Scouting News from the Internet

Eagle Scout Class of 2018: A comprehensive look at the numbers behind the number

Bryan On Scouting -

Behind every Eagle Scout, there’s a story.

A story of perseverance. Of parents and adult volunteers offering guidance and support. Of merit badges, camping trips and service projects.

Multiply each individual Eagle Scout story by 52,160, and you’ll begin to see just how much impact Eagle Scouts had on their communities in 2018.

Exactly 52,160 young men — representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia — earned Scouting’s highest honor last year.

Let’s dive into the numbers.

Putting the number in perspective

With 52,160 Eagle Scouts, the Class of 2018 is officially the eighth-biggest Eagle Scout class in history.

For comparison, 2012’s record-setting class had 58,659 Eagle Scouts. (See the full year-by-year numbers later in the post.)

If all of those Class of 2018 Eagle Scouts wanted to gather to watch some Major League Baseball, there’s only place they could go.

With a capacity of 56,000, only Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (seen above) is large enough to hold everyone.

Percentage of eligible Scouts earning Eagle

Exactly 6.49 percent of eligible Scouts earned Eagle in 2018. Here’s a look at the Eagle percentage over the last 10 years.

Year Eagle Percentage 2009 4.06 2010 5.02 2011 4.55 2012 5.55 2013 6.02 2014 6.01 2015 6.57 2016 6.24 2017 6.46 2018 6.49 Average 5.70

Below, see how the average has increased over time.

I see the increase as a good thing. A higher percentage means young people are staying in the program longer, and it means they’re leaving the program prepared for life.

Consider this: What would the world be like if 100 percent of adults had earned Eagle? That’s a world I’d want to live in.

A deeper dive into the numbers

Let’s look at the numbers behind the numbers:

  • Total number of Eagle Scout service project hours recorded in 2018
  • Region-by-region Eagle numbers
  • Number of Eagle Scouts per year, from 1912 to 2018
  • State-by-state Eagle rankings
  • The average age of 2018’s Eagle Scouts

As always, my thanks to the BSA’s Mike Lo Vecchio, who provides me with these Eagle Scout stats each year.

Total number of Eagle Scout service project hours recorded in 2018

Eagle Scouts, and the volunteers they led, completed 7,987,074 hours of work for Eagle Scout service projects in 2018.

That works out to 153.1 hours per project.

At the 2018 “value of volunteer time” rate of $24.69 per hour, that works out to $197.2 million worth of service to communities.

Year Total Hours Eagle Scouts Hours per Eagle Scout project 2018        7,987,074         52,160 153.1 2017        8,461,760         55,494 152.5 2016        9,156,368         55,186 165.9 2015        8,503,337         54,366 156.4 2014        8,127,532         51,820 156.8

Note: The real number is probably much higher. Many soon-to-be Eagle Scouts miscalculate the number of hours worked, thereby shortchanging themselves. Read this post for details.

Region-by-region Eagle numbers Region 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Western         16,999         18,317         18,073         18,319         17,384 Southern         13,861         14,484         14,962         14,621         14,049 Central         10,681         10,913         11,017         11,227         10,320 Northeast         10,279         10,652         11,134         11,327         10,407 Total         51,820         54,366         55,186         55,494         52,160

Congrats to the Western Region for having the largest total yet again!

Number of Eagle Scouts per year, from 1912 to 2018

Fellow Eagle Scouts, how many others were honored in the year you earned Eagle?

1912                 23 1913                 54 1914               165 1915                 96 1916               103 1917               219 1918               222 1919               468 1920               629 1921            1,306 1922            2,001 1923            2,196 1924            3,264 1925            3,980 1926            4,516 1927            5,713 1928            6,706 1929            6,676 1930            7,980 1931            8,976 1932            9,225 1933            6,659 1934            7,548 1935            8,814 1936            7,488 1937            7,831 1938            8,784 1939            9,918 1940          10,498 1941            9,527 1942            8,440 1943            9,285 1944          10,387 1945          10,694 1946          10,850 1947            9,733 1948            8,016 1949            9,058 1950            9,813 1951          10,708 1952          15,668 1953            9,993 1954          12,239 1955          14,486 1956          15,484 1957          17,407 1958          17,548 1959          17,360 1960          21,175 1961          24,637 1962          26,181 1963          27,428 1964          29,247 1965          27,851 1966          26,999 1967          30,878 1968          28,311 1969          31,052 1970          29,103 1971          30,972 1972          29,089 1973          46,966 1974          36,739 1975          21,285 1976          27,687 1977          24,879 1978          22,149 1979          22,188 1980          22,543 1981          24,865 1982          25,573 1983          25,263 1984          27,326 1985          27,173 1986          26,846 1987          27,578 1988          27,163 1989          29,187 1990          29,763 1991          32,973 1992          34,063 1993          33,672 1994          37,438 1995          31,209 1996          37,715 1997          40,296 1998          41,167 1999          47,582 2000          40,029 2001          43,665 2002          49,328 2003          49,151 2004          50,377 2005          49,895 2006          51,728 2007          51,742 2008          52,025 2009          53,122 2010          57,147 2011          51,933 2012          58,659 2013          56,841 2014          51,820 2015          54,366 2016          55,186 2017          55,494 2018          52,160 State-by-state Eagle rankings

Here are the 2018 state-by-state rankings, as well as the rank change from 2017 to 2018.

Example: The +2 for North Carolina means that state’s rank jumped up two spots: from No. 7 in 2017 to No. 5 in 2018.

Rank State Eagle Scouts Rank Change 2017 Rank 1 Utah 5373 0 1 2 California 5149 0 2 3 Texas 4223 0 3 4 Pennsylvania 2346 0 4 5 North Carolina 1991 2 7 6 New York 1945 -1 5 7 Virginia 1890 -1 6 8 Ohio 1735 0 8 9 Florida 1636 1 10 10 Illinois 1618 -1 9 11 Georgia 1562 1 12 12 Arizona 1519 -1 11 13 New Jersey 1380 0 13 14 Missouri 1263 0 14 15 Michigan 1195 2 17 16 Washington 1191 0 16 17 Idaho 1190 -2 15 18 Maryland 1051 1 19 19 Massachusetts 972 -1 18 20 Indiana 914 2 22 21 Colorado 912 -1 20 22 Minnesota 887 -1 21 23 Wisconsin 873 1 24 24 Tennessee 808 -1 23 25 Connecticut 626 0 25 26 South Carolina 604 1 27 27 Oregon 603 3 30 28 Kansas 585 -2 26 29 Alabama 531 -1 28 30 Kentucky 478 3 33 31 Iowa 473 0 31 32 Nevada 465 -3 29 33 Oklahoma 437 -1 32 34 Nebraska 395 1 35 35 Louisiana 373 -1 34 36 Mississippi 326 0 36 37 Arkansas 251 0 37 38 Hawaii 238 0 38 39 West Virginia 211 1 40 40 New Hampshire 199 2 42 41 Rhode Island 174 -2 39 42 New Mexico 165 -1 41 43 Montana 155 0 43 44 Wyoming 146 1 45 45 Maine 141 -1 44 46 Delaware 110 1 47 47 Alaska 102 1 48 48 North Dakota 102 -2 46 49 South Dakota 102 0 49 50 Vermont 91 0 50

Scouts didn’t just earn Eagle in one of the 50 states. Here are the numbers for BSA members who earned Eagle in Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and the BSA’s Transatlantic and Far East Councils.

Puerto Rico 206 Transatlantic 127 Far East 77 Washington DC 25 State-by-state Eagle rankings (population adjusted)

I used publicly available data to find the number of under-18 boys in each state, as of 2017 (the most recent year available).

That allowed me to create the following population-adjusted list.

Notice that Utah remains No. 1, but less-populous states like Idaho, Wyoming and Rhode Island jumped into the top 10.

Rank State  Eagle Scouts  Under 18 Population Percent Unadj. Rank 1 Utah 5373 926,699 0.580% 1 2 Idaho 1190 443,792 0.268% 17 3 Wyoming 146 136,483 0.107% 44 4 Virginia 1890 1,869,176 0.101% 7 5 Arizona 1519 1,633,490 0.093% 12 6 Missouri 1263 1,382,971 0.091% 14 7 Pennsylvania 2346 2,664,515 0.088% 4 8 North Carolina 1991 2,302,346 0.086% 5 9 Connecticut 626 743,826 0.084% 25 10 Rhode Island 174 207,332 0.084% 40 11 Nebraska 395 475,733 0.083% 34 12 Kansas 585 712,538 0.082% 28 13 Maryland 1051 1,347,506 0.078% 18 14 Vermont 91 116,825 0.078% 50 15 Hawaii 238 305,744 0.078% 38 16 New Hampshire 199 258,773 0.077% 41 17 Washington 1191 1,645,816 0.072% 16 18 Colorado 912 1,261,833 0.072% 21 19 Massachusetts 972 1,369,955 0.071% 19 20 New Jersey 1380 1,979,018 0.070% 13 21 Oregon 603 873,619 0.069% 27 22 Minnesota 887 1,298,657 0.068% 22 23 Wisconsin 873 1,282,644 0.068% 23 24 Nevada 465 685,463 0.068% 32 25 Montana 155 228,889 0.068% 43 26 Ohio 1735 2,605,235 0.067% 8 27 Iowa 473 731,947 0.065% 31 28 Georgia 1562 2,514,698 0.062% 11 29 Indiana 914 1,573,409 0.058% 20 30 North Dakota 102 175,772 0.058% 48 31 Texas 4223 7,366,039 0.057% 3 32 West Virginia 211 369,718 0.057% 39 33 California 5149 9,060,136 0.057% 2 34 Illinois 1618 2,897,185 0.056% 10 35 Maine 141 252,634 0.056% 45 36 Alaska 102 184,928 0.055% 47 37 Michigan 1195 2,176,649 0.055% 15 38 South Carolina 604 1,104,674 0.055% 26 39 Delaware 110 204,484 0.054% 46 40 Tennessee 808 1,507,502 0.054% 24 41 Alabama 531 1,095,473 0.048% 29 42 South Dakota 102 214,856 0.047% 49 43 Kentucky 478 1,010,539 0.047% 30 44 New York 1945 4,154,497 0.047% 6 45 Mississippi 326 713,567 0.046% 36 46 Oklahoma 437 959,285 0.046% 33 47 Florida 1636 4,201,983 0.039% 9 48 Arkansas 251 705,540 0.036% 37 49 New Mexico 165 488,090 0.034% 42 50 Louisiana 373 1,108,403 0.034% 35 The average age of 2018’s Eagle Scouts

This number has remained pretty steady over the past five years.

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018  Western 17.03 17.06 17.08 17.05 17.02  Southern 17.29 17.34 17.31 16.88 17.31  Central 17.36 17.38 17.45 17.36 17.40  Northeast 17.56 17.57 17.55 17.53 17.54  Overall Average Age 17.31 17.34 17.35 17.21 17.32

How to donate items to the National Scouting Museum

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You’re helping a relative clean their house, and as you’re digging through an old trunk in the garage, you discover a Scout campaign hat and a merit badge sash stitched with old-style badges. Your relative doesn’t want them; you don’t want them, so what do you do? Well, they’re dated and Scout-related, maybe they’d be perfect to display in the National Scouting Museum.

Before you box up the items and mail them, just know there’s a preferred process for donating memorabilia to the museum, which opened this past summer at Philmont Scout Ranch.

The National Scouting Museum houses more than 600,000 items that tell the story of Scouting and its impact on American culture. It features the first Eagle Scout Award medal, given to Arthur Eldred in 1912, along with the merit badges he earned. It also has a collection of medals given to Scouts for their fundraising efforts during World War I, as well as a Lone Scout jacket from 1917. 

“Our goal is to have an incredible collection of items, which are keystone pieces of our BSA history,” says David Werhane, National Scouting Museum director. “With that in mind, we ask that anyone who is interested to contributing to the museums collection to contact us before sending objects.”

The process

If you’re interested in donating items to the museum, you can email, call or mail:

  • Daisy Allen, collections curator, at 575-376-2281, ext. 1354
  • National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch, 17 Deer Run Road, Cimarron, NM 87714

When you talk to someone at the museum, you’ll likely be asked about your items, including their age, condition and story. You might also be asked to send photos of the items. Museum employees can go over what to expect for the item’s usage, display and any tax deductions if the donation is accepted.

You can always donate monetarily by mailing to the aforementioned address. Please specify that the donation is to be used by the National Scouting Museum.

