Bryan On Scouting

Swimming merit badge revised in time for summer camp

Swimming merit badge, that Eagle-required summer camp staple, has been upgraded and revised just in time for the 2014 summer camp season.

The new requirements focus more on teaching Scouts correct stroke mechanics while continuing to emphasize basic water skills. Previous requirements like snorkeling, competitive swimming and CPR (which Scouts learn more fully in other merit badges anyway) have been removed.

With the new requirements, the goal is to teach Scouts to swim with greater ease and efficiency, as well as keep them safe in and around the water.

Scouts may use either the old or new requirements in 2014 — it’s their choice. On Jan. 1, 2015, they’ll become official, and only Scouts who have already started working with the old requirements may use the old ones.

As you know, Swimming’s an important merit badge because to earn the Eagle Scout Award, a Scout must earn either Swimming, Cycling or Hiking MB.

A revised Swimming merit badge pamphlet, with new color illustrations, will be available soon for purchase at local Scout Shops and through

Most summer camps will want to use the latest requirements for Swimming merit badge this summer. So the BSA decided to release those new requirements early. I’ve pasted them below.

That said, Scouts may choose to work using the old requirements, which were published earlier this year in the 2014 Boy Scout Requirements Book. Here’s how the transition will work:

  • Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2014: Scouts may begin or continue working on Swimming merit using either the old or new Swimming merit badge requirements. It’s the Scout’s choice.
  • Jan. 1, 2015 and beyond: Scouts who have started work using the old requirements may continue to use the old requirements. They don’t need to start over again with the new ones. However, Scouts who haven’t started at all must use the new requirements.

Speaking of …

New Swimming merit badge requirements


1. Do the following:

a. Explain to your counselor how Scouting’s Safe Swim Defense plan anticipates, helps prevent and mitigate, and provides responses to likely hazards you may encounter during swimming activities.

b. Discuss the prevention and treatment of health concerns that could occur while swimming, including hypothermia, dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, muscle cramps, hyperventilation, spinal injury, stings and bites, and cuts and scrapes.

2. Before doing the following requirements, successfully complete the BSA swimmer test: Jump feet first into water over the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be completed in one swim without stops and must include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.

3. Swim continuously for 150 yards using the following strokes in good form and in a strong manner: front crawl or trudgen for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, sidestroke for 25 yards, breaststroke for 25 yards, and elementary backstroke for 50 yards.

4. Do the following:

a. Demonstrate water rescue methods by reaching with your arm or leg, by reaching with a suitable object, and by throwing lines and objects. Explain why swimming rescues should not be attempted when a reaching or throwing rescue is possible, and explain why and how a rescue swimmer should avoid contact with the victim.

b. With a helper and a practice victim, show a line rescue both as tender and as rescuer. The practice victim should be approximately 30 feet from shore in deep water.

5. Do the following:

a.   Float faceup in a resting position for at least one minute.

b.   Demonstrate survival floating for at least five minutes.

c.   While wearing a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jacket, demonstrate the HELP and huddle positions. Explain their purposes.

d.   Explain why swimming or survival floating will hasten the onset of hypothermia in cold water.

6. In water over your head, but not to exceed 10 feet, do each of the following:

a.   Use the feet first method of surface diving and bring an object up from the bottom.

b.   Do a headfirst surface dive (pike or tuck), and bring the object up again.

c.   Do a headfirst surface dive to a depth of at least 5 feet and swim underwater for three strokes. Come to the surface, take a breath, and repeat the sequence twice.

7. Following the guidelines set in the BSA Safe Swim Defense, in water at least 7 feet deep*, show a standing headfirst dive from a dock or pool deck. Show a long shallow dive, also from the dock or pool deck.

*If your state, city, or local community requires a water depth greater than 7 feet, it is important to abide by that mandate.

8. Explain the health benefits of regular aerobic exercise, and discuss why swimming is favored as both fitness and therapeutic exercise.


N.J. police and National Guard camporee is one of 2014′s largest Scouting events

Later today, 10,000 Boy Scouts will converge in New Jersey for what organizers are calling the year’s largest Scouting event (though organizers of the Scouting 500 event this weekend in Kansas City expect 12,000).

