Help Scouts and Scouters affected by superstorm Sandy

People in the northeast still suffer without power and shelter after last week’s devastating storm. The emotional and financial toll of superstorm Sandy grows each day.

What we do know is this: Thousands of Scouts and Scouters are among the millions of people affected, as well as local councils that serve them.

Many of you who weren’t affected have asked how you can help. I’ve got a couple of ideas:

  • Give to the Boy Scouts of America Disaster Relief Fund. This fund helps rebuild Scouting in those areas of that have been affected by ongoing, weather-related damages, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires. You can give to the general fund, contribute to a specific local council, or select combination of both. The funds will go toward helping councils and their members rebuild.
  • Give to the Red Cross. You’ve no doubt heard this plea on TV and elsewhere, but a donation to the Red Cross goes a long way in crises like this. Whenever Scouting gets involved in and supports relief efforts, the organization typically does so in conjunction with the Red Cross or Salvation Army.

Willing to Help? Need Help?

If you have a Scout unit that’s willing to offer its services, please post below. Alternatively, if you’re a Scout unit in need, please share details below.

Together we’ll get through this and come out stronger on the other side.


Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required

Updated Nov. 1: Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about these changes.

Updated Dec. 18: Here are the new requirements for Cooking MB.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, this badge will get a silver border.

Moms and dads, prepare the needle and thread!

Sustainability and Cooking merit badges will join the list of Eagle-required merit badges over the next 14 months, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board announced today.

Sustainability, a new merit badge, will join Environmental Science as an Eagle Scout option after its debut at the 2013 jamboree.

Cooking, meanwhile, will become Eagle-required as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The total number of merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award will remain at 21. In other words, instead of 12 Eagle-required badges and 9 elective badges, a Scout must earn 13 Eagle-required and 8 elective badges.

Why the change? The goal is to “reflect a better balance of the needs of youth and our nation today and in the future,” according to the BSA’s resolution. Personally, I like it. Keeping up with the ever-changing world means questioning the way things have always been done.

Sustainability becomes more important as our population increases while resources decrease. And a boy who reaches Eagle without skills in cooking and healthy eating habits hasn’t become fully “Prepared. For Life.” in my opinion. I think the BSA’s board got it right on here.

What do you think?

For the list of Eagle-required merit badges as it looks now — and as it will look in 2014 — follow the jump.  Continue reading


BSA to use Scout Oath and Scout Law for all programs

Update, Jan. 27, 2014: Sea Scouts, see how this applies to you here.

It’s official: The resolution to move to one Oath and Law for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity, Sea Scouts, and Venturing was approved this morning by the Boy Scouts of America’s executive board.

I first told you about the volunteer-led proposal in a blog post in August.

Essentially, this means every Scout of any age will use the Scout Oath and Law instead of reciting separate, program-specific sayings. Cub Scouts will recite the Scout Oath and Law instead of the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack. Similarly, Venturers will no longer use the Venturing Oath and Venturing Code.

Because it will take time to transition into this new approach, the changes are not immediate.

The Venturing change will not happen until late 2013 or early 2014; the Cub Scout change will take effect in mid-2015. Stay tuned to my blog for exact dates as I get them.

Additionally, the newly adopted resolution replaces the full-hand Venturing sign and salute with the three-finger Boy Scout sign and salute.

UPDATE (10/18/12): I confirmed the above sentence today. Venturing will begin to use the Scout sign and Scout salute. This wasn’t mentioned in the resolution because the sign and salute are not specified in the rules and regulations.

For the full resolution and answers to some frequently asked questions, follow the jump:  Continue reading


New unit-level position helps Scouts find religion (or at least religious emblems)

Help make “A Scout is Reverent” more than just words recited at a troop meeting.

Find someone in your pack or troop to fill the new Unit Religious Emblems Coordinator (UREC) position.

The UREC, now recognized as a position on the unit committee, will educate, motivate, evaluate, and facilitate the religious emblems program at the unit level.

And, of course, he or she will wear a position patch showing everyone his or her importance in helping Scouts do their Duty to God.

Additional information regarding the position, including a complete position description, can be found on the Membership Resources page on

(H/T Scout Wire)


Wood Badge Wednesdays, Vol. 2: Bringing the Vision to Life

I’ve been involved in Scouting for more than 20 years, and I love trivia.

At Wood Badge, those two forces collided, resulting in one giant, flaming ball of disappointment and public shame.

I don’t want to say too much and spoil a Wood Badge surprise, but let’s just say that my Scouting knowledge was put to the test at the weeklong course last month. In fact, it was our whole patrol’s BSA proficiency on the line, but I spoke up more than I should’ve.

“I work for the BSA,” I thought to myself. “I got this.”

Turns out I was wrong. Three times in a row. Each time I pressed my luck, all I got was another whammy.

From that I learned I have a lot to learn — about the BSA, about myself, and about the right way to receive negative feedback.

