Scouting News from the Internet

Eagle Scout with spina bifida inspires New York hometown

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Luke Schultz was born with spina bifida, a spinal defect that forced him to wear leg braces and undergo multiple surgeries.

When he crossed over from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts, he figured he’d advance as far as he could — no pressure if he didn’t earn Eagle. But then, he saw his friends reaching the pinnacle of the Scout ranks. His father, Steve, is also an Eagle Scout. So, he set a goal to earn the Eagle Scout rank, and when Luke sets a goal for himself, you’d better believe he’ll reach it.

His family and friends really took notice of this drive after he completed a five-mile hike at camp.

“I don’t think I ever heard him say, ‘I can’t’ do something, but with some encouragement it was ‘how can I do it’ and with this determination he would figure out how and accomplish the task,” Scoutmaster Russ Page says.

Tenacity with a smile

Luke has always had that resolve, his aunt Shari DeTar says. She recalled how he excelled during occupational therapy sessions as a toddler, completing tasks without complaint and with a smile. He joined Cub Scouts as a Wolf, enjoying day camps, Pinewood Derbies and blue and gold banquets.

“Those were some fun years,” Luke says.

He crossed over into Troop 85 in Leicester, N.Y., a short drive from his hometown of York, N.Y. He learned how to camp and serve his community. For his Eagle Scout project, Luke refurbished York’s holiday wreaths and installed LED lighting along Main Street. When he finished, he had $112.72 left over from fundraising for his project. So, he decided to donate that money to the town.

“I feel it’s really helped develop my leadership skills,” Luke says of Scouting. “Now I know what it truly takes to be a leader.”

Family members and Scout leaders agreed that Luke’s leadership and cheerful attitude are infectious. Those qualities didn’t stop when a troop meeting ended. He became a leader on his high school track team, winning multiple titles; with his school’s jazz band where he played saxophone, and with his church, doing mission and disaster relief work.

“Luke is our own Captain America,” Assistant Scoutmaster Steven Carroll says. “He has a great outlook; he meets every challenge head on.”

One of those challenges came when he was a First Class Scout and needed to undergo another surgery. It practically sidelined him for almost two years as he was in and out of foot casts and had to use a wheelchair or crutches. But that didn’t stop him from achieving his goal.

Luke earned the Eagle Scout rank last year and had his court of honor in February.

“I can’t express in words how proud I am,” his father Steve says. “He inspires me. He had the perseverance to stick with it.”

Scouting’s impact

Not only did Scouting provide character- and skill-building goals for Luke to strive for, it offered so much more that helped him grow as a person.

“I think Scouting definitely helped with his maturing,” DeTar says. “It gave him another support system with adults and peers.”

His adult leaders were often moved to tears as they saw Luke advance along the trail to Eagle, DeTar says. Living with spina bifida could have been a constant source of discouragement for him, and there were times he admitted that he wasn’t sure he could keep going.

“You know that it would have been easy for him to feel sorry for himself or demand that others help him and take the easy way out, but that’s not Luke,” DeTar says.

“I think the values and design of Scouting helped contribute to his positive attitude along with his family, teachers, camp counselors and faith. I think there is no better gift than spending time with children and making them feel important,” she continues.

“With technology and so many distractions these days, as a teacher, I see kids just craving this attention from adults. Scouting provides this opportunity in various settings and gives that precious gift of time and attention to let the Scouts know they matter to adults.”

Eagle Scout accepted to Acting Shakespeare training program at prestigious U.K. school

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Apparently not wanting to stop after entertaining his fellow Scouts with skits around the campfire, an Eagle Scout from Minnesota is taking his acting talents across the pond.

Eukariah Tabaka, an Eagle Scout from Troop 238 of Marshall, Minn., has been accepted into the Acting Shakespeare training program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

Eukariah’s proud mom, Sheila, sent us the good news.

“Scouting has so many stories about kids in the sciences and athletics,” she writes. “I thought it would be great to hear about one in the arts.”

Meet Eukariah Tabaka

Eukariah, who turns 20 this summer, has been acting since he was 3. He has participated in more than 30 productions and is studying acting at the University of Minnesota–Duluth.

The eight-week Acting Shakespeare course begins June 4, and entrance is by audition only.

Actors learn about physical performance, dance, characterization, sonnets and — my favorite — stage fighting.

At the end of July, the class will perform a Shakespeare play.

Congratulations, Eukariah! Break a leg!

The Summit Bechtel Reserve offers top-notch training courses, too

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The Philmont Training Center isn’t the exclusive home of high-level BSA training.

Excellent opportunities await at the Summit Bechtel Reserve’s John D. Tickle National Training and Leadership Center in West Virginia.

The center has a long name but a simple purpose: Help adults and youth make an even bigger impact on their unit, district or council.

Spaces are still available for summer 2018.

Conferences cover a range of topics, including commissioner service, leadership, adventure photography and STEM.

Where are these conferences held?

The Summit Bechtel Reserve, or SBR, is located in Glen Jean, W.Va.

It’s just a day’s drive from major cities like Charlotte (3.5 hours), Pittsburgh (4 hours), Cincinnati (4.5 hours), Atlanta (7 hours) and many more.

The weeklong training sessions are held in the shiny new Pigott Administration Building, located in the Pigott Base Camp.

Housing is in large tents on wood platforms. Food is provided by the Compass group, which made the so-good-you-can’t-believe-it’s-camp-food food for the 2017 National Jamboree.

If their schedule permits, conference attendees may participate in Summit Center activities like BMX, mountain biking, skateboarding, rock climbing, fishing, zip-lining and more.

What conferences are available for 2018?

These weeklong conferences are available:


You’ll enjoy outstanding training provided by seasoned, experienced trainers while getting to experience the spectacular Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Where can I learn more and register?

Right here.

Texas A&M Eagle Scouts invent device that could end fall-related workplace deaths

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Two Eagle Scouts who attend Texas A&M University have won an engineering prize for their project that could end fall-related deaths at the workplace.

Eagle Scouts Richard Hayden Meeks, who goes by Hayden, and Anthony Kornegay were part of a team that created the Smart Harness System. The device issues an audible alert whenever someone is working at an unsafe height but isn’t safely attached to a harness point.

“With the Smart Harness, we aim to save people’s lives by changing human behavior through increased accountability,” Anthony says.

Fall-related incidents are responsible for about one worker death per day. Many of these victims didn’t attach their harness to an anchor point that could’ve saved them.

The Smart Harness System uses a pressure sensor that detects small changes in barometric pressure to determine the user’s relative altitude. The system then detects if the user is connected to a safe anchor point and sounds an alarm if not. The inside scoop

Smart Harness Systems, LLC, a Texas-based startup, came up with the idea for the device. The company brought the concept to the Texas A&M Mechanical Engineering Department and challenged the students to develop a prototype.

