Scouting News from the Internet

How to reduce waste at your Scout unit’s pancake breakfast or spaghetti dinner

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Peace out, plastic utensils. See ya, styrofoam. Ciao, coffee creamers in individual packets.

By instituting some simple, environmentally friendly changes, Troops 3, 5 and 9 of Wilmette, Ill., have dramatically reduced their waste at the troops’ annual pancake breakfast.

How dramatic? Consider that the event, a major fundraiser for these Northeast Illinois Council troops, usually generates about 15 to 20 bags of garbage.

Then check the numbers after the Scouts and leaders “greenified” the event: just one or two bags.

“We would like to scale this to the other troops as well,” says Troop 5 parent Nicole Boomgaarden.

Boomgaarden sent me the troop’s not-so-secret method and said I could share it here. The approach also could work with similar, meal-based fundraisers like spaghetti dinners.

An idea is born

It all started when some Scouts and leaders questioned whether the event could be better for the Earth.

“It was very well received,” Boomgaarden says, “especially given that Scouts have two applicable merit badges: Sustainability and Environmental Science.”

What they did

Here are some highlights:

  • Replaced styrofoam plates with certified compostable plates, 100 percent paper plates (the Chinet brand is ideal, the troop says) or reusable china plates for the facilities that had a commercial dishwasher.
  • Swapped plastic utensils with either reusable or compostable utensils.
  • Got rid of plastic cups for orange juice in favor of reusable or compostable cups.
  • Switched hot coffee/tea cups to reusable or compostable cups.
  • Eliminated one-time-use plastic tablecloths.
  • Replaced small, individual coffee creamers (not recycled) with half-gallons of creamer to be recycled.
  • Set up a four-bin waste station in one or two locations. The stations: compost, recycling, garbage and liquids.
  • Recruited one to two Scouts to man each station to ensure that guests disposed of items properly.
  • Made table tents to publicize the greening efforts of the troop.
  • Asked the youth leaders to summarize their efforts as a procedural document to be used for each subsequent year as leadership turns over.

Your thoughts below

Has your unit made similar environmentally friendly changes? Sound off below.

BSA reaffirms Duty to God aspect of all programs through resolution adopted at 2018 National Annual Meeting

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When a young person joins the Boy Scouts of America, one of the first things he or she learns is the Scout Oath, and every member starts the Oath the same way:

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God …”

The wording was not created at random. Duty to God has been one of the most important principles of Scouting from the beginning. In fact, in 1916, James E. West, the BSA’s first Chief Scout Executive, helped install what is now known as the “Declaration of Religious Principle” into the original BSA constitution and by-laws, and it remains there today.

Underscoring just how important it is, the BSA National Executive Board met at the 2018 National Annual Meeting last week in Dallas and adopted a resolution that reaffirms the organization’s Duty to God.

The resolution reads as follows:

Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board Resolution Reaffirming Duty to God

WHEREAS the foundational values of the Boy Scouts of America are reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law;

WHEREAS the first part of the Scout Oath declares “On my honor I will do my best to do my Duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;”

WHEREAS the Declaration of Religious Principle in Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America states that:

The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgement of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental of good citizenship should be kept before them.

WHEREAS the twelfth point of the Scout Law is Reverent and while the Boy Scouts of America is absolutely nonsectarian in its view of religious training, Reverent means that a Scout is faithful in his or her religious duties and respects the beliefs of others; and

WHEREAS these faith-based tenets have been a part of the Boy Scouts of America since it was founded and, notwithstanding any changes to Scouting programs, the commitment of the movement to Duty to God is unwavering;

Now therefore be it resolved that the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America hereby reaffirms its unequivocal commitment to the Declaration of Religious Principle as a fundamental component of the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.



Meet the two new volunteers on the BSA’s National Key 3

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The Boy Scouts of America’s national board last week elected two new volunteers to join our National Key 3.

Jim Turley, the former chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young who has served as a Scouting volunteer for nearly 25 years, has been elected national chair.

Ellie Morrison, an assistant Scoutmaster from Waco who has helped develop proven methods for creating and growing Scouting units, has been elected national commissioner.

Along with Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, Turley and Morrison form the National Key 3.

Today, let’s meet these two dedicated, outstanding volunteers.

National Chair: Jim Turley

Jim Turley has been a Scouting volunteer at the local and national levels since 1994. In 2002, he joined the BSA’s National Executive Board. Seven years later, in 2009, he received the Silver Buffalo Award — Scouting’s highest honor for volunteers.

He also served as president of the Greater St. Louis Area Council from 2016 to 2018.

Turley steps into the role of national chair — the new name for this position previously called national president. He’s the 37th person in BSA history to hold this role, which has responsibilities that include serving as chairman of meetings of the National Council and providing oversight to the BSA’s strategic plan.

In 2013, Turley retired from a 37-year career at the accounting firm Ernst & Young. He started with the company in Houston and eventually became global chairman and CEO, serving in that role for 12 years.

On his blog, Surbaugh wrote that Turley “consistently has shared a strong vision for the future of the BSA and a deep commitment to providing more families — and all kids — access to the very best character and leadership development program available.”

National Commissioner: Ellie Morrison

Ellie Morrison becomes the 11th national commissioner of the BSA — a position first held by Daniel Carter Beard. She is the first woman to serve in the role.

Like commissioners at all levels of Scouting, the national commissioner is an experienced Scouter who helps chartered organizations and unit leaders achieve the aims of Scouting.

Morrison’s impact on Scouting has been felt in many ways.

She chaired the New Unit Task Force — a collaboration of membership and commissioner service. This is the group that wrote the Unit Performance Guide, which is the accepted best way of organizing new units.

Morrison also chaired the team that created the Commissioner Award of Excellence for Unit Service — an honor for commissioners symbolized by a gold square knot on a red background.

Morrison was a key member of the committee that designed Wood Badge for the 21st Century. She also served on staff at the pilot course.

In 2013, Morrison received the Silver Buffalo Award. But she didn’t stop there. Her efforts to promote the New Member Coordinator position, including serving as the first chair of the New Member Coordinator Task Force, have helped new Scouting families feel welcomed into Scouting.

Morrison is still active as an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 308 in Waco and continues to serve as a unit commissioner.

Outside of Scouting, Morrison has served First United Methodist Church in Waco, Texas, in many roles, including director of Christian education and children’s ministries.

The importance of the Key 3

There’s a Key 3 at every level of Scouting. These are the top three individuals within each segment of the BSA: unit, district, council, area, region and national.

The National Key 3 includes our national chair (previously called national president), Chief Scout Executive and national commissioner. These three individuals — two volunteers and one professional — are responsible for guiding our great organization.

Turley and Morrison are joined in the Key 3 by Surbuagh, who became the BSA’s 13th Chief Scout Executive in 2015. The Chief Scout Executive, a role first held by James E. West, is the top professional in Scouting and the only person on the National Key 3 who is not a volunteer.

Surbaugh is an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow. He began his BSA career in 1984 as a district executive in Jacksonville, Fla.

How the NYLT Leadership Academy takes your council’s NYLT course to the next level

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Ready to take your council’s National Youth Leadership Training to the next level?

Encourage one or more of your youth NYLT staffers to attend the NYLT Leadership Academy.

To understand NYLT Leadership Academy, you must first understand NYLT. NYLT is a council-offered leadership training experience for young people. Scouts and Venturers leave NYLT as more effective leaders of troops, crews and ships. In many units, the top leader (troop senior patrol leader, crew president, ship boatswain) is required to complete NYLT.

To have the most productive NYLT course possible, you want to give NYLT youth staff members the right tools to be excellent leaders, presenters and trainers.

That’s where the NYLT Leadership Academy comes in.

It’s all about training the trainers and is designed for youth who staff their home council’s NYLT course.

