Scouting News from the Internet

Steve Cansler, beloved captain who helmed Sea Base’s Bahamas program, dies at 65

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Sea Base Capt. Steve Cansler, who ran the Bahamas-based sailing adventures at the BSA’s Florida Sea Base, died Dec. 24, 2017. He was 65.

During Capt. Steve’s time in the Bahamas, countless Scouts and Venturers arrived with high expectations but little sailing experience. The BSA entrusted Capt. Steve and his wife, Kim, to help these young people feel at home on the water.

Time and again, the couple delivered. Participants plan, train and fundraise for years before arriving at Sea Base. Capt. Steve and Kim helped make it all worthwhile.

“Steve was a man of principle, who had an amazing work ethic, was an astute businessman and a truly wonderful person,” says Paul Beal, who was general manager of Florida Sea Base until his 2016 retirement. “I’m proud to have been on the same team as Steve and Kim.”

The Canslers started at the Bahamas Sea Base in 2007. They operated their boat, “Natures Way,” in the Sea Base fleet until 2012 when they were asked to run the entire Bahamas Sea Base program.

“Steve was a natural and so happy to be working with youth again,” says his wife, Kim Cansler. “He had coached youth sports for 18 years and loved every minute of that. He embraced every crew and remained friends with many of the kids and leaders until now.”

Capt. Steve’s family has chosen to honor his memory with Sea Base scholarship donations in lieu of flowers or other memorials. Anyone who wishes to make a donation in his memory can do so using the instructions at the end of this post. Every penny collected will support youth who might otherwise not get to visit Sea Base.

Passionate, professional

Capt. Steve was passionate about teaching leadership skills to young people through hands-on experiences, says Tim Stanfill, Sea Base’s director of program operations. This passion made Capt. Steve a natural fit for the Bahamas job — first leading Scouts on his boat and later running the program’s day-to-day operations from land.

“He taught life lessons that will live on in the young men and women served at Bahamas Sea Base,” Stanfill says.

Charles George saw this first hand. A Venturing Advisor from the Laurel Highlands Council, George joined a crew of young men and young women for a Bahamas Adventure with Capt. Steve in 2011.

“That was a formative week for all of the crew, as most high adventures are,” George said. “However, Steve helped make every crew feel special, especially the youngest of the group who learned the hard way the she had a full-blown seafood allergy. He and his wife, Capt. Kim, were truly professional, and they were a model couple. Their boat was their home, and they were perfect hosts.”

George said his Venturers learned a lot from Capt. Steve, but one lesson really hit home. Capt. Steve told them to see the boat as a metaphor for life.

“You have map, compass, tools. They help you maintain control over your vessel. But they won’t control it without you,” Capt. Steve told the crew. “Never give up control of your vessel.”

Eyes on the water

Steven Richard Cansler, was born May 30, 1952, in Shawnee, Kan.

At age 28, he married his best friend, Kimberly Jo Cress. Steve was a hairstylist and with his wife owned a salon called Natures Way. For years, the couple thought that name — “Natures Way” — was really better suited for a sailboat than a salon.

Steve and Kim’s dream of owning a sailboat came true soon after they retired in 2003. Steve and Kim became registered maritime captains with the U.S. Coast Guard and started a career as charter boat captains. Naturally, they named their boat “Natures Way.” They operated out of Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas.

In 2007, the BSA partnered with Capt. Steve and Kim to operate “Natures Way” as part of the Sea Base Bahamas program, led by Capt. Joe Maggio. Thousands of young men and young women had the time of their lives sailing around the Bahamas with Capt. Steve guiding them.

When Maggio died unexpectedly in 2012, Beal, the Sea Base general manager at the time, needed someone he could trust to run the Bahamas program.

“There were a lot of people interested, but Steve and Kim stood out head and shoulders above the rest,” Beal says. “We knew them, trusted them implicitly. They believed in the program as much as we did. It was a decision I never looked back on.”

A new chapter on land

In spring of 2012, the couple took over the day-to-day operations of the Bahamas Sea Base.

“Although we missed getting to go out with the kids, Steve did a great job handling all the logistics of the program and working with and training the captains,” Kim Cansler says. “He added great positive changes to the program every year.”

“Positive” is an ideal word to describe Capt. Steve.

Rob Kolb, the Sea Base’s former director of program, says Capt. Steve always greeted arriving Scouts with a smile.

“All Scouts and leaders left their Bahamas adventure with fond memories of Capt. Steve and his wife,” Kolb says.

Stanfill, the current director of program, says his friendship with Capt. Steve went beyond business.

“Obviously the business of Sea Base is important, but Steve always put friendship and family first,” Stanfill says. “He took the time to give me fatherly advice and encourage me to spend more time with my family. I will forever cherish those talks.”

Donate to the Capt. Steve scholarship

Donations may be made in Capt. Steve’s honor; 100 percent of money received will go to help Scouts or Venturers attend Sea Base.

Make your check payable to the Boy Scouts of America, writing Capt. Steve scholarship on the memo line. Mail it to P.O. Box 1906, Islamorada, Florida, 33036.

Arrowmen: Spend spring break helping rebuild BSA camps in Florida, Puerto Rico

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Cheerful service to others is at the heart of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

In that spirit, Arrowmen are invited to spend their spring break helping BSA camps in Florida and Puerto Rico rebuild after last year’s devastating hurricane season.

There are two opportunities to serve, and each is open to all registered OA members. The opportunities coincide with spring break for many high schools and colleges.

With each opportunity, the BSA will cover all costs once Arrowmen arrive at Miami International Airport or San Juan Airport.

SeaBreak: Rebuilding the Florida Sea Base

SeaBreak, held March 4 to 10, 2018, is based out of the Florida Sea Base’s Brinton Environmental Center. Though the main Sea Base campus was largely spared during Hurricane Irma, there was damage to Camp Sawyer, a local council camp, and Big Munson Island, part of the Florida Sea Base. Each facility was hit hard, with camping facilities destroyed.

Arrival info: Arrive at MIA on no later than noon on March 4. Plan to depart MIA no earlier than 1 p.m. March 10.

Cost: The BSA will cover all onsite costs — food, lodging, tools and ground transportation. The only cost associated with SeaBreak is an individual participant’s transportation from his or her hometown to the Miami airport.

Requirements: Every participant must be at least 14 years of age by March 4, 2018, a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America and an Order of the Arrow Lodge, complete a BSA Medical Form (Parts A, B, and C), and meet the height and weight guidelines listed within the Medical Form.

Learn more: At this site.

Note: While this event is being hosted by the Southern Region, Arrowmen from all four BSA regions are invited.

Arrowcorps Puerto Rico: Helping a beloved BSA camp

Arrowcorps Puerto Rico, held March 11 to 17, 2018, is based out of Camp Guajataka, part of the BSA’s Puerto Rico Council. The camp was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria.

Arrival info: Arrive at San Juan International Airport before 6 p.m. local time March 11. Depart after 10 a.m. local time March 17.

Cost: The BSA will cover all onsite costs — food, lodging, tools and ground transportation. The only cost associated with Arrowcorps Puerto Rico is an individual participant’s transportation from his or her hometown to the San Juan, Puerto Rico, airport.

Requirements: Arrowmen of any age are welcome. Participants must complete a BSA Medical Form (Parts A, B, and C), and meet the height and weight guidelines listed within the Medical Form.

Learn more: At this site.

Note: While this event is being hosted by the Northeast Region, Arrowmen from all four BSA regions are invited.

Was this quote attributed to Groucho Marx actually published in Boys’ Life first?

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“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

This funny quote, commonly attributed to comedian Groucho Marx, might have a much cooler origin story.

One researcher and author says the quip might have originated in the “Think & Grin” section of Boys’ Life magazine.

According to a post on Quote Investigator, a website dedicated to finding the true provenance of popular quotes, the earliest mention of Groucho’s joke is in 1974.

