Leader/Parent info from the Internet

How to plan the perfect pack overnighter for new Cub Scout families

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Keep it simple, make it fun and remember that some of the families in your pack will be sleeping in a tent for the first time.

That’s just a sampling of the handy advice you’ll find in “Pack Overnighter for New Cub Scouts,” a free BSA resource that’s been revamped for 2018.

A pack overnighter is an essential moment in the life of any pack.

It’s not quite make-or-break stuff, but it’s close. The success of this event will motivate families in your pack to remain involved for years to come.

In these 24 hours — typically Saturday morning to Sunday morning — you give pack families a sense of belonging. You show them the kind of fun they’ll have as Cub Scouts. And you deliver on the joining-night promise that, as Cub Scouts, they’ll get to go camping and do fun stuff outside.

Before your first pack overnighter, check out these seven tips. I pulled them straight from the two-page reference guide, available for free at this link (PDF). (This document and a boatload of other great resources are available here.)

7 tips for your pack overnighter
  1. Keep things basic. This is not the time for an “extreme” camping experience.
  2. Have plenty of gear on hand to lend out to families, and have experts available to advise new campers on how to use that gear. You could even have a large encampment already set up and move-in ready.
  3. Ensure you have a BALOO-trained leader (that’s Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation) onsite and responsible for the planning and execution of the event.
  4. Recruit a local Scout troop to help run stations, conduct the campfire program, serve as campsite guides and help new Cub Scouts and their parents or guardians set up camp.
  5. Consider doing adventures that have outdoor elements. This means your Cub Scouts could earn a loop or pin during the event.
  6. Make mealtime simple and easy. Complex, gourmet meals aren’t the right fit here. Meals should require minimal prep and cleanup. This is an ideal opportunity for foil-pack dinners.
  7. Create a schedule, and stick to it. And don’t forget to share it with families the week of the event and upon arrival.

Sample pack overnighter schedule

See the PDF for a sample schedule that runs from arrival at 9 a.m. on Day 1 to departure at 10 a.m. on Day 2.

Share your pack overnighter ideas

How does your pack make its overnighter a success? I invite you to leave a comment below.

Fastest-flying Scout flag in history now in a museum where it belongs

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Troop flags have traveled to mountain peaks, been carried on 50-mile hikes and flown proudly at World Scout Jamborees on five different continents.

But no troop flag has traveled farther — or faster — than the banner belonging to Troop 355 of Weatherford, Okla.

In 1969, astronaut and Star Scout Tom Stafford carried the flag from his boyhood troop into space.

“It was my idea, because I wanted to honor the Boy Scout troop that I had been in through junior high and high school,” Stafford told KFOR-TV of Oklahoma City.

As commander of the Apollo 10 mission, Stafford and his crew successfully completed the final “dress rehearsal” for the moon landing two months later.

Three Scouts, one mission

Stafford was joined on the mission by two astronauts who also were Scouts: John Young of California and Gene Cernan of Illinois. Each earned the Second Class rank as boys.

You could say that these three Scouts, who did everything short of actually landing on the moon, helped pave the way for Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong’s moon landing.

A troop flag that has orbited the moon is remarkable enough. But this story gets even better.

As Stafford and the Apollo 10 crew returned from the moon, their capsule reached 24,791 mph. That set the Guinness World Record for highest speed attained by a manned vehicle — a record that still stands today.

“This flag has flown faster than any Scout flag in the world,” Stafford told KFOR-TV.

And to think that the flag was almost thrown away.

Saving history

The flag honors Troop 355’s 50th anniversary, which it celebrated in 1968. After Stafford returned to Earth in 1969, he donated the flag to his old troop.

That troop later presented the flag to Troop 20 of Oklahoma City. Eventually, as troop leadership cycled through, the flag ended up in a box.

Somehow, the flag was forgotten amid all of Troop 20’s gear. It could’ve easily been tossed out.

When Troop 20’s current Scoutmaster, Chuck McBride, took the job, he went through the troop’s storage boxes. That’s when he found the small rectangular flag.

“It needed to be where lots of people could see it and appreciate it,” McBride told the TV station. “I also thought it was time for it to come home.”

Displayed proudly

The flag, now framed, will live on at the Stafford Air & Space Museum. The museum, named for Stafford himself, is located at the airport in Weatherford.

Stafford met with a group of Scouts from Troop 20 this week as the flag took its rightful place.

Nearly 50 years after Stafford carried the flag into space, this piece of Scouting and space history has come home.

Thanks to Edgar LaBenne for the blog post idea.

How to prevent your troop trailer from getting stolen

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Imagine this: Your troop is ready to depart for a big campout. All the Scouts and adult volunteers have arrived at the church on time, and the weather is perfect.

But something’s missing: your troop trailer. Oh, and hundreds or even thousands of dollars in gear inside.

That’s why you should take steps now to safeguard your unit’s trailer and its contents.

Acts of theft don’t get much lower than stealing from a pack, troop or crew. But search Google News for “troop trailer stolen,” and you’ll see it happens all the time.

Here are some ways to ward off potential thieves:

How to keep your troop trailer from getting stolen 1. Purchase a wheel lock.

Phillip Moore, insurance and risk management specialist at the national BSA headquarters, recommends checking with a boat dealership to buy a device like the ones police officers use on illegally parked cars.

“The wheel lock is a visible deterrent and does not allow the trailer to be moved,” Moore says.

2. Block the doors.

Moore also suggests parking your trailer so that its rear doors butt up against a wall or some other permanent structure. Combining that with a wheel lock will make it much tougher for a thief, he says.

3. Don’t store any gear inside.

It may not be practical for all troops, but commenter Jason P.’s unit keeps all of its gear at a separate location. If thieves discover the trailer is empty, they may leave it alone.

4. Paint the top of your trailer.

Put your unit number on top of the trailer. This way, “if it is stolen it can be identified from the air, where most of those who would steal it would not think to look,” says commenter Kenneth K.

5. Think before you park.

Rather than parking the trailer in a church lot that’s empty many nights, many Scouters said their trailer lives at the home of an adult leader.

It’s “just like real estate,” says commenter Eric C. “Location, location, location.”

6. Make friends in high places.

If you don’t want to or can’t park at a Scouter’s home or at your meeting site, ask your local police department if they’ll let you store your trailer there.

That’s what commenter Mike L. did.

“As far as I know, that’s a pretty good spot,” he says. “I think everyone should consider it!”

7. Get insured.

“Nothing is 100 percent safe,” commenter Ken K. reminds us.

So insure your trailer and its contents from theft or damage. It might be money well spent.

8. Go incognito.

A cool design for your trailer can be an important recruiting tool and instill a sense of pride for your troop.

But commenter Cindy P. says those markings also might make it a target.

