Bryan On Scouting

School’s display honors Eagle Scout students, inspires others

Celia Beekman knows it’s quite an accomplishment becoming an Eagle Scout. She has seen her brother and nephews reach the pinnacle of Boy Scouting’s ranks.

So, after hearing a congratulatory message for a few new Eagle Scouts announced over the PA at Ridge High School, she decided to further honor the students by setting up a display table in the school’s media center where she works. Ridge High in Basking Ridge, N.J., has more than 1,800 enrolled students, and about 700 students and teachers stop by the media center every day.

Beekman got in touch with Ridge High technology teacher Frank Caccavale, also an Eagle Scout. Caccavale had set up the congratulatory PA announcement; he regularly celebrates high school students’ Boy Scouting achievements, from Order of the Arrow inductions to merit badge completions.

The two collected photos from 10 student Eagle Scouts, and Caccavale lent some Boy Scouting memorabilia to be displayed along with information on the Reading merit badge. Borrowing an idea from the “Bryan on Scouting” blog, Beekman created posters surmising which famous literary characters, like Atticus Finch, Captain America and Harry Potter, could also be Eagle Scouts.

“The display really generated a good amount of interest, and it was fun to see and hear the reactions of the students and teachers,” Beekman says. “It was clear to me that they realized the importance of the achievement and were very impressed by the students whom they may not have realized were involved in Scouting at such a high level.” 

Beekman kept the display up for three weeks because it was generating more interest than what the media center’s table display normally receives.

“Thanks to the display, we brought positive attention to Scouting in our community, helped motivate a few other students to finish up their Eagle Scout Award, and we even learned of another male faculty member who I did not know is an Eagle Scout,” Caccavale says.

8 essential tips for controlling chaos at Cub Scout pack or den meetings

Ask your Cub Scouts whether they enjoyed an especially chaotic pack or den meeting, and they’ll likely say yes.

But ask the parents or volunteers, and you can expect the opposite answer.

So how can Cubmasters, assistant Cubmasters and den leaders manage that chaos while still allowing their Cub Scouts to have fun? Kimberly Cook is here to help.

The veteran Cubmaster and den leader from Alabama says that teachers get years of training in the art of classroom management. These educators take classes on how to maintain control when outnumbered by kids 20 to 1.

The rest of us, though? We’ve got to learn on the job.

Below are Cook’s top tips. I ran these by Anthony Berger, the BSA’s national director of Cub Scouting, and he gave them a thumbs up while adding a few excellent, time-tested suggestions of his own.

Following these guidelines will put you on your way to having happy parents, happy leaders, and productive, fun meetings.

1. Use the Den Code of Conduct chart.

At one of your first den meetings, get the Cub Scouts to make their own list of behavior rules. You can use the Den Code of Conduct chart to help you here.

These might include rules such as “no talking when a leader is talking” or “no running around the room.”

For pack meetings, the Cubmaster should communicate rules that suit the formality of the situation. At a minimum, this should include no talking while a Cub Scout or leader is talking at the front of the room.

Put these rules on a slide or poster that is shown at the beginning of every meeting.

2. Once you make a rule, enforce it.

If you choose to ignore impolite or disruptive behavior once, you have nullified the rule you made. In a Cub Scout’s mind, a rule that is not enforced is not a rule at all. If a Cub Scout sees another Cub Scout violating a behavior rule, he or she will be the next one to break it.

If keeping order isn’t your strength, enlist an assistant to help.

3. Communicate behavior expectations to parents and den leaders.

Parents value order and reinforcement of good manners. If you let parents and leaders know what you expect in terms of behavior, they will help you achieve it.

If you are having trouble with a particular Cub Scout’s behavior, explain the problem behavior to the parent and enlist his or her help to develop solutions.

4. Use the Cub Scout sign.

Raise the Cub Scout sign regularly to get attention. Do not yell or shout at the Cub Scouts “signs up”.

Quietly use the Cub Scout sign and stop all activity until every Cub Scout has their sign up and is paying attention. Don’t resume the activity until everyone is quiet, including parents.

Wait as long as necessary to ensure Cubs are quiet and listening before starting the meeting.

Use a formal ceremony (such as a flag ceremony or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or Scout Oath) to start the meeting, because it will draw the focused attention of your Cub Scouts and set the appropriate tone for the rest of the meeting.

5. Plan some high-energy activities in the middle of your meeting.

Kids thrive on activity, and they crave some amount of chaos.

For den meetings, include a high-energy game that gets the Cub Scouts outside, when weather and conditions permit, and involves physical activity.

For pack meetings, include cheers or group games that allow Cub Scouts to collectively be loud. Boys and girls don’t like being quiet all the time, so allow for planned chaos.

6. End your meeting with a focused, quiet activity.

Always close a meeting with a quiet activity, such as announcements, a Cubmaster’s or den leader’s minute, or a ceremony. The goal is to refocus attention.

If you follow the suggested Cub Scout meeting template, it will have the right balance of activity and quiet. Make sure every meeting has a definite end.

7. Require Cub Scouts to give full attention when another den or Cub Scout is presenting.

At a pack meeting, the Cubmaster and other leaders should ensure a den or Cub Scout making a presentation has the undivided attention of all watching.

Don’t rely on the den making the presentation or that den’s leaders to help with this. Likewise, in a den meeting, the den leader should ensure Cub Scouts are polite to each other, giving others their full attention during presentations.

8. Use positive reinforcement whenever possible.

Items such as a conduct candle, talking stick, or beads or marbles are some ways to use positive reinforcement.

A conduct candle is lit at the beginning of the meeting. When the Cub Scouts misbehave, the candle is extinguished. But if it stays lit, it begins to burn down. Once the candle is fully gone, usually after three or four den meetings of good behavior, the den receives an incentive selected by the Cub Scouts themselves. Pizza parties and ice cream socials are popular picks.

A talking stick is a special item that must be held by the Cub Scout or leader who is talking. If you don’t have the talking stick, you shouldn’t be speaking.

The jar of beads or marbles works like the conduct candle. Here’s what you do: Get a small jar and place it at the front of the room. Give each Cub Scout three small items at the beginning of the meeting — marbles or beads work well. Each time the Cub Scout misbehaves, he or she must give one of these items to the den leader, who puts it away. At the end of the meeting, the small items the Cub Scouts have left are put in the jar. When the jar is filled, usually after three or four den meetings, the den receives the party.

No matter what item you use, always phrase rules in a positive way.

Instead of saying, “No talking while the Cubmaster is talking,” say, “Listen when the Cubmaster is talking.”

Focus on what Cub Scouts should do instead of what they should not do. Rather than calling down the Cub Scout who is making too much noise, offer a reward or praise to the Cub Scout who is sitting and listening quietly.

Kimberly Cook (above) is a veteran Cubmaster and den leader, having previously served as den leader, assistant Cubmaster and Cubmaster for packs in Vestavia Hills, Ala., and Homewood, Ala. She currently serves as unit commissioner for two packs and one troop in the Vulcan District of the Greater Alabama Council; Vulcan district committee member; and a merit badge coordinator/membership chairman for Troop 76.

Share your tips below

Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments. Leave your ideas for controlling chaos below.

Duty to country: Webelos Scout, Boy Scouts salute President George H.W. Bush

On Monday night, a Webelos Scout stands tall, his right hand raised to his brow, saluting the casket carrying President George H.W. Bush.

Just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, six Boy Scouts and five adult leaders pause in reverential silence to honor our nation’s 41st president, who died Friday.

These separate moments, streamed live on C-SPAN and covered by local and national news outlets, epitomize the first words of the Scout Oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country … .”

