The Summit looks beautiful under a blanket of snow and ice

Start a fire or grab a blanket before viewing these stunning new images of the Summit Bechtel Reserve in winter.

The fields where 30,000 jamboree participants camped seven months ago are now coated with snow. Lakes where Scouts and Venturers tried paddleboarding, dragon boats and “Water Reality” last July are iced over. The AT&T Summit Stadium, where tens of thousands gathered to hear Mike Rowe, 3 Doors Down and the King of Sweden, looks more suited for downhill skiing than a show.

The gorgeous aerial photographs are the work of Gary Hartley, director of community and government relations at the BSA’s newest national high-adventure base.

They prove that the Summit holds magic in any season. But the base really shines in the summer. Don’t miss what they have planned for your Scouts and Venturers during their first season as a high-adventure base.

And see the cool winter photos after the jump. Continue reading


Here are the most- and least-popular merit badges of 2013 and of all time

The reign of First Aid merit badge continues.

More Boy Scouts earned this Eagle-required merit badge in 2013 than any other. And it wasn’t event close.

Not only was it the most-earned merit badge in 2013, it also topped the list in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 … you get the idea.

In all, 6.9 million Scouts have earned First Aid merit badge since its debut in 1911. Yep, you guessed it; that’s more than any other in history.

Which other merit badges made the Top 10 last year? What was 2013′s most-earned merit badge that isn’t on the Eagle-required list? And which merit badges were in the Bottom 10 (or “the rarest,” as I like to call them)? Let’s find out …  Continue reading


BSA health forms, now as easy as A, B, C

Deciding which version of the BSA’s Annual Health and Medical Record you need shouldn’t raise your blood pressure.

And starting today, you’re getting a streamlined version of the BSA health forms and an easier-to-use website to accompany them. The site is the result of several BSA teams (professionals and volunteers) joining forces to make this process a painless one for you and other Scouters.

The Annual Health and Medical Record (hereafter AHMR) comes in several flavors, and until now some Scouters and parents found it a little difficult to determine which version of the AHMR they or their Scout/Venturer needed.

Taking your Cub Scouts on a local tour or your Boy Scouts on a two-night camping trip? The forms you’ll need are different from those required on a camping trip lasting more than 72 hours.

Visiting the Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, Philmont or the Summit? Be sure to print off some additional information to give your doctor.

It’s all spelled out for you on the new site. Figuring out which forms you need is a snap thanks to logos, clear language and so-big-you-can’t-miss-’em buttons you’ll click to download the proper form.

Speaking of, you’ll know you’re using the right form if it says “2014 Printing” in the lower right corner.

If you’ve already gotten your physical using the old form, though, don’t fret. Continue reading


Dennis Pitta, Eagle Scout and Baltimore tight end, gets 5-year deal

pitta-standingThey say once you’re an Eagle Scout, you’re one for life.

For Eagle Scout Dennis Pitta, the same may be true about being a Baltimore Raven.

The Super Bowl-winning tight end just signed a five-year deal worth $32 million, according to the Baltimore Sun. Not a bad payday for this Brigham Young University graduate who made time for both Scouting and sports growing up.

After helping his team win Super Bowl XLVII, he chatted with Boys’ Life for the magazine’s Heads Up blog. He said how being an Eagle Scout influenced him.

“From an early age, it teaches you a lot,” he said. “It teaches you about discipline, it teaches you about hard work and being independent and you learn a lot of like skills in that program. It’s helped me throughout my whole career.” Continue reading


The BSA’s looking for a few good men and women to be professional Scouters

As a Scout, I had no idea they paid people to work for the Boy Scouts of America.

I just thought the district executives I saw at Scouting events were just really active volunteers who got to wear cool silver shoulder loops.

Now, of course, I realize district executives and other Scouting professionals are a vital part of the team that supports adult volunteers like you. They’re there to lay a stable foundation on which you can build a successful pack, troop, team or crew.

Oh, and they’re paid to do so.

Just like you can never have enough quality volunteers, the BSA continually searches for potential career employees who want a profession with a meaningful, rewarding purpose.

