Nontraditional Eagle Projects – Music to This Scout’s Ears

Posted on November 25, 2015 by Bryan Wendell


When 15-year-old Austin Secor of Broomfield, Colo., first proposed his idea for an Eagle project, he got some funny looks.

The project, a musical instrument drive for foster children, was “met with a bit of skepticism, as it was a bit outside the box,” says Austin’s dad, Vincent.

So when I blogged about nontraditional Eagle Scout service projects a couple of months back, the post caught the eye of Austin and his dad.

The post was a reminder that Eagle Scout service projects do not have to be construction-based or permanent to leave a lasting impact. So projects like Austin’s are not only permitted — they’re encouraged.

“My son was inspired, as it helped reinforce his current project,” Vincent says. “So I just wanted to say thank you for the post as it was a huge motivator.”

For his project, Austin collected donated musical instruments, including guitars, violins, flutes, trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a drum set. He collected 34 pieces in all, for a total value of $8,000. Then he got help from a local music store — owned by an Eagle Scout — to repair and refurbish the donated instruments.

Austin didn’t just distribute the instruments to foster children; he organized a distribution party. He served food and brought in local musicians who gave one-hour lessons to the children so they could get acquainted with their new instrument.

“These kids don’t get the same chances and have the same resources most youth do,” Austin says. “This is an opportunity for these youth to fit in at school, to cope with what they have been through in their childhood and to fill a passion for music that could last a lifetime.”

Nicely said, Austin. And nicely done.

BSA’s Religious Emblems Program

A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.

Did you know there are two Catholic religious emblems you can earn in Boy Scouts?

Ad Altare Dei - designed for Scouts 13+ (but open to all Boy Scouts) – click on the link to learn more about the program

Pope Pius XII – designed for Scouts 15+ – click on the link to learn more about the program

Here is some additional information about the Catholic Committee on Scouting and how BSA and CCS work together on a number of initiatives to support the 12th point of the Scout Law:  CCS Information

Unlike the Cub Scout religious emblems, the Boy Scout religious emblems are done in a group.  If you and a couple of buddies are interested in earning either or both of these emblems, please see Mr. Matt, our religious emblems coordinator, to put together a class.

You have time to complete the requirements in time for our Scout Sunday Mass on Sunday, February 7 – if you get started soon!

Not Catholic?  No Problem

There are many other religious emblem programs – each sponsored and supported by the individual religious institutions.  For more details click this link:  Religious Emblems Program


How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival – And How You Can Too


How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too

If you want to learn a potentially life-saving action, you need to practice it. And if you need to learn if your clothing and other gear is capable of saving your life, you need to test it. This is how the Navy SEALs do just that for cold weather emergencies.

This article was originally written by Kate Siberell for the Sitka Gear blog and is reprinted here with permission.

Want to dress even more effectively than the SEALs do? Here’s our guide to doing just that

Go for a short walk, and you’ll know if your gear fits. You might notice the stretch, the lightness, the breathability, the warmth. But you won’t really know if it can keep you alive.

You could take your clothing maker’s word for it. But if you’re a Navy SEAL operating in frigid conditions where leaving early isn’t an option, and holding your position is mission critical, you have to know exactly what your gear can handle. You have to test for yourself how it will perform in the worst possible conditions.

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too

John Barklow photo; and top photo.

And that’s why Sitka Big Game Product Manager John Barklow and his fellow Naval instructors came up with the Rewarming Drill.

John was 19 when he enlisted and formally trained as a Navy diver. He built up some experience climbing and mountaineering in his off time, and took stations in the Philippines, the southern U.S., and California. After 9/11 he ended up in Kodiak, Alaska, where he used his experience to teach SEALs how to survive like mountaineers.

For the better part of a decade, part of his job was to develop clothing systems and equipment. He tested every piece of cold weather gear available to consumers (along with a few pieces that were not) and “shook the box to see what rose to the top.”

After that he consulted for a few mountaineering companies as they developed gear to keep US operators mobile, effective, and alive. And today he’s here at Sitka, helping to build future generations of the Big Game line.

We knew SEALs were a different breed. A few of them have become good friends, guys we like to grab a beer with or charge hard with in sketchy terrain. But they’re usually pretty quiet about their service. So when John told us about the training he put these guys through, in particular the Rewarming Drill, it was the first we’d heard of it. We just about fell out of our chairs.

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too

“It was meant to mimic the scenarios you hope to never encounter,” John says. “Maybe you fall in a river, or a rain storm catches you without your Gore-Tex, or you push too hard with the wrong layers and you sweat out – however it happens, you get soaked to the bone. The deal is, if you spend enough time out there, you’re going to get wet on a brutally cold day. And how are you going to keep warm? How are you going to get everything dry and keep going?”

