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How Facebook’s new privacy policy for teens affects your Scouts, Venturers

For your Scouts and Venturers on Facebook, the reminder to “think before you post” just got a lot more important.

Yesterday we learned that Facebook has changed its privacy policies for users age 13 to 17, a move with real implications for the social media users in your troop, post, ship, team or crew.

There are two changes you as a Scout leader should be aware of. Continue reading

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Tuck everlasting: Scout uniform shirts should always be tucked in, BSA says

scout-uniform-4To tuck or not to tuck.

That was the question on the minds of hundreds of parents who have called the BSA headquarters over the past several months.

Their query: Does the Boy Scouts of America require uniform shirts to be tucked in? The questions are specifically referring to field uniforms (known to some by the unofficial name “Class A”) and not activity uniforms (“Class B”).

Problem is there hasn’t been an official policy in the past. The requirement was that the uniform-wearer must be “neat in appearance.” Most packs, troops, and crews interpreted that to mean tucking the shirts in, but a few didn’t.

Now we’ve got our final answer. Read the BSA’s official stance after the jump:  Continue reading

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Nationwide open house on Oct. 29 will help spread the story of Scouting

LDS-100-logoIt takes a village to recruit new Scouts, and here’s the latest example of that Scouting village uniting for the greater good of the BSA.

Packs, troops, teams and crews are invited to celebrate with the LDS church on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 29, for Scouting Open House Night.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints becoming one of the BSA’s first chartered organizations, LDS chapels and stake centers all over the country will open their doors to tell the story of Scouting and to invite youth to join the program you and I believe in so strongly.

The event, designed as a kind of national join Scouting night, is open to units and prospective Scouting families from all denominations — not just LDS units or members of the LDS church.

But wait, isn’t Oct. 29 the same night as the church’s A Century of Honor live broadcast I told you about last week? Yes, and though these are two different events held on the same night, they do overlap and fit together nicely.

Download a printable (PDF) flier for Scouting Open House Night by clicking here. And find out more info, including how councils and chartered organizations can get involved and how you as a unit leader can make the most of this opportunity, after the jump. Continue reading

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Minnesota Venturers try underwater basket weaving — no, seriously

Note: Not a real patch.

Note: Not a real patch.

In Crew 9820, they’re taking the joke of “underwater basket weaving” to new heights.

Or, technically, new depths.

Last weekend, the Minnesota Venturing crew, which specializes in scuba diving, went below the surface in their field uniform shirts, wetsuits and scuba gear. But they weren’t hunting for fascinating fish or awesome artifacts. They were making baskets.

Why? “Because we could,” says crew Advisor Dave Tengdin.

The crew drove to Square Lake in Stillwater, Minn., and made baskets while immersed in 68-degree water.

“Everybody makes jokes about taking classes in underwater basket weaving,” Tengdin told KSTP-TV. “And we figured, you know what? Let’s just have underwater basket weaving.” Next up for the crew: underwater pumpkin carving. Seriously.

Read a little about the origin of “underwater basket weaving” on the Wikipedia page, watch video of the crew’s event here and follow the jump for more photos.  Continue reading

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Tuesday Talkback: What do you do when a Scout has a patch sewn on wrong?

Tuesday-TalkbackYou’ll notice it right away, of course.

You’ll see Tristan across the room at your pack or troop meeting this week and instantly spot the unit numerals on the wrong sleeve, the rank patch on the wrong pocket or the World Crest way too low on his field uniform shirt.

What do you do? Call Tristan out in front of the group so other Scouts learn from his mistake? Hand him a needle and some thread and send him out of the room? Email his parents after the meeting? Something else?

Leave a comment below with your answer, and let’s have a discussion about the best way to handle this common concern. This is the first of a recurring series of posts I’m calling Tuesday TalkbackContinue reading

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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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Venturers from Hawaii, Colo. complete day of service with a smile

Creating and maintaining the Summit Bechtel Reserve brought jobs and money to West Virginia, a state ranked 47th in per-capita personal income last year.

But now that the Summit is built, that positive impact on the community will only continue to grow thanks to initiatives like the Messengers of Peace Day of Service, which launched today.

I spent most of the day today tagging along with Crew F206, a jamboree unit that combines Venturers from the Maui County Council in Hawaii and the Denver Area Council in Colorado.

Joined by two outstanding Arrowmen from the Order of the Arrow, the group spent four hours creating hiking and biking trails near Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley, W.Va., about 30 minutes from the Summit.

Theirs is just one of hundreds of similar projects that jamboree participants will complete over the next several days. Messengers of Peace Day of Service (or MOPDOS) organizers expect 250,000 man-hours of service during the jamboree.

I know; it’s easy to gloss over that 250,000 number. Yes, it’s clearly a lot, but to really understand the effect of each individual hour, you need to look closer at units like Crew F206. So I did. Continue reading

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The first Venturers arrive at the jamboree, don’t miss a beat

Early this morning, I watched history be made.

For the first time ever, Venturers joined the jamboree fun.

As buses streamed in, green-shirted young men and women hauled off their gear and made the uphill hike toward Basecamp Foxtrot. Identifying jamboree shoulder patches as the Venturers rushed past me proved a daunting task, but I spotted crews from councils in South Texas, Baltimore, Denver, Heart of Ohio, South Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Seattle and Louisiana.

Once they reached the top of what I’m calling Foxtrot Hill, a panorama of West Virginia wonderment awaited them. They might have the steepest hike to camp of any jamboree participants, but they’re rewarded with the best view at the Summit.

For Erin Carrigan (pictured above, center), president of Crew F807 out of the Baltimore Area Council, the 2013 jamboree is the culmination of a year of hard work.
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