“The device our project team has invented works much in the same way as the seat belt in a car,” Anthony says. “If you’re driving without a seat belt on, your car will typically sound an alarm indicating that you should buckle up. Similarly, our team’s invention will alert the harness user if they are working at unsafe heights.”

The company is planning to make the device commercially available in early 2019.

For their efforts, Anthony, Hayden and the project team won the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Commercialization Award at the university’s annual Engineering Project Showcase.

More than 200 projects were submitted for the honor. The winner is the team whose project is most prepared for market.

Hayden shows off the device. How Scouting prepared them

Both Anthony and Hayden come from the Dallas-based Circle Ten Council. Anthony earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2012 as a member of Troop 181 of Plano, Texas. Hayden earned Eagle in 2012 as a member of Troop 81 of Richardson, Texas.

Both young men say Scouting helped prepare them for the rigors of earning a degree at one of the nation’s top engineering schools.

Hayden says working on his Eagle Scout project was especially beneficial.

“It taught me to work with other people in terms of sharing ideas and working together towards similar solutions,” he says. “Scouts helped me open up to other people, and I am thankful for the memories it gave me.”

Anthony also cites teamwork as a key lesson learned in Scouting.

“Through general patrol and troop activities as well as going on treks to Philmont and Northern Tier, I learned about group dynamics and how to be an effective team member,” he says. “These experiences taught me that the ability to follow or work well alongside others is often as important as the ability to lead, and that it’s important to know which of these roles fits best in a given situation.”

Share a photo of your backyard adventure to win a ‘Craig of the Creek’ patch

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On Cartoon Network’s Craig of the Creek, everyday trips into the woods become chances to do something legendary with friends.

Hey, just like Scouting! But the similarities don’t end there.

Craig and his friends know some of life’s best adventures happen in your own backyard. Check.

They know that you have to protect your favorite outdoor places from things like litter. Same.

And they know that patches are a great way to recognize a job well done. Yep.

Here’s an image of the patch Scouts can earn! Earn a Craig of the Creek patch!

As for that last point, Scouts who share a photo from a recent backyard adventure can win a limited-edition Craig of the Creek patch!

The photo could depict Scouts cleaning up a nearby creek, learning something new or just having fun outside.

Cartoon Network will give patches to 2,000 Scouts with a qualifying submission. The best photos will be featured on the contest page.

How to enter

Visit the Craig of the Creek Backyard Adventure site, hosted by Boys’ Life, and click the “Submit Your Adventure!” button.

The submission guidelines are wide open, meaning a “backyard adventure” could be just about anything.

And a backyard doesn’t have to mean the literal space behind your house. It could also be a park, lake, creek or wherever else your adventures take you.

Join Craig and his friends and do something legendary!

Top 5 merit badges to help you win that Fortnite Victory Royale

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Never heard of Fortnite? Your Scouts or Venturers can get you up to speed on the biggest videogame phenomenon in years.

The Battle Royale game for computers, consoles and iOS devices pits 100 players against each other to be the last player standing on an ever-shrinking map. There are forts to build, treasure boxes to open and storms to escape.

It’s free to play, wildly addictive and lots of fun.

The game, while ultimately based around combat, imparts lessons in critical thinking, teamwork and wilderness survival — all lessons learned in Scouting.

With that in mind, I thought I’d come up with the Top 5 merit badges that would help you win that sweet Victory Royale.

But first, an obligatory “dadclaimer” (that’s a disclaimer written by a dad):

Fortnite: Battle Royale is rated “T” for “Teen” and contains cartoonish violence. Fortnite, like all videogames, should be used in moderation. Time spent crossing the streams or climbing the mountains in Fortnite is not an adequate substitute for time spent crossing real streams or climbing actual mountains. Parental discretion is advised.


The Fortnite map is large, meaning a player conceivably could run around for the whole game without encountering anyone else.

That is, if not for the Storm. The storm harms anyone unlucky enough to be caught in its purplish path.

Every few minutes, the eye of the storm — the safe area — shrinks, forcing the players ever closer. Games usually end with three or four players confined to an area about the size of two football fields.

Reading the storm is essential to survival in Fortnite. The same is true in Scouting, as any Scout who earns the Weather merit badge will come to learn.

Wilderness Survival

Let’s browse the requirements for this, my favorite merit badge from back when I was a Scout …

“Improvise a natural shelter.” Yes.

“Protect yourself from insects, reptiles, bears and other animals of the local region.” If people count as “other animals,” then sure.

“Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost.” Oh, I absolutely have felt panic while playing this game.

Yeah, the Wilderness Survival merit badge is basically a perfect fit for Fortnite. The game even has Cozy Campfire that gives you health by standing near it. Pretty much the same as a real campfire, as long as you don’t get too close.

First Aid

Fortniter, heal thyself. When you’re hurt in Fortnite, you simply find some bandages or a med kit and restore your health bar.

In the videogame world, it’s really that simple.

In real life, though, things get a little more complicated. Is the injury a sprain or a strain? A bruise or a broken bone?

Scouts who earn the Eagle-required First Aid merit badge learn how to recognize and treat these injuries and many more.


The good Fortnite players (a group of which I’m not a member) say the game really comes down to who’s the best builder.

Players collect wood, brick and metal during the game and use those materials to build ramps, walls and towers. If you can build a structure that’s taller and sturdier and more complex than your opponent, you’re at an advantage.

And if you’ve got experience building things out of wood for the Pioneering merit badge, you’re at an even bigger advantage.

One reminder, though: “All pioneering projects constructed for this merit badge must comply with height standards as outlined in the Guide to Safe Scouting.”

So those seven-story-high wooden ramps are best left in the virtual world.


Another thing you need to know about Fortnite is that it’s more fun when you play with friends.

There are three main modes: solo, duo and squad (teams of four). In duos and squads, players use their voice headsets to communicate with each other.

That makes two skills essential: a knowledge of basic compass directions and the ability to read a map.

For example: When your teammate says “meet me at the house at 45°,” he or she wants you to head northeast.

Good thing you’ve earned the Orienteering merit badge. You’ll be the best teammate ever.

What you need to know about the LDS church’s announcement about its future relationship with the BSA

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this week announced that, starting on Jan. 1, 2020, it will shift the focus of its youth programs toward serving an increasingly global membership.

That means the LDS church will no longer charter Scout units beginning in 2020 and beyond.

Many Scouters have been wondering what this news means for the BSA.

Will this affect our movement, and if so, to what degree? And what are the next steps for the thousands of LDS families who love being a part of the Scouting adventure and want to continue their journey?

Here’s what you need to know.

About the BSA and the LDS church

Throughout the BSA’s relationship with the LDS church, LDS Scouts have benefited from the BSA’s life-changing programs. Hundreds of thousands of LDS young men have become Eagle Scouts.