That’s a full 20 years after Jim Brewer of Cleveland shared the following joke with Boys’ Life magazine: “A book is man’s best friend outside of a dog, and inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

The joke appeared on page 78 of the February 1954 issue, which you can see below. Jim’s joke is the second from bottom in the first column.

Quote Investigator admits that Jim might have heard the joke somewhere — maybe even from Groucho himself.

Groucho Marx was active as a comedian before 1954, and it is possible that he told the joke before this date. The Boys’ Life communicant may have heard the gag directly or indirectly from Groucho, but QI has not yet located any evidence to support this possibility. Alternatively, the quip may have been reassigned to a prestigious comedian such as Groucho to enhance its popularity.

Another theory: Groucho was an avid Boys’ Life reader, saw the joke in his favorite magazine and started telling it to everyone he met. (Hey, a guy can dream!)

The mystery of the quote continues, but one truth is indisputable: You can find some pretty funny jokes in Boys’ Life magazine — then and now.

Thanks to James DeLorey for the blog post idea.

2018 Order of the Arrow national officers elected; here’s who represents your region

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Anthony Peluso, an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor OA member from Virginia Beach, Va., has been elected 2018 national chief of the Order of the Arrow.

In late December each year, OA section chiefs from across the nation gather to plan the following year’s calendar. But before they can do that, they must elect a national chief, national vice chief and region chiefs.

The elections usually start around 7:30 p.m. and don’t end until late into the night. Anthony’s election was made official on the OA Facebook page at 11:02 p.m. National vice chief Michael Kipp’s election was announced more than two hours later, at 1:04 a.m.

As national chief, Anthony represents nearly 200,000 Arrowmen — youth and adult members of the OA — throughout the 2018 calendar year.

Anthony joins 2017-18 National Venturing President Michelle Merritt and 2017-18 National Sea Scout Boatswain Mercedes Matlock as the three highest-ranking youth leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.

As one of his first acts, Anthony will join Michelle, Mercedes and a group of other impressive Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s Report to the Nation in February in Washington, D.C.

After that, Anthony will lead the OA at the 2018 National Order of the Arrow Conference. The OA’s most high-profile event, NOAC is held every two or three years. Registration is open now for NOAC 2018, held July 30 to Aug. 4 at Indiana University.

“The OA has made the single biggest impact on my life of any organization I’ve ever been involved with,” Peluso said. “Now, in 2018, I’ve been given the opportunity to help change the lives of Arrowmen throughout the country.”

More about Anthony Peluso
  • From: Virginia Beach, VA.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Blue Heron Lodge (Tidewater Council). Served as section chief for SR-7A. Recipient of the Founder’s Award.
  • Education: Economics major at Virginia Tech; plans to attend law school after graduation.
  • Hobbies: Intramural sports, singing and fantasy football.
  • Fun fact: He once ate 10 hamburgers in one sitting.

Michael Kipp, 2018 national vice chief
  • From: Valparaiso, Ind.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Sakima Lodge (LaSalle Council). Served as section chief for C-6A. Recipient of the Founder’s Award.
  • Education: Strategy and organizational management major at Purdue University; plans to pursue a career in human resources management.
  • Hobbies: Hiking, working on summer camp staff and getting involved on campus.
  • Fun fact: He is his lodge’s first national officer.
  • Quotable: “Our organization has an amazing year ahead of it. The national conference this summer is going to be an incredible experience, and I’m excited to help make it happen.”

Will Coots, 2018 Central Region chief
  • From: Oregon, Ill.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Wulapeju Lodge (Blackhawk Area Council). Served as section chief for C-7. Recipient of the Centurion Award.
  • Education: American studies and political science double major from the University of Notre Dame; plans to pursue public service and research following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Watching The West Wing, listening to jazz music, playing football and hiking.
  • Fun fact: He is related to J. Fred Coots, the man who wrote and composed the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
  • Quotable: “I am really excited to tackle pressing issues and help guide this amazing organization to a proactive, promising and sustainable future.”

Justin St. Louis, 2018 Northeast Region chief
  • From: Lowell, Mass.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Pennacook Lodge (Spirit of Adventure Council). Served two terms as section chief for NE-1. Recipient of the Founder’s Award.
  • Education: Political science major at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; plans to attend law school following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Skiing, graphic design, using the Oxford comma, and keeping up with politics. [Note from Bryan: Though it’s against our style, I included an Oxford comma in that last sentence — just this once, just for Justin.]
  • Fun fact: Over the past four years, he has participated in a 3-mile swim across Northwood Lake in New Hampshire to fundraise for local Scouting programs.
  • Quotable: “This year is our opportunity to directly impact Arrowmen at home by strengthening our support of lodge programs — using the conference as our vehicle for delivery.”

Zach Callicutt, 2018 Southern Region chief
  • From: Oxford, Miss.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Chicksa Lodge (Yocona Area Council). Served as section chief for SR-6. Recipient of the Founder’s Award and James E. West Award.
  • Education: Public policy leadership major at the University of Mississippi; plans to attend law school following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Golf, sailing and duck hunting.
  • Fun fact: He learned how to water ski when he was 8 years old.
  • Quotable: “I think 2018 will be a great year for the Southern Region and the Order with NOAC at Indiana University. I’m looking forward to ‘Defining our Destiny’ this next year.”

Jordan Jefferis, 2018 Western Region chief
  • From: Portland, Ore.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Wauna La Mon’tay Lodge (Cascade Pacific Council). Served as section chief for W-1S.
  • Education: Homeland security major at Concordia University; plans to attend law school following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Watching The Good Wife, golfing and traveling.
  • Fun fact: He loves coffee and wants to open a coffee shop when he retires.
  • Quotable: “The Western Region has been doing some truly great things this past year, and I am excited to continue this on. Furthermore, I am excited to see all the new connections that will be made in the Western Region and nationally at the 2018 NOAC.”

Hat tip: Thanks to Michael Swalberg, OA Communications Coordinator, for the info and photos.

Polish Boy Scout who escaped Auschwitz dies at age 98

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Sometimes, we come across news that humbles us, filling our thoughts with gratitude and introspection.

Such was the case with the passing of last month.

When he was a young man, he embodied the “A Scout is Brave” point of the Scout Law while facing imminent death.

Piechowski was a Polish Boy Scout; at 19, he was captured and imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp, where about 1.1 million people died during World War II. Poland’s Boy Scouts were targeted and killed by the Third Reich because it was feared the Scouts would help start an uprising against Nazi Germany. They were right, but before Piechowski could join any resistance, he had to first escape one of the predominant sites of The Holocaust.

War breaks out

The Polish Scouting program began in 1911, but its focus shifted to the war effort during the First World War. After the war, the organization regrouped and worked on rebuilding the homeland. Piechowski joined the Scouts when he was 10.

“I joined because I was patriotic,” he told The Guardian. “And when I arrived home, my mother was crying a little bit and said to me: ‘I am so happy you are on the right way.'”

Nine years later, Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

“They started shooting the Scouts,” Piechowski recalled.

He witnessed his friends being rounded up and killed, so he decided to flee. He tried to make it to France, but was captured near the Hungarian border. Piechowski was taken from prison camp to prison camp before finally arriving at Auschwitz, where he became “Prisoner 918.”

‘Hell of death’

Piechowski was assigned to a work crew at the camp, slogging in the elements, starving and trying to conserve his energy, so he could survive another day. He was often charged with loading carts with corpses to haul to a crematorium.

“When I recall working in this hell of death, I can still feel it,” he said in the 2007 Polish documentary Uciekinier (The Runaway).

Fortunately, Piechowski was later assigned to work in a storehouse across the street from the camp. It was there, he noticed a room that stored SS uniforms and weapons.

His friend, Eugeniusz Bendera, learned he was to be executed and urged Piechowski to help him concoct an escape plan. They recruited Jozef Lempart, a priest, and Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, who was also a Scout.

The escape

On June 20, 1942, the four went over their plan, prayed and agreed to take their own lives if their escape failed. They grabbed a wagon full of garbage and convinced a guard to allow them through a gate.

