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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 19561959.

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

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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
Weird New Patches
Have you seen the new Leave No Trace Trainer and Webmaster leadership position patches? I mean actually looked at the real patch? Here's an image for another look, along with a standard patch.

These are to be worn by scouts in these positions of responsibility. In that context, I would expect the patches to follow the same color scheme and style as all the other position patches.
It would seem weird to have a couple patches different than the other 15 positions. But, the lettering color is black on the Webmaster patch and light green on the LNT Trainer patch. And, the font is different on the patches, too.

It almost seems like the BSA patch people grabbed a patch that was already created. Either that, or the design review was lacking. Or, these patches are the first of a new 'Centennial' version of the position patches. Well, it's possible.

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Posted: 21:33 10-22-2009 454
Leave No Trace Trainer
Here's the new Leave No Trace Trainer patch for the troop leadership position starting in January.

I have not yet seen the requirements or expectations of holding that position, except for rumors that completing an official "Leave No Trace Trainer" course is required before wearing the patch.

A LNT Trainer course runs about 16 hours over a weekend. Once a scout completes the LNT Trainer course, he can then lead LNT Workshops which are typically around 2 hours of training to present the seven LNT Principles. Participants that complete a LNT Workshop can receive a certificate which is required to backpack in some wilderness areas. This is perfect for this position and I expect the LNT scout will be asked to present workshops each year.

We've been having scouts present LNT principles within our troop and to local Cub Scout dens already, so we've got guys that could step into this role now if they want. There are some fun, interactive ways to present the principles at which give a taste of LNT in a short, active session - not enough to call it a workshop or get a certificate, but good introduction or supplements.

LNT Trainer courses typically cost $25 to $75 - even the low end of that will put a real damper on scouts stepping up to this new position. I hope some of the plans for this new position include a lower-cost way to train the scouts. And, with such an expense, I expect troops will want a scout to stay in the role for more than the usual 4 or 6 months needed for rank advancement.

I'm a LNT Master Educator and am excited that LNT is being promoted in the BSA a little more now. The changes in the new Scout Handbook and this new position give LNT more exposure. Now, we need to follow through and train scouts and scouters in how to follow LNT principles as our normal practice.

There is a website under construction at that appears to be a BSA site about the Leave No Trace program. The domain name was registered this spring to a person in "northwest region venturing" and the contact email on the site is a address. Maybe this will be the home for LNT in the BSA at some point.

Scout On

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Posted: 7:55 10-21-2009 453
Flexibility at Philmont
I just received the 2011 Philmont registration packet. It looks like the nice folks at Philmont are making an effort to be a bit more flexible with their height/weight limits for youth, and maybe adults.

From the packet:
"For participants under 21 years of age who exceed the maximum acceptable weight for height, the Philmont physicians will use their best professional judgment in determining participation in a Philmont trek.
Participants under 21 years of age are strongly encouraged to meet the weight limit for their height. Exceptions are not made automatically and discussion in advance with Philmont is required regarding any exception to the weight limit for persons under 21 years of age, whether it is over or under. Philmont will consider up to 20 lbs. over the maximum acceptable as stated on the chart, however, the exception will never exceed 295 lbs.

So, it's possible that a youth can weigh more than the limit and be allowed on a trek, but the trek organizer had best discuss it with Philmont well before hand.

Regarding adult height/weight, the document says:
"Participants 21 years and older who exceed the maximum acceptable weight limit for their height at the Philmont medical
recheck WILL NOT be permitted to backpack or hike at Philmont.

That's direct and clear to me. But, another statement in the document is:
"A water-displacement test to determine percent body fat will also be accepted in lieu of the height-weight guidelines.
Women will need to have a body fat of 20% or less and men will need to have a body fat of 15% or less to be qualified to participate.

That seems to contradict the previous statement. If I'm 72 inches tall and weigh 240 pounds, I'm outside the limits and I can't trek. But, if my body fat is tested to be 14%, then I can trek.

Well, it's not a concern for my 6-2, 175lb. body when we go in 2011, but I appreciate Philmont in moving away from a zero-tolerance sort of policy with the weight and being more creative in determining who is capable and prepared to trek.

Scout On

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Posted: 9:32 10-14-2009 452
Letter or Spirit?
Eagle Scout Suspended for having a tiny pocketknife in his car parked on school property.

Cub Scout Suspended for eating lunch with his pocketknife-fork-spoon.

Zero-tolerance policies are all the rage. The problem with "zero" is that there is no leeway and no way to use the brain God gave you with which to think. Policies set up with absolutes often cause a mess.

These two scouts didn't follow the rules and they both understand that. But, one minute of talking to the 'offenders' and any sane person could tell there was no danger to others posed here - anyway, no more than from the pencils, pens, backpack straps, belt chains, hair picks, rulers, compasses, protractors, ... and the infinite other potential weapons that exist at school and in everyday life.

The spirit of safety policies are, of course, to keep people safe. When those in authority drift from the spirit to the letter of the written policy, they tarnish their reputation and lose respect.

It happens in scouting too. Scouts are good at figuring out ways around troop policies and game rules. We just had a good discussion about electronics use at troop activities. It ranged from "zero-tolerance" to "whatever". Once the discussion clarified what our goals in limiting electronics were, it became much easier to define how scouts are expected to act with these tools rather than banning them.

We're fortunate. In the Scout Law and Oath, we have pretty much all the behavioral expectations set for everyone to understand and accept. Not much more is really needed besides that.

Scout On

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Posted: 16:22 10-13-2009 451
Adult Training Day
District "Intro to Outdoor Leadership Skills" training all day tomorrow at camp. I'm driving another trainer up to camp at 6am. He teaches Ropes-n-Knots to start the day at 8am and I end the day with Leave No Trace and then First Aid.
I've been doing these two sessions for the past two years now and they fit in perfectly with my LNT workshops and Red Cross WFAB sessions. I'm looking forward to some time with other scouting adults - hopefully pick up some tips and share some best practices with the noobs.

I just made a new "Scout Skills Jeopardy" board with First Aid questions for T-2-1 and will test it on the attendees tomorrow. It's a good demonstration of different (fun) ways to teach and review skills and knowledge.

That's a big drive over this winter in our troop - the new SPL wants to make it more fun and I want to focus on scouting skills. I just met with the SPL tonight and he's ready to go for his first PLC meeting on Monday. Exciting transitions!

Scout On
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Posted: 21:59 10-02-2009 450
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