Scouting News from the Internet

BSA names its National Alumnus of the Year for 2018

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Scouting Alumni and Friends has named Joseph Weingarten of Fishers, Ind., its 2018 National Alumnus of the Year.

The award is presented each year to one worthy alumnus who has made significant contributions to our country through his or her career, avocation, community service and service to the BSA’s alumni program.

Weingarten’s accomplishments in Scouting have been exceptional. He’s a Distinguished Eagle Scout. He has volunteered at five National Jamborees and two World Scout Jamborees. And his efforts with Scouting Alumni and Friends (formerly the Scouting Alumni Association) have helped the BSA reconnect more than 50 million living alumni to Scouting.

And his career accomplishments? They’re not too shabby either. He’s an author, an entrepreneur and an internationally renowned aerospace engineer with 11 patents.

Weingarten, who will receive his award this May at the BSA’s annual meeting, joins an impressive list of National Alumnus of the Year Award recipients.

Who has received this award in the past?

The National Alumnus of the Year Award has been presented every year since 2011. Award recipients are:

  • 2011: Jack Coughlinchampion of the BSA’s first nationwide Eagle Scout search.
  • 2012: Glenn Adamshelped identify tens of thousands of lost alumni and started the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.
  • 2013: David Briscoeserved on numerous committees in a half-century of service to Scouting.
  • 2014: Rick Braggadeeply involved in creating the BSA’s alumni program and author of the alumni program syllabus used at the Philmont Training Center.
  • 2015: Ed Peaseserved as president of Philmont Staff Association, helping membership triple. 
  • 2016: Ray Capp, helped alumni re-engage with Scouting during the celebration of the Order of the Arrow’s 100th anniversary.
  • 2017: Dr. Robert M. Gates, the former Secretary of Defense who served as BSA National President and president of the National Eagle Scout Association.

For a list of regional- and council-level recipients, go here.

Two Regional Alumnus of the Year Awards presented

Western Region: William Larson of Seattle, Wash.

Larson is the president of Larson Financial Group serving the Greater Seattle area. With his skills as a financial advisor, Larson created the Major General Howard S. McGee and Bessie McGee Eagle Scout Scholarship for the Chief Seattle Council. Each year, that scholarship funds two $3,500 scholarships to deserving Eagle Scouts.

Larson is an innovator in Scouting Alumni and Friends. He borrowed the concept of Ted Talks and applied it to Scouting, creating AlTalks (Alumni Talks) for the Western Region. AlTalks provides volunteers help and ideas that further the aims of Scouting. Recently, AlTalks has expanded to the nation, reminding Scouters across America that there are more than 50 million living alumni.

Southern Region: James Lynch of San Antonio, Texas

Col. Lynch is a retired officer and pilot with the United States Air Force. Among his commendations and distinctions, Col. Lynch provided leadership for the $1.6 billion B-1 bomber program.

He places a great deal of emphasis on volunteerism. He not only serves the youth of San Antonio, but youth across the South and the nation. He is currently the Regional Vice President of Scouting Alumni and Friends, where he manages efforts to expand the volunteer base for Scouting and reconnecting the more than 50 million living Scouting alumni to the Scouting program.

How can I nominate someone for an Alumnus of the Year Award?

Scouting Alumni and Friends accepts nominations for the National Alumnus of the Year Award, Regional Alumnus of the Year Award and Council Alumnus of the Year Award each year until Dec. 31.

Learn more in this post.

Top 5 merit badges for which Marvel’s Black Panther would make the ideal counselor

Bryan On Scouting -

With his day job and his evening volunteer gig, T’Challa keeps pretty busy.

Sound familiar?

But what if the King of Wakanda, also known as the Black Panther, found a free weekend or two to serve as a merit badge counselor? In that case, here are five I might recommend.

This fun list will get you ready to see Marvel’s Black Panther, landing in theaters this weekend. Thanks to Joe Priester of the Middle Tennessee Council for the idea.

5. Climbing

With his sharp claws, T’Challa can reach the top of any rock wall (or speeding automobile) with ease.

His fellow Scouters would need to remind him that we mortals must use ropes, knots, helmets and harnesses when climbing — and when earning the Climbing merit badge.

4. Digital Technology

The nation of Wakanda, located in Africa, is very technologically advanced.

Many of those advancements are the work of Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister whose mastery of technology rivals that of Tony Stark. (Hey, she should check out STEM Scouts!)

T’Challa might enlist Shuri to help him counsel the Digital Technology merit badge, which includes a requirement to “list at least three dangerous chemicals that could be used to create digital devices or used inside a digital device.”

No question about it: whoever wrote that is referring to Vibranium.

3. Automotive Maintenance


Sometimes when you’re a crime-fighting superhero, you’re gonna pounce on the roof of a car.

It’s just part of the job.

But once the dust settles, somebody will have to fix that car. Preferably, it’ll be somebody who has earned the Automotive Maintenance merit badge.

2. Citizenship in the World

The world underestimates the nation of Wakanda. They think it’s technologically primitive. They think it’s a third-world country.

Does T’Challa want to keep Wakanda under a literal cloak of mystery, or will he share his country’s knowledge with the world?

What great fodder for discussion in the Eagle-required Citizenship in the World merit badge! Having a king as your counselor would be incredibly cool. Especially if that king has superpowers.

1. Metalwork

T’Challa is perhaps best qualified to teach the Metalwork merit badge. After all, Wakanda is home to the largest and, perhaps, only supply of Vibranium on the planet.

Longtime Marvel fans know that Vibranium was used to make Captain America’s shield, Black Panther’s suit and the villain Ultron’s whole body.

(Note: You could make a case for Geology or Mining in Society here, too.)

What’d I miss?

What other merit badges belong on this list?

Remember the rule: This is a Top 5 list, not a Top 6 or Top 7. If you add one, you must say which one you’d remove.

More in this series

Click here for more “Top 5 merit badges” fun.

Man’s detective work turns up a treasure trove of long-lost Wood Badge documents

Bryan On Scouting -

Today’s Wood Badgers can get by without a handkerchief, canvas wash basin or second spoon.

But those were considered essential pieces of gear 70 years ago at the very first Wood Badge course in the U.S.

It’s been seven decades since July 31, 1948, when 29 men descended on Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey to learn Scout skills, Scoutcraft and pioneering.

The packing list and other long-lost documents reveal how much has changed — and how much has stayed the same — at Wood Badge, the essential training course for adult volunteers.

As we look forward to 2018’s yearlong anniversary celebration — which is welcomed with a special patch — let us also look back.

A trove of Wood Badge documents

When John Mahaffey of North Carolina attended Wood Badge in 2014, he chose as one of his ticket items a seemingly straightforward history project.

The Wood Badge ticket is a series of five projects that benefit local Scouting. For one of his five, Mahaffey wanted to identify a local Scouter who had attended the 1948 course at Schiff.

But finding out information about the man named Reginald Price proved difficult.

“My search took me on an adventure where I interviewed dozens of individuals in the Charlotte, N.C., area,” Mahaffey says. “Unfortunately, everyone from his generation had passed along.”

Finally, Mahaffey came across a set of boxes in the council storeroom.

“I found a series of letters written to and by Reginald Price regarding Wood Badge,” Mahaffey says.

He scanned those documents and shared them with me to post on this blog.

Looking back in time

Here are some of my favorite documents from Mahaffey’s collection.

Equipment check list: There are some items you’d find on a packing list today — raincoat, sleeping bag, mess kit — and some you would not, like tobacco.

Wood Badge card: Price’s card is signed by William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt.

Wood Badge pre-course letter: Correspondence to Price from Frank W. Braden.

Wood Badge post-course letter: Correspondence to Price from Green Bar Bill after the course.

Campcraft suggestions

Course summary

After roaring success, Lions will move from pilot to full-time part of Cub Scouting

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A girl in a Lion den in an early adopter Cub Scout pack shows off her Pinewood Derby car.

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

The decision was made official after a vote this week by the BSA’s volunteer-led National Executive Board.

The Lions uniform won’t change. Lions will continue wearing the blue Lion T-shirt. There’s also an optional cap and new neckerchief and slide. All are suitable for wearing with the T-shirt.

But many exciting changes are on the way based on feedback from families participating in the pilot. These include the introduction of a rectangular rank patch, rank cards, advancement chart and Lion adventure loops.

Keep reading for details about these new items, which will be available in late summer — in time for the start of the fall program.

Can all packs offer Lions?

Absolutely! Lions are official nationwide, meaning that, beginning this fall, any unit in any council has the green light to begin recruiting new Lions and their families. (Previously, the BSA needed to approve individual councils and units to offer Lions.)

The rank is an official part of Cub Scouting — just like Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos.

Lions offers a great opportunity for your pack to serve more families. Packs that participated in the Lions pilot program saw an 87 percent retention rate, steady growth and excellent parental involvement.

When can my pack begin welcoming Lions?

This fall — as part of the 2018-2019 program year.

What are these new Lion adventure loops?

Lions, like their older packmates, will get to earn adventure loops.

Over the course of a year, Lions will complete all five of the required adventures (compared to at least seven for Tiger and above). They also may complete one or more of the nine elective adventures.

Adventure loops are immediate recognition items, meaning packs should present them to Lions right away — not wait until a big event like a blue and gold. Adventure loops should be worn with pride on the Cub Scout belt.

Lion adventure loops, as well as a Lion advancement chart, will be available in your council’s Scout Shop by late summer.

Do Lions come to every pack meeting?

Lions should participate in at least two or three pack meetings a year. Ultimately, it’s up to the family. If they’d like to attend more pack meetings, they are welcome.

Lions can also have lots of fun doing elective adventures and earning additional adventure loops beyond what’s required.

Can Lions camp?

Yes. Lions can participate in family camping with their pack.

Lion dens shouldn’t participate in overnight den-specific camping, but pack and family camping are encouraged. Day camp and activities such as shooting sports are reserved for older Cub Scouts. Lion dens should focus on exciting (and age-appropriate) adventures and fun family outings.

Can Lions participate in the Pinewood Derby?

Yep! You can include Lions in your pack’s regular Pinewood Derby routine or encourage Lions to use the wedge car available at Scout Shops — no cutting required.

Will Lions wear the blue Cub Scout uniform shirt?

No. They’ll wear the blue Lion T-shirt and blue Cub Scout belt. The hat, neckerchief and neckerchief slide are optional and can be worn after the completion of the “Gizmos and Gadgets” adventure.

What is the Lion rank strip?

Once Lions complete their rank, they can wear the rectangular Lion patch on the upper left of their T-shirt. (That’s the Lion’s left, or over his or her heart.)

When Lions move into Tigers, they can sew the patch under the left pocket — below where the Tiger rank patch will go.

The previously introduced diamond-shaped Lion patch is going away.

Do Lions now earn Bobcat first before working on the Lion rank?

No, Lions work on their Lion rank first. When they become a Tiger, they’ll begin to work on Bobcat.

Are Lion Guides now called den leaders?

Yes. The BSA has changed the name to better align with the rest of Cub Scouting. The position’s responsibilities have not changed. Lion den leaders still facilitate and engage families so that each family takes a turn leading one den meeting and outing.

Where can I get more info?

The BSA will update its Lions website with more details over the coming days. I’ll add that link here when it’s ready.

If you ever get stuck, contact the BSA’s Member Care line at 972-580-2489 or

Presenting the 2017 Merit Badge Rankings: Which were the most and least popular?

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First Aid? First place.

Exactly 69,563 Scouts earned the Eagle-required First Aid merit badge in 2017. That’s good enough for a gold medal, and it marks three consecutive years of First Aid dominance.

The silver medal went to Swimming (62,057 earned), and Citizenship in the World (55,917) took bronze.

Not surprisingly, each merit badge in 2017’s top 10 is required for the Eagle Scout Award. Remove all the Eagle-required badges, though, and the evidence points to Fingerprinting as your 2017 champ.

The top 10 (with Eagle-required badges included) Rank 2017 2016 1 First Aid First Aid 2 Swimming Swimming 3 Citizenship in the World Environmental Science 4 Environmental Science Citizenship in the World 5 Citizenship in the Nation Citizenship in the Nation 6 Cooking Cooking 7 Camping Camping 8 Communication Communication 9 Personal Fitness Personal Fitness 10 Personal Management Citizenship in the Community

No big surprises there, though we did see Personal Management knock Citizenship in the Community out of the top 10.

But many Scouters would shrug at this list. Of course the top 10 will be filled with Eagle-required badges, they’d say.

To those Scouters I say: Keep reading!

The top 10 (with Eagle-required badges excluded) Rank 2017 2016 1 Fingerprinting Rifle Shooting 2 Rifle Shooting Fingerprinting 3 Leatherwork Archery 4 Archery Leatherwork 5 Wood Carving Wilderness Survival 6 Wilderness Survival Wood Carving 7 Kayaking Kayaking 8 Chess Canoeing 9 Canoeing Chess 10 Fishing Fishing

Ah, now things get interesting. This list of exclusively elective merit badges reveals two things:

  1. Interest. These are merit badges that Scouts themselves select. They could’ve chosen any from the list of 137, but they chose these.
  2. Opportunity. These are merit badges frequently offered at summer camp, meaning qualified merit badge counselors are readily available.
The bottom 10

Let’s not call these unpopular. Let’s call them rare.