They ditched the wagon and headed to the garage. Bendera, a car mechanic, identified the commandant’s vehicle that they would use to escape. The other three jumped through a coal hatch, rushed through the underground hallways and broke into the storeroom – heading straight for the room that housed the uniforms and guns. Using a crowbar, they pried that door open, put on the Nazi uniforms and grabbed firearms and ammunition.

They marched outside where Bendera had brought the car around. Bendera put on his uniform and the four began driving, Piechowski in the front seat.

It was a relatively smooth drive as SS officers they passed failed to recognize them, simply raising their arms to greet them with a “Heil Hitler!”

When they approached the final gate, the SS officer didn’t open it for them until Piechowski opened the car door, flashed the rank insignia and ordered the officer to let the vehicle through. He did, and the men were free.

After the war

The four men went their separate ways after fleeing Auschwitz; news of their escape gave hope to the prisoners still there.

Piechowski later joined the Polish Home Army to fight the Nazis. After the war, he studied to be an engineer, but communist authorities sentenced him to 10 years in prison for fighting with the Home Army, which they viewed as dissidents to their rule. He served seven and was released at age 33, taking a job with the communist government.

After the communist party dissolved in Poland in the late 1980s, Piechowski traveled the world with his wife, Iga. Although he was still haunted by his experiences, he continued to share his story with students and other groups.

“I am a Scout, so I have to do my duty — and be cheerful and merry,” Piechowski said. “And I will be a Scout to the end of my life.”

Piechowski passed away at age 98 on Dec. 15 in Gdansk, Poland.

Hat tip: Thanks to John Novack for sharing Piechowski’s obituary with us, which appeared in the Washington Post.

Alabama or Georgia? Here’s the Scouting-related reason for my pick

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Yes, you can be a successful student, top-tier athlete and Eagle Scout.

The latest in a lengthy list of examples: Jackson Harris, a junior tight end for the University of Georgia.

Georgia will face Alabama tonight in the college football championship. The game begins at 8 p.m. Eastern and airs on ESPN.

Harris is the only Eagle Scout on either team that we could find in the official database.

If you, like me, don’t have a connection to either school, this might be enough to sway you to cheer for the Georgia Bulldogs tonight.

I know it’s got me rooting for the team in red and black.

Who is Jackson Harris?

Jackson Harris is a stellar student and elite athlete.

He’s also an Eagle Scout, having earned Scouting’s highest honor as a member of Troop 103 of Columbia, Tenn., part of the Middle Tennessee Council.

Harris, now 20, earned Eagle in 2011 when he was 14.

Coming out of high school, ranked Harris as a four-star prospect. They said he was one of the 200 best overall players and fifth-best tight end in the country.

And while his on-the-field numbers at Columbia Central High School were impressive (1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his senior season), so was this number: 4.0. That was Harris’ high school GPA.

Harris at the University of Georgia

At Georgia, Harris has appeared in almost every game. He’s been a positive influence on his teammates on the field, on the sidelines and in practice.

He appeared in 14 games in 2017, including a start against Appalachian State.

His academic success has continued in college. Coming into the 2017 season, Harris had the highest GPA among all juniors on the team.

Harris’ major is mechanical engineering, chosen because he loves seeing how things work.

He told the UGA website a story about taking a speaker apart when he was a kid.

“I … remember taking it apart and looking at it, just thinking it was the coolest thing ever,” he said. “I get done and I have to put it back together, but I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s still in my room now, in some drawer with a bunch of pieces everywhere.”

Next year will be Harris’ senior season.

Other Eagle Scouts in college football

What do Iowa State running back David Montgomery, LSU quarterback Danny Etling and BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum have in common?

All are Eagle Scouts.

Do you know of any other current college football players who are Eagle Scouts? Leave a comment below!

Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Scott Olson, Ryan Larson and Jeff Laughlin for searching the Alabama and Georgia rosters for Eagle Scouts.

Like this: Vote Boys’ Life as your favorite magazine cover of 2017

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Weather that’s so cold it makes your eyelashes freeze makes for an unforgettable Scouting experience.

It also makes for a memorable magazine cover.

The February 2017 cover of Boys’ Life, featuring an image by W. Garth Dowling, has been selected as a finalist in the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Best Cover Contest.

BL is competing against other great covers from magazines like Outside, Condé Nast Traveler and Sports Illustrated.

Vote by following the simple instructions below.

About the cover

But first, a little background. That Scout peeking out from behind a frost-covered hat and hood? That’s Colin Hodges, an Eagle Scout from Troop 984 of Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

Over four days in January, Colin and his fellow Scouts tried what their non-Scouting friends might call insane. They camped outside near Ely, Minn., as part of Okpik Winter Adventure at Northern Tier. The low temperature during their Okpik experience? A bone-chilling minus-25 degrees.

“I got a bunch of crazy looks,” said Zion Freeman from Troop 50 of Des Moines, Iowa. “People asking, ‘Really? I know you’re a Scout, but this is what you guys do in your free time?'”

Indeed it is.

Grab a mug of hot cocoa, and vote for the Boys’ Life cover today. Voting ends Jan. 31.

How to vote

To vote, simply Like (thumbs-up) the image below. Then share this with your Scouts and fellow Scouters so they, too, can vote.

If you don’t see the cover image above, click this link. The link may take a moment to load, so wait for the Boys’ Life cover to pop up. Then “Like” the image. 

You’re done!

BL a past winner

Loyal blog readers might remember that Boys’ Life has won this contest before.

The September 2014 cover, featuring a photo by Patrick Schneider, depicted a lovable Labrador retriever in a canoe.

Emergency preparedness runs in the family

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A couple of weeks ago, we shared a story about Daniel Konzelman, a 24-year-old Eagle Scout who helped rescue passengers after a deadly Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, Wash.

We caught up with Konzelman and discovered that the Dec. 18 tragedy wasn’t the first emergency he or his four brothers — all of whom are Eagle Scouts — have responded to.

Instincts kick in

Konzelman works as an accountant in Olympia, Wash. He and his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, were driving to work when they witnessed a train speeding past them. The locomotive and its cars barreled off the tracks and as it rushed nearly 50 mph over the speed limit, killing three people and injuring dozens of others.

Konzelman reached the harrowing scene soon after the derailment — cars dangling off a bridge, people ejected from the train. He quickly grabbed his boots and a flashlight from his car’s trunk and ran to lend a hand.

“I didn’t see anybody there helping,” Konzelman says. “In a lot of ways, it was instinctual.”

He says he gleaned courage from his younger brother, Darien. Two weeks prior to the train derailment, Darien was the first to come across a car accident and immediately phoned 911. Police officers were so impressed with how calm and collected Darien was during the phone call, they suggested he become a police officer. Darien is an officer in the Air National Guard and will be pursuing advanced degrees in clinical psychology.

Nor was that accident the first time a Konzelman brother had jumped into action. Daniel responded to a head-on collision near the family’s home where one vehicle flew into an embankment.

“I was practicing my fiddle while I was looking out the window and I saw it all happen,” Daniel says. “I immediately called 911 and ran down there.”

Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt in that wreck, he says.

Scouting’s influence

The Konzelmans grew up in Puyallup, Wash., just east of Tacoma. The boys’ mother placed special emphasis on subjects she held in high value: faith, music and Scouting. Daniel was in Cub Scouts for about a year, anxiously waiting to turn 11 so he could become a Boy Scout. His older brothers, Drew, Derek and David, had shared stories of backpacking treks and summer camps.

“I looked up to my brothers a lot; they made Boy Scouting cool,” Konzelman says. “I loved every bit of it.”

He was in Troop 174 for three years before joining a larger troop in Troop 604 of Eatonville, Wash., part of the Pacific Harbors Council. His favorite activities were knot-tying and learning first aid.

“Boy Scouts teaches you general wisdom that transfers into every area of life,” Konzelman says.

He used his knot-tying skills while working for a tree service company for five years. Daniel is not a Scouter, but his family goes on frequent camping trips together, and he enjoys mountaineering and rappelling. His brother Derek works for an outdoor retail company and goes skiing or backpacking on a regular basis.