The Webelos is Eliot Dupree of Pack 116 from Arlington, Va. The Boy Scouts are members of Troop 1717 of Hartwood, Va. All are from the BSA’s National Capital Area Council.

I wanted to learn more about what inspired these silent acts of patriotism, so I talked to Eliot, his mom and the senior patrol leader of Troop 1717.

Eliot’s salute

Eliot’s parents, Leah and Christopher Socha, understand the significance of public service.

She served our country in the U.S. Navy and works for the Department of Defense; he works for a U.S. senator.

“We are trying to teach our children about the sacrifices public servants make for our family and our freedom,” Leah says.

After President Bush’s death, the pair talked to their children about the man’s contributions to our country. President Bush flew for the U.S. Navy in World War II and served in a number of elected and appointed offices, culminating in his jobs as vice president and president.

Experiencing citizenship

Living near Washington, D.C., means the Sochas can do more than just teach their children about citizenship. They can help them experience it.

“As adults, we can get numb to their significance,” Leah says of these moments in history. “I think it is important for us, as parents, to take advantage of chances to teach our children about history, civics and the opportunities that exist for them to participate.”

Their son Eliot, photographed by a Washington Post journalist in one of the day’s defining photos, seems to grasp the gravity of the moment.

Eliot says he saluted “to show respect and to set a good example for other people.”

“He was a great leader, and he put people before himself,” Eliot says. “Like being in the military and being president. He didn’t have to do it, but he chose to.”

Troop 1717 stands outside the U.S. Capitol early Tuesday morning. Troop 1717’s early morning visit

At Troop 1717’s regular troop meeting on Monday night, the youth leaders started talking with some of the adults about sending a delegation to the Capitol to honor President Bush.

The only problem: They’d need to leave that night.

“There was never a question of not going,” says Senior Patrol Leader Ben Motta. “The only question was of how large of a delegation we could send on such short notice.”

After a discussion, Ben and his fellow Boy Scouts agreed “that duty to country means to have respect and loyalty for whoever holds the office of president, no matter their politics or policies. I think it was that idea that led us to leave so soon.”

Troop 1717’s visit was captured by C-SPAN cameras. 11:30 p.m. on a school night

And that’s how, at 11:30 p.m. on Monday — a school night — a group of six Boy Scouts and five adult leaders met to head toward the Capitol.

The late-night departure had a practical explanation, Ben tells me. It’s easier to get to the Capitol and find a parking spot after the subways close and street parking rules expire.

“We also thought it would be a more personal experience to be in the rotunda with the president if there were fewer people present,” he says.

After waiting in line for about 45 minutes, Troop 1717 stepped inside.

“It was an extremely somber experience,” Ben says. “You see such things on TV and on the internet, but it’s very different to be there in person, and to stand next to the casket of a president. You could sense you were in a place, a single room, that, in that moment, was the focus of America.”

Like Eliot and his parents, the members of Troop 1717 quickly deflect the focus away from themselves and onto President Bush.

“It was impressive to stand next to the president’s casket and think of all that he had accomplished throughout his life in the service of others,” Ben says. “I think that his example is one that all Scouts aim to follow.

“I was proud to be there, not just as an American, but as a representative of a movement and an ideology that stresses character, service, and loyalty to God, country and family.”

Troop 1772’s trackside salute

At 2 p.m. Thursday in Pinehurst, Texas, three Boy Scouts saluted the train carrying President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place in Texas.

The Boy Scouts, from left to right, are Rafe Kotalik, Edward Poon, Jarrett Kotalik. They’re members of Troop 1772 of the BSA’s Sam Houston Area Council.

The moments in tweets

The Washington Post used the photo of Eliot on its homepage Tuesday morning. The newspaper also tweeted the photo to its 13 million followers:

Families, joggers and CIA directors join crowd paying their respects to George H.W. Bush

— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 4, 2018

A local reporter was there and captured this photo of Troop 1717:

Remarkable – Boy Scout troop here in silence as we approach 2AM in the Rotunda#Bush41⁠ ⁠ #Remembering41⁠ ⁠ @WUSA9

— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) December 4, 2018

Why your partially completed position-specific training won’t carry over into 2019

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it won’t just mean the end of 2018.

It’ll also mean the end of any partial progress made toward position-specific training for Cub Scout leaders and Boy Scout leaders. (These courses, and many more, are found at the BSA Learn Center on

The courses are being updated, and the new versions will launch on Jan. 2, 2019. The new courses will feature closed captioning, updated content and a mobile-friendly format. Also cool: They’ll take less time to complete compared to the previous learning plan.

Any partial progress you’ve made toward your current training plan won’t carry over to the new one. That means you’ll want to complete any in-progress training by year’s end.

If you’ve already finished your training, you’re good to go. Sit back and relax. If you haven’t started, I’d recommend waiting until the new courses become available on Jan. 2.

For those who have started but not finished these courses, here’s what else you need to know:

Who is affected?

If you already started but didn’t yet finish your work on position-specific training (Cubmaster, den leader, committee chair, Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmaster), you’re in the affected group.

You’ll want to finish that training by midnight on Dec. 31, 2018. Any partially completed progress won’t carry over to the new plan.

Why won’t current progress count in the new learning plan?

It’s not an apples-to-apples conversion. The learning plans are totally new and include content that reflects the BSA’s move to welcome the whole family.

If there’s new training coming out that replaces the old training, why should I rush to complete existing training?

This is a personal decision. If you have progressed through much of the current learning plan, you may choose to complete what you’ve started so you don’t have to invest extra time.

Alternatively, you may choose to let that partial progress expire and wait to take the new training when it debuts next month.

It sounds like the new training completely replaces the old, so will my existing training be valid if I complete it now, and if so, how long will it remain valid?

Once position-trained, you are always trained for that position. If you complete the plan now, you do not have to complete the new plan.

Note: If you change Scouting jobs, you will need to complete the training for your new position.

Six Scout units in Butte County lost everything in Northern California wildfire

We’re beginning to learn of the ways the Scouting family was affected by the deadly Northern California wildfire known as the Camp Fire.

In Butte County, Calif., which contains the town of Paradise, 300 Scouting families were displaced. Six of the county’s 23 Scouting units — all in Paradise — lost their meeting place and all their equipment in the blaze. The Paradise Elks Lodge, home to a Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop, burned to the ground.

The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. Tragically, 85 people died and 13,972 residences were destroyed.

Golden Empire Council Field Director Matthew Poye says that no members of Scouting families were among the deceased.

“The first thing we did was form a phone tree to make sure that all of our families were safe, and luckily we are all accounted for,” Poye says. “I was incredibly impressed with the actions of the local unit leaders as they reached out to their families even though they also lost everything. The community surrounding this disaster has been absolutely outstanding.”

A Boy Scout carries a bag of pet food — a reminder that our four-legged friends haven’t been forgotten in the collection drives. Stepping up for others

As soon as the evacuation order ended and residents were allowed to return to the area, local Scout leaders stepped up and stepped in.

Within 48 hours of the order being lifted, the Golden Empire Council converted its NorCal Scout Shop in Chico, Calif., into a donation distribution center. Hundreds of Scouts and leaders showed up to collect, separate and distribute clothing, food and toiletries.

The council has collected more than 25,000 food items so far and distributed these donations to local evacuation centers. As of this writing, Scouts and Scouters have performed a combined 10,000 hours of service at eight different evacuation centers in the area.

After just five days of collecting, the council had so many donations that it was running out of space. But that was just a speed bump. Local businesses donated warehouse space where Scouts and volunteers can receive, sort and organize the donations to make sure they end up in the areas of highest need.

