world jamboree japan

Register now for the 2015 World Scout Jamboree in Japan

2015 world jamboree logoNineteen out of every 20 people you meet at the 2015 World Scout Jamboree will be from a country other than the United States.

How about those odds for making friends with Scouts from one of 161 different countries in attendance?

Next summer a few lucky Boy Scouts and Venturers will spend 12 days in Japan with more than 30,000 Scouts and leaders from across the globe.

I know what you’re thinking: Where do I sign up? Right here.

The Boy Scouts of America is expecting to send about 1,600 people to the 23rd World Jamboree, held in Kirara-hama, Yamaguchi, Japan from July 28 to Aug. 8, 2015.

I can guarantee it will be an amazing experience for those who attend as they make new friends, hear new languages and bring home a whole new worldview. (Read about my experiences at the 2011 World Jamboree here.)

You or a Scout or Venturer you know can be there next summer, either as a participant or as a member of staff (better known as the International Service Team).

You certainly have questions, like: How much does this cost? How do participants get to Japan? Who is eligible to attend?

Rather than answer here, let me point you to this handy FAQs page. The BSA’s International Team gets a ton of questions about the world jamboree every day, and most of those questions are answered right on that page. Continue reading

Three converted Prius Plug-In Hybrids charging at San Francisco

A powerful case for electric-vehicle charging stations at BSA camps

If you believe the sci-fi novels, by the time our Scouts are ready to buy their first car, an all-electric vehicle may be their only option.

These vehicles don’t pollute, and they’re cheaper to drive than their gas or gas-electric hybrid counterparts.

But you don’t have to wait for the future to own one. Most major carmakers either have an all-electric model for sale now, or they’re developing one to put on the market soon.

The increasing prevalence of electric vehicles, or EVs, led two Scouters to make a case for adding EV charging stations at BSA camps and national high-adventure bases.

Bob Bruninga and Gary Wilson lay out their cases below.

I sent their arguments to Eric Hiser, the BSA volunteer who serves as National Standards Chair for the National Camp Accreditation Program. His response:

“I am intrigued by it, and we will certainly give it some consideration during the next standards revision or possibly as a stand-alone recommended practice revision.”

See the arguments for EV charging stations below, and share your thoughts in the comments. Continue reading

Mariano Rivera pitching

Mariano Rivera ready to pitch in for NYC’s Cub Scout recruiting effort

Mariano Rivera patchThe greatest closer in baseball history is prepared to help New York Cub Scout packs close the deal on recruiting new members.

Mariano Rivera, after a 19-year career with the New York Yankees, retired with more saves than any other pitcher in history. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer if ever there was one.

But he’s not content to just sit there and count up all 652 of his saves. He’s giving back to the community that supported his incredible career. This fall, he will serve as the “Join Scouting” Spokesperson, exclusively in Greater New York Councils.

That means for boys in the Greater New York Councils, every new Cub Scout and the Cub Scout who recruited him this fall can receive the “I’m with Mo! I joined Cub Scouts” patch seen above. Continue reading


Share your tips for building a Scout-led troop

Becoming a Scout-led troop is the goal of most Scout leaders. But what does a Scout-led troop look like, and — better yet — how do you get there?

That’s exactly what we’re looking to reveal in an upcoming Scouting magazine story, which means we need your help.

If the leadership in your troop has been successful at building a Scout-led troop, we want to hear from you. We’re especially interested in hearing from troops that have recently moved from adult-led to Scout-led, and we’d love to get the perspective of some successful senior patrol leaders, too.

Send an email to with your name and contact information, as well as a brief description of your troop. Your advice might appear in an upcoming issue of Scouting.

Thanks for your feedback.

Illustration by George Angelini


Minnesota Boy Scout finishes quest to sleep outside for a year

Um, perfect sleeping weather?

Um, perfect sleeping weather?

Well, he actually did it.

Defying hot, humid summers and below-zero winters, Rudy Hummel, a 17-year-old Life Scout from Minnesota, finished his quest to sleep outside every night for a year.

I first told you about Rudy when he was 200 nights into his 365-night quest.

Now, I’m not surprised a Boy Scout set a goal and accomplished it. It’s just that doing so meant muggy summer conditions and a chillingly high 76 nights of subzero temps in the winter. He built a quinzee, or snow cave, to survive those frigid nights and really bundled up.

This Weather Channel story reveals just how many layers it took to keep Rudy warm: “Hummel slept under a fleece liner inside a mummy bag inside two other sleeping bags, with two or three quilts over that. He’d wear up to three layers of pants and up to seven shirts.”

Seven shirts? Now that’s toasty. Continue reading


Eagle Scout becomes youngest to summit 27,766-foot Makalu

MakaluEagle Scout Matt Moniz keeps raising the stakes.

On May 25, the 16-year-old became the youngest person to summit the 27,766-foot Makalu, the world’s fifth-tallest mountain. A week earlier he summited the 26,905-foot Cho Oyu, Earth’s sixth-highest mountain.

Of course there’s one mountain taller than these and any other: Everest, elevation 29,029 feet.

As Men’s Journal reports, Matt and his dad had planned to summit Everest, which sits between Makalu and Cho Oyu. But a deadly avalanche on Everest back in April forced them to change their plans. Not only did they feel it was insensitive to climb after the tragedy that killed 16 Nepalese sherpas, but also the route they planned to use was destroyed in the avalanche.

