Scouting News from the Internet

Four options for retiring worn-out American flags

Bryan On Scouting -

Burn it, recycle it, donate it — Scouts and Scouters have a number of options for retiring worn-out American flags.

And as the youth-serving organization most closely associated with patriotism, we have a duty to do so responsibly.

Burning is the preferred method in the U.S. Flag Code (Section 176), but it’s potentially hazardous to the environment — the very environment Scouts pledge to protect.

But recycling a flag, which often involves shipping it to a flag-recycling service, typically has an associated cost.

In short, there’s no perfect method. So check out these four options and decide (perhaps with your Scouts or Venturers) which one’s best for you.

Option 1: Get help in your community

Many units start the flag retirement process by contacting a local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, Elks Lodge, American Legion post or similar group. Your pack, troop or crew could conduct a small service project in exchange for the group’s helping to retire your flag.

PRO: This option ensures the ceremony will be held in a respectful manner by people who know what they’re doing. Your Scouts/Venturers are sure to learn something.

CON: Your Scouts/Venturers learn better by doing, and this option reduces them to being bystanders.

Option 2: Burn the flag to retire it

A popular way to retire a worn-out American Flag is by burning it. Page 76 of the BSA Handbook says, “A national flag that is worn beyond repair may be burned in a fire. The ceremony should be conducted with dignity and respect and the flag burned completely to ashes.”

PRO: Method preferred by U.S. Flag Code and BSA Handbook. Usually the most ceremonial and solemn method.

CON: Worst option for the environment and your Scouts’ health. Unlike the cotton and wool flags made in the early 20th century, today’s flags are made out of petroleum-based materials like nylon. Burning nylon is different from burning cotton or wool and can create hazardous gas.

Option 3: Recycle the flag yourself

At the retirement ceremony, you can cut up your flag using an approved technique that doesn’t cut through the blue star field. When a flag has been cut up, it is no longer officially a flag.

Here is one method:

  1. Stretch out the corners of the flag.
  2. Cut the flag in half, vertically — do not cut into the blue star field.
  3. Place the two halves together and cut in half, horizontally.
  4. You will have four pieces of flag, one being the blue star field and the other three red and white stripes.
  5. Put the flag in a container and dispose of it properly.

Here’s another similar approach.

PRO: Doesn’t introduce hazardous gases into the environment. Is safe enough for anyone who can use scissors, even Cub Scouts, to participate.

CON: Some might consider it less ceremonial. You still have to throw the flag away (though after it’s cut up it’s no longer a flag).

Option 4: Pay a company to recycle the flag

Do a Google search to find flag recycling groups, such as this one. Some offer the service for free, while others request a small donation for time spent and resources used. The materials from your unit’s worn-out flag will be used to make a new flag for future generations of Americans to enjoy.

You could still hold a flag-retirement ceremony in which you fold up the flag to prepare to ship it to the recycler.

PRO: Least waste and environmental harm of any of the options.

CON: Might cost money.

Flag retirement ceremony ideas

If you’re looking for a simple, meaningful flag retirement ceremony script, click here. The ceremony can be adapted for use with any method of retirement.

What the BSA says

The BSA recently updated its guidelines on retiring worn-out American flags, but we still don’t require one method over another.

The updated guidelines read: “We simply need to ask ourselves if the manner in which we are retiring (destroying) the flag is dignified. If the answer is yes, then that method is perfectly acceptable.”

H/T: Thanks to Peter Self, Team Leader for Member Experience Innovation. Photo: Some rights reserved by Philocrites

A beginner’s guide to the patrol method

Bryan On Scouting -

The patrol method isn’t one way to run a troop. It’s the only way.

I’m paraphrasing Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell’s famous quote about the patrol method, but the meaning is the same.

OK, it’s important. But how does it work? For that you can count on the September 2014 ScoutCast.

This month’s guest is Mark Griffin, previously team leader of Learning Delivery for Scouting University and now an area director in the Central Region.

He describes the patrol method, explains the three different kinds of patrols, and discusses patrol meetings and patrol spirit.

Also of note is that for the first time, ScoutCast is making available its transcript. That’s great news for Scouters who are deaf or have partial hearing loss — plus for those who are at work where they can’t listen to a podcast. Find the transcript at the end of this post.

What is the patrol method?

“The patrol’s a small team of eight or so Scouts, and it’s more than organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the den,” Mark says. “It’s the place where boys learn skills together, take on leadership responsibilities, perhaps for the first time, and develop friendships that will last over a lifetime.”

What are the three types of patrols?
  • New Scout patrol. That might be a patrol of brand new Scouts who just moved up from a Webelos den, or it might be a group from a recruiting night that all joined together where they learn some basic skills as they join the troop.
  • Traditional patrols. These are Scouts in that middle age group that are about the same age, have some similar interests and they work together to do things and learn advancement together.
  • Older scout patrol. These are Scouts, say 14 years and older, who have been in the patrol for a while and have moved up into troop leadership positions.
How are patrol meetings different from troop meetings?

Some troops hold patrol meetings during their regular troop meetings. Others encourage patrols to meet on their own time, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon at the patrol leader’s home.

Here are some ideas Mark suggests patrols do during patrol meetings:

  • Have the patrol leader report on what happened at the latest patrol leaders’ council meeting
  • Plan upcoming outings, including food menus
  • Design patrol flag
  • Outfit and clean patrol box
  • Work on advancement requirements
  • Play a game or have fun in some way
Can patrols do activities outside of the troop, other than meet?


“They may have their own day activities, such as a service project, or working on advancement, or merit badges, or things like that,” Mark says. “If they go overnight, they need to have adult supervision, but they can do lots of things on their own. Service projects are a great thing for patrols to do.”

What’s patrol spirit?

“Patrol spirit starts with the patrol name, which members choose and says something about them,” Mark says. Come up with “a flag, a totem, a yell, a song, whatever they want, something that makes them feel part of a team, just like a sports team.”

What does the patrol leader do?
  • Plans, organizes, conducts patrol meetings activities.
  • Represents the patrol as a member of the patrol leader’s council.
  • Keeps patrol members informed about upcoming events and deadlines.
  • Encourages patrol members to complete advancement requirements
  • Sets a good example by living up to the Scout Oath and Law
Listen to the September 2014 ScoutCast

Go here to hear even more patrol method insight from Mark. Or …

Read the September 2014 ScoutCast transcript

It’s included below:


Music Full then under

LEE:               Greetings and salutations, everyone, it’s time for the September 2014 ScoutCast.  Now that troops are beginning a new scouting year, we thought this would be a good time to have an in depth discussion about the patrol method.


PAULA:          Lord Baden-Powell, the Founder of Boy Scouts, once said, “The patrol system is not one method in which scouting for boys can be carried on; it is the only method.”


LEE:               And it’s a lot more than just taking a group of boys and calling them a patrol.  So as soon as the music fades, we’ll find out exactly why that is.


Music Fades

LEE:               Mark Griffin was a team leader of Learning Delivery for Scouting University.  He recently accepted the position of Area Director for Area 5 of the Central Region.  Mark is tasked with developing training.  A big part of that involves helping leaders to understand the patrol method and how to get the most from it.  Welcome to ScoutCast, Mark.


MARK:            Thank you, Lee.  It’s great to be here.


LEE:               In a nutshell, what is the patrol method and why is it so important to scouting?

MARK:            Lee, in scouting a troop is composed of several patrols.  Boy Scouting actually happens in the context of a patrol.  The patrol’s a small team of eight or so scouts, and it’s more than organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the den.   It’s the place where boys learn skills together, take on leadership responsibilities, perhaps for the first time, and develop friendships that will last over a lifetime.


PAULA:          Mark, are there different types of patrols?