Konzelman took Scouting’s motto of “Be Prepared” to heart, hence he kept boots and a flashlight in his car.

In the spotlight

While he was helping passengers, Konzelman contacted his family, asking them to pray. One of his brothers posted the news of the train derailment on social media, and soon after, reporters were contacting him, wanting to talk to Daniel.

His story of comforting, praying with and rescuing the wounded has been told by many major news outlets. Konzelman doesn’t see his actions as heroic, but rather as simply being “the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to those people.”

His family members aren’t strangers to being in the spotlight.

Konzelman and his brothers are part of a band and have performed in Japan and Europe. In 2012, Drew and Derek starred in a reality TV series, “Escape Routes,” on NBC, and their sister Dustin-Leigh appeared on Season 10 of “The Amazing Race” on CBS. She also competed in the Miss America  pageant in 2006.

So, when the media requested interviews with Daniel, he didn’t shirk from the opportunity to tell his story. He found it surreal at first.

“I didn’t think what I did was special or noteworthy,” Konzelman says.

Instead, he viewed the incident as an example of God being there for people during a dark time. He hopes his story is a message of hope for people rather than a tale of heroism.

Helpful at all times

The train derailment will have a lasting impact on Konzelman’s life. It has changed his perspective on how to love other people and to cherish every moment.

“I was reminded of the value of human life and how sacred it is,” he says. “I’m so thankful of the million different blessings we take for granted every day that can be taken in an instant.”

Two young men he encountered suffered severe neck injuries. He and his girlfriend plan to visit them in the hospital often. Konzelman experienced a debilitating stress fracture in his spine two years ago and was forced to use a wheelchair for a month.

“I hope I can be encouraging to them,” Konzelman says.

He also hopes Scouts can draw from a lesson he has learned not to be discouraged when faced with difficulty as those experiences can translate positively down the road.

“Trials create good character when endured with integrity,” he says.

Scout Sunday 2018, Scout Sabbath 2018 and Scout Jumuah 2018: Your complete guide

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The calendar says 2018, which means it’s time to start thinking about Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath and Scout Jumuah.

Scheduled in close proximity to the BSA’s birthday on Feb. 8, these three days celebrate the connection between Scouting and our faith-based chartered partners.

Some Scouts and leaders will honor these days by wearing the full field uniform to worship services. In other units, a worship leader presents religious awards to recipients.

In still others, the pack, troop, crew or ship conducts a service project that benefits the religious organization.

How does your unit participate? Share your ideas in the comments, and read on for a complete guide to Scout Sunday 2018, Scout Sabbath 2018 and Scout Jumuah 2018.

When is Scout Sunday 2018?

Scout Sunday is Feb. 4, 2018.

How did I know that? Scout Sunday is always held on the Sunday before the birthday of the Boy Scouts of America on Feb. 8.

(The only exception: when Feb. 8 falls on a Sunday, as happened in 2015. In that case, Scout Sunday and the BSA’s birthday were both celebrated on Feb. 8.)

Though Feb. 4 is the official day for Scout Sunday 2018, each chartered organization may adopt any specific Sunday to celebrate. The BSA says a local church may celebrate “on the Sunday most acceptable to the pastor and congregation.”

In the United Methodist Church, for example, the second Sunday in February is set aside for what the church calls Scouting Sunday. This year that’s Feb. 11.

Your best bet is to check with your chartered organization representative or faith leader.

When is Scout Sabbath 2018?

Scout Sabbath is Feb. 9 and 10, 2018.

Scout Sabbath — also called Scout Shabbat — for Jewish Scout units, is always the Saturday after Scout Sunday. This year, it begins at sundown on Friday, Feb. 9, and continues into the next day.

To learn more about this special day and order materials, see this page from the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.

NOTE: Though the National Jewish Committee on Scouting has designated Feb. 9-10 as Scout Sabbath this year, some councils or units will celebrate the occasion on other days. Check with your council or local Jewish Committee on Scouting to verify the date.

When is Scout Jumuah 2018?

Scout Jumuah is Feb. 9, 2018.

Scout Jumuah offers a chance to recognize the contributions of young people and adults to Scouting within the Muslim community.

The National Association of Muslim Americans on Scouting has designated Feb. 9, 2018, to be Scout Jumuah. Units may adjust this date to best meet their needs.

Find Scout Jumuah program ideas on this page from the National Association of Muslim Americans on Scouting.

12 ways to celebrate Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath and/or Scout Jumuah
  1. Wear your Scout uniform to worship services.
  2. Present religious emblems to Scouts, leaders and Venturers who have earned them in the past year.
  3. Recruit several Scouts or Scouters to read passages from religious text.
  4. Involve uniformed Scouts as greeters, ushers, gift bearers or the color guard.
  5. Invite a Scout or Scouter to serve as a guest speaker or deliver the sermon.
  6. Hold an Eagle Scout court of honor during the worship service.
  7. Host a pancake breakfast before, between or after services.
  8. Collect food for a local food pantry.
  9. Light a series of 12 candles while briefly explaining the points of the Scout Law.
  10. Show a video or photo slideshow of highlights from the pack, troop, crew or ship’s past year.
  11. Bake (or buy) doughnuts to share before services.
  12. Make a soft recruiting play by setting up a table near the entrance to answer questions about your Scout unit.
Where do I wear the Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath or Scout Jumuah patch?

Wear it in the temporary patch location: centered on the right pocket.

Where can I get Scout Sunday 2018 stuff?

Visit your local Scout Shop or use the the links below:

Jeremy Fogg, Eagle Scout and pastry chef at Emeril’s restaurant in New Orleans, to appear on ‘Beat Bobby Flay’

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Before Eagle Scout Jeremy Fogg tries to Beat Bobby Flay on the popular Food Network series, let’s look back on a similarly tough cooking competition.

I’m referring, of course, to the Dutch Oven Cobbler Cookoff at summer camp.

At the time, Fogg was an adult leader in Troop 787 of Winter Springs, Fla. He had plenty of kitchen experience, but this was years before he was hand-picked by Emergil Lagasse to be pastry chef at his restaurant in New Orleans.

The competition pitted Fogg against some of the best Scouting chefs in Florida.

And guess what? His peach sour cream cobbler took the crown.

Jeremy Fogg cooking at a Scout event. Rising quickly

Fogg was a Cub Scout in Pack 787 and then a Boy Scout in Troop 787. He earned Eagle in 2005.

After that, he attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and fell in love with baking. He graduated in 2008 and made pastries for the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., and later the Hilton Orlando. Emeril hired Fogg in February 2014 and promoted him to pastry chef five months later.

In 2015, the American Culinary Federation named Fogg Louisiana’s Best Pastry Chef in part because of his Banana Coffee Mousse Cake. Yum.

I caught up with Fogg to talk Scouting and his career. He says the BSA taught him leadership and planning skills that help him in the kitchen.

One thing Fogg wouldn’t discuss: details about his appearance on Beat Bobby Flay. For that, I’ll have to tune in just like everyone else.

The episode — called “Who Done It?” — airs at 10 p.m. EST (9 CST) on Jan. 4. Set your DVR now.

Jeremy Fogg and his dad at the opening of Meril restaurant in New Orleans in 2016. Q&A: Jeremy Fogg, award-winning pastry chef for Emeril’s in New Orleans

Bryan Wendell: What’s your favorite Scouting memory?

Jeremy Fogg: “I have so many, honestly, but one of my favorites is definitely when our Venturing crew traveled to Oregon and went whitewater rafting on the Rogue River. It was a five-day, 50 mile trip. We camped overnight on the banks of the river and cooked all our own food on the trip. It was pretty incredible.”

BW: What was your Eagle project?

JF: “We cleaned the cemetery in Oviedo [Fla.] where a large number of my mom’s side of the family is buried. It had become overgrown, headstones were black with mold and dirt. So I got a team together to trim back the overgrowth and pressure-wash the headstones. We found some that had been buried completely and after cleaning realized they were from the late 1800s.”