NYLT Leadership Academy is offered four times in July at three different locations: St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Who can attend NYLT Leadership Academy?

The weeklong course is for Scouts and Venturers who meet these qualifications:

  • Have served, or have been selected to serve, on the youth staff of a local council National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) course.
  • Have completed your council’s NYLT. If a participant’s council does not have a youth leader training program, he or she may still qualify by working with a council representative to become familiar with the NYLT Staff Guide.
  • Have earned the First Class rank or above (Boy Scouts only). All Venturers are eligible.
  • Be 14 by the opening day of course but not yet 18. Venturers must not have turned 21.
  • Be willing to take back to the council’s NYLT the knowledge and skills acquired at the NYLT Leadership Academy.
When was NYLT Leadership Academy founded?

It was founded 13 years ago and is the successor to the National Junior Leader Instructor Camp (NJLIC) courses originally taught at Philmont Scout Ranch and Schiff Scout Reservation.

Sidebar: As a graduate of NJLIC myself, I’m glad to see the legacy of that fun, transformative course continues today.

What’s the purpose of NYLT Leadership Academy?

To train youth staff to be world-class presenters, evaluators and leaders of their home council’s NYLT courses.

Who teaches NYLT Leadership Academy?

Outstanding youth from all parts of the country.

What’s the feedback about the course?

Councils who regularly send youth to the NYLT Leadership Academy report more prepared and confident youth staff, resulting in significant improvements in the quality of their NYLT courses.

Many councils require their NYLT SPLs to be NYLT Leadership Academy graduates.

Scouts and Venturers, meanwhile, say it’s the best leadership development program they have experienced.

When’s it offered?

Every summer in Washington, D.C., St. Louis, and Los Angeles.

Are scholarships available?

Yes, if your council sends enough youth to qualify. See this site for details.

Where can I learn more?


Video: The youth perspective on NYLT Leadership Academy

National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch opens to public June 8

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The National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico will open to the public beginning June 8 — just in time for trekkers, families attending conferences and visitors to be among the first to venture into this 19,500-square-foot home of BSA history.

On May 29, more than 1,100 guests and Philmont staffers witnessed the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Philmont Ranch Committee Chairmen Jim Ryffel addressed the crowd. He told them about the new museum and encouraged the staff to deliver another amazing summer to the 22,000 participants who will arrive soon at the BSA’s high-adventure home for hiking.

The museum will open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. beginning June 8.

Think of this as a sneak preview before the building’s official dedication ceremony on Sept. 15. Everyone is invited; see the special “Save the Date” below.

What to expect

The National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch combines the National Scouting Museum, previously located in Irving, Texas, and the Philmont Museum – Seton Memorial Library.

“These two historic institutions are now one comprehensive museum which will tell the story and preserve the legacies of the Boy Scouts of America,” says Kevin Dowling, Philmont’s general manager.

That means visitors can experience firsthand the 108-year history of the BSA through priceless Scouting artifacts and fascinating exhibits. They’ll learn the story of Scouting, the Order of the Arrow, Philmont and the American Southwest.

Although Philmont had a museum at base camp for many years, a much bigger structure was needed. Museum architects from Santa Fe, N.M., were hired, and the buzz of design and construction began.

A year and a half later, the beautiful new museum facility is ready to welcome guests. It faces the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the west. Native grasses of the high plains surround it.

The 19,500 square feet of interior space allows for a gift shop, library with reading room and visiting scholar’s room, two large exhibit halls, and an 88-person conference room. A big workshop, administration area and two-room collection storage area are new luxuries for the staff.

Philmont’s 2018 staff poses in front of the National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch. Moving west

In December 2016, the BSA announced it would relocate its National Scouting Museum to Philmont. The new location offers the chance to introduce the BSA’s rich history to the 32,000 people who visit Philmont each year.

In September 2017, the BSA closed the doors of the museum’s former home in Irving. It then began the careful process of transporting the vast collection west.

A year later, on Sept. 15, 2018, the museum will hold a special grand opening. Be sure to save the date!

Three other museums to visit when you’re at Philmont

The Villa Philmonte is a Spanish mansion built in 1927. It was the summer home of Waite and Genevieve Phillips. In 1938 and 1941 they gave 127,500 acres of land to the Boy Scouts of America. These are the gifts that made Philmont Scout Ranch possible.

The Kit Carson Museum at Rayado is an interpretive site where staff members dress in period clothing and live the life of the 1850s — a time of mountain men and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail.

The Chase Ranch House of 1869 was the home of Manly and Theresa Chase. They arrived from Colorado with nothing but a wagon, a few tools, some pots and pans and a couple of horses. They built a highly regarded ranch and made smart decisions that are still the foundation of ranching in northern New Mexico today.

Thanks to Nancy Klein, Dominic Baima and Michael Roytek for the info and photos.

When his professor collapsed in class, this Eagle Scout performed CPR

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CPR is one of the few Scouting skills you hope you never have to use.

But when University of Missouri student Eric Prullage’s professor collapsed, the Eagle Scout put his first-aid training to the test. His actions likely saved the professor’s life.

On Feb. 2, 2018, Prullage, who turns 23 this month, was in his biochemistry lab with nine other students.

The students were “performing experiments at their lab tables when they heard a loud noise and turned around to find that their professor, Shuqun Zhang, had suffered a major cardiac event and collapsed to the floor,” according to this story from Mizzou News, an official communications outlet for the university.

The senior immediately called 911 and administered CPR, “which he had learned as an Eagle Scout,” the story says.

Prullage acted quickly, stayed calm and knew the right way to render aid. In short, he did what you’d expect a Scout to do.

But despite his heroic act, Prullage doesn’t think he deserves all this praise.

“I’d like to think I just did what anybody else would do in that situation,” he told Mizzou News.

In short, he said what you’d expect a Scout to say.

A full recovery

Zhang was in a coma for 12 days, and, after a few months of rest, he returned to the classroom. Doctors declared he had made a full recovery.

“If Eric hadn’t called 911 and done CPR right away, I don’t think I ever would have been able to come back to teach,” Zhang told Mizzou News. “When blood stops flowing to the brain, brain cells start to die due to the lack of oxygen.”

Prullage graduated this month with a degree in biochemistry.

It’s just the latest great accomplishment for this young man who earned Scouting’s highest honor on March 20, 2012, as a member of Troop 11 of Jefferson City, Mo., part of the Great Rivers Council.

Here are the 2018 recipients of the region-level Silver Antelope Award

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There are three Silver-level awards for Scout volunteers: the Silver Beaver for council-level service, the Silver Antelope for regional service and the Silver Buffalo for national service.

The Silver Beaver is presented by councils, usually at an annual banquet. The Silver Antelope and Silver Buffalo awards are presented at the BSA’s annual meeting, which this year is being held in Dallas.

On Wednesday, I shared the list of 2018 Silver Buffalo Award recipients. Today, it’s time to name the 2018 Silver Antelope Award recipients. There are 32 recipients in all — eight from each of the BSA’s four regions: Central, Northeast, Southern and Western.

Last year, I shared a list of every Silver Antelope Award recipient from 2010 through 2017, but from this year on, the Silver Antelopes will get their own annual post.

The Silver Antelope Award was created in 1942, and today these Scouters join the impressive club. They’ll receive an orange-and-white knot to wear on their uniforms, an orange-and-white ribbon medal, a lapel pin and, naturally, a certificate.


