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Should Scouters capitalize on archery interest inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’?

Thanks to The Hunger Games, archery is cool again. Your move, Scout leaders.

In the megahit film and book, the character Katniss Everdeen (above) uses a bow and arrow to hunt for food.

And she does it in style.

Sounds like a great opportunity for Scouters to get their troop excited about Archery merit badge, right?

Turns out it’s not that simple.

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Handheld cell phone use in West Virginia will cost you

Your 10-cents-per-text plan seems cheap when you consider this: Pressing send behind the wheel will soon cost you 3,000 times that amount.

Thanks to a new bill signed into law this month, handheld cell phone use in West Virginia — the home state of the Summit Bechtel Reserve — is against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $300.

The law, sure to make West Virginia’s roads safer, comes as Scouts and Scouters prepare to descend on the state for next summer’s national Scout jamboree.

If you’re among the tens of thousands who will attend, visit, or serve on staff, here’s what you need to know:

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What’s the No. 1 killer of children? (or: How the BSA keeps your Scouts safe)

Every hour in the United States, a child dies from a preventable injury.

Car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls took the lives of more than 9,000 children in 2009, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released this week. Preventable injuries kill more Americans under age 19 than any other cause.

And for every one child who dies, 925 more are treated in emergency rooms.

Fortunately for Scouts and Scouters, the BSA has been a health and safety pioneer for more than a century, working with medical and risk management experts to make the program one of the safest out there. (Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety, anyone?)

That doesn’t mean injury prevention happens by itself, though. Following the BSA’s carefully worded safety guidelines can help you avoid a trip to the emergency room on your next campout — but only if you’ve actually read them.

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Tethered hot-air ballooning and the BSA

Ready to take your pack, troop, team, or crew to new heights?

Schedule a ride in a tethered hot-air balloon. The activity, which previously wasn’t approved, was officially OK’d this week by the BSA’s Health and Safety team.

Notice I said tethered hot-air ballooning — not the kind where you ride for miles like the Wizard of Oz. Unlike traditional hot-air ballooning, the tethered variety uses at least three lines connected to the ground to keep the balloon from moving horizontally. The BSA has set the maximum permitted height at 70 feet.

Now, don’t go buying a balloon and trying this yourself. The balloon must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and the pilot must be certified and insured.

Before planning a ride, familiarize yourself with some key requirements:

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Walk the line? After review, slacklining gets a (qualified) OK

Find two trees, grab some friends, and work on your balance: Slacklining is now an approved Scouting activity — with qualifications.

After a thorough review, the BSA’s Health and Safety team officially OK’d the extreme sport this week for all Scout units, districts, and councils.

I first told you about the addictive, challenging, community-based activity that involves walking across a two-inch tightrope after an Eagle Scout slacklined at the Super Bowl.

At the time, though, the BSA hadn’t ruled on slacklining. “Don’t try this at home,” I wrote.

Times change, and now your Scouts have the go-ahead to follow in Eagle Scout Andy Lewis’ famous footsteps. Well, provided your Scouts also follow new BSA safety rules outlined below.

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Are fireworks an approved Scouting activity?

Thinking of ringing in the New Year or celebrating the Fourth of July by setting off some fireworks with your Boy Scout troop or Venturing crew?

Think again.

Unless you and your Scouts are watching a show conducted by a “certified or licensed fireworks control expert,” these dangerous explosives have no place in Scouting. Continue reading

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Don’t text and drive — you’ll save a life, get a patch

Get out your cellphone, and look at the last text message you received.

Read it aloud. Then consider whether that text message is so important that you’d risk getting into a car accident to read it.

Would you put your life on the line to tap out a response?

Surely not. But still, countless Americans—teens and adults—text and drive, and the consequences can be tragic. In fact, you’re 23 times more likely to be in an accident if you text and drive, according to a 2009 Virginia Tech study.

That’s why the Boy Scouts of America and AT&T, the BSA’s Exclusive Communications Services Sponsor, have started a campaign to end this distracting, often-fatal practice. Continue reading

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Move it! Take the SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge today

To keep myself physically strong … 

It’s right there in the Scout Oath, but chances are you or someone in your pack, troop, team, or crew needs a little reminder.

I’ve got just the thing: The SCOUTStrong Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge.

The program, a result of a partnership between the BSA and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, rewards you for being physically active in Scouting and your daily life.

Who can participate? Anyone associated with the BSA. That means Scouts, Venturers, parents, volunteers, council staff, board members, friends of Scouting, and BSA alumni.

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Take aim with new shooting-sports reference

If you’re an instructor for shooting sports, you can’t just keep your eye on the target. You’ve got another bulls-eye to focus on: safety.

That’s why you need to check out the newly released Shooting Sports Manual, designed for unit and camp leadership, merit badge counselors, and council shooting-sport committees.

Developed by the BSA’s Shooting Sports Committee in conjunction with the National Rifle Association, this comprehensive manual explains the roles and responsibilities of shooting-sports personnel, lists equipment inspection guidelines, outlines the instructions for councils operating shooting ranges, and much more. Continue reading

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We’ve talked the talk, so follow us as we “Walk the Walk” toward an active lifestyle

Would you tell a Scout to wear his uniform while you show up in a T-shirt and jeans?

Nope.

Just like we wouldn’t tell you about the importance of an active lifestyle while sitting in our La-Z-Boys.

That’s the thinking behind the Boy Scouts of America’s new Walk the Walk challenge. By now you’ve seen us talk the talk about getting fit. Now, 15 BSA adult leaders and I are ready to practice what we preach. Continue reading