Bryan On Scouting

Get to know the 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association

The six young people selected to serve on the 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association will play a critical role.

With the support of adult volunteers and professionals, they will shape Venturing’s future, make important decisions and serve as Venturing’s public face.

Their term — June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019 — will include the second half of Venturing’s 20th anniversary year. These six also will be at the helm during VenturingFest 2018, the national gathering of Venturers set for July 1 to 6 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. (I’ll be there. Will you?)

The 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association president, Dominic Wolters, will become one of the three top youth leaders in Scouting. He joins Jack Otto, 2018-2019 National Sea Scout Boatswain, and Anthony Peluso, 2018 National Chief of the Order of the Arrow.

Let’s meet the members of your 2018-2019 National Venturing Officers’ Association. You’ll hear about their favorite Scouting memories, an adult who made a difference, their favorite piece of camping gear and more.

Dominic Wolters, National Venturing Officers’ Association President

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

Favorite Scouting memory: “Watching the sunset over the Tooth of Time at Philmont when I was at [the Philmont Training Center] teaching last summer.

What makes Venturing unique: “The flexibility of the program. Venturing connects a youth’s passions to activities that will help them to grow as people and as leaders, whatever those passions or activities may be.”

What he does when not Venturing: “This fall I’ll be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to study economics and finance. I also love to swim, run, and spend time with friends and family.”

An adult who made a difference: “Faith Anderson. She was my council VOA Advisor when I first got involved in Venturing. Working with Faith was always a great experience because she listened. She would gently steer you away from really bad ideas, but she let you explore and make mistakes and learn at your own pace. Her kindness and listening is a large part of why I am here today.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “The spork. When I was first joining Scouting, my troop would go camping, and whenever we’d do dishes, I would always hate having to wash multiple pieces of silverware from my meal. Enter the spork. It had the benefits of all three utensils (mine had a serrated edge on the fork part) and I only had to wash one thing. Revolutionary.”

Jake Brillhart, National Venturing Officers’ Association Vice President

Council: Indian Nations Council (headquartered in Tulsa, Okla.)

Favorite Scouting memory: “Anything related to the 2017 National Jamboree. Being able to share an experience like it with over 30,000 Scouts and Scouters was phenomenal, and, of course, Foxtrot Base Camp was the crown jewel. Whether it was dancing Elvises or meeting Scouts from around the globe, camp life was truly better up on the hill.”

What makes Venturing unique: “Program design. There’s not a program I’m aware that incorporates and celebrates such a diversity of experiences for its members. Whether it’s STEM or shooting sports, wilderness first aid or whitewater rafting, we encourage our members to make the most of their Venturing experience and make their journey unique.”

What he does when not Venturing: “I currently attend Collinsville High School, and I will be attending Rogers State University to study public affairs. Ultimately, I’d like to go work as a professional Scouter. Outside of school and Scouts, I do freelance graphic design work for several nonprofits in my community. I also serve as a board member of the Brandon Magalassi Foundation, a suicide prevention charity.”

An adult who made a difference: “Outside of my parents, Debbie Downey has been a great mentor for me. She’s been alongside me since I joined Venturing and has been an advocate for the youth. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with a Scout executive or a district chair, I know Debbie is always in my corner and supports me and other area VOA officers.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My camp mug. Growing up in multiple states, there’s something reassuring about turning over that mug and seeing all the brands from the places Scouting has taken me.”

Pamela Petterchak, Central Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Greater St. Louis Area Council

Favorite Scouting memory: “Snorkeling with my crew at Florida Sea Base. During one of our dives, we swam through a huge school of beautiful fish while making our way to a coral reef. Experiencing the amazing beauty of the ocean was a memory I will always cherish, and I also faced my horrible fear of fish!”

What makes Venturing unique: “The Venturing program encourages adventures that push youth outside of their personal bubble. As a Venturer, youth get to explore the world outside of their school by attending summer camps, holding leadership positions and serving in their local community. These experiences are unique because they prepare you for life in the real world and create cherished memories.”

What she does when not Venturing: “This fall, I will be studying computer engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. In my free time, I like going bike riding, playing percussion, competing in cyber security competitions, and spending time with my family and dogs.”

An adult who made a difference: “My crew and district advisor, Michael O’Donnell, has been one of my strongest supporters in Scouting. He helped me recognize my potential to lead others, and I can always go to him for advice and support. I would say that he’s my personal ‘cheerleader!'”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My hammock. Not only is it a fun and different way to experience camping, it’s so comfortable!”

Katelyn St. Louis, Northeast Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Spirit of Adventure Council (serving the Boston area)

Favorite Scouting memory: “When I went to Sea Base and we were able to do a dawn dive. We all woke up sometime around 3 a.m., put on our scuba gear, jumped into pitch black water, and ascended just in time to see the sunrise.”

What makes Venturing unique: “Because the youth take the reigns and control what they want to get out of the program. If they want to go caving or on a high adventure, they have the power and support they need to organize and plan it.”

What she does when not Venturing: “Next year, I will attend the University of New Hampshire with a major in biology. In high school, I’ve been involved two show choirs, a microbiology research society, National Honor Society and drama club. Currently, I also work part time at Old Navy.”

An adult who made a difference: “My crew advisor, Judy Dedinsky. Judy was there every step of the way when I assumed leadership positions, both in and out of the crew. She made me realize my potential and pushed me to challenge myself. I would definitely not be the person I am today without her guidance and consistent support.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My hiking boots. I’ve had them since my first hiking trip with Crew 7, and I’ve taken them on almost every high adventure. Although it’s probably time for a new pair, they have so many memories behind them.”

Ryan Davis, Southern Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Gulf Stream Council (headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)

Favorite Scouting memory: “When I was at Northern Tier taking the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience course back in the summer of 2015. We had just finished setting up camp and cooking dinner. As a crew, we laid back on a tiered berm overlooking the water and looked up at the stars. It was truly mesmerizing. In the distance you could faintly see the Northern Lights. While we laid there, our course director, Keith Gelhausen, told us a story that really opened my eyes personally about how leadership connects to your everyday life.”

What makes Venturing unique: “The environment. Every branch of Scouting has a different environment, and I would definitely say Venturing has the most adventurous and partylike environment. You’re able to whitewater raft from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then go line dancing from 5 to 7 and then gorge out to fried Oreos and ice cream for the remainder of the day. I would consider that to be a pretty unique and awesome environment!”

