Scouting News from the Internet

5 Quick Questions with: Jennifer Clutter, leader of an all-girl Cub Scout den in N.C.

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When Jennifer Clutter first learned that girls could join Cub Scouting, she immediately rushed to tell her 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy.

“The first words she spoke were, ‘So I can earn my Eagle too?’ I nearly fell down,” Jennifer Clutter said. “I could only think, ‘Eagle? Let’s just have a Bear den first!'”

Kennedy has been an unofficial part of Pack 3 of Charlotte, N.C., since her older brother, Carson, was a Tiger. She has five family members who are Eagle Scouts.

But after years of participating from the sidelines, Kennedy is an official Cub Scout — blue uniform and all — thanks to the Early Adopter program that her pack launched earlier this spring.

She’s one of the first female Cub Scouts in the Mecklenburg County Council, according to the Charlotte Observer.

As the BSA welcomes girls into Cub Scouting, I contacted Clutter to ask her 5 Quick Questions about her family’s Scouting experience so far.

Bryan on Scouting: Your son, Carson, has been a Scout since Tigers and has crossed over into Boy Scouting. What has that experience been like so far?

Jennifer Clutter: “I still remember the day we went to the Scout Shop to get his Tiger uniform. He was beaming, and each year when he got his new neckerchief, hat and handbook he has beamed again. In Boy Scouts, Carson is most looking forward to all the camping and backpacking trips. He is very excited to learn to rock climb, take a canoeing trip or go whitewater rafting. Overall, he is excited for more independence and self reliance and looks forward to spending time with his Scout buddies.”

BOS: What has your daughter, Kennedy, thought as she’s observed Carson’s enjoyment of Scouting?

J.C.: “Kennedy has wanted to be a part of Scouting since day one. She would beg each week to attend his den meetings and pack meetings. She would help me prepare materials for the meetings and then be an active participant at the meetings. At a recent family campout we took with Carson’s Webelos den, she went along and participated fully in the campfire skits, stories and fellowship — even though she was the only sister there that weekend. She and the boys thought nothing of her being there and participating.”

BOS: What’s it been like recruiting girls to your pack?

J.C.: “Not difficult for Kennedy; she had her ‘Cub Scout sales pitch’ down. She has recruited eight friends from her grade at school, four sibling girls from our pack and two other girls who heard that our pack was starting a girls’ den.

BOS: How was the first meeting with your all-girl den?

J.C.: “To say my heart nearly burst can’t describe the chemistry and excitement that everyone felt. The girls arrived knowing the Scout Oath and Law and earned their Bobcat badge by the end of the evening. All the families in our pack were excited and happy to see our girls at the meeting. We have had a good response from friends and people in our close community who know our family’s involvement in Scouting. They know that Scouting is an important part of our family and have seen the benefits Carson has received from it and want to give it a try with their daughters.”

BOS: What advice can you offer to Scouters preparing to welcome girls later this year?

J.C.: “Don’t overthink it. They are just kids who want to learn what Scouting has to teach: duty to God, duty to country and duty to community — all taught by taking them out of doors and teaching them new skills through fun activities. When I asked the girls at our first meeting what they were most excited to do in Scouting they said, ‘camping, learning about animals and learning how to use a knife.’ They are curious and want new experiences in a fun and positive environment. Keep it simple, and keep it fun. It’s kids and Scouting, and the two have been successful together for a long time.”

Watch a local news report about Kennedy

BSA to build world’s longest Pinewood Derby track, host race across America

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Did you hear the big news? I’m talking really big.

The Boy Scouts of America announced today that it will build the Transcontinental Pinewood Derby Track — a 2,560-mile wooden course that will begin in San Francisco and end in New York.

There’s more. The Transcontinental Pinewood Derby Track will be the official host of a newly announced event called Pinewood Derby Race Across America, beginning in 2028.

Here are seven more things to know about the Transcontinental Pinewood Derby Track and Pinewood Derby Race Across America.

1. The cars are huge!

Cub Scouts will build and race wooden cars, each roughly the size of a Honda Civic, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Families will transport their son or daughter’s car to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and meet it two weeks later at the finish line on Long Island in New York.

In most packs, a Pinewood Derby car cannot exceed 7 inches in length or 5 ounces in weight. But in the Pinewood Derby Race Across America, these limits will be supersized: a maximum of 180 inches in length and 48,000 ounces in weight.

The proposed path of the track — subject to change. 2. The track is more than 13.5 million feet long!

The current longest track, according to Guinness World Records, belongs to the Mid-America Council in Nebraska. Their Pinewood Derby track spanned 1,819 feet — a mark the Transcontinental Pinewood Derby Track will shatter by 13,515,181 feet.

Thanks to the generosity of a number of anonymous donors, the Transcontinental Pinewood Derby Track won’t cost the BSA a dime.

3. Construction begins later this year!

It’s being called the most ambitious construction project since the Egyptians built the pyramids.

The Olaf Sprilo Construction Co. has been awarded the job. They’ve said work will begin in August and that the entire track is being built with recycled wood.

The track will take about a decade to complete and will be finished in time for the inaugural Pinewood Derby Race Across America on May 15, 2028. Why that date? That marks the 75th anniversary of the very first Pinewood Derby race — hosted May 15, 1953, by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, Calif.

4. The race will take almost two weeks!

A regular Pinewood Derby race on a 40-foot track lasts a couple of seconds.

The Pinewood Derby Race Across America is expected to last about 12 days. The entire race will be streamed live on the Boys’ Life Facebook page and ESPN3.

Five checkpoint gates along the track — in Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana and Pennsylvania — will allow viewers to see which car is in the lead.

Dylan, 7, gets a head start on his car with the help of his mom and dad. 5. Cub Scouts still get to build their own cars (with Mom or Dad’s help)!

One of the best parts of Pinewood Derby is the time a Cub Scout gets to spend with his or her parent or guardian as they design, build and decorate a car together. (It’s the whole point of Pinewood Derby!)

Now, imagine that same moment of bonding times 1,000. Instead of spending a week or two working with your daughter or son on the car, you’ll enjoy several years of carving a Civic-size block of wood by hand! And I didn’t even mention the sanding and painting!

6. The starting gate will be the tallest structure ever!

So maybe I buried the lede here, but I have to point out that the Transcontinental Pinewood Derby Track will be the largest manmade structure in history. Because Pinewood Derby cars don’t have engines, the track’s starting gate will need to be high enough to allow gravity to do all the work — all the way across the country.

Some of the top young minds in STEM Scouts calculated how high the starting line must be so every car will reach the finish line. They included calculations for:

  • The curvature of the Earth
  • The diminished gravitational forces as you get farther away from the Earth’s center
  • The coefficient of friction
  • The difference in elevation between San Francisco (52 feet) and New York (33 feet)
  • The Rocky Mountains
  • Science things
  • Math stuff

They made all those calculations using a dry-erase marker on a large window. Because, as everybody knows, that’s how smart people calculate things.

Their answer: 396.4 miles above the earth.

That’s enough to make it the world’s tallest anything — more than 390 miles taller than Mount Everest!

7. They’re still figuring out a way to make the cars stop at the end!

If anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment below.

Photos by Marcie Rodriguez. Patch design by Kevin Hurley.

This summer, families will experience Philmont in a totally new way

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Those dense crowds, long wait times and expensive ticket prices can take a hike.

This summer, choose the ultimate family vacation. Choose Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Philmont Family Adventure, new for 2018, gives families the chance to experience Philmont however they want. Hike or ride horses, craft or climb rocks, explore or simply enjoy an ice cream cone at the cantina. You and your family will choose your own adventures.

Best part is, you’ll spend the whole week together, as a family. And you’ll do so at Philmont, the BSA’s enchanting high-adventure base in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Photo by Madelynne Scales What is Philmont Family Adventure?

