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From Jamboree Troop D424, a lesson in efficient campsite setup

“OK, Spartan patrol and Unicorn patrol: You guys start setting up tents,” says Chris Schwartz, senior patrol leader of jamboree Troop D424 out of the West Tennessee Area Council.

“Phoenix patrol and Cougars: cots and kitchen stuff,” he continues. “And leadership corps, you fill in where needed.”

Just like that, three dozen Scouts spring into action. Over here, Scouts unfold and assemble cots with robot-like precision. Over there, tents take shape in no time. Nobody cares which tent or cot will be theirs, only that every tent, cot and dining area gets assembled before anyone unpacks their personal gear.

Troop D424 represents another impressive example of a boy-led troop getting things done without intervention from adults. But there’s more that caught my eye: Troop D424 is comprised of 12 different troops back home, meaning most of these Scouts met for the first time at pre-jamboree meetings. Continue reading

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BSA Chief conducts the Jamboree Band

Forty-one years after he was a high school band director, Wayne Brock hasn’t lost his touch.

Late this morning, the Boy Scouts of America’s Chief Scout Executive took over and led the band in a couple of tunes, including the classic “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

George Pinchock, the Jamboree Band’s official director, stepped aside for the Chief’s turn. Pinchock even presented Mr. Brock with an official Jamboree Band Director training certificate. After all, what Scouting position is complete without a little training certification?

The Chief looked comfortable in front of the group, moving his arms in time with the beat and accentuating key moments in the songs with a forceful pump of his fist.

Nice job to our Chief for a moment these young musicians won’t soon forget.

More photos after the jump… Continue reading

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Parent-son (and now parent-daughter) jamboree experiences are tough to beat

I’ve never had a jamboree experience without my dad, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

My dad, Don, and I attended or served on staff together at the 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010 jamborees. And as you can see in the photo above taken backstage at the stadium a few moments ago, we’re both here in 2013, marking our fifth straight jamboree together.

It’s hard to top a parent-son jamboree experience. You get to experience the magic together, and you both return speaking the same “jamboree language.” Countless stories with my dad start with the words, “Remember that time at jamboree when …” And we often quote that official jamboree video from long ago where a guy juggles before saying, “Jamboreeeeee’s a ball!”

Continue reading

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One day before the start, the Summit overflows with potential energy

The 2013 National Jamboree is a sprinter on the starting blocks, muscles flexed, brimming with the potential energy of things to come. Can you feel it?

Tomorrow morning, the first buses arrive onsite, and that potential energy becomes kinetic. You’ll see it manifesting itself on zip-lines, BMX tracks, skate parks and climbing walls. Friendships will be formed, patches swapped and lives changed (that’s no exaggeration).

But today, things are comparatively quiet. There are bridges waiting to be crossed (literally) and merit badge instructors awaiting their Scout students. Colorful dragon boats, with paint still gleaming, bob idly on a calm lake. The skate park doesn’t have a scratch on it.

Everything is ready; all we need are the Scouts, Venturers and leaders who arrive tomorrow.

I got here today, and even though I was here last year around this time, I recognized little. Continue reading

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True colors: Is your pack, troop, or crew website brand-compliant?

brand-id-guideThe color scheme on your troop’s website is red and blue, but is it the right red and blue? Is that the right shade of yellow on your pack page? And what about that Venturing logo you converted to 3D “for effect”?

In other words, are you brand-compliant?

Don’t worry, there’s no “BSA Brand Police” planning to perp walk you in handcuffs if your unit’s website or printed materials don’t match the official specs.

If this all sounds a little like minutiae, it is. But these details are an important part of maintaining the BSA’s iconic brand. And you’re a key player.

So why not do all you can to create a consistent look and feel in all the ways a Scout and his family interact with the organization?

The Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity Guide (pdf) breaks down the basics for you. You can learn the proper and improper ways to use BSA logos, the exact specs on official Scouting colors, and even tips on websites, social media, and photography.

Converting to the official colors can be your first step. Here are the specs:  Continue reading

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First look: Major Venturing changes coming next year

venturing-bsa-logoAt age 15, the Venturing program is beginning to show its age.