MARK:            There sure are, Paula. Generally there’s three kinds of patrols. In many troops, you have a new scout patrol.  That might be a patrol of brand new scouts who just moved up from a Webelos’ den, or it might be a group from a recruiting night that all joined together where they learn some basic skills as they join the troop.   Later, you have traditional patrols. These are scouts in that middle age group that are about the same age, have some similar interests and they work together to do things and learn advancement together.  The third group of patrols is the older scout patrol.  These are scouts, say 14 years and older, that have been in the patrol for a while and have moved up into troop leadership positions.



LEE:               Well, Mark, how are patrol meetings different from a troop meeting?


MARK:            Patrols need to meet regularly to get their work done.  Most troops set aside part of their weekly meetings for patrol breakouts and sometimes they call that Patrol Corners.  Others encourage patrols to meet outside the troop meeting either just before or after the troop meeting, or at a different time or place.  Perhaps on a Sunday afternoon at the patrol leader’s home.  But whenever or wherever a patrol meets, it should be well planned and business like just like a troop meeting.  Typically a patrol leader calls the meeting to order, the scribe collects dues, the assistant patrol leader reports on advancement, and a patrol leader reports on what happened at the latest patrol leaders’ council meeting.  The bulk of the meeting is then devoted to planning upcoming outings.  Other work can include designing a patrol flag, outfitting patrol box, or especially new scout patrols working on advancement requirements.  It’s also a good idea to save some time for fun.  That’s what scouting is all about.


PAULA:          But can patrols have their own activities outside the troop?


MARK:            Patrols can have activities outside the troop and they’re encouraged to.    They may have their own day activities, such as a service project, or working on advancement, or merit badges, or things like that.  If they go overnight, they need to have adult supervision, but they can do lots of things on their own.  Service projects are a great thing for patrols to do.


LEE:               I often hear the term patrol spirit.  Mark, exactly what is that?


MARK:            When patrols are strong, members have the same devotion their patrols that sports fans have (with) their favorite teams and when patrols are strong, the troop is strong.  Patrol spirit starts with the patrol name which members choose and says something about them; a flag, a totem, a yell, a song, whatever they want, something that makes them feel part of a team, just like a sport team. Also patrol medallions they can wear on their uniform.


PAULA:          Okay, now my nephew is a newly crossover scout and he is really pumped about his patrol, and I know he’s an aspiring patrol leader.  So, for his sake, as well as the sake of our listeners, tell us what is the patrol leader’s role?


MARK:            The patrol leader responsibilities are taking the lead in planning and organizing and conducting patrol meetings activities.  They represent the patrol as a member of the patrol leader’s council.  They keep patrol members informed about upcoming events and deadlines.  They encourage patrol members to complete advancement requirements, and they set a good example by living up to the Scout Oath and Law.  It’s a great time as a patrol leader, especially in those new scout patrols or the regular patrols to learn leadership skills by doing as opposed to reading about it in the book.


LEE:               Are there resources available to learn more about the philosophy of the patrol method or resources for patrol leaders?


MARK:            There sure are, Lee.  There’s training that we have, such as Introduction Leadership Skills for Troops, there’s the Patrol Leader Handbook, the Troop Leader Guidebook, and training such as National Youth Leadership Training that councils conduct to help patrol leaders and other leaders in the patrol learn more about how to do their job successfully.

PAULA:          So, Mark, is there anything about the patrol method that we haven’t talked about that our listeners would like to know?


MARK:            You said (at) the very beginning the patrol method is not a way to operate a Boy Scout troop, it’s the only way.  Baden-Powell also said, “unless the patrol method is in operation, you don’t really have a Boy Scout troop.” The key to success of scouting is a strong patrol.  The key to education and learning is small group learning and that’s important and that’s why we use the patrol method and that’s why we’ve been using it for 104 years.

Another important consideration is youth protection and the buddy system.  One of the great things about the patrol method is that you have scouts that are about the same age working together and when you’re using patrols and you have 11, 12, and 13 year-olds perhaps or 14, 15, 16 year-olds, you have scouts that are about the same age and same interests, and they probably know each other outside of scouting, and so there’s less bullying that occurs in that kind of environment.  In fact, in the buddy system, we recommend that there be no more than two years, maximum of three years difference in age between scouts in a patrol and that they self-select and they are friends, and that helps us also with the bullying situation.  So the patrol method not only is great for troop structure and working through all the needs of the troop, it’s also an important part of youth protection.



PAULA:          Excellent.  Well, the patrol method is such an important part of a troop.  So, Mark, thank you very much for coming on ScoutCast and painting a clearer picture of what it should look like.


MARK:            Thank you, Paula and Lee.  It’s been great to be here.


LEE:               We’ll be right back with timely reminders right after this sneak peak at the September CubCast.

(CubCast – Emergency Preparedness)

LEE:               ScoutCast listeners might benefit from that one as well, but for now here are the September reminders.


PAULA:          Your troop Open House or First Nighter should be held soon if you haven’t done so already.  And don’t forget to submit all new youth and adult applications and registration fees to the Council Service Center.  That’s right, you have to turn in the money.


LEE:               Remember, for every adult wanting to join scouting, Youth Protection Training is a requirement within 30 days of submitting an application.  If you can’t attend a council-led training session and your state allows it, you can take the training online.


PAULA:          Absolutely anyone, especially parents and potential leaders can take the online training by creating a MyScouting account.  Just go to and click the MyScouting tab at the top of the page.


LEE:               With all this talk about training, this month’s Scouting Magazine talks to eight real scouters for the best ideas on how to handle your real life paid job and your full-time scouting job without making yourself crazy.  Be sure to check it out.


PAULA:          Also speaking of training, the September Boy’s Life is a special animals issue.  The cover story focuses on a black Labrador Retriever that was raised and trained by two scouts to become a guide dog.

Begin music under:

PAULA:        Well, as informative as this has been the music cue means the September ScoutCast has come to end.  Thanks again to our guest, Mark Griffin.


LEE:             Be sure to come back next month for a very enlightening discussion on Venturing Updates.


PAULA:        Now if there are other topics you like to hear about or just want to let us know how we’re doing, send us an email to  or a tweet to @BSAScoutCast.  So with that, I’m Paula Murphey—


LEE:             And I’m Lee Shaw, asking the question: do you know what your Patrols are up too?






Is there a time limit for completing a merit badge?

Bryan On Scouting -

Some merit badges can be completed in a weekend; others take a little longer.

But what happens when a Boy Scout — for whatever reason — stretches the time between starting and finishing a merit badge to 12 months, 18 months, 3 years or longer?

In other words: Is there a time limit for completing a merit badge?

That’s what a Scouter named Jim wondered.

The question

Jim writes:

Once a boy begins a merit badge, is there a certain time period in which he needs to have it finished, other than by his 18th birthday?

In our council we have always been told that they have 18 months to earn them, and then if they are not completely finished in that time that they have to start all over again.

The expert’s answer

The short answer: There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge except for the Boy Scout’s 18th birthday.

Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team offers more explanation:

There are a couple of areas in the Guide to Advancement that speak to this.

The text box under topic states: “All merit badge requirements must be met while a registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, or a qualified Venturer or Sea Scout.” Although not explicitly stated, it is implied there are no time limits with the exception of the 18th birthday.

Under topic, it states: “… any registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any of them at any time.” Again, although not explicitly stated, it is implied there are no time limits with the exception of the 18th birthday.

Under topic (Partial Completions), it states in part “Partials have no expiration except the Scout’s 18th birthday.”

And finally, under topic (What to do When Requirements Change), last paragraph, it states: “There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.”

