Handheld cell phone use in West Virginia will cost you

Your 10-cents-per-text plan seems cheap when you consider this: Pressing send behind the wheel will soon cost you 3,000 times that amount.

Thanks to a new bill signed into law this month, handheld cell phone use in West Virginia — the home state of the Summit Bechtel Reserve — is against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $300.

The law, sure to make West Virginia’s roads safer, comes as Scouts and Scouters prepare to descend on the state for next summer’s national Scout jamboree.

If you’re among the tens of thousands who will attend, visit, or serve on staff, here’s what you need to know:

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Amateur radio fans: Have a Field Day!

If you’re a ham radio buff, the six-month wait until the next Jamboree on the Air feels like a lifetime.

Fortunately, there’s hope. Wait just two months and attend the American Radio Relay League’s annual Field Day on June 23 and 24.

Both events have ties to the ARRL, but unlike JOTA, the Field Day doesn’t have any direct Scouting ties.

Still, it’s a great opportunity to meet local amateur radio operators and ask them to get involved in the Jamboree on the Air in October. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce your Scouts or Venturers to the fun and technology of amateur radio.

Here’s the scoop:

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Scouting Pinterest

Scouting magazine is now on

Have you ever run across a great Cub Scout activity on the Web and wished there was an easy way to file the information for later use? (And I’m not talking about writing down the URL address on last night’s dinner napkin.) Enter

This clean-cut Web site, with its all-white background and crisp tableau of images, allows users to create their own visual “pin boards” to capture ideas, stories, and scraps of inspiration themed around a topic (like “Great Camping Destinations”) for later use and/or to share with other “Pinners.”

Because the editors at Scouting aim to arm volunteers with the best resources needed to help lead pack, troop, team, and crew activities, we’ve launched our own Scouting magazine Pinterest page. What does this mean? Now you can “follow” Scouting-themed pin boards relevant to your interests—whether it’s “Great Gear,” “Cub Scout Snacks,” “Scouting Cakes,” “Boy Scout Activities,” and much more.

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Resistance is futile, during National Robotics Week

Robots are taking over the world!

OK, I’m overreacting, a little, but I can’t help it. This week has me thinking about robotics and the many ways in which machines make our lives better.

So get with the programming and involve your pack, troop, team, or crew in National Robotics Week activities.

Combine the annual event with the new Robotics merit badge, and you’ve got the perfect excuse to tell your Scouts about this field that goes hand in hand with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

How do you flip the “on” switch this week for your Scouts? Begin by finding an event near you. Here’s how:

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Mark your calendar: 2012 Jamboree on the Air/Internet dates released

Scouters, do you copy?

I have an important message: This year’s Jamboree on the Air will be held Oct. 20 and 21, 2012.

What is Jamboree on the Air? Like the national jamboree, it’s a chance for Scouts to connect with fellow Scouts from other places.

But unlike its older cousin, Jamboree on the Air requires no travel — other than to find a ham radio shack nearby. Scouts use long-range, two-way ham radios to have conversations with other Scouts in another city, state, or country.

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Five ways to get involved in National Welding Month

Unless one of their relatives won last week’s Mega Millions jackpot, your Scouts will need a job some day.

Sorry. Just one of life’s little realities.

But here’s the good news: Part of helping Scouts become ”Prepared. For Life.” includes giving young people hands-on experience that could lead to a career.

Each merit badge boys earn gives them a glimpse at what life might be like as a doctor, architect, police officer, etc.

And now, thanks to the Welding merit badge, which debuted in February, Scouts can try this increasingly high-tech skill.

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What’s your unit’s electronics policy?

Should you allow your Scouts to bring their smartphones on camping trips?

Sure, Scouters and Scouts can do it all with these powerful gadgets. A smartphone (or tablet) is a watch, an alarm clock, a digital compass, a camera, a GPS navigator, a Boy Scout Handbooka constellation map, an encyclopedia, and a guide to tying knots—all in one device.

Costs and size are down, while battery life and cell coverage are up.

And with those factors in mind, many troops, teams, and crews now allow Scouts to carry an iPhone, iPad, Android device, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry on campouts—with certain restrictions, of course.

Still, how did Scout units come to that decision? And if Scouts can bring their smartphones or tablets camping, how can you ensure that they don’t abuse the privilege?

To find out, I asked our Facebook fans for their take on the subject. Here’s what I learned:

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Bookshare, BSA open a new chapter

For some boys, reading doesn’t come easy. And that makes the Boy Scouts of America a challenging place. The Boy Scout Handbook. Merit Badge pamphlets. BSA training manuals. Daunting prospects for boys with print disabilities.

Fortunately, the BSA has some great resources for those Scouts.

Starting with Bookshare. This summer, the BSA signed a memorandum of understanding that cements a partnership aimed at improving the Scouting experience for boys and girls with print disabilities. Continue reading


Face-to-face or online training: Which works better in your unit?

It’s happened to all of us. You call a customer service hotline, and the computer can’t comprehend your plain-English request.

No matter how many times you say “agent” or press 0 or bang your phone against the kitchen counter, you can’t seem to get a human being on the other end.

Ain’t technology grand?

OK, there are times when it’s made our lives easier. It’s never been simpler to order a pizza, pay your phone bill, or read Scouting magazine’s archives — all from your computer.

But sometimes it’s nice to have that personal interaction, and that’s especially true in the Boy Scouts of America.

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Northern Tier unveils redesigned Web site just in time for Okpik registration

Today marks the 66th day of triple-digit temperatures in North Texas this summer.

So don’t mind me while I browse the newly redesigned Northern Tier Web site for a while. You know, to get my mind off the searing heat outside.

I’ve taken a special interest in Northern Tier’s winter camping program, called Okpik. Subzero temperatures, dog sledding, and skiing at the BSA’s pristine high-adventure base in Minnesota? Sounds way more fun than sticking my head in the office freezer.

Registration for this winter is now open, so click here for all the cool details.