Scouting News from the Internet

Philadelphia Eagles punter Donnie Jones is an Eagle Scout

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It’s only fitting that Donnie Jones would make it to his first Super Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

After all, the veteran punter is an Eagle Scout.

Before he became the best punter in Eagles’ history — averaging a franchise-record 45.4 yards per punt — Jones became an Eagle Scout. He was a member of Troop 278 in Baton Rouge, La., part of the Istrouma Area Council.

Jones earned Scouting’s highest honor June 4, 1998, according to the BSA’s Eagle Scout database.

I checked with the Philadelphia Eagles, and while they weren’t able to grant an interview at this time, a team representative further confirmed that Jones is an Eagle Scout.

Going the distance

Jones, 37, is in his 14th NFL season. He has played for five different NFL teams: Seattle, Miami, St. Louis, Houston and now Philadelphia.

This is his first Super Bowl, meaning he’s finally getting the chance to shine on the biggest stage in sports.

“I look back at the sacrifices I’ve made, different cities I’ve lived in, moving my wife and kids around, countless hours of preparation and practice, and finally it’s all paying off,” Jones told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I couldn’t be happier about the opportunity.”

Like all punters, he’s an underrated part of the team. If you see No. 8 leave the sidelines to punt or serve as holder for field goal tries, it’s because the Eagles’ offense has sputtered.

Even in an often-overlooked role, Jones has impressed. His goal is to pin the opponents deep inside their own half of the field. When he succeeds, the other team has to traverse more of the field to score.

In the playoffs so far, Jones has done just that. Five of his six punts have been downed inside the 20.

Already a champion

A Super Bowl win on Sunday wouldn’t be Jones’ first major football title.

As punter for Louisiana State University, Jones won the 2003 college football championship game. He was a critical part of that game’s final play when, with nine seconds remaining and a 21-14 lead over Oklahoma, Jones took the snap and prepared to punt the ball.

OU thought its best chance to win was to block the punt, so the team devoted all its players to that effort. Once that failed, the Sooners couldn’t stop the final seconds from ticking off the clock as Jones’ punt rolled down the field.

Jones watched his punt roll down the field as the game ended.

That final play, seen below, inspired Jones to write a book, Nine Seconds to a Championship.

Other Eagle Scouts with Super Bowl ties

Jones was the only Eagle Scout we found on either Super Bowl LII roster. (If you know of one we missed, leave a comment below and we’ll check it out.)

See a list of other Eagle Scouts with Super Bowl ties here.

Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Ryan Larson and Scott Olson for the research help.

Grandfather awards his Eagle medal to grandson

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Tiger Scout Zachary Hearon looked over his grandfather’s Scouting memorabilia displayed at his pack’s blue and gold banquet. He was fascinated with the Eagle Scout award.

His grandfather, Russell Hayes, earned his Eagle in 1965 while a member of Explorer Post 44 in Millville, New Jersey. He remained active in Scouting for decades, and his daughters became Cub Scout leaders. For this blue and gold, Zachary’s pack celebrated Scouting’s Centenary by asking family members to show off their collections. 

“At that time, he asked if he could be an Eagle Scout. I said, ‘I don’t see why not,'” Hayes says. “That stuck with him — I was really proud of that.”

A decade later, Hayes and Hearon attended another Scouting ceremony: Zachary’s Eagle Scout court of honor.

“I remember being a little Tiger Cub running around telling my mom I want to be an Eagle Scout just like my grandpop,” Hearon said at his court of honor. “That little Tiger Cub was right, he made it.”

To honor his achievement, Hayes pinned his Eagle award that Hearon had admired years before on his grandson.

“To watch him go through Scouting was an honor for me,” Hayes says.

Eagles fly together

Sharing your Eagle award with a family member who has also reached the pinnacle of Boy Scout ranks isn’t a common practice, says Ryan Larson, National Eagle Scout Association associate director. It’s permissible as long as the award is BSA-issued.

It’s also a special, heartfelt way to welcome a new member to the Eagle Scout brotherhood.

Eagle Scouts sometimes soar within families. Those who do can be featured in Eagles’ Call, the official magazine for Eagle Scouts. Siblings and/or generations who have earned Eagle can submit photos that you could see on the quarterly magazine’s pages.

Eagles’ Call also highlights Eagles who are serving in our armed forces, have recently received outstanding recognitions or who have passed away. Please submit entries via online form, email or mail.

Family tradition

Reaching the Eagle Scout rank isn’t the only way Hearon is following in his grandfather’s footsteps. After earning his Eagle, Hayes volunteered as a Scoutmaster, committee member and assistant district commissioner.

“He’s going to stay with the troop,” Hayes says of his grandson.

A member of Troop 1065 in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, Zachary also serves as a peer leader in school and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He is also interested in pursuing engineering as a profession. Hayes is a retired mechanical engineer.

“He’s taking after me in that, too,” Hayes says.

8 great scholarships for Eagle Scouts

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These days, higher education comes with a higher price tag. These scholarships for Eagle Scouts, sorted chronologically by deadline, will help take out some of the sting.

If you know of a scholarship not listed here, please share the name and link in the comments.

National Jewish Committee on Scouting scholarships

How much: Ranging from $500 to $4,000

Who’s eligible: Active Eagle Scouts who have earned the Ner Tamid or Etz Chaim religious emblem and are active in their synagogue. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Deadline: Jan. 31

What’s required: Application listing school and Scouting record.

Link: National Jewish Committee on Scouting scholarships

Questions: Email

American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year

How much: $10,000 for the winner and $2,500 apiece for three runners-up

Who’s eligible: Eagle Scouts who are at least 15 and registered, active members of a Boy Scout Troop, Varsity Scout Team, or Venturing Crew chartered to an American Legion post, American Legion Auxiliary unit or Sons of The American Legion squadron — or Eagle Scouts who are registered, active members of a chartered Boy Scout Troop, Varsity Scout Team, or Venturing Crew, and the son or grandson of a Legionnaire, Sons of The American Legion or Auxiliary member,

Deadline: March 1

What’s required: Application, photograph, school participation record, Scouting record, community service record, religious award record and four letters of recommendation.

Link: American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year

Questions: Email

Emmett J. Doerr Memorial Scout Scholarship for Catholic Scouts

How much: Six scholarships at $2,000 apiece

Who’s eligible: Catholic high school seniors who are Scouts or Venturers in any BSA program. Applicants must have earned the Eagle Scout Award, Silver Award, Summit Award or Quartermaster Award.

Deadline: March 1

What’s required: Photo and application listing service to Scouting, church and the community

Link: National Catholic Committee on Scouting scholarship

Questions: Email

Veterans of Foreign Wars Scout of the Year

How much: $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place

Who’s eligible: Young people who are are least 15 and registered, active members of a Boy or Girl Scout Troop, Venturing Crew, or a Sea Scout Ship who have received the Eagle Scout Award, Girl Scout Gold Award, Venturing Summit Award or Sea Scout Quartermaster Award.

Deadline: March 1

What’s required: Application, photograph, school participation record, Scouting record, community service record and three letters of recommendation.

Link: VFW Scout of the Year

Questions: Email

Mervyn Sluizer Jr. Scholarship for Philadelphia-area Scouts

How much: Two scholarships at $1,000 apiece

Who’s eligible: Eagle Scouts who have been active in BSA at least five years and live in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Deadline: April 16

What’s required: Application, essay, school transcript and two letters of recommendation.

LinkMervyn Sluizer Jr. Scholarship  

Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting scholarships

How much: $1,000 for first place and $500 for runner-up

Who’s eligible: Eagle Scouts who are active in an Eastern Orthodox Church and have received the Alpha Omega Religious Scout Award.

Deadline: May 1

What’s required: Application and four letters of recommendation.

Link: Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting scholarships.

Questions: Call 516-868-4050

National Eagle Scout Association scholarships

How much: At least 150 scholarships available, ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 per recipient

Who’s eligible:National Eagle Scout Association members. (Note: Eagle Scouts can apply for a NESA scholarship before you apply for a NESA membership.)

Deadline: Oct. 31

What’s required: Application (though one scholarship requires a reference letter).