That final paragraph ( only applies to merit badges with new requirements. So only in the case where a merit badge’s requirements change and “so much time has passed since any effort took place” may a merit badge counselor ask a Scout to start again with the new requirements.

Otherwise, the overall rules of no time limit apply.

Hope that helps!

Ask the Experts your question

Find other expertly answered questions here, and ask your own by emailing me. I can’t respond to each question, but I select commonly asked questions to answer on the blog.

Remembering Joan Rivers, a friend of Scouting

Bryan On Scouting -

Though her comedy was rarely Scout-appropriate, Joan Rivers, who died today at age 81, was a friend of Scouting.

In New York City, the comedian and TV host helped raise camperships so Scouts in the Greater New York Councils could attend summer camp.

Without these camperships, the boys would’ve missed out on the life-changing experiences you only find in Scouting.

In the photo below, Joan can be seen meeting with Cub Scouts at the Manhattan Council’s annual Campership Dinner in 2011. Manhattan Council is part of the BSA’s Greater New York Councils.

The Cub Scouts look quite delighted to meet her — just like she delighted millions over the years.

Rest in peace, Joan.

H/T: Thanks to Greater New York Councils Scout Executive Ethan Draddy for the tip.

Get your unit ready with this basic emergency preparedness kit

Bryan On Scouting -

We say our motto is Be Prepared, but how prepared are you and your Scouts for a serious emergency?

I’m talking tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, pandemics or terrorist attacks.

September is National Preparedness Month, so the timing’s right for you to consider your readiness.

CubCast is here to help.

In the September 2014 CubCast, Health and Safety guru Richard Bourlon shares what should go into a basic emergency preparedness kit and other ways to make sure your unit is prepared for the worst.

Also of note is that for the first time, CubCast is making available its transcript. That’s great news for Scouters who are deaf or have partial hearing loss — plus for those who are at work where they can’t listen to a podcast. Find the transcript at the end of this post.

First, though, read what should go into an emergency preparedness kit:

Emergency preparedness kit

Here’s what Richard suggests you include in a basic kit

  • Water — typically one gallon of water per person in your group per day. Richard says you really want to think about this as a 72-hour kit, so have three days of supplies. That means if you have 20 Scouts and Scouters in your unit, you’ll want 60 gallons.
  • Food — Nonperishable and enough for three days
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank weather radio
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Signaling device, such as a whistle
  • Dust mask for everybody in your group
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Moist towlettes
  • Garbage bags
  • Wrench or other tools
  • Can-opener (if your nonperishable food is in cans)
  • Solar charger to power your cellphone in an emergency
How to talk to your kids and Scouts

Richard offers this sound advice:

I want everybody to know that they need to have the conversation with their kids, and it doesn’t have to be real hard, but, make sure their kids know who to call in an emergency, where to meet up. It’s September, your child may be at a school. Do they know where to meet you if something is happening in the community?

I’m a big fan of the Go Kit, having a backpack ready that you can just pick up and evacuate with. I always say: what do you have packed, where are we going to meet, and who are you going to call?

Emergency Preparedness Award

Units and individuals in Scouting who demonstrate their emergency preparedness are eligible for an award.

The award was just updated this month to make units eligible to earn the award as a unit — previously only individuals could earn the award.

Go here for details, requirements and an award application.

Where to find more information

Richard suggests going to, which features the government’s best tips to keep Americans safe.

Listen to the September 2014 CubCast

Go here to listen to or download the September 2014 CubCast.

September 2014 CubCast transcript

Read the transcript of the September 2014 CubCast below.


Music Full then under

JANET:           Welcome, everyone, to the September 2014 Cubcast.  Last month we said goodbye to my co-host Sam Thompson, so now I’m please to introduce my new Cubcast co-host. Until recently, he was the Team Leader of Learning Delivery for Scouting University. He recently accepted the position of Area Director for Area 5 of the Central Region.   He is also my partner for better or worse, ladies and gentlemen, Mark Griffin.


(SFX – Applause)


MARK:            Thanks, Janet.  I’m excited to be here. I’ve been a big fan of Cubcast and it’s going to be great working with you.   OK – I’m ready!  What will my first Cubcast topic be?


JANET:           September is Emergency Preparedness month and Cubcast wants to know – are you prepared?  Richard Bourlon will be here to share with us everything we need to know.


MARK:          Sounds like this will be an interesting show. Let’s get it started.


Music Fades


MARK:            Joining us for this episode is the team lead of the Health and Safety Service Team of the BSA National Council Richard Bourlon.  Back in March of 2011, Richard shared with us everything we needed to know about scouting safely and we’re glad to have him back.  Welcome to CubCast, Richard.


RICHARD:     Thanks Mark, thanks Janet.


MARK:            So, Richard, what are the basics of emergency preparedness?


RICHARD:     In really simple terms it’s make a plan, build an emergency kit…


MARK:            What are some of the basics that should go in an emergency preparedness kit?


RICHARD:     Your basic kit is going to have some water in it, and typically that’s one gallon of water per person in your group per day, and you really want to think about this as a 72-hour kit, so have three days of supplies.  Also, food, make sure that’s non-perishable; it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  It’d be great if you had a battery powered, or maybe even one of these hand-crank radios, or a NOAH weather radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, your first aid kit.  It’s usually suggested you have some kind of signaling devise so like a whistle to signal for help.  You may want to include like a dust mask for everybody in your group, and some plastic sheeting if it’s a shelter in place situation or if there’s a lot of dust or smoke in the air.  Something to clean up with, so maybe some moist towelettes, garbage bags, probably want to have some kind of wrench or some tools maybe that you could turn off the gas or the water to your home. If you’ve got that food that’s non-perishable in cans, make sure you bring a can opener and put that in the top of your kit as well.  I think everybody lives with cellphones these days, but, your cellphones only good if you can charge it.  So a solar charger or some kind of power converter so you can keep your cellphone charged in case of an emergency.  That’s a good basic kit.


MARK:            Janet and I, grew up in hurricane country in the panhandle of Florida and we used to always say it was great to have a Boy Scout at home because we always had that emergency kit


RICHARD:     From a scouting perspective and what would recommend to us, it’s also get involved in your community so that you know what’s going to happen in your community and you can be prepared for that if disaster strikes.


JANET:           People associate first aid skills with scouting, but how is emergency preparedness different?


RICHARD:     Janet, the difference is first aid is one of those skills that’s core to the scouting movement, but it’s just that. Having those first aid skills is part of being prepared.  Emergency preparedness is really about having a complete plan of how you’re going to react in the event of one of those emergencies that may strike you like a fire in your neighborhood or where you’re camping, or it could just be if you live down on the Golf Coast, for instance, a hurricane that could come through.  What we’re really trying to preach with our emergency preparedness focus is to make sure to have that conversation; parents having that conversation with their kids, or some of our older scouts maybe it’s the scouts having that conversation with their parents to be prepared before disaster strikes.


MARK:            How can units be involved in emergency preparedness?


RICHARD:     Mark, that’s a great question.  We have had an emergency preparedness award since about 2003.  Here in September of 2014, we’re rolling out an emergency preparedness award that includes a component for units as a unit to earn an enhanced award based on the actions of the entire unit.  So it’s not just an individual award; we want them to get extra training, we want them to do things as a unit where they need to be prepared for disaster in their meeting location.


JANET:           Richard, you mentioned awards. Cub Scouts love awards.  What awards are available for emergency awareness and who would be eligible?


RICHARD      The good news is that Tiger Cubs on up are eligible for an Individual Emergency Preparedness Award. We’ve revamped those requirements and they’re age appropriate, and it’s not that hard to get.  So as a Tiger Cub, it might be just to discuss an emergency plan with your family and know how to do a family fire drill in your home. In the Cub Scout ranks, for instance, if you’re a Bear, maybe you create a plan and practice summoning help during an emergency, how to dial 9-1-1 and work on that with your parents, all the way up to our Webelos who we want to actually build a family emergency kit and have that ready.


