Scouting News from the Internet

Century-old printing presses breathe new life into Graphic Arts merit badge

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With our modern fixation on shiny new technology, it’s refreshing to see Scouts get excited about something from the predigital age.

That’s exactly what’s happening in Lancaster, Pa., where one Scouter has channeled his passion for Gutenberg-style printing into a volunteer Scouting role.

In 2009, Ken Kulakowsky, who has been involved with Scouting since he was a Cub Scout in 1957, began hosting Graphic Arts merit badge workshops. Using technology invented in 1440 on printing presses built 100 years ago, Scouts earn one of the BSA’s least-earned merit badges.

Kulakowsky’s original Graphic Arts merit badge workshop saw 15 Scouts in attendance. Now he hosts five workshops a year with 26 Scouts at each one. There’s a waiting list of 50 Scouts; demand exceeds the amount of space inside the printing lab.

And it’s not just Scouts from the Pennsylvania Dutch Council who show up. Scouts have attended from as far north as Albany, N.Y., and Centerbrook, Conn. They have come from Fayetteville, N.C., in the South and Pittsburgh in the West.

What Scouts get to do
  • Design a memo pad and print it using the letterpress process developed by Gutenberg in the 15th century
  • Screen-print a specially designed T-shirt
  • See firsthand the offset printing process and take home a BSA Scout Law memo pad
  • Tour the Graphic Communications labs of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology — Pennsylvania’s top-rated technical college
  • Converse with a group of dedicated .918 Club volunteers who do everything possible to help the Scouts succeed

There are still two more workshops in 2017. Learn more here.

How rare is Graphic Arts MB?

In 2016, Graphic Arts ranked in the bottom 15 percent of all merit badges based on popularity (107th out of 137). Just 3,251 Boy Scouts earned the merit badge last year.

Polaris ATV trails at the Summit Bechtel Reserve are full of thrilling twists and turns

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Dan Moore, a volunteer in the BSA’s Montana Council, has seen his share of first-rate trails for all-terrain vehicles.

He even helped build five miles of ATV trails at a Scout camp in Montana.

All this experience means that if you want to get Moore’s heart racing these days, your ATV trail better be world class.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. A world-class ATV experience now awaits Scouts and Venturers at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

It’s called the Polaris OHV Center for Excellence.

Moore himself helped design the trails, and they’re sponsored by Polaris, the top name in ATVs and UTVs (utility task vehicles). Polaris has generously signed on to be the official ATV and UTV provider of the BSA and SBR.

The new ATV trails and ATV educational safety pavilion were designed to meet two major goals: they had to be fun, and they had to be safe.

Check and check.

“The whole trail is fun and exciting, but there is one particular section where there are so many twists and turns you really lose track of whether you are going up or down or right or left,” Moore says. “Scouts will come away from the experience with life skills and wide smiles.”

How to enjoy the ATV trails at SBR

Scouts and Venturers who attend this summer’s National Scout Jamboree will be the first to try these new trails. After that, Scouts and Venturers who participate in a high-adventure program at SBR can make ATVs part of their week of fun.

For ATV participation at the Jamboree:

  • Be 14 or older.
  • Complete the free, online ATV safety course.
  • Complete the parental consent waiver.
  • Participants must bring a printed copy of their completed safety course certificate and parental consent waiver to the Jamboree. They can bring printed copies or take a picture of the waiver and the safety certificate and have it saved on their phone.
  • Sign up for a time slot at the Polaris ATV Program Area at the Jamboree. There is limited capacity, so it’s suggested that you stop by the Polaris ATV Training site early in the Jamboree to reserve a spot later in the event.
  • Participants must wear hiking boots, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt while in the ATV program. All other safety gear will be provided.

For ATV participation after the Jamboree:

Keep an eye on the Summit Bechtel Reserve website to learn how you can try the new course after the Jamboree.

How the trails were built

When Dick Dufourd of RecConnect and Russ Ehnes of NOHVCC (the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council) built these trails, they knew they’d need to both protect the environment and meet the needs of ATV riders.

So they planned, designed and constructed trails that are challenging, thrilling and environmentally responsible.

Unlike freely riding around in an open field (which can still be a blast), the ATV trails at SBR add turns and obstacles to the mix.

Plus, established trails focus the impact on the environment. Trails that are safe and fun ensure that people don’t skip the trails and search for other unmanaged places to have fun.

Why the trails are safe

The ATV trails:

  • Keep the trails curvilinear, which keeps the speeds down but the fun factor high.
  • Include proper signage, meaning riders can concentrate on the technical aspects of the trail without worrying about getting lost or off-trail.
  • Open sight lines enough for the riders to be able to look ahead — but not so much that they see a long enough distance ahead to increase speed.
  • Add rails to a low bridge that is part of a skills-development obstacle.

The trails themselves are half of the equation. The other half is the rider-education course, where ATV riders learn to use their body position to control their machine.

“Scouts can expect to learn safe and responsible riding in a safe and controlled manner and have a blast doing it,” Moore says. “The riders will definitely experience every aspect of the safe rider training they receive.”

Download the official app of the 2017 National Jamboree

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You’ve sewn on your official Jamboree patch. You’ve finalized your travel plans. You’ve finished packing — or at least your packing list.

The next step in prepping for the 2017 National Jamboree takes just seconds but will enhance your Jamboree experience in big ways. It’s time to download the official 2017 National Jamboree app.

The 2017 National Jamboree app is available now for iOS and Android devices. The app includes a list of activities, event schedules, updated wait times for attractions, interactive maps, real-time notifications and more.

It’s everything you need to know about the 2017 National Jamboree — all in the palm of your hand.

To download, click here on your iOS device or click here on your Android. You can also search “2017 Jamboree” in the App Store or Google Play. Jamboree participants, staff volunteers, and visitors should get the app today and find a prominent spot for it on their home screen. Those who aren’t going to the Jamboree are welcome to download the app and follow along from home.

2017 National Jamboree app features
  • Personalized agendas: A complete list of Jamboree events, giving Scouts and Venturers helpful information like the time, location and details of all activities. Participants can even craft their own personalized agenda, showcasing their own can’t-miss Jamboree events.
  • Updated wait times: Scouts and Venturers can view regularly updated wait times for the most popular Jamboree activities. This will enable participants to get the most out of each day, and it’ll help with the overall flow of traffic at the Jamboree. Sweet.
  • Interactive maps: This full array of maps shows the locations of shuttles, first-aid stands, charging stations and key points of interest. Scouts and Venturers can get walking directions and see the estimated travel times by foot to various points throughout the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
  • Real-time notifications: Scouts and Venturers can opt in to receive notifications about schedule changes, emergency information, weather alerts and more.
  • Sponsors: Participants can scroll through the many friends of Scouting whose support helps make the Jamboree Scouting’s premier event.
Who’s behind the 2017 National Jamboree app?

AT&T powers the 2017 National Jamboree app, which was developed in partnership with the volunteers on the National Jamboree Program Team. Let’s give a big shout-out to the National Jamboree Program Team for their work in turning a cool concept into an awesome app.

What about the previous version of the Jamboree app?

Some Jamboree participants, leaders and staffers downloaded an early version of the Jamboree app under a different name. Please note the earlier version is no longer supported and won’t be updated during the 2017 National Jamboree. The newer version, powered by AT&T, is available at the links above. That’s the one you want.

Parents of boy with autism were told to ‘try Scouting,’ and this happened

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If you had to pick just one point of the Scout Law to describe Isaiah V., it would be “brave.” That same word applies to his mom and dad, too.

Isaiah was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at age 3.

“At first I thought, ‘what are we going to do?'” says Isaiah’s dad, Rolando. “Our world was turned upside down.”

As Isaiah got older, more symptoms began to show. He was shy and rarely spoke. He didn’t like playing with other kids and had a short temper. He never made eye contact.

Rolando and his wife, Lisa, talked to health professionals. They considered team sports.

Then a good friend shared what turned out to be a life-changing idea: “Try Scouting,” the friend said. “It is a fail-safe environment.”

They did. In November 2014, the family joined Pack 217 of the Central Florida Council, based in Orlando.