Link: NESA scholarships

Questions: Email

Arthur M. and Berdena King Eagle Scout Award

Presented by the Sons of the American Revolution

How much: $10,000 for first place, $6,000 for second place and $4,000 for third place

Who’s eligible: All Eagle Scouts under 19 years old

Deadline: Varies by chapter. Find your state’s SAR society contact here.

What’s required: Application listing Scouting and school achievements and an essay about the Revolutionary War.

Link: Sons of the American Revolution scholarship

Questions: Email your state’s contact person here.

Institution-specific scholarships

There are a number of scholarships for Scouts attending specific institutions of higher learning.

Find a nice list here and always check with your college or university to see whether they recognize Eagle Scouts in this way.

Council-specific scholarships

Check your council’s website — or give them a call or email — to see whether there are scholarship opportunities exclusive to Scouts in your council.

This dad says his son’s former troop has the coolest meeting location in all of Scouting

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On a tree-lined farm in Tennessee, you’ll find one of the coolest places in the country to be a Boy Scout.

Troop 137 meets in an old barn in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. Its horse stalls have been converted into patrol meeting rooms. The hay loft now has a climbing wall leading up to it. And, awesomely, there’s an indoor basketball court.

Troop 137 was the first troop Frank Limpus and his son, Ryan, visited when Ryan decided to become a Boy Scout.

It was the first, and it became the only.

“All I can say is after our one visit that night to the barn, Ryan didn’t want to visit any other troop,” Frank says. “Troop 137 and its environs was where he wanted to spend his time in Scouting. No question, it was the best place — and some of the best years of his life.”

Never a Cub Scout

Unlike many Boy Scouts, Ryan wasn’t a Cub Scout.

“His early years were spent with baseball, soccer and taekwondo,” Frank says. “But when the outdoor urge hit, he decided to try Scouting.”

Frank and Ryan started researching the handful of troops nearby. They found several finalists, with Troop 137 the top candidate. One big plus: the troop had been active since 1975 and was large, averaging 120 active Scouts per year.

They also liked that the troop had just one Scoutmaster in its history.

Troop 137’s founder

John Green, now 90 years young, started Troop 137 in 1975 with 15 boys.

At first the troop met at a church, but Green thought the guys needed more space to do Scouting things. So the Scouts and leaders started meeting in the old barn.

Thanks to the barn, Green and his fellow leaders have offered some interesting outdoor activities Scouts can’t get anywhere else. The Scouts tend beehives on the property and grow veggies in the garden. There’s a fire pit, a zip line and a large activities field. Troop 137 has even raised a calf.

“We look for ways to give the boys something to work with, no matter what they’re interested in,” Green told RealtorMag in 2002.

Frank says the Scoutmaster has been a fine role model for boys like his son, who became an Eagle Scout in 2011.

“With Mr. Green as an example, you can imagine how consistent the troop’s leadership ranks have been and how strong its ongoing support from parents,” Frank says.

One barn, endless possibilities

Troop 137’s home is more than a barn. Within 100 yards of the building you’ll find a second barn and several fields. It’s basically a Scouting playground.

Combined, these areas offer an array of Scouting experiences and merit badge possibilities. I’m talking things like:

  • Orienteering
  • Rappelling
  • Archery
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Astronomy
  • Zip lining
  • Gardening
  • Beekeeping
  • First aid
  • Ham radio
  • Leatherworking
  • Knot-tying
  • Pioneering
  • Flag ceremonies
  • Cooking
  • Webelos crossover

That’s not to mention the Scout Law pathway and merit badge library — both favorites of Scouts like Ryan.

The ample space in front of the barn makes for a perfect setting for ceremonies like courts of honor. Parents and family members bring camp chairs and watch the proceedings as the Tennessee sun sets.

What we’ve learned

Frank says you don’t need a barn to offer the kind of Scouting fun found in Troop 137. It’s possible anywhere.

“Maybe as Scout leaders there are some ideas in what Mr. Green and leaders have done for Troop 137 that might help you make Scouting in your area not only appealing but a magnet for all types of youth,” he says. “Not everyone can dedicate several barns and a field or two to Scouting, but maybe there are ways to develop some onsite merit badges or experiences to attract more kids to consider Scouting and your troop.”

Inside the barn, Scouts pack in for meetings — and games of basketball. Onsite gardening allows Scouts to develop green thumbs.

Boyhood troop of President Gerald Ford and astronaut Roger Chaffee turns 100

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Few troops can count astronauts among their alumni. Only one can say it was the troop where a future U.S. president became an Eagle Scout.

Troop 215 of Grand Rapids, Mich., can claim both.

The troop, which turns 100 on Feb. 4, 2018, was the boyhood troop of astronaut Roger Chaffee, who died in the Apollo 1 disaster, and President Gerald Ford.

Both men earned the Eagle Scout Award in Troop 215 — previously called Troop 15.

The troop’s history is so remarkable that its chartered organization, Trinity United Methodist Church, is a Michigan Historic Site.

7 things to know about Troop 215/15 1. It’s been continuously chartered for 100 years.

Troop 215 was formed Feb. 4, 1918, and has been chartered to Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids ever since. The troop is part of what’s now called the Michigan Crossroads Council.

2. It hasn’t always been called Troop 215. The members of Troop 215 today.

Some time around the late 1940s or early 1950s — troop leaders aren’t sure — the local council renumbered all of its Scout units. All Grand Rapids-area troops were given numbers starting with 2. Troop 15 has been Troop 215 ever since.

3. President Gerald R. Ford was a member.

Before he took the oath of office as our 38th president, Gerald Ford recited the Scout Oath as a member of Troop 15.

Ford was in the troop from 1925 to 1930. He became an Eagle Scout in 1927. In 1970, when Ford was House Minority Leader, he received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Ford became president in 1974 and died in 2006.

Read more about our only Eagle Scout president (so far) in this blog post from 2015.

4. Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee was a member. From left: James Lovell (Apollo 8 and 13), Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11), Alan Bean (Apollo 12), and Roger Chaffee (Apollo 1) at Philmont.

At least two-thirds of astronauts were Scouts. At least 39 selected since 1959 are Eagle Scouts.

Roger B. Chaffee is on both lists. He was a member of Troop 15 from 1947 to 1952 and became an Eagle Scout in 1951.

Chaffee didn’t stop at Eagle. He earned Bronze and Gold Eagle Palms, signifying 10 additional merit badges beyond the 21 required for Eagle.

Chaffee especially loved Boy Scout summer camp, where he learned skills in camping, cooking and outdoor living. He served one summer as assistant waterfront director, where he helped teach young Scouts how to swim.

As an astronaut, Chaffee was part of the delegation NASA sent to Philmont to study geology.

Chaffee was killed Jan. 27, 1967, during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission. Crewmates Gus Grissom and Ed White also died in the fire.

Roger Chaffee is sixth from right in this photo. From left: Pete Conrad, Buzz Aldrin, Dick Gordon, Ted Freeman, Charlie Bassett, Walt Cunningham, Neil Armstrong, Donn Eisele, Rusty Schweikhart, Jim Lovell, Mike Collins, Elliot See, Gene Cernan (behind See), Ed White, Roger Chaffee, Gordon Cooper, C.C. Williams (behind Cooper), Bill Anders, Dave Scott, Al Bean. (NASA photo via Mark Griffin.) 5. The place where Troop 215 meets is a registered historic site.

Two icons of America experienced Boy Scouting in the same building. That’s more than enough to qualify Trinity United Methodist Church as a Michigan Historic Site.

6. Troop 215 is holding a campout to celebrate its birthday.

How does a Boy Scout troop throw itself a birthday party? With a campout, of course.

Heroes on the Grand is a regionwide campout held May 4 to 6 in Grand Rapids. The campout, hosted by Troop 215 and the Michigan Crossroads Council, is the first campout in 50 years at the city’s historic Riverside Park.

Scouts will hike 3 miles on the Gerald Ford Historic Trail, visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum and experience the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium.

7. Gerald Ford was part of the first Governor’s Honor Guard on Mackinac Island. Gerald R. Ford (left) holds the flag as he and his fellow members of the Eagle Scout Guard of Honor prepare to raise the colors over Fort Mackinac at Mackinac Island State Park, Mich. The troop served as guides during the summer months of 1929.

