Scouting News from the Internet

Submit your questions for my sit-down with the Chief about girls joining Scouting

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You have questions, he has answers.

Using the form below, submit your questions now for my sit-down interview with Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh to talk about the BSA Board of Directors’ historic decision to welcome girls into Scouting.

We’ll record the conversation on video, and I’ll share that video on this blog next week.

Broadly, I want to ask the Chief how our movement got here and where we’re headed next.

But I know you, as dedicated adult volunteers, have specific questions you’d like answered. Please share them using the form at the end of this post.

All topics are welcome. I’ll take your most frequently asked questions directly to our Chief.

Submit your question here [contact-form]


Media company seeks expert on Scouting, outdoor adventure for new TV show

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Scouters, are you ready for your big break?

A media company is looking for experts in the world of Scouting, outdoor adventure and survival skills to serve as possible talent for a TV show.

The company is AMS Pictures, based in Dallas. They’ve created award-winning shows for channels like the Food Network, HGTV, Reelz Channel and more.

For their next project, they’re looking for a man or woman who is a credible expert on Scouting and the outdoors. Adults from anywhere in the country are welcome to apply.

Questions to ask yourself
  • Are you an authority figure on a wide range of topics?
  • Do you have experience or a background in teaching?
  • Are you a published author in a specific field?
  • Do you have a blog or social media account with thousands of followers?
  • Does your educational background or work experience make you an expert in a particular field?

If you answered yes to any of those questions — and you have a larger-than-life, TV-ready personality — send a photo of yourself and links to your work or portfolio to

Note that AMS Pictures only accepts submissions by e-mail. They ask that you don’t call or send anything in by snail mail.

This blog’s track record

I’m hoping this post extends the blog’s solid record of finding reality TV stars.

Terry Fossum, the Scoutmaster from Washington state who won $250,000 on Fox’s Kicking & Screaming was cast after a fellow Scouter saw the casting call right here on Bryan on Scouting and answered it on Fossum’s behalf.

Before that, the blog helped find young contestants for MasterChef Junior, also on Fox.

Think your Sea Scout ship is the best? Apply for the National Flagship Award

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Does your Sea Scout ship rule the seas (or rivers or lakes)?

Prove it by applying for the annual Sea Scout National Flagship Award. When doing so, have your Sea Scouts use the new and improved application process outlined below.

Each year since 2002, the Sea Scout committee has selected one ship to be the National Flagship. Winning ships receive a special flag and a patch for members’ uniforms.

Past recipients have represented coastal and landlocked councils. The 2015 winner, for example, was from the Dallas area, proving that even those ships far from the ocean have a shot.

For maximum points, be sure it’s the youth — not the adults — who complete your ship’s application.

National Flagship Award application process

There’s a new application process for 2017 and beyond. Incomplete or old applications won’t be considered.

Essentially, the application process involves sharing everything your ship accomplished from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 in a given year. The application deadline is March 31 of the following year.

For example: The next deadline, March 31, 2018, will consider your ship’s accomplishments in calendar year 2017.

Scoring is completed on a point system. There are 100 points available, and they break down like this:

  • 15 points: Youth perspective and preparation. Did the youth, not the adults, prepare the application?
  • 10 points: Journey to Excellence evaluation. How’s your ship’s JTE score?
  • 15 points: Advancement and recognition. How many Sea Scouts earned awards like Quartermaster or completed training?
  • 20 points: On-water activities. Did your ship spend a lot of time on the water?
  • 10 points: Collaborative and mentoring activities. Did you participate in a lot of council, regional or national activities?
  • 10 points: Community service. How much did you give back?
  • 15 points: Recruiting. What did you do to recruit or retain Sea Scouts?
  • 5 points: Leader development. Did your adult volunteers get trained?
Three things to include in your application

Here’s what you need to send by email to

  • Completed scoresheet, which you can download here.
  • Photograph of ship members in uniform.
  • Written narrative, presentation or video to help support your story. (Whatever form you choose to use, it must be accessible via a single URL on the internet: it could be a YouTube video, a Google Slides or PowerPoint presentation, a web page or site, or any other form that can be accessed from a web browser.)

For questions, call 972-580-2448.

Babe Ruth signed this baseball ‘to Troop 6,’ and now it’s being auctioned for Scouts

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There was something different about the baseball these Scouts were tossing back and forth.

The year was 1948. The place: a crowded gym in Larchmont, N.Y.

Eagle Scout Jack Coughlin, then the 20-something Scoutmaster of Troop 6 out of Larchmont, had to confiscate the ball so nobody got injured.

But this wasn’t any baseball, Coughlin realized. It was signed by Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat for the New York Yankees. The inscription read “To Troop 6 Larchmont Boy Scouts.”

When Coughlin asked the Scouts about the autograph, they said they assumed all baseballs were signed like that.

Nearly 70 years later, this baseball has found its way from Troop 6’s equipment box to the Steiner Sports auction house.

It’s expected to fetch between $10,000 and $15,000. Proceeds will be split between Coughlin, now the ball’s official owner, and the Westchester-Putnam Council, which serves Scouts in southeastern New York State.

Not just any baseball

Back in the gym, Coughlin examined the scuffed baseball. He saw it was signed by The Great Bambino himself. The legendary ballplayer died in 1948 — the same year Coughlin came across the ball.

Coughlin later learned this was a Babe Ruth home run ball. Apparently it had been donated to the troop by a Scout’s dad.

Rather than encasing it in glass, though, someone in Troop 6 had simply tossed it into the troop’s equipment box.

The troop committee asked Coughlin to track down the ball’s rightful owner, but he struck out. And so the troop gave Coughlin the ball to thank him for his service as Scoutmaster.

Collecting dust, gaining value

Coughlin first kept the baseball in a drawer. Then, when he got married, he moved it to a safe deposit box.

Fast-forward 70 years later, and Coughlin again hunted for the ball’s owner. No luck.

Coughlin contacted an attorney, who confirmed that Coughlin was the ball’s rightful owner. The troop had given it to him as a gift, and it was his.

So Coughlin contacted Steiner Sports to see whether the ball had any value. That led to this auction, now online and set to end Nov. 18. Bidding started at $1,000.

The winner will get more than a piece of baseball memorabilia. He or she will be supporting Scouting, too.

Thanks to Dustin Farris for the blog post idea.

2018-2019 preview: Northern Tier National High Adventure Program

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It’s the fourth-annual High-Adventure Week here on Bryan on Scouting. This week is all about the once-in-a-lifetime experiences awaiting Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s four national high-adventure eses. Plus, we share tips for securing your spot in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

Paddle your way to an experience of a lifetime in Minnesota and Canada at the Northern Tier National High Adventure Program.

During their 6- to 11-night journey of 50 to 150 miles, Northern Tier crews follow in the footsteps and paddle tracks of 1800s French-Canadian voyagers.

After loading their canoes with gear for the entire journey, Scouts and Venturers explore millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests and fascinating wetlands in Northern Minnesota, Northwest Ontario and Northeast Manitoba.

In the winter, Northern Tier emerges from a blanket of snow to offer the BSA’s premier winter high-adventure program. It’s called Okpik, and it challenges Scouts and Venturers to learn how to thrive in subzero temperatures, travel across frozen wilderness lakes and construct their own sleeping structures out of snow.

Because Northern Tier’s demand often exceeds available space, spots are allocated using an online lottery system. The lottery for 2019 Northern Tier Wilderness Canoe Trips and Okpik Programs opens Jan. 2, 2018.

Northern Tier registration and lottery info

2018: The lottery for 2018 spots occurred in January 2017. However, some spaces are still available — especially in August 2018. Go here to see details; look for the link marked “Click Here for Trip Availability.”

