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From an unthinkable tragedy, a lesson for your teenage drivers

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Max Keevill soon after crossing over into Boy Scouts.

Max Keevill had it all — and did it all.

The 16-year-old was a straight-A student, a member of the National Honor Society, a violist for his high school’s orchestra, a soccer player, and a Life Scout just a few months away from earning Eagle.

After Cub Scouts, Max’s Scouting career really blossomed. He liked the weekly meetings — for the most part — but what really captured his heart was camping, hiking and sitting around the campfire with his friends. His Scouting highlight was a trek at Philmont.

After high school, he hoped to attend college to study biotechnology and help the world. The plan after college was to marry his high school sweetheart, a fellow member of the orchestra and student council.

Tragically, all that ended on Jan. 15, 2011.  Continue reading

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Update: TSA delays policy to allow small pocketknives in flight

Update | April 23, 2013: The TSA announced yesterday that it was postponing the rule allowing small knives on planes. There was no new date announced for the policy change, so stay tuned. The original post is below …


Effective next month, your Scouts and others traveling by plane will be permitted to carry on small pocketknives.

The Transportation Security Administration said on Tuesday it was relaxing certain restrictions to allow small pocketknives, golf clubs, and other sports items to be carried on to planes, better matching international standards for air travel.

The changes take effect on April 25, 2013, meaning Scouts and Venturers flying to the jamboree, a high-adventure base, or anywhere else this summer may have one less thing to worry about at the airport.

Be careful — not all pocketknives are allowed as carry-ons. A knife is only allowed if:  Continue reading

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Sky lanterns: Why they’re on the BSA’s no-fly list

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane …

It’s a floating ball of fire and fuel that could destroy acres of farmland or forest in a massive wildfire!

It’s a sky lantern — also known as a paper, floating, or Chinese lantern. Consider it a miniature, unmanned hot-air balloon.

Seeing several fill the night sky surely must be something to behold. (I’ve never seen them in person, but I did watch the Disney movie Tangled, so does that count?)

Beautiful as they may be, though, these tiny flame-mobiles have no place in Scouting, according to a new Health and Safety alert. Here’s why:  Continue reading

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Who’s your one-stop shopping spot for healthy living?

One study says chocolate is good for you, while another swears it’ll kill you.

When it comes to information about nutrition and health, cutting through the fat to get to the good stuff online isn’t easy.

Enter the BSA’s new SCOUTStrong site. The news aggregator collects Scout-approved, health-related news articles, podcasts, and videos in one spot for easy viewing. The goal: making Scouts and Scouters physically strong, mentally awake, and completely prepared for the jamboree and other BSA adventures ahead.

After spending a few minutes on the site, any adult — leader, volunteer, parent — should feel empowered to pass on the lessons learned to their Scouts.  Continue reading

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Make your point: What’s your unit’s knife policy?

In Scouting, knives are a double-edged sword.

Used safely, they’re part of a rite of passage for boys and a chance for leaders to impart important lessons to help Scouts become “Prepared. For Life.”

But inevitably, some Scout will do his best Crocodile Dundee impression and show up at summer camp with the 10-inch sheath knife his uncle bought him.

The BSA keeps its knife policy intentionally vague (see below), offering suggestions but leaving specific policies up to individual units.

Does your pack, troop, team, or crew have a policy?  Continue reading

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Are you safe when driving Scouts around? Take the quiz and find out

Parents in your troop expect you’ll help mold their boys into better young men.

They also have another, equally important expectation: that you’ll keep Scouts safe while doing so.

Before you drive Scouts to your unit’s next campout or other event, ask yourself: Am I safe behind the wheel?

Your life — and the lives of your Scouts — may depend on it.  Continue reading

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Liquid gold: Check out these 10 winning hydration slogans

We know in graphic detail what happens when “happy mountaineers” use the restroom.

What we don’t know, until today, are other clever ways to remind Scouts — and ourselves — to remain hydrated in the great outdoors.

That’s why last month I asked Scouters like you to send in your best hydration slogans.

In all, I received 157 submissions. I made an initial cut, removing slogans that weren’t Scout appropriate or didn’t follow the contest rules. I sent the 85 remaining to Richard Bourlon, hydration hype-man (and BSA health and safety guru).

Here are Bourlon’s selections, in no particular order: Continue reading

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Happy mountaineers: Create a hydration slogan, win a limited-edition water bottle

Fewer than 100 of these water bottles were produced, and they aren’t sold in stores. Win one of 10 I’m giving away by entering below!

“A happy mountaineer always pees clear.”

That simple, off-color rhyme does its job by reminding Scouts, Scouters, and other outdoor lovers about the importance of proper hydration.

It stems, of course, from the fact that urine color is an excellent indicator of your hydration level.

Face it: It’s easy to forget about drinking water when you’re having fun in the sun with your pack, troop, team, or crew. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

That’s why you should consult this BSA-produced heat index and urine color chart (PDF), which can be printed and distributed to the members of your unit. It’ll tell you how much water you need and whether you’re dehydrated.

Another great way to keep hydration in mind? A catchy slogan.

Think you have one? If so, you could win a limited-edition water bottle! Read on to learn how.  Continue reading

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This summer, make safety on the water your top priority

Most of my best memories from summer camp involved the water.

Where else but Camp Cherokee’s epic waterfront could I swim, canoe with my friends, or sit on a massive airbag called “the blob” and get propelled 15 feet into the air?

At camp or not, summer isn’t summer without water activities. But with great fun comes great responsibility, and that’s where you come in.

Continue reading

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Check the BSA’s tool-use guidelines before your next service project

Hey, you with the post-hole digger! Let me see some ID!

When it comes to service projects, nobody does it better — or safer — than the Boy Scouts.

But before you gather equipment for your next Good Turn, ask yourself some questions:

Can my 14- and 15-year-old Boy Scouts use lawnmowers and string trimmers to cut the grass at the local church?

Can my 16- and 17-year-old Venturers use a chain saw and log splitter to cut firewood for elderly residents?

In this case, the answer is no and no.

That’s why it’s critical to follow the Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations, a new document that details how old Scouts should be to use certain hand tools and power tools at service projects (including Eagle Scout service projects).

I’ve got complete details below.

Continue reading