Scouting News from the Internet

Let’s break out of the ‘recruiting season’ and welcome new Cub Scouts this winter

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What’s even more fun than being part of a Cub Scout den? Having at least five kids your age in your den!

Whether it’s a den for boys or a den for girls, everyone has a better experience if there are more Cub Scouts to share the fun.

That’s why, even though the traditional fall recruiting season has ended, it’s crucial to continue working on recruiting boys and girls into your pack.

Widening the recruiting window has become a passion for Linda Baker, the volunteer who leads the national New Member Coordinator team. Her list of credentials is long, but I can summarize them in just four words: Silver Buffalo Award recipient.

“Let’s make recruiting continuous rather than seeing it as a seasonal kind of event,” she says. “It’s important for each pack to work on filling every den.”

New Member Coordinators can spread the word about Scouting and help recruit. Once these families join your pack, the job isn’t over, though. Your pack’s New Member Coordinator or a similarly dedicated Scout leader can make these new Cub Scouts feel welcome and not left behind.

“We want to get the new families off to a really good start,” Baker says, “whether it’s in December or January or August.”

Here’s what else I learned from my chat with Baker.

Recruit with a message of service

Millennial moms and dads teach their children the importance of helping others. They’re looking for opportunities to practice what they preach, and Cub Scouting provides exactly that.

Invite neighborhood families to be part of specific kindnesses the pack is providing to the community.

“Helping others is so important to this generation of families,” Baker says. “As we involve them in projects the pack is doing, we can use that opportunity to let them know that Scouting does this all the time.”

Encourage pack parents to use social media

Millennial moms and dads get some of their parenting guidance from social media. They feel close to the people with whom they are connected online.

Encourage your current pack parents to post photos and videos of all the great activities they’re doing in Cub Scouting.

“If they show others the service they’re doing with the community and the fun they’re having, all of that resonates with people who are looking at their social media,” Baker says. “That’s much more effective than advertising.”

Hold a second recruiting event

Hold a “soft-sell” recruiting event in a public venue — somewhere people who aren’t legacy Scouting families might congregate.

It’ll help if you can allow kids to experience some of the activities they’ll enjoy in Cub Scouting at this fun, free gathering.

“I think it’s great to involve whatever new families you already have in the pack,” Baker says.

Don’t view recruiting as a one-time thing

Work to develop relationships with those you seek to recruit and retain.

Instead of taking a one-and-done approach to recruiting, think of it as a continuous process that goes well beyond the first meeting.

“It’s all about relationships as we focus on welcoming new members,” Baker says.

Make sure they don’t feel left behind

There will be some need for new members to catch up. Den leaders can champion this effort, but they should use their den chief to help.

(A den chief is a Boy Scout, Venturer or Sea Scout who assists a den leader.)

“There’s a great opportunity for the den chief to give some focus to the kids who have joined later, to help them do any adventures that the den has already completed. They can catch up by working in small groups or completing activities with their family,” Baker says. “The adventures are designed to be adaptable.”

You might also consider holding one or more additional den meetings for these new members to get them up to speed.

“It’s a matter of everybody putting the effort in,” Baker says.

Develop the ‘roots and wings’

Baker, who has a background in education and child psychology, says Scouting helps develop “roots and wings” in kids.

The “roots” refer to the sense of belonging that Cub Scouts feel as a part of a den and pack.

Once those roots are established, Baker says, “they feel comfortable enough to develop the wings — and pursue that sense of adventure.”

By continuing to recruit, you’re developing even more roots and wings in the youth of America.

Sea Scout Ship 24, the oldest continuously operated Sea Scout ship, turns 95

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There were plenty of Sea Scout ships around before Ship 24 of Houston set sail in 1923.

But when those other ships let their charters lapse during World War II, Ship 24 stayed afloat.

Sea Scouts, BSA, officials confirmed to me this week that “the Jolly Roger,” to use Ship 24’s swashbuckling nickname, is the oldest continuously operated ship in the country.

It’s been around, without interruption, for 95 years.

That’s 95 years of young men and young women forming lifelong friendships, learning essential leadership skills and performing service for the Houston area and beyond.

Karen Hooper Green holds a photo of herself, taken in 1975, as a member of Sea Scout Ship 24. Ship 24’s history of service

Ship 24 has weaved itself into the very fabric of the city of Houston.

During World War II, members of Ship 24 served as “coastal watchers.” The Coast Guard was needed for wartime activities, so the Sea Scouts patrolled Galveston Bay to assist recreational boaters and fishermen.

In 1947, after an explosion in Texas City, Texas, killed nearly 600 people, members of Ship 24 served as messengers. Cellphones didn’t exist, and roads were closed, so the uniformed Sea Scouts carried important missives to emergency officials by bicycle or on foot.

In 2017, in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Sea Scouts from Ship 24 unloaded supplies and assisted victims at NRG Stadium.

Every time their city needed them, Ship 24 answered the call.

Ship 24 celebrates its 95th birthday

In December 2018, current and past members of Ship 24 gathered for a giant party to celebrate the ship’s 95 years.

They ate cake, watched a slideshow and heard stories about Ship 24’s importance to Houston and the BSA’s Sam Houston Area Council.

Kara Hooper Green attended and was delighted to see someone had brought a photo of her as a Sea Scout in 1975. She said her father, Henry Hooper, was the ship’s top adult leader, called the skipper.

“He told me stories about the ship, so I decided to join,” Green said. “He was a professional photographer for Exxon and a former member of the ship.”

The winds continue to billow Ship 24’s sails today. Leaders tell me Ship 24 will have five young men and young women achieve the rank of Quartermaster in 2019.

The rank, the highest in Sea Scouting, is one of the hardest achievements in the Boy Scouts of America. Few ships have even a single Quartermaster recipient in a year. Five in one year would be impressive, indeed.

“We have a 95-year history of seagoing traditions and selfless service to community and country,” says current Skipper Rodger Brown. “We look toward the future to continue that legacy.”

Thanks to Neal Farmer for the tip, photos and additional reporting.

How a troop from Florida planned an affordable ski trip to Montana

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Inspired by a story the Scouts read in Boys’ Life magazine, a troop from Florida is heading to Montana this month for a once-in-a-lifetime ski trip.

Over four days, they’ll tour Yellowstone National Park on a snowcat, work on the Snow Sports merit badge, learn about avalanche rescue from members of the ski patrol and spend two days skiing at the magnificent Big Sky Resort.

All that fun, plus a cross-country flight, must cost the Scouts of Troop 610 a fortune, right?

That’s where this story gets really interesting.

Thanks to careful planning, group discounts and troop fundraisers, each Scout will pay just $750 out of pocket. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s a fraction of what these families would spend to take a similar trip on their own.

I talked with Troop 610’s Stephanie Thomas to learn more.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling It began in Boys’ Life

As 2017 came to a close, Thomas’ son Jack was reading the January 2018 issue of Boys’ Life magazine.

