Scouting News from the Internet

How to nominate someone for the Sea Scout Leadership Award

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Think of a youth or adult in Sea Scouting who has gone above and beyond to support the program. Someone who is the first to volunteer to run special events or take on new responsibilities. Someone who exemplifies the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Have someone in mind? Now nominate him or her for the Sea Scout Leadership Award.

The award, which debuted in 2017, is presented to Sea Scouts and Sea Scouters who have made exceptional contributions to Sea Scouting at the council, area, regional or national level.

Anyone can submit a nomination form by following the guide below. Note that the selection committee gives more weight to nominations submitted by youth.

From left: council, area, regional, national. What are the requirements to be considered?

A qualified nominee must:

  • Have been registered and involved as a Sea Scout or Sea Scouter for at least one year.
  • Hold a leadership position or an office at the unit, district, council, area, region or national level
  • Show exceptional dedication and give outstanding leadership and service to Sea Scouting and to Sea Scouts (at the level appropriate for the award).
What makes a nomination more likely to be successful?

Here are a few tips:

  • In your 200-word-or-less narrative, explain how the nominee went “above and beyond.”
  • Include multiple letters of recommendation (two to four) from different areas of the nominee’s life to give a well-rounded view of the nominee. These could include an instructor, coach Skipper/Commodore/Boatswain, or a church/community leader.
  • List all of the nominee’s Scouting positions along with the year they were held.
  • Outline any involvement outside of the Scouting program (sports, community groups, etc.).
  • Have a youth complete the nomination. Sea Scouting is youth-led, so nominations carry more weight when they come from a youth.
Who selects the award recipients?

The selection committee includes past recipients of the Sea Scout Leadership Award and leaders from the appropriate organizational level. Only youth members of the committee are eligible to vote; adults serve as nonvoting members.

If no past recipients are available, a committee can be formed at the discretion of the respective commodore and staff advisor.

What do recipients receive?
  • A certificate
  • A knot (Supply No. 14220, which is the same knot as the Venturing Leadership Award)
  • A Sea Scout device/pin to go on the knot (Supply No. 931)
  • A medallion with a ribbon in the colors below:
    • Council: Blue and white (No. 636183)
    • Area: Gray and white (No. 636184)
    • Region: Green and white (No. 636185)
    • National: Red and white (No. 636186)

The award should be presented at a special event, such as a council awards banquet, area Sea Scout event, regional bridge of honor, or the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.

What are the deadlines to nominate someone?
  • Council: Check with your local council, which sets its own date.
  • Area: April 1 to the national service center, Office of the Sea Scout Director
  • Region: March 1 to the national service center, Office of the Sea Scout Director
  • National: March 1 to the national service center, Office of the Sea Scout Director
Where can I find the nomination form?

Go here for the nomination form and packet.

Council-level forms are submitted to your local council.

Area, regional and national nomination forms can be emailed to: OR sent via snail mail to:

Boy Scouts of America
Office of the Sea Scout Director, S280
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079

How many can be awarded per year?
  • Council: Two per council in councils with up to five Sea Scout ships; one for each additional five ships or fraction thereof
  • Area: Up to two
  • Regional: Up to two
  • National: Up to two

If more than one award is presented at a given level, at least 50 percent of the awards must be presented to youth. For example, if two awards are presented in an area, at least one must be awarded to a youth.

The National Sea Scout Committee recognizes the importance of recognizing the leadership in the Sea Scout program. In exceptional cases, the National Commodore and Director can review petitions from a selection committee and extend the quota.

Where can I learn more?

Right here.

First all-Muslim Boy Scout troop in northeast Ohio camps, serves and prays

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In one way, Troop 2690 is unique. Incorporating young men from three different Cleveland-area mosques, it’s the first all-Muslim Boy Scout troop in northeast Ohio.

In another way, Troop 2690 is like every other Boy Scout troop in the country.

They set up tents and build campfires. They perform service projects for the community. They pray, never forgetting a Scout’s duty to God.

“These boys are American boys,” Muhammad Samad, Troop 2690’s chartered organization representative, told WKYC-TV in Cleveland. “They bleed American pride. They do what American boys do. One just left to go to a football game.”

Mark Baxter, a district executive with the Lake Erie Council, told WKYC what Scouters already know: the BSA has no official religion. So Muslim Scouts are just as welcome as Scouts from any other faith.

“Scouting is and has always been open to all faiths and religions,” he said. “It’s one of the hallmarks of Scouting. We have a duty to God, but to whose god? What god? That is between the young person, their parents and their faith organization. We support that.”

‘Let us be ourselves’

Isa Abdul Matin is Troop 2690’s Scoutmaster. He told Ideastream that many people think the Boy Scouts are a Christian-based movement.

“So you kind of like feel like, you know, if I do become a Boy Scout, maybe I can’t be myself,” he said. “Then I found out that yes, we can be ourselves, and that was attractive. So here we are: Muslim Boy Scouts!”

Matin said he’ll try to ignore the occasional raised eyebrow from people. He’d rather let them see for themselves that Troop 2690 does what all troops do: it builds future leaders.

“I guess what we have to do is be ourselves and not try to be anything other than who we are,” he said. “People can see us for what we are and what we do, and you’ll see an acceptance. Because, honestly, the best neighbor you could probably ever have is a Muslim.”

Mohammad Zoraiz is a 12-year-old Boy Scout in Troop 2690. He told WKYC that Scouting’s lessons — “to help other people at all times” — mirror the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, who said, “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.”

“In Islam it’s taught that you should always try to help other people out,” Zoraiz said. “Never one man for himself, and always help the people who are in need.”

Nalgene water bottles have surprising roots in the Boy Scouts of America

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They’re carried on Philmont’s trails and clipped to canoe thwarts at Northern Tier. You’ll find them on every Florida Sea Base trek and Summit Bechtel Reserve adventure, too.

But you might be surprised to learn that Nalgene water bottles were created as lab equipment — not camping gear. It took the vision of the company’s president, and his Boy Scout son, to realize their potential in the outdoors.

In 1949, a chemist named Emanuel Goldberg developed a plastic pipette holder in Rochester, N.Y. The Nalge Co. was founded that year. The company made polyethylene laboratory equipment: centrifuge bottles, filter units, storage tanks and more.

Eventually, it became known that scientists at Nalge were taking small bottles out of the lab to use on weekend hikes and trips. The bottles were easy to carry and, most importantly, durable.

Popular in Scouting

In the 1970s, this unofficial practice caught the eye of Nalge Co. president Marsh Hyman. Hyman had a son in the Boy Scouts, and he started taking some bottles home for his son’s troop.

Hyman’s troop used the bottles to carry drinking water, store pancake mix, keep matches dry and transport all kinds of camping supplies. They were a hit.

Hyman went to the Nalge Specialty Department with a mission: Start selling these products to outdoor aficionados everywhere.

