Decade in review: Top 10 Bryan on Scouting posts of the 2010s

Ten years, more than 40 million page views.

Thanks to you, the loyal Bryan on Scouting reader, the 2010s were the best decade yet for the official blog of Scouting magazine.

And because the blog launched in March 2009, the 2010s were also the only decade yet for the official blog of Scouting magazine.

This year, rather than sharing the top posts from the past year, we thought we’d zoom out even further with a decade-in-review post summarizing the top stories from the past 10 years. (Still curious which posts were most-clicked in 2019? I’m including that list at the end of this post.)

And now, let’s count them down from 10 to 1: the top Bryan on Scouting posts of the 2010s.

10. New Jersey Scouts help rescue NBC journalist Ann Curry (2014)

“If you break a leg on a mountain, I hope Boy Scout Troop 368 finds you,” wrote former NBC journalist Ann Curry. “Boy am I glad they found me.”

That tweet from Curry in 2014 included a link to the Bryan on Scouting post about the incident, as did a Washington Post story a few days later.

It’s nice when something goes viral for the right reasons, and I was proud to share the comprehensive story of how Scouts helped rescue someone in need. That the person was famous didn’t matter to these Scouts.

9. An Eagle Scout project doesn’t have to be permanent (2015)

It’s right there in the Guide to Advancement (section, but it’s worth repeating again and again: an Eagle Scout service project doesn’t need to involve any type of permanent structure to leave behind a lasting impact.

Our blog post on that subject continues to generate traffic year after year, probably by Scouts wanting confirmation that their nontraditional project idea will get approved.

The BSA leaves its requirements pretty vague here, a move that generates a vast range of Eagle projects. With more than 50,000 Eagle projects a year, you’ll see plenty that are construction-based and plenty that aren’t. What they’ll have in common is that a young person planned, developed and led the execution of a truly transformative project.

8. Why is the Scout handshake done with the left hand? (2016)

Here’s a groaner of a joke to try on your Scouts: “When is left always right? When you’re doing the Scout handshake.”

But why, as Scouts, do we shake with our left hands? Scouts have been asking that question for at least 90 years, so we thought it was time to clear it up once and for all.

We learned there are several likely reasons why the left is right, and each is rich with history. My favorite is the story of Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell’s interactions with Ashanti warriors in West Africa.

7. This was the least-earned merit badge in BSA history (2018)

Imagine a merit badge with requirements so difficult that only 10 Scouts were able to earn it — ever.

We uncovered the peculiar history of the Invention merit badge in 2018. Invention MB, which debuted in 1911 and was discontinued in 1914, required Scouts to “invent and patent some useful article” and “show a working drawing or model of the same.”

Obtaining a patent is a time-consuming, costly endeavor. That’s why when the BSA introduced the similarly named Inventing merit badge in 2010, the patent requirement was mercifully dropped.

6. Top 5 merit badges Scouts could earn while completing assignments for school (2018)

In most cases, there’s no rule against counting schoolwork toward merit badge requirements.

That fact alone surprised many parents and Scouts when they read our post outlining five merit badges that seem ideally suited for this kind of dual credit.

This post is by far the most popular in our Top 5 Merit Badges series — beating even, I’m lloath to admit, our post about the “Top 5 merit badges to help you when there are llamas on the loose.”

5. Everything you need to know about merit badge sashes (2014)

Great! Your Scout earned their first merit badge. Now, where does that little circle go?

Our attempt to demystify merit badge sashes has continued to generate traffic for five years.

Visitors to the post learn that merit badge sashes aren’t that complicated and that there are only a few basic rules on how and when to wear them.

4. How to request congratulatory letters for your Eagle Scout (2012)

Even in this, the heyday of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, there’s still something special about the physical letter. Perhaps it’s because it takes way more effort to write, sign and mail a letter than it does to tap out a few characters on a glass rectangle and hit send.

That explains the enduring popularity of this post in which we share the steps for requesting congratulatory letters for a new Eagle Scout.

Pretty much everything in Scouts BSA is youth-led, but it’s the proud parent — not the Scout themselves — who should share the news about a newly minted Eagle Scout. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, these announcements result in a written reply from people like Lin-Manuel MirandaStephen ColbertLeBron James or Chris Hemsworth.

3. 40 questions to ask at your next Eagle board of review (2012)

The ultimate example of user-generated content, our list of Eagle board of review questions has been a perennially popular post ever since its 2012 debut.

It began with an email from a Scouter who was asked to sit on an Eagle board but had no clue what to ask the Eagle hopeful. That prompted a post on our Facebook page and a blog post listing 20 quality questions she could consider asking.

In 2014, I added 20 more ideas to the post — this time scrolling the comments to find additional questions. With 40 questions in the main post plus more than 200 comments below, anyone sitting on an Eagle board can surely find something to ask.

2. Tips for deducting Scouting expenses on your tax return (2011)

For some reason, and I can’t imagine why, traffic on this post seems to spike every March and early April. The text offers comprehensive guidance for Scouters wanting to deduct Scouting-related expenses on their tax return.

Nobody volunteers in Scouting for the tax break. But if Uncle Sam wants to give you a little credit for the money you spend on Scouting, why say no?

The post itself has been on quite a journey since it was originally published in 2011. I’ve updated it every year with the latest tax numbers and links to the appropriate IRS material. In 2019, it got a complete refresh after it was reviewed by an Eagle Scout certified public accountant.

With tax season looming once again, look for another refresh early next year. I’ll include information on the increase in the standard deduction set to take effect in 2020. More fun with taxes coming soon!

1. Four options for retiring worn-out flags (2014)

The BSA is one of the nation’s leading purveyors of patriotism, so it’s not a huge surprise that people turn to Scouting when deciding what to do with a worn-out American flag.

In 2014, we shared four options and presented the pros and cons of each.

Most of the traffic on the post comes from people searching Google for “retire American flag.” Bryan on Scouting is the third result on the first page.

In 2019, five years after the post was published, one of the four options has been taken off the table. Companies that specialize in recycling American flags have stopped accepting them while recycling issues are resolved.

Most-read posts, 2012 to 2019

Curious which posts got the most clicks in recent years? We began publishing year-in-review posts in 2012. Here’s the complete set:

For posts first published in 2019, these were the five most popular by number of views:

5. The one underrated reason why all of this troop’s high school seniors are Eagle Scouts

4. Five important words in Eagle Scout rank requirement 5

3. 2019 Eagle Project of the Year: He built an inspirational American flag display

2. When do you remove ‘Eagle Scout’ from your résumé?

1. Eagle Scout Class of 2018: The number behind the number

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.