg earned his Eagle in 2010. His project consisted of building a seating area at the city’s veterans memorial park.

In 2013, Ricky Dvorak earned the Eagle Scout Award as part of Troop 108 in Oxford, Mich. His project involved building a veterans memorial at a cemetery that included three flagpoles and marble benches.

The Eagle firefighters

The men’s backgrounds in Scouting are evident while on the job.

“I’m watching guys shovel walks and driveways when they’re not expected to,” Claussen says. “They live up to Doing a Good Turn Daily.”

About 80 percent of the calls the team responds to are medical calls. The other 20 percent usually deal with fires and hazardous materials. For someone in a medical crisis, seeing a reassuring face can be helpful.

“Scouting has helped us interact with people,” Claussen says.

The BSA’s programs can help youth interested in careers in firefighting and fire safety, with Cub Scout electives, merit badges and an Exploring program. Click here to learn more about the NESA firefighter affinity group.

Let’s break out of the ‘recruiting season’ and welcome new Cub Scouts this winter

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 9:00am

What’s even more fun than being part of a Cub Scout den? Having at least five kids your age in your den!

Whether it’s a den for boys or a den for girls, everyone has a better experience if there are more Cub Scouts to share the fun.

That’s why, even though the traditional fall recruiting season has ended, it’s crucial to continue working on recruiting boys and girls into your pack.

Widening the recruiting window has become a passion for Linda Baker, the volunteer who leads the national New Member Coordinator team. Her list of credentials is long, but I can summarize them in just four words: Silver Buffalo Award recipient.

“Let’s make recruiting continuous rather than seeing it as a seasonal kind of event,” she says. “It’s important for each pack to work on filling every den.”

New Member Coordinators can spread the word about Scouting and help recruit. Once these families join your pack, the job isn’t over, though. Your pack’s New Member Coordinator or a similarly dedicated Scout leader can make these new Cub Scouts feel welcome and not left behind.

“We want to get the new families off to a really good start,” Baker says, “whether it’s in December or January or August.”

Here’s what else I learned from my chat with Baker.

Recruit with a message of service

Millennial moms and dads teach their children the importance of helping others. They’re looking for opportunities to practice what they preach, and Cub Scouting provides exactly that.

Invite neighborhood families to be part of specific kindnesses the pack is providing to the community.

“Helping others is so important to this generation of families,” Baker says. “As we involve them in projects the pack is doing, we can use that opportunity to let them know that Scouting does this all the time.”

Encourage pack parents to use social media

Millennial moms and dads get some of their parenting guidance from social media. They feel close to the people with whom they are connected online.

Encourage your current pack parents to post photos and videos of all the great activities they’re doing in Cub Scouting.

“If they show others the service they’re doing with the community and the fun they’re having, all of that resonates with people who are looking at their social media,” Baker says. “That’s much more effective than advertising.”

Hold a second recruiting event

Hold a “soft-sell” recruiting event in a public venue — somewhere people who aren’t legacy Scouting families might congregate.

It’ll help if you can allow kids to experience some of the activities they’ll enjoy in Cub Scouting at this fun, free gathering.

“I think it’s great to involve whatever new families you already have in the pack,” Baker says.

Don’t view recruiting as a one-time thing

Work to develop relationships with those you seek to recruit and retain.

Instead of taking a one-and-done approach to recruiting, think of it as a continuous process that goes well beyond the first meeting.

“It’s all about relationships as we focus on welcoming new members,” Baker says.

Make sure they don’t feel left behind

There will be some need for new members to catch up. Den leaders can champion this effort, but they should use their den chief to help.

(A den chief is a Boy Scout, Venturer or Sea Scout who assists a den leader.)

“There’s a great opportunity for the den chief to give some focus to the kids who have joined later, to help them do any adventures that the den has already completed. They can catch up by working in small groups or completing activities with their family,” Baker says. “The adventures are designed to be adaptable.”

You might also consider holding one or more additional den meetings for these new members to get them up to speed.

“It’s a matter of everybody putting the effort in,” Baker says.

Develop the ‘roots and wings’

Baker, who has a background in education and child psychology, says Scouting helps develop “roots and wings” in kids.

The “roots” refer to the sense of belonging that Cub Scouts feel as a part of a den and pack.

Once those roots are established, Baker says, “they feel comfortable enough to develop the wings — and pursue that sense of adventure.”