Rolando still remembers that first den meeting. It was a Thursday. The Scouts were making American flags for Veterans Day. Isaiah seemed to be having fun, but Rolando and Lisa weren’t sure.

The following Wednesday, Isaiah turned to his parents.

“Scouts tomorrow?” Isaiah said.

“And our jaws dropped!” Rolando says. “Ever since, Isaiah has been speaking more and more, making new friends and continues to strive in Scouting. He even earned his Supernova Award with his den.”

They’re a Scouting family now, the three of them. Lisa is a committee member, and Rolando is the committee chairman.

Whenever Isaiah’s behavior needs a little correcting, Mom or Dad will say, “Is this good Scout behavior?” Works every time.

Rolando’s favorite Scouting moment — so far — comes from a Webelos weekend at Camp La-No-Che.

“In the high-adventure part of the camp, they have this wall where the Scout learns how to rappel for the very first time,” Rolando says. “At first, we were skeptical because several Scouts refused to rappel due to their fear of heights. No, sir! Isaiah took that wall without hesitation and made it to the ground safely. Then he turns and said, ‘Can we do it again?’ As a tear fell from my face, I replied, ‘As many times as you want.'”

Meet Eagle Scout Raja Chari, one of NASA’s newest astronauts

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By now it’s well documented that Eagle Scouts make great astronauts. But does that trend continue today?

NASA on Wednesday announced its 2017 astronaut class, 12 men and women from a record 18,000 applicants. The new class includes some of the most qualified, brave, intelligent and patriotic people in the country.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that one is an Eagle Scout. Raja Chari joins a long list of astronaut Eagle Scouts that includes NASA legends like Neil Armstrong and James Lovell.

Chari is an Iowa native who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He later earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Despite the impressive résumé, Chari calls his time in Scouting one of the most important factors in shaping who he is today.

Chari earned Scouting’s highest honor on Sept. 30, 1992, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I talked with him by phone this week.

‘A huge part of my youth’

“Scouting was a huge part of my youth,” he says. “I learned skill sets that have served me both personally and professionally. I can think specifically to a time when I was doing survival training in the Air Force, and, to me, it was just like a cool camping trip because I got to apply some of the practices I learned in the Scouts. It really prepared me for my career.”

To be fair, Chari has accomplished plenty on his own, too. Currently, he’s a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

He’s accumulated more than 2,000 hours of flight time in F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 combat missions in ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ and other deployments.

Chari has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Korean Defense Service Medal and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, among other citations.

And now he’s one of only 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959.

Watch this space

Chari and the other 11 astronauts will spend the next two years training at Johnson Space Center in Houston, focusing on everything from spacewalks to the International Space Station to robotics. After training, Chari and the other astronauts could be assigned to a variety of missions, including research on the International Space Station, manned missions to Mars or even departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

“I know whatever comes next will be incredible and life-changing,” he says. “I’m just excited and thankful to be a part of it.”

Click here to read more about Chari and the rest of the 2017 astronauts.

Philo Farnsworth, inventor of modern TV, was an Eagle Scout

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Reprinted from the Fall 2006 issue of Eagletter, the official magazine of the National Eagle Scout Association. 

Subscribe to the magazine, now known as Eagles’ Call, at this link. (Use promo code EGCBLG17 to save 50 percent on your subscription.)

TV Pioneer Recognized as Eagle Scout

By Mark Ray

Television pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth (1906–1971) received all sorts of belated honors for his inventions. His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol. His face adorned a U.S. postage stamp. He received an honorary Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

But he never received his Eagle Scout badge. He’d earned the award but moved out of state before he could receive the badge.

“I’m sure he was a little busy in those years, doing all he was doing,” said Paul Moore, [then] Scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council.

What Farnsworth was doing was no less than inventing modern television. Throughout his teen years in Utah and Idaho, Farnsworth experimented with techniques for transmitting television pictures electronically instead of mechanically.

He eventually received 160 patents for inventions ranging from television transmitters to infrared night lights to baby incubators.

Television sets at the time of his death relied on roughly 100 of his patents.

Great-nephew makes a discovery, too

His great-nephew, Daniel Farnsworth, learned about the inventor’s missing Eagle badge when he heard his great-aunt, Pem, giving a radio interview about her late husband.

“Her eyes sort of swelled when she told the story, so I think when he told her about it, it was something that meant a lot to him,” Daniel said.

The younger Farnsworth thought it would be nice to have the award presented posthumously and mentioned the idea to Julie Clarke, a Scouting volunteer he knew in Salt Lake City. Clarke contacted the Great Salt Lake Council, which researched the issue.

Last December [2005], council officials visited Pem at her nursing home and presented her with her husband’s long-delayed badge. She died just four months later.

“It’s actually kind of remarkable because it was the last bit of recognition she was able to get for her husband, who received very little recognition during his lifetime,” Daniel Farnsworth said.

Eagle Scout could be on his way to sainthood

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Francis J. Parater was one of just 96 young men who became an Eagle Scout in 1915. The feat was so rare that Boys’ Life magazine published the names of all new Eagle Scouts in its pages.

Nearly a century after Parater’s death, leaders in the Catholic church want to honor Parater’s life with an even rarer honor: sainthood.

Parater died of rheumatic fever in 1920 in Rome; he was just 22. But in that short life he sought perfection as a student, Scout and seminarian. Just before he died, Parater wrote a letter to his Scout troop back home. He told them that, when their time came, he’d warmly welcome them to “the campfire of eternal life.”

In 2001, church leaders began the canonization process for Parater — formally initiating the steps toward sainthood. The process can take many years.

Born to be a Scout

Frank Parater was born Oct. 10, 1897, in Richmond, Va.

As a teenager, Parater became active in Troop 40 — part of what was then the Richmond Council and is now the Heart of Virginia Council.

He took on multiple leadership roles with the troop and built a reputation as a Scout with strong ideals and sound judgment. Parater was just as home outdoors — camping, hiking and building fires — as he was studying scripture inside a church.

He became an Eagle Scout some time in 1915. Why don’t we know the exact date? Records from 1912 to 1916 list the year only. We do know that Parater’s Eagle Scout status is confirmed in the November 1915 issue of Boys’ Life:

By the end of 1915, a mere 338 individuals had received their Eagle medal in BSA history.

In 2009, the 2 millionth Eagle Scout medal was awarded.

A friend of BL

Parater was one of BL‘s earliest fans. He wrote frequent letters to Boys’ Life, sharing snapshots and stories with the magazine’s editors.

His name was published in at least seven different issues of BL, including the February 1914 issue where he expressed his desire to become pen pals with a fellow Scout. The magazine called this mail-exchange service “Lonesome Corner.”

By October 1914, Parater had been corresponding with at least one Scout: Harry Ledin of Sweden.

But Parater didn’t just correspond with fellow Scouts. Once, he wrote to a Boys’ Life columnist known as Mr. Cave Dweller. This is from the January 1915 issue:

Studying for priesthood, staffing summer camp

In 1917, Parater was called to the priesthood and entered the Belmont Abbey Seminary College in North Carolina. He attended daily Mass and weekly confession. His personal rule for living was “the Sacred Heart never fails those that love Him.”

While studying for the priesthood, Parater remained active in Scouting. He even served as camp director one summer.

“The leaders of the Scouts saw such virtue and ideals in Frank that they wanted him to serve as a summer camp director supervising those who were his seniors,” according to a story in this Seminarian Handbook.

A move to Rome and a farewell letter

In 1919, Parater was sent to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Three months after arriving, Parater contracted rheumatism that developed into rheumatic fever. He died Feb. 7, 1920.

After he died, a letter was found in his room that was addressed to his fellow Boy Scouts back in Virginia:

Dear Old Scouts:

You may never see this letter, but if you do, it is to tell you that God has granted me the greatest desire of my life — to die for love of Him and of my fellow man. Never fear death — it is the most beautiful thing in life, for it is the great portal to the real life. Ever since I was a little fellow I have wanted to be like the martyrs of old, and give my life to God.

I have loved each of you. … Now that God has called me to Himself, don’t think that I shall forget you; nor shall I leave you – but will be much nearer to you than I could ever be in this life.

