A Scout is Loyal.
So it made sense that BSA IndyCar driver Alex Lloyd, after finishing 19th at the Indianapolis 500, wasted no time in complimenting his teammates in a Twitter post.
What can happen when creative people take on Scouting’s inspiring message? Let me put together the pieces for you.
But first, you must check out this video. Like the 3,000 people who watched it in its first week online, you’ll see how the world’s largest merit badge mosaic took shape.
How big is it? The finished product measures 19 feet tall and 13 feet wide, contains 12,060 merit badges, and took three days to create. Wow.
When I first saw it last week, I went in search of the story behind this one-of-a-kind project.
I tracked down the responsible parties. Turns out it was a collaboration between the Northern Star Council and the Martin Williams ad agency — both based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They agreed to give me the behind-the-scenes scoop.
But before I tell you how the project came together, I wanted to share why it was created.
The theme of the Northern Star Council’s 2010 Annual Report is “It’s Bigger Than Badges.” What does that mean?
The report’s opening page explains it best:
Let us begin by saying Scouting is not about collecting badges. It’s about collecting the lessons, experiences and relationships that shape your life. Behind each small, round patch is a story with infinite endings. One by one, these stories come together to form the person who writes them — confident, courageous and prepared to make a difference in the world.
Those words resonate in any council, don’t they?
Kent York, the council’s marketing director, said he knew he could trust Martin Williams to create a unique theme for the council’s annual report. After all, the council and the ad agency had worked together for the past 10 years.
By the way, Martin Williams does all of its Northern Star Council projects on a pro-bono basis as part of the agency’s service to the community. Nice.
When the Martin Williams creative team showed York its idea for a massive merit badge mosaic, York’s eyes lit up.
“But we wanted to give them an out,” he said. York loved the idea, but he had to ask, “Can you really do this?”
After all, this was shaping up to be the most ambitious concept for an annual report in the council’s history.
The team accepted the challenge without hesitation.
Creative Director Susan Arens and her team tracked down a photo of a Scout, Carlos, to use as the template. Next, Arens took every current merit badge — all 126 of them — and arranged them by color. The artist now had her palette and was ready to get to work.
Using the print publishing program InDesign, Arens created a circle grid and began numbering these empty circles. Each number corresponded to a different merit badge.
She arranged the badges one by one, click by click, on the screen. Think “paint by numbers” but with 12,060 tiny sections to fill.
The number 12,060 didn’t come to Arens right away, though.
In the beginning, she estimated she’d need about 1,200 merit badges.
“One of my coworkers said, I bet you’re gonna need about 10,000,” Arens said, “and I said, shut up, we’re not going to need 10,000.”
Turns out the coworker was right. But now there was a bigger problem: Where was she going to find 12,060 merit badges? No council Scout Shop in the country has that many on hand.
Besides, Marketing Director York said, the council couldn’t afford to purchase nearly $28,000 worth of badges. So he did what any Scout would do: He used his resources.
York contacted the BSA Supply Group in Charlotte, N.C., and told them his plan. Marlene Gerdts, territory manager with BSA Supply, agreed to let him borrow the badges for a few weeks. All he had to pay was shipping and any necessary restocking fees.
With badges in hand, Arens got to work. She printed the InDesign document on 10 huge strips of paper and lined the pieces on the floor. Then, with the help of some coworkers and volunteers — and eight rolls of double-sided tape — she got to work.
That’s where the video above picks up; be sure to watch it and share it with your Scouts to get a sense of the artwork’s size.
There’s also a Facebook app, “Badgetize Yourself,” that allows you and your Scouts to upload a photo and create a customized merit badge mosaic.
The mosaic, like any great project, was a team effort. Joining Arens were her Martin Williams colleagues: Jeff Tresidder, group creative director; Adam Ridgeway, copywriter; Kristina Fenner, account supervisor; Chad Holder, photographer; and Cory Bauer, editor. On the council side, York teamed up with Keith Faber, Web and communications specialist for Northern Star.
With the project complete, York took a moment to step back and admire the finished product and the hard work from the Martin Williams team.
“Character, citizenship, and fitness are hard concepts to put into visuals,” he said. “These people went above and beyond what we had asked. Literally, they were on their hands and knees for two and a half days doing this.”
What’s this summer’s hottest sequel?
It’s gotta be the big return of BSA IndyCar driver Alex Lloyd, last year’s Rookie of the Year.
