Scouting News from the Internet

Lion pilot program for kindergarteners off to a roaring start, with exciting changes coming for 2017-2018

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“It’s fun, hands-on and active.” “It’s simple and easy to implement.” “It’s age-appropriate, builds character and develops new skills.”

That’s just a glimpse of what parents and youth across the country are saying about Lions, the BSA’s pilot program for kindergarten-age boys.

Lions answers the call for fun, character-building after-school adventures for boys 5 or 6 years old or in kindergarten. Lions begins its second season as a nationwide pilot program in the 2017-2018 Scouting year.

Pilot is the operative word here. It means this program is evolving based on feedback from parents and BSA professionals. Based on that feedback, as well as surveys and focus groups, the BSA has some changes to announce for this fall.

I’ll share those changes a little later in the post. First, let’s take a quick look at what people are saying about Lions so far.

What did families think of Lions in 2016-2017?

Lion Guides, parents, and youth agreed that the program content was enjoyable, effective and engaging.

“Overall, the Lion program was a big hit with our pack,” one survey respondent wrote. “In my opinion, this is the best idea the BSA has come up with, next to allowing girls to join Venturing.”

Many said they got the training and support from council and district volunteers to help make their Lion experience a success.

Other highlights from the survey:

  • 61 percent of Lion parents indicated they have no other child in Scouting. This means Lions is both recruiting new families to Scouting as well as serving siblings of existing Scouts.
  • 90 percent of parents said they liked the uniform T-shirt, shared-leadership model, age-appropriate activities, youth Adventure book and immediate recognition stickers. They’re also pleased with the meeting duration, frequency and content. They said the Leader Guidebook was simple and easy to follow and that the Adventures were engaging for the boys.
  • 91 percent of parents say their Lion will be moving to Tigers. This is probably the best indicator of all that the pilot program is success.

What’s new in Lions for 2017-2018?
  • Pack meetings and activities will be open to Lion families who want to participate. Lion families said they wanted more pack involvement, and now they have the option of being included in program, skits, and more.
  • Pinewood Derby open to Lions. Packs have three recommended options for implementing this:
    1. Integrate into the pack Derby with other Cub Scouts.
    2. Use the wedge car from the Scout Shop to eliminate cutting.
    3. Have Lions participate in a Veggie Car Derby, where potatoes and cucumbers replace wood blocks.
  • Fundraising will be allowed as a family option. Although they don’t want mandatory levels of funds to raise, Lion families indicated they do want to have the option to raise funds. Spring fundraising is encouraged. If popcorn is sold by Lions, a show-and-sell approach where older boys and parents are also present is preferred. Door-to-door selling would only be appropriate if the parent is by the youth’s side.
  • Uniform T-shirt won’t change, but families can buy button-down if they want. Parents and boys love the required Lion T-shirt and optional cap. But this change allows families to buy official blue Cub Scout button-down shirts and blue pants as desired for special occasions and pack ceremonies.
  • A Lion-specific page in Boys’ Life. Parents can use this great resource to help unlock the world of reading for their child.

Find tons of great Lion content on this site.

Winning formula: Eagle Scout wins world championship in Microsoft Excel

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On the list of unlikely global competitions for teenagers, this one sits on Row 1 of Column A: a Microsoft Excel world championship.

But sure enough, it’s a thing. Each year, students from around the world compete to see who has the sweetest spreadsheet skills.

This year, for the first time ever, an American won the Excel trophy at the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship in Anaheim, Calif.

And it wasn’t just any American.

It was Eagle Scout John Dumoulin of Troop 1390 from Woodbridge, Va.

Prepared for the pressure

John, a 17-year-old rising senior, became an Eagle Scout in March 2015, conquering the tough list of requirements completed by the 6 percent of Scouts who earn Scouting’s highest honor.

Two years later, to win the Excel championship, John had to best 560,000 candidates from 122 countries who had entered the competition. At the finals in Anaheim, John and 150 others were given 50 minutes to re-create completed spreadsheets.

John told me that Scouting helped him Be Prepared for that kind of pressure.

“Scouting has given me the mentality that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to, no matter how challenging the feat may be,” he said. “This helped me in the competition.”

Excelling at an early age

John started getting into Excel in middle school, where he loved tracking baseball stats using the software. When he got to Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, John channeled that hobby into something that will serve him well in a future career. Through the school he earned several Microsoft certifications, including one for Excel.

At first, John’s passion for a seemingly mundane program bewildered his friends. But they quickly understood.

“Being a baseball player, my friends were confused when I told them I was competing in an Excel competition, but after I told them what it was they were really supportive and proud of me,” John says.

Surely their support will grow further once they learn of John’s prize for winning the world title: a $7,000 scholarship, a big trophy and an Xbox.

Scouting spreadsheets

John used his skills to help his troop, too. He created a troop calendar in Excel and used it when tracking his progress toward merit badges like Family Life and Personal Fitness.

Of course, John’s hobbies and Scouting experience extend beyond the borders of his laptop screen.

His Eagle project was entirely analog: he preserved trees at a park in Lake Ridge, Va.

“They had an issue with beavers damaging the trees and creating debris on the walkways,” John said. “My volunteers wrapped wire fencing around trees to help preserve them for the park, and we finished with an area cleanup.”

John’s favorite Scouting memories — so far — include learning to ski with his troop, whitewater rafting and his Eagle Scout ceremony.

“Scouting has taught me to strive for excellence and go for high achievement in everything I do,” John said. “I’m glad to bring the Microsoft competition into the world of Scouting and hope for the growth of technology and STEM work in Boy Scouts continues.”

Does the National Jamboree count toward a National Outdoor Award?

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The National Outdoor Awards, which debuted in 2010, are how the BSA recognizes Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts or Venturers who demonstrate knowledge and experience in high-level outdoor activities.

Young people can earn badges in one or more of these six areas: Camping, Aquatics, Conservation, Hiking, Riding and Adventure.

Once earned, the patch and segments can be worn in the temporary patch position — on the right pocket.

Go here for the full list of requirements for each of the six National Outdoor Awards.

Now that you’re up to speed on the basics, let’s discuss one very specific detail.

Question from a Scouter

A Scouter named Tony emailed me with this question:

Hi Bryan,

Thank you very much for running your column. It is my go-to place to begin looking for a Scouting-related question.

Also, I hope that the Jamboree was as fun for you as it looked to me as an offsite observer.

Anyway, the question that I anticipate will be: Does attendance and participation at the 2017 National Jamboree meet requirement 3G of the National Outdoor Award for Adventure? That requirement says: “Attend any national high-adventure base or any nationally recognized local high-adventure or specialty-adventure program.”

Yours in Scouting,

Tony

Thanks for the question, Tony. For the answer, I went to Rob Kolb, outdoor programs specialist at the BSA’s National Service Center.

Does the National Jamboree count toward the National Outdoor Award?

Yes, attendance at the Jamboree can count toward requirement 3G of the National Outdoor Award for Adventure. The requirement states that Scouts or Venturers must “attend any national high-adventure base or any nationally recognized local high-adventure or specialty-adventure program.” The Jamboree qualifies.

Bottom line: The Adventure segment of the National Outdoor Awards asks Scouts or Venturers to complete 10 adventure activities. The Jamboree can count as one of those 10.

If a Scout or Venturer is lucky enough to attend two or more Jamborees — perhaps the 2017 National Jamboree and 2019 World Scout Jamboree — he or she may count both toward the 10. That’s confirmed by this sentence in the Adventure award requirements: “Items 3a–g may be repeated as desired.”

BSA photo by Al Drago.