You know the rest of the story. Nalgene still makes labware, but the company is best known within Scouting circles for its outdoor-friendly water bottles.

And we have a Boy Scout troop to thank.

Did you know?

You can buy special Nalgenes for all four high-adventure bases: Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, Philmont and the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Editor’s note

In 2008, Nalgene stopped using the chemical bisphenol-a, or BPA, in its products. Studies have linked the chemical to health concerns.

Bottles manufactured by Nalgene before 2008 might contain BPA.

The mystery of the northern lights and its inspiration on Scouting

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Witnessing the mystical, colorful northern lights tops many people’s bucket lists, usually because it’s assumed the only place to see the natural phenomena is near the Arctic Circle. Another assumption is that the time to see them is just during the winter months.

And while it’s true you have a better chance of seeing the aurora borealis the closer you get to the North Pole and that the prime viewing period is in the winter when nights are longer, to quote Maxwell Smart, would you believe…

…that in September 1859, a solar storm so intense hit the earth that it lit up the sky in the Northeast U.S. and the Rocky Mountains so people there could sit outside and read their newspapers after midnight? The celestial lights were also seen as far south as Hawaii and Cuba.

…that a storm of similar power missed us in 2012?

…that the northern lights were seen in the southern states of Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia in October 2011?

…that the aurora borealis could be seen from September through March on a clear, dark night?

…that the northern lights occasionally dance across the skies over the continental U.S. states, like Maine, Idaho, Michigan and Minnesota?

Well, it’s all true.

Here’s an amazing viewing of the northern lights a few years ago from LaTourell’s wilderness trip outfitters on Moose Lake, just down the road from the BSA Northern Tier High Adventure Base in Ely, Minnesota.

Scouting and the lights

The northern lights have inspired the Boy Scouts of America. Of the more than 1,700 BSA districts, four are named after the aurora borealis. Northern Lights districts are in the Northern Star Council in St. Paul, Minn.; the Heart of America Council based in Kansas City, Mo.; the Longhouse Council in Syracuse, N.Y., and the Circle Ten Council in Dallas, Texas.

Northern Star’s Northern Lights district gives out an Aurora Borealis Award to people who have served youth, either in Scouting or other areas.

BSA’s Northern Lights Council encompasses four states: North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota.

And Alaska’s Midnight Sun Council offers a Northern Lights High Adventure program.

The skinny on the skies

The northern lights’ enchanting trip over our planet isn’t as peaceful as it looks from the ground.

Solar winds and giant eruptions of plasma and charged particles emitted from the Sun clash with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing luminous reactions. The colors depend on which molecules (primarily nitrogen and oxygen) are reacting with the solar particles. Auroras around both the North and South Pole can shine in shades of red, green, blue, yellow and pink. The movement of the northern lights corresponds with the motion of particles and the magnetic field lines.

Like the weather, it’s difficult to determine where and when the northern lights will appear. However, researchers with the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center have developed an hourly forecast map for the lights at both poles.

Scientists also have a good idea which years might produce more sunspot activity, which in turn might result in more solar stuff heading our way. The Sun cycles in about 11 years of increased sunspots; the last major peak was in 2014. Flares usually originate near sunspots and can hurdle solar particles toward Earth.

By the way, if you’re looking skyward this week, be sure to check out the Geminid meteor shower, which is supposed to peak this Wednesday night. As many as 120 meteors can be seen in an hour.

Have you seen the aurora borealis during a Scouting campout? Share your story in the comments below.

Waste not: 2017 National Jamboree was the greenest on record

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Anyone who attended the 2017 National Jamboree already knows it was one of the most successful Jamborees ever.

Now we know it was likely the greenest Jamboree ever, too.

For the first time in recorded National Jamboree history, Scouts, Scouters and staff recycled and reused more than they sent to the landfill.

At the 2017 National Jamboree, held in July at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, some 298 tons — 596,000 pounds — of material was recycled or reused. That exceeds the 280 tons of waste sent to the landfill.

Here’s how that compares to the two previous Jamborees:

Jamboree Tons recycled/reused Tons to landfill 2017 298 280 2013 192 492 2010 64 1,125

What about National Jamborees before 2010? That data isn’t available, as 2010 was the first time recycling numbers were tracked.

We do know the 2017 Jamboree introduced new efforts to increase recycling and decrease food waste. It’s hard to imagine earlier Jamborees beating 2017’s impressive achievement.

Green Team, go!

You can call them the Green Team, or you can call them Recycle Rangers. Either way, these Jamboree volunteers were instrumental in encouraging recycling at the 2017 event.

The Green Team trained Jamboree participants and staffers, telling them what to recycle and reuse and what was OK to toss.

Jim Miles, Green Team leader, said Scouts eagerly accepted the mission.

“This all happened because, as members of the BSA, we have always cared deeply about our environment,” he said. “When given an opportunity at the Jamboree, we proved we will all pitch in to do our part.”

Food savers

For 2017, the Jamboree moved to a grocery store food system where Scouts and Venturers selected a recipe, built a shopping list and checked out — all through a smartphone app.

This grocery store method helped reduce food waste.

Scouts didn’t “buy” anything they didn’t want. And any food that wasn’t “bought” by Scouts, including perishable food, never left the grocery stores’ refrigerators. That made it possible to donate that unexpired food to local food banks — instead of some of it going into trash as it did in 2013.

More than 160 tons of food was donated to local food banks during the 2017 Jamboree. That’s more than double the 63 tons of donated food in 2013.

Miles hopes these habits of wasting less and recycling more weren’t limited to 10 days in July.

“Our greatest hope is participants will take home what they learned and implement it in their homes and communities and local Scout camps,” he said.

More Jamboree coverage

You can read all our coverage from the 2017 National Jamboree right here.

Photo: BSA Photo by Todd Punch

Eagle Scout creates Lego models of historic hotels for his Eagle project — and for fun

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For his Eagle Scout service project, Adam Moore built a hotel.

Brick by brick — and without a drop of glue — Adam’s one-twentieth-scale Lego model of the historic Strater Hotel in Durango, Colo., took shape.

In 2015, Adam and the group of Scouts under his leadership donated the completed model to the landmark hotel. The masterpiece has benefited the entire town and has been viewed by thousands of hotel guests over the past two years.

But Adam wasn’t done building.

Last month, he unveiled his latest masterpiece: a scale model of the Antlers II Hotel in his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo. The completed piece uses more than 7,500 bricks and required almost a year of research, design and construction.

This time, Adam’s Lego project wasn’t meant to fulfill any service requirement. This time, it was just for fun.

Research …

The real Antlers II Hotel was demolished in 1964 to make way for the current Antlers Hotel, a Wyndham property in the heart of Colorado Springs.

Anyone born after 1964 never got to see the beautiful building, constructed in 1901 in the Italian Renaissance style.

