They May Not Have Bats in the Belfry…But SJCC Has Junk in the Attic!

Parents – Looking for something to do while your son is at Scouts?

Siblings and Scouts – Do you need service learning hours for school?

Scouts – Do you need service hours for rank advancement?

If any of these apply to you, SJCC needs your help next Monday (September 22) to move items out of the attic above the gym in preparation for the renovations that are about to begin.  We will be moving items from the attic to the gym floor so they can be sorted.

Ideally, we are looking for Scouts and Scout families to help starting at 6:00 PM.  Scouts will break for the weekly Scout meeting and the PLC meeting at 7:00 PM, and parents and siblings can work until 8:30 PM.

If you can help – either at 6 PM or for the duration of the Scout meeting (7 PM to 8:30 PM), please contact Les Simon at

This is a great way to thank SJCC for providing us with facilities to support the Scouting program.

Former Troop 883 Scout Creates Concussion Detection Device – Support Him on Kickstarter

Help make this amazing product a reality – Support Ben through Kickstarter
Click on logo to connect with Ben’s Kickstarter page

A former collegiate wrestler (and a former member of Troop 883) is looking to pin a dangerous opponent familiar to young athletes everywhere: concussions.

Benjamin Harvatine, founder and CEO of Jolt Sensor – a small clip-on attachment that can be fastened to a helmet, headband, goggles or headgear — came up with the idea for a head injury detection device after sustaining his own concussion while wrestling at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Aside from being hit in the head, I kept practicing even though I was dizzy,” Harvatine told of his injury. “I had a longer recovery because I kept practicing.”

Harvatine is hardly the first athlete to continue activities after sustaining a concussion. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 173,285 traumatic brain injuries — including concussions — are treated in children and adolescents from birth to 19 years every year. The CDC reports that the numbers and rates of these injuries are highest among high school athletes partaking in football and girls’ soccer.

However, not every player demonstrates physical signs of a concussion, as damage can also occur on a microscopic, cellular level, Dr. Carolyn Brockington, director of the stroke center at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospitals, told

Looking to cut down on those injuries, Harvatine and his co-founder, Seth Berg, created the Jolt Sensor, which aims to track head impacts in real time, analyzing both large impacts and repetitive contact.

“Anything that can promote the prevention and or identification can be helpful,” Brockington, who has not been consulted on Jolt Sensor, said.

When the device recognizes a potentially dangerous trend it will vibrate on the athlete’s head, and also send an alert to a parent or coach’s phone.

The dangers of an athlete returning to the field before the brain recovers from a concussion are not just short-term worries.

“The brain doesn’t grow back,” Brockington said, cautioning that injuring the brain over and over again will limit its ability to pull itself back together. “If you see someone who has had a concussion and is subsequently altered, that’s someone who should not go in to play right away.”

While the Jolt Sensor doesn’t diagnose a concussion, it lists symptoms to check for and gives an objective count of the number and size of the impact an athlete has sustained, acting more as a precautionary tool.

“It’s another tool in the parent’s toolbox, aside from holding up fingers and asking the kids to count,” Harvatine told

However, Dr. Adam Bartsch, a mechanical engineer and researcher, cautions the accuracy and precision of any data-tracking device should be taken into consideration by parents and coaches.

“There are a lot of gadgets that are commercially available that purport to measure head impact, and then some of them transmit information to an app or a smartphone or even to a person on the sideline” Bartsch told

“However, it’s very challenging to measure a head impact accurately and precisely,” he said, adding that the placement of a device plays a large factor in the data’s accuracy. Attaching the device to an object bound to move like an athlete’s hair or helmet or padding will result in inaccurate data sent to the sidelines, Bartsch explained.

“Depending on how well the sensors are attached to the head could change the results by an order of magnitude,” Bartsch said.

Still, Brockington highlighted the importance of injury education and prevention.

“Prevention in medicine is better than dealing with something afterwards,” Brockington said of the technology. “Over time there will probably be other technology that will look at how we can stratify someone’s risk even more.”

Though the Jolt Sensor is not in full production, Harvatine said they are in contact with a number of youth teams around the Boston and St. Louis areas who are excited to begin trial runs.