The history of Scouting and s’mores

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The Girl Scouts are widely credited with inventing the concept of sandwiching a fire-roasted marshmallow between graham crackers and chocolate and calling it a s’more.

So before we go any further, let me just say one thing on behalf of the millions of Boy Scouts and Venturers who have enjoyed these campfire treats over the past nine decades: Thanks, Girl Scouts!

But did you know that the tradition of Scouts browning marshmallows (or blackening them, if you’re weird and prefer them burnt) over a fire began well before s’mores blazed onto the scene in 1927?

It’s true.

In The Official Handbook for Boys, the first Scout handbook published in 1911, Scouts are introduced to the deliciousness of toasting marshmallows. Perfectly preparing a marshmallow is, of course, the first and most important step in making s’mores.

Campfire Marshmallows finds its customer

By putting marshmallow roasting in the Scout handbook, the BSA was essentially recommending the practice to boys all over the country.

The company that made Campfire Marshmallows, introduced in 1917, saw a natural customer base.

They started buying ads like the one below, seen in the June 1920 issue of Boys’ Life. The ad reminds Scouts that they’ll “want delicious toasted marshmallows” at summer camp again this year.

Later ads told Scouts to carry marshmallows as snacks on hikes because they’re “high in food value, pure and wholesome” or to pack them as a “healthful” lunch.

Marshmallows always catching fire? Try this

In later years, Boys’ Life started publishing s’mores hacks. This was well before “hack” became a word for a simple tip that makes your life easier.

In BL‘s February 1986 issue, reader Kevin Gerber of Austin, Minn., shared his method for keeping the outside of marshmallows from burning while roasting them.

“The answer is simple,” Kevin wrote. “Just dip the marshmallow in water before holding it over the flame.”

Another s’mores hack, published in the December 2009 BL, came from Jarod Spencer of Troy, Ill.:

“Instead of using graham crackers and chocolate when making s’mores, use fudge-striped cookies,” Jarod wrote. “Your s’more will be easier to handle, and you won’t drop your chocolate on the ground.”

There’s s’more where that came from. (Sorry.)

BL published this list of 10 Tasty S’mores Variations, including one I have to try: Ritz Crackers S’mores, where the salty Ritz replaces the graham cracker.

Enjoying s’mores safely

And finally, just because nobody wants a flaming marshmallow burning off their eyebrows, please take a second to read these BSA tips for enjoying s’mores safely.

Who invented ga-ga ball? Someone might have solved the mystery for good

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It has become the unofficial sport of Scouting.

It’s ga-ga ball, a friendlier form of dodgeball played in an octagonal pit. And it has swept through the Scouting movement.

Almost every Scout camp has its own ga-ga pit; you’ll see Scouts and Venturers gathered around these enclosures until the last bit of daylight is gone. Same story at the 2013 and 2017 Jamborees, where the Summit Bechtel Reserve’s permanent, high-quality ga-ga pits were constantly full.

The Boys’ Life Eagle Project Showcase has tracked at least four Eagle Scouts whose service projects involved building ga-ga pits at their local schools or parks, ensuring future generations of kids get hooked on ga-ga, too.

So who invented ga-ga ball?

For a while, it was rumored that the game started in the Israeli Defense Forces, but that turned out to be a tall tale.

In truth, the game was probably invented in 1975 by a 17-year-old camp counselor named Steven Steinberg.

A new article posted this month by the online magazine Tablet has the story.

Makeshift walls

Steinberg was a counselor at a Jewish Community Center camp in the Baltimore area in the summer of 1975. His unenviable task: watching over a group of 6-year-old boys.

The boys liked to bounce a ball around, but it kept rolling down a hill. So Steinberg got some benches and laid them on their sides, surrounding the play area. The makeshift walls kept the ball in play.

He developed a form of dodgeball where the boys could hit the ball with their hands and eliminate opponents by hitting them below the knee.

This form of dodgeball was much safer for 6-year-olds, with the rules ensuring that nobody would take a shot to the nose. Plus, the below-the-knee rule — still in place today — kept the ball from escaping the pit as frequently.

What about the name?

The article mentions that Steinberg, in a moment of frustration, “told his campers that they ‘all look like a bunch of babies’ — at which point some of the kids began chanting ‘goo-goo, ga-ga,’ which soon became the name of the game.

“When Steinberg had to fit the name on a written activity schedule, it was shortened to ‘ga-ga.'”

The years since

Seventeen years later, in 1992, Steinberg brought his then-8-year-old son back to orientation at the same camp. A staffer told the pair to go check out the ga-ga courts.

That’s when it hit Steinberg: the game he invented in 1975 had stuck.

From the Tablet article:

Steinberg’s story is backed up by an article in the Baltimore Jewish Times in July of 1992, long before the game became the mini-industry that it is today. Steinberg, now a 61-year-old grandfather and a reflexologist in Owings Mills, Md., says he has never made any effort to trademark or monetize the game.

Some unsourced reports say ga-ga ball has been around since the 1950s — even if it wasn’t first called that. Steinberg’s response: “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come up with a game like this.” But he’s sure the name “ga-ga” was his creation.

Be sure to read the full story over at the Tablet website.

Ga-ga and Boy Scouts

My first exposure to ga-ga ball was at the 2013 Jamboree, where I chose the far-too-obvious headline “Scouts go ga-ga for the Israeli version of dodgeball” for my blog post.

This is what I love about jamborees. You hear all about rock climbing, zip-lining, and skateboarding going in, but nobody mentions ga-ga. It’s just another jamboree surprise awaiting Scouts and Venturers around each turn.

I’ll bet most of the Scouts in the octagon yesterday didn’t intend to come over and play ga-ga, but now just try to keep them away.

Since then, ga-ga has really taken off in the Scouting community.

Still, I could find no official record on how long Scouts have been playing ga-ga ball. So let me ask you this: When did you or your Scouts first try ga-ga? Leave a comment below.

Photo by Kevin Shaw. Thanks to Baltimore Scouter J.D. Urbach for the tip.

The Cub Scout Six Essentials: A half-dozen items to pack on every campout or hike

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A big part of Cub Scouts involves introducing boys to the fun and adventure of spending time outdoors. And if you’re going to spend time outdoors, you’re going to want the right gear.

The Cub Scout Six Essentials, learned as part of the Wolf Rank, is a list of a half-dozen items every Cub Scout should carry when going on hikes or campouts.

Cub Scout leaders explain the Six Essentials as part of the Wolf required adventure “Call of the Wild.”

Later, when a Cub Scout enters Boy Scouting, he’ll learn about the Scout Basic Essentials, unofficially known as the Ten Essentials.

Whether he’s a Wolf packing six must-have items or a Tenderfoot packing 10, the purpose is the same: ensuring young people have the tools they need before heading out the door.

What are the Cub Scout Six Essentials?

These are items every Cub Scout should carry in his personal gear when going on hikes or campouts

  1. First-aid kit: adhesive bandages, moleskin, gauze, antibiotic ointment, etc.
  2. Water bottle: filled and large enough to last until it can be filled again
  3. Flashlight: for emergency use only
  4. Trail food: can be made as a den activity prior to hike or campout
  5. Sun protection: sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater and a hat
  6. Whistle: also for emergency use only

When should a Cub Scout carry these items?

On any hike or campout with the den or pack. By encouraging Cub Scouts to pack and carry their own personal gear items, you’re preparing them for Boy Scouts.

How should a Cub Scout carry these items?

For convenience — and to make sure no item gets lost — each Cub Scout should carry his Six Essentials in a small fanny pack or backpack.

Cub Scout leaders should emphasize that these are tools, not toys, and should be used only when needed.

How can adults help Cub Scouts prepare and pack?