“Our trailer has no troop identifying markings on the outside,” she says.

9. Or don’t go incognito.

Commenter Ted M. disagrees, saying you need distinctive markings if you ever hope to get your trailer back.

“Several years ago our plain white trailer was stolen, and when the cop arrived he asked for a description of it. When he was told it was a plain, white, 6-by-10 trailer, he folded up his notebook and you could just see him mentally closing the case right there,” Ted says. “He said these kinds of trailers get stolen all the time, and that there was something like 10,000 plain, white, 6-by-10 trailers in the seven-country metro area.”

10. Take off a wheel or two.

“It may be worthwhile to remove one of the wheels and store it inside if the trailer is not used too often,” says commenter Jim Q.

Unless the thieves bring their own tire and gear, they can’t tow it anywhere.

Commenter Eric S. suggests having the Scouts do this because it’ll teach them how to change a tire.

“It may even satisfy some requirements,” he says. “Also, it will give you a chance to inspect and air up the tires.”

11. Get a GPS tracking device.

Buy a GPS tracker for your trailer, and set up a “digital fence” around its location.

“If it is taken you, and police know exactly where it is,” says commenter Gary M. “If it travels outside the digital fence limits, you get alerted on your cellphone or computer.”

12. Lock it down.

You can never have too many locks, suggests commenter Ron S.

“When we built our troop shed and pad behind our chartered organization, a heavy chain was cemented into the foundation. So, besides being locked to the pad, the trailer doors are secured with heavy duty discus locks and the hitch with a coupler lock.”

Share your top tips

Have any other tips? Share them by leaving a comment below.

Of course, there’s one more way to make sure your trailer isn’t stolen. “We don’t use a trailer,” says Aaron D. “Issue resolved.”

How the BSA is using email to welcome new families into Scouting

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When you buy an iPhone, Apple sends you a series of emails to help you get the most out of your new device.

A new initiative from the BSA aims to bring that same concept into the world of Scouting.

The series of customized emails welcomes Cub Scout volunteers and parents to the Scouting family. By the time they’ve received the final email in the series, recipients will feel prepared for the exciting journey ahead.

More than 35,000 Cub Scout families have received the emails so far, and feedback has been positive.

I asked Marjorie Johnson, the BSA’s email marketing manager, for more info. Here’s what you need to know, whether you’re a new Scouting family who received these emails or a longtime volunteer interested in knowing what’s being sent to the new families in your pack.

Who gets the emails?

The emails go to parents or volunteers who signed up for a Cub Scout pack using online registration.

They’re designed to feel welcoming to all members of the family, meaning parents of Cub Scout boys will see images of boy Cub Scouts, while parents of Cub Scout girls will see images of girl Cub Scouts.

As for parents or volunteers who signed up using offline registration, a series of emails for them is in development.

What’s in the emails?

Each email contains bite-size chunks of essential info to help parents and Scout leaders get the most out of Scouting. These are resources parents will want to bookmark so they can reference them later.

  • Email 1: Welcome (sent upon registration approval)
    • Parents: Welcome, pack contact info, video from real Scouting families
    • Volunteers: My.Scouting info, training, pack contact info
  • Email 2: Welcome From Unit (sent the day after joining)
    • Parents and volunteers: Customized content provided by unit
  • Email 3: Gear (sent three days after joining)
    • Parents: Cub Scout uniform, handbook, Scout Shop info
    • Volunteers: Cub Scout leader’s uniform, handbooks and guide books for leaders, Scout Shop info
  • Email 4: Resources (sent seven days after joining)
    • Parents and volunteers: Online resources to get questions answered, such as the order of Cub Scout ranks and how to volunteer
  • Email 5: Boys’ Life (sent 14 days after joining)
    • Parents: Parents who did not subscribe to BL when they registered will learn how to get the official magazine of the BSA.

The emails are designed to support — but not usurp — any type of communications a local Scout council might be doing. That’s why they don’t cover specific unit reminders, such as pack meeting times, or council info, like camporees.

OK, but what specifically is in the emails?

Here’s what they look like.

The emails are customized based on the Cub Scouts’ gender. What’s coming soon?
  • An email series for Cub Scout families who signed up using offline registration.
  • An email series for other BSA programs, such as Scouts BSA.
  • An email series with information specifically tailored to your Scouting position.

That, plus the original email series is always evolving based on feedback from volunteers.

What if I haven’t received the emails?

If you’ve made sure the email wasn’t flagged as spam/junk, your next step is to update your email address in your My.Scouting.org account. Go to “My Dashboard” and then ‘My Profile.”

You won’t get the emails you missed, but you will stay in the know with all future emails from the BSA.

Do you need to match your uniform to specific meetings?

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You’re going to your daughter’s den meeting at 5:30 p.m., and your son’s troop meeting is at 7 p.m. You’ll have to drive straight there from the den meeting — and your uniform is covered in Cub Scout patches.

Correct uniforming is important, but obviously, you’re not going to break out the fabric scissors, needle and thread between meetings to swap out patches. Should you be worried about wearing den leader badges while serving as an assistant Scoutmaster?

The question

A Scouter named Dave wrote us with these concerns:

If I hold two leadership positions in two different units, which badge of office patch should I sew to my uniform? Is it the official BSA policy for me to use Velcro to change my leadership position patches on my sleeve? Am I technically required to swap out my shoulder loops for every meeting?

The expert’s response

The official policy in the Guide to Awards and Insignia states that while wearing the uniform at events is not mandatory, it’s highly encouraged. Wearing your uniform properly can instill a sense of achievement, belonging and pride. It can also serve as a good example to your Scouts and work as a recruiting tool for those interested in Scouting who you encounter. We asked National Awards and Recognition Committee Chair John Duncan to provide some guidance on uniforming while leading in different programs:

Ideally, you should wear a uniform that reflects the volunteer position you are serving in at that moment. There is nothing in our uniform guidelines that precludes the use of Velcro, if desired, and if that works for you, it is acceptable. This enables you to keep your other badge of office in your pocket along with the other set of shoulder loops, and change in a minimal amount of time.  

And what about the shoulder loops?

The shoulder loops reflect the programs, and should match the badge of office, so when you change a badge of office, you should also change the shoulder loops.   

Some leaders prefer to have multiple uniforms at the ready to change into, though that might be cost-prohibitive for some. So, what if you don’t want to put Velcro on all your badges and can’t afford to get another uniform? Don’t sweat it, Duncan says; you can find ways to reinforce the connection among Scouting’s programs:

Don’t get too caught up in changing a uniform between every meeting. There is no harm in occasionally being in a Cub Scout leader uniform while working with the Scouts — it may remind them of the important tie the troop needs to maintain to area Cub Scout packs as the source of the next generation of Scouts. Likewise, there is no harm in occasionally wearing a Scout leader uniform while working with Cub Scouts — they might ask you questions that give you an opportunity to get them (youth or adults) excited about what lies ahead in the next program.  