He flipped to Aaron Derr’s cover story, accompanied by some stunning photos from W. Garth Dowling. The story introduces readers to Scouts who went skiing at Big Sky Resort in Montana.

“Skiing is something everybody can learn how to do,” one Scout told Derr. “And once you learn, it’s really enjoyable.”

That was enough convincing. Jack proposed the trip to the troop for early 2019. That would give them a year to fundraise and plan the epic adventure.

Planning the trip

The Scouts did most of the planning. They selected the itinerary, created packing lists and led pre-trip lessons at monthly troop meetings. They did pretty much anything that didn’t involve booking something with a credit card.

That’s just the way it’s supposed to work in a youth-led troop.

It helps that the Montana Council offers its own skiing package for Scouts.

In Derr’s companion story in Scouting magazine, he uncovered how the council negotiates impossibly low rates for Scouts attending its annual Big Sky Ski Weekend.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling Extending the trip

The Scouts soon realized that flying seven hours from Tampa, Fla., to Bozeman, Mont., is a lot for just two days.

“So the Scouts decided to add two extra days to the trip so that we could visit Yellowstone,” Thomas says. “None of us have ever been to Yellowstone, much less seen it in the snow.”

As the troop’s camping chair, Thomas pored over the trip details to make sure everything would be perfect. That’ll make her time on the trip more enjoyable as she sits back to watch the Scouts lead.

“They will set the pace of the trip and be responsible for checking gear and reviewing cold-weather safety, including first aid and wilderness survival in the snow before we go,” she says. “The older Scouts will be responsible for making sure we stay on task and keeping everyone focused and safe.”

Fundraising for the trip

After the schedule was set, the price emerged: $1,000 per person. Wanting to lower that out-of-pocket cost, the Scouts scheduled a series of fundraisers.

They gift-wrapped gifts for Father’s Day at Bass Pro Shops, held a garage sale, and sold holiday wreaths and mulch. Each money-earning project was done with the ski trip in mind.

“I find that Scouts are more motivated to participate in the fundraising when they know they are going to get to go on these special trips,” Thomas says.

The fundraisers were so successful that the troop was able to knock $250 off each Scout’s cost.

Saving money for the trip

Thomas and the Scouts devised some other ways to save money for their trip:

  • Ask for group rates any time you’re booking tickets or travel.
  • Stay at hotels or motels that include a free breakfast.
  • Track plane ticket prices to buy at the cheapest moment.
  • Borrow gear from other troops. (For this trip, Troop 610 is borrowing snow bibs and jackets from another troop.)
You can do it, too!

Can your troop or Venturing crew pull off a similarly awesome adventure? Absolutely.

Thomas says long-distance Scouting trips aren’t more difficult; they just require more planning.

Everyone plays a role: Scouts plan the itinerary, adults support the Scouts and parents make the financial commitment.

“Trips outside of your normal monthly camping are so rewarding, and the Scouts will remember them for a lifetime,” Thomas says. “These trips keep the older Scouts engaged and interested in Scouting and expose them to what all the world has to offer.”

Thomas says longer trips present Scouts with opportunities to test themselves.

“The Scouts learn to work together to help each other overcome these challenges,” she says. “By the end of the trip, these Scouts bond like never before.”

2019 Order of the Arrow national officers elected; here’s who represents your region

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Matt Parsons, an Eagle Scout and Sea Scout from Delaware, has been elected by his peers to serve as National Chief of the Order of the Arrow.

Parsons, along with National Vice Chief Eric Harrison of Illinois and four region chiefs, will serve and represent nearly 200,000 members of the OA, the Boy Scouts of America’s national honor society.

Their terms will run throughout 2019, which will be a historically significant year for the OA.

Beginning Feb. 1, the OA will open unit elections to Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships. Previously, elections only were for Boy Scout troops.

The OA has welcomed female leaders since 1988, but the move will mean young women who are under 21 will be eligible for election into the service-minded society for the first time.

The busy year continues in March, when OA members will travel to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for Philbreak 2019. They’ll spend their spring break helping Philmont recover from last summer’s destructive wildfires.

Let’s meet your national OA officers and introduce you to the chief for your region. (Not sure which region you’re in? I’ve blogged about that.)

2019 National OA Chief: Matt Parsons

  • From: Millsboro, Del. (Del-Mar-Va Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2006, Eagle Scout, Sea Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Nentego Lodge
  • Education: Studies architectural engineering at Delaware Technical Community College
  • Favorite hobby: Sailing
  • Quotable: “2019 will be a turning point for our organization. The things that we accomplish this year will leave an impact on not only how effective our program is today, but how successful we are in the future.”
2019 National OA Vice Chief: Eric Harrison

  • From: Taylorville, Ill. (Abraham Lincoln Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2006, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Illinek Lodge
  • Education: Studies marketing at Lincoln Land Community College, intends to major in marketing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Favorite hobbies: Playing soccer and spending time with friends and family
  • Quotable: “We have a special opportunity to impact Arrowmen nationwide in 2019. I’m looking forward to taking part in this special time for our Order!”
2019 Central Region Chief: Brandon Stahl

  • From: Mishawaka, Ind. (LaSalle Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2007, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Sakima Lodge
  • Education: Intends to major in political science and wants to work for the State Department
  • Favorite hobbies: Hiking and camping
  • Quotable: “Extremely excited for the work we have planned in 2019 and looking forward to focusing on offering support to all our lodges in the coming year. Hoping to visit as many lodge events as possible around our region and nation.”
2019 Southern Region Chief: Sid Salazar

  • From: Franklin, Tenn. (Middle Tennessee Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2007, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge
  • Education: Studies business administration at Georgia Tech University
  • Favorite hobby: Playing basketball
  • Quotable: “This coming year is one filled with incredible potential and opportunity. I am ecstatic to be welcoming our first youth females into the Order, and developing more youth leaders across the country.”
2019 Northeast Region Chief: Ethan Mooney

  • From: Zelienople, Pa. (Moraine Trails Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2004, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Kuskitannee Lodge
  • Education: Studies cybersecurity/computer science at Slippery Rock University
  • Favorite hobbies: Soccer, skiing, kayaking and hanging with friends
  • Quotable: “I am looking forward to seeing what we are able to accomplish.”
2019 Western Region Chief: Antonyo Mitchell

  • From: Everett, Wash. (Mount Baker Council)
  • Scouting background: Member since 2007, Eagle Scout
  • OA background: Vigil Honor member from Sikhs Mox Lamonti Lodge
  • Education: Studies molecular and cellular biology at the University of Washington
  • Favorite hobbies: Photography and playing video games
  • Quotable: “I am excited to travel, meet and discuss best practices from chapter and lodge chiefs across the country.”
Your three national youth officers

As national chief, Matt Parsons joins 2018-19 National Venturing Officers’ Association President Dominic Wolters and 2018-19 National Sea Scout Boatswain Jack Otto as the three highest-ranking youth leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.