Den leaders should bring a sample set of the Six Essentials to a den meeting before the pack’s/den’s big hike or campout.

Adults should explain the importance of each item and what qualities a Cub Scout should look for in each.

For example, you might outline the difference between a flashlight and headlamp, discuss what items go into a first-aid kit, and talk about what goes into a healthy trail snack.

The Boy Scout Ten Essentials

Known as the Scout Basic Essentials in the newest (13th) edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (pages 238-239), the Boy Scout Ten Essentials are as follows.

Items in bold are on both the Boy Scout Ten Essentials list and the Cub Scout Six Essentials list.

  1. Pocketknife
  2. Rain gear
  3. Trail food
  4. Flashlight
  5. Extra clothing
  6. First-aid kit
  7. Sun protection
  8. Map and compass
  9. Matches and fire starters
  10. Water bottle

Eagle Scouts can apply for these scholarships until Oct. 31, 2017

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College isn’t cheap, but for more than 150 worthy Eagle Scouts, it’s about to get a lot more affordable.

The National Eagle Scout Association will award nearly $700,000 in scholarships to Eagle Scouts based on their academic performance, Scouting background, college plans and financial need.

The window for the latest round of National Eagle Scout Association scholarships opened Aug. 1, 2017. It will close for good on Oct. 31, 2017. Scholarship recipients will be notified by mail on July 15, 2018, and money will be disbursed to these deserving Eagle Scouts in fall 2018.

The scholarships are highly competitive. Less than 3 percent of the 5,000 expected applicants will receive a scholarship.

But if you are an Eagle Scout between your senior year of high school and junior year of college, you’ll want to apply and give yourself a chance at earning some cash for college.

Read on for more details, and be sure to consult this list of FAQs if you still have questions.

How much does NESA award?

In the 2016-2017 scholarship window, NESA awarded $690,000 to 154 recipients.

That’s a slight increase from the 2015-2016 window, where NESA awarded 150 scholarships worth a total of $670,000.

For the current (2017-2018) window, NESA plans to award at least 150 scholarships with amounts ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 per recipient.

What are the requirements?

You must be a National Eagle Scout Association member to receive a scholarship. However, you can apply for a NESA scholarship before you apply for a NESA membership.

Academic scholarship applicants must apply during their senior year in high school unless the Eagle Scout board of review was held after Oct. 31, 2017. In those cases, the applicant must apply during the Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, 2018, scholarship cycle, even if he is already attending college.

Academic scholarship applicants must have a minimum 1800 SAT (or 1290 if taken after March 2016), or 28 ACT score to apply. A “super score” may be used to meet this requirement.

Eagle Scouts may apply for NESA merit scholarships beginning in their senior year of high school and may continue applying every year until their junior year in college.

Applicants may receive a NESA scholarship one time only.

In the past, NESA scholarships were available only to Scouts attending four-year universities. Now Scouts attending vocational trade schools and other approved programs may apply. NESA scholarships are not payable to any of the U.S. military academies.

How does an Eagle Scout apply?

All NESA scholarship applications must be submitted online. Paper copies from previous years are out of date and will not be accepted.

Applications must be submitted at this site.

In depth: Academic scholarships
  • Academic scholarships are based on school and Scouting participation, academic performance and financial need.
  • Applicants must apply during their senior year in high school unless the Eagle Scout board of review is held after Oct. 31, 2017. In those cases, the applicant must apply between Aug. 1, 2018, and Oct. 31, 2018, even if he is already attending college.
  • Eagle Scouts may apply for an academic scholarship one time only and must apply during the time frame defined above.
  • All academic scholarship applicants must have a minimum 1800 SAT (or 1290 if taken after March 2016), or 28 ACT score to apply. A “super score” may be used to meet this requirement.
  • All applicants must be members of the National Eagle Scout Association to receive a scholarship.
  • Types of academic scholarships:
    • Cooke scholarships ($2,500 to $48,000): Awarded based on school and Scouting participation, academic performance, and financial need. Applicants must meet the minimum SAT or ACT score to apply.
    • NESA STEM scholarship ($50,000): Awarded to one applicant annually who has chosen to pursue a career in a STEM-related field. Applicants for the STEM scholarship who are not selected will automatically be considered for a Cooke scholarship worth $2,500 to $48,000 each.
In depth: Merit scholarships
  • Merit scholarships are awarded based on school and Scouting participation and community service.
  • Eagle Scouts may apply for the NESA merit scholarships beginning in their senior year of high school and may continue applying every year up through their junior year in college.
  • Applicants may win a NESA scholarship one time only. Previous NESA scholarship winners are not eligible to apply again.
  • Types of merit scholarships:
    • Hall/McElwain scholarships ($5,000): Awarded based on school and Scouting participation and community service.
    • Robert and Rebecca Palmer scholarships ($2,500): Awarded based on school and Scouting participation and community service.
    • Bailey merit scholarships ($2,000 to $4,000): Awarded based on school and Scouting participation and community service.
    • Michael S. Malone/Windrush Publishing Journalism scholarship ($2,500): Awarded to one Scout who plans to pursue a degree in journalism.
Learn more

NESA has posted this list of helpful FAQs. Good luck!

Other scholarships for Eagle Scouts

Be sure to consider these scholarships:

2017 National Outdoor Conference: An insider’s guide to the outdoors

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Scouting’s programs and values are best delivered outdoors. It’s been that way since the worldwide youth movement was just a twinkle in Baden-Powell’s eye.

But things have changed since Baden-Powell invented the program that became the Boy Scouts of America. Each year brings new outdoor programs, new outdoor gear and new ways of maximizing time spent outside.

How does a BSA volunteer or professional keep up with those latest trends? By attending the 2017 National Outdoor Conference.

The four-day conference, held in late September at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, gives volunteers and professionals the tools they need to maximize Scouting’s impact on young people.

The information you’ll bring home will empower you for years to come. The fact that you’ll acquire that information at one of the BSA’s signature spots? That’s just icing on the pineapple upside-down cake.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2017 National Outdoor Conference. Be sure to register by Aug. 31 to avoid the $50 late registration fee.

What is the National Outdoor Conference?

It’s Scouting’s largest gathering of volunteers and professionals charged with delivering the world’s greatest outdoor program for youth. It’s four days of elective sessions, outstanding keynote speakers, outdoor vendor exhibits, clean mountain air, backcountry excursions, special program opportunities, great music and fellowship with Scouting’s top outdoor leaders. You’ll join fellow Scouters and outdoor enthusiasts from across the country to learn new methods, share ideas, and check out the latest in outdoor gear and programs.

When is it?

Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, 2017.

Onsite registration opens at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27. There’s a barbecue and opening session that evening.

Sessions take place all day Thursday and Friday, as well as Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon is spent enjoying backcountry activities at Philmont.

Everyone leaves after breakfast on Sunday.

Where is it?

Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M.

Who should attend?

Anyone involved in outdoor program delivery at the national, regional, area, council, district and/or unit level.

That means Scout executives, directors of support services, program directors, rangers, camp directors, council presidents, and council program vice-presidents. Anyone who chairs a committee on council and district camping, conservation, aquatics, COPE/climbing, or shooting sports should also plan to be there, as should properties chairpersons and other volunteers or professionals responsible for delivery of outdoor programs.

What will participants do?

For a complete look, check out the official conference brochure (PDF). There are separate tracks — or “trails” — on different aspects of outdoor programming:

  • Enterprise risk management
  • Facility management
  • Human resources
  • Management and administration
  • Marketing and promotions
  • National council
  • Program administration

On Saturday afternoon, participants get to kick back and enjoy their choice of Philmont adventures, including:

  • Backcountry tours
  • Climbing
  • Fly-fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Shooting sports
How much does it cost?

