Scouting News from the Internet

Celebrate the World Cup with a soccer-themed game

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In honor of today’s FIFA World Cup face-off between USA and Germany, we’ve dug a soccer-themed game out of the Scouting magazine archives from 1991.

If your boys or Venturing girls have World Cup fever — like so many of us! — use this game at your next unit meeting to help them blow off some steam and have some fun.

Blindfold Soccer

Equipment: Blindfolds for half the Scouts; two soccer balls

Object: Each team tries to kick the ball past the opponent’s end zone as many times as possible. Each successful kick earns a point for that team.

Instructions: Divide the Scouts into two teams or use patrols. Each team then divides into pairs. One member of each pair is blindfolded. The game starts when the referee throws or kicks two soccer balls into the middle of a soccer field or playing area. The winning team is the one with the highest score at the end of play, about 30 minutes.


  1. Only the blindfolded Scouts may kick the ball; the sighted Scouts can only offer verbal directions to their partners.
  2. Members of the pair or groups of pairs are not allowed to purposely touch one another. Normal game contact is OK, as long as the touching is not to direct a blindfolded participant toward the ball.
  3. There are no goalies.
  4. If a ball is kicked out of bounds, the referee will throw the ball into the middle of the field. Play then resumes.
  5. Whatever additional rules are needed are up to the referee.

Find more soccer-themed meeting games by searching for “Soccer” in the search tab located on the Scouting magazine digital archive page.

Photo courtesy of FIFA; photography by Vince Heptig (Scouting magazine, September 2005)

Meet the Eagle Scout working at the ‘CBS Evening News’

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The news never sleeps, and I’m not sure Scott Berger does either.

The Distinguished Eagle Scout is the associate director of the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, where he helps put out a 30-minute news program every weekday and must be ready to go on the air any moment with breaking news.

Somehow he still has enough time to be a national Scouting volunteer, as well. He serves on several national committees, including the Merit Badge Maintenance Task Force. Those jobs mean traveling — on his own dime — across the country to committee meetings and national events.

Mention the name Scott Berger around the BSA’s national headquarters in Texas and you couldn’t get a better reaction. Everyone I talked to who has worked with him says how lucky they feel to have him as a volunteer. His expertise and passion for Scouting is unmatched; his positive actions have nationwide implications.

Speaking of lucky, I was fortunate enough to travel to New York late last year to profile Scott and watch him work during a broadcast of the CBS Evening News. Read the story in the latest issue of Eagles’ Call magazine (Summer 2014), which current National Eagle Scout Association members should’ve received last week.

In addition to the story, we also made a behind-the-scenes video of our visit to the CBS Broadcast Center. Don’t miss that below.

Bonus photo

Here I am with CBS anchor Scott Pelley and NESA Director Bill Steele.

Photos by W. Garth Dowling. Video by Tom Fiorini.

Are you ready to go digital with Scouting magazine?

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Would you read a digital version of Scouting magazine? If so, would you still want your print copy?

Those are the kind of questions the BSA’s magazine team, led by Editorial Director Mike Goldman, is considering right now. And we need your input. After all, Scouting magazine wouldn’t exist without you.

Boys’ Life, the premier magazine for youth and Scouts, already has a working prototype of an iPad edition. At the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in May, I watched as volunteers and professionals got a fingers-on look at the prototype. Reviews were glowing.

BL came to life with embedded videos; immersive pages you could tap, swipe, and rotate for extra content; and gorgeous photos best viewed on the crisp displays of modern tablets. None of that’s possible in print.

A tablet edition of BL blurs the lines between print and digital in ways that will make the reading experience better. The same would be true of a digital Scouting magazine.

“Our three magazines — Scouting, Boys’ Life and Eagles’ Call — are more than ink on paper,” Goldman says. “They each represent an experience that is manufactured in our readers’ minds, not on a printing press. Though the delivery method might change, that experience will not.”

Notice he said might change. We won’t make any move without first getting feedback from readers like you.

“Our top priority is to help our volunteers deliver the life-changing experience that is Scouting to each of our youth,” Goldman says. “We need to make our tools, like Scouting magazine, readily available in whatever forms our customers prefer.”