Let’s hear from you

As a leader in multiple programs, what have you done in this situation?

Also, the Scout Shop can help you build your uniform here.

Korean War vet receives rare medal for his 75 years of Scouting service

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Willis “Buddy” Clark Jr. never earned the Eagle Scout award. He was still a Life Scout when Troop 14 of Indianapolis disbanded more than 70 years ago.

But in the years since Buddy joined Scouting in 1942, he has given a lifetime of service to the program he credits with helping him survive the Korean War.

In recognition of his service to Scouting, Buddy was presented a 75-year Scouting service commendation at a special ceremony last month in Angeles City, Philippines.

In those 75 years, Buddy hiked at Philmont Scout Ranch and earned his Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s honor society.

He started troops in six different states and served as Scout chaplain at two world’s fairs.

And now, at age 87, Buddy continues to volunteer with BSA Troop 485 and Pack 485 in the Philippines. He’s still hiking and camping with Scouts young enough to be his great-grandchildren.

A lasting legacy

Buddy joined Troop 14, chartered by Mars Hill Bible Baptist Church in Indianapolis, when he was 12.

As a Marine, Buddy served in the Korean War. He was wounded and thought dead until his finger appeared trying to unzip the body bag. He was quickly rushed into surgery.

Looking back, Buddy credits his Scouting experience with helping him survive the bitter winters in Korea.

After the war, Buddy’s Scouting service continued. As he moved across the country, Buddy formed troops in six states: Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, California and New Mexico. He was the Scout chaplain during the Seattle world’s fair in 1962 and New York World’s Fair in 1964.

Buddy moved to the Philippines a few years ago and signed up as a volunteer with Troop 485. The troop is sponsored by the VFW post there and is composed of children of U.S. veterans living near what was America’s largest overseas military base before U.S. forces left in 1991.

At the ceremony last month, 12-year-old Scout Christon Cangco presented Buddy with his 75-year medal. Christon was joined by Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Jim Collins and Troop 485 Scoutmaster Edgar LaBenne.

What the Scouts are saying

Buddy’s story is an inspiration — a feeling that’s most profoundly felt in his own troop.

Stars and Stripes newspaper offered an excellent report on Buddy’s big day and included comments from some Troop 485 Scouts.

“Most Scouts stop when they turn Eagle,” said David Luay, 15. “It’s kind of cool to see Mr. Buddy be here with us. If Mr. Buddy can stay in Scouts that long, so can we.”

Denis Metherell, 15, was wowed by Buddy’s outdoor skills.

“He can walk a long way,” Denis said. “One time he looked like he was having trouble getting up and I tried to help him, but he didn’t want help.”

Thanks, Buddy, for your service to Scouting and our nation!

Thanks to James Delorey for the blog idea and Edgar LaBenne for the info. Photos by Ericka Frye and used with permission.

Scout’s Eagle project earns World Scouting award, trip to United Nations

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Mikaeel Martinez Jaka, a Life Scout from Virginia, received the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s prestigious Messengers of Peace Heroes Award last month, becoming just the fifth American to be honored with the award in its history.

Mikaeel and Scouts from 10 other countries received their awards on Sept. 21 — the International Day of Peace — at a special ceremony at the United Nations in New York.

Messengers of Peace Heroes are Scouts and adults who do outstanding work to improve their communities, build peace and create a better world. The 2018 honorees include a Scout from Cameroon who raised awareness about seniors living with leprosy, a Scout from Mexico who is working to keep young people safe online and a Scout from Ukraine who helped displaced young people feel a sense of belonging.

The work for which the BSA’s Mikaeel was honored is equally impressive.

At his Eagle project, Mikaeel gives the day’s instructions to his volunteers. Mikaeel’s story

Mikaeel, 17, is a member of Troop 163 of Purcellville, Va., and Venturing Crew 786, chartered to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.

He’s a fourth-generation Muslim American and says he’s “proud to be American and proud to be Muslim.”

Ever since he was little, Mikaeel has volunteered at interfaith community service projects. He knows that we’re stronger united, not divided, and has teamed up with Scouts of different faiths to serve those who are less fortunate.

Two years ago, an African-American school in Mikaeel’s community was vandalized. Once again, Mikaeel stepped up. The group of volunteers included an inspiring array of faiths: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Baha’i.

While working on this project, Mikaeel learned about the Loudoun Freedom Center and its work to preserve the African American Burial Ground for the Enslaved at Belmont.

The gravel trail extends for 400 feet. Mikaeel’s project

For his Eagle Scout service project, Mikaeel created a 400-foot walking trail at the burial ground.

This was no mere dirt path. The gravel trail is bordered by wood on both sides — meaning Mikaeel and his volunteers had to place 800 feet of boards in addition to the 16 tons of gravel.

For this extreme effort, Mikaeel recruited more than 100 volunteers who worked over five days. The group included people of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Hindu faiths working together.

Donors stepped up, too. One gave $2,000 of the $6,000 Mikaeel needed to raise. The donor included this note: “My ancestors were slave traders in Loudoun. I wish to make reparations.”

“Thanks to the multifaith and racially diverse group of people, representing America’s beauty, we constructed the trail to honor the enslaved Africans that helped build America,” Mikaeel says. “And visitors now have access to the burial ground to pay their respects.”

Mikaeel’s volunteers included people from several different faiths. Mikaeel’s message

When you visit Mikaeel’s Eagle project, the teenager hopes you’ll take away a message.

As people walk through the burial ground, Mikaeel wants them to remember America’s past and those who “sacrificed everything to build the United States of America.”

“People will be able to walk along the trail, see all of this rich history — American history — that we all need to remember and definitely talk about more,” he says.

Mikaeel (second from left) and other recipients of the 2018 Messengers of Peace Heroes Award pose outside the United Nations. Mikaeel’s visit to New York

During their visit, Mikaeel and the other Messengers of Peace Heroes Award recipients met U.N. Secretary General António Guterres. Guterres saluted the contribution of Scouts worldwide, saying Scouting contributes more to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals than any other single organization.

To that end, Guterres recognized the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s 1.1 billion hours of service recorded since 2012.

Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, pledged to add another 3 billion hours through the Messengers of Peace Initiative.

For more about Mikaeel and the 2018 honorees, watch this video:

These 8 often-overlooked words in every merit badge pamphlet mean a lot

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When Scouts earn merit badges, they get more than a small patch for their merit badge sash.

They get hands-on experience in future career paths, college majors and hobbies. They become better-rounded individuals who, like a skilled Jeopardy! player, seem to know something about everything.

That thought came to mind when I flipped open a merit badge pamphlet recently and saw eight words on the first page. The words were added to pamphlets around 2013, but I hadn’t noticed them before.