Adam wanted to find a way to preserve this piece of history. He met with an archivist at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to collect photos from every angle and to figure out which Lego pieces he’d need to create his scale rendering.

… and patience

Adam and his dad spent $2,000 on the necessary bricks. And as this fun story in the Colorado Springs Gazette outlines, Adam had to get creative to get everything just right.

He used the legs of Lego skeletons, turned backward, for balconies. Lego unicorn horns are the pointy tops of the building’s spires. And to get the roof to just the right hue, Moore used brown nail polish.

Adam took over the front parlor of his family’s home and got to work building the hotel. The roof turned out to be the trickiest part.

“I’ve had the roof collapse several times during the construction, and it really tested my patience,” he said.

The Antlers II Hotel model is 4 feet wide, 2 feet long and 2 feet tall. Presenting his masterpiece

With every Lego in its place, Adam and his dad loaded the model into their Jeep. And so began the most nerve-wracking drive in Lego history.

Remember, Adam didn’t use any glue in his model. Everything is free-standing, meaning one pesky pothole could be catastrophic.

With the model sitting on a mattress for extra padding, Adam’s dad drove very slowly until they got to the hotel.

Once they arrived safely, they carefully carried the model — 4 feet wide, 2 feet long and 2 feet tall — into the hotel and placed it near the gift shop. That’s where it stands today.

Hotel General Manager Arron Duff told the Gazette that the model “has become part of the hotel. … I’m in love with it. It’s just a neat project and a good story.”

More about Adam

Adam, who just turned 18, was a member of Troop 223 of Colorado Springs, Colo., part of the Pikes Peak Council.

He earned Eagle at age 15 and is currently a freshman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where he’s majoring in mechanical engineering.

He told the Gazette he’d love to work for Lego some day. You could say that his hotel models are quite the résumé-builder.

In the meantime, he’s considering creating a similar model of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., as his next project.

After Hurricane Irma, Sea Base Alumni and Friends members stepped up to help

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Editor’s note: This guest blog post was written by Suzanne Tiernan, communications director for the Sea Base Alumni and Friends Association. 

First, there was Hurricane Harvey. The news was full of damage reports and people helping each other.

Then came Hurricane Irma. We followed its track and watched it grow as it headed towards the U.S.

At one point, Irma’s projected track covered all of Florida. The anticipation, preparation and then the destruction flooded the news. Scenes again filled our newscasts about the damage and people helping people.

If you did not live in the affected area, the horror of the stories eventually wore off. You went back to work, slept in a house with electricity and enjoyed running water.

But a special few people came to action. They answered the call to help.

Jumping at the opportunity

FEMA’s search and rescue teams moved their operations into the Sea Base’s Brinton Environmental Center on Summerland Key.

Volunteers sent supplies and made donations.

The Sea Base Alumni and Friends Association (SBAFA) put out a call to all members and friends to come serve again. As an Alumni and Friends association, anyone who loves Sea Base can join. That shared experience of sun, sails, salt water and bubbles gets in your veins and does not easily wash out. The volunteers started arriving with chainsaws, tools, trucks, water and muscle power.

Sea Base and the Keys holds a special place in your heart if you have ever visited. In the case of Michael Hang of Ohio, it appeals to those who have never visited, too.

“I volunteer doing maintenance at our local camp, Seven Ranges [Scout Reservation], every week. Being a huge fan of sand, ocean and warm weather, I always wanted to experience Florida Sea Base,” he said. “When this opportunity came up I jumped at it and had a great time.”

Forever grateful to Sea Base

Jeff Kidd was the same way. An Eagle Scout and now Scoutmaster of Troop 209 in Apex, N.C., Jeff had worked at Sea Base back in 1994.

“I will forever be grateful to the opportunity that was given to me back then,” he said. “Sea Base holds a special place in my heart, so whenever Sea Base needs my help, I will do my best to help it. I experienced so many things when I worked at Sea Base that I had never been able to do before — diving on coral reefs, sailing on a tall ship, great fishing and catching lobsters. I want to make sure all Boy Scouts have the same opportunity to experience what Sea Base offers.”

A similar story is found in each volunteer. The time they spent in the Keys changed them, and they wanted to give back.

“I spent 10 unforgettable weeks at Brinton in the summer of 2017, and I wanted to give back,” said Jose Guzman of Doral, Fla.. “I met more good people and, most of all, felt part of a great team.”

Scouters are a different breed. They run towards the hard work. They see a need and help. It is just what Scouts do.

Sea Base took some licks, and there’s more work to do. But thanks to volunteers and staff, not a single program day was missed at the base.

“The staff worked hard, but we couldn’t have done it without the volunteers who came in,” says Mike Johnson, Sea Base general manager. “They worked hard at a lot of tough, dirty jobs to get the Sea Base ready to go.”

You can still help

Matthew Reineck, operations manager at Sea Base, is coordinating the volunteer efforts. Email him at with your name, contact information, dates of availability, skills, equipment you can bring (it may or may not be needed) and preference for area to work (Sea Base, BEC or Big Munson).

For info on becoming a member of the Sea Base Alumni and Friends Association, visit the official website.

Scoutbook now automatically syncs with BSA national advancement database

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Scoutbook users are about to love Scoutbook even more.

The BSA’s official web app has always been a great tool for tracking a Scout’s advancement. It makes everything — “from the first knot tied to final hours of service performed” — easier and more rewarding for Scouts and their families.

An important update announced this week makes this essential tool even better. It allows all units with active Scoutbook subscriptions to sync their youth advancement with ScoutNet.

This is huge, but heads up: You’ll need to complete a one-time setup to activate the sync.

Once you do, you can approve advancement within Scoutbook and have it automatically sync with MyScouting/Akela and ScoutNet/PAS (the BSA council tools).

Previously, Scouters needed to generate a .csv (comma-separated values) file from Scoutbook, log into Internet Advancement and upload that file. This was a simple but time-consuming task.

Now all that happens automatically. Scoutbook and the BSA’s advancement systems communicate behind the scenes to make sure each is updated with the latest info.

Once you approve advancement records within Scoutbook, that info gets recorded by the BSA and your local council. This means you can print everything from Scoutbook and take that information to your local Scout Shop to purchase the advancement recognition items you need.

How to sync Scoutbook with the advancement database

To get started, you’ll need to complete the one-time Scoutbook youth advancement sync. Note that this process must be performed by a currently registered key 3 member of your unit.

You should complete this process by Dec. 31, 2017.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, units with active Scoutbook subscriptions will only be able to approve advancements for Scouts who are in the advancement sync. If you have not activated your unit and/or Scouts within your unit, you will not be able to approve advancements for that Scout or Scouts.

Note that as a unit activates the sync, if there are Scouts who have not yet been registered (entered into ScoutNet or My.Scouting) the unit can unapprove those Scouts and continue the sync for the rest of the unit.  Once registration is complete for the outstanding Scouts, the unit can then approve them and they will be included.