What he does when not Venturing: “I am currently a student at Broward College, majoring in education. I am also a full-time employee of the Geek Squad at Best Buy. With the free time I have in between Scouting, school and work, I do my best spending it with my pup Alfred [pictured] either swimming, hiking or canoeing.”

An adult who made a difference: “My previous area Advisor: Todd Graczyk. We accomplished quite a bit in the last year in Area 4, and it was pretty stressful at some points. His ability to always pull the positive out of a stressful situation and be able to joke around while discreetly pushing us in the right direction is something I definitely admire!”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “My water bottle. I always have several on me when outdoors, but they aren’t always used for water. I generally have a package of Oreos and Goldfish hidden in one of my spare bottles.”

Reece Kilbey, Western Region Venturing Officers’ Association President

Council: Aloha Council (headquartered in Honolulu)

Favorite Scouting memory: “Seeing the sun break through the fog of Haleakalā Volcano for an early morning sunrise while shivering from the frigid air. This was the last day of our 50-mile hike in the crater, and boy was my troop tired, smelly and in need of a hot meal. I’m looking forward to making tons of new memories at VenturingFest this summer!”

What makes Venturing unique: “The possibilities are endless! With the support of your fellow Venturers and Advisors, there’s not much that your crew canʻt do. If you want to sail to another island, letʻs plan it and go! The Venturing program is full of unique opportunities.”

What he does when not Venturing: “I am a freshman at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and am tied between botany and microbiology as majors. I have a deep fascination with orchids, collecting more than 250 species in my backyard.”

An adult who made a difference: “There have been countless adults that have mentored me, and without all of them I wouldn’t be here today. Mr. Lai and I founded Crew 808, and he has stood by me and supported me through many hardships. He first started mentoring me when I was the senior patrol leader of my troop and he was Scoutmaster. It seemed only natural that we continued our leadership in the Venturing program. From late-night calls to last-minute adjustments to activities, he’s always been there.”

Favorite piece of camping gear: “A tie between my sandals and my coffee cup. Both are equally important to any adventure with Reece and should always be the first thing packed.”

Eagle Scout wins 2018 Pulitzer Prize in breaking news photography

Ryan Kelly, who received a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for his chilling photo of a car plowing into a group of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., is an Eagle Scout.

Kelly was a staff photojournalist at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville from 2013 to 2017. He took the award-winning photo — a searing image of that day’s tragic events — on his last day at the newspaper.

But before he became an award-winning photographer, Kelly became an Eagle Scout.

He earned Scouting’s highest honor on Nov. 3, 2004, as a member of Troop 1853 of Springfield, Va., part of the National Capital Area Council.

“Ryan exemplifies all the best in our Scouts,” says John Selstrom, Troop 1853 committee chairman. “So along with our congratulations to him for his outstanding achievement, I also want to recognize the Scouters who helped Ryan learn and grow and become the professional that he is today.”

On Tuesday, Selstrom told the Scouts of Troop 1853 that one of their own had earned the top prize in journalism.

“Every day as together we deliver the promise of Scouting, we are building young men like Ryan,” Selstrom says.

More about Ryan Kelly

Kelly was Troop 1853’s senior patrol leader from November 2003 to May 2004.

After college at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., he started a career as a photographer.

On Aug. 12, 2017, Kelly was in Charlottesville to cover the Unite the Right rally when a man drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19 more.

Kelly took the definitive photo of the day, but he doesn’t take all the credit. On Twitter, like a true Eagle Scout, he called it a team effort.

I remain proud of all the great work the entire newsroom at @DailyProgress has done, not just last summer but in the months and years leading up to August 12 and since.

— Ryan M. Kelly (@RyanMKellyPhoto) April 17, 2018

While he no longer works for The Daily Progress, Kelly remains active as a freelance photographer and runs social media for a brewery in Richmond, Va.

Thanks to John Selstrom and Aaron Chusid for the tip.

Scouting Show and Tell: Share photos of your pack, troop or crew meeting place

It’s time for Show and Tell, where Scouters show their favorite photos based on that week’s Scouting topic and tell the story behind them.

Upload a photo as a comment below. Just click the image icon at the bottom of any comment box and choose which file you’d like to upload. You can also drag an image file directly into the comment box. Max file size is 2 MB, and you can upload these kinds of photos: JPG, JPEG, GIF and PNG.

What’s the best place for a Scout meeting? Wherever you are.

With a little creativity, you can make any location the ideal venue for a pack, troop or crew meeting.

Youth and adult leaders can turn anywhere — basement or barn, cafeteria or conference room — into a Scouting wonderland.

For this week’s Scouting Show and Tell, please share the following:

  • A photo of where your pack, troop or crew meets
  • Your unit number, hometown and council name
  • A few sentences explaining what you (or your fellow leaders) have done to make this more than a meeting place. Perhaps this is …
    • … a unique decorative element
    • … a special way to celebrate pack, troop or crew history
    • … a fun program area
    • … a creative storage solution
    • … anything about your meeting place that you want to share with others.

A note on this week’s Scouting Show and Tell. We might use your words and/or photos in a future issue of Scouting magazine. If you don’t want to be included, please indicate that in your comment.

Why on Earth is Space Camp in Alabama?

At Space Camp, young people train like astronauts. Using high-tech simulators and learning from experts, they live and work as a team to plan a mission to Mars and beyond.

But this incubator of interplanetary innovation isn’t located in the obvious space places like Houston or Cape Canaveral, Fla.

It’s in Huntsville, Ala.

I wanted to find out why, so I chatted with Pat Ammons, Space Camp’s director of communications.

Just like during my week at Space Camp 23 years ago, I learned a whole lot in a short amount of time.

Dr. Wernher von Braun (center), the Director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and President John F. Kennedy at Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Nov. 16, 1963. Dr. von Braun moves to Alabama

Before he became a pioneer of space exploration, Wernher von Braun helped the U.S. Army develop ballistic missiles.

In 1950, that job took him from El Paso, Texas, to an army post in Huntsville, Ala. 

In the years that followed in Huntsville, von Braun’s role transitioned. He moved from creating weapons of war to developing tools for space travel.

