Meet your 2013 Silver Buffalo class

Words can’t adequately describe our gratitude for the sacrifice that Silver Buffalo recipients have made to Scouting over their lives, but I’ll offer two anyway: Thank you.

Thank you to the 12 men and women who will receive Scouting’s highest honor for adults. The distinguished dozen will get their medals in a special recognition ceremony at the National Annual Meeting in May in Grapevine, Texas.

And they’ll join a prestigious list that includes Jimmy Stewart, Yogi Berra, Bill Gates, Robert Baden-Powell, and many more who have kept Scouting strong for more than a century.

Here are the 2013 recipients: Continue reading


Holding out for a hero: How the BSA honors lifesavers

The Cub Scout 'Hero' Cape poster created by Martin Williams Advertising. Read more here:

This Cub Scout ‘Hero’ Cape poster created by Martin Williams Advertising was a real hit. Read more at this link.

Real heroes don’t wear flowing capes or iron suits or brightly colored tights.

More and more, it seems, they wear Scout uniforms.

Part of preparing boys for life means preparing boys to save lives if the unthinkable happens. And when a Scout or Scouter goes above and beyond in an attempt to save life, he or she is rewarded.

Enter the lifesaving awards (PDF). From 1977 to last year, there were three awards: the Heroism Award, Honor Medal, and Honor Medal with Crossed Palms. (There are also meritorious action awards for notable acts of service that don’t involve lifesaving attempts.)

The Honor Medal goes to a Scout or Scouter who attempts to save life at some risk to self, while the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms is for a lifesaving attempt with extreme risk. Extreme risk and extremely rare — only 277 Honor Medals with Crossed Palms have been awarded since 1938, roughly four per year.

The third award, the Heroism Award, is presented for lifesaving with “minimum risk to self.” And I learned this week that it’s been discontinued. Here’s how awards guru Bill Evans explained the change in an email to me today: Continue reading


An easy way to honor one of your everyday heroes

medal-of-honorThe heroes I know don’t wear capes, and they can’t fly. Their utility belts hold pocket knives, not grappling hooks.

But the heroes I know often have secret identities. That is, they’re the volunteers who dedicate every free second to Scouting—even when no one is watching. I’ll bet there’s one of these unsung heroes in your unit.

Give that person the credit he or she deserves by nominating him/her for the Citizen Service Before Self Honors, presented by the members of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Nominations are open for ordinary Americans who become extraordinary through “a single instance of bravery or through a lifetime of service to others.” Sounds right up the BSA’s alley.

Deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, Dec. 28, 2012.

Then, on March 23, 2013, three U.S. citizens will be awarded Citizen Service Before Self Honors near the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery. They will receive this award from a group of men who have received our nation’s highest and most prestigious award for valor: the Medal of Honor.  Continue reading


In the loop: A guide to square knots, and how to wear them

You’ve been awarded a square knot. Congratulations! Now what?

If you’ve been honored with one of the 34 square knots currently available (see the full list below), waste no time in sewing that badge of honor to your uniform. Though they don’t tell the whole story of a Scouter’s impact, these tiny rectangles provide great evidence of a volunteer’s efforts.

But before you dust off the sewing machine, read these tips:

Location, location, location: Knots should go over the left pocket, as seen from the wearer’s perspective. Line them up in rows of three in any order you choose. Typically, the knot you deem most important is worn on the bottom row on your right, but that’s your call. If your knot total isn’t divisible by three — aka you have a row of one or two knots — you can either center them in the row or keep them aligned to your right. The latter method means you won’t have to re-sew those knots if you get a new one.

Count to nine: If you’ve been a Scouter for some time, those knots could really stack up. How high they go above your pocket is up to you, but the BSA recommends wearing no more than nine — or three rows of three.

Don’t flip out: Yes, square knots have a right-side-up. The chart above explains the process of determining which end goes where. This can be tricky on single-color knots, but if you squint really hard you can tell which loop on the knot is above the other.