If it’s not the right fit

What if it’s determined that your Scout hat and sash wouldn’t be good fit for the national museum? Well, before you start thinking like Indiana Jones (“That belongs in a museum!”), realize that there are other ways you can donate those items to benefit Scouting.

Werhane suggests checking with your local council office or nearby summer camp; some of these places have small displays and exhibits, too.

You can contact a local history museum, library or historical society. One of these organizations might want to highlight Scouting memorabilia specific to the area.

Let’s say you find an old uniform, which features a troop number sewed on it. You could try contacting the unit’s leaders to see if they want it.

“There are a few troops out there who collect items for display, or may at least want to take some photos of the objects for a virtual exhibit about their troop’s history and legacy,” Werhane says.

Perhaps, if you find an old bugle, canteen or mess kit, a local troop might love to have those items as well, and your donation can be used to help a new generation of Scouts.

Scouts BSA troop for boys votes to donate $1,000 to Scouts BSA troop for girls

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If money talks, this gesture by some Scouts in Washington speaks volumes.

The youth leaders in Troop 400 wanted to find a way to welcome Troop 440, a new Scouts BSA troop for girls. These are separate troops but share a chartered organization: Redeemer Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley, Wash.

The Troop 400 patrol leaders’ council voted to donate $1,000 of their troop funds to help Troop 440 get off the ground.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” says Zach Runolfson, senior patrol leader. “There were Scouts in need, and we were in a position to help them out.”

The funds will help Troop 440 buy uniforms, gear and supplies so they can start strong and grow.

Emily Breeding, senior patrol leader of Troop 440, thanked her fellow Scouts for their generosity.

“Your actions remind me that a Scout is a friend to all,” she told Troop 400. “A Scout is a brother to other Scouts. You guys keep showing everyone what it means to be a Scout.”

Scout-led troop, Scout-led decision

Troop 400 is a boy-led troop. All decisions, even the one about donating $1,000 to another Scout unit, come from the boys. The adults serve as advisers, and their advice on this idea? Go for it.

Their former Scoutmaster, Terry Fossum of Kicking & Screaming fame, was so impressed that he shared the news with me.

Troop 400’s current Scoutmaster was pretty much in awe, too.

“We try to teach these boys to serve first, and sometimes we wonder if it sinks in,” Robert Blegen says. “However, it is clear that focus on others — the ‘help other people at all times’ in the Scout Oath — is part of this troop’s DNA.”

More about the Scouts’ decision

Joshua Hall, patrol leader of the Phoenix Patrol, offers some more insight into the troop’s thinking.

“The decision to give the girls’ troop funds was not an immediate yes or no vote,” he says. “We made sure that every Scout there was informed on whatever information that we might need to make our decision.”

After all the Scouts knew how the funds would be used — and that they were allowed to use the funds in this way — they took a vote.

The tally, Joshua tells me, was an almost unanimous “yes.”

The adult perspective

Eric Lobdell, chartered organization representative for both troops, applauded the boys’ decision.

“The church’s senior pastor and our executive officer were both thrilled with the prospect of the boys’ troop passing funds to the new girls’ troop to help them get started,” he says. “It is a wonderful act of generosity and truly speaks to the values that Scouting has long instilled in young men — and now young women, too.”

Kevin Hall is committee chairman of Troop 400 and Troop 440. He calculated how much money Troop 440 initially would need but wasn’t present when the Troop 400 patrol leaders’ council made its decision.

“I was blown away,” he says. “They decided to give more than what I presented as our immediate startup costs. It is evident they wanted to see the new girls’ troop succeed.”

Top of their game: Grandmasters help girls earn Chess merit badge

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All of the pieces lined up perfectly last week as a group of Scouts in St. Louis became some of the first girls in the country to earn the Chess merit badge.

At the workshop, held Feb. 4, a group of 12 girls earned this popular merit badge with the help of some of the world’s best chess players.

As luck would have it, some grandmasters were in town to compete in a major international chess tournament for women.

The St. Louis Chess Club has hosted workshops for the Chess merit badge since the badge’s debut in 2011. Over the course of a day, instructors teach Scouts about chess history, etiquette, tactics, openings, endgames and tournament play.

But this workshop was special, because this workshop was the first one designed just for Scouts BSA girls.

Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club A great move

The workshop’s timing was ideal. The club is in the middle of an inaugural international chess tournament where some of the top female players from around the world battle for board supremacy.

The 10 women in the 2019 Cairns Cup come from Russia, Germany, France, India, Kazakhstan, the United States and the country of Georgia.

Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield, a longtime supporter of music, arts and chess, says the Scouts BSA workshop was a crowning achievement for everyone involved.

“We can take pride in saying the first girls ever to earn the Chess merit badge came from Missouri,” she says. “A big thank you goes to the St. Louis Chess Club for putting on this event.”

Chess has always been one of the most popular non-Eagle-required merit badges.

In 2018, 28,260 boys earned the merit badge — a 5 percent increase over 2017. That puts Chess in the top 10 elective merit badges of 2018.

With girls now a part of Scouts BSA, coupled with the support of renowned groups like the St. Louis Chess Club, the badge’s popularity is sure to keep climbing.

Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club

Get your top 10 questions about Scouts BSA answered right here

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There’s enthusiasm for the launch of Scouts BSA everywhere you look.

You see it on social media, where young people are saying, #ScoutMeIn. You see it on the news as reporters highlight the BSA’s commitment to the whole family. And you see it in all 50 states, with new Scouts BSA troops for girls forming from coast to coast.

As with anything new, there’s bound to be some questions. The BSA has covered almost all of them on the Family Scouting page (look for the link marked “FAQ”).

But today I thought I’d extract the top 10 questions I’ve seen from parents and volunteers. Here we go.

1. Are all BSA programs now co-ed?

While it’s true that all BSA programs now welcome both boys/young men and girls/young women, it’s not accurate to call every program co-ed.

Let’s review the structure of each program:

  • Cub Scouts (ages 5 to 10): Dens are either all-boy or all-girl. Packs come in three varieties: only all-boy dens, only all-girl dens, or a mix of all-boy dens and all-girl dens.
  • Scouts BSA (ages 11 to 17): Troops are either all-boy or all-girl. Linked troops are an option (see question 3, below).
  • Venturing (ages 14 to 20, or 13 and completed eighth grade): Crews are co-ed.
  • Sea Scouts (ages 14 to 20, or 13 and completed eighth grade): Ships are co-ed.
  • Exploring (ages 10 to 20): Clubs and posts are co-ed.
2. Why did the BSA decide to welcome girls into Scouts BSA?

Simply put, because girls and their parents asked.

We heard anecdotes of girls wanting to go camping, earn merit badges and become Eagle Scouts like their brothers, dads or grandfathers.

Those stories were then confirmed by national surveys. The BSA asked girls ages 11 to 17 whether they’re interested in joining BSA programs. Some 90 percent said yes.

The BSA then asked parents whether they’re interested in a program like Boy Scouts for their daughter. Yes, 87 percent said.

Convenience likely plays a big factor in that response from parents. Families are pulled in a million directions these days, so the BSA designed its programs to better fit into busy lives.

3. How does a “linked” troop work in Scouts BSA?

Linked troops are two troops — one for boys and one for girls — that share a chartered organization and may share some or all of the troop committee.

The approach preserves the single-gender troop model while making things more convenient for families.

Linked troops could meet in the same location on the same night. The troop for boys might meet in one room, while the troop for girls meets in another.

Linked troops can share troop numbers, too. Councils have the ability to differentiate an all-boy troop from an all-girl troop in their records.

4. What is the organization’s name?

The organization is still called the Boy Scouts of America.

The BSA is composed of several programs, including Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA (formerly known as Boy Scouts), Venturing, Sea Scouts, Exploring and STEM Scouts.

5. What do we call a youth member of Scouts BSA?

We’ll call them Scouts, just like today. The term “Scouts BSA members” works fine, too.

Some examples:

  • “I’m a Scout in Troop 123.”
  • “This is my last year in Cub Scouts. Next year, I’ll be in Scouts BSA.”
  • “OK, Scouts, it’s time to elect your senior patrol leader.”
  • “The event will be open to Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA members, Venturers and Sea Scouts.”
6. Are the requirements the same for boys and girls?

Yes, the requirements in all programs are the same for boys and girls.

The BSA, after consulting with Scout volunteers and education experts, confirmed that its existing programs are relevant for young men and young women.

Think about the 12 core elements of Scouting enshrined in the Scout Law. Those are things young men and young women should aspire to be: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

As a result, every requirement in Scouting — from Lion to Arrow of Light, Scout to Eagle Scout, the Venturing Award to the Summit Award — is the same for everyone.

7. Why not keep Boy Scouting and introduce a separate program for girls?

Different program names might lead someone to believe there are different requirements for each program.

Because all single-gender troops will run the same Scouting program, earn the same merit badges and achieve the same ranks, one program name made the most sense.

8. Why have two separate versions of the Scouts BSA Handbook?

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.

When comparing the two, you’ll see the content, requirements and page numbers are exactly the same. All that’s different is the photos.

For more, read this post from last month (scroll to the handbook section).

9. Are there two separate versions of the Scouts BSA uniform?

When you go to your favorite department store to buy a T-shirt or jeans, you find separate fits, styles and sizes for men/boys and women/girls.

The Scouts BSA uniform is no different.

While the fit and styling may be different, the uniforms will remain fundamentally the same.

The Scouts BSA shirt is tan and features a BSA fleur-de-lis emblem and the letters “BSA” in red over the right pocket. It’s available in sizes for girls and women now and will be available for boys and men once the existing inventory of tan shirts, with “BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA” in red over the right pocket, is sold out.

Both are approved for wear in perpetuity.

10. What are the Scouts BSA adult leadership requirements?

Effective, Oct. 1, 2018, two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings. This is a change from the previous policy where one leader could be 21 years of age or older with a second leader who could be 18 years of age or older.

For Scouts BSA troops for girls, these are the leadership rules:

  • Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings.
  • Volunteers may be all female or a combination of male and female, but at least two volunteers must be 21 years of age or over and at least one must be female.
  • There must be a registered female adult leader over 21 in every unit that is serving females.
  • A registered female adult leader over 21 must be present for any activity involving female youth. Notwithstanding the minimum leader requirements, age- and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided.

For Scouts BSA troops for boys, these are the leadership rules:

  • Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings.
  • Volunteers may be all male, all female, or a combination of male and female, but at least two volunteers must be 21 years of age or over.
  • Notwithstanding the minimum leader requirements, age- and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided.

Massive research study will examine the ways adults and Scouts work together

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A first-of-its-kind nationwide study will examine how Scouts and adult leaders work together and reveal ways the BSA can better support its adult volunteers as they deliver on the promise of Scouting.

Put simply, the results will help the BSA help you do your best. Or: BEST.

As part of the Building Evidence in Scouting Together (BEST) study, researchers from Montclair State University and the American Institutes for Research will spend 2019 and 2020 surveying 2,500 troops from across the U.S., talking to Scouts and adult leaders by telephone, and observing adult leader training courses like Wood Badge.

The team, led by Jennifer Urban and Miriam Linver at Montclair State University and Deborah Moroney at American Institutes for Research, will release findings as they’re available, with the first report expected in summer 2019.

While the BSA has approved and sanctioned the project, this study will be completed by independent researchers. As I first reported last year, money for the research comes from a generous $5.7 million grant from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

MSU researchers Jennifer Urban (left) and Miriam Linver. What to do if your troop is selected

Montclair State researchers randomly selected 2,500 troops. The troops represent a geographically diverse cross-section of the BSA.

Because self-selection might skew the results, there’s no way to opt-in.

If your troop is selected, you’ve either already heard from the researchers or will soon. Watch your email inbox for a message from

If you deleted the email or didn’t receive it, don’t worry. They’ll send follow-ups to the sample group.

After you get the email, here’s what happens:

  1. Researchers will confirm they have the right contact information for your troop’s Scoutmaster.
  2. The Scoutmaster will receive a digital “key” to unlock online access.
  3. The Scoutmaster (or his or her designee) will add information for adult leaders and youth members who are interested in participating. (Parents who do not want their child to participate in the study will have an opportunity to opt out.)
  4. All who are interested will complete a 20- to 30-minute online survey at three different time points between now and April 2020. The first survey window closes in May 2019.
  5. Each time Scouts or adults complete a survey, they’ll get one-third of an exclusive patch available only for BEST study participants.