Gerald Ford was part of the very first Governor’s Honor Guard on Mackinac Island — officially called the Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp.

In August 1929, eight Eagle Scouts, including Ford, raised and lowered the flags on the Island, welcomed tourists at the fort and other historic buildings, and participated in service projects.

The tradition continues to this day, with up to 60 Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts participating each week. Two Troop 215 Scouts were members of the Honor Guard in 2017.

The Scouts’ duties are basically the same as they were in 1929. They also have free time to bike the island, shop downtown, play games and eat fudge.

Scouting magazine wrote about this cool tradition back in 2005.

Two Troop 215 Scouts were members of the 2017 Governor’s Honor Guard.

Special thanks: Thanks to Bonnie Czuhajewski and Don Shepard for the blog information.

Earn this special patch to celebrate 70 years of Wood Badge in U.S.

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On July 31, 1948, William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt served as Scoutmaster at the first official Wood Badge course in the United States.

Seventy years later, Wood Badge has grown into an essential training experience for adult volunteers. You’ll find proud Wood Badge alumni — myself included — in every council in the country.

Celebrate the 70th anniversary of Wood Badge in the United States with a special award available only in 2018.

The American Wood Badge Alumni 70th Anniversary Service Award can be earned by completing five of the nine requirements listed below. Think of this like a second, easier-to-complete Wood Badge ticket. (The actual Wood Badge ticket is a series of five projects that benefit local Scouting. After the in-person course, Wood Badgers complete these ticket items to receive their beads.)

To receive the 70th Anniversary Service Award, you might participate in a council Wood Badge gathering, volunteer at a BSA training event, donate $7 or $70 to your council’s Wood Badge scholarship fund, or become a member of Scouting Alumni and Friends.

Applications must be completed by Dec. 31, 2018. Award recipients get a commemorative certificate and the special patch seen above.

A brief history of Wood Badge

Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell conducted the first Wood Badge course in 1919 at Gilwell Park in England. Nearly three decades later, the BSA decided its volunteers would benefit from this training, too.

“Green Bar Bill,” the Scouting legend you can read about in detail here, was Scoutmaster for the first two American Wood Badge courses in 1948. Each course was nine days long — three days longer than they are today.

The first was July 31, 1948, at Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey. Twenty-nine men from 12 states showed up to learn about Scout skills, Scoutcraft and pioneering.

The second was Oct. 2, 1948, at Philmont in New Mexico. This time it was 35 men from 19 states in attendance. They gathered at the Villa Philmonte before traveling to Cimarroncito for the actual course.

These Wood Badge courses were conducted by the BSA National Council’s Volunteer Training Division. Councils began conducting their own courses in 1953.

In 1973, the focus of Wood Badge shifted from Scoutcraft to leadership development. In 2000, Wood Badge for the 21st Century debuted to give leaders the latest leadership tools.

American Wood Badge Alumni 70th Anniversary Service Award requirements

Wood Badgers will agree to and work a new ticket. To qualify for the award, individuals must complete five of the following nine requirements during the anniversary year — Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2018.

  1. Register as member of the Scouting Alumni and Friends, at any level.
  2. Attend a district, council or national level training course either as a participant or staff member OR serve as staff on a Wood Badge course.
  3. Participate in a 70th Anniversary celebration in your Council such as a reception, reunion or other special acknowledgement at a Council wide event such as annual recognition or F.O.S. dinner.
  4. Recruit another individual to attend and volunteer at a Boy Scout training event or Wood Badge service activity.
  5. Share the values of Wood Badge and Scouting by recruiting an individual to take Wood Badge.
  6. Promote Wood Badge training at a unit, district, council area, region or national event.
  7. Contribute $7 or $70 or whatever larger amount you can to an existing council custodial fund for Wood Badge scholarships.
  8. Solicit another individual to join you in contributing $7 or $70 or whatever larger amount they can to an existing council custodial fund for Wood Badge scholarships.
  9. Become a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America at the unit, district or Council level. Consider such opportunities for service as: district committee, commissioner, roundtable staff, Alumni or NESA committees and more.
Learn more and download an application

Visit this site to learn more and apply.

Get your popcorn ready — here’s some fun ideas to do ahead of the Oscars

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Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced this morning, and if you’re a movie buff, that will probably put you in the mood to pop some popcorn and watch a film.

But you’re also a Scouter, so now could also be a good time to dive into some cinematic activities with your Scouts before the red carpet rolls out.

Cub Scouts

Webelos dens/patrols have 18 elective adventures to choose from on the trail to the Arrow of Light rank, one of which is Moviemaking. This adventure prompts Scouts to be creative and confident as they make a movie to share with others, which many will love to do. Here’s a fantastic and funny short produced by a patrol in Pack 451 in Durham, N.C.

Working on this adventure presents the perfect opportunity for a den outing, too, perhaps to a small film studio. Below are the adventure’s requirements:

1. Write a story outline describing a real or imaginary Scouting adventure. Create a pictured storyboard that shows your story.

2. Create either an animated or live action movie about yourself. Your movie should depict how you live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

3. Share your movie with your family, den or pack.

Boy Scouts and Venturers

Boy Scouts delve deeper into the film production process with the Moviemaking merit badge. Scouts learn about filming techniques, equipment and careers in moviemaking. Again, this is a chance for a Scout to be a producer as well as a showman in that he is required to prepare a treatment and storyboard before filming his project and showing the final product to a group.

As part of the merit badge, Scouts can visit a film set or television production studio and watch the magic from behind the cameras.

The Eagle-required Citizenship in the Community merit badge calls for Scouts to watch a movie that highlights how one’s actions can have a positive impact on the community. Some ideas that other Scouters have suggested are 12 Angry Men (1957), It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), We Are Marshall (2006) and Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995). Documentaries are also a great resource for this requirement.

Scouts who have reached the First Class rank and Venturers can work on a Supernova Award. One science-oriented activity topic involves researching and reporting on unbelievable aspects in space films. Using scientific principles, Scouts examine what is realistically plausible in the movie and what falls into the “science fiction” category.

Other fun ideas

This time of year could call for a “Movie Night”-themed pack meeting or court of honor. Roll out a red carpet, ask Scouts to escort their parents to their seats and serve some popcorn for the evening. Scouts could screen their films for the pack or troop.

You could also consider showing excerpts from Scouting-related movies. Check out Follow Me, Boys! (1966), Mister Scoutmaster (1953) and Tex Rides with the Boy Scouts (1937).

If you’re thinking of screening a film for youth, it’s a good idea to watch it first to make sure it’s appropriate and look at these resources on ratings and movie licensing.

When Troop 707 lost all of its gear in the California fires, other troops stepped up

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The flames burned so hot that they melted aluminum canoes into silver puddles of metal, rendered camping gear unrecognizable and warped Dutch ovens.

The Tubbs Fire, which burned for more than three weeks in October 2017 in Northern California, destroyed 5,643 structures and killed 22 people.

Among the fire’s less-publicized victims: Troop 707 of Santa Rosa, Calif., part of the Redwood Empire Council.

Six Troop 707 families, including the Scoutmaster’s family, lost their homes. As luck would have it, all of Troop 707’s camping gear was stored at three homes that were completely burned.

The troop lost its trailer, canoes, canoe trailer, camping stoves, Dutch ovens and camping supplies. This is gear acquired over years and years, and it was gone in one roaring blaze. How many delicious meals were prepared in those Dutch ovens? How many miles had Scouts paddled in those canoes?

This story really got me thinking about how I’d feel if all of my troop’s gear had been wiped away in a natural disaster. No Scout should have to go through that.

Fortunately, this story has a positive outcome. When other troops learned what happened to Troop 707, they stepped up, donating supplies and money to the cause. Troop 707 plans to pay this Good Turn forward. They’ll be frugal when buying replacement gear and will donate what’s left to help less-fortunate Scouts.

Left: Troop 707’s trailer in summer 2017. Right: The trailer after the October 2017 fire. An emergency meeting

The day after the initial firestorm, with the blaze still raging, Troop 707 Senior Patrol Leader Sam Chatfield and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Bradley Benzce called an emergency meeting of the patrol leaders’ council.

They invited other troops within the Redwood Empire Council that had lost gear.