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the Philmont Scout Ranch like never before.

You and your family will make memories that’ll last a lifetime. The program builds family bonds through exciting and interactive programs.

Who can participate in Philmont Family Adventure?

It’s open to all registered members of the BSA and their families.

What will the weather be like?

Bring your fleece jacket! Average summer highs at Philmont are in the mid-70s, and average lows are around 40.

Photo by Hunter Long What activities are available?

The program will use an open-enrollment format where you and your family can choose activities that appeal to you. Some of the choices include:

Inspiration Point Hike: Take a guided hike as a family to a spectacular view on the side of Urraca Mesa. A trail lunch will be provided in lieu of lunch at the dining hall.

Hunting Lodge Hike: Hike as a family from Cimarroncito Turnaround to Hunting Lodge and Window Rock. Enjoy the majestic views from Window Rock looking down on Base Camp and step into the 1940s with a visit to Hunting Lodge, one of Waite Phillips’ original backcountry cabins. Try your hand at fly fishing on Cito Reservoir after a casting lesson from the staff.

Rock Climbing: A daylong session begins with a mild hike from Cimarroncito Turnaround to Cimarroncito Backcountry Staff Camp. Once there, you’ll receive a safety briefing and climbing demonstration followed by a chance to climb several different routes on natural rock.

Philmont Living History Day: Interested in learning about Philmont history from the days of the dinosaur to the present? Begin with a hike to a real Tyrannosaurus rex track. Learn about the petroglyphs of the early American Indian inhabitants of the North Ponil Canyon. Then tour Chase Ranch, where you’ll enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, you can tour the Villa Philmonte and/or the Kit Carson Museum at Rayado at your own pace.

Craft Center: The open-program format at the Craft Center allows you to show up for instruction for any of the craft activities offered, including the chance to work with ceramics, wearable art (clothing and accessories), leathercraft, stamp art, Southwestern crafts, and home decor.

Shooting Sports: Learn the fundamentals of archery, slingshots, tomahawks, air guns, .22 rifles and/or shotguns.

COPE: This Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience includes initiative games, trust events, and high and low ropes courses for the whole family. There are elements to challenge individuals of all ages and skill levels.

Horseback Riding: What’s life like for a New Mexico cowboy? Mosey down to Cattle Headquarters, where wranglers will provide an introduction to saddles and tack before taking the group on a trail ride.

Free Time: Your family is not required to attend all of the events. You may choose to relax or even take a day trip on your own into nearby Eagle Nest, Angel Fire, Red River or Taos.

When is Philmont Family Adventure?

Philmont Family Adventure is offered over two weeks. You and your family can stay for the whole week or half of a week.

Full-week options for 2018:

  • June 24 to 30
  • July 1 to 7

Half-week options for 2018:

  • June 24 to 27
  • June 27 to 30
  • July 1 to 4
  • July 4 to 7
Photo by Gabriel Scarlett How much does it cost?

Philmont Family Adventure costs less than a week at one of those crowded theme parks.

Costs include lodging, food and activities.

Full-week costs, 2018:

  • Adult: $350 each
  • Children/youth: $150 each
  • Mountain trek: $430 each

Half-week costs, 2018:

  • Adult: $215 each
  • Children/youth: $100 each
Where do I learn more and register?

Find a daily schedule, a flier to share with your fellow Scout leaders and more at this link.

Eagle dog sledding veteran posts best result in Iditarod

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Yesterday, we highlighted Tom Schonberger, an Eagle Scout and National Eagle Scout Association lifetime member, who got caught in unfavorable conditions while mushing in his first Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska earlier this month. Read his story here.

He wasn’t the only Eagle on the 1,000-mile trail.

Eagle Scout Matthew Failor — in his seventh Iditarod — mushed his way to his best result, crossing the finish line in 13th place after 10 days, 5 hours, 53 minutes and 52 seconds on the trail. It wasn’t his fastest time ever (he did it in 9 days, 16 hours, 42 minutes in 2014), but it proved faster than many in the 67-person field.

Failor’s team of Alaskan huskies mushed through blizzards and deep snow. Some stretches took a couple hours longer than they’d normally take.

“It was very challenging,” Failor says. “Every year presents different weather and trail challenges. This year, some of the trail was downright gone.”

It’s important not to push the dogs and race at a pace right for the team. The dogs are pulling a couple hundred pounds with the sled, musher and gear. When the team rests, the musher is taking care of them, feeding and massaging the dogs. Failor usually got an hour of sleep every 10 hours.

In the home stretch, Failor battled for position with musher Ketil Reitan. The two mushers went back and forth in the last several miles before Failor finally edged him by 12 seconds.

“The dogs did amazing,” Failor says. “I’m thrilled and very proud of them. They worked very well together.”

Prepared for the race

In the offseason, Failor runs a 53-dog kennel in Alaska and facilitates rides for tourists. Come September though, it’s time to train. Failor runs his dogs in a few races leading up to the big race in March. He doesn’t have to qualify for the Iditarod like Schonberger did since he’s raced in it before. Sixteen dogs are chosen for the sled team; most are between 2.5 to 5 years old.

“They all need to travel at the same speed,” Failor says.

He evaluated his team this year as “sophomores” racing against other teams with more experience. The winning team finished the race in 9 days, 12 hours. He says next year, his team could be faster.

We met with Failor a few years ago. Watch how he prepares for Iditarod:

Failor’s time in Scouting helped prepare him for the rugged life in “The Last Frontier.” After he moved from Ohio to Alaska, he lived in a log cabin for two years without running water. He loves the Alaskan lifestyle and that the Iditarod represents the history and resiliency of the people who live there. Machines can break down in the bitter cold, but dogs can mush on.

“The trails are the streets, and they’re filled with so much history of ancient traveling,” Failor says. “It’s a different way of life.”

Taking your pack or den camping? At least one adult must take BALOO training first

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BALOO stands for Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation. It’s the introductory training Cub Scout leaders should complete before taking Cub Scouts on an overnight camping trip.

Recent updates to this two-part course make the content more impactful, useful and convenient.

The new BALOO combines the previous BALOO and a course called Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, or OWL.

As of Feb. 28, 2018, OWL is no more. The OWL training code — C33 — has been retired. The training code for the new, hybrid BALOO is C32.

Who should take BALOO?

The BSA requires that you have at least one BALOO-trained adult on every Cub Scout den or pack overnight outdoor event. That include pack camping and Webelos den overnighters.

A BALOO-trained leader should be at any overnighter regardless of whether it is a pack, district or council event.

Having at least one BALOO-trained adult will make your Cub Scouts’ camping experience as awesome as it can be.

Why should I take BALOO?

Leaders who complete BALOO training are better prepared to plan pack den or pack overnight events.

You’ll learn how to make camping activities and outings fun. You’ll discover how to keep your Cub Scouts safe and entertained. And you’ll learn how to plan an event that’s rooted firmly in Cub Scouting’s principles.

Successful experiences in the outdoors make Cub Scouts — and their parents — more likely to keep coming back.

How do I take BALOO?

BALOO consists of two components: online and hands-on. You’ll need to complete both — in order — to qualify as a “Trained” Cub Scout outdoor leader and receive the BALOO recognition patch.

  1. Online component: The online portion of BALOO is available 24/7 on the BSA Learn Center. Just log in to to begin. The goal of the online portion is to make the best use of time to allow leaders to experience as much as possible during the practical hands-on training.
  2. Practical, hands-on component: This 1.5-day course is designed as an introduction to the Cub Scout outdoor program for leaders interested in adding a camping component to their Pack activities. Check with your district or council to see if they’re offering a BALOO training soon.

You can download the syllabus here.

