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Letter from Michelle

On December 11, 2008, my son completed his Eagle Board of Review. Oh, happy day!

At that time, he was a little concerned that his paperwork would get done too soon and he would receive a congratulation letter from the current president rather than the incoming president. He even asked if the paperwork could be held up a couple weeks, just to make sure.

Yesterday, his letter from the White House arrived - it took about 333 days so I guess somewhere along the line someone listened and held up the paperwork.

It's a pretty cool embossed letter signed very nicely by Michelle Obama and some squiggly stuff which I assume is the President's signature. I guess he coulda been a doctor. :-)

You can click the small image of the letter to see a bigger version if you want.

Now, almost a year later, I heard last night at our roundtable that the council may turn out another record number of Eagles, beating the record set last year. Our troop did its part I figure, with having five scouts reach Eagle and one more having his scoutmaster conference with me next week.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:27 12-04-2009 466
November Winners
Picked the November give-away winners yesterday.

Enter on for the December give-aways.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:28 12-02-2009 465
BSA National Rally
The BSA PR folks asked me to spread the word about this, so here you go...

Clear your calendar for Dec. 10.
That evening you’ll want to cozy up to your computer for the National 100th Anniversary Kick-Off Rally.

If you aren’t already pumped up for 2010’s yearlong celebration of Scouting, this 30-minute live audiocast is guaranteed to get your heart racing. Tune in by visiting this page and RSVP. Then use that same link to listen to the event on Dec. 10 at:

Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca anticipates that 250,000 volunteers, staff members, Scouting alumni, and parents will listen in from across the United States and around the world.

An impressive lineup of guests will join Mazzuca, including BSA National President John Gottschalk, National Commissioner Tico Perez, and AT&T Chairman, President, and CEO Randall Stephenson, the BSA’s 100th Anniversary Chairman. And after starting the celebration, they’ll all take questions from you and other volunteers.

Submit your questions in advance when you RSVP at the link above.

If you’re looking for a way to pass the time between now and the Kick-Off Rally, check out the 100th Anniversary programs already under way. Click here to see the entire list.

Then, on Dec. 10, switch on your computer and catch some of the energy and excitement at the official opening ceremony of the BSA’s yearlong birthday celebration.

The Adventure Base 100 might be coming to your area, so check it's schedule and plan to have your scouts visit.

The Shining Light Across America sounds like it's going to be a huge deal on July 31 - you might want to get your scouts to start planning something for that day.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:42 11-25-2009 464
What If You Won?
So, a scout leader in Illinois is on his way to the monthly Roundtable meeting, stops at Mickey D's to get a tea and wins $25K in their Monopoly game. See this news page.

If he hadn't been volunteering with Scouts, he wouldn't have been there to win. If you were returning from a campout, or heading to a Scout meeting, or some such activity with scouting and happened to win $25K, what would you do? Would you consider donating it to the BSA? splitting it? or is it just rewards for all you do?

Just wondering...

Here's my plan:
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Posted: 12:37 11-21-2009 463
The Summit
The land is purchased, development funding is ready, and the plans are started for The Summit - the official name for the new national BSA site on the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Pretty exciting times for the BSA. Development should start next year and the site be ready in three years.

Looks like there will be a half dozen regional camps, a huge outdoor arena, a mountain bike course, Order of the Arrow camp, and three lakes. It's going to be an amazing place, kind of a khaki Disneyland.

If you'd like to better see what the Summit will look like, here's a larger JPG or a highly detailed 7.8MB PDF file.

Read more in the BSA News Release.
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Posted: 15:01 11-18-2009 462
Bechtel NSC
Stephen Bechtel, Jr. received his Eagle Scout rank in 1940. Since then, he's received the Distinguished Eagle Scout award and the Silver Buffalo award. His uncle received the Silver Buffalo in 1950 and served as National President of the BSA from 1956–1959.

The Bechtels have contributed much to the growth of the BSA and continue to support scouting into the future. The development of a national high adventure base to be created in West Virginia has received a $50 million contribution from the Bechtel Foundation. In recognition of the gift, the National Scouting Center to be built there will be named after Bechtel. The big unveiling meeting with more details is scheduled to happen on Wednesday.