The exercise went like this: After a three-hour patrol into Kodiak’s interior, usually with a storm seething in off the Pacific, John would funnel the troops into a clearing. Only it wasn’t a clearing. It was the surface of a half frozen lake.

“Alright!” John would say, his voice cutting through wind and freezing rain. “This is the Rewarming Drill!”

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too

DoD photo.

The troops would drop their packs on the shore and march ahead fully clothed until they were neck deep in frigid water. For 12 minutes they shivered until John gave the order. With their clothes sopping, violently shaking, they emerged from the cold lake into colder air.

Just hit pause for a second. Say you got soaked on a hunt. What would you do next? What steps would you take to get warm?

If you’re like most of us, you’d probably build a fire, strip off your wet layers, and try to dry them out over the flames. Except remember that it’s sleeting, and the wind is ripping. Even in good weather, you’d be riding that line between drying and burning your gear while exposing your skin to the elements.

“Getting immediately out of the elements and gaining control of the situation is imperative,” John says.

So here’s how John taught the SEALs to handle it: The soaking, shivering troops partnered up, stumbled to their packs, and pulled synthetic insulation layers over their drenched base layers and soft shells. One set up the tent while the other got out the stove to melt snow and heat water. Then both men crawled into their tents, into their synthetic sleeping bags, and lied there shivering, waiting for water to boil outside. As soon as they could, they’d sip hot drinks and scoop spoonfuls of rehydrated chili into their quivering mouths, and then lie back down. There in the tent, the hot food stoked their metabolism, warmth crept slowly back into their extremities, and they were no longer shivering. After several hours, they were warm and completely comfortable, with dry base layers, slightly damp mid layers, and heavy frost collecting on the exposed sleeves of their puffy jackets – proof that their clothing system was pushing moisture to the exterior.

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too

DoD Photo. 

It worked because the human body puts out a serious amount of heat, and because the operators were using a carefully chosen combination of moisture-wicking synthetic base layers, warm-when-wet insulation (not down), and warm-when-wet sleeping bags – along with well ventilated tents. The humans themselves were the heat source that heated the moisture, converting liquid water to water vapor, and each piece worked together to push the expanding vapor out of the system.

“With a great clothing system there’s no need to carry extra layers,” John says. “It should be able to perform as a symbiotic system in the most uncompromising situations. Taking off your clothes and hanging them in your tent is ineffective at best, and requires you to carry more than is required.”

It’s important to note that a single wrong piece would have greatly reduced the system’s effectiveness. Since cotton is hydrophilic, cotton boxers would have held moisture and slowed both the drying and rewarming times. Down also retains moisture, and fails to insulate when wet, so a down puffy or sleeping bag would have made for disastrous results.

“Most people don’t believe it works at first,” John says. “We did it with some industry folks once, and they didn’t really believe it. These were the guys developing our military gear. They’d never heard of this before or done anything like it. And it’s like, ‘Well how do you know if your stuff even works?’”

But John didn’t leave it there. Since troops wouldn’t always have their tent, sleeping bag and stove with them, he drilled his operators without them – and in colder weather. He called it the Dynamic Rewarming Drill.

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too

DoD photo. 

Similar to the static version, the operators cut holes in thick Kodiak ice, treaded water for 12 minutes, climbed out, and pulled on their synthetic puffy layers. But now, instead of making camp John had them shoulder their packs and march, moving at a slow, easy pace – fast enough to generate heat to cook their layers, but not so fast that they’d sweat and create more moisture. Within an hour of walking, their base and mid layers were dry. Two hours later, when they marched into camp, they pitched tents, unfurled their sleeping bags and crawled inside, heating water and rehydrating food to stoke their metabolism and complete the drying process.

“The point of these exercises is knowing what your systems are capable of and gaining experience and confidence in them. Knowing that these systems will work frees you to focus your attention on hunting.” John says. “But don’t take anybody else’s word for it. Try it for yourself. And remember – it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.”

Every Rewarming Drill John ran had the benefit of trained medical observers, as well as fire extinguishers and other key safety equipment. So DO NOT cut a hole in the ice and jump in without taking the same precautions. If you want to test your gear at home, go with the ice bucket challenge. On a chilly day, soak your current system in a bucket of ice water, wring it out, and put it on. Then follow the rewarming steps above. You’ll very quickly identify any weak points in your system, and you’ll know whether your gear can handle it.

IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Three-Finger Sign in Hunger Games Movies Isn’t Infringement. It’s Just Cool!

