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An Eagle Scout and astronaut fact-checks the film ‘Gravity’

scott-pLike many who saw the new movie Gravity, I was curious how much of what happens in the big-budget thriller could happen in real life.

Fortunately, astronaut and Eagle Scout Scott Parazynski did the fact-checking for us.

In an article for Vulture, the man who has spent 47 hours on spacewalks answers questions about how the characters moved in space, whether certain scenes were plausible and what reminded him most of his time in space.

Don’t click if you haven’t seen the film, because it does include some spoilers. But it’s worth your time if you saw Gravity and have an interest in space exploration.

By the way, the image above is cropped from the March 1966 cover of Scouting magazine. See the full cover after the jump. Continue reading

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Tuesday Talkback: What are your thoughts on 12-year-old Eagle Scouts?

Tuesday-TalkbackA select few very motivated boys are now earning the Eagle Scout Award before they can (officially) see a PG-13 movie.

Yes, the latest members of the “youngest Eagle Scouts ever” club are 12 years old.

First, the facts. It is, technically, possible to earn Eagle at 12. To join Boy Scouts, you must be a boy who is 11 years old, or one who has completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and is at least 10 years old.

Reaching First Class comes with no time limit requirements. But once there, a boy must be active four months as a First Class Scout to earn Star, six months as a Star Scout to earn Life and six months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle. Add those numbers together and you get 16 months, or the minimum length of time from joining Boy Scouts to earning Scouting’s highest rank.

Let’s say we have a 10-year-old boy who earns the Arrow of Light and joins Boy Scouts. It’s quite possible he could complete all the requirements for Eagle Scout before he becomes a teenager.

So it’s possible, but should we encourage it?

I asked a similar question more than two years ago, and that post has now generated 190 comments from Scouters like you.

It’s time to have the discussion again. So for today’s Tuesday Talkback, tell me: What are your thoughts on 12-year-old Eagle Scouts? Leave a comment below. Continue reading

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How can an Eagle Scout best thank the troopmates who helped get him there?

At an Eagle Scout Court of Honor, Mom, Dad and other key Scouting mentors get recognized for their role in helping a young man reach the Eagle Scout rank. As they should.

But what about the young man’s troopmates? Didn’t they have a part in helping him get to Boy Scouting’s summit?

That’s just what a soon-to-be Eagle Scout from New Jersey wondered in a conversation with his mom this week. He wants to present the boys of Troop 100 with a little token of his appreciation for their role in his journey, she told me in an email.

There’s a special Eagle Scout Mentor pin, but that isn’t appropriate for this young man’s troopmates who were more teammates than mentors. So what should he give them?

Perhaps the best gift this Eagle Scout could give is his continued involvement with the troop, helping to inspire and guide the next wave of Eagle Scouts behind him. Or maybe he could sponsor a lower-income first-year Scout, offering financial and moral support on his journey to First Class.

But you have to appreciate this Eagle-to-be’s desire to give his troopmates something tangible — a certificate, an award, a plaque or something else that’ll be around when he’s aged out of the troop. And this is where you come in. Read the letter from his mother below, and please share your ideas. Continue reading

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2014 NESA scholarship window opens; this year’s application online only

Eagle Scouts, get your typing fingers ready.

The application window for the prestigious and highly competitive National Eagle Scout Association scholarships is officially open.

For the first time, NESA will only accept applications submitted online. So forget the printer and stamps and switch on the laptop.

Also new this year is a minimum SAT or ACT score for academic scholarship applicants (1800 SAT or 28 ACT). Like last year, applicants must be members of NESA to apply, but it’s easy to purchase or renew a membership.

NESA will award Eagle Scouts more than 200 academic and merit scholarships, ranging in value from $1,000 to $50,000 each. As always, many will apply but only a select few will receive scholarships.

Before you send the 2014 scholarship application link to Eagle Scouts in your family, troop, team, post, ship or crew, read the following requirements carefully. Some of these have changed from previous years.  Continue reading

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Eagle Scout’s ride across America can inspire your Scouts to stay the course

Editor’s Note: Have a Scout who’s losing speed as he nears the rank of Eagle Scout? Keep his ride going by sharing with him this guest blog post from Rob Greenfield, an Eagle Scout from Ashland, Wisc., who recently completed a solo bike ride across America.

I think you’ll find in Rob’s writing some great lessons in perseverance and the Scouting spirit. He speaks directly to boys on the path to Eagle, telling them to “keep [their] eye on the prize,” even when others around them might think Scouting isn’t “cool.” Rob did, and look at him now.

Rob also shares thoughts on protecting our earth and how he completed a cross-country bike ride with minimal impact to the planet; he created just two pounds of trash over 104 days! Rob’s writing couldn’t be more timely given the BSA’s new Sustainability merit badge.

I hope you enjoy.


Across America on a Bamboo Bike
The post's author, Rob Greenfield.

The post’s author, Rob Greenfield.

More than 4,700 miles of bike riding through deserts, over mountains, across the Great Plains and in urban America gives you a lot of time to think. It gives you a lot of time to appreciate what you have in life. It gives you a lot of time to be thankful for where you are today. It gave me a lot of time to gain a deeper appreciation for my seven years as a Boy Scout.

This summer I cycled 5,000 miles over 104 days on a bamboo bicycle starting in San Francisco and ending in Waitsfield, Vt. The purpose of the journey was to inspire Americans to start living a more earth-friendly lifestyle for themselves, their community, and the earth. To lead by example, I followed a set of rigorous ground rules: only using electricity I created via my own solar panels, using water harvested from natural sources or that was going to waste, eating local organic unpackaged food or food that was going to waste, creating near zero trash and shopping only at businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible. On top of that if I swore I had to do 10 pushups and donate $10 to charity.