A small group of people also will be invited to participate in three telephone interviews between early 2019 and spring 2020.

Why selected troops will want to participate

Did I mention the patch?

Yes, but it’s worth reiterating. Everyone who participates will get one piece of a three-segment patch. Complete all three surveys, and the complete patch is yours.

Additionally, the troop can receive up to $100 in Scout shop gift cards. The troop receives a $25 gift card for registering and another $25 at each of the three survey points if they get 50 percent or more of Scouts to participate.

MSU researcher Yolanta Kornak-Bozza sets up her tent at Wood Badge. What researchers will study

This is not a comparison study. It’s not comparing the BSA to another youth-serving organization or after-school activity. (The 2015 Tufts study already did that.).

The BEST study will determine what makes a successful adult leader by examining the ways adults and Scouts work together.

Researchers will answer questions like:

  • Does it matter which trainings you go to?
  • What about when you take those trainings?
  • Does it make a difference if you were a Scout yourself as a kid?
  • What are the profiles of successful leaders?
  • What is “success” within the context of Scouting?

“We’re trying to understand what those answers are, so BSA as an organization can be even more deliberate,” Urban says.

In addition to online surveys and phone interviews, the BEST team has sent Wood Badge-trained researchers to observe BSA position-specific training courses and Wood Badge weekends.

“Folks have seen our team out in the fields,” Urban says. “They come in uniform, and they really try to not impact the important experience that happens as part of Wood Badge.”

To see more, including a comprehensive list of FAQs, visit the official study website.

Eagle Scout professional driver will lead NASCAR’s biggest race this weekend

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NASCAR’s biggest race of the year and kickoff to this season will be Sunday for the 61st running of the Daytona 500. And leading the pack of more than 40 of the best drivers in the sport will be an Eagle Scout.

William Byron, Eagle Scout class of 2015, of Charlotte, N.C., won the pole this past weekend, meaning he will start in the first position when the green flag waves at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Byron is entering in his second year on NASCAR’s top circuit, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He finished last season ranked No. 23 and was named the 2018 Rookie of the Year.

During the pole qualifying rounds for this year’s Daytona 500, Byron clocked a lap topping at 194.305 mph, just a fraction of a second faster than the next driver.

The trend-setter

Sunday’s race will be the first time Byron will start a Cup Series race out in front. Historically, only nine drivers who led the Daytona 500 at the very beginning went on to win the race 200 laps later, the last being Dale Jarrett in 2000. But, the 21-year-old Byron is all about bucking trends.

Very few drivers can trace their racing careers to first being in front of a computer screen. When Byron was 13 — about the same time he got involved in Scouting — he started competing against online players through iRacing, a racing simulator. In two years of playing iRacing, Byron won more than 100 races, so he decided to try it for real. He was a natural, capturing 33 wins and a national championship on the U.S. Legends circuit when he began his career as a high school sophomore.

In 2016, he finished fifth overall in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series and claimed Rookie of the Year honors. The next year, he won the Xfinity Series championship before advancing to NASCAR’s Cup Series.

“I think that it’s progressed kind of how I thought it would, but there’s always more to learn more and more to accomplish,” Byron says.

Scouting and racing

One goal would be winning a Cup Series race. Last season, Byron had four top 10 finishes in races, the best coming mid-season at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania when he came in sixth place.

“To win, you’ve got to be able to close the deal,” Byron says. “I think that’s similar to what I did when I was a Scout.”

Byron balanced his time driving practically every weekend, playing football in high school and participating in Scouting. So, while he was busy, he stayed focused, squeezing in service hours after school or during the rare free weekend.

And yes, he has camped at a racetrack.

“I camped out at my home track in Charlotte,” he says. “It poured down rain the next day and rained out the Cup race, but it was fun.”

Watch for Byron in the No. 24 car during FOX’s broadcast of the big race, sometimes referred to as the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.”

If you want to learn more about Byron and his NASCAR career, pick up a copy of this month’s Boys’ Life or the Fall 2018 edition of Eagles’ Call magazine. You can also check out this video of our interview with him:

2018 Merit Badge Rankings: A deep dive into the official numbers, from 1 to 137

Bryan On Scouting -

First Aid merit badge extended its reign atop the charts in 2018, while the Exploration, Animation and Bugling merit badges each saw double-digit gains in popularity.

And how’s this for unusual: The exact same number of Scouts earned the Search and Rescue merit badge in 2017 and 2018: 10,107.

Those are just three of the dozens of storylines one can glean from the 2018 merit badge data, released last week by the Boy Scouts of America.

Today, let’s chop, sort and digest those numbers every which way. As always, the goal is to find trends that are interesting and informative.

At the end of this post, I’ll include the raw numbers so you can do your own spreadsheet wizardry. Leave a comment with anything cool you’re able to find.

The Actual Top 10

As usual, every merit badge on this list is required to earn the Eagle Scout award, Scouting’s highest honor.

It makes sense that these would rank highly; they’re the badges the BSA deems most important.

Rank Merit Badge 2018 earned 1 First Aid         69,565 2 Swimming         62,796 3 Citizenship in the World         55,843 4 Environmental Science         54,237 5 Citizenship in the Nation         52,944 6 Communication         51,541 7 Cooking         50,185 8 Camping         49,893 9 Citizenship in the Community         49,863 10 Personal Fitness         49,600 The Alternative Top 10

What happens when we exclude Eagle-required merit badges from the rankings?

When given the choice to earn any of the 120 non-Eagle-required merit badges, which do Scouts prefer?

I think you’ll find a common theme with these 10: They’re offered at most summer camps, giving Scouts an excellent opportunity to complete them.

Rank Merit Badge 2018 earned 1 Fingerprinting        38,239 2 Rifle Shooting        37,695 3 Archery        34,487 4 Leatherwork        33,740 5 Wood Carving        31,910 6 Kayaking        31,362 7 Wilderness Survival        29,392 8 Chess        28,260 9 Canoeing        26,094 10 Fishing        24,688 The Bottom 10

The list excludes Computers (replaced by Digital Technology in 2014) and Cinematography (replaced by Moviemaking in 2013), even though a few Scouts earned each in 2018.

How is that possible? According to the Guide to Advancement, once a Scout starts working on a merit badge, there’s no time limit for finishing — other than the Scout’s 18th birthday.

Some readers will look at the list below and say, “challenge accepted.”

Can you help get your favorite merit badge out of the bottom 10? All it takes is a few motivated merit badge counselors.

Rank Merit Badge 2018 earned 128 Composite Materials       1,646 129 Landscape Architecture        1,495 130 Gardening        1,428 131 Drafting        1,231 132 Journalism        1,153 133 American Labor        1,109 134 Surveying        1,065 135 Stamp Collecting        836 136 (tie) American Business        551 136 (tie) Bugling        551 Who’s up, and who’s down?

One year of numbers can’t tell the whole story. That’s why I like to compare each year’s numbers to the previous year.

When we do that, we discover which merit badges gained and lost popularity year over year.

Top 5 gains

Merit Badge 2017 2018 Rise/Fall Exploration           2,090           3,351 60.3% Public Health           1,798           2,382 32.5% Animation           5,462           6,981 27.8% Traffic Safety           5,689           7,100 24.8% Surveying              863           1,065 23.4%

I’m not surprised to see Exploration get such a big jump. As the BSA’s newest merit badge, Exploration should gain in popularity as more Scouts and leaders learn about its existence.

The Animation merit badge, meanwhile, continues its surge up the charts. It has seen double-digit gains in popularity every year since its 2015 debut.

At No. 7 in gains, Bugling merit badge just missed the top 5, but it’s worth mentioning. The badge saw a 21.4 percent popularity jump from 2017 to 2018, meaning that many more campsites were filled with the sweet sounds of bugles last year.

Top 5 losses

Merit Badge 2017 2018 Rise/Fall Archaeology           6,876           6,056 -11.9% Stamp Collecting              954              836 -12.4% Soil and Water Conservation           9,484           8,199 -13.5% Pulp and Paper           6,879           5,911 -14.1% Backpacking           3,498           2,295 -34.4%

Once again, I did not include the discontinued Computers and Cinematography merit badges in these calculations.

That’s six straight years of declining numbers for the Backpacking merit badge. To be fair, its requirements are pretty daunting. Scouts must complete three different backpacking treks of at least three days each and at least 15 miles each.

On a personal note, I’m sad to see the Pulp and Paper merit badge here.

I earned that one at the 1997 National Scout Jamboree and still remember the strange thrill of making my own paper by hand. Try that with a Kindle.

What’s my source?

So where did these numbers originate? From Local Council Charter Applications. That means they’re based on the actual number earned, not on sales of the badges. Some troops purchase extra emblems in anticipation of future badge earnings, so sales numbers can mislead.

Special thanks to the BSA’s Lynn Adcock for compiling and providing these numbers each year.

The raw data

WARNING: The following section is for stat geeks only. Do not proceed unless you’re ready to see lots of lots of numbers.

Seriously. You could be scrolling for minutes and dissecting digits for days.

Still with me?

OK, so keep heading down this rabbit hole to find:

  • The complete 2018 rankings
  • Merit badge popularity over the last five years
  • Lifetime rankings from 1911 to 2018
  • Every merit badge ranked by its percent change from 2017 to 2018
The complete 2018 rankings

What the colors mean:

  • Blue: merit badge is required for Eagle
  • Red: merit badge is considered “new” — released in 2014 or later
Rank Merit Badge 2018 earned 1 First Aid         69,565 2 Swimming         62,796 3 Citizenship in the World         55,843 4 Environmental Science         54,237 5 Citizenship in the Nation         52,944 6 Communication         51,541 7 Cooking         50,185 8 Camping         49,893 9 Citizenship in the Community         49,863 10 Personal Fitness         49,600 11 Family Life         48,787 12 Personal Management         48,393 13 Emergency Preparedness         43,063 14 Fingerprinting         38,239 15 Rifle Shooting         37,695 16 Archery         34,487 17 Leatherwork         33,740 18 Wood Carving         31,910 19 Kayaking         31,362 20 Wilderness Survival         29,392 21 Chess         28,260 22 Canoeing         26,094 23 Fishing         24,688 24 Art         21,793 25 Lifesaving         20,952 26 Shotgun Shooting         20,241 27 Space Exploration         19,574 28 Climbing         18,911 29 Mammal Study         17,982 30 Geology         17,242 31 Game Design         16,020 32 Indian Lore         16,003 33 Astronomy         15,531 34 Robotics         15,285 35 Basketry         14,546 36 Photography         14,161 37 Pioneering         14,099 38 Small Boat Sailing         13,886 39 Aviation         13,745 40 Geocaching         12,972 41 Metalwork         12,768 42 Orienteering         12,538 43 Weather         12,430 44 Nature         12,372 45 Engineering         12,280 46 Welding         11,981 47 Music         11,860 48 Fish & Wildlife Management         11,822 49 Fire Safety         11,673 50 Forestry         11,326 51 Chemistry         11,140 52 Automotive Maintenance         10,360 53 Search and Rescue         10,107 54 Electricity           9,979 55 Motor Boating           9,697 56 Moviemaking           9,416 57 Oceanography           9,021 58 Horsemanship           8,837 59 Rowing           8,377 60 Sculpture           8,212 61 Soil and Water Conservation           8,199 62 Pottery           7,890 63 Digital Technology           7,857 64 Electronics           7,731 65 Public Speaking           7,250 66 Sustainability           7,192 67 Signs, Signals and Codes           7,178 68 Traffic Safety           7,100 69 Animation           6,981 70 Snow Sports           6,961 71 Salesmanship           6,936 72 Railroading           6,728 73 Nuclear Science           6,678 74 Sports           6,594 75 Crime Prevention           6,456 76 Hiking           6,362 77 Archaeology           6,056 78 Pulp and Paper           5,911 79 Scouting Heritage           5,901 80 Reptile and Amphibian Study           5,786 81 Cycling           5,671 82 Law           5,656 83 Disabilities Awareness           5,571 84 American Heritage           5,530 85 Radio           5,205 86 Bird Study           5,101 87 Woodwork           4,939 88 Pets           4,890 89 Fly Fishing           4,873 90 Plumbing           4,862 91 Genealogy           4,830 92 Coin Collecting           4,726 93 Programming           4,723 94 Mining in Society           4,650 95 Scholarship           4,433 96 Collections           4,280 97 Architecture           3,881 98 Medicine           3,878 99 Reading           3,873 100 Animal Science           3,769 101 Painting           3,709 102 Home Repairs           3,579 103 Inventing           3,494 104 Entrepreneurship           3,353 105 Exploration           3,351 106 Graphic Arts           3,343 107 Safety           3,322 108 Whitewater           3,199 109 Dentistry           3,110 110 Golf           3,060 111 Dog Care           3,025 112 Water Sports           2,937 113 Athletics           2,808 114 Insect Study           2,716 115 Veterinary Medicine           2,716 116 Model Design and Building           2,674 117 Energy           2,607 118 Plant Science           2,569 119 Textile           2,530 120 American Cultures           2,519 121 Public Health           2,382 122 Truck Transportation           2,313 123 Backpacking           2,295 124 Theater           2,294 125 Farm Mechanics           2,226 126 Scuba Diving           2,036 127 Skating           1,898 128 Composite Materials           1,646 129 Landscape Architecture           1,495 130 Gardening           1,428 131 Drafting           1,231 132 Journalism           1,153 133 American Labor           1,109 134 Surveying           1,065 135 Stamp Collecting              836 136 American Business              551 137 Bugling              551 138 Computers              202 139 Cinematography                  1 Merit badge popularity over the last five years

Sorted alphabetically.

