Scouting News from the Internet

Boy Scout wins ‘MacGyver’ sweepstakes grand prize: a trip to the set

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Justin Hires, who plays Wilt Bozer, sits with Jake.

Leave it to MacGyver to craft a way inside an impossible-to-reach location.

Jake G., a Boy Scout from Troop 565 of Round Rock, Texas, won the grand prize in the CBS MacGyver Challenge: Scout Edition, hosted by Boys’ Life magazine.

His reward: a trip the MacGyver set in Atlanta and a pizza party with his troop.

Jake is a big fan of the show, so the Atlanta adventure was the trip of a lifetime. And it didn’t disappoint.

The Scout and his dad/Scout leader, Randall, hung out with stars of the CBS show, including Lucas Till (Angus “Mac” MacGyver), George Eads (Jack Dalton), Justin Hires (Wilt Bozer), Tristin Mays (Riley Davis) and Meredith Eaton (Matty Webber).

After meeting the stars, they put on headphones and sat in folding canvas chairs to watch some scenes with the director. Jake even got to operate the slate (“clapperboard”) that indicates when a take begins. Once back home, Jake even appeared on TV himself.

Jake learned about the sweepstakes in the October issue of Boys’ Life magazine, and he brought his copy to the set. That’s a good reminder that you should read Boys’ Life magazine and check out for more great chances to win cool prizes.

Speaking of things to watch, be sure to tune in to MacGyver on Fridays 8/7c on CBS. Of course, if you haven’t been keeping up, you can catch up online now.

More photos from the MacGyver visit

George Eads, who plays Jack Dalton, shows Jake around the set.

George Eads talks with Jake and his dad, Randall.

Jake and his dad watch the show’s taping in progress.

Action! Jake gets the take started right.

Jake learned about the contest in Boys’ Life magazine.

Jake and Randall watch Lucas Till being interviewed by a local CBS crew.

Jack got to meet Tristin Mays, who plays Riley Davis on MacGyver.

Jack strikes a pose with MacGyver‘s Meredith Eaton, who plays Matty Webber.

Jake’s pizza party

Jake treated his fellow members of Troop 565 to some pizza and some sweet MacGyver swag.

We asked your 2017-2018 National Venturing Cabinet five important questions

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Venturing has named its six top youth leaders for the 2017-2018 term.

These five young women and one young man will lead the BSA’s program for older youth beginning June 1, 2017. Their terms conclude May 31, 2018.

The National Venturing Cabinet includes the national Venturing president, national Venturing vice president and presidents from each of the four BSA regions (Central, Northeast, Southern and Western).

We caught up with Michelle, Cathie, Dominic, Ripley, Savannah and Jessica to learn a little more about them.

We asked for their favorite Scouting memory, what being a Venturer means to them, what they do when not Venturing, someone they admire and — the most important question of all — what animal they wish they could be.

Best of luck to these Venturers in the coming year!

National Venturing President: Michelle Merritt

Council: Spirit of Adventure (based in Boston)

Favorite Scouting memory: My Venturing crew went on a 62-mile canoe trip in northern Maine two summers ago. Besides the chance to be in the outdoors and see some of the best views I had ever seen, I got to spend the first week of summer with my closest friends. The highlight of the trip was the huge pile of snow we found near a waterfall. We started a snowball fight in June.

What being a Venturer means to me: Being a “Greenshirt” is all about adventure. As Venturers, we are leading the adventure. These adventures allow us to grow as people, make friendships that will last a lifetime, serve our community and give us once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Someone should become a “Greenshirt” because Venturing is fun and will allow them to be a part of something greater than themselves.

What I’m doing when not Venturing: I attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [in Troy, N.Y.] and am finishing my first year as a chemical engineering major. When I am not studying or working on Venturing, I play on our school’s club ultimate Frisbee team and swim to stay active.

Someone I look up to: I admire my parents the most. They are always there to support my two brothers and myself. This is especially true with our Scouting commitments. They allow us to learn from our mistakes and challenges without doing the work for us. They also push us to be better people. I know I couldn’t be the person I am today without them.

What animal I’d be: I would be a hummingbird. I think it would be awesome to be able to fly and live outside.

National Venturing Vice President: Cathie Seebauer

Council: Prairielands (based in Champaign, Ill.)

Favorite Scouting memory: It’s hard to pick just one, but definitely one of my summers at Philmont! From going on a regular trek with my crew, to going on Rayado (a special individual trek), to working on backcountry staff, the friends you make and the splendor of the land keep you wanting to return “home.”

What being a Venturer means to me: Venturing gives you the opportunity to grow as a person, a leader, a mentor, and a friend, all while doing activities that you love. When you join, you open the door to a lifetime of opportunities and one-of-a-kind experiences that you can’t get anywhere else.

What I’m doing when not Venturing: I’m currently attending the University of Illinois, majoring in civil and environmental engineering. In my free time, I’m training to run my first full marathon at the end of April!

Someone I look up to: I really admire Marie Curie for pursuing her dreams and passions — even if she had to go against the social norms of the time. Because of her leadership and dedication, she was able to break down numerous barriers for women in STEM fields.

What animal I’d be: I think I would be a beaver; I always seem to be bustling around, looking for new projects and finishing up old tasks. I do my best to stay organized, and I focus on being prepared for the future and making sure the job gets done. And beavers are mini civil engineers, too!

Central Region Venturing President: Dominic Wolters

Council: Northern Star (based in St. Paul, Minn.)

Favorite Scouting memory: When I served on the ceremonies team for my father’s Brotherhood ceremony in the Order of the Arrow. I had practiced for weeks without him knowing, and being able to surprise him and share that moment with him was very special.

What being a Venturer means to me: To me, being a “Greenshirt” is about exploring the world around you and going on adventures that you’re passionate about. Anyone that wants to do more, be more and learn more about themselves and others should definitely join Venturing.

What I’m doing when not Venturing:  I go to Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul where I run, ski and play tennis. I also love to read, swim and spend time with friends and family.

Someone I look up to: I have always admired Franklin Delano Roosevelt because he didn’t allow his circumstances to prevent him from achieving his goals and helping others.

What animal I’d be: I would be an owl because I love to look at the night sky, and there’s no better place to do it than by soaring above the tree tops.

Northeast Region Venturing President: Ripley Price

Council: Hawk Mountain (based in Reading, Pa.)

Favorite Scouting memory: When I first joined Venturing and got to meet Michael Durant, the sole American survivor of the “Black Hawk Down” incident. I heard his awe-inspiring story.

What being a Venturer means to me: To me, being a Greenshirt means being part of an amazing community that provides the opportunity to be involved in high adventure, seek leadership and make lasting friends. You should become a Greenshirt because you will have the opportunity to go on adventures, challenge yourself, make lasting friends and develop leadership skills.

What I’m doing when not Venturing: Studying, working on my Girl Scout Gold Award, playing violin or rock climbing.

Someone I look up to: Amelia Earhart, because she changed the perception of what a woman could be and do. She inspired other women to break the mold and live out their dreams.

What animal I’d be: A butterfly, because it mirrors the transformation that occurs over time; like what’s happened to me through my involvement in Venturing.

Southern Region Venturing President: Savannah McMillan

Council: Great Smoky Mountain (based in Knoxville, Tenn.)

Favorite Scouting memory: The first time I saw the overlook from the Foxtrox base camp at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, while I was staffing NAYLE [National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience] in 2015. It was nighttime, and there were only a few of us left awake. I don’t think I will ever forget the feelings of peace and serenity that came over me while looking down into the valley.

What being a Venturer means to me: You are pursuing a life of adventure, leadership, service and friendship. I think everyone should be a “Greenshirt” because you make memories, friends and have opportunities of a lifetime. Getting to meet, work and serve with other youth from around the nation, even the world, is an amazing and enlightening experience.

What I’m doing when not Venturing: I’m either at school at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn., where I’m majoring in pre-law, paddleboarding on the lake or reading a good book.

Someone I look up to: Lisa Surbaugh [wife of BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh]. Many women in Scouting have been extremely influential and have helped me become who I am today, but Mrs. Surbaugh has shown me how to handle a number of situations with class, ease and power. No matter where she is, or who with whom she is speaking, she remains humble, strong and true to herself. These lessons, although known to me before, have resonated so strongly with her. I have nothing but the highest regards and opinion of her.

What animal I’d be: A dolphin, because they are full of life and free to travel the open ocean however they wish.

Western Region Venturing President: Jessica Kent

Council: Orange County (based in Santa Ana, Calif.)

Favorite Scouting memory: When I joined Venturing, I learned about a Venturing Crew that was leaving for a six-day trans-Catalina island backpacking trip. The trip began on my 14th birthday. I learned a lot about the importance of the Scouting program that week, and I am glad I’ve stuck with it.

What being a Venturer means to me: Being a Venturer means constantly seeking growth, usually in adventure, leadership and service. It means pushing yourself to your limits as you connect with Venturers and Scouters around the nation and world. It means having a family of people that are just as crazy and silly as you, as you have a 30-second dance party under the stars to “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

What I’m doing when not Venturing: I attend the University of Utah, majoring in civil and environmental engineering with a minor in nuclear engineering. If not studying, contributing to Scouting, or working, I like to volunteer/get engaged with (mostly engineering) groups on campus.

Someone I look up to: I admire my current advisor, Larry Peterson. He knows exactly when I need life advice and provides advice to help me do my work. Plus, he always has a great joke or story to share. He is just an all-around swell advisor.

What animal I’d be: If I could be any animal, I would be a leatherback sea turtle. Sea turtles are super chill and get to swim around all day traveling the world, with their home on their back, as they move forward to explore the world.

Exclusive: Meet the Eagle Scout who helped take down the Boston Marathon bomber

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His crisis-negotation skills helped bring the Boston Marathon bomber to justice, but FBI agent Russ Houston says he’s most proud of being an Eagle Scout.

In an exclusive interview with Eagles’ Call magazine, Houston offers the previously untold story of how he helped talk Dzhokhar Tsarnaev out of the boat and into police custody.

It’s a thrilling account of bravery, teamwork and determination. You’ll get never-before-seen insight into the hours and days after the attacks of April 15, 2013, shut down the city of Boston.

