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

U.K. Scout Association is making something big out of Legos

uk-lego-minifigThe big new thing from the U.K. Scout Association is just an inch a half tall.

And it has interchangeable heads.

A creative new recruiting and awareness campaign from our friends across the pond (and fellow members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement) features Legos in an effort to spark interest in Scouting.

The Lego minifigs appear in a brilliant video in which a group of Cubs sitting around a campfire answers the question, “What’s the most fun thing you’ve ever done?” Their answers — complete with Lego re-enactments — are worth watching in the video below.

There’s also an infographic about what people really think of U.K. Scouting that has some clear takeaways for those of us on this side of the Atlantic.

And of course there’s merchandise, including an opportunity to order a custom Scout Lego minifig wearing a Boy Scout, Cub Scout or Venturing uniform.

Enough, um, build-up. See it all after the jump. Continue reading

Scouting family takes pilgrimage to Baden-Powell’s grave in Kenya

Tracing the life of Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell takes you not only to his birthplace in London but also to Kenya, where he spent the last few years of his life.

My recent trip to London and Gilwell Park, provenance of the Wood Badge training course, inspired Idaho Scouter Steve Jung to share photos and stories from a similar Scouting pilgrimage.

And I’m sure glad he shared.

The Jung family traveled to Kenya, the East African nation where B-P died on Jan. 8, 1941, at age 83. His grave is now a national monument.

Steve, along with his wife, Becky, and daughter, Anna, visited B-P’s final resting place, the cemetery museum and his home in Nyeri, Kenya.

“Our trip to Kenya was a most memorable one,” Steve says. “We did some backcountry hiking and a lot of touring. We went caving and places most public  people don’t go or know about. Just a terrific trip.”

See Steve’s stories and photos after the jump. Continue reading

A visit to the original Gilwell Park, the happy land where it all began

gilwell-visit-2Honestly, the original Gilwell Park in London looks no different from any other field. Sure, the grass is green, the trees towering and the air clean. But put a normal civilian here, and they won’t see anything special.

Wood Badgers, though, aren’t normal civilians. They know Gilwell is no ordinary park. Even though most haven’t visited this particular spot in England, they’ve been back to Gilwell time and again.

The U.K. Scout Association’s Gilwell Park is where the first Wood Badge course was held in September 1919, and every course since has created its own Gilwell as a gathering place for adult leaders getting trained.

Last week my dad, a former Wood Badge course director, and I, a former Wood Badge troop guide, visited Gilwell Park as part of a weeklong personal vacation to England. (Personal meaning I paid for it, not BSA.)

Yesterday I told you about my visit with an editor who works for the U.K. version of Scouting magazine. Today, join me as I visit the original Gilwell Park and see Baden-Powell’s Wood Badge beads (which I’m holding above) and kudu horn. The best part is you don’t have to be a magazine editor or blogger to see these pieces of Scouting history.

Photos and lots more after the jump.

Continue reading

In my visit to UK Scout Association, I check out the ‘other’ Scouting magazine

uk-scouting-2Though our magazines are crafted in offices nearly 5,000 miles apart, the editors of Scouting magazine (U.S.) and Scouting magazine (U.K.) share more than just a name.

We have similar philosophies in how we cover the Scouting movement. And we must overcome similar challenges in doing so.

Last week, my dad and I spent a day at the headquarters of the U.K. Scout Association as part of a weeklong personal vacation to England. (Personal meaning I paid for it, not BSA.)

I’ll share the highlights of our visit in two parts. In this post, I’ll tell you about my time with Matt Jones, one of the editors of the U.K. version of Scouting magazine.

In Part 2, I’ll take you inside the Scout Association’s archives to check out Baden-Powell’s actual Wood Badge beads, and we’ll head to the original Gilwell Park, where the first Wood Badge course was held in 1919.

First, let’s see what the “other” Scouting magazine looks like. Continue reading

Join Transatlantic Council Scouts in efforts to save the D-Day beaches

normandy-pinLove of country and reverence for our nation’s heroes are staples of the Boy Scouts of America.

So it should come as no surprise that BSA Scouts and Scouters are the ones leading efforts to preserve the beaches at Normandy, where allied forces made landfall on D-Day. You’re a vital part of this effort, and you can help without traveling 3,600 miles to France. All you need is your laptop and 60 seconds.

The Transatlantic Council, a traditional Scouting council serving Americans living in Europe, is presenting UNESCO with a petition to request World Heritage Site status to the D-Day beaches. Time is of the essence as commercial developers plan to change the landscape around the D-Day beaches with massive wind farms.

Take a minute to sign the petition right now and do your part.

Transatlantic Council members appreciate your support. In the photo above, you’re looking at 3,000 BSA Scouts, family members and World War II veterans gathered on Omaha Beach to launch their efforts to obtain UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

They’ll gather again at the annual Normandy Camporee on April 25-27 to officially present the petition with your signature and, I hope, thousands of others.

The timing makes sense as we approach the 70th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Normandy landings. And with your help, we can ensure future Scouts and Scouters can visit the Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Sword beaches for the 170th anniversary.