Merit Badge 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 American Business 650              587              627              613              551 American Cultures 2,174           2,233           2,218           2,298           2,519 American Heritage 5,333           5,599           4,952           5,496           5,530 American Labor 992           1,106              812              901           1,109 Animal Science 4,042           4,414           3,852           3,848           3,769 Animation –           1,099           4,637           5,462           6,981 Archaeology 8,652           7,590           7,388           6,876           6,056 Archery 43,238         41,879         39,419         35,301         34,487 Architecture 4,019           3,362           3,230           3,654           3,881 Art 25,438         24,374         22,990         21,567         21,793 Astronomy 15,758         16,706         16,355         15,702         15,531 Athletics 3,241           3,604           3,125           2,754           2,808 Automotive Maintenance 9,763           9,961         10,748         10,205         10,360 Aviation 17,522         15,170         14,477         14,347         13,745 Backpacking 4,169           3,973           3,963           3,498           2,295 Basketry 17,531         17,158         15,282         15,406         14,546 Bird Study 5,641           5,587           5,199           4,965           5,101 Bugling 606              492              479              454              551 Camping* 54,265         54,342         53,534         50,871         49,893 Canoeing 31,833         29,461         28,288         26,052         26,094 Chemistry 10,594         10,560         10,865         10,248         11,140 Chess 25,266         27,235         27,416         26,919         28,260 Cinematography 4,026           1,260              841              231                  1 Citizenship in the Community* 51,728         52,071         51,975         48,736         49,863 Citizenship in the Nation* 56,490         57,161         57,919         52,949         52,944 Citizenship in the World* 61,303         60,171         59,363         55,917         55,843 Climbing 23,200         21,574         21,171         18,356         18,911 Coin Collecting 5,303           4,715           4,135           3,930           4,726 Collections 4,295           4,004           3,753           4,140           4,280 Communication* 54,081         55,738         53,367         50,503         51,541 Composite Materials 1,614           2,183           1,597           1,407           1,646 Computers 12,973           1,686              354              207              202 Cooking* 99,908         67,691         55,841         51,004         50,185 Crime Prevention 6,917           6,581           6,178           6,721           6,456 Cycling** 6,268           6,626           6,334           5,742           5,671 Dentistry 3,416           3,485           2,910           3,135           3,110 Digital Technology 3,014           9,383           9,344           8,768           7,857 Disabilities Awareness 6,204           6,153           5,833           5,239           5,571 Dog Care 2,955           2,666           2,414           2,661           3,025 Drafting 1,318           1,339           1,168           1,119           1,231 Electricity 10,460         10,035           9,762           9,245           9,979 Electronics 8,860           8,352           7,814           7,524           7,731 Emergency Preparedness*** 46,069         47,879         47,004         43,351         43,063 Energy 3,669           3,190           2,955           2,749           2,607 Engineering 11,624         11,735         11,429         11,773         12,280 Entrepreneurship 2,496           2,927           3,365           3,473           3,353 Environmental Science**** 67,218         63,783         60,026         55,703         54,237 Exploration –                –                –           2,090           3,351 Family Life* 49,516         51,008         50,177         48,774         48,787 Farm Mechanics 2,486           2,244           2,368           2,307           2,226 Fingerprinting 43,820         43,743         40,700         38,989         38,239 Fire Safety 12,395         12,782         12,257         11,746         11,673 First Aid* 80,917         80,716         75,256         69,563         69,565 Fish & Wildlife Management 13,749         13,164         12,647         11,615         11,822 Fishing 28,119         26,050         25,256         24,343         24,688 Fly Fishing 4,537           3,981           4,577           4,597           4,873 Forestry 14,465         12,905         12,519         11,456         11,326 Game Design 11,853         12,313         13,689         13,810         16,020 Gardening 1,641           1,582           1,375           1,450           1,428 Genealogy 5,474           5,316           4,570           5,213           4,830 Geocaching 16,785         15,582         15,210         12,604         12,972 Geology 21,282         22,180         18,516         18,674         17,242 Golf 3,955           3,826           3,605           3,248           3,060 Graphic Arts 3,189           3,356           3,251           3,066           3,343 Hiking** 7,344           6,967           7,485           7,084           6,362 Home Repairs 3,866           3,288           3,325           3,432           3,579 Horsemanship 11,905         10,878           9,457           8,641           8,837 Indian Lore 22,997         22,241         18,234         17,003         16,003 Insect Study 3,164           3,550           2,341           2,644           2,716 Inventing 2,902           3,369           2,834           3,296           3,494 Journalism 955           1,037              970           1,127           1,153 Kayaking 35,533         34,054         33,137         30,466         31,362 Landscape Architecture 1,496           1,434           1,494           1,483           1,495 Law 5,463           5,633           5,226           5,402           5,656 Leatherwork 42,565         40,805         37,920         35,490         33,740 Lifesaving*** 24,474         23,983         22,382         20,748         20,952 Mammal Study 24,060         23,427         21,303         18,715         17,982 Medicine 3,725           3,807           3,767           3,561           3,878 Metalwork 12,949         12,340         12,639         12,990         12,768 Mining in Society 3,519           4,613           4,224           4,673           4,650 Model Design and Building 2,612           2,795           2,770           2,564           2,674 Motor Boating 10,748           9,880           9,515           9,517           9,697 Moviemaking 6,195         10,064         10,851           9,262           9,416 Music 12,903         12,369         11,689         10,592         11,860 Nature 15,046         14,679         13,635         11,586         12,372 Nuclear Science 6,657           6,728           7,005           6,702           6,678 Oceanography 9,991           9,892           8,499           7,763           9,021 Orienteering 16,871         15,642         13,753         11,742         12,538 Painting 4,346           4,245           3,829           3,222           3,709 Personal Fitness* 50,693         52,499         52,079         50,428         49,600 Personal Management* 48,299         51,105         50,251         49,287         48,393 Pets 4,821           4,645           4,278           4,289           4,890 Photography 17,804         16,931         15,142         13,550         14,161 Pioneering 18,117         17,341         15,959         13,870         14,099 Plant Science 2,680           2,922           2,363           2,107           2,569 Plumbing 4,982           4,960           4,510           4,398           4,862 Pottery 9,050           8,384           8,230           7,940           7,890 Programming 2,970           3,577           4,085           4,138           4,723 Public Health 1,821           1,780           1,837           1,798           2,382 Public Speaking 7,091           7,793           7,497           7,035           7,250 Pulp and Paper 6,250           7,379           6,081           6,879           5,911 Radio 6,665           6,709           6,442           5,840           5,205 Railroading 6,694           7,651           6,599           6,663           6,728 Reading 4,712           4,179           3,574           3,524           3,873 Reptile and Amphibian Study 7,547           6,700           6,411           6,053           5,786 Rifle Shooting 45,839         43,196         41,444         37,796         37,695 Robotics 13,708         13,700         14,264         15,031         15,285 Rowing 10,557           9,995           9,408           8,239           8,377 Safety 3,778           3,937           4,267           3,280           3,322 Salesmanship 6,648           6,412           6,031           5,908           6,936 Scholarship 5,362           4,911           4,316           4,171           4,433 Scouting Heritage 5,572           5,558           5,266           5,916           5,901 Scuba Diving 1,989           2,135           1,792           1,842           2,036 Sculpture 9,887         10,042           8,900           8,715           8,212 Search and Rescue 12,359         11,725         10,361         10,107         10,107 Shotgun Shooting 23,970         21,895         20,912         19,703         20,241 Signs, Signals and Codes –           3,453           8,025           7,364           7,178 Skating 2,010           1,972           1,953           1,785           1,898 Small Boat Sailing 16,511         15,092         14,108         14,182         13,886 Snow Sports 8,227           7,251           7,177           7,267           6,961 Soil and Water Conservation 11,296         10,437         10,341           9,484           8,199 Space Exploration 22,625         21,607         20,137         18,994         19,574 Sports 8,032           8,272           7,626           6,556           6,594 Stamp Collecting 863              996              793              954              836 Surveying 1,065              879           1,028              863           1,065 Sustainability **** 5,428           6,625           6,813           7,295           7,192 Swimming** 72,503         71,821         67,446         62,057         62,796 Textile 3,694           3,225           2,480           2,205           2,530 Theater 2,273           2,665           2,543           2,332           2,294 Traffic Safety 7,088           5,604           6,072           5,689           7,100 Truck Transportation 2,182           2,157           2,391           2,466           2,313 Veterinary Medicine 2,875           2,764           2,580           2,451           2,716 Water Sports 3,594           3,389           3,123           2,966           2,937 Weather 15,846         14,622         12,665         12,690         12,430 Welding 11,061         11,019         10,737         10,656         11,981 Whitewater 3,565           2,888           3,476           2,832           3,199 Wilderness Survival 40,395         37,581         35,221         30,814         29,392 Wood Carving 38,749         36,890         34,938         32,943         31,910 Woodwork 5,198           5,242           4,975           5,212           4,939  Total    2,077,550    2,011,860    1,919,912    1,813,834    1,822,137

* On required list for Eagle Rank

** Required for Eagle (must complete Cycling, Hiking or Swimming)

*** Required for Eagle (must complete Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving)

**** Required for Eagle (must complete Environmental Science or Sustainability)

Lifetime rankings from 1911 to 2018

Two notes:

  1. This list includes only merit badges that could be earned in 2018. Sorry, but that means Poultry Farming merit badge didn’t make the cut.
  2. The rankings are interesting but don’t tell the whole story. A merit badge released more recently will rank lower than one of the original 1911 merit badges. For example, Home Repairs is No. 17 lifetime, but it was released in 1943. Kayaking is nearly nine times more popular today, but it’s only been around for six years.
Rank Merit Badge 1911 to 2018 1 First Aid*        7,277,000 2 Swimming**        6,578,887 3 Camping*        4,871,352 4 Cooking*        4,563,082 5 Citizenship in the Community*        3,664,401 6 Citizenship in the Nation*        3,425,710 7 Canoeing        3,133,529 8 Lifesaving***        3,125,473 9 Safety        2,949,820 10 Environmental Science****        2,946,336 11 Personal Fitness*        2,703,833 12 Fire Safety        2,656,110 13 Leatherwork        2,595,034 14 Basketry        2,502,267 15 Citizenship in the World*        2,500,053 16 Pioneering        2,474,477 17 Home Repairs        2,428,794 18 Wood Carving        2,424,339 19 Communication*        2,267,277 20 Fishing        2,089,286 21 Emergency Preparedness***        2,018,626 22 Personal Management*        2,011,022 23 Fingerprinting        1,836,069 24 Wilderness Survival        1,768,336 25 Archery        1,754,930 26 Rowing        1,753,857 27 Nature        1,717,714 28 Public Health        1,525,442 29 Reading        1,498,194 30 Rifle Shooting        1,488,110 31 Art        1,399,534 32 Music        1,365,267 33 Family Life*        1,359,091 34 Hiking**        1,358,115 35 Scholarship        1,294,545 36 Mammal Study        1,276,775 37 Indian Lore        1,271,349 38 Forestry        1,199,151 39 Metalwork        1,185,376 40 Sports        1,174,437 41 Soil and Water Conservation        1,160,706 42 Athletics        1,077,296 43 Woodwork           992,294 44 Orienteering           870,816 45 Electricity           843,826 46 Geology           723,734 47 Small Boat Sailing           709,577 48 Astronomy           703,548 49 Fish & Wildlife Management           702,456 50 Horsemanship           679,532 51 Pets           676,765 52 Reptile and Amphibian Study           673,052 53 Public Speaking           672,078 54 Aviation           662,236 55 Space Exploration           640,183 56 Weather           630,365 57 Motor Boating           624,947 58 Bird Study           603,037 59 Shotgun Shooting           603,031 60 Cycling**           599,551 61 Painting           577,129 62 Photography           565,293 63 Computers           521,257 64 Coin Collecting           514,650 65 Climbing           496,522 66 Snow Sports           479,874 67 Dog Care           442,228 68 Pottery           416,395 69 Plumbing           410,108 70 Gardening           393,348 71 Chemistry           393,276 72 Stamp Collecting           393,086 73 Salesmanship           350,117 74 Sculpture           338,277 75 Oceanography           323,521 76 Railroading           264,996 77 Water Sports           262,469 78 Genealogy           251,567 79 Electronics           247,926 80 Model Design and Building           230,979 81 Architecture           230,572 82 Farm Mechanics           229,947 83 Drafting           229,515 84 Backpacking           228,005 85 Kayaking           222,534 86 Automotive Maintenance           208,359 87 Law           206,682 88 Nuclear Science           200,849 89 Chess           197,711 90 Radio           196,678 91 Engineering           193,753 92 Archaeology           183,900 93 Traffic Safety           182,036 94 Skating           180,968 95 Golf           180,509 96 American Heritage           180,398 97 Insect Study           176,334 98 Bugling           172,050 99 Crime Prevention           162,604 100 Collections           158,035 101 Surveying           155,483 102 Textile           153,450 103 Dentistry           148,024 104 Truck Transportation           146,904 105 Disabilities Awareness           144,272 106 Pulp and Paper           140,857 107 Geocaching           132,847 108 Journalism           110,669 109 Cinematography           106,448 110 Robotics           104,058 111 Whitewater           100,847 112 Theater             93,496 113 Energy             91,894 114 Landscape Architecture             87,617 115 Medicine             87,561 116 Veterinary Medicine             86,596 117 American Cultures             77,037 118 Animal Science             76,960 119 Welding             70,395 120 Game Design             70,342 121 Search and Rescue             65,936 122 Graphic Arts             63,959 123 American Business             55,518 124 Plant Science             54,762 125 Scouting Heritage             49,488 126 Moviemaking             45,788 127 Fly Fishing             45,207 128 Digital Technology             38,366 129 Entrepreneurship             35,560 130 Sustainability ****             33,943 131 American Labor             26,736 132 Signs, Signals and Codes             26,020 133 Inventing             24,086 134 Mining in Society             21,679 135 Scuba Diving             20,865 136 Composite Materials             20,078 137 Programming             19,973 138 Animation             18,179 139 Exploration               5,441 Every merit badge ranked by its percent change from 2017 to 2018


Merit Badge 2017 2018 Rise/Fall Exploration           2,090           3,351 60.3% Public Health           1,798           2,382 32.5% Animation           5,462           6,981 27.8% Traffic Safety           5,689           7,100 24.8% Surveying              863           1,065 23.4% American Labor              901           1,109 23.1% Plant Science           2,107           2,569 21.9% Bugling              454              551 21.4% Coin Collecting           3,930           4,726 20.3% Salesmanship           5,908           6,936 17.4% Composite Materials           1,407           1,646 17.0% Oceanography           7,763           9,021 16.2% Game Design         13,810         16,020 16.0% Painting           3,222           3,709 15.1% Textile           2,205           2,530 14.7% Programming           4,138           4,723 14.1% Pets           4,289           4,890 14.0% Dog Care           2,661           3,025 13.7% Whitewater           2,832           3,199 13.0% Welding         10,656         11,981 12.4% Music         10,592         11,860 12.0% Veterinary Medicine           2,451           2,716 10.8% Plumbing           4,398           4,862 10.6% Scuba Diving           1,842           2,036 10.5% Drafting           1,119           1,231 10.0% Reading           3,524           3,873 9.9% American Cultures           2,298           2,519 9.6% Graphic Arts           3,066           3,343 9.0% Medicine           3,561           3,878 8.9% Chemistry         10,248         11,140 8.7% Electricity           9,245           9,979 7.9% Nature         11,586         12,372 6.8% Orienteering         11,742         12,538 6.8% Disabilities Awareness           5,239           5,571 6.3% Skating           1,785           1,898 6.3% Scholarship           4,171           4,433 6.3% Architecture           3,654           3,881 6.2% Inventing           3,296           3,494 6.0% Fly Fishing           4,597           4,873 6.0% Chess         26,919         28,260 5.0% Law           5,402           5,656 4.7% Photography         13,550         14,161 4.5% Engineering         11,773         12,280 4.3% Model Design and Building           2,564           2,674 4.3% Home Repairs           3,432           3,579 4.3% Collections           4,140           4,280 3.4% Public Speaking           7,035           7,250 3.1% Space Exploration         18,994         19,574 3.1% Climbing         18,356         18,911 3.0% Kayaking         30,466         31,362 2.9% Geocaching         12,604         12,972 2.9% Electronics           7,524           7,731 2.8% Bird Study           4,965           5,101 2.7% Shotgun Shooting         19,703         20,241 2.7% Insect Study           2,644           2,716 2.7% Citizenship in the Community*         48,736         49,863 2.3% Journalism           1,127           1,153 2.3% Horsemanship           8,641           8,837 2.3% Communication*         50,503         51,541 2.1% Athletics           2,754           2,808 2.0% Motor Boating           9,517           9,697 1.9% Fish & Wildlife Management         11,615         11,822 1.8% Robotics         15,031         15,285 1.7% Rowing           8,239           8,377 1.7% Moviemaking           9,262           9,416 1.7% Pioneering         13,870         14,099 1.7% Automotive Maintenance         10,205         10,360 1.5% Fishing         24,343         24,688 1.4% Safety           3,280           3,322 1.3% Swimming**         62,057         62,796 1.2% Art         21,567         21,793 1.0% Lifesaving***         20,748         20,952 1.0% Railroading           6,663           6,728 1.0% Landscape Architecture           1,483           1,495 0.8% American Heritage           5,496           5,530 0.6% Sports           6,556           6,594 0.6% Canoeing         26,052         26,094 0.2% Family Life*         48,774         48,787 0.0% First Aid*         69,563         69,565 0.0% Search and Rescue         10,107         10,107 0.0% Citizenship in the Nation*         52,949         52,944 0.0% Citizenship in the World*         55,917         55,843 -0.1% Scouting Heritage           5,916           5,901 -0.3% Rifle Shooting         37,796         37,695 -0.3% Nuclear Science           6,702           6,678 -0.4% Mining in Society           4,673           4,650 -0.5% Fire Safety         11,746         11,673 -0.6% Pottery           7,940           7,890 -0.6% Emergency Preparedness***         43,351         43,063 -0.7% Dentistry           3,135           3,110 -0.8% Water Sports           2,966           2,937 -1.0% Astronomy         15,702         15,531 -1.1% Forestry         11,456         11,326 -1.1% Cycling**           5,742           5,671 -1.2% Sustainability ****           7,295           7,192 -1.4% Gardening           1,450           1,428 -1.5% Cooking*         51,004         50,185 -1.6% Theater           2,332           2,294 -1.6% Personal Fitness*         50,428         49,600 -1.6% Metalwork         12,990         12,768 -1.7% Personal Management*         49,287         48,393 -1.8% Camping*         50,871         49,893 -1.9% Fingerprinting         38,989         38,239 -1.9% Weather         12,690         12,430 -2.0% Animal Science           3,848           3,769 -2.1% Small Boat Sailing         14,182         13,886 -2.1% Archery         35,301         34,487 -2.3% Computers              207              202 -2.4% Signs, Signals and Codes           7,364           7,178 -2.5% Environmental Science****         55,703         54,237 -2.6% Wood Carving         32,943         31,910 -3.1% Entrepreneurship           3,473           3,353 -3.5% Farm Mechanics           2,307           2,226 -3.5% Mammal Study         18,715         17,982 -3.9% Crime Prevention           6,721           6,456 -3.9% Aviation         14,347         13,745 -4.2% Snow Sports           7,267           6,961 -4.2% Reptile and Amphibian Study           6,053           5,786 -4.4% Wilderness Survival         30,814         29,392 -4.6% Leatherwork         35,490         33,740 -4.9% Energy           2,749           2,607 -5.2% Woodwork           5,212           4,939 -5.2% Basketry         15,406         14,546 -5.6% Sculpture           8,715           8,212 -5.8% Golf           3,248           3,060 -5.8% Indian Lore         17,003         16,003 -5.9% Truck Transportation           2,466           2,313 -6.2% Genealogy           5,213           4,830 -7.3% Geology         18,674         17,242 -7.7% American Business              613              551 -10.1% Hiking**           7,084           6,362 -10.2% Radio           5,840           5,205 -10.9% Archaeology           6,876           6,056 -11.9% Stamp Collecting              954              836 -12.4% Soil and Water Conservation           9,484           8,199 -13.5% Pulp and Paper           6,879           5,911 -14.1% Backpacking           3,498           2,295 -34.4%

50 states, 50 photos: Scouts BSA launch week was a huge success

Bryan On Scouting -

With Scouts BSA troops formed in all 50 states, the excitement has officially spread from coast to coast.

For the first time in history, families are registering both their sons and their daughters in the life-changing program formerly known as Boy Scouts.

It’s happening from Alabama to Wyoming … and beyond. Yes, there’s already a Scouts BSA troop for girls in Germany — part of the BSA’s Transatlantic Council.

Today, one week after the launch of Scouts BSA, let’s see what Scouts BSA looks like in your state.

I selected one photo for each state from the hundreds available. Remember: This is just the first week. Imagine what the future will bring as more and more families say … “Scout Me In!”

Alabama Troop 82 (left) and Troop 3, Mobile Area Council Alaska Great Alaska Council Arizona Troop 1003, Catalina Council Arkansas Troop 19, Quapaw Area Council (Story) California Troop 7272, Orange County Council Colorado Troop 73, Longs Peak Council Connecticut Troop 306, Connecticut Yankee Council Delaware Troop 1923, Del-Mar-Va Council Florida Troop 175, Central Florida Council (Pictured: Emma, one of the council’s first girls to join Scouts BSA, receives her Scout rank.) Georgia Troop 5109, Northeast Georgia Council Hawaii Troop 11, Aloha Council (Story) Idaho Troop 333, Inland Northwest Council Illinois Troop 2119, Three Fires Council Indiana Troop 2720, Crossroads of America Council Iowa Troop 270, Hawkeye Area Council Kansas Quivira Council Kentucky Troop 1281, Blue Grass Council (Pictured: Emily talks to a TV news reporter for this story.) Louisiana Norwela Council Maine Troop 2019, Pine Tree Council (Story) Maryland Troop 614, National Capital Area Council Massachusetts Heart of New England Council Michigan Troop 1104, Michigan Crossroads Council Minnesota Troop 32, Central Minnesota Council Mississippi Andrew Jackson Council (Story) Missouri Troop 7220, Heart of America Council Montana Troop 1941, Montana Council Nebraska Troop 1885, Mid-America Council Nevada Troop 91, Nevada Area Council New Hampshire Troop 603, Daniel Webster Council New Jersey Troop 1150, Patriots’ Path Council New Mexico Great Southwest Council New York Troop 4031, Hudson Valley Council North Carolina Troop 214, Occoneechee Council North Dakota Northern Lights Council Ohio Simon Kenton Council Oklahoma Troop 237, Indian Nations Council Oregon Troop 586, Cascade Pacific Council Pennsylvania Troop 19, Chester County Council Rhode Island Troop 438, Narragansett Council South Carolina Troop 9518, Indian Waters Council (Story) South Dakota Black Hills Area Council Tennessee Troop 1010, Cherokee Area Council Texas Troop 5131, Capitol Area Council (More photos) Utah Troop 314, Great Salt Lake Council Vermont Troop 1709, Green Mountain Council (Story) Virginia Troop 219, National Capital Area Council Washington Pacific Harbors Council West Virginia Troop 9076, Laurel Highlands Council Wisconsin Troop 5959, Three Harbors Council Wyoming Troop 221, Greater Wyoming Council (Story) And beyond Troop 1920 of Vogelweh, Germany, part of the BSA’s Transatlantic Council

When encouraging proper uniforming becomes unkind

Bryan On Scouting -

A while back, one of the BSA’s official Facebook pages posted a wonderful photo of a Cub Scout flag ceremony. (Not the one above — a different photo.)

