captain-america

Chris Evans’ Captain America was inspired by an Eagle Scout

captain-america-posterCaptain America and Eagle Scouts: Both wear uniforms, and of course they’re both patriotic and brave.

But recently I learned the shield-toting Avenger has even more in common with young men who earn Scouting’s highest award than you might think.

Chris Evans, the actor who plays the titular superhero in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier (opening Friday), says “Cap” was modeled after an Eagle Scout he knew from growing up in Sudbury, Mass.

In an interview with the awesome Geek Dad blog, the actor says his friend, an Eagle Scout with the Knox Trail Council, inspired how Evans approaches the role. Continue reading

Scouting Films

Videography tips from Scouting’s black-and-white film era

In the age of Smartphones and GoPros, the concept of documenting Scouting adventures in video format isn’t a novel idea.

But in the 1930s, capturing troop meetings and outdoor activities posed a bit more challenge. (Think heavy 16-millimeter-film cameras using portable projectors and screens to show footage.) FilmProjector

Yet, even with these technical hurdles, Scouters and Scouts of the era realized that showing Scouting on film was not only a way document activities, but also a way to help recruit more boys to the movement.

In the April 1930 issue of Scouting — viewed in the Scouting magazine digital archives — the column “Motion Pictures in Scout Work,” by Allan A. Carpenter, examines the value of capturing Scouting on film. The article also points out some timeless cinematography tips that GoPro-wearing Scouts can use today to help make excellent videos.

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Troop-4's trailer (1 of 4)

Ask the Expert: How should Scouters handle insurance for troop trailers?

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?Insurance: You don’t need it until you need it.

For units that own trailers, insurance, well, insures that both the trailer itself and its contents are covered in case they’re damaged or stolen.

Is this insurance part of a driver’s normal auto coverage, is it provided by the Boy Scouts of America or is it a separate expense?

That’s what Randall Cox, Troop 70 assistant Scoutmaster, asked me last week. He writes: Continue reading

service-star-featured

Pins with a point: How to properly wear BSA service stars

service-star-1Been involved in Scouting for more than a year? You get a gold star.

All youth or adult leaders who have reached one year of tenure with the Boy Scouts of America are eligible to begin wearing service stars. The stars are an underused outward symbol of how long you’ve been involved and a quick way for new Scouts, parents and leaders to see who has Scouting experience.

Anyone can simply walk into a Scout Shop (or go to scoutstuff.org) and purchase the pins and color background. There’s no application.

Scouters and Scouts are trustworthy, so the BSA trusts someone born in 1960, for example, not to purchase and wear a 60-year pin.

Stars start at one year and go up to an impressive 90 years (though you can combine multiple stars to send that number even higher). They’re worn with a specially colored backing that corresponds to the appropriate Scouting program.

But what if your Scouting tenure spans several programs, includes time spent in Scouting as a youth or has a gap of several years? That’s when things get a little trickier — but not much. I’ll answer those questions after the jump.

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VR-Scouting

BSA introduces Virtual Reality Scouting

VR-Scouting-deviceApril 2 Update: See an important message about VR Scouting at the end of the post.


Love Scouting but hate getting out in the fresh air?

You’re in luck! Today the Boy Scouts of America introduces Virtual Reality Scouting, a revolutionary alternative to regular Scouting that lets you experience all that the BSA has to offer without ever leaving the house.

The new program, debuting this fall, already has a catchy slogan: “Bring the Great Outdoors to the Great Indoors.”

To experience VR Scouting, families will want to purchase the Complete Home-Based Virtual Reality Scouting Starter System — or, simply, the CHBVRSSS (pronounced just like it’s spelled). It’ll go on sale this fall.

The CHBVRSSS will retail for only $1,999.95 — a bargain when you consider it’ll pay for itself after just six years of staying home while everyone else in your unit experiences outdoor Scouting adventures.

David Wilson, a Scouter from Michigan who got to test VR Scouting last month, said he’ll buy a device as soon as it goes on sale.

“I love going camping with my Scouts, but I’m not a fan of fresh air, warm mountain breezes or being outside in general,” he says. “So VR Scouting is perfect for me.”

I bet it’ll be perfect for you, too. Just imagine: Continue reading

amazon-smile-featured

Smile! Your Amazon purchases can now support Scouting

As if you needed another excuse to shop at Amazon.com.

Now every purchase you make from the Earth’s biggest online store can support the charity of your choice, including Scouting.

Through its new AmazonSmile program, Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of the price of your eligible purchase to the 501(c)(3) public charitable organization of your choice.

Sure, half a percent isn’t much and won’t replace your Friends of Scouting contributions that help Scouting function in your community. But it adds up, costs you nothing and is a great additional way to support Scouting.