Local businesses donated warehouse space to hold the collected items. Troop 125 of Redding, Calif., accepts donations.

Donations kept pouring in. At first, Scouting units in California cities like Redding, Sacramento and San Francisco held food and donation drives. As word spread, the map expanded.

Scouts and Scouters in Washington state, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii answered the call. Soon, Scout units in New Jersey and Florida joined in, too.

“With the love and support that we have been receiving, we know that our Scouting units and their families will be taken care of and our communities will again be as beautiful as they once were,” said Joshua Ramsey, district administrator of the Golden Empire Council’s Ranchero West District, which serves Butte County. “We feel truly blessed to have such strong Scouting support.”

Cub Scouts from Pack 42 in Redding, Calif., collected donations for victims of the Butte County wildfire. Redding is about 85 miles northwest of Paradise. Paying it forward

Scouts and leaders in the Golden Empire Council have been volunteering for food and donation drives to help their community even though some are still rebuilding their own lives.

Affected packs and troops have heard from Scout units who want to donate gear, uniforms and awards to ensure “that our Scouts and leaders look like Scouts,” Ramsey says. One unit — Pack 645 of Lafayette, Calif., 150 miles south of Paradise — sent a box of candy for their fellow Cub Scouts to enjoy.

But the attitude in Butte County seems to be exactly what you’d expect: The Scouts and leaders are worried about others more than they’re worried about themselves.

And so the Scouts of the Ranchero West District will continue helping other people — however long it takes.

“This is not a sprint; this is a marathon,” Ramsey says. “Our mission in Ranchero West is to be here to continue that call for service. When items are needed, we will be here. When our families return home and need help in clean-up, we will be here. When our communities start to rebuild, we will be here.

“Our mission is not over. It has just barely begun.”

Cub Scouts, wearing masks to guard against poor air quality, help sort donations. How to help

Learn more about how to help by visiting this page from the Golden Empire Council.

As Scouts BSA launch nears, here’s the right way to welcome girls

Excitement continues to build for the launch of Scouts BSA, the new name for the program that will welcome boys and girls in separate troops beginning in February 2019.

I’ve heard from adult volunteers who are so eager to get started that they’re already doing some advance work. They’re talking to their chartered organizations about starting Scouts BSA troops for girls. They’re updating their training and recruiting new adult volunteers. And they’re holding informal gatherings for girls, families and volunteers to outline a plan for next year.

As February nears, the BSA has released some guidelines to help you know the right way to refer to Scouts BSA and the girls who will join. The guidelines apply to conversations, social posts and recruiting materials like flyers.

Why is this important?

As the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh shared on his blog last month, the Girl Scouts of the USA has filed suit against the BSA. The suit is over the BSA’s use of the terms “Scouts” and “Scouting” when referring to girls who have and will be joining the BSA’s programs.

“Our goal will be to resolve our differences with the Girl Scouts of the USA so that we both can move forward with serving youth,” Surbaugh writes. “We take the brand and trademark rights of all organizations seriously and have worked proactively to differentiate our unique program offerings.”

Surbaugh encourages Scouters to review the do’s and don’ts about Scouts BSA, outlined below and summarized in this handy infographic. They should answer any questions you might have about how to refer to girls who join Scouts BSA troops.

These guidelines reflect the BSA’s proactive efforts to differentiate its signature program offerings from those of other youth-serving organizations. Take a look:

Scouts BSA do’s and don’ts

Do … reiterate that as our organization welcomes families, boys and girls to our programs, the name of our organization remains the same. We are the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Our mission — preparing young people for life — hasn’t changed and is found in all our programs:

  • Cub Scouts
  • Boy Scouts (becoming Scouts BSA on Feb. 1, 2019)
  • Venturing
  • Sea Scouts
  • STEM Scouts
  • Exploring
  • Learning for Life

Do … use only official Boy Scouts of America (BSA) materials, which are located on the BSA Brand Center. We’ve seen some well-intentioned assets developed by Scouters as they prepare to welcome girls that include problematic phrasing like “we’re starting a girl Scouts BSA troop.” Instead, you’re asked to use the downloadable email templates, flyers, postcards, posters, social media images, troop cards, videos, web banners and more available on the BSA Brand Center.

Don’t … use names, programs, marks, logos or images of the GSUSA or combine them with those of the BSA.

Don’t … use the word “girl” in front of “Scout.” Don’t say, for example “girl Scouts BSA troop” or “girl Scouts.” This includes in flyers, conversation, social media, etc.

Do … say things like:

  • Join Troop 123 for girls.
  • Our church has a boy troop and is forming a girl troop.
  • Join the BSA. Find a troop for girls near you at

Do … remember that the BSA and GSUSA are separate organizations. The BSA is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. GSUSA is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. If those around you say or suggest otherwise, politely correct them!

Don’t … disparage other youth-serving organizations in any way. We want all youth-serving organizations to succeed in their efforts to help make the world a better place.

Do … refer ALL media inquiries (TV, radio, newspapers, online) to the BSA PR team by email at

Do … refer all questions about GSUSA programs to the local GSUSA council or

Do … review the Scouts BSA Brand Guidance Training available on the Family Scouting page under “Scouts BSA Program Resources.” You’ll learn about the best terminology and practices as you prepare to launch Scouts BSA troops in February.

A closing thought

Remember the fifth point of the Scout Law and be Courteous at all times.

The Boy Scouts of America applauds the work of the GSUSA in service to our nation’s youth and is committed to respecting the organization’s rights and programs.

Review, print and share

Want a version of this that you can share with your fellow parents and Scout leaders? Consult the training at the BSA’s Family Scouting page (under “Scouts BSA Program Resources”) and this PDF, which can be printed and distributed at an upcoming committee meeting or similar gathering of adult leaders.

8 great scholarships for Eagle Scouts

Updated Dec. 5, 2018

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

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

Emmett J. Doerr Memorial Scout Scholarship for Catholic Scouts

How much: Seven scholarships: one at $5,000 for first place, one at $4,000 for second, one at $3,000 for third, and four at $2,000. (The 2019 scholarships, totaling $20,000, represent a 67 percent increase over the 2018 award amounts.)

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

Deadline: March 1, 2019

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

Link: National Catholic Committee on Scouting scholarship

Questions: Email

Note: Sixty-seven Boy Scouts have been awarded the Emmett J Doerr Memorial Scout Scholarship since its inception in 2005.

National Jewish Committee on Scouting scholarships

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

Who’s eligible: Active Eagle Scouts who have earned the Ner Tamid or Etz Chaim religious emblem and are active in their synagogue. Some of the scholarships require the applicant to demonstrate financial need.

Deadline: Jan. 31, 2019

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

Link: National Jewish Committee on Scouting scholarships

Questions: Email

American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year

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

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

Deadline: March 1, 2019

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

Link: American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year

Questions: Email

Veterans of Foreign Wars Scout of the Year

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

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

Deadline: March 1, 2019

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

Link: VFW Scout of the Year

Questions: Email

Mervyn Sluizer Jr. Scholarship for Philadelphia-area Scouts

How much: Two scholarships at $1,000 apiece

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

Deadline: March 29, 2019

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

LinkMervyn Sluizer Jr. Scholarship  

Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting scholarships

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

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

Deadline: May 1, 2019

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

Link: Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting scholarships.

Questions: Call 516-868-4050

National Eagle Scout Association scholarships

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

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

Deadline: Oct. 31 each year

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

Link: NESA scholarships

Questions: Email

Arthur M. and Berdena King Eagle Scout Award

Presented by the Sons of the American Revolution

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

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

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

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

Link: Sons of the American Revolution scholarship

Questions: Email your state’s contact person here.