And now, old Scouts, I must say ‘so long for a time.’ But occasionally think of your old friend and camp director, and when the time comes for you to hit the trail for home, I’ll promise to be near and to welcome you to the campfire of eternal life. God’s blessing be with you all.


Your friend,

Francis Parater

Story idea via John Duncan

Eagle Scout visiting all 4 high-adventure bases in 1 epic summer, but there’s a twist

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It could be the most epic summer in Scouting history.

Ben Pycraft, a 19-year-old Eagle Scout from North Ridgeville, Ohio, will travel solo to all four BSA high-adventure bases this summer.

But, true to Scouting values, the trip isn’t all about Ben.

At each stop along the way, he’ll perform service to give back to BSA high-adventure bases, local council camps and communities.

“I started a plan of a journey that would top absolutely any Scouting experience I have had in the past,” Ben says. “I wanted to live a story that I could share and inspire Scouts who wanted to truly see an example of what it means to serve and what it means to me to be a Scout.”

Ben’s trip includes more than 8,000 miles by car. He departed June 2 in Ohio and will finish Aug. 14 at the Florida Sea Base.

The trip is built around participating in Order of the Arrow programs at each of the BSA’s four high-adventure bases. The Order of the Arrow, or OA, is Scouting’s service-focused honor society.

Alone, any one of Ben’s high-adventure trips would be an experience of a lifetime. But four in one summer? Yeah, that’s epic.

The plan

  • June 2 to 4: Attend the first lodge event of a new OA lodge, Erielhonan. Ben helped start the new lodge.
  • June 4 to 8: Travel from northeast Ohio to New Mexico.
  • June 8 to 22: Participate in OA Trail Crew session at Philmont Scout Ranch. Trail crew includes a week of service building trail followed by a weeklong trek.
  • June 22 to 28: Travel from Philmont to Minnesota along a scenic route that includes stops at the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Yellowstone National Park.
  • June 28 to July 12: Participate in Canadian Odyssey at Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases. Participants spend a week restoring portage trails in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park followed by a weeklong paddling trek.
  • July 12 to 15: Travel from Northern Tier to West Virginia.
  • July 15 to 29: Attend the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Ben will serve as a member of the OA’s communications team to write articles about participants at the Jamboree.
  • July 29 to Aug. 8: Travel from SBR to Florida with stops that will include Cedar Point amusement park and Washington, D.C.
  • Aug. 8 to 14: Participate in OA Ocean Adventure at the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys. Participants perform service at Dry Tortugas National Park while also getting to snorkel, kayak, paddleboard and swim.
The preparation

Ben is a visual guy, so he picked up a travel journal — a blank hardcover book with inspiring travel quotes on each page. He wrote what he wanted to do and where he would go on a road trip across the country.

Then he bought a map of the United States and put a yellow push-pin in each of the four high-adventure bases. Red push-pins marked other landmarks he wanted to see along the way. Among the places marked in red: the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the National Scouting Museum in Texas.

“I spent the evening mapping out this visual of this route I would take and how far apart each high-adventure trip would have to be to incorporate rest, travel and pit-stop time,” Ben says. “After a week of editing and restarting, I finally had a route that fell perfectly along three different OA High Adventure sessions that would also let me be able to be at Jamboree.”

With the four primary stops set in stone, Ben’s dream was becoming more and more real. He used Google Maps to predict driving distances and routes between each high-adventure base.

Ben says he looked at the Guide to Safe Scouting’s recommendations on driving time and will follow its rule about a maximum of 10 hours of driving in one 24-hour period.

“Although it would have been easier, I wanted to hold myself to those standards so that I could serve as an example to Scouts,” he says.

Each of Ben’s driving days ends at a Boy Scout camp where he’s arranged to stay the night.

“I plan to rest at these select camps and provide my support of their program for a few hours before I hit the road again — in thanks to supporting me with a safe place to sleep for the night,” he says.

The packing

Ben’s gear needs will vary from one high-adventure base to the next. You don’t take the same things backpacking through New Mexico that you’ll need canoeing through Canada.

That’s why Ben settled on driving from base to base instead of trying it by plane or train.

“Having that ‘base of operations’ in my car where I can store more clothes, gear and other necessities to be swapped out between treks was important to me,” he says.

His car will store paperwork and forms needed at each stop. His trunk will house a camp washing machine he built using a 5-gallon bucket and plunger.

The postscript

This trip is shaping up to be the highlight of Ben’s Scouting career. But how did he get here?

Ben was never in Cub Scouts. He joined Scouting in 2010 when he was in the sixth grade. Ben’s first position of responsibility was Troop Guide — meaning he’d help younger Scouts learn the ropes.

Ben loved this job “because I got to work with the new Scouts,” he says. “It was the first opportunity in my life that I realized I was actively an example to others.”

He served as senior patrol leader, junior assistant Scoutmaster and another term as Troop Guide. He was super-active, attending pretty much every troop event.

At age 16, a troubling thought hit Ben: “I’ve already done everything there is to do in Scouting.”

But then he joined the Order of the Arrow, and everything changed. Scouting’s National Honor Society introduced him to new leadership opportunities and fresh activities.

He’s now a Vigil Honor member of the OA and received the OA Founder’s Award.

The past few years, Ben has been pulled in a million directions with Scouts, work and school. But he says Scouting’s still his favorite way to spend time.

“I’m 19 years old, and I’ve been and done a lot of things that I would not have been able to experience if not for the opportunities that Scouting offers,” he says.

Best of luck, Ben. And happy trails.

When a student brought a gun to school, one teen’s quick thinking saved classmates

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A 13-year-old Star Scout received the BSA’s Honor Medal for his quick thinking when a classmate brought a gun to school.

His actions protected his fellow students from harm and kept the school from having to be locked down.

The eighth-grader reported the gun to a teacher in a cleverly inconspicuous way you can read about below. The student who brought the gun was caught and expelled.

Only the teacher and principal know who turned the boy in. Because of this, the Scout’s family has asked that I not use the young hero’s name in this post.

Instead, I’ll call the Scout hero “Will,” and the young man who brought the gun will be known as “Bob.”

A tense moment in class

While walking to class one day a couple of years back, Will heard someone call his name. He turned and saw three boys pointing at him.

Looking closer, Will saw that one of the boys — Bob — was pointing a gun at him.

Will, understandably scared, turned away and hurried toward class.

“Just kidding,” Will heard one of the boys say, laughing.

When Will got to class and took his usual seat, Bob sat down next to him. This wasn’t Bob’s normal seat.

The teacher handed out the day’s test, but Will couldn’t focus knowing what was just a few feet away.

Will, steadying himself, formulated a plan. He wrote “look at the back” on his test, with an arrow beside it. On the back of the paper, he wrote “Bob has a gun in his pocket.”

Will stood up and took the test to his teacher. The teacher was calm, too, and gave Will a fresh copy of the test. The teacher revealed nothing, only saying “you need to redo this test.”

A calm resolution

The teacher then left the classroom. The teacher returned with the school resource officer, who quietly removed Bob from the class. Bob was later expelled for a year.

Later on the day of the incident, Will was talking with friends when he learned that Bob had threatened other students.

Will didn’t tell his classmates that he had turned Bob in, but he did learn that nobody else had reported the incident to an adult.

Will’s quick thinking probably prevented other students from being threatened. It may have prevented the school from being locked down — or worse.

Will, in a written report about the incident, says Scouting taught him what to do in the situation.

“I used my skills from Scouting and remembered to be brave, mentally awake and calm during a stressful situation,” he wrote.

For his bravery, Will recently received the Boy Scouts of America’s Honor Medal — given for saving or attempting to save life “at considerable risk to self.”

Team creating 2018 Journey to Excellence scorecards wants your brightest ideas

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If you have a Fitbit, Garmin wearable or Apple Watch, you know that real-time tracking of your day’s movement can make you healthier and more active.

Think of the Journey to Excellence scorecard as an activity tracker for your Scout unit. Journey to Excellence, or JTE, gives you feedback on your Scout unit’s progress during the entire Scouting year.

Like a gourmet chef tweaking a signature recipe, the team behind JTE constantly improves requirements and scorecards to make them even more useful.

