Take the pledge: Help Scouts drink right, move more, and snack smart

healthy-kidsFor anyone who’s seen a Boy Scout patrol return from grocery shopping with six family size bags of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips.

For anyone who has set out snacks for a Cub Scout den and seen the boys eat everything but the carrots and celery sticks.

Or for anyone who’s watched a Venturer finish two 32-ounce bottles of Gatorade during a three-mile hike.

For all those Scouters and more, the Healthy Kids Hub is for you.

In 2010, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So if the statistics hold up, one out of every three Scouts in your pack, troop, team, or crew has this common health problem, which could mean immediate and long-term effects on his or her well-being.

But it’s not all bad news. The BSA is one of nine extracurricular organizations that have joined up with Healthy Kids Out of School to develop guiding principles for turning this country’s worsening childhood obesity epidemic around.

What’s in it for you? The Healthy Kids Hub, which launched today. The Hub is a gold mine of resources developed by leading universities, after-school organizations, and nonprofits designed to be used by adults who work directly with kids.

These aren’t dull academic journal articles about obesity; these are graphically rich tools you can use right away.

The resources include easy-to-digest information on a wide range of topics, such as ideas to encourage kids to drink water instead of sugary sports drinks, suggestions for outdoor and indoor games, and low-cost, healthy snack ideas.

It’s all based around the three Healthy Kids Out of School guiding principles:  Continue reading


What’s the most positive decision your Scouts could make?

For teens, it just might be saying no — to tobacco, to drugs, and to alcohol.

And now, courageous Scouts and Venturers who pledge to remain tobacco-, drug- and alcohol-free have the opportunity to to win an all-expenses-paid trip to any of the BSA’s high-adventure bases: Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier, or Florida Sea Base. Everything is included — roundtrip flights, ground transportation, program fees — for an enviable prize valued at $3,000.

The sweepstakes is brought to you by Boys’ Life. In other words, sorry, but adults aren’t eligible to enter. It’s solely for registered Boy Scouts or Venturers between the ages of 14 and 17 at time of entry.

So, leaders, send your Scouts to the Trail of Courage contest page to enter. All they do is take the pledge and submit their contact information. It’s simple, but hurry — the contest ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on March 31.

The drawing will yield just one randomly selected winner, but I think all would agree that any Scout or Venturer who takes the pledge to steer clear of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol is winning at life.


Voice of the Scout membership-policy survey questions give Scouters, parents a chance to be heard

It’s mid-March. That means Phase 2 of the Boy Scouts of America’s three-month family discussion has shifted into high gear.

The BSA calls this phase “Listening,” and that’s exactly what the organization is doing. Scheduled to last from March 1 to April 5, the phase includes, in addition to a lot of conversations with a lot of people, a 13-question Voice of the Scout survey, recently sent to about 1.1 million registered volunteers and Scout parents.

The questions, which you can read below, were designed to help committees review the beliefs and concerns of two groups of stakeholders critical to this process: Scouters and the parents of registered Scouts.

The BSA is also sending the survey to approximately 325,000 Scouting alumni, former members who aren’t necessarily currently active but have previously joined the National Eagle Scout Association or the Scouting Alumni Association.

Refresh your memory about the remaining phases in a blog post I wrote last month. But, briefly, they include evaluating the results of the surveys and other committee reports, the executive officers preparing a resolution to present to the group of National Council voting members, educating the Scouting family about the findings, holding a vote on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May, and taking whatever steps are needed to carry out the decision.

First, though, the survey will collect feedback from our key stakeholders, asking parents and volunteers to carefully consider the current membership policy and potential affects on the program should the BSA change its policy or keep it the same.

If you are a current member and you have not received a survey, you may visit this link to register your member ID number and receive a link for the survey after your information has been verified. Parents of Scouts can also use this link to get a survey. You should use your child’s ID and indicate you are a parent and input your own demographic information.

As is common in any family discussion, the survey touches on some personal issues. But it’s a conversation we must have now to ensure the continued success of our organization for the future.

The leadership of the BSA is firmly committed to making sure every voice gets heard and is dedicated to the integrity of this process. So, if you receive the survey, speak up—for yourself and for the Boy Scouts of America.

View the survey now:

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Update: TSA delays policy to allow small pocketknives in flight

Update | April 23, 2013: The TSA announced yesterday that it was postponing the rule allowing small knives on planes. There was no new date announced for the policy change, so stay tuned. The original post is below …

Effective next month, your Scouts and others traveling by plane will be permitted to carry on small pocketknives.

The Transportation Security Administration said on Tuesday it was relaxing certain restrictions to allow small pocketknives, golf clubs, and other sports items to be carried on to planes, better matching international standards for air travel.

The changes take effect on April 25, 2013, meaning Scouts and Venturers flying to the jamboree, a high-adventure base, or anywhere else this summer may have one less thing to worry about at the airport.

Be careful — not all pocketknives are allowed as carry-ons. A knife is only allowed if:  Continue reading


The Boy Scouts of America’s ‘family discussion’ on our membership policy

When the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its long-held membership policy last June after months of media coverage and national attention to the issue, some leaders thought that signaled an end to the conversation.

Not so, as you no doubt know. As BSA President Wayne Perry recently said, many unit-level volunteers weren’t aware of the policy before the reaffirmation. “What we discovered as your Key 3 was that it started a very intense conversation,” he said.

In that eight-month conversation, Perry emphasized that he didn’t speak with outside special-interest groups with no affiliation to Scouting. Instead, he said, “I heard only from Scouters, people with different views than my personal views.