The complete steps are outlined in this handy document.

Things to know about the Scoutbook youth advancement sync
  • In this first phase, only youth advancement records will be synced.
  • Because ScoutNet only tracks completed and signed-off advancements, only “approved” advancements will transfer from Scoutbook to ScoutNet. Partial completions, and items only marked “completed” and not “approved” will continue to be tracked only via Scoutbook.
  • When there is an approved change in an advancement in Scoutbook, it will be reflected in the council records. When the council records change, it will be reflected in Scoutbook. The record with the most recent update date will take precedent.
  • Advancements that require district, council or national approval will not be uploaded from Scoutbook. Instead, they will flow from ScoutNet through to Scoutbook.
  • Scout Shop staff will know that the Advancement Report from Scoutbook and the Advancement Report from Internet Advancement are both certified, and either should be accepted. The bottom of the Advancement Report from Scoutbook looks like this:

What to do if you still have questions

If you have any questions about the Scoutbook Youth Advancement Sync or if your Scouting unit has not received the sync instructions, please send an email to

Why every Scout unit needs a New Member Coordinator

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The official logo for the New Member Coordinator position.

Joining a new Scout unit can be a little overwhelming at first. You’re presented with a calendar full of fun upcoming activities, but all the new people, places and things can seem like a lot to digest.

Fortunately for anyone joining Scouting in 2017 or beyond, there’s help. It comes in the form of a volunteer whose job is to make new members feel right at home.

It’s called the New Member Coordinator. If your unit recharters soon, you should find one or more volunteers to serve in this vital role.

Wearing a blue “Welcome” pin on their hat or shirt, the New Member Coordinator is easily easily identifiable at unit gatherings. He or she welcomes new members with a smile and points them in the right direction — literally and figuratively.

What a New Member Coordinator does

The New Member Coordinator forms a connection with new members and their families. He or she is appointed by and reports to the Unit Committee Chair.

Each unit should have one — or, ideally, more than one — New Member Coordinator

In general, all New Member Coordinators:

  • Serve as welcoming ambassadors for the unit.
  • Work with the unit committee in developing and implementing the Unit Membership Plan.
  • Participate in New Member Coordinator training and collaborate with the district membership team.

“New Member Coordinators can be a game-changer for membership retention as well as recruitment,” says Linda Baker, chairwoman of the New Member Coordinator Task Force. “Having one or more NMCs in a unit can make everything easier and more fun.”

How to register as a New Member Coordiantor

The easiest time to register someone as a New Member Coordinator is when your pack, troop or crew recharters.

The New Member Coordinator, which uses the registration code “NM,” is a member of the unit committee.

This role replaces the roles of Unit Membership Chair and Parent Coordinator, which are no longer available. Anyone registered in one of those now-retired positions should have received an email from the national membership vice president encouraging him or her to register as a New Member Coordinator in 2018 and beyond.

How to get started as a New Member Coordinator

Make your first stop.

You’ll find training information, forms, printable brochures, videos, logos and much more.

Walt Disney was a Boy Scout and received Scouting’s highest honor for adults

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They’re both responsible for memorable characters, heart-pounding tales of adventure and bringing joy to young people.

But the links between Walt Disney and the Boy Scouts of America don’t end there.

Disney was a Boy Scout until his family moved to Chicago and he had to drop out. He received the Silver Buffalo Award, Scouting’s highest honor for adults. And he brought the world Follow Me, Boys!, the classic film about Scouting that starred Kurt Russell and Fred MacMurray and was the last Disney film released in Disney’s lifetime.

Disney’s Silver Buffalo Award

Oh, to have a time machine and travel back to the BSA’s 1946 national meeting.

There we would’ve seen Walt Disney receive the Silver Buffalo Award. Disney’s fellow recipients that year were no slouches either. The list included Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, USO co-founder Frank Weil, and World War II veterans Dwight Eisenhower and Chester Nimitz.

Nobody could accuse the BSA of hyperbole in its official Silver Buffalo listing for Disney. It says, simply, that he’s a “creator of many famous motion pictures.”

Many of Disney’s finest films were released after he received the Silver Buffalo. But by 1946, Disney had already brought us Snow White and the Seven DwarfsPinocchioBambi and many other films.

The family friendly nature of Disney films — still the company’s hallmark today — appealed to the BSA’s Silver Buffalo selection group. The Silver Buffalo citation said Disney “has contributed to the joy of youth and to their appreciation of wholesome humor and the elevation of their standards of good taste.”

The medal is on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

A page from the June-July 1946 issue of Scouting magazine. Photos from the Walt Disney Family Museum

Thanks to Mark Griffin, Scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, for the blog post idea and photos.

Selling the perfect Christmas tree

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‘Tis the season for sipping hot chocolate, frolicking in the snow and selling Boy Scout Christmas trees.

The popular holiday fundraiser can be a great way for a troop or crew to earn some money, work on salesmanship techniques and practice elements of the Scout Law. Scouts can help families sort through and choose the perfect tree and carry it to their vehicles. They can also share a few tree care tips with customers, which is not only a kind gesture, but can enrich the experience of purchasing a fresh conifer.


This is one of the top traditional sellers in the country and comes in different types — Fraser, Douglas, balsam, noble. They’re “full” trees with plenty of sturdy branches to hang ornaments on while emitting a pleasant fragrance. Needles tend to be short and dark green. Neat fact: the name of the Christmas carol, O Tannenbaum, translates to “fir tree” in German.


The Scotch pine remains one of the most popular Christmas trees thanks to its branches, which point upward, creating perfect ornament holders. The tree tends to hold onto its needles and stays fresh for awhile. Branches are strong, so don’t be shy when picking a bough for that bulky, heavy decoration. Other well-liked types include the white and Virginia pines. It’s a good idea to arm Scouts with a tape measure or stick if they’re helping gauge tree sizes for customers. Knowing the size of the tree stand is important as you don’t want to shave off the bark or angle the base to make the tree fit, doing so would hurt the tree’s ability to draw water.


The Colorado blue spruce displays an attractive blue-green color; it’s often sold as a “living Christmas tree” that can be planted. Needles can start raining down after a spruce is cut. Remind customers that a freshly cut tree can absorb up to a quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter every day. So, a tree with a four-inch trunk should get a gallon of water a day.


Customer has allergies? You might want to suggest they consider a cypress tree, the most well-known type for Christmas is the Leyland. Cypress trees have soft, feathery foliage and tend to hold on to it. The Leyland is a sterile hybrid, and has characteristics that can be agreeable to those with allergies.


These trees have an attractive cone shape as well as a nice aroma and dark green color. Heat will dry out trees, so suggest customers keep their trees away from fireplaces and heat vents if they want their trees to stay green longer.