2019: The 2019 Northern Tier registration lottery opens at 9 a.m. Central Time on Jan. 2, 2018. It closes a week later: 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Jan. 9, 2018. Click here to enter or click here to learn more about the lottery process.

Northern Tier lottery tips
  • Entry in the lottery is online only. You can register at
  • Only one person per unit should enter the lottery; duplicate reservations from units will not be considered.
  • Crews selected for their first or second choice of treks will be notified via email by Feb. 1, 2018.
  • All reservations are considered tentative until the crew’s deposit is received.
  • The $800-per-crew deposit will be due Feb. 15, 2018, for all crews selected in the lottery.
  • Deposits are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
  • Any crew not selected will be notified by Feb. 6, 2018, and given first chance at remaining treks on alternate dates of availability. Their deposit will be due three weeks from date alternate trip is booked.
  • Remaining available trips will open on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 1.
Classic high-adventure, new logo

Northern Tier debuted a new logo this year, and it is awesome.

The logo, designed by Walsh Branding, was created after input from staff, alumni and past participants. Each Northern Tier base will retain its individual image that comprised the tri-base “shield,” but the combination of all three will no longer be used to represent Northern Tier.

The “Ascending Loon” is designed to represent the overall accomplishments each Northern Tier crew achieves.

As a reminder, here’s the previous logo:

Northern Tier Outreach Initiative welcomes underserved youth

On a Northern Tier canoe trip, participants learn physical fortitude and mental strength. Through the isolated interactions within their crew, Scouts and Venturers learn lessons in leadership, in the importance of doing their share of the work and in the necessity of teamwork to accomplish difficult tasks.

This is all done with minimal input from adults. Youth-led is the mantra at Northern Tier.

In 2016, Northern Tier introduced a program called the Northern Tier Outreach Initiative. The goal was to ensure that all Scouts and Venturers — even those from underserved areas — can experience the life-changing benefits of Northern Tier.

This is done through a partnership with local councils. Northern Tier picks up the majority of the costs; it’s their way of giving back to Scouting. The council provides transportation to and from Northern Tier, qualified supervision for travel and the trip, and a location for a pre-trip shakedown campout.

Other Northern Tier news you need
  • Fall is a beautiful time to visit Northern Tier, and the bases offer custom fall programming. This includes wilderness canoe trips, retreats in the conference center and more.
  • Participants must be 14 or have completed eighth grade at the time of attendance.
  • Northern Tier is located at three separate bases, in three distinct locations. You must arrive at the location you registered for. All winter programs happen out of the primary base in Ely, Minn.
  • All participants are required to wear boots that have full ankle coverage, a rugged stitched or vulcanized sole, and drainage at the instep. Boots should not be waterproof. Crews arriving with inadequate footwear will be asked to purchase boots in the trading post prior to departure on the water.
  • Staff positions are available. Learn more here.
  • Northern Tier makes special accommodations for Scouts with special needs. The bases have specialized equipment to serve Scouts with physical disabilities. Contact Northern Tier for more info.
  • Noise pollution? Not here. No motorized machinery is allowed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park.
  • There are no set itineraries at Northern Tier. Participants work with a staff member to plan a route through the wilderness that works for their abilities and interests.
  • Each year, Northern Tier staff and participants create what they call the Biggest Snowman Ever Built!

Thanks to Leslie Thibodeaux for the info. Photos by Don Dillon, Harry Oakes

After hearing from volunteers, BSA to allow current Eagle Scouts to receive Eagle Palms retroactively

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All current Boy Scouts — even those who completed their Eagle Scout board of review before Aug. 1, 2017 — are now entitled to receive Eagle Palms for merit badges earned before their Eagle board of review.

Previously, only those Scouts with an Eagle board of review date on or after Aug. 1, 2017, were eligible for these Eagle Palms. Now all current Eagle Scouts can receive Palms for additional merit badges earned before their board.

This is a revision to the change announced on this blog on July 10, 2017. The move comes in response to passionate feedback from volunteers and was approved by the BSA’s National Executive Board.

Here’s what changed and why.

What was previously announced

On July 10, I wrote about the debut of certain changes to Eagle Palm requirements.

The change means that, as of Aug. 1, 2017, a new Eagle Scout can receive, alongside his Eagle medal, all Eagle Palms he has earned for merit badges completed before he became an Eagle Scout.

This allows all that merit badge work to be rewarded right away. It recognizes the Eagle Scout’s extra effort regardless of his age at the time he earns Scouting’s highest honor. If the Eagle Scout has sufficient time remaining before his 18th birthday, he can then continue to earn additional Eagle Palms by completing the five requirements below.

For example: Glenn, a 16-year-old Life Scout, had 36 merit badges at the time of his Eagle Scout board of review on Aug. 15, 2017. That’s 15 more than required. Before the change announced on July 10, he would’ve needed to wait three months after his Eagle board of review to receive his Bronze Palm, another three months for his Gold Palm and another three for his Silver Palm.

Under the revised requirements, he can get that Silver Palm (representing 15 additional merit badges) along with his Eagle medal at his Eagle Scout court of honor. No wait required.

Glenn’s example is still valid even after the revision being announced here.

What’s new now

What’s new affects young men who became Eagle Scouts and who had not passed their 18th birthday before Aug. 1, 2017. Now those current Eagle Scouts can immediately apply for and receive Eagle Palms for merit badges earned before their board of review.

Let me reiterate: Only those merit badges earned before the Scout’s Eagle board of review count, assuming those merit badges have not already been applied to a previously awarded Palm.

For example: David had 41 merit badges when he became an Eagle Scout on July 29, 2017. That’s 20 more than required. Under the revision, he’s entitled to receive and wear a Silver Palm (representing 15 additional merit badges) and a Bronze Palm (representing five additional). Under the previous rule, it would’ve taken David a year to earn those Palms — three months for every five merit badges.

What about any merit badges David earns after his board of review on July 29, 2017? The five requirements below apply.

The official requirement, as of October 2017

Effective August. 1, 2017 (Revised October 2017).

After successfully completing your Eagle Scout board of review on or after Aug. 1, 2017, and being validated as an Eagle Scout by the National Service Center, you will be entitled to receive an Eagle Palm for each additional five merit badges you have completed before your Eagle Scout board of review beyond those required for Eagle. In addition, all current Scouts who completed their Eagle board of review and who had not passed their 18th birthday before Aug, 1, 2017 are entitled as well. For these Palms only, it will not be necessary for you to complete the requirements stated below.

After becoming an Eagle Scout and receiving the Eagle Palms you were entitled to, you may earn additional Palms by completing the following requirements:

  1. Be active in the Boy Scouts of America for at least three months after becoming an Eagle Scout or after the last Eagle Palm was earned.
  2. Since earning the Eagle Scout rank or your last Eagle Palm, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life.*
  3. Continue to set a satisfactory example of accepting responsibility or demonstrating leadership ability.
  4. Earn five additional merit badges beyond those required for Eagle Scout or your last Eagle Palm.
  5. While an Eagle Scout, participate in a Scoutmaster conference.**

Notes: For Varsity Scouts working on Boy Scout requirements, replace “Scoutmaster” with “Varsity Scout Coach.” For Venturers working on Boy Scout requirements, replace “Scoutmaster” with crew Advisor.” For Sea Scouts working on Boy Scout requirements, replace “Scoutmaster” with “Skipper.”

*Eagle Palms must be earned in sequence, and the three-month tenure requirement must be observed for each Eagle Palm.

**Merit Badges earned any time since becoming a Boy Scout may be used to meet this requirement.

FAQs about the change

Following are some questions and answers regarding this revision to the Aug. 1, 2017, requirements. Additional questions and answers regarding the original change can be found in my earlier post.

These answers were provided by the National Boy Scouting Subcommittee.

