troop-program-features

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

venturing-roadmap

First look: Major Venturing changes coming next year

venturing-bsa-logoAt age 15, the Venturing program is beginning to show its age.

Membership has declined since 2008. Venturing has the lowest retention rate — 53 percent — of any BSA program. And advancement hasn’t caught on with teens; just 0.66 percent of Venturers earn any awards.

But it’s not all bad news. Beginning next year, big program changes are on the way that amount to much more than just a fresh coat of paint.

I sat down last week with Bob Scott, senior innovation manager, to discuss the complete revamping of Venturing that will change the way the BSA’s youngest program serves young men and women.

The new “Venturing Road Map,” which outlines the program’s first substantial change since its inception, is broken down into six parts:  Continue reading

BSA membership resolution passes with more than 60 percent of vote

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After an extensive discussion within the organization, the Boy Scouts of America’s approximately 1,400 volunteer voting members chose to adopt the membership policy resolution and remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

The final vote breakdown was 61.44 percent for the proposal, and 38.56 percent against. The change takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Voting results were tabulated and certified by TrueBallot, an independent, third-party voting firm.

Read more at this site, or find the full text of the BSA’s official media statement below:
Continue reading

Scout service projects

Ask the Expert: Can Scouts earn service hours outside of the troop setting?

expertlogo1Are all service hours created equal?

If a Scout, say, builds a house with his church youth group or delivers meals with his school’s student council, can those hours count toward Boy Scout rank advancement?

That’s what a Scouter named Andrea wondered this week:

Bryan,

Our troop only allows service hours to accrue if it is a troop-sponsored service event. I think that this is against Scouting principles but understand the difficulty in calculating hours if the boys are collecting hours through school, church, etc. What is the BSA policy for this? Can the boys earn service hours outside the troop and how do we get those to “count” if they are allowed to be accrued by the Scout?

Thanks,

Andrea

Now, nobody will question the value of service to others — even those not conducted with a Scout unit. But what Andrea’s wondering is whether her Scoutmaster is correct in restricting which hours may be applied to rank advancement within Scouting.

The short answer: Continue reading

bsa-discover-cards

How to monitor your Scout’s spending and benefit Scouting

With some teens, you might as well give their allowance directly to Best Buy, GameStop, or Cinemark, because it’s going straight there anyway.

There’s got to be a better way. And now, there is. Harness the power of the Boy Scouts of America Discover® prepaid card, which lets you monitor your kid’s daily spending, teach him or her how to create and manage a budget, and do it all while benefiting the Boy Scouts of America.

I mentioned this program last year, but it’s worth repeating: This isn’t a credit card. Instead, it’s a prepaid, reloadable card that’s safer and more practical than the wad of cash in your Scout’s or Venturer’s cargo shorts.

Parents can monitor purchases through the online or mobile site, giving them instant access to increase or decrease allowance and ensure that said allowance is being spent wisely. There’s also a wealth of financial education materials, including videos, games, and budget calculators that families can explore together.

Scouts get the benefit of instant access to their cash, peace of mind knowing they’re not broke if their wallet goes missing, and live safety and emergency services coordinators, available 24/7 if they’re ever in a jam.

And here’s a cool bonus: Local councils get a piece of the action. A portion of proceeds are sent right to councils so that Scouting in your community can thrive.

To learn more or get a card for your Scouts, go to scoutsarethrifty.com.

Now that the program has been up and running, mFunds has answered some frequently asked questions about the program:  Continue reading

Messengers of Peace

These North Carolina Scouts and Venturers are giving Peace a chance

The precious ring can be yours, if you complete a Messengers of Peace project.

The precious ring can be yours, if you complete a Messengers of Peace project.

You can’t promote world peace by sitting on your couch.

No, you’ve got to follow the lead of units like Venturing Crew 122 of North Carolina’s Tuscarora Council. The Venturers and advisors of Crew 122, along with some Scouts from Troop 33, cleaned a 9.5-mile portion of the Neuse River by canoe last month.

Over the 10-hour day, they collected more than 400 plastic bottles, 70 glass bottles, 52 toys, 37 aluminum cans, and 36 styrofoam/paper cups.