By continuing to recruit, you’re developing even more roots and wings in the youth of America.

Sea Scout Ship 24, the oldest continuously operated Sea Scout ship, turns 95

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 9:00am

There were plenty of Sea Scout ships around before Ship 24 of Houston set sail in 1923.

But when those other ships let their charters lapse during World War II, Ship 24 stayed afloat.

Sea Scouts, BSA, officials confirmed to me this week that “the Jolly Roger,” to use Ship 24’s swashbuckling nickname, is the oldest continuously operated ship in the country.

It’s been around, without interruption, for 95 years.

That’s 95 years of young men and young women forming lifelong friendships, learning essential leadership skills and performing service for the Houston area and beyond.

Karen Hooper Green holds a photo of herself, taken in 1975, as a member of Sea Scout Ship 24. Ship 24’s history of service

Ship 24 has weaved itself into the very fabric of the city of Houston.

During World War II, members of Ship 24 served as “coastal watchers.” The Coast Guard was needed for wartime activities, so the Sea Scouts patrolled Galveston Bay to assist recreational boaters and fishermen.

In 1947, after an explosion in Texas City, Texas, killed nearly 600 people, members of Ship 24 served as messengers. Cellphones didn’t exist, and roads were closed, so the uniformed Sea Scouts carried important missives to emergency officials by bicycle or on foot.

In 2017, in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Sea Scouts from Ship 24 unloaded supplies and assisted victims at NRG Stadium.

Every time their city needed them, Ship 24 answered the call.

Ship 24 celebrates its 95th birthday

In December 2018, current and past members of Ship 24 gathered for a giant party to celebrate the ship’s 95 years.

They ate cake, watched a slideshow and heard stories about Ship 24’s importance to Houston and the BSA’s Sam Houston Area Council.

Kara Hooper Green attended and was delighted to see someone had brought a photo of her as a Sea Scout in 1975. She said her father, Henry Hooper, was the ship’s top adult leader, called the skipper.

“He told me stories about the ship, so I decided to join,” Green said. “He was a professional photographer for Exxon and a former member of the ship.”

The winds continue to billow Ship 24’s sails today. Leaders tell me Ship 24 will have five young men and young women achieve the rank of Quartermaster in 2019.

The rank, the highest in Sea Scouting, is one of the hardest achievements in the Boy Scouts of America. Few ships have even a single Quartermaster recipient in a year. Five in one year would be impressive, indeed.

“We have a 95-year history of seagoing traditions and selfless service to community and country,” says current Skipper Rodger Brown. “We look toward the future to continue that legacy.”

Thanks to Neal Farmer for the tip, photos and additional reporting.

How a troop from Florida planned an affordable ski trip to Montana

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 9:00am

Inspired by a story the Scouts read in Boys’ Life magazine, a troop from Florida is heading to Montana this month for a once-in-a-lifetime ski trip.

Over four days, they’ll tour Yellowstone National Park on a snowcat, work on the Snow Sports merit badge, learn about avalanche rescue from members of the ski patrol and spend two days skiing at the magnificent Big Sky Resort.

All that fun, plus a cross-country flight, must cost the Scouts of Troop 610 a fortune, right?

That’s where this story gets really interesting.

Thanks to careful planning, group discounts and troop fundraisers, each Scout will pay just $750 out of pocket. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s a fraction of what these families would spend to take a similar trip on their own.

I talked with Troop 610’s Stephanie Thomas to learn more.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling It began in Boys’ Life

As 2017 came to a close, Thomas’ son Jack was reading the January 2018 issue of Boys’ Life magazine.

He flipped to Aaron Derr’s cover story, accompanied by some stunning photos from W. Garth Dowling. The story introduces readers to Scouts who went skiing at Big Sky Resort in Montana.

“Skiing is something everybody can learn how to do,” one Scout told Derr. “And once you learn, it’s really enjoyable.”

That was enough convincing. Jack proposed the trip to the troop for early 2019. That would give them a year to fundraise and plan the epic adventure.

Planning the trip

The Scouts did most of the planning. They selected the itinerary, created packing lists and led pre-trip lessons at monthly troop meetings. They did pretty much anything that didn’t involve booking something with a credit card.

That’s just the way it’s supposed to work in a youth-led troop.

It helps that the Montana Council offers its own skiing package for Scouts.

