Mountain biking added as an option in Cycling merit badge

cycling-1Do your Scouts prefer their bike tires fat instead of thin? Then I’ve got good news.

Beginning today, Cycling merit badge now includes a mountain biking option. That means Scouts can choose between road cycling or mountain biking when earning the Eagle-required badge. (To earn Eagle, Scouts must earn Swimming or Hiking or Cycling.)

The change is to Requirement 7, which now reads “Using the BSA buddy system, complete all of the requirements for ONE of the following options: road biking OR mountain biking.”

Instead of a 50-mile road biking trip that must be completed in eight hours, Scouts who choose the mountain biking option must finish a 22-mile trail ride in six hours.

The change widens the audience for an already-popular merit badge by encouraging Scouts who prefer riding the trails on a mountain bike to riding the streets on a road bike.

Print this flier (PDF) or follow the jump for the complete requirements for 7b, the Mountain Biking option.  Continue reading


Programming merit badge requirements released

programmingMuch of Baden-Powell’s vision for Scouting still holds true today. But put this one in the category of something B-P never could have predicted.

Today the Boy Scouts of America releases Programming merit badge, an elective badge that challenges Scouts to, among other requirements, “write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program.” Programming MB continues in the BSA’s long tradition of preparing young men for modern-day careers, so I’m a big fan already.

The merit badge’s requirements are available below. Scouts may begin working on Programming MB once pamphlets arrive in Scout Shops and at in early August.

So if your Scouts are fluent in JavaScript, PHP, C++, or one of the dozens of other programming languages out there, be sure to share this printable flier (PDF) with the merit badge requirements.

Take a look at the official requirements:  Continue reading


Sustainability merit badge requirements released

Updated, Aug. 22: Leaders, check out Scouting magazine’s latest Merit Badge Clinic focusing on the Sustainability merit badge. In this column, writer Mark Ray speaks to the four members of the Sustainability Merit Badge Task Force, all of whom share insights into why Sustainability merit badge was created and how to help Scouts earn the new badge.

Updated, July 16 with clarification about water bill

sustainabilityReady … set … go green!

The long-awaited requirements for the Boy Scouts of America’s Sustainability merit badge have been released.

The badge joins the Eagle-required list as an option to Environmental Science merit badge. Scouts must earn either Sustainability or Environmental Science on their journey to Eagle.

Scouts may begin working on Sustainability MB once pamphlets arrive in Scout Shops and at in early August, but you can get a first look at the requirements below. Or click here (PDF) for a downloadable flier you can share with your Scouts.

Sustainability MB requirements

Continue reading


Five big takeaways from today’s release of the 2013 Guide to Advancement

2013-Guide-to-AdvancementHere’s one for your browser’s bookmarks bar: The newest edition of the Boy Scouts of America Guide to Advancement released today.

The PDF version contains answers to pretty much any advancement question that might come up, and it’s essential reading for your unit’s advancement chair and others who like to be kept in the loop on all things advancement.

You’ll want to spend some time with this user-friendly guide. Consider downloading the PDF to your tablet for portable reading. Or print off a copy on recycled paper and keep it handy.

There’s so much inside the guide that it’s pointless for me to go into too much detail here. But I did want to draw your attention to five takeaways I gathered from a first look at the guide: Continue reading


The BSA’s Chief Scout Executive is now blogging, tweeting

As the Boy Scouts of America’s 12th Chief Scout Executive, Wayne Brock continues a solemn tradition that dates back to November 1911 when James E. West became the first Chief.

But let’s remember July 2013 as the moment when Chief Brock started a new tradition, one Mr. West never could have seen coming.

Yes, our Chief is now blogging and tweeting.

Over at the Chief’s Corner blog, which launched yesterday, you’ll get words of wisdom directly from the man who is effectively the BSA’s CEO. Through his posts, Chief Brock will bring Scouts and Scouters closer to the movement while showcasing the magic of Scouting for those who aren’t yet members.