Almost as impressive as that garbage haul is the fact that the Venturers kept a count of what they had collected: almost a half-ton of trash in all. And remember they collected it all by canoe.

The conservation effort went beyond just a daily good turn, though. It was the crew’s Messengers of Peace service project, earning them the ring patch seen above.

Now THAT is a load of garbage. Nice job, Scouts!

Now THAT is a load of garbage. Nice job, Scouts!

You were first introduced to Messengers of Peace in a blog post last year. The global program, which launched in 2011, is “designed to inspire millions of young men and women in more than 220 countries and territories to work toward peace. The initiative lets Scouts from around the world share what they’ve done and inspire fellow Scouts to undertake similar efforts in their own communities.”

How do you participate and get one of those Messengers of Peace ring patches? Read on…  Continue reading

scantron

Higher score, lower price: Get SAT and ACT test-prep software cheap

Updated for 2014

Pay attention, because there’ll be a test later.

Boy Scout families — both current and former — can score $250 SAT or ACT test-prep computer programs for $20. That means the study materials, instructor-led videos and multimedia lessons can be yours for about half what it costs to take the actual tests themselves.

It’s $20 for either the SAT or ACT test-prep program, which includes 10 hours of video instruction, 120 lessons and 122 drills, hundreds of practice questions, and 18 automatically graded tests. The software is technically free but requires a $20 student fee that includes streaming/shipping costs, customer and technical support and updates.

Have a student who’s taking both tests? Grab both programs for $40 — a huge savings over the $500 list price.

Mac or PC? Doesn’t matter, because the software — available either as a DVD or streamed instantly online — works on either platform.

Longtime blog readers might recognize this program as a continuation of the eKnowledge and the SAT/ACT Donation Project I mentioned in 2012 and in 2010. In the years since it began, eKnowledge, which says its mission is helping Scouts and Venturers to Be Prepared for these important standardized tests, has sent more than 5,000 Scouting families this software. And it has received hundreds of thank-you notes from Scouting families, with comments such as: Continue reading

bsa-logo

BSA membership policy resolution released, will be voted on in May

The Boy Scouts of America’s Executive Committee today released its membership policy resolution, which proposes removing the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and maintaining the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America.

The resolution, if passed, would be effective Jan. 1, 2014. You can read a summary below or see the complete text at this link (PDF).

Next up, the resolution is sent to all voting delegates, a group of volunteers from every BSA council, who will put it to a vote at the National Annual Meeting next month.

The resolution comes after a lengthy review process in which the BSA gathered perspectives from inside and outside the Scouting family. The five-page Membership Standards Study Initiative Executive Summary (PDF) explains in detail the key findings from this review.

For those with questions, the BSA has prepared this comprehensive list of FAQs (PDF) about the resolution.

Here’s the resolution: Continue reading

swim-board

Here’s one swimming record you could actually break

Can’t swim the 100-meter butterfly in less than 50 seconds?

That’s OK — nobody but Michael Phelps can. But I did just hear about a swimming record you and your Scouts do have a chance to break.

Register now to participate in the Guinness World Record attempt for The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, held at pools and lakes around the world at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, June 18.  Continue reading

nationaltrailsday-2013

Find your path: Track down a National Trails Day event near you

Last year's patch. This year's design hasn't yet been released.

The official National Trails Day patch. Get yours at ScoutStuff.org.

Maybe you’ll walk in the footsteps of the Wright Brothers in Ohio, hike from scene to scene in an outdoor production of Snow White in Boulder, or bike through redwoods in California.

Wherever you are, there’s surely a National Trails Day event near you.

So save the date for Saturday, June 1, to take your Scouts or Venturers to a local hike, cycling event, horseback ride, trail-maintenance project, paddle trip, health fair, geocaching activity, photo safari, or birdwatching expedition.

American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day, which I’ve blogged about annually since 2010, is a great way to show people in your community that Scouting and the outdoors go hand in hand. Who knows a trail better than a bunch of Boy Scouts or Venturers?

To start, search for an activity near you. Continue reading