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In Sandy’s wake, BSA Chief relays call for help

I mentioned a few ways to help Scouts and Scouters affected by superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, but today we’re getting more details about the toll on local Scout councils and what some units are doing to help.

In a letter sent this morning, BSA Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock said that council camps in the northeast have suffered downed trees and destroyed buildings. Council offices have been severely damaged. And Scouts, Scouters, and BSA professionals have lost personal property and valuables.

Brock writes that Scouts and units have almost certainly lost “camping gear, uniforms, trailers and other supplies.”

In addition to suggesting ways to help through donations of money and time, he also spotlights two examples of Scout units doing what Scout units do whenever there’s a tragedy: cheerfully serving others.

Read our Chief’s complete letter below:  Continue reading

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Sea Scouts rewarded for STEM research, with more than just a payday

Members of Ship 41 show off O’Tumbler.

Today’s Scouts will go on to careers where they solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

But apparently the boys and girls in Sea Scout Ship 41 aren’t waiting till they’re grownups to make a difference.

The Scouts of the ship Intrepid out of Bay Village, Ohio, researched harmful algae blooms in nearby Lake Erie. With no easy solution available, they invented their own, developing O’Tumbler, “a vertical wind turbine that circulates oxygen-rich water to help stimulate the growth of plankton and provide a food-rich habitat for fish.”

For their efforts, the Sea Scouts were named the national winners of Interlux’s 2012 Waterfront Challenge, a title that comes with a $20,000 prize. Skipper Richard Gash says the ship will use the money to educate the Lake Erie community and demonstrate ways to help protect the world’s 10th-largest lake.

“This has been a super opportunity for our Sea Scouts to study, brainstorm and develop practical solutions to real-life environmental problems,” Skipper Richard Gash said in a statement. “We look forward to using the Interlux award to further educate our community to help protect our great natural resource, Lake Erie.”  Continue reading

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Far out! Jamboree on the Air event crosses the final frontier

How do you expand the reach of an event that’s already global?

Find something out of this world.

This weekend, the National Scouting Museum became the only Jamboree on the Air location on earth to enable 10 Scouts to directly communicate with the International Space Station as it hovered 255 miles above Earth.

The turnout was great, and — as you can see above — the event caught the eye of local news stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Scouts chatted with NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who holds the record for the longest space flight by a woman. It was all part of JOTA, the annual event that links Scouts around the world.

The long-distance call was made possible through a program from NASA and the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. It is one in a series of educational activities in the United States and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

If you weren’t there in person, you can watch a stream of the event here.

Final thought: Anyone want to guess how long until Scouts are talking to someone on Mars?

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What’s the longest pinewood derby in the world? Guess again

The track stretched 335 feet, 6 inches. That’s 111 yards, for you football fans out there.

If most pinewood derbies are sprints, consider this one the Boston Marathon.

Earlier this month, the Boston Minuteman Council broke the Guinness World Record with a pinewood derby track stretching 335 feet, 6 inches. That beat the previous record by more than 70 feet.

Just how long was the track? Imagine you’re standing on the goal line of a football field. The track would stretch just past the back of the end zone on the other side.

Or consider this comparison: Most tracks, including the one I raced on as a Cub Scout, are 30 to 40 feet long, making this one roughly 10 times longer.

The design was inspired by the Zakim Bridge in Boston.

And they did it in style. The track, which started at a height of 15 feet, was modeled after Boston’s Zakim Bridge (seen at right), the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge.

The record-breaking attempt was part of the council’s SOAR (Scouting’s Outdoor Adventure on the River) event. Just from browsing the event’s Web site, it looked like a blast.

Congrats to all involved in this exciting accomplishment!

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Eagle Scout’s triathlon finish defined the heart of a champion

Spencer Zimmerman so badly wanted his friend with cerebral palsy to finish a triathlon that in 2010, the Arizona Eagle Scout pushed, pulled, and carried his buddy through a 500-meter swim, 3.2-mile run, and 12-mile bike ride.

Spencer, then 13 years old, and his friend Dayton Hayward trained relentlessly — Spencer pulled Dayton in a raft, pushed him in a jogger while running, and towed him on a bike — to prepare for the three-hour race that challenged the physical and mental stamina of both young men.

And yesterday, two years after the pair crossed the finish line, the Boy Scouts of America and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation recognized the strength of Spencer’s heart in a big way. The organizations honored him with the American Spirit Award, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors for youth.

The award has thrust Spencer into the national spotlight, but the 15-year-old is quick to deflect its aim.

Continue reading

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UPDATE: ‘Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?’ casting expands to seven states; deadline April 16

(UPDATED April 10, 2012)  The Are You Tougher? casting call is growing! See the expanded casting region and new deadline in the “How to Apply” section at the bottom.


Scouts and adults, practice your knots, sharpen your pocketknives — oh, and comb your hair.

Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?, the new National Geographic Channel show I told you about in January, is looking for a few outstanding cast members for its first season.

If you live in California one of seven Western states (see below), read on to learn how you can get in on the fun. If you live elsewhere, I’ve got some exciting details about what kind of people you can expect to see on the show when it premieres this fall.

I spoke with senior casting director Sarah Furlong today, and she’s pumped about the new reality competition show that will pit current Scouts against adults who were Scouts as youth. And it’s all done with the blessing and support of the Boy Scouts of America.

“We’re kind of excited because this is the first time the Boy Scouts have lent their name and given permission to a show like this,” she said.

Furlong, who recently finished casting for upcoming seasons of America’s Got Talent and Storage Wars, said that ideal candidates for Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout? are heartfelt people with integrity, a love for the outdoors, and an interesting story.

Continue reading

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Next on ‘The Voice’: An Eagle Scout prepares for battle

UPDATE (March 14, 2012):  — I have just confirmed that Pip’s battle episode will air 8/7 Central on Monday, March 19!

Good thing a Scout is Brave. Phillip Arnold will need all the courage he can get.

The Eagle Scout singer, who goes by the stage name “Pip,” is entering the battle round on NBC’s hit reality singing show, The Voice.

Three weeks have passed since the blind audition episode where Pip blew away the judges — and me — with his rendition of “House of the Rising Sun.” (If you missed it, click here and watch it immediately!)

Of the 75 singers from last round, only six got all four judges to press their “I Want You” button. Pip was one of the six, a clear sign he’s an early favorite.

But he can’t rest on his laurels. It’s time for Pip to go head-to-head with a competitor: Two singers enter, and just one moves on.

Continue reading

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I interview the Eagle Scout on ‘The Voice,’ and he hits all the right notes

Phillip Arnold had just returned from the first round of The Voice in Los Angeles, where, by all accounts, he stole the show. He was adored by the celebrity judges and praised by entertainment bloggers. TV ratings showed that his audience was 16 million strong.

So when Phillip collapsed onto his parents’ couch back home in Georgia, he had just one thought.

He turned to Mom and Dad and said, “I’ve really had a good life.”

It’s hard to disagree. The 19-year-old singer is well-spoken, he’s an Eagle Scout, and, oh yeah, he sings like you wouldn’t believe. Continue reading

Photo by Lewis Jacobs/NBC

WATCH: How did our favorite Eagle Scout singer do on ‘The Voice’?

Pip didn’t just sing last night.

He “absolutely blew the roof off the place,” said host Carson Daly.

Phillip Arnold, known on the show as Pip, gave a powerful rendition of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” during last night’s episode. Continue reading