MARK:            Are there other ways that parents and families can get involved?


RICHARD:     Like anything we do in Cub Scouting, the parents and the family are integral to the award, but one of the things that we’re really excited about with the revisions to the Emergency Preparedness Award is that it’ll let unit volunteers, if those parents were signed up, to actually earn their own awards and to work with their unit so that the entire unit could earn an Enhanced Gold, Silver or Bronze Award.  For parents, we’ve taken it a little further.  We want to encourage parents to take basic first aid, CPR, and AD courses.  We also want parents in our units and volunteers to take advantage of some of the free training that FEMA offers online, like introduction to the Incident Command System, so that they can be prepared to work with emergency services, or at least understand the system that is in place across America.


JANET:           What about resources that might be available to help with emergency preparedness?


RICHARD      We took a good look at what we had as resources and in 2003 worked with the Department of Homeland Security to gather some of those and we actually published some of those in-house.  Two current in-house publications that I’d suggest, even to our Cub Scout parents, would be our emergency preparedness and our first aid merit badge pamphlets.  Those are great resources available in the Scout Shop.  But probably the best resource for emergency preparedness right now is  So anybody can get there,, and that has excellent resources for building your kit, for making your plan, how to be informed and get involved in your community, and they actually have a really great section for working with your kids; games, and things that parents can use or unit leaders can use to help prepare the entire nation.


MARK:            Richard, do you think there’s anything else that our listeners should know about the emergency preparedness that we haven’t talked about already?


RICHARD:     I really encourage folks to get on and since September is emergency preparedness month, I want everybody to know that they need to have the conversation with their kids, and it doesn’t have to be realhard, but, make sure their kids know who to call in an emergency, where to meet up.  It’s September, your child may be at a school.  Do they know where to meet you if something is happening in the community? I’m a big fan of the Go Kit, having a backpack ready that you can just pick up and evacuate with.  I always say: what do you have packed, where are we going to meet, and who you going to call?  I’d leave that with you, Mark.


JANET:           You know, we try to make CubCast fun, but also informative, and emergency preparedness is such an important topic.  Richard, thanks for coming on the show and helping us to be prepared.


RICHARD:     Alright, thanks and we look forward to a lot of people earning those new awards.


MARK:            Thank you, Richard.  We’ll be right back with timely reminders right after this.


(Cyber Chip commercial)


MARK:            Okay, folks, here we go with this month’s reminders.  Janet, take it away.


JANET:           Your pack school or round up should be held soon if you haven’t already done so and don’t forget to submit all new youths and adult applications and registration fees to the council service center.  That’s right, folks, you have to turn in the money.


MARK:            Remember, for every adult wanting to join scouting, youth protection training is a requirement within 30 days of submitting an application. If you can’t attend a council instructor-led training session and if your state allows it, you can take the training online.


JANET:           Absolutely anyone, especially parents and potential leaders can take the online training by creating a MyScouting account. Just go to and click the MyScouting tab at the top of the page.



MARK:            Now, this is an ongoing piece of business.  Remember to turn in your advancement reports every month. The report goes to the pack committee’s advancement chairperson who submits the report to the council service center.


JANET:           It’s very important that you turn in advancement reports so that the boys receive advancement credit in a timely way.  You should be doing this every month and presenting advancement awards at the monthly pack meeting.


MARK:            Finally, we all know your Cub Scouts love the Pinewood Derby, Space Derby, and Rain Gutter Regatta, and now is the time to begin planning those events, not next month, not next week, now.


JANET:           It’s also a good time to start the ball rolling on the Blue and Gold Banquet, which occurs in February.  Sure, that seems like a long time from now, but we all know how time zips by and the sooner you plan for these events the better they are and the more the boys and their families will enjoy the occasion.  You can go back and download the December 2012 CubCast for some great ideas in how to hold a Blue and Gold.


Begin music under:


JANET            Well, as much fun as this has been, the music cue means the September CubCast has come to an end.  Thanks again to our guest, Richard Bourlon.


MARK:            Be sure to come back next month for a spirited discussion on using visual storytelling for recruiting and retention.

JANET:           If there are other topics you’d like to hear about or just want to let us know how we’re doing, send us an e-mail to or a tweet to @cubcast.  We’d love to hear from you.  I’m Janet Griffin —


MARK:            And I’m Mark Griffin.  Be safe out there.


Music Full Finish

In the 1960s, the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings sponsored an Explorer post

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These Explorers were more than ready for some football.

That’s why in 1965 a group of guys got together to form Explorer Post 467, sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings Football Club.

For its bimonthly meetings, the post held mock NFL drafts, toured the team’s Metropolitan Stadium and met with sports reporters who covered the team.

On their committee sat Minnesota Vikings coaches, players and staff members.

In short, Explorer Post 467 must have been a dream come true for any young man who loved pro football.

Today marks the start of the National Football League’s regular season, but before we look forward to the games tonight and on Sunday and Monday, let’s look back at this collaboration between Scouting and sports.

In the October 1967 issue of Scouting magazine, you’ll find a story headlined “Minnesota Vikings Score With Special-Interest Post.” Find this and other past issues at our online archive.

Kicking off

Explorer Post 467 didn’t come onto the scene quietly.

In a game against the San Francisco 49ers in 1965, the Vikings presented Post 467 with its official charter — during the halftime show.

The day’s program read: “The Vikings are trying a new version of the post pattern. This one doesn’t involve offensive ends. It involves those who are interested in extending the sports education and training of boys.”

Those words prove the post’s real purpose went beyond watching sports and getting autographs from players. Its real intent was to promote boys’ interest in sports administration.

The message is that careers in sports don’t always require you to wear a helmet and pads.

No couch potatoes here

Check out some of the activities the post enjoyed during its first two years in existence:

  • Attending the filming of a CBS “Countdown to Kickoff” show
  • Discussing crowd control and ushering with the stadium’s director of ushering
  • Meeting sportscaster Hal Scott, a play-by-play announcer for the Minnesota Twins
  • Learning about officiating from an ice hockey official
  • Hearing about a player’s attitude in sports from a defensive back
  • Talking about scouting college players with the Vikings’ personnel director
  • Chatting about sports journalism with a United Press International bureau chief
  • Touring the plant that prints souvenir football programs

Over the course of three meetings one year, the post held a simulated NFL draft using actual draft summaries prepared by Vikings coaches.

More to cheer about

Those meetings sound awesome (where do I sign up?), but they were about more than fun, as the Scouting article explains.

“Whether Post 467′s specialty of professional sports administration is a hobby or career training for the Explorers, they are associating with men and acquiring ideas that will benefit them all their lives.”

The story as it appeared in Scouting magazine

(Click to enlarge)

Merit badge pamphlets and leader materials now available on Kindle

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Imagine being able to look up rank or merit badge requirements on your phone or tablet wherever you are.

Or giving your Scouts access to merit badge pamphlets on devices from which they’re already inseparable.

That’s the promise of the Boy Scouts of America’s Amazon Kindle library, which debuted in April and has been adding titles at a fervid pace ever since.

I’ve got the full list of available titles below.

You can download, search and read selected merit badge pamphlets, leader materials and the BSA Fieldbook on Kindle devices or via the Kindle app on phones and tablets.

What are Kindle books?

Pretty much every phone and tablet, including iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows Phones and — duh — Kindles have a Kindle reader that lets you access your Kindle books.

In other words, you can read them even if you don’t own an actual Kindle.