There are three different costs for attendees, and they depend on where you’d like to sleep. You can choose from a roofed dorm/duplex, a large wall tent with a cot or offsite housing in town.

Conference fee plus roofed housing at Philmont: $350

  • Includes four nights lodging in a dormitory or duplex with up to four people per room, meals, conference gift, and supplies. Sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels are provided.

Conference fee plus tent housing at Philmont: $275

  • Includes four nights lodging in a large two-person wall tent with electricity and camp-style bed and mattress plus meals, conference gift, and supplies. Sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels are available. Modern shower houses are located nearby. You may also bring your own sleeping bag.

Conference fee with no housing (meaning you’re staying offsite at your own expense): $250

  • Includes all meals, conference gift, and supplies. Visit this website for lodging options in Cimarron.

Note: A late fee of $50 will be added in each category for those registering after Aug. 31, 2017. A $100 cancellation fee will apply if conference reservations are cancelled after Sept. 15, 2017.

 

Turn it up: 2017 Jamboree-on-the-Air, Jamboree-on-the-Internet dates set

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For this October’s Jamboree, you don’t need to travel by plane, train or bus to join the fun.

All you really need is a ham radio or a connection to the internet.

This Oct. 20 to 22, Scouts from down the street, across the country and around the world will gather for the annual Jamboree-on-the-Air and Jamboree-on-the-Internet.

The two events, held concurrently the third full weekend of October, use amateur radio and Internet-connected devices to unite Scouts from all over the Earth.

And I do mean all over the Earth. The 2016 Jamboree-on-the-Air had nearly 1.3 million Scout participants from more than 30,000 locations and reached 156 different countries.

Will your Scouts or Venturers be a part of the fun — and earn the patch to prove it? Here’s what you need to know.

Requirements completed

In addition to being incredibly fun, JOTA and JOTI count toward Scouting requirements:

2017 Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA)

What: Annual Scouting event that uses amateur radio to link Scouts around the world, across the country and in your own community.

When: Third full weekend of October (this year it’s Oct. 20-22, 2017). There are no official hours, so you have the whole weekend to make JOTA contacts. The event officially starts Friday evening during the JOTA Jump Start and runs through Sunday evening.

Who: Scouts and Venturers of any age, plus their families.

How: Once at the ham radio station, the communication typically requires speaking into a microphone and listening on the station speakers. However, many forms of specialized communication can also take place, such as video communication, digital communication using typed words on the computer screen transmitted by radio, communication through a satellite relay or an earth-based relay (called a repeater), and many others.

Where to find help: Contact your local council. They may already have an event set up that your Scouts can attend. Otherwise, find a local American Radio Relay League club here.

Learn more: Get resources, quick-start guides, patch order forms and lots more at the JOTA website.

Just for fun: Check out this archive of JOTA patches through the years.

2017 Jamboree-on-the-Internet (JOTI)

What: JOTA’s younger brother, JOTI is an annual Scouting event that uses the Internet and the numerous devices that are used to get online — laptops, iPads and more — to link Scouts from around the world. In 2016, JOTI had more than 47,000 Scouts and leaders registered in the worldwide JOTI database.

When: JOTI begins at 00:00 hours local time on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, and will end at 24:00 hours local time on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017.

Who: Scouts and Venturers of any age, plus their families.

How: Scouts can participate at home with the help of an adult (remember two-deep leadership!), or they can participate in a Scout group at a councilwide event. JOTI is an economical way of communicating with people from other corners of the globe. The event allows Scouts to “meet” other Scouts from around the world through the Internet and share more information than just “hi.”

Where to find help: Contact your local council. They may already have an event set up that your Scouts can attend.

Learn more: Get resources, quick-start guides, patch order forms and lots more at the JOTI website.

Just for fun: Check out this archive of JOTI patches through the years.

 

All-female Venturing crew heads to Sea Base St. Thomas for trip of a lifetime

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It was the kind of once-in-a-lifetime trip you’ll only find in Scouting.

Five Venturers from Crew 999 of Plano, Texas, spent a week in the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this summer.

The five young women, joined by three female adult leaders, sailed to beautiful beaches where they hiked, swam, snorkeled and toured historic sites.

As the week progressed, the young women coalesced into a tight-knit team, coexisting in the tight quarters of their ship, named the Classy Lady.

“I believe my favorite part of the trip was the fellowship around the boat,” said Venturer Taylor Nobles. “I loved the way we got to bond not only with just the Scouts but the moms as well.”

An adventure to remember

The trip was one of many Caribbean adventures offered by the Florida Sea Base, one of the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases. Officially called the Sea Base St. Thomas Adventure, the trip is a seven-day, six-night journey around the islands of St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It’s a ton of fun, but it’s no pleasure cruise. Scouts and Venturers who participate in a Sea Base program are expected to work — same as any Scout camp. That means they prepare meals, clean the boat, watch the anchor 24/7 and do whatever else is required to keep the boat in ship shape.

Here’s a day-by-day look at the trip:

  • Day 1: The young women arrived in St. Thomas, grabbed lunch at a local burger place, and met their captain, Nathan, and first mate, Paula. They boarded the boat and left for their first stop: Christmas Cove. It’s there the crew members completed their swim test. Crew leader Callie Nunan then assigned crew duties for the week and outlined the crew’s goals, which included earning a religious emblem and the Snorkeling BSA award.
  • Day 2: Crew 999 sailed to Honeymoon Beach for swimming and snorkeling. Captain Nathan and First Mate Paula showed the crew how to search for lobster and crab along the shore. They spent the night moored in Virgin Islands National Park.
  • Day 3: The crew sailed to Waterlemon Cay and hiked the Leinster Bay trail to the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation. Charles, a National Park Service volunteer, gave the group samples of sugar cane, mango and coconut and told them about the history of the sugar mill and how it operated in the 1700s and 1800s. Day 3’s sail to Round Bay was the longest and most exciting of the trip. With crew member Madison Doran at the wheel, the Classy Lady reached 6.9 knots.
  • Day 4: At Hurricane Hole, the young women snorkeled among mangrove trees. They then sailed to Salt Pond Bay, a scenic white-sand beach. There they hiked to an eco-resort for ice cream and cold soft drinks. The afternoon was spent swimming, snorkeling and hiking the mile-long Ram’s Head Trail.
  • Day 5: Next was Reef Bay, where the crew hiked the 2.7-mile L’Esperance Trail. After that morning hike, they sailed for Cruz Bay, St. John’s main town.
  • Day 6: After some morning snorkeling in Christmas Cove, the young women got pizza from a place called Pizza Pi. You’ve heard of food trucks, but this was a food boat, serving piping hot pizza from a floating kitchen. The crew members cleaned the Classy Lady that afternoon before dinner at a restaurant overlooking Sapphire Bay.

‘A+. Would sail again.’

The trip got positive reviews from each member of Crew 999.

Callie Nunan, the trip’s youth leader, enjoyed it all — swimming, sailing and exploring the shoreline hunting for crabs and lobster. She also loved meeting Charles, the park volunteer.

“It was great to talk to him because he was an island native so he knew much more about the place than anyone else there,” she said.

Beth Kokal liked how the trip combined so many activities into one epic week.

“We got to experience the islands of St. Thomas and St. John is a way that very few people ever get to do,” she said.

Madison Doran agreed, saying the Sea Base program “exposed me and my crewmates to opportunities we never would’ve had.”

For Laura Worthen, the trip offered a chance to get to know the other young women in her crew.

“We got to learn all about each other through sailing, snorkeling and getting only slightly lost while hiking,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”

Taylor Nobles felt the same way, saying the five young women are forever linked by this experience.