These three youth leaders sit on the BSA’s National Executive Board, helping shape the future of our great movement.

As one of his first acts, Matt will join Dominic, Jack and a group of other impressive Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s Report to the Nation in March in Washington, D.C.

Happy New Year! Scoutbook is now free for Scouts and Scout units

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Fellow Scouters, 2019 is off to a great start.

Scoutbook, the Boy Scouts of America’s online tool for managing and tracking Scouting advancement, is now completely, totally, 100 percent free. The change became official today — Jan. 1, 2019.

Longtime users know how Scoutbook makes it easy (and fun!) for Scouts, parents and leaders to track advancement and milestone achievements along the Scouting trail.

Before 2019, individuals, units or councils paid a small annual fee — up to $1 per Scout per year — to access Scoutbook’s suite of unit-management features.

In 2019 and beyond, those same great features are available for the best possible price: $0.

Now everyone can learn what more than 1 million users already know: Scoutbook can improve your Scouting experience.

Here’s what else you need to know:

How will my unit be affected?
  • Units with a current Scoutbook account will continue to use Scoutbook as before.
  • Councils that provide Scoutbook accounts for their units will no longer need to manage a subscription process for units starting a new account.
  • Units without a current Scoutbook account will be able to access Scoutbook free on Scoutbook.com and elsewhere.
How will subscriptions/renewals work in 2019 and beyond?

The need to subscribe or renew annually will become unnecessary.

Once your unit is on Scoutbook, you’ll be set for as long as your unit would like to continue using this free tool.

How will making Scoutbook free affect its performance?

Scoutbook will only continue to improve.

The BSA IT and Member Care teams will continue to support Scoutbook with their timely service and quality resources. Scoutbook performance enhancements have been implemented regularly over the years, and its performance is continually monitored. That will continue.

What’s new in this release of Scoutbook?

Scoutbook has a new Single Sign On (SSO) process that will allow users to easily create accounts with the same properties as my.scouting accounts.

You’ll use the same account credentials (username and password) for both platforms. This makes things much easier for users by streamlining the login process.

For details, consult this list of Frequently Asked Questions [PDF], which includes a step-by-step guide for use of SSO.

Where can I get more information about this change in Scoutbook?

Keep an eye on Scoutbook.com for all the latest updates.

If you still have questions, you can always contact the friendly and helpful folks at Scoutbook support. Their email: Scoutbook.support@scouting.org

BSA Safety Moments offer one-page advice on dozens of Scouting topics

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It just takes a moment to make your pack, troop or crew a little bit safer.

With its Safety Moments, covering a range of topics from acute mountain sickness to zip lines, the Boy Scouts of America’s Health and Safety team hopes to make Scouting an even safer place, one page at a time.

“These are attempts to simplify and streamline complex topics,” says Health and Safety team lead Richard Bourlon. “It’s so much better to prevent rather than react to an incident.”

How does a Scouter use a Safety Moment?

Safety Moments can be viewed online or downloaded as a print-suitable PDF to share with others.

Speaking of, Bourlon suggests starting each meeting with a Safety Moment on a timely topic.

Winter camping trip coming up? There’s a Safety Moment for that. Horseback riding? There’s one for that, too. Launching model rockets? Yes, indeed.

“Use them at your University of Scouting, your board meetings, your roundtables, as well,” he says.

But remember the operative word: moment. Don’t spend more than a few minutes on this.

What topics are covered in Safety Moments?

There are 76 Safety Moments so far, and they’re all collected on this page.

Some of the Safety Moments, like the ones about frostbite or snake bites, offer practical solutions to use in emergencies.

Others are more contemplative. There’s one about helping Scouts build resilience, while another provides ways adults can fight obesity in young people.

And still others are beyond words entirely. I’m thinking of my personal favorite: Nap on Safely.

Take a look, and see which Safety Moments will benefit your Scouts.

What are the most popular Safety Moments?

About 40,000 people have visited the Safety Moments page so far. The three most popular, as of this writing:

  1. Annual Health and Medical Record
  2. Aquatics
  3. Bunk Beds
What’s the plan for adding more Safety Moments?

The team’s original goal was to have 36 Safety Moments, says BSA Health and Safety consultant Hannah Coffey.

“However, based on their popularity, we have been adding them as we see an opportunity for timely topics,” she says. “We know many people are crunched for time, so a Safety Moment is a great way to quickly convey a message about possible risks or hazards.”

If you have an idea for a new Safety Moment, contact the Health and Safety team.

Philbreak 2019: Spend your spring break helping Philmont recover from wildfires

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A Scout’s promise “to help other people at all times” doesn’t take spring break off.

That’s why hundreds of Scouts, Venturers and adult volunteers will gather at Philmont Scout Ranch in March and early April for Philbreak 2019, a chance to help the legendary Scouting destination recover from the Ute Park Fire.

Ever since the fires at Philmont were extinguished, the Philmont Recovery Corps has been working hard both to prepare for crews in 2019 and to mitigate future fire risk. Philbreak will accelerate that process.

Philbreak 2019 volunteers, who must be 16 or older, will help with slope stabilization projects, revegetation efforts, campsite installation and forest thinning. The exact locations and projects won’t be pinpointed until March.

How is the Philmont recovery progressing?

The Philmont Recovery Corps has taken advantage of several snows to burn slash piles created during the summer and in previous years.

The Corps is staging campsite equipment and will soon begin moving into the backcountry to add more campsites, set up new staff camps and work on trails to support the 2019 itineraries.

To learn more about their progress, see the cool infographic at the end of this post. Even though the Philmont Recovery Corps is doing a great job, they can use your help. Speaking of …

When is Philbreak 2019?

There are four weeks available. The first is an initiative of the Philmont Staff Association, which was one of the first groups to step up with financial support after the fires broke out.

The remaining three sessions are put on by the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society. Spring break service projects have become one of the OA’s signature efforts each year. In 2018, Arrowmen traveled to Puerto Rico and Florida to complete hurricane-recovery projects.

Philbreak sessions:

  1. Philmont Staff Association: March 2 to 9
  2. OA: March 16 to 23
  3. OA: March 23 to 30
  4. OA: March 30 to April 6
How many spaces are available?
  • Week 1 (Philmont Staff Association): 30 slots, filled in the order received
  • Weeks 2 to 4 (OA): 50 slots per week, filled in the order received

Once all the spots fill up, applicants will be put on a waiting list. (Only in Scouting would there be a waiting list of people eager to perform service for a week.)

Who is eligible?

Week 1 (Philmont Staff Association): PSA members and their eligible family members. Trek-eligible family members include your spouse, child or stepchild, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law of the PSA member. Don’t register anyone who does not meet these requirements. The minimum age is 16 by date of participation.