No matter the outcome of the informal poll below or future surveys (with statistically representative sample sizes), Goldman says the magazines’ strategies will always reflect the audience’s wants and needs.

“It’s all about customer service,” he says. “How we as publishers can best serve our readers. We might find that our printed magazine is the preferred experience. We might find a tablet edition is the way to go. We will listen to our readers and act accordingly.”

One thing is clear: Right now’s an exciting time to be a reader (or editor) of any of the BSA’s award-winning magazines.

View Poll

In the comments section, please share which specific device (e.g. iPad, Kindle Fire, Surface, Android phone) you’d use to read a digital version of Scouting magazine if one existed.

And of course, other comments are always welcome.

Photo:  Some rights reserved by pamhule

6 improvements in the revised Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook

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The Eagle Scout Service Project is tough enough. Confusing paperwork shouldn’t make it even harder.

Fortunately for aspirant Eagle Scouts — and the parents and Scouters supporting them — the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook (No. 512-927) is regularly refreshed to make it easier to use and understand.

That latest upgrade came on May 20, 2014. Find the new workbook (and tons of other useful documents) on the BSA Advancement Resources page.

The previous version of the workbook is no longer available, though Scouts who have already downloaded the previous workbook may continue to use it — even if their proposal hasn’t yet been approved.

What changed? Nothing earth-shattering, just lots of subtle improvements.

Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team tells me the informational parts have been reorganized, and functionality has been improved. Wording has been clarified in several areas.

Here are the six key improvements:

  1. All general information including the Message to Scouts and Parents or Guardians and the Excerpts and Summaries from the Guide to Advancement is now contained in the front of the workbook.
  2. The Contact Information page is included with the proposal. Note the instructions at the top of the page which indicate that only information that is reasonably required needs to be included.
  3. In some cases, functionality has been included to allow certain information from title pages and from the Contact Information page to auto-populate fields elsewhere in the workbook.
  4. Some additional tables have been included (e. g. Other Needs) and functionality improved to allow certain fields to expand to accept additional text. Note in some cases, field expansion is not unlimited since only a reasonable amount of information is needed for those answers.
  5. A project description and impact section has been added at the beginning of the project report.
  6. The Navigating the Eagle Scout Service Project – Information for Project Beneficiaries document has been added to the back of the workbook. It is intended that the Eagle Scout candidate will provide this document to their project beneficiary and discuss it with them when they approach the beneficiary with their project idea. Note that there is a box on the proposal for the beneficiary to indicate that they received a copy of the document.

Still see something in the workbook you’d improve if you could? Lo Vecchio says recommendations for changes or other improvements should be sent to:

Dispelling nine myths about lightning safety

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There’s no safe place outside in a lightning storm. Your best bet’s to get inside ASAP.

Of course, Scouting adventures take us deep into the outdoors, meaning sometimes there’s no “inside” to escape to.

In honor of Lightning Safety Awareness Week — June 22-28, 2014 — here are some ways to keep Scouts safe from deadly lightning strikes all year long.

First, know the BSA’s policy

The Boy Scouts of America has adopted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recommendation that when “Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! The only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle.”

Right when lightning-prone conditions start to develop, go ahead and get inside a building or safe vehicle if you can. Why risk it?

The BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting has a section devoted to Lightning Risk Reduction.

There you’ll find steps for what to do if no shelter is available, including staying away from tall trees and spreading out.

Then, get trained

Don’t blow this training off, because it just may safe your life or the lives of your Scouts. The E-Learning Weather Hazards Course, available through MyScouting, is appropriate for youth of Boy Scout age and up and all adults.

“At least one member of any tour or activity should have the training,” says BSA Health and Safety guru Richard Bourlon.

Finally, let’s dispel some myths

I found these nine lightning-safety myths (and the truths that refute them) quite eye-opening:

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don’t lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.
Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.

Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.
Fact: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.

Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones,Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning.
Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter – don’t waste time removing metal. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.
Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.

Source: NOAA’s Lightning Safety Page

Register now for the 2015 World Scout Jamboree in Japan

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Odds are 19 out of every 20 people you meet at the 2015 World Scout Jamboree will be from a country other than the United States.

How about those odds for making friends with Scouts from one of 161 different countries in attendance?