Soon the council got involved, helping the troops recover what was lost. The council replaced many uniforms for free and offered Scout Shop gift cards to help Scouts buy replacement gear.

Kindness from strangers

Northern California troops that were spared during the Tubbs Fire stepped up to help Troop 707.

Troop 237 of Orinda donated more than $3,000 and a truckload of new and gently used gear. Troop 200 of Lafayette sent $2,500. Troop 135 of Santa Rosa donated four canoes.

Within a few weeks, troops from different states and backgrounds donated enough to replace all of Troop 707’s equipment.

In all, Troop 707 received $14,500 in cash donations and another $5,000 in gear.

Paying it forward

The Scouts and parents of Troop 237 visited in person. The leaders felt the Scouts would benefit from seeing the devastation firsthand.

“You could tell that seeing the actual remains of the trailers and driving through the neighborhood gave them a much better understanding of the fire and its impact on the community,” said Robert Erlach, assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 707. 

Now that Troop 707 is back on its feet, the Scouts plan to shift from Good Turn recipient to Good Turn provider.

“We will be thrifty replacing our gear and expect to have funds left over,” Erlach said. “We plan to pay them forward to the World Friendship Fund so that other Scouts, who perhaps never had much equipment to start with, can benefit from the overflow of generosity that Scouting has shown us.”

What’s the difference between ‘two-deep leadership’ and ‘no one-on-one contact’?

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While no Scouter questions the value of Youth Protection training and policies — we all agree on the need to keep young people safe — some Scouters have asked for clarification about implementation.

Many of those questions are about policies requiring two-deep leadership and prohibiting one-on-one contact. On occasion, those separate policies get confused and intermingled.

So I checked with the Youth Protection team for clarification.

Essentially, it boils down to this: At least two adults are required on every BSA outing. During that outing, there should be no one-on-one contact between an adult and a youth. The “no one-on-one contact” rule also applies to leaders interacting with youth outside of the Scouting program where grooming of youth, parents and other adults could occur. Parents and youth are advised to follow this and other Youth Protection policies for the overall safety of all involved.

But there might be moments when just one leader is present with two or more Scouts. That’s fine, as long as the situation doesn’t involve one adult and one youth. (Of course, if we’re talking about a Scout with his or her parent/guardian, that’s always OK.)

For example, let’s say Troop 451 is driving to a campout. There are nine Scouts and three adults on the trip. The first SUV might have two adults and five Scouts. The other would then have one adult and four Scouts. Is this a “two-deep leadership” violation? No. (I covered this back in 2015.)

What about if there are only two adults present on a campout of eight Scouts, and one group wants to go hiking while the other stays at camp to fish?

While Youth Protection policies don’t expressly forbid it, it’s not the recommended approach because of health and safety concerns. What if the adult on the hike gets injured? What if the adult back at camp has an emergency? In those situations, it would be helpful to have a second adult present. Many troops in that situation would want at least four leaders: two to go on the hike and two to stay at camp.

For a closer look at this important subject, here’s what the Youth Protection team said:

What do ‘two-deep leadership’ and ‘no one-on-one contact’ mean?

While sometimes the Youth Protection policies may seem to be confusing, they really aren’t. Therefore we’d like to provide the following in hopes of clarity on the actions of two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact.

From the Youth Protection website, let us provide the following:

Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse

The BSA has adopted the following policies for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies primarily protect youth members; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders. Parents and youth using these safeguards outside the Scouting program further increase the safety of their youth. Those who serve in positions of leadership and supervision with youth outside the Scouting program will find these policies help protect youth in those situations as well.

  • Two-deep leadership is required on all outings. A minimum of two registered adult leaders — or one registered leader and a participating Scout’s parent or another adult — is required for all trips and outings. One of these adults must be 21 years of age or older.
  • One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is prohibited. In situations requiring a personal conference, such as a Scoutmaster conference, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or youth.
  • The policies of two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact between adults and youth members also apply to digital communication. Leaders may not have one-on-one private online communications or engage one-on-one in other digital activities (games, social media, etc.) with youth members. Leaders should copy a parent and another leader in digital and online communication, ensuring no one-on-one contact takes place in text, social media, or other forms of online or digital communication.
Why are these policies in place, and how do they differ?

Safety from all forms of abuse, including sexual abuse and injury from accidents, is crucial for all Scouting programs. Requiring a minimum of two adults participating allows for more supervision so that leaders can take a break and still have more than enough supervision present.

The “no one-on-one contact” rule (which, remember, includes digital communications, such as text, emails and gaming) is a core component of combating the “grooming” of a youth for sexual abuse.

An abusive adult will seek to have a one-on-one relationship with a youth separate from adults, parents and peers which includes inappropriate conversations, and seeking to being alone with a youth. This typically occurs in and out of Scouting program activities when a leader seeking to sexually abuse a child seeks to separate the child from appropriate adult.

While similar to two-deep Leadership in some ways, “no one-on-one” specifically states that adult/youth interactions is not appropriate without another adult — preferably a Youth Protection-trained leader — being present.

Additionally, our Health and Safety team strongly recommends a minimum of two adult leaders on all outings in case of injury to a youth or an adult. This is so aid can be sought without putting youth at risk.

A question from a Scouter, annotated

Below I have included an email I received from a Scout volunteer in New York.

The Scouter’s words are in black. The Youth Protection team’s responses are in red.

In our troop, and at summer camp with other troops, it seems nobody understands Youth Protection consistently. The most common misunderstanding is that two adults must always be present with any number of Scouts. 

This causes our Troop leadership to require at least four adults on each campout, so two can remain in camp while two others go off on activities with the boys, for instance. That’s great.

It seems like the policies of Two Deep, and No One-on-One get confused and intermingled, when in fact they are generally related, but different policies. See the explanation above.

My understanding is, as long as Two Deep is practiced for the overall campout or event, it is always OK for a single adult to be with Scouts as long as there is more than one boy present. Not quite, we prefer to have a minimum of two adults as your previous paragraph described.….

For instance, if half the Scouts stay in camp with one adult, and half go on a hike the the other adult, that is OK. Not a good idea, especially for Health and Safety reasons listed above. If the Scout leader were sick or injured, there would be no adults present. 

 I also understand it is OK for a single adult to be with a single Scout, as long as they are in view of others. For instance, at summer camp, an adult could take a boy to the infirmary, as long as they were in view of others during that time. True, given this example.

Or an adult and boy could canoe together, if they were in the proximity of other Scouts and adults. True, given this example.

I have put together the following summary of the Youth Protection policies that I am hoping may clarify things for those in our troop who don’t quite understand it. I would appreciate it if you would review it and tell me if you feel it is accurate and appropriate for me to share with other leaders. 

Two Deep Leadership

A minimum of two adults: at least one adult a minimum of 21 years old, and at least one adult who is a registered leader, is required for all trips and outings. Correct.

One-on-One Contact 

One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is prohibited. 

The following exceptions and situations are allowed:

– One Scout with his parent/guardian. No problem 

– One adult with two or more Scouts. That depends on the situation. For example, traveling to and from program activity, Scouting meetings and especially outside of Scouting it is not a good practice to have one adult with two Scouts, as the sexual abuser can and will use this as an opportunity to have singular access to Scouts.

– One adult with one Scout in view of other adults and/or youth. Seems OK, given the examples above. 

– Two adults with one or more Scouts. Excellent.  

Boy Scout, Venturer selected to join part of Out of Eden Walk around the world

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A Boy Scout from Washington, D.C., and a Venturer from Cincinnati were selected to join a leg of National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s 21,000-mile walk around the world.

Christopher Sherman and Miciah Thacker penned thoughtful essays reflecting on their experiences at Philmont and the 2017 National Jamboree, respectively. They then impressed the judging panel with stellar interviews.

Both young people took Salopek’s call for “slow journalism” to heart. They paused to observe and appreciate the little details of life.

As of this writing, Salopek is in Pakistan — more than 5,000 miles in. He regularly posts fascinating stories to this page.

Christopher and Miciah will join Salopek for a few days later this year in northern India. (And, yes, Salopek and his team will follow Youth Protection rules of two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact every step of the way.)