This weekend’s New Jersey State Police and New Jersey National Guard Camporee will gather 300 troops from all over New Jersey and from parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and Connecticut at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, N.J.

Looks like they’re in for a “you-won’t-believe-what-I-did-last-weekend” weekend.

They’ll watch jaw-dropping police and National Guard demonstrations, participate in interactive displays and work on merit badges.

It’s a highlight for the Scouts in attendance and for the members of the New Jersey State Police and New Jersey National Guard who get to meet with Scouts and share some of their cool toys.

The state police will have a number of vehicles on display, including an underwater operations truck, helicopter and Arson Unit truck with robots. The National Guard will bring two helicopters, a Humvee and a security vehicle. Scouts can also check out a Howitzer, MK19 grenade launcher and sniper rifle (but no live fire, of course).

Other highlights:

  • The New Jersey State Police School and Traffic Safety Unit will bring its fatal-vision driving course set up for driving-age Scouts to experience the effects of drunken driving.
  • The state police static displays include: Cyber Crimes, Crime Scene Investigation, Composite Artist Unit, Major Crime Unit and Polygraph Unit.
  • Merit badge work on Fingerprinting, Wilderness Survival, Crime Prevention and Personal Fitness merit badges.
  • New Jersey State Police Training Bureau instructors will teach Scouts physical fitness. Scouts can compete to earn fitness awards for sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups with the Top Physical Challenge.
  • Rock climbing walls with National Guardsmen assisting Scouts
  • Emergency-shelter-building with National Guardsmen
  • Instruction on how to start fires through friction-fire methods
The camporee theme

The theme for this year’s camporee, the fourth edition of the event, is “Messengers of Peace.” That’s the global Scouting initiative involving more than 220 countries and territories in which Scouts carry out community service projects that promote peace.

Organizers say it’ll be one of the largest events — if not the largest — ever held in the name of Messengers of Peace.

Scouts who completed Messengers of Peace projects prior to the Camporee can submit a poster explaining their project to the Messengers of Peace Committee. The committee will select the top five projects and award prizes at the 8:30 p.m. Saturday Evening Show.

Dignitaries in attendance
  • Adjutant General of New Jersey Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff
  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes
  • Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock
  • Representatives from the international World Scouting Committee
Photos from 2011 camporee

Nice jobs! High-adventure bases have a few staff openings left for Summer 2014

It almost seems unfair. A few older teens and 20-somethings will work at Northern Tier, Philmont, Sea Base or the Summit this summer, and they’ll get paid for it.

Most of the summer staff is locked in for 2014, but the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases still have a few spots they’re looking to fill. But hurry, because summer will be here faster than you can say “best jobs ever.”

Jobs at high-adventure bases are especially attractive because they allow staffers to finish the summer with a healthy savings built up. Room and board is covered, so you’re not spending money on food or housing. And unlike summer jobs or paid internships in a city where excuses to spend money abound, the high-adventure bases off their own free fun.

Davey Warner, associate director of program at Northern Tier, told me he knows that to be true.

“Our staff every year will say” they left with a lot of cash, he said. “There’s always a handful who figure out how to blow their money, but for the most part they’re in the wilderness for days at a time, and town is a half-hour away. They can save.”

Before continuing, know that the minimum age to work at a high-adventure base is 18. Some positions, because of BSA standards, are only available to men and women 21 or older. And staffers must be or become registered members of the BSA. Oh, and you need to be legally able to work in the U.S. and complete a medical physical.

Which jobs are available? If you or someone you know meets the minimum age and is looking for an unforgettable summer job, check out this base-by-base roundup:

Northern Tier

Facts: Davey Warner, associate director of program at the BSA’s canoeing mecca in Minnesota, says that staff will arrive in two waves this summer: one on May 28 and the second on June 12. That’s two identical rounds of staff training to accommodate late arrivals.

Dates: Crews begin arriving at Northern Tier on June 5, and the last crew leaves Aug. 20.

Jobs available: They’re still hiring Interpreters, the staffers who take groups out into wilderness. They’re somewhat like Philmont’s Rangers, but Interpreters stay with the group the entire time.