The word “exclusive” isn’t hyperbole. Houston was approached by other magazines for an interview, but he spoke only with Eagles’ Call.

The story was written by freelancer and frequent Scouting and Eagles’ Call contributor Mark Ray. Meet more phenomenal Eagle Scouts by subscribing to Eagles’ Call magazine. (Use promo code EGCBLG17 to save 50 percent on your subscription.)

Facing Terror The previously untold complete story of how one Eagle Scout helped bring Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to justice.

By Mark Ray

On Friday, April 19, 2013, an unmarked car slipped quickly and quietly through the streets of Boston. There was no need for a siren, because the streets were empty — except for the hundreds of vehicles representing an alphabet soup of law-enforcement agencies. Each of those vehicles, like this one, was on the trail of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect from the Boston Marathon bombings the previous Monday.

“It was like a zombie apocalypse movie,” says FBI crisis negotiator and Eagle Scout Russ Houston, the driver in the unmarked car. “No one was out on the streets. No one was walking their dogs. It’s normally a bustling city full of people, but everyone was inside their homes.”

Houston has received threats because of some previous casework, so Eagles’ Call agreed to preserve his anonymity and identify him with a pseudonym.

People were in their homes because of an extraordinary “Shelter-in-Place” alert issued by the governor. After a massive manhunt that included false alarms, countless tips, a carjacking, a high-speed chase, the murder of an MIT police officer and the death of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, police believed their remaining suspect was somewhere near Watertown. It’s a neighborhood so peaceful that police officers rarely fire their guns outside the practice range.

The unmarked car pulled into the parking lot at the Arsenal Project mall, where local, state and federal agencies had set up a command post.

“There must have been 1,000-plus law-enforcement officers in that parking lot,” Houston says.

At about 7 p.m., Houston heard a fusillade of gunfire nearby — something he hadn’t heard since being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan — and saw an FBI agent sprinting toward a Hostage Rescue Team vehicle.

“You rarely see an HRT guy sprinting from the Command Post, so it had to be something big,” Houston says. He grabbed his helmet and vest, and joined the team for another drive through deserted streets

The suspect in the boat

The vehicle soon arrived a few houses down from 67 Franklin St. There, homeowner David Henneberry had taken advantage of the recently relaxed Shelter-in-Place alert to check on his boat, the Slip Away II, in his backyard. Noticing the tarp covering the boat was out of place, Henneberry climbed a ladder, looked inside and discovered Tsarnaev lying in a pool of blood. He called 911 and hundreds of police officers surrounded the location.

A brief but intense shootout had ensued — the noise Houston had heard — before Boston Police Superintendent William Evans shouted, “Hold your fire!” After a canister of tear gas failed to get Tsarnaev out of the boat, law-enforcement officers tried commanding him from a loudspeaker to “come out.” The Massachusetts State Police attempted to extract him by driving their armored BearCat vehicle up to the boat, but were unable to flip it over. Through it all, Tsarnaev didn’t respond. At that point, the FBI took the lead of a chaotic scene and occupied the inner perimeter positions.

The FBI HRT tried using nonlethal flash-bang devices, which give off intense noise and light flashes, but those didn’t elicit a response.

So Houston, along with his two FBI colleagues, prepared to do what seemed impossible: Use words and not weapons. They would try to talk the desperate, wounded, murderous Tsarnaev out of the boat without additional violence.

“In the back of my mind, I thought, ‘He killed innocent men, women, children and police. No way is he going to surrender,’ but I was duty-bound to give it my best shot,” Houston says.

Words, not weapons

Houston entered an adjacent house and climbed to a second-story bedroom where he could see inside the boat. He was close enough that he didn’t need a bullhorn and was well within small-arms range if Tsarnaev decided to shoot. Houston took cover and opened the window.

With 400 officers and agents looking on and FBI headquarters monitoring from an aircraft above, Houston spoke to Tsarnaev — not even sure the young man was listening.

“This is [Russ], with the police,” he said. “I’m here to talk to you.”

And so the delicate dance began. Houston demonstrated empathy, saying he recognized Tsarnaev was hurt and scared and confused. This went on for 10 minutes, and there was no response.

“You don’t want to sound like a parrot, so you find different ways to send the same message,” Houston says.

As time ticked by, there was overwhelming pressure to resolve the situation tactically — knowing Tsarnaev might have firearms or explosives with him in the boat. Many likely didn’t want to see Tsarnaev emerge from the boat alive — not after what he had done. But the FBI recognized the intelligence-gathering value of a living suspect. HRT’s motto, “To Save Lives,” is ingrained in every HRT operator.

Finally, after another few minutes of one-way communication attempting to elicit a response, Tsarnaev groaned.

“That was a huge relief,” Houston says. “I can’t describe it, but after a few minutes I had a weird feeling he was listening.”

Now that he’d established two-way communication, Houston moved to step two: building rapport. The negotiation team’s goal was to persuade Tsarnaev to surrender and exit the boat peacefully. Houston contrasted aloud the conditions in the boat with those outside.

In the boat, Tsarnaev was alone and scared and hurt. Outside, there was medical help and people who cared for him. In particular, Houston invoked Tsarnaev’s high school wrestling coach. Houston had contacted the coach earlier to learn about Tsarnaev — so as to Be Prepared.

Tsarnaev finally responded — “water” — which made Houston elated.

“If the subject wants or needs something from law enforcement, that’s perfect. Now we’re negotiating,” he says.

The only catch, of course, was that Tsarnaev couldn’t have water or anything else if he didn’t get out of the boat.

“I can’t move,” Tsarnaev said repeatedly.

“We’re not going to come on the boat,” Houston replied.

The refusal was more than just negotiating; no one knew whether Tsarnaev had guns, a suicide vest or another bomb.

Peaceful resolution

After another 20 minutes, Houston convinced Tsarnaev to drag himself toward the edge of the boat. He could only crawl a foot or so at a time. Houston told him to pull himself up, and he talked Tsarnaev into putting one leg over the side of the boat. Using words alone, Houston was getting Tsarnaev to do what he previously said he couldn’t.

The next goal was getting Tsarnaev onto the ground, so the negotiation team coordinated with the tactical officers to point their weapons’ red lasers on the boat trailer’s mud guards. Tsarnaev could focus on these dots and see a path to follow out of the boat.

Then things stopped. Tsarnaev had used all his energy and could not swing his injured leg over the side of the boat. Houston motivated Tsarnaev to display his hands and raise his shirt to show he wasn’t holding a weapon or wearing explosives. However, he was sitting precariously on the edge, appearing as if he might lose consciousness at any moment and fall back into the boat. 

The HRT team leader then directed a combined law-enforcement tactical team to approach the now-compliant Tsarnaev, and then handcuff and arrest him.

A few minutes later, Houston joined Tsarnaev for an ambulance trip to Beth Israel Hospital. Houston then caught a ride to his hotel.

“We went through a roadblock, and the people rushed around the Boston police car,” Houston recalls. “They shook the car in jubilation, shouting ‘USA! USA!’ It was quite moving.”

More: This Eagle never quits

Russ Houston enjoyed an idyllic childhood in San Diego, where the large military presence makes patriotism second nature. Among his earliest memories: jets from the “Top Gun” school at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar screaming across the sky.

Houston’s father, uncle and older brother were all Eagle Scouts, so his odds of earning Scouting’s highest honor were high. Just to be sure, his mother laid down the law with this incentive: no driver’s license until he earned Eagle. The incentive worked, and he reached Scouting’s highest rank before his 15th birthday.

After high school, Houston followed his older brother to West Point, where he struggled academically throughout his plebe year. A class clown, he found the regimentation of military life stifling. Despite the challenges he faced, he didn’t quit. He graduated in the top 20 percent of his class.

He then entered the Army for five years, serving with his brother in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Along the way, he completed Airborne and Ranger schools. Despite his Army success, Houston longed to work for the FBI, where he could serve his country but shed some of the trappings of military life. But getting there wasn’t easy.

“When I first applied, I was told I was noncompetitive,” he says.  He focused on improving himself, earned his master’s degree and got accepted.

Houston visited the 2013 National Jamboree to share the story about the Boston Marathon bombing. His message was simple: “This Eagle never quits. I learned in Scouting that hard work plus opportunity usually equals success,” he said. “Of my mild accomplishments — Eagle Scout, West Point, airborne ranger in the Army, FBI special agent, operator on the Hostage Rescue Team — what I tell Scouts and my sons I’m the most proud of is being an Eagle Scout.”

Subscribe now

Houston’s account appears in the Spring 2017 issue of Eagles’ Call, the official magazine of the National Eagle Scout Association.

The magazine is available to anyone — not just Eagle Scouts. (Use promo code EGCBLG17 to save 50 percent on your subscription.)

Photos by Walter P. Calahan.

Can a Scout complete his Eagle board of review after 18?

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Let’s say there’s a Boy Scout who has completed all the requirement for the Eagle Scout rank. He finished the merit badges, service project, active participation, Scout spirit, position of responsibility and unit leader conference.

But he still lacks one step: the Eagle Scout board of review.

And then — Happy Birthday! — he turns 18. He’s no longer a Boy Scout.

Is it too late for that Scout to earn Eagle?

The answer is no.

The Eagle board of review may be conducted after the 18th birthday. After all, it’s not the Scout’s fault if the adults who will sit on his board aren’t immediately available. Or if circumstances arose that prevented him from having a board of review within the allotted time frame.

Here’s the full answer, courtesy of Section 8 of the Guide to Advancement. (Note: the 2015 version is still current as of this writing.)

Which requirements must a candidate complete before 18?

These Eagle rank requirements must be completed before a Scout turns 18:

  • Six months active participation since earning Life
  • Demonstrate Scout spirit
  • Earn 21 merit badges, including 13 from the required list
  • Hold a position of responsibility for six months or more
  • Plan and execute an Eagle Scout service project
  • Participate in a Scoutmaster conference
Does this rule apply to Scouts with special needs?

Not in many cases. There is advancement flexibility for Scouts with special needs.

Men age 18 and older, properly approved by the council executive board to register beyond the age of eligibility, may apply for the Eagle Scout rank. Since they are considered youth members for as long as they are so registered, they do not need a time extension. In these cases, you don’t need special permission to hold the Eagle Scout board of review more than three months after the 18th birthday.

