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Watch what this sanitation worker did when he found a U.S. flag on the street

Boy Scouts are inherently patriotic.

We wear the American flag on our sleeves, we say the pledge before meetings, and we learn the proper ways to post, fold and retire Old Glory.

So it was no huge shock when I learned the Oregon sanitation worker who showed unbelievable patriotism — when he thought nobody was watching — is a former Scout. Here’s how it went down: Continue reading

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Try this: Identify potential Scout leaders with the Oreo Test

Wondering whether that parent on the other side of the meeting room would make a good Cub Scout, Boy Scout or Venturing leader?

Try the Oreo Test.

Don Lauer of Troop and Pack 9212 in Summerville, S.C., devised the method, and he said it hasn’t failed him yet.

“Just a simple thing,” he tells me. “Plus I like cookies.”

I think it’s brilliant. Here’s how it works …  Continue reading

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See inside the 2013 Report to the Nation

The Boy Scouts of America is a 3.6-million-strong, outdoor-ready, community-serving, patriotism-preserving, values-validating force for good. And we’re just getting started.

But wait. I’m preaching to the choir here.

The real people who need to know about the BSA and our 6 million nights of camping, 56,841 Eagle Scouts and 17 million hours of community service last year are the ones who don’t don a uniform each week.

That’s why a group of nine outstanding BSA representatives have descended upon Washington, D.C., this week to deliver the 2013 Report to the Nation. Think of it as the CliffsNotes version of the past year in Scouting.

The idea is to make it easy for politicians, CEOs and members of non-Scouting families to see that Scouting continues to create “conscientious, responsible and productive citizens” — as the last line of the report puts it.

First I’ll point out my favorite parts of the Report to the Nation, and then I’ll share the full report so you can pick out your own highlights. It’s all after the jump. Continue reading

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Tuesday Talkback: How do you get more dads involved in Cub Scouting?

Tuesday-TalkbackMoms do Cub Scouting, and dads do Boy Scouting.

For the longest time, that was mostly true. Just look at the now-defunct position of Den Mother (there was no “Den Father”) for proof.

Fortunately, times have changed.

At roundtables and camporees these days, you’ll see dads wearing blue epaulets and moms wearing green ones. And that’s a good thing.

But there are still some dads out there, many of them Eagle Scouts, who prefer to wait until their son crosses over into Boy Scouting before getting involved.

“I was one of those Eagle Scouts,” former Scoutmaster M.K. says. “I was waiting for my sons to enter Boy Scouting so we could do the ‘real’ stuff. But my smarter-than-me wife reminded me that if my boys did not enjoy Cub Scouting, they probably would not become Boy Scouts. … I became a den leader, Webelos leader, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster and father of two Eagle Scouts”

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, Continue reading

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These 9 awesome young people are your Report to the Nation representatives

An Eagle Scout from Maryland, the young woman serving as National Venturing President and a Cub Scout from Sandy Hook, Conn., are among the nine young people selected to represent the Boy Scouts of America during this week’s Report to the Nation in Washington, D.C.

The Scouts (accompanied by a support team of adults) will tour D.C., visit monuments and smile for countless photos with powerful politicians. But their primary duty in our nation’s capital is to present the 2013 Annual Report to key members of Congress from both parties. They plan to hand-deliver the report to the top Republican and Democrat in the House — John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi — as well as the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate — Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell.

The report itself, which I’ll share with you later this week, essentially gives outsiders a recap of the past year in Scouting. For example, it reveals that in 2013, Scouts had more than 17 million hours of service in their communities at a value of more than $377 million.

The nine youth delegates are profiled in full below. They represent a nice cross-section of Scouting and come from a mix of programs, regions and ethnic backgrounds.

How are the delegates chosen?

Each fall, local councils are asked to nominate a Scout or Venturer to be considered. The National Council then sends these names to a committee that reviews all nominations. Five or six young people are hand-picked to be a representative group of all programs from all four regions of the country. Care is taken to ensure the ethnic diversity of Scouting is showcased.

Three more delegates get “automatic” selections: the National Sea Scout Boatswain, the National Order of the Arrow Chief and the National Venturing President. Serving as a member of the Report to the Nation delegation is one perk of office. They’ve earned it.

Follow the jump to meet each of these outstanding youngsters. Continue reading

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Mining in Society merit badge requirements released

miningWithout mining, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post right now. That’s because the high-tech components found in smartphones, tablets and computers are made of mined minerals.

Reading this on a computer? Thank mining for the silicon, copper, gold, silver and aluminum that make it work. Using a smartphone or tablet? Beneath each tap are rare-earth elements like yttrium, lanthanum, praseodymium and a handful of others I can’t pronounce.

Scouts who earn the new Mining in Society merit badge will, as the badge’s name suggests, gain a better appreciation for the role mining plays in our country.

