Scouting News from the Internet

To defeat bullying, Scouts must shift from bystander to ‘upstander’

Bryan On Scouting -

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.

  • Week 1 (Oct. 4): The BSA is a safe place for all
  • Week 2 (this post): Encouraging Scouts to move from bystander to upstander
  • Week 3 (Oct. 18): What to do when bullying becomes serious
  • Week 4 (Oct. 25): Concerns for risk of harm and suicide

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

How to encourage Scouts to move from bystander to “upstander”

It was Albert Einstein who said it best.

“The world is dangerous not because of those who do harm,” he said, “but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”

For National Bullying Prevention Month and beyond, let’s encourage our Scouts to do something. Let’s encourage them to be upstanders — not bystanders.

In the book The Bullying Antidote: Superpower Your Kids for Life, authors Louise Hart and Kristen Caven share their thoughts on the differences between bystanders and upstanders.

“Bystanders make a decision to either actively or passively support the bully” through a lack of involvement. An upstander “recognizes that he or she has a choice and decides, ‘I can and will do something to help make things better.’”

As we share knowledge about bullying prevention with our youth, we must remind our Scouts and Venturers that they have a choice. They can choose to make things better.

Hopefully the lessons about “a Scout is Kind” and their understanding that the BSA is meant to be a safe place for all Scouts and Scouters will help them make a choice. They can and will play important roles in changing the bullying environment if they step up and be an “upstander.”

The BSA has introduced the term “upstander” into our Youth Protection language and focus, but the concept goes beyond our movement.

Books are being written about the concept and how to understand the relationships between bystanders and upstanders. Celebrities are reaching out to their fans with personal requests for understanding and involvement to stop bullying. Actions are taking place on the internet and through social media to help bystanders evolve into upstanders.

Hart and Caven indicate that adults can share with our youth, and other adults, that the success of upstanders comes from their power to do the following:

  • Control or stop a bullying situation
  • Support the victim and ensure their safety
  • Be assertive and step in to a difficult situation
  • Be an example of great Scouting by doing the right things
  • Ask for help from a trusted adult, when needed
  • Set boundaries that are understandable and healthy
  • Make sure that others understand how to be compassionate to the victim, while also preventing bullying

Be an upstander, and teach your youth how to be upstanders. You can make a difference!

Let’s be blunt about pocket knife safety

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A sharp blade can be a useful tool when setting up camp, fishing or cooking. It can also be dangerous when used carelessly.

Policies vary among packs, troops, councils and camps when it comes to what blade types and lengths are allowed. The BSA sets no official standard on knife length.

But there’s one rule everyone agrees on: pocket knife use requires responsibility.

A tool, not a toy

Bears can start carrying a pocket knife after completing the Whittling Chip requirements. Boy Scouts must earn their Totin’ Chip, which also gives them the right to carry and use axes and saws. These rights, however, can be revoked if the Scout fails to be responsible.

Some big no-no’s:

  • Throwing a knife
  • Using a dull or dirty blade
  • Handing a knife to someone blade first
  • Cutting while others are within your “safety circle” (arm’s length)
  • Carrying an open pocket knife
  • Carving into something that doesn’t belong to you
  • Cutting toward your body

Treating pocket knives with respect and using them accordingly not only ensures the Scout’s safety but also keeps others safe.

Sharp and clean

Part of pocket knife safety means maintaining the blade’s cleanliness and sharpness. To clean, open all the tools and use a toothpick or moist cloth to wipe dust and lint from inside the pocket knife. If you used any water for cleaning, apply a little light oil to the knife’s joints afterward.

Normal use dulls the blades, so get a sharpening stone. Hold the knife at a 25-degree angle against the stone and push the blade along it or move the blade in a circular motion. Sharpen both sides and wipe the blade. Check its sharpness by holding it under a bright light. If the edge of the blade doesn’t shine, it’s sharp.

A sharp knife is safer than a dull one because a dull blade can slip while cutting.

The right blade

The BSA recommends picking the right knife for the job.

Your Scout Shop has many knives to choose from, including single-bladed models and ones with all the bells and whistles. (OK, none has literal bells and whistles, but they have everything else you’d need.)

Single blades:

A little bit more:

The “Be Prepared for anything” models:

In a world that’s divided, Scouting unites us around shared values

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There’s one key difference between Scouting friendships and other friendships.

It’s a fact Ray Capp has discovered after being involved in Scouting for more than 50 years. During his tenure, the Distinguished Eagle Scout, past chairman of the Order the Arrow and 2016 National Alumnus of the Year has formed countless long-lasting friendships.

“Now I’m going to tell you something non-Scouters will find hard to believe,” Capp writes in a new essay you can read in full below. “I have no idea who most of these Scout friends voted for, which party they have joined or what they think about certain political values.”

That’s because, Capp writes, “In Scouting, we don’t talk about issues from cable news programs.

“We talk about honor and the importance of one’s word; we discuss our next adventure, and how it will test and increase resilience and persistence among Scouts in our care. We talk about how Johnny needs a chance to lead his patrol. We talk about improving the troop’s next ski trip, who will help the boys plan the next worship service, or the need to retire that old flag in a proper, ceremonial way.”

To Capp, the value of Scouting is found in the values of Scouting.

Scouting’s values are fundamental and form the foundation of a young person’s life. They don’t revolve around the latest controversy playing out in someone’s Facebook feed.

They’re found in the 12 points of the Scout Law and 40 words of the Scout Oath.

Capp agreed to let me post an edited version of his essay here. He wrote it as an open letter to parents of Scouting-age youth. Take a read:

Scouting’s value? Scouting values!

By Ray Capp

Some parents of Scouting-aged kids wonder if Scouting has value for their family.

I say Scouting’s value can be found in the values of Scouting!

Scouting teaches values that transcend national origin, race, political affiliation, gender, class and time. Each Scout knows the Scout Law by heart. All Scouts recite THESE values weekly and remember them throughout life:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Every day we hear talk about controversies and issues that are really about values. For example, many people value transparency in government. But, would we even need to talk about that if everyone was trustworthy?

Adherence to principles can form a philosophy of governing for many patriotic people and serve as important guideposts in civic life, but how can their value exceed the importance of being loyal to one’s family, friends and country? Don’t the Scout values of being helpful and cheerful serve as a really strong foundation for a good life, regardless of political points of view?

As adults, we strive to instill the virtues of cultural diversity. Leaders of our religious communities work tirelessly to encourage positive behavior, generosity and service to the poor, sick, homeless and downtrodden. These are vital attributes to imbue into our youth. The points of the Scout Law (friendly, courteous and kind) deliver this message in no uncertain terms.

Before a boy knows to follow the laws of his community, state and nation, he knows the importance of following the rules in his family. Scout leaders reinforce this with the value of being obedient to God — and a young person’s mom or dad. Obedience applies whether or not anyone is looking.

As adults, we hope fellow citizens will show fiscal responsibility in their work, personal and civic lives. But first, our Scouts learn the more foundational value of being thrifty.

The Scout becomes part of a community. His fellow Scouts are his colleagues, and a Scout will be bold and brave in demanding just treatment of others.

Scouts commit to be clean in word and deed, in our personal, community and outdoor lives. A Scout learns to always leave a place or situation better than he found it. Applying this principle alone can positively turn the life of a Scout.

Aren’t these root Scouting values more fundamental to our nation’s health than the many other principles that flower from these roots?