Further reading

For more on BALOO, including how to make the most of your BALOO weekend and the thinking behind the decision to combine BALOO and OWL, read Mark Ray’s Scouting magazine story.

NESA member mushes in famous Alaskan sled dog race

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Slogging through ankle-deep, wet snow and facing 96 miles to the next checkpoint, Iditarod sled dog musher Tom Schonberger thought about his team of Siberian huskies.

They trained for months ahead of the nearly 1,000-mile trek across the icy Alaskan landscape from Anchorage to Nome, which started March 3. They qualified for the famous annual sled dog race by mushing in three other contests, including two of 300 miles in length. They had already made it 558 miles into the Iditarod, and the treacherous terrain and weather were unrelenting.

“It was snowstorm after snowstorm,” Schonberger says. “It was that soft, slushy stuff — mile after mile. It’s a race; you get what you get.”

To avoid injury to his team, the National Eagle Scout Association lifetime member decided to call it quits. It was the first time Schonberger, who earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1983, had competed in the Iditarod. Even though he didn’t finish the race, he described the arduous experience as “an amazing adventure.”

“It’s a lot tougher than it looks,” Schonberger says. “It’s not all the glamour you see on TV.”

From show dogs to sled dogs

Schonberger’s love for Siberian huskies began in college when he owned his first. Now, he and his wife Mary have 31.

The dogs are primarily show dogs; the couple has won several titles with their American Kennel Club-registered dogs. After helping a friend train for sled dog racing over a decade ago, Schonberger decided to give it a try, too.

“These dogs were bred to run,” he says.

Alaskan huskies are built for speed while Siberians can travel longer between breaks. Most mushers raise teams of Alaskan huskies; Schonberger was one of two who used Siberians in the Iditarod this year.

“I knew a lot of people were going to pass us,” Schonberger says. “It’s kind of like the tortoise and the hare.”

To find the best “tortoises,” he starts training in August, evaluating which dogs run well together. The dogs that made the final cut in his 16-dog team ranged in age from 3 to 10 years old.

They ran in three qualifying races under the careful eye of judges, who want to ensure rookie racers are up to the task of mushing 1,000 miles in fewer than two weeks with little sleep along the way.

Dogs can be dropped off at checkpoints, but mushers can’t add dogs to the team at those stops. Mushers can store dog food and sled gear, including dry socks and gloves, at the checkpoints to pick up.

“It’s like heaven,” Schonberger says of dry socks.


Schonberger says his background in the Air Force and in Scouting equipped him with the skills for this endeavor. Wilderness survival, camping and problem-solving all proved useful on the trail. Schonberger isn’t sure yet if he’ll attempt the big race again, but plans to mush in shorter races.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime shot,” Schonberger says.

Before moving to Alaska 18 years ago, he lived in Florida, and in the 1980s, he worked for five years at Philmont as a ranger, program counselor and camp director.

Schonberger wasn’t the only Eagle Scout on the Alaskan trail this year. Check in tomorrow to read about another Eagle who made the trek.

Hat tip: Thanks to Schonberger who shared photos taken by Julien Schroeder, Susan Barteland Joel Forsman.

Thanks to the Order of the Arrow, Puerto Rico’s hurricane-devastated Camp Guajataka is open for business

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Typical young people spend their spring break on the beach, the ski hill or the couch.

Good thing members of the Order of the Arrow aren’t typical young people.

A hundred Scouts and Scouters from 28 different states traveled to Puerto Rico this month to help rebuild Camp Guajataka, the beloved camp owned by the BSA’s Puerto Rico Council. The camp was hit hard by Hurricane Maria in September.

The service project was called Arrowcorps Puerto Rico, and Scouts traveled from as far away as Alaska — a 20-hour journey of nearly 4,000 miles.

When the Arrowmen arrived, Camp Guajataka wasn’t suitable for Scouts. When they left a week later, the camp was open and ready for a great summer camp experience. Now that’s what I call leaving a place better than you found it.

How it happened

The instant Hurricane Maria put Puerto Rico in its sights, things looked dire. Unfortunately, the forecasts turned out to be right on, and the island sustained major damage.

The Puerto Rico Council’s main office and its Camp Guajataka were heavily damaged in the storm.

Camp Guajataka was in such bad shape “that we were not sure they would be able to open this summer to provide a much-needed week of Scouting to their Scouts,” said Area Director Jim Hans.

That’s when the Order of the Arrow stepped in.

Step 1: Sell patches to benefit the camp

Within weeks of the hurricane, Section Chief Jeremy Bedient and Section Advisor Rob Rodriguez launched a patch sale to benefit the camp.

The sale, which I blogged about in November, raised $60,000 for the camp.

The money went to good use right away, but it soon became clear cash alone wouldn’t be enough to reopen the camp.

There simply weren’t enough hands to do the work.

Step 2: Plan a massive service project

The idea for Arrowcorps Puerto Rico was born in October.

The idea was simple: invite Scouts and Scouters from across the country to Puerto Rico with the sole objective of doing whatever it took to get the camp open for Scouts this summer.

“The logistics and reality of this this project were immense,” Hans said. “Who better to tackle the impossible but the Order of the Arrow?”

Assuming the camp wouldn’t have running water or electricity, the OA set a cap of 100 participants from the mainland and 50 from Puerto Rico.

“We felt that is all we would be able to support,” Hans said.

Within weeks, all the spots had been taken.

Step 3: Arrive in Puerto Rico

Fortunately, electricity and water were restored to camp a few weeks before the OA’s arrival.

On March 11, 100 Scouts and adult volunteers from 28 states began arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.

The task list was daunting:

  • Clear and remove all downed trees and bamboo from the roads, common areas and campsites
  • Repair an electrical system decimated by the power surges experienced from the hurricane
  • Repair the Friendship Bridge, which connects the two halves of the camp and was made unusable by the storm
  • Clean, repair and paint the campsite buildings
  • Repair the COPE course
  • Clear and repair the campfire ring, including repairing and reconstructing some destroyed petroglyphs

Adult volunteers and local firefighters helped with any tasks that weren’t safe for Scouts — like work involving chain saws, electrical lines or heavy construction equipment.

Step 4: Begin the cheerful service

On arrival day, the workers were welcomed with a paella feast prepared by members of the council’s executive committee.

The next day, the Arrowcorps group was spellbound as they heard firsthand accounts from Puerto Rico Scouts of what it was like to live through the hurricane and its aftermath.

“Their stories brought into focus our mission and motivated our members to an intensity of work and determination that I have never seen before,” Hans said. “One participant, an Eagle Scout who had attended Philmont, national jamborees, NOAC, and numerous other Scouting events, confided in me that ‘this is the highlight of my Scouting career; I have never been prouder to be in the Boy Scouts.'”

The work was tough; the days were long. The Arrowcorps team worked so hard and so quickly that additional items were added to the work list.

Five additional camp trails were opened, and drainage ditches were cleared to prevent further flooding.

Step 5: Complete the transformation

With everything on the checklist — and more — finished, the Scouts and leaders assessed the scene.

They had left Camp Guajataka much better than they found it. They reopened the bridge, cleaned and repaired more than 20 buildings, and removed all downed trees and bamboo.

Friday’s closing ceremony was inspirational as the group listened to the thanks from members of the Puerto Rico Council.

The next morning, they gathered to head to the airport. Everyone was tired and sore and a little sad to be leaving.

“But we were also a group filled with pride,” Hans said. “Not only had we accomplished more than we had set out to do, but we could tell our fellow Scouts from Puerto Rico that their beloved Camp Guajataka was now open for business. The scars of Hurricane Maria had been removed by Arrowcorps.”