Warner began as an Interpreter 10 years ago, he tells me. He says it was the best job he ever had for three reasons:

  1. You get to spend your summer in canoe country with awesome lakes and scenery all around you. “You get paid to tag along on other people’s vacations,” he says.
  2. It’s rewarding to be able to share an experience with Scouts and see them move past their comfort zone, he says.
  3. You build camaraderie and friendships that’ll last a lifetime. Warner still keeps in touch with some staffers he first met 10 years ago.

Benefits: Salary, plus room and board. They don’t advertise the exact salary, but Warner tells me it’s on a scale comparable to the other high-adventure bases. Basically, staffers are responsible for getting themselves there and home but otherwise don’t have to spend another dime.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Call 218-365-4811 or email

Philmont Scout Ranch

Facts: Philmont, the hiking haven in New Mexico, hires more than 1,000 Seasonal Employees. The co-ed staff comes from every state as well as several foreign countries. The majority of staffers are 18-24.

Dates: Most staff contracts run from late May through mid-August.

Jobs available: Food Service (16 positions), Housekeeping (five positions) and Tent Repair (three positions).

Benefits: Starting base salary is over $1,000/month, plus room and board (housing and meals). Staff uniform parts are also included at no cost. Salaries are dependent upon experience and level of responsibility.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Call 575-376-2281 or email

Sea Base

Facts: I spoke with Rob Kolb, director of program, who tells me the sailing and scuba superspot in Florida starts staff training this week.

Kolb says jobs at Sea Base are popular because staffers get “a chance to work in a unique location in some unique programs.”

Dates: The summer season runs from May 29 to Aug. 22.

Jobs available: Kolb tells me that there are no openings right now, but he knows that each year a few staffers don’t show up for training. So there are typically three or four last-minute openings for people available right away. Contact Kolb at 305-664-5614 or to get on his radar.

Benefits: Salary, plus room and board. Plus, Kolb jokes, “our food’s better than Philmont’s.” Having eaten at both bases, I can attest that you’ll eat well at either one.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Call Rob Kolb at 305-664-5614 or email

Summit Bechtel Reserve

Facts: David Kopsa, director of the Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base at the Summit, tells me that the BSA’s newest high-adventure base in West Virginia still could use some applicants in a few areas. The Summit’s diverse high-adventure offerings means a diverse set of jobs for staffers.

Dates: The Summit’s summer season runs June 8 to Aug. 23.

Jobs available: Kopsa said there are still openings in shooting sports, aquatics (specifically for a head lifeguard) and aerial sports (specifically zip lines and the challenge course).

Benefits: Pay starts at $1,090 per month, plus room and board.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Contact David Kopsa at

A look back at ‘Cubbing’

At next week’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the BSA will announce  revisions to the current Cub Scouting program. (You can read more about these changes in this post, and Bryan will have more live updates next week from Nashville.) Until then, let’s take a look back at how “Cubbing” first began. 

The national executive board first proposed a program designed specifically for younger boys in 1927. But it wasn’t until 1930 that the BSA began offering limited resources for this program. (Check out this announcement in the March 1930 issue of Scouting magazine.) In 1933, Cubbing — as it was known at the time — was fully launched and promoted among councils across the U.S.

In those first years, the Cub Scout program — even before it had been fully understood — contributed to the largest net growth in registered boys, according to the 1932 annual report.

While some of the program remains similar today, the first Cub Scout dens were led by Boy Scout den chiefs and den mothers (like the mom in the photo above, featured in on the cover of the May-June 1954 issue of Scouting). Weekly meetings were held at the den mother’s home, where the boys made crafts and played games. The program was meant to stand on its own with its own leadership and “not trespass on Boy Scouting.”

Flashback to Cub Scouting in the 1950s with this Scouting magazine article, “Come Into My Living Room.”

What are your early memories of Cub Scouting? Share these in the comments and stay tuned for more annual meeting coverage next week.

Boy Scout finds bag containing $4,500 in cash, does what Boy Scouts do

What would you if you found a bag with $4,500 inside?

Caribbean vacation, maybe? Shopping spree at Best Buy?