In that failure, I realized what the staff meant when they had explained the day before that “feedback is a gift.” The feedback wasn’t positive this time, but I learned that responding with defensiveness — my fallback approach — would only cloud my ability to accept the gift of constructive criticism.

Chalk it up as another way Wood Badge changed me for the better.

Today’s topic: Bringing the Vision to Life. I’ll discuss the importance of listening and of giving and receiving feedback. Then I’ll share a couple of examples of times when communication worked — and didn’t work — in my Wood Badge patrol.

It’s the second installment of my Wood Badge Wednesdays series, which, as Chad correctly guessed last week, is one of my ticket items. (I’ll share the other four in a my final Wood Badge Wednesdays post.)  Continue reading


Troop calendar planning conferences: What works, what doesn’t?

A troop without an activity calendar is like a car without a steering wheel: It lacks direction.

In the Boy Scouts, creating a troop calendar for the next six to 12 months doesn’t happen by itself. It takes dedication from a well-trained Patrol Leaders’ Council — and the right amount of guidance from adult leaders like you.

But how much guidance is too much? What works — and what doesn’t — at a troop planning conference?

I asked Scouters on Facebook and Twitter, and they shared these ideas: Continue reading


Two for the road: BSA adds NASCAR to its racing lineup

What’s better than one lightning-fast car emblazoned with the BSA logo? Two, of course.

Last week, the Boy Scouts of America announced it was entering the action-packed world of NASCAR.

Do you care? You should, for many reasons. But here are two:

First, the alliance expands the reach of BSA Racing. You already know about the BSA No. 19 IndyCar, made possible by the generosity of Gail and Dale Coyne. Now, BSA Racing will expand to include the NASCAR Nationwide Series, meaning even more people will hear about Scouting and learn about the movement’s relevance to today’s youth.

In a word: recruitment.

Second, this relationship further advances the STEM initiative with another way to introduce Scouts to real-world applications for science, technology, engineering, and math. Think about it: Would your Scouts prefer learning STEM subjects in a stuffy church basement or by visiting the garage of a race-car driver?

In a word: retention.

Here’s what else we know about the BSA-NASCAR relationship:  Continue reading


A Cubcast every responsible Scouter should hear

“Who is responsible for this?”

The question conjures an image of a frazzled den leader, hands on hips, looking out over the mess the boys left behind.

But spin the phrase around, and it can follow a praiseworthy moment where Scouts did what’s right without your having to ask.

Encourage moral accountability in your Scouts by teaching Responsibility, October’s Cub Scout Core Value — and the subject of Part 1 of the September CubcastContinue reading


Hail to the Chief: Warm wishes for Bob Mazzuca on his last day

Bob Mazzuca gives one final wave as he departs from the BSA office after Thursday’s farewell celebration.

Today marks the end of an era.

Chief Scout Executive Robert J. Mazzuca — known to us all as Bob — turns over the reins of the Boy Scouts of America to Wayne Brock at the end of the day.

Bob, BSA Chief since 2007, steered our movement through several important milestones, including the healthy living initiative, the centennial celebration in 2010, the acquisition and development of the Summit Bechtel Reserve, and much more.

On a personal note, Bob has been the only Chief I’ve known in my four years as a BSA professional.

Here’s a memory that sticks in my mind: A couple of years ago, I was asked to attend a meeting with the Chief and a half-dozen other professionals. I can still remember sitting down at the conference table across from Bob’s empty chair. It was my first small-group meeting with the Chief, and I could feel my heart pounding. It’s not every day you’re asked to meet with the CEO.

Bob was coming from another meeting, and everyone else had arrived early. We all chatted as we waited for him to enter.

When he did, a respectful silence fell across the room. Everyone turned to Bob.

He looked around the room, smiled, cracked a joke, and said, “Let’s go!” He then sat down and started the meeting. The tension melted away, and the meeting was productive and efficient.

That’s the kind of leader Bob is, in my experience. He owns any room, but not through force. Instead, he brings a warm, welcoming presence that inspires others to do their best.

I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Yesterday, I asked Scouting magazine’s Facebook friends to share their warm wishes for Bob. Here are a few of my favorite responses:  Continue reading


A bold new beginning for a Michigan council at the Crossroads

When the going gets tough, Scouts get going.

Just look at what’s happening in Michigan. The place has experienced some of the toughest economic times in America and it also boasts some of the toughest volunteers and professionals in the Boy Scouts of America.

They’ve refused to let Scouting fail in the Great Lakes State, and they’re teaching Scouts and Scouters everywhere a thing or two about courage under fire.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Crossroads Council received its official BSA charter — effectively merging nine councils into one. It’s the culmination of an 18-month, volunteer-driven effort that Scouting magazine first told you about in our March-April 2012 issue.

But they’re not crossing the finish line.  Continue reading