J. Warren Young, who served 32 years as Boys’ Life publisher, dies at 79

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Young helped introduce the Bank Street Classic Tales. Published in Boys’ Life four times a year, these tales reminded readers that “all you need is a book and a dream.”

J. Warren Young, who helped generations of young people discover the joys of reading in his 32 years as publisher of Boys’ Life magazine, died March 20, 2018. He was 79.

As publisher of Boys’ Life, the Boy Scouts of America’s award-winning publication for youth, he showed young people that reading can be empowering, engaging and exciting.

Young saw books and magazines as doorways to a new world. He promoted literacy by providing material that young people actually want to read.

In 1990, Young and Boys’ Life partnered with the Bank Street College of Education in New York to introduce the Bank Street Classic Tales. Four times a year, readers were taken around the world on thrilling adventures.

In these comics, they met Gulliver in the imaginary kingdom of Lilliput, Don Quixote in Spain and Marco Polo in ancient China. Young people were having too much fun to realize they were reading and learning about history.

In 1987, Young and Boys’ Life launched “Drugs: A Deadly Game!” to educate young people about the dangers of drugs.

Young helped educated young people about the dangers of drugs. In 1987, he partnered with Coca-Cola to develop “Drugs: A Deadly Game!” — a program that has reached more than 20 million young men and young women.

Young also served as publisher for Scouting magazine, which is sent to nearly 1 million adult leaders in the BSA, and Eagles’ Call, the official magazine of the National Eagle Scout Association.

A lifelong passion for literacy

Young was born on March 10, 1939. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1961. He then received a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing from New York University.

After graduating, Young held a number of positions in the publishing field, including jobs with Doubleday & Co., Kids magazine, Random House Inc., Time Inc. and many other top publishing houses.

Young began his career with the Boy Scouts of America in 1981.

During his more than three decades at the helm of Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines, Young guided these publications through the ever-changing landscape of print journalism and helped launch the magazines’ robust digital presence.

In addition to his efforts to promote literacy and fight illegal drug use, Young helped expand the reach of Boys’ Life by introducing demographic editions.

Boys’ Life publishes two variants: one edition for Cub Scout-age subscribers and another for Boy Scout-age readers.

In January 2002, Boys’ Life added editorial refinements including a new logo that replaced the logo in use since 1977 and a different, age-appropriate contents page to introduce each edition.

Beyond his formidable skills as a publisher, Young will be remembered for the way he cared about his colleagues at the BSA.

“Those of us who were fortunate enough to know and work with Warren came to love his warmth and humor and gained a deep respect for his work ethic and business acumen,” said Stephen Medlicott, Group Director of Marketing and Communications for the BSA.

Young served as publisher until his retirement on July 1, 2013.

Rain or shine, Warren Young enjoyed attending BSA events and interacting directly with Scouts. At the 2013 National Jamboree, he swapped stories and patches with fellow BSA professional Bart Green. Honoring Warren Young’s legacy

Young is survived by his wife, Cornelia; daughter, Wendy; and son, Chris.

In Young’s memory, Boys’ Life and the BSA have announced the creation of the J. Warren Young Literature for Disadvantaged Youth Fund.

Continuing Young’s legacy of promoting literacy in young people, the fund will provide BSA magazines, handbooks and other literature to young people in need.

To make a contribution, please click here.

Milkweed for Monarchs: Behind D.C.-area Scouts’ effort to save butterflies

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Can a butterfly flapping its wings in Washington, D.C., inspire a tidal wave of conservation across the country?

Scouts from the National Capital Area Council seem to think so.

Hundreds of D.C.-area Scouts have pledged to help save the monarch by planting milkweed. You see, the caterpillars that become these orange-and-black butterflies rely on milkweed for food. But milkweed is disappearing — and the monarchs are vanishing, too.

They call this service project Milkweed for Monarchs, and it’s a massively ambitious effort to protect this pollinator whose numbers have decreased by more than 90 percent over the past two decades.

What they’ve done so far

Scouts and members of the community who pledged to plant milkweed received seeds and the cool patch seen at the top of this post. They also got invited to a special kickoff celebration last month at the United States National Arboretum in Washington.

The Scouts’ efforts are taking root. The seeds are beginning to sprout, and the council is planning a second event for those who couldn’t attend the kickoff. Scouts are sharing what they’ve learned with others, helping raise awareness about monarchs.

Word of this great project has migrated west. Conservationists in California, Washington state and British Columbia are joining the cause. Some have even contacted Scouts in their area to see if they might want to replicate the project there.

Speaking of, this isn’t the National Capital Area Council’s secret. The council tells me it’s ready to assist other councils that might want to create a similar program. Just contact Daniel Hirsch, the council’s PR director, to learn more.

“Hopefully you can share the story of our efforts with others, and together, we can help avert this ecological calamity,” Hirsch says.

Photo by Yong Ho How you can help

You can help by planting and cultivating milkweed. Fortunately for those lacking green thumbs, the plants are easy to maintain and are perennials — meaning they return year after year.

To get started, follow these steps from the National Capital Area Council:

If you’re planting outside:

  • Plant seeds in moist soil after the threat of frost.
  • Plant in soil less than ¼ inch deep and seedlings 6 inches apart from one another.

If starting your plants by planting indoors:

  • Start plants in pots using the same planting depth and spacing as if you were planting outside.
  • Place seedlings near a window or fan so that their stems are strengthened from air movement.
  • Allow 4-8 weeks growing time before moving your plants to ground outside.

To continue growth:

  • Water your milkweed plants every few days until each plant grows to a height of 1 foot or taller.
  • Group your milkweed in groups of at least 6 plants so that monarch caterpillars have enough food to eat.
  • Plant groups of milkweed in several different areas to offer different environments for the plant and monarch caterpillars.
  • In the winter, do not cut. Instead, allow some dead plant material to remain for birds and other wildlife to use.
  • Once you have established plants, grow new milkweed by taking cuttings and placing them in distilled water for 4 weeks to start new plants. Cuttings tend to be more resilient than seedlings and may produce better results.
Learn more

At the National Capital Area Council’s Milkweed for Monarchs page.

If your Scout unit decides to participate, be sure to send me some photos/details.

5 Quick Questions with: Tobias Ellwood, Eagle Scout, member of British Parliament

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It became one of the defining images of a tragic day: Tobias Ellwood, his face mottled with blood, trying to save a policeman who had been stabbed in the March 22, 2017, terror attack in London.

Despite his best efforts, Ellwood, an Eagle Scout, was unable to save constable Keith Palmer.

In the days following the attack, British politicians called Ellwood “an absolute hero” and “utterly heroic, pure and simple.”

Ellwood was born in New York City to British parents. He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Transatlantic Council, which serves American Scouts living overseas. He earned Scouting’s highest honor on May 25, 1982, as a member of Troop 427 of Vienna, Austria.

In recognition of the one-year anniversary of the London attack, I caught up with Ellwood to ask him 5 Quick Questions. He talked about his favorite Scouting memory, serving in the British army and how being an Eagle Scout helps him in British politics.

Bryan on Scouting: What was your favorite memory from your time in Scouting?

Tobias Ellwood: “Lighting the big opening campfire in front of all of the troops at Scout camp in Bavaria where I worked on the staff. The wood pile was 6 feet high with a tiny candle place in the very base. After wooing the audience to shout ‘fire, fire,’
another staffer, off stage, would pull a string that went through a long stretch of piping to the fire and tip over a bucket full of gasoline hid in the top of the wood pile. The result — even if you were expecting it — was dramatic with flames charging into the sky. A great way to start the summer camp each week!”

[Editor’s note: That fire-lighting method wouldn’t fly at Scout camp today. For more fire safety tips, read this.]

BOS: How was earning Eagle Scout in Austria different from earning it in the continental U.S.?