Next summer a few lucky Boy Scouts and Venturers will spend 12 days in Japan with more than 30,000 Scouts and leaders from across the globe.

I know what you’re thinking: Where do I sign up? Right here.

The Boy Scouts of America is expecting to send about 1,600 people to the 23rd World Jamboree, held in Kirara-hama, Yamaguchi, Japan from July 28 to Aug. 8, 2015.

I can guarantee it will be an amazing experience for those who attend as they make new friends, hear new languages and bring home a whole new worldview. (Read about my experiences at the 2011 World Jamboree here.)

You or a Scout or Venturer you know can be there next summer, either as a participant or as a member of staff (better known as the International Service Team).

You certainly have questions, like: How much does this cost? How do participants get to Japan? Who is eligible to attend?

Rather than answer here, let me point you to this handy FAQs page. The BSA’s International Team gets a ton of questions about the world jamboree every day, and most of those questions are answered right on that page.

H/T: Thanks to BSA International Director Janine Halverson and her amazing team of volunteers and professionals for making sure the BSA contingent will be well-represented in Japan.

Seven ingredients that make up a successful Scouting leader

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Ever struggle with doubts in your ability to serve as a Scouting leader? 

In the April 1957 issue of Scouting, Scoutmaster C. M. Heistand writes, “Scares me a little, sometimes. Here are these little guys placing so much confidence in me. How do I measure up?”

In the column, “A Scoutmaster Thinks It Over,” he lists seven “yardsticks” to help him measure how well he’s “making Scouting the satisfying experience boys dream about.”

Whether you’re a Scoutmaster, a den leader or a crew advisor, this list still proves enlightening today.

  1. Does a boy get the right start in our troop?
  2. Do I make full use of parents?
  3. Do I make full use of the patrol system?
  4. Are the boys advancing?
  5. Citizenship and service: Have we visited a patriotic shrine and discussed the deeds of those who made America great? Do we have a regular program of service projects that gives our boys a sense of being participating citizens?
  6. Uniforming: Most boys want a uniform when they join. Do we nurture this first desire?
  7. Hiking and camping: Hikes and camping are designed to teach Scouting skills on the learning-by-doing plan and to prepare boys to enjoy themselves in the out-of-doors. Do the boys get these opportunities?
  8. Home, church and school: Am I helping my boys sense the importance of their homes and of good citizenship in the home? Have we discussed religious awards in the patrol leaders’ council? Do I teach my boys that fulfilling school duties is basic preparation for life as a citizen of our nation?

When reflecting on his own capabilities, Scoutmaster C. M. goes on to write that several things give him courage:

“One is the fact that we have a program for which boys hunger if we give them the genuine article.

“… A second encouragement is the number of adults — parents, teachers, pastors and just plain good citizens — ready to help the Scoutmaster who knows how to tap such resources.

“… Most important, of course, is the urgency of the job to be done. The privilege and responsibility of helping build boys into well-rounded competent citizens is one to make a man both proud and humble.”

How do you stack up to these measuring points? And what keeps you going when you feel like you’re falling behind?

Bryan on Scouting gets new look and a forum feature

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Easier navigation, a better mobile viewing experience and a forum feature that lets you connect with other Scouters to ask questions and share ideas. Bryan on Scouting has been redesigned to serve you better.

Today, thanks to the efforts of Online Editor Bryan Wursten (two Bryans are always better than one), we launch a revamped Bryan on Scouting.

We’re still on WordPress, but now I have more powerful blogging tools to make sure you can find the stories that interest you.

Those of you who read Bryan on Scouting on your smartphones will notice an improved experience there, as well. The newest post appears at the top of your screen now, and short excerpts with each post let you decide whether to click and read more.

But I’m most excited about the forums. It’s something I’ve wanted for a while, and it means you can ask questions and share stories with fellow Scouters.

Want help with a Cub Scout outing you’re planning? Post your question in the Cub Scout forum. Need advice for a problem in your Boy Scout troop? The Boy Scout forum is waiting. There’s also one for Venturing and one for General Scouting topics. I may add other forums categories later, but let’s start with those four.

Anyone with a valid email address can post in the forums, which I’ll moderate to make sure everyone remains friendly, courteous and kind.