The Jolt Sensor team is aiming to begin production in March 2015, and will be available for purchase for around $80. The device is fully waterproofed, has a multi-week battery life and features a USB port for charging.

Merit Badge Pamphlets and Leader Materials Now Available on Kindle


Imagine being able to look up rank or merit badge requirements on your phone or tablet wherever you are.

Or giving your Scouts access to merit badge pamphlets on devices from which they’re already inseparable.

That’s the promise of the Boy Scouts of America’s Amazon Kindle library, which debuted in April and has been adding titles at a fervid pace ever since.

I’ve got the full list of available titles below.

You can download, search and read selected merit badge pamphlets, leader materials and the BSA Fieldbook on Kindle devices or via the Kindle app on phones and tablets.

What are Kindle books?

Pretty much every phone and tablet, including iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows Phones and — duh — Kindles have a Kindle reader that lets you access your Kindle books.

In other words, you can read them even if you don’t own an actual Kindle.

The best part: If you buy a book once, you can view it on any of your devices. The apps will remember your bookmarks, highlights and where you stopped reading.

Say you bought the Fieldbook on your Kindle Fire but didn’t bring that device on your troop campout. The app lets you read it on your iPhone without buying the book again.

Why Kindle books?

National Supply Group Director Sam Bernstein says the BSA’s Amazon Library is just the start of the organization’s digital push.

“Digital media has changed the way kids learn, connect, socialize and play, and the BSA’s Kindle downloads are only the beginning of our digital initiative,” he says. “We’re committed to delivering the program in the format our members want and expect. E-pubs of merit badge pamphlets, leader materials and the Fieldbook give Scouts easy access to BSA resources wherever they are — training courses, committee meetings, boards of review, camping trips — the information will be right at your fingertips.”

The digital nature of electronic publications has another benefit, too.

“E-pubs also enable us to update material more frequently,” Bernstein says, “giving Scouts the most current and relevant resources when they need it.”

What’s available now?

All of the Eagle-required merit badges, with the exception of Citizenship in the World and Sustainability, are available now. Also available are two tech-heavy merit badges: Robotics and Digital Technology. How appropriate.

Leaders will be pleased with a selection of materials for them. No more lugging around heavy books. Just download and go.

More is coming soon. The BSA is continually adding new titles to its Amazon library and is expanding into other digital formats. If you love technology like I do, it’s an exciting time to be a Scouter.

Here are the books available right now on Amazon. The links take you to the title’s page on the Amazon store.

Merit Badge Pamphlets (each $4.99)

Leader materials

Other must-have Scouting materials

About digital updates (NEW)

Several of you asked about digital updates, and I asked the BSA’s Supply Group. Their response:

We hear you, that’s why we’re being selective in the titles that we do offer digitally so there are no impending updates. At this time, revisions would require the purchase of the updated data. We’re looking at ways to offer updated versions for free or at a reduced cost, and will keep working toward that goal for the future.

Keep Your Camping Gear Dry!


If you think the advice in this infographic is nutty, heretical, or (to be charitable) merely inadvisable; so did I until I tried it.  I first read about this in Cliff Jacobson’s book Camping’s Top Secrets. Jacobson is an author, wilderness guide, Distinguished Eagle Scout, and a regular contributor to Scouting Magazine.

When I interviewed Cliff on Scoutmaster Podcast 54 he mentioned that many people react negatively to this particular advice, they insist he’s wrong. He writes about this in this blog post for Piragis Northwoods Company:

Old ideas die hard, and when it comes to camping, the hardest to die is that you should place a plastic groundcloth UNDER the floor of your tent. This is dead wrong, and akin to pitching the tent on a slab of concrete. Rainwater will flow between the impervious groundsheet and floor, pool there, and be pressure wicked by body weight into the sleeping compartment. Then, you’ll really have a sponge party!

My five Cannondale Aroostook tents (no longer manufactured) have been used in commercial outfitting on rugged Canadian canoe trips for 35 years. Trips have lasted from one to four weeks. That’s more than two years of continuous service for each tent. We have always used an interior groundcloth in these tents. Damage? Only one tent got a hole in the floor. I might add that the interior waterproof coatings on these tents was long gone when I sold them at a garage sale a few years ago. After 35 years of heavy use only one tent had a hole in the floor!