But they want your help.

Right now they’re working on the 2018 Journey to Excellence scorecards, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Your guidance and feedback is welcome. Leave a comment below or email your suggestions to

Wait … what’s JTE again?

JTE is the BSA’s tool for helping leaders plan their program, monitor progress and assess their Scouting success. There are separate scoresheets for packs, troops, teams, crews, posts, ships, districts and councils. You can access the 2017 scorecards here.

For more on what Journey to Excellence is and why should you care, read my Scouting 101 post. Here are some basic reminders.

Units are evaluated in four areas:

  • Planning and budget
  • Membership
  • Program
  • Leadership

Units score points in those areas; the sum of those points determines bronze, silver or gold status. Bronze is “effective,” silver is “excellent” and gold is “exceptional.”

The scoring ensures no one area is mandatory. Scouting success takes many forms, and JTE success employs a “balanced scorecard” as a result. The standards enable both large Scout units and small ones to succeed — as long as they provide good Scouting to youth.

Units that achieve JTE bronze, silver or gold can earn a ribbon for their unit flag, a plaque and a patch for their uniform.

How are JTE standards determined and revised?

Each June, leaders from all over the country meet to consider performance by units, districts and councils and recommendations for improvement. They look at performance during the year; analyze suggestions, questions and problems submitted during the year; and decide which requirements to change, if any.

Each year’s standards take effect on Jan. 1.

Any Scout leader, member or parent with a suggestion for improving the JTE scorecards should leave a comment below or send it to

What’s new with JTE?
  • One key improvement for the 2017 JTE scorecards came from a Bryan on Scouting reader. Now, at any time, unit Key 3 and Key 3 delegate leaders can download all JTE values that are tracked nationally. Just to go and click “JTE reports.” This report is updated daily.
  • Another improvement: There’s a new orientation video to help leaders use JTE to plan their annual program. Go to, then click on “BSA Learn Center.”
  • The JTE team hopes to have JTE incorporated into Scoutbook by the end of 2017. This will help units plan and then track their program and their Scout’s progress throughout the year

Story idea via Neil Lupton, chairman of the national Journey to Excellence task force.

Pizza + soft drinks = Eagle Scouts? Scouter’s incredible equation delivers results

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You need just three ingredients to guide a Star Scout or Life Scout along the path to Eagle: pizza, soft drinks and conversation.

Bob Czekanski has been there, tried that. And Troop 1 in Bolton, Mass. (part of the Nashua Valley Council) is better for it.

Here’s his secret recipe.

Decelerating toward Eagle

Guys in Troop 1 used to zoom through the ranks from Scout to First Class. Achieving Star took little longer, and Life took longer still.

Then things really slowed down.

“Getting Scouts to identify an Eagle project, obtain those last few merit badges and take a position of responsibility became very difficult,” Czekanski says. “It seemed there was nothing we could do to motivate those Scouts.”

Then Czekanski and his fellow leaders tried something new. A group of adults met a group of Star and Life Scouts at a pizza restaurant. While everyone enjoyed soft drinks and slices, the group discussed what being an Eagle Scout really means.

It worked. An impressive 90 percent of Troop 1 Scouts who attended one or more of Czekanski’s sessions went on to achieve Scouting’s highest honor.

Best part is, these simple steps are easily replicable by any troop with a pizza restaurant in their city or town.

“We’ve developed a simple program that has proved to be a powerful incentive for Scouts to achieve Eagle rank,” Czekanski says. “At one time, we had difficulty persuading Scouts to focus on Eagle. Now the motivation is there and our efforts have shifted to guiding them through the process.”

Scenes from a pizza restaurant

It’s a Sunday evening in late Spring. Czekanski has pushed together a couple of tables at a local pizza and sandwich shop.

There are seats for 11: six Scouts and five adults.

The six Scouts show up and take a seat. Their parents are there, too, but on the other side of restaurant — too far away to participate in the discussion.

The adults are as follows: Czekanski, the troop committee member who organized the event; Troop 1’s Scoutmaster; and three adult guests.

Those guests — John, Bill and Frank — are men in their late 20s and early 30s. All three are Eagle Scouts, and two earned Eagle in Troop 1.

They were invited to discuss how achieving Eagle affected their lives after Scouting.

“When everybody is seated and we place our order with the waiter, we go around the table and introduce ourselves,” Czekanski says. “The boys are polite and quiet and wearing their full Scout uniforms.”

Questions and answers

Czekanski and the Scoutmaster get the conversation started by asking the Eagle Scout guests some questions:

  • Has achieving Eagle done anything for you after you left Scouts?
  • Does anybody who was not a Scout care whether you are an Eagle Scout?

John was interviewing for a job, and the interviewer’s cousin was an Eagle Scout. This led to a great discussion that landed John the job.

Bill said skills polished during his Eagle project — managing other people, making a public presentation, creating a budget — are skills he uses every day in his career.

Frank was hiring someone at his job and had narrowed it down to two people with excellent work skills and technical knowledge. Frank chose the one who is an Eagle Scout.

At last a breakthrough

Finally, a Scout asked a question.

“After that, we had a difficult time keeping up with all the questions coming from the Scouts,” Czekanski says. “But we did get them all answered. And they were all good questions. Clearly all the boys were engaged in this conversation.”

By the end of the night, plates and glasses were empty. The Scouts were full of ideas and inspiration.

“You could see the engines racing, the wheels turning, inside the boys’ heads,” Czekanski says. “They learned that the Eagle rank was not only how you top off your career in Boy Scouts but a higher platform from which to launch your life when you are older.”

Recap: Steps to success
  1. Invite Star Scout and Life Scouts to meet at a local sandwich/pizza shop.
  2. Invite two to four Eagle Scouts, preferably over the age of 28, to explain what being an Eagle Scout means in the workplace and in their personal lives.
    • Why Scouts over 28? They’re more likely to have stories beyond high school and beyond college. This shows them the value of being an Eagle Scout in the larger world.
    • Why not just troop leaders? The words mean more coming from somebody not connected to the troop.
  3. Parents are welcome to sit on the other side of the restaurant, but they shouldn’t participate or hear the discussion.
    • Why? Parents might try to take over the meeting. Scouts might be hesitant to ask real questions if their parents are there.
  4. Note that this meeting isn’t the time to discuss specific Eagle requirements. That’s a later discussion for the Scout and his Eagle advisor. This pizza dinner is about motivation.
  5. Don’t discuss Eagle projects or how to pick one. That’s not what this meeting is for either.
  6. The Scoutmaster and the troop Eagle advisor (or some other member of the troop committee) should participate in the meeting but not dominate the conversation. They should ask leading questions.
  7. If possible, use your troop budget to pay for the pizza and soft drinks.

Final words from Czekanski:

“The stories Scouts hear leave an indelible impression upon them,” he says. “The Scouts learn that Eagle rank is not something they leave behind when they leave Scouting. It is something they take with them wherever they go and is respected in all places. It is what they can do today that will give them a better tomorrow. And that is all the motivation they need.”

7 things we know about the nun reading ‘Boys’ Life’ in the classic comedy ‘Airplane!’

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It’s one of the best visual gags in a movie filled with them.

In the classic 1980 comedy Airplane!, two passengers are seen reading magazines. First, we see a nun reading Boys’ Life. Moments later, there’s a boy reading Nuns’ Life.

The scene is over in seconds, but the memory of this joke lives on. That’s especially true for those of us who have been reading Boys’ Life since we were kids.

Here are seven things you might not know about this bit of visual humor.

1. That’s a real copy of Boys’ Life.

Airplane! was filmed in 1979 and released in 1980. But the filmmakers chose a copy of Boys’ Life from more than a decade earlier.

In a search through the Boys’ Life archives, I found a match: the April 1968 issue. The cover photo, taken by Tom Burnside, previews a feature about fly-fishing.

Why pick that issue? It’s only speculation, but I bet the props team wanted an issue with a simple cover that had little to no text. They likely wanted a viewer’s eye to go right to the magazine title.

Alternate theory: Someone brought in a bunch of copies of BL from their private archives, and this was the favorite.