For 15-year-old Boy Scout James Villeneuve from Latham, N.Y., there was never any question about the answer.

As reported by WNYT-TV, James spotted a money bag while strolling with his family through a park in Albany, N.Y.

Inside was four-and-a-half grand in American money. That’s enough to buy a decade’s worth of videogames, movie tickets, comic books or anything else a typical teenage boy might spend his money on.

But James is no typical teen.

It turns out the bag belonged to a CVS nearby; the cash was on its way to the local bank.

James, who learned to be trustworthy as a Boy Scout, returned the money right away. The CVS manager met him outside — “sweating profusely,” James said — and thanked him for returning the cash.

The manager gave James a $20 gift card as a thanks, and CVS’ national public relations director told WNYT that the company plans to do even more for James.

“Our local team is in the process of trying to contact the boy,” CVS Public Relations Director Mike DeAngelis said. “We want to appropriately recognize him and his honesty, and express our gratitude by rewarding him with more.”

But the story gets better. 

Find My iPhone

Thirty minutes before finding and returning the money bag, James found an abandoned iPhone in the park.

He tracked down that owner, too, and the iPhone owner offered James $100 as a reward. James refused.

“That’s what a Boy Scout does,” James told the TV station. “We do favors and if we find something [we return it] without a reward.”

James, you rock.

Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by 401(K) 2013

Remember Sept. 11 with this Greater New York Councils tribute patch

This morning President Obama will officially dedicate the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. It opens to the public May 21.

Two years ago this month, I blogged about a special-edition council shoulder patch that the Greater New York Councils created to remember the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the 3,000 who died that day.

I confirmed this morning that the patch, called “A Tribute in Light,” is still available for purchase.

It depicts the real-life Sept. 11 memorial displayed in New York each year. The twin beams of light shine from dusk on Sept. 11 through dawn the next day and can be seen for 60 miles.

Scouters across the country were understandably shaken by the tragedy of 9/11, and many were interested in adding this patch to their collection after I first blogged about it in 2012. If you’d like one for your collection, read on to learn how to buy your own.

How to order

First, know that there are two versions of the patch.

The one seen above sells for $7 (shipping included). Then there’s another with the words “Never Forget” in ghosted script at the bottom. That one is $15 (shipping included).

To order, download the PDF order form or visit this site.


How do you decide which movies are appropriate for your Scouts, Venturers?

Parents decide which movies are OK for their children and which contain too much violence, bad language or sexual content.

But what happens when that guardianship temporarily transfers to you, the Scout leader? How do you decide whether it’s OK to watch that PG movie on a Cub Scout overnight or a PG-13 movie with your Venturers?

That becomes even more complicated when you realize that 12 parents may have a dozen different definitions of inappropriate movie content.

Side note: Watching movies isn’t a common Scouting activity, of course. We Scouts and Scouters prefer to have most of our fun outside. But there are times during camporees, summer camps, training courses or unit trips when I think they’re perfectly fine.

I have fond memories of seeing a movie with my Philmont crew on the way back from New Mexico. After hiking in the backcountry for 10 days, we felt we earned a couple of mindless hours at the movie theater.

For moviegoing Scouters, trouble starts when you try to interpret those MPAA ratings. For a time, the Motion Picture Association of America only provided the rating: G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17. And those ratings included some head-scratchers: Did you know Jaws was rated PG?

These days, we get a rating along with a few descriptions of why the movie received that rating. Helpful stuff.

For example, you might be OK taking Scouts to a movie that’s PG-13 for “Intense Sci-Fi Action” but leery of one that’s PG-13 for “Crude Humor.”

Resources to help you

Some great online resources take it one step beyond what the MPAA gives you.

Check out Kids-In-Mind and Common Sense Media for some easy-to-interpret guidance on a movie’s appropriateness. They give the facts and let you decide.

Kids-In-Mind rates movies from 1 to 10 in three categories: sex/nudity, violence/gore and profanity. Ratings range from 1 for almost none to 10 for an obscene amount. They get really specific, even bothering to count the number of obscenities used. (I’d like to meet the person who does that job.)