Weeks 2 to 4 (Order of the Arrow): Order of the Arrow members with current BSA registrations. The minimum age is 16 by date of participation.

Other requirements include:

  • Completion of the full high-adventure Annual Health and Medical Record
  • Desire to work hard over long hours with good crew spirit and a sense of humor
  • Ability to carry a 50-pound pack, dig, drag debris and move heavy loads
What is the cost?
  • Week 1 (Philmont Staff Association): $210, which includes meals, lodging in roofed housing at the Philmont Training Center and transportation to and from the worksite
  • Weeks 2 to 4 (OA): $100, which includes meals, lodging in roofed housing at the Philmont Training Center and transportation to and from the worksite

The fees do not include transportation to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. You’ll need to arrange your own trip there by plane, train or car.

Where can I register and learn more? Where can I see an infographic about the Philmont Recovery Corps?

Right here! Thanks to Philmont’s marketing manager Dominic Baima for sending.

Scouting Show and Tell: Share photos of your favorite Dutch oven recipes

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It’s time for Show and Tell, where Scouters show their favorite photos based on the topic and tell the story behind them.

Visit go.scoutingmagazine.org/showandtell. You can also email us at scoutingmag@gmail.com, or share via social media using #ScoutingShowandTell.

Upload a photo as a comment below. Just click the image icon at the bottom of any comment box and choose which file you’d like to upload. You can also drag an image file directly into the comment box. Max file size is 2 MB, and you can upload these kinds of photos: JPG, JPEG, GIF and PNG.

If you open the January-February issue of Scouting, you’ll notice a new feature sporting the “Scouting Show & Tell” title. Yes, we want to highlight how you make Scouting shine in future issues of Scouting magazine.

In the January-February issue, we showcased Cub Scout cakes that you submitted to us. Some were simple, some were elaborate, all looked delicious and awesome.

Next time, we want to spotlight your Dutch oven recipes.

For this Scouting Show and Tell, please share the following:

  • A photo of the finished dish
  • A description on how to make it
  • Your unit number and hometown
  • A few sentences explaining when you made it and how well your dish was received

This Eagle Scout will inspire you to overcome any obstacle

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When Chip and Wendy Waggoner took parenting advice from their son’s doctor, they changed the course of his life forever.

The advice? Treat your son like a normal kid.

Benjamin has spina bifida. And now, he’s achieved Scouting’s highest rank.

His journey to Eagle Scout took a ton of work. But this Scout overcame challenges in much the same way any volunteer or Scout faces roadblocks: with the support of the Scouting community.

Benjamin explained how important it was to have the support of volunteers and his fellow Scouts.

“To me, Scouting is all about that — just helping people be successful,” he said.

Benjamin’s dad works as a traffic reporter on the Dallas-Fort Worth Fox affiliate. He recently shared his amazement at Benjamin’s accomplishments.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life. I think few would expect to see something like this in existence … a kid in a wheelchair [become] an Eagle Scout,” he told FOX 4.

You can check out Benjamin’s story in the video below and on the BSA Brand Center. There, you can download the video to share this young man’s incredible accomplishments with parents, new Scouts, your social media followers or anyone who could use a great message about the perseverance and grit of Scouts!

Even though Benjamin’s parents built their son’s upbringing on the notion of being a normal kid, when he become Eagle Scout 527 in Troop 890, he proved he isn’t normal. He’s extraordinary!

Share your support for Benjamin below in the comments! And be sure give a shout out to the Scouts you know who have accomplished the incredible.

Greatest hits: The 10 most-read blog posts of 2018

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As 2018 ends, the flood of year-in-review stories begins.

It seems like everyone with a blog is sharing the 10 best movies or 10 best books or 10 best baby strollers of 2018.

Will the madness ever end? Maybe.

Anyway, today I’m sharing the 10 most-read Bryan on Scouting blog posts of 2018. These are the stories you and your fellow volunteers clicked on most in the past year.

2018 was a record year for this blog

I’m excited to share that the blog had 7.2 million page views in 2018. That’s the most ever and a 13 percent increase over 2017’s total.

I want to thank the editors and my fellow blog contributors who helped make this year a success.

But we couldn’t do it without you, the reader. Thanks for your excellent blog post ideas, insightful comments and continued readership in 2018. There’s much more to come in 2019.

On with the countdown …

10. ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ examines past, present, future of BSA

On Feb. 4, 2018 — Scout Sunday — CBS Sunday Morning made the Boy Scouts of America its cover story.

As the nearly eight-minute segment made clear, the BSA is prepared to meet the needs of busy families with programs that appeal to every family member — moms and dads, sons and daughters.

In February, we shared the video and our recap of what this positive story means for the BSA.

9. Scouters told to update Youth Protection training by Oct. 1

This year, the BSA released< an enhanced online Youth Protection training course that all volunteers and professionals must complete.

Even those Scout leaders who took the previous version of Youth Protection training needed to log into My.Scouting.org and complete the updated Youth Protection course. We were given until Oct. 1, 2018, to do so.

In March, we gave everyone a six-month heads up to update their training. In September, we told you how to log in and verify that your training is up to date.

8. Readers asked to settle over/under neckerchief debate

The BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia says, on page 13, that “the unit has a choice of wearing the neckerchief over the collar (with the collar tucked in) or under the collar.”

It’s recommended that units pick one style — over or under — for the entire unit. That way everyone’s uniform looks, well, uniform.

In May, we asked readers which style their units prefer — over or under.

7. Lions moves from pilot program to full-time part of Cub Scouting

On the heels of a successful pilot that introduced new families to Scouting and raised retention rates, Lions, the BSA’s Cub Scout program for kindergarten-age youth, became an official part of Cub Scouting this year.

The BSA used feedback from families participating in the pilot to add a rectangular rank patch, rank cards, an advancement chart and Lion adventure loops.

In February, we detailed all the excitement surrounding this news about Lions.

6. Major university cites Scouting in acceptance letter

We’ve all heard that Scouting experience will give a young person a leg up at a college, university or trade school.

But it’s always nice to see tangible proof that this is still the case.

In November, we shared a college acceptance letter sent to Andrew, an Eagle Scout from Texas. You’ll see that the time Andrew spent in Scouting mattered a great deal.

5. Georgia Eagle Scout completes Project of the Year

There are more than 50,000 Eagle Scout service projects completed each year, but only one is deemed the Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year.

For 2018, that one was the work of Nathan Fain. Nathan, an Eagle Scout in Troop 326 of LaGrange, Ga., won the 2018 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.

In June, we shared the inspiring story of Nathan’s efforts to build an innovative musical playground that’s fully accessible for students with physical or mental challenges.

4. Fires at Philmont force backcountry to close Photo by Thomas Mejia.

Extremely dry conditions and the continuing risk of fire forced Philmont to close its backcountry for the entire 2018 summer season. This meant all treks scheduled for summer 2018 were canceled.