He developed launch vehicles for NASA and, in doing so, transformed Huntsville from the “Watercress Capital of the World” into a hub of technological innovation.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville opened in 1960 and is still fully operational today.

Huntsville plays part in space program’s history …

It’s in Huntsville that:

  • Rockets were developed that put the first U.S. satellite into orbit and sent men to the moon.
  • Propulsion for the space shuttle was developed.
  • Modules for the International Space Station were designed and built.
… and its future

America’s next great ship — the Space Launch System — is being designed in Huntsville.

Moreover, all science missions on the International Space Station are monitored around-the-clock at the Payload Operations Integration Center at Marshall.

Today, Huntsville has America’s second-largest research park and boasts a population where almost 40 percent has a college degree. Some say Huntsville owes much of that growth to von Braun.

“He convinced [NASA] headquarters that big contracts should be awarded out of Huntsville,” said Ed Buckbee, NASA public relations officer in the 1960s. “That was a big change.”

Space Camp finds its home

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which opened in 1970, is a museum that showcases the space program’s past, present and future.

Space Camp opened there in 1982, the realization of Dr. von Braun’s idea of creating a program to get young people excited about space exploration.

To date, more than 18 million people have visited the Rocket Center and young people from around the world participate in Space Camp and its sister programs, Aviation Challenge Camp and Space Camp Robotics.

Space Camp, like Scouting, delivers hands-on STEM experiences to young people. And it’s all happening in Huntsville.

Learn more and plan your daughter’s or son’s Space Camp adventure at

In getting accepted to Yale, his Eagle Scout project video was ‘a difference-maker’

When Justin Aubin learned that Yale University allowed students to include videos with their application, he was thrilled.

Yale challenged applicants to demonstrate “a community to which you belong and the footprint you have left.”

Justin had the perfect response. He shared a four-minute documentary about his Eagle Scout service project. He led volunteers as they built a monument to honor veterans.

The video proved even more powerful than a well-written essay.

Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid at Yale, told The New York Times that Justin’s video was “a difference-maker.”

“People sat up in their chairs,” Quinlan told The Times. “You could see how he handled his leadership role, and we felt like we got a good sense of him in a way that we didn’t get from recommendations.”

Justin earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2015 as a member of Troop 1615 of Oak Lawn, Ill., part of the Pathway to Adventure Council.

He’s now a freshman at Yale.

Watch Justin’s video

Justin’s older brother helped him create this video, which documents the planning and leadership involved in Justin’s project.

Thoughts to consider

This story brings a couple of thoughts to my mind:

  • We always hear that “Eagle Scout” on the résumé can help a young person get a job or get into college. This is just another in an endless string of examples.
  • All Life Scouts should consider documenting their Eagle project with video. A short, well-edited video tells the story of the soon-to-be Eagle Scout’s effort in a compelling way. Has one of your troop’s Eagle Scouts created an Eagle project video? Please share the YouTube link in the comments below.

Thanks to Brent Clark for the blog post idea.

Michael Yerger, contestant on ‘Survivor: Ghost Island,’ is an Eagle Scout

Michael Yerger, a contestant on the 36th season of the CBS reality show Survivor, is an Eagle Scout.

Yerger, who was 18 when Survivor: Ghost Island was filmed in the summer of 2017 in Fiji, is trying to be the youngest person ever to win Survivor.

In his official bio on the CBS website, Yerger shows pride in his Scouting background.

He writes that his personal claim to fame is “earning Eagle Scout, the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America.”

Yerger even has a tattoo on his chest that says “On my honor …” — undoubtedly a reference to the Scout Oath.

Class of 2016 Eagle Scout

Yerger earned Eagle on July 21, 2016, as part of Troop 20 of Knoxville, Tenn., part of the Great Smoky Mountain Council. His season of Survivor began filming about a year later.

These days Yerger is a model and real estate agent living in Los Angeles. He hopes to take home the $1 million prize and title of “Sole Survivor.”

Survivor: Ghost Island airs at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) Wednesdays on CBS.

Can’t attend the 2018 National Order of the Arrow Conference? Here’s the next best thing

NOAC 2018 — the National Order of the Arrow Conference this summer at Indiana University — is sure to be an exceptional experience for the 8,000 Arrowmen who will attend.

Having been there for NOAC 2015, I can tell you it’s an event unlike anything else in Scouting.

But what about those who can’t make it this summer?

For the first time in NOAC history, the Order of the Arrow is offering an all-access NOAC@Home program for those want to join the celebration from afar. Watch live broadcasts from interesting places on campus, view interviews with Arrowmen, and stream activities and training sessions. NOAC@Home remote delegates will use their phone, tablet or laptop to follow the fun from anywhere.

The cost is $75 per remote delegate. And like all the best things in Scouting, this opportunity comes with a patch: a NOAC 2018 Remote Delegate patch you can’t get anywhere else.

What can remote delegates do?

The goal with NOAC@Home is to allow remote delegates to experience as much of the conference as possible. This includes:

  • A unique NOAC delegate pack, including a special remote delegate conference patch.
  • Live, produced broadcasts throughout each day at the conference (a morning broadcast, lunchtime broadcast, and “pre-show” broadcast).
  • Live streaming of conference activities each afternoon. (Interested in watching the drumming competition? Tune in live or watch the archived broadcast.)
  • Live streaming of NOAC evening shows and special broadcasts for remote delegates only.
  • Viewership into various NOAC trainings in the mornings.
  • A virtual tour of the NOAC museum.
  • Various Meet-the-Man sessions with national officers only accessible by remote delegates.
  • Viewing of athletic competitions and various recreational activities from the eyes of an on-site delegate.
  • Inside scoops and interviews looking into the planning and delivery of NOAC 2018 from the conference management team.
  • Taped playback over select activities based on demand.
  • Regional group challenges to all remote delegates for various prizes and awards.
  • Discounted prices on select NOAC merchandise.
How can I become a remote delegate?

Experience NOAC 2018 from anywhere. Become a NOAC@Home remote delegate today.

Learn more and register here.

Thanks to Andrew Miller, Nick Ochsner and Ed Lynes for the tip.

Venturers heading to military academy forged friendships in Scouting

One-third of Venturing Crew 19 in Normal, Illinois, has the same goal this summer: report to Cadet Basic Training at West Point.

Danielle Cross, Shane Hickman and Isaac Hageberg each chose the U.S. Military Academy with different career paths in mind, but they’re all looking to better themselves while helping others.