T.E.: “I can’t compare, as I don’t know the U.S. system, but we had the U.S. embassy and the American international school sponsoring a very varied and active Scouting program.”

BOS: You have been widely praised for your bravery in the London terror attack. What has been your response to that global attention?

T.E.: “I am humbled by the attention — but reflect that sadly I did not save the policeman’s life.”

BOS: You were a member of the British army. How did being an Eagle Scout guide you in that service?

T.E.: “My entire Scouting experience helped establish values of integrity, determination, ambition and leadership which have stayed with me for life. There is no doubt it was a huge influence for good.”

BOS: How does being an Eagle Scout help you in your job in British politics?

T.E.: “It’s a constant reminder of what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. That you are the captain of your fate and can aspire to do much with effort, enthusiasm and commitment.”

Photo via Tobias Ellwood, Facebook

Clearing up misconceptions and showing there’s room for everyone in Scouting, especially Scouts with special needs

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You might have seen the story about a Boy Scout from Utah who has Down syndrome and is working on his Eagle Scout rank. I wanted to clear up some misconceptions about this impressive young man.

First, reports that Logan Blythe’s merit badges were revoked and that he was demoted to Cub Scout aren’t true.

Logan is still registered as a Boy Scout, and the merit badges he earned are still listed in the BSA’s advancement records.

The option to earn the rank of Eagle Scout has been — and still is — available to Logan. The BSA has apologized to the family that this was not always made clear to them and has shared on the Scouting Newsroom blog that it will continue to work with Logan and his family to support his effort to become an Eagle Scout.

The BSA allows Scouts with special needs to remain registered beyond the age of ability. Logan is 15, but if he needs to keep working past the age of 18 to complete some requirements, that’s fine. He’ll get all the time he needs.

That’s because there’s room for everyone in Scouting, especially Scouts with special needs. This raises an important topic and provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about the many ways the BSA supports Scouts with special needs.

Scouts with special needs thrive

The BSA’s National Disabilities Awareness Committee estimates that one out of every six Scouts has a disability or special need. Some are physical, but most involve cognitive, behavioral or learning disabilities. Chances are there are several such Scouts in your pack, troop, ship, post or crew.

In many arenas in life, young people with special needs or disabilities are separated into their own classes at school or special sports teams. That’s not the way it works in most BSA packs, troops and crews.

In the BSA, most units place Scouts with special needs in dens and patrols with everyone else. It’s called “mainstreaming,” and it is important both for the Scout with special needs and for his or her unit.

Just this week I read about Zach Beckman of Troop 185 of Jasper, Ind. The 25-year-old man was born with Down syndrome, and he became an Eagle Scout this week.

Zach’s dad, Dean Beckman, worked with Zach and his troop to develop a timeline for Zach. They mapped out how he’d earn merit badges, go camping and complete the rigorous steps toward becoming an Eagle Scout. The plan worked, and Zach achieved a rank earned by just 6 percent of all Scouts.

“No one has ever said, ‘Hey Zach, I don’t think you can do it,’” Dean Beckman told the Dubois County Herald. “They say, ‘Zach, we’ll work with you.'”

Zach’s story is remarkable, but it’s not that rare.

There are the blind triplets from Virginia who earned Eagle together. There’s the man from New Jersey who has a neurological disorder and became an Eagle Scout at age 52 after completing a project to honor veterans. There’s the troop from Massachusetts where Scouts compete alongside others with special needs on Special Olympics Unified Sports teams.

“It’s a way to spend time with people that I normally wouldn’t get to spend time with,” says Rosend, a Star Scout. “All the stereotypes that I believed in are gone.”

What the Guide to Advancement says

Logan’s story raised some questions about this line from Page 79 of the Guide to Advancement:

“Alternatives are not available for the Star, Life, and Eagle rank requirements. Scouts may request approval for alternative merit badges, but the other requirements for those three ranks must be fulfilled as written.”

When you look at the actual requirements, this language becomes clearer.

For Star, Life and Eagle, you’ll see that Scouts will spend the majority of their time working toward the 21 merit badges required for Eagle. Scouts with special needs may replace Eagle-required merit badges with other merit badges that provide a similar learning experience. That includes completing the Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges.

The Eagle-required Communication merit badge, for example, calls for a Scout to write and give a five-minute speech. A Scout with special needs could replace that merit badge with a badge like Photography, where the Scout would communicate using a photo story instead.

For the Eagle-required Personal Fitness merit badge, a Scout might not be able to complete the strength and aerobic activities requirements. Instead, that Scout might substitute a badge like Horsemanship, where the Scout would guide a horse through a series of maneuvers.

What about the remaining Star, Life and Eagle requirements? They include showing Scout Spirit, serving in a position of leadership (which can be anything from assistant senior patrol leader to webmaster), participating in a Scoutmaster conference and board of review, completing service projects, and living the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

These requirements are suitably challenging, but any Scout, with the support of his or her parents and Scout leaders, can work toward and complete them.

For example, let’s look at the board of review. It’s perfectly acceptable — encouraged, actually — for the parent or guardian of the Scout with special needs to be there to help the Scout answer questions.

‘Be creative’: A quick anecdote

Tony Mei, a Scouter from Novato, Calif., and chairman of the BSA’s National Disabilities Awareness Committee, once had a Scout who is blind tell him he had earned the Astronomy merit badge.

Mei was curious, and he asked how the young man completed requirement 4A: Identify at least 10 constellations in the sky.

“His merit badge counselor punched holes in paper plates and held them over his head outside at night, in the right place for the night sky,” Mei said. “The Scout used his hands to feel and identify the constellations.”

Not only is that a perfectly acceptable way to adapt the merit badge requirement, but it’s also kind of genius.

“We need to be creative in ways to help the Scouts be successful,” Mei said.

Resources for working with Scouts with special needs

There’s plenty of help in your effort to support Scouts with special needs.

  • Just last year, Scouting magazine’s cover story was about Scouts with special needs. You can read that piece here.
  • There’s a thriving online community of parents of Scouts who have autism. I’ve collected some of their tips and resources in this blog post.
  • Notice how I never used the phrase “special-needs Scouts” in this post? That’s because it’s important to use person-first language when talking about Scouts with special needs. Read these helpful tips to learn how.
  • Here are even more strategies that work when supporting Scouts with special needs.
  • Section 10 of the Guide to Advancement covers some of the mechanics of advancement for Scouts with special needs.
Share your top tips

Finally, let’s hear from you. In what ways have you helped a Scout with special needs thrive in your pack, troop, ship or crew?

Please share your comments below.

Volunteers invent an ingenious method of Pinewood Derby car judging

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Christie Finch wasn’t the biggest fan of the way Pinewood Derby cars were judged in her pack and district.

So she invented a better way. The new approach includes the youth, rewards Cub Scouts who work hard to design their cars with a parent or guardian, and builds excitement and fun on race day.

This all started when Finch and another Cub Scout volunteer, Casey Crausauz, noticed something in common about all the cars that won Best in Show: They were very obviously designed and painted by a Cub Scout alone — with no help from mom or dad.

In other words, if a car looked “too good,” then the Cub Scout must have received help from his or her parent, meaning the car was disqualified from design awards.

Of course, we Scouters know parent-child interaction is the whole point of the Pinewood Derby. But this judging method ignored that fact.

“We felt it was unfair to essentially disqualify good-looking cars on the assumption that a kid couldn’t do that alone,” Finch said. “We believe that if you see something wrong in the world, you help make change instead of just complaining!”

These volunteers from Pack 148 of Lebanon, Tenn., didn’t complain. They got to work.