Central Region
  • Ronald Blaisdell, Michigan Crossroads Council, Livonia Mich.
  • Julie Dalton, Quivira Council, Wichita, Kan.
  • Darryl Dillenback, Buckeye Council, North Canton, Ohio
  • David Ehrlich, Michigan Crossroads Council, Farmington Hills, Mich.
  • Daniel Gille, Three Harbors Council, Brookfield, Wis.
  • Jeffrey Hahn, Bay-Lakes Council, Appleton, Wis.
  • Al Kent, Greater St. Louis Area Council, Chesterfield, Mo.
  • Robert “Bob” Palmer, Crossroads of America Council, Indianapolis
Northeast Region
  • Robert Black Jr., Baden-Powell Council, Vestal, N.Y.
  • Salvatore Ciampo, Theodore Roosevelt Council, Bethpage, N.Y.
  • Russell DeVore, Columbia-Montour Council, Bloomsburg, Pa.
  • Julia Farr, National Capital Area Council, Fairfax, Va.
  • William Pfundt, Washington Crossing Council, Newtown, Pa.
  • Sven Rundman III, National Capital Area Council, Fredricksburg, Va.
  • William “Trey” Shupert, Baltimore Area Council, Monkton, Md.
  • Barry Williams, Baltimore Area Council, Randallstown, Md.
Southern Region
  • Dorothy Brown, Greater Tampa Bay Council, Tampa, Fla.
  • Donna Copeland, Cherokee Area Council, Bartlesville, Okla.
  • Robbie Hill Jr., Blue Ridge Council, Laurens, S.C.
  • Stanley Hoff, South Florida Council, Weston, Fla.
  • Michael Sexton, Stonewall Jackson Council, Lexington, Va.
  • Angela Smith, Longhorn Council, Decatur, Texas
  • Robert Terry, Central Florida Council, Lake Mary, Fla.
  • Andrew Uhrich, Coastal Carolina Council, Moncks Corner, S.C.
Western Region
  • Francis Bouchard, Catalina Council, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Janet Griffin, Great Salt Lake Council, Herriman, Utah
  • James Kunz, Great Southwest Council, Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Rebecca Mesker, Golden Empire Council, Sacramento, Calif.
  • Barry Rettowski, Inland Northwest Council, Spokane Valley, Wash.
  • Judd Stiff, Pacific Skyline Council, Los Altos, Calif.
  • Lester “Rick” TerBorch, Los Padres, Arroyo Grande, Calif.
  • Lisa Wylie, Chief Seattle Council, Redmond, Wash.

These super Scouts joined Craig’s Creek Crew and cleaned up their communities

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When Scouts pass litter on the trail, they pick it up. After pack or troop meetings, Scouts return tables and chairs where they belong. Before Scouts leave a campsite, they comb for garbage  — even picking up what previous tenants left behind.

In short, Scouts always leave places better than they find them.

Over the past month, you’ve been sharing photos from these acts of Scouting service as part of a special contest from Cartoon Network’s Craig of the Creek. The first 2,000 to share a photo will receive a special Craig of the Creek patch.

There’s still time to share your photos, but you better hurry. The promotion ends May 28, 2018.

Cub Scout service projects

Today, let’s look at some of my favorite photos from the contest so far.

Pack 40, Taunton, Mass. Pack 53, Morganville, N.J. Pack 60, College Station, Texas Pack 128, Bensalem, Pa. Pack 260, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas Pack 334, Pompano Beach, Fla. Pack 493, Silver Spring, Md. Quincy from Bismarck, N.D.

Who places the flags at Arlington National Cemetery gravesites for Memorial Day?

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Across the country this weekend, packs, troops, crews and ships will take part in a solemn Memorial Day tradition: placing flags at the graves of men and women who died serving our country.

If your Scout unit will be a part of this patriotic ritual, read this list of tips from my colleague Michael Freeman before heading out.

Michael’s post got me wondering. I know Scouts are an essential part of placing flags at local and national cemeteries, but who places all those flags at the hallowed Arlington National Cemetery?

The cemetery has more than 228,000 headstones, and each gets an American flag prior to Memorial Day weekend. Who does all that grueling, but important, work?

Sheldon Coffelt (back to camera) participated in the 2014 “Flags In” ceremony. ‘The Old Guard’

I got the answer from Bob Coffelt, a Class of 1977 Eagle Scout from Indiana.

He said it’s the responsibility of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment — “The Old Guard.” These men and women, best known for guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, place every flag in a period of about four hours, Coffelt says.

When you add in 7,000 flags at the bottom of the columbarium’s niche rows, that means they place 235,000 flags at a rate of 58,750 flags per hour.

How does Coffelt know so much about this practice? His son, also an Eagle Scout, is a member of The Old Guard.

Sheldon Coffelt (right side, back) folded the American flag during a military burial. Eagle Scout and soldier

Army Spc. Sheldon Coffelt was selected to join this elite team during basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.

To be selected, a person must meet height and weight requirements, pass an aptitude test, and receive presidential clearance. Of course, being an Eagle Scout helps.

Sheldon Coffelt received Scouting’s highest honor on Dec. 27, 2007, as a member of Troop 730 of Warsaw, Ind., part of the Anthony Wayne Area Council.

During his time at Fort Myer, Va., he has been a member of the rifle team, carried caskets for fallen soldiers, assisted families in the chapel, participated in numerous wreath-laying ceremonies, performed special missions (sometimes at the Pentagon) and marched in the presidential inauguration parade.

This week, for the fifth time in his military career, Sheldon Coffelt will join his fellow Old Guard soldiers in the ceremony, known as “Flags In.” The soldiers will place small American flags at each headstone and at the bottom of each niche row in the cemetery’s Columbarium Courts.

All flags are removed after Memorial Day, before each cemetery opens to the public.

Philmont Training Center courses ideal for anyone involved in tracking advancement 

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If you’re the man or woman who tracks advancement for your Scout unit, here’s an opportunity to get trained, have fun and spend a week at one of the greatest places in the Scouting universe.

In other words, I think you’ll find these Philmont Training Center courses will meet all of your requirements and more.

There are two courses available:

Mechanics of Advancement, held June 17 to 23, is for new advancement administrators or unit, district or council volunteers and professionals who could use a refresher on advancement procedures. (And, really, who wouldn’t benefit from that?)

Advancement Issues and Solutions, held Aug. 5 to 11, is for experienced volunteer advancement administrators who want to take their game to the next level.

If that’s all the info you need, stop reading right now and go register.

If you need further convincing, read on.

Mechanics of Advancement

June 17 to 23, 2018

  • Presenters are experts in advancement issues and have a full understanding of the Guide to Advancement
  • This course is for new advancement administrators or unit, district, or council volunteers and professionals in need of a refresher on advancement procedures.
  • Attendees will gain an in-depth understanding of the essentials of advancement.
  • Attendees will gain an appreciation for the rationale behind the policies and procedures governing advancement.
  • Discussions will focus on effective ways to resolve advancement issues and challenges that arise.
Advancement Issues and Solutions

Aug. 5 to 11, 2018

  • This conference is designed for experienced volunteer advancement administrators in the unit, district and council.
  • This includes advancement coordinators, chairs, committee members, and staff advisors.Here you will share ideas with other committed advancement administrators.
  • You will learn about the latest updates on advancement issues.
  • You will analyze, discuss, and solve case studies similar to those regularly dealt with by the National Advancement Program Team and the Eagle, Summit, Quartermaster Issues Task Force.
  • You will gain a better understanding of the effective use of the Guide to Advancement and the confidence to handle difficult issues at your level.

Order of the Arrow to open unit elections to Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts beginning Feb. 1, 2019

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The National Order of the Arrow Committee today approved some exciting updates to Scouting’s national honor society.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2019, unit elections will be permitted in Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships. Previously, elections only were for Boy Scout troops.

The Order of the Arrow, or OA, has welcomed female leaders since 1988. Today’s announcement means women and girls who are under 21 will be eligible for election into the service-minded society as well.

What’s changing?