As a Scout for more than 50 years, I’ve developed some of the longest-lasting relationships of my life. Now I’m going to tell you something non-Scouters will find hard to believe. I have no idea who most of these Scout friends voted for, which party they have joined or what they think about certain political values.

I don’t know whether my Scouting peers support charter schools or unions, lower or higher taxes, tariffs, less or more regulation, or net neutrality!

In Scouting, we don’t talk about issues from cable news programs.

We talk about honor and the importance of one’s word. We discuss our next adventure and how it will increase resilience among Scouts in our care. We talk about how Johnny needs a chance to lead his patrol. We talk about improving the troop’s next ski trip, who will help the boys plan the next worship service, or the need to retire that old flag in a proper, ceremonial way.

Every week, Scoutmasters end meetings by summarizing nuggets of learning. These “Scoutmaster Minutes” are mini-lessons that address values to help kids to grow into better citizens.

Scoutmaster Minutes are distilled for an audience of eager-faced young people. They’re never about political points of view, culture wars or divisive issues. They are always about life’s more fundamental values. Values like doing a good deed, telling the truth, being prepared and being helpful at all times.

Scouting delivers these messages (and the values that underpin them) consistently, creatively, robustly, timelessly.

A youngster has many choices for spending his discretionary time. But Scouting is like no other program in systematically and strongly putting kids into situations designed to help them grow physically, mentally and spiritually.

And there’s really no need to choose between Scouting and sports, debate, student council or videogames. In our troop’s last year, five of our Scouts were enrolled in Ivy League schools. Each of them was an Eagle Scout, yet each also excelled in another specific niche: an All-American lacrosse player, student council president, state champion swimmer, national debate finalist and videogame design genius.

Every parent who has encouraged a son to persist in becoming an Eagle Scout is glad they did. Get and keep your son in Scouting. He will be glad you did. And you will be glad you did.

Scouting’s value is in planting Scouting values.

3 fall-rific (and 1 not-so-great) uses for pumpkins at Scout meetings and events

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Ah, pumpkins. Has there ever been a more fruitful fruit?

Pumpkins offer a cornucopia of uses, most of which make great meeting or campout activities for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers.

Carve them, paint them, roast them, eat them or spice them. Just don’t fling them through the air.

Perfect for fall, here are some pumpkin-related ideas for packs, troops, teams, posts, ships and crews. I’m also using the occasion to remind you of one pumpkin-related activity you shouldn’t try at a Scouting event because it can be dangerous. It’s pumpkin chunking.

Here are three pumpkin do’s and one pumpkin don’t.

Do carve pumpkins

Ready to carve the perfect pumpkin? Boys’ Life has you covered with these tips from “Farmer Mike, World-Class Pumpkin Carver.” You can also watch this BL video below.

Want more inspiration? Check out these Cub Scouting-themed decorations.

Do roast pumpkin seeds

What to do with all those pumpkin innards you remove when carving? Roast the seeds, of course.

Try this recipe and watch those pumpkin seeds disappear faster than you can spell Halloween.

Do make some pumpkin spice pancakes

Anyone can make pumpkin pie.

Scouts make pumpkin spice pancakes, using this recipe from Scouting Wire.

Don’t try pumpkin chunking

Pumpkin chunking — sometimes shortened to pumpkin chunkin’ — doesn’t really meet the BSA’s mission of maintaining a safe space for participants.

It’s not part of any BSA program, and it can be unsafe. The catapult can misfire, causing these 20-pound spheres to fly straight into the air — or even backwards. Not good.

Moreover, the pumpkin itself doesn’t fit the BSA’s definition of appropriate ammunition.

Scroll to page 100 of the Shooting Sports Manual for the official reference. The page is part of the chapter covering slingshots, catapults and alternative types of shooting sports.

Here’s the relevant section, “ammunition.” I added the bold.

When using a catapult or other shooting device, use a soft object no larger than the opening of a small juice can. The use of pumpkins is not approved.

Many councils use catapults at council events, and that’s fine. But the objects catapulted should be soft and small — like a tennis ball or racquetball.

That means let’s save the pumpkins for other fun — and delicious — uses.

17 photos that show how the Scouting 500 in Kansas City kicked fun into high gear

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Last month’s Scouting 500 at Kansas Speedway welcomed 13,000 youth and adults to one of the largest Scouting events of the year.

Everyone in the Heart of America Council family was invited: Cub Scouts (and their families), Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Venturers, Sea Scouts and Explorers. This was the second Scouting 500 ever; I blogged about the first back in 2014.

From Sept. 22 to 24, packs, troops, teams, crews, ships and posts camped alongside other units from their district. Campsites were conveniently located just outside the 1.5-mile tri-oval race track.

All the fun was found inside the tri-oval. The place was packed, with more than 150 different activities spread among 15 program venues known as “Pit Stops.”

The Pit Stops, like the Scouting movement as a whole, offered a diverse set of experiences young people couldn’t find anywhere else.

But seeing’s believing, right? So here are 17 photos that show how the Scouting 500 kicked fun into high gear.

1. Scouts fulfilled their need for speed. At the “World of Wheels” Pit Stop, participants age 14 and up (with a signed waiver) raced go-karts. 2. Scouts played firefighter for a day. The “Emergency Response” Pit Stop included hands-on displays from local police, fire and EMS agencies. 3. Scouts had plenty of time to be goofy. Even though the activities lasted from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, there was still time for silliness. 4. Scouts breathed underwater. You can’t just show up at the ocean and go scuba diving. But Scouts 11 and older did show up at the “Outdoor Adventure” Pit Stop to do just that. 5. Scouts camped with their families. Most of these young people had never camped next to a giant race track. 6. Scouts raced on the BMX track. There was racing of the two-wheeled variety, too. The “World of Wheels” Pit Stop was among the most popular. 7. Scouts zipped down the zip line. Anyone weighing at least 75 pounds could experience the 700-foot zip line off the Speedway grandstand. 8. Scouts experienced life as an astronaut. The “STEM Exploration” Pit Stop put a new spin on fun. 9. Scouts met Miss Kansas. Krystian Fish, Miss Kansas 2017, met with Scouts and Scout leaders. 10. Scouts saluted members of our military. Each branch of the armed forces was represented. They presented the colors and met with Scouts at the “Military Experience” Pit Stop. 11. Scouts reached new heights. The climbing wall was part of the “Outdoor Adventure” Pit Stop. 12. Scouts hit the target. The “Shooting Sports” Pit Stop included archery for Cub Scouts and powderball and tomahawk throwing for Boy Scouts. 13. Scouts got a surprise in the skies. A flyover with classic planes gave participants quite a thrill. 14. Scouts saw a real race. You can’t go to a raceway and not see a race. The event was capped off by a Saturday night main event featuring a private, 16-lap mock NASCAR race by the Richard Petty Driving Experience. 15. Scouts demonstrated athleticism. At the Warrior Dash, part of the “Outdoor Adventure” Pit Stop, Scouts channeled their inner Olympian. 16. Scouts hung out with Venturers. Scouts weren’t the only ones involved in the fun. Venturing crews had a nice showing as well. 17. Scouts met the lieutenant governor of Kansas. Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer was there to meet with Scouts and leaders.

Thanks to Matt Armstrong, the council’s senior marketing director, for the photos and info.

A Scout is kind, so let’s make sure the BSA remains a safe place for all

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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.