BW: Wild guess here … Was the Cooking merit badge your favorite merit badge?

JF: “Honestly, I don’t remember much about the Cooking merit badge, but I think that’s because I hadn’t decided to become a chef at that point. I enjoyed cooking, but wasn’t sure if it was my calling at that point. My favorite merit badge was the Cycling merit badge.”

BW: Did you make any decadent desserts on Scout trips?

JF: “The most memorable dessert we ever made camping was the monkey bread. It’s the inspiration for my King Cake Monkey Bread I make at Emeril’s every year for Mardi Gras.”

BW: How does Scouting most help you as a pastry chef?

JF: “The leadership and planning skills are what aid the most. I lead a team of five pastry cooks at Emeril’s, and I’m responsible for all the bread and dessert operations for the restaurant. I’ve also helped Emeril open two restaurants in the past 18 months and had to plan the menus and openings for those as well as train and lead those teams of cooks. Being able to plan properly and lead the teams to get all the work done is a very large component of my position, and I learned a lot of those skills through Scouting. Cooking and eating all the great food on camping trips certainly helped, too.”

BW: What’s the proudest moment of your career?

JF: “There have been so many amazing moments. But I’d have to say that having the respect of Emeril Lagasse and knowing that he relies on me for so many projects is pretty awesome.”

BW: What’s next for Jeremy Fogg, pastry chef?

JF: “I’ll be working with Emeril for the foreseeable future. There are some projects in the works for the next few years, and he says he has plans for me. But ultimately I would like to open my own bakery and restaurant in honor of my mom and grandma, featuring my takes on my grandma’s classic dishes.”

BW: What advice would you give Scouts? 

JF: “Don’t let opportunities pass you by, because you never know if they’ll come to you again. Life is short, and you don’t want to spend it wondering ‘what if?’ So apply for that job, take that trip, tell that person how you feel. It may not always work out, but if you don’t take the chance, it definitely won’t. I didn’t think I was ready for the pastry chef position at Emeril’s when I applied for it, but it’s been four years now, and my career has skyrocketed since then. My life has changed. You never know unless you try.”

Why Eagle Scouts at this college get an automatic $20,000 scholarship

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If you want to see which institutes of higher learning place a high value on the Eagle Scout Award, simply follow the money.

That trail might take you to Hampden–Sydney College in Virginia.

Eagle Scouts who attend Hampden-Sydney, the 10th oldest college in the U.S., receive an automatic scholarship worth $5,000 per year for four years.

That’s $20,000 of free money toward an education at this highly ranked liberal arts school.

The hefty scholarship explains why 12.6 percent of students currently enrolled at Hampden-Sydney are Eagle Scouts. Exactly 132 of the 1,046 students at the college have earned Scouting’s highest honor.

So why does Hampden-Sydney offer such a sizable scholarship to Eagle Scouts? I asked Dr. Larry Stimpert, Hampden-Sydney’s president, for the scoop.

‘A perfect fit for Scouts’

Scouting is about more than learning outdoors skills. It’s about building character.

Similarly, Stimpert says, Hampden-Sydney teaches more than classroom lessons. In fact, students are encouraged to get out and explore the 1,300-acre campus and its many trails.

“The college emphasizes character development just as much as intellectual growth, and the values we believe in here are some of the same as those articulated in the Eagle Scout challenge,” he says. “This makes Hampden-Sydney a perfect fit for Scouts pursuing higher education.”

Living the Oath and Law

Scouts are guided by two codes: the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Hampden-Sydney students are guided by two codes as well.

“Our student code of conduct says that the Hampden-Sydney student ‘will behave as a gentleman at all times and in all places,’ and our honor code declares that the Hampden-Sydney student ‘will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do,'” Stimpert says.

In other words, they’re vowing to be courteous and trustworthy.

Building a network

What you’ve heard is true: Eagle Scouts hire other Eagle Scouts.

Similarly, Hampden-Sydney graduates enter a strong alumni network after college. This means access to a robust group of potential mentors, employers and friends.

“Entering Hampden-Sydney is about more than starting college; it’s about joining a lasting brotherhood,” Stimpert says. “And, one of our time-honored traditions at Hampden-Sydney is the expectation for students to say hello to those they pass on the pathways of our campus.”

In fact, that’s a big reason Mark Keefe’s Eagle Scout son, Duncan, enrolled at Hampden-Sydney.

“It is one of the reasons why my son looked at the college,” Mark says. “The brotherhood there was the deciding factor.”

Serving others first

One final parallel covers serving the community.

“Like the Boy Scouts, we also encourage a commitment to service,” Stimpert says.

On weekends, you’ll often find student groups at Hampden-Sydney participating in community service and raising money for local nonprofit organizations.

Duncan, the Eagle Scout, spends about 50 hours a week in the computer lab, but he still found time to be a counselor at a recent merit badge day for local Scouts

“Ultimately, like the Scouts, a Hampden-Sydney education is about transformation,” Stimpert says. “Just as Scouting gives a young man a wide breadth of skills and abilities, Hampden-Sydney provides the tools necessary for having not just successful careers, but rewarding lives.”

Greatest hits: The 10 most-read blog posts of 2017

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As we count down the final days, hours and minutes of 2017, I wanted to share a little countdown of my own.

Today we’ll look at the 10 Bryan on Scouting stories with the most clicks in 2017. You might call them “the posts with the most.”

I’m proud to say the blog had 6.4 million page views in 2017. That’s about a 30 percent increase over 2016’s total.

Page views offer a nice glimpse at what caught your fellow Scouters’ eyes this year, but they don’t tell the whole story. For posts of high importance but lower popularity, see the “In case you missed it” section at the end.

One final note: these were the most-read posts that actually were published in 2017. For older posts still getting big numbers in 2017, see the “Honorable mentions” section lower down.

10. BSA to open high-adventure base on the moon

On April 1 — aka April Fools’ Day — the BSA “announced” it was building a high-adventure base on the moon.

The post said the BSA would partner with NASA, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX to make this sci-fi dream a reality. Thanks to their support, it’ll cost just $24,995 to spend a week at what was to be called Tranquility High Adventure Base. That cost “would not include transportation,” we wrote.

Of course we were only kidding (but check back with us in 50 years just in case!). While our annual April Fools’ Day post didn’t fool very many of you this year, it did prompt some fun daydreaming.

Read the post.

9. Tour and activity plan eliminated — no fooling!

Though it was announced close to April Fools’ Day, this one was 100 percent real.

On March 31, the BSA announced it has eliminated its Tour and Activity Plan, shifting the focus away from paperwork and toward creating a safe space for Scouts to enjoy the program as designed.

The Tour and Activity Plan was a two-page document submitted to your local council for approval at least 21 days before longer trips. As of April 1, 2017, it’s kaput.

Read the post.

8. BSA to welcome girls into Scouting

In October, the BSA’s volunteer-led board of directors unanimously approved a plan to welcome girls and young women into all Scouting programs.

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

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

Read the post.

7. Entry window opens for 2017 Eagle Scout scholarships

College isn’t cheap, so it’s no surprise that a post about Eagle Scout scholarships attracted a ton of traffic.

The window to apply for 2018 NESA scholarships — some $700,000 for more than 150 worthy Eagle Scouts — was open from Aug. 1 to 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.

Missed the window? Eagle Scouts can apply for the next round of scholarships in August 2018.

Read the post.

6. Revised campout requirements released for First Class, Second Class

BSA volunteers regularly review advancement requirements to ensure they meet the needs of Scouts.

In July, I shared news that the number of overnight campouts required for a young man to earn the Second Class and First Class ranks would be reduced, effective Aug. 1, 2017. The total number of camping nights a Boy Scout experiences in the program as he progresses toward the rank of Eagle Scout did not change.

The change, the BSA said, maintains a focus on life-changing outdoors experiences while recognizing that not all outdoor activities need to include overnight camping.

Read the post.