The BSA, in its official statement, said, “we jointly express our gratitude to the thousands of Scout leaders who have selflessly served over the years in church-sponsored Scouting units and wish the church all the best as it prepares to introduce the new program in 2020.”

In 2017, 425,000 LDS youth were part of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs. That’s about 18.5 percent of the BSA’s total youth membership.

While most councils have some LDS membership, roughly 10 percent of councils have a significant population of LDS members. These councils may be affected more significantly by the LDS church’s decision.

The BSA has begun working with all of its councils to help ensure a smooth transition for the many LDS families who will continue their Scouting journey.

A path to stay in Scouting for LDS families

The long-standing relationship between the BSA and the LDS church won’t continue in a formal capacity, but it certainly will live on in LDS families where Scouting has become a strong and vibrant tradition.

Some LDS families have a multigenerational Scouting tradition. Others share a newly discovered passion for Scouting. All who want to continue their Scouting journey are more than welcome to do so.

The LDS church has said it will “remain a fully engaged partner in Scouting” through Dec. 31, 2019.

“All youth, families and leaders are encouraged to continue their active participation and financial support of Scouting … ,” the LDS church said in its joint statement with the BSA.

That gives LDS families more than 18 months to chart a course for continuing down Scouting’s path in 2020 and beyond.

The BSA and its local councils will ensure a smooth transition to community-sponsored units that will welcome youth previously served by LDS-sponsored units.

That means young people who have begun the path toward the Eagle Scout Award can continue working toward that momentous achievement.

The LDS church, in its joint statement with the BSA, expressed that it will continue to support Scouting even after its official partnership has ended.

“While the church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units after Dec. 31, 2019, it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead,” according to the statement.

About the BSA’s future

Through the evolution of its relationship with the LDS church and beyond, the BSA is well positioned to provide its character- and leadership-building programs to an increasing number of youth.

Packs and troops will soon open their doors to girls as well as boys, meaning the BSA is poised for growth in the coming years.

The BSA is about serving families and strengthening character. That was true when I joined as a 6-year-old Tiger, and it’s true now.

Our movement offers families more options than ever before, and that’s good news for the future.

Congrats to the second winner of our Scouting Safety Quiz

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More than 800 people tested their food safety knowledge in our March-April Scouting Safety Quiz in Scouting magazine. We selected one entrant at random to win a $100 Scout Shop gift card.

And that winner is Holly Sanders, committee treasurer of Troop 949 in Wentzville, Mo.

“It was a great refresher and reminder that the safety steps you take when cooking at home don’t change when you’re on a campout,” Sanders says of the quiz.

The “Go with your gut” quiz focused on how to prevent food-borne illnesses, detailing what temperature you should cook certain foods, how long perishable food can sit out and when you should wash your hands.

Sanders pointed out that Scouts and Scouters should have a meat thermometer as part of their camping gear, so they can accurately gauge if their food is cooked. She quoted barbecue blogger Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn, who wrote, “Cooking without a meat thermometer is like driving without a speedometer.”

She plans to use her gift card to purchase uniform apparel, merit badge books for the troop library and a lantern that has been on her Scouts’ wish list since last summer. Congratulations, Holly!

How did you do?

You can still take the “Go with your gut” quiz, but if you want to be entered in our next Scouting Safety Quiz contest, you’ll have to Do Your Best on our May-June quiz: “Water ways.” The quiz tests you on water safety, for both swimming and boating. Each issue of Scouting magazine will focus on a different BSA health and safety topic and offer an online version of the quiz where you can enter to win a prize.

At the end of the questions, you can submit your name and email address to be entered in the contest, which ends June 30, 2018. A few people took the last quiz more than once. If it bothers you that you didn’t get a 100, you’re more than welcome to take the quiz again. Just know that submitting your information multiple times does not increase your chances of winning.

You don’t have to get a perfect quiz score to be entered in the contest. We will draw one winner at random and will notify them via email. Good luck!

Chaplain and chaplain aide training now available for councils

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Think of chaplains and chaplain aides as facilitators of the 12th point of the Scout Law: A Scout is reverent.

Think of the Advanced Unit Chaplain and Unit Chaplain Aide Training as a road map for these important roles.

The weekend training course is for chaplains and chaplain aides of any faith. Chartered organization representatives may attend as well.

The course helps adults and youth strengthen their roles as chaplains or chaplain aides, inspire more Duty to God activities and foster understanding of the many faiths represented in the BSA.

What are chaplains and chaplain aides?

A chaplain is a spiritual leader for units. He or she gives spiritual guidance to a camp or Jamboree community, conducts religious services according to his or her faith, and arranges for other religious observance as needed. A chaplain also provides help in dealing with morale, visits those who are ill and provides counseling in case of bereavement.

A chaplain aide is a youth leader who works with the troop, crew or ship chaplain to ensure all members have appropriate religious observance during outings. The chaplain aide helps other Scouts or Venturers in religious emblems program. He or she is appointed by the senior patrol leader, crew president or ship boatswain — with the advice and consent of the adult leaders.

Note: Chaplain aide does count as a position of responsibility for Scouts trying to earn Star, Life or Eagle.

Who can take this training?

Unit chaplains, unit chaplain aides and chartered organization representatives.

District chaplains, council chaplains and religious emblems coordinators should be invited to observe.

Are all faiths welcome?

Absolutely. The training will include participants from various faiths representative of your community.

All will feel welcome and included in this training; proselytizing of any specific faith or religion is strictly prohibited.

Why should someone take this training?

Well-trained unit chaplains and chaplain aides provide the spiritual aspect of the program. They support duty to God, particularly in outdoor experiences.

In addition to a fresh, relevant syllabus, the course offers the opportunity to network with other chaplains and chaplain aides within your council.

What will participants learn?

At the course’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Express understanding of online materials
  • Be comfortable with their role as unit chaplain or chaplain aide
  • Build a relationship with the chartered organization representative
  • Be familiar with resources available for chaplains and chaplain aides
  • Be comfortable with responsibilities for guiding conversations
  • Participate in the planning and implementation of a worship service

The course code for this training is D86. Find the syllabus online at this link.

When is this held?

The training consists of a weekend retreat campout — going from Friday evening through noon on Sunday.

Councils may modify the dates and order of modules to meet the needs of participants. Don’t forget to consider any religious holidays.

Check with your council to see if a training is already scheduled. If not, plan your own!

Do you wear your neckerchief over or under the collar?

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The neckerchief is the most underrated part of a Scout’s uniform.

Around the globe, this piece of cloth is often the primary identifier that someone is a Scout. (Exhibit A: Bear Grylls, Chief Scout of the U.K.)

Within the BSA, there are special neckerchiefs for Eagle Scouts, for each rank in Cub Scouting and for adults who have completed Wood Badge training.

Troops choose their own official neckerchief — usually through a popular vote among the youth members. If you’ve ever seen a troop where every member wears the same-colored neckerchief, you know it looks pretty sharp.