If a Scout in your troop has earned one or more of these, he’s in rare company.

Note: You won’t see Computers or Cinematography on this list, though a couple-hundred Scouts earned each in 2017. The Computers phase-out began in 2014, and Cinematography was changed to Moviemaking in 2013. Scouts who started work before those badges’ official demise are allowed to finish that work.

Rank 2017 2016 137 Bugling Bugling 136 American Business American Business 135 Surveying Stamp Collecting 134 American Labor American Labor 133 Stamp Collecting Journalism 132 Drafting Surveying 131 Journalism Drafting 130 Composite Materials Gardening 129 Gardening Landscape Architecture 128 Landscape Architecture Composite Materials The bulls and the bears

Which merit badges saw the biggest percentage gain in popularity from 2016 to 2017? Which saw their popularity fall?

I’m glad you asked.

Top 5 gains

Merit Badge 2016 2017 Diff. Stamp Collecting  793  954 20.3% Animation  4,637  5,462 17.8% Inventing  2,834  3,296 16.3% Journalism  970  1,127 16.2% Genealogy  4,570  5,213 14.1%

Top 5 drops

Merit Badge 2016 2017 Diff. Safety  4,267  3,280 -23.1% Whitewater  3,476  2,832 -18.5% Geocaching  15,210  12,604 -17.1% Surveying  1,028  863 -16.1% Painting  3,829  3,222 -15.9%

Once again, I did not include the discontinued Computers and Cinematography merit badges in these calculations.

The source

So where did these numbers originate? From Local Council Charter Applications. That means they’re based on the actual number earned, not on sales of the badges. Some troops purchase extra emblems in anticipation of future badge earnings, so sales numbers can mislead.

Special thanks to the BSA’s Lynn Adcock for compiling and providing these numbers each year.

The raw numbers (warning: for stats geeks only!)

Beyond this point are the full lists. This is raw data, and it’s only suitable for the geekiest of geeks like myself.

You’ve been warned.

Keep scrolling to find:

  • 2017 rankings
  • Merit badge popularity over the last five years
  • Lifetime rankings, 1911 to 2017
  • Every merit badge ranked by its percent change from 2016 to 2017
The raw numbers: 2017 rankings

What the colors mean:

  • Blue: merit badge is required for Eagle
  • Red: merit badge is considered “new” — released in 2013 or later
  • Purple: merit badge is required for Eagle and is considered “new”
Rank Merit Badge 2017 earned 1 First Aid  69,563 2 Swimming  62,057 3 Citizenship in the World  55,917 4 Environmental Science  55,703 5 Citizenship in the Nation  52,949 6 Cooking  51,004 7 Camping  50,871 8 Communication  50,503 9 Personal Fitness  50,428 10 Personal Management  49,287 11 Family Life  48,774 12 Citizenship in the Community  48,736 13 Emergency Preparedness  43,351 14 Fingerprinting  38,989 15 Rifle Shooting  37,796 16 Leatherwork  35,490 17 Archery  35,301 18 Wood Carving  32,943 19 Wilderness Survival  30,814 20 Kayaking  30,466 21 Chess  26,919 22 Canoeing  26,052 23 Fishing  24,343 24 Art  21,567 25 Lifesaving  20,748 26 Shotgun Shooting  19,703 27 Space Exploration  18,994 28 Mammal Study  18,715 29 Geology  18,674 30 Climbing  18,356 31 Indian Lore  17,003 32 Astronomy  15,702 33 Basketry  15,406 34 Robotics  15,031 35 Aviation  14,347 36 Small Boat Sailing  14,182 37 Pioneering  13,870 38 Game Design  13,810 39 Photography  13,550 40 Metalwork  12,990 41 Weather  12,690 42 Geocaching  12,604 43 Engineering  11,773 44 Fire Safety  11,746 45 Orienteering  11,742 46 Fish & Wildlife Management  11,615 47 Nature  11,586 48 Forestry  11,456 49 Welding  10,656 50 Music  10,592 51 Chemistry  10,248 52 Automotive Maintenance  10,205 53 Search and Rescue  10,107 54 Motor Boating  9,517 55 Soil and Water Conservation  9,484 56 Moviemaking  9,262 57 Electricity  9,245 58 Digital Technology  8,768 59 Sculpture  8,715 60 Horsemanship  8,641 61 Rowing  8,239 62 Pottery  7,940 63 Oceanography  7,763 64 Electronics  7,524 65 Signs, Signals and Codes  7,364 66 Sustainability  7,295 67 Snow Sports  7,267 68 Hiking  7,084 69 Public Speaking  7,035 70 Pulp and Paper  6,879 71 Archaeology  6,876 72 Crime Prevention  6,721 73 Nuclear Science  6,702 74 Railroading  6,663 75 Sports  6,556 76 Reptile and Amphibian Study  6,053 77 Scouting Heritage  5,916 78 Salesmanship  5,908 79 Radio  5,840 80 Cycling  5,742 81 Traffic Safety  5,689 82 American Heritage  5,496 83 Animation  5,462 84 Law  5,402 85 Disabilities Awareness  5,239 86 Genealogy  5,213 87 Woodwork  5,212 88 Bird Study  4,965 89 Mining in Society  4,673 90 Fly Fishing  4,597 91 Plumbing  4,398 92 Pets  4,289 93 Scholarship  4,171 94 Collections  4,140 95 Programming  4,138 96 Coin Collecting  3,930 97 Animal Science  3,848 98 Architecture  3,654 99 Medicine  3,561 100 Reading  3,524 101 Backpacking  3,498 102 Entrepreneurship  3,473 103 Home Repairs  3,432 104 Inventing  3,296 105 Safety  3,280 106 Golf  3,248 107 Painting  3,222 108 Dentistry  3,135 109 Graphic Arts  3,066 110 Water Sports  2,966 111 Whitewater  2,832 112 Athletics  2,754 113 Energy  2,749 114 Dog Care  2,661 115 Insect Study  2,644 116 Model Design and Building  2,564 117 Truck Transportation  2,466 118 Veterinary Medicine  2,451 119 Theater  2,332 120 Farm Mechanics  2,307 121 American Cultures  2,298 122 Textile  2,205 123 Plant Science  2,107 124 Exploration  2,090 125 Scuba Diving  1,842 126 Public Health  1,798 127 Skating  1,785 128 Landscape Architecture  1,483 129 Gardening  1,450 130 Composite Materials  1,407 131 Journalism  1,127 132 Drafting  1,119 133 Stamp Collecting  954 134 American Labor  901 135 Surveying  863 136 American Business  613 137 Bugling  454 138 Cinematography  231 139 Computers  207 The raw numbers: Merit badge popularity over the last five years

Sorted alphabetically.

Merit Badge 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 American Business 805 650  587  627  613 American Cultures 2,649 2,174  2,233  2,218  2,298 American Heritage 6,195 5,333  5,599  4,952  5,496 American Labor 1,090 992  1,106  812  901 Animal Science 4,174 4,042  4,414  3,852  3,848 Animation 0 0  1,099  4,637  5,462 Archaeology 8,913 8,652  7,590  7,388  6,876 Archery 43,879 43,238  41,879  39,419  35,301 Architecture 3,956 4,019  3,362  3,230  3,654 Art 28,031 25,438  24,374  22,990  21,567 Astronomy 16,332 15,758  16,706  16,355  15,702 Athletics 3,709 3,241  3,604  3,125  2,754 Automotive Maintenance 10,084 9,763  9,961  10,748  10,205 Aviation 18,330 17,522  15,170  14,477  14,347 Backpacking 4,114 4,169  3,973  3,963  3,498 Basketry 19,364 17,531  17,158  15,282  15,406 Bird Study 6,405 5,641  5,587  5,199  4,965 Bugling 515 606  492  479  454 Camping* 58,982 54,265  54,342  53,534  50,871 Canoeing 33,409 31,833  29,461  28,288  26,052 Chemistry 10,731 10,594  10,560  10,865  10,248 Chess 27,315 25,266  27,235  27,416  26,919 Cinematography 8,465 4,026  1,260  841  231 Citizenship in the Community* 56,928 51,728  52,071  51,975  48,736 Citizenship in the Nation* 61,272 56,490  57,161  57,919  52,949 Citizenship in the World* 64,452 61,303  60,171  59,363  55,917 Climbing 22,861 23,200  21,574  21,171  18,356 Coin Collecting 5,667 5,303  4,715  4,135  3,930 Collections 4,966 4,295  4,004  3,753  4,140 Communication* 57,111 54,081  55,738  53,367  50,503 Composite Materials 1,817 1,614  2,183  1,597  1,407 Computers 15,149 12,973  1,686  354  207 Cooking* 44,903 99,908  67,691  55,841  51,004 Crime Prevention 7,274 6,917  6,581  6,178  6,721 Cycling** 6,551 6,268  6,626  6,334  5,742 Dentistry 4,213 3,416  3,485  2,910  3,135 Digital Technology 0 3,014  9,383  9,344  8,768 Disabilities Awareness 6,690 6,204  6,153  5,833  5,239 Dog Care 3,351 2,955  2,666  2,414  2,661 Drafting 1,440 1,318  1,339  1,168  1,119 Electricity 10,968 10,460  10,035  9,762  9,245 Electronics 8,753 8,860  8,352  7,814  7,524 Emergency Preparedness*** 50,153 46,069  47,879  47,004  43,351 Energy 3,989 3,669  3,190  2,955  2,749 Engineering 10,445 11,624  11,735  11,429  11,773 Entrepreneurship 1,900 2,496  2,927  3,365  3,473 Environmental Science**** 71,609 67,218  63,783  60,026  55,703 Exploration 0 0  –  –  2,090 Family Life* 55,080 49,516  51,008  50,177  48,774 Farm Mechanics 2,421 2,486  2,244  2,368  2,307 Fingerprinting 45,140 43,820  43,743  40,700  38,989 Fire Safety 12,988 12,395  12,782  12,257  11,746 First Aid* 87,477 80,917  80,716  75,256  69,563 Fish & Wildlife Management 13,411 13,749  13,164  12,647  11,615 Fishing 29,788 28,119  26,050  25,256  24,343 Fly Fishing 4,690 4,537  3,981  4,577  4,597 Forestry 14,874 14,465  12,905  12,519  11,456 Game Design 2,657 11,853  12,313  13,689  13,810 Gardening 1,972 1,641  1,582  1,375  1,450 Genealogy 5,740 5,474  5,316  4,570  5,213 Geocaching 17,031 16,785  15,582  15,210  12,604 Geology 22,103 21,282  22,180  18,516  18,674 Golf 4,921 3,955  3,826  3,605  3,248 Graphic Arts 3,140 3,189  3,356  3,251  3,066 Hiking** 7,856 7,344  6,967  7,485  7,084 Home Repairs 3,790 3,866  3,288  3,325  3,432 Horsemanship 10,977 11,905  10,878  9,457  8,641 Indian Lore 24,535 22,997  22,241  18,234  17,003 Insect Study 3,613 3,164  3,550  2,341  2,644 Inventing 2,704 2,902  3,369  2,834  3,296 Journalism 945 955  1,037  970  1,127 Kayaking 36,217 35,533  34,054  33,137  30,466 Landscape Architecture 1,872 1,496  1,434  1,494  1,483 Law 6,946 5,463  5,633  5,226  5,402 Leatherwork 44,344 42,565  40,805  37,920  35,490 Lifesaving*** 25,945 24,474  23,983  22,382  20,748 Mammal Study 24,064 24,060  23,427  21,303  18,715 Medicine 3,990 3,725  3,807  3,767  3,561 Metalwork 13,259 12,949  12,340  12,639  12,990 Mining in Society 0 3,519  4,613  4,224  4,673 Model Design and Building 3,628 2,612  2,795  2,770  2,564 Motor Boating 11,012 10,748  9,880  9,515  9,517 Moviemaking 0 6,195  10,064  10,851  9,262 Music 14,223 12,903  12,369  11,689  10,592 Nature 16,164 15,046  14,679  13,635  11,586 Nuclear Science 7,666 6,657  6,728  7,005  6,702 Oceanography 10,769 9,991  9,892  8,499  7,763 Orienteering 16,909 16,871  15,642  13,753  11,742 Painting 4,911 4,346  4,245  3,829  3,222 Personal Fitness* 56,295 50,693  52,499  52,079  50,428 Personal Management* 53,273 48,299  51,105  50,251  49,287 Pets 5,659 4,821  4,645  4,278  4,289 Photography 17,800 17,804  16,931  15,142  13,550 Pioneering 19,525 18,117  17,341  15,959  13,870 Plant Science 2,712 2,680  2,922  2,363  2,107 Plumbing 5,178 4,982  4,960  4,510  4,398 Pottery 9,869 9,050  8,384  8,230  7,940 Programming 480 2,970  3,577  4,085  4,138 Public Health 2,006 1,821  1,780  1,837  1,798 Public Speaking 7,289 7,091  7,793  7,497  7,035 Pulp and Paper 7,034 6,250  7,379  6,081  6,879 Radio 7,208 6,665  6,709  6,442  5,840 Railroading 7,191 6,694  7,651  6,599  6,663 Reading 5,216 4,712  4,179  3,574  3,524 Reptile and Amphibian Study 8,483 7,547  6,700  6,411  6,053 Rifle Shooting 47,054 45,839  43,196  41,444  37,796 Robotics 13,401 13,708  13,700  14,264  15,031 Rowing 10,944 10,557  9,995  9,408  8,239 Safety 4,349 3,778  3,937  4,267  3,280 Salesmanship 6,438 6,648  6,412  6,031  5,908 Scholarship 5,956 5,362  4,911  4,316  4,171 Scouting Heritage 5,660 5,572  5,558  5,266  5,916 Scuba Diving 2,370 1,989  2,135  1,792  1,842 Sculpture 11,493 9,887  10,042  8,900  8,715 Search and Rescue 10,552 12,359  11,725  10,361  10,107 Shotgun Shooting 24,603 23,970  21,895  20,912  19,703 Signs, Signals and Codes 0 0  3,453  8,025  7,364 Skating 2,406 2,010  1,972  1,953  1,785 Small Boat Sailing 16,857 16,511  15,092  14,108  14,182 Snow Sports 9,134 8,227  7,251  7,177  7,267 Soil and Water Conservation 11,697 11,296  10,437  10,341  9,484 Space Exploration 23,290 22,625  21,607  20,137  18,994 Sports 8,950 8,032  8,272  7,626  6,556 Stamp Collecting 1,131 863  996  793  954 Surveying 1,307 1,065  879  1,028  863 Sustainability **** 590 5,428  6,625  6,813  7,295 Swimming** 72,946 72,503  71,821  67,446  62,057 Textile 4,673 3,694  3,225  2,480  2,205 Theater 2,320 2,273  2,665  2,543  2,332 Traffic Safety 7,582 7,088  5,604  6,072  5,689 Truck Transportation 2,847 2,182  2,157  2,391  2,466 Veterinary Medicine 3,455 2,875  2,764  2,580  2,451 Water Sports 3,935 3,594  3,389  3,123  2,966 Weather 15,958 15,846  14,622  12,665  12,690 Welding 10,919 11,061  11,019  10,737  10,656 Whitewater 3,252 3,565  2,888  3,476  2,832 Wilderness Survival 43,158 40,395  37,581  35,221  30,814 Wood Carving 41,120 38,749  36,890  34,938  32,943 Woodwork 5,602 5,198  5,242  4,975  5,212 Total  2,110,848  2,077,550  2,011,860  1,919,912  1,813,834
  • * On required list for Eagle Rank
  • ** Required for Eagle (must complete Cycling, Hiking or Swimming)
  • *** Required for Eagle (must complete Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving)
  • **** Required for Eagle (must complete Environmental Science or Sustainability)
The raw numbers: Lifetime rankings