Perhaps you have overlooked them as well.

The eight words are: “Enhancing our youths’ competitive edge through merit badges.”

Pretty powerful stuff — and a fitting first impression for a title page.

The implication is that when young people earn a merit badge — be it one or 100 — they become more competitive in life. That makes them more likely to earn scholarships, land a fulfilling job, or enroll in a good college or trade school.

‘Competitive edge’

When you ask Scouts to describe the process of earning a merit badge, you might hear words like “fun,” “epic” and “eye-opening.”

But the decision-maker at a job, college, vocational school or scholarship committee might see things differently.

They might understand that this person has become a mini-expert in dozens of distinctive fields. They’ll see this person’s appeal goes beyond book smarts to encompass sports, crafts, science, trades and business.

All other things equal, merit badges might be the edge a young person needs to get wherever they want to go.

Speaking of, why not include a sentence or two about merit badges in a résumé or cover letter? Explain to that decision-maker, through a brief but powerful anecdote, just what kind of competitive edge the merit badge program provided.

Likes … and dislikes, too

We often hear stories about young people who were driven toward a particular career because of a merit badge.

Merit badges like Dentistry, Drafting, Law, Surveying, Welding and many more are directly linked to actual, well-paying jobs.

But the opposite can be true, too.

Sometimes when young people earn a merit badge, they learn what doesn’t interest them.

Realizing you have no chemistry with Chemistry is only a $5 lesson in the form of a merit badge pamphlet … rather than a $12,000 lesson for a semester at college.

Extrapolate that cost over four years, and the debt really adds up. This puts an actual dollar value on discovering what you don’t want to do.

10 Scouting facts you probably didn’t know about Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong

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He’s the most famous Eagle Scout astronaut in our nation’s history.

But there’s still a lot that people don’t know about Neil Armstrong.

We’ll learn more about his lunar journey in First Man, the feature film out this weekend that’s getting rave reviews and Oscar buzz.

Armstrong’s Scouting journey, though, began well before he took that “one small step” on the moon.

In the spirit of exploration, let’s count down these 10 Scouting facts you might not have known about Neil Armstrong.

10. He was an inaugural member of his troop in Ohio.

Upper Sandusky, Ohio, had no Scout troop when the Armstrongs moved there in 1941, the year Armstrong turned 11.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year, the BSA made a public declaration that it would support the government’s war effort with its full resources.

Troop 25 was formed out of that patriotic fervor.

According to First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen (the book on which the film is based), Troop 25 met in the Commercial Bank building in downtown Upper Sandusky. Armstrong was among the 32 young people who joined right away.

9. He was sorted into a patrol in an unusual way.

These days, most troops divide their members into patrol by age.

But Armstrong’s Troop 25 organized its members by height.

At the first meeting, their Scoutmaster, the Rev. J. R. Koenig, lined the boys up from tallest to shortest. Then, according to the First Man book, he then counted them off — one, two, three, four — to sort them into four patrols.

8. He picked an excellent patrol name.

Now that they represented an even distribution of heights, Armstrong and the seven other members of his patrol needed to come up with a name.

They called themselves the Wolf Patrol, according to Scouting magazine.

Armstrong was elected to be his patrol’s scribe and took diligent minutes in a “beat-up three-ring binder,” First Man writes.

7. His troop started a monthly newspaper.

The Pup Tent News, first released on June 14, 1943, included stories, news items and “a few dumb jokes,” according to First Man.

Like this one: “You serve crabs here?” “We serve anyone, sit down.”

Armstrong’s dad, Steve, typed the Scouts’ stories at his office, but he let a few errors slip by. For example, one issue listed the features editor as “Niel Armstrong,” First Man writes.

6. He was incredibly smart and quick-witted.

One of my favorite anecdotes in First Man involves the members of the Wolf Patrol engaging in what the book calls a bit of “good-natured rivalry.”

Armstrong’s friend Kotcho Solacoff presented Armstrong with some white powder and said, “Here, Neil, try some C12H22O11.”

To Solacoff’s surprise and horror, “Neil grabbed a pinch full and put it in his mouth.”

Solacoff, continuing the prank, yelled, “Spit it out! It’s poison!”

Calmly, Armstrong said, “C12H22O11 is sugar.”

“I said, ‘I know, but I didn’t think you did,'” Solacoff says in the book. “That was the last time I took for granted that I knew something that he didn’t.”

5. He changed troops when his family moved.

When he was 14 and had spent about three years in Troop 25, Armstrong and his family moved about an hour southwest to the town of Wapakoneta, Ohio.

Armstrong looked for a new troop and quickly found Troop 14.

It’s as a member of Troop 14 that, in 1947, Armstrong became an Eagle Scout.

4. The Hiking merit badge almost made him late for work.

While hiking 20 miles for the Hiking merit badge, Armstrong checked his watch and panicked.

The hike was taking longer than planned. If he didn’t hurry, he would be late for his job at the bakery — unacceptable behavior in this young Scout’s mind.

Armstrong kept pushing his troopmates to go faster even though “fatigue was setting in,” Solacoff says in First Man.

Eventually, Armstrong began what Solacoff called “Boy Scout pace.”

Armstrong started walking and then running to make it home as quickly as possible.

“By the time we got home, we were not only exhausted, but we had painful cramps in our legs,” Solacoff says.

3. His first and second merit badges had nothing to do with space.

Considering his love of planes as a boy and his later accomplishments as a test pilot, you might think Armstrong would’ve started with the Aviation merit badge.

Think again. The first merit badge Armstrong earned was Art. The second: Reading.

2. He earned more merit badges than required.

Like many of today’s Scouts, Neil Armstrong kept earning merit badges beyond the 21 required for Eagle.

He finished with 26 merit badges in all. According to Scouting magazine’s March-April 1970 issue, that list included the Scholarship, Hiking and Aviation merit badges.

Based on Eagle Scout requirements at the time, we know he also earned First Aid, Lifesaving, Swimming, Personal Health, Public Health, Cooking, Camping, Civics, Bird Study, Pathfinding, Safety, Pioneering, and either Athletics or Physical Development.

1. But he never earned the Space Exploration merit badge.

The most famous Eagle Scout astronaut in history didn’t earn the merit badge dedicated to exploring space.

But there’s a simple explanation. The Space Exploration merit badge was created in 1965 — the year Armstrong turned 35. Even though he didn’t earn the merit badge, he’s a big part of it today.

Scouts working on the Space Exploration MB must design a collector’s card about their favorite space pioneer.

I’m guessing a bunch of them select the ultimate space pioneer. The First Man. The first Eagle Scout on the moon.

Will Scouting be referenced in the First Man film?