See section 10 of the Guide to Advancement for more on this topic.

Can the Eagle board of review be completed beyond the 18th birthday?


What special approval is required to complete an Eagle board of review after 18?

That depends on how long after the 18th birthday we’re talking.

Within three months of turning 18: No special approval required.

Three to six months after turning 18: Local council must preapprove. To initiate approval, the candidate, his parent or guardian, the unit leader, or a unit committee member attaches to the application a statement explaining the delay.

Six months or more after turning 18: Local council must send to National Advancement Program Team to approve. The candidate, his parent or guardian, the unit leader, or a unit committee member must petition the National Advancement Program Team for authority to hold the board of review this late. The request must explain the reason for the delay, and it must be processed through the local council and sent to the National Advancement Program Team with a copy of the application. A position statement from the Scout executive, designee, or council advancement committee must be included.

What about an adult who finished his Eagle requirements as a youth but never earned Eagle?

Scouting Wire has covered this topic in the past.

It is possible for those who completed the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank in their youth, but never received it, to obtain credentials necessary for acquiring it. If a board of review was not held, and the individual met the BSA membership eligibility rules in effect at the time, then a board of review may be requested.

In any case, a candidate must have completed all requirements before age 18.

The steps:

  1. Fill out the Belated Eagle Scout Application, No. 512-076 (Page 88 of the Guide to Advancement).
  2. Gather evidence, such as an Eagle Scout Rank Application signed at the time work was finished, blue cards, advancement reports or troop records. (The BSA will not normally accept actual merit badges or sashes as evidence, mainly because you can buy them on eBay.)
  3. Submit evidence of completion to your local council, which will pass along the records to the National Advancement Program  Team.
  4. Once documentation is verified as complete and compelling, credentials can be released or permission granted for a board of review.
What about time extensions for unforeseen circumstances?

These are extremely rare but are granted. Look at Section of the Guide to Advancement for details.

If a youth foresees that, due to no fault or choice of his own, he will be unable to complete the Eagle Scout rank requirements before age 18, he may apply for a limited time extension.

To do this, use the form called “Request for Extension of Time to Earn Eagle Scout Rank,” (No. 512-077), available in the back of the Guide to Advancement or online at this link.

Some examples of unforeseen circumstances:

  • A health-related incident requiring a hospital stay
  • A disabling injury
  • A significant employment conflict
  • A family relocation
  • A family emergency
  • A natural disaster
  • Severe, unexpected or unseasonable weather
  • Unforeseen actions of others affecting the youth’s ability to complete the requirements

The list above helps volunteers understand how the BSA evaluates requests for time extensions. They are not precise tests, and each case is considered individually.

Kicking & Screaming Episode 6 recap: ‘Real Men Cry’

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The Fox reality show Kicking & Screaming pairs hardcore survivalists with people who have little experience in the outdoors. Now that Eagle Scout Terry Fossum has made it deep into the show, I’ll recap every episode until he’s eliminated. 

New episodes air at 9/8 CT Thursdays on Fox. Note: The show is rated TV-14, so parents are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended.

Scouts become more confident with each night spent outdoors.

The same, apparently, is true of the camping novices on Kicking & Screaming. Six episodes in, with just four teams remaining, it’s becoming harder to tell the outdoorsmen from the newbies.

Terry Fossum, an active Scouter from the state of Washington who competes wearing his field uniform, has seen this transformation in his partner, Natalie, a professional gamer.

“Things have changed so, so, so much since day one,” he says. “It’s amazing. Day 1 we had novices. We don’t have any novices in camp anymore.”

OK, great. But is that enough to keep Terry and Natalie in the competition and fighting for the top prize of $500,000?

Let’s find out. Press play on your favorite neoclassic piano CD as I serve up your complete recap of Kicking & Screaming Episode 6: “Real Men Cry.”

Spoilers follow.

Pack your bags

Who’s ready for a hike? Host Hannah Simone tells the teams that they’re moving their camp from the river to the beach.

It’s about time, really. When you think Fiji, you think the beach. So this move is a definite upgrade.

Hannah tells Ben (an Air Force specialist) and Juliana (a model), winners of last week’s elimination challenge, to pick a team to send to this week’s elimination challenge. They pick Jason (a former Recon Marine) and Elaine (an etiquette expert).

Elaine thinks Ben and Juliana made a mistake and should’ve sent Terry and Natalie, who “are getting stronger with each competition.”

At this, Terry and Natalie exchange a silent glance that says “who, us?”

Winning would be sweet

Winners of this week’s prize challenge will get the following: piles of candy, fresh fruit, a white chocolate fountain, ice cream and at least three cavities. The sweet spread is enough candy to keep any Scout awake for 96 hours straight.

Joined at the hip (literally), teammates make their way through an obstacle course to reach something called the coconut cauldron. Translation: It’s a bin full of coconuts.

They’ll need to gather as many as they can before shooting at a target with a giant slingshot.

First team to hit the target gets the prize and is safe for another week. The last team heads to the elimination challenge against Jason and Elaine.

Terry and Natalie start off slow and never quite recover. They’re headed to the elimination challenge, but Terry is optimistic.

“It’s never great going in for the elimination, but, again, we’re a strong team,” he says. “We’ll go out there and do our best and whatever’s supposed to happen is going to happen.”

Wilderness survivors

A new camp needs a new shelter. But this time, the tables have turned.

The novices build the shelter while the survivalists gather supplies — palm fronds, sticks and branches.

Terry is impressed. He says he’d trust any of these amateurs, especially his partner, Natalie, in the wild. Maybe there are some future Wilderness Survival merit badge counselors among them?

“These guys could now kick butt on most of the population for survival skills,” Terry says.

Divas? There aren't any of those here! #KickingAndScreaming

— Kicking & Screaming (@KickScreamFOX) April 14, 2017

Time for some honesty

Each contestant tells a fact about themselves that nobody else knows.

I’ll be 50 next year, one woman reveals. Another opened up about his recent breakup with his fiancé. Then it’s Terry’s turn.

“I composed and performed a neoclassic piano CD that went up to the International Space Station,” he says.

Oh. Oh wow. That came from nowhere, Terry. Is there anything you can’t do?

‘Every single ounce’

“Today we go to our second elimination challenge,” Terry says. “Our goal is they have to carry us away on a stretcher because we’ve got nothing left. Because we gave every single ounce of it during the challenge.”

The winning team stays in and gets to pick a team to send to the next elimination challenge.

The losing team, in a twist, also stays in! Yep, nobody’s going home tonight.

The challenge is pretty cool. Each team member gets a multicolored pole. Working together on opposite sides of a tile, teammates press those poles against the tile to hold it aloft.

Imagine using two pool cue sticks to hold up an iPad. It’s kind of like that. (Just imagine. Don’t actually try it.)

Winning will require patience, calm nerves and communication. Naturally, Terry is encouraging throughout.

“It’s too easy to mess up on this one when you’re moving your hands,” he says. “It’s truly all about communication, and we were communicating throughout the whole stinking thing.”

Every 10 minutes, the players have to move their hands farther down the pole — and farther away from the tile. Each move makes it more difficult to keep the tile aloft.

Terry and Natalie keep talking throughout — previewing each move and swapping words of encouragement.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Natalie says.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Terry says.

Forty minutes in, it’s time to move even further down the pole. Now each team member is about six to eight feet from that tile. Oh good, and it’s starting to get windy as well.

And like that, Jason and Elaine drop their tile. Terry and Natalie have won another elimination challenge.

What does that mean? That means they get “ultimate power” next week. Yes, ULTIMATE POWER.

What would food, a shower, and a good night's sleep feel like 4 @TheZombiUnicorn & @TerryLFossum ? AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!#KickingAndScreaming

— Terry Fossum (@TerryLFossum) April 13, 2017

With two episodes to go, they’re still in this thing. That’s the good news.

The bad news? The margin for error is shrinking.

Stray observations
  • As the contestants ate dinner, I spotted a Dutch oven. Nice. I have to assume Terry had some sort of role in making dinner that night.
  • Just how many people have been watching Terry make his fellow Scouters proud on national TV? Last week’s show had 1.96 million viewers. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
Missed an episode?

Watch full episodes and learn more about Kicking and Screaming here.

When boat burst into flames, Scouting helped him save three lives (including his own)

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For Dick Williams, the decisive moment came during a casual fishing trip on the Long Island Sound.

In the distance, Williams and his cousin watched as a 40-foot clam boat burst into flames. The fire started in the cabin and was spreading fast.

The men could call 911 and wait for the Coast Guard or someone else to rescue the passengers. Or they could do it themselves.

Williams and Tony Della Monica Jr. maneuvered their 20-foot boat to the scene and saw that all three passengers had abandoned ship.

One got away safely, but the other two were trapped by wind and the water’s strong current. They were being pushed toward the burning hull of their boat.

What happened next was a testament to Williams’ bravery, his willingness to sacrifice his life to save a stranger and his Scout training. Three years after the heroic event, Williams received the Honor Medal With Crossed Palms. It is Scouting’s highest award for bravery, presented to a Scout or Scouter for “saving or attempting to save life at extreme risk to self.”

Williams also received a Carnegie Medal, a national heroism award. The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund has honored 9,934 people — less than 90 a year — since the award’s inception in 1904.

Boat parts and clams

The date was June 7, 2014 — a Saturday. The place: the Long Island Sound near Milford, Conn.

Two passengers from the doomed ship were still in the water, struggling to stay afloat. They were dangerously close to their burning ship and its 500 gallons of diesel fuel.

Flames and thick black smoke reached skyward.

“Boat parts and clams flew through the air around us,” Williams said.

Williams and his cousin edged closer to the two men. It’s then that Williams heard a voice — but it wasn’t from anyone physically present.

The moment of rescue

“Reach, Throw, Row, Go.”

Williams could hear his late Scout leader Henry Decho and Decho’s son, Jay. They were chanting those four words — the recommended order for a water rescue. Henry and Jay had repeated those words again and again as they taught water-related merit badges like Swimming, Lifesaving, Rowing and Canoeing.

“Throughout the rescue I kept ‘hearing’ Henry and Jay yelling, ‘Reach, Throw, Row, Go,'” Williams said.

When they got closer and saw the two passengers submerge and resurface again and again, Williams’ instinct was to jump right in.

