Boston Executive: Scouts and Scouters who volunteered at marathon are safe

Updated | 1:40 p.m.

showstacks-mugsI just got off the phone with Chuck Eaton, Scout Executive at Boston Minuteman Council, about yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

He said that Council Commissioner Bruce Showstack and his wife, Bonnie, the council’s venturing committee chair, were among the volunteers at yesterday’s race.

Thankfully, Chuck told me that Bruce, Bonnie, and the dozen-or-so Scout volunteers at the race were all safe and accounted for after the explosions that left three people dead and injured more than 170.

Chuck said the Showstacks are one of those “classic Boy Scout families,” volunteering wherever possible. And not just in Scouting.

At the Boston Marathon, Bruce manages the volunteer contingent two blocks from the finish line. Chuck said he could see Bruce on TV during the race, one of the yellow-clad volunteers working in the background.

After the blasts, Chuck wasn’t able to get in touch with Bruce but did hear back from Bonnie, who was “still shaken” but had news that the Scouts and Scouters volunteering at the race were OK.

I’ve reached out to the Showstacks for details of their experience and will update you if and when I hear back from them. Keep checking my blog for updates. (UPDATE: Read my follow-up post to this report, including Bruce and Bonnie’s firsthand account.)

Chuck said he’s been hearing from Scouting friends across the country who were concerned about the Boston council headquarters. Fortunately, Chuck said, the council’s offices are in a Boston suburb, about eight miles from the marathon’s finish line.

But despite their physical distance from the race, everyone in the council — volunteers and professionals — have some link to the marathon.  Continue reading


Our own background check on the new Secret Service director turns up …

pierson-1Scouting, in all of its many varieties, can build the foundation for a lifelong career of serving others.

That’s true in the traditional Scouting programs — Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing — but also in the lesser-known ones, like Exploring.

Consider Julia A. Pierson to be the latest shining example. Pierson, who became the first female director of the United States Secret Service on March 27, got her start in Exploring. She was an Explorer in Post 103 with the Orlando, Fla., Police Department as a youth and was the 1978 National Law Enforcement Exploring youth representative.

Exploring may be one of the BSA’s lesser-known programs, but it’s experiencing some encouraging growth right now. Last year, membership in the program grew by an impressive 3.4 percent.

Speaking of impressive, Continue reading


Jamboree youth participants: Don’t just be part of the story; write it yourself


Updated | April 22

This just in: All jamboree youth participants are invited to register as National Hometown News Correspondents.

An email home to Mom and Dad? These Scouts and Venturers will do one better, sharing their first-person jamboree experience with local news organizations back home. Get your guys and girls to register today and start making headlines in their local newspapers or TV stations.

Here’s the scoop:  Continue reading


What the … beep?! Silly rule detected and reversed at Michigan Crossroads Council

Common sense. We see it so rarely in politics these days that it’s big news whenever it shows up.

Take the recent news that the Michigan Department of Human Services told the Michigan Crossroads Council that it would be required to have smoke detectors in all 1,000 of its summer camp tents across nine camps.

Yes, you read that right. A thousand small, beeping, blinking, battery-draining smoke detectors for all the two-person, council-owned tents in the Lower Peninsula.

But here comes common sense. Fortunately, we got word yesterday that the state agency has reversed its decision and will not require the detectors. 

The impractical — not to mention costly — detectors fired up state Rep. Phil Potvin, a board member of the President Ford Field Service Council. He told the Detroit Free Press that the Continue reading


BSA Chief visits Newtown, presents Spirit of the Eagle Award to Tiger Cubs’ parents

newtownIn a touching gesture, the two Tiger Cubs killed in last week’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School have been awarded the Spirit of the Eagle Award.

BSA Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and other top professionals presented the families of Chase Kowalski and Benjamin Wheeler with the award, “an honorary, posthumous special recognition for a registered youth member who has lost his or her life in an accident or through illness.”

Wayne shared with the BSA family some details from his emotional visit. I can’t imagine the overwhelming heartache he witnessed as he attended three wakes and a funeral for Tiger Cubs Chase and Benjamin, as well as for two girls who were sisters of Cub Scouts in Newtown’s Pack 170.

The photo above, shared by CBS Reporter Paula Reid, shows Scouts saluting 6-year-old Benjamin at one of those events. What a powerful image. (Note: Paula tells me the Scouts will likely be featured in her story on The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley at 6:30 p.m. Eastern today, Thursday.)

Take a moment to read Wayne’s heartfelt letter below. In it, you’ll find details on the outpouring of support that’s already been felt in Newtown — phone calls, e-mails, and letters from Scouting families from all over the world.

And Wayne shares info on how to send supportive cards and letters or make a donation to a memorial fund established by the Connecticut Yankee Council.

Here’s the letter:  Continue reading


Two Connecticut shooting victims were Tiger Cubs; here’s how to help

It breaks my heart to report that the horrendous school shooting in Connecticut has hit the Scouting family.

The Boy Scouts of America learned that two of the victims, 7-year-old Chase Kowalski and 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler, were new Tiger Cub Scouts with Pack 170 in the Connecticut Yankee Council.