BSA Motorsports and Dale Coyne Racing announced last week that Lloyd will again be the team’s driver for the Indianapolis 500. Continue reading
The Scout Motto tells us to “Be Prepared,” and here’s why.
A Louisiana troop trapped for two days by a rising river in southwest Arkansas survived by making smart decisions and planning ahead.
Officials inside and outside the BSA praise the
four six Scouts and two Scouters of Troop 162 for their impressive performance in the face of this ordeal.
According to an Associated Press report, the guys filed a detailed schedule and map of where they’d be, knew which areas to avoid in case of flash floods, and quickly moved to higher ground when necessary.
This planning might have saved the guys’ lives.
“They did exactly what they needed to do,” Montgomery County Sheriff David White told the Associated Press. “As long as they stayed on high ground, we figured they were going to be in good shape.”
The six were rescued by a National Guard helicopter early Tuesday morning, as the Associated Press video above shows.
The Albert Pike Recreation Area had no cell service available, so when the troop didn’t return home as planned on Monday, family members and friends took the seven-hour drive up from Lafayette, La., to the recreation area in southwest Arkansas.
After a nerve-racking evening that included a candlelight vigil for the parents, National Guardsmen spotted the troop’s campfire at about 2 a.m. Tuesday.
It was too dangerous to land at that time, so Guardsmen tossed down supplies and walkie talkies.
After sunrise, the helicopter was able to land and rescue the troop—a happy ending made possible by the Scout Motto.
With the troop back safely, Art Hawkins, executive director of the Evangeline Area Council, took the chance to offer his own accolades.
“I wish I could videotape the whole thing,” he told the Associated Press. “This was the lesson of all the things you could do right. There was nothing that could have been done differently to change the outcome.”
Imagine this: Your troop is ready to depart for a big campout. All the Scouts and adult volunteers have arrived at the church on time, and the weather is perfect.
But something’s missing: your troop trailer. Continue reading
UPDATE (April 25, 2012): Refreshed with 2012 info.
You know the names of Mandy Moore, George W. Bush, Dikembe Mutombo, and Ted Turner.
But Nathaniel Stafford?
His name isn’t as well-known—until now.
You know about Jack Pape, the high school junior from Omaha, Neb., who won the American Spirit Award earlier this month, right?
He received his award at a special ceremony last week in Washington, D.C. Jack’s heroism on two separate occasions made him a worthy recipient of the honor and a great role model to other Scouts.
But don’t take my word for it.
The voting’s over, and the results are in.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation announced today that Jack Pape, a high school junior from Omaha, Neb., has won its American Spirit Award.
At a special ceremony on Friday, Pape will receive the award, which recognizes “extraordinary skill, professionalism, and a spirit of excellence in a challenging situation.”
I first told you about Pape and the other three finalists for the award back in January when public voting was open. In the post, you read that in 2008, Pape provided first aid for those injured in a tornado at Little Sioux Scout Ranch. A year later, he performed CPR on a young boy who was drowning at a hotel swimming pool.
Even though he twice saved others from harm, Pape remains humble about his actions.
“When I first heard about the American Spirit Award, I was really surprised to be nominated,” he said. “It seemed like kind of a big deal. I’m just a normal teenager. I was scared when I was faced with these situations, but I didn’t think about it. I just did what needed to be done. There wasn’t really any other option.”
There were plenty of options for American Spirit Award candidates, though. Our country is full of outstanding Scouts, but a nationwide search narrowed the field down to four finalists: T.J. Ellwein, Brad Garr, Jacob Netzel, and Pape.
Selecting a winner from those four wasn’t easy, but Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation members, Boys’ Life magazine staff, and online voters teamed up to choose Pape as the honoree. Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, helped put it into perspective.
“The millions of youth in our program do honor to the name of Scouting through their acts of service to others and through their leadership,” Mazzuca said. “We applaud the courage and service above self shown by Jack Pape and are proud to join with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation in recognizing this achievement.”
The timing of the announcement comes during the confluence of two anniversaries: the 150th year of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the 100th birthday of Boys’ Life. In fact, Boys’ Life will feature Pape in an upcoming issue, and he’ll serve as an ambassador for the magazine during the rest of its 100-year anniversary celebration.
Pape and his parents, Anne and Jerry, will participate in the National Medal of Honor Day activities on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. After that, Pape gets honored at a special assembly back at his high school.
Please join me in congratulating Jack Pape on this honor that will last a lifetime.