My years in Scouting instilled in me a love for nature and a desire to protect it. Continue reading

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Write on! Constitutional essay contest gives Eagle, Life Scouts a shot at cash

You the Life Scouts and Eagle Scouts of the Boy Scouts of America, in Order to form a more perfect understanding of the U.S. Constitution, establish awareness of our nation’s Founding Documents, and secure some Free Money, do indeed need to enter this Bill of Rights Institute Eagle Scout Competition 

OK, so maybe my version of the Preamble doesn’t match the original, but it still contains an important message.

That message: The Bill of Rights Institute, a nonprofit educational organization “whose mission is to educate young people on the ideas of the Constitution and the rights it protects,” has launched its second annual Eagle Scout Competition.

One grand prize winner will score $1,000 for himself and $500 for his unit. Two runners-up get $500 for themselves and $250 for their units.

To enter, Life Scouts and Eagle Scouts between the ages of 14 and 19 must write two short essays based on the topics listed below. The deadline — Feb. 10, 2014 — will be here before you can say “more perfect Union,” so send this to your Life Scouts and Eagle Scouts right away.

Complete rules and info after the jump. Continue reading

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Notice anything special on the crest of the new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier?

Update, Sept. 7: Just to clarify, though the fleur-de-lis was in use before Scouting began, the Navy has said this use of the fleur-de-lis is indeed a reference to Ford’s Scouting career.


As the only Eagle Scout ever to become U.S. president (so far), Gerald Ford stands among the most successful men ever to emerge from the Boy Scouts of America.

That legacy continues with the USS Gerald R. Ford, a $13.5 billion, 1,106-foot aircraft carrier set to join the U.S. Navy’s fleet in 2016.

Last month, the ship’s crew released the Gerald Ford‘s official crest.

It features 38 stars, representing Ford’s tenure as our 38th president. The colors include blue and maize, honoring his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Michigan. But it’s the fluer-de-lis at the top of the compass that really caught my eye.

The fleur-de-lis, of course, shows off Ford’s achievements as a Boy Scout, and its northern position on the compass says a lot about how much Ford’s life direction was positively shaped by his time in Scouting.

Here’s the crest: Continue reading

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Eagle Scout says rank ‘more of a launchpad than a final destination’

Ever heard of a Scout “Eagling out”? That’s the unofficial term for a young man earning Boy Scouting’s highest rank and leaving the program shortly after.

Well, that idea’s lost on newly minted Eagle Scout Andrew Arnold from Monterey, Calif. Not only is he planning to stay involved in Scouting after his Eagle Scout Court of Honor last month, he also sees the Eagle journey as a process that will “flow on indefinitely past Eagle and even past the age of 18.”

Andrew, a member of Troop 43 in Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council, shared his view of the journey to the Scouting’s summit — and beyond — in a speech at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor in August. Based on this speech, you’ll see Andrew has wisdom beyond his years and has a bright future in writing, public speaking, law, politics or pretty much anywhere he wants to go.

A Scouter in his troop, Mike Djubasak, said I could share Andrew’s speech with you. Take a look: Continue reading

Rendering of Giant Magellan Telescope

Eagle Scout Astronomer gets a glimpse at rare mirror-firing for the Giant Magellan Telescope

Stellar accomplishments, like earning the Eagle Scout award, reap stellar rewards. Eagle Scout Tristan Bullard can attest to this, as he watched astronomers take one step closer to completing the Giant Magellan Telescope at Saturday’s rare mirror-firing event.

During a Mirror Lab tour, visitors looked on as the massive mirror is "fired" in a spun-cast furnace (shown at back of photo).

During a Mirror Lab tour, visitors watch as the massive mirror is “fired” in a spun-cast furnace (shown at back of photo). Courtesy of NESA.

Alongside internationally known scientists and astronomers, Tristan — who was named Eagle Scout Astronomer earlier this year— looked on as liquid glass spun in a gigantic furnace reaching 1170 degrees Celsius at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in Tucson.

The new, 20-ton mirror is the third of seven mirrors needed to construct the Giant Magellan Telescope, a project that will allow astronomers to look into the cosmos with clarity and precision 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT mirror-firing is considered to be the most challenging optics ever undertaken with each mirror measuring 27 feet in diameter.

Tristan says the mirror firing was a once-in-a-lifetime event. And one that he experienced thanks to the National Eagle Scout Association.

Read more about how Tristan got the chance to attend the mirror-firing after the jump. Continue reading

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Saying ‘hi’ from the high seas: Watch Eagle Scout argonaut on live webcast

cb-wrenSomewhere in the Gulf of Mexico right now, an Eagle Scout is making history.

CB Wren, the 16-year-old selected as this year’s Eagle Scout argonaut, is aboard the exploration vessel Nautilus as part of an international team exploring geology, biology, archaeology and chemistry. The Nautilus is owned by Dr. Bob Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the Titanic.

You can follow CB and his fellow explorers right now at nautiluslive.org. Or do one better and tune in at 5 p.m. EDT tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 16) for the live webcast where students and explorers aboard the ship will answer questions about their week of living and working in the Gulf.

Seems like an ideal way to inspire the soon-to-be Eagles in your life — or anyone you know who has a passion for exploration.

CB and the other argonauts are spending the week exploring the underwater environment following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, mapping natural hydrocarbons and studying a shipwreck.

What is the JASON National Argonaut program? Continue reading