Sales tradition

Decorated Christmas trees graced the cover of Boys’ Life for the first time in 1915, but they started becoming popular in American homes decades before. (In that issue, by the way, “Uncle Dan” Beard described how to have a Christmas-themed potlatch — a gift-giving feast, which was a tradition of Northwest Native Americans.)

A quick search with the help of our Boys’ Life Wayback Machine reveals Christmas trees sales have been popular fundraising projects for Scouts for decades. (Inset photo from the December 1961 edition).

Today, more than 20 million real trees are usually sold in the U.S. every year with the most popular kinds being pine, spruce and fir. Nonprofit groups, like the Boy Scouts, typically account for less than 15 percent of those sales.

‘Top Chef Jr.’ seeking young chefs, ages 9 to 14, for season 2

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Does your Cub Scout create culinary concoctions that wow his friends and family? Did your Boy Scout master the merit badge in Cooking? Is your young Venturer a regular Rachael Ray?

If any of those is a “yes,” Top Chef Jr. wants to know about it.

Top Chef Jr. is seeking young chefs ages 9 to 14 for season 2 of its reality cooking competition on Universal Kids, the rebranded Sprout network.

Want to see what your young chef is in for? Watch season 1 on Fridays at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central on Universal Kids.

Assuming a Scout joins the season 2 lineup, this wouldn’t be the first time a BSA member has appeared on a reality cooking show. Logan Guleff, a Boy Scout from Troop 34 of the Chickasaw Council who first made headlines in Boys’ Life magazine, won season 2 of MasterChef Junior on Fox.

How to apply by mail

Up-and-coming cooks can apply by mailing a video, photos and questionnaire to the producers. Submissions must be received by Jan. 13, 2018.

Learn more about the casting call by going here and clicking “Apply Now.”

How to apply in person

Prefer to make an impression in person?

Kids who live in or near Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix or Los Angeles are invited to open casting calls in those cities in December and January.

See this flier for details:

This Cub Scout got his stolen popcorn money back in the most remarkable way

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Noah Tyler loves popcorn season.

The 8-year-old Bear Scout from California was his pack’s top seller last year and was eager to do even better this year.

On Sept. 26, he was more than halfway to his sales goal when something horrible happened. A family friend, visiting from out of town, stole the envelope containing Noah’s popcorn money and disappeared without a trace.

You can’t get much lower than stealing money from a Cub Scout. But this story, thanks to the kindness of a stranger a state away, has a happy ending.

Noah’s mom, Megan, agreed to let me share Noah’s story.

An unexpected guest

Noah is part of a proud Scouting family of four. His mom’s the den leader, his older sister is a Girl Scout, and his little brother will join Lions next year.

Noah’s popcorn sales were off to such a great start that Noah was thinking of increasing his goal.

“He believed he could do more to support his pack,” Megan says.

But then, on Sept. 18, that family “friend” came to visit. Megan says she hadn’t seen this friend in more than a year, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him show up.

In the spirit of kindness, the family let him stay on the couch. The next day, the friend hurt his back and needed emergency surgery, Megan says. This extended the stay by about a week.

When Megan and her kids returned home on Sept. 26, the friend was gone. And so was Noah’s envelope containing all his popcorn money.

A frantic search

“I tried to call, message and text [the friend], because I was in disbelief that someone that I had been friends with for over 20 years would do such a despicable thing as stealing from a child,” Megan says.

Noah, who had worked hard for weeks to make those sales, was in tears when Megan told him what happened.

“We all spent a night letting our emotions take over and figuring out how to make up the lost money,” Megan says.

The family lives on a tight budget, so Megan and the kids went through each room looking for items they could sell to replace the stolen money. They sold as much as they could and made most of the money back.

But the theft dampened Noah’s drive to sell popcorn, and he didn’t meet his goal.

A knock on the door

On Oct. 30, Megan’s neighbor knocked on her door to tell her about a surprising phone call.

The neighbor told Megan he had gotten a call from someone named Andy Moe who lives in Washington state.

Andy told the neighbor that he had found a check the neighbor had written for Cub Scout popcorn. The neighbor gave Andy’s number to Megan, and Megan called as soon as she closed the door.

Andy said he had been in California with his family for vacation. They spent the night in a hotel, and when they went to the parking lot in the morning, their truck was gone.

The police found the truck at a nearby casino. Among the belongings inside: an envelope with the word “Cubs” on it and a couple of personal checks.

Andy called the phone numbers on the checks to track down their owners. He wanted information about the person who had stolen his truck and these checks.

Megan explained the situation to Andy and gave him information about the family friend.

A letter in the mail

On Nov. 14, Megan opened her mailbox to find an envelope from Andy. Inside, she found Noah’s envelope and a money order made out to Noah’s pack.

The note read, simply, “hope this helps.” The money order’s value was more than what had been stolen from Noah.

“We are dumbfounded and extremely grateful to the thoughtfulness and generosity of this man,” Megan says. “I cannot think of any way to thank him and show the enormity of our appreciation. If there was such a thing as a ‘Good Samaritan Award,’ I would like to nominate Andy.”

Thanks to one stranger’s kindness, Noah loves popcorn season once again.

This January, fly south to the Florida Sea Base to get trained

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Escape the chill of winter while acquiring the latest tools to help your Scout unit succeed.

That’s the promise of a volunteer training conference at the Florida Sea Base. Pick from five weeklong conferences, each held in January 2018 at the BSA’s Florida home.

During your week in the Keys, you’ll learn new things and meet new people. The subject matter is excellent. The setting? Not too bad, either. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of this area and soak up the mid-January highs of 72 and lows of 65.

Which conference will you choose? Here’s a look at each one. When you’re ready, go here to register.

Week 1: Jan. 7 to 13, 2018
  • The Council/District Training Committee: Helps you increase the number of trained leaders while building a successful and sustainable training program. You’ll discover creative ways to reach the untrained leader; how to use unit trainers; and methods to recruit, train, and strengthen the district training team.
  • The Conference on Education for Advancement Administrators (CEAA): This is an advanced learning experience for council and district volunteers and professionals who have advancement responsibilities. Of significant importance, it is an opportunity to assist in the development of educational materials and other resources that are used across the country.
  • Strengthening Your Leadership Team: You’ll evaluate the volunteer recruiting process and discuss how to identify key needs, select and properly train the most qualified leaders, plan for succession, and more. Complete with practical recruiting exercises, team-building activities, and tools to engage a new generation of volunteers, this conference will enable participants to return to their communities prepared to significantly increase volunteer support.
Week 2: Jan. 14 to 20, 2018
  • The Mechanics of Training: This vital conference will cover the mechanics of training, including the latest training tools, techniques and best practices. Participants will learn how to use My.Scouting Tools, the Learning Management System (LMS), training reports and basic training requirements for leaders.
  • Key Concepts of Commissioner Service in Scouting’s Second Century: This conference will focus on the impact that commissioners have on units. Whether you directly serve a unit or serve as a roundtable or an administrative commissioner, this conference is for you. The conference will enable participants to strengthen the relationship between unit service and district operations while strengthening unit key 3 relationships.
How much? How do I register?