But today’s discussion isn’t about whether to wear a neckerchief or which kind is best. It’s about how to wear that neckerchief.


The BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia says, on page 13, that “the unit has a choice of wearing the neckerchief over the collar (with the collar tucked in) or under the collar.”

The part about “the collar tucked in” means that some Scouts, Venturers and adult leaders will roll the collar under their shirt. This collarless look, with a neckerchief atop it, looks great.

It’s recommended that units pick one style — over or under — for the entire unit. That way everyone’s uniform looks, well, uniform.

With this freedom to express yourself, what style does your unit prefer? Sound off with a comment — and share pictures if you’ve got ’em.

Wearing the neckerchief without the uniform

Remember: When engaged in Scouting activities, members may wear the neckerchief with appropriate nonuniform clothing to identify them as Scouts.

I blogged about this when the change was first announced in 2015, and it’s still true today. Feel free to flaunt that neckerchief any time you’re doing Scouting stuff.

Removing restrictions for neckerchief wear brought the BSA in line with other members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

This info will come in handy for Scouts and Venturers representing the BSA at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree next summer at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

In addition to looking great, the neckerchief, as recommended by Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, can be a tool for first aid.

It can work as a sling, tourniquet or bandage. But only if you’ve got it with you.

Scouts who become Explorer Academy Ambassadors get a free book and pin

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Even after 130 years of headline-making exploration, National Geographic has entered new territory: children’s fiction.

Explorer Academy, a new book series for young readers ages 8 to 12, blends real-world science and exploration with thrilling tales of adventure.

The first book in the Explorer Academy seven-part series is The Nebula Secret, to be published in September, but Scouts can get their hands on a copy even sooner.

Young people who register to become Explorer Academy Ambassadors at this link will receive an advance paperback edition, a collectible Explorer Academy pin, and five chapter samplers to give away to friends or classmates.

Pretty awesome, right? But hurry, because this opportunity is limited to the first 100 applicants.

More about the Explorer Academy series

Young readers will enter the world of 12-year-old Cruz Coronado as he and 23 kids from around the globe train to become the next generation of great explorers. They’ll embark on critical, sometimes dangerous missions— all while worrying about stuff like homework and curfews. Plus, Cruz has an even bigger mission to figure out who is out to get him and why.

As director J. J. Abrams says, “It’s sure to be an action-packed ride that kids will love.”

Parents will appreciate the subtle ways the books’ lessons parallel BSA values, such as honesty, bravery, teamwork, and conservation.

What’s cool about the Explorer Academy series
  • The book is the first title published by Under the Stars, a new fiction imprint from National Geographic Kids Books. These fictional stories mirror the research and adventures of National Geographic’s leading scientists, photographers and journalists.
  • The books are considered “fact-based fiction,” meaning the stories are grounded in real science and technology. The scenarios are futuristic, but they aren’t outlandish.
  • At the back of each book, readers can meet several real-life National Geographic explorers and learn about the explorers’ work relevant to the story they just read.
  • The series inspires young people to be curious, get excited about reading, observe their world, embrace diversity, be adventurous and be good stewards of the planet’s resources.
The mission

Are your young readers ready to become Explorer Academy Ambassadors? Here’s what to do:

Step 1Go here to sign up and receive an advance copy of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret, as well as a first-edition pin and chapter samplers to share with friends.

Step 2: Jump into the world of Explorer Academy by reading the book.

Step 3: Once finished, come back to this site to share a short book review. Your review might be featured online or in Boys’ Life magazine.

5 Quick Questions with: Darcy Phinney, one of four siblings attending the 2019 World Scout Jamboree

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On May 12, 2012, Darcy Phinney’s life changed forever.

Darcy and her entire family were headed home from a golf tournament when a teenager who was texting while driving hit their minivan head-on.

Each family member suffered broken bones, but Darcy’s injuries were the worst.

“I tried to crawl out of the car, but I couldn’t because my hands and my feet wouldn’t move in the way that I needed them to,” she said in an interview with the Golf Channel. “So I just had to lay there, and I remember listening to Mom whimper out ‘my babies, my babies.'”

Her back broken, Darcy needed to have metal rods surgically inserted into her spine. She wore a back brace for six months while rehabilitating but continued activities with her Venturing crew. Even with the tragic circumstances life put in her path, Darcy greeted every day with a smile.

Six years after the accident, Darcy is 22 and continuing her service to Scouting. She has signed up to serve on staff — officially called the International Service Team, or IST — at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

But she’s not the only Phinney family member who will be there. All four Phinney siblings have signed up for next summer’s global Scouting celebration. To join them, click here.

And keep reading for my 5 Quick Questions with Darcy.

The Phinney family (from left): Darcy, Mykal, Hart, Reese, Rebecca and Hartley went to Philmont together. Meet the Phinney siblings

Darcy: 22, Venturing Silver Award and Girl Scout Gold Award recipient

Mykal: 18, Venturing Silver Award recipient

Hartley: 20, Eagle Scout and Venturing Ranger Award recipient

Reese: 16, Venturing Discovery Award recipient

Colton Buckingham and Darcy Phinney served on staff together at the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience. Bryan on Scouting: What has been your favorite Scouting experience or memory so far, and why?

Darcy Phinney: “My favorite memory was looking over a valley filled with fog right before Sunday worship service began. I felt so small and so complete at the same time.

“My favorite Scouting experience is actually meeting and getting to know a close friend of mine whom I met through camp. The first time I met him, I thought he was the most annoying, loud and generally obnoxious person I had ever met. If we are being truthful, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t his most favorite person either!

“This continued for three years, but the fourth year something changed. He became one of the coolest, most genuine people I know and I am thankful I still get to talk to him on a regular basis.”

Bryan: In what way did the 2012 car accident change your family, and how have you persevered?

Darcy: “My family has always been close, but I think we really experienced how tight our bonds were after the accident. We fought, and still fight, like any other family you’ve met, but we supported each other through it all.

“Now we eat a lot of food together and talk about Scouting as a group. It’s definitely an interesting experience for friends who come over when we start talking about all the Scouting we’re doing.”

Bryan: What did you think of the Golf Channel story about you, and do you still play golf to this day?

Darcy: “I don’t make a habit of watching it, because it makes me emotional every time. It’s definitely a unique experience to look back on, but I wouldn’t want to repeat it.

“I still play golf, though not to the extent I used to. It’s one of the world’s best sports because you can play at your own pace, and you are allowed to talk to people as you play.”

Bryan: Why did you sign up for the 2019 World Scout Jamboree?

Darcy: “I signed up because I enjoy connecting with people. Not only will this experience have plenty of people to meet, it also is being held at a high-adventure base where you can experience something new every visit.”

Bryan: What are you most looking forward to about the 2019 World Scout Jamboree?