Common Sense Media gives a recommended minimum age for a movie — very helpful for a Scout leader. It also uses categories but includes both positive and negative ones: Positive messages, Positive role models, Violence, Sex, Language, Consumerism and Drinking, drugs, & smoking.

Share your policy

How does your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew handle watching movies? Do you inform parents of which movies you’ll be showing to get their consent? Have you ever had a parent react negatively to a movie you showed your Scouts? I’m interested to read your comments.

At Scouting Newsroom, get BSA breaking news straight from the source

Admit it: You like to be the first to know what’s new in the Boy Scouts of America.

I’m with you. So I was excited this week to learn about Scouting Newsroom, the new, official site for BSA news, updates and information. The public-facing site has news releases, fact sheets, and an overview of topics important to Scouts, Scouters, the public, and the news media.

There’s even an “Email Updates” box where you can enter your email address and receive a message every time a new entry is posted. I subscribed right away.

Scouting Newsroom, like the official news sites of other major organizations, is your best bet for reading news directly from the source. It’s the BSA’s exact message, unfiltered.

That said, I’ll continue to cover breaking BSA news right here on Bryan on Scouting, with the goal of helping you understand how it affects you. With Bryan on Scouting and Scouting Newsroom, you’ll be the best-informed Scouter around. 

Father-son team on ‘The Amazing Race’ includes Eagle Scout

He’s already earned Scouting’s highest honor, so racing donkeys in Italy, dancing in Malaysia and becoming a barber in Seville, Spain — all with a million bucks on the line — seems like a cake walk for Connor O’Leary.

Connor is the younger half of the “David & Connor” father-son team competing for $1 million on the Emmy-winning CBS reality series The Amazing Race. The 22-year-old earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2005 as a member of the Great Salt Lake Council.

We’ll find out whether Connor and his dad can win it all in the show’s season finale, airing at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) Sunday, May 18, on CBS.

Connor has impressed viewers this season as he and his dad traveled 35,000 miles to far-off destinations including China, Sri Lanka, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

That kind of travel schedule takes a lot of perseverance, but Connor and David are built from the toughest stuff around. Both are cancer survivors. David was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Connor had testicular cancer.

Thankfully, both are now cancer-free. As this Deseret News article from last year explains, the ordeal brought them closer together.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount together and know each other really well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” David told the newspaper. “I’ve watched Connor do the hardest things imaginable … and frankly I know it would be me just trying to keep up.”

Scouting shout-out

In last night’s episode (titled “Hei Ho Heidi Ho,” watch it here), Connor proclaimed he’s an Eagle Scout and that a shotgun-shooting challenge wouldn’t trouble him too much because he earned the Shotgun Shooting merit badge as a Scout.

I won’t spoil the outcome, but let’s just say he didn’t disappoint.

Connor’s is another fine example of an Eagle Scout continuing to impress long after his time as a youth in the program is over.

Be sure to cheer on Connor and his dad during the season finale on Sunday.

Other Scouts on TV

Coming soon: Scouting Around, a new TV show from Boys’ Life magazine

‘Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?’ now available on iTunes



Maryland mom raised all seven of her sons to become Eagle Scouts

Talk about setting the bar high.

Mary Agnes Lewis, 86, was honored by the Baltimore Area Council earlier this month as its first Eagle Scout Mom of the Year.

Her accomplishment? Helping all seven of her sons achieve the Eagle Scout Award.

She received her award — “a very shocking surprise,” she called it — at the council’s second-annual Eagle Scout Mom Thank You Reception.

I can’t wait to see who they give the award to next year, as seven Eagles in one family isn’t something you find every day.

Lewis and her husband, Fred, have 10 children, and all seven boys earned Scouting’s highest rank. As reported in this article in the Baltimore Sun, the youngest son is now 42 and the oldest 62. They live as far away as Arizona. But during the Eagle Mom reception, each talked about his Eagle project as if it had just been completed. And each expressed his gratitude to the woman who made it all possible.

On Mother’s Day, what a great reminder that almost everyone who earns the Eagle Scout rank, myself included, had the help of a phenomenal mom to get him there. 

