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BSA membership fee increased to $24; what does your $24 get you?

The Boy Scouts of America will increase its annual membership fee for youth and adults to $24 from $15, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

For those who join after the beginning of the year, the fee will be prorated at $2 per month. This does include units with a Dec. 31, 2013, expiration date.

The change was announced at last week’s annual Top Hands meeting of professional Scouters in Washington, D.C. In a letter to Scouting professionals, Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock explained the reasoning behind the increase.

“First, I want to make clear that the Boy Scouts of America maintains a strong financial position,” he wrote. “In order to continue to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program, it is occasionally necessary to increase membership fees so that we can offset rising administrative costs.”

The BSA’s last fee increase — to $15 from $10 — was in 2010, and since then, the organization has taken steps to control and reduce costs. But “administrative costs have continued to rise faster than projected,” Brock wrote. “As always, our focus is to build the future leaders of this country by combining adventure, educational activities and lifelong values. The fee increase is a step we must take in order to continue providing the services you and our members expect and need.”

So that’s the big news, but I wanted to take you deeper into the story. What exactly does your $24 annual fee pay for? And how does that $24 fee compare to other youth organizations and activities? Much more after the jump. Continue reading

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Five big takeaways from today’s release of the 2013 Guide to Advancement

2013-Guide-to-AdvancementHere’s one for your browser’s bookmarks bar: The newest edition of the Boy Scouts of America Guide to Advancement released today.

The PDF version contains answers to pretty much any advancement question that might come up, and it’s essential reading for your unit’s advancement chair and others who like to be kept in the loop on all things advancement.

You’ll want to spend some time with this user-friendly guide. Consider downloading the PDF to your tablet for portable reading. Or print off a copy on recycled paper and keep it handy.

There’s so much inside the guide that it’s pointless for me to go into too much detail here. But I did want to draw your attention to five takeaways I gathered from a first look at the guide: Continue reading

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The BSA’s Chief Scout Executive is now blogging, tweeting

As the Boy Scouts of America’s 12th Chief Scout Executive, Wayne Brock continues a solemn tradition that dates back to November 1911 when James E. West became the first Chief.

But let’s remember July 2013 as the moment when Chief Brock started a new tradition, one Mr. West never could have seen coming.

Yes, our Chief is now blogging and tweeting.

Over at the Chief’s Corner blog, which launched yesterday, you’ll get words of wisdom directly from the man who is effectively the BSA’s CEO. Through his posts, Chief Brock will bring Scouts and Scouters closer to the movement while showcasing the magic of Scouting for those who aren’t yet members.

I’m told the Chief will post once or twice a week and focus on issues relevant to the Scouts and Venturers with whom you work. That means leadership, service, adventure, health, and more. From time to time, Chief Brock will share updates on his travels across the country to visit packs, troops, teams, posts, ships, and crews.

And on Twitter, follow @bsachief for the latest dispatches from Chief Brock. The account has been used off and on since 2010, but along with the launch of Chief’s Corner, you can expect great insight and information on a more-regular basis.

Or, as the Chief himself tweeted last week:  Continue reading

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Ideas that click: 11 ways to improve your unit’s website

If first impressions are everything, your unit website better be good.

These days, many prospective Scouts and their parents will research your pack, troop, or crew online long before they pick up the phone or visit one of your meetings.

An easy-to-navigate, well-designed, regularly updated website can mean the difference between recruiting a new Boy Scout and watching him join the troop down the street.

With that in mind, here are 10 ways to improve your unit’s website:  Continue reading

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Ask the Expert: Rapid-fire FAQs, round 2

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?Want proof as to how passionate Scout volunteers are about the Boy Scouts of America?

Just look at my inbox.

Last week, I provided answers to eight frequently asked questions, and at the end of the post, I provided information on how to ask your own Scouting-related question. (By the way, you can do so by emailing scoutingmag@gmail.com, subject “Ask the Expert.”)

Well, 78 emails later, it’s time for Round 2 of my rapid-fire FAQs. I can’t answer every question, but I have answered nine more common ones below.

This round will cover Cub Scouts earning merit badges, funeral services for a fallen Scouter or Scout, uniform questions, and more. Perhaps a question you’ve been wondering about is covered…  Continue reading

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Rex Tillerson speaks out about change and ‘The Main Thing’

“So we’ve made the decision. We’re going to change,” says Rex Tillerson. “Now what?”

Less than 24 hours after the volunteer delegates voted to change the BSA’s membership policy for youth, Tillerson addressed a large room full of Scouting volunteers and professionals at the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.