In Derr’s companion story in Scouting magazine, he uncovered how the council negotiates impossibly low rates for Scouts attending its annual Big Sky Ski Weekend.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling Extending the trip

The Scouts soon realized that flying seven hours from Tampa, Fla., to Bozeman, Mont., is a lot for just two days.

“So the Scouts decided to add two extra days to the trip so that we could visit Yellowstone,” Thomas says. “None of us have ever been to Yellowstone, much less seen it in the snow.”

As the troop’s camping chair, Thomas pored over the trip details to make sure everything would be perfect. That’ll make her time on the trip more enjoyable as she sits back to watch the Scouts lead.

“They will set the pace of the trip and be responsible for checking gear and reviewing cold-weather safety, including first aid and wilderness survival in the snow before we go,” she says. “The older Scouts will be responsible for making sure we stay on task and keeping everyone focused and safe.”

Fundraising for the trip

After the schedule was set, the price emerged: $1,000 per person. Wanting to lower that out-of-pocket cost, the Scouts scheduled a series of fundraisers.

They gift-wrapped gifts for Father’s Day at Bass Pro Shops, held a garage sale, and sold holiday wreaths and mulch. Each money-earning project was done with the ski trip in mind.

“I find that Scouts are more motivated to participate in the fundraising when they know they are going to get to go on these special trips,” Thomas says.

The fundraisers were so successful that the troop was able to knock $250 off each Scout’s cost.

Saving money for the trip

Thomas and the Scouts devised some other ways to save money for their trip:

  • Ask for group rates any time you’re booking tickets or travel.
  • Stay at hotels or motels that include a free breakfast.
  • Track plane ticket prices to buy at the cheapest moment.
  • Borrow gear from other troops. (For this trip, Troop 610 is borrowing snow bibs and jackets from another troop.)
You can do it, too!

Can your troop or Venturing crew pull off a similarly awesome adventure? Absolutely.

Thomas says long-distance Scouting trips aren’t more difficult; they just require more planning.

Everyone plays a role: Scouts plan the itinerary, adults support the Scouts and parents make the financial commitment.

“Trips outside of your normal monthly camping are so rewarding, and the Scouts will remember them for a lifetime,” Thomas says. “These trips keep the older Scouts engaged and interested in Scouting and expose them to what all the world has to offer.”

Thomas says longer trips present Scouts with opportunities to test themselves.

“The Scouts learn to work together to help each other overcome these challenges,” she says. “By the end of the trip, these Scouts bond like never before.”

2019 Order of the Arrow national officers elected; here’s who represents your region

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 9:00am

Matt Parsons, an Eagle Scout and Sea Scout from Delaware, has been elected by his peers to serve as National Chief of the Order of the Arrow.

Parsons, along with National Vice Chief Eric Harrison of Illinois and four region chiefs, will serve and represent nearly 200,000 members of the OA, the Boy Scouts of America’s national honor society.

Their terms will run throughout 2019, which will be a historically significant year for the OA.

Beginning Feb. 1, the OA will open unit elections to Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships. Previously, elections only were for Boy Scout troops.

The OA has welcomed female leaders since 1988, but the move will mean young women who are under 21 will be eligible for election into the service-minded society for the first time.

The busy year continues in March, when OA members will travel to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for Philbreak 2019. They’ll spend their spring break helping Philmont recover from last summer’s destructive wildfires.

Let’s meet your national OA officers and introduce you to the chief for your region. (Not sure which region you’re in? I’ve blogged about that.)

2019 National OA Chief: Matt Parsons

  • From: Millsboro, Del. (Del-Mar-Va Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2006, Eagle Scout, Sea Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Nentego Lodge
  • Education: Studies architectural engineering at Delaware Technical Community College
  • Favorite hobby: Sailing
  • Quotable: “2019 will be a turning point for our organization. The things that we accomplish this year will leave an impact on not only how effective our program is today, but how successful we are in the future.”
2019 National OA Vice Chief: Eric Harrison

  • From: Taylorville, Ill. (Abraham Lincoln Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2006, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Illinek Lodge
  • Education: Studies marketing at Lincoln Land Community College, intends to major in marketing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Favorite hobbies: Playing soccer and spending time with friends and family
  • Quotable: “We have a special opportunity to impact Arrowmen nationwide in 2019. I’m looking forward to taking part in this special time for our Order!”
2019 Central Region Chief: Brandon Stahl