In July, we shared the bad news. In August, we wrote about displaced crews that pivoted to alternate adventures. And in September, we discussed how you can help Philmont recover.

What’s the latest on Philmont’s recovery? I’ll share more in a full post soon, but the headline is that the Philmont Recovery Corps is working hard to prepare for 2019 crews. Philmont will be back!

3. Eagle Scouts should apply for these eight scholarships

Each year, higher education seems to come with a higher price tag.

Fortunately, some groups reward Eagle Scouts with scholarships that make college or a trade school a little more affordable.

We scoured the internet to find Eagle Scout scholarships and shared our findings in January. (We also updated the post in December, so the info’s still fresh.)

2. Scouts can earn these merit badges while doing schoolwork

Turns out several merit badge requirements align perfectly with schoolwork. Oh, and bonus points: There’s no BSA rule against going for double credit.

Makes that English essay seem a little more palatable, huh?

In August, we educated readers about five merit badges Scouts can earn while working on school assignments.

1. This was the least-earned merit badge in BSA history

One look at the requirements, and you’ll see why this was the least-earned merit badge in the history of the BSA.

To earn it, Scouts had to “invent and patent some useful article” and “show a working drawing or model of the same.”

In September, we looked back at why the badge was discontinued and what we know about the 10 Scouts who earned it.

Honorable mentions: Five popular stories not from 2018

Some posts were published before 2018 but still caught your eye this year. Here are the top 5, based on number of clicks:

  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: Can packs, troops or crews participate in political rallies?
  4. From 2012: 40 questions to ask at your next Eagle Board of Review
  5. From 2016: A parent helped build that Pinewood Derby car? Yes, that’s the point
In case you missed it: 8 essential posts of 2018

These weren’t in the top 10 of 2018, but they were close and I feel they’re worth revisiting:

  1. These 8 often-overlooked words in every merit badge pamphlet mean a lot
  2. Mr. T shows off his Scouting knowledge, donates to Cub Scouts selling popcorn
  3. Southwest Airlines pilot does a Good Turn for Scout
  4. The most important piece of summer camp gear for Scout leaders
  5. Square knot rankings: What are the most- and least-awarded?
  6. What Dick Van Dyke said about the BSA in 1971 still rings true
  7. Leaders invent homemade inflatable gaga ball pit
  8. Photo of Cub Scout keeping flag off ground goes viral
What were the most-read posts in previous years?

Check out the lists from:

Paramount Ranch, a popular site for TV shows and Eagle projects, aims for a sequel

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For the past decade, Paramount Ranch has been the perfect place for Boy Scouts who love movies and TV shows to perform their Eagle Scout service projects.

The National Park Service site near Agoura Hills, Calif., is home to a historic Old West movie set used in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on CBS, HBO’s Westworld and hundreds of other movie and TV productions.

Sadly, Paramount Ranch was heavily damaged in the wildfire, known as the Woolsey fire, that burned near Los Angeles last month. The fire destroyed a saloon, jail, sheriff’s station and other buildings. In doing so, it erased the hard work of several Eagle Scouts who performed service there.

For Troop 127 of Agoura Hills, Paramount Ranch has been a kind of backyard, says committee chairwoman Kathy Patton.

“So many childhood memories among troop Boy Scouts sprung from troop visits to the Western Town, hikes on the trails that surround it, and the leadership experience and volunteerism from many, many Eagle projects,” she says.

Learn more about Troop 127 and Paramount Ranch below. And read my previous posts about the Northern California fire and Southern California fire.

Fifteen Eagle projects

Over the past 10 years, Boy Scouts and volunteers from Troop 127 have completed 15 Eagle projects at Paramount Ranch.

Movie historian Mike Malone, who serves as the liaison between Troop 127 and the National Park Service, says these projects “will always hold a special place in my heart.”

“It’s been a true privilege to help these young men achieve their goals and, just as importantly, help to shape the life skills they learn from their projects,” he says.

While their projects might be gone, the leadership experience these young men gained lives on.

And as Paramount Ranch rebuilds, a new generation of Troop 127 Boy Scouts will lead the way.

Troop 127 and Paramount Ranch Justin Regan (wearing khaki shorts and green socks) stands with his volunteers after a job well done.

In 2009, Justin Regan of Troop 127 planned and executed his Eagle project at Paramount Ranch. He led volunteers as they refurbished picnic tables, repainted buildings, rebuilt a wall and redesigned the sign that hangs above the sheriff’s office.

His project is one in a long line of Troop 127 Eagle projects at the site. A few other recent projects:

  • Justin Zilberstein built a rodent-proof storage room inside the former horse barn.
  • Pat Mrachek refurbished 17 picnic tables.
  • Kevin Mahoney built new railings on the stage of the pavilion and installed new fencing to protect the giant valley oak in town.
For his Eagle project earlier this year, Kevin Mahoney (left) installed new fencing at Paramount Ranch. What’s next?

At least two scheduled Eagle Scout projects at Paramount Ranch have been postponed.

Life Scout Tyler Rush planned to begin work this week on rebuilding the steps of the ranch’s church. The church, featured prominently in Westworld, was spared in the fire, but the site remains closed to Eagle projects until the National Park Service confirms that everything is totally safe.

Fortunately, Tyler doesn’t turn 18 until 2020, so he has some time to wait for the ranch to reopen or think of an alternate project.

The National Park Service announced last month that it plans to rebuild Paramount Ranch’s Western Town in two years. When volunteers are needed, Troop 127 leader Patton says she expects her Boy Scouts to be the first in line.

“We at Troop 127 are dedicated to supporting the Paramount project efforts to rebuild Paramount Ranch through fundraising efforts and recruiting Eagle candidates for projects at this special place,” she says.

In the meantime, Pack 127 and Troop 127 will continue to serve their community in other ways. Patton says the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have been visible and active since the fire. They have filled sandbags, collected donations and served meals to first responders.

When visitors return to Paramount Ranch, these young people will return, too. Their efforts will ensure this isn’t “The End” of this Paramount Ranch story. It’s more like, “To Be Continued.”

What you need to Be Prepared for the launch of Scouts BSA on Feb. 1, 2019

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With respect to Ryan Seacrest, the biggest countdown on the horizon happens exactly one month after New Year’s.

On Feb. 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America launches Scouts BSA.

It’s the same great program we currently call Boy Scouts, but it’ll be open to any young person — boy or girl — ages 11 to 17.

Volunteers, parents and young people have been preparing for Scouts BSA for months. At informal get-togethers across the country, families have formed a plan to start a Scouts BSA girl troop as soon as possible.

(Reminder: There will be separate Scouts BSA troops for girls and boys. Some units may choose to form a linked troop — separate boy and girl troops that share a chartered organization and troop committee.)