Related post

Unsung heroes no more: Watch Eagle Scout moms get their due

Thanks to Jeff Griffin, field director in the Baltimore Area Council, for the blog post idea.

New Jersey Scouts help rescue NBC journalist Ann Curry

Scouts learn first-aid skills in Scouting without ever knowing when they’ll need to use them. Or on whom.

Last month a group of New Jersey Boy Scouts helped rescue the NBC journalist Ann Curry after she had broken her ankle while hiking.

On April 5, 2014, Scouts from Troop and Crew 368 out of Berkeley Heights, N.J., were on a Philmont training hike through Harriman State Park in New York.

That’s when, as Scouter Rick Jurgens told me this morning, they came across Curry. Only they didn’t know it was the Emmy-winning journalist right away.

“We were hiking along, and we came to a trail intersection,” Jurgens said, “and a lady was sitting on the ground with her one leg out. We didn’t think anything of it, but one of the guys asked if everything is OK. She said, ‘No, not really. I think I broke my ankle.’ She told us to keep going, but the guys refused.”

With no prompting from Jurgens, the Scouts sprang into action. This is what they had trained for.

“They splinted it up perfectly,” Jurgens said. “Just like in the pictures.”

Jurgens, a professional firefighter and EMT, double-checked their work and found they had made a textbook splint.

“We work on these requirements, and here’s an opportunity where it was a true test of all those First Class, Second Class first-aid requirements,” he said. “They got to use it and use it for real. And they did an outstanding job.”

Curry, in a letter she later sent to the Scouts, praised their emergency readiness, saying they went “above the call of duty.”

“Discovering I was unable to walk, and needed to get down the mountain for medical care, you immediately set about to help,” she wrote.

Not out of the woods yet

They splinted Curry’s leg, but she still needed to get down the mountain and couldn’t walk or be safely carried down the steep terrain. The Scouts again knew what to do.

“The guys on their own, with no direction from me, start running into the woods,” Jurgens said. “And she didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t know what was going on either.”

Turns out they were finding pieces of wood for a makeshift stretcher — the same kind they teach you to make in first-aid classes. They found two strong sticks and tied on a tarp. One of the Scouts, Andrew Stecher, got on the stretcher to test its load-bearing ability. It worked.

They set the stretcher next to Curry, her ankle really swelling up now. She slid onto it, and the Scouts picked her up. Jurgens and another adult helped guide the Scouts and point out rocks along their path.

In good spirits throughout

Curry’s skillful reporting has taken her to Iraq, Congo, Iran, Sudan and other areas of international crisis. So, Jurgens said, it’s no surprise this situation didn’t seem to raise Curry’s blood pressure too much.

“She was in a good mood, asking us about our Philmont trip,” Jurgens said. “She wanted to hear what brought us to Harriman State Park.”

Curry’s husband and son went ahead to get their SUV and drive it to the trailhead. The Scouts helped Curry into the front seat of the car, and before they left, Curry’s husband thanked the Scouts.

“He told us, ‘You guys are the best,’” Jurgens said. “‘I don’t know what I would do without you guys.’”

Curry’s husband wrote down Jurgens’ contact info and left for the hospital.

What happened next

Once Curry and her family had driven away, the forest rangers arrived.

“They asked, ‘Is there somebody up there who needs rescuing?’ And we said, ‘It’s taken care of,’” Jurgens said.

Jurgens praised the Scouts for a fantastic job. Then he broke some news to them.

“I said, ‘Do you know who that woman was? That was Ann Curry.’”

Jurgens had recognized Curry, and her iconic voice, right away. But not all the Scouts in his troop and crew are avid news-watchers. So Chris Tribuna, acting crew leader, took out his phone and showed them Curry is a national news anchor who has interviewed pretty much everyone.

The Scouts were floored by all the famous people she had interviewed, exotic assignments she had covered and adventures she had been on.

Even after that, one Scout in the group didn’t believe it was Ann Curry. That is, until a few weeks later when he got a letter.

A call, and a letter, from Curry

Last week, Jurgens got a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize.