How the pack’s Best in Show Award is judged

Here’s the new and improved method:

  1. The Best in Show Award criteria are sent out with the rest of the Pinewood Derby rules, meaning families have plenty of time to create a good-looking car.
  2. Two adult leaders are selected to serve as judges. They judge every car except for the ones created by their own children. For those cars, another judge is appointed at random. You could also have a third, celebrity judge — a local news anchor or the mayor, perhaps.
  3. Cars are judged as they’re checked in. This way, any damage sustained during racing doesn’t matter.
  4. The judges give each car a score using the scoresheet Finch created. (See a PDF here.) Cars get between 1 and 5 points in each of these four categories:
    • Originality: A simple race car design may not score as highly as a pencil or shark car.
    • Craftsmanship: Are there rough cuts or smooth sanded edges? Are any accessories added to the car well thought-out in placement and cleanly attached?
    • Technique: Was the car hand-painted, air-brushed or wrapped? Were there bubbles under a wrap or drips of paint left to dry? Did the Cub Scout and his or her adult partner branch out and use any new or interesting techniques?
    • Judges’ Choice: This category allows judges to allot points for any reason they choose, be it a favorite character or theme or even how exited the Cub Scout was when checking in his or her car.
  5. Judges are reminded not to judge cars against one another. Each car is judged on its own merits.
  6. The judges calculate the top four highest-scoring cars, and record that on a piece of paper. Ties are broken using the Judges’ Choice category.
  7. The speed races are held.
  8. In Finch’s pack and district, speed race winners are ineligible for the Best in Show Award. After first, second and third place are determined in the speed race, those fast cars are eliminated from Best in Show contention. That’s why four cars were identified for Best in Show — just in case the top three best-looking cars are the three fastest, too.
  9. Each pack’s Best in Show car becomes a finalist for the district Best in Show Award.

How the district Best in Show Award is selected
  1. Each pack winner is placed in its own voting display case. (Crausauz and Finch designed and painted the boxes. Their husbands built them and affixed the trim. The women purchased plexiglass tops from Hobby Lobby to finish the look.)
  2. Each Cub Scout and his or her siblings is given a voting token. When a Cub Scout takes a token, his or her hand is stamped to keep track of who has already taken one.
  3. The Cub Scouts place their token in the slot of the box holding their favorite car. “The kids absolutely loved this method,” Finch said. “They were excited to get a token to vote with and happy to be a part of the process.”
  4. The car with the most tokens was named the district’s Best in Show.
Notes and modifications
  • This method works for all derbies, not just Pinewood Derby. Try it for the Raingutter Regatta and Space Derby, too.
  • Finch’s method uses adult judges to select the pack winners and Cub Scouts to pick the district winners. In larger packs, you could use adult judges to pick the finalists and let the Cub Scouts vote on the big winner.
  • Finch says: “When picking the judges for the day, the most important part is picking people who understand that they are judging each car based on the criteria on the ballot, not against each other and without taking into account assumptions as to who built the car.”

Does your pack use a special judging system? Tell us about it in the comments.

College-age Eagle: ‘It may be called Boy Scouts, but it turned you into a man.’

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As Michael Wright planned his speech about the benefits of Scouting for Troop 721’s annual banquet last month, he decided to include an Eagle Scout’s perspective.

He reached out to his son, Brendin, who is studying geology and geological engineering in college, to share some words from his days with the St. Louis, Mo., troop. Brendin earned his Eagle Scout Award in 2012. During his time in Boy Scouts, he went to Northern Tier once and Philmont twice. He served as senior patrol leader, earned 37 merit badges and received three Eagle palms.

But the high adventure and accomplishments weren’t what immediately jumped to Brendin’s mind. It was the life lessons, skills and character development. As Brendin wrote, “I don’t think I’d be who I am today without Scouting.”

Brendin’s speech

Michael shared with the troop what Brendin penned. His thoughts are a stellar reminder of the lasting impact Scouting has had and continues to have on millions of youth.

Here are some excerpts from his speech:

“Early on in my Scouting career, I was probably more of a pain to the other Scouts than I realized,” Brendin writes. “I was the kid brother they couldn’t get rid of, at least until the weekend was over. Always goofing off or bothering the older Scouts, I wasn’t interested in learning how to tie a square knot or build a working log cabin fire.”

Brendin says the longer he was in Scouts, the more he saw how beneficial those skills were. Now that he’s away at college, those skills prove invaluable.

“Cooking is something I use almost daily now, and I learned a lot of it in Scouts,” he writes. “Physical fitness from activities like swimming, hiking and carrying the menagerie of supplies out of the troop truck helped teach me the value of being in shape. Even something like sailing a boat on a lake at summer camp can teach you how to work with someone and overcome obstacles.”

Some of those obstacles stemmed from being in a leadership position. In addition to serving as senior patrol leader, Brendin had also been a patrol leader, scribe and troop guide. He learned how to take into account the individual needs of everyone in his patrol, how to set a good example each day at summer camp and how to look for ways to care for others, like consoling a young Scout who might be away from his family for the first time. But being a good leader isn’t about having all the answers.

“The longer I led, I found that as much as I was teaching those who followed me, I was learning from them. I learned patience, how to communicate effectively, and humility. Everything I did, everywhere I went and everyone I talked to gave me some knowledge I had previously lacked.”

Brendin concluded his speech outlining what Scouting means to him and how it can prepare one for life, from good citizenship to service.

“Boy Scouts prepares you for the things you’ll find in the world once you leave the troop, once you walk away from that last closing ceremony, when you hang up that uniform for the last time. It probably didn’t fit you when you started, but as time went by, you grew into it,” he writes. “You learned that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, and helpful and so on. You learned to Be Prepared and Do a Good Turn Daily. It may be called Boy Scouts, but it turned you into a man.”

Polaris ATV Trek at Summit Bechtel Reserve: where mud and motors meet

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Leave your good jeans at home.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve’s Polaris ATV Trek, a new offering for 2018, puts Scouts and Venturers in control of their own all-terrain vehicle for a gritty week of riding the trails.

Participants get hands-on-handlebars training in safe ATV operation before heading out for 60-plus miles of riding. The trek uses trails built specifically for the Polaris ATV program — not trails for mountain biking or hiking. These trails are 100 percent on SBR property — not on neighboring national park land — and built using sustainable methods developed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The trails blend easy, wide-open sections with difficult, muddy features. Along the way, participants stop at the scenic vistas and natural landmarks that make the West Virginia mountains a popular adventure destination.

Thursday might be the craziest day of the week. That’s when participants get their ATVs stuck — on purpose — in some of the gnarliest mud holes available. With the help of trained staff, participants use ATV maneuvers, winches and something called a Z-drag system to get out.

A week of fun on a Polaris ATV in one of the coolest settings in Scouting? Where do I sign up?

Who’s eligible?

No prior ATV experience is required.

Participants must be registered Scouts, Venturers or adult leaders, be at least 14 years old, and be ready to get dirty and push their limits.

Fair warning: Riding an ATV is no passive activity. It can be significantly more exhausting than new riders might expect.

What’s the cost?

It’s $1,200 per participant. That includes pretty much everything, including safety gear, instruction, activities, the use of the Polaris ATV and food.

SBR also provides essential camping gear like a tent, dining fly, cooking set and first-aid kit.

What weeks are the treks available?
  • June 10 to 16 — FULL
  • June 17 to 23 — 12 available slots
  • June 24 to 30 — FULL
  • July 1 to 7 — 12 available slots
  • July 8 to 14 — FULL
  • July 15 to 21 — FULL
  • July 22 to 28 — FULL
  • July 29 to Aug. 4 — FULL
  • Aug. 5 to 11 — 12 available slots
  • Aug. 12 to 18 — 12 available slots
Sample itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and shakedown at Paul R. Christen High-Adventure Base at SBR.

Day 2: Spend the day at the Polaris OHV [Off-Highway Vehicle] Center for Excellence for ATV training and short trail rides.