  • From: Mishawaka, Ind. (LaSalle Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2007, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Sakima Lodge
  • Education: Intends to major in political science and wants to work for the State Department
  • Favorite hobbies: Hiking and camping
  • Quotable: “Extremely excited for the work we have planned in 2019 and looking forward to focusing on offering support to all our lodges in the coming year. Hoping to visit as many lodge events as possible around our region and nation.”
2019 Southern Region Chief: Sid Salazar

  • From: Franklin, Tenn. (Middle Tennessee Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2007, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge
  • Education: Studies business administration at Georgia Tech University
  • Favorite hobby: Playing basketball
  • Quotable: “This coming year is one filled with incredible potential and opportunity. I am ecstatic to be welcoming our first youth females into the Order, and developing more youth leaders across the country.”
2019 Northeast Region Chief: Ethan Mooney

  • From: Zelienople, Pa. (Moraine Trails Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2004, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Kuskitannee Lodge
  • Education: Studies cybersecurity/computer science at Slippery Rock University
  • Favorite hobbies: Soccer, skiing, kayaking and hanging with friends
  • Quotable: “I am looking forward to seeing what we are able to accomplish.”
2019 Western Region Chief: Antonyo Mitchell

  • From: Everett, Wash. (Mount Baker Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2007, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Sikhs Mox Lamonti Lodge
  • Education: Studies molecular and cellular biology at the University of Washington
  • Favorite hobbies: Photography and playing video games
  • Quotable: “I am excited to travel, meet and discuss best practices from chapter and lodge chiefs across the country.”
Your three national youth officers

As national chief, Matt Parsons joins 2018-19 National Venturing Officers’ Association President Dominic Wolters and 2018-19 National Sea Scout Boatswain Jack Otto as the three highest-ranking youth leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.

These three youth leaders sit on the BSA’s National Executive Board, helping shape the future of our great movement.

As one of his first acts, Matt will join Dominic, Jack and a group of other impressive Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s Report to the Nation in March in Washington, D.C.

Happy New Year! Scoutbook is now free for Scouts and Scout units

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 9:00am

Fellow Scouters, 2019 is off to a great start.

Scoutbook, the Boy Scouts of America’s online tool for managing and tracking Scouting advancement, is now completely, totally, 100 percent free. The change became official today — Jan. 1, 2019.

Longtime users know how Scoutbook makes it easy (and fun!) for Scouts, parents and leaders to track advancement and milestone achievements along the Scouting trail.

Before 2019, individuals, units or councils paid a small annual fee — up to $1 per Scout per year — to access Scoutbook’s suite of unit-management features.

In 2019 and beyond, those same great features are available for the best possible price: $0.

Now everyone can learn what more than 1 million users already know: Scoutbook can improve your Scouting experience.

Here’s what else you need to know:

How will my unit be affected?
  • Units with a current Scoutbook account will continue to use Scoutbook as before.
  • Councils that provide Scoutbook accounts for their units will no longer need to manage a subscription process for units starting a new account.
  • Units without a current Scoutbook account will be able to access Scoutbook free on and elsewhere.
How will subscriptions/renewals work in 2019 and beyond?

The need to subscribe or renew annually will become unnecessary.

Once your unit is on Scoutbook, you’ll be set for as long as your unit would like to continue using this free tool.

How will making Scoutbook free affect its performance?

Scoutbook will only continue to improve.

The BSA IT and Member Care teams will continue to support Scoutbook with their timely service and quality resources. Scoutbook performance enhancements have been implemented regularly over the years, and its performance is continually monitored. That will continue.

What’s new in this release of Scoutbook?

Scoutbook has a new Single Sign On (SSO) process that will allow users to easily create accounts with the same properties as my.scouting accounts.

You’ll use the same account credentials (username and password) for both platforms. This makes things much easier for users by streamlining the login process.

For details, consult this list of Frequently Asked Questions [PDF], which includes a step-by-step guide for use of SSO.

Where can I get more information about this change in Scoutbook?

Keep an eye on for all the latest updates.

If you still have questions, you can always contact the friendly and helpful folks at Scoutbook support. Their email:

BSA Safety Moments offer one-page advice on dozens of Scouting topics

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 9:00am

It just takes a moment to make your pack, troop or crew a little bit safer.

With its Safety Moments, covering a range of topics from acute mountain sickness to zip lines, the Boy Scouts of America’s Health and Safety team hopes to make Scouting an even safer place, one page at a time.