Q: Can an Eagle Scout who successfully completed his board of review before Aug. 1, 2017, but turned 18 on or after Aug. 1, 2017, apply for Palms under the new provision?

 Yes, any Eagle Scout who completed his board of review before Aug. 1, 2017, but had not turned 18 before Aug. 1, 2017, is eligible to receive Palms under the revised requirements. Example: Bruce had earned 26 merit badges when he completed his Eagle board of review on July 1, 2017. He turned 18 on Aug. 2, 2017. Even though he is now 18, he is eligible to receive a Bronze Palm to represent the five additional merit badges he earned before his board of review.

Q: If a Scout earned Eagle rank before Aug. 1, 2017, and then turned 18 years old before Aug. 1, 2017, can he apply for Palms under the new provision?

A: No. Any Eagle Scout who turned 18 before Aug. 1, 2017, is not eligible to receive Eagle Palms under the new provision.

Q: Can merit badges earned after an Eagle board of review but before Aug. 1, 2017, be applied toward receiving Palms under the new provision?

A: No. Only merit badges earned before a Scout’s Eagle board of review can be used in applying for Eagle Palms under the new provision. Any merit badges earned after a Scout’s Eagle board of review can only be used to earn Palms by completing the five requirements listed above.

Q: How many additional Palms would a Scout be entitled to under the new provision if he earned Eagle rank at the age of 16 on Feb. 1, 2016, and had completed 50 additional merit badges at the time of his board of review?

A: Assuming he had remained continuously active and earned Palms in the normal manner under the previous requirements, he would be eligible to immediately receive four more Palms. That is based on counting 30 merit badges toward six Palms during the 18 months from Feb. 1, 2016 to July 31, 2017.

Q: Using the previous example, if a Scout had earned an additional 20 merit badges after his Eagle board of review, how many Palms would he be eligible to receive on Aug. 1, 2017?

A: He would still only be eligible to receive four more Palms. The 20 additional merit badges he earned could be applied toward additional Palms by completing the five requirements listed above.

2018-2019 preview: Philmont Scout Ranch

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It’s the fourth-annual High-Adventure Week here on Bryan on Scouting. This week is all about the once-in-a-lifetime experiences awaiting Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases. Plus, we share tips for securing your spot in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

That group of teenagers singing Backstreet Boys while backpacking the final miles of a 70-mile journey?

Yeah, that was us.

The year was 1999. The place: Philmont Scout Ranch, the BSA’s hiking high-adventure base in northern New Mexico.

It was the final day of our Philmont trek, and we were a little loopy and a lot tired. As we hiked down Tooth Ridge, I have a distinct memory of the entire crew singing “I Want It That Way,” that year’s hit from the boy band.

As the Philmont base camp began to materialize in front of us, the singing ceased. We fell silent, realizing what we’d done. We made it. We had conquered Philmont’s legendary trails.

The group of individuals became a team that summer. Each of us left Philmont with the knowledge that we were prepared for life’s toughest challenges.

Join the Philmont adventure

In 1999, my Philmont crew and I unlocked achievements no videogame can ever replicate.

In 2018, 2019 and beyond, you can start your own Philmont story.

The base is best known for its seven- and 12-day treks. The treks challenge participants mentally and physically. They include stops at several of Philmont’s staffed backcountry camps, offering a pinnacle experience that participants will remember all their lives.

There are also excellent individual opportunities for young men or young women who can’t come with a full crew. Or you can bring the whole family to the Philmont Training Center, where you’ll bolster your Scouting skills while your spouse and children enjoy a week of fun.

Philmont registration and lottery info

2018: The online lottery for 2018 slots closed in 2016. However, select slots are open for seven- and 12-day treks. Click here for a live look.

2019: Slots in 2019 will be allocated through an online lottery. The lottery window opens at 9 a.m. MDT on Oct. 25 and closes at 11:59 p.m. MST on Nov. 15. The lottery-based registration process gives everyone an equal chance at some of Philmont’s most popular adventures, most notably seven-day treks throughout the summer and 12-day treks in June. Interested? Register during the lottery window to give your crew the best chance. Enter the lottery at this link.

No crew? No problem!

If schedules or other factors prevent you from getting a whole group to Philmont, that’s no problem.

Scouts and Venturers can register for Individual Treks. This is a great way to experience Philmont without a crew — and meet lifelong friends. Individual treks typically have wider availability than seven- or 12-day treks, and participants become strong candidates for future Philmont staff positions.

Register for 2018 treks and learn more at this link.

Learn something new at the Philmont Training Center

Though this post primarily focuses on the camping side of Philmont, I must also mention the “other” side of the road: the Philmont Training Center.

At PTC, more than 6,000 Scouters and family members attend a conference each year. In one of the best settings imaginable, they learn about the latest Scouting tools and techniques, share ideas with fellow Scouters and interact with experienced faculty members.

All registered Scouters can attend training center courses (and bring the whole family with them). Council approval is not required.

Register for 2018 PTC courses at this link.

Other Philmont news you need
  • PASS and PAW: Units planning to come to Philmont in the future can catch one of the remaining Philmont Advisor Skills School or Philmont Advisor Workshop events in 2017. Learn more and register here.
  • Philmont is open all year long. Learn more about Autumn Adventure and Winter Adventure.
  • Philmont will send you free promotional materials. Get the scoop on how to get handouts, banners and brochures here.
  • Whether you’re a frequent Philmont-er or are still dreaming of your first visit, there’s gear you’ll love at the award-winning Tooth of Time Traders.
  • Philmont has begun hiring staff for the 2018 summer! Get your application in early, as they hope to hire most positions by March 1, 2018.
  • You can own an Authentic Philmont Saddle and help Philmont purchase new saddles for thousands of Scouts to enjoy.

Thanks to Dominic Baima for the info. Photos from top: Evan Winter, Madelynne Scales and Austin Wilson.

What you need to know about bullying and the risks for suicide

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Note from Bryan: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Each Wednesday this month, the BSA Youth Protection team will share important reminders about what each of us can do to prevent, recognize and report bullying as we work to make Scouting a safe place for all.

This post comes from Jim Wilson, national Youth Protection chairman.

Concerns for risk of harm and suicide

Yes, suicide is a very difficult topic to address. But it is real, and we must be aware of the serious issues and potential outcomes.

We owe it to the youth we serve to understand how to prevent bullying and be prepared to deal with concerns for self-harm proactively and thoughtfully.

Throughout National Bullying Prevention Month, we’ve talked about the ways in which bullying is incompatible with the principles of Scouting. Bullying should be taken seriously, whenever and wherever it occurs.

It can affect everyone — those who are bullied, those who perpetrate the bullying and those who witness it., one of the BSA’s sources for supporting literature, says “bullying is linked to many negative outcomes, including impacts on mental health, substance abuse and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying — or something else — is a concern.”

The relationship between bullying and suicide is complex. While media reports often link the two, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts about suicide or engage in any suicidal behaviors. Although youth and young adults who are bullied are at risk of self-harm, which could lead to suicide, bullying is not the lone cause.

There are a number of issues that can contribute to the risk of suicide, including depression, problems in the home, isolation or rejection, despair, or a history of trauma.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other violence-prevention researchers, has investigated the relationship between bullying and suicide. Their goal: save lives and prevent further bullying. One of their recently released publications, The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools, provided some great insight into this relationship. That article can be found in this PDF.

The BSA’s Youth Protection website includes several documents to support the prevention of bullying and an understanding of warning signs.

Look at the Bullying Prevention Guide — specifically these sections on page 2: “Warning Signs for Suicidal Behavior” and “Suicide Intervention and Response.”