Day 3: Ride from Polaris Center to Rock Borrow, including a morning ride to a community service location. Afternoon trail riding.

Day 4: Rock Borrow to Garden Ground. Morning ATV basic mechanics course. Afternoon trail riding.

Day 5: Garden Ground to Christen High-Adventure Base. All-day trail riding with multiple scenic stops and an afternoon on the mud hole training course.

Day 6: Elective Day at Christen. Choose an all-day elective.

Day 7: Depart

Learn more and register

At this link.

Photos by James G Parker.

Every Scouter must complete updated Youth Protection training by Oct. 1, 2018

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The BSA has announced bold, wide-ranging updates to its Youth Protection program as part of an ongoing effort to protect young people from child abuse.

This starts with an enhanced online Youth Protection training course all volunteers and professionals must complete.

Even those Scout leaders who took the previous version of Youth Protection training must log into and complete the updated Youth Protection course. You have until Oct. 1, 2018, to do so.

The updated course will take about an hour to complete. It includes cutting-edge research from the top experts in the field of child abuse prevention. It covers topics like bullying, neglect, exposure to violence, physical and emotional abuse, and child sexual abuse.

“There is no substitute for hearing directly from experts who have spent their careers studying child predators and abusers,” said Michael Johnson, the BSA’s director of Youth Protection. “They shine a new light on the challenge we all face in protecting kids and how parents and volunteers can put barriers in place to keep them away.”

Next, the BSA has made it impossible for an individual to register as a new volunteer without first completing Youth Protection training. Unit rechartering is affected, too. Packs, troops, posts, ships and crews cannot recharter until all leaders — 100 percent of them — are current on their Youth Protection training.

Finally, beginning June 1, 2018, all adults who will be present at a Scouting activity for 72 hours or more must register as volunteers and complete a background check and Youth Protection training. This includes parents, merit badge counselors and any other adult who will be there for an extended time.

The BSA is serious about fighting child abuse, and you’re an important part of that fight. Thanks for your vigilance and dedication.

Who must complete the updated Youth Protection course?

All registered Scouters (volunteers and professionals), including any adult who will be present at a Scouting activity for 72 total hours or more.

The updated course debuted in February 2018; if you took Youth Protection training prior to that, you’ll need to complete the updated course by Oct. 1, 2018.

How do I take the updated Youth Protection course?

Here’s a PDF that outlines the steps.

What’s updated in this Youth Protection course?
  • Videos from survivors of abuse. “In developing this training, we discussed whether or not to include survivor videos,” Johnson said. “It was the right decision. Their testimony is powerful and highlights how predators work and the tragic impact like nothing else.”
  • Video interviews with psychologists and law enforcement professionals who discuss the root causes of abuse, how to recognize it and how to respond.
  • Three all-new training modules and a test.
What are the latest Youth Protection training requirements?

Youth Protection training must be taken every two years.

Effective Sept. 1, 2017:

  • No unit may recharter without all leaders being current on their Youth Protection training.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018:

  • No new adult volunteer can be registered without first completing Youth Protection training.
  • No council, region or national leader will be allowed to renew his or her registration if their Youth Protection training is not current.

Effective June 1, 2018:

  • Adults accompanying a Scouting unit who are present at the activity for 72 total hours or more must be registered as leaders. This includes completing a criminal background check and Youth Protection training. The 72 hours need not be consecutive.

Scouting app for iPhone and Android helps Scouts track advancement on the go

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Scouting adventures can happen anywhere. With the new Scouting app for iPhone and Android, you can track those adventures anywhere, too.

The Scouting app, developed by the Boy Scouts of America, allows youth members and their parents to view and track advancement within Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing.

It’s free and available on iOS and Android devices.

The BSA’s Information Technology Group, along with a throng of volunteer beta testers, wanted families to have an easier way to view and track a young person’s advancement. So they built the attractive, easy-to-use, official app.

The Scouting app connects to to sync existing advancement data. Because this information is stored on your device, you can use the Scouting app offline. That means parents and youth (13 and older) can access their advancement data anywhere, at any time.

How to begin

After downloading the Scouting app, parents and youth use their credentials to login.

Don’t yet have a Scoutbook account? Visit to create one for free. Note: a youth and parent can set up an account for the new mobile app even if their pack, troop or crew doesn’t have a unit-level subscription to

What the app can do

The initial release (version 1.0) of the app includes the following functions:

  • Track a Scout’s advancement
  • Track logs like service hours, hiking and camping
  • View parent and/or Scout profile
  • Submit feedback
  • Provide parent access to your Scout(s) account

Under settings, the new app also supports a night-mode feature, user default data settings and offline capabilities.

What’s coming soon

Additional features will be introduced later in 2018, including:

  • Scout community
  • Notifications
  • Positions of leadership/responsbility
  • Calendar
  • Scout challenges
Feedback is a gift

If you find any issues with the new Scouting app, use the “Submit Feedback” feature in the app for the quickest way to share those concerns.

Look for the “gear” icon within the app.

The ‘other’ Scouting app

Scouting magazine has an app, too. Enjoy every issue of Scouting magazine ever printed — from 1913 to today — for just $4.99 a year.

Search “Scouting magazine” on your device’s app store.

The BSA wants to know: How do you define ‘adventure’?

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Ask 12 people this question, and you’ll get a dozen different answers: What does “adventure” mean to you?

To find out, the BSA isn’t consulting a dictionary. And it’s not asking a mere 12 people. It wants to hear from as many Scouts, Scouters and prospective Scouting families as possible.

Why the need to define “adventure”? After all, the BSA has been the gold standard of adventure for 108 years.

It’s simple. The BSA has maintained its status as the standard-bearer for adventure precisely by regularly asking its members what that word means to them.

For me, a Scout who grew up in Texas, “adventure” meant hiking at Philmont, earning the Wilderness Survival merit badge at Camp Cherokee and canoeing the Brazos River.

For other Scouts and Scouters, it means pushing their boundaries, exciting their imagination and trying new things.

What does it mean to you? You’re invited to share your answer in a few sentences at the end of this post. The BSA is listening.

Introducing the Outdoor Adventures team

This exercise isn’t purely for fun. The BSA is serious about analyzing how families define “adventure” to see how it can serve those families even better.

So serious, in fact, that last year the BSA named Al Lambert as the National Director of Outdoor Adventures, a new position.

Lambert’s Scouting career has been an adventure of its own. He served as a professional Scouter in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Hampshire before being named director of the Central Region.

A Distinguished Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Lambert’s current adventures include fishing, camping and spending time in the outdoors with his wife, two daughters and five grandkids.

In wanting to examine the definition of “adventure,” Lambert and his Outdoor Adventures team want to get as many people engaged in this dialogue as possible.

“There’s the traditional definition of adventure,” like Philmont and our other high-adventure bases, Lambert says. “But adventure comes in many forms. Not everyone goes to camp. Where does adventure happen for you?”

‘Classroom for character’

You’ve heard this one before: Young people don’t join Scouting to have their character strengthened. They join to have fun.

As leaders, it’s our job to blend the two in life-changing ways.

“The outdoors is the BSA’s classroom for character,” Lambert says. “There are lessons weaved throughout the outdoors experience.”

To make sure those lessons are as effective as possible, we go back to Lambert’s underlying question: “What does ‘adventure’ mean to you?”