“These are attempts to simplify and streamline complex topics,” says Health and Safety team lead Richard Bourlon. “It’s so much better to prevent rather than react to an incident.”

How does a Scouter use a Safety Moment?

Safety Moments can be viewed online or downloaded as a print-suitable PDF to share with others.

Speaking of, Bourlon suggests starting each meeting with a Safety Moment on a timely topic.

Winter camping trip coming up? There’s a Safety Moment for that. Horseback riding? There’s one for that, too. Launching model rockets? Yes, indeed.

“Use them at your University of Scouting, your board meetings, your roundtables, as well,” he says.

But remember the operative word: moment. Don’t spend more than a few minutes on this.

What topics are covered in Safety Moments?

There are 76 Safety Moments so far, and they’re all collected on this page.

Some of the Safety Moments, like the ones about frostbite or snake bites, offer practical solutions to use in emergencies.

Others are more contemplative. There’s one about helping Scouts build resilience, while another provides ways adults can fight obesity in young people.

And still others are beyond words entirely. I’m thinking of my personal favorite: Nap on Safely.

Take a look, and see which Safety Moments will benefit your Scouts.

What are the most popular Safety Moments?

About 40,000 people have visited the Safety Moments page so far. The three most popular, as of this writing:

  1. Annual Health and Medical Record
  2. Aquatics
  3. Bunk Beds
What’s the plan for adding more Safety Moments?

The team’s original goal was to have 36 Safety Moments, says BSA Health and Safety consultant Hannah Coffey.

“However, based on their popularity, we have been adding them as we see an opportunity for timely topics,” she says. “We know many people are crunched for time, so a Safety Moment is a great way to quickly convey a message about possible risks or hazards.”

If you have an idea for a new Safety Moment, contact the Health and Safety team.

Philbreak 2019: Spend your spring break helping Philmont recover from wildfires

Thu, 12/27/2018 - 9:00am

A Scout’s promise “to help other people at all times” doesn’t take spring break off.

That’s why hundreds of Scouts, Venturers and adult volunteers will gather at Philmont Scout Ranch in March and early April for Philbreak 2019, a chance to help the legendary Scouting destination recover from the Ute Park Fire.

Ever since the fires at Philmont were extinguished, the Philmont Recovery Corps has been working hard both to prepare for crews in 2019 and to mitigate future fire risk. Philbreak will accelerate that process.

Philbreak 2019 volunteers, who must be 16 or older, will help with slope stabilization projects, revegetation efforts, campsite installation and forest thinning. The exact locations and projects won’t be pinpointed until March.

How is the Philmont recovery progressing?

The Philmont Recovery Corps has taken advantage of several snows to burn slash piles created during the summer and in previous years.

The Corps is staging campsite equipment and will soon begin moving into the backcountry to add more campsites, set up new staff camps and work on trails to support the 2019 itineraries.

To learn more about their progress, see the cool infographic at the end of this post. Even though the Philmont Recovery Corps is doing a great job, they can use your help. Speaking of …

When is Philbreak 2019?

There are four weeks available. The first is an initiative of the Philmont Staff Association, which was one of the first groups to step up with financial support after the fires broke out.

The remaining three sessions are put on by the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society. Spring break service projects have become one of the OA’s signature efforts each year. In 2018, Arrowmen traveled to Puerto Rico and Florida to complete hurricane-recovery projects.

Philbreak sessions:

  1. Philmont Staff Association: March 2 to 9
  2. OA: March 16 to 23
  3. OA: March 23 to 30
  4. OA: March 30 to April 6
How many spaces are available?
  • Week 1 (Philmont Staff Association): 30 slots, filled in the order received
  • Weeks 2 to 4 (OA): 50 slots per week, filled in the order received

Once all the spots fill up, applicants will be put on a waiting list. (Only in Scouting would there be a waiting list of people eager to perform service for a week.)

Who is eligible?

Week 1 (Philmont Staff Association): PSA members and their eligible family members. Trek-eligible family members include your spouse, child or stepchild, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law of the PSA member. Don’t register anyone who does not meet these requirements. The minimum age is 16 by date of participation.

Weeks 2 to 4 (Order of the Arrow): Order of the Arrow members with current BSA registrations. The minimum age is 16 by date of participation.