  • Week 1 (Today): The BSA is a safe place for all
  • Week 2 (Oct. 11): Encouraging Scouts to move from bystander to upstander
  • Week 3 (Oct. 18): What to do when bullying becomes serious
  • Week 4 (Oct. 25): Concerns for risk of harm and suicide

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

Jim Wilson, a volunteer, is chairman of the National Youth Protection Support Committee. A Scout is kind, so let’s keep the BSA a safe place for all

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and I’d like to remind all our Scouting parents and leaders that a Scout is kind.

With all the issues young people face in 2017, it’s more important than ever for all of us to be vigilant about bullying prevention. We must remind and reteach our Scouts the concept of “a Scout is kind”.

The idea that a Scout should treat others as he or she wants to be treated is woven throughout the programs and literature of the Boy Scouts of America. When a Scout follows the principles of the Scout Oath and Law, bullying and hazing situations should never occur.

However, as Scouting leaders and parents, we may feel uncertain about how to handle bullying when we see or hear it happening in or out of Scouting.

Because of this, we may respond in ways that don’t make the best use of the opportunity to teach a Scout the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. We all acknowledge that bullying among children is inappropriate. It is aggressive behavior that is intentional, and involves an imbalance of power and strength. This makes it important that we handle bullying appropriately.

Scouts, Scouters and parents must not stand by during instances of bullying. Sadly, this happens too often because of a lack of understanding of the subject.

There’s good news, however. The BSA has a number of recommended and required practices, policies and procedures. A significant amount of information on the subject continues to be developed and made available.

We’re working with several nationally recognized experts and organizations to make sure that our focus on bullying prevention is clear and visible in all that we say, do and practice.

To that end, the 13th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook now includes a specific chapter on Personal Safety Awareness. The chapter, which starts on page 394, addresses bullying and hazing from both sides of the issue.

Please pick up a nearby Handbook and review this chapter. I challenge you, as leaders, to help our youth understand what “a Scout is kind” means.

Thanks for helping the BSA be the safe place that our parents expect and our youth deserve.

– Jim

Which positions of responsibility count toward Star, Life and Eagle Scout?

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Scouting teaches responsibility. It teaches young people to take on a role in which they’re accountable to their fellow Scouts.

This role is known as a position of responsibility. As a young man advances toward becoming an Eagle Scout, he’s required to take on one of these roles.

By the time he becomes an Eagle Scout, a young man will have served at least 16 months in a position of responsibility. It’s kind of a dress rehearsal for life. Taking on added responsibilities in a safe setting, where failing is OK, prepares him for life.

In this episode of Scouting 101, we’ll look at the position of responsibility requirements for Star, Life and Eagle.

What are the position of responsibility requirements?
  • Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class: No position of responsibility requirements
  • Star requirement 5: While a First Class Scout, a young man must serve actively for four months in one or more of the acceptable positions of responsibility listed in the next section. (Or he may carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project to help the troop.)
  • Life requirement 5: While a Star Scout, a young man must serve actively for six months in one or more of the acceptable positions of responsibility listed in the next section. (Or he may carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project to help the troop.)
  • Eagle Scout requirement 4: While a Life Scout, a young man must serve actively for six months in one or more of the acceptable positions of responsibility listed in the next section. (The Scoutmaster-approved leadership project is not an option for Eagle.)
Which positions count toward the requirements?

In Scouting, as in life, “responsibility” can take on a number of different forms. Not every young man needs to be a senior patrol leader or patrol leader. He can still take on responsibilities that help him grow.

In a Boy Scout troop, there are 16 eligible positions of responsibility for Star and Life. There are even more if you count positions in a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship. (See the next section for more on that.) For Eagle, there are 15 options within the troop and more in a crew or ship.

Having a number of eligible positions helps larger troops. In these troops, it would be impossible for each Scout to take a turn as senior patrol leader or assistant senior patrol leader. Multiple options also allows a Scout to find a role that interests him.

Here’s the list. Two things to note:

  • You won’t see assistant patrol leader listed here. It is not an approved position of responsibility for rank advancement.
  • Bugler, while acceptable for the Star and Life ranks, is not an approved position of responsibility for the Eagle Scout rank.

Boy Scout troop: Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, bugler*, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, webmaster, or outdoor ethics guide.

Varsity Scout team: Captain, co-captain, program manager, squad leader, team secretary, Order of the Arrow team representative, librarian, historian, quartermaster, chaplain aide, instructor, den chief, webmaster, or outdoor ethics guide.

Venturing crew/Sea Scout ship: President, vice president, secretary, treasurer, den chief, quartermaster, historian, guide, boatswain, boatswain’s mate, yeoman, purser, storekeeper, or webmaster.

Lone Scout: Leadership responsibility in your school, religious organization, club, or elsewhere in your community.

*Only counts toward Star and Life — not Eagle.

How can these requirements be met in a Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship?

It’s a little-known fact that a young man who earned First Class as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may continue with Boy Scout advancement in Venturing or Sea Scouting until he turns 18.

If desired, he may maintain multiple (dual) registration in a troop or team, and also in a crew or ship. He can work on rank advancement in either unit.

See section of the Guide to Advancement for more.

This rule allows an older Scout who might be less active with his troop to still meet the position of responsibility requirements by serving as, for example, crew president or ship yeoman.

Do Venturing and Sea Scouting awards have position of responsibility requirements?

Yep! Young men and young women get plenty of leadership experience as they work on Venturing and Sea Scouting awards and ranks.

In Venturing, leadership requirements are a big part of the Pathfinder Award and the Summit Award — the second-highest and highest Venturing awards, respectively. Each award requires a young man or young woman to serve six months in an elected position.

In Sea Scouting, the Able and Quartermaster ranks require a young man or young woman to serve as an elected officer. For the Ordinary rank, a young person must serve as an activity chair for a major ship event.

Honk if you love Scouting: Eagle Scout’s service project solves city’s traffic problem

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We adults like to complain about heavy traffic, poorly designed roads and ever-lengthening commutes.

One 15-year-old Boy Scout has actually done something about it.

Skyler Chapman is barely old enough for a Utah learner’s permit. But for his Eagle Scout service project, the Lehi, Utah, teen came up with a plan to shorten commute times by up to 30 minutes.

This isn’t just the story of a teenager helping his community solve a problem. It’s a reminder that Eagle Scout service projects don’t have to involve building something permanent to leave a lasting impact. (I’ve written about that topic before.)

Recognizing the problem

The city of Lehi, about 30 miles down the interstate from Salt Lake City, has seen its population skyrocket over the past decade.

That has left many residential roads overloaded — especially at the intersection of 2100 North and 2300 West.

During rush hour at this intersection, the backup can last 20 to 30 minutes.

In cities like Los Angeles or New York, where traffic is notoriously bad, 20 to 30 minutes doesn’t seem that bad. But in 61,000-person Lehi, that kind of slowdown isn’t normal.

Studying the situation

“Everyone wanted something to change,” Skyler told KTSU-TV (Fox 13). “It’s just that no one knew how to do it.”

The first step was figuring out what was causing the backup. For this, Skyler used a combination of technology and sneakers-on-the-ground reporting.

Over two weeks, he studied the flow of traffic. He directed a group of volunteers as they counted cars, distributed fliers and talked to drivers. The fliers sent commuters to an online survey where they could share feedback about the traffic situation.

Skyler then captured aerial footage from a drone and time-lapse videos from a DSLR camera.

Here’s what he learned:

  • Traffic is backed up for miles with residents stuck in their neighborhoods.
  • Two lanes become three as an equal number of drivers want to turn right and go straight from the same right-hand lane.

Devising the solution

Skyler analyzed the data and came up with a plan, doing what professional traffic engineers apparently could not.