Which knot is which?: Let’s hope you can identify the knots on your own uniform, but it’s likely you’ll see a knot or two out in the field that you don’t recognize. Here’s a handy chart (click to enlarge):  Continue reading


Eagles: Apply now for 2013 NESA scholarships

Do you know an Eagle (or soon-to-be Eagle) who is graduating high school and entering college in 2013? The time has arrived for Eagle Scouts to apply for 2013 National Eagle Scout Association scholarships.

First, see who’s eligible for up to $446,000 in scholarships:

  • An Eagle Scout having passed the board of review on or before Dec. 31, 2012.
  • A graduating high-school senior (for academic and merit scholarships) or an undergraduate college student no later than completion of his junior year of college (for merit scholarships only).
  • A NESA member.

The third requirement of NESA membership is new this year. If a new Eagle isn’t currently a NESA member, he must first join the organization to be considered for NESA scholarship. (Within the first six months of an Eagle Scout’s board of review, a “special” one-year NESA membership is $20.) Read more information on the varying membership levels, and register as a NESA member.

Investing in a NESA membership opens the door for an Eagle Scout to earn up to $446,000 in college scholarships.

The applications are now “live” at NESA.orgApplications are due Dec. 31, 2012.

See below for a full list of the available 2013 NESA scholarships. (And see who won the 2012 scholarships.)

Continue reading


Meet the Eagle Scouts who won the four biggest NESA scholarships in 2012

Hard work pays.

And in the case of these four Eagle Scouts, I mean that quite literally.

The recipients of the four most-prestigious scholarships from the National Eagle Scout Association have one thing in common, in addition to their rank in Scouting: Each went above and beyond in their commitment to service, education, and leadership.

The rest of the NESA scholarship winners will be notified by July 15, 2012, and a complete list of recipients will be posted at on or before Aug. 1, 2012.

But you can meet these four recipients today. Watch the top-notch videos below, each created by the BSA’s Tom Fiorini, and get to know these outstanding young men. Continue reading


BSA names its 2012 Silver Buffalo Award recipients

Big congratulations and my thanks to this year’s Silver Buffalo Award honorees.

At last week’s National Annual Meeting, 11 volunteers (nine are pictured above) earned Scouting’s highest honor for adults. In doing so, they joined a prestigious list that includes Walt Disney, James E. West, Norman Rockwell, and Jeff Gordon.

Here are the 2012 recipients:

Continue reading


Bryan on Scouting named best blog by Western Publishing Association

Allow me to amend the Scout Law to add this: A Scout is Grateful.

I’m grateful to the Western Publishing Association for naming Bryan on Scouting the Best Web Publication Blog/Trade & Consumer at its 61st Annual Maggie Awards last week.

I’m grateful to Managing Editor John R. Clark and rest of the Scouting magazine team for their continual efforts to enhance and promote my blog.

And I’m grateful to you, my readers. You’re the reason this blog exists at all; I couldn’t do it without your support, participation, and feedback.

Here’s a little more about the award:

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WATCH: Eagle Scout receives American Spirit Award

Remember Spencer Zimmerman, the Eagle Scout triathlete with the heart of a champion?

It’s impossible to forget the inspiring story of the young man — just 13 at the time — who pushed, pulled, and carried his friend with cerebral palsy through a grueling three-hour triathlon. If you missed this tale of selflessness, grab a box of Kleenex and click here.

Over the weekend, 15-year-old Spencer’s stirring effort gained national recognition when he received the American Spirit Award from the Boy Scouts of America and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Continue reading


Eagle Scout’s triathlon finish defined the heart of a champion

Spencer Zimmerman so badly wanted his friend with cerebral palsy to finish a triathlon that in 2010, the Arizona Eagle Scout pushed, pulled, and carried his buddy through a 500-meter swim, 3.2-mile run, and 12-mile bike ride.

Spencer, then 13 years old, and his friend Dayton Hayward trained relentlessly — Spencer pulled Dayton in a raft, pushed him in a jogger while running, and towed him on a bike — to prepare for the three-hour race that challenged the physical and mental stamina of both young men.

And yesterday, two years after the pair crossed the finish line, the Boy Scouts of America and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation recognized the strength of Spencer’s heart in a big way. The organizations honored him with the American Spirit Award, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors for youth.

The award has thrust Spencer into the national spotlight, but the 15-year-old is quick to deflect its aim.

Continue reading