The new requirements to be eligible for election will be as follows:

  • Have experienced 15 nights of camping while registered with a troop, crew or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the BSA. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement; the balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each. Ship nights may be counted as camping for Sea Scouts.
  • At the time of their election, youth must be under the age of 21, hold the Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery Award, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster, Crew Advisor or Sea Scout Skipper, be elected by the youth members of their unit.
  • Adults (age 21 or older) who meet the camping requirements may be selected following nomination to and approval by the lodge adult selection committee.
What’s not changing?

The OA’s mission and purpose will not change.

That includes a commitment to recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives, promote responsible outdoor adventure and crystallize the Scout habit of cheerful service.

Handy infographic about today’s news

10 Scouters to receive 2018 Silver Buffalo Award, Scouting’s top honor for volunteers

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When you’re on a list that includes Neil Armstrong, Hank Aaron, Gerald Ford, Bill Gates and Walt Disney, you must have done something right.

But “something right” doesn’t begin to describe the 10 volunteers who join the list of Silver Buffalo Award recipients this year. “Something spectacular” is more like it.

Combined, they have given nearly 400 years of service to Scouting.

The Silver Buffalo Award was first presented in 1926 and is awarded to people who give noteworthy, national-level service to youth. It comes with a red-and-white Silver Buffalo Award medal, a red-and-white square knot for wear on the uniform — and the undying thanks of the BSA.

The Silver Buffalo Class of 2018 includes men and women who have served Scouting in many ways — improving training, revising the Cub Scout handbooks, encouraging Scouts to do their Duty to God, developing Scouting’s philanthropic foundation, staffing Jamborees and much more.

The 2018 recipients have distinguished themselves outside of Scouting as well. The list includes the owner of a trout farm in Georgia, a Las Vegas real estate investor and the president of the second-largest Taco Bell franchisee in the country. Also honored this year: María Molinelli, who becomes just the second person — and first woman — from Puerto Rico to receive the award.

The Silver Buffalo Awards will be presented during the the BSA’s annual meeting this week in Dallas.

2018 Silver Buffalo Award recipients, at a glance

Please join me in congratulating each of these outstanding volunteers for a job well done.

  • Linda Baker, Twin Rivers Council (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.)
  • Terry Bramlett, Northeast Georgia Council (Suches, Ga.)
  • John Brown, Pathway to Adventure Council (Forest Park, Ill.)*
  • Howard Bulloch, Las Vegas Area Council (Las Vegas)*
  • Larry Coppock, Middle Tennessee Council (Joelton, Tenn.)
  • Craig Fenneman, Hoosier Trails Council (Martinsville, Ind.)*
  • John W. Hess, Longs Peak Council (Lafayette, Colo.)*
  • William Loeble Jr., Atlanta Area Council (Covington, Ga.)*
  • María Molinelli, Puerto Rico Council (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
  • Brian Williams, Buffalo Trace Council (Evansville, Ind.)*

The * indicates the recipient is an Eagle Scout.

Linda Baker

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Teacher, Educational Researcher

For Linda Baker, education is a theme that has influenced her life and made it possible for her to positively impact others during her 40-year tenure as a Scouter. As chair of the New Member Coordinator Task Force, she has put her research on the values and expectations of millennial parents to good use in helping others understand their needs and perspectives.

Her love of learning motivated her to return to college to earn a doctorate at the University of Albany after many years of teaching English at the high school level. That educational background has served her well as a current member of the Cub Scout Handbook Revision Task Force.

A 2015 recipient of the Saratoga Good Scout Award, Baker is currently a local troop committee chair and the vice president for program for the Northeast Region. She has distinguished herself as a district commissioner, council commissioner, council membership vice president, council program vice president, area membership vice president and area camp accreditation chair.

At the council level, she is a member of the executive committee and executive board, sits on the volunteer recognitions committee, and is the Wood Badge coordinator. Her Scouting honors include the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards. Additionally, she was recognized as a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

In addition to her own Scouting accomplishments, Baker’s late husband, Charlie, was a dedicated Scouting volunteer, who was recognized with the Silver Beaver Award and was a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. Scouting was a family affair for the Bakers; her daughter acted as a behind-the-scenes BSA participant and resource while her son, an Eagle Scout, was a lodge chief and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Terry Bramlett

Suches, Ga.

Scouter, Outdoor Enthusiast

For Terry Bramlett, what drives him is “creating opportunities for more youth to participate in the Boy Scouts of America by developing tools, information, best practices, and training that build, foster, and maintain positive relationships with schools and educational organizations.” That academic focus earned him the national Elbert K. Fretwell Outstanding Educator Award this year.

An Order of the Arrow Legacy Fellow, he has also been honored with the Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award, Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards, and William T. Hornaday Gold Badge. Other honors include the Scoutmaster Award of Merit and District Award of Merit. He is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Active on the national level, Bramlett has served as chair of the Education Relationships Sub-committee and the Strategic Analysis NCAP Committee. Other memberships include New Member Coordinator Task Force, National/Community Alliances Committee, Membership Committee, Philmont Training Center faculty, and the New Unit and Retention Task Force.

Bramlett is active in the community, having served 14 years on the board of education, and also serving on the school council and as PTO president. Additionally, he volunteers with Relay for Life and the Special Olympics. He is a deacon at Sugar Hill Baptist Church.

A business owner and outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys travel, water sports, riding motorcycles, hunting and fishing. He and his wife, Ruth, have two children: Eagle Scout Payton Bramlett, Esq., and Dr. Leigh Ann Bramlett.

John Brown

Forest Park, Ill.

Eagle Scout, Educator

Among John Brown’s proudest accomplishments in Scouting was being chosen in 1971 as the Scoutmaster of the Chicago area contingent to the world Scout jamboree in Japan.

That experience allowed him to learn much about the host country and its culture, while also shouldering and fulfilling the responsibility granted him.

During his 65-year tenure as a Scouter, Brown has served on the staff at 24 National Order of the Arrow Conferences and 10 national Scout jamborees. He was also appointed national headquarters staff for the world jamboree in Holland as well as the national staff for world jamborees in England and Sweden.

An Eagle Scout with a Silver Palm, he has received the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award, the District Award of Merit, and the Order of the Arrow Founder’s Award. He is a Vigil Honor member and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Order of the Arrow. On a regional level he has completed the Wood Badge course, and taught on the staff at Philmont.

As a youngster, he recalls being mesmerized as he watched older Scouts in his neighborhood church enjoy meetings and other activities and then head off to Scout camp. At that time, he decided that he must become a Scout.

Brown is now active at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois, where he also serves as historian for Troop 120. He encourages the Scouts in the troop to work to achieve the highest honors possible in Scouting and in life and to live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

A retired educator, Brown and his wife, Ethel, have two children.

Howard Bulloch

Las Vegas

Eagle Scout, Innovative Leader

With more than 20 years in volunteer Scouting leadership, Howard Bulloch is most pleased with his role in instituting the President’s Leadership Council, a major gift-giving society, while serving as the BSA National Foundation chair. In that capacity, he was responsible for arranging several recognition art gifts to major donors and continues to devote himself to the arts by serving as a member of the National Museum Committee. Today, the President’s Leadership Council has grown to 55 member families, while the National Foundation sponsors special events for major donors each year.

Bulloch has been serving as a National Executive Board member since 2009, and is the National Advisory Council chair. A recipient of the Duty to God (LDS) award and the Silver Beaver Award, he is also a James West Fellow. At the council level, he is a former president of the Las Vegas Area Council and continues to serve as an executive board member. He is a member of the National Eagle Scout Association and the 1910 Society.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a graduate of Brigham Young University, he has supported dozens of LDS missionaries, college scholarships, and a local LDS camp for girls. From a family of 11 children, Bulloch is proud to be the first Eagle Scout in his family’s history.