Sensing the excitement, the BSA has released a number of great resources to help you Be Prepared for Scouts BSA. Here they are, organized in a handy bulleted list.

Essential Scouts BSA resources, available now

What questions do you still have?

That’s a ton of great resources right there, and it represents the BSA’s commitment to help you Be Prepared.

But if you still have questions, I want to help.

Tell me in the comments what additional information you need to help your local Scouts BSA launch and recruiting efforts.

Please be as specific as possible, because I’ll use your questions to develop additional blog posts to help you in the weeks and months ahead.

Scout shoutout: Did you spot this Eagle Scout on TV last week?

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If you watched the Dec. 11, 2018, of Wheel of Fortune, you saw Pat Sajak ask Justin McClelland about an incredible accomplishment!

Justin is an Eagle Scout. He earned the honor in Plano, Texas.

To see how he fared on the show, check out the full episode below. Skip to 1:47 to see Justin explain his Eagle Project!

Wheel of Fortune: Scouting Style

Ready for a word puzzle of your own? Here’s a phrase every Scouter should know by heart. Solve it and let us know if you have this puzzle figured out. Drop a comment below (Sorry, no buying vowels or expecting a fortune for getting this one right).

Why this funny cartoon for kids is the most educational thing you’ll watch today

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What do guitar-strumming bears and top hat-wearing clydesdales have to do with cold-weather camping?

You’d have to watch December 2018’s episode of Tales From the Campfire to find out. And honestly, upon first watch, you may still not have an answer to that question. But take a closer look (be sure to keep the personalities of the youth you serve in mind):

The team at Boys’ Life has created a web series and comic to entertain readers and, more importantly, break down Scouting and everyday topics central to a Scout’s experience. And since the Boys’ Life team is involved, you know this series is bound to be kind of really immature.

But seriously, these videos are made with a young sense of humor in mind and incorporate important themes that support youth development for older kids and teens.

How leaders can use Tales From the Campfire as a learning tool

Did you know there are already nine episodes of Tales from the Campfire? Plus, Boys’ Life premieres a new one each month.

Here’s how that can make your unit’s meetings more fun (and a lot easier to plan).

Over the course of your next few crew or troop meetings, start off by showing one episode – make sure you’re connected to wifi, and pull the video up on a computer screen or tablet. Then, hit play and use the episode as a jumping-off point for a discussion related to a Scouting topic.

If your wifi connection is iffy, you can text or email an episode’s link to Scouts and their parents. Then ask them to watch the video before your meeting. When they arrive, they should be prepared to discuss a topic covered in the episode and how it relates to Scouting.

Here are some of the skills and program elements covered so far in Tales From the Campfire:

Not only will using this series at meetings help teach valuable Scout skills, it’ll also liven up your unit’s time together (which is awesome because entertained Scouts are engaged Scouts.)

How to watch Tales From the Campfire

Check out the full series on Boys’ Life. There, your Scouts will find funny character bios and the comics that inspire the series. Plus, they’ll be able to comment with ideas for future episodes.

What are some other ways you balance fun and learning in crew and troop meetings? Drop us a note in the comments so others can learn from your experience!

Let’s craft some great decorations for your next banquet or court of honor

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Your pack’s blue and gold banquet is coming up, and you want some great, fun decor for the event. Not just balloons and plastic table-runners. Something different, something unique. But going that route will cost a pretty penny, right?

Nope.

You (and your Cub Scouts) can make some cool, easy decorations that will help make the event one to remember. We understand you’re on a budget, so we created an instructional video series for creative crafts, using supplies you likely already have at home.

Campfire Centerpiece Uniform Silverware Setting Rice Candle Holder Origami Tent Popcorn Centerpiece

These crafts aren’t just for blue and gold banquets; you can amend any of them to fit your event. For more tips on rethinking your next Cub Scout dinner, see our latest “Cub Scout Corner.

Visit go.scoutingmagazine.org/crafts for the text versions of the tutorials on how to make the crafts above. Check them out, get inspired and have some fun!

Next big thing in Pinewood Derby racing: black lights and glow-in-the-dark cars

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Make your next Pinewood Derby race really shine by adding glow-in-the-dark accessories and iridescent paint to your Cub Scouts’ racers.

Want to turn up the excitement even more? Turn off the lights and shine a black light or two onto your track.

This season, the BSA’s Scout shop has introduced a new line of decals and wheels that look good in normal lighting but get even cooler when you add a black light.

I talked with Mallori Winters of the BSA’s Supply Group, and she says the new decals, wheels and paint are part of the BSA’s ongoing effort to introduce new and exciting Pinewood Derby accessories every year.

“We’re going to see some cars that really change the game,” she says.

How to run a Black Light Pinewood Derby

Adding black lights to your Pinewood Derby is easy and affordable.

First, buy a black light bulb or two. They’re available on Amazon or at your local hardware store and can be used to replace the existing bulbs in the room where you’ll hold your race.

Buy or borrow a clip-on lamp, replace the bulb with a black light bulb and clip the lamp to the top of your track.

Another option is to buy a black light bar, which can be mounted near the starting line. These are available for $15 to $40 on Amazon.

In testing, Winters found that one light covers a standard track. She uses double-sided tape to attach it to the top of the track and points the black light so it glows down the track.

New Pinewood Derby products

Here are the new items and their SKU numbers. These are available at ScoutShop.org and all 179 Scout shops.

647053 Kit Wheel & Axle Glow in the Dark 647054 Kit Wheel & Axle Grn 647055 Kit Wheel & Axle Pink 647056 Kit Wheel & Axle Purple 647451 Decal PWD Green Flames 647452 Decal PWD Girl Doodles 647453 Decal PWD Purple Power 647454 Decal PWD Girls Eyelashes 647455 Decal PWD Black Widow 647456 Decal PWD Girls Accessories 647457 Decal PWD Accessories 647825 Decal PWD SPLAT 647826 Kit Wheel & Axle Blue 648093 Kit Head & Tail Light 648094 Light Undermount Glow

Have a very particular set of skills? The World Scout Jamboree needs you on staff

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It’ll take a dedicated team of talented, motivated volunteers to welcome 45,000 Scouts and Scouters from 133 countries to the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.

That’s where you come in.

The 2019 World Scout Jamboree still needs a few Scouters with special skills to help make this once-in-a-generation event truly world class.

Most of the remaining openings on the International Service Team (or IST) are in highly specialized areas. All areas are still taking applications, but these are some key areas where I’ve been asked to highlight openings:

  • Mental health
  • Listening Ear
  • Stadium events
  • Scuba
  • Lifeguards
  • Logistics

I’ll go into each area in greater depth below. No matter the role, IST jobs let Scouters use their expertise to give back to Scouting on a global stage.

What is IST?

IST, or the International Service Team, is the term for “staff” at a World Scout Jamboree.