“When I come to the end of my life, I wish to know that I made people’s lives better,” Hageberg says. “I want to live a life about serving those around me.”

Hageberg wants to attend Army Ranger School while Cross aims to be a doctor and Hickman plans to become a pilot.

Hageberg and Hickman are Eagle Scouts and earned the Venturing Ranger Award. Cross earned the Gold Award, Girl Scouts’ highest honor. It’s not surprising that Eagle Scouts and Gold Award recipients are well represented in the military academy’s class. In fact, Scouts make up a large percentage of cadets at many of America’s military academies.

“The support, service and lifelong friendships among people in these communities is unparalleled and I want to always be a part of it,” Cross says.

Adventure and leadership

Boy Scout Troop 19 had an on-again, off-again Venturing Crew, Hickman says. Hageberg and Hickman joined the crew to help reinvigorate its membership and to take part in its high adventure opportunities. The crew has gone on canoeing, backpacking, cross country skiing, cycling and rock climbing treks. Being a small group helps in the planning of big summertime trips, Hickman says, as it was easier to gain consensus. It also helps that everyone is good friends, he says.

Cross joined Venturing Crew 19 in high school after her father — a West Point alumnus — was stationed from New York to Illinois. Outdoor adventure and comradeship were primary draws in Venturing for her.

“Life is not only about the final destination, but also how you get there and the lessons and fun you have along the way,” Cross says.

Scouting has also taught her about leadership, how to delegate tasks and recruit help from others. Her fellow Venturers agree that they have been given the chance to lead in a safe environment, where one can fail, learn and rebound.

“I learned how to fail at a time when that was OK,” Hageman says. “I was encouraged to figure out my leadership style.”

All three Venturers knew of each other’s plans to apply to West Point, and they interviewed with their U.S. Congressmen to seek a nomination to the academy.

“They all asked about leadership,” Hickman says.

Thanks to Venturing, they could confidently answer those questions.

You can learn about Venturing and how to start a crew here. And if your Eagle Scout is serving in the military, you can share his achievements in the armed forces for possible inclusion in Eagles’ Call magazine.

Here’s when and how you can start welcoming girls into Cub Scouting

They’re called early adopter Cub Scout packs. These Scout units, with council approval, have been welcoming girls since Jan. 15.

Early feedback from this soft launch of Family Scouting has been excellent. One den leader told me the girls in her den “are curious and want new experiences in a fun and positive environment. … It’s kids and Scouting, and the two have been successful together for a long time.”

Seeing that enthusiasm among early adopter packs has been high, some early adopter councils are continuing that enthusiasm into spring recruiting, with registration options for girls available to all councils starting June 11, 2018.

Here are seven ways to Be Prepared.

1. Understand how packs will be structured.

There will be three types of Cub Scout packs: all-boy packs, all-girl packs and packs that include a mix of girl dens and boy dens. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender: all boys or all girls.

This hybrid model builds on the benefit of a single-gender program while also providing character and leadership opportunities for both boys and girls.

2. Get chartered organization approval.

The choice about whether to form a new all-girl pack or add girl dens to an existing pack is left to the chartered organization, in consultation with unit leaders.

Now’s the time to begin having those conversations with your chartered organization representative, pack committee members and fellow volunteers. Be sure to consult this Chartered Organization Toolkit for guidance.

3. Mark your calendar.

New materials for your Cub Scout pack will start start showing up in Scout Shops as early as June 1.

The BSA knows councils launch the program year at different times, but girls can begin registering in the system as early as June 11.

4. Get volunteers primed to launch.

Start approaching parents who might want to serve as den leaders or assistant Cubmasters for your new dens or pack.

Remember that Youth Protection rules of two-deep leadership apply.

For all-boy dens, the rule is unchanged. You must have one registered adult leader and one other adult present at all times. One of these adults must be at least 21.

For all-girl dens, at least one of the leaders (den leader or assistant den leader) must be a registered female at least 21.

5. Start thinking about program.

Cub Scouts activities and the requirements for Cub Scout Adventures won’t change.

Two Arrow of Light Adventure Trails will be renamed: Outdoorsman will become Outdoor Adventurer, and Sportsman will simply become Sports.

The pack or den will continue to decide when and where to meet. Dens for girls and dens for boys could meet at the same time and place if the leaders so choose.

6. Ask your fellow volunteers to begin recruiting families.

It’s never too early to tell families about all the fun, character-building things Cub Scouts get to do.

7. Know where to go with questions.

Start by checking the resources on the BSA’s Family Scouting page.

Have a question about Family Scouting? Your unit commissioner — a volunteer who serves as a friend, representative and counselor for Scout units — remains the best person to talk to about the Scouting program.

You may also want to contact your district executive — a professional who works for your local BSA council.

You’re also welcome to reach out to to ask your questions directly.

Posthumous Eagle Scout board of review held for Scout with heart condition

Michael Costello accomplished a lot in less than 15 years. He never let anything — certainly not a heart condition and other chronic health issues — stand in the way of his goals.

Michael died March 11, 2017 — just a week shy of his 15th birthday. He completed all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout award but never had an Eagle Scout board of review.

Knowing that the BSA allows posthumous boards of review, even for the highest rank of Eagle, the adults of Troop 117 of Coatesville, Pa., got to work.

On June 13, 2017, volunteers from the Chester County Council held a posthumous board of review. Scouter Ed Crompton called it “quite different, interesting and certainly emotional.”

The board of review members, including Crompton, interviewed Michael’s parents, the chairman of his troop’s committee, his Scoutmaster, a den leader and a fellow member of Troop 117.

The verdict was swift: “The outpouring of stories about Michael, his accomplishments, indomitable spirit, passion for Scouting and desire to give back all attested to his qualities as a true Eagle Scout,” Crompton said.

Michael’s early years

Michael was born in 2002 in South Carolina. The family that had planned to adopt him learned that the boy had been born with a serious medical condition. They were told he would not live to see his second birthday and decided not to proceed with the adoption.

Three more families opted not to adopt the boy.

Then Patti and Michael Costello showed up.

They drove to South Carolina to meet with Michael’s doctors and begin the paperwork. A week later, Michael was their legally adopted son.