The idea that the groundcloth goes under the tent got started in the 1950’s when few tents had floors. You set a poncho or separate tarp inside the tent then placed your sleeping bag on top. …

If you’ve ever pitched a floor-less tent you know it isn’t easy. Since there’s no floor to establish the shape, the tent usually goes up cockeyed. Getting it straight means pulling stakes, moving them around, looking at the tent then setting the stakes again. When I was a Boy Scout in the 1950’s, we took great pride in “getting it right” the first time around. But we were Boy Scouts and it was no big deal. But casual campers didn’t have the patience for this sort of thing. And that’s why manufacturers first put floors in tents—to make them easier to pitch, not to keep out water. Any water that gets inside a floored tent stays inside, and that’s why you need an interior groundcloth to keep that water away from you.

With this, I rest my case!
Cliff Jacobson

Bass Pro Shops Offers Merit Badges

Bass Pro Shops is offering two merit badges classes for Scouts at the Arundel Mills location.  Class size is limited – so sign up now!

Classes are taught in the store on Tuesdays and Thursdays – starting at 6 PM.

  • Tuesday, September 2 – Fishing
  • Thursday, September 4 – Rifle Shooting
  • Tuesday, September 9 – Rifle Shooting
  • Thursday, September 11 – Fishing
  • Tuesday, September 16 – Fishing
  • Thursday, September 18 – Rifle Shooting
  • Tuesday, September 23 – Rifle Shooting
  • Thursday, September 25 – Fishing

Register at Customer Service in the store or call and register over the phone.

Questions?:  Contact Stan Godlewski, Events Coordinator, Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World, Arundel Mills – 410.689.2517

Blue Card Topic #2 – Can merit badge progress begin before a Scout gets his blue card?

Posted on April 30, 2013 to Bryon on Scouting blog

If a Scout camps several nights with his troop before getting a signed blue card from his Scoutmaster, do those nights count toward his earning Camping merit badge?

That’s what a Scouter, who I’ll call James, wondered last week in an email. James wrote:

I have a question concerning when a Scout must have a blue card. Our troop has a merit badge counselor that told boys that none of their camping nights count prior to them getting a signed blue card from the Scoutmaster.


It seems that I have read that this is contrary to BSA policy.


Could you point me to a specific BSA reference for this?

Well, James, there’s no greater authority on this than Christopher Hunt, advancement team leader here at the BSA’s National Office.

First, read his short answer: “For Camping merit badge, all campouts since the Scout joined the troop should count.”

So in this case, the merit badge counselor is mistaken. But a similar logic applies to progress toward other merit badges, as well. Here are some of the answers Chris has provided to other Scouters with related questions:


Question: In merit badges like Coin Collecting, can a Scout use a collection he started before even joining the program to fulfill requirements?

Chris says: 

For certain merit badges like Coin Collecting, for example, most counselors would accept a collection that had been begun well before a Scout was even eligible to join. The experiences in finding coins and adding them to the collection would build as the boy learned about the mint markings and conditions of the coins and resources he could use to discover their value, and so forth.


In the same way the experiences on campouts build as Scouts mature and learn how to stay warm and dry, and efficiently take care of their campsite. Instead of collecting coins these Scouts are collecting campouts, and what they’ve learned on the campouts can become the background for productive discussions with the counselor.

Visiting landmarks

Question: If a Scout visits a national monument with his family, can that visit be applied to Citizenship in the Nation merit badge?

Chris says:

If a Scout visits a National Historic Monument with his family and then wants to apply that to Citizenship in the Nation (req 2a), then the counselor should ask him what he learned and found interesting about it. That part of the requirement is, of course, more important than the actual visit. If the Scout remembers what he learned and found interesting, and if the discussion can be related to some sort of citizenship lesson, then the requirement should be checked off.

Cooking merit badge

Question: Some Cooking MB requirements seem to indicate Scouts work directly with their counselor. Do the above rules apply here?