Membership has declined since 2008. Venturing has the lowest retention rate — 53 percent — of any BSA program. And advancement hasn’t caught on with teens; just 0.66 percent of Venturers earn any awards.

But it’s not all bad news. Beginning next year, big program changes are on the way that amount to much more than just a fresh coat of paint.

I sat down last week with Bob Scott, senior innovation manager, to discuss the complete revamping of Venturing that will change the way the BSA’s youngest program serves young men and women.

The new “Venturing Road Map,” which outlines the program’s first substantial change since its inception, is broken down into six parts:  Continue reading

BSA membership resolution passes with more than 60 percent of vote

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After an extensive discussion within the organization, the Boy Scouts of America’s approximately 1,400 volunteer voting members chose to adopt the membership policy resolution and remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

The final vote breakdown was 61.44 percent for the proposal, and 38.56 percent against. The change takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Voting results were tabulated and certified by TrueBallot, an independent, third-party voting firm.

Read more at this site, or find the full text of the BSA’s official media statement below:
Continue reading

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Oklahoma Scouts and Scouters ready to assist after tornadoes

Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Updated 1:03 p.m. May 14 with info on need for volunteers at May 21 event. See bottom of post.


Eldon Fossey, Scoutmaster of Troop 75 in Moore, Okla., was at work when the deadly tornadoes passed through yesterday, killing at least 24 and leaving horrific damage.

As soon as they got the all-clear, Eldon’s boss told everyone to leave. It took Eldon two hours to make the seven-mile drive home.

Thankfully, his house was three-quarters of a mile north of the tornado’s path. Other people in his life weren’t so lucky. A Scout in Eldon’s troop and Eldon’s brother-in-law had their houses completely leveled. When I talked to Eldon, he was on his way to his mother-in-law’s house, which was still standing but no longer structurally sound.

Understandably, Eldon had little to report as he focuses on helping his immediate family. But, thankfully, he didn’t know of any deaths in his 50-member troop.  Continue reading

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Photos of BSA IndyCar and driver Justin Wilson will rev you up for Indy 500

It’s officially race week. Yes, the Indy 500 — aka “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” — roars to life on Sunday.

Fans of racing, fast cars, or major sporting events are probably already planning to tune in and watch the Indianapolis 500 (noon Sunday on ABC).

But here’s a reason for fans of Scouting to watch: The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car, driven by Justin Wilson and provided at no cost to the BSA through the generosity of Dale Coyne Racing, has a good chance to do really well. The car was the second-fastest Honda engine qualifier, and Wilson has proven himself a successful driver on big stages like this one.

On that note, Indy 500 is easily the biggest national sporting event of the year from which we can spread the news that Scouting is relevant, exciting, and perfectly linked to science, technology, engineering, and math.

Think about it. Some 6.8 million viewers watched last year’s race. If this year’s race gets similar numbers, that’s a lot of eyeballs seeing the words “Be a Scout!” and the website BeAScout.org zoom around the Indy oval. And if the car does well, that’s even more air time.

It’s essentially free advertising, all made possible by the gifts of Dale and Gail Coyne.

All this week, Wilson and the Dale Coyne Racing team are preparing the car for Sunday. And John R. Fulton Jr., former director of photography for Scouting and Boys’ Life magazines, is at the speedway to document their preparations. He sent in these great photos:  Continue reading

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10 tips for helping Scouts balance fun and advancement at summer camp

At summer camp, what’s more important for Scouts, advancement or fun?

Trick question. Scouts who attend the best summer camps and have effective Scout leaders guiding them don’t have to choose.

For these Scouts, advancement is part of the fun.

That said, there are always Scouts who take it to the extreme. There are the overachievers, who cram their schedule with merit badge classes and don’t leave any time to visit the waterfront, horse around with friends, or relax.

And then there are Scouts who do exactly the opposite, choosing to wander around the camp all week or just stay in their campsite and play cards.

Part of the responsibility for maximizing a boy’s time at summer camp falls on you, the Scout leader. With that in mind, here are 10 ways you can maximize both fun and advancement at summer camp this year. They come courtesy of our Facebook friends. Continue reading