He suggested adding another lane of traffic and a designated right-hand turn lane to help ease the congestion. He also suggested adding signage to remind drivers not to block intersections — a practice he determined was adding to the congestion.

Skyler took his plan to the Lehi City Council in May.

The presentation, seen in the video at the end of this post, “just blew us away,” said council member Paul Hancock.

The Utah Department of Transportation was apparently impressed with Skyler’s data, too. It approved the change and, in mid-September, opened the new lane.

Traffic at that intersection now? Non-existent.

It’s worth repeating one more time: Skyler Chapman is just 15 years old.

Skyler, a member of Team 1420 of Lehi, Utah, part of the Utah National Parks Council, earned Scouting’s highest honor on July 10, 2017.

Skyler’s video

Puerto Rico Scouter shared this powerful message 2 days before Hurricane Maria hit

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Two days before Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Maria Molinelli, Scout executive at the Concilio de Puerto Rico de los Boy Scouts of America, posted a message in Spanish on the council Facebook page.

It says a lot that she and other Scout leaders were thinking of others first and themselves last.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dear volunteers,

It has shocked me so that the hurricane that threatens us bears my name. God works in mysterious ways.

Today is a special day where we can put into practice and teach our Scouts the values of compassion and selfless service. We can also put into practice the skills learned to prepare to spend these days in the best possible way.

I invite you to contact the families of your unit and make sure they are ready. I invite you to pray, to share with your neighbors and to ensure more for your safety than for material things.

I’m sure God has a plan for our beloved island. We are a compassionate and big-hearted people. We have already demonstrated this in these days by helping our brothers from  neighboring islands.

Today we have to protect our families and help our neighbors. I ask you to check whether or not there are elderly people or helpless people who can’t prepare themselves. I ask you to come closer to those neighbors with whom you almost never speak. It’s time to show that we are united at the heart.

We’re a great organization. Use your uniform while you serve these days, if you can, and remember that I’m calling you to serve.

God bless you and take care of you.

While we await more information from our fellow BSA members in Puerto Rico, it’s heartening to know that Scout leaders like Molinelli are on the ground, leading the charge.

BSA membership fee to change beginning Dec. 1, 2017

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Effective Dec. 1, 2017, the Boy Scouts of America membership fee will be $33 a year for all registered youth and adult members.

Scouting remains an incredible value. Where else but in Scouting can young people acquire hands-on leadership skills, become more comfortable in nature, and learn to make ethical and moral decisions throughout their lives?

Not bad for just $2.75 a month.

As with every major decision affecting the BSA, this decision was made in concert with the volunteer-led national executive board of the BSA.

This change will affect Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews, Sea Scout ships, and Exploring posts/clubs. However, it will not apply to LDS-sponsored units, nor to those units with council-paid memberships.

All November and December 2017 charters will renew at this new rate. November is included because November charter renewal actually spans from Dec. 1, 2017, to Nov. 30, 2018.

What your BSA membership fee covers

So what are you getting for that $33 a year?

In short, your membership fee pays for the operation of the BSA National Service Center, which supports approximately 270 local councils that administer the Scouting program.

The National Service Center develops program enhancements, covers liability insurance costs and much more.

For adult leaders, the fee also pays for the communications resources that keep Scouters informed. That includes online resources, like this blog, and printed publications, like Scouting magazine.

Additionally, the National Service Center:

  • Provides training to local council volunteers and staff
  • Maintains a national training center at Philmont Scout Ranch
  • Develops and maintains four year-round national high-adventure bases and executes national events (jamborees, National Eagle Scout Association and Order of the Arrow conferences, and National Council meetings)
  • Continues our leadership role in protecting our youth by providing Youth Protection resources, training, and criminal background checks for all registered volunteers and staff
  • Provides local councils with program as well as tools for camp and office planning and evaluation, extensive financial counseling, planned giving and fundraising information, and professional personnel support
  • Coordinates a communications network through printed literature (handbooks, merit badge pamphlets, brochures, training materials, and professional development training)
  • Makes available uniforms, equipment and program supplies
  • Maintains and develops new relationships with chartered organizations that use the Scouting program (religious institutions, civic organizations, labor unions, professional organizations, business and industry)
  • Serves in a leadership role with Scouting associations in other countries as a member of the World Scout Conference
  • Sets and maintains program standards (e.g., advancement, health and safety, etc.) to ensure consistency of the brand throughout councils across the country
How BSA’s fee compares to other youth-serving organizations

Scouters know that the $33 fee doesn’t cover it all. There are also costs related to uniforms, personal equipment, and the activities of individual members like outings and field trips, camporees or summer camp. Even when you add all that up, membership in the BSA costs less than other youth-serving organizations.

I did some research online to find just how good of a value Scouting really is.

Each of the activities below offers a great experience for young people. In fact, research has shown that youth who participate in both Scouting and sports do really well in life.

This list is simply meant to put into perspective the BSA’s membership fee:

  • Youth football, $250 per year: In Phoenix, a season of Pop Warner football for participants ages 5 to 14 costs $250. On top of that, parents must pay $65 per season to rent equipment (helmet, pads, jersey and more).
  • Boys basketball, $500 per year: The Amateur Athletic Union’s boys’ basketball season typically runs from March through June. Fees include uniforms but not travel, meals or hotels. Combined, these can raise the costs to more than $4,000 a year.
  • Youth orchestra, $225 per year: These vary greatly, but here’s one example. Members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles pay $20 to audition and a tuition of $225 per school year. This does not include instruments; a good violin, for example, can easily cost $650 to $850.
  • Competitive swimming, $165 per year: In North Carolina, competitive swimmers pay a $165 registration fee, plus $181 a month after that, for a total of about $2,000 a year.

NESA scholarship recipients: Where did they end up going to college?

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Where are some of the brightest young Eagle Scouts attending college?

At world-class institutes of learning like BYU, UC Berkeley, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cornell, Yale and many more across the country — and around the world. (I’m looking at you, Eagle Scout who’s attending Franklin University Switzerland!)

As college-bound Eagle Scouts fill out their NESA scholarship applications before the Oct. 31 deadline, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at where some past recipients went to college.

An analysis of National Eagle Scout Association scholarship recipients — never before released to the public — reveals where these high-achievers are pursuing their higher education.

Thanks to NESA’s Jeff Laughlin, I’ve got the breakdown of 2017 and 2016 recipients below. You can see if any NESA scholarship recipients attend your alma mater, as well as check out which schools have more than one recipient in attendance.

Which schools can boast the most NESA scholarship recipients over the past two years? Here are the top three, whose campuses are conveniently pictured above from left to right:

  • Brigham Young University, 11 recipients
  • University of California, Berkeley, 9 recipients
  • The Ohio State University, 8 recipients
What are NESA scholarships?

Eagle Scout scholarships are a big part of the National Eagle Scout Association’s mission. For the current scholarship window, NESA plans to award at least 150 scholarships with amounts ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 per recipient.

Eagle Scouts have until Oct. 31, 2017, to apply for the latest round of cash for college. Learn more here, and don’t delay.

While college-bound Eagle Scouts rush off to finish those scholarship applications, the rest of us can look at where recent recipients have chosen to use those funds.

2017 recipients by college/university

The list includes 142 recipients. Eagle Scouts who chose to defer the use of their scholarship funds for one or more years aren’t included in the list.