Other requirements include:

  • Completion of the full high-adventure Annual Health and Medical Record
  • Desire to work hard over long hours with good crew spirit and a sense of humor
  • Ability to carry a 50-pound pack, dig, drag debris and move heavy loads
What is the cost?
  • Week 1 (Philmont Staff Association): $210, which includes meals, lodging in roofed housing at the Philmont Training Center and transportation to and from the worksite
  • Weeks 2 to 4 (OA): $100, which includes meals, lodging in roofed housing at the Philmont Training Center and transportation to and from the worksite

The fees do not include transportation to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. You’ll need to arrange your own trip there by plane, train or car.

Where can I register and learn more? Where can I see an infographic about the Philmont Recovery Corps?

Right here! Thanks to Philmont’s marketing manager Dominic Baima for sending.

Scouting Show and Tell: Share photos of your favorite Dutch oven recipes

Wed, 12/26/2018 - 9:00am

It’s time for Show and Tell, where Scouters show their favorite photos based on the topic and tell the story behind them.

Visit You can also email us at, or share via social media using #ScoutingShowandTell.

Upload a photo as a comment below. Just click the image icon at the bottom of any comment box and choose which file you’d like to upload. You can also drag an image file directly into the comment box. Max file size is 2 MB, and you can upload these kinds of photos: JPG, JPEG, GIF and PNG.

If you open the January-February issue of Scouting, you’ll notice a new feature sporting the “Scouting Show & Tell” title. Yes, we want to highlight how you make Scouting shine in future issues of Scouting magazine.

In the January-February issue, we showcased Cub Scout cakes that you submitted to us. Some were simple, some were elaborate, all looked delicious and awesome.

Next time, we want to spotlight your Dutch oven recipes.

For this Scouting Show and Tell, please share the following:

  • A photo of the finished dish
  • A description on how to make it
  • Your unit number and hometown
  • A few sentences explaining when you made it and how well your dish was received

This Eagle Scout will inspire you to overcome any obstacle

Mon, 12/24/2018 - 9:00am

When Chip and Wendy Waggoner took parenting advice from their son’s doctor, they changed the course of his life forever.

The advice? Treat your son like a normal kid.

Benjamin has spina bifida. And now, he’s achieved Scouting’s highest rank.

His journey to Eagle Scout took a ton of work. But this Scout overcame challenges in much the same way any volunteer or Scout faces roadblocks: with the support of the Scouting community.

Benjamin explained how important it was to have the support of volunteers and his fellow Scouts.

“To me, Scouting is all about that — just helping people be successful,” he said.

Benjamin’s dad works as a traffic reporter on the Dallas-Fort Worth Fox affiliate. He recently shared his amazement at Benjamin’s accomplishments.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life. I think few would expect to see something like this in existence … a kid in a wheelchair [become] an Eagle Scout,” he told FOX 4.

You can check out Benjamin’s story in the video below and on the BSA Brand Center. There, you can download the video to share this young man’s incredible accomplishments with parents, new Scouts, your social media followers or anyone who could use a great message about the perseverance and grit of Scouts!

Even though Benjamin’s parents built their son’s upbringing on the notion of being a normal kid, when he become Eagle Scout 527 in Troop 890, he proved he isn’t normal. He’s extraordinary!

Share your support for Benjamin below in the comments! And be sure give a shout out to the Scouts you know who have accomplished the incredible.

Greatest hits: The 10 most-read blog posts of 2018

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 9:00am

As 2018 ends, the flood of year-in-review stories begins.

It seems like everyone with a blog is sharing the 10 best movies or 10 best books or 10 best baby strollers of 2018.

Will the madness ever end? Maybe.

Anyway, today I’m sharing the 10 most-read Bryan on Scouting blog posts of 2018. These are the stories you and your fellow volunteers clicked on most in the past year.

2018 was a record year for this blog

I’m excited to share that the blog had 7.2 million page views in 2018. That’s the most ever and a 13 percent increase over 2017’s total.

I want to thank the editors and my fellow blog contributors who helped make this year a success.

But we couldn’t do it without you, the reader. Thanks for your excellent blog post ideas, insightful comments and continued readership in 2018. There’s much more to come in 2019.

On with the countdown …

10. ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ examines past, present, future of BSA

On Feb. 4, 2018 — Scout Sunday — CBS Sunday Morning made the Boy Scouts of America its cover story.