“Being able to experience the beauty of the islands created a special connection between us all that we will never forget,” she said.

What they’d do differently

Crew 999’s trip went off without a hitch — mostly. The young women said they’d bring the following items if they ever went back.

  • Small dry bags to carry gear when swimming from the boat to shore during excursions.
  • Swim goggles for the same swim to shore — easier for swims where bulky snorkeling equipment isn’t wanted or required.
  • Neoprene socks to wear on the boat, where shoes aren’t allowed.

This is how BSA members can participate in the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at SBR

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The U.S. contingent logo for the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.

The 2017 National Jamboree has ended, and the countdown to the 2019 World Scout Jamboree has begun.

The 24th World Scout Jamboree will be held at the BSA’s new permanent Jamboree home: the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. It’s actually co-hosted by three Scout organizations: the Boy Scouts of America, Scouts Canada and Asociación de Scouts de México.

A World Jamboree in our country is a once-in-a-generation event. The 2019 World Scout Jamboree will be the first held in North America in 36 years (1983, Alberta, Canada) and the first held in the United States in 52 years (1967, Idaho).

Some 50,000 Scouts and Scouters from 167 different countries are expected at the event, to be held July 22 to Aug. 2, 2019. They’ll meet people from around the world while enjoying SBR’s world-class adventure offerings.

The promise of the World Scout Jamboree on American soil is encompassed in the U.S. contingent’s motto: “The Boy Scouts of America wants you to come see the world!”

Now that you’re sufficiently hyped up, your next question is probably: Great, how do I become a part of this moment in history?

To find out, I talked to two young, bright members of the U.S. Contingent Management Team: Rachel Eddowes and Todd Christian. Eddowes is the co-contingent leader and Christian is the co-team leader for the contingent’s marketing team.

“We want to let every Scout and Scouter within BSA know about this opportunity and how attainable and accessible the World Jamboree is,” Christian says. “This is your opportunity to get involved with international Scouting.”

Largest U.S. contingent ever

The BSA contingent will include 10,000 people — the largest contingent the BSA has ever sent to a World Jamboree. The total will encompass Scouts/Venturers, adults and staff.

That will break down like this:

  • 7,200 youth participants (ages 14 to 17; see details below) and adult leaders
  • 2,700 members of the International Service Team (the name for staff at the World Jamboree)
  • 100 members of the Contingent Management Team

Even though the BSA’s presence at the World Jamboree will be large, we’ll make up only one out of every five people at the event. That means approximately 80 percent of Jamboree attendees will be from one of more than 160 other countries planning to attend.

“We’re looking forward to everyone who comes to have a global, cultural experience,” Eddowes says.”Scouting is a worldwide movement; the program is slightly different in each country based on their history, cultures and customs, but we are all united through the world brotherhood of Scouting.”

Registration will open in August 2017.

How to be a youth participant or adult leader

Max number: 7,200 participants in 180 units. Each 40-person unit will have four adult leaders and 36 youth.

Youth eligibility: Ages 14 to 17 by the first day of the Jamboree. This date is set by the World Scout Jamboree hosts, not the U.S. contingent leadership. That means your birthday has to fall between July 22, 2001, and July 21, 2005. (Born before July 22, 2001? Try to attend as an adult or IST member.)

Adult eligibility: Like for National Jamborees, prospective World Scout Jamboree leaders will fill out an application. Approval and a final decision will from the U.S. contingent leadership.

Cost: To be announced, but will be similar to the cost of attending a National Scout Jamboree at SBR. The World Scout Jamboree cost will include transportation, and, to keep costs down, there will be no pre- or post-Jamboree tour.

What youth will do: Cook, camp and participate in the Jamboree program with your troop or crew. That plus meet people from around the world, participate in high-adventure programs and have a true cultural experience.

What adult leaders will do: Facilitate troop and crew travel, ensure the health and safety of Jamboree participants, and help the youth make the most of their experience.

How to register: Keep an eye on the U.S. contingent website, especially beginning in August 2017.

Quotable: “The energy is different once you step beyond your national organization,” Christian says. “The aura, the energy that they’ll experience at the World Jamboree is unlike anything else. Everyone is united, despite their language, religion, and culture, thanks to the similarities we share through Scouting.”

How to be an IST (staff) member

Max number: 2,700

Eligibility: Must be at least 18 by the first day of the World Scout Jamboree: July 22, 2019.

Cost: To be announced.

What you’ll do: As a member of the International Service Team, you’ll work alongside Scouts and Scouters from around the world. Most jobs will be similar to the jobs available at a BSA National Scout Jamboree.

How to register: Keep an eye on the U.S. contingent website. You’ll apply through the U.S. contingent and be approved by the BSA. After that, the World Scout Jamboree host team — separate from the U.S. contingent team — will make the final staffing position decisions.

Quotables: “There’s not one thing anybody can do that’ll be a golden ticket in,” Christian says. “We’re trying to equalize the playing field for everyone, participants and staff alike.”

How to stay connected

Want the latest news about the U.S. contingent for the World Scout Jamboree? Follow @wsj2019usa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. See the contingent’s website for more information.

BSA photos by Jeff Hattrick (first three photos) and James G Parker.

2017 National Jamboree closes with tunes, a bang — and a message to take home

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Maybe it was the culmination of 10 days spent having the time of their lives and forming lifelong friendships.

Maybe it was the inspirational message from an Eagle Scout survivalist who told Scouts and Venturers to do what they love — not just what pays the most money.

Or perhaps it was the rocking musical guest or breathtaking fireworks and laser show.

Whatever did the trick, one thing is clear: the 2017 National Jamboree closing show was a sensational success. The Thursday night Farewell Show left everyone energized for future Scouting adventures.

Photo by Kevin Shaw New best friends

What a difference less than a week makes. The opening show on Saturday night, featuring musical guest X Ambassadors and motivational speaker Inky Johnson, was executed excellently.

The Scouts and Venturers had an awesome time, but many had met only days before. By Thursday, with another five Jamboree days under their green web belts, the Scouts seemed to have grown closer together.

During the pre-show, the crowd sang together — “Don’t Stop Believing” was especially popular — and put their arms around each other, swaying in rhythm with the music.

Clearly these young people have bonded over the week, no doubt experiencing all four stages of team development without even knowing it: forming, storming, norming, performing.

Photo by Megan Donaldson Rules for life

Eagle Scout, reality TV host and survival expert Creek Stewart, whom I’ve covered on this blog before, was the night’s motivational speaker.

He told the Scouts and Venturers that all of his life’s success started with the Wilderness Survival merit badge.

“The Boy Scouts have been with me and my story since the absolute very beginning,” he said.

He encouraged the young people to do what they love — even if it doesn’t pay the most money. He then discussed these tips:

  • Some people will think you’re crazy, but push forward anyway.
  • What makes you feel most alive probably has something to do with your passion.
  • Bring your Boy Scout pocketknife with you to college.
  • Do things other people are not willing to do.
  • Leave no trace in the woods, but leave a big trace in the world.
  • A Scout is not perfect but should strive for perfection.
  • Never forget your roots in Scouting.

Creek’s new show, SOS: How to Survive, begins next month on the Weather Channel.

Photo by Christopher Golden Music you can sing to

It was the Jamboree’s best-kept secret. All week Scouts and Venturers had been speculating about the identity of Thursday night’s mystery musical guest. I tried multiple times to get someone to give me the scoop, but nobody was talking.

Finally, the rock band Plain White T’s was announced, and the crowd took their feet for a rocking, eight-song show.