More info from the Transatlantic Council: Continue reading

King of Sweden, former BSA pro Teare visit Philippines for typhoon relief

PhilippinesWe say it in different languages, but Scouts worldwide live by Lord Baden-Powell’s appeal to “leave this world a little better than you found it.”

Over the weekend the King of Sweden and Scott Teare, former director of the Boy Scouts of America’s International Division and current Secretary General of World Scouting, visited the Philippines to offer support for victims of typhoon Haiyan.

During the visit, the King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf presented a check for $100,000 from the World Scout Foundation to support the disaster work being done by Scouts there. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 6,000 Filipinos and displaced millions more, and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines have offered their support on the ground to help their compatriots recover ever since.

At 1.5 million members, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines are the fourth-largest Scouting organization in the world, behind Indonesia, the United States and India.

Teare, who left the BSA to take over as the CEO of the 40-million-member World Organization of the Scout Movement last year, praised the efforts of his fellow Scouts in the Philippines.

“The Scouts here are doing some amazing work to help those affected to quickly get back to normal lives,” he said. “What is important for us is how Scouts in Philippines were prepared for such disaster. While we are not a disaster relief agency, there are Scouts all over the world, like the Scouts in Philippines, ready and willing to help when disaster strikes. We have seen this great work pan out recently in support of the Syrian refugee crisis, in Haiti and Nicaragua.”

And here in the United States. I’ve blogged about countless stories of Boy Scouts coming to their community’s aid after tragedy.

I guess serving others is just part of a Scout’s DNA, both here and abroad.

The full news release follows:  Continue reading

Messengers of Peace

These North Carolina Scouts and Venturers are giving Peace a chance

The precious ring can be yours, if you complete a Messengers of Peace project.

The precious ring can be yours, if you complete a Messengers of Peace project.

You can’t promote world peace by sitting on your couch.

No, you’ve got to follow the lead of units like Venturing Crew 122 of North Carolina’s Tuscarora Council. The Venturers and advisors of Crew 122, along with some Scouts from Troop 33, cleaned a 9.5-mile portion of the Neuse River by canoe last month.

Over the 10-hour day, they collected more than 400 plastic bottles, 70 glass bottles, 52 toys, 37 aluminum cans, and 36 styrofoam/paper cups.

Almost as impressive as that garbage haul is the fact that the Venturers kept a count of what they had collected: almost a half-ton of trash in all. And remember they collected it all by canoe.

The conservation effort went beyond just a daily good turn, though. It was the crew’s Messengers of Peace service project, earning them the ring patch seen above.

Now THAT is a load of garbage. Nice job, Scouts!

Now THAT is a load of garbage. Nice job, Scouts!

You were first introduced to Messengers of Peace in a blog post last year. The global program, which launched in 2011, is “designed to inspire millions of young men and women in more than 220 countries and territories to work toward peace. The initiative lets Scouts from around the world share what they’ve done and inspire fellow Scouts to undertake similar efforts in their own communities.”

How do you participate and get one of those Messengers of Peace ring patches? Read on…  Continue reading

Wood Badge Wednesdays: Puerto Rico edition

Sandra says Wood Badge was the "most exciting and incredible experience of my life."

Sandra says Wood Badge was the “most exciting and incredible experience” ever.

Wood Badge builds lifelong memories, regardless of the setting.

So whether you’re at Philmont Scout Ranch (where I’ll be staffing a course this summer), a council camp in the midwest, or even an island in the Caribbean, you’re getting the same great course.

But from the looks of things, you could do much worse than taking Wood Badge in beautiful Puerto Rico. That’s where Sandra Vallejo Dávila recently finished her course at Guajataka Camp, in the city of San Sebastián. It’s the main spot for Boy Scout training on the island.

Sandra, a “very proud Bobwhite,” sent me this email earlier this month:

Hi Bryan, I emailed you in November to tell you how much I enjoyed your Wood Badge Wednesdays blogs and that I myself was taking my course this year. Well, I did and it has been the most exciting and incredible experience of my life! Here are some pictures for you.


Get an inside look at Sandra’s Wood Badge course, with pictures and captions, after the jump. Continue reading

Duchess proves that Scout training isn’t just for the commoners

If a pregnant Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, can do it, so can you.

I’m talking about getting trained, an important step for any Scout volunteer — whether a Cub Scout leader from California, a Scoutmaster from South Carolina, a Venturing advisor from Vermont, or, yes, even a member of the British royal family.

In January 2012, I blogged about the Duchess’ new role as volunteer with the U.K. Scout Association. And today, she did what every volunteer should: She got trained.

Her Royal Highness joined 24 other Scouters from across the United Kingdom to take part in an adult volunteer training event. The course took place at the snowy Great Tower Scout Activity Centre in northwest England.

As this article on the U.K. Scout Association website explains, she “braved the cold and took part in a number of activities, including lighting different types of fires and whipping up some delicious campfire treats. She passed on her Scouting skills to Cub Scouts from Manchester and Cumbria. She also chatted to volunteers about them helping Cub Scouts climb some of the large coniferous trees located around the campsite.”

But her impact goes way beyond campfire cooking skills. Continue reading