In other words: We’re hiring. Career opportunities for district executives span 25 different states, including Alabama, Wisconsin, Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, California and New York.

What’s the job like? Let’s just say if you want a cubicle job where you fill out spreadsheets all day, look elsewhere.

This is the kind of career where you break free from the desk and get out in the community. You meet people, make new relationships and spread the word of Scouting.

Unlike other jobs, the final goal isn’t to make the company you work for rich. Your underlying goal is to bring the incredible Scouting movement to as many youth as possible.

While I’ve never been a district executive myself, I have met hundreds of these enthusiastic professional Scouters when they visit the BSA’s headquarters as part of their District Operations Basic training. They describe their job as anything but typical.

Continue reading


Report to the Nation, through the years

A president’s busy schedule means he can’t always receive the Boy Scouts of America’s annual Report to the Nation himself.

But over the years, the BSA’s scheduled Washington visit and the commander in chief’s travel schedule have aligned.

Below I’ve gathered photos of presidents receiving the report. There may be more out there (if so, let me know!), but these were the ones I could find by digging through the BSA, Scouting magazine and White House archives.

You’ll see Obama, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman and Roosevelt getting their hand-delivered copies of the report. Continue reading


Friends in high places: Scouts deliver Report to the Nation to top party leaders

You’ve met the delegates, and you’ve read the Report to the Nation for yourself.

Now see which of the top power players in Washington got a copy of the report hand-delivered to them this week.

As I mentioned on Monday, a delegation of nine of Scouting’s finest Scouts and Venturers are in Washington, D.C., to deliver the Report to the Nation. It’s basically a summary of another great year for Scouts and Scouters in the BSA.

The Boy Scouts of America has since 1916 held a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code. As part of fulfilling the obligations of that charter, the organization hand-picks Scouts and Venturers to visit our nation’s capitol and deliver a recap of Scouting’s previous year.

It’s a great way to remind Washington leaders that Scouts do meaningful work in their constituencies and that Scouting is preparing young people for a character-filled life.

The BSA has no political affiliation, so delegates make sure leaders from both major political parties get copies of the official report. What a great opportunity for these delegates to see firsthand the inner workings of our government. And what a great opportunity for our government leaders to meet some outstanding Scouts! 

Find a small sampling of some of the politicians these Scouts met after the jump. Then check out the BSA’s Flickr page for more great Report to the Nation photos.  Continue reading


Watch what this sanitation worker did when he found a U.S. flag on the street

Boy Scouts are inherently patriotic.

We wear the American flag on our sleeves, we say the pledge before meetings, and we learn the proper ways to post, fold and retire Old Glory.

So it was no huge shock when I learned the Oregon sanitation worker who showed unbelievable patriotism — when he thought nobody was watching — is a former Scout. Here’s how it went down: Continue reading


Try this: Identify potential Scout leaders with the Oreo Test

Wondering whether that parent on the other side of the meeting room would make a good Cub Scout, Boy Scout or Venturing leader?

Try the Oreo Test.

Don Lauer of Troop and Pack 9212 in Summerville, S.C., devised the method, and he said it hasn’t failed him yet.

“Just a simple thing,” he tells me. “Plus I like cookies.”

I think it’s brilliant. Here’s how it works …  Continue reading


See inside the 2013 Report to the Nation

The Boy Scouts of America is a 3.6-million-strong, outdoor-ready, community-serving, patriotism-preserving, values-validating force for good. And we’re just getting started.

But wait. I’m preaching to the choir here.

The real people who need to know about the BSA and our 6 million nights of camping, 56,841 Eagle Scouts and 17 million hours of community service last year are the ones who don’t don a uniform each week.

That’s why a group of nine outstanding BSA representatives have descended upon Washington, D.C., this week to deliver the 2013 Report to the Nation. Think of it as the CliffsNotes version of the past year in Scouting.

The idea is to make it easy for politicians, CEOs and members of non-Scouting families to see that Scouting continues to create “conscientious, responsible and productive citizens” — as the last line of the report puts it.

First I’ll point out my favorite parts of the Report to the Nation, and then I’ll share the full report so you can pick out your own highlights. It’s all after the jump. Continue reading