His cousin, also a Scouting alumnus, must’ve had the same thought, because Williams saw Della Monica lunge forward and stop himself.

Instead of jumping to “Go” — the last resort in a water rescue — Williams threw a rope line to the men.

He then backed his boat away slowly, pulling the men to safety. They got clear just as small explosions on the burning boat threw more debris into the water.

One of the burning boat’s passengers was hospitalized for two weeks for treatment of burns. He, along with the other two passengers, made a full recovery.

Not two lives saved but three or four

Back on dry land, Williams and Della Monica talked as they ate lunch. They agreed that they could’ve died that day. Had Williams followed his instincts instead of his Scout training, he would’ve jumped into the water and possibly become a victim himself.

“If we had not received Scout merit badge training many years ago, I know that I, for one, would have gone overboard, most likely with horrendous results,” Williams said. Had they both jumped in, there would be “four people in the water instead of two. None of us might have made it.”

Williams, a member of the BSA’s Housatonic Council, understands that Scouting saved his life that day, too.

“And hopefully I’m better prepared — if there is a next time — to practice Scout skills,” he said.

Everywhere you look, enthusiasm for the Welding merit badge is heating up

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Troop 387, like all the best Boy Scout troops, is youth-led. The adults are there for support and safety.

So when the Scouts from Kingsport, Tenn., decided they wanted to earn the Welding merit badge, the adults simply said, “sounds good, how can we help?”

Help came from the good folks at Lincoln Electric. The Cleveland-based manufacturer of welding products is a fervent BSA partner. They helped the BSA develop the Welding merit badge, released in 2012. In 2013, the BSA recognized the company with the North Star Award.

“People would be surprised how many kids want to learn how to weld,” says Scott Schallon, Troop 387’s Scoutmaster.

Lincoln Electric teamed up with the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, or RCAM, for a hands-on Welding merit badge day with 40 Scouts. The day fused fun with hands-on learning.

“One of our goals for merit badges is to blend in some fun components,” he says. “I am certain every Scout who participated had an experience they will remember for years to come.”

Some Scouts might have been inspired to pursue a career in welding, a field where pay and job availability are high. Others walked away with a greater appreciation for the role welders play in our society.

“Mission accomplished!” Schallon says. “What a great example of how community, business and Scouting can come together to help our youth grow and develop skills.”

April is National Welding Month

It’s easy to see the appeal of welding among Scouts. After all, the main requirement for the Welding merit badge is to do some actual welding. What Scout wouldn’t want a turn with a tool that runs at up 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit? Where else but Scouting could a young person try that?

Excitement about welding isn’t limited to Tennessee. Thanks to Lincoln Electric, Scouts across the country have been exposed to welding. Many more will see the appeal of welding at events like these:

  • The Heart of America Council in Kansas City will have five welding stations set up at an event in August. Local ironworkers will help show Scouts the ropes.
  • In the Denver Area Council, three welding stations will wow visitors at the Scout Show in April.
  • In the Three Fires Council in Illinois, Scouts can access a complete portfolio of more than 10 welding stations.
  • In the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council, the May Scout Show will include three welding stations.
  • In the Pennsylvania Dutch Council, the May camporee will feature a trio of welding stations.
  • In the Coastal Carolina, Ventura County and Hoosier Trails councils, welding workshops are actively being held to teach Scouts about this exciting field.
  • In the Greater New York Councils, a nice welding lab includes at least five machines.
  • In the Daniel Webster Council in New Hampshire, a welding lab with more than 10 stations is the main reason more than 110 Scouts earned the Welding merit badge last year.

More on Lincoln Electric’s partnership

Lincoln Electric’s Charlie Cross, who helps manage the BSA partnership, says welding is an “exciting, relevant, valuable skill” for Scouts to learn.

“Lincoln Electric is helping Scouts get excited about such career options as welding, engineering and manufacturing in a hands-on way, while earning their badges,” he says.

What does Lincoln Electric get out of this? In the fast-moving, technologically focused world of welding, Lincoln wants to help inspire and educate the next generation of welders.

“Since welding is so relevant to our lifestyle, we need to invest and find the next generation of educated workers in the welding industry to keep up with the changing technologies around welding,” Cross says.

This airbrushed Boy Scout troop trailer is a literal work of art

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The coolest thing to hit the streets of central Ohio isn’t a flashy sports car or tricked-out truck.

It’s Troop 510’s new trailer.

Michael Brooks created the airbrushed design. Brooks is one of the adult volunteers with the New Concord, Ohio, troop and its associated Venturing Crew 510. The troop and crew are part of the Muskingum Valley Council.

Look closer

In the full-size photos below, you’ll see the details make the difference.

On one side of the trailer, try to spot all eight Wood Badge critters. Can you find the Beaver, Bobwhite, Eagle, Fox, Owl, Bear, Buffalo and Antelope? Beavers are disproportionately represented — three instead of one — because Troop 510’s Scoutmaster, the Scoutmaster’s son and Brooks himself all “used to be” Beavers.

And look! Up in the sky! That’s not a bird or plane but the Friendship 7, the capsule in which John Glenn became the first man to orbit the earth. Glenn, a Silver Buffalo Award recipient and father of an Eagle Scout, grew up in New Concord.

The trailer’s other side features a list of Troop 510’s Eagle Scouts and Scoutmasters. Each list goes back to Troop 510’s founding in 1923 — more than nine decades ago.

And what about that roof?

To prevent scratches on the roof, Brooks applied a thick coat of Raptor spray-on bed liner.

“Might be a nice tip for other units,” he says.

Full-size photos

Click each to enlarge.

Have something cool to share?

Email me the story, along with high-res photos, at scoutingmag (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your name, unit number, position in Scouting and home town.

Cub Scout day camp and twilight camp: 14 perfect planning tips

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You can make Cub Scout day camp or twilight camp a fun and memorable learning experience for everyone involved.

All you need to do is Be Prepared.

First, some definitions:

Cub Scout day camp: An organized outdoor experience for a group of Cub Scouts, typically run by districts and/or councils. Trained adults guide Cub Scouts through experiences you just can’t replicate during a traditional indoor den or pack meeting. Day camp typically runs from 9 or 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 or 4 p.m. The camp can be as short as two days or as long as 10.

Cub Scout twilight camp: Same thing as Cub Scout day camp, only at night. Typically starts around 5 and goes until 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Guides to Cub Scout day camp and twilight camp

First, check out the BSA’s Day Camp Administration guide, published in 2014. It’s available here as a PDF.

For another perspective, I’d like to share the guide below. It’s the work of Dave Schwartzberg, an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 69 of Glenview, Ill., part of the Northeast Illinois Council.

He created it as part of his Wood Badge ticket. (Wood Badge is the awesome training experience for adult volunteers. To complete it, a volunteer must give back to Scouting through five projects. Collectively these projects are called the Wood Badge ticket.)

The photos and story idea come from Stephanie Brooks, the council’s marketing and alumni director.

14 tips for planning Cub Scout day camp or twilight camp

By Dave Schwartzberg

Opening thoughts

When my eldest son joined Cub Scouts as a Tiger, our Scouting first experience together didn’t begin with den or pack meetings. It began with the Northeast Illinois Council Twilight Camp.

While the name “twilight camp ” implies camping, the event is purely a day camp program providing an outdoor enrichment experience. Cub Scouts emulate council-level camping activities, such as archery, rock climbing, handicrafts, water rockets, hikes and other theme-based developmental activities. But all of the overnight equipment stays home. When looking back at my son’s first experiences with twilight camp, he was wide-eyed, enthusiastic and eager to participate. To be honest, so was I.

Tip 1: Figure out the when and where

The first thing any volunteer, parent or equipment supplier will ask is “when?”

To make it easier for people to attend your camp program, have this information available before you begin promoting the event. Get it on the district and council calendar as soon as possible.

Next they’ll ask “where?”

Venue consistency year over year can be very valuable. Experience with the venue helps when training staff and volunteers. It allows you to reuse some previously created documentation. Knowing the venue, Cub Scouts and parents who had a positive experience in prior years will be lining up to return the following year.

Tip 2: Recruit volunteers

Be ready with an answer when someone asks “where can I help?”

Each activity station will need at least two to four people running it. In few cases, we’ve had only one person run an activity station. That’s a great opportunity to coach the lone volunteer on how to recruit a parent or two to help out as the dens rotate through. Helpful parents make great volunteers for next year.

Understand that some volunteers may not want to help with planning or setup. They may only want to be there on the big day. That’s fine. Understanding who those people are and assigning them the appropriate task will help improve the success rate for your twilight camp .

Remember to ask Cubmasters to help recruit volunteers. They know who in their pack is an active contributor.

Tip 3: Identify a successor

At the 2016 Potawatomi District Twilight Camp, we had two camp directors: the main camp director worked with the Cub Scouts, while the assistant camp director handled administrative infrastructure.

Finding someone to act as an assistant camp director allows the camp director to focus on using his or her gut to solve problems. This assistant could be someone who is getting trained on how to run a day camp program. He or she could be your next camp director.

It’s always helpful to find a replacement before you need one.

Tip 4: Schedule planning meetings — but not too many

Volunteers are people who have their own lives; Scouting is just a part of it.

Having an in-person meeting monthly is reasonable, but your mileage may vary. The key is to keep volunteers informed of current challenges or potential problems.

The volunteers want to help. They want to know about how camp planning is progressing. They love hearing the registration numbers are growing. They love hearing about how problems are being solved or even help solving them.

For example, we had an issue with parking spaces. There is an elementary school adjacent to the park we use, and we were having communication challenges with the school to receive approval to use their lot. The two new camp directors didn’t know someone on staff already had a pre-existing relationship with the school principal.

Had the team been made aware of the problem with parking, the results would have been different. Lesson learned: ask for help when you need it.

Tip 5: Plan for bad weather

After six years of no weather encumbrances, my first year as camp co-director saw heavy rains and thunderstorms the night before the first day of camp. The park was flooded in several locations. The archery area was sinking. With council consultation, we decided to cancel camp for the first day.

We didn’t have a call tree prepared, so it fell upon us to use email, mobile phones and more emails to get the word out. Still, we had about four people show up who hadn’t gotten the message.