Institution-specific scholarships

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

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

Council-specific scholarships

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

Service academies

Eagle Scouts have a leg up when applying to our country’s military academies, where all tuition, room and board is paid by the government.

The academy admission process puts young people in the pool for ROTC scholarships, and graduates leave with a guaranteed job.

How to nominate someone for the BSA’s National Duty to God Award

Originally posted Feb. 10, 2017. Last updated Dec. 5, 2018.

A Scout is reverent, and some adult volunteers go above and beyond to help Scouts on their spiritual journey.

The National Duty to God Award, first presented in 2016, recognizes adults who help young people better connect with their faith.

The award is presented to up to four individuals each year. Recipients receive a handsome blue, white and yellow medal.

Nomination forms are accepted beginning the first business day in October. The nomination window closes the last business day in February of the following year.

Download the application [PDF], which contains additional eligibility and submission info.

Why a National Duty to God Award?

Three primary reasons:

  • It fits with Scouting. The BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principles says no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. Approximately 75 percent of all Scouting units are chartered to faith-based organizations.
  • It embodies the principle “a Scout is reverent.” The BSA doesn’t define “duty to God” in religion-specific terms, and Scouting does not promote one religion over another. The award, also independent of any one faith, simply honors the principles of the Scout Law’s 12th point.
  • It fits in with other national awards. The BSA has awards for meritorious or lifesaving service. There are awards for service to youth on a district, council, regional and national level. The National Duty to God Award is a logical addition to this impressive lineup.
Who selects the recipients?

The BSA’s National Religious Relationships Support Committee. The award is presented during the Duty to God breakfast at the National Annual Meeting in May.

What are the award requirements?
  • Must be currently enrolled as an active, participating adult member of the Boy Scouts of America, or anon-member with a distinguished history of national volunteer or professional service to youth and faith.
  • Have 10 or more years of volunteer or professional leadership with national and/or international service to Scouting or other national organizations or institutions, and the nominee’s respective faith tradition.
  • Have received the Boy Scouts of America’s faith-appropriate adult religious emblem at the time of nomination, or a comparable recognition from the nominee’s religious organization or institution.
  • Have a notable history of transformational spiritual, moral, and ethical leadership and service to Scouting and youth to support and advance the principle of a duty to an individual’s Creator.
How does one nominate someone for the award?

Assuming the person meets the requirements in the previous section, you’ll need to fill out this form [PDF].

The nominator must provide and attach to the application at least three letters of recommendation for the nominee from the following:

  • Local council Scout executive or chief executive officer (or designee).
  • Nominee’s spiritual leader at the local, regional, and/or national level.
  • A current, active member(s) in a leadership role from nominee’s faith congregation or affiliated organization.

The nominator should include a summary of the nominee’s character and his or her service to faith and youth and a professional portrait image file (head/shoulders only) of the nominee.

Note: Do not notify candidates of their nomination.

What’s the deadline?

The nomination window is open from the first business day in October through the last business day in February of the following year.

To whom are nominations submitted?

All required nominating materials and supporting documentation for qualified individuals must be submitted in one, collated electronic file with a clear, identifiable name of the nominee to Gene Butler, Religious Relationships Support Committee staff advisor, at

There are no restrictions on the number of applications submitted by the local council. Completed candidate applications will remain on file for two years. Afterward, if the nominee has not been selected, a new application must be submitted for future consideration.

Successful candidates will be notified on or before March 15 and bestowed the National Duty to God Award at the National Annual Meeting during the Duty to God breakfast held annually in May of each year.

Still have questions?

Contact Gene Butler at

Eagle Scout training to ride 4,000 miles for cancer research

Aaron Light has backpacked at Philmont Scout Ranch, and he’s run a marathon, but his next endeavor will dwarf the mileage he’s previously trekked. The Eagle Scout and University of Texas sophomore will cycle from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska.

“I’ve had the experience of pushing myself mentally and physically, and this will challenge both,” Light says.

Light won’t be cycling alone; this 4,000-mile journey is part of Texas 4000 for Cancer, a student non-profit organization that travels every summer to raise money for cancer research. About 90 college students will split up and ride along three different routes, one through the Ozarks, another through the Rockies and one group will cycle up the West Coast. Light will take the Rockies route.

“I never really cycled before this,” Light says. “I’m super excited. I’m really enjoying getting on the bike and growing close to everyone. This is going to be a memory for a lifetime.”

Training for the trek

Not everyone who signs up for the Texas 4000 is an experienced cyclist. To prepare for the journey, students rack up 2,000 training miles over 18 months. The students also do cardio workouts multiple times a week and go cycling twice a week.

The trip will take 70 days next summer with some 150-mile stretches along the way, so it will require being physically fit, but more importantly, it will require being driven. When the non-profit’s leaders evaluate who is up for the challenge, they look at more than one’s physical ability, Light says. They ask for each participant to raise $4,500 for cancer research and to volunteer 50 hours of community service ahead of the trip.

Light didn’t need much help getting motivated for the cause. His aunt, a couple friends in high school and a coworker all battled cancer. He will be riding in honor of their fights as well as for their friends and families.

He’s raised more than $7,200 so far; he set a goal to personally raise $10,000.

“I’ve always tried to set high goals for myself,” Light says.

Boy Scout influence

Light served as a patrol leader in Troop 714 in Dallas, Texas, and earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2016. Being a Boy Scout has influenced the way he’s approaching this monumental test.

“In my heart, I know I can do it,” Light says. “I think overall the goal has become different. I want to see everyone get there; that’s my goal now.”

Teamwork is critical for helping others reach the finish line. While vehicles and a trailer will haul the crew’s gear along the route, riders will carry equipment for fixing flats and other repairs. Light is trained to serve as a crew mechanic. All three crews will meet up before the final 10-day ride into Alaska.

The Cycling merit badge is required for the Eagle Scout Award; Boy Scouts can earn Cycling, Swimming or Hiking as part of the 21 required badges. Check out these tips for teaching cycling to your Scouts and read how to plan a touring trip.

5 Quick Questions with: Kurtis Bedford, actor and Cub Scout volunteer

Kurtis Bedford has acted in dozens of movies, TV shows and commercials. His first role was as a “bored teen” in the 1996 horror classic Scream, and he’s also known for his work in the HBO hospital comedy Getting On, which ran from 2013 to 2015.

These days, Bedford is playing his toughest and most rewarding role yet. He’s a dad of two boys and leader of a Cub Scout pack. Bedford is Cubmaster of Pack 226 of Chatsworth, Calif., part of the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council.

He wasn’t in Scouting as a kid, but Bedford has seen the way Scouting helps his sons — one a Boy Scout and the other a Wolf— learn and grow. As you’ll read below, he eventually signed up as a volunteer and — “bada-bing badda-bam” — found himself wearing the Cubmaster badge.

I caught up with Bedford by email to ask 5 Quick Questions about what got him interested in Scouting, how he juggles his time as a working actor and Scout leader, and whether he’s ever used his Hollywood connections to help his Cub Scouts.

Bryan on Scouting: You weren’t in Scouting as a youth. How and why did you get involved?

Kurtis Bedford: For years, my sister had been trying to get me involved in the pack my two nephews were in and where she was the Cubmaster.

I really had no interest, mostly because I didn’t like where the BSA was politically. Years later, after the BSA changed its stance on some important issues to my family, my wife decided that Cub Scouts would be a great program for our oldest, who was in the third grade at the time. She signed him up with my sister’s pack. After about a month of this, she wanted me to start taking him to the meetings. I felt a little hoodwinked ;).