Darcy: “Last time I tried BMX, and it was exhilarating trying to go as fast as I could pedal over hills and curves! I can’t wait to see what new events I can participate in this time!”

BSA unveils name of program for older boys and girls, launches ‘Scout Me In’ campaign

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The wait is over, and we now know what we’ll call the program for 11- to 17-year-old youth when girls can begin joining during the scheduled launch on Feb. 1, 2019.

Let’s hear it for Scouts BSA!

Boys and girls who are part of Scouts BSA will be known as Scouts. Just as before, these Scouts will earn merit badges, go camping and work toward the Eagle Scout Award.

The organization name, Boy Scouts of America, will not change.

Scouts BSA builds on the legacy of the Scout name. There’s a Scout salute, a Scout rank, a Scout Oath and a Scout Law. The word “Scout” carries with it more than 108 years of character-building tradition, and the young men and young women of Scouts BSA will carry that tradition forward.

“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,” says BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “That is why it is important that the name for our iconic Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single-name approach used for the Cub Scouts.”

Beginning during the scheduled launch of Feb. 1, 2019, girls can join all-girl troops. Boys can continue to join all-boy troops. Scouts BSA will not have any mixed-gender, or coed, troops.

This is an exciting time for the BSA, and the Scouts BSA name is the perfect representation of this new, welcoming program for older youth.

This infographic, available here, outlines how troops will be structured in Scouts BSA. Questions and answers about Scouts BSA

Q: Will the name of the organization change?

A: No, the organization’s name will continue to be Boy Scouts of America.

Q: When will the change from Boy Scouts to Scouts BSA be effective?

A: The scheduled launch date for Scouts BSA is Feb. 1, 2019.

Q: What will the members of the program be called?

A: Scouts — same as today. A boy or girl might say, “I’m in Scouts BSA. I’m a Scout.”

Q: Will the Boy Scout Handbook be updated to reflect the new name?

A: Yes.

Q: What does the change to Scouts BSA mean for Venturing?

A: Nothing about Venturing will change. The BSA’s program for boys and girls ages 14 to 20 (or 13 and done with the 8th grade) will continue as normal.

The “Scout Me In” logo is displayed with the Cub Scout logo. BSA introduces ‘Scout Me In’ campaign

Today’s excitement only begins with Scouts BSA.

The BSA also announced “Scout Me In,” a crisp, modern campaign to invite young people and families to be a part of the life-changing experience of Scouting.

“Scout Me In” is more than a catchy tagline. It’s a reinforcement that the values we all celebrate in Scouting — encapsulated in the Scout Oath and Scout Law — are relevant for both young men and young women.

“Scout Me In” is a call to action. A call for togetherness. A call for celebration.

It’s also a call to create a cool new campaign logo.

The BSA has unveiled three versions of the logo: one with the BSA fleur-de-lis, one with the Cub Scout logo and one with the Boy Scouts/Scouts BSA logo. A Spanish-language version is coming soon.

Also coming soon: More than 300 recruiting assets showing boys, girls, and pack activities with boys and girls — all in English, Spanish and bilingual versions. You’ll find those at the BSA Brand Center.

These recruiting materials will help councils and packs give families the invitation to say, “Scout Me In.”

These flyers, one featuring boys and the other featuring girls, show young people and families the fun of Scouting. How to use ‘Scout Me In’

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Include the “Scout Me In” assets in recruitment campaigns this fall.
  • Add the “Scout Me In” logo and assets to websites, social media channels, emails, newsletters, events, banners and signage. Basically, use it anywhere you can reach volunteers and families.
  • Use the “Scout Me In” concept to tell the story of Family Scouting in your community.
  • Post with the hashtag #ScoutMeIn when sharing Family Scouting-focused social media content.
The “Scout Me In” logo is displayed with the Boy Scout logo. This logo, featuring the classic Eagle and shield, will not change when the program’s name changes to Scouts BSA during the scheduled launch on Feb. 1, 2019. The “Scout Me In” logo is displayed with the BSA fleur-de-lis, the organization’s logo.

Cub Scout leader sees Scouting as road map for parenting

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For Faith Halterman, Cub Scouting served primarily as a father-son activity for her husband John and son Nathan. But after John’s sudden death in October 2015, she began to see it in a different light.

You might recall when we first wrote about the Halterman family and how Pack 624 in the San Diego Imperial Council rallied around them during that dark time. Families checked in with them every night for a month, bringing toys, food and empathy.

“I wasn’t expecting the incredible support of the den and the pack,” Halterman says.

Since then, Nathan has crossed over into Boy Scouts, her younger son Adam is enjoying Cub Scouts and Halterman has noticed the huge impact Scouting has had on parenting them.

Lessons for parents

Cub Scouts offered the Haltermans some sense of normalcy after John’s passing — a routine that got them out of the house, giving them a chance to heal.

Halterman was so grateful for the pack’s support that she got involved as a pack committee chair. She quickly saw how Cub Scouting was preparing her boys and their friends for life. Not only were they having fun with activities like archery and camping, they were developing social skills, public speaking skills and courage to handle problems that arise. One technique the Scouts learned was how to remain calm when administering first aid — a primary lesson in the First Responder Webelos Adventure.

“Knowledge is giving them confidence they might not have before,” Halterman says. “None of our kids go screaming home to mom. Now, they’re fighting over who is pulling out the Band-Aids when someone gets hurt. That’s empowering for kids that age.”

To fulfill rank requirements, Scouting also pushed Halterman to teach her boys lessons that she hadn’t made the time for previously, lessons such as when to dial 911 and how to dial it on different types of phones or how to turn off the utilities after an earthquake.

“For me, Scouting has been a road map for all the things I should be teaching my kids,” Halterman says. “The more you get involved, the more you get out of it.”

She saw the same development in Nathan’s friends in Den 1 (later the Phoenix Patrol). Many of the parents work professionally full-time and have little to no prior Scouting experience. It could have been easy for parents to say, “I can’t… I don’t know how… I’m too busy… I have no experience…” But they didn’t. And because they stayed engaged, their Scouts flourished.

“No prior experience is necessary to be successful and make a positive impact for the Scouts and Scouting families, and single and working parents can be effective Scouting leads, especially women,” Halterman says.

To learn how you can get involved in Cub Scouting, visit BSA’s parenting page or check out tips in Scouting magazine’s “Your Kids” series.

Family Scouting success stories: Meet 5 packs that have welcomed girls

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In California, a 7-year-old girl screamed with delight when she learned she could become an official member of her brother’s Cub Scout pack.

In Tennessee, a Cubmaster approached his chartered organization about becoming an early adopter pack and welcoming girls, and the church leader told him “we’re right behind you.”

And in Washington state, a volunteer said the BSA’s commitment to Family Scouting is “a call to modern-day parents” that allows the family to experience Scouting together.

When early adopter councils began welcoming girls to Cub Scouting in January, some packs hit the ground running. From California to Maine and beyond, these packs have ventured into uncharted territory with wildly successful results.