Scouting plays a big part in the First Man book because it was such a big element of Armstrong’s childhood. I’m excited to see whether it’s featured in the movie version as well.

More on Armstrong’s Scouting connection

Eagle Scout business leader recalls the time when Neil Armstrong drove him to his council’s Eagle dinner

Neil Armstrong’s success in space didn’t surprise his fellow Boy Scouts

This Second Class Scout sees duty in a hard day’s work

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Lea Fantom, Sequoyah District Executive in the Northwest Georgia Council, needed families to help unload a shipment of popcorn for the council’s popcorn kickoff event several weeks ago. Unloading trucks, each packed from floor to ceiling with $80,000 worth of popcorn, sounded like an intimidating task, says Shea Mize, Scoutmaster for Troop 12 in Adairsville, Ga., but it was a job his family — particularly his son — was ready for.

Helping other people at all times, no matter how difficult the task, is what Scouts do.

Second Class Scout Hayden Mize jumped in with other Scouting volunteers, unloading pallets of popcorn, sorting the boxes and then packing the organized orders into vehicles for units that came to pick up fundraising orders. It required several hours of hard work on a hot and humid day with little breeze for relief.

“We were all hot and sweaty from the heat, humidity and moving cases of popcorn multiple times,” Shea says.

A Good Turn

During a break, right before it was time to clean up, Fantom thanked Hayden for his hard work.

“I am proud of you. You worked like a dog today,” she said.

“No,” Hayden replied.

“A horse?” Fantom asked.

“No.”

“An elephant?”

“No.”

“Then, I don’t know what,” Fantom said.

Hayden smiled and answered, “Today, I worked like a Scout.”

Hundreds of Scouts perform day of service on the National Mall in Washington

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When our nation needs a helping hand, it often calls on the Boy Scouts of America.

More than 400 Scouts from around the Washington, D.C., area answered that call last month, delivering a day of service at the National Mall.

The National Mall, home to some of the country’s best-known monuments and museums, is one of the more high-profile places for an act of service. It’s visited by 35 million people each year, making it one of the country’s most popular National Park Service sites.

But the Scouts weren’t there for attention. They were there to work.

These young volunteers rolled up their sleeves to help clean up the river, paint park benches and spread mulch at the Jefferson Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and Lincoln Memorial.

For their efforts, participants got a National Capital Area Council shoulder patch that features the district’s iconic cherry blossoms and the words “Service Corps 2018.”

National Public Lands Day

The timing for the event was no coincidence. Sept. 29 was the 25th anniversary of National Public Lands Day, and the Scouts gave the National Mall a perfect birthday gift.

By helping out at the National Mall, the Scouts became part of a critical effort to beautify what some people refer to as “America’s Front Yard.”

The Trust for the National Mall says volunteer work there saves the National Park Service nearly $1 million in labor costs every year.

Photos from the day of service

Photos by Leah Myers/BSA

Den Leader Guides, Cub Scout Leader Book available in print and digital formats

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Cub Scout leaders, you can now grab the latest edition of the Cub Scout Leader Book and rank-specific Den Leader Guides in print or digital formats.

Get a copy at your local Scout Shop, at scoutshop.org or on the Amazon Kindle store. If you choose the digital download from Amazon, your copy will be accessible on any device linked to your Amazon account. That includes your laptop, iPad, iPhone, Android device, Amazon Kindle reader or Amazon Kindle Fire.

The books, newly updated for 2018, are aligned with the current requirements for Cub Scout adventure loops and pins. You’ll find detailed meeting plans for each adventure, including games, ceremonies and helpful tips to make your meeting run smoothly.

The covers have been simplified and color-coded to match the Cub Scout handbooks used by the boys or girls in your den.

If you’re in Tigers, for example, get the orange Den Leader Guide to match the orange Tiger Cub Scout Handbook. Get the red book for Wolf, blue for Bear and green for Webelos.

Simple, right? Here’s a look at the books.

Cub Scout Leader Book

Updated for 2018, this book offers Cub Scout leaders at every level guidance on a wide range of topics, including an introduction to the BSA and Cub Scouting, administration and organization of Cub Scouting, rank advancement requirements, program planning, professional training and activity planning. It also includes helpful forms and applications.

Tiger Den Leader Guide

Updated for 2018, this handbook gives Tiger den leaders guidance on programming, rank advancement requirements, activities and more.

Wolf Den Leader Guide

Updated for 2018, this handbook gives Wolf den leaders guidance on programming, rank advancement requirements, activities and more.

Bear Den Leader Guide

Updated for 2018, this handbook gives Bear den leaders guidance on programming, rank advancement requirements, activities and more.

Webelos Den Leader Guide

Updated for 2018, this handbook gives Webelos leaders guidance on programming, rank advancement requirements, activities and more.

 

New Jersey troop renames street in memory of former Scoutmaster

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Ken Fineran dedicated much of his life to his country. The rest, he dedicated to Scouting.

That’s why, when he died of cancer in 2016, his troop knew they had to do something to memorialize what he meant to their community.

Fineran, the longtime leader of Troop 17 in Short Hills, N.J., was active in Scouting for a total of 57 years, from his youth as a Cub Scout until he passed away. As Scoutmaster, he helped 84 boys achieve the rank of Eagle. In the middle of all that, he also found time to serve as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army.

Eight of the Scouts who earned their Eagle rank under Fineran have returned as registered adult leaders of the troop.

And now, thanks to the efforts of the current youth and adults in Troop 17, a road called Fineran Way is officially part of Millburn Township. (Short Hills is an unincorporated community within Millburn.)

“Mr. Fineran has inspired me to do my best,” says Ryan Cannon, who earned his Eagle rank in 2018. “He has inspired me to go above and beyond. And through his example, he has inspired me to give back to the community and other causes.”

Patience, persistence

It took patience and persistence to make the street name official.

At first, municipal officials announced that the street would be called Commerce Way, with an additional sign that would show an “honorarium” of Ken Fineran Way.

For Troop 17, that wasn’t enough. So they kept at it, showing up at township meetings and making their case to scrap Commerce Way completely.

“Their objective the whole time was to get a street named for Mr. Fineran,” said current Troop 17 Scoutmaster Daniel Cannon.

Finally, earlier this year, their persistence paid off, and the street was officially renamed.

Watch the video

See a video of the dedication ceremony below.

NASA, Blue Angels and more: Eagle Scout certificates, letters you can print right now

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Want to recognize your new Eagle Scout but are running short on time before the court of honor?

A handful of U.S. agencies and service academies allow you to auto-generate a congratulatory letter or certificate you can print at home. The list includes the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, NASA and the National Park Service.

Requests are handled on the honor system, which means you should not request a letter until all requirements for the Eagle Scout Award have been completed.

If you have more time to spare or don’t mind getting letters or certificates after the court of honor, keep scrolling. I’ve also included agencies that ask for weeks or months to process requests.

