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

Confessions of a Bully: In gripping video, Cub Scout shares his lesson learned

Cameron Thompson isn’t a bully anymore.

The second-grader and Cub Scout in Pack 322 of California’s Inland Empire Council learned his lesson, and now he’s sharing an anti-bullying message that’s sure to resonate with your Cub Scout-age boys.

The news media have taken notice; Cameron’s positive story was on the Today Show this morning. He’s even wearing a Cub Scout T-shirt during the interview with Today.

Bullying of any kind is prohibited in Scouting. That includes verbal, physical and cyberbullying. Stories like Cameron’s remind us what happens when bullying does occur.

In a well-produced video, Cameron explains his story:

“Recently I made the wrong choice,” he said. “A boy in class brought a Barbie doll to school for show and tell. I didn’t really understand a boy bringing a doll to school, so I thought it was funny. I told some friends, and I convinced them to come make fun of him with me.”

Once teachers noticed what was happening, they stopped the bullying. But the damage was done. Cameron’s mom reprimanded him and explained why it was the wrong choice.

“My parents, church, Cub Scouts all helped me learn what good choices are. But they can’t always be there,” Cameron said. “She asked me how I would feel if someone teased me or if someone was teasing my little brother.”

Cameron wrote a letter to apologize to the boy and promised never to treat him that way again. But he didn’t stop there. Continue reading

New BSA President Gates: ‘Time for blunt talk’ in Scouting

Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary, will prioritize transparency, marketing, retention and recruitment, and continued program innovation during his two-year term as the 35th president of the Boy Scouts of America.

In his first speech to Scouters and Scouts since the 2010 jamboree, the Distinguished Eagle Scout and past president of the National Eagle Scout Association also expressed his support for last year’s membership vote.

Furthermore, he said he’ll oppose any effort to reopen debate on the issue during his term.

During his 27-minute speech at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Gates outlined his vision for the movement. A movement, he said, that has improved dramatically in the eight years since Gates was last involved as a volunteer.

“My bluntness may disturb some of you, but it’s part of the package,” he said. “And maybe it’s time for blunt talk.”

Case in point: He said that during his time as president of NESA and member of the board until 2006, “I was harshly critical of the way this organization was run. … Everything seemed scripted, and the volunteer leaders seemed to me to be largely figureheads.”

But since he returned to Scouting in February of this year, Gates said he has noticed a dramatic change in how the organization is run.

“I believe the volunteer leadership has assumed its proper role as the guiding hand of this movement. There is still room for improvement, but as someone who has not been involved for the past eight years, the difference between then and now is like night and day.”

I encourage you to read the transcript and watch the video of Gates’ full speech at Scouting Newsroom.

I’ve also selected some quotes from Gates on some issues of interest to Scouters like you, including transparency, marketing, recruitment and the membership policy.

Continue reading

Robert Gates, Eagle Scout and former defense secretary, begins term as BSA president

national-key-3-2014The Boy Scouts of America today elected Robert M. Gates, Eagle Scout, former defense secretary and former CIA director as its national president. He officially begins his two-year term as the BSA’s 35th president today.

The BSA’s volunteer and professional delegates attending this week’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., voted to confirm Gates as president. You may remember I first blogged about his selection as president-elect in October of last year.

Gates will lead the National Executive Board and be the newest member of the National Key 3, which you can learn more about in the sidebar at right.

His election means that all three members of the National Key 3 are Distinguished Eagle Scouts. Impressive.

Speaking of impressive, Gates’ professional career — during which he served under eight U.S. presidents — is just as awe-inspiring as his Scouting career. He’s a past member of the National Executive Board, past president of the National Eagle Scout Association, recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

His vision for why he wanted to take on this role proves that he believes in the Boy Scouts of America now more than ever.

“I can say without hesitation that my memories of Scouting are every bit as vivid and meaningful as what came later in my life,” Gates said. “I believe every child deserves an opportunity to experience what Scouting offers.”

Wayne Brock, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive and another member of the National Key 3, officially welcomed Gates on behalf of the BSA.

“As one of our nation’s most respected public servants and a proven leader of the highest caliber,” Brock said, “Dr. Gates is a shining example of how our organization positions individuals for success, and he will be a great ambassador for sharing the Scouting story throughout the country.”

Scouting magazine spoke with Gates earlier this year and published the interview in our May-June 2014 edition. Read that interview after the jump.

Continue reading

Imagine Dragons and its Eagle Scout lead singer score 5 Billboard Music Awards

billboard-logoIf you’ve never heard of Imagine Dragons, ask a couple of your Scouts to get you up to speed.

Or check out the list of winners from last night’s Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.

The rock band, fronted by Eagle Scout lead singer Dan Reynolds, won five awards last night, including Top Rock Artist and Top Rock Album. To think that just 10 years ago, Reynolds, now 26, was receiving the BSA’s top rank as a member of a Scout unit chartered to the LDS church in Nevada.