The first two words really say it all. As a member of the IST, you’ll join an international group of volunteers. And you’ll be performing a service to Scouts from around the world.

It’s not a vacation, and the pay is low (as in, you have to pay to attend). But the reward — ensuring a magical experience and lifelong memories for thousands of young people — is priceless.

IST job opening: Mental Health

Who is needed: Licensed psychiatrists, psychologists or mental health counselors to serve on the mental health staff. This will be the first World Scout Jamboree to have an organized staff dedicated specifically to the mental health needs of the participants.

Who is eligible:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Registered as a Scouter (or willing to register as one)
  • License to practice psychiatry, psychology or mental health counseling

How to apply: Visit the official site of your National Scout Organization’s contingent. (BSA volunteers, visit the 2019 World Scout Jamboree U.S. contingent site.) Select the position: “Medical/Mental Health/Listening Ear.”

Questions: Email jambomed@scouting.org

IST job opening: Listening Ear

Who is needed: Adults to serve on the Listening Ear staff. This will be the first World Scout Jamboree to have an organized staff dedicated specifically to the listening support needs of the participants.

Who is eligible:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Registered as a Scouter (or willing to register as one)
  • Study or work in a position that requires patience, maturity, compassion, tolerance and excellent listening skills

How to apply: Visit the official site of your National Scout Organization’s contingent. (BSA volunteers, visit the 2019 World Scout Jamboree U.S. contingent site.) Select the position: “Medical/Mental Health/Listening Ear.”

Questions: Email jambomed@scouting.org

IST job opening: Stadium Events

Who is needed: On-stage and off-stage talent, including actors, creative directors, writers, graphic artists, audio, light and staging techs/controllers, and musicians.

Who is eligible:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Registered as a Scouter (or willing to register as one)
  • Skills or experience in one of the areas listed above

How to apply: Visit the official site of your National Scout Organization’s contingent. (BSA volunteers, visit the 2019 World Scout Jamboree U.S. contingent site.) You can also submit a talent application. Select the position – “Stadium Shows”, “Stadium Broadcast”, “Shows and Daily Events”, or “Jamboree Band”

Questions: Contact your National Scout Organization.

IST job opening: Scuba

Who is needed: Professionals, instructors and open-water divers to assist with the introductory scuba experience and related support positions.

Who is eligible:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Registered as a Scouter (or willing to register as one)
  • Skills or experience in one of the areas listed above

How to apply: Visit the official site of your National Scout Organization’s contingent. (BSA volunteers, visit the 2019 World Scout Jamboree U.S. contingent site.) Select the position – “Aquatics SCUBA”

Questions: Contact your National Scout Organization.

IST job opening: Lifeguards

Who is needed: U.S.-certified lifeguards for IST swimming in Tickle Lake.

Who is eligible:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Registered as a Scouter (or willing to register as one)
  • U.S. lifeguard certification

How to apply: Visit the official site of your National Scout Organization’s contingent. (BSA volunteers, visit the 2019 World Scout Jamboree U.S. contingent site.) Select the position: “Operations – ISTSCP IST EXP-Lifeguard Tickle Lake.”

Questions: Contact your National Scout Organization.

IST job opening: Logistics

Who is needed: Retail support, food service, safety/security, transportation, rescue/EMS

Who is eligible:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Registered as a Scouter (or willing to register as one)
  • Skills or experience in one of the areas listed above

How to apply: Visit the official site of your National Scout Organization’s contingent. (BSA volunteers, visit the 2019 World Scout Jamboree U.S. contingent site.)

Questions: Contact your National Scout Organization.

What leaders need to know regarding media speculation about the BSA’s financial situation

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News broke this week speculating on the financial situation of the Boy Scouts of America, including a suggestion that the organization may be considering the option of bankruptcy.

While that headline sounds startling, here’s the reality: Scouts, parents and adult volunteers can (and should) keep on enjoying the same great Scouting program uninterrupted.

On Wednesday, Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh shared on his blog that “our daily mission will continue and that there are no imminent actions or immediate decisions expected.”

In other words, this weekend’s camping trip? Still a go. Next month’s Pinewood Derby? Green light. Next summer’s World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve? Bring it on.

Your council’s upcoming Friends of Scouting campaign will happen as usual, as well. Which reminds me: Funds you donate to your local council through FOS stay local.

This is all meant to remind you that young people are counting on leaders like you. That hasn’t changed.

These young people committed their time and resources to joining your pack, troop or crew. Nothing should, or will, stand in your way as you deliver on that commitment. The BSA will be here to support you and your Scouts’ journey through this great movement.

So what’s next? That’s all I know right now, but Surbaugh assured us that the organization will “communicate transparently as there are developments or updates to share.”

BSA’s commitment to keeping children safe

Even as the BSA works with experts to address our financial future, the organization is committed to “fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting,” Surbaugh wrote.

“As you all know, we have always taken care of victims — we believe them, we believe in fairly compensating them and we have paid for unlimited counseling, by a provider of their choice, regardless of the amount of time that has passed since an instance of abuse,” he wrote.

Surbaugh continued that, “throughout our history we have taken proactive steps to help victims heal and prevent future abuse. I want to stress that at no time in our history have we knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth, and we always seek to act swiftly when alerted to abuse allegations.”

Scouting is more important now than ever. And with the BSA’s move to welcome girls, there’s real momentum.

Scouting is 108 years strong, and everyone — from volunteers to professionals — is working hard to ensure the BSA is around for the next 108 years and beyond to continue serving the youth of our nation.

Southern California wildfire forces Cub Scout pack to take extended camping trip

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Imagine going on a Cub Scout camping trip without knowing how long you’ll be gone or whether you’ll have a home to return to when it’s over.

That scenario befell Pack 54 of the Western Los Angeles County Council last month. After a wildfire ignited nearby, the pack converted an already-planned campout into an evacuation.

“Our families packed for the campout and then had to turn around and tear their cherished belongings from their houses,” says Pack 54 Cubmaster Charles Nance. “I have never been camping before where you look at your tent as a long-term possibility.”

Some of the Pack 54 families found shelter with friends or family members who lived out of the danger zone. But six families from Pack 54 had no real place to go. They decided to proceed with the campout, taking everything they could fit into their vehicles to the BSA’s Camp Trask in Monrovia, Calif.

“The folks at Camp Trask were amazing,” Nance says. “They offered to let us stay as long as we needed to at the camp until we figured things out.”

Pack 54 was one of several Scouting units affected by the November wildfire in Southern California known as the Woolsey Fire. The fire killed three people and resulted in the destruction of 1,500 buildings. (To learn how the Northern California wildfire, known as the Camp Fire, affected our Scouting family, read this.)

Thankfully, none of the Pack 54 families lost their homes. But their story — and the stories of other packs and troops who did a Good Turn during the Southern California wildfire — is fascinating.