Note: This list includes only merit badges that could be earned in 2017.

Also, the rankings are interesting but don’t tell the whole story. A merit badge released more recently will rank lower than one of the original 1911 merit badges.

For example, Home Repairs is No. 17 lifetime, but it was released in 1943. Kayaking is nearly nine times more popular today, but its 2012 release hurts its overall popularity.

Rank Merit Badge  1911 to 2017  1 First Aid*  7,207,435 2 Swimming**  6,516,091 3 Camping*  4,821,459 4 Cooking*  4,512,897 5 Citizenship in the Community*  3,614,538 6 Citizenship in the Nation*  3,372,766 7 Canoeing  3,107,435 8 Lifesaving***  3,104,521 9 Safety  2,946,498 10 Environmental Science****  2,892,099 11 Personal Fitness*  2,654,233 12 Fire Safety  2,644,437 13 Leatherwork  2,561,294 14 Basketry  2,487,721 15 Pioneering  2,460,378 16 Citizenship in the World*  2,444,210 17 Home Repairs  2,425,215 18 Wood Carving  2,392,429 19 Communication*  2,215,736 20 Fishing  2,064,598 21 Emergency Preparedness***  1,975,563 22 Personal Management*  1,962,629 23 Fingerprinting  1,797,830 24 Rowing  1,745,480 25 Wilderness Survival  1,738,944 26 Archery  1,720,443 27 Nature  1,705,342 28 Public Health  1,523,060 29 Reading  1,494,321 30 Rifle Shooting  1,450,415 31 Art  1,377,741 32 Music  1,353,407 33 Hiking**  1,351,753 34 Family Life*  1,310,304 35 Scholarship  1,290,112 36 Mammal Study  1,258,793 37 Indian Lore  1,255,346 38 Forestry  1,187,825 39 Metalwork  1,172,608 40 Sports  1,167,843 41 Soil and Water Conservation  1,152,507 42 Athletics  1,074,488 43 Woodwork  987,355 44 Orienteering  858,278 45 Electricity  833,847 46 Geology  706,492 47 Small Boat Sailing  695,691 48 Fish & Wildlife Management  690,634 49 Astronomy  688,017 50 Pets  671,875 51 Horsemanship  670,695 52 Reptile and Amphibian Study  667,266 53 Public Speaking  664,828 54 Aviation  648,491 55 Space Exploration  620,609 56 Weather  617,935 57 Motor Boating  615,250 58 Bird Study  597,936 59 Cycling**  593,880 60 Shotgun Shooting  582,790 61 Painting  573,420 62 Photography  551,132 63 Computers  521,055 64 Coin Collecting  509,924 65 Climbing  477,611 66 Snow Sports  472,913 67 Dog Care  439,203 68 Pottery  408,505 69 Plumbing  405,246 70 Stamp Collecting  392,250 71 Gardening  391,920 72 Chemistry  382,136 73 Salesmanship  343,181 74 Sculpture  330,065 75 Oceanography  314,500 76 Water Sports  259,532 77 Railroading  258,268 78 Genealogy  246,737 79 Electronics  240,195 80 Model Design and Building  228,305 81 Drafting  228,284 82 Farm Mechanics  227,721 83 Architecture  226,691 84 Backpacking  225,710 85 Law  201,026 86 Automotive Maintenance  197,999 87 Nuclear Science  194,171 88 Radio  191,473 89 Kayaking  191,172 90 Engineering  181,473 91 Skating  179,070 92 Archaeology  177,844 93 Golf  177,449 94 Traffic Safety  174,936 95 American Heritage  174,868 96 Insect Study  173,618 97 Bugling  171,499 98 Chess  169,451 99 Crime Prevention  156,148 100 Surveying  154,418 101 Collections  153,755 102 Textile  150,920 103 Dentistry  144,914 104 Truck Transportation  144,591 105 Disabilities Awareness  138,701 106 Pulp and Paper  134,946 107 Geocaching  119,875 108 Journalism  109,516 109 Cinematography  106,447 110 Whitewater  97,648 111 Theater  91,202 112 Energy  89,287 113 Robotics  88,773 114 Landscape Architecture  86,122 115 Veterinary Medicine  83,880 116 Medicine  83,683 117 American Cultures  74,518 118 Animal Science  73,191 119 Graphic Arts  60,616 120 Welding  58,414 121 Search and Rescue  55,829 122 American Business  54,967 123 Game Design  54,322 124 Plant Science  52,193 125 Scouting Heritage  43,587 126 Fly Fishing  40,334 127 Moviemaking  36,372 128 Entrepreneurship  32,207 129 Digital Technology  30,509 130 Sustainability ****  26,751 131 American Labor  25,627 132 Inventing  20,592 133 Signs, Signals and Codes  18,842 134 Scuba Diving  18,829 135 Composite Materials  18,432 136 Mining in Society  17,029 137 Programming  15,250 138 Animation  11,198 139 Exploration  2,090 Total  125,111,691 The raw numbers: Percent change rankings Merit Badge 2016 2017 Rise/Fall Stamp Collecting  793  954 20.3% Animation  4,637  5,462 17.8% Inventing  2,834  3,296 16.3% Journalism  970  1,127 16.2% Genealogy  4,570  5,213 14.1% Architecture  3,230  3,654 13.1% Pulp and Paper  6,081  6,879 13.1% Insect Study  2,341  2,644 12.9% Scouting Heritage  5,266  5,916 12.3% American Heritage  4,952  5,496 11.0% American Labor  812  901 11.0% Mining in Society  4,224  4,673 10.6% Collections  3,753  4,140 10.3% Dog Care  2,414  2,661 10.2% Crime Prevention  6,178  6,721 8.8% Dentistry  2,910  3,135 7.7% Sustainability ****  6,813  7,295 7.1% Gardening  1,375  1,450 5.5% Robotics  14,264  15,031 5.4% Woodwork  4,975  5,212 4.8% American Cultures  2,218  2,298 3.6% Law  5,226  5,402 3.4% Home Repairs  3,325  3,432 3.2% Entrepreneurship  3,365  3,473 3.2% Truck Transportation  2,391  2,466 3.1% Engineering  11,429  11,773 3.0% Scuba Diving  1,792  1,842 2.8% Metalwork  12,639  12,990 2.8% Programming  4,085  4,138 1.3% Snow Sports  7,177  7,267 1.3% Railroading  6,599  6,663 1.0% Game Design  13,689  13,810 0.9% Geology  18,516  18,674 0.9% Basketry  15,282  15,406 0.8% Small Boat Sailing  14,108  14,182 0.5% Fly Fishing  4,577  4,597 0.4% Pets  4,278  4,289 0.3% Weather  12,665  12,690 0.2% Motor Boating  9,515  9,517 0.0% Animal Science  3,852  3,848 -0.1% Landscape Architecture  1,494  1,483 -0.7% Welding  10,737  10,656 -0.8% Aviation  14,477  14,347 -0.9% Reading  3,574  3,524 -1.4% Chess  27,416  26,919 -1.8% Personal Management*  50,251  49,287 -1.9% Salesmanship  6,031  5,908 -2.0% Sculpture  8,900  8,715 -2.1% Public Health  1,837  1,798 -2.1% American Business  627  613 -2.2% Search and Rescue  10,361  10,107 -2.5% Plumbing  4,510  4,398 -2.5% Farm Mechanics  2,368  2,307 -2.6% Family Life*  50,177  48,774 -2.8% Personal Fitness*  52,079  50,428 -3.2% Scholarship  4,316  4,171 -3.4% Pottery  8,230  7,940 -3.5% Fishing  25,256  24,343 -3.6% Electronics  7,814  7,524 -3.7% Astronomy  16,355  15,702 -4.0% Fire Safety  12,257  11,746 -4.2% Drafting  1,168  1,119 -4.2% Fingerprinting  40,700  38,989 -4.2% Nuclear Science  7,005  6,702 -4.3% Bird Study  5,199  4,965 -4.5% Coin Collecting  4,135  3,930 -5.0% Camping*  53,534  50,871 -5.0% Veterinary Medicine  2,580  2,451 -5.0% Water Sports  3,123  2,966 -5.0% Automotive Maintenance  10,748  10,205 -5.1% Bugling  479  454 -5.2% Electricity  9,762  9,245 -5.3% Hiking**  7,485  7,084 -5.4% Communication*  53,367  50,503 -5.4% Medicine  3,767  3,561 -5.5% Reptile and Amphibian Study  6,411  6,053 -5.6% Space Exploration  20,137  18,994 -5.7% Chemistry  10,865  10,248 -5.7% Graphic Arts  3,251  3,066 -5.7% Wood Carving  34,938  32,943 -5.7% Shotgun Shooting  20,912  19,703 -5.8% Citizenship in the World*  59,363  55,917 -5.8% Public Speaking  7,497  7,035 -6.2% Digital Technology  9,344  8,768 -6.2% Art  22,990  21,567 -6.2% Citizenship in the Community*  51,975  48,736 -6.2% Traffic Safety  6,072  5,689 -6.3% Leatherwork  37,920  35,490 -6.4% Indian Lore  18,234  17,003 -6.8% Archaeology  7,388  6,876 -6.9% Energy  2,955  2,749 -7.0% Environmental Science****  60,026  55,703 -7.2% Lifesaving***  22,382  20,748 -7.3% Model Design and Building  2,770  2,564 -7.4% First Aid*  75,256  69,563 -7.6% Emergency Preparedness***  47,004  43,351 -7.8% Canoeing  28,288  26,052 -7.9% Swimming**  67,446  62,057 -8.0% Kayaking  33,137  30,466 -8.1% Fish & Wildlife Management  12,647  11,615 -8.2% Signs, Signals and Codes  8,025  7,364 -8.2% Soil and Water Conservation  10,341  9,484 -8.3% Theater  2,543  2,332 -8.3% Forestry  12,519  11,456 -8.5% Citizenship in the Nation*  57,919  52,949 -8.6% Skating  1,953  1,785 -8.6% Horsemanship  9,457  8,641 -8.6% Oceanography  8,499  7,763 -8.7% Cooking*  55,841  51,004 -8.7% Rifle Shooting  41,444  37,796 -8.8% Radio  6,442  5,840 -9.3% Cycling**  6,334  5,742 -9.3% Music  11,689  10,592 -9.4% Golf  3,605  3,248 -9.9% Disabilities Awareness  5,833  5,239 -10.2% Archery  39,419  35,301 -10.4% Photography  15,142  13,550 -10.5% Plant Science  2,363  2,107 -10.8% Textile  2,480  2,205 -11.1% Backpacking  3,963  3,498 -11.7% Athletics  3,125  2,754 -11.9% Composite Materials  1,597  1,407 -11.9% Mammal Study  21,303  18,715 -12.1% Rowing  9,408  8,239 -12.4% Wilderness Survival  35,221  30,814 -12.5% Pioneering  15,959  13,870 -13.1% Climbing  21,171  18,356 -13.3% Sports  7,626  6,556 -14.0% Orienteering  13,753  11,742 -14.6% Moviemaking  10,851  9,262 -14.6% Nature  13,635  11,586 -15.0% Painting  3,829  3,222 -15.9% Surveying  1,028  863 -16.1% Geocaching  15,210  12,604 -17.1% Whitewater  3,476  2,832 -18.5% Safety  4,267  3,280 -23.1% Exploration  n/a  2,090  n/a This is the end of the blog post.