You’ll notice tweaks to the redesign over the coming weeks as we work out any bugs. If you see any problems, leave a comment below or send me an email

History of Scouting magazine’s blogs

My blogging journey began back on March 16, 2009, when I launched Cracker Barrel, a name drawn from those late-night gatherings where Scouters share ideas.

I had 27 hits that first day, and I’ll bet 25 were right here in the building.

Roughly two years later, on Jan. 21, 2011, the former Cracker Barrel blog became Bryan on Scouting, and by then we were up to 1,000 pageviews a day.

Today, that number is 10,000. I’m thankful for new readers and those who have been following this journey since 2009.

I’ll continue to work every day to keep you informed and inspired.

The same thing I said when Bryan on Scouting launched back in 2011 still holds true today: We’ve only just begun.

A powerful case for electric-vehicle charging stations at BSA camps

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If you believe the sci-fi novels, by the time our Scouts are ready to buy their first car, an all-electric vehicle may be their only option.

These vehicles don’t pollute, and they’re cheaper to drive than their gas or gas-electric hybrid counterparts.

But you don’t have to wait for the future to own one. Most major carmakers either have an all-electric model for sale now, or they’re developing one to put on the market soon.

The increasing prevalence of electric vehicles, or EVs, led two Scouters to make a case for adding EV charging stations at BSA camps and national high-adventure bases.

Bob Bruninga and Gary Wilson lay out their cases below.

I sent their arguments to Eric Hiser, the BSA volunteer who serves as National Standards Chair for the National Camp Accreditation Program. His response:

“I am intrigued by it, and we will certainly give it some consideration during the next standards revision or possibly as a stand-alone recommended practice revision.”

See the arguments for EV charging stations below, and share your thoughts in the comments.

From Gary Wilson, assistant district commissioner in the Bucks County Council:

As leaders cars at Scout camps are typically parked for a few days, a simple, conventional 110 VAC outlet is all that is needed to recharge an electric vehicle. Not only would this support the recent BSA emphasis on sustainability, it could also become a very positive and inexpensive public relations project, much like the sustainability initiative at the Summit.

From Bob Bruninga, Eagle Scout:

Every car MFR now makes electric vehicles. They are coming.

The BSA has a great opportunity to further emissions-free renewable energy transportation by making sure (at practically NO COST) that Scout camps are EV-friendly. This simply means they understand that an EV (of any make or model) draws no more from any standard 120v outlet than a toaster or coffeepot (12 amps). And the cost to charge is under 20 cents an hour, or under $2/day to replenish a 40 mile EV trip to camp.

Therefore scout camps with readily available outlets adjacent to a parking spot, should place EV CHARGING signs over these existing outlets and have a procedure for accepting about $2/day for an EV to plug in. This can be paid at the Trading Post or camp office and receive a placard to set on the rear-view mirror, showing that the car has paid and is authorized to plug in.

We must educate scouts that EVs are coming and they do not need special charging stations, especially when they are parked for hours and can equally well charge up on any standard outlet. Every Scout needs to see these signs and make this realization for their future of clean renewable transportation.

Mariano Rivera ready to pitch in for NYC’s Cub Scout recruiting effort

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The greatest closer in baseball history is prepared to help New York Cub Scout packs close the deal on recruiting new members.

Mariano Rivera, after a 19-year career with the New York Yankees, retired with more saves than any other pitcher in history. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer if ever there was one.

But he’s not content to just sit there and count up all 652 of his saves. He’s giving back to the community that supported his incredible career. This fall, he will serve as the “Join Scouting” Spokesperson, exclusively in Greater New York Councils.

That means for boys in the Greater New York Councils, every new Cub Scout and the Cub Scout who recruited him this fall can receive the “I’m with Mo! I joined Cub Scouts” patch seen above.

Though I know there are Mariano Rivera fans across the country, this offer is only for those in the Greater New York Councils.

But what’s good for them is great for Scouting as it shows that high-profile individuals are willing to put their support behind such a meaningful organization for young people.

Once again, we tip our cap to you, Mariano Rivera. You closed out your pro career but opened a new chapter of giving back.

H/T: I first learned of this over on the Scouting Newsroom blog, which got the news from GNYC Scout Executive Ethan Draddy.