Chris says:

In Cooking there are a lot of discussion items that most counselors would want to conduct directly with the Scout after the blue card is signed. That would be appropriate. Past work for some of the other requirements might be acceptable, however.


For example, if a Scout planned a menu in the past and then developed the plan and prepared the food as stated in the requirements, then the counselor should give this consideration. He might discuss how it all went and what the Scout learned; and he might want the Scout to have the SM confirm it was done. If the counselor is comfortable the intent of the requirement was met then he can check off the requirement.

More on Camping merit badge

Question: What if I have a Scoutmaster or counselor who’s asking for “the source” on what you’ve said above about Camping MB?

Chris says:

In merit badges like Camping, nights camped since becoming a Boy Scout all count, regardless when other work on the merit badge began, or when the Scoutmaster signed the blue card.


This Clarification has been provided through our e-newsletter, Advancement News, and through our Twitter account. The Application for Merit Badge “blue card” has also been reprinted to reflect this, and the revision of the Guide to Advancement, scheduled for release later this summer, precludes the practice. Wording changes in the reprinted blue card and the Guide to Advancement revision also no longer use “approval” or “qualified to begin working [on the merit badge]” in association with the Scoutmaster’s initial signature on a blue card. It now signifies simply that the SM has had a discussion with the Scout about the badge, and that he has provided the name of at least one merit badge counselor.

An important reminder

Chris says: “It is not the Scoutmaster’s decision, in any case, one way or the other. Only a merit badge counselor can decide if requirements have been met or not.”

Blue Card Topic #1 – Merit adge requirements completed but no blue card — now what?

Posted on August 25, 2014 - Bryon on Scouting blog

Four years ago, Boy Scout Aaron, now 15, began working on Theater merit badge.  He acted in school plays and worked backstage at school musicals.

There’s just one problem: nobody told his Scoutmaster.

That means Aaron didn’t have a blue card. Or a merit badge counselor, for that matter.

So are the curtains closed on Theater merit badge for Aaron?  Or can he still count some of that experience toward the badge requirements?

The basic answer is this: It’s up to the merit badge counselor, not the Scoutmaster, to determine whether the requirement was fulfilled. The Scout will have the burden of providing evidence that he indeed did the work — in this case we’re talking about requirement 3 for Theater. But this rule can apply to other merit badges and other requirements as well.

The question

My name is Aaron, and I am a 15-year-old Boy Scout. My question is regarding when I was in sixth grade (I am now going into 10th) when I was a Boy Scout.


I was working on the Theater merit badge without a blue card, and my Scoutmaster didn’t have knowledge of me working on it.


We now have a different leader, and she says that I can’t use my acting and help with the musical or anything involved with it for fulfilling the requirement because the old leader didn’t have knowledge about my work, and I didn’t have a blue card.


Is she right, or am I allowed to use this as fulfilling requirement 3 for this merit badge?


Any help here would be very appreciated.


Thank you so much.

The expert’s response

Frank Ramirez with the BSA’s Content Management Team offers this official response:

In all likelihood, the Scoutmaster would have issued the Scout a blue card to take to his counselor if the Scout had asked.

Section in the “Guide to Advancement” states the Scout must discuss the merit badge with his unit leader and get a signed blue card from him or her. The leader then proceeds to give the Scout contact information of a registered, approved merit badge counselor. The new leader is probably using this policy to justify her decision.

However, we live in the real world where some motivated young men do begin working on merit badges without first having had the initial discussion with their unit leader. However, they run the risk of meeting with people who may or may not be currently registered, approved counselors.

The real issue here is the Scout is saying he has completed the three required options that satisfy requirement 3 of Theater.

The new Scoutmaster, taking the role of an understanding coach, should discuss her concerns with the Scout, i.e. merit badge goals must first be discussed with the Scoutmaster before blue card is issued, then proceed contacting an approved merit badge counselor to begin working on the merit badge.

Then, issue him the blue card with appropriate merit badge counselor contact information.

Ultimately, it will be the counselor’s decision whether the requirement was fulfilled, or not. The Scout will have the burden of providing evidence that he indeed did the work.

It’s Time to Recharter!