“It was hard, because people told me their Scouting commitment, and it touched you, it touched your soul. These are good people. They are people of faith that have a different view than I do.”

That’s why Perry, Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock, and National Commissioner Tico Perez — the National Key 3 — have launched what they call a “family discussion” that’s set to take place over the next three months.

Who’s invited? Continue reading


Finally, a commercial that doesn’t scream at you

venturing-videoDespite what car dealerships seem to believe, subtlety in advertising isn’t dead.

Case in point: the BSA’s new “We Are Venturers” promo video, a 90-second glimpse into a typical day in the life of a real group of Venturers. Watch the video after the jump.

The messaging eschews the hard-sell approach common in today’s TV commercials for a toned-down feel better suited for teens. I caught up with Ryan Hill, part of the BSA’s national marketing team that shot the video near San Francisco, to find out more.

“We already have videos of Venturers hanging off cliffs and ice climbing and traveling to New York and Paris,” he says. “So I wanted this video to highlight the more-accessible aspects of Venturing and nod to the adage that ‘it’s not what you do but who you do it with.’”

Indeed, social interaction represents one of Venturing’s core qualities. That’s why the BSA recently added an official Facebook page for Venturing. Be sure you and your crew give it a Like. It’s a natural extension of Venturing camaraderie into the digital realm.

“Venturers make the most of whatever they do together, whether it’s a river clean-up service project, a day hike, or just hanging out in the park for the afternoon,” Hill says. “With that in mind, we also focused on capturing a lot of laughter and interaction between Venturers. And we really wanted to drive home the co-ed element of Venturing that makes it so unique from other BSA offerings. Nothing flirtatious, just guys and girls — as buddies — hanging out.”

And how has the response been?

“We showed this to our Venturing youth leadership panel, and they all reacted overwhelmingly positively, making statements like, ‘I feel so proud to be a Venturer’ and ‘I can’t wait to share this with all my friends and family because THIS is what Venturing looks like for me.’”

That’s high praise. Take a look …  Continue reading


Where to find scholarship money for Eagle Scouts

NESAEmblem_SpotEagle Scouts are “Prepared. For Life.” But are they prepared for the high cost of college?

College tuition was weighting on the mind of Scouter Pam K. from Westlake, Ohio, when she sent me this note last week:

Hello Bryan,

I am helping my Eagle Scout (Ricky) prepare for college in the Fall of 2013 and wondering if you can blog about scholarship opportunities?

Thank you,


Of course, a Scout should apply for scholarships himself. But it’s typically Mom or Dad who signs the check for college, so you can appreciate Pam’s eagerness to find some sources of extra cash to help lighten Ricky’s load.

Do you empathize with Pam’s plight? Here are a few ideas:  Continue reading


Boy Scouts of America to reconsider national membership policy

Update (Jan. 31): The BSA has provided this page for leaving feedback about the membership policy. Alternatively, you can email

Update (Feb. 5): Thanks to everyone for their valuable feedback. After more than 2,100 comments in the past week, I’ve determined that it’s time to close the comment thread on this post.

The Boy Scouts of America is discussing whether to remove the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation, the organization announced today.

If approved, the move would end any national policy regarding sexual orientation of members and hand the responsibility of accepting members and selecting leaders to chartered organizations. Chartered organizations could then handle this task in accordance with their mission, principles, and/or religious beliefs.

The news was announced in an email sent by Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock to all National Council employees this afternoon and confirmed through a media statement posted to

“Let me be clear that the change under discussion would allow chartered organizations to determine how to address this issue,” Brock writes. “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

Discussion on the proposed policy change will continue during the National Executive Board meeting in Texas next week.

If the board takes action related to the membership policy, Brock says, it will be promptly communicated to all professionals and volunteers.

And I’ll post the news here on Bryan on Scouting, as well.


Amateur radio operators: Wear your smarts on your sleeve


With apologies to the Buggles, I’m happy to report that the radio star is alive and well.

Well, the ham radio star, at least. And now the BSA offers a special patch for licensed aficionados of amateur radio. The Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip, above, shows others that you’re available for communication services for events, like Jamboree on the Air, and emergencies.

The requirements for the strip couldn’t be simpler: You must be a registered youth or adult member with a valid amateur radio license, of any class, issued by the Federal Communications Commission, known to you and me as the FCC.

That’s it. If you’re eligible, grab the $1.59 strip (Supply No. 617431) from the Boy Scout Supply Group at 800-­323-­0736 or The strip’s release date is Feb. 15, and you can’t preorder it. So mark your calendars to fire off an order the day after Valentine’s Day.

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Greatest hits: My 12 most-read blog posts of 2012

For Scouts and Scouters, 2012 had plenty of ups — and a couple of downs.

We welcomed changes: new merit badges, new Eagle Scout requirements, a new Chief Scout Executive, and a new high-adventure base in West Virginia, to name a few.

We celebrated 100 years of the Eagle Scout award and learned 46 ways that Eagle Scouts are different from non-Eagles.

We mourned together when news broke that two of the young victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were Tiger Cubs.

And we healed together when superstorm Sandy struck close to home for some Scout units on the East Coast.

I tried to chronicle these important BSA happenings throughout the year here on Bryan on Scouting through 229 new posts. I’m thankful for readers like you who contributed to the 850,000 views in 2012. Statistically, it was the best year of the three full years I’ve been blogging about all things Scouting.

So thanks for helping me share what I found newsworthy, interesting, or fun.

But which of these posts caught your attention most this year? Let’s find out by revealing the 12 most-read blog posts of 2012, after the jump…  Continue reading