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Joe Theismann: Values of the Scout Law ‘don’t leave you’

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, it hurts me a little to type this, but here goes: Joe Theismann is the man.

I mean, how many Super Bowl-winning former quarterbacks can recite the Boy Scout Law without notes?

The former Life Scout and Washington Redskins star did just that tonight, causing the gathered group of hundreds of council and national professional Scouters to break into applause.

Theismann really connected with me and others when he recalled Scouting’s impact on his life and the lives of today’s young people. His impassioned words were delivered with spiral-like precision at tonight’s closing dinner of the BSA’s annual Top Hands Conference in Washington, D.C.

Those 12 points of the Scout Law “don’t leave you,” Theismann said. “Think about it; how many things can you remember from when you were young?”

Adults who were in Scouting recall more than merely the words of the Scout Law, Theismann continued. They remember its meaning.

“As adults, look at this code,” he said. “Whether you’re a Scout or just a person in life, that’s not a bad credo to follow.”
Continue reading

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It’s just science: Merit badges educate boys in STEM

Proud to be an American? Absolutely, but this hurts a little: American fourth- and eighth-graders are far from No. 1 in math and science.

In fact, we’re just outside of or barely in the top 10 in both categories, lagging behind countries like Korea, Singapore and Finland, according to a study released late last year.

Fortunately, there’s hope, and it’s called the Boy Scouts of America and our merit badge program.

Boys get real science education when earning merit badges, and I’m not just talking about those badges with science in their name (Animal Science, Environmental Science, Nuclear Science, Plant Science).

Actually, a study published in 2009 by Ohio State University researcher Rachel Sterneman Hintz found that 103 of the 121 merit badges available at the time (85.12 percent) had at least one requirement meeting the National Science Education Standards.

Four years later, we now have 133 merit badges, and the newest crop builds on the science-heavy tradition from the past 103 years of the BSA. With the exception of the Scouting Heritage merit badge, all the other new badges contain science elements. That includes obvious examples such as Robotics, Inventing, Welding, and Sustainability, and less-obvious ones like Kayaking, Search and Rescue, and Chess. Continue reading

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Lincoln Electric wins North Star Award for bringing welding to Scouts

You’d expect a bunch of welding experts to forge some strong bonds, but the folks at Lincoln Electric have gone above and beyond.

Their work bringing welding and the Welding merit badge into the Boy Scouts of America has already helped introduce tens of thousands of Scouts to this hot career.

In recognition, the Boy Scouts of America presented Lincoln Electric and three of its key employees with the North Star Award on Wednesday afternoon at the BSA’s annual Top Hands Conference in Washington, D.C.

The award, an eight-pointed, star-shaped medal worn on a black ribbon, is presented by councils on the behalf of the National Court of Honor for nonregistered volunteers who have made a significant contribution to Scouting.

You can consider it to be on same level as the Silver Beaver Award, which is for registered volunteers. Continue reading

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Wilson steers BSA IndyCar to second-place finish

In IndyCar racing, 1.1930 seconds can mean the difference between hoisting the winner’s trophy and settling for second place.

Justin Wilson knows that all too well.

Wilson, who drove the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America IndyCar to a second-place finish at Sunday’s Go Pro Grand Prix in Sonoma, Calif., knew he had a car that could win. And though second place is something of a consolation prize, Wilson was content with his third podium finish this year (along with Long Beach and Detroit).

“It was great to be back on the podium again with the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car,” Wilson said. “Everyone at Dale Coyne Racing has worked so hard to get a great result this weekend. We have had some ups and downs this year, and have run some really good races, but ended up finishing eighth or ninth. So today was some redemption and it helped us in the championship point standings.”

Indeed Wilson, who finished just behind winner Will Power in Sunday’s race, moved up to seventh in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship point standings. That’s out of 38 drivers, I should add. Continue reading

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Read this letter from a mom about her son’s jamboree experience

Consider it the ultimate leap of faith.

Over the past three years, the Boy Scouts of America asked tens of thousands of Scouts, Venturers, Scouters and parents to trust the organization’s vision to reshape the national jamboree.

