Varsity Scout Pledge going away in favor of Scout Oath, Scout Law

varsityV_4kYou’ve heard that all Scouting programs will adopt the Scout Oath and Scout Law over the next two years. But does that include Varsity Scouts?

Yes indeed. That means the Varsity Scout Pledge is going away, beginning tomorrow — June 1, 2014.

Varsity Scouts will instead use only the Scout Oath and Scout Law. One big place this will be noticed within Varsity Scouting is in the requirements for the Denali Award.

Requirement No. 5 of the Denali Award currently reads: “Satisfy to the team captain that you know and live by the Varsity Scout Pledge.”

Beginning June 1, 2014, requirement No. 5 will read: 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

How do you decide which movies are appropriate for your Scouts, Venturers?

Parents decide which movies are OK for their children and which contain too much violence, bad language or sexual content.

But what happens when that guardianship temporarily transfers to you, the Scout leader? How do you decide whether it’s OK to watch that PG movie on a Cub Scout overnight or a PG-13 movie with your Venturers?

That becomes even more complicated when you realize that 12 parents may have a dozen different definitions of inappropriate movie content.

Side note: Watching movies isn’t a common Scouting activity, of course. We Scouts and Scouters prefer to have most of our fun outside. But there are times during camporees, summer camps, training courses or unit trips when I think they’re perfectly fine.

I have fond memories of seeing a movie with my Philmont crew on the way back from New Mexico. After hiking in the backcountry for 10 days, we felt we earned a couple of mindless hours at the movie theater. Continue reading

5 ways to enjoy 2014 Kids to Parks Day

Kids-to-Parks-day-2014-logo-2Imagine Scouting in a world without local, state and national parks.

It’s not a pretty sight: Tents pitched in mall parking lots, s’mores cooked over an open tire fire, fishing in repurposed swimming pools.

Thank goodness for agencies like the National Park Trust, which helps preserve America’s local, state and national parks for future generations.

One of their big events each year is Kids to Parks Day, set for Saturday, May 17, 2014. Show them your support by registering your plans to explore parks and public lands that day.

The Boy Scouts of America — along with the National Park Service, NFL Players Association, American Hiking Society and others — is a prominent collaborator on Kids to Parks Day.

The National Park Trust estimates that more than 500,000 people will attend park events planned in 47 states and Washington, D.C., in what they’re calling “America’s national day of play.”

Here are five ways to get involved:

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Peyton Manning: We need Boy Scouts more today than ever

peyton-manning-boy-scoutPeyton Manning was never a Boy Scout himself, but the five-time MVP-winning quarterback can’t help but be connected to Scouting.

He’s reminded of the Boy Scouts of America’s strength within the Denver area and across the country every time he opens the mailbox.

“I get quite a bit of fan mail from mostly parents wanting me to send a congratulatory picture or autograph to their son on becoming an Eagle Scout,” he told a crowd of more than 1,200 on April 16 at the 38th annual Boy Scouts of America Sports Breakfast, benefiting the Denver Area Council.

“I bet it’s a third of the fan mail that I get,” Manning said.

The Super Bowl XLI champion was the keynote speaker at the event, held at the Pepsi Center, which is home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

Celebrities often collect a fee for these kinds of appearances. So how much did Manning charge the Boy Scouts to show up?  Continue reading

Smartphones in Scouting: A curse or a cure?

Before you tell your Scouts and Venturers to power down their smartphones at the beginning of your next adventure, I have something you need to read.

The BSA’s Deputy Chief Scout Executive, Gary Butler, penned a guest blog post that offers his nuanced opinion on the place that iPhones, Androids and devices of their ilk have in our movement.

Does Gary think they add to or detract from the delivery of a great Scouting experience? Read on and find out.

Smartphones in Scouting: A curse or a cure?

By Gary Butler, BSA Deputy Chief Scout Executive and Chief Operating Officer

Gary ButlerI have heard lots of conversations recently on whether smartphones should be allowed during Scouting activities. One of our employees shared with me that when his son goes camping the leader takes all the phones away and returns them when the activity is over.

Does the use of a smartphone as part of Scouting’s activities disrupt the experience, or can it be a “cure” to make our current experiences more relevant to today’s youth? This comment really struck home and got me to thinking as to what is the right answer.

Sometimes to find the answer to these kind of debates on how to go forward, it takes a look backwards to find the answer. One of Baden-Powell’s most interesting quotes is, “A fisherman does not bait his hook with food he likes. He uses food the fish likes. So with boys.” Continue reading

Greatest hits: Counting down my 13 most-read blog posts of 2013

Where did 2013 go?

