Singing for a Lost Item

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Bryan Wendell 

Let’s say a Scout loses something — perhaps his Boy Scout Handbook, troop cap or camp chair — and you find it.  Do you:

A. Return the item to him right away, with a quick, discreet (but in full view of others) reminder that he should keep a better eye on his stuff?

B. Give the item to his patrol leader or senior patrol leader and let one of them return it to the Scout with the same friendly, discreet reminder?

C. Keep the item until he can “sing for it” in front of the whole unit, thereby shaming him into never making the mistake again?

The right answers are A or B. If you said C — singing for the lost item — the BSA’s top volunteer in charge of Youth Protection asks you to rethink that practice.  April is Youth Protection Month, making this a good time to tell you that singing for a lost item is bullying, and bullying isn’t allowed in Scouting.

The Question - The BSA’s Youth Protection team received the following note from an area director:

I am trying to answer a question for one of my local councils that relates to what I believe is a bullying issue. The gist of it is this: A unit doesn’t understand why it is not OK to single a kid out in front of other Scouts and make them sing for their lost item instead of just dealing with it individually. While you and I both know that is a form of bullying and harassment, this group would like to see something in writing that states this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

Good question. You can consider the below “something in writing.” The answer It comes from Dr. Jim Wilson, none other than the national chairman of the BSA’s Youth Protection Committee.

This is a great question. You are absolutely correct. Singling out a Scout in front of other Scouts is inappropriate and can be damaging to that Scout. I would suggest following up with the Scout to see if he is OK. Also, the Scout’s parents should be informed, if they haven’t been already. This practice is actually promoting an environment of harassment and bullying. It can put the Scout at greater risk of being bullied, encourage other Scouts to single out and bully others, and create a cycle of bullying (in which even those who were bullied start bullying others). In fact, it is recommended even in bullying situations not to single out anyone publicly, including the person who engaged in bullying behavior. It’s better to address the situation after everyone has had time to cool off.

I suggest you check out the information sheets available in the “Bullying Awareness” section of the Youth Protection website. Also, we draw upon information and materials available from, which has additional bullying-prevention resources that may be helpful for you.

Eagles Nest – Advanced Outdoor Skill Training

Are you interested in helping take our outdoor program to the next level?  If so, Eagles Nest is for YOU!
COST:  $90
Part 1:  Saturday, September 12, 2015
St. Mark Church, 30 Melvin Ave., Catonsville, MD 21228
Part 2:  Weekend:  September 25-27, 2015
Bee Tree Preserve, Parkton, MD
Click HERE for Course Flyer
2015 Course Director:  Greg Oates
443-286-7420 Cell
Click HERE for Online Registration
Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, Venture Crew Advisors,
Crew Assistant Advisors, and District Outdoor Skill Trainers
** Open to Scouts 15+ and First Class or higher **
Prior Outdoor Skills Weekend Training (IOLS) or equivalent experience

BSA Annual Health & Medical Record and a physical capability for backpacking.


  • Preparing to trek
  • Food selection, packaging & preparing
  • Personal hygiene
  • Equipment needs and maintenance
  • Fitting, packing, & wearing a backpack
  • On the trail tips
  • Navigation
  • Trail first aid
  • Campsite cleanliness
  • Star study
  • Leave No Trace
  • Working with youth
  • Resources 

Why I’m Not an Eagle Scout

Posted by New York Times Bestselling Author, Columnist, and Motivational Speaker, Jason F. Wright

I remember the first time I put on a Scouting uniform. My mother hadn’t even ironed on the patches yet, but as a young Cub Scout, the shirt had the unmistakable power of making me stand a little bit taller.

One day a week I took a different bus after school, one that would drop me off near our den mother’s home in Charlottesville, Va. I loved to sprint the two long blocks to the divine Doneitta Quillon’s house to meet my fellow young rabble-rousers. Doneitta put up with so much, was so patient and long-suffering, she could have taught the prophet Job a thing or two.

I progressed through the program, earning merit badges and developing friendships. Once I advanced from Cubs to Boy Scouts, however, my interest began to wane. I plodded along, but life presented distractions that were difficult to ignore. I discovered cars, music, tennis and theater. Most importantly, I learned that my parents had been involved in a great conspiracy, a cover-up, a scandal that rocked our family to its core.