Letters and certificates you can print right now Pedro the Boys’ Life Mailburro

Pedro the Mailburro doesn’t just respond to readers in the pages of Boys’ Life. He also will personally recognize Scouts who have completed their requirements for an Eagle Scout award.

Link: Here.

Blue Angels

The U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron recognizes Eagle Scouts and Venturing Summit Award recipients through an auto-generated letter.

Link: Here.

NASA

The agency recognizes Eagle Scouts with downloadable certificates. NASA no longer produces paper copies of the certificates, and any requests received by NASA will not be processed.

Link: Here.

National Park Service

The agency, a BSA partner in promoting and protecting public lands, recognizes Eagle Scouts through a printable certificate of recognition.

Link: Here.

Order of the Arrow

The OA, Scouting’s national honor society, offers printable letters of congratulations for new Eagle Scouts. There are two versions: one from the National Order of the Arrow Chief and Vice Chief (youth positions) and one from the OA chairman (adult position).

Link: Here.

U.S. Air Force Academy

The academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., will auto-generate a printable certificate for Eagle Scouts.

Link: Here.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy

The academy in New London, Conn., will auto-generate a congratulatory letter for Eagle Scouts.

Link: Here.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This federal agency within the Department of the Interior offers certificates you can fill and print at home. They are generic, meaning you could use them to recognize an Eagle Scout, Venturing Silver Award recipient, Sea Scout Quartermaster and more.

Link: Here.

U.S. Military Academy (West Point)

West Point will email you a personalized certificate and letter.

Link: Here.

Letters and certificates that will take a bit longer Marine Corps League

This congressionally chartered veterans organization recognizes Eagle Scouts with a “Good Citizenship” certificate. Thirty days’ notice is required.

When possible, the league might even have a Marine present the certificate at the Eagle court of honor.

Link: Here.

U.S. Air Force

The Air Force acknowledges Eagle Scouts through its Air Force Scout Recognition Program. Eagle Scouts can receive a certificate and letter of commendation.

Scouts, Scout leaders or parents may submit a request at this link. The Air Force says to allow at least four weeks for the certificate to be printed and mailed.

This is an automated, all-digital process. Paper requests (or “snail mail”) are no longer accepted.

U.S. Marines

The Marine Corps, as of March 25, 2014, no longer honors mail-in requests. There is no process for online requests, either.

The Marine Corps processes all requests at local recruiting stations. Call 1-800-MARINES (1-800-627-4637) to ask for the closest recruiting station near you.

Agencies and groups no longer taking requests U.S. Army

The U.S. Army’s Youth Certificate of Recognition program has been suspended.

U.S. Naval Academy

The academy in Annapolis, Md., no longer provides letters of congratulations to new Eagle Scouts. Scout groups can request a tour of the academy or attend the academy’s popular STEM Jamboree.

Other ideas for requesting Eagle Scout letters
  • Go local. Check with your mayor, local congressman or congresswoman, and local business owners. They might even show up at the court of honor!
  • Check this frequently updated site, created by a BSA volunteer, which lists dozes of addresses for elected and appointed government officials.
  • Aim high. Send a request to your Eagle Scout’s favorite athlete, musician, actor or YouTube star. It never hurts to ask!

Northern Tier crews have become ‘rock star data collectors’ to protect Boundary Waters

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How can a bunch of 8-inch disks tied to ropes save the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness in Minnesota?

When you put them in the hands of a bunch of conscientious, conservation-minded Scouts.

A little-known program at the BSA’s Northern Tier high-adventure base has a significant impact on studying lake pollution in one of the country’s most popular wilderness areas.

In fact, the Scouts have become such an important part of documenting pollution in the Boundary Waters that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency called them “rock star data collectors.”

“The sheer number of kids participating has led to thousands of data points collected on BWCA lakes over the years,” the agency wrote in the September 2018 edition of its “Transparency Times” newsletter.

The agency gets real-world data about water clarity — a vital sign for lake health. The Scouts get the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped scientists with their research. And, naturally, they get a patch.

I knew nothing about this program until Eric Peterson, vice president of the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, emailed me last month.

So I reached out to Leslie Thibodeaux, Northern Tier’s director of programs, for the scoop.

How Scouts become scientists

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota is a lake-lover’s paradise. Nearly 20 percent of its total area is water.

That’s why it’s one of the most-visited wildernesses in the U.S. And it’s why the BSA selected the spot for its Northern Tier High Adventure program. Each summer, Scouts and Venturers from across the country travel to Ely, Minn., to explore gorgeous areas accessible only by canoe.

When they arrive at Northern Tier, Scouts learn about the optional Lake Monitoring Program. If they want to earn a patch — and do a Good Turn for the Boundary Waters — they’re given instructions and all the materials they’ll need. Fortunately, because Scouts must carry all their gear across portages, the kit is light and compact.

Their main tool is something called a Secchi disk. This is a plain white disk, about 8 inches in diameter. It’s attached to what is essentially a long piece of measuring tape.

Scouts begin by lowering their Secchi disk into the water. They keep lowering until the disk can no longer be seen. Deeper readings mean clearer water.

They record the lake name, GPS coordinates (if available) or position on the lake, date and time, water color, and depth the Secchi disk reached when it ceased to be visible. In the Boundary Waters, this is usually about 10 to 30 feet.

When they return from the trek, Scouts turn in their completed postcards. At the end of the summer season, Northern Tier sends all the postcards to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This year, they’re sending 481 cards.

How scientists use the data

There are two components of water quality: dissolved substances and suspended substances.

Dissolved substances are measured with an electronic meter. Suspended substances, like algae, are measured using a Secchi disk.

Because the Boundary Waters includes more than 1,000 lakes and streams, collecting this data would be impossible without an army of volunteers.

That’s why the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency launched its BWCA Volunteer Water Monitoring Program.

The BSA became the agency’s first major partner, “capitalizing on a mass of eager Boy Scout groups launching BWCA canoe trips from the Ely base camp,” the agency writes.

This success has inspired other groups to follow the BSA’s lead. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has since partnered with outfitters and youth groups to further expand their data collecting efforts.

Photos by Chris Almquist/Northern Tier

Eagle Scout discusses journey from Chinese orphanage to Scouting’s highest honor

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When an orphan in China turns 14, he or she is no longer eligible for international adoption.

Caleb Powell was 13 years and 11 months old when he asked God for a family to welcome him into their lives.

“I was praying on my bed one night and talking to God,” Caleb said. “I was saying, ‘I know I haven’t talked you in a long time, but if you love me like [the missionaries] say, would you please give me a family because I’m really not sure what I will do when I grow up if you don’t. And time is running out.’”