  • Brigham Young University (6)
  • University of California, Berkeley (4)
  • University of Notre Dame (4)
  • Yale University (4)
  • Binghamton University (3)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (3)
  • The Ohio State University (3)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (3)
  • University of Illinois (3)
  • University of Texas at Austin (3)
  • Auburn University (2)
  • Boston College (2)
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (2)
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology (2)
  • North Carolina State University (2)
  • Northeastern University (2)
  • Purdue University (2)
  • Stony Brook University (2)
  • Truman State University (2)
  • University of Cincinnati (2)
  • University of Florida (2)
  • University of Kentucky (2)
  • University of North Carolina (2)
  • University of Pennsylvania (2)
  • University of Virginia (2)
  • University of Washington (2)
  • Utah State University (2)
  • Washington University in St. Louis (2)
  • Williams College (2)
  • Arizona State University (1)
  • California Institute of Technology (1)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (1)
  • College of William and Mary (1)
  • Cornell University (1)
  • Davidson College (1)
  • Drexel University (1)
  • East Stroudsburg University (1)
  • Fordham University – Rose Hill (1)
  • George Fox University (1)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (1)
  • Grove City College (1)
  • Hamline University (1)
  • Harvard University (1)
  • Hofstra University (1)
  • Johns Hopkins University (1)
  • Judson University (1)
  • Kansas State University (1)
  • Loyola University Chicago (1)
  • Michigan Technological University (1)
  • Middlebury College (1)
  • Mississippi State University (1)
  • Montana State University (1)
  • NC State University (1)
  • Northwestern University (1)
  • Ohio University (1)
  • Olivet Nazarene University (1)
  • Penn State University (1)
  • Presbyterian College (1)
  • Princeton University (1)
  • Providence College (1)
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1)
  • Rice University (1)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (1)
  • Rockhurst University (1)
  • Rutgers University (1)
  • Simpson College (1)
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (1)
  • Stanford University (1)
  • Stevens Institute of Technology (1)
  • Tennessee Technological University (1)
  • Trinity College (1)
  • Trinity University (1)
  • Troy University (1)
  • University of Alabama (1)
  • University of Arizona (1)
  • University of California, Davis (1)
  • University of California, Irvine (1)
  • University of California, San Diego (1)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara (1)
  • University of Cincinnati (1)
  • University of Connecticut (1)
  • University of Georgia (1)
  • University of Iowa (1)
  • University of Maryland (1)
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst (1)
  • University of Nevada Las Vegas (1)
  • University of North Texas (1)
  • University of Pittsburgh (1)
  • University of Southern California (1)
  • University of Utah (1)
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison (1)
  • Vanderbilt University (1)
  • Virginia Tech (1)
  • Washburn University (1)
  • Weber State University (1)
  • Wichita State University (1)
  • Willamette University (1)
2016 recipients by college/university

The list includes 140 recipients. Eagle Scouts who chose to defer the use of their scholarship funds for one or more years aren’t included in the list.

  • Brigham Young University (5)
  • The Ohio State University (5)
  • University of California, Berkeley (5)
  • Cornell University (4)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (4)
  • Michigan Technological University (3)
  • Southern Methodist University (3)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (3)
  • University of Pittsburgh (3)
  • Colorado School of Mines (2)
  • Columbia College Chicago (2)
  • Columbia University (2)
  • Georgetown University (2)
  • Harvard University (2)
  • Kansas State University (2)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2)
  • North Carolina State University (2)
  • Northeastern University (2)
  • Princeton University (2)
  • Purdue University (2)
  • Texas A&M University (2)
  • University of Georgia (2)
  • University of Kansas (2)
  • University of Maryland College Park (2)
  • University of Southern California (2)
  • University of Texas at Austin (2)
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison (2)
  • Washington University in St. Louis (2)
  • Arizona State University (1)
  • Augustana College (1)
  • Boston College (1)
  • Bowling Green State University (1)
  • Brown University (1)
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1)
  • Colgate University (1)
  • College of William and Mary (1)
  • Duke University (1)
  • Elizabethtown College (1)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (1)
  • Florida Atlantic University (1)
  • Florida College (1)
  • Fordham University (1)
  • Franklin University Switzerland (1)
  • Harvey Mudd College (1)
  • Indiana University – Bloomington (1)
  • Kennesaw State University (1)
  • LaSalle University (1)
  • Lehigh University (1)
  • Louisiana Tech University (1)
  • Loyola Marymount (1)
  • Marquette University (1)
  • Michigan State University (1)
  • Mississippi State University (1)
  • Missouri State University (1)
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (1)
  • Murray State University (1)
  • Penn State University (1)
  • Penn State University – Hazleton (1)
  • Pepperdine University (1)
  • Regis University (1)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (1)
  • Rutgers University (1)
  • St. Louis University (1)
  • Stanford University (1)
  • SUNY Geneseo (1)
  • The College of Wooster (1)
  • The George Washington University (1)
  • The University of Richmond (1)
  • The University of Texas at Dallas (1)
  • The University of Virginia (1)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (1)
  • University of California, Irvine (1)
  • University of California, San Diego (1)
  • University of Colorado, Boulder (1)
  • University of Connecticut (1)
  • University of Louisville (1)
  • University of Massachusetts – Amherst (1)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1)
  • University of North Dakota (1)
  • University of Notre Dame (1)
  • University of Oklahoma (1)
  • University of Oregon (1)
  • University of Pennsylvania (1)
  • University of Portland (1)
  • University of South Carolina (1)
  • University of St. Andrews (1)
  • University of St. Thomas (1)
  • University of Utah (1)
  • University of Virginia (1)
  • Utah State University (1)
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (1)
  • Virginia Tech (1)
  • Wake Forest University (1)

Hurricane Maria: An update on members of our BSA family in Puerto Rico

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Members of the Boy Scouts of America living in Puerto Rico — including nearly 11,000 members across 300 Scout units — have been severely impacted by Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 20.

The damaged Guajataca Dam, at risk of failing completely, is of particular concern to Scouts and Scouters there. Beneath that dam — directly in the path of the water — sits the popular Guajataka Scout Reservation. If the dam fails, this beloved BSA camp could be completely wiped out.

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was drenched with feet of rain and battered with 150 mph winds. It could be months before power is fully restored for Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents and even longer before everyone has clean drinking water.

While we keep all of our fellow Americans living in Puerto Rico in our minds, many in the Scouting community have asked how the Concilio de Puerto Rico de los Boy Scouts of America — or Puerto Rico Council, BSA — fared in the storm.

Information is limited, but we have heard from Maria Molinelli, the council’s Scout executive. She has been sending updates to a number of Scout officials, including John Mosby, director of the Northeast Region, of which Puerto Rico is a member.

Left: The BSA council office in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Right: Guajataka Scout Reservation. Both photos are from well before Hurricane Maria hit. What we know so far

Thankfully, Molinelli says BSA staffers at the council office in Puerto Rico are physically OK. Emotionally, the storm has left them frazzled.

The council office in Guaynabo, just south of the capital of San Juan, was damaged in the storm. There’s physical and water damage, and both air conditioning units were lost. Power is still off, and cell service is poor.

As was the case immediately after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, it is too soon to understand the full impact of Hurricane Maria on our Scouting brethren.

Of dire concern at the moment is the beautiful Guajataka Scout Reservation, which sits right in the path of water from the failing dam. This Scout camp is where Scouts get some of their first exposure to the Scouting movement and where Scouters built lifelong memories at a Wood Badge course I blogged about in 2013.

Once more is known about the situation in Puerto Rico, including specific information on what the council needs in terms of financial support or volunteer labor, I will share it here.