Some of my favorite responses so far

The BSA asked some of its Facebook followers this very question. Here are a few of my favorite responses so far:

  • “It started when our son came home and said, ‘I want to be a Boy Scout!’ We have now been leaders in his troop for 13 years and still going strong.” – Lauren P.
  • “Northern Tier Quetico! Being knee deep in moose muck with a canoe on your shoulders in the Northwoods is a religious experience. You have to work together as a team to do a small task. It’s a true wilderness experience.” – John B.
  • “Walking alone in the Bushveld of the Kalahari desert … a thing I had dreamed of since a young boy and only made possible by all I learned in Scouting.” – Steve M.
  • “Being prepared for anything that comes next in life. … Family members who become ill and need help fending for themselves. Helping the underdog achieve success. Paying the tab for somebody with food stamps. Every day is an adventure.” – Mike C.
  • “Everyone has posted these amazing trips and locations. … However the biggest adventure of my life, as well as Scouting life, is living the daily adventure with my son who has a passion for Scouting and is also on the autism spectrum. Our whole life is an adventure of discovery, and Scouting is helping us through that path.” – Deirdre L.
What’s your definition?

Leave a few sentences below about what “outdoor adventure” means to you, and/or email your thoughts to

You’re also encouraged to find the BSA on Instagram, where your fellow Scouts and Scouters are sharing photos using the hashtag #WeOwnAdventure.

Congrats to the first winner of our Scouting Safety Quiz

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We have a winner!

This year, we debuted the Scouting Safety Quiz in Scouting Magazine. Each issue will focus on a different BSA health and safety topic and offer an online version of the quiz where you can enter to win a $100 Scout Shop gift card. The January-February issue highlighted details of the Annual Health and Medical Record.

Join us in congratulating Steve Salaj, Scoutmaster of Troop 944 in Rockville, Md., who was selected at random from more than 770 entrants for the quiz’s grand prize.

Salaj was a Cub Scout as a boy, and has served as an adult leader since 2006. He is in his fourth year as Scoutmaster, and is the father of two Boy Scouts, one who earned his Eagle Award two years ago and another who is close to earning Eagle, too. Salaj plans to pass the gift card on to a lucky Scout as a prize during the troop’s 50th anniversary celebration in a few months. By the way, he scored a perfect 100 on our quiz.

“They serve as a helpful refresher on subjects that I already know,” Salaj says of the quizzes. “On other subjects, they serve as a gentle reminder that there is always more to learn and room to grow.”

How did you do?

The “Remember your ABCs” quiz tested entrants’ knowledge of who must complete an AHMR, activities in which they’re required and how they should be stored and handled.

You can still take it, but if you want to be entered in our next Scouting Safety Quiz contest, you’ll have to Do Your Best on our March-April quiz: “Go with your gut.” The quiz tests you on food-borne illnesses and what you should do to prevent them.

At the end of the questions, you can submit your name and email address to be entered in the contest, which ends April 30, 2018. A few people took the last quiz more than once. If it bothers you that you didn’t get a 100, you’re more than welcome to take the quiz again. Just know that submitting your information multiple times does not increase your chances of winning.

You don’t have to get a perfect quiz score to be entered in the contest. We will draw one winner at random and will notify them via email. Good luck!


Nap on Safely: Five steps toward achieving the optimal camp snooze

Bryan On Scouting -

Good news, Scout leaders. You now have the perfect response when someone catches you snoozing at camp (or, um, the office?).

Just tell them afternoon naps are recommended by the BSA’s Health and Safety team. And that you ensured adequate adult supervision before letting your eyelids fall.

A 26-minute afternoon nap, enjoyed some time between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m., can make you more productive, healthier and less stressed.

That’s according to Nap on Safely, a BSA Safety Moment released last year.

BSA Safety Moments offer one-page glances at important health and safety topics. They cover everything from A (Acute Mountain Sickness) to Z (zip lines) in an easy-to-read format.

The Safety Moment about napping might be my favorite one of all, because it takes seriously this seemingly silly subject.

It’s not enough to just lean back in your camp chair and close your eyes. You’ll want to follow these five steps:

Five steps to a better camp nap 1. Nap for the right amount of time
  • 6 minutes will enhance memory.
  • 10 to 15 minutes can improve focus and productivity.
  • 26 minutes (the NASA nap) is best for a performance enhancement of 34 percent and an overall alertness increase of 54 percent.
  • 40- to 60-minute naps will leave you groggy because you didn’t finish the sleep cycle.
  • 90 minutes of napping can give you a boost of creativity as you finish a cycle.
2. Nap at the right time

Naps between 1 and 3 p.m. will fit most circadian rhythms. Those planning summer camp schedules might consider a program break during that time so everyone’s fresh at the campfire.

Once you’ve made sure there are at least two adults awake to assist Scouts should the need arise, you’ll be able to rest easy.

3. Nap in the right setting

Find a safe, dark area. If it’s sunny, cover your eyes (using two pirate patches or an eye mask). Lie down to nap; don’t sit up.

Your best bet might be to find a hammock.

At summer camp, where staff members handle supervising Scouts, napping at your troop’s campsite is a great way to ensure that an adult is around if a Scout needs something. In a youth-led troop, you shouldn’t be micromanaging anyway.

4. Nap with a timer

That way you won’t sleep past supper.

5. Nap after drinking coffee

This one’s for the adults. Drink a cup of coffee before you begin your nap. After your 26-minute snooze, the caffeine and nap will combine to make you feel invincible.

More on safe napping

For more tips, read the Nap on Safely Safety Moment.

BSA Photo by Al Drago

29 Scouting-themed cake ideas to celebrate Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts

Bryan On Scouting -

I could write a lengthy introduction to this blog post about Scouting-themed cake ideas. I could tell you how these 29 mouthwatering photos come from Cub Scout blue and gold banquets, troop anniversaries and Eagle Scout courts of honor.

But why bother when you’re going to skip straight to the dessert anyway?

Via Dodd S. Via Dodd S. Via Melody A. By Sharon J. for Troop 242’s (Patterson, La.) Christmas court of honor. All ingredients were edible. By Ann L. for her pack’s blue and gold banquet. By Sandra S of Pekin, Ill. This cake is actually made up of a number of cupcakes that can be pulled apart and eaten. Via Tammy Via Sheila D. One of two cakes made for Pack 416’s (Gainesville, Fla.) blue and gold. Via Sheila D. One of two cakes made for Pack 416’s (Gainesville, Fla.) blue and gold. Via Brayden B. Made by Brayden’s friend for Brayden and Tyler D.’s court of honor. By Chelle Cakes, Rochelle Wunderlich. By Chelle Cakes, Rochelle Wunderlich Via Danielle N. of Connecticut. Made by Rachelle P. for Cub Scout Pack 659 of Escondido, Calif. The only parts that weren’t edible on the 2-foot-tall cake were the flag, hat and achievement pins. The cake was designed to look like an old weathered leather trunk. Via Lisa D. of Troop 443 in Sparks, Nev. These cake pops cakes were made by Sugar Rush, a Reno bakery. Via Rusty L. of Troop 380, Arlington, Texas. Via Rusty L. of Troop 380, Arlington, Texas. Via Rusty L. of Troop 380, Arlington, Texas. Via Rusty L. of Troop 380, Arlington, Texas. By Amelia L. Notice how the paw prints change to little footprints. Via Robert P. of Troop 70, Queens, N.Y. Made by his stepdaughter to celebrate the troop’s 50th anniversary. Via Sabrina L. Cake by Kimberly S. to celebrate Bryan L.’s court of honor. Via Tonia M. Her son Riley’s Eagle Scout cake tells his story of his journey to Eagle. It includes the purple neckerchief from his Germany/Portugal Scout trip, Order of the Arrow sash, Troop 82 achievements and more. By Rina M. By Rina M. Via Carol P. By Meggan H. and Kim K. of Medford, N.Y. By Meggan H. and Kim K. of Medford, N.Y. Hungry for more?

Click here or here or here for more Scouting-themed cakes.

Have a cake to share?

Send a photo to, and include the word “cake” in the subject line.


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