You made it to the end. Impressive!

Once your fingers recover from all that scrolling, please leave a comment with your favorite takeaways from this year’s stats.

Larry Bacow, next president of Harvard, says ‘I learned to be a leader in Scouting’

Bryan On Scouting -

Larry Bacow, a Distinguished Eagle Scout who is “one of the most experienced and respected leaders in American higher education,” will be the next president of Harvard University.

Harvard announced the selection on Sunday, calling Bacow someone who has “the curiosity and keen intelligence of a scholar and teacher, the vision and steady hand of a seasoned leader of institutions, and the energetic commitment and buoyant stamina of a devoted marathoner.”

Sounds like an Eagle Scout to me.

Son of immigrants

Bacow is the son of an Eastern European refugee and an Auschwitz survivor. His parents came to this country with nothing and started a family in Pontiac, Mich.

They also enrolled their son in Scouting, and that proved beneficial. Bacow said his time as a Scout opened his eyes to the world beyond Michigan.

“If not for Scouting, I would not have had the opportunity to learn so many things and do so many things that continue to be important to me today,” Bacow said in 2010. “Whether or not it’s camping, skiing, sailing or swimming, it was through Scouting that I learned and was exposed to all of these things like so many of us are.”

Bacow earned Scouting’s highest honor on Sept. 26, 1966, as a member of Troop 7 in Pontiac.

A Distinguished Eagle Scout

On Aug. 21, 2002, the Boston-based Spirit of Adventure Council presented Bacow with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

The award is presented to Eagle Scouts who have demonstrated service to their profession and community for at least 25 years after becoming Eagles.

Bacow was president of Tufts University when he received the honor.

In 2010, the Mohegan Council invited Bacow to a celebration of BSA’s 100th anniversary. He told the crowd that the 12 points of the Scout Law have stayed with him, calling it “the cornerstone of effective leadership.”

When asked how he learned the skills necessary to be a university president, Bacow didn’t hestitate.

“The simple answer is that I learned to be a leader in Scouting,” he said. 

Harvard’s next president

On July 1, Bacow will officially begin his new role.

The role of Harvard president has been around a century longer than the role of U.S. president. The first person in the job, Henry Dunster, served from 1640 to 1654.

“Those of us privileged to lead this university are invested with a precious trust,” Bacow said after his selection. “I promise to do everything within my power to prove worthy of it.”

Thanks to Ryan Larson and James Delorey for the story tip.

Snowboarder Red Gerard leaps from pages of Boys’ Life to earn Olympic gold medal

Bryan On Scouting -

Longtime Boys’ Life readers watching the Winter Olympics on Saturday night heard a familiar name: Red Gerard.

The world was captivated as the 17-year-old snowboarder soared, twisted and flipped his way to Team USA’s first gold medal of the Games.

Many viewers saw Red’s win in snowboard slopestyle as a major upset. Loyal Boys’ Life readers, however, saw it as the fulfillment of a 13-year-old’s dream.

In the February 2014 issue of Boys’ Life — four years ago this month — BL featured a two-page article called “Red Shreds!”

BL called him a “13-year-old snowboarding phenom” and said he hoped to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Nailed that one.

Check out the article below. For further fascinating finds in the BL archives, download our app. Just search “Boys’ Life magazine” on your favorite device’s app store.

From the February 2014 issue: ‘Red Shreds!’

Watch Red’s winning run


Treat yourself: Summit Bechtel Reserve invites you to Adult Adventure Weekend

Bryan On Scouting -

Throughout your time as a Scouter, you’ve helped young people shine.

You’ve watched them plan trips — and then driven them safely to their destination. You’ve mentored from the sidelines as they take on top leadership roles. You’ve smiled with pride as they enjoyed one life-changing adventure after another.

Now it’s your turn.

At Adult Adventure Weekend, held June 20 to 24, 2018, at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, adults get to unleash their inner Scout.

This first-of-its-kind event invites adults to try SBR activities usually reserved for Scouts and Venturers. Adults will get to ride the zip lines, climb rocks, shoot guns, ride bikes, fish, tour, eat great food, hang out with friends, and experience the best adventures at SBR and the New River Gorge.

You’ve given your time, energy and resources to Scouting. Because of you, youth can participate in the grand adventure of Scouting.

Now, for one weekend this June, it’s your turn for a grand adventure. It’s your turn to treat yourself.

Adult Adventure Weekend: Things to know

When: June 20 to 24, 2018. You’ll arrive the evening of Wednesday, June 20, and depart the morning of Sunday, June 24.

Where: The Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va.

What: Adult Adventure Weekend, with three primary program components:

  1. SBR onsite adventures: aerial sports, wheeled sports, water activities and shooting sports
  2. New River Gorge offsite adventures: rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and fishing
  3. Evening workshops to help you deliver high-caliber outdoor adventures in your Scout unit

Schedule: Here’s a basic overview.

  • June 20: Evening arrival and cracker barrel at Base Camp
  • June 21: Adventure programs during the day, followed by an evening program
  • June 22: Adventure programs during the day, followed by an evening program
  • June 23: Adventure programs during the day, followed by a closing program
  • June 24: Morning departure

Who: Any adult whose BSA membership is current at the time of the event. Participants will also be required to have current Youth Protection training as well.

Why: Three reasons to attend:

  1. To celebrate your contributions in making Scouting a success.
  2. To have fun participating in exciting adventure programs at the Summit Bechtel Reserve and New River Gorge.
  3. To become energized as we work together to provide future outdoor adventures that will increase membership, retention and camping participation in your council.

How much: $295 per person. There will be an additional fee of $75 if a rafting elective is added. Payment is due in full at the time of registration.

Have questions?

Learn how to contact SBR staff here.

Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA helps make Scouts, Venturers more competitive in the world

Bryan On Scouting -

Earning the Eagle Scout Award or Venturing Summit Award opens doors. The awards are a proven launchpad in the United States, sending a young man or young woman on a rewarding career path.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award brings similar résumé-building clout to young people — only on a global scale.

A new national partnership between the Boy Scouts of America and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA brings the opportunity to the United States.

To date millions of young people (ages 14 to 24) from more than 130 countries have participated in the award program. With the U.S. now involved, the goal is to send that number even higher. The BSA and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA team want to reach 500,000 young Americans — 1 percent of the population of young people in the U.S. — by the year 2026.

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a natural fit with Scouting’s programs, and we are proud to offer additional opportunities that develop and recognize the achievements of youth as the future leaders of the world,” says Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive.

How difficult to earn is the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA?

The award is challenging but flexible. Its requirements sufficiently stringent but attainable.

The award aligns with existing Scouting activities and advancement requirements. By simply participating in Scouting, a young person will fulfill many requirements for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA.

“Participants doing their award become world ready,” says Elizabeth Higgins-Beard, CEO for The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA. Young people will develop “resilience, leadership, teamwork abilities, problem-solving skills and confidence — all while having fun and engaging in their community.”

What are the requirements for the award?

The award is open to young people ages 14 to 24. There are three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

  • Bronze: Age 14 to 24; six months minimum participation
  • Silver: Age 15 to 24; 12 months minimum participation
  • Gold: Age 16 to 24; 18 months minimum participation

When earning the award, young people are challenged over time with goals in four section activities:

  • Make a difference through community ServiceDescription: Volunteering in the community, demonstrating social responsibility
    • Examples: Visiting the elderly, coaching a sport or serving as a tutor
  • Engage in Physical FitnessDescription: Improving fitness, enjoying healthy lifestyles
    • Examples: Soccer, running, canoeing, swimming, horseback riding or dancing
  • Learn a new SkillDescription: Developing talents, increasing self-confidence
    • Examples: Learning to play an instrument, making a craft, fishing, directing a short film
  • Challenge themselves and others in a team-based Adventurous JourneyDescription: Discovering a spirit of adventure, gaining a deeper understanding of the outdoors
    • Examples: Taking a hike, climbing a mountain, studying the natural world

There’s a fifth activity, for those seeking the Gold-level award only, that involves a Residential Project.

Examples of that include taking part in a historical re-enactment, building a new hiking trail, attending a conference as a youth representative and more.

What do participants receive?

In addition to the chance to engage with the world and better understand themselves, you mean?

Youth who earn their award at the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels are awarded an international certificate of recognition and a medal for their achievements at local celebrations.

Gold-level participants also are celebrated at a national Gold ceremony hosted by the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA.

Why should a Scout strive to earn their award?

Several reasons:

  1. It’s recognized worldwide with a globally-consistent framework, meaning award-holders have international standing.
  2. It enhances a young person’s résumé in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
  3. It’s fun to earn.

“The correlations between the BSA’s programs and the Award are incredible — emphasis on going outdoors, building leadership, and a dedication to service,” says Jennifer Hancock, a longtime volunteer leader who added the award program to her Venturing crew five years ago. “These two efforts can work together in a significant way.”

A Venturer who earned the Bronze-level award says the process taught him skills like planning in a welcoming, safe environment.

The program allowed him to “mess up now, so I don’t mess up in the future.”

How can an adult support this process?

In three ways:

  • Add the award program at the BSA local council level. Local councils license to deliver the award to their Scouts and Venturers through Boy Scouts, Venturing, STEM Scouts and/or Explorers.
  • Provide Adventurous Journey opportunities. Work with your local council camps or the national high-adventure bases to help facilitate the Adventurous Journey requirement to Scouts and Venturers.
  • Recruit new award participants. Young people who are interested participating in the award program but are not connected to another local award unit can be referred to a local BSA council to join the award program there.
Learn more this summer at Philmont.

On July 15 to 21, 2018, the Philmont Training Center will host a course on the The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Scouters will leave the weeklong course trained as Certified Award Coordinators and Certified Adventurous Journey Supervisors and Assessors.

Learn more here.

Get started.

If your council, district or Scout unit is interested in delivering the award program, complete the form at the bottom of this page.

If you’re interested in becoming a Registered Activity Provider only, register here.

If you’re an individual Scout or Venturer interested in doing your award, register here.

20 facts about Venturing for the program’s 20th birthday

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Today, Venturers everywhere have the green light to party. That’s because today is the Venturing program’s 20th birthday!

The BSA’s executive board created the older-youth program on Feb. 9, 1998. In the 20 years since, Venturing has enabled more than 1 million young men and young women to choose their own adrenaline-packed adventures.

Let’s begin the celebration with 20 things you need to know about Venturing.

1. Venturing was launched in 1998. An announcement about Venturing appeared in the September 1998 edition of Scouting magazine.

Venturing began Feb. 9, 1998, when the BSA’s volunteer-led executive board split the old Exploring program into two.

Career-oriented Explorer posts became part of Learning for Life under the name Exploring. All other Explorer posts, including those with a focus on outdoor adventures, became part of Venturing.

2. The name Venturing was chosen to align with similar programs worldwide.

The Boy Scouts of America is part of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, which represents 40 million young people in 169 countries.

As such, it only made sense for the BSA to align with other countries when selecting a name for its older-teen program. The name Venturing also is used in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland and Japan — to name five.

3. Venturing units are called crews.

Cub Scouts are in packs. Boy Scouts are in troops. Sea Scouts are in ships. Venturers are in crews.