The course costs $495 for participants and $350 for spouses who aren’t attending the conference. The fee includes housing, meals, snacks, bedding and towels, course materials, and a sunset cruise if weather permits.

Register at You must register no later than Dec. 15, 2017.

How to get more info

Learn more about each of these conferences in this flier (PDF).

For questions about the conference, call 817-430-5323

For questions about Florida Sea Base facilities, call 305-393-7374

Don’t leave your bear bag at home this winter

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You’re packing for a winter camping trip. Tent, check. Warm clothes, check. Food, check. Bear bag… Do you really need a bear bag? It’s winter, after all. Aren’t the bears hibernating?

Well, first of all, bears don’t hibernate like other mammals. Their body temperature drops by about 12 degrees during their wintertime slumbers, as opposed to smaller animals like squirrels and chipmunks whose body temperature can plummet by 50 degrees or more. This allows bears to quickly come out of hibernation if disturbed.

Hibernation also depends on location. Grizzlies in Alaska can stay cooped up in their dens for half the year while black bears in southern states may hibernate for a few weeks. Plus, some bears might get up throughout the winter months.

So if you’re going camping in bear country during any time of year, you’re going to want to bring a bear bag. Even if you aren’t in bear country, you might want one to keep other critters out of your stash.

If you don’t know if your campgrounds might be inhabited by bears or not, call the park ranger or check out these range maps:

Hanging a bear bag

A black bear can smell seven times better than a bloodhound. That means if you have anything fragrant — from lip balm to water bottles that had bug juice in them — you’re going to want to throw it all in a stuff sack for the night. Fill the sack with all of your “smellables,” and take it at least 200 feet downwind from your campsite (300 feet to be on the safe side).

While it’s still daylight, find a tree with a sturdy branch that’s about 20 feet above the ground. Throw one end of your rope or nylon cord over the branch; tie the other end to your stuff sack. You can use a clove hitch knot to attach the rope to the bag.

Hoist the sack up so it’s at least 12 feet off the ground and six feet from the trunk of the tree. This should keep the bag out of reach of any curious bears. Tie the other end of the rope to the tree.

A variation of attaching the bag to the rope is the “Pacific Trail Crest” method, where you hook a carabiner to your stuff sack and hoist it up all the way to the branch. Use a clove hitch to tie a small stick to the rope, creating a toggle. Let the sack down until the toggle and carabiner meet.

If you can’t find a tree with the perfect overhanging branch, you can string your bear bag between two trees. First, tie your rope to a tree and throw one end over a branch. Secure your stuff sack in the middle of the slack end of the rope. Toss that end over the branch of another tree. Pull on that end until the sack is hoisted to the desired height and tie that end off to a tree.

Keep in mind, in some areas and parks, bear canisters, instead of bags, are required to use by law. These containers can be bulky and expensive, but they are tough for bears to open.

Nametags on Scout uniforms are OK — and probably a good idea for larger troops

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In Tom’s troop, the adult leaders wear nametags. The Scouts do not.

But with the troop now more than 100 Scouts strong, it’s getting tougher to know which Scout is Aiden and which is Jayden.

That led Tom’s troop to consider nametags for youth members.

“We feel it would help not only the adult leaders in learning the Scouts’ names but also help the Scouts,” Tom writes. “My concern is that since the Scouts would obviously be in public with these uniforms and nametags, does that violate any Youth Protection or other privacy issues? I haven’t been able to find anything about this so looking for some help.”

What the Uniform Guide says

The Guide to Awards and Insignia (page 28) shows a nametag on a uniform, meaning they’re approved for uniform wear.

The nametag is worn above the words “Boy Scouts of America” over the right pocket. If an interpreter strip is worn, the nametag goes above that. You’ll find the illustrations on pages 28, 46, 51, and 65 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia.

What you’ll find at your local Scout Shop

The Scout Shop sells nameplates in a number of varieties. You can select which image will appear next to the name — Cub Scout logo, BSA fleur-de-lis, Venturing logo or Exploring logo.

There are one-line and two-line versions, and you can pick between magnetic fasteners or clutch-back clasps.

What the Youth Protection Committee says

I talked to Jim Wilson, chairman of the BSA’s Youth Protection Committee.

He reiterates that nametags are not required and that there’s “no real one answer that fits all occasions.”

“They are worn as a courtesy and a way to identify someone in a group,” Wilson says. “The appropriate type of nametag depends on the activity, the group, and the ages of those wearing the nametags. As we do in all cases, we ask folks to use good judgement when it comes to their concerns about perceived or real Youth Protection issues.”

In other words, nametags are approved by the BSA and even sold in Scout Shops. But they aren’t required.

That means each unit should decide whether nametags make sense for them.

“If a unit doesn’t like nametags, then they shouldn’t use them,” Wilson says. “However, if a grouping of adults think it is the way to ensure all will be easily recognized, clearly that’s OK also.”

What I say

I think nametags are a great idea, especially in larger troops or at events like the National Jamboree, where you have Scouts from several home troops forming one large Jamboree troop.

I’ve seen troops with nametags that show the first name only, first name and last initial, and full name. I’d recommend asking your troop committee to take up the matter.

If you’re looking for a temporary identifier that costs less than $10, invest in some stick-on nametags for a few meetings.

More discussions like this

This blog post idea came from a thread in the Bryan on Scouting forums. Be sure to check the forums out today.

Eagle Scout builds buddy bench to fight bullying, promote autism awareness

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Sometimes kids who are bullied don’t know where to go for help.

Thanks to an Eagle Scout, that’s no longer the case at a Maryland elementary school.

For his Eagle Scout project, Tory Ridgeway built a buddy bench at Windy Hill Elementary School in Owings, Md. Whenever a student is feeling down, he or she can sit on the bright blue bench, which is decorated with handprints and inspiring phrases like “be happy” and “speak up.”

“If they don’t have a friend or if they’re having problems, they can come sit here and a friend will come and talk with them or bring them into their game,” said Cara Quade, Tory’s fourth-grade teacher and the woman to whom the bench is dedicated.

Victim turned advocate

The inspiration for the project comes from Tory’s own life. As a young person with autism, Tory said he was often subjected to bullying.

“I did not want other kids to have to go through that because that is not fun,” Tory explained to WTTG-TV, the Fox affiliate in D.C.. “It is not fun.”

Once Tory’s mom, Vanessa, enrolled her son at Windy Hill, everything changed.

“They knew that I had autism and they tried to work around that, sort of,” Tory said. “They understood what was happening in here.”

Bet on the bench

Tory has watched kids sit on the bench he built. When they take a seat, they’re often alone and looking sad. Before long, though, another kid will run up and invite their new friend to play.

“It’s nice,” Tory told WTTG-TV. “Good to know people are actually using it.”