As Michael continued to outlive his initial prognosis, he spent a lot of time at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“One thing about the program at CHOP is their focus on improving the lives, both physically and emotionally, of their young patients and their families,” Crompton said.

For example, each patient gets his or her own colorful, personalized pillowcase.

“Michael often stated that the enjoyment and emotional uplift he got from getting this gift helped lift his spirit,” Crompton said.

Michael’s time in Scouting

Michael started as a Cub Scout in Pack 36, and Scouting became his respite.

He found a place where his physical limitations weren’t a deal-breaker. He found adults who cared enough to find a way to make Scouting a great experience.

Knowing that his body would continue to break down as he got older, Michael earned the more physically demanding merit badges first. He excelled at earning money for his troop’s Scouting adventures and was his troop’s top popcorn salesman several times. He was known as an excellent camp chef. He served as den chief for a Cub Scout pack in Wilmington, Del.

“The den leader shared at Michael’s board of review that he came to each meeting prepared to lead and teach the boys — always enthusiastic and ready to make her role as den leader worry-free,” Crompton said. “She learned that she could count on Michael, and the boys in her den developed a strong emotional bond with him.”

Michael got a heart transplant when he was 12. Throughout his recovery, he continued to work on advancement and merit badges.

After about a year, Michael’s body started to reject the new heart.

It was now a race against time. Michael wanted to continue to be a fully engaged and active participant in the troop and, if possible, complete all of the requirements to be an Eagle Scout.

Michael’s Eagle Scout project

Remember those pillowcases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia?

Michael wanted to make sure that tradition continued, so he made it his Eagle project.

After his project idea was approved, Michael raised $1,600 to buy fabric and materials. He learned how to make the pillowcases and led volunteers as they put everything together. After 450 total hours of service, Michael and his volunteers crafted 300 pillowcases.

Michael completed his project in January 2017.

Michael’s board of review

In March 2017, Michael was beginning his Eagle Scout application when his health began to worsen.

He died soon after. Michael’s parents submitted the paperwork on their son’s behalf, and the district contacted them to schedule Michael’s board of review.

At the board of review, everyone got to hear Michael’s story. Yes, they heard about his Leave No Trace Award and his 55 Cub Scout belt loops. They heard about his time as a den chief and all his merit badges.

But most compelling was the story of how Michael enjoyed life to the fullest. He cared about others and lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

“Although plagued with significant medical issues all of his short life, Michael never let this interfere with his positive outlook on life,” Crompton said.

A note about posthumous boards of review

These are specifically covered in section of the Guide to Advancement. Here’s the relevant section:

Bestowing Posthumous Awards

If, prior to death, a youth member in any BSA program met the requirements for a rank or award, including age and service, he or she may receive it posthumously. If a required board of review has not been conducted, it is held according to the methods outlined in “Boards of Review,” It is appropriate to invite parents or guardians and friends to discuss the efforts made toward the rank.

For the Eagle Scout rank, the application is verified at the council service center, but it must be sent to the National Advancement Program Team for processing. A cover letter from the Scout executive or designee must indicate it as posthumous. This triggers changes to the congratulatory letter returned with the pocket card and certificate. Note that the same procedures regarding timing of an Eagle Scout board of review apply in posthumous cases. See “Eagle Scout Board of Review Beyond the 18th Birthday,”

Jon Bon Jovi was a Cub Scout — and so was his son

Jon Bon Jovi’s boyhood experience with the Pinewood Derby was no Bed of Roses.

With no help from his dad when building the car, the future rocker was just Livin’ on a Prayer.

Decades later, when it was time for the Pinewood Derby with his own son, Bon Jovi basically told the boy: I’ll Be There for You.

As Bon Jovi prepares to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this weekend in Cleveland, let’s take a quick look back at his time in Scouting.

‘I wasn’t very handy’

In the late 1960s, John Francis Bongiovi Jr. was a Cub Scout in New Jersey when the annual race rolled around.

“They say, ‘make a car out of this piece of wood,'” Bon Jovi told Jay Leno on the Feb. 7, 2002, episode of The Tonight Show. “I showed up at the race, the paint was wet, my hands were blue … ”

Bon Jovi told Leno he hadn’t gotten any help from his dad when building the car. One of his brothers, meanwhile, was very skilled at carving and “could make his car look like a real car that … if you put it on a table, you’d think, ‘oh, that was a real car.'”

And Jon Bon Jovi’s car?

“Mine, three of the wheels were on the same side,” he told Leno. “What I’m saying — it’s not good. I wasn’t very handy.”

‘We built the coolest car ever’

When it was time for his son to enter the Pinewood Derby, Bon Jovi boarded his plane and flew back to New Jersey just for the occasion.

“I’m hanging with my son. We built the coolest car ever,” he told Leno. “But I actually helped. My son did more than I did, and he’s 6, but, you know.”

The crowd laughed as Bon Jovi continued.

“I got to say I did something handy, and we’re taking a picture together and, you know, he’s got his arm around his dad, and I’ve got my two hands up showing my wife I didn’t cut myself — look, you know, it’s like I still got all my fingers. So that’s about as handy as I’m able to get.”

Share your story

Did you Have a Nice Day at the Pinewood Derby, or did you go down in a Blaze of Glory? Share your story below.

Thanks to Ron Blaisdell and Jay Bottorff for the tip.

Scouting Show and Tell: Eagle Scout court of honor decorations, programs and food

It’s time for Show and Tell, where Scouters show their favorite photos based on that week’s Scouting topic and tell the story behind them.

Share your photos on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #ScoutingShowandTell

Or upload a photo as a comment below. Just click the image icon at the bottom of any comment box and choose which file you’d like to upload. You can also drag an image file directly into the comment box. Max file size is 2 MB, and you can upload these kinds of photos: JPG, JPEG, GIF and PNG.

Your Scout just became an Eagle Scout? That’s cause for a grand celebration.

It’s called the Eagle Scout court of honor, and it’s one of the biggest Scouting parties of the year.

For this Show and Tell, please share photos from an Eagle Scout court of honor in your troop.

Types of photos to share

What types of photos should you post? Ones that might help your fellow Scouters as they plan to celebrate a new Eagle Scout.

