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Greatest hits: Our 15 most-read posts from 2015

More than 5.4 million page views — up from 4 million last year — helped make 2015 the best year yet for Bryan on Scouting.

That couldn’t have happened without you.

So on behalf of the entire Scouting magazine team behind this blog, I want to thank you for your loyalty, your questions, your story ideas and your comments. Speaking of comments, it’s often the case that your comments are more enlightening than the actual post. So please keep it up!

This blog started March 16, 2009. Back then it was called Cracker Barrel, named not for the chain of restaurants but for the late-night gatherings where Scouters share ideas and fellowship. We had 27 page views on that first day. By the end of the first week, that number had grown to a whopping 29 per day. How many of those hits were from me and my mom and dad? Nobody could possibly know.

On Jan. 21, 2011, Cracker Barrel adopted a first-person voice to become Bryan on Scouting. By then, we had jumped from about 100 page views a day to about 1,000.

In 2015 that number was more than 15,000 daily page views. My colleague Gretchen Sparling and I blogged nearly 400 times in 2015, but there were a few posts that really got you clicking.

So I’m excited to unveil our 15 most-read posts of 2015. Note: These were the most-read posts that actually were published in 2015. For older posts still getting big numbers in 2015, see the honorable mention section at the end. 

15 most-read posts of 2015

John-Wayne-face15. What was John Wayne’s take on the Scout Law?

In 1979, dignitaries including President Gerald Ford honored Academy Award-winning actor John Wayne at a dinner hosted by the BSA’s Los Angeles Area Council. It was at this dinner that Wayne shared his own interpretation of the Scout Law and what it means to him. Read the post.

2014-merit-badge-rankings14. 2014 merit badge rankings: Which were the most and least popular?

The Cooking merit badge, which joined the Eagle-required list on Jan. 1, 2014, was 2014’s most-earned merit badge. First Aid came in second after being No. 1 every year since at least 2009 — the first year for which statistics are available. What were Nos. 3 through 136? We did the deep dive with an analysis of the full list. Read the post.

Scoutbook-illustration13. BSA acquires Scoutbook, the awesome web app

With a tap on your phone you can deposit a check, update your family grocery list or share a photo. Shouldn’t keeping track of a Scout’s advancement be just as easy? The BSA thinks so. That’s why it acquired Scoutbook, the revolutionary web app that makes tracking advancement easier, faster and more fun. Read the post.

Ryane-Clark12. Parents finish Eagle Scout project for son killed in Afghanistan

On Oct. 4, 2010, Eagle Scout Ryane Clark died when insurgents attacked his unit in Shekhabad, Afghanistan. He was 22. The tragic death added urgency to Ryane’s stalled Eagle project. Twelve years after Ryane started his project, his parents were going to finish it. Read the post.

Scouts-using-cellphones-at-jamboree11. This troop’s excellent technology policy is based on the Scout Law

Troops that absolutely forbid smartphones in Scouting — even confiscating them or locking them away — are fighting a losing battle. That’s why units like Troop 96 of Grayslake, Ill., have developed a technology policy that’s realistic and effective. Scoutmaster Pat Klemens shared his troop’s policy with me and agreed to let me blog about it. Read the post.

Scout-badge-changing10. Scout, currently a joining badge, to become its own rank

Scout, previously a badge a young man received upon joining and completing a few other requirements, will become its own rank — complete with a new patch — beginning Jan. 1, 2016. By moving from a “joining badge” to an actual rank, Scout joins Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life as the ranks a young man must earn on his way to the highest rank in Scouting: Eagle Scout. Read the post.

Montemarano9. Scoutmaster wants to remove a certain four-letter word from Scouting

What’s the word? “Kids.” Montemarano was struck by how often adult leaders use that word to refer to Scouts — even older Scouts. Some of these young men are nearing their 18th birthdays and will soon enter college or the workforce or the military. And yet many of us still call them kids. Read the post.

Scouts-on-bus-at-jamboree8. Ask the Expert: Do you need to travel in uniform to be covered by BSA insurance?

Scouting units, volunteer Scouters and chartered organizations are covered by the BSA’s Comprehensive General Liability Insurance.  Traveling in uniform is not a requirement for BSA insurance coverage. This speaks to a common misconception in some packs, troops, teams and crews about BSA insurance. Read the post.

eagle-flying7. 5 tips for helping Scouts reach Eagle before time runs out

Some Life Scouts race against the clock to earn the Eagle Scout award before they turn 18, including a handful who complete their board of review on the eve of their 18th birthday. It doesn’t have to be that way. Dial down the drama of eleventh-hour Eagles with these five tips for helping Scouts reach Eagle with plenty of time to spare. Read the post.

Creek-Stewart-Swedish-torch6. How to use a Swedish torch to cook your next camp meal in style

The Swedish torch could be the most effective cooking fire I’ve ever seen. It’s a self-contained fire that functions like a stovetop range. You don’t need a grill or grate because its stable surface holds your pots and pans securely over the flame. Eagle Scout Creek Stewart, host of Fat Guys in the Woods on The Weather Channel, explains how it’s done. Read the post.

Utah_border_sign5. Utah tops the 2014 Eagle Scout rankings; where does your state fall?

Let’s give a big hand to Utah. No state produced more Eagle Scouts in 2014 than Utah. Thanks in large part to the strong support Scouting receives from the LDS church there, 5,480 young men became Eagle Scouts in Utah in 2014. Where did your state rank? Read the post.

Shane-Uribe-Eagle-Scout-project4. An Eagle Scout project doesn’t have to be permanent

I’m a fan of construction-based projects, but I know that many worthy projects don’t leave behind something tangible. For proof that non-construction projects can make a huge difference, look to Shane Uribe. The California Eagle Scout won the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. Read the post.

15-passenger-vans3. BSA prohibits use of 15-passenger vans made before 2005

All Scouters should take heed of this breaking BSA news: As of Sept. 1, 2015, the use of 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 is no longer allowed in connection with Scouting programs and activities. 15-passenger vans manufactured in 2005 or later may be used, as long as they are equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver. Read the post.

2015-Guide-to-Advancement2. 2015 Guide to Advancement: 13 of the biggest changes

The Guide to Advancement is updated every two years to reflect changes to programs, requirements and policies. Changes come from a team of national-level professionals and volunteers. You’ll want to check out the entire Guide, but these were 13 of the biggest changes. Read the post.

And the most-read post of 2015 was …

Eagle-Scout-percentage-20141. What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts?

It could be one of the most-quoted statistics in Scouting: the percentage of Boy Scouts who go on to become Eagle Scouts. For a while the common response was 4 percent. Now, though, that number has become outdated. Which leads to the natural question: What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts these days? Read the post.

Honorable mentions

These posts were published before 2015, but they still had you clicking this past year.

What were the most-read posts in previous years?

Here are the lists from 20142013 and 2012.

3 Comments on Greatest hits: Our 15 most-read posts from 2015

  1. Interesting list. I had missed a few of them. The post that seemed to get (and continues to get) comments was the one about “What constitutes a night of camping”. I wonder where that ranked in most popular. As far as I can tell, it received many more comments than some of those posted above. Burt

    • Thing is, although an active topic, camping nights are really is only of immediate interest to boys earning the badge with a marginal number of nights, their parents, and scouters trying to be fair. So I see this as one of those topics that will gain numbers over the years — and accumulate comments as someone faces a unique situation (or misses their situation already among the 200+ replies).

    • Bryan Wendell // December 21, 2015 at 12:59 pm // Reply

      Hey Burt, thanks for commenting!

      That one ranked in the Top 50 this year.

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