Tory knows from his own childhood that young people with autism can struggle to socialize. With the buddy bench, he hopes to lessen that hardship.

“Let your light shine, so be yourself. I wasn’t letting my light shine before I came here,” Tory said. “I felt like I couldn’t.”

Tory is an Eagle Scout in Troop 487 of Fort Washington, Md., part of the National Capital Area Council. And his light is shining brilliantly.

Thanks to Aaron Chusid of the National Capital Area Council for the tip.

BSA Chief answers your questions about welcoming girls into BSA programs

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After the BSA Board of Directors’ historic decision to welcome girls into Scouting, many in the Scouting community had just one question: When can my daughter sign up?

Other Scouters had more specific questions about the reasons for the move, implementation and rollout plan.

On Oct. 30, I asked Scouters to submit their questions for BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh. By the time we recorded the video last week, we had received more than 400 questions.

I read each one, organized them by topic and took a representative sample of 22 questions directly to our Chief. He spoke openly and candidly for nearly 30 minutes.

For the best experience, watch the complete video of our discussion below.

But if you’re short on time, scroll for a question-by-question breakdown. I’ve included the video timestamp so you can jump directly to the answers that most interest you.

Watch the complete video

The questions and timestamps 1. How was the decision made?

Hear the answer at0:27

Question from: Chris S., a committee chairman in the Atlanta Area Council

2. Was decision driven by revenue and/or membership?

Hear the answer at: 5:24

Question from: Willis R., camping chairman for the Longs Peak Council

3. Was decision about lining pockets of BSA executives?

Hear the answer at: 6:41

Question from: Greg L., a member of the district advancement committee in the Atlanta Area Council

4. Will all-boy Cub Scout packs be allowed?

Hear the answer at: 7:43

Question from: Sean W., an assistant Scoutmaster from the National Capital Area Council

5. What will the organization be called?

Hear the answer at: 9:13

Question from: Aidan F., an Eagle Scout living in South Africa as part of the Transatlantic Council

6. Will all-boy language and imagery in handbooks change?

Hear the answer at: 10:07

Question from: Sam S., a Scoutmaster in the Greater New York Councils

7. Was the Girl Scouts of the USA approached?

Hear the answer at: 11:19

Question from: Julie K., an assistant Scoutmaster from the Western Los Angeles County Council

8. How will packs find enough volunteers for single-gender dens?

Hear the answer at: 12:35

Question from: Donald K., an assistant Scoutmaster from the Hawk Mountain Council

9. Can packs have the option to make dens co-ed?

Hear the answer at: 13:50

Question from: Jessica M., a den leader from the Old North State Council

10. Will Cub Scouting become fully “co-ed” in a few years?

Hear the answer at: 14:53

Question from: Bill K., a district chairman from the National Capital Area Council

11. Will there be a uniform styled and/or cut for women and girls?

Hear the answer at: 15:33

Question from: Asiya S., a den leader from the Northeast Georgia Council

12. Will dens and packs be required to register girls?

Hear the answer at: 16:26

Question from: A female Scouter from Florida, who asked to remain anonymous

13. When in 2018 can packs start welcoming girls?

Hear the answer at: 16:59

Question from: Jenny H., a Cubmaster from the Cascade Pacific Council

14. How will the program for older girls, debuting in 2019, work?

Hear the answer at: 17:40

Question from: Allie G., an advancement chairwoman in the Pathway to Adventure Council

15. Will there be a pilot of the older-girl program?

Hear the answer at: 19:31

Question from: Jennifer Z., a parent from the San Diego Imperial Council

16. How will the adult-leader requirements change?

Hear the answer at: 20:23

Question from: Rich B., an assistant Scoutmaster in the North Florida Council

17. What about sleeping arrangements and restrooms at camp?

Hear the answer at: 20:59

Question from: Michelle D. of the Dan Beard Council

18. What about inappropriate situations at camp?

Hear the answer at: 21:44

Question from: Stacey G., a den leader in the Southwest Florida Council

19. Will the BSA help girls feel included and not “second-class citizens”?

Hear the answer at: 22:28

Question from: The 9-year-old daughter of Kathleen P., a parent from Florida

20. Once young women can start working toward Eagle in 2019, will they use a different set of requirements?

Hear the answer at: 23:18

Question from: Debbie P., a committee member from the Iroquois Trail Council

21. What will happen to Venturing?

Hear the answer at: 24:16

Question from: Julie P., an associate crew advisor from the Cascade Pacific Council

22. The change is happening. How can we encourage other Scouters to embrace it?

Hear the answer at: 24:59Question from: Erik D., an assistant Scoutmaster from the Chief Seattle Council

Growing a mustache for Movember? Here’s some inspiration

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Almost every month has a designated national health observance to remind people of important health issues. February is American Heart Month; National Breast Cancer Awareness Month happens in October, and November has Movember. This month’s campaign, which has been popular for the past decade or so, encourages men to grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues, like prostate and testicular cancers as well as mental health.

If you’re growing out your whiskers this month, whether to participate in the campaign or just for fun, here are several Scouting leaders who sported facial hair that you can aspire to emulate.

Robert Baden-Powell

The founder of the world Scouting movement wore a dashingly bushy mustache for much of his life. It might take you more than the month of November to achieve a thick ‘stache like Baden-Powell’s. And while it could be tempting not to touch your facial hair while it grows out, it is important to keep your hair well kept.

Staff at Boy Scout high adventure camps are reminded to make sure their hair is “clean, neatly trimmed and shows evidence of good grooming.”

A Scout is clean in all aspects of life. To quote Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys handbook: “Scouts are always tidy, whether in camp or not, as a matter of habit. If you are not tidy at home, you won’t be tidy in camp; and if you’re not tidy in camp, you will only be a tenderfoot and no scout.”

Daniel Carter Beard

Technically, the rules of Movember call for men to only grow mustaches. However, another similar awareness campaign this month accommodates those who would like to grow beards, too: No Shave November. And if you’d like to sprout some hair around your cheeks and chin, why not style your beard after a Scouting founder named Beard?

“Uncle Dan,” as he was known to boys and leaders, helped form Scouting in the U.S., designing the original Scout uniform and introducing elements of the First Class badge.

Like Baden-Powell, Beard maintained a similar look during his Scouting days, sporting a white goatee. The bearded look can appear a little more rugged than just a mustache, fitting in well with the pioneering spirit Beard instilled into Scouting.

William Howard Taft

America’s 27th President served as the BSA’s first honorary president, a tradition still practiced today. One tradition that didn’t continue though was presidential facial hair. Taft was our last U.S. President to sport facial hair, and while it is true President Harry S. Truman did grow a few whiskers while on vacation, the look didn’t compare to Taft’s magnificent handlebar.

Taft’s presidency lasted from 1909 to 1913 during Scouting’s infancy in the U.S.