Warning signs for suicidal behavior

Common signs include:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Getting the means to commit suicide, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying, or violence
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
  • Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing other warning signs listed above
Suicide intervention and response

If a youth mentions suicide, you must take that seriously. You should:

  • Immediately notify parents or guardians.
  • Immediately notify the Scout Executive.
  • Use the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available toll-free at 800-273-8255.
  • If a youth is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, get emergency help.
  • Don’t leave the youth alone.
  • Don’t try to handle the situation without help.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number right away if you believe the youth is at immediate risk. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.

Remember, Youth Protection Begins with YOU.

2018-2019 preview: Florida National High Adventure Sea Base

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It’s the fourth-annual High-Adventure Week here on Bryan on Scouting. This week is all about the once-in-a-lifetime experiences awaiting Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases. Plus, we share tips for securing your spot in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

Not even the strongest hurricane ever recorded can keep the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base down for long.

Yes, even after Hurricane Irma dealt a punishing blow to the Florida Keys in September, the Florida Sea Base is open for business this fall and beyond. In fact, cleanup went so well that the BSA is allowing the American Red Cross to house displaced residents at one of its facilities.

“Dedicated volunteers and a core group of seasonal and full-time staff have worked extremely hard over the last weeks to prepare Sea Base for participants,” says Tim Stanfill, director of program. “Because of this effort, our facilities, staff and captains are prepared to provide amazing high-adventure programs. We are ready.”

Those amazing high-adventure programs are the kinds of activities Scouts and Venturers can’t get anywhere else. Things like diving through the stunning Keys reefs. Or sailing to exotic places like the Bahamas or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Or spending a week camping, fishing and snorkeling on a primitive island.

There’s something for anyone who loves aquatic adventure. Participants explore the warm, clear waters using their choice of transportation modes: large sailing vessels, smaller sailboats, powerboats, kayaks, scuba equipment — or some combination of the five.

In this atypical setting, Scouts develop leadership skills and grow as teams and individuals. Their confidence and maturity persists even once they’re back on dry land.

Hurricane Irma updates

The Florida Sea Base has seen an outpouring of support from the Scouting family. A team from Philmont Scout Ranch helped restore hot water, sewer lines and showers. A group from the Central Florida Council tore down walls that were unsafe. Volunteers from across the country cleaned the base and supported federal aid workers.

Because of this quick response from loyal Scouters, the Florida Sea Base has been able to support other agencies, including FEMA, the U.S. Army, the American Red Cross and more.

At the Brinton Environmental Center on Summerland Key, the BSA has allowed the American Red Cross to set up a shelter for Keys residents left homeless by Irma. As a result, all fall programs at the Brinton Environmental Center have been moved up the Keys to the main Sea Base facility in Islamorada.

“Thank you to all of our past, current and future volunteers,” the Sea Base said in a message on its Facebook page. “Through your efforts, Sea Base is in a better position to support youth and our community.”

For more of the latest Irma updates, go to this page or check out Sea Base on Facebook.

Sea Base registration and lottery info

2017: Select adventures for December 2017 are available. Go here and click on “2017 Open Registration.”

2018: The lottery for 2018 trips was held Jan. 15 to Feb. 15, 2017. Unclaimed trips are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be viewed at this site. Units cancel reservations from time to time, so check back regularly if you don’t see the trip you want.

2019: Yes, it’s time to start thinking about 2019. Slots for 2019 will be allocated using an online lottery, open from 9 a.m. ET on Jan. 23 to 5 p.m. ET on Feb. 13, 2018. You can enter the lottery by logging onto There’s no advantage to entering early; as long as your entry is submitted during the window you’re good. Winning units will be notified in early March 2018.

Other Florida Sea Base news you need
  • Sea Base programs serve Boy Scouts and Venturers who are 13 by the date of their arrival.
  • Do participants have to be able to swim? Yes. All participants, youth and adult, must pass a standard BSA swim test prior to arrival. The Sea Base has no programs for nonswimmers or beginners. That said, you don’t have to be an accomplished sailor to participate.
  • How’s the food? Galleys offer great served meals while you’re on base. When you’re on the boat or on the island, you’ll enjoy fresh and canned foods, and of course you can eat the fish you catch. If you’re there August through March, you might even get to have “surf and turf.” Sea Base provides the turf, and you can catch the surf during lobster season.
  • Sea Base is open from late December to April and mid-May to August.
  • Sea Base hires staff and summer interns. Learn more here.

How to register and learn more

Visit the Sea Base website or call 305-664-4173.

Thanks to Tim Stanfill for the info.

How to make kitchen patrol, or KP, a little less onerous

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It’s practically every Scout’s least favorite task on the duty roster, but cleaning dishes does not have to turn into a necessary evil.

It can turn that way if kitchen police/patrol, aka “KP duty,” is used as a punishment or as the spoils of a competition (e.g. “The winning patrol gets to choose which patrol does KP for them.”) Negativity can also set in if one Scout is left alone to clean a mountain of dirty dishes.

Mealtime should be an opportunity to build responsibility, hone cooking skills and promote teamwork. A gentle reminder to the senior patrol leader can help Scouts remember to keep these goals in mind.

A Scout is clean

Duty rosters serve as great tools for patrol leaders to divvy up meal tasks and assign responsibility — cooking, building the campfire, gathering water, cleanup — but these roles do not have to remain rigid. Meals that turn messy call for everyone to lend a hand, especially when Scouts are looking forward to another activity soon after eating.

As the Cooking merit badge pamphlet recommends, “If everyone cleans one pot, pan, or utensil, the work will be done in no time.”

Many patrols designate a couple of Scouts to assist in cleanup, a role that can rotate to other Scouts from meal to meal.

Cleaning can be a chore done during cooking. Putting up packages and unused utensils as well as throwing away waste as the food is being cooked cuts down on time tidying up after the meal. Placing a pot of water on the stove ensures hot water is ready for rinsing dishes by the time people are done eating.

When implementing the three-pot method for cleaning, assigning a Scout at each station can not only make the work go by faster, but it also builds camaraderie.

Dealing with a ‘kitchen nightmare’

Not every Scout is the next Alton Brown (who, by the way, was a Boy Scout), so those on KP duty could be left with a heap of greasy pans and pots blackened with what was supposed to be food. Here are a couple of tips for cleaning up the mess:

For burned pots and pans that prove next to impossible to scrape the “black” encrusted on the bottom, place the cookware back on the burner. Pour in a cup of water and a cup of vinegar, and bring it to a boil. Remove the pan and toss in two tablespoons of baking soda. Empty the liquid and scour the pan. This should help bring the pan’s interior back to its former shiny glory.

To clean a greasy cast iron skillet, you can use soap and water (just don’t soak the pan, and make sure it’s dry afterward to avoid rusting) or sprinkle kosher salt and use a paper towel to wipe it clean. The salt acts as an abrasive, helping remove food and grease from sticking to the pan.

Always remember “Leave No Trace” principles when cleaning dishes: dispose of soapy dishwater at least 200 feet from any water source, camps or trails. Use biodegradable camp soap. Strain food bits out of dishwater and trash them. Grease and oily water should be packed out.

2018-2019 preview: Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base at Summit Bechtel Reserve

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It’s the fourth-annual High-Adventure Week here on Bryan on Scouting. This week is all about the once-in-a-lifetime experiences awaiting Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases. Plus, we share tips for securing your spot in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

Skateboarding, rock climbing and an unbelievably awesome activity called “bikepacking.” At the Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, Scouts choose their own adventure.

Immensely customizable, the Paul R. Christen base allows troops and crews to split into smaller groups when they arrive. So if you have two Scouts interested in shooting sports, three who want to try BMX and four into rappelling, the answers are: yes, yes and yes.