These stories, told in more detail below, paint an inspiring portrait of what Cub Scouting looks like in 2018 and into the future.

It’s enough to get anyone pumped for when all councils become eligible to begin welcoming girls to Cub Scouts soon. (Speaking of, be sure to read these seven ways to Be Prepared for Family Scouting.)

Here are just five of the many great stories I’ve seen.

California: ‘I’m really excited about it’

Today’s families are busier than ever, and that’s precisely why D.D. Hutto is such a fan of Family Scouting.

The den leader for an all-girl den in Pack 122 of Coronado, Calif., said having both her son and her daughter in the same pack is more convenient for the family’s schedule.

“I thought it was awesome,” Hutto told the Times of San Diego. “Yeah! We can do one program … I’m really excited about it.”

The girls in Pack 122 are equally ecstatic. Laura Hutto, 7, screamed with delight when she learned she could become an official Cub Scout after years of unofficial participation.

“I was so excited that I could do more things with my brother and actually get prizes and get badges … all of the stuff that I did with my brother,” she said.

And what do the boys think?

Oliver Brown, 9, gets it.

“At school they say, ‘Don’t let a girl beat you,’ and I always say ‘What’s the difference between a boy and a girl?’ I think it’s fun. I like it.”

Read the full story here.

Maine: ‘Your reward is the knowledge’

Kristina Wood’s 8-year-old daughter, Abigail, has been joining her brothers at Cub Scout events for years.

Abigail jumps at any chance to spend time in nature.

But when it came time to present awards like Adventure loops to the Cub Scouts, Kristina had to explain to her daughter why she was left out.

“We explained to her [at] a younger age why she didn’t get called up and rewarded,” Kristina told the Portland Press Herald. “We told her, ‘You worked just as hard as the boys did, and your reward is the knowledge, just as theirs is.'”

That’s a great attitude, but now that Abigail is a member of Pack 454 of Oakland, Maine, she gets both the knowledge and the reward.

Read the full story here.

Tennessee: ‘We’re right behind you’

Scott Milliken of Pack 59 in Farragut, Tenn., is one of countless Cubmasters who have approached their chartered organizations to discuss adding girl dens to their existing packs.

He went to the leaders of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church with the plan. Milliken told them that Cub Scouting has been a family-oriented program since the start. In his pack, entire families are encouraged to attend campouts, hikes, trips to the museum and more.

The church leaders were “very much behind this, very supportive,” Milliken told The Daily Times. “They said, ‘Yes, open it up. If you think you can provide this program to girls in the community, we’re right behind you.’ So that’s exactly what we did.”

For Milliken, the appeal of Family Scouting is personal. His wife’s work schedule makes her unable to attend Cub Scout meeting nights, so he’s forced to bring all of his children to the meeting anyway.

“I don’t have the option of letting one stay with Mom or stay home,” he said. “A lot of other people are in that same scenario.”

Read the full story here.

Virginia: ‘We’re so excited!’

Jan Helge Bøhn, a mechanical engineering professor at Virginia Tech who has led Boy Scout troops in the U.S. and Norway, contacted Ashley Bell, a math major at Virginia Tech, with an idea.

Bøhn suggested they form a new Cub Scout pack to serve girls in Blacksburg, Va. The result is Pack 158.

Bell, whose dad is an Eagle Scout, told WVTF-FM that she would have “loved to have had this opportunity” when she was a girl.

The girls of Pack 158 got to prove themselves at a district campout.

“We’re so excited! We’ll be hiking, camping in the freezing cold and snow,” one of the girls told the WVTF reporter.

“And that doesn’t worry you?” the reporter asked.

“No. Not really. I have plenty of warm clothes and a big sleeping bag.”

Be Prepared — that’s a good first lesson.

Read the full story here.

Washington: ‘It just seems fair’

Dean Davis, 10, is quite pleased his 7-year-old sister, Grace, will join him in Pack 121.

In fact, the Cub Scout from Everett, Wash., seems like he’s already taken some important Scouting lessons to heart.

“I’m kind of glad my sister now gets to do it. It just seems fair,” Dean told the Everett Herald. “How many times has she gone to my meetings and my pack times and not been able to do anything?”

Grace and Dean’s dad, Steven, agrees. He calls the BSA’s commitment to Family Scouting “a call to modern-day parents.”

“We like to do things as a family,” he said. “She [Grace] has been around in tow, and now she gets recognized for that.”

Read the full story here.

At SeaBreak, Arrowmen spend their spring break helping rebuild Florida camp

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Cheerful service doesn’t take a week off — not even for spring break.

Arrowmen from as far away as Minnesota and Colorado traveled to the Florida Sea Base in March to complete a week of hurricane cleanup.

They called this giant spring break service project SeaBreak. You might have read about it back in January when the Order of the Arrow put out a call for volunteers.

Instead of spending their week off from school relaxing — like most of their classmates — these Arrowmen got to work.

The Scouts repaired property damaged during Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Florida Keys. In all, they completed a combined 1,200 hours of service to the Brinton Environmental Center and Big Munson Island. There was even a visit from BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, who rolled up his sleeves to serve alongside the Scouts and Scouters.

This Florida hurricane-relief project, coupled with a similar weeklong project in Puerto Rico, offers the latest proof that the OA’s commitment to “cheerful service” is more than just a slogan.

For more, here’s Arrowman Kyle Kipple’s report.

SeaBreak: Cheerful service at Sea Base

By Kyle Kipple, SeaBreak youth co-lead 

Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest storms to have been recorded in the Atlantic hurricane basin. It made landfall on Sept. 10 on Cudjoe Key, Fla., as a Category 4 storm, unleashing winds of more than 130 mph.

The Brinton Environmental Center, located on Summerland Key, suffered minor damage compared to other locations in the Keys. Trees were uprooted, fences downed and trash widespread after the hurricane moved offshore. Sea Base’s Big Munson Island also suffered downed trees and a damaged compostable toilet system, as well as various debris brought onshore by the waves and wind. Some 3 to 4 feet of sand was dumped on the island, covering numerous camping locations, said Sea Base general manager Mike Johnson.

“Big Munson Island will survive and bounce back,” Johnson said. “The topography may be different, but the spirit of Big Munson Island lives on.”

With three days spent repairing chuckboxes and cleaning up campsites, the SeaBreak Arrowmen contributed hours of cheerful service to Big Munson’s spirit.

Work — and a little play

Each day, Sea Base staff members guided the participants in activities, such as Big Munson Island’s mangrove maze or shark fishing along the beach. The volunteers also were given a chance to snorkel at Looe Key, a small U-shaped reef, part of the reef system that parallels the Atlantic side of the Florida Keys.

While on Big Munson Island, Arrowmen had to prepare their own meals and cook in patrols. Some groups started a campfire and went around telling their favorite memories of the OA. As some slept in their tents, others slept outside underneath a blanket of stars.