As the nearly eight-minute segment made clear, the BSA is prepared to meet the needs of busy families with programs that appeal to every family member — moms and dads, sons and daughters.

In February, we shared the video and our recap of what this positive story means for the BSA.

9. Scouters told to update Youth Protection training by Oct. 1

This year, the BSA released< an enhanced online Youth Protection training course that all volunteers and professionals must complete.

Even those Scout leaders who took the previous version of Youth Protection training needed to log into and complete the updated Youth Protection course. We were given until Oct. 1, 2018, to do so.

In March, we gave everyone a six-month heads up to update their training. In September, we told you how to log in and verify that your training is up to date.

8. Readers asked to settle over/under neckerchief debate

The BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia says, on page 13, that “the unit has a choice of wearing the neckerchief over the collar (with the collar tucked in) or under the collar.”

It’s recommended that units pick one style — over or under — for the entire unit. That way everyone’s uniform looks, well, uniform.

In May, we asked readers which style their units prefer — over or under.

7. Lions moves from pilot program to full-time part of Cub Scouting

On the heels of a successful pilot that introduced new families to Scouting and raised retention rates, Lions, the BSA’s Cub Scout program for kindergarten-age youth, became an official part of Cub Scouting this year.

The BSA used feedback from families participating in the pilot to add a rectangular rank patch, rank cards, an advancement chart and Lion adventure loops.

In February, we detailed all the excitement surrounding this news about Lions.

6. Major university cites Scouting in acceptance letter

We’ve all heard that Scouting experience will give a young person a leg up at a college, university or trade school.

But it’s always nice to see tangible proof that this is still the case.

In November, we shared a college acceptance letter sent to Andrew, an Eagle Scout from Texas. You’ll see that the time Andrew spent in Scouting mattered a great deal.

5. Georgia Eagle Scout completes Project of the Year

There are more than 50,000 Eagle Scout service projects completed each year, but only one is deemed the Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year.

For 2018, that one was the work of Nathan Fain. Nathan, an Eagle Scout in Troop 326 of LaGrange, Ga., won the 2018 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.

In June, we shared the inspiring story of Nathan’s efforts to build an innovative musical playground that’s fully accessible for students with physical or mental challenges.

4. Fires at Philmont force backcountry to close Photo by Thomas Mejia.

Extremely dry conditions and the continuing risk of fire forced Philmont to close its backcountry for the entire 2018 summer season. This meant all treks scheduled for summer 2018 were canceled.

In July, we shared the bad news. In August, we wrote about displaced crews that pivoted to alternate adventures. And in September, we discussed how you can help Philmont recover.

What’s the latest on Philmont’s recovery? I’ll share more in a full post soon, but the headline is that the Philmont Recovery Corps is working hard to prepare for 2019 crews. Philmont will be back!

3. Eagle Scouts should apply for these eight scholarships

Each year, higher education seems to come with a higher price tag.

Fortunately, some groups reward Eagle Scouts with scholarships that make college or a trade school a little more affordable.

We scoured the internet to find Eagle Scout scholarships and shared our findings in January. (We also updated the post in December, so the info’s still fresh.)

2. Scouts can earn these merit badges while doing schoolwork

Turns out several merit badge requirements align perfectly with schoolwork. Oh, and bonus points: There’s no BSA rule against going for double credit.

Makes that English essay seem a little more palatable, huh?

In August, we educated readers about five merit badges Scouts can earn while working on school assignments.

1. This was the least-earned merit badge in BSA history

One look at the requirements, and you’ll see why this was the least-earned merit badge in the history of the BSA.

To earn it, Scouts had to “invent and patent some useful article” and “show a working drawing or model of the same.”

In September, we looked back at why the badge was discontinued and what we know about the 10 Scouts who earned it.