5. Scouting Service Award combines five awards into one cool new square knot

New square knots are like Star Wars movies. They don’t make many of them, so it’s big news when one is released.

The newest square knot, released in February, is the Scouting Service Award. It recognizes adult volunteers who have earned one of five different awards, each celebrating a leader’s dedication to a special segment of Scouting:

  • Asian American Spirit of Scouting Service Award*
  • ¡Scouting…Vale la Pena! Service Award*
  • Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award*
  • American Indian Scouting Association Grey Wolf Award
  • Special Needs Scouting Service Award

Each of the awards marked with a * currently has its own square knot. Once supplies of those knots run out, the new Scouting Service Award knot will be used to recognize recipients.

Read the post.

4. Eagle Scouts remake photo taken 10 years earlier as Cub Scouts

In 2007, six Wolf Scouts from Indiana sat at a cafeteria table and took a photo together. In 2017, those same six Scouts — by then all Eagles — gathered at the same table to remake that photo.

“I would guess that there have been many stories of Scouts staying together from Tiger to Eagle,” their assistant Scoutmaster said, “but I thought it was fairly unique in that all six of these young men stayed the course for the past 10 years with the help of their parents and leaders.”

Read the post.

3. New requirements mandatory as of Jan. 1, 2017

As of Jan. 1, 2017, every Boy Scout is required to use a new set of advancement requirements.

This update should not have caught anyone off guard. Scouters got a first look at the Boy Scout requirement changes way back in January 2014; the requirements themselves were released to the public in May 2015.

The BSA established 2016 as a transition year, allowing Boy Scouts to choose whether to use the new requirements or finish up their current rank with the old ones.

Read the post.

2. Changes to how Scouts earn Eagle Palms (and the update)

In July, the BSA announced significant changes to the way Scouts earn Eagle Palms. The modifications took effect Aug. 1, 2017.

The changes bring Eagle Palm requirements in line with the needs of older Scouts. The National Boy Scouting Subcommittee eliminated unnecessary obstacles, such as the Eagle Palm board of review, and expanded the definition of active participation.

But the biggest change affected young men who earned multiple extra merit badges before Eagle. All current Boy Scouts — even those who completed their Eagle Scout board of review before Aug. 1, 2017 — are entitled to receive Eagle Palms for merit badges earned before their Eagle board of review.

Read the post and then read the important update that came three months later.

1. BSA celebrates total solar eclipse with a special patch

Our post about the BSA’s solar eclipse patch wasn’t just the most-read post of 2017. It’s the most-read Bryan on Scouting post in the entire eight-year history of the blog.

Like the total solar eclipse itself, the patch’s availability didn’t last long. It’s gone from Scout Shops; only memories are left behind.

Read the post.

Honorable mentions: Popular stories not from 2017

Some posts were published before 2017 but still caught your eye this year. Here’s the top 5:

  1. From 2014: Four options for retiring worn-out American flags
  2. From 2011: Tips for deducting Scouting expenses on your tax return
  3. From 2016: Why the Scout handshake is done with the left hand
  4. From 2012: How to request congratulatory letters for your Eagle Scout
  5. From 2014: Everything you need to know about merit badge sashes
In case you missed it: 7 essential posts of 2017

These weren’t in the top 10 of 2017, but they’re among my favorites.

What were the most-read posts in previous years?

Check out the lists from 2016, 201520142013 and 2012.

Grab your hiking boots and go trekking — in the city?

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A Scout hike likely conjures up images of journeying by a pristine lake, hiking staff in hand, surrounded by tall trees with a view of snowcapped mountains in the distance.

Or for one Ohio Scout, it could mean touring the streets of downtown Manhattan.

Our eagle-eyed mailburro Pedro spotted this great reminder in a letter from Brendan Hobe, a Boy Scout who wrote him to compliment a backpacking article in our September edition of Boys’ Life. Brendan also pointed out that hikes can be done in the city, and that doing so has its advantages.

He fulfilled his 10-mile hikes requirement for the Hiking merit badge in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and completed his 20-mile hike in Manhattan, New York.

“You don’t really need a backpack for anything unless you don’t want to spend $5 for a small bottle of water, but even then, you could carry a water bottle,” Brendan says.

We’d recommend carrying water with you, but we understand Brendan’s sentiment that you can afford to pack a little lighter in the city because of the nearby resources. The Hiking merit badge pamphlet devotes a page to urban hiking and says to prepare for such a hike as you would for a hike in the wilderness. Take along food, water and rain gear, also carry a cell phone and money for a bus or taxi if you need to get home in a hurry.

Teach Scouts that the principles of Leave No Trace still apply to urban hiking. And always remember to use the buddy system.


The Hiking merit badge, which is a required Eagle Scout rank option, was introduced in 1921. Hiking has been part of rank advancement since 1911. Below are the most recent requirements:

Hiking merit badge

4. Take the five following hikes, each on a different day, and each of continuous miles. These hikes MUST be taken in the following order:

  • One 5-mile hike
  • Three 10-mile hikes
  • One 15-mile hike

You may stop for as many short rest periods as needed, as well as one meal, during each hike, but not for an extended period (example: overnight). Prepare a written hike plan before each hike and share it with your Scoutmaster or a designee. Include map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.*

*The required hikes for this badge may be used in fulfilling hiking requirements for rank advancement. However, these hikes cannot be used to fulfill requirements of other merit badges. 

5. Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared. You may stop for as many short rest periods as needed, as well as one meal, but not for an extended period (example: overnight).


5c. Explain the rules of safe hiking, both on the highway and cross-country, during the day and at night.

Second class

3b. Using a compass and map together, take a 5-mile hike (or 10 miles by bike) approved by your adult leader and your parent or guardian.

3c. Describe some hazards or injuries that you might encounter on your hike and what you can do to help prevent them.

Nominate a Scout or Venturer for the 2018 Inspiration Awards

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The Inspiration Awards are looking to honor a young person age 16 to 21 whose leadership skills and passion for the outdoors inspire us all.

Reading that description, it shouldn’t surprise you that a Boy Scouts of America member has won the Youth category each of the three years of the award’s existence. They are, from left above: Eagle Scout Matt Moniz (2015), Venturer Jackie Timmins (2016) and Venturer Lillian Rose Weihert (2017).

With your help, we’ll make it four for four in 2018.

Nominations are due by 6 p.m. (PST), Dec. 29, 2017, for the 2018 Inspiration Awards, presented at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in January in Denver.

You’ll want to nominate someone who:

  • Shows leadership in schools and communities
  • Shares their sport and passion with others
  • Goes above and beyond to protect and preserve the environment

The winner will take the stage at the eighth annual Inspiration Awards, held Jan. 25, 2017, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Though the Boy Scouts of America is one of the presenting sponsors for the Inspiration Awards, that doesn’t give us any advantage. But we do have a natural leg up, because the BSA has been creating outdoors-savvy leaders since 1910.

Time is running out, so nominate a worthy young person today at this link.

Who has won this award in past years?

The award debuted in 2015. A member of the Boy Scouts of America has won each year.

In 2017, Venturer Lillian Rose Weihert from the Chicago-based Pathway to Adventure Council, was recognized for her work in angler education through the BSA’s Certified Angling Instructor Program.

In 2016, Venturer Jackie Timmins took the honor.  She achieved the rank of Silver and was finishing up her last requirement for the Ranger Award at the time of her selection.

In 2015, Eagle Scout Matt Moniz was recognized. You likely remember him as the young man who saved lives on Everest after the deadly earthquake there.

Scouts and Venturers invited to enter the State-Fish Art Contest

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Fishing has been a part of Scouting since the very beginning.

In fact, Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell once said, “every Scout ought to be able to fish in order to get food for himself.”

That longstanding angling tradition — coupled with the sport’s continued popularity today — makes this contest opportunity one I simply had to pass along.

It’s called the State-Fish Art Contest, and it’s open to anyone from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Let’s flood the contest with entries from Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers and Sea Scouts. Let’s show them nobody does fishing better than packs, troops, crews and ships.