For the first month or so, I was one of those parents who comes in with their child and spends the hour on my phone just waiting for it all to be over. But I also have a habit of being a fixer. I fix things that I see are broken; I do it all the time. The pack, at the time, was small. It had a Cubmaster who was a great guy but was too overworked.

Without a lot of parental involvement, he was trying to do it all himself, and it was simply too much for him to do alone. At first I volunteered to chair the float for a holiday parade we were in. Then I offered to build a website. Next thing I knew, I was donning the uniform and taking over the Webelos.

Bada-bing badda-bam, I was the next Cubmaster.

BOS: What advice would you give to families considering joining Scouting?

Kurtis Bedford: Do it. I guarantee that there is a unit out there with like-minded families just waiting for you to join. It might not be the first one you look at, but they are out there waiting for you.

One of the things I love the most about my pack is that I would hang out with any of the families outside of the pack activities. It makes campouts really enjoyable.

BOS: As a working actor, you must have an always-shifting schedule. How are you able to find time for meetings and outings?

Kurtis Bedford: The first year as Cubmaster was difficult as I was trying to build the pack back up. When I took over, we were down to, I believe, seven Cub Scouts.

By the end of that first year we were up to 27.

With the added Cub Scouts came active parents, including some who turned in an adult application along with their child’s.

I was really lucky not to have any conflict that first year. By the second year, I had a great group of adult leaders who have been able to step in at the last moment to cover for me.

What makes it most challenging is that an actor’s schedule changes at the last minute … always. I often don’t know where I will be tomorrow, and that makes it a difficult to plan in advance.

Deanna, one of my Wolf den leaders, recently said to me after I missed a meeting due to an audition, “Don’t worry, you weren’t needed.” That actually made me really happy.

Pack 226 poses with actor Chris Tallman (who played Hank Thunderman) on the set of The Thundermans. BOS: Have you been able to use your industry connections to help your Cub Scouts? If so, how?

Kurtis Bedford: A few years ago, I took the pack to a live taping of the Nickelodeon show The Thundermans. It was a show that many of them watched. I had previously worked with one of the actors on the show and happened to know the entire writing staff.

After the taping, as the rest of the studio audience was leaving, we were ushered onto the set for photos with some of the cast. It was very exciting for them.

Recently I scheduled a hike through a movie set. I am planning a follow-up hike through the same area now that the production is over so that they get the idea that, in TV and movies, even the things that seem very real and permanent are not necessarily so.

I have also tapped many of my friends for pack meetings. Next month I have a friend coming to our pack who is not only an Eagle Scout but a professional circus clown. He will be teaching clowning to our Cub Scouts.

It is not lost on me that our geography in Southern California offers us opportunities most other units don’t have.

BOS: You and your friend and fellow Scouter started the ScoutCast LA podcast. How did that get started, and what have you learned?

Kurtis Bedford: Jonathan Watts and I went to high school together. We also hosted a (non-Scouting) podcast together for a number of years.

Our boys started Cub Scouts the same week, but since we just happened not to mention it to one another we ended up in different units. We are now the Cubmasters of those respective units.

I had heard from our council that they were interested in starting a podcast, and since I was looking for a Wood Badge ticket to fill, and had experience producing one, I thought it was a good fit.

Jonathan, luckily, came along for the ride (as he had already completed his Wood Badge).

It is very much a work in progress. The first few episodes took a tremendous amount of time. We had multiple interviews, comedy bits and lots of Scout news. The hourlong podcast took about five hours of editing. It was simply too much for me.

Our previous podcast, which I had done for nine years, was always live, because I didn’t want to spend the time editing. Lately our episodes have been more like an audio version of our newsletter, with witty banter thrown in. It is faster to produce but lacks some of the interesting segments and interviews.

I think the perfect podcast it is going to be something in the middle. We are still figuring that all out.

Sick of Black Friday sales, these Sea Scouts enjoy an annual Black Friday Sail instead

Mike Walker

Twenty years ago, Mike Walker was so fed up with fighting large shopping crowds the day after Thanksgiving that he did something about it.

The Sea Scout volunteer in Houston started a councilwide sailing event. Instead of sprinting into big-box stores for Black Friday sales, young men and young women would step aboard sailboats for the Black Friday Sail.

Year after year ever since, Sea Scouts have gathered in Galveston Bay for the Black Friday Sail. They’re out there every Black Friday, whether the winds are fair or blustery.

Sadly, this year’s event took place without its founder. Walker died on Sept. 14, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. He was 78.

There was no question whether the Black Friday Sail would continue without Walker. It’s what he would’ve wanted.

Honoring their benefactor

On Nov. 23, 2018, 60 Sea Scouts and Sea Scout leaders from the Sam Houston Area Council gathered to honor Walker. The boats anchored together, and everyone listened as the reminiscing began. They shared funny stories, recognized Walker’s service as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy and talked about Walker’s work on the national Sea Scout committee.

Walker helped develop a number of training courses for Sea Scouts, including the Sea Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL) training for youth.

He was the skipper (the top adult volunteer) of Sea Scout Ship 502 when it was named Sea Scout National Flagship, an honor bestowed on just one ship per year. (“Ship” is the term for a Sea Scout unit — like a pack or troop.)

Cassie Johnson, who served on the Sea Scout committee with Walker, read Walker’s favorite poem, “High Flight” by John Magee.

“He inspired us to be bigger than we knew was possible,” Johnson said. “He was really good about letting the kids plan new experiences, and after listening to their plans, he would say the magic words: ‘make it happen.'”

Cynthia Swenceski, Cassie’s daughter and the first Sea Scout to earn the Quartermaster Award (the program’s highest honor) under Walker’s mentorship, read the poem “Afterglow” by Helen Lowrey Marshall.

After these touching tributes, everyone gathered on the bows of their boats and threw rose petals into the water. The group then stood in silence as a Sea Scout rang eight bells to mark the “end of watch” for Walker.

In perhaps the best way of all to honor Walker’s legacy, the Sam Houston Area Council plans to continue its Black Friday Sail for as long as there are Black Friday sales to avoid. Building on Walker’s vision, these young people will forgo the crowds in favor of something much more meaningful.

Thanks to Neal Farmer for the blog post idea.

This is why some Eagle Scouts didn’t have to earn Life or Star badges

From the BSA’s founding in 1910 until late 1914, the Eagle Scout Award had just two requirements:

  • Earn the First Class rank
  • Earn 21 merit badges from a list of 57

That’s it; that’s the list. No set of required merit badges. No positions of responsibility. And no Eagle Scout service project.

Prospective Eagle Scouts didn’t need to earn Star or Life, either. Back then, Star and Life weren’t ranks but separate awards earned independently from the Eagle Scout award.

In an odd twist, eight of the first nine Eagle Scouts earned neither Star nor Life recognition. That includes Arthur Eldred, who in 1912 became the first ever Eagle Scout.

Today, those who want to become Eagle Scouts must progress through each rank in order: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life.

But things were quite different in the BSA’s infancy. Join me on this little trip back in time.

Early Eagle Scouts, as seen in the Feb. 15, 1914, issue of Scouting magazine. Life before Star

In the beginning, Life was earned before Star. (Today, the opposite is true.)

First Class Boy Scouts could earn the Life Scout badge by earning these five merit badges: First Aid, Athletics, Lifesaving, Personal Health and Public Health. Notice a common theme? The heart on the Life Scout badge symbolized the health aspect that united all five.