Girls, it turns out, were not as repulsive as I’d been taught.

By the time I turned 16 and should have been knee-deep in an Eagle project, I was beginning to date, drive and immerse myself in after-school activities. During that same year, I said goodbye to my father, which only added to my excuses for drifting away from the Scouting program.

Even when I did attend Scouts, nothing was exciting enough to keep me there. Campouts were too structured, meetings too rigid and the uniform I’d worn with pride looked out of place under my ultra-cool stonewashed denim jacket.

I recall with embarrassment when a good friend invited me to help with his Eagle project. I agreed to assist, but when I arrived on site, the landscaping and beautification objectives seemed too small, too insignificant.

“This is it?” I thought, and at the first opportunity I disappeared to comb the mall for friends and oversized salted pretzels.

It’s not that I didn’t want to serve or do good in the world; I did. I’d grown up seeing my father perform the most incredible acts of service. I saw lots of little ones: opening doors, changing tires and giving rides, but it was his heroic made-for-TV moments I most admired.

I was less interested in the Scout slogan of doing a good turn daily and more keen to change the world all at once. I was convinced that I was bigger than the program. I didn’t need a handbook to tell me what to do; I could figure it out on my own, thank you very much.

But while I waited for opportunities big enough for my vision of service, my vision missed the small moments my Scouting friends seized each and every day. Those who became Eagle Scouts while I was just a spectator on the ground didn’t just recite the Boy Scout oath, they lived it.

Their eyes were constantly open to service, and it didn’t matter whether anyone else was watching. It certainly made no difference whether or not they’d earn a merit badge for their efforts.

They were strong and noble. They were Eagle Scouts.

It’s been 20 years since my decision to let the Scouting program pass me by. For most of those years, I didn’t wonder what could have been. But today, now serving as a Scout leader and with a brand new Cub Scout of my own at home, I regret how much longer it’s taken me to appreciate the art of service.

Nevertheless, despite the time and hurdles, I’m pleased to say that I’m finally getting there. Through family, research and writing, I’m learning the value of daily sacrifice, the blessings that come from performing small service miracles every day.

So as I watch my son embrace Scouting the way I first did, I pray the passion continues into his teens.

As I cheer him on, I hope he is motivated to become an Eagle one day. Not because I want it for him, and not because the award itself will change his life, but because being an Eagle Scout is a signal to the world that you’ve learned the most valuable lessons of life much earlier than most.

My son knows I would give anything to go back in time, to put on that shirt with all its colorful patches and to stand a little taller. But he also knows that while I cannot relive the past and become an Eagle Scout, I can sure live like one. And so can you.

As I treasure his long ride from child to adult, I will remind him that becoming an Eagle Scout is not the end of becoming a service-minded man, it’s the beginning.

This entry was posted in Wright Words by Jason Wright. Bookmark the permalink.

At the Summit Bechtel Reserve, Even the Signs are Cool (and Award-winning)!

Posted on April 13, 2015 by Bryan Wendell

It’s the details that elevate the Summit Bechtel Reserve from an awesome high-adventure destination to one of the coolest places on earth.

Details like the signs. At the archery area called the Bows, yellow, red and blue targets are integrated into each letter of the sign. At the Ropes climbing area, actual rope wraps around a vertical pole. At the Park skateboarding area, the letters look like they’re spray-painted onto a large concrete cylinder.

Though they might not express it outright, Scouts and Venturers notice awesome touches like these. They make SBR a destination young people want to visit and return to again and again.

But it’s not just the Scouts and Venturers who noticed the cool signs. Recently the Summit Bechtel Reserve signs were named Best Sign Systems of 2015 by the (appropriately named) industry magazine Signs of the Times.

The Summit’s signs do more than point the way or tell you where you are. They define its character.

Turning to the Experts

The signs were designed by RSM Design and fabricated and installed by Design Communications Ltd.

The RSM and DCL teams did a fantastic job. Each area’s sign is a promise of something exciting a few steps away.