(P.S.: This and every issue of Boys’ Life is available in our app. Just search Boys’ Life in your device’s app store.)

2. That’s not a real copy of Nuns’ Life …

… Because there’s no such thing as Nuns’ Life magazine. The one depicted above might be the only copy ever made.

Photoshop hadn’t been invented when Airplane! was released, so the film’s creators had to get creative. One oft-shared (but unconfirmed) rumor says that a male production assistant dressed up in a nun’s habit and got on a surfboard to shoot that cover photo.

The face was darkened and obscured so viewers would assume the surfer is a woman.

If that story is true, it shows you how far filmmakers will go for a three-second joke.

3. The Nuns’ Life cover was placed on an old Boys’ Life.

Busted! Joey wasn’t even reading Nuns’ Life. He was reading a copy of Boys’ Life behind that Nuns’ Life cover.

How do we know? Look at the Schwinn ad on the back. I found it in the BL archives — on the back of the May 1968 issue.

That’s the issue one month after the April 1968 Boys’ Life held by the nun.

4. Nuns’ Life costs more than Boys’ Life.

The copy of Nuns’ Life depicted in Airplane! is the June 1979 issue. It sold on fictional newsstands for $1.

For comparison, the June 1979 issue of Boys’ Life cost just 70 cents.

The nun’s April 1968 BL had an even lower newsstand price: 40 cents.

5. The actress who played the nun still has this photo in her office.

Maureen McGovern played Sister Angelina, the singing, guitar-wielding nun who is spotted reading Boys’ Life.

McGovern wasn’t a film actress for long. She took her talents to Broadway and to the music industry to start successful careers in both.

But she never forgot about Airplane! Here’s what McGovern told A.V. Club in 2015:

“I know that I have, framed in my office, a press pic of my Sister Angelina looking puzzled at Boys’ Life partnered with Joey savoring Nuns’ Life.”

6. We know what page of Boys’ Life the nun was reading.

We know the nun was reading the April 1968 issue, but which article caught her fancy?

We can see a little corner of text — the word “week” — in an advertisement on the top right of the right-hand page.

Through the magic of just looking through every page to find a match, we know she was reading pages 34 and 35. The article was a piece of fiction by William Fitzgerald about a baseball player.

The ad on the right side was for a contest being run by Healthdisc, a barbell maker.

7. They even got the apostrophe right.

Props to the props team for getting one essential detail right: the name of the magazine.

Ever since it debuted in 1911, the magazine for all boys has been called Boys’ Life — not Boy’s Life.

And so, fittingly, the magazine for all nuns is called Nuns’ Life — not Nun’s Life.

Airplane! is rated PG, but it was released before the PG-13 rating was a thing. Today, it would be rated PG-13 or R. Common Sense Media, my go-to source for determining a movie’s appropriateness, recommends the movie for audiences 14 and up.

Why the BSA car’s third-place finish at Indy 500 is even better than it sounds

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If the best things in life are free, what happened over the weekend is basically the best thing ever.

The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America race car finished third in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 — the biggest racing event of the year. The top-three finish means millions of people saw the car’s red, white and blue paint scheme and logos that exclaim “Scouting” and “Be A Scout.”

Pretty sweet.

But that third-place finish is even sweeter when you remember this: All of Sunday’s high-profile publicity for Scouting cost the BSA nothing. That’s thanks to the generosity of Dale Coyne Racing, a longtime supporter of Scouting at the local and national levels. Dale and Gail Coyne are recipients of the Silver Buffalo Award, Scouting’s highest honor for adult volunteers. The BSA branding on their car is one of many ways they support Scouting.

When rookie driver Ed Jones was the third to cross the finish line on Sunday, it wasn’t just a win for the Dale Coyne Racing team. It was a win for the BSA and Scouts and Scout leaders everywhere.

It was also the Dale Coyne Racing team’s best result ever at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

From the back of the pack

Jones started the race in 11th. That’s not a terrible starting position in a race that goes on for 500 miles, but it means you’ll need to work hard to improve your placement.

On Lap 53 of 200, Jones was right behind a crash between Scott Dixon and Jay Howard. Jones’ car was damaged, forcing him to take a pit stop for repairs.

He re-entered the race in 28th.

At 100 laps, Jones and the BSA car had advanced to 16th — still a long way behind the leaders.

By the last round of pit stops, the rookie had moved all the way to second, battling for that position against past Indy 500 (and Dancing With the Stars) winner Helio Castroneves.

Despite some damage that affected his car’s aerodynamic qualities, Jones finished third — his best result of the season so far.

“I damaged my front wing, and it put a big hole in it. My legs got pretty cold, to be honest,” Jones said. “I had wind blowing into them like crazy. It also created a lot of drag. I was really good catching up to the other guys in the corners but as soon as we got to the straights I couldn’t tow up to them. We just lacked that straight-line speed for the last 40 laps. It was very hard for me to defend or attack. Which is frustrating, because we had the car to win today.”

Pre-Indy 500 video

Learn more about the car and see photos below.

Did you know there's a @boyscouts car racing in Sunday's #Indy500?

— Scouting magazine (@scouting) May 26, 2017

Indiana mom: ‘I could not be the mother I am today’ without Scouting

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Stephanie Shaw was raised in a house of women.

She was an adult when she was first introduced to Scouting. That’s when she met the man who would become her husband. He’s an Eagle Scout, and both his dad and his grandfather were Scoutmasters.

“I am so thankful to have married into a Scouting family,” she says. “I have always loved the outdoors but was raised … without much exposure to the world of Scouting.”

That changed when her sons became Cub Scout age. These days, Stephanie is the Wolf den leader in Pack 536 of North Vernon, Ind. Both of her boys are in the pack, and her husband is the Webelos den leader.

Stephanie says Scouting lets her and her husband spend more time with these two “precocious balls of energy.”

“Now our schedule revolves around den meetings, pack meetings, district and council level meetings, campouts, canoeing, traveling to Philmont Training Center, and more,” she says. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

A life changed

Stephanie has seen her family grow stronger together through Scouting.

She has grown, too.

“Because of Scouting I have learned to be a better leader in my job as a high school biology teacher, be more compassionate to the children in our community, and most importantly be a better mom to my future Eagle Scouts,” she says. “What I am saying is that I could not be the mother I am today to my sons without Scouting.”

Stephanie’s sons both love Scouting, but the reasons differ greatly.

The older boy loves building fires, sharpening sticks, fishing and shooting BB guns.

The younger one enjoys wearing the uniform, performing campfire songs and skits, and leading flag ceremonies.

Scouting principles at home

Pack 536 uses Leave No Trace principles every time they go outside.

The Shaw family does the same at home, with the boys integrating those principles “into the house to make sure they are picking up after themselves.”

Pack 536 recites the Scout Law before every meeting.

The Shaw family weaves those 12 points into their daily lives even out of the uniform.

One time, “after fighting with each other, the younger son apologized to his older brother by citing how he broke different parts of the Scout Law,” Stephanie says. “It was precious!”

Download ‘Race to Survival,’ a free book for teens written by an Eagle Scout

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Justin Cody is no outdoorsman. He’s forced to take a canoe trip in Canada with his grandfather, but he’d rather be at home texting his friends and playing videogames.

But when Justin’s grandfather is kidnapped during the trip, the 13-year-old must learn canoeing and camping skills to save himself and his grandpa.

That’s the plot of Race to Survival, Cliff Jacobson’s new book for teens. Jacobson, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and longtime Scouting magazine contributor, has interlaced practical outdoor skills in an adrenaline-filled book.

“I figured an adventure story would draw kids in, while the how-to material would teach them right,” Jacobson says.

The book, which is for readers ages 11 to 17, blends fictional action with real-life tips explained in illustrations and sidebars.

Race to Survival normally sells for $5.95, but Jacobson has a great deal exclusively for Scouts and Scouters. You can download it for free.

Here’s the book’s description:

Thirteen-year-old Justin Cody is failing two classes and is addicted to texting and playing videogames. Forced to take a wilderness canoe trip in Canada with his Grandpa Henry, Cody is thrust into a race for survival when the two discover a top-secret drone developed by the U.S. military. Grandpa Henry is kidnapped, and Justin — who knows nothing about canoeing and camping — must canoe alone to a distant lake that promises rescue.

