Help make the 2015 Journey to Excellence scorecards even better

jte-goldHow do you know whether your unit offers the best possible experience for the Scouts and Venturers you serve?

You keep score.

Scouting’s Journey to Excellence (JTE) gives you specific, measurable ways to track success based on a number of key factors like camping, service, advancement, training and retention.

Those packs, troops, crews, ships, teams and posts that really shine earn either bronze, silver or gold JTE status for the year. Those that don’t learn from other units and benefit from an early warning system that gives them plenty of time to make corrections.

But just like no Scout unit can improve by standing still, the JTE scorecards themselves are under constant assessment and reinvention.

That process is underway now for standards at the unit, district and council levels for the 2015 versions of the scorecards, and you can have your say.

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9 things that’ll be different for staffers at the 2017 jamboree

Better transportation, more time off, a staff village and maybe, just maybe, warmer showers.

That’s just some of what’s in store for volunteers at the 2017 National Jamboree. They’re in for an even better experience than staffers had last summer.

And if you’ve talked to anyone who staffed in 2013, you know that’s high praise. I know I had an incredible time (and actually didn’t mind the ambient-temperature water).

But the volunteers and professionals planning the 2017 version of the BSA’s signature gathering have no time for basking in the glow of 2013. They’re looking for commitments from volunteers wanting to share in the fun in 2017.

And they’re promising an even better experience than staffers had last summer. That means better communication, lodging and laundry service. And yes, assuming it can be done in a sustainable way, warm showers are looking possible. Learn how to sign up today right here.

Because everyone loves a good list, here are nine ways the 2017 jamboree staffing experience will be better than it was in 2013. These are straight from the Summit’s newly redesigned website.

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Meet the young man leading Sea Scouting for the next year

Peter-SchmidtSelecting Peter Schmidt to lead Sea Scouting seems like a no-brainer.

I mean, take one look at the young man’s Scouting résumé: Quartermaster Award, Eagle Scout Award, Venturing Silver Award. Numerous council, regional and national training courses and leadership roles. A vision for Sea Scouting’s future that focuses on growing the program’s numbers through improved marketing and communication.

I’m sure there were many great candidates, but it’s clear Peter will do an outstanding job.

Last month the National Sea Scout Support Committee named Peter as the 2014-2015 National Sea Scout Boatswain. The Sea Scout from Ship 123 in the Springfield, Ill.-based Abraham Lincoln Council will serve from June 1, 2014, to May 31, 2015.

Peter leads roughly 7,000 Sea Scouts nationwide and is the lone youth representative on the National Sea Scout Committee. He reports to the National Commodore (Charles Wurster) and the National Director of Sea Scouts (Keith Christopher) and is a conduit through which regional boatswains and other youth leaders can offer feedback to the national committee.

And, somehow, Peter still has time to be a college student. He’s studying engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Continue reading

Making history: First campers arrive at the Summit today

Northern Tier, 1923. Philmont, 1939. Sea Base, 1980. And now: the Summit, 2014.

Remember this day, because today — June 8, 2014 — the first Scouts arrive at the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base at the Summit in West Virginia.

Consider how cool it would’ve been to be the first Scouts to canoe at Northern Tier, hike at Philmont or set sail at Sea Base. That’s the kind of history-making magic in store for the lucky Scouts arriving today at the BSA’s newest high-adventure base.

Sure, tens of thousands of Scouts enjoyed the Summit last summer for the National Scout Jamboree, just as Scouts visited Sea Base, Philmont and Northern Tier prior to their official openings.

But today marks the realization of the Summit’s other main purpose: hosting Scouts every summer for a week of incredible high-adventure programs.

Programs like:

  • The Summit Experience, a week of half-day introductory-level activities at each of the nine Summit high-adventure venues.
  • Helmets and Harnesses, where Scouts learn the ropes on the the largest man-made climbing venue in the world.
  • Tires and Trails, offering unparalleled mountain bike instruction on 36 miles of trails.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Learn more about the Summit’s high-adventure offerings (and how you can join the fun in summer 2015) at the base’s official site.

And congrats to the Summit on their grand opening!

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Why every Scout or Venturer needs to earn the Cyber Chip

cyber-chipIt’s been two years since I last blogged about the BSA’s Cyber Chip. In the online world, that’s like two lifetimes.