Share your tips for building a Scout-led troop

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Becoming a Scout-led troop is the goal of most Scout leaders. But what does a Scout-led troop look like, and — better yet — how do you get there?

That’s exactly what we’re looking to reveal in an upcoming Scouting magazine story, which means we need your help.

If the leadership in your troop has been successful at building a Scout-led troop, we want to hear from you. We’re especially interested in hearing from troops that have recently moved from adult-led to Scout-led, and we’d love to get the perspective of some successful senior patrol leaders, too.

Send an email to with your name and contact information, as well as a brief description of your troop. Your advice might appear in an upcoming issue of Scouting.

Thanks for your feedback.

Illustration by George Angelini

Minnesota Boy Scout finishes quest to sleep outside for a year

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Um, perfect sleeping weather?

Well, he actually did it.

Defying hot, humid summers and below-zero winters, Rudy Hummel, a 17-year-old Life Scout from Minnesota, finished his quest to sleep outside every night for a year.

I first told you about Rudy when he was 200 nights into his 365-night quest.

Now, I’m not surprised a Boy Scout set a goal and accomplished it. It’s just that doing so meant muggy summer conditions and a chillingly high 76 nights of subzero temps in the winter. He built a quinzee, or snow cave, to survive those frigid nights and really bundled up.

This Weather Channel story reveals just how many layers it took to keep Rudy warm: “Hummel slept under a fleece liner inside a mummy bag inside two other sleeping bags, with two or three quilts over that. He’d wear up to three layers of pants and up to seven shirts.”

Seven shirts? Now that’s toasty.

When his family went on vacation, the streak didn’t end. He just set up a portable camp, snoozing in his sleeping bag in grassy patches next to motel parking lots or zipping into his tent pitched on a hotel balcony.

For his efforts Rudy even ended up “A Prairie Home Companion,” the popular public-radio program. Read about that experience here.

After Rudy reached his goal, his parents made him a cake to celebrate. Rudy even wrote a fun blog post about his last night outside — and his first night in his warm, comfy bed inside.

Nice job, Rudy, for proving once again that when it comes to accomplishing goals, Boy Scouts (and Venturers) do it better than anyone else.

Eagle Scout becomes youngest to summit 27,766-foot Makalu

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Eagle Scout Matt Moniz keeps raising the stakes.

On May 25, the 16-year-old became the youngest person to summit the 27,766-foot Makalu, the world’s fifth-tallest mountain. A week earlier he summited the 26,905-foot Cho Oyu, Earth’s sixth-highest mountain.

Of course there’s one mountain taller than these and any other: Everest, elevation 29,029 feet.

As Men’s Journal reports, Matt and his dad had planned to summit Everest, which sits between Makalu and Cho Oyu. But a deadly avalanche on Everest back in April forced them to change their plans. Not only did they feel it was insensitive to climb after the tragedy that killed 16 Nepalese sherpas, but also the route they planned to use was destroyed in the avalanche.

I have a feeling Matt and his dad will be making another Everest attempt just as soon as the mountain allows it.

Their missed Everest try shouldn’t diminish the efforts of this Colorado Eagle Scout. Makalu, as Men’s Journal reports, “is considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb on Earth, requiring technical rock/ice climbing on the final ascent.”

Hear more from this impressive Eagle Scout in my pre-trip blog post.

What’s the scoop on a white-on-red Order of the Arrow sash?

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As if you needed another reason to attend NOAC next summer.

You know the National Order of the Arrow Conference is the OA’s signature event. You know 2015 is the Order of the Arrow’s 100th Anniversary. Right there you’ve got two incredible reasons to attend on Aug. 3-8, 2015, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

Here’s reason No. 3 (of about 10,000): Each NOAC participant will get a special-edition red sash. That’s a sash with a white arrow on a red band— or the reverse of what Arrowmen typically wear (seen above).

Scouter Craig Fosburg heard rumors about this sash and contacted me for details. I passed his question along to the expert. Matthew Dukeman, associate director of the Order of the Arrow, provided the official response:

The sash is only available to those who attend NOAC 2015. Full info on the red sash is available on this page.