“If you have a unit with varying needs, come to our onsite high-adventure programs where each individual can sign up for the program they are most interested in,” says David Kopsa, director of the Paul R. Christen base. “We can meet the needs of a variety of units. Looking for that challenging journey for the whole crew? Check out our unit-based Trek Programs.”

Spaces are still available for 2018, though the base’s popular 50-mile paddle trek on the New River is filling up fast. In 2019, the Paul R. Christen base is open on a modified schedule so SBR can host the 2019 World Scout Jamboree — the first on American soil since 1967.

What is the Paul R. Christen base?

It’s the BSA’s fourth and newest high-adventure base. It’s located at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

High-adventure at SBR comes in three main flavors:

  • The Summit Experience: This is the sampler platter. Scouts and Venturers spend a half-day at each of SBR’s adventure sports venues: The Canopy, The Rocks, Low and High Gear, The Park, The Trax, The Bows, The Barrels, Bravo Lake, and The Ropes. Summit Experience groups also get a thrilling ride down the 3,100-foot Big Zip and participate in a half-day service project.
  • Focused Programs: This one’s for Scouts and Venturers who know what they want. It lets participants focus in for three days in a single program area. The fourth day is a full-day elective activity in an adventure area. The fifth is a service project and, of course, a ride down the Big Zip. Focus areas include:
    • Helmets & Harnesses: Instructional rock climbing and rappelling at climbing facilities onsite, climbing and rappelling on natural rock offsite, and an adventurous day on the challenge course and canopy tours.
    • The Marksman: Three days of multiple archery and shooting disciplines, including crossbows, static archery (multiple distances), sporting arrows, 3-D archery trail, trap shooting, five-stand, sporting clays, pistol (.22 and 9mm), and large-bore rifles.
    • Berms & Bars: BMX riding and skill development in three different styles of BMX — dirt jumping, racing and freestyle.
    • Ramps & Rails: Individual skateboarding skill development in ramps, bowls, street and transition elements.
  • New River Gorge Treks: This is for Scouts and Venturers who want to explore wild, wonderful West Virginia — specifically the gorgeous New River Gorge. Offsite treks are for registered Scouts and Venturers 14 or older, plus their adult leaders.
    • Mountain Bike Trek: Can you say “bikepacking”? Participants enjoy 50-plus miles of backpacking-style travel on bikes. All gear and food for the week is carried on the bikes. Trails include a mixture of singletrack, doubletrack and a small amount of gravel or paved road. Most of the trails are easy to intermediate in difficulty with some optional expert routes and sections. Vertical climbs are mostly 600 feet or less, with two challenging climbs of around 1,000 vertical feet.
    • New River Trek: This is a 50-mile paddle trek on the New River. Participants navigate the upper portion in inflatable kayaks (one- or two-man) called “duckies.” This portion of the river includes Class I to III rapids. The final whitewater day in the Lower Canyon is a rafting experience and includes Class III to V rapids. Crews camp along the river through the New River Gorge. A gear boat (raft) accompanies the group to transport gear and food.

2018 registration and availability

Onsite high adventure, including the Summit Experience and Focused Programs outlined above, are held on these dates:

  • June 10–16
  • June 17–23
  • June 24–30
  • July 8–14
  • July 15–21
  • July 22–28
  • July 29–Aug. 4

Offsite New River Gorge Treks — “bikepacking” and whitewater — have a longer season. The first trek departs June 10, and the final trips begin Aug. 26.

For more information on fees, availability or to register your unit, go here.

And if you have Venturers wanting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Venturing program in 2018, check out VenturingFest 2018 at SBR.

2019 registration and availability

The 2019 World Scout Jamboree will be held at SBR from July 22 to Aug. 2.

The onsite high-adventure programs at the Paul R. Christen base will cease just before the World Scout Jamboree and not start up again until 2020. There will be five weeks of onsite high-adventure programs in 2019:

  • June 9–15
  • June 16–22
  • June 23–29
  • June 30–July 6
  • July 7–13

New River Gorge Trek programs, however, will only pause during the WSJ and then start up again after everyone returns to their respective countries.

The Mountain Bike Trek will have nine sessions:

  • June 9–15
  • June 16–22
  • June 23–29
  • June 30–July 6
  • July 7–13
  • World Scout Jamboree break
  • Aug. 4–10
  • Aug. 11–17
  • Aug. 18–24
  • Aug. 25–31

The New River Trek will have 24 sessions in 2019. Instead of two arrival days per week, the Paul R. Christen base will offer three weekly arrival days — a move designed to meet increasing demand.

  • June 9–15
  • June 14–20
  • June 15–21
  • June 16–22
  • June 21–27
  • June 22–28
  • June 23–29
  • June 28–July 4
  • June 29–July 5
  • June 30–July 6
  • July 5–11
  • July 6–12
  • July 7–13
  • July 12–18
  • July 13–19
  • July 14–20
  • World Scout Jamboree break
  • Aug. 2–8
  • Aug. 3–9
  • Aug. 4–10
  • Aug. 9–15
  • Aug. 10–16
  • Aug. 11–17
  • Aug. 18–24
  • Aug. 25–31

More Paul R. Christen news you need
  • The New River Gorge treks — on bike or boat — qualify participants for the coveted 50-Miler Award.
  • Troops/crews can add a half-day whitewater rafting trip to any program (except the New River Trek, of course) for an additional fee.
  • Not high on high adventure? Look into the James C. Justice National Scout Camp and John D. Tickle National Training and Leadership Center, also at SBR.
  • Be sure you mark your calendars for the 2019 World Jamboree, July 22 to Aug. 2. After that, SBR will host the 2021 National Jamboree.

What would you do if you found $4,000? For this Life Scout, the answer was obvious

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Life Scout Logan S. was leaving his Krav Maga class when he noticed two green piles on the ground.

The money — totaling $4,000 in hundred-dollar bills — was just sitting there in the open where anybody could’ve picked it up.

Fortunately, the “anybody” turned out to be a Scout.

The 13-year-old Scout from Troop 226 of Roswell, Ga., went to his mom to express his concern.

“I was worried someone was going to not have enough money to buy the things they needed for that month,” he said.

And so Logan and his mom got to work, wanting to track down the owner of those displaced dollars.

After all, helping others is exactly what Scouts do.

The search begins

Logan and his mom went back into the Krav school where Logan’s dad is owner and chief instructor of the Israeli martial art. Nobody was missing anything. They checked the Home Depot nearby, too. Nobody there had reported missing money either.

Later that day, Logan’s dad called. One of the Krav students had come back to the school and was frantically looking around for something.

“The student said he lost some money,” Logan said. “He was very upset. My dad asked him how much money, and he said about $4,000. My dad knew this was the who the money belonged to and told him that I had found the money.”

Returned to owner

The owner of the money must have been dumbfounded. He surely thought the cash had been lost forever.

“He said he had been driving his mom around all day,” Logan said. “She had been in a car accident, and he hadn’t had a chance to go to the bank.”

Logan’s dad returned the money to its owner who “was very thankful and said that he couldn’t believe that I turned it in.”

‘A Scout that I can always rely on’

Logan’s Scoutmaster — not his mom, dad or Logan himself — contacted me with the story.

Preston Shirmeyer wasn’t surprised to hear about Logan’s Good Turn. Logan has been an impressive young man throughout his time in Troop 226, Shirmeyer said.

“I have witnessed him helping new Scouts in our troop, many on their first outing, not knowing what to do,” Shirmeyer said. “Logan is a Scout that I can always rely on to listen to advice and carry out needed tasks. He has always handled himself above his rank.”

As the assistant senior patrol leader, Logan has taught his fellow Scouts camping skills using the EDGE method: explain, demonstrate, guide, enable. He has taught them how to tie knots, set up a tent, cook meals and clean up the dishes.

“Despite being young for his rank, I hold him to the standards of it,” Shirmeyer said. “And he delivers.”