Three days later, Caleb’s prayer was answered. He returned from school that day to meet his new parents and begin the journey to a place in the United States called Arkansas.

Four years later, Caleb recounted this story at his Eagle Scout court of honor. Butch Walker, development director of the Quapaw Area Council and Caleb’s Scoutmaster, wrote about Caleb’s story on his council’s website. Walker agreed to let me retell the story here.

While Caleb’s journey to Scouting’s highest honor was arduous, the young man told the crowd it was worth it. He says Scouting, especially the time he spent as senior patrol leader, changed his life.

“I would like to say to those younger Scouts and to my younger brothers: trust in God that he has an awesome plan for you,” Caleb said. “Don’t be afraid.”

The tough road ahead

Four years ago, Caleb boarded a plane with his parents, Art and Jen Powell. They were headed for Little Rock, Ark. 

Caleb was just 4 feet tall and 68 pounds. He didn’t know any English. He was born with a cleft palate, meaning numerous surgeries were in his future.

Everything about the United States was new and different and rather strange. But there was one place he felt comfortable right away: his brother’s Scout troop.

Caleb was nervous going into his first meeting of Troop 99. But then an Eagle Scout named Schuyler walked up to him.

“Hi,” Schuyler said.

“Hi,” Caleb said.

“How are you?” Schuyler asked.

“I’m good, how about you?” Caleb said.

The conversation pretty much ended there because, Caleb said, “that was all the English I knew.” 

A new home

That brief conversation proved to Caleb he belonged.

“I knew there was something so different about him and the other boys there,” Caleb told the court of honor crowd. “As they were heading outside to play a game, Schuyler and some other Scouts came up and invited me to play with them. That was when the older Scouts learned that I was a fast little guy, and that’s when I started liking Boy Scouts.”

That night, Caleb went home. He told his mom how much fun he had at Scouts.

“That’s when I made my decision that, someday, I wanted to be an Eagle Scout, too,” Caleb said. “I wanted to be like Schuyler because he was so nice to me. I wanted to be nice to other people too.”

For his Eagle Scout service project, Caleb helped mitigate erosion at his church. He created a drain to redirect water beneath a footpath in a couple of different locations.

A lesson in leadership

Caleb’s toughest challenge wasn’t adapting to American food, even though some of his fellow Scouts’ cooking was “the most disgusting food I had ever eaten.” We’ve all experienced a bad camp meal or two, Caleb!

Caleb’s toughest challenge was when he was elected senior patrol leader.

“Leading a large troop of 50-plus boys is a difficult task for anyone, let alone someone who had only started learning English three years before,” said Walker, Caleb’s Scoutmaster. “But Caleb was elected because all the boys knew that he genuinely cared for them and wanted to help them succeed. I think he learned that from the older boys that had helped him. Caleb being elected made me very proud of Caleb and of our troop.”

In his speech, Caleb shared that he had one big regret about Scouting. He said sometimes he wondered what would happen if he had even more time in Troop 99. The four years were great but not nearly enough, he said.

“I think I could do so much more than this, but this is God’s plan for me,” Caleb said. “I am so grateful for what he has done.”

Thanks to Butch Walker for the blog post idea. You can read Walker’s original story here.

NESA World Explorers Program, for Eagle Scouts ages 18 to 27, accepting applications

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Earning the Eagle Scout Award opens up a world of possibilities.

In the case of the NESA World Explorers Program, that statement can be taken quite literally.

The National Eagle Scout Association World Explorers Program pairs Eagle Scouts ages 18 to 27 with cutting-edge researchers at exotic, exciting sites around the world.

This latest round of worthy Eagle Scouts will document wildlife in the Amazon rainforest, explore how oil spills affect species in the Galapagos or study the origin of life by visiting areas of Yellowstone National Park off limits to the public.

Eagle Scouts should be working in or studying a field related to the expedition for which they’re applying. For the trip to study dinosaur bones in Montana, for example, NESA is looking for an Eagle Scout who has studied or is studying biological science.

Eagle Scouts have until Oct. 31 to complete the online application, which includes a 250-word essay about why they should be selected.

Want more info? You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth. Just keep reading.

One NESA World Explorers expedition sends Eagle Scouts to Montana for five weeks to study dinosaurs. What locations and expeditions are available?

There are six opportunities in this latest round of NESA World Explorer expeditions. Click each to visit the official page.

Learn more about upcoming opportunities by clicking below:

  • Amazon Biologist
    • Where: Tiputini Biodiversity Station, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador
    • When: Ten days in July 2019
    • What: Assisting in the installation and monitoring of an important camera-trap program to document the diversity of wildlife
  • Galapagos Biologist

    • Where: Galapagos Science Center, Ecuador
    • When: Ten days in mid-July or early August 2019
    • What: Evaluating natural and manmade threats to wildlife
  • Mammoth Cave Speleologist

    • Where: Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
    • When: Ten days in late June and July 2019
    • What: Exploring, mapping and data collecting in the world’s longest known cave system
  • NASA Astrobiologist

    • Where: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
    • When: Ten days in mid-June to July 2019
    • What: Hiking, observing and sampling to investigate the link between life and the universe
  • Ornithologist

    • Where: Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
    • When: Seventeen days in early June to July 2019
    • What: Studying bald eagles with a man who is an Eagle Scout and raptor expert
  • Paleontologist
    • Where: Little Snowy Mountains, Montana
    • When: Five weeks from late June to early August 2019
    • What: Studying and preserving fossils with the Judith River Dinosaur Institute
The Eagle Scout Amazon Biologist will install cameras to document wildlife. What are the requirements to apply?

Requirements vary by expedition, but all six require the following:

  • Eagle Scout
  • 18 years of age and not older than 27 years of age by June 1, 2019
  • Intending to major in a biological science in college or graduate school
  • Prepared to blog, speak, write and be interviewed on behalf of Scouting to report on the trip, what it means personally, and how Scouting prepared the Eagle Scout for the experience
  • Have medical insurance, a completed BSA Medical form and purchase medical evacuation coverage

For trips out of the country (Amazon and Galapagos), the selected Eagle Scouts will need a valid passport.

Is there a cost involved?

There is no cost to apply. Those Eagle Scouts who are selected will be responsible for $600 to $1,000 to help defray the trip cost (this varies based on the expedition).

NESA will pay for everything else, including airfare, lodging, food, tuition and more.

When will the people selected be notified?

Finalists will be announced by then end of January 2019 and required to submit a three-minute YouTube video expressing reasons to support their selection.

The people selected will be notified by Feb. 28, 2019.

Where can an Eagle Scout apply and learn more?

At this site.

This was the least-earned merit badge ever, and the reason makes total sense

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One look at the requirements, and you’ll see why Invention was the least-earned merit badge in the history of the BSA.