That’s the proper term, by the way: Venturing crew. They’re not called Venture crews or Venturer crews.

Crews are not divided into patrols.

By the way, if you’re not yet involved with Venturing, you can find your crew here.

4. Venturing is for young people ages 14 to 21.

Venturers can be males or females who are at least 14 but not yet 21.

Young people may also join at 13 if they have completed the eighth grade.

5. Venturing crews include young men and young women.

Ever since its beginning, Venturing crews have been coed.

6. Youth members in Venturing are called Venturers.

This may seem simplistic, but you’ll occasionally hear people refer to Venturing members as Venture Scouts.

Actually, they’re Venturers!

That said, because Venturing is part of the Scouting program, Venturers also may be referred to as “Scouts.”

7. Adult leaders in Venturing are called Advisors.

An adult is called a Venturing Advisor, not a Venture leader or Venturer leader.

The BSA’s official style is to always capitalize the word “Advisor” in a Venturing context — just like we capitalize the words Cubmaster and Scoutmaster.

The word Advisor has important significance, as I’ll explain in the next point.

8. Venturing is completely youth-led.

Adults in Venturing don’t lead or direct. They merely advise. They’re Advisors.

Venturers lead the meetings, plan the outings and make all decisions about the crew’s direction. This challenges each young person to learn and apply leadership skills — experience that will prepare them for careers down the road.

9. The top youth leader in a crew is the president.

The crew president is elected by his or her peers to lead all meetings and activities.

Other elected crew positions include vice president of administration, vice president of program, crew secretary and crew treasurer.

10. Venturing has four main areas of emphasis.

They spell out ALPS:

  • Adventure
  • Leadership
  • Personal growth
  • Service
11. Venturing uses the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Scout sign.

As part of the BSA’s “One Movement, One Oath, One Law” declaration announced in 2012 and implemented in 2014, Venturers adopted the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout sign and Scout salute.

The previous Venturing sign and Venturing salute used a full hand; now it uses three fingers.

12. But Venturing has its own motto.

The Venturing motto is “Lead the Adventure,” made official in 2014.

13. Venturing crews get to choose their own specialty.

Most Venturing crews fall under the catch-all categories of “general interest,” “high adventure” and “camping/backpacking/hiking.”

But you’ll find Venturing crews across the country that specialize in pretty much any activity imaginable.

You’ll find crews for basketball or BMX, fishing or fencing, magic or model railroading.

14. Venturing lets young people discover their world.

Building off that last point, Venturing provides youth-inspired experiences young people can’t get elsewhere.

A Venturer might:

  • Rappel a cliff
  • Perfect her shot
  • Build a robot
  • Kayak into the sunset
  • Explore his faith
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Re-enact living history
  • Design a video game

And that’s just Year One.

15. Venturing has four core awards, including one that’s as tough as Eagle.

Like the Venturing program itself, the core awards in Venturing are flexible enough to meet the needs of any crew.

All Venturers should earn the Venturing Award soon after joining.

After that, Venturers work on the Discovery and Pathfinder Awards.

Finally, Venturers strive to earn the Summit Award, the program’s highest honor.

The Venturing Bronze, Gold and Silver Awards were discontinued Dec. 31, 2014.

16. It’s possible to earn Eagle in Venturing.

Venturers who earned the First Class rank as registered Boy Scouts or Varsity Scouts are qualified, until their 18th birthday, to continue with Boy Scout advancement through Venturing.

Learn more in the Guide to Advancement, section

17. Venturing has a uniform — kind of.

Venturing has no official uniform that all members must wear. Each crew decides what constitutes a uniform.

There is a recommended uniform, however, and it’s why Venturers are unofficially referred to as “Greenshirts.”

The BSA makes a green Venturing shirt that helps Venturers stand out in a crowd of khaki. If a crew does decide to wear the green Venturing shirt, they’ll need to follow these uniform guidelines.

18. There’s a whole national organizational structure to Venturing.

Like Cub Scout packs and Boy Scouts troops, each Venturing crew is part of a BSA council.

Most councils have a Venturing Officers’ Association (VOA) with a youth president and vice presidents for administration, program and communication.

Each council is part of an area and region — each with its own VOA and elected youth leaders.

Finally, there is a National Venturing Officers’ Association with the National Venturing President, National Venturing Vice President, four Regional Venturing Presidents and their respective advisors.

The National Venturing President, who for 2017-2018 is Michelle Merritt, represents Venturing and the BSA at national events.

19. Venturing will share “20 for 20” stories all year on social media.

The Venturing Facebook page is sharing one story a week for the next 20 weeks.

Be sure to Like and Follow the page so you don’t miss a thing.

20. VenturingFest 2018 is happening this summer.

How do Venturers celebrate their 20th birthday?

With a week of awesomeness at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

Learn more about VenturingFest 2018, held July 1 to 6, at this link.

USA all the way: Chris Fogt is an Eagle Scout, Winter Olympian and Army major

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It doesn’t get much more all-American than this.

Chris Fogt, 34, is an Eagle Scout. He’s a three-time Olympian in bobsled. And he’s a major in the U.S. Army who spent a year deployed in Iraq.

“I’ve always loved this country,” Fogt told me by phone last month. “I’ve been all over the world, and I really appreciate what this country represents. The hope that this country gives to people is amazing.”

Fogt earned Eagle on March 16, 2000, as a member of Varsity Team 851 of Highland, Utah, part of the Utah National Parks Council.

But he doesn’t see Scouting as something from his past. It’s part of his present and future, too.

That’s why, somehow, Fogt makes time to be an adult volunteer. While stationed at Fort Hood, Fogt has served as an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 239 of the Longhorn Council.

He has two children who are still too young to be in Scouts, but he volunteers his time because he wants “a chance to shape kids’ lives at that crucial age,” he says.

Fogt, who has witnessed the proliferation of smartphones and Snapchat, says Scouting offers a chance to unplug.

“Kids are growing up in a different environment — on their phones and everything,” he says. “Scouts is a place where you can be yourself and learn who you are. You’ve got merit badges from Art to Wilderness Survival and [Personal] Fitness. It’s such a wide range.”

A big family

Fogt is one of eight children — five boys and three girls. In a crowded household, Scouting gave him a chance to become his own man.

The BSA provided “quality time away to just be able to talk and hang out and get some more one-on-one time,” he says.

Fogt has a speech impediment. He stutters occasionally today, but it was more pronounced when he was a kid.

Some of his schoolmates made fun of this stutter — a fact that made Scouting even more of a respite.

“Scouting helped me find my voice and shape the man I am now,” he says. “I really enjoyed those weekends where I got to go out and do Scouting stuff.”

Fogt’s Eagle project

For his Eagle Scout service project, Fogt made a detailed map of a cemetery in Alpine, Utah.

Before the project, visitors spent time searching the cemetery for their loved ones’ graves. Now they can find those markers right away.

Like all Eagle projects, this one improved the community. But when Fogt told his friends about it, some eyebrows were raised.

“You have this 15-year-old kid, and your friends say, ‘what are you guys doing?’ ‘Well, we’re in a graveyard for three hours,'” he says.

Steve Holcomb (left) and Chris Fogt (right), receiving their bronze medals in 2014. Remembering a fallen Eagle

Fogt earned a bronze medal in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He was one of two Eagle Scouts on that team, nicknamed “Night Train 2.”

The other: Steven Holcomb, who died in his sleep in May 2017.

“At the Games, he’ll be on our minds,” Fogt says.

Team USA’s bobsled team will wear the initials “S.H.” on their uniforms to honor their fallen teammate. Holcomb liked to wear a Superman shirt under his speedsuit, so Fogt will do the same.

Fogt says he and Holcomb frequently talked about their time as Boy Scouts in Utah.

“We used to share stories of Scouting,” Fogt says. “When I came into the sport, he had already been in the sport five or six years. We had that to bond over right away.”

They had another thing in common: both were late bloomers. As kids they were smaller in frame than their peers.

“Scouting helped us find who we were,” Fogt says. “We both gained confidence from the program — forced to lead and do different types of merit badges. We learned a lot, and that helped shape who we were.”

Not done yet

Fogt, a major in the U.S. Army, thought he was done bobsledding after the 2014 Games.

But when he learned he would not be deployed to Kuwait, he decided to try to make his third Olympic team.

In Pyeongchang, he’ll be one of three push athletes for the four-man sled driven by Justin Olsen. They’ll try to give the sled its fastest possible start.

“It’s extremely hard to be competitive without a good start,” Fogt says. “I only have about 70 meters to get a sled that weighs 500 pounds to go from 0 to as fast as possible. It’s all about being fast and explosive.”

That power pushed Fogt to bronze in 2014. Not bad for a “shy kid with a speech impediment” from a small town in Utah.

Fogt says Scouting helped him gain confidence, and he sees a lesson there for his fellow Scouts.

“It doesn’t really matter where you are in your life if you have goals and work hard to achieve them,” he says. “Everyday kids can accomplish pretty cool stuff.”

How to watch Chris Fogt

Competition dates: Two runs on Saturday, Feb. 24, and two on Sunday, Feb. 25. The four times are added up, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

  • Run 1: Scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 24
  • Run 2: Scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m. ET Feb. 24
  • Run 3: Scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 25
  • Run 4: Scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m. ET Feb. 25

How to watch:

  • Live in primetime on NBC.
  • Livestream of Runs 1 and 2: Here
  • Livestream of Runs 3 and 4: Here
  • Viewing tip: Fogt’s position is in the back of the sled.
Other Eagle Scouts in the Winter Olympics

Meet the other Eagle Scouts here.

The BSA is turning 108! Here’s a list of 108 Scouts who became famous

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The Boy Scouts of America turns 108 years young on Feb. 8, 2018.

What do you get the youth movement that has everything? A list of 108 Scouts who became famous.

The list includes presidents and Pulitzer Prize recipients, astronauts and athletes, celebrities and CEOs.

Two notes before we begin:

  1. The list is woefully incomplete. With millions of Scouting alumni out there, any list of this length is going to leave some people off. Please leave a comment with the most glaring omissions.
  2. If the famous person is an Eagle Scout, I’ve indicated that in parentheses. When available, I’ve included the Eagle year as listed in the National Eagle Scout Association database.

Astronauts, explorers and inventors
  • Peter Agre, biologist who received 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Eagle Scout, Class of 1964)
  • Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon
  • Neil Armstrong, astronaut and first man to walk on the moon (Eagle Scout, Class of 1947)
  • Lee Berger, National Geographic explorer and paleoanthropologist (Eagle Scout, Class of 1983)
  • Guion Bluford, first African-American in space (Eagle Scout)
  • Thomas Cech, chemist who received 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Eagle Scout, Class of 1962)
  • Roger Chaffee, astronaut who was killed in the Apollo 1 mission (Eagle Scout, Class of 1951)
  • Charles Duke, astronaut and 10th man to walk on the moon (Eagle Scout, Class of 1946)
  • Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the modern television (Eagle Scout, Class of 1932)
  • Steve Fossett, record-setting aviator (Eagle Scout, Class of 1957)
  • Jim Lovell, astronaut who was commander of Apollo 13 mission (Eagle Scout, Class of 1943)
  • William Moerner, physicist who received 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Eagle Scout, Class of 1967)
  • Ellison Onizuka, astronaut who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion (Eagle Scout, Class of 1964)
  • Paul Siple, Antarctic explorer who coined the term “wind chill” (Eagle Scout, Class of 1924)
  • E. O. Wilson, researcher, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the world’s top ant expert (Eagle Scout, Class of 1944)

Athletes, coaches and sports executives
  • Hank Aaron, baseball Hall of Famer
  • Willie Banks, Olympian and former world record-holder (Eagle Scout, Class of 1971)
  • Bill Bradley, former basketball player for the New York Knicks and Hall of Famer (Eagle Scout, Class of 1957)
  • Chan Gailey, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills (Eagle Scout, Class of 1966)
  • Don Garlits, engineer who is considered the father of drag racing (Eagle Scout, Class of 1946)
  • Pat Gillick, retired professional baseball executive and Hall of Famer (Eagle Scout, Class of 1951)
  • Josh Hart, basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers (Eagle Scout, Class of 2013)
  • Steven Holcomb, gold medalist in bobsled at 2010 Winter Olympics (Eagle Scout, Class of 1995)
  • Michael Jordan, former NBA player and current NBA team owner
  • Tommy Lasorda, former baseball manager and Hall of Famer
  • Ewing Kauffman, former owner of the Kansas City Royals and the man after whom their stadium is named (Eagle Scout, Class of 1931)
  • Ray Malavasi, former head coach of the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Rams (Eagle Scout, Class of 1944)
  • Peter McLoughlin, president of the Seattle Seahawks (Eagle Scout, Class of 1971)
  • Emery Moorehead, former tight end who won Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears (Eagle Scout, Class of 1969)
  • Jim Mora, former head coach of the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts (Eagle Scout, Class of 1950)
  • Nolan Ryan, former MLB pitcher and current Houston Astros executive
  • Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the New York City Marathon
  • Mark Spitz, gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer
  • Joe Theismann, former NFL quarterback
  • Shane Victorino, former pro baseball outfielder who won three Gold Gloves (Eagle Scout, Class of 1996)
  • Ken Whisenhunt, offensive coordinator for Los Angeles Chargers and former head coach of Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans (Eagle Scout, Class of 1976)
  • Steve Young, former NFL quarterback and sports broadcaster