The group was led by Southern Region Chief Harrison Fry, and it was organized by a group of individuals determined to provide as much service as Sea Base needed.

“The registration closed in a matter of days, and we placed numerous Arrowmen on a wait list as we didn’t have enough space to accommodate everyone,” Fry said. “The support for the SeaBreak program has truly been phenomenal.”

Tallying the service

The volunteers completed more than 1,200 hours of service to the Brinton Environmental Center and Big Munson Island.

Bonding as they prepared meals or completed service tasks, the Arrowmen worked to learn more about one another’s experiences and how to better their chapters and lodges.

During the last night on Munson, many of the participants sat around a campfire and shared their favorite OA memories and any advice they would give to younger Arrowmen.

From getting on the buses at the airport on Sunday to leaving Sea Base a week later, these Arrowmen never stopped smiling and formed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. Although they arrived as strangers, they left as brothers.

“[The OA] gives you opportunities and pushes you to go beyond what you think you are capable,” said Will B., who traveled from Georgia to attend SeaBreak. “Being able to come to Sea Base and serve alongside so many dedicated and service-minded individuals is a special experience, and I’m thrilled I had the chance to come.”

A nod to the sponsors

When these companies heard about SeaBreak, they immediately contacted the BSA to learn how they could help.

Let’s give a big Scouting salute to:

  • Jack Links for providing meat snacks.
  • Liberty Mountain for donating water bottles.
  • SOL for supplying lip balm and zinc-based sunscreen.
  • Sunsect for sending insect repellent.

Thanks to Devang Desai, Kyle Kipple, Travis Rubelee and Brian Jilka for the info and photos.

Real-life Spider-Man: New tarantula species named after Eagle Scout caver Bill Steele

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Eagle Scout Bill Steele, a world-renowned speleologist, spends a lot of his time inside caves in Mexico.

Hemirrhagus billsteelei, a newly discovered species of spider, spends all of its time there.

Bill Steele and billsteelei? That’s no coincidence.

Scientists named the new spider species after Steele in honor of his contribution to the collection of cave-dwelling tarantulas in Mexico. Without Steele, some of these spiders might never have been found.

“I am proud to have my name used as a species name,” Steele tells me. “That’s something that will last for all time.”

The entrance to Cueva de la Grieta in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the new tarantula species was discovered. Meet Bill Steele

In addition to his groundbreaking work in speleology, Distinguished Eagle Scout Bill Steele was a lifelong professional in the Boy Scouts of America.

He retired in 2014 after a 34-year career with the BSA. His last role was as national director for alumni relations and the National Eagle Scout Association.

He went back underground after retirement, but not to disappear. His expeditions — including some to places no human has ever been — have resulted in books, research journals and coverage on TV shows like National Geographic Explorer.

Meet Hemirrhagus billsteelei A female Hemirrhagus billsteelei (left) and a male Hemirrhagus billsteelei.

The spider can grow to be 6 to 8 inches long and bears the scientific name Hemirrhagus billsteelei.

Hemirrhagus is a genus of spiders found in Mexico.

Billsteelei, according to this research paper on the subject, honors Steele “for his contribution to the knowledge of Mexican caves and his help in the collection of cave tarantulas and other arachnids in the Huautla Cave System.”

Steele leads Proyecto Espeleológico Sistema Huautla, or PESH, an annual underground expedition into the deepest cave system in the Western Hemisphere.

As part of those trips, Steele regularly invites Mexican cave scientists to join his team. It’s through Steele that these scientists are able to make the journey into the depths of the Earth. Once there, they discover species you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.

Finding billsteelei

Scientist Jorge Mendoza collected the previously unknown spider after a tip from Steele.

“We showed his team the cave it was in and rigged it with ropes,” Steele says. “He thought it was probably an unknown species because it’s in a cave in a remote place — isolated from other cave areas.”

After thoroughly examining the spider — a job I’ll pass on, thank you very much — Mendoza confirmed the spider was indeed a new species.

He captured a male and a female and took them back to the lab for further investigation. The cave-dwelling spider was one of five new Hemirrhagus species Mendoza and his team collected.

6 can’t-miss Philmont Training Center conferences for Scouters who train others

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Six conferences being offered at the Philmont Training Center this summer are about training.

Getting trained on training at the Philmont Training Center? Now that’s meta.

If your Scouting job involves training other leaders, you should consider attending one of these volunteer development conferences, supported by ScoutingU’s Learning Delivery Team.

They’ll cover topics relevant to any unit-, district-, council- or national-level volunteer who trains his or her fellow volunteers.

Why Philmont Training Center?
  • Located in Cimarron, N.M., the Philmont Training Center offers phenomenal training conferences for adult volunteers. (The three other national high-adventure bases have training opportunities as well: the John D. Tickle National Training and Leadership Center at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, and the Northern Tier Training Center in Minnesota.)
  • Participants can meet and share ideas and best practices with Scouters and trainers from across the country.
  • The Philmont Training Center has something for everyone in the family. Spouses and children can enjoy a variety of activities led by Philmont Training Center staff while their family members participate in the training conferences.
  • Any visit to Philmont is a memorable family experience. Philmont blends Scouting, history, family fun, great learning opportunities, and the magic of the northern New Mexico mountains.
Which courses cover training?

Read descriptions of the conferences below, and click here when you’re ready to register or get more information.

Training Your Cub Scout Leaders: June 10 to 16, 2018

You have leaders for your pack, but they need to be trained. This conference can help! Council, district, and pack trainers, Cubmasters, pack committee members, and commissioners will review the training continuum for Cub Scout leaders and discuss methods for reaching the untrained leader. Best practices on how to build a high-functioning training team will be discussed. Participants will examine the pack Journey to Excellence scorecard, particularly its relevance to unit leaders and how they can use the scorecard as a guide to strengthen their packs. Suggestions and recommendations for practical training as well as how to incorporate fun will be shared. Information on training including instructor-led and online courses will be covered.

I Am a New District Training Chair. Now What?: June 17 to 23, 2018

For all the district training chairs and district training committee members, this conference will educate you on how to meet and exceed the training needs of your district. You will discuss everything your job entails, including meetings you are expected to attend, trainings you are expected to provide, goals you and your unit are expected to meet, recruiting, and leading your district training team, and providing training on both online and instructor-led courses in your district. You will learn how to plan, organize and implement a unit/district/council training plan. The latest “What makes a Trained Leader” information will be shared.

I Am a New Council Training Chair. Now What?: June 17 to 23, 2018

For all the new council training chairs as well as those who have been in the position for a while, this conference will help you understand your role in your council’s training program. You will learn both how to fulfill your role for the council and how to maximize the success of your district training chairs. You will learn how to plan, organize and implement a unit/district/ council training plan as well as how to organize and train your council training committee. The latest information on face-to face instructor-led and online training will be provided.