The owner of an investment company, Bulloch and his wife, Cristi, have two daughters, an Eagle Scout son-in-law, and one granddaughter.

Larry Coppock

Joelton, Tenn.

Religious Leader

For Larry Coppock, a Scouter for almost 40 years, agreeing to sponsor Evan Hunsberger’s Eagle Scout service project, which updated Strength for Service to God and Country, was a watershed moment. The book of devotionals, originally published to inspire and support soldiers during World War II, has become a best-seller, with more than 550,000 copies distributed to military men and women since 9/11. As the national director of the Scouting ministry of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, this project fit beautifully into his area of expertise.

Devotion to the ministry is a prevailing theme for Coppock—both professionally and as a Scouter. He has led United Methodist chaplains and volunteers to five national jamborees, and created three Scouting awards (Shepherd Church, Silver Torch, and Good Samaritan).

For 21 years, he has served as the national director for Scouting ministries of the United Methodist Church, is a member of the Religious Relationships Committee, and served on the Duty to God Breakfast Committee. This year he is being honored with the National Duty to God Award. He is the editor of the United Methodist Scouting Guidelines book and the Scouting News newsletter.

Regional responsibilities have included directing the United Methodist Scouting ministry leader training for the high-adventure bases, providing 17 years of service at the Philmont Training Center, and initiating new denominational training at Florida National High Adventure Sea Base and the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.

Coppock and his wife, Diane, are proud of their three children and eight grandchildren.

Craig Fenneman

Martinsville, Ind.

Eagle Scout, Entrepreneur

Craig Fenneman’s proudest achievement in Scouting is having been instrumental in starting the BSA National Foundation Capital Campaign. An Eagle Scout with more than 30 years in Scouting, he has received the Silver Beaver Award, the Silver Antelope Award, and the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

A member of the Hoosier Trails Council, Fenneman has served as council, area, and regional president and has been on the National Executive Board and National Executive Committee. Other elected and awarded positions include serving as an assistant Scoutmaster, national marketing committee member, Central Region marketing vice president, and chair of the National Foundation board.

As the owner of a real estate and investment firm, he has been honored for his business acumen as the Ernst & Young Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 as well as receiving the Regional Outstanding Operations Award and the Lauraland Award for National Outstanding Development Franchisee — both from Taco Bell Corp.

A firm believer in doing his civic duty, Fenneman is involved in numerous civic and professional activities including sitting on the board of trustees for Butler University, the board of directors for the YMCA’s Camp Carson (where he received the Outstanding Volunteer Award and is a member of their Hall of Fame), and the board for United Way of Central Indiana.

Fenneman and his wife, Mary, have six children and five grandchildren.

Jack Hess

Lafayette, Colo.

Eagle Scout, Geologist

A geologist by profession and the recipient of the Geological Society of America Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Jack Hess has used his professional training to enhance his Scouting activities. His proudest achievement was serving as the incident commander for the Manti-La Sal site of the ArrowCorps5 service project. In that capacity, he helped assemble a great team of youth and adults to complete a project that has yielded positive results for the Buckhorn Wash environment in southern Utah, setting an example of service to our public lands.

With more than 50 years in Scouting, Hess has been recognized as a Distinguished Eagle Scout and received the Hornaday Gold Badge, Silver Antelope Award, Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award, and Silver Beaver Award, and earned Wood Badge beads. He is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

The Order of the Arrow has played a large role in his life, with Hess having served on the National Order of the Arrow Committee, as the chair of the Western Region Order of the Arrow, as area Order of the Arrow adviser, and, at the council level, as executive board member and lodge adviser. Hess has also served as jamboree staff and on the National NCAP Committee.

An avid outdoorsman and amateur radio buff, Hess and his wife, Letitia, have two Eagle Scout sons.

Bill Loeble

Covington, Ga.

Eagle Scout, Longtime Scouter

For Bill Loeble, being a positive influence in the lives of young men he has advised, who then grew into leaders who positively influenced the next generation, is what Scouting is all about. As a Scout for 10 years and an adult leader for 53 years, Loeble can be proud of his combined 63 years in Scouting.

Nationally, Loeble has been a member of the National Order of the Arrow Committee, the National Museum Committee, and the Membership Standards Committee, and served on staff for 13 National Order of the Arrow Conferences and two national Scout jamborees. Regionally, he has served on the executive board, was chair of the Order of the Arrow committee, and is a member of the NCAP committee.

A recipient of the District Award of Merit, Silver Beaver Award, God and Service Award, and Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award, Loeble has also earned the Silver Antelope and the Philmont Training Center Masters Track. He has earned Wood Badge beads, and served as area program vice president and area Order of the Arrow section adviser.

Loeble has served as an elder and clerk of session at the First Presbyterian Church in Covington, Ga., where he and his wife, Diane, live. They are the proud parents of a son, who is an Eagle Scout, and a daughter. They have four grandchildren.

María Molinelli

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Attorney, Inspirational Leader

For more than 30 years, María Molinelli has helped train, mentor, and inspire thousands of participants in Scouting. After holding diverse vice president positions in the Puerto Rico Council, she served as board president from 2002-2007. She continues to be involved at district, council, area, and regional levels.

When her council was struggling financially, she was tapped to use her talents to deal with the financial hardships plaguing the council and was able to pull the council out of the conditional charter in which it had been placed. In the three years since, she has continuously worked toward improving camp facilities and programs, establishing a campership program to provide financial assistance to Scouts in need, and reversing the membership loss that had afflicted the council for many years. After Hurricane Maria, she led the council’s hurricane recovery efforts.

A Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and Founder’s Award recipient, Molinelli was also adviser for Yokahú Lodge and has served on the regional Order of the Arrow committee. She helped organize the first conclave ever held in Puerto Rico.

Molinelli is a James E. West Fellow, and 1910 Society and Second Century Society member. She has been recognized by the Interamerican Scout Foundation as a member of the Order of the Condor, and she recently became a Baden-Powell Fellow for the World Scout Foundation. At the council level, she holds the Silver Beaver Award and the District Award of Merit. At the regional level, she is the recipient of the Silver Antelope Award.

Molinelli and her husband, Teófilo, have two sons, both Eagle Scouts, two daughters, and a granddaughter who will soon join Cub Scouting as a Lion.

Brian Williams

Evansville, Ind.

Eagle Scout, Attorney

As a youth, Brian Williams was proudest of becoming an Eagle Scout with Palms, being the senior patrol leader of his troop, and serving as junior assistant Scoutmaster for the 13th World Scout Jamboree in Japan. As an adult, he enjoyed being Cubmaster for a pack with his two sons.

In Scouting for 37 years, Williams has been a member of Wood Badge staff on five separate occasions and received the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards. He has served as Central Region chief for the national Scout jamboree, and made numerous visitations to various high-adventure camps. Regionally, he has served as president and vice president. Williams was the first regional commissioner in the nation.

Believing strongly in the Scouting principle of leaving a campsite or meeting room “just a little better than we found it,” he continues to apply that principle in his own Indiana community. His civic duties include serving as Rotary president, national secretary of the Indiana University Alumni Association, president of the Indiana University Maurer Law School Alumni Association, and president of the Indiana University Alumni Board of Aeons.

When not engaged in professional activities as managing partner for his law firm, he enjoys travel, canoeing, hiking, and orchid horticulture. Williams and his wife, Barbara, have two sons, both Eagle Scouts, and live in Evansville, Indiana.

Meet George Oldroyd: hero, Eagle Scout and one of the youngest Scoutmasters ever

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We can’t say for sure that Eagle Scout George Oldroyd was the youngest Scoutmaster in BSA history.

What we can say for certain is that he was at least tied for that honor.