Authors and journalists
  • Walter Cronkite, journalist, CBS Evening News anchor
  • Clive Cussler, best-selling adventure novelist (Eagle Scout, Class of 1946)
  • Brandon Mull, author of the children’s fantasy series Fablehaven (Eagle Scout, Class of 1993)
  • Harrison Salisbury, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who covered the civil rights movement, Kennedy assassination and Vietnam War (Eagle Scout, Class of 1924)

Civil rights leaders
  • Ernest Green, civil rights activist and member of the Little Rock Nine (Eagle Scout, Class of 1956)
  • Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights icon
  • Wallace Stegner, civil rights leader, Tuskegee Airmen pilot, entrepreneur who revitalized the Apollo Theater in New York (Eagle Scout, Class of 1936)

  • Jack Black, actor in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, School of Rock and the Kung Fu Panda franchise
  • Frank Blair, former host of NBC’s Today show (Eagle Scout, Class of 1930)
  • Jimmy Buffett, Grammy Award-winning musician
  • Tony Cavalero, actor in School of Rock on Nickelodeon (Eagle Scout, Class of 2001)
  • Rob Corddry, former correspondent for The Daily Show and actor in Warm Bodies and Childrens Hospital (Eagle Scout, Class of 1988)
  • Harrison Ford, actor in Blade Runner and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises
  • Zach Galifianakis, actor in the Hangover trilogy, The Lego Batman Movie and A Wrinkle in Time (Eagle Scout, Class of 1986)
  • Nolan Gould, actor in ABC’s Modern Family
  • Richard Gere, actor in Pretty Woman and Chicago
  • Andy Griffith, actor in The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock
  • William Hanna, animator and voice actor who co-founded Hanna-Barbera (Eagle Scout, Class of 1924)
  • Jon Heder, actor in Napoleon Dynamite (Eagle Scout, Class of 1994)
  • Derek Hough, actor and Dancing with the Stars champion
  • Jay Leno, former host of NBC’s The Tonight Show
  • Andy Lewis, world champion slackliner who performed in Super Bowl XLVI (Eagle Scout, Class of 2002)
  • John Lithgow, Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, known for roles in 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Crown
  • David Lynch, Academy Award-nominated director of The Elephant Man and creator of the murder mystery TV series Twin Peaks (Eagle Scout, Class of 1962)
  • Ozzie Nelson, bandleader and actor who starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (Eagle Scout, Class of 1920)
  • Jeff Orlowski, documentary filmmaker who made Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral (Eagle Scout, Class of 2000)
  • Chris Pratt, actor in Parks and Recreation and Guardians of the Galaxy 
  • Dan Reynolds, lead singer of the band Imagine Dragons (Eagle Scout, Class of 2004)
  • Evan Roe, actor in Madam Secretary on CBS (Eagle Scout, Class of 2015)
  • Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs (Eagle Scout, Class of 1979)
  • Glen Schofield, one of the creators of the Call of Duty videogame franchise (Eagle Scout, Class of 1977)
  • Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winning director of Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan (Eagle Scout, Class of 1961)
  • Creek Stewart, survivalist and host of SOS: How to Survive on The Weather Channel (Eagle Scout, Class of 1990)
  • Jimmy Stewart, Academy Award-winning actor in The Philadelphia Story
  • George Strait, Grammy Award-winning musician
  • John Tesh, pianist, composer and Emmy-winning TV host (Eagle Scout, Class of 1968)
  • James Valentine, guitarist of the band Maroon 5 (Eagle Scout, Class of 1996)
  • John Wayne, Academy Award-winning actor in True Grit

Politicians and public officials
  • Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and former New York City mayor (Eagle Scout, Class of 1954)
  • James Brady, former White House Press Secretary (Eagle Scout, Class of 1955)
  • Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court justice (Eagle Scout, Class of 1952)
  • George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president
  • Tom C. Clark, former Supreme Court justice (Eagle Scout, Class of 1914)
  • Bill Clinton, 42nd U.S. president
  • Gerald Ford, 38th U.S. president (Eagle Scout, Class of 1927)
  • Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense (Eagle Scout, Class of 1958)
  • Jon Huntsman Jr., U.S. ambassador to Russia (Eagle Scout, Class of 1975)
  • John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. president
  • Henry Paulson, former Secretary of the Treasury (Eagle Scout, Class of 1960)
  • Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and presidential candidate (Eagle Scout, Class of 1943)
  • Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy and former governor of Texas (Eagle Scout, Class of 1964)
  • Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense (Eagle Scout, Class of 1949)
  • Jeff Sessions, Attorney General (Eagle Scout, Class of 1963)
  • Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State and former CEO of ExxonMobil (Eagle Scout, Class of 1965)
  • Togo West, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Eagle Scout, Class of 1957)

Business leaders
  • Stephen Bechtel Jr., founder of Bechtel Corp., the largest construction and civil engineering company in the United States, benefactor of the Summit Bechtel Reserve (Eagle Scout, Class of 1940)
  • Charles Dolan, founder of HBO (Eagle Scout, Class of 1941)
  • Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
  • William Gates Sr., philanthropist and father of Bill Gates (Eagle Scout, Class of 1941)
  • Howard Lincoln, former chairman of Nintendo of America and the Seattle Mariners (Eagle Scout, Class of 1955)
  • Bill Marriott, executive chairman of Marriott International (Eagle Scout, Class of 1947)
  • Michael Mauler, CEO of GameStop (Eagle Scout, Class of 1975)
  • Jim Rogers, former president and CEO of Kampgrounds of America (Eagle Scout, Class of 1965)
  • T. Gary Rogers, former CEO of Dreyer’s Ice Cream (Eagle Scout, Class of 1956)
  • Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines (Eagle Scout, Class of 1976)
  • Sam Walton, founder of Walmart (Eagle Scout, Class of 1934)
  • David Weekley, founder and chairman of David Weekley Homes (Eagle Scout, Class of 1969)

Soldiers and war heroes
  • Arthur Eldred, first Eagle Scout and Navy veteran (Eagle Scout, Class of 1912)
  • Thomas Norris, Navy SEAL who received Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War (Eagle Scout, Class of 1959)
  • Mitchell Paige, Marine who received Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 (Eagle Scout, Class of 1936)
  • Leo K. Thorsness, Air Force colonel who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War (Eagle Scout, Class of 1949)

For a Winter Olympian, Eagle Scout Justin Krewson has a surprising favorite merit badge

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Justin Krewson is one of the world’s best at sliding 80 miles an hour down an icy track.

So good, in fact, that he’ll represent Team USA in the luge doubles event at the 2018 Winter Olympics this month.

Before he was into sliding, Krewson was into Scouting. And his favorite merit badge involved H20 of the unfrozen variety.

“I took [Small-Boat] Sailing merit badge at Scout camp, and I loved it,” Krewson says. “I bought a sailboat to sail around Lake Placid. You would learn the basics, prove your skills, and now later in life I can apply those skills and enjoy it.”

I spoke to Krewson by phone last month from Oberhof, Germany, where he was preparing for a pre-Olympics luge competition.

The Eagle Scout from Troop 221 of Manorville, N.Y., discussed how his Scouting past prepared him for an Olympics future.

Mind tricks

Krewson is speeding down the icy track going 80 mph. He executes each turn flawlessly. When he crosses the finish line, he and his doubles partner have posted an excellent time.

And then Krewson opens his eyes, switching off the movie playing in his head.

This is visualization, a technique used by elite athletes in nearly every sport. Krewson, who has committed the track’s layout to memory, closes his eyes and zooms through each turn in his head.

“We actually call them mind runs,” Krewson says. “They are so important, because we’re going 80 mph, and when things are happening that fast, they really have to be muscle memory.”

By the time Krewson and his doubles partner, Andrew Sherk, begin their first official run on Feb. 14, the pair will have been down the track countless times — in their minds.

A viewer’s guide

If there’s one complaint viewers have about the sliding sports — luge, skeleton and bobsled — it’s that each run looks rather similar. If not for the on-screen clock comparing the current run to the fastest time, viewers wouldn’t know whether they’re seeing a world-record pace or a last-place run.

Krewson offered a couple of tips for those of us watching from the warmth of home.

“Listen to the commentator who knows the sport,” he says. “They’ll point out the smaller things the viewer might not notice.”

Like a sled entering a curve too early. Or a little bobble. In a sport with razor-thin margins, these minor mistakes have a major effect.

In the luge doubles competition at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, for example, the team that won gold finished just 2.119 seconds faster than the team that finished 13th. And that’s a combined time from two separate runs.

So how can we tell whether Krewson, who is the top driver, is having a good run?

“If it looks like we’re doing nothing, we’re doing really well,” he says. “Toes pointed, head back.”

Justin Krewson in October 2010 at a West Point campout. Sliding to a start

Krewson was 6 years old when he and his dad were at a New York Islanders hockey game and met Adam Heidt, a 1998 and 2002 U.S. Olympian in luge. Heidt told Krewson he should try the sport when he got older.

He told Krewson about the White Castle Slider Search, where (lowercase-S) scouts go around the country to let kids ages 9 to 13 try luge on wheeled sleds.

“They had us go through a labyrinth of cones, go through physical and agility test,” Krewson says.

When he was 11, Krewson’s parents took him to give it a try. He didn’t make the cut, but a year later he did. The next step was a week in Lake Placid, N.Y., during winter to slide on an actual luge track.

By then Krewson was fully involved in Scouting, and balancing the two took work.

He camped and earned merit badges. He went geocaching on the beach with his troop and visited Washington, D.C., as a Scout. All this while working his way up the luge ladder.

While some might have been tempted to quit Scouting, Krewson wanted to finish what he started.

“You get to learn all these different things you wouldn’t learn in a school environment or back home,” he says. “It opens up a lot of doors, which is really cool.”

Ed Champ had just joined Troop 221 as an assistant Scoutmaster when he first heard about Krewson.

“This was in 2010,” he says. “Back then, I remember hearing that there was this kid in the troop that rides a luge in Lake Placid. I thought that was pretty neat, and in talking with Justin over the years, I got the sense that he was really into this. That it wasn’t just a passing fad. He would be absent for quite a bit of time practicing, training, competing in luge events, but when he came back, he was always helpful in the troop.”

Justin Krewson (second from left) at his Eagle project. Crossing the finish line to Eagle

His 18th birthday was zooming into view when Krewson realized he still had more Eagle requirements to complete.

“Everything was coming down to the wire,” he says. “I was getting closer and closer. You put the work in, and you finish what you started.”

For his Eagle project, Krewson renovated the Kent Animal Shelter on Long Island.

“He remodeled, reclaimed and repaired the building that was falling apart,” Champ says. “He worked very hard on planning and executing the project, and I could see how proud he was when it was completed.”

Krewson is proud, too. He wears his Eagle medal with pride.

“When you tell people, they get this awe,” he says. “Like, no way. It’s not a very common thing that people get. Because everyone else remembers doing Scouting when they were a kid. Most people remember being in Scouting, and when they realize that you’ve finished it, that’s really impressive to a lot of people.”

Justin Krewson (third from left) at Camp Hero in Montauk, N.Y. How to watch Justin Krewson

Competition date: Wednesday, Feb. 14. Krewson and his doubles partner, Andrew Sherk, will have two runs. The times are combined to determine the winner.

  • Run 1: Scheduled to begin at 6:20 a.m. ET Feb. 14
  • Run 2: Scheduled to begin at 7:40 a.m. ET Feb. 14

How to watch:

  • Live coverage on NBCSN. Replays that afternoon on NBC.
  • Livestream of both runs: Here
  • Viewing tip: When watching, it’ll be helpful to know that Krewson is the top driver.
Other Eagle Scouts in the Winter Olympics

Meet the other Eagle Scouts here.

Eagle Scout Taylor Morris tells how Scouting prepared him for 2018 Winter Olympics

Bryan On Scouting -

Taylor Morris’ progress toward the Eagle Scout rank was lagging when his parents made him a deal. Finish Eagle, they said, and you’ll get your driver’s license.

That did the trick. Morris earned Eagle in 2009, as a member of Venturing Crew 2834 of South Jordan, Utah.

Now 26 and preparing to competing in his first Winter Olympics, Morris is grateful for that extra push. He says his time as a Scout and Venturer in the Great Salt Lake Council was transformative.

“I believe that I have learned as many life lessons as a Scout as I have in my 16 years of traveling the world,” he says.