Posted on November 18, 2015 by Bryan Wendell  

A Scouter and blog reader saw something familiar in the marketing campaign for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, the fourth and final movie in the popular franchise.

It was a three-finger sign — not unlike the one used by Scouts all over the world.

In the fictional nation of Panem created in the Hunger Games franchise, the three-finger sign represents freedom from tyranny. And, apparently, it can be made with the left hand or the right hand.

The reader asked me how Lionsgate, the studio behind the franchise, can use “one of our core symbols” without the BSA getting upset. With Mockingjay, Part 2 releasing on Friday, I went in search of the answer.

I think it’s kind of cool to see giant signs of the three-finger sign all over the world. And if Hunger Games gets more Scouts and Venturers interested in archery, as I discussed in 2012, then I like the franchise even more. But given that BSA is not involved with the film, is the use of the three-finger sign a violation of the BSA’s intellectual property rights?

I asked the BSA’s licensing and contracts attorney, Burgin Hardin, for his take.

“Understandably, there may be some people who view it as a nod to Scouting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the film has crossed the line in terms of infringing on our rights,” Hardin says. “If movie-goers were led to believe the film was sponsored by or somehow affiliated with BSA, that would cross the line.”

Even still, you might say the odds are in the studio’s favor.

Hardin says a film is a form of speech that is protected by the First Amendment, which, generally speaking, affords filmmakers and other artists a certain degree of latitude to evoke and refer to other organizations in creative works. That freedom, while not absolute, applies to works of almost any shape or size, regardless of a work’s artistic value.

Hardin continues: “It’s inevitable that, from time to time, our culture will reflect themes, attitudes and symbols found in Scouting because Scouting is a prominent and long-standing institution of American life. Scouting references that are largely incidental are typically permissible.”

Boy Scout Service Hour Requirements to Increase Beginning Next Year

Posted on November 10, 2015 by Bryan Wendell 

Boy Scouts, who take an Oath “to help other people at all times,” will soon be required to do so at nearly every rank.

New requirements that take effect Jan. 1, 2016, include service hours at Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. (That’s every rank but the Scout rank.)

You can see the full Boy Scout service hour requirements below, but here are the basics: Scouts must complete one hour of service for Tenderfoot, two hours for Second Class and three hours for First Class. The total hours for Star and Life remain the same — six hours each. At least three of the six hours for Life must be conservation-related; this reflects an increased emphasis on environmental stewardship.

The Eagle Scout project, which has no minimum or maximum number of service hours, remains unchanged.

This is the latest in a series of posts where I look at changes coming to Boy Scouting next year. I’ve already blogged about Scout becoming its own rank and Boy Scouts telling about their duty to God at each rank. You can read more about changes to Boy Scouting (and, for that matter, Cub Scouting and Venturing, on the Program Updates page.)

Today, let’s look at service hours. 

Beginning in 2016, a young man who advances from Scout to Eagle Scout will complete at least 18 hours of service — not including those hours spent on his Eagle Scout service project. That’s five more hours than before.

I suspect many Boy Scouts won’t even notice this change. Most exceed 18 hours of service over their Scouting careers without thinking about it.

Note that service hours aren’t cumulative. In other words, the hour of service used for Tenderfoot only counts toward Tenderfoot. A Scout cannot, for example, also count that hour as one of the two he needs for Second Class.

New Boy Scout Service Requirements

Tenderfoot, requirement 7b: One hour of service (up from zero)

Participate in a total of one hour of service in one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. Explain how your service to others relates to the Scout slogan and Scout motto.

Second Class,requirement 8e: Two hours of service (up from one)

Participate in two hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. Tell how your service to others relates to the Scout Oath.

First Class, requirement 9d: Three hours of service (up from zero)

Participate in three hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. The project(s) must not be the same service project(s) used for Tenderfoot requirement 7b and Second Class requirement 8e. Explain how your service to others relates to the Scout Law.

Star, requirement 4: Six hours of service (same as before)

While a First Class Scout, participate in six hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster.

Life, requirement 4: Six hours of service, at least three of which are conservation-related (changed from six hours, period)

While a Star Scout, participate in six hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. At least three hours of this service must be conservation-related.

Eagle Scout: The Eagle Scout service project (same as before)

While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.)