We learned that the band’s drummer, De’Mar Hamilton, was a Boy Scout and that lead singer Tom Higgenson “always wanted to be a Boy Scout.”

The band saved its most famous song, “Hey There Delilah,” for the encore.

"Hey There Delilah" at #2017Jambo. @plainwhitets pic.twitter.com/Cm1pxccnsr

— Bryan on Scouting (@bryanonscouting) July 28, 2017

Photo by David Burke A surprise in the skies

A closing show isn’t a closing show without some fireworks, and this year’s display outdid any I’ve seen before.

Set to a playlist of patriotic songs and fast-paced pop hits, the show included lasers, as well as fireworks launched from two separate locations. At one point in the grand finale there must have been at least 50 fireworks going off simultaneously.

Scouts and Venturers walked back to their campsites smiling — and with plenty of stories to tell their family and friends when they get home.

Photo by James G Parker

Chess merit badge tent making all the right moves at 2017 Jamboree

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You might think little Chess merit badge would get lost amid action-packed Jamboree activities like mountain biking, shotgun shooting and zip lining.

But then you climb the hill to the Chess merit badge tent and see the truth.

The main tent — plus a second, larger tent beside it — is full. At each of the more than a dozen tables, Scouts sit across from one another in intense concentration. They scratch their heads and stroke their chins as they contemplate the right play.

The high traffic comes as no surprise to the man in charge of the Chess MB tent: Bob Greer, a volunteer from the Allohak Council of West Virginia and Ohio.

His tent was packed in 2013, too, which was the first Jamboree after the merit badge’s 2011 debut. He says even more Scouts have stopped by in 2017.

The tent features daily chess tournaments, open play and, of course, the opportunity to work on the merit badge.

And because chess requires two players, it’s a social gathering place as well.

“You have to play face to face,” Greer says. “You shake hands before you start, and you don’t have to know anything about the other person.”

That makes chess an international game, too.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from China or Russia or the United States,” he says. “Chess is a universal language. The moves are all written the same way.”

Critical thinking

Greer’s love of chess long predates the creation of a Chess merit badge. He remembers playing chess at Scout camp 40 years ago, formulating moves by lantern light until curfew.

Like a lot of chess players his age, Greer was attracted to the game by the success of Bobby Fischer, the American who became one of the greatest chess players who ever lived.

Today, many Scouts have never heard of Fischer, but they still love the game. And it’s good for them, too.

“Chess helps youth with decision making, concentration and critical thinking,” he says. “We have learned as a society that those things are important to professions in engineering, medicine and more.”

Not bored with the board

On the list of most popular elective merit badges — that is, those that are not required for Eagle — Chess ranks ninth. It’s right behind Kayaking and Canoeing merit badges.

But despite its popularity, some Scouts have trouble finding a Chess merit badge counselor back home. The Jamboree gives them access to one of the best. (Greer, an attorney, moonlights as a certified chess tournament director.)

Justin Sorrell, 15, is a Life Scout in Jamboree Troop 4122A in the Gulf Stream Council of Florida.

He couldn’t find a Chess counselor back home. So when he saw the Chess merit badge tent at the Jamboree, he made a move directly toward it.

“I just enjoy playing it,” he says. “It challenges your brain and helps you think and react more.”

Justin’s opponent during my visit is Stone Yoder, 14, a Star Scout in Jamboree Troop 2443 in the Pathway to Adventure Council of Illinois.

Justin and Stone didn’t know each other before today. They met over the chess board.

“I really like strategy games, and this game makes your brain work,” Stone says. “It’s something you have to think out.”

 

 

BSA tries a whole new (app-enabled) recipe for Jamboree meals, and it’s a success

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This is what you call mixing things up.

At the 2017 National Jamboree, the Jamboree Food Team puts the power back in Scouts’ and Venturers’ hands, introducing a completely new approach to meal planning.

Previous Jamborees used a fixed menu with preselected ingredients that troops picked up before each meal. For 2017, the Jamboree moves to a grocery store system where Scouts and Venturers can select a recipe, build a shopping list and check out — all through an innovative new app.

“We wanted to give Scouts more choices than they had at previous Jamborees. It was always a set menu. You would go to your base camp food tent, you’d get a bin full of the ingredients, bring it back and cook,” says Ken Reiter, a volunteer whose efforts were instrumental in making this new plan work. “Part of this was to allow the Scouts to have some choices.”

Shopping with points

Here’s how it works: Instead of money, Jamboree troops use points to buy groceries from a Costco-style store within their subcamps. Inside these large, white tents are shelves of staples like bread, ketchup and breakfast cereal. Each item has a point value: 5 points for a bottle of mustard, 25 points for a big box of Nutri-Grain bars, 20 points for a giant jar of marinara sauce.

Troops get an allotment of 2,017 points per day. (Wonder where they came up with that number …) This must cover all the food they’ll need for dinner, as well as breakfast and lunch the next day.

With a fixed amount of points that cannot be replenished until the next day, Scouts must create and stick to a budget. If they spend all their points on Oreos or Powerade mix, that’s what they’ll eat and drink for the next 24 hours. (Though the snack bars still take old-fashioned cash and credit cards.)

“It is something that helps to give them a real-life experience,” Reiter says. “You have a limited amount of resources — in this case it’s points instead of money. It helps to teach them some real-world life lessons.”

Just a tap away

How do Scouts and Venturers keep track of recipes, shopping lists and their troop’s remaining point balance? Through an app, of course.

Reiter, a volunteer in the Palmetto Council, headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C., spent 18 months developing a custom Jamboree version of an existing app called Swift Shopper.

“All the Scouts have a smartphone,” he says. “If we made this a smartphone app, they would be able to pick up on how to use this very quickly.”

Everything is done through the app. Scouts select a Jamboree-suggested recipe — loaded mac and cheese or Jambo-laya, anyone? — or use available ingredients to create a meal plan from scratch. Their shopping list shows them how many points everything will cost, making budgeting a breeze.

Once at the grocery store, Scouts use their phone’s camera to scan an item’s barcode. This adds it to their virtual cart. Scouts then place their groceries into their physical cart, check out and wheel the haul back to camp to start cooking.

Brendan Short, 14, a First Class Scout from the Circle Ten Council in Dallas, says his troop likes being able to pick its own meals.

“We can ask the troop, ‘do you want burgers or do you want tacos?'” he says. “We can get what we want.”

Thanks to Rick Diles, Jamboree Food Team director, and Greg Winters for their help with this story.

This Pirates of the Carabiner set is probably my favorite 2017 Jamboree patch set

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Is the Blackhawk Area Council’s 2017 National Jamboree patch set absolutely terrific?

Aye, matey.

Inspired by the Johnny Depp-led Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the Northern Illinois-based council’s patches have a pun-worthy theme: Pirates of the Carabiner.

True to their name, the smaller patches connect to the large center patch using — you guessed it — tiny carabiners. The Jamboree shoulder patches themselves are shaped like carabiners, too.

Each patch depicts a pirate doing a different Scouting activity: shotgun shooting, kayaking, archery, skateboarding, zip lining and BMX biking.

Check out the full set.

Becoming ‘a Jamboree hit’

Will Coots helped designed the patches. The 19-year-old from Oregon, Ill., serves as Order of the Arrow Section C-7 Chief. He was 17 at the time of the design.

The goal, Will says, was coming up with something Scouts would be excited to trade.

“I remember Orange County Council’s patch sets traded well the past two Jamborees because they had pins with them,” he says. “Knowing it would take something outside of the box to become a Jamboree hit, I thought of ways we could add an extra dimension to the set.”

A couple of years back, Will was talking to his brother about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise when Will misspoke and said “Pirates of the Carabiner” instead.