“I am very glad to give my sympathy and support to such a movement as this,” Taft said of Scouting. “Anything that directs the boy’s spirit in the right channel for usefulness and for the making of manly men should be encouraged.”

Taft wasn’t the only mustachioed U.S. president that was involved in Scouting. His predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, served as BSA’s honorary vice president and Chief Scout Citizen. Roosevelt served as a troop committee member and council commissioner in New York.

Ernest Thompson Seton

The Boy Scout Handbook‘s first author wore an impressive mustache. Seton sometimes had a full-bodied ‘stache that appeared similar to actor Sam Elliott’s look in the movie Tombstone. Other times, it was quite neat and fashioned into a perfect handlebar.

Seton had a strong interest in the outdoors and established youth organizations in 1902 and in 1921 to share that interest with boys and girls. He served as Chief Scout of the BSA and incorporated many of Scouting’s traditions.

In addition to the Boy Scout Handbook, Seton penned dozens of books and stories. His personal collection is housed at the Seton Memorial Library at Philmont Scout Ranch.


Charles L. Sommers

You might recognize the name from the BSA’s canoe base in Minnesota. Sommers, who often wore what’s called a Chevron mustache, was a Silver Buffalo recipient in 1930.

A business executive, Sommers was also a member of the BSA’s National Executive Board, a Board of Regents member at the University of Minnesota and was instrumental in bringing Scouting opportunities to boys in his area.

The canoe base in Ely, Minnesota, bore his name after a lodge was built in the 1940s. Sommers was an avid canoe trip organizer and participant and was the first chairman of Region X Canoe Trails. The base welcomes more than 4,000 Scouts each year for wilderness treks in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.


William D. Boyce

The founder of the Boy Scouts of America also wore a Chevron-style mustache. A Chevron mustache is described as a basic mustache that grows above one’s upper lip, stopping at the edge of the mouth.

Other styles of mustaches include the handlebar, which curls at the ends; the horseshoe, that grows around the mouth and down; the pencil, which is very thin; and the walrus, a very thick mustache that covers the upper lip (and maybe the lower lip depending on how ambitious its wearer is).

Boyce incorporated the BSA in 1910 after a trip to London, where he was helped by a Scout who refused a tip for doing a Good Turn. The gesture inspired Boyce to bring Scouting to America.

Edward Urner Goodman

Another classic Chevron mustache, here worn by the co-creator of the Order of the Arrow.

Goodman not only helped create the OA along with Carroll Edson in 1915, but he served as the BSA national program director for two decades during the 1930s and 1940s. He expanded Scouting training programs, writing the Leaders Handbook. He also oversaw the publication of Boy Scout handbooks and the first Field Book.

The Order of the Arrow has more than 170,000 members nationwide.

Space Camp, like Scouting, delivers hands-on STEM experiences to young people

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Reading about our country’s missions to space? That’s a small step toward understanding the people power involved.

Experiencing those missions yourself, seeing the actual rockets towering above you and chatting with people passionate about space exploration? That’s a giant leap toward inspiring a young person for life.

Hands-on STEM experiences are what Space Camp is all about.

Like Scouting, the program puts young people in an environment where all five senses are engaged and learning comes naturally.

A Boy Scout troop or Venturing crew acquires leadership skills in the context of a fun weekend campout. Similarly, a Space Camp team gains STEM skills and inspiration outside of the classroom.

Dr. Kay Taylor, Space Camp’s director of education, says Space Camp recognizes the benefit of formal education. The goal isn’t supplanting formal schooling; it’s supplementing it.

“If you have a child who is curious, who questions, who wants to know,” she says, “this is a great environment for that child.”

I met with Dr. Taylor to get a closer look at Space Camp, the ways in which its mission and Scouting’s mission parallel, and to learn how their STEM education has evolved since I attended more than 20 years ago. If you like what you see, find info on Space Camp’s Black Friday weekend sale at the end of the post.

A bright future for Scouts in STEM

STEM has become such a buzzword that you probably don’t need reminding what it stands for: science, technology, engineering and math.

But it’s worth repeating that STEM jobs are in high demand. Jobs that didn’t exist a generation ago, like software engineers, can now earn $100,000 a year or more right away.

Taylor says Space Camp wants to address the “very serious reality of not enough kids going into STEM-based careers” by introducing young people to exciting, well-paying jobs.

Pat Ammons, Space Camp’s director of communications, agrees.

“We want them to see a practical application for something they enjoy doing,” she says. “They might never have known that a career like that existed.”

Experiencing is believing

Learning with all five senses means more than just memorizing dates and names.

It means examining historic artifacts, spinning around on a multi-axis trainer and exploring a model of the International Space Station.

The goal isn’t necessarily training the next Neil Armstrong. It’s more about inspiring the next, say, Elizabeth Bierman.

Bierman is a past president of the Society of Women Engineers. But before that, she was a Space Camp graduate.

“She didn’t know any engineers,” Ammons says. “She said, ‘when I came to Space Camp, I realized that what I really wanted to do was solve problems,’ and that’s what engineers do. They’re problem solvers.”

“They don’t have to leave here thinking I want to be an astronaut,” Taylor adds. “I certainly hope they leave here thinking I want to be the best — fill in the blank — that I can be.”

Scouting and Space Camp

The link between Scouting and the space program has been well documented.

Less known but equally potent is the longstanding relationship between Scouting and Space Camp, part of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

“When you look at the history of Scouting, it has always sought to develop the best Scout mind, the best heart and the best sense of duty,” Taylor says. “Here at Space Camp, we look at those same factors. We want to engage them with an experience that is as authentically and rigorously embedded in something bigger than the every day.”

Then there’s the more practical alignment, like merit badges. Depending on which weekend or weeklong program they choose, Boy Scouts can earn or work toward the Space Exploration, Aviation or Robotics merit badge.

But even more valuable that a completed blue card is the ability to become embedded in the space program. As a 1995 Space Camp graduate myself, I can tell you It’s impossible to leave and not be inspired.

“The story of space is some of the most dramatic stories in human history,” Taylor says. “It’s this amazing story where people come together from all walks of life and do the unimaginable.”

A stellar Space Camp deal for Black Friday weekend

Send your son or daughter to Space Camp — or treat yourself to an Adult Space Academy program — for $50 to $150 less than the normal price.

Space Camp’s Black Friday weekend sale runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. That’s 12:01 a.m. CST on Nov. 24 to 11:59 p.m. CST on Nov. 27.

Space Camp has just one sale a year, so this is your chance to save:

  • $150 off 2018 summer weeklong camp programs for children ages 9-18
  • $50 off Adult Space Academy programs
  • $50 off Family Camp programs

You don’t have to settle on a date when you buy, though you’ll want to grab a prime date as soon as possible. Space Camp provides customized gift certificates you can wrap and give to a lucky recipient.

Give the gift of Space Camp at


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