It was one of those perfect Scouting moments: Charming and inspiring and genuine. Scouts were having fun as parents and adult leaders looked on with pride.

Unfortunately, a handful of commenters noticed some of the Scouts weren’t in full uniform. Rather than remarking on the impressive display of patriotism, this vocal minority offered a scathing criticism about uniforms.

The story got worse from here. A parent from the pack contacted the BSA, saying her Cub Scouts had seen the comments and were devastated. The mom, who had originally sent in the photo with pride, asked that it be taken down. And so it was.

Proper uniforming is a worthy pursuit — one we have discussed at length on this very blog. But sometimes the way people react to improper uniforming leads them away from the Scout Law.

Maybe we need to have a discussion about uniforming and kindness.

The uniform is one part of Scouting …

Wearing the uniform is very important. It’s one of seven methods of Cub Scouting and eight methods of Scouts BSA.

As a reminder, they are:

  • Patrols
  • Ideals
  • Outdoor Programs
  • Advancement
  • Association With Adults
  • Personal Growth
  • Leadership Development
  • Uniform

The uniform builds unity among Scouts, lets them show off awards they’ve earned and helps others notice the presence of Scouting in their community.

… but it’s not the only part of Scouting

There’s a difference between encouraging proper uniforming within your pack, troop or crew — something we can all support — and belittling or embarrassing fellow Scouts and Scouters who aren’t perfectly attired. That moves from striving to uphold standards to being unkind.

The Facebook post of the Cub Scout flag ceremony photo serves as a nice reminder that your online comments don’t live in a vacuum: There’s a real person — sometimes a child — on the other end of your words.

Scouts learn to be a part of a den or patrol. They grow as people as they advance through the program.

Scouts learn from positive adult role models. They practice leadership skills. They serve their community. They have life-changing experiences they can’t get anywhere else.

And if they do all that with a shirt untucked or a patch misplaced? Maybe that’s not the end of the world. Maybe those Scouts are learning bigger lessons — ones that will last a lifetime.

Let’s all aspire to a higher standard when discussing uniforms — a standard straight from the Scout Law. Points four, five and six tell us to be friendly, courteous and kind.

Teach Scouts to identify essential knots by making this cool Knot Recognition Game

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Tom Mahany wanted to challenge his Scouts to learn and identify essential Scouting knots.

So the assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 165, part of the Coastal Georgia Council, invented a brilliant solution. It’s called the Knot Recognition Game.

Mahany’s invention is equal parts work of art and practical teaching tool.

He started with six broomstick handles lashed together into a pyramid. Then he added a maze of knots and lashings — affixing a number to each. At troop meetings and Scout outings, Mahany gives each Scout a scoresheet and asks them to match the knot’s name to its corresponding number.

It was an instant hit — so popular, in fact, that the adult leaders started participating too.

When Mahany brings his Knot Recognition Game to summer camp or a district camporee, volunteers from other troops take notice.

“I have had many leaders ask me where I got the idea or where they can get or make one,” Mahany tells me. “Some suggested I send my idea to Scouting magazine to be shared.”

And we’re glad you did! Find complete instructions below.

Why he did it

Mahany’s motivation for this project? Wood Badge.

To complete Wood Badge, the BSA’s premiere training course for adult leaders, volunteers must complete a series of five service projects. Together these projects form the “Wood Badge ticket.”

Each ticket item should benefit Scouting in some way, and Mahany’s Knot Recognition Game certainly qualifies. It trains Scouts and leaders in an essential outdoors skill.

How he did it What you’ll need
  • Six one-inch dowels (like broomstick handles), each between 28 and 30 inches long.
  • A collection of ropes in different colors and materials — hemp, nylon, polypropylene, etc.
What you’ll do

Step 1, Construction: Using the six dowels, make a three-sided pyramid with a tripod lashing on each corner. (For instructions, check out Page 377 in either the Boy Scout Handbook or Scouts BSA Handbook.)

Note: Mahany says that, over time, you might need to reinforce these lashings with screws.

Step 2, Tying: With the different ropes, make a maze of knots in and around the pyramid. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Just use your imagination to join the ropes with different knots, hitches and lashings.

Step 3, Tagging: Tag each knot using key tags and safety pins. Be sure to randomize the order so it doesn’t match the scoresheet.

Step 4, Playing the Game: Place the game in the center of the table, hand out the scoresheets and explain the rules. There’s no time limit.

Things to keep in mind:

  • There’s no “right side up” in the game, so allow players to rotate the pyramid for a different view.
  • The game can be played by one to eight people — perfect for a patrol — or you can form teams.
  • Mahany used the Handbook as a reference. Whenever someone tells him about a knot he hasn’t heard of, he tries to add it to the game.

Step 5, Scoring: You can score the game however you’d like. You could make each knot worth the same amount — or make less-common knots worth more. At camporees or multitroop events, Mahany presents awards to the top three individuals or teams.

Step 6, Explanation: After the scoresheets are tabulated, Mahany explains each knot and answers questions about how the knot is used.

Download the instructions and scoresheet

Mahany made this PDF, which includes the scoresheet, instructions and a hand-drawn diagram.

Some of the first girls to join Scouts BSA send a clear message: ‘Scout Me In!’

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Scouts BSA is less than a week old, but reports of new Scouts and new troops are pouring in from across the country.

In places like Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and beyond, parents looking for a character-building, leadership-strengthening, outdoors-focused program for their sons and daughters are saying … “Scout Me In!”

The three stories below only scratch the surface of Scouts BSA launch week.

If you’ve started a new Scouts BSA troop, I want to hear — and see — your story. At the end of this post, you’ll find instructions for sharing your own Scouts BSA “founder photo.”

Lancaster County, Pa.: Girls join Scouts BSA at earliest possible moment Photo by Roger Morgan/BSA

Snow and single-digit temperatures didn’t stop these girls from making history.

Just after midnight Eastern Standard Time on Feb. 1, a group of girls from Lancaster County, Pa., made it official.

By joining the newly formed Troop 82 right as Feb. 1 began, the 15 girls became some of the first in the country to join Scouts BSA — the program formerly known as Boy Scouts.

Here’s how it went down. In the waning hours of Jan. 31, the girls of Troop 82, joined by a couple of adult leaders, took a hike. They arrived at a covered bridge right at midnight. As they crossed the bridge, they were surprised to see a gathering of community leaders, family members and friends on the other side.

After the celebration, newly elected Senior Patrol Leader Caris Daneker talked to WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pa., about why she joined Scouts BSA.

“Girls aren’t always allowed to do the same things that boys are allowed to do, like use pocketknives or build fires,” she said. “With Boy Scouts, it opens new opportunities for everyone and gives equal opportunity whether you’re a girl or a guy.”

Irving, Texas: BSA Chief salutes some of our newest Scouts Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh leads the group in the Scout Oath. (Photo by Michael Roytek/BSA)

Whenever young people visit the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, they’re the stars. That was especially true on Feb. 1, 2019 — a date forever known as Scouts BSA Launch Day.

More than 25 girls, boys and their parents gathered at the BSA’s National Service Center in Irving, Texas, for a special celebration. They recited the Scout Oath and Scout Law, received their Scouts BSA Handbook, and met some of the men and women who have been working tirelessly over the past two years to prepare for the debut of Scouts BSA.

Mike Surbaugh, our Chief Scout Executive, helped crystallize the importance of the moment.

“We stand with you on a historic occasion,” he told the new Scouts. “It’s the time that Scouting really is for the whole family.”

After the gathering, these new Scouts visited our photo studio for a special Facebook Live hosted by Boys’ Life. More than 15,000 people tuned in as we interviewed the Scouts, played some games and learned how to tie a friendship knot.

Check it out below!

Portland, Ore.: Scouts BSA launch offers perfect reason to party Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/AP

How do you celebrate the launch of something exciting? With a party, of course.

The BSA’s Cascade Pacific Council, based in Portland, Ore., held a kickoff celebration on Feb. 1. They called it “The Party in the Redd Woods” — Redd being the name of the popular Portland venue that hosted the event.

Scouts and their parents attended to roast s’mores, try rock climbing, eat pizza, experience virtual reality, snap photos in the photo booth, and work on requirements for the Scout and Tenderfoot ranks.

Guests were asked to dress in Redd — er, red — a favorite red plaid shirt, a red dress, red pants or red shoes.

Kaitlyn Crowley, 16, told KPTV-TV in Beaverton, Ore., that this is a “huge opportunity” for her.

“I’ve been watching my brother and my father go out on Scout outings for years,” she says. “They’ve gone on canoeing outings, backpacking outings, camping outings. … To be able to go with a group of people that’s my age is like, wow, I can do this with people I know, people I love.”

How to upload your Scouts BSA “founder photo”

In the comments section below, share a photo from your Scouts BSA troop’s inaugural meeting, first campout or recent joining event.

Upload the 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.

Be sure to include:

  • The “founder photo” of your Scouts BSA troop
  • Your troop number
  • The city or town where your troop is based
  • Your BSA council

Can unit committee meetings be ‘closed’ from parents attending?

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Joe and Susan heard the troop committee would be mulling over whether or not to have a fall fundraiser this year at the committee meeting tomorrow night. They have some ideas on what should be done. When they asked fellow parents if they also were planning on attending, they were informed parents couldn’t attend troop committee meetings. “Can they do that? I thought there aren’t any secret organizations in Scouting?” they ask.

We’ve addressed “closed” meetings before with a Patrol Leaders Council as an example. We’ve also answered whether or not troop meetings should be “closed” to parents. But what about meetings for adults?

We received several inquiries about this, so we asked Garfield Murden, Scouts BSA national director, and Anthony Berger, Cub Scouting national director.

While there shouldn’t be any secret organizations in Scouting, a “closed” meeting isn’t necessarily a “secret” one. The decision to have a “closed” meeting is up to the chartered organization. Like a PLC meeting, while the meetings can be “closed” to cut down on distractions, for example, it is encouraged that meetings be open.

“We recommend that you allow parents to be as active as possible,” Berger says. “Having ‘closed’ committee meetings may send a signal that the committee doesn’t need help or doesn’t want help.”

More questions, more answers

We received a few more questions about unit committees and chartered organizations that the national directors helped answer below. If you have more questions about committee meetings, you can refer to the Troop Committee Guidebook, available at your local Scout Shop.

Can someone be a committee chair for multiple units? Yes, this is possible as the chartered organization representative appoints the unit committee chair.

Can a chartered organization representative take two leadership roles (like den leader and pack treasurer, for example)? A chartered organization representative may also serve as either committee chair or member of the committee. That’s it; they may not also serve as a den leader. (For more on this, click here)

Can you be a committee chair and a chartered organization representative at the same time? Yes.

Scoutify your commute with CubCast and ScoutCast, the BSA’s monthly podcasts

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Be Prepared for a better commute.

With CubCast and ScoutCast, the BSA’s pair of monthly podcasts, you’ll become a more-informed Scouting volunteer as you drive to work, empty the dishwasher or walk your dog.

Each month’s topic is so expertly timed to give you helpful information, you’ll think the team behind CubCast and ScoutCast can read your mind.

We can’t; I promise.

But we can promise tons of top tips for making your Cub Scout pack or Scouts BSA troop the best it can be.

Listen on the BSA’s newly redesigned podcast page or by searching “ScoutCast” or “CubCast” on your favorite podcast app.

About CubCast

CubCast offers essential Cub Scouting advice, delivered in 15 minutes or less.

The show is hosted by Aaron Derr, senior writer for Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines, and Amy Hutcherson, Northeast Region growth coach.

Recent topics include planning a Pinewood Derby, resolving conflicts between boys or girls in your den, and advice for Webelos Scouts moving to Scouts BSA.

The complete archive of CubCast episodes goes all the way back to January 2011. Scroll through the pages to find the episodes that most interest you.

About ScoutCast

ScoutCast digs deep into topics affecting assistant Scoutmasters, Scoutmasters and troop committee members.

The show is hosted by me, Bryan Wendell, and Gina Circelli, digital producer for Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines.

In recent episodes, we’ve talked about starting a troop, getting trained and preparing for the launch of Scouts BSA.

The first ScoutCast episode debuted in January 2013. Find that episode — and every one since — in the complete ScoutCast archives.