After earning the Life Scout badge, a boy could receive the Star Scout badge by earning another five merit badges of his choosing.

So how did those early Eagle Scouts earn Boy Scouting’s highest honor without earning Life or Star? It’s simple. If the 21 merit badges they chose didn’t include all five from the Life list, they weren’t eligible to earn either of these awards.

The order of Life before Star remained until the mid-1920s.

After the two badges switched places, Star went to a First Class Boy Scout who earned any five merit badges. Life was for a First Class Scout who earned any five merit badges — plus these five: First Aid, Physical Development or Athletics, Personal Health, Public Health, and Lifesaving or Pioneering.

In 1944, Arthur Eldred (center), the first Eagle Scout, watched his son Willard receive the Eagle Scout medal from Camden County Council Scout Executive George W. Guyer. The debut of required merit badges

On Oct. 1, 1914, the BSA changed its Eagle Scout requirements for the first time.

Instead of asking Boy Scouts to earn any 21 merit badges they wished, Eagle Scout hopefuls had to earn 11 from a required list, plus 10 of their choosing.

The 11 required merit badges were:

  1. Athletics
  2. Bird Study
  3. Camping
  4. Cooking
  5. First Aid
  6. Lifesaving
  7. Pathfinding
  8. Personal Health
  9. Physical Development
  10. Pioneering
  11. Public Health

Notice that this list of 11 includes all the badges required for the Life Scout badge. That means that a young man who earned the Eagle Scout award also earned Life.

The official designation of the correct position for wearing Scout badges, as printed in the May 1, 1914, issue of Scouting magazine. Like Scouting history? You’ll love the Scouting app.

I learned the facts above by digging through the archives of Scouting magazine. You can do that, too, through our app.

For just $4.99 per year (not per month), you get access to the complete Scouting archives — from the first issue in 1913 to the latest issue fresh off the presses.

Just search “Scouting magazine” on the App Store, Google Play or Amazon Kindle store.

Attend the the first National Scouting Historian Summit

The first ever National Scouting Historian Summit, a joint program sponsored by the Order of the Arrow and the National Scouting Museum, will be held at Philmont Scout Ranch from June 9 to 15, 2019. Participants will be immersed in the rules, tools and strategies for capturing and preserving Scouting’s rich heritage, while focusing on how to create a robust local history program.

Whether you are a beginner or expert, collector or academic, the program will surely help you do a better job of discovering, assembling and telling the Scouting story.

Learn more here.

Here’s how many countries are coming to the 2019 World Scout Jamboree

Four out of every five people at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree will be from a country that isn’t the United States.

That translates to excellent odds that members of the U.S. contingent will meet tons of Scouts from other countries during their 12 days next summer at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Participants will discover other cultures, try foreign food and learn how Scouting is the same — and different — in other parts of the world.

The latest registration numbers are in, and Scouts from 133 countries across six continents will unite at the World Scout Jamboree, which will be the first held on U.S. soil since 1967. The event runs from July 22 to Aug. 2.

Spending nearly two weeks at the BSA’s high-adventure base in West Virginia will be an awesome experience. But enjoying SBR with Scouts from around the world? That’s truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Interested in joining the experience? It’s not too late to submit applications for youth participants (ages 14 to 17) and the International Service Team (the term used for staff, age 18 or older, at the World Scout Jamboree).

All of the BSA’s slots for unit leaders (18 and up) are full.

Can’t make it for the whole time? Visitor day passes will be available early next year.

How many people have signed up so far?

As of this writing, 45,418 people are going to the World Scout Jamboree.

That includes 31,025 Scouts, 3,517 unit leaders, 1,170 members of the contingent management team and 9,706 members of the International Service Team.

The BSA makes up about 20 percent of that total.

The countries in purple will have Scouts represented at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. How many countries will be represented?

There are 169 National Scout Organizations, including the BSA, that are part of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Of those 169 countries, 133 have Scouts attending and/or serving on staff at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. That’s nearly 80 percent.

The countries in attendance range from Algeria to Zimbabwe. Here’s the full list:

Algeria Angola Argentina Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bangladesh Barbados Belgium Belize Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Chile Colombia Comoros Costa Rica Côte d’lvoire Croatia Curacao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Estonia Ethiopia Finland France Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Greece Guatemala Haiti Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Korea (Republic of) Kuwait Latvia Lebanon Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Luxembourg Malawi Malaysia Malta Mauritius Mexico Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Norway Oman Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Qatar Romania San Marino Saudi Arabia Serbia Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Tanzania Thailand Timor Leste Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Venezuela Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

Do you plan indoor fun (hiking included) during the winter?

Winter can offer lots of fun outdoor activities, but sometimes, the weather can feel so frigid you might be tempted to plan some of your Scouting activities indoors. That’s fine. This can be a great time to help your Scouts explore your community by visiting a local museum or library, attending a city council meeting or even going on a hike.

One Minnesota Scouter recently shared with us his favorite place to bring new Scouts: the Minneapolis Skyway. It’s an 11-mile system of indoor walkways that connect many downtown buildings. When the average high temperatures linger in the 20s for December, January and February, a walk in a climate-controlled place sounds like a friendly option.

“You can traverse from south Minneapolis to the northern skyscrapers without a snowflake ever touching your jacket,” Nick Albee says. “Maps are everywhere, people are nice, and there are plenty of places to stop along the way. Plus, it’s easily accessible for urban Scouts who may not live near parks or extensive trail systems.”

Other metropolises have similar walkways, either above or under ground. If you’re not near one, consider visiting a nearby mall or large outdoor recreation retail store. It can be a good opportunity for Scouts to stay active, become familiar with their hometown and maybe shop for their next camping trip. You could also arm your Scouts with cameras or a map and compass to teach some photography or orienteering skills during the indoor jaunt. 

What do you do?

What fun indoor activities have you done during the cold winter months? Let’s share and inspire other Scouters.

Extreme Makeovers, Round 25: Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos

Note: This is the 25th in an occasional series where I share Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos. See the complete collection here.

To fully understand the impact Eagle Scout projects have on communities, you need to see to believe. That’s why I asked to see Eagle Scout project before-and-after photos — the same photos prospective Eagles are asked to include with their post-project report.

This week’s batch of 15 projects includes a bocce ball court, a dog park and the restoration of a shaping machine that dates back to the 1860s.

What’s great is that you can multiply each individual act of stupendous service by more than 50,000. That’s how many Eagle Scout projects get completed every single year.

TIP: Click or tap and drag the slider below each image to see the change.

Jack from New Jersey

Who: Jack, Troop 186, Hillsborough, N.J.

What: Jack and his helpers planned and built a bocce court for Brookdale Assisted Living so the seniors would have access to a fun, outdoor physical activity.

Aaron from North Carolina

Who: Aaron, Troop 148, Charlotte, N.C.

What: Aaron and his helpers built a dog park at Shad’s Landing Retirement Home.

John from Pennsylvania

Who: John, Troop 140, St. Peter’s, Pa.

What: John and his helpers completed the restoration of a very rare 1868 vintage Tolman Shaping Machine. It’s now on permanent display in the working machine shop at the Rough and Tumble Historical Association Museum in Kinzers, Pa.

Royce from Illinois

Who: Royce, Troop 159, Arlington Heights, Ill.

What: Rocye and his helpers built a 90-foot, ADA compliant walkway to connect the front of the Clearbrook Getz Center to a serenity garden in the back of the building so that any of the developmentally disabled workers at the center can enjoy the garden. More than 500 man-hours were provided by Scouts, friends and family to make this formerly unused space bright and safe.