BSA rules say a man or woman must be 21 to serve as Scoutmaster. Oldroyd became Scoutmaster of Troop 63 on his 21st birthday, in May 1991.

That is only the beginning of Oldroyd’s remarkable story.

Twenty-five years later, on Oldroyd’s 46th birthday, he logged into Facebook and told his friends about his plan to write a book about the boys of Troop 63. He wanted to reveal the ways Scouting mattered in their lives.

Next he headed to the hospital in Alabaster, Ala., for his weekly infusion of the intravenous immunoglobulin that keeps his immune system working properly.

Oldroyd never made it to the hospital — not in the way he had intended, at least.

A hero, again

Oldroyd was driving to the hospital when he came across a car that had caught fire.

It turns out the driver was transporting a dozen bottles of propane and a can of kerosene to his cabin when his engine caught fire. The flames, if they reached the propane, could have caused a giant explosion.

Oldroyd ran to the scene with an armload of fire extinguishers — one from his truck and others offered by nearby motorists.

As Oldroyd was running over, he broke his feet in seven places. It wasn’t until much later — once first responders started arriving — that Oldroyd realized he was standing in a pool of his own blood.

Injured and burned, the lifelong Scouter collapsed and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He went to the emergency room, where he lost his left leg to infection.

For his heroism, Oldroyd was awarded the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms in 2017. It is Scouting’s highest award for heroism.

Lifelong heroism

That wasn’t the first time the BSA honored Oldroyd for risking his life to save others.

In 2012, he was awarded an Honor Medal for battling a fire behind an office building.

Thirty years earlier, as a 12-year-old Star Scout, Oldroyd rescued his mother from a burning auto shop.

Fires are in his blood. He’s the son of a career fire officer and was a Fire Service Explorer. So he knows a thing or two about being a hero without exposing himself to unacceptable harm.

Lifelong Scout

Oldroyd is broadly built and stands 6-foot-8.

His figurative presence in Scouting has been large, too. In spite of his health problems, Oldroyd earned nine Eagle Scout Palms, the Explorer Achievement Award and his Wood Badge beads.

He’s a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, where he earned the nickname “The Elder Brother.”

He has been a Cubmaster and Scoutmaster for 1,100 boys, including many from underserved areas. He was a Sea Scout skipper at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Two years after the incident that cost him his leg, The Elder Brother remains good-natured about his loss, despite needing to use a power chair while he learns how to walk again.

His latest goal is to attend the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

‘A Scout is helpful’

Roger Goodledy was the one who introduced me to Oldroyd’s story. He has talked at length with Oldroyd, including asking why someone with health challenges would risk his neck like he has.

Oldroyd told Goodledy, “Providence puts a task in your path, and it’s just my job to take it on, not to question why. These jobs needed doing. A Scout is helpful, and I was prepared to give service this way.”

A Scout is brave, too.

“Oldroyd certainly exemplifies this point of character, and he hasn’t been distracted from the purpose he announced on that fateful birthday,” Goodledy says. “He remains hard at work on his book, the aptly titled Being Prepared.”

Thanks to Roger Goodledy for the idea and background info.

Green means good: Meet the 2018 National Venturing Leadership Award honorees

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These eight world-class members of the Venturing program never set out to get national recognition for their service.

They just wanted to do their part to grow Venturing, the BSA’s adventure-packed program for young men and young women ages 14 (or 13 and done with the eighth grade) to 21.

But their contributions didn’t go unnoticed, and now these four youth and four adults have been selected to receive the 2018 National Venturing Leadership Award.

The National Venturing Leadership Award, first presented in 2000, is awarded to Venturers and Venturing Advisors who make exceptional contributions to Venturing at the national level and who exemplify the Scout Oath and Law.

I have previously blogged about the 2017 and 2016 recipients. See a list of all past recipients here.

A maximum of eight awards can be presented per year. A task force of youth Venturers makes the final selections, and the recipients are honored at the BSA’s annual meeting.

Venturing Leadership Awards are presented at the council, area and regional levels, too. See more about qualifications and submission guidelines here.

Join me in saluting the 2018 recipients of the National Venturing Leadership Award:

Youth recipients Lydia Borah, Orlando, Fla.

Lydia served as the 2016-2017 Southern Region Venturing President.

During that time, her innovation led to much growth in the region. She created new youth committees to bring in new ideas and innovation to projects. Outside of just the Southern Region, Lydia was a leader during the very first summer that Venturing Blast was offered at the Philmont Training Center.

Her joy and cheerfulness brightened the day of everyone she encountered, and her positive “can-do” attitude led her to develop successful teams. She even remained active after her term ended, working to create graphics for the National Social Media Team.

Savannah McMillan, Knoxville, Tenn.

Savannah served as the 2017-2018 Southern Region Venturing President.

In this role, she managed nine areas and worked with both youth and adults to ensure a successful year in the region and work towards potential future growth. Savannah worked with her vice presidents to increase the submission rate of Council Standards of Venturing Excellence (CSVE).

She has also served in several other roles in Scouting, including on the National STEM Committee.

Dominic Wolters, St. Paul, Minn.

Dominic will serve as 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association President.

Dominic’s diligence and commitment to excellence this past year has had an immeasurable impact on Venturing in the Central Region and beyond. As Central Region Venturing President, he came up with creative ways to connect with youth in his region, such as revitalizing the region Twitter page and posting daily memes and other forms of inspiration.

Dominic has also been a Venturing training “guru” and has helped rewrite several national trainings, including Personal Safety Awareness, Project Management, and “Growing a Venturing Program” at the Philmont Training Center.

Ripley Price, Blandon, Pa.

Ripley’s innovation this past year as the Northeast Region Venturing President led her to work with a team of youth to develop a new long-term strategic plan to strengthen the region’s Venturing program.

In addition, she worked diligently to modernize all aspects of the region’s operations, from communications to updating the region’s merchandise. Ripley’s team of officers recorded the highest Council Standards of Venturing Excellence (CSVE) submission rate ever, with almost 95 percent of councils submitting a form.

After the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, she even pioneered a fundraiser that raised several thousand dollars to help support those affected.

Adult recipients Robbie DiBiagio, Severna Park, Md.

Robbie’s role as Region Advisor has helped to redefine Venturing within the Northeast Region.

His leadership has been integral in developing and maintaining relationships between area and region Venturing advisors in the Northeast. Robbie is an excellent example of what Venturing epitomizes; his work is always of impeccable quality, and everything he works on has meaning and is forward focused.

He also serves at the National Venturing Training Chair and has been a relentless advocate for the program. He has advised countless training-revision task forces and ensures that products of his team are of the highest quality.

Jack Furst, Argyle, Texas

As a youth, Jack participated in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs. He is an Eagle Scout and past President of Circle Ten Council.

Jack is most known for his work to build, develop and lead the efforts behind the Summit Bechtel Reserve. (In fact, everyone gets to travel on a road named after him to get there.)

For the past several years, Jack has served as chairman of the National Venturing Committee, helping to provide his visionary leadership of the life-changing program. Jack can always be seen wearing a green shirt and supporting Venturing anywhere he goes!

He has received the Silver Beaver Award, Silver Antelope Award, Silver Buffalo Award, Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor, among many others.

Jennifer Hancock, Lubbock, Texas

Jennifer has served in countless roles to support the Venturing program, include the Southern Region Venturing chairwoman and Venturing’s international relations liaison.

She has also represented Venturing well through her work at countless Scouting events, including the Foxtrot Basecamp lead at the 2017 National Jamboree, the VenturingFest 2018 chairwoman, Aide-De-Camp for the 2019 World Jamboree, and numerous other prominent roles in the Scouting community.

She is also the incoming national Venturing chairwoman and is an incoming national board member for the Boy Scouts of America National Council.

Jeff Geralds, Madison Heights, Mich.