I don't ever expect to have the opportunity to make such a significant gift, but I plan to do my small bit through Friends of Scouting next month. And, maybe someday I'll actually make it to WV with the scouts and see this new facility.

Scout On

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Posted: 10:32 11-16-2009 461
Whittler Bob

Does your troop go to summer camp?
Is the Wood Carving merit badge offered there? How about Leatherwork or Basketry?
If so, there's a real good chance your scouts have used materials and tools supplied by Whittler Bob from Pennsylvania.

Bob provides BSA camps across the country with wood crafts and supplies. The woodcarving blanks are northern basswood - smooth grain and easy to cut - perfect for teaching scouts. He also distributes the leather and basketry projects found in most summer camps - you know, the round basket and the square basket, and the knife pouch that so many scouts bring home.

The amazingly cool thing about Whittler Bob is that he has carved all the slide patterns he sells. He's written a book so anyone can learn how to safely carve and it has beautiful pictures of dozens of the slides he's made. And, he's been a Scouter for over 30 years, teaching young scouts and demonstrating whittling at four national Jamborees so far!

Since practically every scout has a knife and every scout likes to cut, there's no reason why scouts should only do the woodcarving merit badge at camp and that's all. Every troop should have a woodcarving merit badge counselor ready to help the scouts create their own masterpieces of art. With Bob's book and his beginner woodcarver kit (knife, sharpener, three projects) any adult can become proficient enough to lead the scouts. For that matter, getting a kit for each new scout would be a great way to get them started on 6 or 7 years of carving fun, and maybe even a lifetime of it.

Our troop has Bob's carving book in the troop library so anyone can use it. Now, instead of passing time whittling on a stick making toothpicks, the scouts are more interested in designing their own slides and other wood projects.

You can see a link to Whittler Bob's site at the top of the page. Take a look at his kits and slides - you might see something you recognize. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 16:07 11-14-2009 460
Peer Discipline
"We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does."
That is the USAir Force Academy's honor code. The Naval Academy and Military Academy have similar codes.

Since I was accepted to the USAFA eons ago (but didn't attend), I've always respected their honor code. It's clear and direct. The lie, steal or cheat part is actually the easy part. The rest is where it gets tough.

What should a scout do in a situation where another scout is not acting "scout-like"? Let's say another scout is bullying someone, or cheating in a game, or forging sign-offs, or ... whatever the behavior that comes to mind. What should a scout do?

In the Scout Law, trustworthy, loyal, and brave are strong players in this situation. A scout that is Trustworthy tells the truth - he does not lie. If that's the case, he can't let the behavior slide by. Ignoring cheating is just like saying it did not happen, which would be lieing. So, the scout must address it.

If a scout is Loyal, to whom is he loyal? He might convince himself that to be loyal to the other scout means he should protect him and that means keeping the cheating secret. But, that is certainly misguided thinking. A scout should be loyal to the Scout Law above an individual scout if that scout is in contradiction to the law.
To be truly loyal to a friend is to help him change his behaviors for the better, so a loyal scout will bring the behavior to the open.

For a scout to call another scout on bad behavior takes either bravery or lack of social understanding. "Hey, you cheated!" being blurted out is the latter and seldom turns out well for anyone. The former requires control and a desire to help a person rather than simple justice. And, a desire to help others isn't a base, natural desire in people in general, let alone scout-age boys. So, it needs to be nurtured and developed.

Scouts that feel ownership of their patrol and troop understand they need to manage the atmosphere and general behavior. Each patrol leader sets the tone of cooperation, support, and loyalty in his small group while the SPL encourages the patrol leaders and steps in when needed. In order for these leaders to lead, they do need to understand how to discipline or enforce the values in the Scout Law. And that requires training from a mature, fair, trustworthy role model.