Next, we reworked the schedule so that every Scout who attended the remaining two days would participate in every activity. The task was arduous and frustrating but worth it.

Tip 6: Don’t make food an afterthought

Eating together is one way people like to bond.

We make the best effort to accommodate as many dietary restrictions as possible. We are very clear in communicating that we cannot accommodate vegans or religious dietary restrictions. We recommend that they bring their own food.

Having a menu publicized in advance will help people know what foods will be served and if they need to bring dinner with them or not. Make meal time a positive experience for everyone.

Tip 7: Communicate well — before and during

Getting the word out is crucial.

Publishing a digital parents’ guide has been very beneficial to us because it includes all the dates, times, map of the park, emergency contact information (including council), emergency procedures based upon BSA standards for day camps and more.

During camp, we used handheld radios for communications. They helped with parking, connecting lost families with their dens, calming upset parents, organizing the team, handling medical concerns and more. Borrow radios from your local council or a volunteer.

Tip 8: Monitor registration numbers

We prefer registration to be online via the council portal. A very helpful feature of online registration is being able to monitor the current number and rank of registered Cub Scouts, along with the ability to download reports. The report includes pack, rank, name, parent’s email and contact information. We use this information to communicate with parents and organize the Cub Scouts into dens by pack and rank.

We contact Cubmasters of packs with low to no registration to ask them if they have questions.

We contact Cubmasters of packs with high numbers to thank them for helping make day camp a success.

Tip 9: Make check-in smooth

Registration is online, but check-in is always in person. On the first day of camp, your planning will be tested the most. It will be your busiest day and the day you make new policies and procedures on the fly, especially during Cub Scout check-in.

Potential issues are the pace of the line, incomplete forms, late arrivals, inclement weather, missing payments and more.

We calculated the check-in time per Cub Scout to be about two minutes when the process runs smoothly. If your camp has 150 Cub Scouts, that’s five hours if you process families one at a time!

Instead, you should process Cub Scouts in multiple lines. Have several lanes of people welcoming families, collecting forms, checking off den assignments and collecting cash.

Next, they are redirected to another area to get their shirt, snack and identification wristband. A separate area handles any “exceptions.”

The final set of volunteers identifies the den the Scout is assigned to, informs them where to go and answers parent questions. Working together as a team keeps the flow steady and everyone happy.

Tip 10: Organize Cub Scouts into dens

For us, organizing the Cub Scouts into dens is the best way to maximize activity flow and Scout satisfaction.

These aren’t necessarily the same as the Cub Scouts’ home dens. These dens are just used for day camp.

The dens stay together from flag-raising until the colors are retrieved.

Tip 11: Make activities fun

You want the Cub Scouts to have the opportunity to experience all activities that camp has to offer.

Shooting sports, archery, slingshots, a rope bridge, a rock wall, soccer, whiffle ball, ultimate Frisbee, beep ball and more get them moving and having fun.

Don’t forget to engage the mind as well, with STEM activities and handicrafts. A mix of physical and mental activities will give the Cub Scouts enough variety to long to come back annually. You will see the results in the survey response comments. Much can be discussed about activity stations, but the biggest take away is to keep with your theme.

Tip 12: Consider a theme

In 2016, the theme was CSI (Cub Scout Investigators). Our crafts team created staff badges that were fake plastic police badges held on a light chain and black mount. The staff wrote their name on the badge for identification. This wasn’t very expensive, and it was fun.

At the crafts table, Cub Scouts casted their footprints and fingerprinted themselves onto a fake booking form. We were fortunate to be able to get uniformed Illinois State Police officers to help process the Cub Scouts. Having the law officers there enhanced the overall experience for the Cub Scouts.

Tip 13: Use your den chiefs

Den chiefs are Boy Scouts who help with Cub Scouting.

It’s great for the Boy Scouts because they can receive service hours and gain leadership experience. It’s great for the Cub Scouts because they interact with Boy Scouts and are encouraged to stay in the program longer.

Boy Scouts are there to help the parents keep track of the Cub Scouts and help the Cub Scouts when they are in need of coaching. The Boy Scouts are not to take over the role of Akela while the parents have the evening free for quality time with their smartphones.

Tip 14: Make your campfire count

The campfire program really brings the entire camping experience together for the Cub Scouts and their families, especially those families new to Cub Scouting.

The entire experience comes to a conclusion via fire, songs and skits. It ends with everyone feeling like they had a successful twilight camp program. This will help motivate them to stick with the Cub Scouting program to see what’s new for the next year of twilight camp .

Eventually, the Cub Scouts will graduate to Boy Scouts and, hopefully, be there to help the new cadre of Cub Scouts the same way they were aided when they were younger.

Bonus! Tip 15: Your thoughts?

What have you done to transform Cub Scout day camp from good to great? Leave a comment below.

10 leadership lessons from LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer

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Steve Ballmer, owner of the NBA’s LA Clippers, was a special guest at the Greater Los Angeles Area Council’s Business Leaders’ Breakfast last month.

During his remarks, which you can watch in full below, Ballmer offered several nuggets of wisdom about leadership.

Wearing a green BSA ballcap when he came onstage, Ballmer was his usual engaging self. He was funny and relaxed. That winning persona defined his 14 years as CEO of Microsoft.

Ballmer said he was never a Boy Scout, but he said he admires the Boy Scouts and our commitment to building leaders.

10 leadership lessons from Steve Ballmer
  1. “As a leader, accountability is a fundamental thing. You’ve got to be honest and have high integrity.”
  2. “Dream big but deliver accountably.”
  3. “Strive for personal excellence, but be open and honest and dedicated to making others better.”
  4. “Turns out the most important part of leadership is picking the direction to go.”
  5. “The biggest failures are usually failures of people — putting the wrong people in the wrong job at the wrong time.”
  6. “If something’s not working, you change it up. You adapt. You follow somebody else.”
  7. “A winning team starts with deciding what kind of people will fit well in the culture you want to build.”
  8. “When we started early [hiring for Microsoft], we didn’t prioritize experience. We just said we want people who are very smart and live, eat, breathe and sleep what they do. We built a winning team largely on that principle.”
  9. “You really have to pick leaders who embody the kind of culture you want to build.”
  10. “People who give up early are people who are going to fail.”
Watch the complete remarks

Joining him onstage for the discussion was James Ellis, dean of the University of Southern California’s business school.

Watch the full remarks from these two great leaders below.

Thanks to Michael Marks for the story idea.

Remembering Bill Hemenway, incredible Scouter and my friend

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Because he devoted so much of his life to Scouting, Bill Hemenway was many different things to countless Scouts and Scouters.

To some he was a troopmate or Order of the Arrow brother. To others, he was a Cubmaster or Scoutmaster. Still others knew him as a Wood Badger or jamboree leader.

William Porter Hemenway II, Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver Award recipient, Vigil honor member of the Order of the Arrow and a lifelong Scouter who helped more than 50 young men reach Eagle, died April 3 at his home in Texas. He was 55.

What’s clear is that during Bill’s 55 years on this earth, he left an impression on the Scouting movement in North Texas that will never fade.

I’m proud to say I knew him. To me, Bill was my Philmont crew advisor, assistant Scoutmaster, fellow national jamboree staffer, Wood Badge senior patrol leader and friend.

In 2009, when Scouting magazine needed a cover model for an issue about Scouter-friendly automobiles, I knew exactly whom to call. Bill, already a role model, agreed to be a cover model, too.

Bill had recently earned his Wood Badge beads and brought them to the photo shoot. He was proud of his beads and asked if he could wear them in the photos. Of course, we said.

He patiently loaded and unloaded that SUV again and again — wearing that infectious smile throughout — as our photographer got the perfect shot.

Pride of Troop 70

Bill was born Feb. 21, 1962, in Englewood, Calif.

When his family moved to Texas, Bill joined Boy Scout Troop 70 of Dallas, part of the Circle Ten Council.

Longtime Scouter Charles Holmes met Bill in 1975 as a fellow member of Troop 70. Holmes shared with me Bill’s Eagle Scout picture from May 1977.

“To say he will be missed is an understatement,” Holmes said. “There are so many whose life he touched in a positive way.”

‘I’m gonna like being around this guy’

My dad, Don Wendell, first met Bill 20 years ago. The occasion was, of course, some sort of Scouting event.

“When I met Bill, I immediately thought, ‘I’m gonna like being around this guy,'” my dad said. “Well, that first impression was a lasting one, and I enjoyed every minute that I was with him. Bill had the knack of making everyone around him feel special. His smile, his enthusiasm and his positive attitude were infectious.”

When Bill was serving as Wood Badge senior patrol leader, my dad was the course mentor. He got to observe firsthand the servant leadership Bill showed throughout the course. Though Bill held one of the top posts in that course, he wasn’t there to be the boss. He was there to serve others.

“And putting others first was something he always did,” my dad said. “These traits made Bill a beloved Scouting volunteer. We are all fortunate to have known him.”

This 2012 Wood Badge course would lead to Bill’s second Scouting magazine appearance. We documented the masterful ways in which Bill and course director John Stone ran this top-level training course for adult leaders.

A year later, Bill was a Wood Badge course director — an honor given only to the most qualified Scout volunteers.

A Scouter to the fullest

Stone met Bill 20 years ago as well. Stone, Bill and my dad each served three-year terms as Scoutmaster of Troop 1776. They learned from one another.

Stone says Bill’s “smile, positive attitude, his love for camping and the outdoors, and outstanding leadership skills will be missed.”

In addition to guiding 20 young men toward Eagle Scout as Scoutmaster — and 30 more as an assistant Scoutmaster — Bill helped his two sons earn Scouting’s highest honor.

“Bill was a loving and compassionate father to his daughter and his two sons, both Eagle Scouts, and a devoted husband to his wife, Jan,” Stone says. “What a great legacy Bill has left.”

Kicking & Screaming Episode 5 recap: ‘Rumble in the Jungle’

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The Fox reality show Kicking & Screaming pairs hardcore survivalists with people who have far less experience in the outdoors.

Now that Eagle Scout Terry Fossum has made it deep into the show, I’ll recap every episode until he’s eliminated. 

New episodes air at 9/8 CT Thursdays on Fox. Note: The show is rated TV-14, so parents are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended.