Jeff has worn many hats within the Venturing program, not least among them spots on the National Committee to rewrite the Venturing awards and serving as an advisor in the Central Region for the last decade.

His tireless passion for seeing youth succeed and grow as leaders has made him an effective mentor and guide to area presidents, region presidents, advisors, and many others as the program has changed and grown.

He is a strong advocate for Venturing in the Scouting world, staffing numerous Jamborees and sharing his passion for Venturing with all. He is an ambassador for the program, and truly lives out the responsibility of an advisor to inspire and support all youth in Venturing.

Guidance for honoring veterans with grave site flags on Memorial Day

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For 35 years, Scouts from the Chickasaw Council have honored the veterans buried at the Memphis National Cemetery every Memorial Day by placing American flags at their grave sites. Buddy Crenshaw came up with the endeavor after a Scout, who was seeking ideas for an Eagle Scout project, approached him.

“The Memphis Naval Air Station folks had been putting the flags out for years, but the base had lost so many by transfer,” Crenshaw says. “The first year, we managed to get 125 Scouts out to help with flag placement. It took six-and-a-half hours to cover 44-and-a-half acres at the cemetery.”

The community participation has grown since 1983, and last year, it only took about 20 minutes to place more than 46,000 flags at the cemetery.

Honoring veterans at cemeteries

Scouts in Memphis, Tenn., won’t be the only ones honoring our fallen heroes this Memorial Day. Thousands of Scouts across the country will be participating in ceremonies and placing U.S. flags. You can check with your city, county, local veterans groups as well as national cemeteries to see where and when events will be on Monday, May 28.

If your unit wants to place flags at grave sites this year, keep a few tips in mind.

1. Check with the cemetery director

Always coordinate with the cemetery’s director when planning to volunteer. The director will know how much help is needed and where that help should be directed. The director might need flags placed at grave sites or along the main entrance, often referred to as an “avenue of flags,” or might not need any help at all.

In any case, extend the courtesy of accommodating for your group by reaching out to the cemetery caretaker well in advance of the service day.

2. Know the proper placement

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration, flags placed at graves should be erected in a uniform matter, usually one foot, centered and in front of the headstone or grave marker.

For an “avenue of flags” display, flagpoles should be inserted and secured in an in-ground receptacle. The flags shouldn’t interfere with traffic.

At national cemeteries, the U.S. flag and the National League of Families POW/MIA flag are allowed to be publicly displayed. Other flags, like state flags, may be flown under certain circumstances, like during a ceremony. Again, check with the cemetery director.

3. Follow flag etiquette

For all flag ceremonies, remember to follow the rules of flag etiquette. These include never letting the flag touch the ground and ensuring flags are in excellent condition.

Depending on the logistics of decorating a cemetery, the National Cemetery Administration does allow graves to be adorned with flags the weekend before Memorial Day and the flags can be removed shortly after the holiday. With this allowance, flags may not be illuminated at night, which is a deviation from the flag code, but it is an authorized deviation, according to the cemetery administration.

When removing flags, make sure they are inspected, dried and stored properly.

4. Act respectfully

Volunteering at a cemetery for Memorial Day is a great way to teach Scouts about national and local history, community service and patriotism. It can also be an opportunity to fulfill service hours and rank requirements, but more importantly, it’s a chance to impart a sense of respect for those who have died for our freedoms.

Remind Scouts to follow cemetery rules, refrain from rowdiness and to stay on designated paths.

Eagle Scout Navy SEAL to receive Medal of Honor for leading perilous rescue attempt

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All Scouts are brave. Some are called to risk their life to save others.

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Britt K. Slabinski, an Eagle Scout, belongs in that latter group.

On May 24, 2018, he will receive the Medal of Honor for his 2002 attempt to rescue a teammate during a 14-hour battle in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The Medal of Honor is the military’s highest honor, and Slabinski is just the 12th living service member to receive it for actions in Afghanistan.

Slabinski earned Scouting’s highest honor on March 9, 1984. He was a member of Troop 109 of Northampton, Mass., part of the Western Massachusetts Council.

After graduating from high school, Slabinski enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He attended boot camp in Orlando, Fla., and fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a Navy SEAL in 1990.

Exposed to enemy fire

Twelve years later, on March 4, 2002, Slabinski was in the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan in the middle of a dangerous fight against al-Qaida.

Slabinski and his team were ordered to establish an observation post atop Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot mountain in southeastern Afghanistan. This position would give the U.S. a tactical advantage against al-Qaida forces.

After a series of delays, Slabinski and his team flew to the peak around 3 a.m. They realized, too late, that al-Qaida forces were already there. Slabinski’s helicopter was hit with heavy fire, and Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts fell out about 10 feet from the ground.

They could not retrieve Roberts before the helicopter crash landed.

Two hours later, Slabinski and his team boarded a new helicopter to what was later named Roberts Ridge. They would attempt to rescue Roberts — not yet realizing Roberts already had been killed.

With bullets piercing his clothing, Slabinski charged into al-Qaida territory. He put his own life on the line to protect his heavily outnumbered team.

Over the next 14 hours, Slabinski carried a teammate down a sheer cliff face and through waist-deep snow. He did this while calling in strikes on enemies attacking his team from the surrounding ridges.

“He stabilized the casualties and continued the fight against the enemy until the mountaintop could be secured and his team was extracted,” according to the official commendation. “His dedication, disregard for his own personal safety and tactical leadership make Master Chief Slabinski unquestionably deserving of this honor.”

‘Virtuous’ and ‘physically fit’

Deryk Langlais was a Scout with Slabinski. He recalls Slabinski earning his BSA Mile Swim Award at age 13 at Chesterfield Scout Reservation.

Langlais told the Greenfield (Mass.) Recorder that Slabinski was “virtuous” and “always physically fit.”

“He was focused from a young age on becoming a Navy SEAL  — and keep in mind that back in the 1970s and ’80s very few people knew what a SEAL was,” Langlais told the Recorder. “He also had a quiet, dry sense of humor that made him seem older than his peers.”

Slabinski has one son, Bryce, who also is an Eagle Scout.

This family’s collection of National Jamboree patches stretches 16 feet long

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The Great Alaska Council’s 2017 set.

A father-son duo from Alaska created a massive mural to display patches they collected together at the 2013 and 2017 National Jamborees.

The entire mural, made up of four square sections, measures 4 feet high and 16 feet long.

Robert Timmins and his son, John, both Eagle Scouts, started by collecting a few patches together at the 2013 National Jamboree.

This was John’s first taste of Jamboree patch trading, and he was impressed. At these Jamboree patch-trading bazaars, Scouts and Venturers spread out blankets and towels to display their trading inventory. They meet others from across the country, swapping stories as well as patches.

“John really talked it up when he came back from the 2013 Jamboree,” Robert says. “I started to pay attention and did some research.”

Click to enlarge ‘Hit the ground running’

When the 2017 National Jamboree rolled around, Robert and John were even more prepared. Armed with a big bag of Great Alaska Council patches, the pair arrived at the Summit Bechtel Reserve ready to trade.

“We hit the ground running in attempt to trade the patches we brought with those sets we wanted,” Robert says. “We felt rather accomplished in getting to know other Scouts and leaders from all over the country. It made me proud to see how vast and wonderful the Scouting organization is.”

Robert estimates they walked 10 miles per day. That included patch trading as well as participating in Jamboree events and experiencing SBR activities.

As you can see in the photos, their patch-trading efforts paid off. If anyone needs a counselor for the Collections merit badge, call these guys.

The Dan Beard Council patch set. The one that got away

Every patch set you see in the mural was one that Robert or John received by trading — except one.

On the Jamboree’s penultimate day, John spotted the set from the Cincinnati-based Dan Beard Council. The set, inspired by the card game Magic: The Gathering, was one John simply had to have.