Specifically, let’s see photos of these court of honor elements:

  • Printed program designs
  • Unique ceremony elements
  • Tables to display an Eagle’s Scouting memorabilia
  • Custom-made cakes and sweets
  • Eagle-themed snacks
  • Special decorations
  • Party favors or take-home items for guests
  • Other cool things

Matt Moniz, BSA Adventure Ambassador, sets his latest target: Mount Everest

What makes Matt Moniz the ideal person to be the BSA’s first Adventure Ambassador? Only everything he’s ever done.

At age 12, Matt needed just 43 days to climb the highest point in each of the 50 states. Two years later, he earned the Eagle Scout Award (Troop 171, Boulder, Colo.).

At 16, he became the youngest person to summit Makalu, the world’s fifth-tallest mountain. A year later, Matt was in Nepal preparing to climb Mount Everest when a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit. Matt used his Scouting skills to help others — service that earned him the BSA’s Honor Medal with Crossed Palms.

At 18, Matt was picked to deliver the BSA’s Report to the Nation to top leaders in Washington, D.C.

Matt is now 20 years old, and he’s the BSA’s first Adventure Ambassador. And he’s just getting started.

This May, he’ll make another attempt to climb Mount Everest, and this time, he’s bringing along the entire BSA family.

What’s an Adventure Ambassador?

An Adventure Ambassador is someone who is living and breathing adventure every single day. They’re climbing up mountains, rafting down rivers, camping in the backcountry and living life to the fullest.

You can follow their stories by following the BSA on Instagram (@boyscoutsofamerica). Each week you’ll meet real men and real women from coast to coast who show what adventure looks like to them. This will inevitably inspire you to live your own adventure, whatever that is and wherever you are.

How can I follow Matt’s journey to Everest?

What does it take to climb the world’s highest mountain? What kind of gear is required to survive Everest’s cold, thin air?

Matt will answer those questions and more through videos he’s posting to the BSA’s Instagram page.

Here are two recent examples:

Why are Scouts and Venturers required to wear helmets when rock climbing?

Proper gear for climbing includes a quality harness, good rope, the right clothing and shoes — and a climbing helmet.

I was surprised to learn the reason we wear helmets when rock climbing goes beyond merely cushioning the cranium in a fall.

Climbing helmets also shield your skull from falling objects like rocks or gear … or the cellphone of someone climbing a parallel route.

If you slip when climbing, your belayer keeps you from falling down. But it’s your helmet that protects your head if your momentum sends you flying back into the climbing surface.

Here’s what else you should know about climbing helmets.

Who must wear a helmet during rock climbing/rappelling?

Every participant in the fall zone of any BSA climbing or rappelling activity must wear a helmet that is designed for ropes courses or climbing.

That means the person on the wall, the belayer and anyone walking around in the climbing area.

How do you pick the right climbing helmet?

Climbing helmets have suspension systems made of either webbing or foam. Other kinds of helmets such as those intended for bicyclists, skaters, construction workers, or football players are not specifically designed for climbing and are not acceptable.

When selecting helmets, consider ventilation, ease of adjustability, and color (dark colors absorb heat; light colors reflect it).

It’s a good idea for climbing instructors to wear helmets of a distinctive color. This makes them easier to identify in a group.

How do you ensure proper helmet fit?

Adults should help make sure that every participant’s helmet is adjusted to fit properly. Never allow a helmet to be worn tipped back to expose the forehead.

Participants may complain at times that helmets feel hot or uncomfortable, but the assurance of increased safety far outweighs any minor discomfort.

When is a helmet no longer fit to wear?

All climbing helmets must be retired according to the manufacturer’s recommendations — or sooner if one shows signs of wear or sustains significant impact.

Follow any additional manufacturer’s guidelines for retiring helmets.

What if your pack, troop or crew is climbing at a commercial climbing facility where helmets aren’t required?

Which takes precedence: the BSA’s requirements or those of the climbing gym?

You’ll find the relevant reference in Climb On Safely, a document that outlines the BSA’s climbing program. Look in Section 5: Equipment.

I’ve added bold for emphasis.

The climbing instructor should verify that the proper equipment is available for the size and ability level of the participants. Helmets, harnesses, rope, and climbing hardware must meet appropriate requirements as outlined in Belay On. All equipment must be acquired new and/or furnished by the instructor and retired according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

When using a climbing gym, the climbing facility’s procedures apply.

In other words: If the gym does not require helmets, then the Scouts are not required to use them.

All of that said, a good Scout leader should carefully evaluate the conditions for any Scout activity. If the leader determines that using helmets may enhance the safety of his or her Scouts or Venturers, then the leader might discuss this with the facility managers and bring their own helmets or choose to do the climbing activity elsewhere.

Where can you find BSA climbing resources?

Climb on Safely: The BSA’s procedure for organizing BSA climbing/rappelling activities at a natural site or a specifically designed facility such as a climbing wall or tower.

Belay On: Reference manual used as a resource for COPE and climbing programs operated within the Boy Scouts of America.

Thanks to these top volunteers on the BSA’s COPE and Climbing National Task Force for the help: Chris Moon, John Winter and Rhonda Wright.

Eagle Scout’s free service a must for any parent concerned about product recalls

More than 900 million products were recalled in the U.S. last year. Many of those products are still in families’ homes.

Eagle Scout Chris LoPresti and his team decided to do something about this potentially dangerous problem.

They launched Bonnie, a free recall monitoring service that automatically analyzes your purchases and alerts you when a product you own has been recalled or has a safety issue.

Setup takes about 10 seconds. Once it’s activated, the service scans your inbox for emailed receipts and compiles a list of your purchases. You can also manually scan receipts for purchases made at a physical store.

After that, Bonnie works behind the scenes — ceaselessly searching for items that have been recalled. If there’s a match, the user receives an alert and instructions on how to resolve the issue.

“Bonnie is a great service for anyone, though it’s particularly helpful for busy parents,” LoPresti told Forbes last year. “There are plenty of reasons why the majority of recalled children’s products are not promptly removed from the home, but the primary issue is that it’s just hard to keep up.”

With stories about privacy and technology dominating the news, I asked LoPresti what he would you tell a parent who is skeptical about Bonnie because it requires access to email.

“We take privacy and security seriously at Bonnie, and we built Bonnie with a security-first mindset,” he said. “We protect individuals’ data with encryption and other security best practices, we don’t use data in ways that individuals don’t agree to, and anyone can change their mind at any point and opt out.”