Email your episode ideas

Have a topic you’d like to hear covered in a future ScoutCast or CubCast?

Email or tweet @BSAScoutCast.

Many of the topics covered in previous episodes of CubCast and ScoutCast were suggested by listeners.

Tips for deducting Scouting expenses on your tax return

Bryan On Scouting -

UPDATED: This text, first published in 2011, was updated Feb. 4, 2019, with 2018 tax season info. This includes a complete refresh and an accuracy review by Eagle Scout Michael B. Carr, CPA. (Thanks, Michael!)

DISCLAIMER: While this text was reviewed by a CPA, this material is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Always consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

When Baden-Powell said “Be Prepared,” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about income tax returns.

But still, there’s no better advice than that two-word phrase during tax time.

Scouters who heeded the Scout Motto last year remembered to track and document their Boy Scouts of America-related expenses. And now, they know that they can include those expenses if they plan to itemize their deductions.

But what if you didn’t know that BSA expenses were deductible? Or what if your “filing system” is really your glove compartment that’s stuffed with gas receipts and crumpled-up napkins? And what qualifies as an eligible expense, anyway?

Your fellow Scouters and I are here to help. Along with other Scout leaders on Facebook, I’ve collected some tips to help you track and deduct your BSA-related expenses.

And with the April 15, 2019, deadline approaching fast, there’s no better time than now to get started.

General facts you need to know

Further clarification for this section comes from the Taxwise Giving newsletter (November 2016 edition).

  • On IRS Form 1040, “2018 Instructions for Schedule A” [PDF], the Boy Scouts of America is listed by name on page A-9 as a “qualified charitable organization,” so BSA expenses are eligible.
  • Five types of contributions can be deducted:
    • Cash/check donations
    • Property donations
    • “Out-of-pocket expenses you paid to do volunteer work”
    • Uniforms for leaders. “Uniforms that aren’t suitable for everyday use and that you wear while performing donated services for a charitable organization are charitable items in the year purchased,” Carr says. “Scout uniforms for leaders qualify.”
    • The cost of driving to and from BSA events
  • Some types of relevant contributions cannot be deducted:
    • The value of your time
    • Scouting dues or membership fees
    • A contribution to a specific individual. This includes giving to the BSA and specifying a particular person or Scout as the beneficiary of your donation.
  • IRS Publication 526 has lots more info

Easy enough, right? Scouters will mainly be concerned with that third type of eligible deductions, “out-of-pocket expenses you paid to do volunteer work.”

Some items that you purchase to benefit your unit can be deducted, provided your unit didn’t reimburse you for them. You’ll want to check with your tax professional to be sure, but Scouters have told me they deduct merit badge pamphlets, den meeting activity kits, Wood Badge course fees and much more — again, as long as their pack or troop didn’t reimburse them.

However, there’s one expense that I’m certain you can deduct: the cost of driving to and from BSA events.

How to include driving expenses

Here’s what the IRS says about mileage:

  • First, you’re eligible to deduct the cost of driving to and from the volunteer work, which would include most BSA activities.
  • You have two options here:
    • You can take the actual cost of gas and oil, OR
    • You can take 14 cents a mile (Note: The 2018 rate for use of your vehicle to do volunteer work for certain
      charitable organizations remains at 14 cents a mile)
  • You can deduct parking and tolls, so add that to the amount you claim under either method above.
  • As a reminder, you cannot deduct any expenses, mileage included, that were repaid to you by your unit, district, council or anyone else.
  • You also cannot deduct insurance or depreciation on the car.
Traveling as a volunteer

If you travel as a volunteer and must be away from home overnight, reasonable payments for meals and lodgings, as well as your transportation costs (previous section), are deductible. Also deductible: your transportation costs (air, rail and bus tickets, or mileage as described in the previous section).

This is where it gets tricky. You can’t deduct travel expenses if there’s a “significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation.” But enjoying your volunteer time doesn’t rule out a deduction.

For example, if you’re an on-duty troop leader who takes Scouts on a BSA camping trip, you may deduct those travel expenses even if you had a good time.

Important caveats

Next, there’s the tricky part of “gifts from which you receive benefit.” Let’s say, for example, that you attend your council’s annual dinner. Can you deduct that expense? Sort of.

Here’s what the IRS says: “If you made a gift and received a benefit in return, such as food, entertainment, or merchandise, you can generally only deduct the amount that is more than the value of the benefit.”

So if tickets for the council dinner were $75 and the value of the dinner was $35, you can only deduct $40.

Or if you paid $110 for a $100 gift card at a silent auction, you can only deduct $10.

Make sense?

Also, you’ll want to consult a tax professional or the IRS site for individual gifts of $250 or more. There are special rules that apply to those larger gifts.

How to deduct gifts of more than $250

Here’s what Carr says:

If the leader is deducting more than $250 in a single charitable contribution, he or she should maintain a record of these expenses (credit card receipts for travel, copy of a cancelled check for cash donations), as well a letter from the charitable organization showing:

  • Donee’s name
  • Contribution date
  • Contribution amount
  • Indication the donee received no goods or services were in return for the gift.
How tax law changes will affect Scouters

Carr says:

For tax year 2018, the threshold for itemizing (filling out the Schedule A) increased from $12,700 for a married-filing-jointly (MFJ) return to $24,000 for an MFJ return.

As a result, a lot of the detailed tracking Scout leaders may have done in the past for charitable givings will no longer be necessary in 2018.

Unless charitable givings, mortgage interest, and state and local tax deductions are greater than $24,000 (MFJ) or $12,000 (single), a Scout leader won’t be itemizing, and as a result the charitable donation won’t be deductible.

Ten tips for keeping track of it all

Here are 10 tips your fellow Scouters offered:

  1. Theresa W. keeps a “notebook in the car for tracking mileage! Man, it adds up faster than you think!”
  2. “I update an Excel Spreadsheet with costs, and a folder for receipts,” says Jeff B. “I print out the Excel table when I do my taxes.”
  3. Jamie D. also has a high-tech approach: “I use to track all our expenses. I set up a category just for Scouts.”
  4. So does Tom H.: “I have a program called NeatReceipts that comes with a scanner. I use it for my expense reports for work. Just drop the receipts in the scanner then catagorize them. Set up a group for Scouting and everything is there at tax time.”
  5. But Michelle H. prefers the low-tech method: “We have a calendar and a folder (calendar stays in the folder) to keep track of everything!”
  6. Patricia L. makes it easy on her accountant: “I keep a file and drop my charitable receipts in it all year. Our accountant appreciated copies of online maps that we used for driving directions. Date, purpose, and mileage all in one place.”
  7. Julus P. doesn’t itemize, but he might start some day. “Scouting is not for profit, and not a hobby. Granted, it feels like a hobby sometimes! I don’t keep track of all these things but really should!”
  8. For Mark F., it’s not worth the trouble. “I don’t keep up with it. I enjoy being a Cubmaster and camp promotions chair, and so far, it’s cheaper than going to NASCAR races and cheaper than maintaining my boat and related gear I use for fishing!”
  9. Shawna R. keeps track of mileage, but not for every trip: “I don’t keep track of mileage for going to the store to pick up Scout items, even if it’s the only thing I’m going to the store for.” That’s probably a good call.
  10. And finally, please remember to heed the advice of Ann O.: “Check with your tax person on what you can deduct. It wasn’t as straightforward as I thought, and the rules seem to change.”

Want even more tips? Find them in the comments section below, and please share your own.

Oh, and good luck!

It’s Scouts BSA launch day! Here are 9 ways to celebrate this historic occasion

Bryan On Scouting -

Lena and Jack Towne

Technically, Scouts BSA launch day isn’t an official U.S. holiday. But don’t tell that to Lena Towne.

The eighth-grader from Georgia, like countless girls in communities across the country, is celebrating today like it’s her birthday.

Last night, Lena’s mom, Kim, starting sewing patches onto Lena’s new Scouts BSA uniform shirt. While she did that, Lena started flipping through her Scouts BSA Handbook “and one of the two dozen merit badge pamphlets that she picked up,” Kim says.

Lena has wanted to join the BSA for as long as she can remember. She volunteered at her brother’s Eagle Scout service project, heard stories from her 73-year-old grandfather’s Eagle Scout journey and proudly wore a T-shirt that says “Sister of an Eagle Scout.”

Today, her wait is over. Because today — Feb. 1, 2019 — she’s a chartering youth member of Troop 5109 of Sugar Hill, Ga.

“I want to be part of making history!” Lena says.

And she has done just that. She’s one of the first members of Scouts BSA, the older youth program previously known as Boy Scouts.

Troop 5109 has already planned outings for the rest of the year. They’ll go caving, climbing and send at least 13 girls to an Atlanta Area Council summer camp.

Joining Lena on this journey is Audrey Kenney, who says she’s “excited about all of the merit badges that I’ll get work on.”

“My brother will be old enough to be a Scout soon after I can join, so we will be able to work towards becoming Eagle Scouts at the same time,” she says.

Let’s welcome Lena, Audrey and all the other groundbreaking Scouts who are embarking on the Scouts BSA adventure.

How are you celebrating Scouts BSA launch day? Read these nine ideas, and then share your own in the comments.

1. Join the Scouts BSA launch party

You are cordially invited to our Scouts BSA launch party! We’ll give away Scouts BSA gear, meet some new Scouts BSA members and play some awesome games.

Tune in at 1 p.m. Central today (Feb. 1) on the Boys’ Life Facebook page.

You’ll need to watch live to be eligible to win any prizes. But if you miss the live show, we’ll post the full video to the BL Facebook page for later viewing.

2. Spread the word on social media

Encourage others to say #ScoutMeIn!

The BSA has put together some ready-made social media posts you can share on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

3. Find Scouts BSA photos, videos, flyers, posters and more

Recruit young people to your Scouts BSA troop for boys or girls with these free, high-quality digital resources.

You’ll find email templates, flyers, logos, photos, postcards, posters, social media images, troop cards, videos and web banners.

4. Check out the official Scouts BSA requirements

All the requirements for Scouts BSA have been collected on this page.

The latest requirements for every rank — from Scout to Eagle Scout — are collected there. These are official from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2019.

5. Get your Scouts BSA uniforms and handbooks

Now that Scouts BSA is officially here, get the official gear.

Find the latest details about Scouts BSA uniforms and publications in this post.

6. Encourage Venturers and Sea Scouts to join Scouts BSA

Members of Venturing or Sea Scouting can join a Scouts BSA troop without paying a second membership fee.

Learn how members of these older youth programs can get even more out of their Scouting experience.

7. Learn about Scouts BSA and the Order of the Arrow

OA elections are now open to Scouts BSA members, Venturers and Sea Scouts.

That means young men and young women are eligible for election into Scouting’s honor society.

8. Understand the differences between Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA

The differences between a Cub Scout pack and a Scouts BSA troop include things like parental involvement, unit structure, advancement and more.

Get up to speed with this handy, comprehensive post.

9. Talk the Scouts BSA talk

As you talk about Scouts BSA in the coming days, weeks and months, be sure you’re using the right words.

This post, filled with helpful guidelines, is all you need.

And if you’re wanting to read more about the rationale for the decision, read this excellent article from our Chief Scout Executive.

There’s only one thing left to say… Scout Me In!

Inside the BSA’s decision to offer a temporary Eagle Scout extension

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Earlier today, I shared the news that the Boy Scouts of America will offer a limited-time extension to its Eagle Scout age requirements, giving new Scouts BSA members the chance to earn Scouting’s highest honor.

If you haven’t read that post, please check it out.

Now I’d like to share the rationale behind the decision and more info about its impact.

Why the BSA made this decision

The Scouting experience changes lives. No matter when you join, how long you stay or the rank you attain, Scouting prepares you for life.

For some young people, myself included, the pinnacle of the Scouting experience is achieving the Eagle Scout award.

But when the BSA opened the doors to everyone to join Scouts BSA, the organization was presented with a problem. Through no fault of their own, some Scouts who join Scouts BSA for the first time — even right on the Feb. 1, 2019, launch day — wouldn’t have time to earn Eagle before turning 18.

By offering this one-time extension, the BSA’s volunteer-led National Executive Committee is saying that everyone who is willing to work for it deserves a fair opportunity to earn Eagle.

That’s the rationale behind the limited-time transition rules.

Rachel of Idaho

Consider 16-year-old Rachel Peck of Bayview, Idaho. Growing up, she watched her older brother fill his sash with merit badges.

“It was kind of disappointing,” Rachel told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “Ever since I was little I’ve tried to copy my big brother. When it came to Scouts, I couldn’t.”