This awesome opportunity doesn’t end with Christopher and Miciah. Anyone who participates in a Philmont Trek or a Summit Bechtel Reserve program in 2018 and writes an essay about their experience will be eligible to be selected to join Salopek on a similar trip. Scouts and Venturers can learn more at those high-adventure bases when they visit.

Special shout-outs

Before you learn more about Christopher and Miciah, I must give props to the folks who made this possible.

First, the Pulitzer Center. They started working with Philmont in 2014 and provided an incredible experience for Boy Scout Nick Fahy of Milton, Mass., in 2016, when he wrote a winning essay and was selected to join Salopek in Uzbekistan.

In 2017, the stakes got even bigger. Salopek encouraged tens of thousands of Scouts at Philmont and the 2017 Jamboree to slow down and reflect on their experiences.

Traveling overseas isn’t cheap, and this latest opportunity was made possible by the Pulitzer Center and because of the generosity of the Philmont Staff Association and the Summit Bechtel Reserve Staff Association. The associations invest and provide incredible support for not only the staff, but for the overall mission of both high-adventure bases.

Meet the winners

Christopher Sherman, a member of Boy Scout Troop 52 of the National Capital Area Council, wrote an essay about his life-changing Philmont experience.

The 16-year-old shared how his Philmont trek helped him grow as a person.

“I look forward to introducing the younger Scouts in my troop, and others, to the possibilities inherent in simply spending time alone and together in nature,” Christopher wrote.

Miciah Thacker (right), a member of Venturing Crew 5257 of the Dan Beard Council, was selected from 2017 National Jamboree entrants.

The 16-year-old wrote how the Jamboree helped her connect with people from a variety of backgrounds.

“I continue to volunteer and talk to people I see who look down or lonely, or simply don’t mind spending a few moments talking to me,” she wrote. “Before my new experiences, I was kind to everyone. Now, I try my best to love everyone as an individual, because everyone could be anyone.”

About winner selection

Christopher and Miciah were selected for this globe-trotting adventure because they slowed down to think about their Scouting experiences and put those thoughts into a 500-word essay.

Scouts or Venturers who attended the Jamboree or Philmont received Passport Journals. The journals encouraged young people to reflect on their once-in-a-lifetime experiences through a practice Salopek calls “slow journalism.”

Slow journalism is about taking time to observe what’s around you. It’s about paying attention to the little details of life. It’s about appreciating everyday interactions.

Salopek invited Scouts and Venturers to write 500 words or less about their National Jamboree, Philmont and/or Scouting experiences. Those essays were then assessed by the Boys’ Life and Scouting magazine teams, volunteer and professional staff from the Jamboree and Philmont, and the Pulitzer Center Education Team. Once the top essays were identified, Miciah and Christopher worked through a competitive interview process, during which they provided evidence that they had adopted concepts from the Out of Eden Walk in their Scouting experiences and everyday lives.

You can read Christopher and Miciah’s winning essays here.

It wasn’t all about the essays, though. Interviews with finalists were what ultimately determined the winners. Judges asked about their curiousness, interest in the walk and how much they’d internalized the lessons of intentionality.

What’s next?

Three things:

  • I’ll share stories from Christopher and Miciah after their trip to India.
  • Anyone who participates on a Philmont Trek or a Summit Bechtel Reserve program in 2018 will be eligible for a similar opportunity. Learn more here.
  • Look for more Scouting testimonials from the Philmont and Jamboree Out of Eden Walk essays throughout the year.

Without the Boy Scouts, Band-Aids might not have stuck around

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Sales of Band-Aids were flagging until Johnson & Johnson made an ingenious marketing move.

In the 1920s, the company began distributing, for free, an unlimited supply of Band-Aids to Boy Scout troops across the country, according to this lesson from TED-Ed.

Band-Aids also were included in the custom first-aid kits Johnson & Johnson produced for the Boy Scouts of America. The kits were designed to help Boy Scouts earn merit badges like First Aid.

The original 1925 “Boy Scout First-Aid Packet” contained a triangular bandage for a sling, a compress and two safety pins. It came in a simple cardboard container.

The 1925 kit.

In 1926, Johnson & Johnson and the BSA asked silent film cowboy Fred Thomson to show Scouts how to use the kits. He bandaged the leg of his horse, Silver King, for the demo.

A few years later, Johnson & Johnson debuted an upgraded BSA first-aid kit in a tin box. Inside, Scouts found burn and antibiotic creams, first-aid instructions, and several kinds of bandages, including Band-Aids.

Appealing to families

The collaboration with the BSA proved fruitful. Johnson & Johnson effectively made Band-Aids a default part of every Scout’s camping gear — a tradition that continues today in many packs, troops, ships and crews.

“This was the beginning of marketing to children and families that helped familiarize the public with the Johnson & Johnson name and their new product,” according to this article in Smithsonian magazine.

Boy Scouts, with Band-Aids handy inside the tin box attached to their belt loops, were ready to deal with any cut, scrape or burn they might pick up on the trail.

After all, as one Johnson & Johnson ad from the March 1934 issue of Scouting magazine put it, “a Scout with a first-aid kit is a better Scout.”

Watch this

Pennsylvania borough renames street after Eagle Scouts

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Three boys in the Lennon family earned the Eagle rank. So did the three boys in the Smith family, who live behind the Lennons. Two families with six Eagle Scouts living within a block of each other in Bridgeville, Pa. — a borough of 5,300 people near Pittsburgh. What are the odds of that happening?

“The chances of this are very low, something like this occurring in a very small neighborhood,” Adam Kenerwell told the Bridgeville council. “The chances of that are less than winning the Powerball lottery.”

Kenerwell, the senior patrol leader of Troop 2, made a case to honor the Eagle Scouts at a Bridgeville Borough Council meeting last month. The council members obliged, voting unanimously to change the name of an alleyway between the two streets where the families live to Eagle Way.

“The troop is excited about it,” says Norm Miller, Scoutmaster of Troop 2.

Bridgeville’s Boy Scouts

The Scouts in the Lennon and the Smith families make up six of Troop 2’s 69 Eagles. Larry Lennon Jr. earned his award in 1994, Justin Lennon in 1997, Colin Lennon in 2003, Caleb Smith in 2011, Daniel Smith in 2015, and Matthew Smith earned his Eagle last July.

Troop 2 began on April 28, 1982, after the Women’s Club of Bridgeville offered to charter a Boy Scout troop. The troop gave back to the club by shoveling snow and mowing the lawn around the building. Troop 2 quickly outgrew the building, swelling to 50 members. The Rotary Club of Bridgeville-South Fayette stepped in to serve as the new chartering organization.

The troop stays active in the community, participating in the Memorial Day parade and handling flag ceremonies at the Special Olympics. Scouts also help out during the Wreaths Across America campaign, which honors fallen veterans. Many of the Scouts’ Eagle projects have supported the city’s historical society.

Other Scouting streets

This story had us thinking about other roads named after Boy Scouts. Pathways leading up to camps excluded, do you know of some Scouting-inspired streets in your city? Share them in the comments below. Here are a few we found after a brief Google search:

Steve Cansler, beloved captain who helmed Sea Base’s Bahamas program, dies at 65

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Sea Base Capt. Steve Cansler, who ran the Bahamas-based sailing adventures at the BSA’s Florida Sea Base, died Dec. 24, 2017. He was 65.

During Capt. Steve’s time in the Bahamas, countless Scouts and Venturers arrived with high expectations but little sailing experience. The BSA entrusted Capt. Steve and his wife, Kim, to help these young people feel at home on the water.

Time and again, the couple delivered. Participants plan, train and fundraise for years before arriving at Sea Base. Capt. Steve and Kim helped make it all worthwhile.

“Steve was a man of principle, who had an amazing work ethic, was an astute businessman and a truly wonderful person,” says Paul Beal, who was general manager of Florida Sea Base until his 2016 retirement. “I’m proud to have been on the same team as Steve and Kim.”

The Canslers started at the Bahamas Sea Base in 2007. They operated their boat, “Natures Way,” in the Sea Base fleet until 2012 when they were asked to run the entire Bahamas Sea Base program.

“Steve was a natural and so happy to be working with youth again,” says his wife, Kim Cansler. “He had coached youth sports for 18 years and loved every minute of that. He embraced every crew and remained friends with many of the kids and leaders until now.”