“We made the trek to the [Dan Beard Council] campsite, but we found they had none left,” Robert says.

When they got back to Alaska, John was elected into the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society. After John’s Ordeal, Robert and his wife surprised their son with a gift to celebrate his accomplishment.

It was the Dan Beard Council set, purchased from the council.

“That is the only purchased set” in the entire collection, Robert says.

Memories, unboxed

When Robert and John returned from the 2017 National Jamboree and looked through their patches, something felt wrong about boxing these patches and storing them in a closet.

Even putting them in a patch binder would leave them out of sight.

“So what were we to do?” Robert says. “We came up with this unique way of displaying these wonderful works of art as collage murals.”

Share your patch display

Leave a comment below with a photo of your patch collection — Jamboree or otherwise.

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10 things to know about Voice of the Scout, the survey for Scouts, parents and leaders

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Want to have a say in the future of this great movement we call Scouting? Use your voice.

Or, more specifically, use your Voice of the Scout annual survey.

Since 2012, the Voice of the Scout survey has given the Scouting family the opportunity to offer feedback directly to the BSA. Respondents have answered questions about the climate, program delivery, administration and support provided at all levels of Scouting. These answers have turned into improvements at the BSA’s National Service Center and BSA local councils.

The Voice of the Scout survey — VOS, for short — is sent out on the first Tuesday of every month to one-twelfth of the Scouting population. That means you’ll get it once a year.

You respond on your computer, phone or tablet, and the whole thing takes just a few minutes.

Here are 10 more things to know about this important tool.

1. VOS goes to parents, youth, volunteers and chartered organizations.

Who makes up the Voice of the Scout survey population?

  • Parents
  • Youth: Cub Scouts, Scouts, Sea Scouts, Venturers, Explorers and Venturers (If the person is 14 or older, he or she gets the survey directly; otherwise, the survey is sent via his or her parents)
  • Volunteers: Youth-facing and council/district volunteers
  • Chartered organizations
2. You get one survey per year.

If you’ve been involved in Scouting for longer than 12 months, you should already have received one survey. 

If you’ve been involved for less than a year, keep an eye out for your survey some time during the year. Just be sure you have a current email address in your My.Scouting profile (see No. 4).

3. VOS surveys are sent on the first Tuesday of the month.

Everyone in Scouting is assigned a month during which they’ll receive their survey. Watch for the survey on the first Tuesday of each month.

If you have already received a survey before, you’ll get your VOS survey the same month every year.

4. Make sure the BSA has your correct email address.

If the BSA doesn’t have a working email for you, it can’t send you a VOS survey. VOS uses the email address you have provided in your My.Scouting profile.

To update or change your profile information on, you will need to do the following:

  1. Login to
  2. Once logged in, click the menu icon in the upper left of the webpage, then select My Dashboard.
  3. Once on My Dashboard, select the icon adjacent to My Training, which looks like 3 stacked horizontal lines, then select My Profile.
  4. Make any necessary changes to your profile information. Please note that your Member ID and login username cannot be modified.
5. The emailed link is the only way to take the VOS survey.

The link included in your email from Voice of the Scout is your key into the survey.

It’s unique to you, meaning it can’t be forwarded to someone else or taken more than once.

6. Spotting a VOS email is easy.

A Voice of the Scout email will come from — wait for it — “Voice of the Scout.” (Though if you’re in an Explorer post, it’ll say “Voice of the Explorer.”)

7. VOS surveys are anonymous.

Your answers to the questions will never be connected directly to your name. The BSA combines your answers with others and reports them in a group.

8. VOS surveys have generated lots of good news …

Through VOS surveys, the BSA has heard that youth members, parents and volunteers overall feel that Scouting in their unit and council has a welcoming environment and an engaging program.

Youth and parents also feel like they are getting the right amount of support from their unit leaders.

9. … and have put the spotlight on a few opportunities for improvement.

Many parents and volunteers listed unit communication as an “opportunity for improvement.” This is a nice reminder to use multiple communication channels — Facebook, email, text and more — to inform parents about meeting times and locations, fundraisers, and other unit news.

Other opportunities for improvement were in the areas of administration and training.

Based on that feedback, the BSA is working to simplify some of its online tools, such as online registration. It’s also evaluating leader training to determine what really makes a difference in delivering the program to youth and eliminating modules from required training that do not support that goal.

10. You can help by spreading the word about VOS.

Now that you know how to make sure your voice is heard in VOS, it’s time to do a Good Turn for others in your unit.

Make sure they know to watch for their VOS survey and to complete it when it arrives.

Ring of fire: Distinguished Eagle Scout inducted into Hot Sauce Hall of Fame

Bryan On Scouting -

Pour a glass of milk, because this news is pretty spicy.

Joseph “Si” Brown, the Distinguished Eagle Scout whose company turned Louisiana Hot Sauce into a household name, has been elected to the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame.

He received the honor last month at the sixth-annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“It’s humbling to be recognized for bringing hot sauce to America and contributing to an industry that I am truly passionate about,” Brown said.

In addition to honoring hot sauce pioneers, the expo featured fire-breathing favorites like the Death Wing Challenge, Spicy Pizza of Doom Challenge and, um, Chihuahua Beauty Pageant.

Brown has been president and CEO of New Iberia, La.-based Bruce Foods since 1973.

Bruce Foods sold the Louisiana Hot Sauce brand in 2015. These days, the company manufacturers Cajun Injector marinades, Casa Fiesta Mexican Foods, Mexene Chili Products, Cajun King and more. Under Brown’s leadership, the company has become one of the largest privately owned specialty food manufacturers in the country.

Service to Scouting

Brown’s service to Scouting has remained strong throughout his life.

He’s an Eagle Scout (Class of 1952) who is known for mentoring others. He has served the Evangeline Area Council (based in Lafayette, La.) in a number of positions and was instrumental in the development of Swamp Base, the council’s wildly popular high-adventure base I visited in 2015.

Brown helped identify the land, secure the property for a long-term lease and establish funding from the state of Louisiana.

For his service as a volunteer, Brown has received numerous honors from the BSA. His most recent was the Silver Buffalo Award, presented in 2015.

The award is Scouting’s highest honor for adult volunteers, and Brown joins a list of recipients including Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, Eagle Scout Gerald Ford, actor Jimmy Stewart and more.

Congratulations, Si!

Today we salute Si Brown. The next time your camp cuisine needs a little flavor, add an extra dash of hot sauce in his honor.

Ashton Kutcher was a Scout, hiked Philmont and supports BSA efforts to welcome boys and girls

Bryan On Scouting -

Ashton Kutcher, star of TV and movies and the original social media influencer who in 2009 became the first account to amass 1 million Twitter followers, was a Scout and hiked at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

The star of That ’70s Show took to Twitter on Thursday to offer his support for the BSA as the organization welcomes girls and boys into all programs.

“As a kid, Boy Scouts helped shape the persona I am today. I am proud of the shifts that the ‘Scouts’ are making,” Kutcher told his 19.2 million followers.

He then correctly listed all 12 points of the Scout Law, followed by one more: “Inclusive!”

Memories of hiking Philmont

Kutcher didn’t contain his enthusiasm for Scouting to a single tweet.

He added that he felt Scouting would only be strengthened by welcoming girls and boys into Cub Scouts and Scouts.

“There is not one thing I learned as a Scout that would have been diminished by inclusion of all,” he wrote.

“In fact, one of the best experiences I had as a Scout what when we were lead by a woman ranger while hiking Philmont, New Mexico.”

There is not one thing I learned as a scout that would have been diminished by inclusion of all. In fact one of the best experiences I had as a scout what when we were lead by a woman ranger while hiking Philmont New Mexico.

— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) May 11, 2018


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