How to spend less time fundraising and more time Scouting

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On the lengthy list of reasons to join Scouting, fundraising ranks right near the bottom.

But let’s face it, all those Scouting adventures don’t pay for themselves.

Fortunately, with the right online tools, you can make your next fundraising effort painless, efficient and — dare I say it? — fun.

Consider popcorn sales — often a unit’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Those units that sell their popcorn online, using powerful tools from companies like Trail’s End, can raise more money in less time.

Below, some more ways to spend less time fundraising and more time Scouting.

1. Sell your stuff the 2017 way: online.

These days, people expect to buy everything online: Scout uniforms, tents, freeze-dried backpacking meals and more. You can’t beat the convenience of tapping a screen and magically getting something delivered to your doorstep.

For popcorn-selling Scouts, convenience reigns online as well. Scouts who sell through Trail’s End’s online site don’t collect money or deliver products.

They can sell wherever, whenever to whomever — and get rewarded for it.

But that doesn’t mean Scouts can expect the orders to flood in. They still need to do some work.

2. Tweet, snap, post and share.

Whether selling online, door to door or through a “show and sell,” self-promotion is critical.

Use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube to promote your fundraiser to friends and family.

You’ve put up with cat videos and vacation selfies cluttering your feed. Your friends will tolerate a few posts about how they can support local Scouting.


  • Change your profile picture to something about fundraising.
  • Post two to three times a week. The best times are before 8 a.m., between noon and 3 p.m., and between 6 and 9 p.m.
  • Share your unique selling URL (provided by Trail’s End) through direct messages.

3. Check your email (strategy).

The rise of social media hasn’t killed email yet. Here’s how to use good old-fashioned email to boost sales:

  • Create an Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc with a list of whom you’ve emailed and when.
  • Ask parents to email coworkers.
  • Use the Trail’s End email feature within your personalized selling page.
  • Send emails on Tuesday or Thursday between 10 and 11 a.m. or 8 p.m. to midnight.

4. Hit them up by text.

And what about those people who haven’t checked their email since the AOL days? Text them.

Encourage friends and family to share your fundraising page with people they know.

Here’s a sample text: “Hey, buddy! Trevor’s selling popcorn so his Boy Scout troop can go to camp next year. Mind taking a look? You can do it all online: [link].”

Too many people in your contacts to text them all? Well aren’t you Mr./Mrs. Popular!

Why not simplify by texting one person for each letter of the alphabet: Amy, Blake, Carol, Don, etc.

5. Go with Trail’s End.

Want a fundraiser that makes everyone happy? Trail’s End has you covered and provides you with tips on how to hit your goal!

Wood Badge Centennial Update pilot courses let you experience the future

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Registration is now live for a pair of 2018 national Wood Badge Pilot Courses that precede a 2019 update to the BSA’s premier leadership training program for adults.

The update, known as the Wood Badge Centennial Update, will be released in 2019 for use in 2020 and beyond. It’s timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Wood Badge.

In 1919, Robert Baden-Powell was among the instructors at the first-ever Wood Badge course, held at Gilwell Park in England.

These days, any adult involved in Scouting — Cubmasters and committee members, assistant Scoutmasters and Venturing advisors — is welcome to the six-day training course. The course is typically held over two three-day weekends and gives adults skills that will help them in Scouting, their career and at home.

All Wood Badge training courses are special, life-changing experiences. The Wood Badge Pilot Courses? They’ll offer a unique chance to earn your beads while shaping the future of Wood Badge for those who follow you on Scouting’s trail.

One word of note: These pilot courses are intended to generate feedback about the Wood Badge Centennial Update. Because of that, only Scouters who have not attended any previous Wood Badge course may attend.

When are the Wood Badge Pilot Courses?

There are two Wood Badge Pilot Courses, each offering the 2019 Centennial Update. You can choose either one.

The courses will be staffed by Wood Badge Task Force members who have been working on the Centennial Update for the past two years.

Florida Sea Base: Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2018

Participants should arrive on Sunday, Jan. 28. The course will start at 8 a.m. Jan. 29 and conclude around 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 2.

Philmont Training Center: March 25 to 30, 2018

Participants should arrive on Sunday, March 25. The course will start at 8 a.m. March 26 and conclude around 4:30 p.m. on March 30.

How much do the Wood Badge Pilot Courses cost?

Each is $625.

This cost covers program and training materials, all food, participant T‐shirt and cap, and a Wood Badge presentation kit (upon completion of the program). The cost does not include transportation to and from Sea Base or Philmont.

What are the requirements to participate?
  • Registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Completed basic training courses for Scouting position.
  • Be capable of functioning safely outdoors.
  • Complete parts A, B and C of the Annual Health and Medical Record.
  • Have not attended a previous Wood Badge course.
How do I register?

Click here. Email with your questions.

Will this ‘poach’ participants from local council courses?

The expectation is that no more than one or two Scouters from any particular council will attend one of these pilot courses.

Volunteers who prefer to take Wood Badge over two weekends instead of one week, or who prefer a course that’s less expensive or closer to home are encouraged to contact their council for more information.

What is the Wood Badge Centennial Update all about?

Think of it like an update — not a rewrite.

It will incorporate volunteer feedback and the latest leadership lessons to give leaders the tools they need to do their Scouting jobs.

After the 2018 pilots, the syllabus will be distributed in fall 2019 at the course director’s conference. All courses held in 2020 and beyond will use the new syllabus.

What to do when you spot bullying — and your next steps if it becomes more serious

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Note from Bryan: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Each Wednesday this month, the BSA Youth Protection team will share important reminders about what each of us can do to prevent, recognize and report bullying as we work to make Scouting a safe place for all.

This post comes from Jim Wilson, national Youth Protection chairman.

What to do if bullying becomes serious

Sometimes, no matter how much we learn and teach about bullying, it still happens.

Sometimes what starts out as hazing, name calling, or seemingly “playful” actions escalate into serious bullying situations.

What happens then? What actions do we take? How do we resolve the issue?

The following are some of the tips that can help Scout leaders, parents and “upstanders” respond quickly and effectively:

  • Immediately stop the bullying, and control the situation. Separate the bully and the target.
  • State what behaviors you saw or heard that are unacceptable and against the Scout Law.
  • Support the bullied youth in a way that allows him or her to regain self-control and feel safe from retaliation.
  • Do not require Scouts to apologize or make amends during the heat of the moment. Let things cool off!
  • Immediately notify parents or guardians of both the target and the youth who bullied of what occurred. Address the parents’/guardians’ questions and concerns, and inform them of next steps.
  • To seek further help, contact the “Scouts First” Helpline for Abuse and Youth Protection: 1-844-Scouts1 (1-844-726-8871)

If the bullying gets worse and you need additional help, consider the following if:

  • Someone is at immediate risk of harm because of bullying. In this case, call 911.
  • Your Scout is feeling suicidal because of bullying. Contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Your Scout’s leader is not keeping your Scout safe from being bullied. Contact your local BSA Scout Executive through your council service center.
  • Your Scout is sick, stressed, not sleeping or is having other problems because of bullying. Contact a health professional.
  • Your Scout is bullied because of his or her race, ethnicity or disability, and local help is not working to solve the problem. Contact Boy Scouts of America Member Care at 972-580-2489.

All adult leaders and youth members have responsibility here. Everyone must act in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Let’s ensure that hazing, discrimination, harassment, bullying and cyberbullying have no place in the Scouting program. Any of these could result in revocation of membership.

For more information, see BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection resources.

President Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”

Let’s make sure we do what’s right where bullying is involved.

Trading in a coffee-stained uniform for an OA Vigil Honor sash

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During the Great Depression, Laurence Seeger’s family couldn’t afford to buy an official Boy Scout uniform. As a substitute, Seeger’s mother doused his father’s old white dress shirts in coffee grounds, staining them khaki.