“I immediately knew it was the innovative patch set idea I had been looking for,” Will says.

A vision realized

Will worked with his friend Bobby Solberger to come up with a design to present to the council’s Jamboree committee.

“The committee loved our idea, and we immediately saw a vision on how the set could be the theme for the whole contingent,” Will says. “Our council used pirate-themed promotional tools, pirate terms, and even gave red camo boonie hats to the participants that match the theme, too.”

Bobby turned Will’s design, which started on a crumbly piece of notebook paper, into a work of art.

“I could not have done this without him,” Will says.

So how are the patches being received here at the 2017 National Jamboree?

“After talking to a few of the kids in the contingent, I could not help but smile,” Will says. “They all said they were trading really well and were able to get nearly every set they wanted. I was so happy that I was able to help create that happiness.”

The purpose of patches

The value of patches isn’t limited to how much they’re worth in a trade.

Will says patches are an important part of the Jamboree experience.

“Patch trading exemplifies friendliness, helpfulness and kindness, which are all things we stand for as Scouts,” he says. “It gives kids an opportunity to meet people from all over the world, acquire things they desire and make friends that last a lifetime.”

Jamboree trading card craze has Scouts hunting treasure, making new friends

Bryan On Scouting -

Over the past few days, anyone at the Jamboree who even resembles a staff member is getting asked the same question from Scouts they don’t know.

“Do you know anything about the 101st card?”

To the first two groups of Scouts that asked me, I simply said, “Sorry, no clue.”

By the third group, I got curious enough to ask what was going on.

Turns out Jamboree trading cards are all the rage right now. The cards depict famous Eagle Scouts and former Scouts (think Mike Rowe and John F. Kennedy), as well as Scouting founders (think Robert Baden-Powell and Daniel Carter Beard).

There are 100 different cards in circulation, and the goal is to collect all 100. Once a Scout or Venturer gets a complete set, he or she must hunt for the special 101st card, of which just 1,000 were printed. No copies of the 101st card were put into circulation. It must be found … somehow.

“It’s all random clues,” says Joey Ament, 14, a Star Scout from Jamboree Troop 2324 of the Three Harbors Council in Wisconsin. “It’s a wild goose chase, basically.”

A wild goose chase with a sweet reward. Scouts who collect all 101 cards get a free 2017 Jamboree Linerlock knife.

Working with a full deck

When they arrived at the Jamboree, Scouts were given 13 packs of eight cards each. Many of the cards will be duplicates, so Scouts must trade with both troopmates and complete strangers. That’s where the fun begins.

Scouts received the cards at no extra cost and have been trading them one for one. Unlike patch trading, where some Scouts might have come with a dozen sets to trade and others just one or two, each Scout starts the card-collecting process from the same point.

Joey and his troopmate Andrew Grebe, a 14-year-old Life Scout, have collected card Nos. 1 through 100. Now they’ve joined the throng of Scouts on the hunt for the elusive 101st.

“We’ve been asking around,” Joey says. “We found a lot of rumors, like, ‘oh, you have to be really nice to people,’ which you already try to do. It’s just a bunch of random stuff, and we don’t know which one to follow. So we’re just asking a lot of people.”

I’ve heard rumors that a large crowd of Scouts figured out the location of the 101st card on Sunday. There were reports of hundreds of Scouts surrounding a certain high-profile individual.

I won’t spoil the fun and name the person here.

Playing their cards right

Joey’s favorite card is the Rex Tillerson card, “because it took me a while to find that one.”

Andrew likes card No. 99 best. Titled “The Gold Standard,” this one features Baden-Powell, Beard and Ernest Thompson Seton.

Though the goal is that pocketknife, Joey and Andrew say they’ve enjoyed the journey to get there.

“At the beginning, a lot of people in our troop opened them at the same time,” Andrew says. “It was a big rush of everybody trading them, which was fun. I like the fact that you can trade them one for one. There’s no super rarity to each card, besides the 101st. It’s not like patch trading where you might trade a set for two sets. And there’s a goal to it at the end.”

A goal and a chance to make friends.

“It’s a good way to meet people,” Joey says. “It is interesting.”

At JamboLink, keeping Scouts informed at the speed of Snapchat, Instagram and more

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They call themselves the Snapboyz. It’s their mission to cover the 2017 National Jamboree in a uniquely 2017 way: on Snapchat.

Like all the members of JamboLink, the Snapboyz keep participants and staffers in the loop using whatever online channels the Scouts and Venturers prefer. That means separate teams for Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, streaming video and the JamboLink blog.

The medium may change, but the goal’s the same: helping Scouts and Venturers maximize their Jamboree experience.

In the story of JamboLink, you’ll find a lesson we all can use about how to better engage Scouts.

‘Snap-worthy’ moments

Jeremy Dueñas, an 18-year-old from the Greater New York Councils, is chief Snapboy.

His five-member team adds Snaps — photos or videos with funny or insightful captions — to the 2017 National Jamboree Snapchat Story. That Story is a compilation of all the team’s Snaps from the past 24 hours. After that, the Snaps disappear forever.

That ephemeral quality makes Snapchat unique. You’ve gotta be there, in person, to add a Snap to your Story. And you’ve gotta see it before it disappears 24 hours later. Jeremy’s team captures those uniquely Jamboree moments.

“It’s anything that’s Snap-worthy. Anything that happens in that moment,” Jeremy says. “Random moments, interactions, handshakes.”

Ethan Wolfe, 18, from the Patriots’ Path Council in New Jersey, is another Snapboy. He says Snapchat shines because it offers authentic, real-time content.

“We tell a story in the way other media can’t,” Ethan says. “We can connect on the ground with participants.”

‘Earned it!’

JamboLink partnered with Snap Inc. to deploy more than 30 Snapchat filters throughout the Summit. These allow users to add unique overlays to their Snaps.

Most are geofilters, requiring users to be in a specific location within the Jamboree site to use them. There are filters for Base Camps and program areas, as well as filters that say things like “Adventure Awaits,” “Earned it!” and “No Party Like a Scout Party.”

It gets better. On Thursday, Snaps from the Jamboree will be featured nationwide in Snapchat’s “Our Story” area. This is space typically reserved for events like the Oscars or MTV Movie & TV Awards.

This gives the BSA a chance to share Scouting’s story with a huge national audience.

‘Trust and empower’

The Snapboyz are just a small part of the 58-member JamboLink team led by Ed Lynes, a volunteer from New Jersey.

In addition to the social media, email and blogging teams, there’s a team producing “Jamboree Tonight,” the nightly online show for participants and staff.

“The key has been empowering and trusting our young people to use platforms they’re most comfortable with,” Lynes says. “It’s that old thing about Scouting — you trust and empower a kid.”

Some of these young people will use their JamboLink experience to launch a career in marketing or journalism or social media. They’re acquiring skills you can’t learn in school.

“I’m really, really big on making sure these guys feel valued,” Lynes says. “I would hire these kids to work for me.”

‘Yes, yes and yes’

Deep down, regardless of the medium they’re using here, each member at JamboLink is a storyteller.

And there are hundreds of Jamboree stories to tell each day. The JamboLink team is large, but its members can’t be everywhere.

So they’ll triage the stories, using the Slack messaging app to determine what to cover now and what to cover later.

“For every request we get, there’s three answers: yes, yes and yes,” Lynes says. “Yes, we’ll do it the way you want. Yes, but we’ll do it later. Yes, but we’ll do it a different way.”

Maybe something’s isn’t the right fit for an article, for example, but it would make a great Snap or tweet.

‘A sense of accomplishment’

Those Snaps and tweets fall under Nick Hessler’s area. He’s JamboLink’s social media leader.