Three other families in Pack 170 lost children at the school, and Tiger Cub Den Leader Peter Baressi was a first responder hero who stayed with the families throughout the ordeal.

Victoria Soto, one of the heroic teachers who was killed, was an Explorer as a youth in Stratford EMS Post 4911.

When you live several states away from those in pain, it’s easy to feel helpless. In addition to keeping the families in your thoughts and prayers, I’ve learned of an opportunity to send cards, letters and donations to those in mourning.

The Pack 170 leadership has asked Connecticut Yankee Council to set up a Memorial Fund to support the five families. Donations can be made out to “Pack 170 Memorial Fund” c/o Connecticut Yankee Council, P.O. Box 32, Milford, CT 06461.

Your family or your Scout unit may wish to send condolence cards and letters. Those can also be addressed to “Pack 170″ c/o the Connecticut Yankee Council, P.O. Box 32, Milford, CT 06461.

After the jump, a letter from Wayne Brock.  Continue reading


Boston harbors some top-class Scouts and Scouters

boston-goodturn-2Some Good Turns are truly great.

Take the impressive individuals from the Boston Minutemen Council, who traveled 300 miles to help fellow Americans who had been affected by superstorm Sandy.

Last weekend, they loaded 75 Scouts and Scouters onto a charter bus, packed a rented Budget truck with supplies donated by the community, and headed down Interstate 95 to Little Egg Harbor along the New Jersey Shore.

They offered service at the damaged Joseph A. Citta Scout Reservation, cooked supper for more than 300 residents, and dropped off supplies to a local distribution center.

Then, they went into the neighborhoods and personally delivered relief buckets filled with paper towels, scrub brushes, laundry detergent, and disinfectant to people who had been devastated by the October storm.

Those who weren’t able to make the 10-hour round trip donated money, clothing, food, cleaning supplies, water, school supplies — pretty much everything seen in the photo above.

“What an awesome group of young men and their leaders,” volunteer Bill Keating said in an email to Scouting magazine. “And what an impact that had to have not only on the people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, but also on the Scouts themselves.”

What he said.


Hawaiian Boy Scouts stitch their place in history

A close-up of the nearly 100-year-old flag.

On a Saturday in 1913 on the island of Oahu, Queen Lili‘uokalani drove past a group of boys doing Scouting drills.

Intrigued, she walked over and asked what kind of military exercise the boys were doing. We aren’t military, the Scouts replied, we’re Boy Scouts.

The boys explained the concept of Scouting to the queen, and a month later she returned with a silk Hawaiian flag. Onto the red, white, and blue flag with the Hawaiian royal crest the queen had hand-stitched the word “Onipaa,” which means “stick together” — a message for Scout troops that still resonates today.

For decades, the flag belonged to the Lili‘uokalani Trust. Then, in 2010 the trust presented the flag to the Aloha Council to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the BSA.

And now, as we approach a century since that regal meeting, the Aloha Council has “paid it forward” and donated the flag to the Bishop Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts. And as you can see above, proud members of Honolulu Troop 33 served as the color guard in the opening ceremony. Continue reading


Eagle Scout Manti Te’o sees awards pile up

UPDATE (Dec. 10, 2012): Added mention of all of Manti’s impressive awards.

Manti Te’o is a brave, confident leader with an impressive collection of awards on his shelf. He’s comfortable in a uniform. He’s a loyal teammate.

But enough about his time in Scouting — I hear he’s pretty good at football, too.

Long before Manti became an All-American linebacker for top-ranked Notre Dame, he became an Eagle Scout.

And now that he’s piled up tons of awards for his play (see a partial list below) and is projected as a Top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, he’s become a household name.

To fully grasp the ways in which Scouting prepared Manti for life, check out this excellent South Bend Tribune article from April. In it, the author describes a time early in Manti’s life where his character was tested.  Continue reading


Train on board for closing stadium show at 2013 jamboree

Three-time Grammy winners Train will headline the closing stadium show at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, the Boy Scouts of America announced today.

For my money, this is the biggest musical act to perform at a national Scout jamboree since the Beach Boys in 1985. And I’m told it’s the earliest in the jamboree planning cycle that a headliner has signed on. That’s good news for participants and staff already registered for the jamboree, and it’s yet another enticing reason for Scouts and Scouters not registered to join us next summer in West Virginia.

You surely know Train, the pop-rock group from San Francisco that has performed together since 1994. And you know their hits, including “Meet Virginia,” “Drops of Jupiter,” “Calling All Angels,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” and recent singles “Drive By” and “50 Ways to Say Goodbye.”

Train — consisting of Pat Monahan (vocals), Jimmy Stafford (guitar), and Scott Underwood (drums) — will perform Saturday, July 20, at the closing event, called the “Celebration of Scouting” show. They’ll light up the new stage at the stadium (the area called the arena at past jamborees) in front of tens of thousands of excited Scouts, Scouters, and visitors.

Train’s a big name for the jamboree, but they certainly aren’t the first recognizable people to speak, sing, or perform on the event’s big stage.

This isn’t a complete list, but here are some big-name guests at past arena/stadium shows (note that I’m only including in-person guests, not those who appeared via video):

Continue reading