Scouts and Venturers see the signs, and the Summit’s awesome high-adventure activities deliver on those promises.

Technical Details

For those of you into that kind of thing, here are some details on how these signs were made:

Engineers created detailed shop drawings and proofs using AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW software, then prepped the files for CNC-router production with SA Intl.’s EnRoute 4 software.

The shop produced the signs using an array of natural and rugged materials: locally sourced hemlock and cedar, precast concrete, faux-finished aluminum and Cor-Ten® patina-finish steel. DCL processed the panels via a combination of its MultiCam 7000 CNC router, a Powermatic 68 table saw, a Miller Electric Mfg. Co. Millermatic 200 MIG welder, and a Portland 67255 chainsaw.

Photos of the Signs

Here are a few photos of the signs that caught the eye of Signs of the Times magazine.

Hat tip: Thanks to Mike Lawrance for the blog post idea.

Outing and Activity Information is Easier to Find

Take a look at the website header.  Notice anything different?

For those with “Eagle Eyes,” you might notice that the link for outing and activity information is now prominently displayed in the header – instead of being buried under “Our Program.”

This will make it easier for Scouts and Scout families to find information about our outings quickly and easily.

Eagle Scouts Make Great Firefighters

Posted on April 14, 2015 by Bryan Wendell

Firefighters are brave, helpful and always prepared. So are Eagle Scouts.

Men who are members of both groups are an impressive bunch indeed, and they’re more common than you might think.

If you’re a firefighter and Eagle Scout, you should consider joining the National Eagle Scout Association’s Firefighters Affinity Group. You’ll network with fellow Eagle Scouts, learn ways to better your career and the Scouting movement, and get a special decal for your helmet (seen here).

Why am I telling you this news now? Because next week, nearly 40,000 firefighters from across the United States and around the world will meet to take classes, learn about new firefighting innovations and network with their peers.

It’s called the Fire Department Instructors Conference, held April 20 to 25 in Indianapolis. And NESA will have a presence there.

To learn more I talked with Joseph M. Kruzan Jr., fire chief in Schererville, Ind.; and Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters.

What is the Fire Department Instructors Conference?

Nearly 40,000 firefighters from across the U.S. and abroad converge in Indianapolis to attend training classes, experience the latest innovations and to network with other firefighters.

Chief Joe Kruzan from the Schererville Fire Department will represent NESA and be at the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s booth from 8 a.m. to noon Friday to talk to attendees about the benefits of the National Eagle Scout Association and the Firefighters Affinity Group.

At 1 p.m., Eagle Scout firefighters are invited to join Chief Kruzan for an informative briefing being held in Wabash Room 1. Eagle Scout Firefighters will receive a special helmet decal when they join.

What will the NESA firefighters at the FDIC conference be doing?

Encouraging Eagle Scout firefighters to, first of all, become members of the National Eagle Scout Association (if not already a member). And then secondly, to join the Firefighters Affinity Group. The ultimate goal: Get all firefighter Eagle Scouts reconnected to Scouting.

What makes an Eagle Scout a good firefighter?

“As a firefighter and a chief, I live my life and manage our department as a Scout,” Kruzan says. “The true signs of successful leadership can be attributed to living and practicing the 12 points of the Scout Law. Each point can be used by a firefighter.

“As Scouts, we learn to ‘Do a Good Turn Daily.’ As Firefighters, we do a Good Turn every day by serving the public, treating the sick and injured, protecting lives and property, or simply by holding the hand of an elderly person as they are taking their last breath.”

Do you think there are a disproportionately large number of Eagle Scout firefighters compared to other professions? If so, why?

The 2008 National Eagle Scout Directory lists nearly 2,000 Eagle Scouts who work in some form of public service, which includes the fire service.

“I would suspect that many Eagle Scouts developed their career path thru Scouting,” Paulson says. “Perhaps it was the Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness merit badges that enticed those to become firefighters?”

“Many Eagles naturally migrate to the Fire Service because the values of Scouting are in many ways the backbone of the fire service. Preparedness, service, working as a team and leadership are just some of the values that Eagles bring the fire service,” Kruzan says. “Many Fire Departments seek out Eagle Scouts in their applicant pools because they know that type of person will do well in the Fire Service.”