The Chicago native, who celebrated his 96th birthday last week, owns an official uniform today, which he adorns with an Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor sash.

He was bestowed with that honor a few years ago, making him one of the oldest Scouters in the nation to have ever received it.

Falling in love

Seeger’s love for Scouting began after watching his older brother go through the program. He couldn’t wait to join. He signed up with Troop 224 in Chicago in 1933.

“It was a good active troop,” Seeger said. “I loved it — the comradeship, the camping and the outdoors — everything about it.”

The boys would go on a day hike every other week and have monthly overnight campouts. The year he joined, his troop camped at the World’s Fair in Chicago, where Seeger saw Daniel Carter Beard, one of the founders of the BSA.

Seeger forged lifelong friendships with his fellow Scouts. He earned his Eagle Scout award in June 1937, when he was 15. He stayed active in Scouting and became a member of the Ordeal and Brotherhood levels of Scouting’s national honor society, the Order of the Arrow. He had been nominated for the Vigil Honor, but did not go through the initiation.

‘It was in my blood’

Seeger attended George Williams College, where he studied group work education with the ultimate goal of being a camp director.

“It was in my blood from the Boy Scouts,” Seeger said. “It became my lifetime profession.”

But before that profession took off, he enlisted in the Air Corps during World War II. He served as head of a personnel department in Florida, interviewing and assigning people for the right jobs in the war effort.

After the war, he got married, and he and his wife of 63 years, Phyllis, had two boys, Marc and Gerald, both of whom were involved in Scouting.

Seeger directed boys and girls camps in California, Illinois and Michigan before he retired. Following his wife’s death in 2009, Seeger renewed his involvement in the Boy Scouts at the suggestion of his son. He served the Northeast Illinois Council as an outdoor action committee member and volunteered with Eagle dinners and at a twilight camp in Chicago’s suburbs.

A 92-year-old Vigil Arrowman

Seeger was again nominated for the Vigil Honor, OA’s highest distinction. This time, he completed the task.

A few months before turning 93, Seeger attended Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation in Wisconsin, where he spent the night surrounded by pine trees, silhouetted by a full moon.

“It was a close-to-God experience,” Seeger said.

Seeger plans to continue his involvement with Scouting, an organization he credits to shaping his career and character over the last eight decades. Here’s a few lessons he’s learned over the years:

  • Enjoy your life as much as possible, and appreciate what you have.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff; don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Look forward, not backward, yet learn from the past.
  • Feel proud of what you’ve accomplished.
  • Keep in contact with your good friends.
  • Remember that life is not always fair.
  • Eat well and exercise often, including stretching.
  • Follow your heart and religion.
  • And Be Prepared.
The oldest ever?

We can’t confirm whether or not Seeger is the oldest Scouter to have received the Vigil Honor because we don’t have complete records for the more than 145,000 OA Vigil Honor Arrowmen currently on record.

If you’ve received the OA’s highest honor, please contact Stephanie Jordan (, 972-580-7846) at the national office to make sure the OA has your updated information.

As its 20th birthday approaches, Venturing calls for 20 great stories

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Wondering what to get Venturing for its 20th birthday next year?

Here’s the best gift of all: A personal story about how Venturing impacted your life.

Venturing turns 20 in 2018, and to celebrate, the BSA’s program for older youth is asking for Venturing stories and photos from current and past members.

They call it 20 Stories to Celebrate 20 Years.

Venturers, advisors and Venturing alumni are asked to share some words and/or images on the ways Venturing has impacted them.

The 20 best stories — 10 from youth and 10 from adults — will be featured during 2018’s yearlong celebration. Winning submitters will receive a VIP experience at VenturingFest 2018.

Speaking of VenturingFest 2018, now’s the time to sign up for this national gathering of Venturers at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

VenturingFest is July 1 to 6, and it’s when thousands of Greenshirts will gather for fun and friendship.

During the day, Venturers will try high-adventure activities like rock climbing, skateboarding and zip lining. At night, Venturers can snack on some great food while jamming out at concerts with thousands of their new best friends.

Quick facts: 20 Stories to Celebrate 20 Years
  • The campaign runs Aug. 1 to Nov. 1, 2017.
  • They’re asking for stories and photos from current Venturers, advisors and any Venturing alumni.
  • The content should tell how Venturing has had a positive influence of their life.
  • The Venturing team will select 20 of the best stories (10 youth and 10 adults) and feature one story each week on social media.
  • Winners will receive a “VIP experience” at VenturingFest 2018.
  • Learn more about the campaign and submit your story here.

Scouting Alumni & Friends to offer grants for council alumni committees

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For those Scout volunteers looking to identify, recruit and re-engage Scouting alumni, $500 or $2,000 could go a long way.

Through its new grant programs, Scouting Alumni & Friends is offering free money to help councils boost their engagement with alumni. This means councils can strengthen this vital segment of the community without cutting into other parts of their budget.

(Scouting Alumni & Friends, blog readers might recall, is the new name of the Scouting Alumni Association. It’s a reminder that the group is open to anyone who wants to help further Scouting’s mission — even those who were never in Scouting as young people.)

There are two types of grants — one for new or emerging alumni committees and another for more established ones. Applying for a grant is easy.

The deadline for submitting an application to receive a 2018 grant is Dec. 31, 2017. Recipients will be announced in March 2018, and the grant must be used in that calendar year.

Two types of grants Recruitment grants

Who: These are designed for new or emerging council Scouting Alumni committees.

What: They may be used to establish a Scouting Alumni committee or develop a new recruitment program. Successful applicants will use the grant to recruit former Scouts and Scouters or other interested community members to Scouting.

How much: There will be a total of eight (8) such grants with a $500 cap.

Innovation grants

Who: These are designed for more mature council Alumni committees.

What: They provide a low-risk laboratory to test new ways to engage alumni. The purpose is to develop and test more innovative ways of identifying and recruiting Scouting alumni who are not currently involved in Scouting.

How much: There will be a total of four (4) grants of this type not to exceed $2,000 each.

How the grants might be used

Here are some examples of how a council alumni committee might use a grant. Of course, this is an incomplete list.

  • Developing an online presence for alumni communication
  • Designing and producing an alumni patch or reunion souvenir
  • Using direct mail to reconnect with individuals without an email address
  • Connecting Star/Life Scouts to 20-something Eagle Scout mentors
  • Holding a camp alumni reunion that includes an improvement project
  • Establishing a young professionals network
  • Holding a merit badge university at a local college
  • Involving trade organizations to hold merit badge clinic(s)
How to apply

Applications for Recruitment and Innovation grants are now online. The application asks easy-to-answer questions and outlines a straightforward follow-up process that includes submitting photographs, testimonials and member statistics. Successful grantees will share their results and the lessons they learned with other councils and alumni committees.

Application for Recruitment grant: 2017 SA&F Recruitment Grant Application

Application for Innovation grant: 2017 SA&F Innovation Grant Application

The Recruitment and Innovation grant cycles will run concurrently.

  • Dec. 31, 2017: Grant submission deadline
  • January and February 2018: Rating and selection
  • March 2018: Announcement of grant recipients
Where to ask questions and learn more

Questions should be directed to:

Visit Scouting Alumni & Friends at to learn more, and be sure to like their Facebook page for more great info.

What goes on at a weekly troop meeting? Here’s the parent’s-eye view

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Just what kind of lessons can a Boy Scout learn at a weekly troop meeting? And how will those lessons help prepare a young person for life?

Julie Labuszewski, the Denver Area Council leader behind this excellent guest post, gives us her perspective as a proud parent.