Capt. Steve’s family has chosen to honor his memory with Sea Base scholarship donations in lieu of flowers or other memorials. Anyone who wishes to make a donation in his memory can do so using the instructions at the end of this post. Every penny collected will support youth who might otherwise not get to visit Sea Base.

Passionate, professional

Capt. Steve was passionate about teaching leadership skills to young people through hands-on experiences, says Tim Stanfill, Sea Base’s director of program operations. This passion made Capt. Steve a natural fit for the Bahamas job — first leading Scouts on his boat and later running the program’s day-to-day operations from land.

“He taught life lessons that will live on in the young men and women served at Bahamas Sea Base,” Stanfill says.

Charles George saw this first hand. A Venturing Advisor from the Laurel Highlands Council, George joined a crew of young men and young women for a Bahamas Adventure with Capt. Steve in 2011.

“That was a formative week for all of the crew, as most high adventures are,” George said. “However, Steve helped make every crew feel special, especially the youngest of the group who learned the hard way the she had a full-blown seafood allergy. He and his wife, Capt. Kim, were truly professional, and they were a model couple. Their boat was their home, and they were perfect hosts.”

George said his Venturers learned a lot from Capt. Steve, but one lesson really hit home. Capt. Steve told them to see the boat as a metaphor for life.

“You have map, compass, tools. They help you maintain control over your vessel. But they won’t control it without you,” Capt. Steve told the crew. “Never give up control of your vessel.”

Eyes on the water

Steven Richard Cansler, was born May 30, 1952, in Shawnee, Kan.

At age 28, he married his best friend, Kimberly Jo Cress. Steve was a hairstylist and with his wife owned a salon called Natures Way. For years, the couple thought that name — “Natures Way” — was really better suited for a sailboat than a salon.

Steve and Kim’s dream of owning a sailboat came true soon after they retired in 2003. Steve and Kim became registered maritime captains with the U.S. Coast Guard and started a career as charter boat captains. Naturally, they named their boat “Natures Way.” They operated out of Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas.

In 2007, the BSA partnered with Capt. Steve and Kim to operate “Natures Way” as part of the Sea Base Bahamas program, led by Capt. Joe Maggio. Thousands of young men and young women had the time of their lives sailing around the Bahamas with Capt. Steve guiding them.

When Maggio died unexpectedly in 2012, Beal, the Sea Base general manager at the time, needed someone he could trust to run the Bahamas program.

“There were a lot of people interested, but Steve and Kim stood out head and shoulders above the rest,” Beal says. “We knew them, trusted them implicitly. They believed in the program as much as we did. It was a decision I never looked back on.”

A new chapter on land

In spring of 2012, the couple took over the day-to-day operations of the Bahamas Sea Base.

“Although we missed getting to go out with the kids, Steve did a great job handling all the logistics of the program and working with and training the captains,” Kim Cansler says. “He added great positive changes to the program every year.”

“Positive” is an ideal word to describe Capt. Steve.

Rob Kolb, the Sea Base’s former director of program, says Capt. Steve always greeted arriving Scouts with a smile.

“All Scouts and leaders left their Bahamas adventure with fond memories of Capt. Steve and his wife,” Kolb says.

Stanfill, the current director of program, says his friendship with Capt. Steve went beyond business.

“Obviously the business of Sea Base is important, but Steve always put friendship and family first,” Stanfill says. “He took the time to give me fatherly advice and encourage me to spend more time with my family. I will forever cherish those talks.”

Donate to the Capt. Steve scholarship

Donations may be made in Capt. Steve’s honor; 100 percent of money received will go to help Scouts or Venturers attend Sea Base.

Make your check payable to the Boy Scouts of America, writing Capt. Steve scholarship on the memo line. Mail it to P.O. Box 1906, Islamorada, Florida, 33036.

Arrowmen: Spend spring break helping rebuild BSA camps in Florida, Puerto Rico

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Cheerful service to others is at the heart of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

In that spirit, Arrowmen are invited to spend their spring break helping BSA camps in Florida and Puerto Rico rebuild after last year’s devastating hurricane season.

There are two opportunities to serve, and each is open to all registered OA members. The opportunities coincide with spring break for many high schools and colleges.

With each opportunity, the BSA will cover all costs once Arrowmen arrive at Miami International Airport or San Juan Airport.

SeaBreak: Rebuilding the Florida Sea Base

SeaBreak, held March 4 to 10, 2018, is based out of the Florida Sea Base’s Brinton Environmental Center. Though the main Sea Base campus was largely spared during Hurricane Irma, there was damage to Camp Sawyer, a local council camp, and Big Munson Island, part of the Florida Sea Base. Each facility was hit hard, with camping facilities destroyed.

Arrival info: Arrive at MIA on no later than noon on March 4. Plan to depart MIA no earlier than 1 p.m. March 10.

Cost: The BSA will cover all onsite costs — food, lodging, tools and ground transportation. The only cost associated with SeaBreak is an individual participant’s transportation from his or her hometown to the Miami airport.

Requirements: Every participant must be at least 14 years of age by March 4, 2018, a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America and an Order of the Arrow Lodge, complete a BSA Medical Form (Parts A, B, and C), and meet the height and weight guidelines listed within the Medical Form.

Learn more: At this site.

Note: While this event is being hosted by the Southern Region, Arrowmen from all four BSA regions are invited.

Arrowcorps Puerto Rico: Helping a beloved BSA camp

Arrowcorps Puerto Rico, held March 11 to 17, 2018, is based out of Camp Guajataka, part of the BSA’s Puerto Rico Council. The camp was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria.

Arrival info: Arrive at San Juan International Airport before 6 p.m. local time March 11. Depart after 10 a.m. local time March 17.

Cost: The BSA will cover all onsite costs — food, lodging, tools and ground transportation. The only cost associated with Arrowcorps Puerto Rico is an individual participant’s transportation from his or her hometown to the San Juan, Puerto Rico, airport.

Requirements: Arrowmen of any age are welcome. Participants must complete a BSA Medical Form (Parts A, B, and C), and meet the height and weight guidelines listed within the Medical Form.

Learn more: At this site.

Note: While this event is being hosted by the Northeast Region, Arrowmen from all four BSA regions are invited.

Was this quote attributed to Groucho Marx actually published in Boys’ Life first?

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“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

This funny quote, commonly attributed to comedian Groucho Marx, might have a much cooler origin story.

One researcher and author says the quip might have originated in the “Think & Grin” section of Boys’ Life magazine.

According to a post on Quote Investigator, a website dedicated to finding the true provenance of popular quotes, the earliest mention of Groucho’s joke is in 1974.

That’s a full 20 years after Jim Brewer of Cleveland shared the following joke with Boys’ Life magazine: “A book is man’s best friend outside of a dog, and inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

The joke appeared on page 78 of the February 1954 issue, which you can see below. Jim’s joke is the second from bottom in the first column.

Quote Investigator admits that Jim might have heard the joke somewhere — maybe even from Groucho himself.

Groucho Marx was active as a comedian before 1954, and it is possible that he told the joke before this date. The Boys’ Life communicant may have heard the gag directly or indirectly from Groucho, but QI has not yet located any evidence to support this possibility. Alternatively, the quip may have been reassigned to a prestigious comedian such as Groucho to enhance its popularity.

Another theory: Groucho was an avid Boys’ Life reader, saw the joke in his favorite magazine and started telling it to everyone he met. (Hey, a guy can dream!)

The mystery of the quote continues, but one truth is indisputable: You can find some pretty funny jokes in Boys’ Life magazine — then and now.

Thanks to James DeLorey for the blog post idea.

2018 Order of the Arrow national officers elected; here’s who represents your region

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Anthony Peluso, an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor OA member from Virginia Beach, Va., has been elected 2018 national chief of the Order of the Arrow.

In late December each year, OA section chiefs from across the nation gather to plan the following year’s calendar. But before they can do that, they must elect a national chief, national vice chief and region chiefs.

The elections usually start around 7:30 p.m. and don’t end until late into the night. Anthony’s election was made official on the OA Facebook page at 11:02 p.m. National vice chief Michael Kipp’s election was announced more than two hours later, at 1:04 a.m.

As national chief, Anthony represents nearly 200,000 Arrowmen — youth and adult members of the OA — throughout the 2018 calendar year.

