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Greatest hits: Counting down my 13 most-read blog posts of 2013

Where did 2013 go?

For Scouts and Scouters, it went to new merit badges, Eagle Scout journeys, the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, a nationally televised TV show about Boy Scouts, a family discussion on our membership policy, endless Cub Scout fun and so much more.

It was a great year for Scouting. And for Bryan on Scouting.

I’m so humbled that my blog recorded roughly 2 million page views in 2013, more than double the previous record of 850,000 from 2012. Thanks for making this a place you trust for Scouting news and conversation.

The busiest month for traffic on Bryan on Scouting was July, which was also my busiest month as I took you inside the 2013 National Jamboree, the first at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. A month later, I served on Wood Badge staff, which was an experience I’ll never forget.

I posted 275 times this year, covering anything I thought might be interesting and relevant with the goal of making your job as a Scouter easier. 

But forget what I found interesting; what matters is which posts you made the most popular. Let’s find out. Follow the jump for the 13 most-read blog posts of 2013…  Continue reading

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Remembering George Rodrigue, Blue Dog artist and Distinguished Eagle Scout

rodrigue-mugIf you don’t know George Rodrigue by name, you certainly know his work. You’ve probably seen his iconic, whimsical Blue Dog paintings, and if you have, they’ve probably brightened your day.

But today I want to remember George, who died Saturday at age 69, for something many who knew his work didn’t know about the mostly private man.

He was an Eagle Scout. And even more, a Distinguished Eagle Scout.

Growing up in New Iberia, La., George loved the outdoors and spent all the time he could at the Evangeline Area Council’s Camp Thistlethwaite.

"Eagle Scout," 2004, acrylic on canvas by George Rodrigue for the National Scouting Museum

“Eagle Scout,” 2004, acrylic on canvas by George Rodrigue for the National Scouting Museum. (Notice the neckerchief slide?)

As his artistic interest grew, so did his national and international prominence. That’s when he did what any successful Eagle Scout would: a Good Turn. Or, more accurately, a series of Good Turns.

rodrigue-desaThrough the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, he shared his passion with young people and supported a variety of art education programs.

After 9/11, he donated proceeds for his “God Bless America” painting — at least $500,000 — to the American Red Cross. After Hurricane Katrina, he painted several Blue Dogs and donated the proceeds to United Way, the International Child Art Foundation and the Red Cross. (That information came from this Gambit blog post, which is by far the best euology I could find for the man.)

It’s this generosity, combined with his professional success, that led the Boy Scouts of America to present George with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2011.

But his embodiment of Scouting values dates back much further. And it included his first date with his wife. Continue reading

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You’ll want to pull over to check out these Eagle Scout billboards

Eagle-Billboard-1Finally, a reason for rubbernecking you can feel good about.

Drivers in Kansas City this year have seen a series of Boy Scout billboards that rise far above those for gas stations, hotels or concerts.

The billboards target new Scouts and their parents by sharing facts about Eagle Scouts, such as they’re “76 percent more likely to be community leaders” and “twice as likely to graduate from college.”

The artwork shows Scouts doing what they do — having a great time outside.

Kansas City’s Heart of America Council received the creative work for the billboards for free, and a local billboard company gave them a great deal on placement of the billboards throughout the city for 12 months. Six billboard designs showed up in 23 different locations, including a mix of traditional vinyl billboards and newer digital ones.

How has the community reacted?

“We have gotten a great response from the billboards, and it certainly helps keep the good work of Scouting out in the public at a time when we can use all the positive publicity we can get,” says Heart of America Scout Executive Kenn Miller.

Which billboard design is your favorite? See them all after the jump. Continue reading

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Two Eagle Scouts in the NFL grab wins in their returns to action

Eagle Scout Austin Collie started his career with the Indianapolis Colts and now plays for the New England Patriots.

Eagle Scout Austin Collie started his career with the Indianapolis Colts and now plays for the New England Patriots.

Everyone’s talking about yesterday’s snow-covered NFL games today, but here’s a story to make Scouts and Scouters smile — regardless of how their favorite team fared.

Two Eagle Scouts returned to NFL action yesterday, each in a winning effort. It must be especially satisfying for tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Austin Collie after a frustrating 2013 season for each of the 28-year-olds.

Pitta, sidelined for the first 13 weeks of the season after dislocating his hip in the preseason, had six catches for 48 yards and one touchdown for the Baltimore Ravens in their win over the Minnesota Vikings. Ravens fans last saw Pitta back in February when he had a touchdown catch in the team’s Super Bowl XLVII win. Ten months after that big win, he’s got another. Continue reading

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An Eagle Board of Review study guide, created by Scouters

Update, Nov. 22 | The authors of the study guide have asked that it be removed. Read other Eagle Scout blog content at the links below.

Related posts about Eagle Scouts
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Longtime Scouter left behind template for running Eagle Scout boards of review

eaglepatchDon Bennett directed Eagle Scout boards of review like a film director creating his latest masterpiece. He challenged the Eagle candidates with expertly crafted questions all with the goal of making the young man see just how his time in Scouting has formed who he is. He brought out the best in people.

That deft touch in Eagle Scout boards of review is what David Watson will remember most about Don, who died earlier this year.