How to Turn a Boy into a Leader

By Julie Labuszewski

Start early. Age 11 is good. Buy him a handbook on leadership. Then get him into a uniform. A khaki button-down collared shirt with pockets will work. Teach him to tuck in his shirt, too.

No one wants an unkempt leader.

To succeed, he will need guidance. Try to find him a great leader.

I found Dan Dineen, Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 263 in Littleton, Colo. At age 71, there’s nothing fragile about this man. His build is solid. His handshake is firm. And his voice is strong. He has no time for small talk. He gets to the point, states it clearly and keeps his word.

Born in Chicago and schooled in Detroit, Mr. Dineen began his career as an electrical engineer. The company promoted him to department manager, senior department manager, then plant manager where he led a team of 750 factory workers. Fifty-five years in the manufacturing business taught him some valuable lessons on leadership. While most people believe leaders are born, he has an entirely different viewpoint.

“It’s a learned skill,” he says. “It’s definitely a learned skill.”

So you’ve got your kiddo in a uniform, you’ve found a local troop, now get him to a weekly meeting.

Here’s a sneak peek of our weekly meeting, from one parent to another.

Youth-led lessons

Scoutmaster Mr. Dineen arrives early to unlock the doors to the school cafeteria. Parents, Scouts — dressed in the field uniform (or “Class A”) — and younger siblings begin to show up. There’s a bustle of activity, a buzz in the air.

At 7 p.m., the meeting begins with a formal flag ceremony led by the Scorpion Patrol. The boys recite the Pledge of Allegiance; the Scout Oath, “On my honor, I will do my best…”; and the Scout Law, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly … ”

Three boys hustle in late. The first is wearing a faded black hoodie with ripped skinny jeans. The second is wearing his high school baseball uniform with sunglasses propped on his head. The third wears flip-flops and a Scout shirt tucked into his plaid flannel pants.

Colter, the newly elected 15-year-old senior patrol leader takes the floor facing 24 restless boys, ages 11 to 17.

“There’s a campout next month,” he says. “Who wants to be the Scout in charge?” No hands go up. The younger ones start to fidget and squirm. The older ones chat. The noise escalates.

The SPL asks again, and this time he speaks louder, with authority in his voice. He turns his question into a statement: “We need a Scout to be in charge.”

The commotion settles, and one hand goes up. Then another. He selects the boy who’s not falling off his seat, cracking up uncontrollably.

Falling — and learning

Now it’s time to introduce the guest speaker. But he’s nowhere to be found. A Vail ski patrol volunteer was going to talk about his emergency rescues on the slopes. The boys planned this weeks ago at their monthly patrol leaders’ council. Did anyone call the guest speaker? Who was delegated with that task?

The SPL asks a Patrol Leader, “So did you call him?”

“I forgot,” he says. “My bad.”

The SPL and his assistant converse to quickly come up with a new agenda for tonight’s meeting.

“Any good leader learns a little. Falls. Learns a little bit more. Falls a little bit less,” Mr. Dineen says.

These boys fall often. They leave the snacks in the car, the swim trunks at home and the rain gear in the school locker. They lose their Scout books. They forget their permissions slips. They misplace their shopping lists.

‘That’s how they learn’

Mr. Dineen believes Scouting provides the boy the opportunity to become leaders. This is done by getting the boys in leadership positions and giving them the challenge and the responsibility to run the troop, not the adults.

“It’s a boy-run troop,” he says. “I get them all marching to the same objective, then I step back. That’s how they learn.”

At the last campout, one of the patrol’s attempt to make fried chicken failed miserably. After sizzling chicken legs in hot oil for one hour, the chicken legs still were undercooked. The boys decided to deep fry marshmallows, Pop-Tarts and Oreos instead. Before word got around to the Scoutmaster, they wiped down the picnic table and scrubbed the pot clean.

“If the boys are living the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily lives, we’ve succeeded,” Mr. Dineen says.

Above all else: Show up

After 11 years in Scouting, I’ve learned this: Growth spurts won’t wait for your schedule to free up. So show up. In no time, your kiddo will be a teenager.

He’ll grow out the khaki shirt you bought him when he first joined the troop. So you’ll need to get him a bigger shirt, a large: Not the youth large, the men’s large.

But don’t worry.

When he’s 17 and walks into his Eagle Scout board of review, it’ll be tucked in.

About the author

Julie Labuszewski and her family are actively involved in Scouting. She is an aquatic supervisor, merit badge counselor and assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 263.

BSA to welcome girls into Scouting programs — here’s what that means for your pack or troop

Bryan On Scouting -

The Boy Scouts of America’s volunteer-led board of directors on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to welcome girls and young women into all Scouting programs.

The historic move means boys and girls will soon experience the values-based, life-changing, Instagram-worthy moments offered in all of Scouting’s programs — from Cub Scouting all the way to Scouting’s highest honor, the rank of Eagle Scout.

Cub Scouting will be available to girls beginning in fall 2018. A program for girls ages 11 to 17 will be announced in the coming year for projected introduction in 2019 and will enable young women to work toward Eagle.

What drives this change? As a Scout leader, you know that the values of Scouting — encapsulated in the Scout Oath and Scout Law — are more relevant today than ever. Those values are vital for young men and young women.

“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “We strive to bring what our organization does best — developing character and leadership for young people — to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Interest extremely high

I’m sure you’ve seen sisters tag along at pack and troop meetings and events. You’ve watched them experience the fun of Scouting without earning any of the awards and recognition afforded their brothers.

And I bet you’ve heard from the busy moms and dads in your pack or troop who crave more time to interact with their kids. A Scouting program for the whole family will help them maximize that time. They’ll get one great Scouting experience in one place.

What kind of interest is out there? The survey results are overwhelming and echo the flood of requests the BSA has received from families wanting a BSA program for girls.

At a glance:

  • 90 percent of parents not involved with the BSA expressed interest in getting their daughter involved in programs like Cub Scouts.
  • 87 percent of parents not involved with the BSA expressed interest in getting their daughter involved in programs like Boy Scouts.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and the volunteer who leads the BSA’s national board, said the BSA’s “record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing.”

“I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization,” he said. “It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”

How this will affect your pack

When girls join Cub Scouting in fall 2018, beginning at age 5, packs across the country may welcome them right away.

An existing pack may choose to recruit girls or remain an all-boy pack. When creating a new pack, a chartered organization may form an all-boy pack, an all-girl pack or a pack of girls and boys.

Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, meanwhile, can include any combination of all-boy or all-girl dens. The choice is left to individual pack leaders in consultation with their chartered organization.

This hybrid model builds on the benefit of a single-gender program while also providing character and leadership opportunities for both boys and girls.

Some big things won’t change. Activities, rank advancement requirements and Youth Protection policies remain the same. Uniforms will remain the same, too, though the fit and styling may change.

Existing program content and activities are appropriate for boys and girls alike, so there’s no need to change anything there. Education experts have evaluated program content and confirmed the relevancy of the program for young women.

As always, great volunteers like you can tailor the activities to meet the developmental needs and abilities of your kids.

What about Youth Protection? The policies match existing rules in place for the Venturing program for young men and young women. When a Scouting activity includes both boys and girls, there must be both female and male leaders present. At least one of those leaders must be registered as an adult member of the BSA.

How this will affect your troop

 A program for girls age 11 to 17 will be announced in the coming year with a projected introduction in 2019.

Using the same curriculum as the current Boy Scouts program, this will allow participating girls to work toward — and earn — Scouting’s highest honor, the Eagle Scout Award. Eagle Scout requirements will be the same for young men and young women.

Girls who are in the fourth grade in fall 2018 will surely want to cross over into the next phase of their Scouting journey once they complete their time in Cub Scouts. Rest assured there will be such a program in place when the time arrives. And it will be awesome.


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