Anthony joins 2017-18 National Venturing President Michelle Merritt and 2017-18 National Sea Scout Boatswain Mercedes Matlock as the three highest-ranking youth leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.

As one of his first acts, Anthony will join Michelle, Mercedes and a group of other impressive Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s Report to the Nation in February in Washington, D.C.

After that, Anthony will lead the OA at the 2018 National Order of the Arrow Conference. The OA’s most high-profile event, NOAC is held every two or three years. Registration is open now for NOAC 2018, held July 30 to Aug. 4 at Indiana University.

“The OA has made the single biggest impact on my life of any organization I’ve ever been involved with,” Peluso said. “Now, in 2018, I’ve been given the opportunity to help change the lives of Arrowmen throughout the country.”

More about Anthony Peluso
  • From: Virginia Beach, VA.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Blue Heron Lodge (Tidewater Council). Served as section chief for SR-7A. Recipient of the Founder’s Award.
  • Education: Economics major at Virginia Tech; plans to attend law school after graduation.
  • Hobbies: Intramural sports, singing and fantasy football.
  • Fun fact: He once ate 10 hamburgers in one sitting.

Michael Kipp, 2018 national vice chief
  • From: Valparaiso, Ind.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Sakima Lodge (LaSalle Council). Served as section chief for C-6A. Recipient of the Founder’s Award.
  • Education: Strategy and organizational management major at Purdue University; plans to pursue a career in human resources management.
  • Hobbies: Hiking, working on summer camp staff and getting involved on campus.
  • Fun fact: He is his lodge’s first national officer.
  • Quotable: “Our organization has an amazing year ahead of it. The national conference this summer is going to be an incredible experience, and I’m excited to help make it happen.”

Will Coots, 2018 Central Region chief
  • From: Oregon, Ill.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Wulapeju Lodge (Blackhawk Area Council). Served as section chief for C-7. Recipient of the Centurion Award.
  • Education: American studies and political science double major from the University of Notre Dame; plans to pursue public service and research following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Watching The West Wing, listening to jazz music, playing football and hiking.
  • Fun fact: He is related to J. Fred Coots, the man who wrote and composed the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
  • Quotable: “I am really excited to tackle pressing issues and help guide this amazing organization to a proactive, promising and sustainable future.”

Justin St. Louis, 2018 Northeast Region chief
  • From: Lowell, Mass.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Pennacook Lodge (Spirit of Adventure Council). Served two terms as section chief for NE-1. Recipient of the Founder’s Award.
  • Education: Political science major at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; plans to attend law school following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Skiing, graphic design, using the Oxford comma, and keeping up with politics. [Note from Bryan: Though it’s against our style, I included an Oxford comma in that last sentence — just this once, just for Justin.]
  • Fun fact: Over the past four years, he has participated in a 3-mile swim across Northwood Lake in New Hampshire to fundraise for local Scouting programs.
  • Quotable: “This year is our opportunity to directly impact Arrowmen at home by strengthening our support of lodge programs — using the conference as our vehicle for delivery.”

Zach Callicutt, 2018 Southern Region chief
  • From: Oxford, Miss.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Chicksa Lodge (Yocona Area Council). Served as section chief for SR-6. Recipient of the Founder’s Award and James E. West Award.
  • Education: Public policy leadership major at the University of Mississippi; plans to attend law school following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Golf, sailing and duck hunting.
  • Fun fact: He learned how to water ski when he was 8 years old.
  • Quotable: “I think 2018 will be a great year for the Southern Region and the Order with NOAC at Indiana University. I’m looking forward to ‘Defining our Destiny’ this next year.”

Jordan Jefferis, 2018 Western Region chief
  • From: Portland, Ore.
  • Scouting background: Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of Wauna La Mon’tay Lodge (Cascade Pacific Council). Served as section chief for W-1S.
  • Education: Homeland security major at Concordia University; plans to attend law school following his graduation.
  • Hobbies: Watching The Good Wife, golfing and traveling.
  • Fun fact: He loves coffee and wants to open a coffee shop when he retires.
  • Quotable: “The Western Region has been doing some truly great things this past year, and I am excited to continue this on. Furthermore, I am excited to see all the new connections that will be made in the Western Region and nationally at the 2018 NOAC.”

Hat tip: Thanks to Michael Swalberg, OA Communications Coordinator, for the info and photos.

Polish Boy Scout who escaped Auschwitz dies at age 98

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Sometimes, we come across news that humbles us, filling our thoughts with gratitude and introspection.

Such was the case with the passing of last month.

When he was a young man, he embodied the “A Scout is Brave” point of the Scout Law while facing imminent death.

Piechowski was a Polish Boy Scout; at 19, he was captured and imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp, where about 1.1 million people died during World War II. Poland’s Boy Scouts were targeted and killed by the Third Reich because it was feared the Scouts would help start an uprising against Nazi Germany. They were right, but before Piechowski could join any resistance, he had to first escape one of the predominant sites of The Holocaust.

War breaks out

The Polish Scouting program began in 1911, but its focus shifted to the war effort during the First World War. After the war, the organization regrouped and worked on rebuilding the homeland. Piechowski joined the Scouts when he was 10.

“I joined because I was patriotic,” he told The Guardian. “And when I arrived home, my mother was crying a little bit and said to me: ‘I am so happy you are on the right way.'”

Nine years later, Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

“They started shooting the Scouts,” Piechowski recalled.

He witnessed his friends being rounded up and killed, so he decided to flee. He tried to make it to France, but was captured near the Hungarian border. Piechowski was taken from prison camp to prison camp before finally arriving at Auschwitz, where he became “Prisoner 918.”

‘Hell of death’

Piechowski was assigned to a work crew at the camp, slogging in the elements, starving and trying to conserve his energy, so he could survive another day. He was often charged with loading carts with corpses to haul to a crematorium.

“When I recall working in this hell of death, I can still feel it,” he said in the 2007 Polish documentary Uciekinier (The Runaway).

Fortunately, Piechowski was later assigned to work in a storehouse across the street from the camp. It was there, he noticed a room that stored SS uniforms and weapons.

His friend, Eugeniusz Bendera, learned he was to be executed and urged Piechowski to help him concoct an escape plan. They recruited Jozef Lempart, a priest, and Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, who was also a Scout.

The escape

On June 20, 1942, the four went over their plan, prayed and agreed to take their own lives if their escape failed. They grabbed a wagon full of garbage and convinced a guard to allow them through a gate.

They ditched the wagon and headed to the garage. Bendera, a car mechanic, identified the commandant’s vehicle that they would use to escape. The other three jumped through a coal hatch, rushed through the underground hallways and broke into the storeroom – heading straight for the room that housed the uniforms and guns. Using a crowbar, they pried that door open, put on the Nazi uniforms and grabbed firearms and ammunition.

They marched outside where Bendera had brought the car around. Bendera put on his uniform and the four began driving, Piechowski in the front seat.

It was a relatively smooth drive as SS officers they passed failed to recognize them, simply raising their arms to greet them with a “Heil Hitler!”

When they approached the final gate, the SS officer didn’t open it for them until Piechowski opened the car door, flashed the rank insignia and ordered the officer to let the vehicle through. He did, and the men were free.

After the war

The four men went their separate ways after fleeing Auschwitz; news of their escape gave hope to the prisoners still there.

Piechowski later joined the Polish Home Army to fight the Nazis. After the war, he studied to be an engineer, but communist authorities sentenced him to 10 years in prison for fighting with the Home Army, which they viewed as dissidents to their rule. He served seven and was released at age 33, taking a job with the communist government.

After the communist party dissolved in Poland in the late 1980s, Piechowski traveled the world with his wife, Iga. Although he was still haunted by his experiences, he continued to share his story with students and other groups.

“I am a Scout, so I have to do my duty — and be cheerful and merry,” Piechowski said. “And I will be a Scout to the end of my life.”

Piechowski passed away at age 98 on Dec. 15 in Gdansk, Poland.

Hat tip: Thanks to John Novack for sharing Piechowski’s obituary with us, which appeared in the Washington Post.

Alabama or Georgia? Here’s the Scouting-related reason for my pick

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Yes, you can be a successful student, top-tier athlete and Eagle Scout.