Honorable mentions: Five popular stories not from 2018

Some posts were published before 2018 but still caught your eye this year. Here are the top 5, based on number of clicks:

  1. From 2014: Four options for retiring worn-out American flags
  2. From 2011: Tips for deducting Scouting expenses on your tax return
  3. From 2016: Can packs, troops or crews participate in political rallies?
  4. From 2012: 40 questions to ask at your next Eagle Board of Review
  5. From 2016: A parent helped build that Pinewood Derby car? Yes, that’s the point
In case you missed it: 8 essential posts of 2018

These weren’t in the top 10 of 2018, but they were close and I feel they’re worth revisiting:

  1. These 8 often-overlooked words in every merit badge pamphlet mean a lot
  2. Mr. T shows off his Scouting knowledge, donates to Cub Scouts selling popcorn
  3. Southwest Airlines pilot does a Good Turn for Scout
  4. The most important piece of summer camp gear for Scout leaders
  5. Square knot rankings: What are the most- and least-awarded?
  6. What Dick Van Dyke said about the BSA in 1971 still rings true
  7. Leaders invent homemade inflatable gaga ball pit
  8. Photo of Cub Scout keeping flag off ground goes viral
What were the most-read posts in previous years?

Check out the lists from:

Paramount Ranch, a popular site for TV shows and Eagle projects, aims for a sequel

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 9:00am

For the past decade, Paramount Ranch has been the perfect place for Boy Scouts who love movies and TV shows to perform their Eagle Scout service projects.

The National Park Service site near Agoura Hills, Calif., is home to a historic Old West movie set used in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on CBS, HBO’s Westworld and hundreds of other movie and TV productions.

Sadly, Paramount Ranch was heavily damaged in the wildfire, known as the Woolsey fire, that burned near Los Angeles last month. The fire destroyed a saloon, jail, sheriff’s station and other buildings. In doing so, it erased the hard work of several Eagle Scouts who performed service there.

For Troop 127 of Agoura Hills, Paramount Ranch has been a kind of backyard, says committee chairwoman Kathy Patton.

“So many childhood memories among troop Boy Scouts sprung from troop visits to the Western Town, hikes on the trails that surround it, and the leadership experience and volunteerism from many, many Eagle projects,” she says.

Learn more about Troop 127 and Paramount Ranch below. And read my previous posts about the Northern California fire and Southern California fire.

Fifteen Eagle projects

Over the past 10 years, Boy Scouts and volunteers from Troop 127 have completed 15 Eagle projects at Paramount Ranch.

Movie historian Mike Malone, who serves as the liaison between Troop 127 and the National Park Service, says these projects “will always hold a special place in my heart.”

“It’s been a true privilege to help these young men achieve their goals and, just as importantly, help to shape the life skills they learn from their projects,” he says.

While their projects might be gone, the leadership experience these young men gained lives on.

And as Paramount Ranch rebuilds, a new generation of Troop 127 Boy Scouts will lead the way.

Troop 127 and Paramount Ranch Justin Regan (wearing khaki shorts and green socks) stands with his volunteers after a job well done.

In 2009, Justin Regan of Troop 127 planned and executed his Eagle project at Paramount Ranch. He led volunteers as they refurbished picnic tables, repainted buildings, rebuilt a wall and redesigned the sign that hangs above the sheriff’s office.

His project is one in a long line of Troop 127 Eagle projects at the site. A few other recent projects:

  • Justin Zilberstein built a rodent-proof storage room inside the former horse barn.
  • Pat Mrachek refurbished 17 picnic tables.
  • Kevin Mahoney built new railings on the stage of the pavilion and installed new fencing to protect the giant valley oak in town.
For his Eagle project earlier this year, Kevin Mahoney (left) installed new fencing at Paramount Ranch. What’s next?

At least two scheduled Eagle Scout projects at Paramount Ranch have been postponed.

Life Scout Tyler Rush planned to begin work this week on rebuilding the steps of the ranch’s church. The church, featured prominently in Westworld, was spared in the fire, but the site remains closed to Eagle projects until the National Park Service confirms that everything is totally safe.

Fortunately, Tyler doesn’t turn 18 until 2020, so he has some time to wait for the ranch to reopen or think of an alternate project.

The National Park Service announced last month that it plans to rebuild Paramount Ranch’s Western Town in two years. When volunteers are needed, Troop 127 leader Patton says she expects her Boy Scouts to be the first in line.

“We at Troop 127 are dedicated to supporting the Paramount project efforts to rebuild Paramount Ranch through fundraising efforts and recruiting Eagle candidates for projects at this special place,” she says.

In the meantime, Pack 127 and Troop 127 will continue to serve their community in other ways. Patton says the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have been visible and active since the fire. They have filled sandbags, collected donations and served meals to first responders.

When visitors return to Paramount Ranch, these young people will return, too. Their efforts will ensure this isn’t “The End” of this Paramount Ranch story. It’s more like, “To Be Continued.”