LoPresti’s Scouting background

Chris LoPresti became an Eagle Scout on Oct. 23, 2007. He was a member of Troop 156 of Glenview, Ill., part of the Northeast Illinois Council.

He says his favorite Scouting memories included designing and creating Pinewood Derby cars in Cub Scouts, backpacking through Glacier National Park with his troop, and attending the 2007 World Scout Jamboree with his dad.

For his Eagle project, LoPresti built a series of spaces including outdoor seating, a garden, benches, and tables for an organization called Youth Services that provides collaborative social-emotional support for children.

“At the time of my Eagle Scout project, the organization had more demand for their services than they could accommodate, and the additional space allowed them to help more children and their families,” LoPresti told me.

LoPresti (second from left) served on a panel at the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization’s annual conference in front of more than 800 consumer safety professionals. How Scouting helped LoPresti in business

Starting a new business takes creativity, teamwork and a willingness to put in long hours.

LoPresti says Scouting helped pave the way.

“Scouting helped prepare me in more ways than I can count,” he said. “Often times, potentially good businesses fail because of a lack of persistence. Scouting teaches you to work hard, be thrifty, trust yourself and to not let setbacks throw you off course.”

Before getting a degree from Yale University and becoming an entrepreneur, LoPresti learned business skills as a Scout.

“The early exposure to sales and marketing through selling popcorn and Christmas trees gave me confidence at an early age,” he said. It “instilled in me that rejection and learning from failures is an important part of growth.”

Boy Scout robotics team to compete in World Championship

Robotics and Scouting is “a perfect combination,” Life Scout Nicholas Shunick says.

Nicholas and some of his fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 125 in Gainesville, Fla., will head to Houston next week to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST, for short) Lego League Championship. His team is one of hundreds from around the world that will showcase their Lego robots at the four-day extravaganza.

These intricate robots are designed to perform tasks on an enclosed course. Also part of the competition, teams must identify a scientific problem (this year’s theme is the way people use water) and make presentations on how they’d solve the problem. The challenges prompt participants to work together and show good sportsmanship.

“It has given me the chance to develop teamwork and leadership skills at the same time,” Shunick says. “Both Scouts and FIRST Lego League emphasize core values that are important in life.”

Building bots

Troop 125’s robotics team began two years ago thanks to the enthusiasm and mentorship of a group of older Scouts who participated in a high school robotics league. With the help of a district committee, which offered a Lego kit to the troop, and an Eagle Scout mentor, the “Platybots” were up and running.

These aren’t the Legos you remember dumping out of the big red bucket to play with. Lego robots can be equipped with infrared sensors, motors and bricks that can be controlled with a phone or tablet. Some robots require more than 300 steps to build. But once they’re built, they can perform some impressive feats, like scooping up items and placing them with precision.

Watch the Scouts practicing with their robot:

Within the first year, all members of the team had earned the Robotics merit badge. Check out the requirements here. In the second year, five members won a regional Lego League championship, earning a spot in the World Championship in Houston.

Erica Canova, whose son is on the team, has witnessed the team members grow and learn together.

“I think having the team within his Boy Scout troop has helped him develop a strong camaraderie with the other team members and strengthened his friendships within the troop,” Canova says.

The Platybots plan to help younger Scouts work on the Robotics merit badge this summer.

STEM activities in Scouting

Interested in incorporating science, technology, engineering and math into your Scouts’ activities? There are plenty of options.

Cub Scouts
  • Tigers, for example, can visit a planetarium and learn about the universe as part of the Sky is the Limit elective adventure.
  • Wolf Scouts investigate how air affects objects, like inflatable balls and paper airplanes, in the Air of the Wolf adventure.
  • Bears build their own robots in the Robotics elective adventure.
  • Webelos Scouts can conduct safe chemical reactions, launch model rockets and create electrical circuits in the Adventures in Science elective adventure.
Boy Scouts and Venturing Exploring, Sea Scouts and STEM Scouts
  • Explorers can discover careers in engineering and technologyscience and aviation.
  • As they advance in rank, Sea Scouts must understand and explain to others weather patterns and the effects of pollution on the aquatic environment. Scouts can also pursue the electricity elective, in which they study battery cells and electrical current.
  • STEM Scouts experiment and explore on the elementary, middle school and high school levels.

Recognition item honors Eagle Scouts who have fallen in the line of duty

After trading their Boy Scout uniform for a police, fire or military uniform, some Eagle Scouts make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Line of Duty Fallen Eagle Recognition from the National Eagle Scout Association honors those Eagle Scouts who have died while serving as police officers, firefighters or members of the military.

“It is important that we recognize the sacrifices of Eagle Scouts, who, by their service, allow us to live the American dream,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, an Eagle Scout and NESA committee member.

Rules vary by state, but a Line of Duty Death can be the result of a traumatic event or an occupational illness, disease or injury. Any Line of Duty Death ruled by the agency the Eagle was representing at the time of death will be honored.

The process for applying for this recognition is outlined here. NESA will verify the fallen person’s Eagle Scout status, notify top BSA volunteers and professionals, and contact the deceased’s home troop and council.

Next, a presentation Eagle medal will be sent to the fallen person’s local council. The council will present the medal to the deceased person’s family at an appropriate time.

Finally, NESA will notify the Congressional Eagle Scout Caucus. The caucus will inform the members of Congress who represent the fallen Eagle.

Other ways to honor the fallen Eagle Scout

Friends, Scouters and family members can further remember the fallen Eagle with a gift in the Eagle Scout’s name to the NESA Scholarship Endowment Fund for the benefit of future Eagle Scouts’ education.

They may also purchase a Fallen Eagle sculpture from the NESA Store.

There’s now a better way to leave comments on Bryan on Scouting posts

We’ve switched to a new commenting platform on Bryan on Scouting that will make it easier to have a conversation with your fellow volunteers.

It’s called Disqus, and if you’ve recently read or posted a comment on, Mental Floss, CNN or thousands of other sites that use Disqus, you’ve seen it in action.

Several readers have emailed me to ask about the new platform, so I thought I’d share a quick overview about what’s new and why it’s better.

1. You can log in or leave a comment as a guest.

Disqus allows users to log in using their existing Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts. You may also create a Disqus account that will allow you to leave comments on any site that uses the platform.