I’m told the Chief will post once or twice a week and focus on issues relevant to the Scouts and Venturers with whom you work. That means leadership, service, adventure, health, and more. From time to time, Chief Brock will share updates on his travels across the country to visit packs, troops, teams, posts, ships, and crews.

And on Twitter, follow @bsachief for the latest dispatches from Chief Brock. The account has been used off and on since 2010, but along with the launch of Chief’s Corner, you can expect great insight and information on a more-regular basis.

Or, as the Chief himself tweeted last week:  Continue reading


The BSA race car: Coming soon to a council event near you?

nascar-ride-to-school-2Perhaps. But only if you ask.

The team behind the Boy Scouts of America’s No. 8 NASCAR, driven by Scott Lagasse Jr., will work with councils to plan car and driver appearances at Scout events.

What Scout wouldn’t love a chance to meet a professional race car driver and check out his ride?

At each stop on the team’s race schedule (see below), TeamSLR hopes to make Scott and the car available for as many nearby Scouting activities as their schedule allows. When councils are in the immediate vicinity of a track, TeamSLR provides these visits at no cost to the council or to the BSA in general.

If your council isn’t in the immediate area of a track but would still like to be considered for a driver and race car appearance at a council event, TeamSLR can explore that option based on the driver’s availability. With that approach, there’s a small fee required to cover the costs associated with traveling to the event.

Keep in mind this is a council opportunity, so contact your local council to encourage them to rev up an upcoming council event with an appearance. Because of cost and scheduling constraints, the driver and race car is unlikely to be available for appearances at the unit level.

Want more info to send to your council? Continue reading


Story of Scouts riding across the country inspires Michigan Scouter to think big

lucky13-logoHere’s more proof that in Scouting, we’re all just one big family.

Two weeks ago, I blogged about Lucky 13, the group of Scouts from Troop 845 in Chapel Hill, N.C., who are riding their bikes across the U.S. to raise money for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

When Chad Mitchem, Eagle Scout and Cubmaster of Pack 3049 in Holland, Mich., read my post and looked at the Scouts’ planned route, he noticed “that they planned on getting really close to my hometown,” Chad writes in an email to me. “I had to contact them!”

He did more than just contact them. Chad will host the group in his backyard tomorrow.

“They graciously accepted my invite, Continue reading


How to keep your troop out of the ‘death spiral’

Handbook for Patrol LeadersWhat separates a successful Boy Scout troop from a foundering one? The answer hasn’t changed in a century.

It’s the patrol method, and it’s been around since at least 1920 when Scouting founder Lord Baden-Powell explained it in his Aids to Scoutmastership (link opens PDF).

“The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success,” B-P writes. “It cannot help itself!”

But too often these days, adult leaders are reactionary when it comes to the patrol method. They start with good intentions, but when they see the slightest hiccup, they take the reins from the boys and run the troop themselves.

Clarke Green, who writes the excellent unofficial Scouting blog “Scoutmaster CG,” calls this the “troop program death spiral” in a recent post

He writes:  Continue reading


Ideas that click: 11 ways to improve your unit’s website

If first impressions are everything, your unit website better be good.

These days, many prospective Scouts and their parents will research your pack, troop, or crew online long before they pick up the phone or visit one of your meetings.

An easy-to-navigate, well-designed, regularly updated website can mean the difference between recruiting a new Boy Scout and watching him join the troop down the street.

With that in mind, here are 10 ways to improve your unit’s website:  Continue reading


Ask the Expert: Rapid-fire FAQs, round 3

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?The Ask the Expert floodgates are wide open.

I’m now getting roughly 50 emails a week with Ask the Expert questions, a sign that Scouters out there care enough to seek out the right answer to their burning BSA queries. (By the way, ask your question by emailing, subject “Ask the Expert.”)

For the third round of rapid-fire FAQs, I’ve picked out nine popular questions and tracked down the right answers.

We’ll cover parents who make light of a Scout earning lots of merit badges, a troop that won’t count the same leadership position twice, a discussion of who should pin on an Eagle medal, unofficial belts, jamboree entertainment, and more.

Let’s go …  Continue reading