The importance of the Cyber Chip has only grown in the time since it was introduced. Now having a current Cyber Chip is the first requirement for Scouts earning the Digital Technology and Programming merit badges.

It’s not just for merit badge-earning Boy Scouts, though. There are different requirements for Scouts based on their grade: 1-3, 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12. That means Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts and Explorers should have an up-to-date Cyber Chip tailored to their unique online experience.

The Cyber Chip, developed in collaboration with NetSmartz, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, teaches Scouts and Venturers about cyberbullying, cell phone use, texting, blogging, gaming and identity theft.

Seeing as June is Internet Safety Month, now’s a great time to remind your Scouts and Venturers to earn (or update) their Cyber Chip. Learn more here, and watch this short explanatory video below: Continue reading

New book explores how U.S. presidents helped shape Scouting

David-ScottThe first thing you notice when you pick up My Fellow Americans is its weight.

The new book from Eagle Scout David C. Scott feels heavier than you might expect from the outside.

Inside, though, Scott makes sure the stories about each U.S. president’s dealings with the Boy Scouts of America never feel weighed down. The details are fascinating and well-researched; the stories make history spring to life. And the full-color pictures — the cause of the book’s extra weight — transport you back in time.

My Fellow Americans takes you from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama, showing each president’s contributions toward helping build the Boy Scouts of America into what it is today.

There’s plenty to be learned here, even for those who know their BSA history. Like, did you know in 1928, at the request of Herbert Hoover’s Interior Secretary, the BSA created a committee dedicated to recruiting Native American youth? Or that an honor guard of Eagle Scouts attended Gerald R. Ford’s funeral in 2006?

Those are two of the hundreds of interesting stories packed into Scott’s book. The fascinating tales go from cover to cover.

I had the pleasure of meeting David at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting last month, where he was kind enough to donate a copy to each attendee at the BSA’s Americanism Breakfast.

You can get your own copy via ScoutStuff.org or Amazon.com. Read the first three chapters on Amazon, and you’ll be hooked.

Need further convincing? Check out these testimonials:

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Five June Scouting magazine covers from the archives

Even though the first “official” day of summer is June 21, the start of this month reminds us that it’s time for swimming pools, barbecues and, of course, Scout camp and Scouting adventures.

During this first week of the month, let’s look back at five June cover images from the digital archives of Scouting magazine. (You’ll see that some of these covers represent May-June or June-July issues, as the publication sometimes combined the months — as early as the 50s — to help cut costs.)

Which cover is your favorite?

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President, governors make it official: June is Great Outdoors Month

great-outdoors-month-logLove the outdoors? I’ve got just the thing.

June, a month whose arrival is celebrated by school-age children nationwide, doesn’t just mean the end of classes.

It means the unofficial beginning of outdoors season. June is Great Outdoors Month, and it’s overflowing with reasons to head outside to celebrate our beautiful country.

President Barack Obama, in his official proclamation of June as Great Outdoors Month, explained the role every American — and therefore every Scout and Scouter — plays in protecting nature.

“This month, as we enjoy the natural splendor of our nation, let us stay true to a uniquely American idea — that each of us has an equal stake in the land around us, and an equal responsibility to protect it. Together, let us ensure our children and grandchildren will be able to look upon our lands with the same sense of wonder as all the generations that came before.”

That’s a challenge met by packs, troops, teams, posts, ships and crews 12 months out of the year.

States have joined the fun, too. Governors of 42 states have issued official proclamations for the month, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, pictured signing the proclamation above. Some governors have even made videos; check out Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s video below as a great example.

The Boy Scouts of America is one of many key partners in Great Outdoors Month. Here are just a few of the month’s highlights: Continue reading

These Eagle Scouts won three of NESA’s biggest scholarships in 2014

NESAEmblem_SpotYou’re going to want to meet Cody, Donald and Ryan.

These three Eagle Scouts won three of the National Eagle Scout Association‘s most prestigious scholarships in 2014 and have been spotlighted in a series of videos first shown at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in May.

Take time to watch all three videos below.

First up is Cody Eckels of Troop 300 from Tyrone, Pa.. He received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for his project that honors veterans with engraved pavers, military flags and statues complete with landscaping.

“I kinda grew up with Scouting,” Eckels said. “It showed me what’s the right thing to do and what’s not the right thing to do. … It really made me into the man I turned today.”

Next is Donald Martocello of Troop 601 from Moorestown, N.J.

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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