How important is it for Eagle Scouts to reconnect at events like these?

“It is always important to folks to meet others and enjoy the fellowship that Scouting brings to any gathering,” Kruzan says. “The personal and professional relationships that develop at events will last for years. Once an Eagle Always an Eagle.”

What can other affinity groups learn from your successes with NESA firefighter affinity groups?

“This is the first affinity group for NESA,” Paulson says. “Many of the programs developed in the firefighter group can be used by other groups. The big takeaway is that if you have a professional affiliation as a base then it is easy to gather Eagles together.”

How can interested Eagle Scout firefighters learn more?

Contact Ryan Larson at

Interesting Youth Protection Issue – Digital Contact with Youth

The ‘No One-on-One Contact’ Provision Applies to Digital Contact, Too

Posted on April 6, 2015 by Bryan Wendell

The BSA’s Youth Protection guidelines prohibit one-one-one contact between adults and youth members. That much you know.

But in a world where an increasing number of our communications are digital, how does that rule apply?

That was the question from Matthew S., a Scouter who contacted me recently. Matthew writes:


We’re looking to implement Eagle coaches in our troop, and one of the ways we’re looking to offer contact with the candidates is through text messages. Is text messaging considered one-on-one contact? If so, is there another way to do it? Not every person has the ability to use group messaging, but more and more boys are communicating via text instead of email lately.

Thank you,

Matthew S.

Great question, Matthew. I’m sure you’re not the only Scout leader who’s wondering this.

So I asked the expert: Michael Johnson, Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America.

He writes:

Great question and thank you for considering Youth Protection policies as you work to create a fun program. Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse apply in cyberspace:

Youth Protection policies extend into cyberspace. There should be no one-on-one online or digital activities (games, social media, etc.) or electronic communications. Leaders should include or copy a parent or another leader in all online communications, ensuring no one-on-one contact exists in text, social media or other forms of online or digital communication.

Our partners at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) NetSmartz Workshop program advise us child predators are knowledgeable about BSA’s polices regarding two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact. As a result, they seek interactions with youth in cyberspace where youth interact with each other and are usually unsupervised by parents (i.e., gaming, chat rooms, etc.)

As a safety precaution to protect youth and leaders, we require all interactions (e.g., texting, email, instant messaging, etc.) to be copied to a parent or other registered leader. While we understand that this may present a challenge to some, we feel that safe interactions are of prime concern.

As a reminder, all leaders should be providing the Cyber Chip program to Scouting youth so that they may be better able to recognize, respond to and report inappropriate activity to the CyberTipline (1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)) and local Scout executive. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the BSA introduced the Cyber Chip.

We also recommend that Eagle Scout coaches who are selected by units become registered. By registering these key leaders in the growth of our Scouts, they would then be properly vetted through background checks and would be required to take Youth Protection training. What better way to ensure the safety of all our youth, than by asking all adults involved with the advancement of these Scouts to be a part of our safety programs?

NCMEC suggests that leaders and parents of Scouts check out the following NetSmartz website and tip sheet that provide helpful information on safe cell phone usage:

Is Your Scout a Complete Angler? Are You a Certified Angling Instructor?

Posted on April 3, 2015 by Bryan Wendell

If a Boy Scout you know loves fishing, here’s his chance to prove it.

The BSA Complete Angler Recognition honors Boy Scouts who earn all three fishing-related merit badges: Fishing, Fly-Fishing and Fish and Wildlife Management.

The recognition was developed by the BSA National Fishing Task Force and replaces the Certified Angler Award. Unlike that previous award, the Complete Angler Recognition doesn’t require an online test. Once a boy earns the three merit badges, he’s eligible to receive the patch.

The program is supported by the BSA Supply Group, which will deliver the newly designed, controlled-access patch to Scout Shops. (Controlled-access means you can’t buy it online because you’ll need to prove a boy is eligible to earn it.)

Adults, there’s a new fishing patch for you, too. The BSA Certified Angling Instructor courses help you deliver a fishing experience Scouts won’t forget.