The one-time setup takes just a couple of seconds (instructions below), and you get the same prices, products and service you’re used to when shopping at Amazon. It doesn’t cost you any extra; the only difference is now you’re helping Scouting every time you buy.

The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council and its nearly 300 local councils all are eligible charities. Individual packs, troops, teams, posts, ships and crews aren’t eligible to earn money through AmazonSmile.

After the jump, find out how to set it up and begin helping Scouting each time you click that tantalizing purchase button.

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uk-scouting-1

In my visit to UK Scout Association, I check out the ‘other’ Scouting magazine

uk-scouting-2Though our magazines are crafted in offices nearly 5,000 miles apart, the editors of Scouting magazine (U.S.) and Scouting magazine (U.K.) share more than just a name.

We have similar philosophies in how we cover the Scouting movement. And we must overcome similar challenges in doing so.

Last week, my dad and I spent a day at the headquarters of the U.K. Scout Association as part of a weeklong personal vacation to England. (Personal meaning I paid for it, not BSA.)

I’ll share the highlights of our visit in two parts. In this post, I’ll tell you about my time with Matt Jones, one of the editors of the U.K. version of Scouting magazine.

In Part 2, I’ll take you inside the Scout Association’s archives to check out Baden-Powell’s actual Wood Badge beads, and we’ll head to the original Gilwell Park, where the first Wood Badge course was held in 1919.

First, let’s see what the “other” Scouting magazine looks like. Continue reading

PolarisATV

BSA announces partnership with ATV manufacturer Polaris

All-terrain vehicles combine dirt and a motor — what’s a Scout or Venturer not to like?

Recognizing this winning mix, the BSA launched council-level ATV programs at camps across the country. And today, Polaris — a leading manufacturer of off-road vehicles — enters a 10-year partnership with the BSA, providing top-of-the-line ATVs, side-by-sides (SxS) and safety equipment to help deliver this exciting program to even more youth. PolarisSxS

Driving down a dirt trail doesn’t replace the rugged adventures of exploring on foot, but it does add diversity — not to mention horsepower! — to current activities available at BSA properties.

Now, with the help of Polaris, Scouts and Venturers age 14 and older will not only learn to drive the crème de la crème of ATV equipment, but they’ll also receive safety instruction vetted by a company with 60 years of industry expertise.

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patrol-box

Tuesday Talkback: In search of a better patrol box

Tuesday-TalkbackIt sounds like an infomercial you’d see on QVC: “It’s a pantry, a spice rack, a utensils drawer and a portable kitchen. Yes, the Boy Scout patrol box does it all, and it can be yours for three easy payments … “

But patrol boxes aren’t a gimmick. Patrol-based cooking is an important part of troop campouts, and many troops use patrol boxes to help keep cooking supplies and ingredients organized.

You don’t want Dragon patrol supplies fraternizing with items belonging to the Alligator or Rattlesnake patrols, do you?

Patrol boxes serve two purposes, as far as I see:

  • They teach responsibility. By assigning each patrol its own set of cooking supplies, you’re essentially giving them ownership and (hopefully) teaching them to take good care of what’s theirs. That’s better than everyone using (and abusing) community supplies where there’s no accountability.
  • They promote healthy competition. Many troops allow and encourage their patrols to paint and decorate their patrol boxes. Which patrol box looks the best? Which is the best organized? Bragging rights are on the line.

So we’re agreed that patrol boxes are a great idea. But what makes a great patrol box? That’s what Scoutmaster Bob M. asked last week, explaining that Troop 255′s patrol boxes are getting worn out.

“Our troop built the basic patrol boxes a number of years ago” he writes, “and they are showing their age. I was curious to find out if you’ve done an article or had any information on any lightweight options to the basic box design.”

I’ll share one resource, and then I’d love to hear from readers.

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Digital-Technology-teaser

Just for clicks: First look at the Digital Technology merit badge patch and cover

Digital-TechnologyTo borrow a phrase from a certain smartphone maker: The next big thing is almost here.

Digital Technology merit badge, set to debut in mid-April 2014, will guide Scouts through the exciting, complex, ever-changing world of smartphone apps, computer software and tech-focused careers.

It’s the Boy Scouts of America’s latest in a growing roster of STEM-focused merit badges that help upgrade a Scout’s skills for today’s digitally focused workplaces.

As I mentioned in January, Digital Technology merit badge is debuting as Computers merit badge nears retirement. Computers MB came online in 1967 — long before anyone could’ve dreamed of a palm-size computer that also makes phone calls.

Scouts have until Dec. 31, 2014, to earn Computers merit badge. And yes, a Scout can earn and wear both Computers and Digital Technology merit badges. See more details about the phase-in and phase-out process at this link.

As for Digital Technology MB,

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