Today the Boy Scouts of America officially releases Mining in Society, making it the 134th current merit badge. The badge is an elective merit badge, meaning it isn’t required for boys pursuing the Eagle Scout rank but is perfect for young men interested in exploring this as a potential career or just an interesting subject they want to learn more about.

The official “earn date,” or the date Scouts may begin work on Mining in Society, is today, Feb. 24, 2014. Look for the pamphlet in your local Scout Shop and at scoutstuff.org soon.

The BSA is releasing Mining in Society at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City, happening now.

“Mining has been an important part of the United States since the 19th century,” the BSA says. “Today, the U.S. mining industry employs 3 million people, directly and indirectly, and is a major contributor to the global mining landscape. This merit badge will cover the history of mining, explore the status of mining in the 21st century, and introduce Scouts to modern mining careers.”

But enough talk. I bet you came here for the official, full requirements. Check those out after the jump.

Continue reading

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Eagle Scouts Holcomb and Fogt bringing home the bronze in four-man bobsled

bobsleddersAs teenagers, they received red, white and blue Eagle Scout medals.

This morning, clad in the red, white and blue of Team USA, Steven Holcomb and Chris Fogt got bronze Olympic ones.

The Eagle Scouts were two of the four members of the USA-1 “Night Train 2″ team, which also included Curt Tomasevicz and Steve Langton.

What always fascinates me about Olympic sports is the margins separating medal winners and also-rans. The USA-1 team finished just 0.39 seconds behind the gold-medal-winning Russia-1 sled. That’s a length of time gone faster than you can say “physically strong.”

Even closer was the gap between third and fourth place. USA-1 (3:40.99) edged out Russia-2 (3:41.02) by three one-hundredths of a second. Wow. And remember that those times are the sum of four runs down the track.

Holcomb, who won bronze in the two-man bobsled last week, is the first American to win two bobsled medals at a Winter Olympics since 1952. And with three total bobsled medals (he won four-man gold in Vancouver), Holcomb now is tied with Patrick Martin for the most in Team USA history.

Still, as you’d expect with any competitor, Holcomb wished for more. Continue reading

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7 ways to celebrate Baden-Powell on Founder’s Day, his birthday

Chief Scout of the World: There’s no cooler title around.

That’s what they called Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scout Movement and therefore one of the masterminds behind the Boy Scouts of America.

B-P was also the first recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award in 1926, the highest award the BSA gives adults.

Baden-Powell was born Feb. 22, 1857, exactly 157 years ago Saturday. Scouts worldwide — roughly 30 million in 161 countries — celebrate his birthday each year as Founder’s Day.

You can join the celebration in a number of ways. Here are seven ideas: Continue reading

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Remembering Waite Phillips, 50 years after his death

WaitePhillipsWhen Waite Phillips donated the land that became Philmont Scout Ranch, the total properties were valued in excess of $5 million. Adjusted for inflation, that’s roughly $79.5 million today.

Scouts and Scouters who have visited the beautiful, rugged New Mexico paradise know the real value of Waite’s gift, however: It’s priceless.

Waite Phillips died Jan. 27, 1964, which was 50 years ago last month. He was 81.

Waite’s vision for Philmont was that it would be an opportunity to get young men closer to the great outdoors. He must have realized, even in the late 1930s and early 1940s when he donated the property, that boys needed nature — especially in a world that offered more and more excuses for them to remain inside.

He once said the best contribution Scouting can provide to a young person’s development is “learning to live in the great out-of-doors.” That helps build “initiative, self-reliance, and dependability,” he said.

Philmont specifically, he continued, perpetuates “American idealism and patriotism among boys from all parts of America.”

Waite could never predict a world of iPhones and Xboxes, but he knew the land he donated possessed a magnetism strong enough to rip young people away from other draws on their time, which today are many.

What if Waite could see Philmont today? Continue reading

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33 Scouting cartoons from the ’60s show what’s changed, what hasn’t

Cartoon-1964-SnakesEver witnessed a camp-cooking mishap, chaotic den meeting or Scoutmaster slip-up?

In that sense, you’re a lot like Scouters from 50 years ago, as evidenced by the collection of 33 Boy Scouts of America cartoons printed in Scouting magazine during the years of 1964 to 1966.

Some are charmingly old-fashioned and use roles that have been phased out, such as Den Mothers, or well-worn stereotypes, like helping an old lady cross the street.

But others could have been printed in 2014. Take a look and tell me which remind you of your Scouts (or of when you were a Scout!) and which don’t apply today.

My favorite’s probably the “Wild Salutes I Have Known.” What’s yours?

By the way, I found all these in the Scouting magazine online archives, available for anyone’s perusal right now. Enjoy! Continue reading