BSA Complete Angler Recognition

The Complete Angler patch may be worn by Boy Scouts who earn all three fishing-related merit badges. Those are:


The Fishing merit badge (Angler merit badge) was one of the original 57 merit badges offered. More than 2 million Scouts have earned the Angling or Fishing Merit Badge. In a recent Boys’ Life survey, fishing placed fourth on the list of preferred Scout unit outdoor activities, surpassed only by camping, swimming and bicycling.


The Fly-Fishing merit badge, the BSA’s newest angling badge, was introduced in 2002 and has earned attention within National Outdoor Programs. Major efforts to present this skill were made at the last three national Scout jamborees with great success.

Fish and Wildlife Management

Originally called Wildlife Management when it was introduced in 1972, the Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge is the most challenging of the three fishing-related badges because of its required conservation projects. The purpose of the Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge is to encourage healthy fish and wildlife populations while preventing lost populations.

BSA Certified Angling Instructor

The BSA National Fishing Task Force provides leadership and guidance for all BSA fishing programs to ensure that Scouts have the best opportunities and resources to learn and enjoy the sport of fishing.

The task force is charged with encouraging and fostering a progressive learning experience for Scouts and Scouters through education, programs, literature, advancement, and other methods to teach and support fishing and conservation in the Boy Scouts of America.

Three Certified Angling Instructor (CAI) courses have been developed to build well trained instructors that can provide quality angling programs.

1. National Fishing Camping Schools

Fishing Camp Schools are designed as the primary fishing and fly-fishing training course to develop a national cadre of CAIs to bring quality fishing and fly-fishing instruction and programs to all BSA youth.  Courses include full coverage of skills development, resource awareness and improvement, merit badge counselor instruction, fly-fishing instruction with focus on teaching others, how to improve the council camp’s fishing programs, plus opportunities for a council to offer fishing opportunities year around — ideal for those wishing to enhance fishing program emphasis within their Scouting world and lead Scouts into the wonderful world of fishing and fly-fishing.

Camp Schools are planned for at least one per region providing four to six courses per year.  A Fishing Camp School will be a minimum of three days, with 22 hours of instruction.

For more information, click here.

2. Council-Run CAI Training Courses

The Council CAI Course is designed to help ensure councils offer successful fishing opportunities for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers. A team of dedicated and qualified adults can create huge opportunities for making fishing important within councils and districts.

CAI Course Directors should have attended a National Fishing Camp School.

Several Councils are adding a Scout Fishing/Fly-Fishing merit badge clinic as a one-day follow-up. This idea has been very successful, offering Scouts the opportunity to earn both the Fishing and Fly-Fishing merit badges.

3. High Adventure Base  “Train the Trainer” Courses

This CAI Course is developed for high-adventure staff running Scout fishing programs. The objective is to prepare the staff with the basic fishing and fly-fishing knowledge and skills — and how to teach them — thus improving the chances for Scouts to have successful fishing experiences.

For more info, go here.

Merit Badge Emblems to Get Supersized

Posted on April 1, 2015 by Bryan Wendell 

Merit badges have always been a big deal. Now they’re about to get bigger.  50 percent bigger.

Here’s the scoop:  This morning, the Boy Scouts of America announced it will increase the size of all merit badge emblems, beginning Sept. 1, 2015.

Current emblems measure 1.5 inches in diameter, while the new ones will measure 2.25 inches in diameter. Translation: Boy Scouts will wear merit badges two across on their sashes instead of three. See a sample photo above.

The increase marks the first change in merit badge emblem size since 1936.

Why go big? For starters, it’ll make it easier for a Scout to show off which merit badges he’s earned. No more squinting to see whether that Scout across the room is wearing the emblem for Fly-Fishing or Fish and Wildlife Management. With supersized merit badge emblems, you’ll know.

Plus, you might have noticed the trend toward “big” in fashion — big sunglasses, big logos and big words on T-shirts. The BSA has taken note and redesigned its classic merit badge emblem to fit in better with the fashion of today.

Read on to learn more about why this move is being made and the transition plan for Scouts who have already earned merit badges at the soon-to-be extinct smaller size.