The best part: If you buy a book once, you can view it on any of your devices. The apps will remember your bookmarks, highlights and where you stopped reading.

Say you bought the Fieldbook on your Kindle Fire but didn’t bring that device on your troop campout. The app lets you read it on your iPhone without buying the book again.

Why Kindle books?

National Supply Group Director Sam Bernstein says the BSA’s Amazon Library is just the start of the organization’s digital push.

“Digital media has changed the way kids learn, connect, socialize and play, and the BSA’s Kindle downloads are only the beginning of our digital initiative,” he says. “We’re committed to delivering the program in the format our members want and expect. E-pubs of merit badge pamphlets, leader materials and the Fieldbook give Scouts easy access to BSA resources wherever they are — training courses, committee meetings, boards of review, camping trips — the information will be right at your fingertips.”

The digital nature of electronic publications has another benefit, too.

“E-pubs also enable us to update material more frequently,” Bernstein says, “giving Scouts the most current and relevant resources when they need it.”

What’s available now?

All of the Eagle-required merit badges, with the exception of Citizenship in the World and Sustainability, are available now. Also available are two tech-heavy merit badges: Robotics and Digital Technology. How appropriate.

Leaders will be pleased with a selection of materials for them. No more lugging around heavy books. Just download and go.

More is coming soon. The BSA is continually adding new titles to its Amazon library and is expanding into other digital formats. If you love technology like I do, it’s an exciting time to be a Scouter.

Here are the books available right now on Amazon. The links take you to the title’s page on the Amazon store.

Merit Badge Pamphlets (each $4.99) Leader materials Other must-have Scouting materials

H/T Thanks to Laurie Buckelew, Creative Director in the Supply Group’s Marketing Team, for the tip.

Snack Smart: How four Scout leaders successfully banished junk food

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This just in: Skittles aren’t fruit, and Funyuns aren’t vegetables.

As adult leaders, you can start the Scouting year off right by exposing Scouts to nutritious food at unit meetings. They’ll develop a healthy-snacking habit that’s bound to carry over into campouts and — maybe, just maybe — their home life.

Smart, healthy Scout snacks are the focus of the third of three principles of healthy living known as Drink Right, Move More and Snack Smart

(In earlier posts I shared why it’s important to replace bug juice with water and how to add more activity to your unit meetings.)

The Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart effort is the brainchild of Healthy Kids Out of School (with regional funding provided by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation), a Boy Scouts of America partner in the push for healthier Scouts.

Healthy Kids Out of School and the BSA are serious about healthier kids. Especially because they know American children don’t drink enough water, don’t get enough exercise and don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies.

That’s why Healthy Kids Out of School and the BSA offer the SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit patch to any Scout unit that makes a few easy, positive changes. More on the patch in a bit.

First, read about four Scouters who have made the switch to healthy Scout snacks.

Healthy Scout snacks Seasonal fruit on the cheap

“Surprisingly the kids loved the healthy snacks,” says Raynham, Mass., Pack 11 Cubmaster Mike Vena. “They would often share what their favorite snack was from something that was offered or as a suggestion for the next time.”

Easy snacks included baby carrots, apples and clementines. Vena found that seasonal fruit was less expensive than processed junk food, meaning oftentimes the entire pack snack was less than $20.

Big bowls of fruit — and smoothies, too

Cubmaster William Brown of Fredonia, N.Y., Pack 267 made the switch to fruits and vegetables.

“Our Cubs dived into big bowls of apples and bananas at our January pinewood derby, and they cleared plates full of ripe strawberries and watermelon at our year-end June campout,” he says.

During den meetings, Pack 267 Cub Scouts design their own smoothies by blending low-fat yogurt with their choice of berries and other fruits.

Don’t forget the dip

Scouter Cathy Burks says Scouts will eat whatever’s available. If it’s fruit and veggies, they’ll eat that.

But “for veggies you gotta have dip!” she adds.

She also suggests checking out fun snack ideas on Pinterest.

Learning and eating well

Petersburgh, N.Y., Troop 2222 used Cooking merit badge as the catalyst for healthier food at meetings and campouts.

“Now, we are not perfect,” says Scoutmaster Andy Zlotnick. “We still have bug juice on occasion, but at meetings we have a cooler of water, and when we have snacks we look at a balance of the items we choose to eat. We have fruit trays or veggie trays or even just a bag of apples to have as a snack. For those who were the hardest converts, we added some dip or chocolate spread to dip the fruit in.”

Zlotnick, who has Type 2 diabetes, makes it personal. He tells Scouts about his condition “to help them avoid my pitfalls and poor food choices growing up.”

“We now have boys who are starting to alter their eating habits, choosing wheat bread or veggies over white bread or cupcakes,” he says. “And we see them choosing veggies for their pizzas!”

Oh yeah, and there’s a patch

Smarter snacking yields more than just healthier Scouts. You can also get a patch.

The SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit Patch, which encourages units to follow the BSA’s SCOUTStrong recommendations to Drink Right, Move More and Snack Smart at meetings, events and excursions is available free to any unit that completes the patch requirements.

One of those requirements, “Serve a fruit or vegetable at three meetings,” ties in perfectly to today’s discussion.

Read all about the SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit Patch here.

What are your unit’s favorite healthy snacks?

Get ideas over at the Healthy Kids Hub. And share your own in the comments below.

Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart

This is Part 3 in the three-part series:

Drink Right: Why now’s the time to replace soda and bug juice with water

Move More: How (and why) to make your unit meetings more active

Snack Smart: How four Scout leaders successfully banished junk food (this post)

Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by danmachold

Spotted in Scouting magazine: Merit badge sashes worn on belts

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“A merit badge sash is never worn on the belt.”

It’s right there on Page 31 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia. The word “never” is even italicized and everything.

Coincidentally, Page 31 of the September-October 2014 issue of Scouting magazine is where you’ll find a group of Scouts wearing — you guessed it — merit badge sashes on their belts.

Two of the Scouts in the photo wear an OA sash and a merit badge sash, also a no-no according to Page 31 of the Guide.

So what gives?

Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard from more than a dozen Scouters who noticed the uniforming mix-up and wanted to contact us.

Here’s a small sampling:

“I have seen this so many times and I can no longer keep quiet,” a Pennsylvania Scouter writes. “Boy Scouts should not wear their merit badge sashes on their belt. … Wear it properly or not at all!”

A North Carolina Scouter adds: “I’d hate for someone to look at the photo and think, ‘Gee, that’s a great way to wear a merit badge sash and an OA sash at the same time!’”

“It is hard to get boys to follow BSA guidelines when they see other Scouts breaking the rules and getting recognized for it!” exclaims a Michigan Scouter.

My thoughts

We at Scouting magazine feel fortunate to have such eagle-eyed readers who notice this kind of thing. It means you read the magazine and care about Scouting.

And we hear you. You’re correct that merit badge sashes aren’t worn properly in the photo.

When out on assignment, we try to correct these types of uniform mistakes when we see them. But we can’t be everywhere and can’t fix everything.

So why run the photo? Because these fine Scouts from Nashville gave up their free time to attend the BSA’s 2014 National Annual Meeting and serve as the color guard.

They deserve our thanks and our recognition — no matter how they’re dressed.

A reminder about how to wear merit badge sashes

What better time to remind you about the rules and guidelines behind wearing merit badge sashes?

My blog post from back in March has everything you need to know.

A post-campout checklist every Scout or Venturer needs

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It’s Sunday night after a fun but exhausting weekend of camping.

But before your Scout or Venturer collapses on the couch with a book, favorite show or videogame, hand them their post-campout checklist.

You’ll be glad to have everything put away properly and your Scout smelling good again.

They’ll be glad upon arrival at their next campout to find everything clean and ready for use.