To earn it, Scouts had to “invent and patent some useful article” and “show a working drawing or model of the same.”

Obtaining a patent is a time-consuming, costly endeavor. That explains why just 10 Scouts earned the Invention merit badge in its mere three years of existence. The badge debuted in 1911 and was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1914.

Fortunately for Scouts who are passionate about creating new things, the BSA released the Inventing merit badge in 2010. In this new version, which features a slightly different name, no patent is required.

Today, I thought we’d look back at why the badge was discontinued and what we know about the 10 Scouts who earned it.

One of the Original 57

The Invention merit badge was one of the BSA’s 57 original merit badges, all introduced in 1911. The first 57 spanned a number of subjects, from Agriculture to Taxidermy. Many of these badges, like Archery, First Aid and Swimming, are still offered today.

But the Invention merit badge never seemed to find popularity.

No Scouts earned the badge in 1911 or 1912. One Scout earned it in 1913, eight in 1914 and one more in 1915. That’s 10 total. Ever.

An early demise

While some sites list 1915 as the year Invention merit badge went away, its actual demise happened a year earlier.

In the May 1, 1914, issue of Scouting magazine, leaders were told that the Invention merit badge would be discontinued on Oct. 1, 1914. The decision had been made by the volunteers on the Committee on Badges, Awards and Scout Requirements.

The BSA’s stated reason, in that same issue, was that Invention was leaving to make way for a new merit badge.

Apparently, the BSA wanted to keep the number of available merit badges at 57. So when the Eagle-required Physical Development merit badge debuted in 1914, something else had to go. (Physical Development later became part of the Eagle-required Personal Fitness merit badge offered today.)

So how did one Scout earn Invention in 1915 if it disappeared in 1914? Back then, as today, Scouts who began work on a later-discontinued merit badge could continue working until they finished.

A secondary reason

Adding to this mystery is an article in the October 1916 issue of Boys’ Life magazine, where BL shared a totally different explanation for the badge’s departure.

In a column called “Scouts’ Questions Answered,” a Scout asked: “Why did the merit badge for Invention go out of use?”

BL answered: “Because of the cost. Experience proved that it encouraged boys to invest more than they could afford in equipment which might be of little or no value to them.”

It’s not hard to imagine a Scout asking Mom or Dad for an advance on his allowance to fund his pursuit of a patent. That could get very expensive, very fast.

The mysterious 10

Even the authors of the Inventing merit badge pamphlet, released in 2010, admit that we know little about the 10 people who earned the Invention merit badge.

“While we don’t know the names of the 10 Scouts who earned the first Invention merit badges, nor do we know what they invented, we do know that they were living in a technologically exciting time.”

So we speculate. Did one of these Scouts invent some sort of handy camp gadget? A device for doing homework? A time machine??

In an article for the December 2015 International Scouting Collectors Association Journal, Dave Eby seems to have located the names of some of these Invention merit badge recipients.

One of them, Graeme Thomas Smallwood of Washington, D.C., invented a BSA uniform coat with a removable false sleeve on which Scouts could sew merit badges and rank badges. Scouts wore the sleeve over their regular sleeve to prevent those badges from getting dirty on hikes or campouts.

His patent was filed for and approved — Patent No. 1,162,523, seen below.

Thanks to the BSA’s Travis Rubelee for the post idea.

Washington Venturer shares 5 things she learned while wearing that green shirt

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Jordan Parkes was 13 when she first heard about Venturing.

Her brother had just crossed over from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts when someone told her about the green-shirt-wearing, adventure-packed program for young men and young women ages 14 (or 13 and finished with eighth grade) to 21.

On her 14th birthday, Jordan joined Crew 14 of Vancouver, Wash., part of the Cascade Pacific Council.

In the years since, Jordan, now 17, has found great success in that green shirt. She served on camp staff. She was elected crew president, received the Council Venturing Leadership Award, and earned Venturing’s highest honor, the Summit Award.

Jordan says becoming a Venturer has changed her life in significant ways. Here are five.

Five things Jordan learned in Venturing

1. How much she can learn from her peers.

During her first summer as a Venturer, Jordan serve on day camp staff at the Cascade Pacific Council’s Camp Lewis.

In her role as a staffer in training, Jordan learned how much she can learn from her peers. Even young men and young women just a few years older than Jordan could teach her plenty, she found.
“They inspired me to work harder and to think outside the box,” Jordan says. “They taught me leadership and taught me I could be my silly, goofy self.”

Jordan liked the gig so much that she spent the next three summers on staff at Camp Meriwether, the council’s camp on the scenic Oregon coast and a camp featured in Scouting magazine.
“I learned more and continued to grow as a person,” she says. “The staff I’ve spent my time with have become friends and even like family. Staffing gave me the power to love me for me.”

2. How much she can teach to others.

It all clicked for Jordan when, at the end of one of the camp weeks at Meriwether, a troop presented her with a neckerchief signed by every Scout. The Scouts then asked her to be an honorary member of their troop.

That type of validation, while never expected, is wonderful.

“These things have changed me,” Jordan says. “Making a difference in the world doesn’t need to be huge. I learned that I can make a difference in the world one person at a time.”

3. That you’re never done improving yourself.

Whether you’ve been in Scouting for five decades or five minutes, you’re never really done learning.

Jordan has that drive to keep improving, and it’s why she has taken and taught classes at her Order of the Arrow lodge’s Leadership Development Conference. She attended National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference, too.

“I believe that something more can be learned every day of our lives,” she says. “Each one of these experiences has taught me more about myself, leading in the community and how to teach others.”

4. How to let go and let others lead … and even fail.

Jordan says her toughest lesson was learning to step back and follow. To let others lead.

Scouters know the joys of watching a young person excel in a leadership role. But that can’t happen if you don’t relinquish the reins.

“I have been there to support them, answer questions and sometimes let them fail, even if I could have done something to help,” Jordan says. “Failure is a chance for them to learn and grow.”

5. How to ignore those who are overly critical.

Accepting constructive feedback is an important part of being a leader. Letting rude and hurtful comments get to you is not.

As Jordan entered middle school and then high school, she started to care more about how others perceived her.

“I thought, ‘I have to look nice. I need to make a good impression,'” she says.

On Venturing’s birthday one year, Jordan wore her green Venturing shirt to school. Some of her classmates looked at her funny and asked if she was a Scout.

“I was proud to say, ‘Yes, I am. I’m in Venturing,'” she says.

Jordan doesn’t let those comments get to her anymore.

“I’m confident in who I am as a person and don’t need their approval,” she says. “Venturing has given me the confidence to not care what anyone thinks of me.  I know that I have skills and leadership abilities that I can use throughout my life. Wherever the trail leads.”

Jordan, I think the trail will lead you to some phenomenal places. Thanks for sharing, and good luck on your journey!

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