Rob Hofmann, Area 2 Director in the Southern Region, has been coordinating all relief for hurricane disasters. He has been quite busy this year and will pass along updates as he can.

What you can do right now

The BSA has established an Emergency Assistance Fund to help our Scouting brothers and sisters in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and beyond. You can contribute to that fund here.

The BSA has also created this special disaster relief page that outlines all the ways you can help. It will be updated as more information becomes available.

Outdoor ethics guide, a troop-level position of responsibility, gets its own handbook

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The outdoor ethics guide, a troop-level position of responsibility for youth that in January 2016 replaced the position of Leave No Trace trainer, now has its very own handbook.

The Outdoor Ethics Guide Handbook is available now as a free PDF download. Offering the resource as a free PDF means the document can be updated regularly as BSA partners like the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and Tread Lightly! revise their messaging.

While it’s primarily aimed at the young person who will serve as outdoor ethics guide, there are sections written for the adult leader serving as outdoor ethics guide advisor.

A team of volunteers created the handbook. It includes a list of rank requirements and merit badges the outdoor ethics guide can help fellow Scouts earn, tips for planning outdoor adventures that minimize impact on the outdoors, and printable worksheets, duty rosters and planning guides.

What is the outdoor ethics guide?

Essentially, the outdoor ethics guide is the primary role model on how to behave outdoors.

The outdoor ethics guide, shortened here to OEG, will help others make choices that reduce impacts on our natural world.

The OEG challenges his troop to:

  • Minimize what impacts you can.
  • Avoid those you cannot.
  • Preserve the quality of outdoor resources and recreational experience.

The OEG works with younger Scouts to help introduce them to the concepts of the Outdoor Code, principles of Leave No Trace and the ideals of Tread Lightly!

Think of the OEG as an outdoors coach. Think of the Outdoor Ethics Guide Handbook as a playbook listing all the right moves.

What are some examples of what an OEG might do?

Before the trip:

  • Help plan outings in a way that minimizes impacts.
  • Help the troop understand rules and regulations at a particular outdoor spot.
  • Ensure the troop has the right equipment to leave minimal impact.

During the trip:

  • Make adjustments on the fly — things like encouraging the troop to stay on the trail or set up tents in the proper place.
  • At the end of each day, discuss what the troop did right and what might be improved.
Can Venturing crews have an OEG?

Yes! Venturing crews can assign the responsibility of outdoor ethics guide to a member, but it is not a leadership position.

Can a troop have more than one OEG?

Yes! From the Outdoor Ethics Guide Handbook:

A troop can choose to have several outdoor ethics guides and assign portions of the responsibilities to each. As an example, a troop might choose to have an older Scout attend the Leave No Trace trainer course and focus on high-adventure planning

Does the OEG count toward rank advancement?

Yes! The outdoor ethics guide is one of the positions of responsibility that counts toward Star, Life and Eagle Scout rank advancement.

Scouts who serve in this role for at least four months as a First Class Scout can count that service toward the Star rank. The time requirement increases to a minimum of six months as a Star Scout for Life and at least six months as a Life Scout for Eagle.

Is there any training required to be an OEG?

No. That said, the person in the position should read the Outdoor Ethics Guide Handbook. Leave No Trace and/or Tread Lightly! Training courses are still encouraged as well.

For additional help or to locate a training course, contact your council outdoor ethics advocate. You can find council contacts listed here.

What’s in the Outdoor Ethics Guide Handbook?

The 25-page document includes:

  • An explanation of the outdoor ethics guide’s role.
  • A list of rank requirements the outdoor ethics guide can help fellow Scouts earn.
  • Outdoor program planning tips.
  • A list of functions of the outdoor ethics guide advisor.
  • A self-evaluation for the outdoor ethics guide.
  • An explanation of the Teaching EDGE method.
  • A fillable duty roster for delegating Leave No Trace responsibilities.
  • A Leave No Trace troop assessment form.
  • A fillable planning guide with a Leave No Trace focus.
  • A conservation project checklist.
  • A list of websites to learn more.
What happened to the position of Leave No Trace trainer?

Leave No Trace trainer was a youth position in the troop. In January 2016, it was replaced by the OEG. The Scout in this now-defunct role brought the message of Leave No Trace to all Scouts in the troop.

BSA volunteers felt it was time to expand the position to include more than just Leave No Trace.

The new role encompasses Leave No Trace, the Outdoor Code and Tread Lightly!

Law Merit Badge Day in South Carolina raises bar for others across country

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The verdict is in, and the Law Merit Badge Day in South Carolina is one of the best around.

Ninety Boy Scouts have registered to attend this Saturday’s event, presented by the Indian Waters Council. It’ll be held inside the new building of the University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia.

Nearly a third of the Boy Scouts participating are considered at-risk, meaning the council is offering this activity at no cost to their families. For these Scouts, the event could be a path to a better life — and, if they choose, a law career.

The Law Merit Badge Day counselors include some heavy hitters in the state, like the governor, a state senator, the attorney general of South Carolina, a U.S. district judge and more.

Scouts will participate in a mock trial. They’ll discuss legal matters with high-ranking officials. During lunch, they can explore the Law Enforcement Midway, where a number of local and state agencies will have vehicles and equipment on display.

When the event ends at 4:30 p.m., Scouts will walk away with the Law merit badge. At No. 83 of 137 in merit badge popularity last year, Law is one of the BSA’s lesser-earned merit badges.

But Scouts will walk away with more than a completed blue card. They’ll leave knowing whether a career in the lucrative field of law is for them — long before they spend tens of thousands of dollars on student loans.

What the volunteers and BSA professionals have planned for this weekend isn’t specific to South Carolina. This model is easily replicable in any council whose borders encompass a courthouse, law school or legal practice. In other words, it’s replicable in every single council in the country.

A call for volunteers

If you do happen to live near Columbia, S.C., and are free on Saturday, the council could use your help. You can join as a morning greeter to welcome Scouts to the event. Or you can stay and help present the Law merit badge to each Scout at the afternoon closing ceremony.

If this interests you, email

Photo perfectly captures a Cub Scout’s aspirations to become an Eagle Scout

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Not all Cub Scouts attend Eagle Scout courts of honor, but maybe more should.

You may agree with that sentiment when you hear the story of Robert.

Robert is a Cub Scout in Tennessee. His Pack 82 meets at the same place as Troop 82 — Harrison United Methodist Church in Harrison, Tenn.

After a recent Eagle Scout court of honor there, Robert was spotted looking at the troop’s Eagle Scout plaque. He was studying it intently, looking for names he recognized. Perhaps he was picturing his own name up there some day.

The keynote speaker at the court of honor had referenced that plaque in his speech. He said that there are no astronauts on the Troop 82 Eagle Scout plaque. No professional athletes or movie stars, either.

But like others of its kind, this Eagle plaque is full of inspiring men who have become great fathers, husbands and leaders. Becoming an Eagle Scout helped them get there.

Robert was in the crowd, hanging on every word. After the ceremony, Robert was getting in his parents’ car to leave when he asked to go back inside and read the names on the plaque.

Because of close multigenerational ties between the church and its pack and troop, several names on the plaque had meaning to the young man.

“His mom snapped this pic,” writes Kevin Martin, who sent me the photo. “The Cub looking up at the Eagle plaque aspirationally, with the Eagle program on the table, makes for a moving image. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.”