In touch with the latest trends

Last month the Boy Scouts of America sent a 12-member team to Paris Fashion Week, and the report back was pretty clear: big is big.

The world’s top designers showed off their pieces featuring oversize logos, words and accessories. The BSA, which turned to fashion icon Oscar de la Renta to design the uniform Scouts wore from 1980 to 2008, continues its tradition of being fashion forward with enlarged merit badges.

Big isn’t just “in” in fashion. Sunglasses, smartphones and TVs keep getting bigger and bigger. So why not merit badges?

A sewing lesson

Grab some extra thread, because bigger merit badges means the Scout — or, perhaps, his mom or dad — will spend more time at the sewing machine.

That’s a good thing, says Olaf Sprilo, the BSA’s merit badge czar and a noted fashion blogger.

“We see this as a wonderful opportunity for a Scout and his parent to bond over the hours spent indoors sewing these larger merit badges on,” he says.

Troop 225 of the Bluegrass Council was one of the troops that got to test out life with the extra-large merit badge emblems. Senior Patrol Leader Josh Davidson sounded enthusiastic about the change when I spoke with him last week.

“These things are ridiculously huge,” he says. “I can’t imagine a better way to spend my free Saturday afternoons for the next month than sewing these babies on by hand.”

The transition plan

What about Scouts who own the soon-to-be retired smaller merit badge emblems? Not to worry, Sprilo says. They’ll have a two-week grace period before being required to make the switch.

“Scouts who have earned what we’re calling ‘normal-size’ merit badges

will need to transition to the giant-size versions by Sept. 15,” he says. “If they don’t, they won’t be kicked out or anything. They’ll just be wearing last season’s fashion. A real faux pas.”

Double-sided sashes

But wait. How will these giant-size merit badges fit on a regular-size Scout sash? The answer’s right under your nose: Use the other side.

“A Scout is thrifty,” Sprilo says. “Once Scouts fill up the outside of the merit badge sash, we’re telling them to use the inside. We’re suggesting the inside be reserved for those merit badges you value less.”

50 percent larger, 50 percent more expensive

Regular-size merit badge emblems cost a reasonable $2.49. Giant-size merit badge emblems will cost exactly 50 percent more: $3.735.

No, that’s not a typo. That’s three dollars and seventy-three-and-a-half cents.

Not to worry, cash customers. Scout Shops will be outfitted with special cutters for slicing your pennies into two pieces.

Men’s Health Author Becomes “Bald Eagle Scout”

Posted on March 30, 2015 by Bryan Wendell

Once you turn 18, you’re no longer eligible to earn the Eagle Scout rank (unless you qualify for a special-needs extension).

But the honorary — and, it must be said, completely fictional — “Bald Eagle Scout” rank has no such age limit.

Joe Kita, a former Cub Scout who left Scouting after Webelos, wanted to earn the honor that eluded him as a youth. So the Men’s Health writer, now a middle-aged man, embarked on the journey to become a “Bald Eagle Scout.”

He visited Camp Minsi in Pennsylvania and teamed up with Minsi Trails Council Troop 1600 to get a taste of the challenging journey to Scouting’s highest honor.

Then he wrote about it. His story is chronicled in the March 2015 issue of Men’s Health, a magazine with a total audience of 13 million. He also tells what he learned in a BSA-produced video you can watch below.

The video and story were first posted at Scouting Wire, which offers this suggestion for how to use the story: “Use this video to tell the Eagle Scout story and invite adults to turn regrets into opportunities by volunteering. Also, the video is a great way to show parents how Scouting makes the most of the little time they have to impact their children.”

My Favorite Quote from the Video

My favorite moment in the video was when Kita recounted a trip down the Scout Law trail at Camp Minsi. Those 12 words, each posted on its own sign, really resonated with him. And he thinks parents should take note.

“Do you want your child to be honest? Trustworthy? Reverent? Do you want him to be a leader?” Kita asks. “So you can almost walk that parent down that path and say do you want your son to grow up to be this and this and this? Of course they’ll say yes to each one. But then I would ask them how are you teaching, or how is your son being taught those values?”

Scouting, of course, is the answer.

Watch the Bald Eagle Scout video