He can start a fire, build a shelter and carry food with his mouth. Plus, he’s an all-around nice guy.

But can Eagle Scout Terry Fossum, an active Scouter from the state of Washington who competes wearing his field uniform, continue his run of good fortune on Kicking & Screaming?

Terry and his partner Natalie, a 29-year-old professional gamer with pink-and-blue hair, are undefeated in back-to-back challenges coming into the episode. As one of five teams still in the game, they have a 20 percent chance at the big prize: $500,000.

Prepare to sniff out some money as I serve up your complete recap of Kicking & Screaming Episode 5: “Rumble in the Jungle.”

Spoilers follow.

Making shelter

Terry and Natalie partner with Ben (an Air Force specialist) and Juliana (a model) to build an impressive lean-to shelter.

With ample space and a near-rainproof thatched roof, it’s enough to make any Wilderness Survival merit badge instructor proud.

“We were working well together and building our shelter,” Terry says.

Wilderness Survival, my favorite merit badge, has the coolest requirement of all 137 merit badges: “Improvise a natural shelter. … Spend a night in your shelter.”

Ready, set …

First up: the prize challenge, where the winner is rewarded and the loser must compete to stay in the game.

Last week’s elimination challenge winners, John and Nakeisha, get to pick one team to sit out of the prize challenge and go straight to the elimination challenge. They choose Ben and Juliana.

The remaining teams hear the rules. They must dig into the ground to find blow darts. Then they must jump into a canoe and use a rope system to pull themselves across the river.

Though there are four teams competing, there are just two canoes. It’s first come, first served.

Once across, each team member must hit a target using the blowgun. Run out of blow darts, and you’ll have to go back across to get more.

The race is on

The race reminds me of summer camp at Camp Cherokee (now Camp Trevor Rees-Jones). During Monday Night Madness, troops competed in a campwide relay race involving a canoeing leg, running leg and swimming leg. Scouts who weren’t competing gathered to cheer on their troopmates. It was awesome.

The Eagle Scout on Kicking & Screaming is awesome, too. Terry and Natalie get into one of the first two boats — thanks to Terry’s painful-looking backwards dive into the vessel.

“If I don’t dive for that canoe, Brady’s gonna get it,” Terry says. “And I can’t have that.”

Terry and Natalie’s canoe has taken on water, which is normally fine except for one thing: darts don’t float.

While another team is already firing blow darts, Terry and Natalie scramble to find theirs at the bottom of the canoe.

On target

Eventually they find a few darts. Turns out they’d only need two. On Terry’s first try, “the Boy Scout connects!” host Hannah Simone says.

Terry helps Natalie with her aim — “higher, higher” — and she scores a hit on her first try, too.

That means Terry and Natalie have won each of the last three challenges in which they participated. The underdogs have become prohibitive favorites.

One note: the BSA’s National Shooting Sports Manual (appendix 8) lists blowguns as an unauthorized activity. (And I list them as an unsanitary activity. You don’t want to be the second person to put your mouth on a blowgun. Gross.)

John and Nakeisha swamp their canoe and finish last. At least they can check off a requirement for the Canoeing merit badge.

Hannah congratulates Terry and Natalie on another win. Terry — now sporting a beard — is wearing a huge smile, too.

“Terry, I feel like every single time you win you just knock five years off yourself. It’s like Benjamin Button is happening,” she says.

The smell of money

The victors’ prize is cash. But how much? There are three identical boxes, each with money inside: $10,000, $100 or $1.

Terry and Natalie each get to pick a box. They can’t touch them, but nobody said anything about smelling them. So Natalie takes a whiff.

“She can smell money,” Terry says.

Terry opens his box: $1.

“Really?” he says. “My choice got us a buck. But that dollar bill will buy us small fries. Which we would take right now.”

Natalie’s contains the $10,000. That’s enough to buy a lot of Scout popcorn, but Terry and Natalie have different plans. Natalie’s going to buy herself a “nice day at the spa.”

And Scoutmaster Terry?

“I just got me a new office chair,” he says. “That’s what.”

Hannah hands them the cash and says she remembers Terry and Natalie bickering when a previous challenge didn’t go their way.

And “now look at you guys as a team,” she says. Performing indeed.

Earning their wings

The Kicking & Screaming campsite is near a river full of fish, but not one is biting. So Terry has a plan: catch a butterfly to use as bait.

But he’s not having much luck with his catching device: a T-shirt he plans to throw on top of one.

Terry pirouettes, lunges and dives to try to capture one of these winged insects. No luck.

“They’re still alive for a reason,” Terry says. “They’ve evaded better predators than me.”

Elimination challenge

It’s elimination day, and once again Terry and Natalie get to stay at camp. They’re safe.

The challenge — pitting Ben and Juliana against John and Nakeisha — is basically slacklining. (Slacklining, by the way, is a Scouting-approved activity.)

Each team steps onto parallel slacklines. Holding onto each other, they must side-step down the line.

If either team falls off, that’s an instant loss. And John and Nakeisha do just that. Off the slackline, off the show.

With just three episodes remaining in their Fiji adventure, Terry and Natalie now have a one in four shot at winning a half-million bucks.

Stray observations
  • We got a closer look at Terry’s uniform shirt tonight. His square knot count: nine. Impressive, Terry. Very impressive.
  • Producers put GoPro cameras everywhere — on the canoes and on the contestants. That’s a good reminder that attaching cameras to canoes and bikes and backpacks can help you document your Scouting adventures.
Missed an episode?

Watch full episodes and learn more about Kicking and Screaming here.

Scouts meet real-life heroes at massive Maryland camporee

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For one weekend last month, it was the safest place on the planet — or at least the most exciting.

At the county fairgrounds in Anne Arundel County, Md., Scouts and leaders met representatives from more than 40 different county, state and federal law enforcement and public-safety agencies.

The Heroes II – Courage and Commitment Camporee drew 450 Boy Scouts, Venturers and leaders. It was hosted by the Four Rivers District of the Baltimore Council.

In this camporee you’ll find a lesson in the power of connecting with local agencies in a way that will engage Scouts.

The Scouts watched firefighters perform a simulated extraction of a car crash victim. They practiced first aid with Army field medics. They goggled at a police helicopter until it had to fly away to the scene of a real-life bank robbery. (A plot twist, by the way, that made the whole experience cooler.)

At each stop, Scouts met true heroes. These men and women in uniform put themselves in harm’s way each day.

For some Scouts, this was an opportunity to take a closer look at potential future careers — an avenue they can further explore through the Exploring program. For others, it was simply sweet to see all the high-tech tools these heroes use to keep us safe.

For everyone, these heroes represented the embodiment of the Scout Oath’s reminder “ … to help other people at all times.”

A yearlong effort

Mike McCormick, activities chairman for the Four Rivers District, says he was surprised by the support from so many Central Maryland public-service organizations.

It took a year of planning and dozens of volunteers to stage the largest camporee in the district’s 50-year history.

At designated places throughout the 30-acre fairgrounds, each of the 40 public and volunteer agencies set up an interactive area for visitors. The agencies got visibility. The Scouts got plenty to do.

So much to do

If anything, there was too much to do at the Heroes II camporee and too little time.

Even this bulleted list doesn’t contain everything:

  • Hands-on science stations from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • A huge launch pad from the National Association of Rocketry that hosted launches of nine-foot model rockets.
  • Costumed War of 1812 re-enactors from Baltimore’s famous Fort McHenry (home of the Star-Spangled Banner). One Venturer called this “the real rockets’ red glare.”
  • A helicopter provided by the Howard County Police.
  • A hands-on field triage station run by the 48th Combat Support Hospital, U.S. Army Reserve, from Fort Meade, Md. One of the Scouts called the hyper-realistic wounds on training mannequins “almost as graphic as the zombies on The Walking Dead.”
  • A 62-foot tiller ladder truck that raised the American flag over the event.
  • A live auto entrapment extrication demonstration. Firefighters from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department cut up two donated cars.
  • An explosive ordnance disposal robot demonstration by the Annapolis Fire Department bomb squad.
  • A BearCat Armored Car manned by Maryland State Police SWAT.
  • A natural-gas safety demo with controlled explosions provided by Baltimore Gas and Electric.
  • A huge wing snow plow from the Maryland State Highway Administration.
  • A rescue patrol boat from the Annapolis Station of the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Lunch catered by Mission BBQ. The company donated meals to participating uniformed first responders and military.
  • An evening show of live music provided by the Order of the Arrow and recognition of the most actively participating Scouts and patrols.

Tell us about other similar camporees

One great thing about this Heroes II camporee is that there are plenty more like it across the country.

From May 19 to 21 in New Jersey, for example, Scouts, Venturers and Explorers will gather for the 5th NJ State Police National Guard Camporee.

If there’s a similar camporee in your area, let us know in the comments section.

Hat tip: Thanks to Jim Krempel, camporee program coordinator, for the info and photos.

‘MasterChef Junior’ just aired a Scouting-themed episode, and it was glorious

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When it comes to camp cuisine, there’s no better food critic than a Boy Scout.

Who better to judge the merit of food prepared outdoors than the inventors of the Cooking merit badge?

The fine folks at the Fox show MasterChef Junior sure think so. They invited 50 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to serve as judges for an episode title “Scouts Honor.” (The episode — Season 5, Episode 9 — aired tonight.)

Would this be the greatest camp meal these Scouts have ever had, or will the Scouts go home hungry or, worse, with upset stomachs?

Find my full recap below, which you can enjoy with a side of gravy (yes, even outside in 90-degree weather).

Spoilers follow.

‘Ultimate campfire cookout’

Get ready for the “ultimate campfire cookout,” the voice tells us. We’ll soon find out “who will lead their troop to victory and who will got lost in the wilderness.”

It’s the first Scouting-themed wordplay of the night, and I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

The 12 remaining junior home cooks are in the Santa Clarita mountains — 30 miles north of the MasterChef Junior kitchen.

Goodbye, air-conditioned comfort of the studio. Hello, hungry Scouts.

But first they have to find the campsite. Award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay and pastry chef Christina Tosi are a little lost. They’re trying — and struggling — to lead the young cooks to the site of the challenge. Maybe they can ask the Scouts for help navigating, too.

The ‘most intelligent and prepared guests’

Once they finally arrive, Ramsay and Tosi set the stage.