“A lot of guys on my team are interested in social media — more than tweeting selfies or Instagramming their food,” he says. “We’re giving them experience in covering something in a different way.”

Mitch Leonard is in charge of production, which includes the website, emails and “Jamboree Tonight.”

“It’s awesome to have a 16-year-old see that thousands have seen what he’s done,” he says. “It’s a sense of accomplishment and experience they wouldn’t have gotten in the classroom.”

See this team’s work at the JamboLink website.

Indian Scout motorcycle gets custom BSA look, and that’s not even the best part

Bryan On Scouting -

The crowd wasn’t the only thing roaring at tonight’s 2017 National Jamboree opening show.

Among the night’s highlights was an epic entrance from BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, who rode an Eagle Scout-themed motorcycle onto the stage.

This wasn’t just any motorcycle. It was a one-of-a-kind Indian Scout motorcycle customized to honor the National Eagle Scout Association.

Indian, now a brand of Polaris Industries, has been making top-quality motorcycles since 1901. But they’ve never made one quite like this.

The bike features an eye-catching red, white and blue paint job. BSA and NESA logos flank a hand-airbrushed image of an eagle. The Music City Indian Motorcycle dealership in Nashville, Tenn., helmed by general manager Kameron Austutz, created the rolling work of art.

Don’t look for this artwork in any museum. And don’t look for it in our Chief’s garage — as much as he might want to keep the bike. The customized motorcycle will be auctioned off on Sept. 8 in Dallas. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the NESA World Explorers fund, which sends Eagle Scouts around the world to do meaningful research.

Want this motorcycle to be your motorcycle? You can bid in person, by telephone or online. To learn more about bidding, click here.

And while you wait for Sept. 8, watch this behind-the-scenes video of the customization process.

2017 Jamboree Band, with a modern pop playlist, brings the music to Scouts

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No, your ears are not deceiving you. That’s really “Uptown Funk,” the chart-topping Bruno Mars pop hit, being performed by an 80-member marching band.

Safe to say the 2017 Jamboree Band is not your grandfather’s Jamboree Band.

Tristan Grammar, 16, is a trumpet and French horn player from the Black Warrior Council in Alabama.

“It’s a different change of pace,” he says. “In high school they tell you to be stoic and strict. Here you get up and dance.”

Or even “Shut Up and Dance.” That 2014 rock song from the group Walk the Moon is another of the band’s crowd-pleasing songs.

They also play Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Fall Out Boy’s “Uma Thurman.” They’ve added a dozen vocalists this year to further diversify their skill set.

One of those vocalists is Becca Trumbull, 18, from the Greater Western Reserve Council in Ohio. She also plays xylophone.

Becca is in pretty much every musical group back home — concert band, jazz band, show choir and more — but likes the Jamboree Band’s vibe.

“There’s a formality with concert band,” Becca says. “Here we’re still professional but less formal.”

And, yes, the Jamboree Band can and will play Americana favorites like Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Forming a sound

Each day the band travels around the Jamboree site. They’re bringing music to the Scouts instead of the other way around. The saxophones sway and the baritones bounce as passers-by sing along.

The group sounds amazing — a fact made even more remarkable when you remember most of these young people didn’t know each other a week ago.

The 2017 Jamboree Band, 80 members strong, is made up of youth ages 16 to 25. Almost all of the musicians are members of their high school or college bands. Twenty-nine different states are represented.

Alan Clark, 16, is a clarinet player from the National Capital Area Council in the D.C area. He notes that the band has coalesced in basically the shortest possible amount of time.

“Sunday was our first formal dress rehearsal,” he told me on Thursday. “It’s gone really well considering we’ve come from all across the country. We all had some sort of musical background. We’re all from that band community.”

Lydia Becker from the Mississippi Valley Council. Staying busy

The 2017 Jamboree Band will perform about 25 different times here at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

That total doesn’t count so-called “flash mobs,” where the band shows up unannounced and starts entertaining the crowd. These are a game-changer, says Jamboree Band Director George Pinchock.

“We wanted fewer sit-down ceremonies and traditional concerts,” he says. “More flash mobs. Cameras are out to get photos and video as they pass by.”

Pinchock is a volunteer here, but his “real job” back home is at Villanova, where he’s the assistant band director. Like any good director, he makes tiny adjustments to the performance every day.

“We’re constantly tweaking,” he says. “We’ll be handing music out till the day before we leave.”

BSA photo by Al Drago Wowing the crowds, performing service

Arthur Brock, 18, is a baritone and trombone player from the Blue Ridge Council in South Carolina.

Though he’s been in marching bands for the past five years, the Jamboree Band experience is unlike anything he’s experienced.

“It’s a reaction that I haven’t had anywhere before,” he says. “People say, ‘I enjoyed listening to you from up on the zip line.’ That’s awesome.”

The band isn’t just playing for Scouts at the Jamboree. Today they visited the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville to perform for residents there.

“Playing music is how a band performs service,” Pinchock says.

Photos by David Burke unless otherwise noted.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits 2017 Jamboree for statue unveiling

Bryan On Scouting -

Mike Surbaugh, BSA Chief Scout Executive, praised Secretary Tillerson’s leadership.

Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, Distinguished Eagle Scout and past BSA national president, visited the 2017 National Jamboree on Friday for a statue unveiling in his honor.

BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh told a large crowd of Scouts and Scouters that the statue recognizes Tillerson’s longstanding dedication to the BSA.

“We are truly grateful to have as a friend of Scouting, as a supporter and as a mentor, Secretary Rex Tillerson,” Surbaugh told the crowd.

The event was attended by an impressive lineup of Scouting volunteers and supporters.

Tillerson said he remembers that day in October 2010 when he, then-Gov. Manchin and others turned the first spade of dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.

“It was just a raw piece of land,” Tillerson said. “And now you see what we have.”

Tillerson said he was planning to be a Jamboree volunteer before he was tapped to serve as secretary of state.

“I was going to spend the whole time here either washing dishes or hauling waste or whatever they needed me to do,” he said. “But I was going to have my Jamboree experience. Well, this is my Jamboree experience. I’ll take it.”

‘Values-based servant leader’

Tillerson said he has long tried to help others understand “what it means to be a values-based servant leader,” and he’s tried to live those values himself.

“I know of no other organization in the world that teaches values-based servant leadership except the Boy Scouts of America,” he said. “It’s where I learned mine.”

But there’s a funny thing about leadership skills, he said. You’re never done honing them.

“Whether you’re a young Scout attending your first Jamboree or you’re a Scoutmaster attending your fifth or sixth, you never stop developing as a human being,” he said. “You never stop developing as a leader.”

Tillerson said he’s thought about the 12 points of the Scout Law quite a bit over the years. He asked himself: Can you really condense every quality of an effective leader into just 12 words?

So he’s tried to add words to see if they fit, but he always came back to the 12.

“Everything about living a principled, values-based life and being a principled, values-based leader is in those 12,” he said.

When he finished the speech, Tillerson called his wife, Renda, to the stage. He got emotional as she joined him and put a blue Scout neckerchief around his neck.

‘Leaders with character’

Randall Stephenson, the AT&T CEO who serves as BSA national president, spoke about Tillerson’s long history with the BSA.

He explained that Tillerson is a “living, breathing model” of what kind of person the BSA helps shape.

“What the Boy Scouts do better than any other organization, is they produce what we see here: leaders with character,” Stephenson said. “You see it in every field. You see it in education, you see it in government, you see it in business, science, the arts.”

Later, two Scouts thanked Tillerson for his vision and generosity and presented the secretary with a U.S. flag and a replica of the bronze statue.

BSA photos by Randy Piland

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