Strategic Training Planning for Councils and Districts: July 22 to 28, 2018

This conference is for council and district training chairs and training committee members. You will participate in the Strategic Training Plan, an exercise that analyzes a council composed of districts with various training problems. You will examine the issues and develop a detailed plan for solving those problems. With an understanding of the process, you will apply the lessons learned to develop a plan for your own council/district. As part of this practical exercise, you will consider your direct contact leader trained percentages, your number of untrained leaders and best practices for getting them trained, and your Journey to Excellence metrics as well as many more factors that will help you to maximize your council/ district training successes.

BSA Training in the Digital Age: July 29 to Aug. 4, 2018

This conference is a general overview of “everything you wanted to know about training in the BSA but didn’t know what to ask.” You will be guided through the BSA Learn Center and you will learn how to navigate My.Scouting tools, including how to run training reports. The conference will cover how a leader becomes qualified to conduct instructor-led trainings. You will examine the Journey to Excellence goals for training and you will learn where to find the latest information on volunteer training. Best practices for getting leaders trained will be shared. Anyone wanting or needing a broad, general overview of BSA training is welcome.

How Do I Become an Excellent Trainer/ Presenter?: July 29 to Aug. 4, 2018

Do you have a passion for training but need help to do an excellent job of presenting? Are you excited to be part of the training team but are not that confident that you can be interesting, dynamic and effective? Do you need help in preparing to present material? Is death by PowerPoint the only presentation you know? Do you have the real desire to improve your presentation skills? Then this conference is for you! Led by experienced BSA trainers, this conference will provide you with both knowledge and practical experience in presenting material to eager-to-learn participants.

Thanks to Cindy Polman for the info.

Higher score, lower price: Get cheap SAT and ACT test-prep software

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Pay attention, because there’ll be a test later.

Boy Scout families — both current and former — can score $350 SAT or ACT test-prep computer programs for $20.

That means the study materials, instructor-led videos and multimedia lessons can be yours for about half what it costs to take the actual tests themselves.

It’s $20 for either the SAT or ACT test-prep program, which includes 11 hours of video instruction, 120 lessons and 122 drills, hundreds of practice questions, and 20 automatically graded tests.

What you need to know

The software is technically free but requires a $20 student fee that includes streaming costs, customer and technical support and updates.

Have a student who’s taking both tests? Grab both programs for $25 — a huge savings over the $600 list price.

Mac or PC? Doesn’t matter, because the programs are streamed instantly online or you can get a DVD download — works on any operating system, platform, or device.

Longtime blog readers might recognize this program  as a continuation of the eKnowledge and the SAT/ACT Donation Project mentioned in 2012 and in 2010.

The feedback so far

In the years since it began, eKnowledge, which says its mission is helping Scouts and Venturers to Be Prepared for these important standardized tests, has sent this course to more than 9,379 Scout families for a total donation from eKnowledge of nearly $3.5 million.

And it has received hundreds of  thank-you notes from Scouting families, with comments such as:

Thanks for this opportunity to help kids improve their scores without spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars. This is a real benefit to the youth. God Bless.

Or this one:

Excellent! My son is an Eagle Scout and wants to go to the Air Force Academy. With your financial help and programs hopefully, he will accomplish these lofty goals! I greatly appreciate it!”

How to order

Request the almost-free programs online at

If the question is “How can we increase our student’s score without spending hundreds of dollars?” you can consider this offer the right answer.

Leaders inject fun, education into clean-up service projects

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An environmental clean-up project should be much more than a way to simply fulfill service hour requirements. But how do you ensure picking up trash doesn’t devolve into that?

For Pack 267 and Troop 267 in Fredonia, N.Y., leaders and parents have helped turn such projects into learning opportunities and fun annual traditions. It starts with passion, leadership and community engagement.

The troop’s previous Scoutmaster, Chris Eichmann, encouraged Scouts to seek out service projects at their local camp, the American Legion and within the community. The annual Canadaway Creek Clean-up event, organized by a local youth fly-fishing program, soon became a preferred endeavor every summer. Scouts would work alongside community volunteers to tidy up the creek’s shoreline, plant trees and remove invasive species.

Meanwhile, pack leaders built relationships with community entities, mostly non-profits, seeking project ideas for their Cub Scouts. The troop-pack liaison helped coordinate Cub and Boy Scout volunteers to recruit large turnouts at projects.

The leaders kept those relationships as their Scouts crossed over into the troop. For current Scoutmaster Thomas Annear and Assistant Scoutmaster Bill Brown, many of those connections were conservation-based.

“Together, Tom and I saw Scouting as an opportunity to share our love for the outdoors and to teach Scouts to become good stewards of the environment,” Brown says.

Lessons from the beach

Brown teaches biology at a local university. He shares his environmental expertise with Scouts during beach clean-ups along the shores of Lake Erie and helps identify wildlife during hikes.

At beach clean-ups, the garbage that Scouts collect is sent to groups that study the Great Lakes.

“By cataloging, weighing and analyzing the debris, the Scouts learn about the source and environmental impacts of the debris,” Annear says. “They see how one styrofoam cooler carelessly left on the beach can turn into thousands of little pieces that can get into marine food chains.”

Education can bring new perspectives to clean-up projects. Annear credits parental involvement and strong leadership for weaving in teachable moments. He says Scouts are always amazed to see the impacts on the environment.

The work also inspires Eagle Scout projects. One Scout recently installed bat houses at the Greystone Nature Preserve, where the troop and pack have participated in tree-planting events each spring for the past few years.

“By returning to particular places and working with the same community partners year after year, the Scouts put down roots and become stewards of the local environment,” Annear says. “Although they’ve made a big difference locally, our goal is that they will take these lessons of stewardship with them wherever they go.”

Mix in some fun

Making projects fun can also instill a passion in Scouts for the environment and continued service.

Troop 267 has transformed its participation in the Canadaway Creek Clean-up to a weekend of Scouting activities, says Amanda Cooley, Troop 267’s advancement chair.

This year, for example, the Scouts will meet with the local fire department on a Saturday for a hot dog and hamburger picnic, featuring a guest speaker who will discuss the creek’s ecosystem. Then, gloves will be donned and garbage bags will be in hand as the troop heads over to the creek to work.

The next day, the Scouts host one of their main fundraisers for the year: a Father’s Day chicken barbecue at the American Legion Hall. Scouts and their families serve food; Cub Scouts sell water and candy bars, and some Scouts take turns wearing and dancing in a chicken suit to greet guests at the door.

And finally on Monday, the troop holds a court of honor, which usually features ice cream or cupcakes for all to partake.

The units have received citations from conservation groups, such as the Alliance for the Great Lakes, for their volunteerism. If you’re interested in what awards Scouting offers, you can check out the several conservation-related recognitions available for units.


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