Entering is fun, free and involves two basic steps:

  1. Create a 9-by-12-inch art illustration of any state fish (not just the one from an entrant’s own state).
  2. Write a one-page essay related to the chosen fish species.

Each year’s entry deadline is March 31. Mail entires to:

Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art
5350 HWY 61 North, Suite 7
White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Winners get prizes (details to be announced) and recognition at a national fishing event. Everyone — win or lose — supports aquatic education through science and the arts.

Any fish you wish

Remember, entrants can select any fish on the state-fish list — not just their own.

That means Arizona Scouts could pick the Kentucky spotted bass, and Scouts in New York could select Hawaii’s humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

Find the official fish list here.

The 2017 Best in Show illustration of an Atlantic sailfish. Part 1: The art

Entrants must create an original, horizontal, 9-by-12-inch art illustration. Essentially any art medium is acceptable.

Again, make them horizontal; vertical entries will be disqualified.

See the official rules and illustrations from past winners here.

A 2017 first-place-winning illustration of a humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Part 2: The writing

The written portion — titled “Fish Make You Smarter” — is a one-page submission in the student’s own words.

It can be an essay, story, poem or any other creative form.

It should show the entrant’s connection to and understanding of their chosen fish. It should demonstrate a knowledge of the fish’s habitat, behavior and conservation status.

See more about the written portion here.

BSA’s Scoutbook Lite, which will replace Internet Advancement, debuts in early 2018

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The BSA announced it will release Scoutbook Lite, a new tool for quickly inputting advancement data, in the second quarter of 2018.

This free solution will replace the current Internet Advancement platform, which will be retired.

Scoutbook Lite will feature a slick new user interface. It will be optimized to whatever device you use: desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Once Scoutbook Lite is released, the Scoutbook database will become the official record of advancement for the BSA.

Scoutbook Lite, as you might guess, comes from the team behind Scoutbook, the BSA’s advancement-tracking web app that has more than 1 million users. The Lite version of Scoutbook will incorporate key elements of the paid version.

Even after Scoutbook Lite is released, the Scoutbook team will continue to work on and improve Scoutbook as the full-featured application. That means you can expect frequent exciting updates.

Scoutbook Lite: What to expect

Scoutbook Lite will offer optimized functions for almost everything found in the current Internet Advancement platform.

I say almost, because one feature won’t be making the leap to Scoutbook Lite. The system will no longer support the CSV data file import.

The BSA found that less than 10 percent of units used this feature in Internet Advancement. The team focused instead on tools that more Scouters need and want.

Are you a programmer?

As Steve Jobs used to say, there’s “one more thing.”

Scouters experienced in the development of apps or web platforms will be excited to learn that the BSA will roll out a number of APIs (application programming interfaces).

The BSA will release a selection of specific, read-only APIs to Scouting volunteers in the first half of 2018. There are no current plans to roll out APIs to third parties.

Eagle Scout who helped passengers after Amtrak derailment credits Scout training

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Daniel Konzelman, a 24-year-old Eagle Scout, was driving to work with his girlfriend when he noticed an Amtrak train zipping past him.

He was cruising along at 60 or 65 mph, so he knew the train was going faster than that.

“I’d never seen a train going that fast in the past,” he told the Seattle Times. “I drive that stretch every day.”

We now know the Amtrak Cascades 501 train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone when it derailed Monday over Interstate 5 in DuPont, Wash. Three passengers were killed and dozens more were hurt.

Konzelman came upon the scene moments later as everyone started braking in front of him.

“I looked up and saw the train was hanging off,” Konzelman said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this was major.’”

Acting fast

Konzelman and his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, were in their work clothes. They hurriedly put on some boots and grabbed a flashlight.

They were among the first on the scene.

“Nobody was there, nobody was leading or responding to the incident,” Konzelman told CBS News. “I did my best to sort of take charge of the situation.”

In all, Konzelman, Hoverson and a police officer helped about 15 people escape the train. Many of the victims had broken ankles and bleeding head wounds. Most were in some state of shock.

Konzelman helped as many people escape the dangerous situation as he could. For those who were pinned, Konzelman was a calming presence, comforting them and praying with them until emergency workers could arrive.

Crediting Scouting

Konzelman says his Scout training taught him what to do in an emergency. He became an Eagle Scout on Feb. 25, 2012, as a member of Troop 604 of Eatonville, Wash., part of the Pacific Harbors Council.

As any Eagle Scout will tell you, you never think you’ll need to use the first aid skills you learn as a Scout. Until you do.

“I think it was all those Boy Scout camps I went to and the First Aid merit badge, the Lifesaving badge, that helped me know what to do,” he told the Seattle Times. “I’m thankful for God who gave me the courage to go in there.”

Konzelman’s heroism involves more than knowing how to treat a bleeding wound. It’s about being helpful, friendly and brave, too.

“What would I want somebody to do for me if I was in that position?” he told CBS News. “Or if one of my brothers was in that position?”

Media attention

In any scary news story, they say to look for the helpers.

That’s exactly what major media outlets did after the derailment. They looked for helpers like Daniel Konzelman.

In addition to CBS News and the Seattle Times, Konzelman’s heroism has been covered by the Associated Press, People magazine, ABC News, the Boston Herald, CNN and many more local and national outlets.

His highest-profile appearance so far was Tuesday’s episode of CBS This Morning. After the two-minute piece, which you can watch below, the hosts briefly discussed Konzelman.

“No surprise, Anthony, that that guy is an Eagle Scout,” Gayle King told Anthony Mason.

“Eagle Scouts should be very proud of him today,” Mason responded.

This may be the Scouty-est Christmas tree we’ve ever seen

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O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how Scouty are thy branches.

Charles Boone, an Eagle Scout from Dormont, Pa., showed off the Scouting-themed Christmas tree he’s rocking around this year.

Instead of traditional ornaments, Charles embellished his tree with patches earned during his years in Scouting. Instead of a star or angel tree-topper, Charles crowned the tree with his staff hat from the 2017 National Jamboree. And instead of a fancy tree skirt, Charles used Scout neckerchiefs and his Order of the Arrow sash.

The tree’s signature element is Charles’ merit badge sash, draped over the tree in a way that ties everything together. Visible from the front are some — but not all — of the 137 merit badges Charles has earned.

Charles’ mom, Monica, sent me the photo of her son and his tree.

She said Scouting memories presented in this way “make the holiday season bright.”

Scouting the holidays

Do you have any Scouting-themed holiday decorations in your home? Let me know in the comments.

More photos of Charles’ tree

Tattoo parlor, community support troop after tree lot theft

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Josh Hughes admits he wasn’t the perfect Boy Scout. He participated in the program for only a couple of months, but his short time in Scouting made a lasting impact.

The owner of Emerald Tattoo and Piercing ensures his three California shops give back through charity drives and donations to the community.

“I wouldn’t give money to something I didn’t believe in,” he says.

He believes in Scouting.

When he saw on social media that a tip jar was stolen from Troop 59’s Christmas tree lot in Elk Grove, Calif., earlier this month, he immediately called his accountant and cut a $200 check for the Scouts (Russ McSwain, Emerald Tattoo operations manager, is pictured delivering the check). The troop shares a parking lot during its annual fundraiser with the tattoo parlor’s Elk Grove location, just south of Sacramento.

“They’re a good group of kids,” Hughes says. “They’re like local celebrities; they’re a pretty active troop.”

Celebrity Scouts

Troop 59, established in 1921, has run a Christmas tree lot for decades, raising money for summer camp and its general fund. Every one of the troop’s 63 boys chips in starting the weekend before Thanksgiving to keep the lot open every day, leading up to the big holiday.

This year, the boys were aiming to sell 670 trees. They essentially sold out. The troop only had 20 trees remaining last week, so the boys donated the rest to the local food bank, which will give the trees to families who can’t afford one this year.

“I think overall the community has been a very supportive of the boys and the program,” Scoutmaster Jonathan J. Schrader says. “The Boy Scouts of America is a legacy in the community.”