If you’re a registered Scouting volunteer, you are a member of the Scouting Alumni Association, registration is free (, but if you spring for the Pathfinder level ($35), you can take advantage of these perks (and many more):

  • Discount on auto and home insurance through Liberty Mutual
  • A one-time 10% discount to your local Scout Store or
  • 15% off oil changes at Firestone
  • 25% off your purchase at Papa John’s
  • 20% off at
  • Up to 10% multi-day and park hopper tickets at Disneyland
  • First pair of eyeglasses free (30% off repeat purchases) at
  • 15-30% off in-store purchases at Office Depot
  • Up to 30% off at Chili’s
  • Up to 35% off movie tickets at AMC, Regal, and Carmike
  • Up to 50% off in-store merchandise (except shoes) at Mens Warehouse
  • Free admission to the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas

Going in the Right Direction – Orienteering Weekend

Troop 883 enjoyed a wonderful orienteering trip last week.  It was quite a sight to see ALL of the Scouts working together on the main competition.  We will not know how we did for a few weeks.

The team of Ryan M. and Tyler M. placed 14th (out of 600 Scouts).

Our Patrol Cookoff this month focused on desserts:

  • The Mighty Moose patrol made their famous monkey bread again – they have achieved perfection.  
  • The SPL made a  pineapple upside down cake.  
  • The Fruit Ninja patrol made French toast with blueberries and whipped cream on top.  Their dessert looked like something made by a pastry chef!  
  • In the end, the Flaming Aces patrol were victorious with a Pineapple Right Side Up cake!  Their dessert WAS PERFECT!


BSA Master-at-Arms Badge

You can’t earn this badge any longer, but from 1911 to 1912, Scouts could earn the Master-at-Arms Badge by “attaining proficiency in two of the following subjects:”

  • Single-Stick
  • Quarter-Staff
  • Fencing
  • Boxing
  • Ju-Jitsu
  • Gymnastics
  • Wrestling

According to, The Master-at-Arms badge was one of the original 14 “Badges of Merit” issued by the Boy Scouts of America in 1910 in the temporary “Original edition” of the BSA Handbook.

It was not included in the 1911 edition of the Boy Scout handbook.

Here is a PDF copy of the original document:  Master-at-Arms

Thanks to Mark Harris for sharing this bit of Scouting history!

Carroll Chapter OA Leaders Needed!

Attention OA Members – please read this announcement from the Carroll Chapter of the Order of the Arrow about:

  • Chapter leadership elections
  • A special fire-building competition at this month’s Chapter meeting

During our November chapter meeting we will be holding our Chapter elections for our 2016 officers. We need youth to step up and demonstrate their leadership and run for positions as a Chapter officer. Arrowmen must be current with their dues in order to vote.
Chapter Chief – Responsible for making sure the Chapter operates smoothly. Represents the Chapter at Lodge meetings and activities.
Vice Chief of Program – Responsible for planning the monthly meetings and any Chapter activities. Attend Chapter and Lodge events.
Vice Chief of Inductions – Responsible for organizing unit elections, and converting brothers to brotherhood. Attend Chapter and Lodge events.
Vice Chief of Ceremonies – Responsible for organizing the Arrow of Light Ceremonies, maintaining regalia, and growing the ceremonies team. Attend Chapter and Lodge events.
Vice Chief of Service – Responsible for organizing the Chapter or Lodge service opportunities. Attend Chapter and Lodge events.
Secretary - Responsible for taking notes and attendance at meetings; and submitted articles to the publications committee for the Arrow of Light newsletter; and attending the quarterly Lodge publications meeting. Attend Chapter and Lodge events.
Additionally, are you prepared to turn up the heat at our next roundtable meeting? You should be because this month we will be hosting a race to see who can build the best fire. Teams will assemble and construct a small fire with the intention of burning through a line of string the fastest. Supplies will be provided and I hope you all are ready for some “hot” competition!
The meeting is set to take place at the Carroll County Agricultural Center starting promptly at 7:30pm. Please feel free to direct any and all questions to and we hope to see you all there!
Austin Ford
Chapter Chief
Zach Betz
Vice Chief of Program


STEM Merit Badge Day – Baltimore Robotics Center

The Baltimore Robotics Center is pleased to announce it will be running instruction classes for the “Robotics”, “Game Design” and “Signs, Signals & Codes” merit badges on Sunday, November 8th.

This is the first time we’ve offered “Signs, Signals and Codes” merit badge instruction and we are excited to be bringing this new merit badge to area scouts. Scouts will study the nonverbal ways we communicate, including emergency signaling, Morse code, American Sign Language, braille, trail signs, sports officiating hand signals, traffic signs, secret codes and more. This badge even covers emoticons.

The classes are designed to take the whole time period, so don’t sign up a scout for more than one merit badge please.

Details and sign-up here…

This event is part of the Maryland STEM Festival and I expect that the sessions will sell out, so please do not delay in signing up.


Ed Mullin
Executive Director
Baltimore Robotics Center
1001 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21223