By the way, that’s Reynolds second from the left in the photo above.

The Billboard Awards show, which aired on ABC, was watched by an average of 10.5 million people. Great numbers, but nothing compared to the 177 million times their hit single “Radioactive” has been viewed on YouTube, as of this writing. (Watch it below)

Nominees are selected based on album and digital singles sales, radio play, tours, streaming, and social media presence. Here’s a complete list of the awards Imagine Dragons won last night: Continue reading

How did the Eagle Scout do in ‘The Amazing Race’ finale?

Talk about great odds. Eagle Scout Connor O’Leary and his dad, Dave, had a one in three shot at winning $1 million in last night’s season finale of The Amazing Race.

Appropriate to any discussion about odds, the 35,000-mile race around the world ended in Las Vegas.

As I mentioned last week, Connor, 22, earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2005 as a member of the Great Salt Lake Council. But could he and his dad become the first parent-child team to earn the title of The Amazing Race champions?

Find out after the jump. Spoilers, of course, follow.

Continue reading

Boy Scout finds bag containing $4,500 in cash, does what Boy Scouts do

cvs-cashWhat would you if you found a bag with $4,500 inside?

Caribbean vacation, maybe? Shopping spree at Best Buy?

For 15-year-old Boy Scout James Villeneuve from Latham, N.Y., there was never any question about the answer.

As reported by WNYT-TV, James spotted a money bag while strolling with his family through a park in Albany, N.Y.

Inside was four-and-a-half grand in American money. That’s enough to buy a decade’s worth of videogames, movie tickets, comic books or anything else a typical teenage boy might spend his money on.

But James is no typical teen.

It turns out the bag belonged to a CVS nearby; the cash was on its way to the local bank.

James, who learned to be trustworthy as a Boy Scout, returned the money right away. The CVS manager met him outside — “sweating profusely,” James said — and thanked him for returning the cash.

The manager gave James a $20 gift card as a thanks, and CVS’ national public relations director told WNYT that the company plans to do even more for James.

“Our local team is in the process of trying to contact the boy,” CVS Public Relations Director Mike DeAngelis said. “We want to appropriately recognize him and his honesty, and express our gratitude by rewarding him with more.”

But the story gets better.  Continue reading

At Scouting Newsroom, get BSA breaking news straight from the source

Admit it: You like to be the first to know what’s new in the Boy Scouts of America.

I’m with you. So I was excited this week to learn about Scouting Newsroom, the new, official site for BSA news, updates and information. The public-facing site has news releases, fact sheets, and an overview of topics important to Scouts, Scouters, the public, and the news media.

There’s even an “Email Updates” box where you can enter your email address and receive a message every time a new entry is posted. I subscribed right away.

Scouting Newsroom, like the official news sites of other major organizations, is your best bet for reading news directly from the source. It’s the BSA’s exact message, unfiltered.

That said, I’ll continue to cover breaking BSA news right here on Bryan on Scouting, with the goal of helping you understand how it affects you. With Bryan on Scouting and Scouting Newsroom, you’ll be the best-informed Scouter around.  Continue reading

Father-son team on ‘The Amazing Race’ includes Eagle Scout

He’s already earned Scouting’s highest honor, so racing donkeys in Italy, dancing in Malaysia and becoming a barber in Seville, Spain — all with a million bucks on the line — seems like a cake walk for Connor O’Leary.

Connor is the younger half of the “David & Connor” father-son team competing for $1 million on the Emmy-winning CBS reality series The Amazing Race. The 22-year-old earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2005 as a member of the Great Salt Lake Council.

We’ll find out whether Connor and his dad can win it all in the show’s season finale, airing at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) Sunday, May 18, on CBS.

Connor has impressed viewers this season as he and his dad traveled 35,000 miles to far-off destinations including China, Sri Lanka, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Continue reading

New Jersey Scouts help rescue NBC journalist Ann Curry

ann-curry-photoScouts learn first-aid skills in Scouting without ever knowing when they’ll need to use them. Or on whom.

Last month a group of New Jersey Boy Scouts helped rescue the NBC journalist Ann Curry after she had broken her ankle while hiking.

On April 5, 2014, Scouts from Troop and Crew 368 out of Berkeley Heights, N.J., were on a Philmont training hike through Harriman State Park in New York.

That’s when, as Scouter Rick Jurgens told me this morning, they came across Curry. Only they didn’t know it was the Emmy-winning journalist right away.

“We were hiking along, and we came to a trail intersection,” Jurgens said, “and a lady was sitting on the ground with her one leg out. We didn’t think anything of it, but one of the guys asked if everything is OK. She said, ‘No, not really. I think I broke my ankle.’ She told us to keep going, but the guys refused.”

With no prompting from Jurgens, the Scouts sprang into action. Continue reading