The latest in a lengthy list of examples: Jackson Harris, a junior tight end for the University of Georgia.

Georgia will face Alabama tonight in the college football championship. The game begins at 8 p.m. Eastern and airs on ESPN.

Harris is the only Eagle Scout on either team that we could find in the official database.

If you, like me, don’t have a connection to either school, this might be enough to sway you to cheer for the Georgia Bulldogs tonight.

I know it’s got me rooting for the team in red and black.

Who is Jackson Harris?

Jackson Harris is a stellar student and elite athlete.

He’s also an Eagle Scout, having earned Scouting’s highest honor as a member of Troop 103 of Columbia, Tenn., part of the Middle Tennessee Council.

Harris, now 20, earned Eagle in 2011 when he was 14.

Coming out of high school, ranked Harris as a four-star prospect. They said he was one of the 200 best overall players and fifth-best tight end in the country.

And while his on-the-field numbers at Columbia Central High School were impressive (1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his senior season), so was this number: 4.0. That was Harris’ high school GPA.

Harris at the University of Georgia

At Georgia, Harris has appeared in almost every game. He’s been a positive influence on his teammates on the field, on the sidelines and in practice.

He appeared in 14 games in 2017, including a start against Appalachian State.

His academic success has continued in college. Coming into the 2017 season, Harris had the highest GPA among all juniors on the team.

Harris’ major is mechanical engineering, chosen because he loves seeing how things work.

He told the UGA website a story about taking a speaker apart when he was a kid.

“I … remember taking it apart and looking at it, just thinking it was the coolest thing ever,” he said. “I get done and I have to put it back together, but I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s still in my room now, in some drawer with a bunch of pieces everywhere.”

Next year will be Harris’ senior season.

Other Eagle Scouts in college football

What do Iowa State running back David Montgomery, LSU quarterback Danny Etling and BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum have in common?

All are Eagle Scouts.

Do you know of any other current college football players who are Eagle Scouts? Leave a comment below!

Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Scott Olson, Ryan Larson and Jeff Laughlin for searching the Alabama and Georgia rosters for Eagle Scouts.

Like this: Vote Boys’ Life as your favorite magazine cover of 2017

Bryan On Scouting -

Weather that’s so cold it makes your eyelashes freeze makes for an unforgettable Scouting experience.

It also makes for a memorable magazine cover.

The February 2017 cover of Boys’ Life, featuring an image by W. Garth Dowling, has been selected as a finalist in the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Best Cover Contest.

BL is competing against other great covers from magazines like Outside, Condé Nast Traveler and Sports Illustrated.

Vote by following the simple instructions below.

About the cover

But first, a little background. That Scout peeking out from behind a frost-covered hat and hood? That’s Colin Hodges, an Eagle Scout from Troop 984 of Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

Over four days in January, Colin and his fellow Scouts tried what their non-Scouting friends might call insane. They camped outside near Ely, Minn., as part of Okpik Winter Adventure at Northern Tier. The low temperature during their Okpik experience? A bone-chilling minus-25 degrees.

“I got a bunch of crazy looks,” said Zion Freeman from Troop 50 of Des Moines, Iowa. “People asking, ‘Really? I know you’re a Scout, but this is what you guys do in your free time?'”

Indeed it is.

Grab a mug of hot cocoa, and vote for the Boys’ Life cover today. Voting ends Jan. 31.

How to vote

To vote, simply Like (thumbs-up) the image below. Then share this with your Scouts and fellow Scouters so they, too, can vote.

If you don’t see the cover image above, click this link. The link may take a moment to load, so wait for the Boys’ Life cover to pop up. Then “Like” the image. 

You’re done!

BL a past winner

Loyal blog readers might remember that Boys’ Life has won this contest before.

The September 2014 cover, featuring a photo by Patrick Schneider, depicted a lovable Labrador retriever in a canoe.

Emergency preparedness runs in the family

Bryan On Scouting -

A couple of weeks ago, we shared a story about Daniel Konzelman, a 24-year-old Eagle Scout who helped rescue passengers after a deadly Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, Wash.

We caught up with Konzelman and discovered that the Dec. 18 tragedy wasn’t the first emergency he or his four brothers — all of whom are Eagle Scouts — have responded to.

Instincts kick in

Konzelman works as an accountant in Olympia, Wash. He and his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, were driving to work when they witnessed a train speeding past them. The locomotive and its cars barreled off the tracks and as it rushed nearly 50 mph over the speed limit, killing three people and injuring dozens of others.

Konzelman reached the harrowing scene soon after the derailment — cars dangling off a bridge, people ejected from the train. He quickly grabbed his boots and a flashlight from his car’s trunk and ran to lend a hand.

“I didn’t see anybody there helping,” Konzelman says. “In a lot of ways, it was instinctual.”

He says he gleaned courage from his younger brother, Darien. Two weeks prior to the train derailment, Darien was the first to come across a car accident and immediately phoned 911. Police officers were so impressed with how calm and collected Darien was during the phone call, they suggested he become a police officer. Darien is an officer in the Air National Guard and will be pursuing advanced degrees in clinical psychology.

Nor was that accident the first time a Konzelman brother had jumped into action. Daniel responded to a head-on collision near the family’s home where one vehicle flew into an embankment.

“I was practicing my fiddle while I was looking out the window and I saw it all happen,” Daniel says. “I immediately called 911 and ran down there.”

Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt in that wreck, he says.

Scouting’s influence

The Konzelmans grew up in Puyallup, Wash., just east of Tacoma. The boys’ mother placed special emphasis on subjects she held in high value: faith, music and Scouting. Daniel was in Cub Scouts for about a year, anxiously waiting to turn 11 so he could become a Boy Scout. His older brothers, Drew, Derek and David, had shared stories of backpacking treks and summer camps.

“I looked up to my brothers a lot; they made Boy Scouting cool,” Konzelman says. “I loved every bit of it.”

He was in Troop 174 for three years before joining a larger troop in Troop 604 of Eatonville, Wash., part of the Pacific Harbors Council. His favorite activities were knot-tying and learning first aid.

“Boy Scouts teaches you general wisdom that transfers into every area of life,” Konzelman says.

He used his knot-tying skills while working for a tree service company for five years. Daniel is not a Scouter, but his family goes on frequent camping trips together, and he enjoys mountaineering and rappelling. His brother Derek works for an outdoor retail company and goes skiing or backpacking on a regular basis.

Konzelman took Scouting’s motto of “Be Prepared” to heart, hence he kept boots and a flashlight in his car.

In the spotlight

While he was helping passengers, Konzelman contacted his family, asking them to pray. One of his brothers posted the news of the train derailment on social media, and soon after, reporters were contacting him, wanting to talk to Daniel.

His story of comforting, praying with and rescuing the wounded has been told by many major news outlets. Konzelman doesn’t see his actions as heroic, but rather as simply being “the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to those people.”

His family members aren’t strangers to being in the spotlight.

Konzelman and his brothers are part of a band and have performed in Japan and Europe. In 2012, Drew and Derek starred in a reality TV series, “Escape Routes,” on NBC, and their sister Dustin-Leigh appeared on Season 10 of “The Amazing Race” on CBS. She also competed in the Miss America  pageant in 2006.

So, when the media requested interviews with Daniel, he didn’t shirk from the opportunity to tell his story. He found it surreal at first.

“I didn’t think what I did was special or noteworthy,” Konzelman says.

Instead, he viewed the incident as an example of God being there for people during a dark time. He hopes his story is a message of hope for people rather than a tale of heroism.

Helpful at all times

The train derailment will have a lasting impact on Konzelman’s life. It has changed his perspective on how to love other people and to cherish every moment.

“I was reminded of the value of human life and how sacred it is,” he says. “I’m so thankful of the million different blessings we take for granted every day that can be taken in an instant.”

Two young men he encountered suffered severe neck injuries. He and his girlfriend plan to visit them in the hospital often. Konzelman experienced a debilitating stress fracture in his spine two years ago and was forced to use a wheelchair for a month.

“I hope I can be encouraging to them,” Konzelman says.

He also hopes Scouts can draw from a lesson he has learned not to be discouraged when faced with difficulty as those experiences can translate positively down the road.

“Trials create good character when endured with integrity,” he says.


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