Around the world, down the track

If you want to compete in luge, world travel isn’t a luxury. It’s a requirement.

Of the 15 recognized luge tracks in the world, only two are in the United States (Lake Placid, N.Y., and Park City, Utah).

All that time in foreign airports, hotels and training facilities makes planning essential.

“You have to be diligent in all aspects. Organization and time management are crucial in being a successful athlete,” he says. “And it should go without saying that it is just as important in the Scouting community.”

It’s important in the military, too.

Morris is a sergeant in the U.S. Army and part of the Army World Class Athlete Program, which supports soldiers training to become Olympians.

Not giving up

In the late 2000s, Morris headed to Bear Lake, Idaho, with his fellow Scouts. They spent five days there, and the experience solidified his desire to stay in Scouting.

“We earned merit badges of all sorts, and it was one of the pivotal campouts that encouraged me to continue my goal earning my Eagle Scout,” he says.

Five years after earning Eagle, Morris narrowly missed qualification for the 2014 Winter Olympics. He considered hanging up his sled, but he didn’t. Four years later, he’s an Olympian.

I asked Morris whether he sees a message there for his fellow Scouts.

“There are so many times I thought of quitting and giving up,” he says. “But persevere through the tough times and come out a champion to yourself and those who support you.”

Ready for action

Competition in men’s singles luge begins Feb. 10. Morris will race four times, with each run lasting less than a minute. The racer with the lowest combined time wins.

But Morris knows it’s pointless to think about the other racers. All that matters is his time.

“Success in Korea would be navigating the course to the best of my ability all four of the Olympic runs,” he says. “Really I can’t ask for more, and staying focused on myself will be key in doing that.”

That means stick with what’s been working. During his six training runs and four competitive runs, Morris will try to stay on the same course that got him to Pyeongchang.

“I think I have a very concrete schedule and way of doing things before big races, and I will try my hardest not to change that for the Olympic races,” he says.

How to watch Taylor Morris

Competition dates: Two runs on Saturday, Feb. 10, and two on Sunday, Feb. 11. The four times are added up, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

  • Run 1: Scheduled to begin at 5:10 a.m. ET Feb. 10
  • Run 2: Scheduled to begin at 6:55 a.m. ET Feb. 10
  • Run 3: Scheduled to begin at 4:50 a.m. ET Feb. 11
  • Run 4: Scheduled to begin at 6:55 a.m. ET Feb. 11

How to watch:

  • Live coverage on NBCSN. Replays each afternoon on NBC.
  • Livestream of Runs 1 and 2: Here
  • Livestream of Runs 3 and 4: Here
Other Eagle Scouts in the Winter Olympics

Meet the other Eagle Scouts here.

Tips for deducting Scouting expenses on your tax return

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UPDATED: This text was updated Feb. 6, 2018, with 2017 tax season info. This includes a complete refresh and an accuracy review by Eagle Scout Michael B. Carr, CPA. (Thanks, Michael!)

When Baden-Powell said “Be Prepared,” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about income tax returns.

But still, there’s no better advice than that two-word phrase during tax time.

Scouters who heeded the Scout Motto last year remembered to track and document their Boy Scouts of America-related expenses. And now, they know that they can include those expenses if they plan to itemize their deductions.

But what if you didn’t know that BSA expenses were deductible? Or what if your “filing system” is really your glove compartment that’s stuffed with gas receipts and crumpled-up napkins? And what qualifies as an eligible expense, anyway?

Your fellow Scouters and I are here to help. Along with other Scout leaders on Facebook, I’ve collected some tips to help you track and deduct your BSA-related expenses.

And with the April 17, 2018, deadline approaching fast, there’s no better time than now to get started.

Before we go any further, remember that while this text was reviewed by a CPA, I can’t help you file your return. For the best advice, find a professional, use tax-preparation software, or check out the IRS Web site.

I can tell you this: You give your time and money to the Scouting program, and Uncle Sam wants to give you credit — at least for the money part.

General facts you need to know

Further clarification for this section comes from the Taxwise Giving newsletter (November 2016 edition).

  • On IRS Form 1040, “2017 Instructions for Schedule A”, the Boy Scouts of America is listed by name on page A-9 as a “qualified charitable organization,” so BSA expenses are eligible.
  • Four types of contributions can be deducted:
    • Cash/check donations
    • Property donations
    • “Out-of-pocket expenses you paid to do volunteer work”
    • Uniforms for leaders. “Uniforms that aren’t suitable for everyday use and that you wear while performing donated services for a charitable organization are charitable items in the year purchased,” Carr says. “Scout uniforms for leaders qualify.”
    • The cost of driving to and from BSA events
  • Some types of relevant contributions cannot be deducted:
    • The value of your time
    • Scouting dues or membership fees
    • A contribution to a specific individual. This includes giving to the Boy Scouts and specifying a particular person or Scout as the beneficiary of your donation.
  • IRS Publication 526 has lots more info (thanks, William)

Easy enough, right? Scouters will mainly be concerned with that third type of eligible deductions, “out-of-pocket expenses you paid to do volunteer work.”

Some items that you purchase to benefit your unit can be deducted, provided your unit didn’t reimburse you for them. You’ll want to check with your tax professional to be sure, but Scouters have told me they deduct merit badge pamphlets, den meeting activity kits, Wood Badge course fees and much more — again, as long as their pack or troop didn’t reimburse them.

However, there’s one expense that I’m certain you can deduct: the cost of driving to and from BSA events.

How to include driving expenses

Included in the third category is driving to or from a BSA event. Here’s what the IRS says about mileage:

  • First, you’re eligible to deduct the cost of driving to and from the volunteer work, which would include most BSA activities.
  • You have two options here:
  • You can deduct parking and tolls, so add that to the amount you claim under either method above.
  • As a reminder, you cannot deduct any expenses, mileage included, that were repaid to you by your unit, district, council or anyone else.
  • You also cannot deduct insurance or depreciation on the car.
Traveling as a volunteer

If you travel as a volunteer and must be away from home overnight, reasonable payments for meals and lodgings, as well as your transportation costs (previous section), are deductible. Also deductible: your transportation costs (air, rail and bus tickets, or mileage as described in the previous section).

This is where it gets tricky. You can’t deduct travel expenses if there’s a “significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation.” But enjoying your volunteer time doesn’t rule out a deduction.

For example, if you’re an on-duty troop leader who takes Scouts on a BSA camping trip, you may deduct those travel expenses even if you had a good time.

Important caveats

Next, there’s the tricky part of “gifts from which you receive benefit.” Let’s say, for example, that you attend your council’s annual dinner. Can you deduct that expense? Sort of.

Here’s what the IRS says: “If you made a gift and received a benefit in return, such as food, entertainment, or merchandise, you can generally only deduct the amount that is more than the value of the benefit.”

So if tickets for the council dinner were $75 and the value of the dinner was $35, you can only deduct $40.

Or if you paid $110 for a $100 gift card at a silent auction, you can only deduct $10.

Make sense?

Also, you’ll want to consult a tax professional or the IRS site for individual gifts of $250 or more. There are special rules that apply to those larger gifts.

How to deduct gifts of more than $250

Here’s what Carr says:

If the leader is deducting more than $250 in a single charitable contribution, he or she should maintain a record of these expenses (credit card receipts for travel, copy of a cancelled check for cash donations), as well a letter from the charitable organization showing:

  • Donee’s name
  • Contribution date
  • Contribution amount
  • Indication the donee received no goods or services were in return for the gift.
How tax law changes will affect Scouters

Carr says:

The threshold for itemizing (filling out the Schedule A) will increase from $12,700 for a married-filing-jointly (MFJ) return in tax year 2017 to $24,000 for an MFJ return in tax year 2018.

As a result, a lot of the detailed tracking Scout leaders may have done in the past for charitable givings will no longer be necessary in 2018.

Unless charitable givings, mortgage interest, and state and local tax deductions are greater than $24,000 (MFJ) or $12,000 (Single), a Scout leader won’t be itemizing, and as a result the charitable donation won’t be deductible.

Ten tips for keeping track of it all

Here are 10 tips your fellow Scouters offered:

  1. Theresa W. keeps a “notebook in the car for tracking mileage! Man, it adds up faster than you think!”
  2. “I update an Excel Spreadsheet with costs, and a folder for receipts,” says Jeff B. “I print out the Excel table when I do my taxes.”
  3. Jamie D. also has a high-tech approach: “I use to track all our expenses. I set up a category just for Scouts.”
  4. So does Tom H.: “I have a program called NeatReceipts that comes with a scanner. I use it for my expense reports for work. Just drop the receipts in the scanner then catagorize them. Set up a group for Scouting and everything is there at tax time.”
  5. But Michelle H. prefers the low-tech method: “We have a calendar and a folder (calendar stays in the folder) to keep track of everything!”
  6. Patricia L. makes it easy on her accountant: “I keep a file and drop my charitable receipts in it all year. Our accountant appreciated copies of online maps that we used for driving directions. Date, purpose, and mileage all in one place.”
  7. Julus P. doesn’t itemize, but he might start some day. “Scouting is not for profit, and not a hobby. Granted, it feels like a hobby sometimes! I don’t keep track of all these things but really should!”
  8. For Mark F., it’s not worth the trouble. “I don’t keep up with it. I enjoy being a Cubmaster and camp promotions chair, and so far, it’s cheaper than going to NASCAR races and cheaper than maintaining my boat and related gear I use for fishing!”
  9. Shawna R. keeps track of mileage, but not for every trip: “I don’t keep track of mileage for going to the store to pick up Scout items, even if it’s the only thing I’m going to the store for.” That’s probably a good call.
  10. And finally, please remember to heed the advice of Ann O.: “Check with your tax person on what you can deduct. It wasn’t as straightforward as I thought, and the rules seem to change.”

Want even more tips? Find them in the comments section below, and please share your own.

Oh, and good luck!

These are the Eagle Scouts competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics

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Three members of the Team USA delegation competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics are Eagle Scouts, the National Eagle Scout Association has confirmed.

The list includes two members of the luge team — one in singles and one in doubles — and one bobsledder.

Years ago they earned the Eagle Scout medal, representing their commitment to Scouting. Now they’ll represent their country while trying to earn another medal: Olympic gold.

The 2018 Winter Olympics officially begin on Friday, Feb. 9. Here’s what you need to know about these Eagle Scouts representing the United States in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Taylor Morris, luge singles

Read our interview with Taylor Morris on Wednesday.

Date of birth: June 4, 1991

Eagle Scout board of review date: June 28, 2009

Eagle project: Maintained and beautified a historic site in Utah

Scout unit: Venturing Crew 2834 of South Jordan, Utah (Great Salt Lake Council)

Olympics experience: First Olympics

Competition dates: Two runs on Saturday, Feb. 10, and two on Sunday, Feb. 11. The four times are added up, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

  • Run 1: Scheduled to begin at 5:10 a.m. ET Feb. 10
  • Run 2: Scheduled to begin at 6:55 a.m. ET Feb. 10
  • Run 3: Scheduled to begin at 4:50 a.m. ET Feb. 11
  • Run 4: Scheduled to begin at 6:55 a.m. ET Feb. 11

How to watch:

  • Live coverage on NBCSN. Replays each afternoon on NBC.
  • Livestream of Runs 1 and 2: Here
  • Livestream of Runs 3 and 4: Here

Interesting fact: Though he lives in Utah and is a Winter Olympian, Morris has never been skiing or snowboarding.

Quotable: “Organization and time management are crucial in being a successful athlete, and it should go without saying that it is just as important in the Scouting community.”

Justin Krewson, luge doubles

Read our interview with Justin Krewson on Thursday.

Date of birth: July 24, 1996

Eagle Scout board of review date: Aug. 11, 2014

Eagle project: Renovated the Kent Animal Shelter on Long Island, N.Y.

Scout unit: Troop 221 of Manorville, N.Y. (Suffolk County Council)

Olympics experience: First Olympics

Competition date: Wednesday, Feb. 14. Krewson and his doubles partner, Andrew Sherk, will have two runs. The times are combined to determine the winner.

  • Run 1: Scheduled to begin at 6:20 a.m. ET Feb. 14
  • Run 2: Scheduled to begin at 7:40 a.m. ET Feb. 14

How to watch:

  • Live coverage on NBCSN. Replays that afternoon on NBC.
  • Livestream of both runs: Here
  • Viewing tip: When watching, it’ll be helpful to know that Krewson is the top driver.

Interesting fact: Krewson is a member of the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department.

Quotable: “When you tell people [you’re an Eagle Scout], they get this awe. Like, no way. It’s not a very common thing that people get.”

Eagle Scout Chris Fogt (right) with fellow bobsledder Justin Olsen. Chris Fogt, four-man bobsled

Read our interview with Chris Fogt on Friday.