Part of the training provided to each scout leader by the Scoutmaster should include how to address un-scoutlike behavior. They need to understand their role is to build up the scouts in their group while not tolerating activities contrary to the Scout Law. The best way I know to do this is with a few role-plays to act out a few behaviors and appropriate ways to address them.

The goals of addressing misbehavior by peers might be something like this:

For example, a patrol leader sees one of his patrolmates trip a younger scout running past while playing a game.
Right then, PL walks over to JJ.
PL: "JJ, I need you to help me over by that big rock."
PL: "JJ, you tripped Bill over there. The Antelope patrol plays fair and we don't try to hurt other guys."
PL: "We really need you so we can win the next game fair and square, so let's get back with the guys."

Privately, immediately, quickly, and friendly.

Of course, there will be situations that require more intervention, but this simple interaction with a scout in leadership can turn around a huge amount of misbehavior. The scout leader needs to be respected by being a role model himself and he needs to be confident enough to follow through. He gets this confidence by believing his SPL and Scoutmaster will be there to back him up when needed.

See pages 105-112 in the Patrol Leader Handbook for good information to use in training your scout leaders.

Scout On

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Posted: 10:03 11-13-2009 459
Blog Comments
After many requests, I've finally added the ability to leave comments about these blog entries.

Now, the two Den Moms in Florida and that one Scouter in California can drop me a note. If there's anyone else out there that wants to chime in, go right ahead. It would certainly be cool if your comments were constructive.
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Posted: 7:20 11-11-2009 458
Making of an Eagle

At an Eagle Scout's court of honor, the scout is recognized for his accomplishments and presented with a nice Eagle Scout medal.

As the Eagle Scout is created through a process of building smaller parts into a whole, the eagle medal goes through a similar process.

An Eagle Scout develops the main parts of leadership, service, merit badges, and participation. There is a defined method to complete these parts within acceptable standards. These parts combine to create a physically fit citizen of fine character, to fulfill the aims of scouting.

The parts of the eagle medal are cast, polished, and assembled into a single medal. Each piece is completed, inspected, and then accepted. Lacking any one part would make the medal incomplete.

We often mention all the people that help a scout reach his Eagle. There's a pin for his mom, dad, and mentor. The scoutmaster usually gets mentioned, as well as the scout's patrol and other troopmates. As an interesting twist, consider the path that the eagle medal took to reach this same stage with the scout.

The eagle medals are made by the Stange Company whose president is an Eagle Scout (and whose grandfather is an Eagle Scout). They create over 55,000 eagle scout kits each year. Each medal is made of pewter (or silver) which was mined from the earth. It was heated until molten and cast in a mold. It was sanded and polished and finally assembled into the final medal.

The Stange Company also makes the silver buffalo, antelope, and beaver medals as well as distinguished eagle medals. Read the Article

Scout On
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Posted: 9:35 11-04-2009 457
White Scout Socks
There are crew-cut and low-cut white activity socks available at
These socks are not for wear with the scout uniform, according to the information I received from the folks at this week.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:20 10-30-2009 456
Double Eagles
This evening, I got to sit in on my first Eagle Board of Review. As Scoutmaster, I don't do boards of review, so this was my first time. The advancement chair figured it would be good for me to see what one is like - besides, they needed someone to unlock and lock the church. :-)
It was a bonus - there were two boards back to back so I got to see two scouts go through the process. And, they both did just great! One scout handling questions tossed at him from six different adults, all with varying degrees of warmth or confrontation.

I got to sit quietly with my mouth shut and reading my new volume of "Scouting" (did you see the ad on the inside of the front cover?) while actually listening to the conversation. It was very rewarding to hear how well the Eagle candidates expressed themselves and shared their beliefs and values.

I'd highly recommend you volunteer to help with boards of review in your troop if you aren't the Scoutmaster or Asst. Scoutmaster. It's a great way to help the troop and get to know the scouts better. The growth from new Scout to Eagle is pretty amazing. And, if you are Scoutmaster, ask to sit in on an Eagle board so you know what they're like. Or, participate in an Eagle board for a scout in a different troop if you can arrange that.

Scout On
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Posted: 21:01 10-27-2009 455
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