Please also note (as it is not in the above article) that the images of sashes you have seen online are prototypes. The National OA Committee is still determining whether to have all NOAC 2015 participants have the same sash or if there will be different sashes based on an individual Arrowmen’s current honor.

The official decision will be made by the spring of 2015.

NOAC 2015 Registration

Councils will be receiving a contingent registration packet in the mail during the month of June 2014.

Contingent Registration for NOAC 2015 will open on Aug. 1, 2014

Find details at the NOAC 2015 site.

Related posts

Tuesday Talkback: Getting more Scouts to attend Order of the Arrow events

Ask the Expert: When should Scouts and Scouters wear their OA sash?

Scouter honored for heroism during Navy Yard shooting

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Navy Capt. Edward “Chip” Zawislak is a real-life superhero, and he learned those skills in Scouting.

Zawislak, an Eagle Scout and Scouter with Troop 903 in Southern Maryland, rescued and used first aid on a woman shot during the Washington Navy Yard attack on Sept. 16, 2013.

Yesterday, the BSA’s National Capital Area Council honored Zawislak (at center in the photo above) with its highest lifesaving award: the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms. An average of four of those awards are presented per year nationwide.

A lone gunman, whose name I won’t include here, killed 12 during the shooting and injured three. One of those injured was Jennifer Bennett, who was shot in the chest.

As this Washington Post story explains, Zawislak and two co-workers carried Bennett up some stairs to the only open door they could find. It led to the building’s roof. Still unsure whether the shooter knew they were up there, Zawislak stayed focused and applied pressure to Bennett’s wounds for more than an hour.

Zawislak, 45, told another civilian to write a note saying there were four people on the roof and throw it down to police. Soon after, a police officer arrived, helped stabilize Bennett and guarded the door while the four civilians were rescued by helicopter.

Bennett made a full recovery and sat in the front row during Thursday’s ceremony honoring Zawislak.

Hearing Bennett recount to the Post the story of Zawislak’s heroism gives me goosebumps. What she describes is exactly how you’d expect an Eagle Scout to react in the most dramatic situation imaginable:

“On that day, Chip was as perfect as perfect can be. He demonstrated leadership qualities. He showed confidence. He had humor. He was in control on that roof. He assured all of us we would get rescued. He sat there for an hour and 20 minutes and pressed my wounds. He showed no fear. He was in charge.”

Zawislak’s telling of the story has the humility you’d expect from an Eagle Scout, Scout volunteer and man who has served four naval sea duty tours. In Boy Scouts, he told the Post, “you are trained to just respond. I didn’t think about anything. I just did it.”

It doesn’t get much better than that. The skills we’re teaching our Scouts and Venturers stay with them throughout their lives. What you do matters.

H/T: Thanks to Rob Hoitt, district Venturing chairman in the National Capital Area Council, for the blog post idea. Image: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post

From refugee camps in Myanmar to Scout camps in Utah

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I believe every family needs Scouting, but this group of refugees might have needed it more than most.

As the BSA-affirming video below explains, a group of refugee families fled brutal government leaders in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 2006.

Officials in Myanmar forced these families out of their villages and burned their homes, churches, and schools. The refugees escaped and settled in Salt Lake City. Many of the young men joined Boy Scout Troop 1262, part of the Great Salt Lake Council.

The story gets even better: Under the guidance of Scoutmaster Bob Roylance, 11 of the refugee boys earned their Eagle Scout Award at a ceremony last month.

Many of these Eagle Scouts are straight-A students and have their eyes set on becoming attorneys, doctors and engineers some day. Doesn’t surprise me.

These young men had the strength to escape an unthinkable situation in Myanmar. Now Scouting has given them the strength to go wherever they want in life.

Take a look at the video below.

H/T: Thanks to David Beck, president of the LDS church’s Young Men organization, and Bob Mersereau, director of the Office of the Chief Scout Executive, for the blog post idea.

Campers won’t settle down at bedtime? Try these four tips

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Heading to summer camp or your unit’s first summer campout?

If you’ve camped with Scouts before, then it’s likely you’ve encountered energetic boys (and Venturers, too) who have a hard time settling down at bedtime.

The woes of Scoutmaster Knott in the May 1950 edition of Scouting magazine will sound familiar. In this tale, the Skunk Patrol continues making noise “like a hog-call contest in Times Square” late into the night. His solution? Calisthenics and trash duty in the dark hours. Before he knows it, the boys drop into bed, exhausted.