“She said, ‘Hi, is this Rick? This is Ann Curry, the lady you rescued on Bear Mountain.’ She was really great and really appreciative. She said she underestimated the Boy Scouts of America. She was just mesmerized that a bunch of 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds came together and got her down the mountain,” Jurgens said.

Curry got the addresses of everyone who was there that day and sent each a hand-signed letter thanking them for their “skill and professionalism.” See the letter below.

“I feel enormously lucky you came along at just the right moment, and were so willing to help a stranger in need,” she wrote. “You are a credit to the Boy Scouts and to your families, and I want you to know I am deeply grateful for your kindness and skill.”

Update, May 9: Curry Tweeted (to her 1.4 million followers) her thanks to the Scouts of Troop 368:

If you break a leg on on a mountain, I hope Boy Scout Troop 368 finds you. Boy am I glad they found me.
Ann Curry (@AnnCurry) May 09, 2014

My takeaways

What I love about this story is that while this one has a famous name associated with it, these types of stories happen all the time in Scouting. It’s what Scouts train for.

“No matter who that was, we would’ve done the same exact thing,” Jurgens said. “The guys didn’t know this was a special person at first and treated her with the most dignified respect. It was all on the guys.”

Speaking of, I was moved by how little credit Jurgens was willing to take for his role.

“I wish I could say, I told them to do this and that,” Jurgens said, “but they did it all on their own.”

The Scouts

From left: Devon McLean, Michael Middlebrook, Joe McLaughlin, Christopher Friedlander, Chris Pirone, Mark Trella, Andrew Stecher and Chris Tribuna.
Not pictured: Peter Krasny

Curry’s letter

Click to enlarge

Summit Visitor Passes let anyone experience the thrills this summer

This summer, while everyone else is stuck at home or the office, treat yourself and your family to a weekend at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Zip down the zip lines, glide around the skateboard park, test your accuracy shooting a bow and arrow at moving targets and so much more. And do it all for half what you’d pay at that resort with the mouse.

This week, the Summit introduces its hotly anticipated Summit Visitor Passes, a chance for anyone — Scout or non-Scout — to try the same activities attendees at the jamboree enjoyed last summer.

Buy your Summit Visitor Passes today.

Bring your Scout unit, church group, youth group, family, friends or just yourself to the BSA’s newest high-adventure base this summer on Fridays and Saturdays beginning June 13 and ending Aug. 16.

There are two types of passes available: Visitors and Action. Visitors, which is a little cheaper, is good for those members of your group who want to visit the Summit but aren’t interested in the action and adventure-sports activities. Action, on the other hand, is for those who want it all.

You can even select from single-day, single-weekend or season passes. If you live within a short drive of the Summit, as many Scout families do, the season passes are a great deal. They grant you admission every Friday and Saturday during the Summit’s summer season.

More details, including cost, available activities and signup info after the jump.

Two types of passes 1. SUMMIT CENTER VISITORS PASS


  • Friday OR Saturday: $25 for ages 6 and up
  • Weekend (Friday and Saturday): $35 for ages 6 and up
  • Season (Every Friday and Saturday from June 13 to Aug. 16): $45 for ages 6 and up
  • Ages 0 to 5 get in free

Includes access to: 

SCOTT SUMMIT CENTER, ACTION POINT and BOULDER COVE to observe activities as well as have full access to the venues listed below.

  • Scott Summit Center
    • Sustainability Treehouse – a five story treehouse highlighting the principles of living a sustainable lifestyle
    • John Gottschalk Boardwalk and Goodrich Lake Wetlands
    • Scott Visitors Center – home of the Summit Trading Post and Guest Services
  • Action Point
    • CONSOL Energy Bridge – check out the winged bridge with observation decks above and below deck
    • Action Point Hiking Trail – take a walk through the scenic forest surrounding Action Point. This trail also provides a close-up view of the Jared Harvey Mountain Bike Trails, the Action Point Canopy Tours and a great view of CONSOL Energy Bridge from below.