“Today you will serve some of our most intelligent and prepared guests that MasterChef Junior has ever welcomed: the Boy and Girl Scouts,” she says.

I see what she did there.

This challenge is extra cool for Evan, who is a Scout. In a funny moment, he raises two fingers and recites a special MasterChef Junior version of the Scout Oath.

“I promise to do my best to do my duty to MasterChef and to obey Gordon Ramsay,” Evan says.

Evan is named team captain, and Ramsay unveils the main ingredient. It’s not a typical camp staple like hot dogs or Dutch oven pizza. It’s bone-in pork chops.

Each team of six must prepare a pork chop entrée and two sides — all in 75 minutes.

Evan’s red team will prepare an apple-grilled pork chop, mashed potatoes and sautéed corn.

Peyton’s blue team is making Korean barbecue pork chops, purple cabbage coleslaw and potato pancakes.

‘Gravy, in 90-degree weather?’

But should team red’s potatoes have gravy? That’s the debate.

“Gravy, in 90 degree weather? I think that’s a bad idea,” Gonzalo says.

The team presses on until Ramsay gets a whiff of what’s happening. He shows a flash of his trademark anger.

“95 degrees and we’re serving a gravy? Get this sorted out,” he says. “Now.”

The gravy gets the boot.

Over on team blue, Peyton utters a sentence I’ve never heard on a Scout campout.

“We need more lemon,” she says. “I need that brightness.”

The young cooks have some advantages over traditional outdoor cooking. They have a large work space, an oven and kitchen gadgets like an immersion blender.

But what they don’t have much of is time.

‘Oh my goodness me. They’re hungry.’

“Red team, blue team, our Scouts are arriving!” Ramsay says.

And here they come. Dozens of uniformed Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts arrive from all directions, wearing backpacks and carrying hiking poles. They begin setting up tents. They raise an American flag to the top of a wooden pole.

“Amazing,” Ramsay says. “Oh my goodness me. They’re hungry.”

One of the Boy Scouts, whose name isn’t given, sounds ready to chow down.

“I think this meal will be better than any meal you could get on a camping trip, because the camping trip meal has to be fast and quick so you can keep going on your hikes and your activities,” he says.

Every camper gets a plate from each team. They’ll vote on their favorite, and the team with the most votes wins. The losing team will go to an elimination challenge where two members will go home.

‘It’s how you finish’

Scouts sound grateful as they pick up food. Each Boy Scout and Girl Scout says “thank you” to the chefs. Nice.

Probably my favorite part is how the Scouts vote for their favorite dish. No paper ballots here. The Scouts grab a bow and shoot an arrow at the color of the dish they like better.

Hit the red target for the red team and blue for blue.

When the arrows are counted, the winner — by a count of 63 percent to 37 percent — is Evan’s red team.

Yes, the team with the Boy Scout wins.

“We had a rough start,” Evan says, “but it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.”

That’s the end of the Scouts’ involvement. Next, the cooks return to the MasterChef kitchen for the remainder of the episode, where the judges send Gonzalo and Lila home.

Stray observations
  • At one point, one of the competitors says, “We can’t let these Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts down!” Don’t worry, tiny chefs, you can’t go wrong. After all, having a bad meal on a campout is a Scouting rite of passage.
  • Nice line from Shayne, after one of the plates was found to contain a raw pork chop: “No one would earn a Scout badge right now with the way we’re cooking.”
  • For the elimination challenge, the young cooks make macaroons. The dessert looked delicious, but I would’ve preferred everyone’s favorite campfire treat: s’mores..
Watch MasterChef Junior

Watch the episode “Scouts Honor” and find other MasterChef Junior content on the show’s website.

Fresh meeting activity ideas to engage a Scout’s passion for exploration

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Crack the code left behind in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Experiment on an egg to discover the effects of pollution on our oceans. Gauge astronaut readiness with simple (and fun) endurance and agility tests.

Those are just three of the hands-on meeting activity ideas available to Scout leaders at the all-new Nat Geo Kids Explorers Club.

Go to the Explorers Club page on the Boys’ Life website to get started.

To celebrate the current theme, Exploration, the Nat Geo Kids Explorers Club offers chapter samplers from its new Ultimate Explorer Guide and one of its Ultimate Field Guides (Birds). Each is packed with tons of great resources, including profiles and interviews with real Nat Geo Explorers like Eagle Scout and paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, who helped create the new Exploration merit badge. Each chapter sampler was hand-picked because it aligns with certain Cub Scout adventure or Boy Scout merit badge requirements.

Scout leaders can click here for the PDF samplers. Browse them in your browser, or, better yet, click the three vertical dots and the print button. Make copies, and bring these activity sheets to a future meeting.

But is there a patch?

Yes! I almost forgot about the awesome patch.

Scouts who correctly answer questions from the featured book’s chapter sampler are entered to win a limited-edition patch. Click here for details. Scouts may enter only once, and the giveaway closes May 31, 2017. That’s when up to 1,000 Scouts will earn the special patch.

Be sure to have Scouts come back and earn more cool patches in the set, including the Conservation patch in June and the Hands-on-Science patch in September.

Featured book: Nat Geo Ultimate Explorer Guide

This book can help Scouts earn:

  • Tiger Adventure loops: Backyard Jungle and Sky Is the Limit
  • Wolf Adventure loops: Call of the Wild, Digging in the Past and Finding Your Way
  • Bear Adventure loops: Fur, Feathers, and Ferns and Critter Care
  • Webelos and Arrow of Light pins: Adventures in Science, Earth Rocks!, Into the Wild and Into the Woods
  • Boy Scout merit badge: Archaeology, Astronomy, Bird Study, Exploration, Geology, Insect Study, Mining in Society, Nature, Oceanography, Reptile and Amphibian Study, and Space Exploration

Learn more and grab yours at Scout Stuff, where proceeds help support Scouting.

Win a trip to Washington, D.C.

The fun doesn’t stop there. The Nat Geo Kids Explorers Club Sweepstakes offers one lucky winner — plus up to two family members — a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., for the 2018 Explorers Symposium. Ten runners-up will score a second-place prize.

Learn more and enter here.

Look for Nat Geo at the 2017 Jamboree

If you’ll be joining the adventure at the 2017 National Jamboree, be sure to stop by the Exploration merit badge area, brought to you by Nat Geo.

What happens to Scouting Heritage MB requirement 4B during National Scouting Museum relocation?

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Scouting Heritage merit badge requirement 4B asks Scouts to write or visit the National Scouting Museum in Texas.

As the museum prepares to relocate to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, the procedure for completing this requirement has changed.

Effective April 1, 2017, Scouts seeking information for this requirement should send correspondence to Philmont at the address below. Alternatively, counselors might guide Scouts to one of the other options for completing requirement 4.

The National Scouting Museum in Texas will remain open for visitors through Sept. 4, 2017. It is scheduled to open at Philmont Scout Ranch in 2018.

Scouting Heritage merit badge requirement 4

Requirement 4 is a fun and hands-on way for Scouts to learn about the BSA’s rich history. A Scout has three options, each involving keeping a journal or writing a report.

  • A: Attend a BSA national jamboree, world Scout jamboree OR a national BSA high-adventure base
  • B: Write or visit the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas
  • C: Visit an exhibit of Scouting memorabilia or a local museum with a Scouting history gallery or visit with someone in your council who is recognized as a dedicated Scouting historian or memorabilia collector
How to complete requirement 4B during the transition

Previously, Scouts followed the instructions outlined in this post. As of April 1, 2017, they should mail requests to the address below.

Note: This address is for requests for information about the museum. It is not where Scouts send their actual report to complete the requirement. That report goes to the young man’s merit badge counselor.

Scouting Heritage Merit Badge Request
Philmont Museums
17 Deer Run Road
Cimarron, NM 87714

Or by email to: philmont (dot) museums (at) scouting (dot) org.

Consider requirement 4C instead

Counselors might want to guide Scouts toward requirement 4C during the museum’s transition.

This requirement option connects Scouts with their local community. It gives them a sense of the history of Scouting in their area. If they meet with a Scouting historian or memorabilia collector, they’ll benefit from that personal interaction, too.

Top 5 merit badges for when you’re waiting for April the giraffe to give birth

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The internet has fallen in love with April, a pregnant 15-year-old giraffe living at the Animal Adventure Park near Binghamton, N.Y.

A giraffe pregnancy lasts 15 months, and April has been pregnant for 15 months. So it’s time. Time for everyone to spend hours staring at the live video feed of April’s pen, waiting for baby giraffe hooves to appear.

I’ve embedded the video stream at the bottom of this post.

We might as well be productive while we wait, so I present to you the five merit badges that are useful when waiting for April the giraffe to give birth.

Mammal Study

There’s no requirement to “watch a pregnant giraffe roam her pen for at least 15 consecutive hours.”


Instead, Scouts who earn the Mammal Study merit badge escape the clutches of YouTube to study mammals outside. For one requirement, they must spend 15 hours outside (over five days) tracking mammal species across a 25-acre area.

Veterinary Medicine

April’s vet, Dr. Tim, has been keeping viewers updated on the giraffe’s pregnancy. He has assured viewers that, no, he isn’t concerned that her pregnancy has gone on for so long. He shared this message on Facebook:

Yes, it will be awesome when the calf arrives. No, watching after April is not my only job. Yes, we have been watching her for a very long time… enjoy the <free> show people. Get more popcorn.

For the Veterinary Medicine merit badge, Scouts don’t just watch veterinarians like Dr. Tim online. They get to spend a lot of time observing them in person as these men and women keep the animals we love happy and healthy.


April the giraffe loves to eat carrots and romaine lettuce — in addition to her usual giraffe diet.

Scouts who earn the Gardening merit badge get to grow six vegetables, three from seeds and three from
seedlings, through harvest.

What Scouts do with those veggies — eat them, donate them, feed them to a giraffe — is up to them.


The giraffe pen at Animal Adventure Park is one of the largest in the nation.

While you watch April roam her pen, why not create one of your own at home? This carpentry project is just like the one Scouts get to complete for the Woodwork merit badge.

After all, you never know when you might need somewhere to house the next animal to become a YouTube sensation.


April’s baby, when it finally arrives, will weigh around 150 pounds and be 6 feet tall.