Sidharth from California

Who: Sidharth, Troop 394, Norwalk, Calif.

What: Sidharth and his helpers renovated the playhouse at the Norwalk New Life Community Church by adding new shingles, replacing the wooden planks, and painting both the interior and exterior.

Mason from Kansas

Who: Mason, Troop 93, Shawnee, Kan.

What: Mason and his helpers developed an obstacle course to simulate World War I military training. He operated the course during the “Living The Great War” weekend event in August 2018 at the World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.

Colton from Kansas

Who: Colton, Troop 23, Erie, Kan.

What: Colton and helpers mapped out the high school’s cross-country course, creating a kiosk with three trails of different lengths. Residents can run/walk the trails, and the school can use it to host a 5K cross-country meet.

Maxwell from New York

Who: Maxwell, Troop 76, Blue Point, N.Y.

What: Maxwell and his helpers pulled out overgrown bushes, upgraded a flagpole and created a pocket park around an existing unusable flagpole behind a local church.

Ryan from Arizona

Who: Ryan, Troop 186, Tucson, Ariz.

What: Ryan and his helpers installed an interpretational sign on a trail at Saguaro National Park. This is a historic site, and during the installation of the sign, an archaeologist was required to be present.

Ethan from New York

Who: Ethan, Troop 529, Tonawanda, N.Y.

What: Ethan and his helpers restored a council ring at a local youth (non-BSA) camp. The ring hadn’t been used for many years.

Santiago from Pennsylvania

Who: Santiago, Troop 85, Tannersville, Pa.

What: Santiago and his helpers constructed a 12-foot-long bridge at Indian Station, reconstructed more than 250 feet of trails and created a new 36-foot trail ending in a 16-foot-round meeting area. His project was carried out at the MCCD Meesing Nature Center located in the Delaware State Forest.

Sebastian from Pennsylvania

Who: Sebastian, Troop 85, Tannersville, Pa.

What: Sebastian and his helpers removed and replaced 13 9-foot seating logs at three stations and reconstructed the 140-foot trail leading to the Pioneer Station. His project was carried out at the MCCD Meesing Nature Center located in the Delaware State Forest.

Alex from Indiana

Who: Alex, Troop 112, Carmel, Ind.

What: Alex and his helpers installed shot put fields for three middle schools. Each field is 60 feet long and 47 feet across.

Dylan from California

Who: Dylan, Troop 606, Irvine, Calif.

What: Dylan and his helpers built a red welcome booth for the city of Irvine’s Adventure Playground, which gets more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Andrew from Virginia

Who: Andrew, Troop 259, Chesapeake, Va.

What: Andrew and his helpers installed a 105-foot brick walkway connecting the front of his church to the Memorial Garden. He also landscaped and mulched the area.

About the Eagle Before and After series

Like these? See more here.

Have before-and-after Eagle photos I can use in future posts? Go here to learn how to send them to me.

About the Adams award for outstanding Eagle projects

The Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award honors outstanding Eagle projects like those included above.

An Eagle Scout, his parents, or any registered BSA volunteer (with the Eagle Scout’s permission) may submit his Eagle Scout service project for consideration by filling out the nomination form found here.

Visit the Boys’ Life Eagle Project Showcase

For even more great Eagle projects, check out the Boys’ Life Eagle Project Showcase.

At Jacksonville Air Show, Boy Scout troop helps others, meets the Blue Angels

A Boy Scout’s commitment “to help other people at all times” doesn’t mean he can’t have some fun along the way.

Just look at Troop 892 of Fleming Island, Fla., as the ideal example.

Every year, Scouts from the North Florida Council troop volunteer at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Air Show. Their role is to support the event’s medical personnel, including Navy doctors, nurses and paramedics.

At the event last month, they helped with minor first aid needs, communicated with the headquarters team and distributed hearing protection to attendees.

But the Scouts still made time to experience the high-flying thrills that attract visitors from across the region. This year, that included a visit with members of the Blue Angels. After watching the team’s performance, the Scouts learned that two members of the Navy’s elite flying team are Eagle Scouts.

The NAS Jax Air Show is known as the birthplace of the Blue Angels. The flight demonstration squadron had its first performance in Jacksonville in 1946.

For more on this story, we go to Troop 892 Scribe Carlos Balbuena for his report.

But before that, I want to thank Troop 892 Scoutmaster Matt Pottenburgh for sharing this story with us. You might remember Pottenburgh as the Scouter who helped us track down the owner of that Cub Scout uniform shirt that washed ashore after Hurricane Irma. When it comes to blog post ideas, Pottenburgh is batting a thousand.

Troop 892 at the NAX Jax Air Show

By Carlos Balbuena, Troop Scribe

Every year, Scouts from Troop 892 in Fleming Island, Fla., volunteer for the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Air Show. It is not only a chance for these Scouts to put their First Aid and Emergency Preparedness training to the test, but they are also able to experience aerial thrills first hand!

The troop arrived at the emergency first aid headquarters well ahead of the first performance. They received a briefing by the Air Show Emergency Manager and first responders to include Navy doctors, nurses, and paramedics. After the briefing, they were divided into buddy groups and paired with a team of medics for the morning. The Scouts accompanied the medics around the air show, assisted in minor first aid applications, communicated with the headquarters and other teams, and distributed hearing protection and water to attendees.

After volunteering all morning, the Scouts were treated to a front-row performance by the United States Navy’s flight demonstration team: The Blue Angels! The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 in Jacksonville, Fla., making it the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world. After their performance, the troop was invited out to the flight line for this amazing picture in thanks for their service!

Fun fact: Troop 892 learned that there are currently two Eagle Scouts serving on the Blue Angels: Lt. Cmdr. Adam Kerrick (#8, Event Coordinator) and Lt. James Cox (#3, Left Wing).

Speaking of the Blue Angels
  • You can print a congratulatory letter from the Blue Angels for your new Eagle Scout. Go here for instructions.
  • Boys’ Life senior writer Aaron Derr got to fly with the Blue Angels a few years ago for a magazine story. Did he require the use of an air sickness bag? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.

Cub Scout springs into action — twice — to save family members’ lives

Stories of Scouts saving others aren’t uncommon. But, how often do you hear about a Scout saving two people’s lives on separate occasions…in the same year?

Quick thinking by Webelos Scout Steven Sanders saved his younger brother and his great-grandmother this year.

The first rescue happened in April while Steven and his 3-year-old brother Troy were eating breakfast at their home in Le Roy, N.Y. Troy began choking on a hard-boiled egg. By the time the boys’ parents turned around to help, Steven had already jumped into action, grabbing Troy’s left arm to stabilize him while hitting his back with the palm of his other hand. Troy spit up the food. And that was that.

“It was like nothing ever happened; it floored me,” Steven’s mom Emily says.

Emily began questioning her 10-year-old son how he knew what to do. She knew he had learned some basic first aid skills in Scouting, but not specific techniques for choking yet.

“‘I knew Troy was in trouble, and I just did it,'” he replied.

New York’s Iroquois Trail Council honored Steven for his instinctive actions with a certificate a couple of months later.

At Granny’s house

In August, Steven was visiting his great-grandmother, affectionally known as Granny, with his aunt and grandmother in Stafford, N.Y., when he heard a strange sound coming from the bathroom. He checked it out and found Granny passed out on the floor. She had suffered a seizure. Steven called for his aunt and grandmother, who attended to Granny while Steven called 911.

He calmly explained the situation to the dispatcher and relayed information to his family members so they could properly treat Granny while an ambulance rushed to the home. She was taken to the hospital and released later that day.