David wrote a touching tribute to Don (pictured above) and gave me permission to share it with you all. You’ll find it’s about more than just a great man; it’s about the attitude he brought to an Eagle Scout board of review. Consider it mandatory reading for anyone who may some day sit on an Eagle Scout board of review and decide the fate of an Eagle candidate.

Find the tribute, edited for style, after the jump.  Continue reading

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LAX shooting survivor says Boy Scout first-aid training saved his life

Brian LudmerAn Eagle Scout who was shot in the leg during Friday’s deadly attack at Los Angeles International Airport credits first-aid training he learned as a Scout with saving his life.

Brian Ludmer, a 29-year-old California teacher and former member of Lake Forest, Ill., Troop 48, used a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding in his leg and keep himself alive.

In an interview with NBC News, Dan Stepenosky, superintendent of Ludmer’s school district, said Ludmer’s Scouting skills proved invaluable.

“He dragged himself to a nearby closet, closed the door and relied on his old Boy Scouts training to create a makeshift tourniquet to help slow the bleeding,” Stepenosky said. 

Ludmer, who remains in good condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, earned his Eagle Scout Award in 2002. To reach Scouting’s highest rank, Ludmer had to earn the First Aid merit badge, which teaches Scouts both how to apply a tourniquet and the benefits and risks of doing so. Continue reading

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Eagle Scout delivers critical hit to win second World Series

Shane Victorino already had Eagle Scout, 2008 World Series champion and three-time Gold Glove winner on his list of accomplishments.

Tonight, the Boston Red Sox outfielder added 2013 World Series champion to his résumé, and he did so with a timely swing of the bat in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded and two outs, Victorino delivered a three-run double that gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. (Watch an animated GIF of the hit here.)

“My parents always told me to take every moment, live every moment, love every moment,” he said in a post-game interview broadcast on FOX. “I just went up there and said, hey, I get another moment. … It’s time to shine, do what you can, and I was able to get in a good hitter’s count. I was able to put a ball off the wall and enjoyed every moment of it.”

Victorino’s hit provided all the runs the Red Sox needed to win the game, 6-1, and their eighth World Series championship.

It had to have been especially sweet for Victorino, who sat out Games 4 and 5 with lower back tightness, to come up big in a critical situation in Game 6. But then again, this Eagle Scout has been impressing people all his life.

Whichever Major League team you cheer for (if any), let’s all give a big round of applause to this member of the Scouting team.

Victorino on Scouting

Read Victorino’s 2010 interview with Boys’ Life

Shane with some Boston-area Scouts

The Boston Minuteman Council shared the photo below on its Facebook page: Continue reading

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Robert M. Gates, former defense secretary, joins BSA national executive board, serves as national president-elect

Arena ShowRobert M. Gates, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and our nation’s 22nd secretary of defense, has been elected to the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. Gates will serve as a member of the executive committee and as the national president-elect.

This move means that upon approval of voting members of the National Council, Gates would begin a two-year term as the BSA national president in May 2014. The national president works alongside Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and National Commissioner Tico Perez to form the National Key 3 that guides the organization. (Learn more about the National Key 3 in the sidebar at right.)

national-key-3-2013Gates’ appointment was made upon the recommendation of national volunteer and professional leaders, including the BSA national nominating committee. Following the National Council’s approval of Gates’ two-year term as the BSA national president beginning in May 2014, Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., has agreed to serve as the president-elect of the BSA.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said recently. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before.”

Gates’ Scouting résumé is voluminous: Distinguished Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, former president of the National Eagle Scout Association, past National Executive Board member and Silver Buffalo Award recipient. When it comes to the Scouting movement, Gates gets it.

“When I joined the CIA at age 22, I had no connections and didn’t know a soul,” he told the crowd at the opening arena show of the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. “The only thing in my life that led me to believe I could make it was my Eagle Scout badge. It was the only thing that distinguished me from most high school kids.”

Gates has a tremendous passion for Scouting but also a sense of humor when appropriate. In his 2010 jamboree speech, Gates described what happens when the director of the CIA goes camping with his Boy Scout troop.

“I think the edge gets taken off the wilderness experience when 100 yards away there are three large black vans, a satellite dish and armed security guards,” he told the crowd, drawing a big laugh. “It’s a challenge no Scoutmaster ever anticipated.”

Last year, Gates indicated a willingness to re-engage with the BSA, and because of his leadership capabilities and his long history of participation and service in Scouting, the BSA had the opportunity to take advantage of a unique moment to bring on board a truly great leader in Gates. He is one of our nation’s most respected public servants and a proven leader of the highest caliber.

“I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth,” Gates said.

Video: Watch Gates discuss Scouting

Watch an excerpt from his speech at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree after the jump. Continue reading

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Watch this space: At least two-thirds of astronauts were Scouts

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock weren’t Scouts, but odds are their characters in Gravity would’ve been.

That’s because at least two-thirds of the pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1959 were Scouts. This stat comes as no surprise to those of us involved in the program; we know how well Scouting prepares young men and women for life and high-flying careers.

But Kathy, a Scouter who emailed me last week, says that when recruiting new Scouts, statistics like these are worth more than a rock from the surface of Mars. She writes:

Hey Bryan,

Could you get the current info on how many Eagle Scouts are astronauts? I love this info when recruiting new Scouts as it makes such an impact as to the validity of the BSA program and its values.

Thanks, Kathy

Great question. The latest numbers I could find say this:  Continue reading