I have a feeling Matt and his dad will be making another Everest attempt just as soon as the mountain allows it.

Their missed Everest try shouldn’t diminish the efforts of this Colorado Eagle Scout. Makalu, as Men’s Journal reports, “is considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb on Earth, requiring technical rock/ice climbing on the final ascent.”

Hear more from this impressive Eagle Scout in my pre-trip blog post.


What’s the scoop on a white-on-red Order of the Arrow sash?

expertlogo1As if you needed another reason to attend NOAC next summer.

You know the National Order of the Arrow Conference is the OA’s signature event. You know 2015 is the Order of the Arrow’s 100th Anniversary. Right there you’ve got two incredible reasons to attend on Aug. 3-8, 2015, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

Here’s reason No. 3 (of about 10,000): Each NOAC participant will get a special-edition red sash. That’s a sash with a white arrow on a red band— or the reverse of what Arrowmen typically wear (seen above).

Scouter Craig Fosburg heard rumors about this sash and contacted me for details. I passed his question along to the expert. Matthew Dukeman, associate director of the Order of the Arrow, provided the official response: Continue reading


Scouter honored for heroism during Navy Yard shooting

Navy Capt. Edward “Chip” Zawislak is a real-life superhero, and he learned those skills in Scouting.

Zawislak, an Eagle Scout and Scouter with Troop 903 in Southern Maryland, rescued and used first aid on a woman shot during the Washington Navy Yard attack on Sept. 16, 2013.

Yesterday, the BSA’s National Capital Area Council honored Zawislak (at center in the photo above) with its highest lifesaving award: the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms. An average of four of those awards are presented per year nationwide.

A lone gunman, whose name I won’t include here, killed 12 during the shooting and injured three. One of those injured was Jennifer Bennett, who was shot in the chest.

As this Washington Post story explains, Zawislak and two co-workers carried Bennett up some stairs to the only open door they could find. It led to the building’s roof. Still unsure whether the shooter knew they were up there, Zawislak stayed focused and applied pressure to Bennett’s wounds for more than an hour.

Zawislak, 45, told another civilian to write a note saying there were four people on the roof and throw it down to police. Soon after, a police officer arrived, helped stabilize Bennett and guarded the door while the four civilians were rescued by helicopter.

Bennett made a full recovery and sat in the front row during Thursday’s ceremony honoring Zawislak.

Hearing Bennett recount to the Post the story of Zawislak’s heroism gives me goosebumps. What she describes is exactly how you’d expect an Eagle Scout to react in the most dramatic situation imaginable: Continue reading


From refugee camps in Myanmar to Scout camps in Utah

256px-Burma-CIA_WFB_Map_(2004)I believe every family needs Scouting, but this group of refugees might have needed it more than most.

As the BSA-affirming video below explains, a group of refugee families fled brutal government leaders in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 2006.

Officials in Myanmar forced these families out of their villages and burned their homes, churches, and schools. The refugees escaped and settled in Salt Lake City. Many of the young men joined Boy Scout Troop 1262, part of the Great Salt Lake Council.

The story gets even better: Under the guidance of Scoutmaster Bob Roylance, 11 of the refugee boys earned their Eagle Scout Award at a ceremony last month.

Many of these Eagle Scouts are straight-A students and have their eyes set on becoming attorneys, doctors and engineers some day. Doesn’t surprise me.

These young men had the strength to escape an unthinkable situation in Myanmar. Now Scouting has given them the strength to go wherever they want in life.

Take a look at the video below. Continue reading


Film showcases the power of Scouting but doesn’t sugarcoat it

troop-491-posterI mean no disrespect to Follow Me, Boys!, an an American classic. But that 1966 film doesn’t speak to most of today’s 30-something parents in need of a character-building organization for their son or daughter.

It especially doesn’t resonate with those parents in America’s inner cities who desperately want a way to steer their children away from violence and crime.

That’s why anyone considering Scouting needs to see Troop 491: The Adventures of the Muddy Lions.

It’s available on DVD this month.

The film from Praphetic Praductions is a work of fiction, but the premise is all too real:

A middle-schooler named Tristan lives in the inner city. His mom, wanting to keep him off the streets, signs him up for Scouting. Soon after, Tristan witnesses a murder, and the local thug demands his silence. He’s left with the choice between Scouting’s values and the code of the streets. He learns, with the help of his Scout friends, that doing the right thing isn’t easy.

Watch the trailer below, and you’ll want to see this powerful film that encapsulates the power of Scouting but does so in a way that’s gritty and avoids sentimentalism. Learn more and pre-order the DVD at the film’s official website.

The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, in its writeup about the movie, reveals that the film’s writer and director grew up in Scouting in Richmond. He “attributes much of his core values to the time he spent with his troop: leadership, achieving goals and helping others,” according to the story.

The Boy Scouts “is a counter to gang culture,” Patrick Ricks told the newspaper. “The acute need for it is still there.”

I should warn you that there is some strong language in the film — not unlike what actual Scout-age children would hear on the streets. I’d encourage you to watch it yourself before screening it for older Scouts.

Continue reading