Race to Survival is a high-adventure tale and a wilderness skills book. Young readers will be entertained while they learn practical outdoor skills. Some examples are: How to read a map and compass; make fire when the woods are wet with rain; rig a storm-proof camp; what to do when you’re caught in a lighting storm; tips to repel mosquitoes and black flies; important knots; essentials for a stay in the woods; emergency signals; wild foods that you can easily find and safely identify; what to do if you meet a bear or cow moose while you’re hiking — and much more! Essentially, this is a “canoeing/camping/survival” how-to book dressed in riveting fictional clothes.


Meet your 2017 Silver Buffalo Award class

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Some have names you know: Robert Baden-Powell, Charles Lindbergh, Hank Aaron.

Others are Scouters whose names are less universally known but whose impact on Scouting has been just as transformative.

Their common bond: the Silver Buffalo Award — the Boy Scouts of America’s highest honor for adult volunteers. It has been presented since 1926 for devoted service to Scouting on a national level. (It’s one of three members of the Silver family, joined by the Silver Beaver for council-level service and the Silver Antelope for regional-level service.)

Tonight, 12 Scouters — 10 men and two women — join the list of Silver Buffalo Award honorees — a list that includes six Medal of Honor recipients, three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and 14 presidents of the United States.

Kent Clayburn, chairman of the BSA National Court of Honor, will announce the awards tonight at the BSA’s annual meeting in Florida. He will be joined on stage by BSA President Randall Stephenson, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh and National Commissioner Charles Dahlquist.

2017 Silver Buffalo class, at a glance

These men and women will receive the red-and-white Silver Buffalo Award medals tonight. They’ll also receive a red-and-white square knot, which represents the award, for wear on their uniforms.

  • David Biegler — Circle Ten Council (Dallas, Texas)
  • Nelson R. Block — Sam Houston Area Council (Houston, Texas)*
  • L. H. (Larry) Chase — Atlanta Area Council (Marietta, Ga.)
  • Lucia Cronin — Bay-Lakes Council (River Hills, Wis.)
  • Robert G. Dealaman — Baden Powell Council (Endwell, N.Y.)
  • Eric L. Hiser — Grand Canyon Council (Phoenix, Ariz.)*
  • Kenneth P. King — Three Fires Council (St. Charles, Ill.)*
  • Carol McCarthy — Buckskin Council (Fayetteville, W.Va.)
  • Daniel G. Ownby — Sam Houston Area Council (Houston, Texas)*
  • Aubrey B. Patterson — Yocona Area Council (Tupelo, Miss.)
  • Mark D. Rose — Gulf Ridge Council (Lutz, Fla.)*
  • David L. Steward — Greater St. Louis Area Council (St. Louis, Mo.)

*The asterisk indicates the Silver Buffalo recipient is an Eagle Scout.

For a closer look at each of these 12 impressive Scouters, read on.

David Biegler

Dallas, Texas

David Biegler has made his professional mark in the outdoors through oil and gas ventures and in ranching, but he says his proudest moment came at an inner-city school during a flag-lowering ceremony.

Biegler said he watched as new Cub Scouts recited the Pledge of Allegiance before lowering the American flag and was later told by the principal about the positive impact Scouting was having on his school and the lives of the boys who participated.

In his three decades of Scouting, Biegler has distinguished himself at the council, area, regional and national levels.


  • He has served in several council and area positions as well as president of the Southern Region, and at the national level on the Chief Scout Executive Selection Committee.
  • He is a recipient of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award and the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards.
  • His commitment to serving the region’s youth extends to his involvement in Children’s Health System and the Dallas-based Education Is Freedom organization.
  • He and his wife, Diane Knape, have six children and five grandchildren.
Nelson R. Block

Houston, Texas

Much of Distinguished Eagle Scout Nelson Block’s work has been in Scouting history.

He has interpreted our history, culture and social impact to our members and the public, and he has published modern editions of books by Lord Baden-Powell, E. Urner Goodman and William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt.

In 2002, the Chief Scout of the United Kingdom recognized his efforts for Scouting history by naming him the Founder Gilwell Fellow.


  • He co-chaired the 2008 Johns Hopkins University program “Scouting: A Centennial History Symposium,” gathering 30 historians from 10 countries.
  • He is a shareholder with the Winstead law firm in Houston. He has represented his local council for 28 years, pro bono.
  • In addition to their three sons and daughters-in-law, Block and his wife, Linda, a den leader herself for 10 years, have five grandchildren.
L. H. (Larry) Chase

Marietta, Ga.

For Larry Chase, a key word is “support” — as in instructional and leadership support for the adult leaders of packs, troops, and crews and for commissioners who enable them to fulfill their own responsibilities.

Chase, who has amassed 32 years as a Scouter, has focused on the needs of leadership and instruction at nearly every level of Scouting.

“If I must pick one achievement, it would be development and delivery of the Council Commissioner Conference and online training based upon it,” he said.

The conference has been offered nine times at Philmont Training Center and Sea Base and has served more than 150 volunteers and professionals from more than 100 councils.


  • Currently the National Commissioner Service Team’s Recruitment and Retention chairman, Chase has served on the Philmont Training Center and Sea Base faculty on nine occasions.
  • He is a four-time National Jamboree staff member and has been tapped to serve as a staff member for the 2017 National Jamboree and 2019 World Jamboree.
  • He is a board member of the Atlanta Area Council and has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Scoutmaster Award of Merit, the Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award and the Distinguished Commissioner Service Award.
  • Now retired, he and his wife, Mae, have three sons — all of whom attained the Eagle Scout rank — and eight grandchildren.
Lucia Cronin

River Hills, Wis.

Lucia Cronin, a former Girl Scout turned vice president in investment banking, has applied her professional interests to her Scouting pursuits.

A member of the Wells Fargo Asset Management’s diversity and community support committees, she has compiled a 22-year record of service at the unit, council, regional and national levels.


  • Cronin wrote the original Cub Scout den meeting plans and the Year A/Year B Manual for Scoutreach and multi-age Cub Scout dens.
  • She has served the Central Region as a member of its executive committee, as membership vice president, and as a member of its strategic planning committee.
  • Her local experience includes serving on the executive boards of both the Bay-Lakes Council and Three Harbors Council. She is a recipient of the Silver Antelope, Silver Beaver and Bronze Pelican awards, as well as the St. George Medal.
  • Cronin, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, has three sons, all of whom are Eagle Scouts.
Robert G. Dealaman

Endwell, N.Y.

Robert Dealaman, a former assistant Scoutmaster and Exploring Advisor with the Baden-Powell Council, has served in several capacities throughout his Scouting career — including the national Boy Scout Training Committee, the Philmont Leadership Challenge and 21st Century Wood Badge task forces.

Most recently, Dealaman worked with a national Outdoor Programs team to evaluate facilities of 26 properties across upstate New York and Vermont.


  • Dealaman currently serves on the National Camp Accreditation Program Support Committee and the Philmont Training Center Task Force and is regional chair of the NCAP assessment.
  • A participant in 14 National Jamborees and two World Jamborees, he is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and has been recognized with the Silver Antelope, Silver Beaver and International Scouter awards.
  • He retired from Link Flight Simulation as a facilities manager.
Eric L. Hiser

Phoenix, Ariz.

Camping, where interaction with the environment converges with the engagement of other Scouts, is one of those opportunities “where Scouting happens, where youth learn to make ethical and moral decisions and when to lead and when to share leadership to achieve their goals.”

To that end, Eric Hiser, the standards chair for the National Camp Accreditation Program Support Committee and member of the national Outdoor Programs Support Committee, has served Scouting for 35 years.


  • He has chaired the Outdoor Ethics and Camp Standards task forces and served on the Camping, Strategic Impact Exchange and Boy Scout Handbook task forces.
  • An Eagle Scout with six palms, he has received the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards among many other awards, including the Distinguished Service to Conservation and the Doctorate of Commissioner Science awards.
  • He is a partner with the Jorden Hiser & Joy law firm.
  • He and his wife, Anne Stone, have one daughter.
Kenneth P. King

St. Charles, Ill.