You do have the option to leave a comment without logging in. Just click the box labeled “name” and check the option for “I’d rather post as a guest.”

Note that visitors who post as guests will not see their comments appear until they are moderated.

2. You can add photos and links to your comments.

Share a photo from your recent adventure or a link to your favorite Dutch oven recipe.

Comments have never looked better.

3. It works well on any device and updates in real time.

Whether you like to leave comments on your phone, laptop or tablet, the interface just works.

Plus, to keep the conversation flowing, new comments appear in real time. No need to refresh.

4. Spam and disruptive comments are gone.

Better moderating tools for us means it’s easier for you to enjoy a productive discussion with other leaders.

Speaking of …

5. There’s a new comment policy.

You can read the full thing here, but it really boils down to this:

  • Comments that are Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind will be approved.
  • Comments that we find to be hateful, inflammatory or harassing may be removed.

That doesn’t mean we’ve outlawed negativity. Comments that are critical while remaining on-topic and civil are always welcome. As they teach us in Wood Badge: Feedback is a gift.

Southwest Airlines pilot does a Good Turn for Scout flying back from Philmont

Helping others, leading a team and doing more than what’s expected.

Just a typical day for an Eagle Scout like Capt. Dan Reilly of Southwest Airlines.

When he found a cherished hat left behind by a Scout returning home from Philmont Scout Ranch, Reilly went the extra mile to return this priceless possession to its owner.

With the help of a dedicated employee at the Cradle of Liberty Council, this memento from a Scout’s Philmont experience is back where it belongs.

It gets even better. When returning the hat to the council, Reilly mentioned how impressed he was with the Scouts. Turns out this group of young people on Flight 3304 from Denver to Philadelphia did all of us proud.

“It was a pleasure to spend time with such a well-mannered, energetic group of young people,” Reilly wrote in his letter to the council.

A special blue hat

Each Scout who is part of the Cradle of Liberty Council’s Philmont contingent receives a special blue hat. It’s part of the uniform for their trek at the BSA’s high-adventure base in New Mexico.

Soren Carlson was one of those lucky Scouts. He’s a member of Troop 176 in Narberth, Pa., but at Philmont, he represented the council’s Crew 7.

Soren wore the hat during each rugged-but-rewarding mile of his trek. The hat, and its wearer, had been on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. To say it carried a lot of sentimental value is an understatement.

That made it all the more tragic when the hat didn’t make it off the plane.

A captain’s find

Flight 3304 landed safely in Philadelphia. Once the passengers had disembarked, Reilly walked down the aisle and spotted something blue.

The hat itself was covered in clues. “Cradle of Liberty Council” and “Philmont” were embroidered on the front. Under the bill, someone had written “Carlson, Crew 7.”

With those clues, Reilly had no trouble finding an address for the council. He put the hat in the mail along with the following letter:

A surprise in the mail

Veronica Coyle of the BSA’s Cradle of Liberty Council opened the brown envelope. Coyle and a colleague saw the hat, read the letter and felt “such a sense of pride.”

“Pride in our Scouts, a large group of teenage boys who represented themselves so well that when the pilot found the hat he felt compelled to return it,” she said. “And of course pride in the Scouting program as a whole, as it developed an Eagle Scout like Capt. Reilly, who went out of his way to take the hat with him after he’d finished his flights for the day, find the address for our council, and go to the post office and mail the package.”

Coyle called Reilly’s gesture “so representative of what Scouting is all about.”

“The stuff you do when no one’s watching, right?” she said.

A story spreads

Coyle shared the letter with her colleagues at the council. Next, Cradle of Liberty Council Scout Executive Daniel Templar wrote Reilly a thank-you note and included two council shoulder patches.

“It is clear that you abide by the saying, ‘Once an Eagle Scout, Always an Eagle Scout,'” Templar wrote. (See the full letter below.)

Coyle wanted to add her own note of gratitude, so she logged onto the Southwest website and penned a short note of thanks. She thought that was the end of it.

“To be honest, I just hoped that it got to Capt. Reilly — or better yet, his boss!” Coyle said. “I think it’s unfortunate that oftentimes people are quick to complain or post negative comments about a bad experience, but won’t take the same amount of time to recognize a positive experience.”

Coyle was surprised when she was told the letter would appear in Southwest: The Magazine, with an audience of more than 6 million readers per issue. (See the article from the February 2018 issue below.)

“While I’m sure Capt. Reilly did not return the hat because he was looking for praise (or a council shoulder patch), and I didn’t write the letter because I hoped it would be published in a magazine, it’s so nice to see that the story received the attention it did!” Coyle said.

8 simple ways to be a safer driver when transporting Scouts and Venturers

As Scouts and Scouters, our preferred mode of transportation involves our feet, a paddle or two bicycle wheels.

But even the most adventurous Scouting journey begins in a vehicle. When that happens, you, as the driver, are responsible for safely transporting Scouts and Venturers there and back.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. That makes now the ideal time to share eight ways to be a safer driver when transporting Scouts or Venturers.

1. Get enough sleep

By definition, drowsy drivers are about to fall asleep. Drivers are generally poor judges of their own level of fatigue and unable to predict when they are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

2. Share the driving

Before leaving on any vehicle journey, designate licensed relief drivers.

3. Be aware of medicine side effects

Avoid sedating medications such as cold tablets, antihistamines and/or antidepressants when driving.

4. Take frequent breaks

What’s the rush? Stop and get out of the car at least once every two hours.

5. Put your phone away

When you get behind the wheel, put your cellphone away — somewhere like your backpack or glove compartment where it’s out of reach.

If you must use the phone, pull the vehicle off the road and to a safe location. If you use your phone to navigate, turn on the “do not disturb” mode so you aren’t bombarded with incoming messages.

6. Avoid eating behind the wheel

Sure, eating snacks or meals on the road saves time, but this practice takes attention off the road and/or other drivers.

7. Drive appropriate vehicles

This site includes a short slide deck on 15-passenger vans. Review it before your next trip involving vans as transportation. As a reminder: Pre-2005 15-passenger vans are not authorized for Scouting activities.

8. Get trained

The BSA offers driver improvement training that can be found at This program is based on the concepts of defensive driving, recognizing hazards and preventable collisions. Go to the BSA Learn Center and look for “expanded learning.” Once completed, a certificate will be generated, and the participant’s training records will be updated.

More resources