For Scouts and Scouters, it went to new merit badges, Eagle Scout journeys, the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, a nationally televised TV show about Boy Scouts, a family discussion on our membership policy, endless Cub Scout fun and so much more.

It was a great year for Scouting. And for Bryan on Scouting.

I’m so humbled that my blog recorded roughly 2 million page views in 2013, more than double the previous record of 850,000 from 2012. Thanks for making this a place you trust for Scouting news and conversation.

The busiest month for traffic on Bryan on Scouting was July, which was also my busiest month as I took you inside the 2013 National Jamboree, the first at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. A month later, I served on Wood Badge staff, which was an experience I’ll never forget.

I posted 275 times this year, covering anything I thought might be interesting and relevant with the goal of making your job as a Scouter easier. 

But forget what I found interesting; what matters is which posts you made the most popular. Let’s find out. Follow the jump for the 13 most-read blog posts of 2013…  Continue reading

Robert M. Gates, former defense secretary, joins BSA national executive board, serves as national president-elect

Arena ShowRobert M. Gates, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and our nation’s 22nd secretary of defense, has been elected to the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. Gates will serve as a member of the executive committee and as the national president-elect.

This move means that upon approval of voting members of the National Council, Gates would begin a two-year term as the BSA national president in May 2014. The national president works alongside Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and National Commissioner Tico Perez to form the National Key 3 that guides the organization. (Learn more about the National Key 3 in the sidebar at right.)

national-key-3-2013Gates’ appointment was made upon the recommendation of national volunteer and professional leaders, including the BSA national nominating committee. Following the National Council’s approval of Gates’ two-year term as the BSA national president beginning in May 2014, Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., has agreed to serve as the president-elect of the BSA.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said recently. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before.”

Gates’ Scouting résumé is voluminous: Distinguished Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, former president of the National Eagle Scout Association, past National Executive Board member and Silver Buffalo Award recipient. When it comes to the Scouting movement, Gates gets it.

“When I joined the CIA at age 22, I had no connections and didn’t know a soul,” he told the crowd at the opening arena show of the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. “The only thing in my life that led me to believe I could make it was my Eagle Scout badge. It was the only thing that distinguished me from most high school kids.”

Gates has a tremendous passion for Scouting but also a sense of humor when appropriate. In his 2010 jamboree speech, Gates described what happens when the director of the CIA goes camping with his Boy Scout troop.

“I think the edge gets taken off the wilderness experience when 100 yards away there are three large black vans, a satellite dish and armed security guards,” he told the crowd, drawing a big laugh. “It’s a challenge no Scoutmaster ever anticipated.”

Last year, Gates indicated a willingness to re-engage with the BSA, and because of his leadership capabilities and his long history of participation and service in Scouting, the BSA had the opportunity to take advantage of a unique moment to bring on board a truly great leader in Gates. He is one of our nation’s most respected public servants and a proven leader of the highest caliber.

“I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth,” Gates said.

Video: Watch Gates discuss Scouting

Watch an excerpt from his speech at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree after the jump. Continue reading

‘A Century of Honor’ show archived online for your viewing pleasure

Update, Oct. 30: Nearly 1.2 million people watched the awesome production last night. Did you miss it? You can now watch the whole thing online.


Original post:

Won’t be at the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City for tonight’s big “A Century of Honor” show? All hope is not lost.

You have plenty of ways to watch the multimedia celebration of the 100-year partnership between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America.

Basically, you can tune in on any device with a screen: TV, computer, iPhone, iPad, Android. But whichever method you choose, do not miss this live 85-minute extravaganza with original music and media, historical reenactments, special guests and a cast of hundreds of Scouts.

The big show is broadcast live at 9 p.m. Eastern tonight. (That’s 8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain, 6 p.m. Pacific.)

Here are your options for tuning in:  Continue reading

What is a Scouter? The ‘by the book’ answer and your definitions

For those of us who have been in Scouting for the majority of our lives, the answer seems obvious.

But recently I got an email from a Cub Scout parent who shall remain nameless, asking, “What is a Scouter? I see this word all the time but am unclear about what exactly you’re referring to.”

I realized we use this word all the time in Scouting magazine, on my blog and on social media. And I suppose we just assume that all those new adult leaders out there know the word through some type of magic.

Let’s fix that today. First, the simple definition. The BSA’s Language of Scouting defines this noun as “A registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America who serves in a volunteer or professional capacity.”

That’s the by-the-book definition, but we can do better. So I asked our Facebook friends to weigh in on the subject. I’ll share two of my favorite answers and then present a word cloud I created from the responses, all after the jump.  Continue reading