Sea Scouts director receives major award for efforts to promote safer boating in BSA

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National Sea Scouts Director Keith Christopher this month received a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

The award, presented Sept. 11, 2017, in Rapid City, S.D., honors Christopher’s work to promote recreational boating safety within the Boy Scouts of America’s programs and beyond.

Charles Wurster, National Sea Scout Commodore, calls the award a great honor for a great man.

“Keith Christopher has advanced the cause of safe boating nationwide by his participation and leadership in a number of organizations dedicated to that purpose,” Wurster says. “In his role as National Director of Sea Scouts, BSA, he represents Sea Scouts and the entire Boy Scouts of America organization while striving to bring safe boating and sailing adventures to youth throughout the the country.”

Christopher, who has announced his plans to retire next year, wears many hats within the Boy Scouts of America.

He began his 43-year professional career with the BSA as a district executive in Charlotte, N.C. A string of promotions took him to BSA councils in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. In 2005, he joined the BSA’s National Service Center in Irving, Texas.

The past two years, I’ve been lucky enough to join Christopher on the annual Report to the Nation trip to Washington, D.C. Christopher leads a delegation of Scouts, Venturers and Explorers as they share news of Scouting success with high-ranking leaders in Washington.

In addition to about a million other responsibilities within the BSA movement, Christopher is the aquatics and boating representative for the BSA, which means he speaks for us on a number of national boards and advisory councils. The goal is to use the latest research and industry feedback to make the BSA’s boating and aquatics programs as safe as they can be.

An Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Christopher is married with three children, including a daughter and two Eagle Scout sons. He has seven grandchildren.

Congrats, Keith!

Why you should thank this Eagle Scout every time you take a selfie

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The latest iPhones and Androids are millimeters thick but contain cameras capable of capturing magazine-quality photos.

It wouldn’t be possible without Eagle Scout Eric Fossum.

In 1992, Fossum developed the little sensor that allowed cameras to be smaller, cheaper and gentler on battery life. Technically, it’s called the complementary metal oxide semiconductor image sensor, but most people just call it the CMOS image sensor.

Well, most people don’t even know that Fossum’s sensor is there. They just know their smartphone, webcam or other small device with a camera takes photos better than the ones giant cameras could take decades ago.

Fossum developed the CMOS sensor while working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

“We were trying to improve the performance of cameras in space as well as make them more resistance [sic] to radiation,” he told Time magazine.

Fossum figured the sensor would have applications beyond deep space, but he told Time that he has been surprised by all of the modern uses for the sensor — “from selfies taken by smartphones to pill cameras that can look inside your small intestine.”

Earlier this year, Fossum was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize, a British award that honors groundbreaking innovations in engineering. He told Time that he hopes his story and his award will encourage young people, like Scouts, to pursue education and careers in STEM fields like engineering.

“In school, children are often taught to get the right answer, but in engineering and invention you don’t often get the right answer at the right time,” Fossum told Time. “It took us several years to get CMOS right, and that was just in the research lab. … You have to repeat and try again. It’s really important for students and teachers to learn and understand that lesson.”

It started in Scouting

At age 14, Fossum received Scouting’s highest honor. He became an Eagle Scout on May 9, 1973, as a member of Troop 94 of Simsbury, Conn., part of the Connecticut Rivers Council.

After high school, Fossum got a bachelor’s degree in physics and engineering from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. He followed that with a doctorate in engineering from Yale University.

Fossum taught at Columbia University in the electrical engineering department from 1984 to 1990. He then joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, leading the image sensor department.

Fossum invented the CMOS active pixel sensor camera-on-a-chip technology while at NASA and led its transfer of the technology to U.S. industry.

He co-founded Photobit Corp. in 1995 to commercialize the technology. In late 2001, Micron Technology Inc. acquired Photobit. After that, Fossum held a number of roles with various technology companies before joining Dartmouth in 2010.

These days, he’s a professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., where he teaches, performs research on the Quanta Image Sensor, and directs the school’s Ph.D. Innovation Program.

Did I mention he holds 160 U.S. patents and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame?

So, yeah. He’s an engineering rockstar.

Distinguished Eagle Scout

Fossum became a Distinguished Eagle Scout on Aug. 18, 2017.

The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award recognizes Eagle Scouts who earned Eagle at least 25 years ago and have received national-level recognition or fame within their field.

The Maine-based Pine Tree Council presented the award.

Jack O’Toole, an Eagle Scout and Pine Tree Council board member, send me the news of Fossum’s latest award.

“Eric Fossum has been an amazingly successful scientist and a great person,” O’Toole said. “I think that he would be an inspiring example to Scouts.”

Found! Cub Scout uniform that washed ashore after Hurricane Irma belongs to this officer in U.S. Navy

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Pat Gegg during his senior year football season with his grandma.

Pat Gegg thought he had lost everything when Hurricane Irma took his cottage on Ponte Vedra Beach, southeast of Jacksonville, Fla.

Especially painful was the loss of a Rubbermaid tub containing a number of irreplaceable Scouting items. There was his merit badge sash and Order of the Arrow sash. His dad’s Boy Scout uniform shirt from the 1950s. His own Cub Scout uniform shirt.

“There were so many things I wasn’t ready to part with in that small Rubbermaid,” Gegg told me by phone today.

Miraculously, there’s a silver lining here. The Cub Scout shirt, thought to have been lost forever to the Atlantic Ocean, has been found. It’s now on its way back to Gegg.

A Bryan on Scouting reader identified the shirt and contacted me to share the good news. Here’s how it went down.

A lightbulb moment

Gegg, who grew up in St. Joseph, Ill., is now stationed in Jacksonville where he’s a commander in the U.S. Navy. After the storm, Gegg was lamenting the loss of his family’s beach cottage with a fellow active-duty officer in the U.S. Navy, Matt Pottenburgh.

“We were talking in the office,” Pottenburgh said. “The very first thing he said to me was, ‘I lost my Boy Scout merit badge sash.’”

On Thursday, Pottenburgh, a volunteer Scout leader with two Eagle Scout sons and one First Class Scout, read my blog post about the uniform that had washed ashore in Jacksonville.

A lightbulb flared. The shirt belonged to an Illinois Cub Scout. Gegg hadn’t mentioned a missing Cub Scout shirt to Pottenburgh, but Pottenburgh knew Gegg was a Cub Scout in Illinois. Could the shirt belong to his friend?

Pottenburgh immediately called Gegg and showed him the blog post.

“Once I saw the Arrowhead Council and I saw the Parvuli Dei [Catholic religious emblem], I said, ‘that’s mine,’” Gegg said.

Pottenburgh was elated.

“He said, ‘that’s my Cub Scout shirt,’” Pottenburgh said. “It’s only one item of a bunch that he lost, but he’s in tears right now. He is blown away.”

“I would have the exact same sentiment,” Pottenburgh continued. “You can’t replace that stuff, so the fact that this guy found it, it’s an incredible story.”

A silver lining

Gegg said he and his wife are still in shock after losing so many priceless items. But getting his Cub Scout uniform back will be a big step in the healing process.

“Finding something like that is really special for us,” he said. “I’m so grateful that you posted the blog, and people responded, and eventually it’s going to reach me.”

Nikki Presley and her Eagle Scout husband, Dustin, found the uniform while helping clean storm debris from a beach in Jacksonville. Next up, the Presleys will make sure that Gegg gets this priceless piece of his past back in his hands.

Nikki Presley told me by email that she’s been interviewed by a Chicago TV station about her find. But she’s not looking for fame. She’s only happy to have found the uniform’s owner.