Not only was the Summit Bechtel Reserve the first new location for a jamboree since 1981, but also the planners intended to drastically change the jamboree model entirely.

Did it work?

Rather than taking my word for it, now you can hear directly from one Hudson Valley Council mom who “spent $1,600 and many hours of meetings and travel preparing for an event that I was sure would be too strenuous, too long and too difficult for my often-scattered and unfocused 12-year-old son.”

She sent her letter to me and said I could share it with you. Don’t miss her touching, well-written thoughts after the jump… Continue reading

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Jamboree closing show now yours to watch online

Rousing music performances, impassioned speeches, bright young Scouts, the King of Sweden and the guy from Dirty Jobs — Saturday’s “Celebration of Scouting” show had everything you crave from a jamboree show and more.

If you weren’t one of the 40,000-plus watching in person at the AT&T Summit Stadium, now’s your chance to watch the archived video and see what you missed. It’s now live at jambolive.org along with video from Tuesday’s opening show.

Prefer just the highlights? Check out my minute-by-minute breakdown: Continue reading

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One extreme or the other: Jamboree Scouts find a moment of peace

At breakfast one morning early in the jamboree, staffer John Norkus was feeling a little left out as Scouters went around the table describing their jamboree jobs.

“We were feeling kind of puny around extreme BMX, extreme mountain biking, extreme skateboarding,” he said. “So we changed our name to extreme landscape painting.”

At an activity that harkens back to the watercolor journals of Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, Norkus and fellow staffers Marshall Townsend and Jerry Silvestrini offered Scouts and Venturers a rare respite from the high-energy activities at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Kyle, a Rhode Island Scout from jamboree Troop C252, was finishing his watercolor painting when I visited on Tuesday. See Kyle with his impressive painting above or see a close-up at the end of this post. Continue reading

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At action archery, a friendly rivalry forms

While waiting in line for action archery this afternoon at the Bows, I met Matt, a Scout from Troop A210 in Georgia. He challenged me to a friendly competition to see who could hit the higher number of targets at this difficult but exciting activity at the 2013 National Jamboree.

In action archery, foam discs fly through the air perpendicular to the archers. The trick is aiming the arrow far enough ahead of the disc to make contact. It takes a lot of getting used to and gave me newfound respect for Katniss Everdeen and all the nonfictional versions of her out there.

As I waited in line, I saw target after target get hit. When an arrow strikes the disc, its flight path ends and it falls straight down in a rather satisfying way. I was ready to see the same happen with a few of my shots.

I picked up my bow and grabbed an arrow. Just before we got the whistle signaling the start of firing, Matt offered one last helpful piece of advice: “You’re going down, Bryan!” Good to know.

Twenty arrows later, which of us came out ahead? Continue reading

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Jamboree shooting sports staff is right on the mark

K. Stevens’s Venturing crew out of Denver has a very narrow aim. In her crew, it’s all shooting, all the time.

“That’s all they want to do,” she said. “We have boys who are older and able to do so many things [outside of Scouting]. We do what it takes to keep them involved in Scouting, and we’ve learned that shooting keeps a lot more kids in Scouting.”

Shooting sports are a big draw at the 2013 National Jamboree, too, where Scouts and Venturers show up in droves. At the trap-deck shotgun area alone, the staff has put through 800 Scouts a day.

Stevens is one of several friendly, highly trained instructors at the trap station, led by Iona Baldock. There are five stations in the shotgun area: sporting clays, five-stand, powderball (shooting paintballs at a moving target), trap deck, and an arcade duck-shooting game. Continue reading

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Big bang theory: Expert reveals 2 key elements of world-class fireworks shows

Zambelli Fireworks launched more than two tons of explosives during Sunday’s show, but a truly amazing fireworks display takes more than just sheer volume.

Today I met Damian Dicola, production manager with Zambelli and the man who has the dream job of every Scout who loves big explosions (aka every Scout, period).

Dicola and the Zambelli team started work on the show two years ago when they scouted locations at the Summit, then just a dirt field. Once they finalized the soundtrack, the design team worked for three months making a show synchronized to the music — expertly timed down to one one-thousandth of a second.

He said there are two keys to a spectacular fireworks show: angling and creativity. Continue reading