To keep the Cub Scouts occupied during their evacuation, the adults organized archery, hiking and camp exploration. Pack 54 takes an extended campout

Nov. 9 to 11 was supposed to be a Pack 54 family camping weekend. But by Nov. 8, most of the families in the pack had received an evacuation order.

Those families that decided to go camping “made quite the scene,” Nance says.

“Our cars were packed to overflowing,” he says. “In addition to the Cub Scouts and their families, we had all the family pets: dogs, cats, rats and even a lizard.”

The adults stopped for all the food and equipment the families would need during their stay.

Camp Trask staff, in true Scouting fashion, turned their dining hall and other buildings into evacuation centers. They even let the Cub Scouts relieve stress by shooting bows and arrows, hiking and panning for gold.

“The camping adventure took our minds off the fact that we all were facing the very real possibility of losing everything we had not managed to cram into our cars,” Nance says. “Everyone supported each other, and we kept our spirits very high.”

(See also: Read more about the BSA’s age guidelines for camping.)

Pack 54 plans to give back

Their ordeal over, Pack 54 is now focused on thanking the heroes of the Woolsey Fire.

On Saturday, the pack will participate in “Operation Firefighters Appreciation Dinner.” Cub Scouts packs and Boy Scouts troops from the Las Colinas District, part of the Western Los Angeles County Council, will bring pizza to various fire stations to thank these men and women for their efforts.

Hundreds of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts will spread out to 15 different fire stations.

In addition to hot pizza, they’ll bring handmade thank-you notes and photos. What a great way to remind these firefighters that their efforts saved lives.

More stories of service after the Woolsey Fire … Zoe holds her pack’s Scout Spirit Award — a stuffed tiger. Zoe shows Scout Spirit

“Helping other people at all times” doesn’t usually mean “when a wildfire is still raging.”

But don’t tell that to Zoe Moore, a Wolf Scout in Pack 127 of Agoura Hills, Calif.

On Nov. 11, Zoe showed true Scout Spirit when she visited an evacuation center — well outside the fire danger zone — to hand out breakfast burritos and make coffee. She helped bring a little comfort to these families who were forced to wait out the blaze.

At last month’s Pack 127 meeting, Cubmaster Steve Lloyd presented Zoe with the pack’s Scout Spirit Award. He pointed to Zoe as an excellent example of someone living the Scout Oath.

Troop 485 fills sandbags

Once the fires were extinguished, the risk shifted to mudslides. The worry was that rain washing over the burned area would wash mountains of mud into neighborhoods.

Troop 485 of the Western Los Angeles County Council stepped in, filling sandbags to distribute to local homeowners.

Their efforts even made the local news.

Troop 127 helps its neighbors

Members of Troop 127 should be commended, too. They volunteered at the Las Virgenes Unified School District donation center. It’s here that affected families could get food, clothing, gift cards and more to help them recover.

Troop 127 also helped out at the World Center Kitchen, which made 10,000 meals a day for first responders and evacuees during the first weeks of the fires.

These are just a few examples of a fact that’s been true about the BSA since for more than 100 years: When life takes a bad turn, Scouts step in with a Good Turn.

Share your story

Did your pack, troop or crew contribute after the Southern California wildfire? Share your story and photos below in the comments.

10 more unbelievable places Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have camped overnight

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The last time I posted about out-of-the-ordinary camping locations, the list included an 18th-century fort in New York, a “haunted” jail in Canada and a minor league baseball field in Delaware.

Now it’s time for a new list.

The list of 10 actual places Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have camped includes a gorilla exhibit at a zoo, a medieval castle and the jail cells at Alcatraz.

On the deck of a ferry in Alaska

Who: Troop 573, Woodinville, Wash.

Where: On the deck of an Alaskan State Ferry while it travels north on the Inside Passage

Why it’s awesome: The Boy Scouts got to see orcas, humpback whales and seals on their way north to Haines, Alaska.

Inside a gorilla exhibit at the zoo

Who: Pack 216, Eureka, Kan.

Where: Inside a gorilla exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan.

Why it’s awesome: With gorillas as their neighbors — separated by thick glass walls, of course — the Cub Scouts camped on the floor of the viewing area.

In the jail cells at Alcatraz

Who: Troops 558, 504 and 599 from Watsonville, Aromas and Corralitos, Calif.

Where: Inside the jail cells on Alcatraz Island, 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco. Alcatraz is now owned by the U.S. National Park Service.

Why it’s awesome: It’s Alcatraz — probably the most famous prison in the world. Need I say more?

At a medieval castle in … Texas

Who: Pack 221

Where: Newman’s Castle in Bellville, Texas.

Why it’s awesome: The castle was built by a man named Mike Newman, who always dreamed of building his own castle after visiting Europe in his early 20s. The Cub Scouts were able to sleep anywhere in the castle they wanted and explore the grounds, living as princes and princesses.

In Civil War winter huts

Who: Troop 948, Fredericksburg, Va.

Where: Civil War winter huts outside the White Oak Civil War Museum in Falmouth, Va.

Why it’s awesome: The Boy Scouts were able to learn about Civil War history while spending the night in the same shelters used more than 150 years ago.

At the home of the Green Bay Packers

 

Who: Troop 38 of  New Berlin, Wis.

Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Why it’s awesome: The Boy Scouts got to sleep on the marble floor in the trophy room at Lambeau Field — right near the Packers’ four Vince Lombardi trophies.

On a battleship

Who: Pack 3144 of Blackstone, Mass.

Where: Onboard the USS Massachusetts in Battleship Cove, Fallriver, Mass.

Why it’s awesome: The Cub Scouts learned about history and met a World War II veteran who served on the ship.

In the Louisiana swamp

Who: Troop 1005 of Michigan

Where: The Louisiana Swamp Base, a council-owned high-adventure base in the Atchafalaya Swamp, Lafayette, La.

Why it’s awesome: The Boy Scouts slept in hammocks, with occasional alligator sightings, over five days of an epic 66-mile canoe adventure through the swamp. (Read my Boys’ Life story about Swamp Base.)

At a Utah zoo … with a rare nighttime tour

Who: Pack 7, from Filer, Idaho

Where: The Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City

Why it’s awesome: The Cub Scouts took a nighttime tour with covered flashlights through the zoo to observe nocturnal animals, had hands-on time with other animals, roasted hot dogs, played games, and camped overnight.

In the heart of downtown Detroit

Who: Troop 401 of Redford, Mich.

Where: Milliken State Park along the Detroit River, in the heart of downtown Detroit.

Why it’s awesome: To help celebrate Detroit River Days, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources asked for Boy Scouts to mentor foster families for a weekend of camping along the Detroit River. Along with Troop 368 from Detroit, these were some of the only Scouts ever allowed to camp at the park.

Your turn

Share photos of the craziest places you’ve camped here.

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