It is time to re-charter our Troop with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).  As a part of this process, each Scout and leader must register for the coming year.  The annual fee payment to Troop 883 is comprised of three components.  Although the dues represent three distinctly different things (and cover different periods of time), we collect them all at the same time – in the fall of each year.

  •  National Dues – this fee is paid to the Boy Scouts of America and registers the Scout for the period from January through December 2015. For 2015, the National Dues will remain at $24 per Scout per year.
    • In addition, Baltimore Area Council charges $4 to cover liability insurance.
    • The Troop pays the National Dues and the liability insurance cost for each registered leader.
  • Boys’ Life – this is the monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America.  It’s a great magazine that reinforces Scouting and the good family values that are part of our program.  Registration for Boys’ Life is optional.  For more information, visit:
    • Registration for Boys’ Life is $12 per year.
  • Troop Fee – Troop 883 charges an annual Troop Fee to cover the cost of running the Troop, including t-shirts, training, advancement, and program costs.  The fee is set each year by the Troop Committee.  The Troop Fee covers the period from September 2014 through August 2015.
    • The 2014/2015 Troop Fee has been set at $75 per boy. This is the same as last year.

Recharter Package:  Recharter Package – 2014-2015

Your recharter package must be turned in on or before the November Court of Honor – if you do not turn in your materials by the November Court of Honor, you will not be re-registered with the Troop.

Please return your forms to Jim Lanier:

  • In person at a Troop meeting
  • Scanned/emailed to
  • Mailed to:  2031 Sherryl Avenue, Eldersburg, MD 21784



Duty to God Becoming Larger Part of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting


Posted on August 20, 2014 by Bryan on Scouting


Scouts have always shown reverence for a higher power. It’s in our Scout Oath and Scout Law.

But soon, that Duty to God will be further incorporated into Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting.

Here’s the scoop from Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team:

Cub Scouting

By the beginning of the 2015-2016 Scouting year, each Cub Scout rank will include a new family-based Duty to God adventure.

These requirements will NOT include a requirement that a Cub Scout earn his respective religious award.

Boy Scouting

Beginning in 2016 in Boy Scouts, Duty to God will be incorporated in the requirement to show Scout Spirit.

During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty.

Again, there will be no requirement for the Scout to earn his respective religious award.

More on the changes to Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing

As always, let me direct you to the BSA’s Program Updates page for the latest materials on the exciting changes coming to Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting — and the changes already introduced in Venturing.

All Four National BSA High-adventure Bases Now Qualify for Triple Crown


Posted on August 21, 2014 by Bryan on Scouting


It’s official: The Summit Bechtel Reserve is now a part of the Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award.

And a new honor, the Grand Slam of National High Adventure Award, recognizes Scouts who participate in qualifying high-adventure programs at all four national high-adventure bases. That’s Northern Tier, Philmont, Sea Base and the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

We get our first look today at the redesigned patches for the Triple Crown award. Now that there are four different qualifying combinations of high-adventure bases, the award needed four different patches:

  • Philmont, Sea Base, Northern Tier
  • Summit, Sea Base, Northern Tier
  • Philmont, Summit, Northern Tier
  • Philmont, Sea Base, Summit

The patches include animals to represent each national high-adventure base: a bull for Philmont, a loon for Northern Tier, a dolphin for Sea Base and a black bear for the Summit.

The Grand Slam award patch design will be unveiled soon.

Applications for both awards are being accepted now, but because the new patches will take time to produce, processing won’t begin until November for those who attended the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base at the Summit.

More about the Triple Crown and Grand Slam of High Adventure awards

A group of awesome volunteers from the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association created the Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award in 1996.

The goal? To recognize adults and youth “with a thirst for high adventure.” The award gained additional notoriety in 2012 when the patch was depicted in Joseph Csatari’s 100 Years of Eagle Scout painting.

Youth and adults who participate in qualifying high-adventure programs at either three (Triple Crown) or four (Grand Slam) national high-adventure bases are eligible for the awards.

Obvious question: What’s a qualifying high-adventure program? Glad you asked.

The Sommers Alumni Association offers this guide (PDF) that tells you exactly what is and what isn’t a qualifying program.

You’ll find that information, an award application and more answers to your questions at the award’s official website.