One of the oldest units in the Golden Empire Council, Troop 59 has seen 172 of its boys earn Eagle, many of whom have become “pillars in the community,” Schrader says. Some have had parks named after them and have been bestowed with the chamber of commerce’s Citizen of the Year honor.

The troop is not only known for its annual Christmas tree fundraiser and producing outstanding citizens, but the boys are often seen serving their neighbors.

“Our troop has a wonderful group of kind-hearted kids,” Schrader says.

The troop cleans up creeks; participates in Scouting for Food; serves a monthly breakfast with its chartering organization, the Lions Club, and helps out in the city’s Veterans Day parade. But, the Scouts volunteer beyond organized events. During one Veterans Day parade, the troop heard the museum needed a hand setting up decorations, so they pitched in for a half-day of work. When Emerald Tattoo held a charity drive for victims of wildfires, the Scouts (who were running a nearby pumpkin patch) came over to help.

This helpful attitude is one Scoutmaster Schrader hopes to instill in all the boys, so that they look for opportunities to do Good Turns, not to fulfill advancement requirements, but because it’s what Scouts should do.

“You should do something for the community not because you get something in return,” Schrader says. “You don’t go camping just to get the requirement done. You go to wake up and see steam coming off the ground in the morning, to see spectacular sunsets and to hear the owls hooting.”

Building a legacy

Cultivating a beloved, active unit is no small task. Schrader credits the troop’s adult committee with more than 20 members strong. He also thanks parents who stay invested in the troop after their boys have aged out of the program. Former Scoutmaster Nick Garcia, for example, stops by the Christmas tree lot every year to serve hot chocolate and apple cider.

The troop goes on about 10 outings a year, including snow camp, camporee and backpacking trips. Being around for nearly a century, the unit has seen both lean and strong membership years. To help attract new Scouts, Troop 59 hosts a couple of events, aimed at Webelos. The troop invites the older Cubs on a campout and to a gingerbread house recruitment night.

Putting forth such a positive example of what Scouting can be not only influences Cub Scouts, but also those not currently involved in Scouting.

Hughes, a father of three boys and two girls, is considering getting his children involved in Cub and Boy Scouting. He believes boys should be taught good citizenship and basic survival skills.

“The Boy Scouts help push that,” Hughes says.

The recent tip jar incident prompted Hughes to give as well as a Lions Club member and a 9-year-old girl in the community. Troop 59 committee chair Chris Joyce says it’s been “awesome” to witness the outpouring of support for the Scouts.

7 things to know about the blind triplets who earned the Eagle Scout award

Bryan On Scouting -

Blind triplets Leo, Nick and Steven Cantos didn’t take any shortcuts on their way to becoming Eagle Scouts. They completed the same rigorous requirements as everyone else who has earned Scouting’s highest honor.

That’s just one of the incredible facts about these impressive young men who have been covered extensively on TV, in print and online.

Here are seven things to know about these incredible Eagle Scouts:

1. They had a tough life growing up

Leo, Nick and Steven were blind since birth. They were born in Colombia three months premature.

They grew up in Arlington, Va., and their single mother had a tough time caring for them. She worked two jobs and tried to shelter them from the chaos of the outside world.

As a result, the three rarely went outside. In 2014, Leo told NPR’s StoryCorps about one of his few highlights growing up. The boys were 7 and went to McDonald’s and the park.

“Every day was like: Wake up, go to school, come back home, and then you stay there for the rest of the day,” Leo said. “There were certain things that I wish I could do, like I wish I could go out and play in the snow like everyone else. ‘Cause I’ve heard kids through the window — we could hear that they were having fun.”

They were bullied, too. At church and at school, other kids would harass them.

2. They met a blind man who changed everything

The triplets were 10 when Ollie Cantos, who is blind, came knocking on their door.

Ollie, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., had heard about the boys through a friend at church.

“He had this feeling like I had to meet them,” Cantos told People magazine. “He also told me that they had never met someone else who was blind.”

Among the many ways Ollie connected with Leo, Nick and Steven: He had been bullied, too.

Ollie remembers being intentionally tripped in the hallway at school. He remembers kids holding their hands in front of his face and asking, “How many fingers am I holding up?” He remembers trying to hide his blindness for years.

3. Ollie adopted the triplets

Ollie began teaching Leo, Nick and Steven how to use their cane, how to cook, how to cross a busy street. He took them to doctors’ appointments and helped them study. He taught them that being blind shouldn’t stop them from reaching their dreams.

Ollie began the adoption process soon after meeting the boys in 2010. With their mother’s blessing, Ollie visited the boys after work and invited them to stay with him on the weekends.

Teachers who had worked with the boys grew curious and did a little investigating into Ollie: “Who was this guy?”

They were satisfied that the boys were safe. They determined that Ollie, who had spent years advocating for people with disabilities and served at the White House under President George W. Bush, was just the father figure the triplets needed.

In 2016, the boys’ mother agreed to name Ollie their legal guardian.

“At first it was just fun to spend time with them,” Ollie told the Washingtonian. “But it became clear very quickly that there was more to this — so much more than I could ever have imagined.”

4. They joined Scouting in 2012

Leo, Nick and Steven became Boy Scouts in 2012, and their troop leaders were welcoming right away.

The leaders made accommodations when necessary, but mostly they challenged the triplets to stretch themselves.

The boys chopped wood with an ax, built fires, and shot bows and arrows. For the Wilderness Survival merit badge, they built a shelter and slept in it. One time, they even visited the shooting range.

“You should have seen the looks on the faces of the employees of the shooting range when we brought Nick, Leo, Ollie and Steven out,” Nathan Graham, one of the troop’s leaders, told the Washingtonian.

Ollie watched firsthand as the boys’ time in Troop 601 helped shape them into strong, independent young men.

“I am so grateful for the Scouting program that enables them to learn these skills and be a part of a great community of other boys,” Ollie told “The troop has done so much to integrate them with their peers. Everyone has been blessed because of it.”

5. Each completed a terrific Eagle Scout project

This article on outlines the Eagle Scout service projects each young man completed.

Steven collected school supplies for low-income schoolchildren. His goal was to collect enough for 90 students, but he ended up collecting enough for 130.

“I decided that education is important, so let’s give them school supplies,” Steven told

Leo collected blood and blankets for the children’s hospital where he spent a month re-learning how to walk. He collected 88 units of blood and 77 blankets.

“I wanted to give back to the kids, because I saw the kids there and I saw how they were not doing too well,” Leo told

Nick collected hygiene supplies for a nonprofit that helps abused women and families. He collected about $2,000 worth of supplies.

“It took a lot of planning, it took a lot of work and papers,” Nick told “The craziest part was seeing all my Scout friends and leaders and brothers helping me to do this, and me managing this thing.”

6. They became Eagle Scouts in 2017

The boys’ Scouting journey reached its triumphant summit on July 26, 2017. That’s the official day the boys earned their Eagle Scout Award.

Although the BSA permits the use of alternative requirements for Scouts with disabilities, Leo, Nick and Steven completed the requirements as written, according to WTTG-TV.

“I’ve always seen myself as the person who just happens to be blind,” Steven told ABC News. “For me, I just happen to have a disability. It’s not the defining factor of my life. I made it the same way as other Eagle Scouts. Everyone has difficulties in their lives. We all have trials. That’s how life is.”

Many news outlets have reported that Leo, Nick and Steven are the first blind triplets to become Eagle Scouts in the history of the award.

7. They use special technology to help them ‘see’ the world

The Washington Post writes about the special technology that helps Steven, Nick and Leo better experienced the world around them.

They wear glasses from a company called Aria. The glasses have a camera that streams live video to a real person hundreds or thousands of miles away. That person serves as the wearer’s eyes, describing everything in the camera’s view.

“It’s like an audio description of life,” Nick told the Post.

Next up for the triplets? They’ll spend six months at the Carroll Center for the Blind near Boston. There they’ll learn the skills needed for independent adult living.

After that, it’s off to college, where anything is possible.


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