By following the 10-step post-campout checklist below, your Scouts/Venturers can make the transition from Scouting on Sunday to school on Monday much easier.

The ideas come from Lombard, Ill., Scouter Sherrie Nielsen.

Sherrie knows of what she speaks. She’s been in Scouting for 23 years as assistant Scoutmaster and committee chairwoman, in addition to serving on her district’s advancement committee.

I’ve included Sherrie’s thoughts below, but I’ve also turned them into a one-page PDF. You’re free to print it out and share it with your Scouts, Venturers or fellow Scouters.

Post-campout checklist

By Three Fires Council Scouter Sherrie Nielsen and Bryan Wendell.

1. Dry your tent and gear

Just say no to mold.

Put your tent up to dry right away, preferably outside or in the garage.

“You don’t know what insects have crawled in there,” Sherrie says. “Last resort might be the basement or another uncarpeted area.”

Do the same with your sleeping bag, rain jacket and anything else that might still be damp.

Or don’t, and risk finding out at the next troop or crew meeting that you left your gear rolled up in the back of a leader’s hot car!

2. Wash your clothes

Don’t take your backpack or bag to your room. Instead, head straight for the laundry room.

Take out your dirty shirts, pants, shorts, bandanas, jackets, socks, underwear, towels … and whatever else needs to be thrown in the washer. And start a load.

Your parents will thank you, and so will your clothes.

Why? “First, if there are any bugs in the clothes they get washed (killed),” Sherrie says. “If you rubbed around in some poison ivy, this washes away the oil the plant deposited on the clothes. I heard about a Scout who once had poison ivy at a campout. Upon arriving home he laid his clothes over the bed, later sitting in the same spot and got poison ivy again!”

3. Put away food

What do you do with leftover food from your patrol box? Hopefully the answer isn’t to simply leave it in there. Gross.

“There might be a gallon of milk, cheese, bread, mustard, ketchup, mayo, etc.,” Sherrie says. “You get the idea. It’s time to put the food away or in the refrigerator. Don’t forget the leftover sandwich in your backpack from the hike!”

4. Take a shower

Your clothes are getting cleaned, but what about you? That foul smell — yeah, it’s probably you.

“Soap up from head to toe, paying special attention to areas with hair and also ankles,” Sherrie recommends. “Just like your clothes, you are trying to get rid of any fleas, ticks, chiggers or poison ivy/oak oils on the skin. As ankles are the closest uncovered area to the ground, they seem to be especially sensitive to bites, scrapes and plant oils.”

5. Apply bite treatment, if needed

Insect bites are a common side effect of a fun Scouting adventure.

Some troops/crews carry bite-relief sticks to immediately remove that itchy feeling.

“I carry clear (non-scented) ammonia and cotton balls,” Sherrie says. “A friend in the military told me they use ammonia for bites. You can buy a half a gallon of ammonia (not the lemon-scented one) for the cost of one bite-relief stick.”

If the bites are still itchy at home, don’t scratch them open. Instead, use calamine lotion.

6. Care for those feet

See peeling skin around your toes or the bottoms of your feet? That may be athlete’s foot, especially if you were recently in a shower used by other Scouts.

Find over-the-counter treatment for athlete’s foot. This will keep the rest of your family from getting infected. Oh, and next time, remember those shower shoes!

Blisters? Treat them with moleskin padding.

7. Watch for fleas and ticks

Dogs aren’t the only mammals subject to those creepy crawlies known as fleas and ticks.

You have two options, Sherrie says: One is to grab a flea or tick comb to comb through your own hair.

The second is to have a parent do the check.

“Grab ticks with tweezers behind the head and gently and slowly pull it out of the skin along the line of its body. Then dispose,” Sherrie says.

8. Have a headache?

If you came home with a headache or you’re overly tired, don’t rush for the aspirin just yet.

Instead, drink some water.

“One of the first signs of dehydration is a headache,” Sherrie says. “You might also notice the dark yellow to orange color of your urine for a second clue.”

9. Organize those advancement records

Now that you’re clean, it’s time to make sure all that advancement work wasn’t for naught.

Record the campout in your Boy Scout Handbook, marking down how many nights you were camping.

“It’s also a good idea to make yourself a note of anything you want to accomplish,” Sherrie says. “Maybe it’s a rank advancement item. Maybe it’s a merit badge requirement. Did you do service time?

“Record the hours in the log in the back of your book. Is there a pen in the zippered pouch cover? It’s a good time to put one in there.”

10. Relax

At last, you’re done. Everything is taken care of, and you can plop in front of your favorite game or the TV. But wait: Is your homework done?

Anything to add?

What post-campout steps or tips would you add to this checklist? Help other Scouters and parents with a comment below.

Get this in PDF form

If you find this checklist useful, you’re free to print it out and share it using this PDF.


Remember STEM as you craft your unit’s Annual Program Plan

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Richard Stone won’t rest until every Scout unit includes STEM elements in its regular monthly program.

But he doesn’t think you should have to wedge STEM in with a crowbar.

Instead, the education and training leader of the BSA’s National STEM/Nova Committee says, it’s easy to integrate STEM activities into the fun you’ve already got planned for your Scouts and Venturers.

And if you happen to earn some Nova awards along the way, even better!

Dr. Stone, who has two degrees in physics and earned his Ph.D. in materials science, shares more below.

Integrate STEM activities into your unit’s Annual Program Plan

Our guest blogger with the famous Pedro at the 2014 National Annual Meeting.

A wise trainer once explained to me that an active troop doesn’t have to plan to work on Camping, Cooking and Hiking merit badges — earning those are a side effect of an active program.

What a great idea.

This is the time of year that most units develop their Annual Program Plan. Include activities that are fun, challenging and exciting. Support advancement, and maybe help Scouts earn awards.

Look for opportunities to integrate STEM and Nova activities into your Annual Program Plan.

In Cub Scouts

Last year at a Blue and Gold banquet, I watched a group of Webelos cross over to Boy Scouts. They all earned several activity pins like Scientist, Engineer and Geologist — and also the Science Everywhere! Nova award. The Webelos leader explained that after the boys earned their Arrow of Light advancements and some activity pins, the natural follow-on was to work on a related Nova award.

They had the time, and the Scouts were interested.

A counselor who is also very active in her pack extended the idea further. Many of the activities for belt loops or activity pins naturally extend into Nova award activities.

Why not group them together: do the belt loop activity and the Nova activity as a set?

When working on the Forester activity pin, take a field trip to look at local trees. Measure the height of a tree, and the Cub has earned part of the 1-2-3 Go! Nova award. You could easily work several related activities together in a month or two of meetings with the same theme.

In Boy Scouts

Integrating program activities works for Boy Scouts too. Many Scouts earn Canoeing, Motorboating, or Small-Boat Sailing merit badges at summer camp.

Why not expand on those to work on the Start Your Engines! technology Nova award?

If the troop participates in a STEM camporee and finds some of the activities fun, find a merit badge or Nova award that explores those topics.

The lesson I learned long ago for Camping, Cooking and Hiking also applies to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Great program is built with activities that lead to fun and advancement. Integrate related activities to enhance your program.

Other STEM blog posts

Include STEM activities in your pack or troop’s summer fun

How you can be a Nova counselor

Build an Adventure: Inside the BSA’s new campaign to recruit Scout families

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Today’s families have less free time than ever, and the BSA helps them make the most of the fleeting time they have to positively affect the lives of their children.

You know that. I know that.

Now it’s time to make sure all of America does, too.

Today marks the launch of Build an Adventure, the Boy Scouts of America’s new national recruiting campaign, which helps parents understand that Scouting provides quality time and irreplaceable experiences for families pulled in a million directions by work, school, sports, church and home.