“Thank you for putting all this out there!” she said.

Is this your Cub Scout uniform that washed ashore after Hurricane Irma?

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Nikki Presley and her husband, Dustin, were walking on the beach in Jacksonville, Fla., less than a week after Hurricane Irma had passed through.

They were picking up debris — doing their part to help with the clean-up efforts — when Dustin abruptly stopped.

“We were just walking, picking up debris, and he spotted the Progress Toward Ranks beads,” Nikki told me by phone. “And he said, ‘I know what that is.'”

Those beads, Dustin knew, had to be part of a Cub Scout uniform. Sure enough, when he brushed away the sand, that’s just what he saw.

“We picked it up, and he said, ‘this is a Cub Scout uniform,'” Nikki said.

Of course, it’s no surprise Dustin knew what it was. Dustin is an Eagle Scout.

The odds of an Eagle Scout finding a Cub Scout uniform that washed ashore after a hurricane? About like the odds of finding a specific grain of sand on a beach.

Tracking down the uniform’s owner

Once they realized what they had found, the investigation began.

Nikki and Dustin saw the council shoulder patch on the left sleeve. It read “Arrowhead Council, Illinois.” Below that, they could see the shirt belonged to a member of Pack 121.

They quickly realized that the Arrowhead Council no longer exists. In 1991, the Arrowhead and Piankeshaw councils merged to form the Prairielands Council, headquartered in Champaign, Ill.

(Important note: Though the Arrowhead Council didn’t exist after 1991, the owner of the uniform might not have bothered to update his council shoulder patch. In other words, this uniform might have been actively worn after 1991.)

Nikki and Dustin started with a 21st-century approach to finding the uniform’s owner. They shared the photo on Twitter, hoping the power of social media would help them return this lost treasure.

Hey @boyscouts , we were picking up debris on the beach after #hurricaneirma2017 and found this. Any way to return it to its owner?

— n i k k i (@nehpresley) September 17, 2017

They haven’t had any success so far.

Kate Jacobs, marketing and communications director at the Pathway to Adventure Council, spotted the post on Twitter and sent the idea to the BSA’s National Service Center.

Clues so far

Updating this based on your comments!

  • Based on the color scheme of the Honor Unit patch on the right sleeve, the uniform might be from 1985. (Thanks, Brian Wolfe!)
  • The medal is a Catholic religious emblem. (Thanks, Melissa!)
  • The owner is likely about 42 or 43 years old. (Thanks, Nahila Nakne!)
One uniform, infinite possibilities

It’s impossible to look at this misplaced uniform and not daydream a little bit about my own time in a Cub Scout uniform. I had so many great memories in a blue shirt just like this one. (OK, mine had short sleeves, but still.) I remember holding up the letters in “CUBS” at the pack blue and gold banquet, running around the gym at the elementary school after a monthly meeting, and racing the Pinewood Derby car I had built with my dad.

You can read stories about the uniform that washed ashore in Florida just by looking at it.

We know its wearer was part of an honor unit. We know he earned a religious emblem. We know he worked his way through each of Cub Scouting’s ranks — Bobcat, Wolf, Bear and Webelos — and earned the requisite gold and silver arrow points along the way. (The arrow points are no longer used — giving moms and dads one less tiny thing to sew!)

But even more tantalizing is what we don’t know about this uniform.

What inspired its owner to make his way from Illinois to Florida? Perhaps he fell in love with Florida’s warm weather and salty air on a trek at the BSA’s Florida Sea Base. Maybe he moved southeast for work but brought with him a blue-and-gold memento from childhood. Or maybe he stayed in Illinois but sent the uniform to a grandson or nephew in Florida, hoping to inspire a future-generation Cub Scout to experience what Scouting has to offer.

Scouting can take your life in a million directions, and there are an equal number of stories this uniform could tell. What’s your guess? And what stories does your Cub Scout uniform hold?

What to do if you recognize this uniform

Does this uniform look familiar? If you recognize this pack number or uniform, please email me.

Nikki and Dustin are eager to do a big Good Turn for the uniform’s owner.

Me? I’m eager to find out just how a potentially decades-old uniform from a council more than 1,000 miles away in Illinois ended up on a beach in Florida.

Pledge to never, ever use your phone while driving, because #ItCanWait

Bryan On Scouting -

It makes no sense.

The latest research says 95 percent of us disapprove of distracted driving. And yet 71 percent of us still use our phones while behind the wheel.

These days, it’s not just texting that’s the problem. Now our phones bleep and buzz every minute with the latest 50-percent-off deal, score update and friend request.

Each notification distracts the driver. Each distraction could be deadly.

It’s time for something to change. It’s time for #ItCanWait.

Scouters, parents, and driving-age Scouts and Venturers should take the #ItCanWait pledge today. By committing to go phones down, eyes up, you’re making the road a safer place for everyone.

AT&T has a wealth of resources about the #ItCanWait pledge, which you can use to share this message with your Boy Scout troop, Venturing crew or Explorer post.

The #ItCanWait pledge

By taking the #ItCanWait pledge, you’re committing to Care, Share and Be Aware:

  • I pledge to Care for those around me and put my phone down when I’m driving.
  • I pledge to Share the message: distracted driving is never OK.
  • I pledge to Be Aware that I’m never alone on the road.

Distracted-driving statistics

Walking on the sidewalks near my office, I see far too many people using their phones while driving. It seems like every other car has someone with one hand on the wheel and two eyes on the phone.

Unfortunately, my anecdotal evidence is backed by real numbers.

Here’s what a new study, commissioned by AT&T, shows:

  • Seven in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving.
  • 62 percent of people keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.
  • Nearly four in 10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost three in 10 surf the net, and one in 10 video chat.
  • Facebook tops the social platform list, with more than a quarter of those polled saying they use the app while driving. About one in seven said they’re on Twitter behind the wheel.

Resources for you

Speaking of the Traffic Safety merit badge, the resources section has been updated with a link to AT&T’s #ItCanWait campaign.

A simple activity to try at your next meeting

Don’t just tell young people about the ways a phone can distract them from other tasks. Show them.

You’ll need three balloons for every two or three Scouts or Venturers.

  1. Ask the Scouts to begin texting with a friend, scrolling through their news feed or watching a video on their phone.
  2. Once they’ve started, tell them to keep the three balloons in the air.
  3. Have them do this for about a minute — keeping the balloons afloat while still paying attention to their phone.
  4. Once everyone has a turn, have an older Scout or Venturer lead a discussion about doing something when distracted by your phone. What made it difficult? Did they feel like they could do an adequate job keeping the balloons in the air? How did the activity make them feel about distracted driving?
Ways Scouts can get involved
  • Plan a service project that promotes distracted driving awareness.
  • Create an It Can Wait contract for their parents to sign — and make them promise that
    they won’t use their phone while they’re driving.
  • Host an event to raise awareness about distracted driving.
  • Decorate signs that say “Distracted driving is never OK. It Can Wait.”
Ways adults can get involved
  • Change your email signature on your phone to encourage others to wait to respond: “Sent from my phone. This email was not sent while driving. Distracted driving is never OK. It Can Wait.”
  • Be an advocate at your office. Work with your company’s HR to raise awareness about It Can Wait and encourage safe driving.
  • Add an It Can Wait sticker to the back of your phone case to remind you distracted driving is never OK.
  • Download the AT&T DriveMode app, which makes it easier to drive without distractions. Or, if you’ve upgraded your iPhone to iOS 11, use the new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature.


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