Date of birth: May 29, 1983

Eagle Scout board of review date: March 16, 2000

Eagle project: Mapped a cemetery so families could find and visit loved ones

Scout unit: Varsity Team 851 of Highland, Utah (Utah National Parks Council)

Olympics experience: Third Olympics. Fogt earned a bronze medal in the 2014 Olympics and finished 22nd in the 2010 Olympics.

Competition dates: Two runs on Saturday, Feb. 24, and two on Sunday, Feb. 25. The four times are added up, and the fastest total time determines the winner. Fogt is a push athlete for the sled driven by Justin Olsen. Nathan Weber and Carlo Valdes are his fellow push athletes.

  • Run 1: Scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 24
  • Run 2: Scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m. ET Feb. 24
  • Run 3: Scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 25
  • Run 4: Scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m. ET Feb. 25

How to watch:

  • Live in primetime on NBC.
  • Livestream of Runs 1 and 2: Here
  • Livestream of Runs 3 and 4: Here
  • Viewing tip: Fogt’s position is in the back of the sled.

Interesting fact: A soldier in the U.S. Army, Fogt spent a year deployed in Iraq shortly after the the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Quotable: “I had a positive experience coming through the Scouting program. Being a shy kid, Scouting helped me find my voice and shape the man I am now.”

Other Eagle Scout Olympians

Meet the seven Eagle Scouts who competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Hat tip: Thanks to Scott Olson and Ryan Larson for the research assistance.

‘CBS Sunday Morning’ examines past, present, future of Boy Scouts of America

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For 108 years, “the Scouts have never failed to live up to the motto: Be Prepared. So are they prepared for the challenge of a changing America?”

And so began the Feb. 4, 2018, episode of CBS Sunday Morning. The 90-minute newsmagazine, which averages between 5 million and 6 million viewers a week, made the Boy Scouts of America its cover story on Sunday.

From my seat on the couch, the 7-minute, 53-second segment answered that opening question with a resounding yes.

Yes, the BSA is prepared to meet the needs of busy families with programs that appeal to every family member — moms and dads, sons and daughters.

In doing so, as the Sunday Morning piece made clear, the BSA won’t forget what has gotten it to 108 years and counting: a movement that prepares young people to make ethical and moral choices throughout their lives.

‘Not just any Sunday’

The piece aired on a Sunday that was “not just any Sunday,” host Jane Pauley said. “No, not because of the Super Bowl. Today is Scout Sunday — a run-up to this week’s 108th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America.”

In the ensuing segment, journalist Tony Dokoupil sought to cover the past, present and future of the BSA.

He visited the Cascade Pacific Council, headquartered in Portland, Ore., to meet some of the country’s first girl Cub Scouts.

Jordana Garcia, 8, was among them. She had been coming to her brother’s Cub Scout meetings for years.

“Sometimes he would do carving and other stuff, and I just had to sit in the car and just do my notebook,” she said.

Not anymore. Now Jordana is a proud Wolf in Pack 4. She’s ready to earn the awards she’s seen her brother receive.

Traditions new and old

Welcoming girls into Cub Scouting this year and a Boy Scout-age program next year doesn’t mean losing sight of what got us here: a commitment to the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

To investigate that, Dokoupil headed to the mountains of Utah.

There he found Troop 1262 of Salt Lake City. When he arrived, the Scouts were busy building campfires and igloos — “the kind of outdoor adventure that’s defined the Boy Scouts of America for more than 100 years.”

That served as a perfect segue to an at-a-glance history of the BSA and some of its more famous Eagle Scout alumni: billionaire Michael Bloomberg, president Gerald Ford and astronaut Neil Armstrong among them.

‘Kids want what we have’

Dokoupil’s final stop was to see Michael Surbaugh, another famous Eagle Scout who serves as the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive.

“Kids want what we have,” Surbaugh told Dokoupil. “The traditional aspects of outdoors, camping, adventure, hiking. This is what we do.”

Dokoupil then returned to Troop 1262, revealing that most of its members are Burmese refugees. The troop, which Aaron Derr covered for this blog last year, gives these young men an opportunity to shine.

Dokoupil asked leader Saborn Va what the guys in Troop 1262 would be doing without Scouting.

“I’ll tell you what the boys told me: ‘If it wasn’t for Scouting, I’d probably be involved with a gang somewhere.’ Because that’s what all their friends are,” Va said.

Watch the segment below

Top 5 merit badges to make your Groundhog Day more ful-Phil-ling

Bryan On Scouting -

It’s Groundhog Day, and there’s just one question on everyone’s mind:

Will Scouting magazine release a list of the top five merit badges to celebrate this essential holiday?

The answer: Yes.

Mammal Study

Ah, the groundhog. Marmota monax. America’s cuddliest rodent.

Scouts who really want to burrow in and study the groundhog should earn the Mammal Study merit badge.

For that one, they’ll zero in on a specific mammal to photograph, track and observe.

But wait. I just remembered humans are mammals, too. In a close reading of the Mammal Study merit badge requirements, I see nothing precluding a Scout from selecting humans as their mammal.

And if you’re going to study a human, it might as well be Bill Murray. Begin your study with a viewing of the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

Snow Sports

Expecting six more weeks of winter? That’s actually good news for Scouts and Venturers.

After all, Scouting doesn’t pause in the winter. It just gets bundled up in non-cotton layers.

Six weeks is plenty of time to earn the Snow Sports merit badge, where Scouts get to try one of these four winter sports: snowshoeing, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding.

After that, they’ll be ready to thaw out by the fire with a good movie. Maybe something like the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

Wilderness Survival

Groundhogs are known across the animal kingdom for their impressive underground shelters.

These burrows can be more than 60 feet long with multiple chambers, levels and points of entry.

But groundhogs aren’t the only mammals who build awesome shelters. Scouts improvise — and spend a night in — a natural shelter when working on my favorite merit badge: Wilderness Survival.

One thing to keep in mind about a shelter is that there’s no electricity inside. That means no way to watch your VHS copy of the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.


Groundhogs, like Scouts, will eat most commonly grown vegetables. (Other than okra, of course. Even a hungry Scout has limits.)

For the Gardening merit badge, Scouts must grow six vegetables. While it’s not specifically stated that Scouts should feed those vegetables to groundhogs, I’m sure Punxsutawney Phil and his cousins wouldn’t mind.

Just don’t bring up requirement 7 around the old G-hogs. They won’t like knowing you’re going to “identify five garden pests” and recommend two solutions for getting rid of them.

Speaking of getting rid of things, have you heard of a movie about a man who can’t seem rid himself of an endless time loop? It’s the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.


According to one analysis, Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions have been positively paltry. He’s been right just 39 percent of the time.

But don’t kick that groundhog to the curb just yet. (Actually never kick groundhogs!)

It’s a little-known fact that groundhogs are remarkably accurate at predicting whether it’s raining. If the groundhog’s fur is wet, it is currently raining. If not, it’s not.

Scouts who want to learn some real meteorological techniques should earn the Weather merit badge.

Speaking of weather, did you know Bill Murray plays a weatherman named Phil in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell?

What’d I miss?

What other merit badges belong on this list?

Remember the rule: This is a Top 5 list, not a Top 6 or Top 7. If you add one, you must say which one you’d remove.

More in this series

Click here for more “Top 5 merit badges” fun.

Scouts in Action story in Boys’ Life inspires Cub Scout to save a life

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One of the most popular sections of Boys’ Life magazine is Scouts in Action, a cartoon-style retelling of a true story of life-saving heroism.

What you might not know is that it’s sometimes difficult to convince a heroic Scout to let the BL editors tell his story in the magazine.

“I don’t need the extra recognition,” they often say.

“I was just doing what anyone would have done,” they say.

The counterargument to that, say the BL editors, is that by telling these stories, we aren’t just recognizing a single Scout. We are inspiring all Boys’ Life readers to act.

We’re saying, “You, too, can do this. You have the training. You’re prepared. You, too, can be a hero.”

Zoning in on Scouts in Action

Soon after Brendan Fatora joined Pack 219 in Fort Mill, S.C., as a Tiger last fall, he and his father Chuck sat down together and started reading Boys’ Life.

“He really zoned in on Scouts in Action,” Chuck Fatora says. “I read one to him, then he made me read another.”

One of the stories they read was the account of an 11-year-old Tenderfoot Scout who saved his sister from choking by performing abdominal thrusts. Brendan was fascinated. It was the first time the 6-year-old had heard of that technique.

What are the chances that the very next day … the very next day … the boy sitting next to Brendan at lunch would begin choking on his food?

According to paperwork filed by the Palmetto Council, “Brendan did not hesitate to act and pushed on the victim’s stomach. … After coughing and the involvement of a teacher, his classmate survived.”

When he got home from school later that day, Chuck says his son rather nonchalantly told him what had happened.

“I didn’t want my best friend to die,” Brendan said. “Boys’ Life magazine actually helped me, because he could have died.”

A proud father

His dad, understandably, was surprised and moved.

“He did just what the picture was in your magazine,” Chuck says.

Brendan will receive a Medal of Merit in a ceremony later this spring. He was also named the Palmetto Council’s “Scout of the Month” for January 2018.

“The point is,” says Chuck, “he didn’t not act, which is what I’m really proud of.

“Every time we get a new issue (of Boys’ Life), the first thing we read is Scouts in Action.”

Further reading

Click here for more true stories of Scouts in Action.

Click here for more information on how the BL editors choose the subjects of Scouts in Action.

Where do World Friendship Fund funds go? To help other people at all times

Bryan On Scouting -

You’ve probably heard of the World Friendship Fund. You might even have donated a few bucks to the cause at summer camp, roundtable, a training session like Wood Badge or a Scout’s Own worship service.

But what is the World Friendship Fund? How did it start? And where do World Friendship Fund funds go?

I checked with Janine Halverson, director of the BSA’s International Department, for the details.

The timing is perfect because from Feb. 1 to 15 every year — timed to coincide with the BSA’s birthday on Feb. 8 — Scout Shops join the World Friendship Fund effort.

Visitors to Scout Shops are encouraged to donate $1 or more to the World Friendship Fund. You may also make a one-time or recurring gift online.

What is the World Friendship Fund?

The World Friendship Fund takes voluntary contributions from Scouts and leaders and uses that money toward projects to help Scouting associations in less-fortunate countries.

Remember, we are not alone. Scouting is global, and the Boy Scouts of America is merely one of 169 different National Scout Organizations. There are more than 40 million Scouts and adult volunteers worldwide, according to the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Since the inception of the World Friendship fund, American Scouts and leaders have donated $11 million to support Scouts in other countries.

How did the World Friendship Fund start?

World War II was especially painful to Scouting worldwide. Scouts in many war-torn countries lost everything. They needed help to restart their Scouting programs.

In response to these Scouts’ needs, the BSA established the World Friendship Fund.

Where do World Friendship Fund donations go?

Donations help Scouts around the world with Scouting literature, uniforms, summer camp equipment, computers and other Scouting-related supplies.

The United States Fund for International Scouting (USFIS) is a subcommittee appointed by the National International Committee. They meet every February, May and October to review submitted grant proposals and vote on their approval.

When awarding a grant, the USFIS looks for projects that would assist a large percentage of the Scouts in the National Scout Organization. The projects should enhance Scouting in a significant way. Individual units aren’t eligible. Neither are Scouts from unrecognized Scout organizations.

Who are some recent World Friendship Fund beneficiaries?

Guatemala Scout Association: Scout leaders in Guatemala wanted to host the 2015 Inter-American Leadership Training. The six-day leadership and team-building course improved the skills of young Scout leaders from throughout the Inter-American Region of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. The training helped Scouting not just in Guatemala but also in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru and beyond.

The Scout Association of Mongolia: As part of its Safe Scouting project, Mongolia wanted to provide showers, modern toilet facilities and clean water for hand washing at its National Scout Camp. After the project was completed, the camp hosted several events, including a National Risk Management Workshop for the entire Asia-Pacific Region.

Pakistan Boy Scouts Association: Scout leaders in Pakistan sought to renovate and update the Scout Center at their National Camp. Improvements included adding new plaster for the building, rewiring electrical cables, treating the roof, adding an audio-visual system and more. The building, seen in the before-and-after photo above, was opened Feb. 7, 2017.

Asociación de Scouts de Nicaragua: Nicaragua’s Scout association wanted to reconstruct its national auditorium, which was in such disrepair it posed safety and environmental concerns. The rebuilt auditorium will be safer and have more air flow and natural light.

How to donate to the World Friendship Fund

Do your Good Turn for the globe. Donate to the World Friendship Fund today.

How to promote the World Friendship Fund

Collections for the World Friendship Fund can be organized during camporees, roundtable meetings, den and pack meetings, summer camping programs, blue and gold banquets, or any other Scout activity.

At many Wood Badge courses, offerings at the nondenominational worship service go to the World Friendship Fund.

World Friendship Fund brochures, posters and labels are available through your local council.

Download a printable PDF flier here.

Register for the 2019 World Scout Jamboree

Want to experience just how global Scouting really is? Register to attend the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.


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