Steven has always been a calm and kind kid, his mom says; Scouting has helped him Be Prepared for anything.

“I’m a very proud mom,” Emily says.

Scouts in Action

For more stories of Scouts’ lifesaving efforts, click here for an archive of Boys’ Life magazine’s Scouts in Action cartoons. And for stories of Scouters saving others, click here.

Why 2019 will be the perfect year to visit Space Camp

The countdown is officially on.

Space Camp, where young people get hands-on experiences others only read about, is planning a yearlong celebration in 2019 to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

And with a special sale for Black Friday weekend just days away, the stars have aligned to make 2019 the ideal year to visit this incredible place.

Loyal readers know I’ve blogged about Space Camp before. I wrote about the week I spent there in 1995. I shared how Space Camp introduces young people to high-paying career fields in desperate need of qualified candidates. And I discovered why on Earth they put Space Camp in northern Alabama.

Today, in addition to sharing details on the 2019 celebration, I wanted to explore how Space Camp helps young people find their team.

What’s planned for 2019

On July 20, 1969, the world watched as Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong and his crew landed on the moon. Fifty years later, this historic first fascinates and inspires a new generation of young people.

Next year, Space Camp and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center will harness this skyrocketing interest in space into a yearlong celebration.

No matter which week you select for your visit, your son or daughter will be part of something amazing.

The plan includes weekly lunches with astronauts during summer camp sessions, innovative hands-on demonstrations and a simultaneous launch of 5,000 model rockets in an attempt to break the world record in July.

Find your team at Space Camp

In a high school with 1,000 students, there might be a rocketry club and a STEM club and perhaps even a Future Mars Explorers club.

Students at smaller schools might still be searching for their perfect team.

That’s where Space Camp comes in. Participants meet like-minded young people from across the country, making lifelong friends who speak their language.

“I grew up on a farm in Minnesota and told people I wanted to work at NASA,” one young person said. “They just patted my head. At Space Camp, they said I can.”

They’ll get more than mere encouragement that the career of their dreams is within reach. They’ll get an actual plan for how to get there. Consider Space Camp a kind of workforce development program for young people interested in the stars.

Space Camp launching its Black Friday weekend sale

Send your son or daughter to Space Camp — or treat yourself to an Adult Space Academy program — for less than the normal price.

Space Camp’s Black Friday weekend sale runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. That’s 12:01 a.m. CST on Nov. 23 to 11:59 p.m. CST on Nov. 26.

Space Camp has just one sale a year, so this is your chance to save.

You don’t have to settle on a date when you buy, though you’ll want to grab a prime date as soon as possible. Space Camp provides customized gift certificates you can wrap and give to a lucky recipient.

Give the gift of Space Camp at

Why this Cub Scout den does a service project once a month, every month

You’re never too young to start a habit of serving others.

That’s the powerful example being set by a Cub Scout den in Pack 41 of Billings, Mont., part of the BSA’s Montana Council. These 9-year-olds have shown a devotion to community service that’s truly inspiring.

They call it Service Saturdays. On one Saturday morning each month, the members of the Bear den (and their parents) gather to give back.

They’ve hosted a bingo game at a nursing home, planted trees, made sandwiches for the homeless and much more. One act of selflessness each month, every month.

“These experiences have strengthened our den,” says Monica Hill, their den leader. “We see all the good things we can do with our time and energy.”

How they do it

This all began when Hill and her fellow parents began working out a den calendar and realized that several of the boys participate in sports. They have practices during the week and games on Saturday afternoons.

“We decided we could do service activities on Saturday mornings,” she says. “That way our den could stay connected with each other and our community.”

With that mandate from the families in her den, Hill became the den’s “superintendent of service” — a title I just made up but that seems entirely fitting.

Hill spends time calling local nonprofits and businesses to “ask if my group of energetic 9-year-old boys can come do service.”

Who would say no to that? So far, nobody has.

The nursing home was so thrilled that they asked the den if they’d visit several times a year.

What the Cub Scouts think

Do the Bears mind giving up a Saturday morning of Minecraft and cartoons to participate in a service project?

Not only do they not mind; the boys love it.

“They love getting together, no matter the activity,” Hill says. “They are excited about everything I sign them up for.”

In the coming months, the Bears will paint over graffiti in a bike tunnel, clean out horse stalls at a barn and paint fingernails for residents at a nursing home.

While the Bears see these projects as fun and new activities with their friends, Hill understands the deeper meaning.

“Kids are often underestimated,” she says. “They need to be shown how to be part of a community. They need to know that they have the ability to make a difference. Scouting provides all of these opportunities.”

Top California eye surgeon receives Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

California eye surgeon John Hovanesian, who has literally written the books on innovative techniques in ophthalmology, received the prestigious Distinguished Eagle Scout Award at a special ceremony last week in Newport Beach, Calif.

The award, the highest honor presented by the National Eagle Scout Association, honors Eagle Scouts who have made major contributions in their professional fields. NESA accepts nominees once 25 years have passed since earning Eagle.

Hovanesian, 51, joins an illustrious list of previous DESA recipients that includes Gerald Ford, Neil Armstrong and Steven Spielberg.

The Orange County Council, based in Santa Ana, Calif., honored Hovanesian at a special leadership breakfast on Nov. 9. Guests learned that just over 2,200 Distinguished Eagle Scout Awards have been presented since 1969. That’s an average of less than 50 per year.

Hovanesian, the doctor

Hovanesian specializes in cataract, LASIK and corneal surgery at Harvard Eye Associates. He’s a member of the clinical faculty at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute, has published two textbooks in ophthalmology and has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles. He holds leadership positions with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Hovanesian uses his impressive talents to give back, too. He’s involved with the Armenian EyeCare Project and travels each year to Armenia to perform the newest surgical techniques and teach others.

He also has traveled as a volunteer surgeon to Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Fiji to treat patients there.

“There is no better mantra for a surgeon than to help other people at all times,” Hovanesian says. “When we put our patients’ best interests first, we are bound for success.”

Tanya and John Hovanesian Hovanesian, the Scout leader

Somehow, despite a rigorous work schedule, Hovanesian finds time to serve as a Scout volunteer.

“Almost every day is filled with Scouting, from rushing home for a den meeting to staying up late researching how to prepare my boys for Philmont this summer,” he says. “It’s all very rewarding.”

Hovanesian has two sons and a daughter. His older son is about to earn Eagle, and his younger son is in a Webelos den that “constantly challenges me and makes me laugh out loud.”

His Scouting life is about to get even busier. When the BSA’s Scouts BSA program launches in February, Hovanesian’s 13-year-old daughter plans to join a troop and follow in her dad’s footsteps toward Eagle.

“And my wife, Tanya, and I are gearing up to be the leaders of her troop, so she and a group of her friends can do it,” Hovanesian says.

Hovanesian, the Scout

“Scouting has had greater influence on me than any other activity of my youth,” Hovanesian says.

He grew up in Farmington, Mich., where he enjoyed campouts and hikes with Troop 179.

“We had a really spirited, though sometimes unorthodox, patrol: the Gremlins,” he says. “Being a patrol leader taught me that leaders need first to be servants. Working with other Scouts, I learned that doing the right thing is more important than always having all the right answers.”

Hovanesian says becoming an Eagle Scout taught him he can do almost anything if he sticks it out. That reminder came in handy as he worked toward becoming a doctor.

“These lessons helped me make it through the long hours of medical school and residency and to build — along with outstanding and like-minded partners — one of eye care’s most respected practices,” he says.

Thanks to the Orange County Council’s Melissa Dundovich for the post idea.