The article offers four timeless tips for helping “boy-discipline in camp”:

  1. Horseplay on the first night — or any night — will not necessarily wreck the republic. (And it may make better medicine than the repressive discipline used in stopping it.)
  2. The approach is the thing.
  3. Hard work and hard play — before Taps — makes Jack a sleepy boy.
  4. Whatever your “system,” be firm, be tactful and you’ll be respected.

Anything to add to the list? What kinds of bedtime enforcement work for your troop or crew?


Film showcases the power of Scouting but doesn’t sugarcoat it

Bryan On Scouting -

I mean no disrespect to Follow Me, Boys!, an an American classic. But that 1966 film doesn’t speak to most of today’s 30-something parents in need of a character-building organization for their son or daughter.

It especially doesn’t resonate with those parents in America’s inner cities who desperately want a way to steer their children away from violence and crime.

That’s why anyone considering Scouting needs to see Troop 491: The Adventures of the Muddy Lions.

It’s available on DVD this month.

The film from Praphetic Praductions is a work of fiction, but the premise is all too real:

A middle-schooler named Tristan lives in the inner city. His mom, wanting to keep him off the streets, signs him up for Scouting. Soon after, Tristan witnesses a murder, and the local thug demands his silence. He’s left with the choice between Scouting’s values and the code of the streets. He learns, with the help of his Scout friends, that doing the right thing isn’t easy.

Watch the trailer below, and you’ll want to see this powerful film that encapsulates the power of Scouting but does so in a way that’s gritty and avoids sentimentalism. Learn more and pre-order the DVD at the film’s official website.

The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, in its writeup about the movie, reveals that the film’s writer and director grew up in Scouting in Richmond. He “attributes much of his core values to the time he spent with his troop: leadership, achieving goals and helping others,” according to the story.

The Boy Scouts “is a counter to gang culture,” Patrick Ricks told the newspaper. “The acute need for it is still there.”

I should warn you that there is some strong language in the film — not unlike what actual Scout-age children would hear on the streets. I’d encourage you to watch it yourself before screening it for older Scouts.

How the BSA is using Troop 491

The Boy Scouts of America is harnessing the power of Troop 491 to recruit chartered organizations into Scouting.

As this Scout Wire post explains, the BSA is developing campaign materials for councils to use Troop 491 to help “start conversations with churches about organizing a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop as part of their ministry to youth.”

Expect to see that campaign early next year.

In the meantime, watch the trailer below and order the DVD here.

Help make the 2015 Journey to Excellence scorecards even better

Bryan On Scouting -

How do you know whether your unit offers the best possible experience for the Scouts and Venturers you serve?

You keep score.

Scouting’s Journey to Excellence (JTE) gives you specific, measurable ways to track success based on a number of key factors like camping, service, advancement, training and retention.

Those packs, troops, crews, ships, teams and posts that really shine earn either bronze, silver or gold JTE status for the year. Those that don’t learn from other units and benefit from an early warning system that gives them plenty of time to make corrections.

But just like no Scout unit can improve by standing still, the JTE scorecards themselves are under constant assessment and reinvention.

That process is underway now for standards at the unit, district and council levels for the 2015 versions of the scorecards, and you can have your say.

Any leader or Scout who wants to make a suggestion about the JTE scorecards should email Do so soon because the review group of national, council and unit-level leaders will be meeting next week.

Neil Lupton is a member of the National Mission Impact Support Committee, which is responsible for the Journey to Excellence. Lupton shared the guidelines the review group will use in considering changes:

How JTE changes will be considered
  1. By and large, Journey to Excellence is well received and is considered to be measuring the correct factors, which represent what Scouting should be doing. Major changes are unlikely.
  2. Gold status represents Outstanding Scouting; Silver is Excellent Scouting and Bronze is satisfactory Scouting. It is not expected nor realistic that Gold will be achieved across the board at any level. Achieving overall Gold requires solid performance in most key areas but can represent a deficiency in one or two areas and that’s OK. No one is perfect, nor is expected to be. At the council level, the plan has been that 10% of councils will achieve Gold, another 40% will achieve Silver and another 30% will achieve Bronze which would mean that 20% achieve no color recognition.
  3. There have been critiques that Journey to Excellence is too complicated with too many “moving parts.” There are some criteria which might be made more accurate but that could require additional complexity. When there is a suggestion to add something, the review group asks “what should we then take out?” Normally, the answer has been that everything already in there is of high priority.
  4. Ideally, at every level, Journey to Excellence factors are things that should be known anyway. A unit really should know how many of its youth advanced during the year. A Council should have recorded how many of its youth went long-term camping during the year. Documenting Journey to Ex­cel­lence performance should simply involve inputting what is already known.
  5. The Journey to Excellence standards should be a best planning guide and review guide during the year. If a unit, or District, or Council plans to achieve high standards in Journey to Excellence, sets out a good plan, and reviews that plan frequently during the year to make adjustments, the result should be both high level Journey to Excellence achievement and providing great Scouting to youth.
  6. Continuous improvement is part of the Journey to Excellence process. That’s why most standards have both the determined standard (we’re doing well) and an improvement standard (we made a significant improvement.) Continuous improvement is part of the standard setting process too. We try each year to make things a bit better. Hopefully, each of us does a bit better each year. It’s very possible that the same performance that earned Gold last year would only earn Silver this year. We hope for improvement.
  7. Like everything else in Scouting, Journey to Excellence should be fun. It should be fun to plan to get better, then to do it and then to be recognized for it.

Please send in your suggestions to Every suggestion will be read carefully and considered. If it isn’t put in this year, then maybe next year.

9 things that’ll be different for staffers at the 2017 jamboree

Bryan On Scouting -

Better transportation, more time off, a staff village and maybe, just maybe, warmer showers.

That’s just some of what’s in store for volunteers at the 2017 National Jamboree. They’re in for an even better experience than staffers had last summer.

And if you’ve talked to anyone who staffed in 2013, you know that’s high praise. I know I had an incredible time (and actually didn’t mind the ambient-temperature water).

But the volunteers and professionals planning the 2017 version of the BSA’s signature gathering have no time for basking in the glow of 2013. They’re looking for commitments from volunteers wanting to share in the fun in 2017.

And they’re promising an even better experience than staffers had last summer. That means better communication, lodging and laundry service. And yes, assuming it can be done in a sustainable way, warm showers are looking possible. Learn how to sign up today right here.

Because everyone loves a good list, here are nine ways the 2017 jamboree staffing experience will be better than it was in 2013. These are straight from the Summit’s newly redesigned website.

  1. Transportation: Staff transportation will be enhanced. Assuming a reasonable level of fitness, no staff member will be required to walk longer than 30 minutes between their place of lodging and their assigned work station.
  2. Time off: Sufficient staff will be recruited and schedules developed to ensure staff members receive at least the equivalent of one full day off during the Jamboree. Staff work hours will allow them an opportunity to visit and enjoy other areas of the Jamboree outside their assigned work area. Provisions will be made for those desiring to explore the local area surrounding the Jamboree during their day off.
  3. Communications: A robust communications strategy will be developed and executed to keep staff members informed from the date they register as a staff member through the last day of the Jamboree.
  4. Lunch: We will make modifications to enhance the number and variety of lunch choices consistent with the requirement to maintain a “shelf stable” lunch menu given the demands of our site. We will provide supplemental items for our staff members in more active program areas to ensure an appropriate level of caloric content for their anticipated level of activity.
  5. Lodging: While capacity constraints of The Summit prevent the offering of 2-person tent accommodations, staff members will be provided the opportunity to pre-select their tent-mates up to one month prior to the Jamboree.
  6. Staff Village: The staff village(s) will be designed to provide for an area in which staff members can relax, recreate and refresh themselves in the company of other staff members. Retail food/beverage stands will be incorporated in this design as well as an area for athletic competition.
  7. Showers: We will explore options to create some increase in water temperature; however, any solution will have to be consistent with our sustainability focus of conserving water and energy.
  8. Laundry service: Laundry service will continue to be available for staff members desiring it.
  9. Staff photos: Official staff photos of individual teams will be taken and staff members will have the opportunity to purchase photos of their choosing.


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