“For parents, every minute with their kids matters, so they want to make the best decision on how their children’s time is spent outside of school,” says Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock. “Through the Build an Adventure campaign, we are demonstrating that choosing to put a child in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts today is part of the foundation that can help him reach his full potential and become a successful adult.”

Build an Adventure shares that message through fliers, billboards, posters, yard signs, Web banners, e-blasts, PSAs, print ads, door hangers, postcards, bookmarks, peer-to-peer cards and social media images.

In other words: Councils have tools to reach families wherever they are.

For my money, the inviting and aspirational imagery of the Build an Adventure campaign is the BSA’s best yet. The print and Web materials include compelling visuals and a simple but powerful message. The TV spots, which you can watch below, beat any Super Bowl ads I’ve seen.

The campaign itself was designed for use in 2015, but in a nod to councils champing at the bit to use the new materials, the BSA released everything early for use this fall.

Build an Adventure’s core messages
  • Today’s parents are busy
    • They’re constantly pressured by the challenge to balance work and home. Even as they’re working harder than ever, it’s important to them to spend quality time with their children.
  • Youth today are spending less time outside and more time in front of screens
    • Parents are increasingly concerned that screen time is robbing their kids of real-world experiences. Scouting provides those experiences.
  • Scouting makes the most of the little time parents have to affect their children
    • For parents, every minute with their kids matters so they want to make the best decisions on how their children’s time is spent outside of school.
    • Making Scouting part of children’s lives gives them the chance to participate in a wide variety of fun adventures that parents are unlikely to provide on their own for their children on a routine basis.
Where to download the materials

Find everything related to Build an Adventure, including campaign guidelines, right here.

And learn more over at Scouting Newsroom.

Watch the new PSA videos


Merit badge requirements completed but no blue card — now what?

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Four years ago, Boy Scout Aaron, now 15, began working on Theater merit badge.

He acted in school plays and worked backstage at school musicals.

There’s just one problem: nobody told his Scoutmaster.

That means Aaron didn’t have a blue card. Or a merit badge counselor, for that matter.

So are the curtains closed on Theater merit badge for Aaron? Or can he still count some of that experience toward the badge requirements?

The basic answer is this: It’s up to the merit badge counselor, not the Scoutmaster, to determine whether the requirement was fulfilled. The Scout will have the burden of providing evidence that he indeed did the work — in this case we’re talking about requirement 3 for Theater. But this rule can apply to other merit badges and other requirements as well.

See Aaron’s question and the expert’s full response after the jump.

The question

My name is Aaron, and I am a 15-year-old Boy Scout. My question is regarding when I was in sixth grade (I am now going into 10th) when I was a Boy Scout.

I was working on the Theater merit badge without a blue card, and my Scoutmaster didn’t have knowledge of me working on it.

We now have a different leader, and she says that I can’t use my acting and help with the musical or anything involved with it for fulfilling the requirement because the old leader didn’t have knowledge about my work, and I didn’t have a blue card.

Is she right, or am I allowed to use this as fulfilling requirement 3 for this merit badge? Any help here would be very appreciated. Thank you so much.

The expert’s response

Frank Ramirez with the BSA’s Content Management Team offers this official response:

In all likelihood, the Scoutmster would have issued the Scout a blue card to take to his counselor if the Scout had asked.

Section in the “Guide to Advancement” states the Scout must discuss the merit badge with his unit leader and get a signed blue card from him or her. The leader then proceeds to give the Scout contact information of a registered, approved merit badge counselor. The new leader is probably using this policy to justify her decision.

However, we live in the real world where some motivated young men do begin working on merit badges without first having had the initial discussion with their unit leader. However, they run the risk of meeting with people who may or may not be currently registered, approved counselors.

The real issue here is the Scout is saying he has completed the three required options that satisfy requirement 3 of Theater.

The new Scoutmaster, taking the role of an understanding coach, should discuss her concerns with the Scout, i.e. merit badge goals must first be discussed with the Scoutmaster before blue card is issued, then proceed contacting an approved merit badge counselor to begin working on the merit badge.

Then, issue him the blue card with appropriate merit badge counselor contact information.

Ultimately, it will be the counselor’s decision whether the requirement was fulfilled, or not. The Scout will have the burden of providing evidence that he indeed did the work. For example:

  • 3A: video showing him acting in a full-length play
  • 3B: video of him directing a play, or a script he wrote showing which character does what
  • 3C: showing his counselor the model of the set he designed
  • 3D: pictures of costumes he designed of five characters in the play
  • 3E: showing his counselor a video or pictures of him applying stage make-up
  • And so forth
See also

From 2013: Ask the Expert: Can merit badge progress begin before a Scout gets his blue card?

Ask the Experts your question

Find other expertly answered questions here, and ask your own by emailing me. I can’t respond to each question, but I select commonly asked questions to answer on the blog.

OA Lodge History Initiative makes sure no story is forgotten

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Storytelling is a vital part of American Indian culture, in which true tales are passed from one generation to the next.

It’s similarly important in the Order of the Arrow, the Scouting honor society that uses American Indian-style traditions and ceremonies.

That’s why the Order of the Arrow Lodge History Initiative is so vital. The project, timed in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the OA in 2015, aims to preserve each lodge’s unique story to make sure it’s never lost to the erosion of time.

The National Scouting Museum has partnered with the “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt Trust to sponsor the OA Lodge History Initiative.

Robert Mason, a young Divinity student at Duke University, has organized efforts to have all 300 OA lodges produce a lodge history.

Mason’s team publishes a monthly email newsletter, “The Historian Gazette,” to help guide local lodge historians and their advisors. On the first Sunday evening of each month, a topical webinar is held as a means to bring together lodge historians. Topics thus far have included “How to Get Started,” “How to Interview People,” “Writing Fundamentals,” “Basics of Editing” and “Dealing with Sensitive Topics.”

Mason says that to date about 150 lodge historians and adult advisors have been reached. However, more are needed.

Where you come in

Make sure your lodge’s unique history is never forgotten by ensuring participation in this important project.

Learn more at the Lodge History Book website.

H/T Thanks to National Scouting Museum Director Janice Babineaux for the post idea.

All four national BSA high-adventure bases now qualify for Triple Crown

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I jumped the gun last week, but now it’s official: The Summit Bechtel Reserve is now a part of the Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award.

And a new honor, the Grand Slam of National High Adventure Award, recognizes Scouts who participate in qualifying high-adventure programs at all four national high-adventure bases. That’s Northern Tier, Philmont, Sea Base and the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

We get our first look today at the redesigned patches for the Triple Crown award. Now that there are four different qualifying combinations of high-adventure bases, the award needed four different patches:

  • Philmont, Sea Base, Northern Tier
  • Summit, Sea Base, Northern Tier
  • Philmont, Summit, Northern Tier
  • Philmont, Sea Base, Summit

The patches include animals to represent each national high-adventure base: a bull for Philmont, a loon for Northern Tier, a dolphin for Sea Base and a black bear for the Summit.

The Grand Slam award patch design will be unveiled soon.

Applications for both awards are being accepted now, but because the new patches will take time to produce, processing won’t begin until November for those who attended the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base at the Summit.

More about the Triple Crown and Grand Slam of High Adventure awards

A group of awesome volunteers from the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association created the Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award in 1996.

The goal? To recognize adults and youth “with a thirst for high adventure.” The award gained additional notoriety in 2012 when the patch was depicted in Joseph Csatari’s 100 Years of Eagle Scout painting.

Youth and adults who participate in qualifying high-adventure programs at either three (Triple Crown) or four (Grand Slam) national high-adventure bases are eligible for the awards.

Obvious question: What’s a qualifying high-adventure program? Glad you asked.