Dr. Ken King’s professional education background has enabled him to help develop content and contribute to the teaching infrastructure across multiple Scouting programs.

An education professor at Roosevelt University in Illinois, King has assisted with revisions of handbooks, guides and educational materials that contribute to and promote the success of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing.


  • He is a contributor to content for Cub Scouting and Venturing conferences at the Philmont Training Center, for Venturers at Sea Base, and for the National Camping School program.
  • He led the development of materials for both the Lion pilot program and content for the Handbook for Venturers. Additionally, King, an Eagle Scout, has developed outreach materials that educate school board members, elementary, middle and high school teachers and principals on the value of the Scouting experience.
  • Among his many honors, King has been recognized with the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver.
  • King and his wife, Tina, have two sons, one of whom is an Eagle Scout.
Carol McCarthy

Fayetteville, W.Va.

As a recipient of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, the Navy’s highest civilian award, Carol McCarthy was recognized for her service in training military spouses throughout her husband’s 38-year Navy career.

As an advocate for Scouting, she has continued to apply her management and training expertise from the unit level to the World Jamboree. Now the training chair for the Buckskin Council in counties spanning West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, her involvement began in the 1980s when she trained leaders and served in every Cub Scout pack position.


  • She has served as headquarters manager and administrator for the BSA contingent at two World Jamborees.
  • She has received the Silver Beaver Award, District Award of Merit and the Distinguished Commissioner Service Award, among other honors.
  • She is a professional graphic artist and calligrapher.
  • McCarthy and her husband, Dan, have three sons, all of whom are Eagle Scouts, and one grandchild. Dan McCarthy also is a Silver Buffalo Award recipient.
Daniel G. Ownby

Houston, Texas

One of Dan Ownby’s earliest experiences as a Scout was meeting Scouts from the Netherlands at a Cub Scout day camp in Tulsa, Okla. Now he is completing his second and final three-year term as a vice chair of the World Scout Committee that oversees more than 50 million Scouts in 164 countries.

He is the youngest BSA member ever elected to the world governing body. The 28-year Scouter served as the chair of the 2009 Philmont International Representatives Conference. He was deputy camp chief at the 2015 World Jamboree in Japan and is slated to serve as the BSA contingent leader for the 2019 World Jamboree.


  • Ownby is a board member for the Sam Houston Area Council and current International Commissioner and chair of the International Committee. He is a board member for the Sam Houston Area Council.
  • He counts becoming an Eagle Scout as the Scouting achievement of which he is most proud. He’s also a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and has been recognized with numerous awards, including five international Scouting awards from Guatemala (twice), Japan, Venezuela and Korea.
  • He is president of West Shore Pipeline. He and his wife, Allison, live in Houston,
Aubrey B. Patterson

Tupelo, Miss.

Retired banker Aubrey Patterson says the achievement in Scouting that makes him most proud is the economic and social leadership being provided the state of Mississippi by the young people who have been mentored by the Yocona Area Council.

“In three decades of work, we’ve helped develop two generations of new leaders for North Mississippi,” said Patterson, who also was a co-founder of the Boys and Girls Club of North Mississippi. “Much of our progress as a region, economically and socially, can be directly attributed to the character of these young men.”


  • Patterson, chairman emeritus of BancorpSouth Inc., has been a member of the BSA’s National Executive Board and has served as the treasurer, president and chair of the Yocona Area Council.
  • In his 34 years of Scouting, he has been recognized with the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards, and the Yocona Area Council Distinguished Citizen Award, just to name a few.
  • An Air Force veteran, Patterson served as a trustee and member of the executive committee of the Presbyterian Church USA Foundation and as a trustee of Columbia Theological Seminary.
  • He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and a member of its alumni hall of fame. He and his wife, Ruby Kathryn, have three children and eight grandchildren.
Mark D. Rose

Lutz, Fla.

Mark Rose, whose professional career has centered around designing and building world-class roller coasters, theme park rides and animal habitats, has focused on developing programs and maintaining properties for Scouting from the council to the national levels.

He served on the three-member committee that evaluated 84 sites throughout 26 states over a two-year period to find a permanent home for the national jamboree, which is now located at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.


  • A Distinguished Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Rose has received several Scouting awards, including the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards. He is a member of the Second Century Society.
  • Outside of Scouting, Rose mentors and gives lectures to hundreds of aspiring engineers who have an interest in theme parks and roller coasters.
  • He is part of the senior management team that won the 2016 Liseberg Applause Award for Best Theme Park in the World (Busch Gardens, Tampa, Fla.).
  • He and his wife, Fifi, have three children.
David L. Steward

St. Louis, Mo.

Dave Steward gives credit to the role models from his youth, including his parents, his minister, and his Boy Scout leader, for instilling in him discipline, a sense of teamwork, and a positive attitude that have enabled him to succeed as an entrepreneur while keeping his business interests rooted within an ethical framework.

Steward, whose World Wide Technology is the second-largest privately held company in the St. Louis area and the largest African-American-owned technology company in the country, is the board chairman for the Greater St. Louis Area Council, an executive committee member of the Central Region and a vice president and executive board member of the National Council.

He landed a position with the BSA in 1973 following his college graduation and after borrowing $300 and hitchhiking to St. Louis. He used his later experience in marketing and freight sales for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. to found a pair of companies revolving around the auditing of railroad freight transactions. The eventual incorporation of data system technology into the process led to his creating World Wide Technology, a leading systems integrator and provider of supply chain solutions with more than 4,000 employees throughout the world.

His humble beginnings led him to create a corporate culture of serving others, calling on himself and his employees to be servants to each other, customers, vendors and the community.


  • Steward is a graduate of Central Missouri State University.
  • He and his wife, Thelma, a registered nurse, have two children and two grandchildren.

Cambodian refugee who fled ‘killing fields’ leads refugee unit in America

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Saborn Va was sitting in his Salt Lake City church a year ago when a group of church leaders asked for volunteers to help lead a Scout unit made up entirely of refugees.

Many of these boys had lost a parent to violence in their native country. Most of them had lost their way in the world. All of them needed the structure, direction and discipline that Scouting provides.

Va had only a brief experience in Scouting as a teen. Nonetheless, he knew right away that he was being called by a higher power.

Va was born in Cambodia near the “killing fields,” a group of sites where more than a million people were killed by the Khmer Rouge, the brutal communist regime that was in power there in the late 1970s. In 1980, the village where he lived with his mother was invaded by hostile fighters. Va’s mom, pregnant at the time, grabbed him and ran.

When the shooting became too intense, Va’s mother pushed him to the ground and lay on top of him until the fighting stopped.

The family survived, thankfully, but Va himself became a refugee, living in Florida and then California before settling in Salt Lake City.

Va, now 37, told his story to hundreds of attendees at the BSA’s annual meeting Thursday morning in Orlando.

“The sunset of our lives became a sunrise,” he said of his family’s move to the United States. “This country has given me everything.”

The Burmese Scouting patch, banned in the 1940s, has been resurrected. Spreading Scouting

Now, decades after his family fled their native country, he leads a group of 30 refugees as a Varsity team coach in the Great Salt Lake Council. The Scouts come from all over, though most are Karenni or Karen people from Myanmar and Thailand.

Very few of the boys knew each other before they joined Scouting. Now, they’ve all become close friends. It’s not a huge exaggeration to say that the structure, direction, discipline — and even love — provided by Scouting has saved their lives.

“We go camping once a month,” Saborn says. “As long as we’re outdoors, and as long as they’re together, they absolutely love it. Whether we go fishing or if they’re just playing in the woods or even if they’re just sitting in a tent. They love it.”

The Great Salt Lake Council’s Utah Refugee Scout Program is chaired by Michael Nebeker, an Eagle Scout who in his day job raises funds for Operation Smile, a global network of doctors who donate thousands of hours of service to provide surgical care for children with a cleft lip or cleft palate.

Nebeker joined Va at the annual meeting and gave a tearful, emotional testimony about the program.

“These refugees need Scouting more than ever before,” he said. “They need Scouting, and we need them.”