  • Friday OR Saturday: $35 for ages 6-10, $55 for ages 11 and up
  • Weekend (Friday and Saturday): $60 for ages 6-10, $100 for ages 11 and up
  • Season (Every Friday and Saturday from June 13 to Aug. 16): $80 for ages 6-10, $145 for ages 11 and up
  • Ages 0 to 5 get in free but can’t do action activities

Includes access to:

Everything included in the Summit Center Visitors Pass, plus …

  • Scott Summit Center
    • Summit Center Zip Lines*
  • Action Point
    • Action Point Canopy Tours* – a series of zip lines through the tree canopy
    • Action Point Challenge Courses* – a series of high ropes problems to solve
    • Action Point Skate Plaza – our Action Point skateboard park
    • Action Point BMX Tracks – two BMX race tracks
    • Harvey Mountain Bike Trails – short trails introduce the sport of mountain biking
    • Duck Shoot – knock over the ducks on this arcade-style shooting game
    • Archery Range
    • Sporting Arrows* – trap shooting with a bow and arrow
  • Boulder Cove
    • Climbing* – routes from 5.5 to 5.11 difficulty
    • Rappelling*
    • Bouldering

* means available to participants who are 11 or older

Summit hours

The Bechtel Summit will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays beginning June 13, 2014 through Aug. 16, 2014

More info on visiting

See this PDF for details.

Buy your tickets

Click here to purchase your passes. Be sure to select the date you plan to visit.

Relive the 2013 Jamboree

I blogged live from the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. Read my posts here.

Don’t shoot! Why paintball’s outlawed in Scouting (and the one exception)

This is a rule so obvious it shouldn’t need to be said: Shooting at one another is an unauthorized activity in Scouting.

But what about paintball? Participants in that popular activity shoot at each other, but they do so using nonlethal capsules of colored dye. How do the BSA’s health and safety experts qualify this activity that seems to be in a gray area?

That’s what Bill B., a Scouter who emailed me earlier this week, wanted to know.

He writes, simply:

Does BSA have any guidelines on paintball competitions as a troop activity?



For the answer, I went to the BSA’s experts: Health and Safety head Richard Bourlon and Insurance and Risk Management leader Mark Dama.

Here’s what they said:

Paintball and Scouting

Shooting at each other is an unauthorized activity in Scouting. This includes paintball.

“Paintball has been evaluated on several occasions to see whether it might work as a program but to date has not been deemed appropriate,” Bourlon says.

The Guide to Safe Scouting

What’s the source? Check out the Guide to Safe Scouting’s list of unauthorized and restricted activities.

The lone exception

One time that paintball guns are authorized is during target shooting, much like what was seen at the 2013 National Jamboree (picture in the photo at the top of this post).

If you have approval from your council AND your Scouts are shooting at targets that are neither living nor human representations, paintball is allowed.

Here’s the reference from the Guide to Safe Scouting. The bold emphasis is mine:

1. Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations. Units with council approval may participate in formally organized historical reenactment events, where firearms are used and intentionally aimed over the heads of the reenactment participants. The use of paintball guns, laser guns or similar devices may be utilized in target shooting events with council approval and following the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety. Council approval means the approval of the Scout Executive or his designee on a tour permit specifically outlining details of the event.

Why this rule is in place

“The policy was reviewed and affirmed by both the Health and Safety support Committee and the Risk Management Advisory Panel,” Dama says.

During the review, Dama and his team of volunteers and professionals learned of several instances of catastrophic eye injuries when paintballs were shot by youth at youth — not in Scouting, but involving Scout-age participants.

The rates indicate paintball injuries happen around 2.7 times for every 10,000 players, Bourlon says. That means if 500,000 youth played paintball, the team would predict up to 135 eye injuries.

“The rate is simply unacceptable as a risk at this time,” Bourlon says.

Your service project could be featured in Scouting magazine

Calling all Good Turns: Has your pack, troop or crew recently completed a service project in your community (or beyond)?

We want to hear about it! Your unit’s project might be featured in an upcoming Scouting magazine feature story.

(In this instance, we’re not looking for Eagle Scout Service Projects; instead, we want to know what your unit has collectively done to help others.)

Please send a brief description of the service project and your contact information to If you have photos of the project, feel free to include these, too.

We’ll feature a list of standout projects in our November-December edition.

Thanks in advance!

Photo courtesy of Cub Scout Pack 516.