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Three new videos to entertain, inspire, help you recruit

Authentic, gritty, visceral. That’s how I describe three new videos released today by the Boy Scouts of America.

They’re yours to view, download for offline viewing, share and use as you see fit. Each gives a compelling picture of what effect Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting can have on local communities like yours.

There’s the story of a mom in East Los Angeles who started a Cub Scout pack and saw it bring families together in her community. Or the heroic tale of a Boy Scout in New York who jumped into action during Hurricane Sandy. And there’s a nice piece released in conjunction with the new online Cub Scout idea repository called Cub Hub that shares the flavor of life in a den and pack.

Each video lasts less than two minutes. That’s a good reminder to units creating videos that attention spans won’t hold for very long — and that two minutes is often all you need to deliver a powerful message.

Watch the videos after the jump. Continue reading

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It’s just science: Merit badges educate boys in STEM

Proud to be an American? Absolutely, but this hurts a little: American fourth- and eighth-graders are far from No. 1 in math and science.

In fact, we’re just outside of or barely in the top 10 in both categories, lagging behind countries like Korea, Singapore and Finland, according to a study released late last year.

Fortunately, there’s hope, and it’s called the Boy Scouts of America and our merit badge program.

Boys get real science education when earning merit badges, and I’m not just talking about those badges with science in their name (Animal Science, Environmental Science, Nuclear Science, Plant Science).

Actually, a study published in 2009 by Ohio State University researcher Rachel Sterneman Hintz found that 103 of the 121 merit badges available at the time (85.12 percent) had at least one requirement meeting the National Science Education Standards.

Four years later, we now have 133 merit badges, and the newest crop builds on the science-heavy tradition from the past 103 years of the BSA. With the exception of the Scouting Heritage merit badge, all the other new badges contain science elements. That includes obvious examples such as Robotics, Inventing, Welding, and Sustainability, and less-obvious ones like Kayaking, Search and Rescue, and Chess. Continue reading

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Lincoln Electric wins North Star Award for bringing welding to Scouts

You’d expect a bunch of welding experts to forge some strong bonds, but the folks at Lincoln Electric have gone above and beyond.

Their work bringing welding and the Welding merit badge into the Boy Scouts of America has already helped introduce tens of thousands of Scouts to this hot career.

In recognition, the Boy Scouts of America presented Lincoln Electric and three of its key employees with the North Star Award on Wednesday afternoon at the BSA’s annual Top Hands Conference in Washington, D.C.

The award, an eight-pointed, star-shaped medal worn on a black ribbon, is presented by councils on the behalf of the National Court of Honor for nonregistered volunteers who have made a significant contribution to Scouting.

You can consider it to be on same level as the Silver Beaver Award, which is for registered volunteers. Continue reading

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First look: Troop Leader Guidebooks, set to replace Scoutmaster Handbook

scoutmaster-handbookUpdate, Feb. 28. 2014: These books are still being reviewed, and Vol. 1 should be available in the coming months. Vol. 2 is expected later this year.


If you judge the Scoutmaster Handbook by its cover, you might assume it’s solely meant for, well, Scoutmasters.

Assistant Scoutmasters, it seemed, were to look elsewhere for Scouting wisdom.

That’s about to change. Later this year, the two-volume Troop Leader Guidebook will debut, replacing the Scoutmaster Handbook and offering helpful checklists, quick tips and fresh ideas for both new troop leaders and veteran Scouters.

Scouting magazine contributor Mark Ray wrote Volume 1, while Bob Birkby, author of the latest Boy Scout Handbook, penned Volume 2.

You can see the covers of the new Troop Leader Guidebooks after the jump. I’ve also got a sneak peek at what’s inside the books and what makes them better tools for Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters.  Continue reading

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Ask the Expert: Is cutting corners off the Totin’ Chip allowed?

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?Play around with a knife, lose a corner on your Totin’ Chip. In my troop growing up, it was that simple.

If a Scout lost all four corners of his Totin’ Chip (essentially a Scout’s license to carry pocketknives, axes and saws), his blade-carrying privileges were revoked until he re-earned the card.

It’s all part of Boy Scouting’s well-reasoned approach to teaching boys to see pocketknives, axes and saws as tools, not toys.

But it’s the corner-cutting business that was on the mind of a Scouter who asked to remain anonymous. He sent me this email:  Continue reading

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How to suggest a new merit badge

Don’t sob about Sewing or mope about Magic.

Send those ideas for new merit badges to someone who can actually act on them.

Over the years, several of you emailed me with suggestions for merit badges about Sewing, Magic, Guitar, Hunting, Surfing and lots more. And while I have absolutely no say in what becomes a new merit badge, I can tell you where to turn with your ideas. Continue reading

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Bezos mentions ‘Scout troops’ in letter to Washington Post employees

Everyday Americans care about the Boy Scouts of America. You know it, I know it, and, as it turns out, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos knows it.

Bezos made headlines yesterday when he bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

But what you might not have seen was this letter from Bezos to employees of The Post. In it, Bezos explains that “the values of The Post do not need changing.”

Among those values: newspaper readers, who care about Scouts troops, among other important elements of their community. Bezos writes: Continue reading

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For the 99.9 percent of kids who won’t go pro in sports, Scouting offers a leg up

If you know a kid who dunks like Blake Griffin, runs like Adrian Peterson or hits like Miguel Cabrera, you’ll have a hard time recruiting him to join Scouts.

Because, as the Scouting recruiting video below explains, parents of these super-athletes have won the genetic lottery, and their kids are set for life. (Assuming we ignore the countless examples of high-paid athletes who wash up after their playing days are done.)

For the parents of normal children, the Boy Scouts of America provides a chance to make young men and women stand out from the crowd. Scouts and Venturers gain skills in leadership, fitness and character they can’t get elsewhere. Scouts are more likely to graduate college than non-Scouts, and studies show former Scouts pull in a greater income than people who were never in Scouting.

These facts, laid out in an entertaining way in this Coronado Area Council video, offer the perfect answer to the question weighing on the minds of parents of potential Scouts: “Should my son join this Cub Scout pack or that Little League team?”

My response would be, “Why not both? Make your child well-rounded, and he or she will go far.” But if you come across a parent debating one over the other, send them the video below. Continue reading

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Money for Eagle projects: Lowe’s grant program back for 2013-2014

Eagle Scout projects make a visible difference in the community, but they aren’t cheap to complete.

So that’s why Lowe’s, the home-improvement giant with more than 1,700 stores, has teamed up with the BSA and local Scout councils to give selected Eagle Scout candidates $100 grants for their projects.

The grant program debuted in 2012 to great success. Last year, more than 3,000 Life Scouts received $100 each toward their Eagle projects. That’s a generous gift of $300,000 from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation.

Well, there’s good news for future Eagles and their parents. The BSA announced this week that the grant program will continue beginning this month. And it’s grown, as well. This time, Lowe’s is offering 3,600 grants to deserving Eagle projects.

In 2012, councils received and distributed the cards. This time, however, things will run a little differently. Continue reading

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Scouts get a first look at Mining in Society merit badge, coming 2014

If the packed tent is any early indication, Mining in Society merit badge will be a hit when it debuts in February 2014.

Scouts attending the 2013 National Jamboree got a sneak peek at the new elective merit badge, set to be released at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City.

Mining has been an important part of our nation since the 19th century.

Today, the industry employes 3 million Americans, directly and indirectly, and is a major contributor to the global mining landscape. Continue reading