Scouts who earn the Pets merit badge get to care for a pet for four months.

See where I’m going with this? There’s nothing in the merit badge requirements that specifically prohibits a Scout from keeping a giraffe as a pet. Other than, you know, low ceilings.

What’d I miss?

What other merit badges belong on this list? Remember the rule: This is a Top 5 list. If you add one, you have to say which one you’d remove.

More in this series

Click here for more “Top 5 merit badges” fun.

How to create a budget for your pack, troop or crew

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Once you and your Scouts have planned a year of Scouting fun, it’s time for the less-fun part.

It’s time to figure out how to pay for it all.

Creating a budget for your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew is an essential part of every well-managed, well-financed unit.

Asking families for money every week is discouraged. You’re better off figuring out the total cost for the complete year up front. No surprises.

Today we’ll outline the five-step process to planning an annual budget, list what expenses to include and discuss possible sources of income for your unit.

Create a budget in five steps
  1. Plan your unit’s complete annual program, so you’ll know where you’ll spend your money.
  2. Develop a budget that includes enough income to pay for your unit’s annual program.
  3. Identify all sources of income, including dues, and determine the amount of product (popcorn, for example) that will need to be sold per youth member to reach the income goal.
  4. Identify service projects the unit might complete to bring in income.
  5. Get commitments from parents and youth.
Expenses to include in your budget

This list includes almost everything that might cost your unit money over the course of a year.

  1. Registration fees. The national registration fee is $24 per member — adults and Scouts.
  2. Unit liability insurance fee. Units are required to pay an annual unit liability insurance fee of $40, submitted with the unit’s annual charter application.
  3. Boys’ Life magazine. The official publication of the Boy Scouts of America is available to all members at $12 — half the newsstand rate. Every Scout should subscribe to Boys’ Life because it’s fun, keeps him reading and enhances your unit’s monthly program.
  4. Unit accident and liability insurance. Protecting parents from the financial hardship of high medical bills from an unfortunate accident is a must for all involved in Scouting. Ask your local council for details.
  5. Awards, advancement and recognition. Costs for Cub Scout adventure loops, Boy Scout merit badges, Venturing awards and more should be built into your budget.
  6.  Activities. Typically, activities like the Pinewood Derby, Cub Scout field trips, district or council events, high-adventure trips, and campouts aren’t included in the unit’s annual dues. They’re paid by families on a per-event basis. Consider including some or all of those costs in your unit’s annual budget.
  7. Camp. Cub Scout day camp, Cub Scout resident camp, family camping, Boy Scout summer camp, and a big Venturing or Sea Scouting trip. These special Scouting events — often the highlight of a young person’s year — should go in the budget.
  8. Program materials. Den meeting supplies, Den Meeting in a Box kits, craft tools and supplies, a U.S. flag, unit flags, camping equipment, videos and books, ceremonial props and more.
  9. Training. Adult and youth leader training should be considered an integral annual expense. For example, some units budget to send a certain number of adults to Wood Badge each year and ask Scouters to apply for these spots.
  10. Uniforms. In most units, the individual pays for the uniform. But you might consider whether uniform elements — or the full uniform itself — could be part of the unit budget.
  11. Reserve fund. The “rainy-day fund” might be established by a gift or loan from the chartered
    organization, by members of the committee, or by a unit money-earning project.
  12. Other expenses. A gift to the World Friendship Fund, meeting refreshments and anything else on which your unit might spend money.
Sources of income

One well-planned fundraiser per year, such as selling popcorn, will prevent having to ask families for extra money every week. And it will keep your young people from getting worn out by too much fundraising.

In some units, an additional fundraiser in the spring adds needed income.

Notes to remember:

  • Units are not allowed to solicit money by requesting contributions from individuals or the community.
  • Except for council-sponsored fundraisers, all fundraising projects require the submission of the Unit Money-Earning Application, No. 34427, to the local council.
For resources, go here

This page of BSA resources includes PowerPoint presentations, guides to creating a budget and even a fillable Excel spreadsheet.

For more insight, listen to ScoutCast

The April 2017 episode of ScoutCast — the monthly podcast for adult leaders — is all about planning a unit budget. Listen here or on your favorite podcast app.

The episode’s guest is Charlie Garwood, who has served as a Scoutmaster, Scouting coordinator, and district and council commissioner.

On Scouts/Venturers driving themselves to and from events

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Update, April 4, 2017: This story, originally posted in 2014, has been updated to reflect the BSA’s new transportation policy.

It’s sad but true: Driving to and from Scouting events is more dangerous than whatever you do once you get there.

That’s why the Boy Scouts of America’s Guide to Safe Scouting offers specific guidelines to help adults transport Scouts safely.

But what about older Scouts and Venturers with driver’s licenses? Is it OK for Scouts to drive themselves and others to meetings, weekend campouts, unit activities, area/regional/national events and more?

The bottom line is no.  If transportation is part of a planned Scouting tour or activity, the driver must be currently licensed and at least 18 years of age.

For more, I checked with Richard Bourlon, the BSA’s Health and Safety team leader, and Mark Dama, head of Insurance and Risk Management, for the answer. Here’s the explanation — which every leader with driving-age Scouts should read.

Driving to/from troop or crew meetings

This one qualifies as “not applicable.”

That’s because, as Bourlon says, “Driving to or from a standard meeting place isn’t an official Scouting activity or part of any transportation planning.”

Adds Dama, “It’s similar to you going to work and coming home from work. You are not considered an employee at both of those times.”

So, as always, these teens should practice safe driving habits but are neither prohibited from nor required to drive to and from unit meetings.

Can a Boy Scout drive to a troop overnighter?

No. A troop overnighter is an official Scouting activity.

Bourlon points us to this Guide to Safe Scouting page, specifically point No. 3 under Automobiles, which says:

The drivers must be currently licensed and at least 18 years of age. Scouting youth (under age 18) are not insured under the Boy Scouts of America commercial general liability policy.

If he’s 18, he’s no longer a Boy Scout; he’s an adult. At 18, he then could drive himself or Scouts to an event as an assistant Scoutmaster.

Can a Boy Scout drive other Scouts to a troop overnighter?

No. See above explanation.

Can a Boy Scout transport troop equipment?

No. Same reasoning, Dama writes:

“If they did, the troop equipment belongs to the chartered organization, which probably wouldn’t want a youth driving gear around. Do the mom and dad of the son have an appropriate level of automobile liability insurance coverage if their son has an accident and there are other youth in his vehicle? Scouting youth (under age 18) are not insured under theBoy Scouts of America commercial general liability policy.”

That last sentence is a direct quote from the Guide to Safe Scouting, and it explains why this rule exists.

Can a Boy Scout drive himself to/from an area, regional or national event?

Not applicable.

“We can no longer suggest or condone youth driving as part of any official Scouting activity. Parents or chartered organizations are free to make decisions about when and where their youth can drive, but they need to know that it can’t be part of an official Scouting activity, nor is there supplemental coverage for the youth under the BSA’s General Liability Insurance Program, or Accident and Sickness programs.”

Can a Scout or under-18 Venturer drive himself or herself to and from camp for their job?

It is illegal for an employer to require a youth to drive to, from or during their employment. The government considers driving a “hazardous job” and therefore it is not permitted for those under 18.

What about Venturers? Can they drive themselves?

The above answer applies to under-18 Venturers.

Why is this policy in place?

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most frequent severe incidents we see in Scouting,” Bourlon says. “Going to and from events is far more dangerous than our program. We have resources such as the Risk Zone training that Scouters should review.” (Find that PDF here.)

More general driving guidelines

From the Guide to Safe Scouting:

  1. Seat belts are required for all occupants.
  2. All drivers must have a valid driver’s license that has not been suspended or revoked for any reason. If the vehicle to be used is designed to carry more than 15 people, including the driver (more than 10 people, including the driver, in California), the driver must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  3. The drivers must be currently licensed and at least 18 years of age. Scouting youth (under age 18) are not insured under the Boy Scouts of America commercial general liability policy.
  4. Trucks may not be used for transporting passengers except in the cab.
  5. All vehicles must be covered by automobile liability insurance with limits that meet or exceed requirements of the state in which the vehicle is licensed. It is recommended, however, that coverage limits are at least $100,000 combined single limit. Any vehicle designed to carry 10 or more passengers should have limits of $1,000,000.
  6. Obey all laws, including the speed limit.
  7. Driving time is limited to a maximum of 10 hours in one 24-hour period regardless of the number of drivers available. Driving time must be interrupted by frequent rest, food, and/or recreation stops. The intention is to include sleep and thorough rest breaks while traveling long distances. Don’t drive while drowsy. Stop for rest and stretch breaks as needed. Fatigue is a major cause of highway accident fatalities.
  8. Drivers must refrain from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Text messaging while driving is prohibited. Hands-free units are acceptable, but must be used sparingly while driving.

For Volunteer Appreciation Month, #ThankAScouter who made a difference

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Scout volunteers, we can’t thank you enough for your devotion to the Scouting movement.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t try.

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, which is April, we want you to send in photos, videos and stories about a volunteer who made a difference in your life or the life of a Scout.

We’re calling it #ThankAScouter, and here are four ways to participate.

Please note
  • Send your appreciations by Sunday, April 23, 2017. We’ll share our favorites during National Volunteer Week, which is April 23 to 29, 2017.
  • With any of the options below, please include your name, unit number, hometown and the name of the volunteer you’re thanking. If you prefer your message be anonymous, please say so.
  • Please use the subject line “#ThankAScouter” when emailing me.
1. Snap a photo

Write a big, bold message of thanks on a whiteboard, poster or piece of printer paper. Have someone take a photo of you holding the sign, and send me the photo at (High-res preferred.)

2. Share a story

In 50 words or less, describe the moment when you witnessed a Scouting volunteer going above and beyond. Send the story to me at

3. Shoot a video

In 10 seconds or less, document your appreciation on video. This can be as simple as gathering your Cub Scouts at the next meeting and recording them saying “thank you, Cubmaster Cathy!” Send the video to

4. Tweet a tweet or post on Instagram

If you’d rather share your message of thanks directly with the world, just use the hashtag #ThankAScouter on Twitter or Instagram. We’ll reshare some of our favorites.


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