In a powerful, heartfelt speech, Tillerson made his message clear: Change is inevitable, but “The Main Thing,” which is to serve more youth in Scouting, hasn’t changed. With that in mind, he reasoned, it’s time for all of us unite toward this common goal.

Tillerson, immediate past president of the Boy Scouts of America and a 2010 Silver Buffalo recipient, knows something about making big decisions and dealing with change. When he’s not serving as a Scouting volunteer, he’s the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest companies.

In 1999, Tillerson worked for Exxon when it merged with Mobil—definitely a big change for both companies.

Take 10 minutes to watch the video below and listen to Tillerson’s message. Then, share it with the members of your Scouting family.  Continue reading

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Where are Scouts going this summer?

Update June 7, 11:12 a.m.: We stand at an impressive 683 pins! Keep commenting with the location you’re visiting (be as specific as possible) and your unit number. I’ll update the map regularly.


Perhaps the better question would’ve been where are Scouts not going this summer?

Earlier today on our Facebook page, I asked where packs, troops, teams, and crews are headed for their summer adventures. More than 175 responses later, the answer is “far and wide.”

There’s Venturing Crew 505′s trip to Alaska’s Denali National Park, several units visiting the Florida Sea Base, a Transatlantic Council visit to the U.K., and pretty much everywhere in between.

I’ve compiled it all in an interactive, searchable Google map. You can click each marker to see which Scout unit is visiting that location. You can zoom in close. And you can uncheck Boy Scouts and Venturers if, for example, you’re only interested in seeing Cub Scout packs. Speaking of, the blue markers indicate Cub Scout packs, green markers represent Venturing crews, and red markers are for Boy Scout troops.

Several units are headed to Philmont, Northern Tier, Sea Base, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve, so I spread those markers out a little to make every submission visible.

Want to put your unit’s summer adventure on the map? It’s not too late.  Continue reading

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Learn how to work with Scouts from different economic backgrounds

scoutcast-logo1Scouting isn’t free.

Yes, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to be a Scout than to participate on a club soccer or lacrosse team. But there’s still a cost in Scouting — dues, uniforms, gear, activity fees, travel expenses, printed materials, and more.

Within one pack, troop, team, or crew you likely have parents who live comfortably and those who live paycheck to paycheck. You could say the socioeconomic status of our Scout families is as diverse as our Scouts themselves.

So how do you handle this situation and give everyone an equal Scouting experience? And what happens if a Scout family’s economic situation changes — perhaps a parent loses a job, for example?

Take some time to ask yourself: Are you doing all you can to handle economic diversity within your troop?

Start by listening to the June 2013 ScoutCastJoining the hosts for this important topic is the team leader of the Council Fund Development Team, Mark Moshier, who shares ways to keep funds from hindering a Scout’s involvement.

And continue the conversation by sharing your ideas in the comments section below.

The most important CubCast ever

Cub Scout leaders, if you only listen to one CubCast this year, this should be it.  Continue reading

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Make your life easier with next-gen troop program features

The new design for the Science program feature (above) and the old design.

The new design for the Science program feature (above) and the old design.

Update, June 3: As several people have pointed out, these aren’t just for troops. Teams, crews, ships, and posts can find great use out of them.


In Scouting, one size doesn’t fit all.

So suggesting a month-by-month troop planning calendar on a national level, as in the past, just doesn’t work.

For example, take the Fishing program feature. A troop in Texas could make that work in March, but a troop in Wisconsin would find that timing a little less, well, comfortable.

Enter the next generation of troop program plans, sure to make your life easier. I have a preview of two from the upcoming generation that I’ve been authorized to share with you.

There will be 48 in all, delivered in three volumes of 16 each over the course of 2013 and early 2014.

But the best part is that the new program helps are flexible, and troops can customize their own year from the 48 months of activity ideas. Selection is key as youth leaders plan the upcoming year.

There’s also customization within the program features themselves. You don’t expect every skier to go down the same run, so why expect a 13-year-old First Class Scout to complete the same troop programming as a 17-year-old Eagle Scout?

That’s why meeting plans, like ski runs, come in three flavors: green, blue, and black. Skills marked with green circles are essential, those with blue squares are challenging, and the ones with black diamonds are the most advanced.

Another change is the way the program features are divided by volume. Nobody creates a troop calendar alphabetically, but past program features volumes were organized that way. This time they’re mixed up, deliberately combining outdoors, careers, and hobbies to make each volume more diverse.

Vol. 1 comes out this fall, Vol. 2 is out by the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014, and Vol. 3 is released in first or second quarter 2014. The hope is that each of the 48 program plans will be made available individually and digitally so units can purchase and download only those they want to use. Stay tuned for more details about distribution once I learn more.

Curious what one of these program features will look like? Continue reading