Without the extension, Rachel would turn 18 before completing her Eagle requirements. But thanks to the temporary transition rules, Rachel can work toward her goal.

“I think it’s a great change,” says Rachel’s brother, Andrew. “I know my sister, when she was young, always looked at the things I did and she was jealous, so I’m glad she’s finally getting to experience some of those same things.”

Well said, Andrew.

Ava of Massachusetts

Consider 17-year-old Ava Smith of Falmouth, Mass. She’s been a member of a Venturing crew and looked on with envy as the guys in her crew earned Eagle.

Now Ava, who hopes to serve as senior patrol leader of the soon-to-be-formed Troop 137, will have the necessary time to earn Scouting’s highest honor herself.

In addition to the adventures she’ll have and the leadership skills she’ll acquire, Ava sees an additional, more-practical reason to become an Eagle Scout.

“It will be good for college,” she told the Cape Cod Times.

Indeed it will, Ava. College recruiters look highly on the words “Eagle Scout” on a résumé.

My thoughts, as an Eagle Scout

As an Eagle Scout myself, I’m incredibly excited to follow the journeys of Rachel, Ava and many other Scouts. I’m confident about their abilities to achieve their goals and join the Eagle Scout family.

My message for them: The road to Eagle isn’t easy. In fact, it’ll probably be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But trust me when I say the journey will be worth every minute, mile and merit badge.

Fellow Scouters and fellow Eagle Scouts, please help me welcome these Scouts BSA members as they join Scouting. Let’s be helpful, friendly and kind as we support their dream.

The world needs Eagle Scouts now more than ever. Let’s encourage every young man and young woman who wants to become an Eagle Scout to complete that goal.

Temporary transition rules give new Scouts BSA members the chance to earn Eagle

Bryan On Scouting -

The Boy Scouts of America will offer a one-time, limited exception to its age requirements for the Eagle Scout award, giving new Scouts BSA members, male and female, a fair chance to earn the program’s top honor.

Traditionally, BSA rules say a young person can no longer earn Eagle once they turn 18. But for 16- and 17-year-olds who are new to Scouts BSA — even those who join on the Feb. 1, 2019, launch day — there isn’t enough time to earn Eagle before their 18th birthday.

By offering this one-time extension, the BSA’s volunteer-led National Executive Committee is saying that everyone deserves a chance to work toward Eagle. The decision was made public on Oct. 3, 2018. (Read more about the rationale and the decision’s impacts here.)

Who is eligible? Any young man or young woman who is at least 16 but not yet 18 on Scouts BSA launch day: Feb. 1, 2019.

Those who apply for the extension (details on the process below) will have just 22 months from the initial date of registration to complete all requirements for the Eagle Scout award.

Anyone who has earned Eagle knows that completing these strenuous requirements in less than 22 months will require focus and dedication. But as an Eagle Scout myself, I see this as a fair solution for those who, through no fault of their own, wouldn’t otherwise be able to earn Scouting’s top honor.

Additionally, the BSA announced that instead of recognizing a first female Eagle Scout, it will honor an inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. Young women who earn Eagle by end of 2020 will be included in this history-making group.

The move gives these Scouts the 19 or 20 months they’ll need to meet all requirements while encouraging them to enjoy the journey toward Eagle, rather than simply racing to the finish line.

Keep reading for more about this temporary transition period.

Who is eligible for the temporary extension?

Eligibility is based on two factors:

  1. The young person’s age on Feb. 1, 2019
  2. The date the young person joined Scouts BSA

1. The young person’s age on Feb. 1, 2019

To be eligible, the young man or young woman must be at least 16 but not yet 18 on Feb. 1, 2019.

  • What about those under 16 on Feb. 1, 2019? They’ll have adequate time to earn their Eagle before turning 18 and don’t need an extension.
  • What about those over 18 on Feb. 1, 2019? They’re considered adults and aren’t eligible to join Scouts BSA. (But should absolutely join Venturing or Sea Scouts!)

2. The date the young person joined Scouts BSA

To be eligible, the young man or young woman must register as a member of Scouts BSA on or before Dec. 31, 2019.

In the interest of fairness, these temporary transition rules apply to all youth joining Scouts BSA during 2019 — both girls and first-time-joining boys.

Boys who were members of a Boy Scout troop before Feb. 1, 2019, aren’t considered first-time-joining boys and therefore are not eligible for the extension. The thinking there is that they’ve always had the opportunity to join Scouting and could’ve started working toward Eagle as early as age 11.

How long is the extension?

Young people can apply for an extension lasting up to 22 months from the initial date of registration.

For example: A young woman or young man who joined Scouts BSA on Feb. 1, 2019, would have until Dec. 1, 2020, to complete their requirements — even if that young person turned 18 during that span.

Why 22 months? The BSA calculated the minimum time needed to complete the requirements for the Eagle Scout award at 19 to 20 months. That factors in time-based requirements like “serve actively in your unit for a period of six months” in a position of responsibility.

How does a Scout apply for the extension?

Youth who want to apply for the extension must talk with their unit leader(s) to request the extension. The leader then accesses the youth’s profile in My.Scouting. If the Scout is eligible, there will be a button the leader can select to indicate the youth has asked for the extension.

This request goes to the National Service Center in Texas. Once the request is approved, the youth, their parent, unit leader and council representative will receive an email with confirmation as well as the expiration date of the extension.

Other things to know:

  • Requests for extensions must be received no later than 30 days after turning 18.
  • Only the National Council may grant extensions.
  • No exceptions to or waivers of any of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Award are permitted under this limited exception.
  • All requirements must be completed while the individual is a registered member of Scouts BSA, or after achieving the First Class rank in Scouts BSA and moving to a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship.
More answers to your questions

Q: Is the BSA changing the Eagle Scout requirements for girls joining Scouts BSA in 2019?

A: No. The Eagle Scout award requirements are not changing.

Q: Can troops, districts or councils amend or adjust the requirements/process?

A: No. Eagle Scout requirements are set by the National Council and cannot be adjusted by a troop, district or council. In fact, the Eagle Scout award is earned when it is approved by the National Council.

Q: Will work completed while girls participated unofficially before the introduction of Scouts BSA count toward Eagle requirements?

A: No. To preserve the integrity of the Eagle Scout Award, all requirements must be completed while the individual is a registered member of Scouts BSA, or after achieving the First Class rank in Scouts BSA. (As specified in the BSA Guide to Advancement, after earning First Class rank in Scouts BSA, an individual may transfer primary membership to Venturing or Sea Scouts and continue to work on Eagle Scout requirements.)

Q: Will work that female Venturers or Sea Scouts completed count toward Eagle Scout requirements?

A: No. Same reason as the previous answer.

Q: Will camping nights from current Venturing and Sea Scouts that count for requirements for the Order of the Arrow, also count for the Eagle Scout award?

A: No.

Q: Will this extension always be available for all youth that enter Scouts BSA?

A: No. These are temporary transition rules and will not be available to any youth who is under 16 on Feb. 1, 2019. These Scouts will have adequate time to earn their Eagle before turning 18.

Scouts who become Magic Tree House Reading Warriors can earn a free patch

Bryan On Scouting -

Fun and adventure don’t have to end when the camping trip is over.

Scouts can experience spellbinding, heart-racing excitement just by opening the latest book in the Magic Tree House series from Random House.

The best-selling series by Mary Pope Osborne follows Jack and Annie Smith, a brother and sister from the fictional small town of Frog Creek, Pa., as they embark on adventures through a magical tree house.

Jack and Annie have had many adventures through history, including crossing the Delaware River with George Washington, witnessing Jackie Robinson’s debut in Major League Baseball and helping rescue victims of the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas.

In their latest adventure, Magic Tree House #31: Warriors in Winter, the siblings travel in time to meet the greatest warriors of all: the Romans.

Which Magic Tree House books are right for my reader?
  • Magic Tree House: Perfect for readers ages 6 to 9 who are just beginning chapter books
  • Merlin Missions: More challenging adventures for the experienced reader, ages 7 to 10
  • Fact Trackers: Nonfiction companions to your reader’s favorite Magic Tree House adventures
How to win a Reading Warrior patch

Random House cares about promoting youth literacy. That’s why they’ve teamed up with Boys’ Life magazine, which has been an advocate for youth literacy for more than a century.

Random House and BL are giving away an exclusive Magic Tree House patch to 1,000 lucky readers.

Parents and their Scouts can follow the instructions at this link to enter. But hurry! The opportunity ends March 15, 2019.

In addition to patches for the first 1,000 who enter, 20 lucky readers will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Warriors in Winter.

What’s next in the Magic Tree House?

The excitement continues with book No. 32 in the series: To the Future, Ben Franklin!

This one flips the script as the first Magic Tree House book to bring someone from history back to present day.

To the Future, Ben Franklin! goes on sale July 2, along with the corresponding non-fiction Fact Tracker book, Benjamin Franklin.

Learn more about the Magic Tree House books at the official site.

What Venturers and Sea Scouts need to know about joining Scouts BSA

Bryan On Scouting -

Consider this getting the best of both worlds.

When the Scouts BSA program launches on Friday, Feb. 1, girls already in Venturing or Sea Scouting can join a Scouts BSA troop without paying a second membership fee.

That means they’ll experience the excitement of Scouts BSA without having to give up the high-adventure fun and meaningful friendships they’ve enjoyed in Venturing or Sea Scouting.

This is possible because BSA members — youth and adults — pay a registration fee only once per year.

The rule means any Venturer or Sea Scout (male or female) whose membership is current can remain registered in his or her original crew or ship. Their already-paid membership fee will cover registration in a second Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship or a Scouts BSA troop.

Dual membership is nothing new in the Boy Scouts of America. When I was a teenager, I was enrolled both in Boy Scout Troop 1776 and in Venturing Crew 1776.

I soon discovered the only thing better than being a part of one Scout unit: being a part of two.

How to dual register as a youth
  • Online: Members enter their current Venturing crew Member ID number when asked if they are “a current/former Scout.”
  • Paper: Members must write in the word “MULTIPLE” in the box at the bottom of the form where it requests a membership number (the Member ID).
    • Note: Members should not check the “transfer application” bubble on the form.
How to dual register as an adult

Adults can dual register, too. They can serve in two or more units and pay only one registration fee.

Adults must submit an application for each position served, whether it’s multiple positions within a unit (committee member and merit badge counselor, for example) or positions in different units.

  • Online: Members enter their current Member ID number when asked if they are “a current/former Scout.”
  • Paper: Members must write in the word “MULTIPLE” in the box at the bottom of the form where it requests a membership number (the Member ID).
    • Note: Members should not check the “transfer application” bubble on the form.
What is the minimum number of youth needed to form a Scouts BSA troop?

When starting a Scouts BSA troop for girls, a minimum of five youth must be “primary” registrants; that means they pay their registration fee through that troop. Some councils have additional requirements/guidance for Scouts BSA troops, so check with your local council when registering.

The BSA recommends registering younger girls (ages 11-13) as the primary registrants in a Scouts BSA girl troop. Older girls (ages 14-17) who are members of a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship can keep their primary registration in their crew or ship. They would then use the multiple registration option for joining a Scouts BSA girl troop.

Can a Venturer or Sea Scout earn the Eagle Scout award?


Any youth (boy or girl) who earns First Class rank in Scouts BSA may transfer primary membership to Venturing or Sea Scouts and continue to work on Eagle Scout requirements.

From the Guide to Advancement (

Venturers who earned First Class rank as registered members of Scouts BSA are qualified until their 18th birthday to continue with Scouts BSA advancement. If desired, they may maintain multiple (dual) registration in a troop, and also in a crew, and work on ranks in either unit.

Wherever the member is registered, the Scoutmaster and crew Advisor decide, with the young man or woman, who will oversee his advancement. If the Advisor does so but is unfamiliar with Scouts BSA, the district advancement committee should identify an experienced Scouter to assist. It is important for Venturing leaders to understand that Scouts BSA advancement procedures must be followed.

With the exception of the Eagle rank and Summit Award service projects, any work done while a Venturer can count toward both Scouts BSA and Venturing advancement at the same time. The Eagle rank and Summit Award service projects must be separate and distinct from each other.

Position of responsibility requirements for Scouts BSA ranks may be met by the Venturer serving in crew positions as outlined in the Scouts BSA Requirements book. The crew committee conducts Star and Life boards of review, and Eagle Scout boards follow the local council’s established procedure.


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