Lowe’s nails it! Helps pay for Eagle Scout service projects

Update July 17, 2013: The grants have returned for click here for details.

Consider it giving back to those who give back.

Lowe’s, the home-improvement giant with more than 1,700 stores, has teamed up with the BSA and local Scout councils to give selected Eagle Scout candidates a $100 prepaid gift card to be used toward their service projects.

Any Life Scout still in the planning phases of a construction-based Eagle Scout service project is eligible. In other words, if the Scout’s project requires supplies from, say, Lowe’s, it’s eligible.

Your local councils will actually award the money, and councils will get a certain number of awards based on a percentage of their three-year average for Eagle Scout Awards earned.

Here’s what you need to know:  Continue reading


Who’s your one-stop shopping spot for healthy living?

One study says chocolate is good for you, while another swears it’ll kill you.

When it comes to information about nutrition and health, cutting through the fat to get to the good stuff online isn’t easy.

Enter the BSA’s new SCOUTStrong site. The news aggregator collects Scout-approved, health-related news articles, podcasts, and videos in one spot for easy viewing. The goal: making Scouts and Scouters physically strong, mentally awake, and completely prepared for the jamboree and other BSA adventures ahead.

After spending a few minutes on the site, any adult — leader, volunteer, parent — should feel empowered to pass on the lessons learned to their Scouts.  Continue reading


Wood Badge Wednesdays, Vol. 1: Living the Values

Growing up, one thing always perplexed me about our home: What’s with all the owls?

We lived in an owlery, it seemed. Owls in every room. I saw owl belt buckles, owl clocks, owl paperweights, owl postcards, plush owl toys — pretty much everything short of a real bird in a cage.

My dad’s overt owl obsession made no sense to me — until last month.

After completing a weeklong Wood Badge course at Philmont Scout Ranch, I get it now.

My dad was — well, is — a member of the Owl patrol. And now that I’m a fellow Owl, I see how Wood Badge changes you. The values and lessons embedded in you during those six days stay with you long after the closing ceremony.

So in an effort to share the magic of Wood Badge — and preserve some of my favorite memories — I’m starting Wood Badge Wednesdays. My goal with this five-part series is to explore some of the takeaways from my course and help you see how Wood Badge can help strengthen your ability to work with your pack, troop, team, ship, crew, or post.

Never heard of Wood Badge? Considering attending soon? Already wear two, three, or four Wood Badge beads? No matter where you are in the spectrum, I hope you’ll find value in this five-part, in-depth look at Wood Badge.

Today, I’ll discuss the importance of Living the Values and how my patrolmates embody the Scout Law.  Continue reading


Troop calendar planning conferences: What works, what doesn’t?

A troop without an activity calendar is like a car without a steering wheel: It lacks direction.

In the Boy Scouts, creating a troop calendar for the next six to 12 months doesn’t happen by itself. It takes dedication from a well-trained Patrol Leaders’ Council — and the right amount of guidance from adult leaders like you.

But how much guidance is too much? What works — and what doesn’t — at a troop planning conference?

I asked Scouters on Facebook and Twitter, and they shared these ideas: Continue reading


Help reimagine the next generation of Cubcast

Call it a temporary role reversal.

The team behind Cubcast — which Cub Scout leaders listen to every month for practical tips — is now listening to you.

I told you all about the monthly, BSA-produced podcast when I previewed the July and August editions. It’s already excellent.

But the folks behind Cubcast aren’t resting on their laurels. They’re taking the admirable “if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backward” approach and will start from scratch to make Cubcast an even better tool for Cub Scout leaders.

A tool sort of “like your favorite hammer or kitchen spatula,” says Caryl Lombardi, BSA multimedia producer. Listening directly to the leaders? I think she hit the nail on the head with that one.

Here are some of the questions they’re looking to you to answer:  Continue reading


The Ultimate List of Scouting Apps

Once upon a time, we used maps printed on paper to find our way. We studied laminated sky charts to identify constellations. We counted seconds after thunder strikes to locate storms.

What were we thinking?

Today, thanks to the ubiquitous smartphone, we can do all that and more with a few taps.

As Scout leaders, we can now carry a library, GPS, weather radio, compass, map, camera, and field guide in our pocket. But which apps are worth downloading or — in some cases — paying for?

I tapped our Facebook friends to find out.  Continue reading


Are you safe when driving Scouts around? Take the quiz and find out

Parents in your troop expect you’ll help mold their boys into better young men.

They also have another, equally important expectation: that you’ll keep Scouts safe while doing so.

Before you drive Scouts to your unit’s next campout or other event, ask yourself: Am I safe behind the wheel?

Your life — and the lives of your Scouts — may depend on it.  Continue reading


Popcorn-selling secrets heat up August Cubcast

When someone down the hall makes popcorn, the enticing aroma makes me drop everything and find the source.

If only selling Scout popcorn were as easy, right? Turns out it is.

That’s thanks to the August 2012 edition of Cubcast, the excellent audio podcast for Cub Scout leaders that I told you about earlier this month.

Part 2 of the latest episode explains why units sell popcorn, some secrets for how to sell more, and info about some tasty new flavors.  Continue reading


25 ways Scouters can make the most out of summer camp

Some would argue that this Scouter is doing exactly what he should do at camp: Relaxing somewhere Scouts can find him if they need him.

I know a place where adults voluntarily give up a week of vacation to oversee a bunch of teenage boys.

Some might call these adults crazy. I call them Scouters.

Around this time every year, hundreds of Boy Scout council camps across the U.S. fill up with Scouts having a week to remember — and the adult leaders who make it all possible.

At council camps, the staff sets the itinerary, handles the program, teaches the merit badges, and even prepares the meals.

So what’s a unit leader to do? How does a Scoutmaster or assistant Scoutmaster make the most of his or her week at camp?

Here are some ideas, sent in by Scouters like you on our Facebook page: Continue reading


Do the Trails Day two-step: Get outside, get a patch

Trails have been a part of Scouting since the beginning.

There are figurative trails — the one to First Class and to Eagle — and literal ones, like the 350 miles of trails at Philmont or the familiar 10-mile loop at your favorite state park.

Whatever your trail, show your pride by protecting it.

One great way? Participate in the American Hiking Society’s 20th annual National Trails Day, dubbed “America’s largest trails celebration.” I told you about it last year, and this year’s event on Saturday, June 2, 2012, promises to be even bigger.

Continue reading