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BSA’s 2011 Report to the Nation recaps a great year of Scouting

What have Scouts been up to for the past year?

Tons. But instead of merely telling you, why don’t I show you?

The Boy Scouts of America released its 2011 Report to the Nation today, showing the outside world what Scouts accomplished last year.

A delegation of nine young people from across the country will visit Washington, D.C., beginning tomorrow to embark on a whirlwind tour. They’ll take part in visits with top government officials, a service project benefitting the National Cathedral, and exclusive tours of the Pentagon, White House, CIA building, and Supreme Court.

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From Scouting to the Super Bowl: Eagle Scout slackliner shares his story

UPDATE (March 13, 2012): The BSA’s Health and Safety Team has officially approved slacklining — with certain safety qualifications. Click here for details. 

Who was that slacklining at the Super Bowl?

It’s Andy Lewis, who got worldwide attention (and a kiss from Madonna) during halftime with his show-stealing performance on a two-inch tightrope. (You can find some video by searching YouTube.)

“This was not just a show,” he says. “This was the most-viewed single airing of a show in history.”

But Lewis, the curly haired acrobat who is credited with bringing slacklining into the mainstream, reached greatness long before that famed moment.

Before slacklining in front of millions, before becoming a six-time world champion in the extreme sport, before amassing three Guinness World Records, and before having a line of shoes named after him, Lewis did what some might consider his biggest accomplishment: He earned the Eagle Scout Award. As a member of California Troop 59, Lewis didn’t stop there. He finished with an impressive 51 merit badges — good enough for two Silver Palms.  Continue reading

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U.K.’s newest Scouter: Kate Middleton

Scouting-UK-KateNo shock that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is making headlines again.

But what may surprise you is why: She just joined the global Scouting movement as a volunteer with the U.K. Scout Association.

The “other” Scouting magazine, which serves Scouting in the U.K., features Kate in a cover story for its February-March issue, due out next week. Check out the cover at left. Sure beats People or Vogue, if you ask me.

Kate will join 40,000 female Scouters in the U.K. Her plans include volunteering with Scout units near the royal couple’s home in north Wales, recruiting additional Scouters, and traveling the country to lead activities relevant to her skills and interests.

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“Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?” debuts fall 2012

In a test of outdoors skills, who would win: Boy Scouts or adults who are out of Scouting?

Though the answer seems obvious, it’ll sure be fun to see those adults try.

That’s the promise behind the newest reality show, Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?, set to debut this fall on the National Geographic Channel.

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Major League Soccer and the BSA: A perfect one-two

Teamwork. As important in Scouting as it is in Major League Soccer. And both organizations strive to Be Prepared for the future.

Not a stretch, then, to understand why Scouting and the nation’s top professional soccer league announced today they’re on the same team. By forging a special collaboration with the nation’s top youth organization, MLS will use its network to support the BSA’s “youth-focused program of athleticism, character, and leadership.”

Beginning at the start of the soccer season in March, Scouts will receive special access to MLS games, players, coaches, and executives through unique on- and off-field programming designed specifically for Scout packs, troops, teams, and crews. Continue reading

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Reaching a goal, inspiring Scouts to do the same

How far would you go to inspire your Scouts?

One assistant Scoutmaster had a specific distance in mind: 140.6 miles.

That’s the distance of an Ironman triathlon — 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and 26.2 miles running. All that effort, says Mark Williams of Troop 16 in Parker, Colo., shows his Scouts what training and perseverance can accomplish.

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A good turn that spans 1,200 miles

Combine Scouting with comfort food, and what do you get?

In Troop 36′s case, you get a Good Turn. Scouts and Scouters from this California unit heard about people in need 1,200 miles away and decided to help.

It all started a few months ago when First Class Scout Gianluca Allesina of Irvine Ranch, Calif., read about the  September fire that destroyed 1,600 homes in Bastrop County, Tex. He immediately asked his parents how he could help Scouts there.

The result? A big dinner prepared by Gianluca’s father, Ugo, an executive chef from Italy. More than 225 parents and community members attended, and their donations totaled $1,322.

That entire sum was sent to Bastrop, Tex., Troop 533, which lost all of its camping gear in the blaze.

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Taylor Swift honors Eagle Scout at TeenNick HALO Awards

How does it feel getting a shout out from Taylor Swift?

Ask Eagle Scout James O’Dwyer, whose relief program in Alabama to provide aid to tornado victims caught Swift’s eye.

The singer, who has donated millions of dollars and hundreds of hours to disaster relief, nominated O’Dwyer to receive a TeenNick HALO Award, given to “teens who work hard to make the world a better place.”

Reading that description, does it surprise you that an Eagle Scout was among the HALO Award recipients? Me either. Continue reading

Chess Merit Badge

Human chess match will celebrate the new Chess merit badge

Help the BSA celebrate its newest merit badge—Chess!—tomorrow by watching fellow Scouts in a live, human chess match.

The event, shown online at this link, will take place between 1:05-1:25 p.m. CST on Saturday, Sept. 10. Scouts will serve as pieces, challenging one another as they move across the gigantic chess board at The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Scouts back at home can earn their own Chess merit badge by participating in this ancient game—dating back to 600 A.D.—in addition to learning scorekeeping, organizing a tournament, and teaching another Scout how to play.

Look for the new merit badge at your local Scout Shop after you’ve completed the required tasks.

Read more about the Chess merit badge requirements here.

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Nate Stafford is saving lives one net at a time (and did I mention he’s just 13?)

Nate Stafford isn’t your typical 13-year-old.

While other kids his age worry about saving up for the next must-have video game, Nate has a loftier goal: saving lives, one bed net at a time.

This month, the teenage Boy Scout reached his goal of raising $10,000 to purchase 1,000 life-saving nets. The insecticide-treated nets are crucial in the fight against malaria in Africa.

Today, Nate was honored by the U.N. Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign and the Boy Scouts of America (partners since 2010) during a special reception at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Tex. Continue reading