6 ways to help young people remember the true meaning of Memorial Day

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Somewhere along the way, we forgot what Memorial Day is all about.

The last Monday in May is still the day where we honor men and women who died in service to our country.

But now it’s being crowded out by trips to the lake, family cookouts and mattress sales. It is, perhaps, best known as the unofficial start of summer.

I’m all for family kickball tournaments and discounted appliances. But let’s enjoy those while also honoring Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. And let’s do more than just reshare a patriotic photo on Facebook.

This isn’t meant as a lecture but as a suggestion to parents that they remind young people about the significance of Memorial Day.

This isn’t a new sentiment, either. Just look at what Scouting magazine wrote in our May 1928 issue:

Memorial Day is welcomed not as a chance to play baseball on the corner lot, or to gape at the parade as the band goes by, but as an opportunity for the Scouts to attain a realization that they are the trustees of the traditions of American ideals of service to which this day is dedicated.

For more than 100 years, Scouts have done their “duty to country” — as phrased in our Scout Oath. Here are six ways to keep that patriotic pledge going for another 100 years.

1. Visit a memorial cemetery

Most communities have within driving distance a cemetery where soldiers are interred.

Take your Scouts, in uniform if possible, to the cemetery to clean the grounds and decorate graves with flowers or wreaths.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a listing of state and national veterans cemeteries. The VA also provides a nationwide gravesite locator.

You can learn more about volunteering with the National Cemetery Administration here.

2. Read World War II-era yearbooks

“See you next year!” As World War II began, that oft-used yearbook inscription, scrawled above a classmate’s signature, took on a new meaning.

Teenagers, usually focused on prom or grades or sports, had to face the realities of a global war.

Encourage your school-age kids to flip through dozens of World War II-era yearbooks at this site, created by the National WWII Museum.

The site includes discussion questions inspired by the yearbook pages. For example, in the 1942 volume from Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, one student ponders “Should we hate our enemies?”

Talk through discussion questions with your teen. 

3. Learn about a soldier who died in action

A young person reads in a textbook that more than 400,000 Americans died in World War II and more than 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.

But for many of us, adults included, that number is very abstract. The best way to understand the magnitude of this service and sacrifice is learning about a single soldier who died.

This could be an ancestor or family member. Or you could search for a Medal of Honor recipient at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.

The citation for each Medal of Honor recipient includes a narrative explaining how the person died. You might encourage your son or daughter to find a Medal of Honor recipient with the same first or last name, furthering their connection to the past.

4. Visit a VA hospital or veteran

Take treats, books or fresh flowers to a veterans hospital or home of a veteran.

Pretty much any veteran would enjoy a visit from a smiling young person. The young person will benefit from the interaction, as well.

Assuming the veteran is comfortable talking about his or her service, encourage your young people to ask questions and have a conversation.

Find a VA location near you here.

5. Make a patriotic craft project

With kids, telling is rarely as effective as doing.

This site has tons of patriotic craft ideas, many using items already in your pantry.

These craft projects could be done as a family or with your Cub Scout den or pack. Make a flag from drinking straws, a patriotic jar candle, or a red, white and blue wind sock.

6. Watch a military movie or show

Many war movies are inappropriate for children. Saving Private RyanBlack Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty are smart, powerful dramas that remind us about the harsh realities of war. But they aren’t recommended for young people under age 17.

However, there are some military-themed shows and movies recommended for younger audiences by Common Sense Media, my go-to site for determining a movie’s appropriateness.

  • Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front: 2006 Disney Channel movie about an American girl who learns about sacrifice during World War II.
  • Max: 2015 movie about a brave military dog who saves the day.
  • America: The Story of Us: 2010 History channel series that aired in 12 parts. There are episodes about the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II.
  • Patton: 1971 Best Picture winner about World War II Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

2017 Eagle Project of the Year: He built sensory rooms for kids with autism

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Ever since he was in Cub Scouts, Blake Deaton knew he wanted his Eagle Scout service project to help students with special needs.

Students like his twin brother, Shane, who is autistic and legally blind.

So when he became a Life Scout, Blake approached Savanna Hersh, Shane’s special-needs teacher. He asked Hersh (seen with Blake in the photo above) what Shane’s classroom needed most.

“And, I said, ‘an iPad?'” Hersh remembers telling Blake. “You know, we could always use some more technology. And it was, ‘No. Think bigger.'”

So Blake and Hersh determined that the school could really use a sensory room specially designed for children with autism. A sensory room includes special lighting, padded floors and educational toys.

That “think bigger” approach to helping others earned Blake a writeup on and, announced this week, the 2017 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.

The Eagle Scout is a member of Troop 130 in Morehead City, N.C.

Above and beyond

When Blake settled on the plan to build the sensory room at Morehead Middle School, Hersh was “cautiously thrilled.”

Cautiously, she says, because “to set up and fully equip a sensory room is well over $10,000.”

Blake was undeterred.

“Sure, raising $10,000 can be a difficult task,” he says. “However, if it’s for a worthy cause, and you have a plan, the task gets easier.”

Blake sold T-shirts and held a one-day fundraiser where members of the community could pay to ride in an airplane.

He called his project  “Wings for Autism,” because “I’ve always believed that those with special needs are God’s special angels,” Blake says.

In the end, Blake raised $30,000 — enough to build not one but two sensory rooms. The People magazine story brought publicity that led to donations and lots of volunteers willing to help Blake reach his goal.

“I can’t get over it,” Hersh says. “The fact that he raised enough money not only for one sensory room but for two sensory rooms. That means these students have this resource to carry them on through the years. For that, I, myself, and, I know the families surrounding who this room affects — we definitely appreciate it. So thank you, Blake.”

Watch the videos

Find two videos below. The first was made to celebrate Blake’s winning the 2017 Eagle Scout Project of the Year Award.

The second was his submission video for the award.

Congrats, Blake! Great job.

This Eagle Scout received NESA’s largest scholarship in 2017

Bryan On Scouting -

Eagle Scout Alex Sims is all about helping other people.

He participates in Scouting for Food drives. He volunteers to clean up his school and his community.  And each month, he and some buddies head to the library to teach science to younger students.

But the service project closest to Alex’s heart is the not-for-profit organization he started to honor his late twin brother, Christopher.

Christopher committed suicide in 2014 when he was just 14 years old. Christopher’s Angels is a program to help combat bullying and teen suicide.

In recognition of Alex’s selflessness and service — plus his academic success and future college plans — the National Eagle Scout Association awarded him the 2017 NESA STEM scholarship.

At $50,000 ($12,500 a year for four years), it is NESA’s largest scholarship. It is awarded each year to an applicant who plans to major in a science, technology, engineering or math field.

More about Alex

Alexander Sims is a member of Troop 722 out of Richmond, Va.

He earned 119 merit badges — many with a direct connection to STEM fields. He was the first Scout in the Heart of Virginia Council to earn the Dr. Bernard Harris Supernova Award. And now he’s hard at work on the Thomas Edison Supernova Award.

In college, he’ll study chemical or mechanical engineering “because I find molecules and chemistry really interesting,” he says.

He’s also a member of his school’s robotics team.

Service before self

“Scouting has taught me the importance of service to the community,” Alex says.

In addition to a significant amount of service hours with Troop 722, Alex spends a ton of time working with Christopher’s Angels.

The mission of Christopher’s Angels is simple: On the 22nd of each month, “Angels” perform a random good deed or friendly act. This could be as simple as saying hello to a stranger or joining someone who is eating alone in the lunchroom.

“The idea is that these good deeds, however small, add up to make a difference in the community,” Alex says.

Growing Scouting

Another way Alex gives back is by helping bring young people into the BSA.

“I want to see more kids enjoy all the benefits that I’ve received,” he says. “In fact, one of the patches I’m most proud about is the recruiter patch.”

That explains how Alex (with some assistance from his leaders), helped his troop go from 20 to more than 60 Scouts.

In August, Alex is off to college, where his STEM-heavy courseload will keep him busy.

“But as I grow older, I want to stay involved in Scouting,” he says. “Because it’s changed my life, and I want to see it change others.”

Watch the video


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