The Sommers Alumni Association offers this guide (PDF) that tells you exactly what is and what isn’t a qualifying program.

You’ll find that information, an award application and more answers to your questions at the award’s official website.


LDS Scouting Handbook revised for 2014

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has updated its “Scouting Handbook” for 2014.

The May 2014 version, available online (PDF), “outlines guidelines and policies relating to Scouting programs” in the LDS church.

It specifies places where BSA policy and church policy differ and helps leaders more effectively administer Scouting in their ward.

The 2014 edition includes updates in two sections: Section 3, “Stake Leaders’ Responsibilities for Scouting” and Section 8, “Church Policies.”

The full list of sections below gives you an idea of what’s inside the eight-page document:

  1. Introduction
  2. Training and Development
  3. Stake Leaders’ Responsibilities for Scouting
  4. Ward Leaders’ Responsibilities for Scouting
  5. Scouting in the Aaronic Priesthood
  6. Scouting in Primary
  7. Awards and Recognition
  8. Church Policies
See also

Find tons of LDS Scouting resources here.

H/T: Thanks to Mark Francis, Director of LDS-BSA Relationships, for the tip.

Duty to God becoming larger part of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting

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Scouts have always shown reverence for a higher power. It’s in our Scout Oath and Scout Law.

But soon, that Duty to God will be further incorporated into Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting.

Here’s the scoop from Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team:

Cub Scouting

By the beginning of the 2015-2016 Scouting year, each Cub Scout rank will include a new family-based Duty to God adventure.

These requirements will NOT include a requirement that a Cub Scout earn his respective religious award.

Boy Scouting

Beginning in 2016 in Boy Scouts, Duty to God will be incorporated in the requirement to show Scout Spirit.

During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty.

Again, there will be no requirement for the Scout to earn his respective religious award.

More on the changes to Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing

As always, let me direct you to the BSA’s Program Updates page for the latest materials on the exciting changes coming to Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting — and the changes already introduced in Venturing.

What’s your opinion on female Scoutmasters?

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We’ve come a long way since Catherine Pollard of Milford, Conn., became the first female Scoutmaster in 1988.

That’s when the BSA did away with gender restrictions on volunteer positions, allowing Pollard to lead a troop.

“I do think that this is marvelous,” Pollard said at the time, “because there have been women all over the United States, in fact all over the world, that have been doing these things for the Boy Scouts because they could not get a male leader.”

Pollard paved the way for countless other female Scoutmasters since.

Women like Sandra Vallejo (pictured above), a Scouter in the BSA’s Puerto Rico Council. Just last week she was “given the honor and privilege of being the new Scoutmaster of my troop,” she writes.

Now she’s looking to Scouters like you for guidance.

“I’m curious,” she writes, “is it possible for you to ask your readers their opinion on women being Scoutmasters?”

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, please share those opinions on questions like:

  • Has your troop had a female Scoutmaster?
  • If so, was she fairly treated by her male peers?
  • What, if any, challenges did she overcome in that role?
  • What advice can you give Sandra as she takes over this new position?
What the BSA says

I can’t leave you without sharing the BSA stance on this. In the organization’s official FAQs page, this question is included:

Can women be Boy Scout leaders?

Yes. Every leadership position is open to women. In fact, more than one-third of Scout volunteers are women.

Other Tuesday Talkbacks

Join past discussions here.

The only thing cooler than this Scout trailer is the story behind it

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That rolling billboard for Troop 346 of Minnetonka, Minn., offers more than meets the eye.

Yes, the troop trailer design cleverly integrates different activities the Scouts of Troop 346 enjoy: paddling, fishing, eating s’mores.

But it’s the story behind the design that really impresses. The Scouts designed the trailer as part of their Graphic Arts merit badge class.

Scoutmaster Greg Sanderson, understandably proud of the Scouts’ work, sent me some photos.

“I know that you dig Scout trailers,” he writes. “Well, we just did a really cool facelift.”

He’s right; I’ve blogged about cool Scout trailers before. But this trailer is one of the best yet.

A mom in Troop 346 is a graphic designer, and she taught the Graphic Arts merit badge class. Scouts in the class created different design ideas and voted on their favorites.

Then it was time to pay for the $1,700 vinyl wrapping. The Scouts handled that, too, chipping in $15 per Scout, with the troop committee allocating matching funds.

Sanderson sums it up nicely: “The images are completely Scout-designed and paid for — and they earned a merit badge in the process.”

More than a trailer

When Sanderson took over as Scoutmaster last August, one of his first goals was to consider how the troop presented itself to the public and to its chartered organization.

“The only thing the public sees is our trailer,” he says. “And our chartered organization, other than seeing the Scouts themselves, only sees the sad, old, dingy trailer.”

So he planted the seed with the patrol leaders’ council, which liked the idea.

“I am so proud of our Scouts and our adults for how the trailer design was handled,” Sanderson says. “Our Scouts totally embraced the idea that they got to design the trailer and earn a merit badge at the same time.”

This cool design doesn’t just stop at the trailer. Troop 346 plans to use the new logo on everything, including T-shirts, bolo ties, neckerchiefs and — of course —  patches for trading.

When that happens, here’s hoping Sanderson remembers me. I must have one of those patches.

More photos of Troop 346′s trailer

Eagle Scout journalist has been missing in Syria for two years

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It’s with a heavy but hopeful heart that I share the news of one of our own missing in Syria.

Austin Tice, an Eagle Scout, former U.S. Marine and freelance journalist, has been missing in the war-torn country in western Asia since Aug. 14, 2012.

Austin, now 33, was one of the few journalists working in this highly dangerous region. He was contributing to The Washington Post, McClatchy, CBS and other news outlets when he was kidnapped.

News about his location or condition has been basically nonexistent.

But his parents, Debra and Marc, haven’t given up hope. And we shouldn’t either. Please join me in keeping this Eagle Scout in your thoughts and praying for his safe return.

Last week marked the second anniversary of his disappearance, and Debra and Marc wrote this letter in The Washington Post sharing memories of their son and speaking with the kind of pride familiar to all parents of Eagle Scouts.

From your earliest days as an Eagle Scout, a top student, a terrific athlete, and a caring friend and neighbor, we knew you were a special kid. When you put your Georgetown Law education on hold to follow your journalistic dreams, we knew you were extraordinary. When you did so to help people in one of the most dangerous regions in the world, we knew you were one in a million.

From what I’ve read and learned about Austin, it’s tough to argue with that sentiment. He’s a truly remarkable man.

I was able to reach Marc by email, and he gave me his blessing to go ahead with this blog post. He told me his son, who earned the Eagle Scout award as a member of Houston, Texas, Troop 266, is the man he is today because of Scouting.

Austin attended multiple summer camps at El Rancho Cima in the Texas Hill Country, hiked at Philmont, sailed at the Florida Sea Base and canoed the Boundary Waters.

“Scouting was important to Austin, and he is very proud of achieving his Eagle,” Marc wrote. “We all recognize the positive impact of Scouting in forming Austin into the man he is today.”

Learn more and help the Tice family

Please visit the website they’ve set up to learn more about how you can help.

Photos of Austin in Scouting

Marc shared these photos with me:

Austin Tice receives the Arrow of Light Award from his dad, Pack 80 Cubmaster Marc Tice.

Cub Scout Austin presents his mom, Debra, with a mother’s pin.

Austin crosses over into Boy Scouting.

Austin takes a break while working on his Eagle Scout project.

Scoutmaster Bill Wallace presents Austin with Troop 266′s “Scout of the Year” award.

Austin poses during his Eagle Scout ceremony.

Marc and Debra Tice stand proud as Austin receives his Eagle Scout award.


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