Archive for November, 2009

SM Minute—The Twins

November 29, 2009

One day a set of twins decided to move to a new town because they felt like they’d seen everything there was to see in their hometown. They started out together, but somehow along the way one twin had gotten ahead of the other one.

This first twin came to an old man sitting by the road just outside a nearby town. The twin stopped and asked the old man what the people were like in this town. The old man replied by asking the same question of him. “What were the people like in the town where you came from?” The first twin said they were very unkind and harsh, not very friendly at all. The old man said, “I think you’ll find that the people who live here are very much the same.”

Not long after the first twin left, the second twin came across the same old man sitting by the same road. This twin stopped and asked the same question. The old man again replied by asking what the people were like in the town the twin had come from. The second twin said the people were all great. “I had a lot of friends and the people always tried to help others.” The old man replied, “I think you’ll find that the people who live here are very much the same.”

The point here isn’t about the people who lived in those towns, it is about how a person treats the people around him. If you treat others with kindness and understanding, they will treat you the same way.



(from p.15 in BSA Troop Program Resources)




November 25, 2009

JohnScout has a new shiny widget, over there on the left side of your screen.

SocialVibe allows you to raise money for the Cause of your choice by partnering with a paying brand Sponsor.  It doesn’t cost a dime, and only takes moments to configure….

Each time one of your readers clicks to complete a Sponsor activity, that brand will make a micro-donation to your Cause.  This impact will immediately be shown in your widget.

Wikipedia tells me that SocialVibe has over a million members clicking away for their favorite charities.

WordPress gives me limited options on the get-what-you-pay-for free blog format so I thought I’d give this shiny a try.  From the slim selections, I picked the Red Cross, sponsored by PowerBar, as the most closely-related concerns to Scouting and the great outdoors.  This is a bit different from the Google Ads you might see elsewhere (including on my primary blog at which I’m not supposed to encourage you to click, tho I am certainly grateful when folks do).

Give it a click, just for giggles.  Let me know if it’s annoying, or if you think it detracts from our Scouting message.  And a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


New River, New Adventures: The Summit National Scout Reserve Unveiled

November 18, 2009

BSA has formally unveiled their plans for the new permanent National Jamboree site in West Virginia, which I wrote about in September.  “The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve” will encompass over 10,000 acres in the New River Gorge region near Beckley, West Virginia.

“Today is a great day for Scouting. Thanks to the generosity of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the development of The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will be a source of fun, adventure, and discovery for hundreds of thousands of Scouts and leaders for generations to come,” said Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca. “As we prepare to enter another century of service, this announcement demonstrates that Scouting is as relevant and vital today as it was when our journey began.”

Area residents, Scouts, community leaders, and elected officials attended the unveiling celebration at the Glen Jean Armed Forces Reserve Center. Guests included Gov. Joe Manchin, D-WV; U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-WV; Superintendent of the New River Gorge National River Don Striker; Fayette County Commissioner Matt Wender; and Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr.

“I commend the Boy Scouts of America, Stephen Bechtel, and all of the supporters for working so diligently with our state and local officials to bring this project to fruition. This partnership will reap tremendous benefits for young people across the country and the Mountain State for many years to come. West Virginia is proud to be a part of this new chapter in Scouting history,” said Gov. Joe Manchin.

While I would have liked to see a more centrally-located site chosen for the National Jamboree, I am excited by the opportunity that thousands, perhaps millions, of young men in the Eastern United States will have to experience high adventure at this site.

The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will complement the BSA’s existing three high-adventure bases in New MexicoMinnesota, and Florida and help meet demand for new high-adventure activities not offered elsewhere. Annually, the BSA’s three existing high-adventure bases serve more than 50,000 youth – with 20,000 or more regularly wait-listed to attend.

The site, located in the Glen Jean – Mount Hope area, will offer unique opportunities for high-adventure whitewater rafting, technical rock climbing, mountain biking, and other extreme outdoor sports. The beautiful backdrop of the New River Gorge serves as a living outdoor classroom, offering activities that build leadership skills and the strong principles rooted in the Boy Scouts’ mission.

I do want to give a tip of the hat to the folks on BSA’s Centennial social media outreach team for getting the word out in multiple medias on this and other Centennial stories.

BSA says they plan to break ground in the spring and take 3-4 years to be up to a full high adventure program.  If Philmont’s full and an Ely canoe trip isn’t on your calendar already start making plans for The Summit.


Qualities of leadership stamped into Boy Scouts | Medill | Washington

November 15, 2009

Qualities of leadership stamped into Boy Scouts | Medill | Washington

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Scoutmaster Minute—The Station

November 15, 2009

Denver Union Station

Hidden away in our mind’s eye is an idyllic vision.  We see ourselves on a long trip spanning the continent.  We are traveling by train.  Through the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways; city skylines and village halls; children waving at a crossing; cattle grazing on a distant hillside; smoke pouring out of a power plant; row upon row of corn and wheat; expanses of flatland giving way to rolling hillsides, mountains, and valleys.

But most prominent in our minds is the final destination.  On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into “the station”.  Bands will be playing and flags will be waving.  Once we get there many wonderful things will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.  How restlessly we pace the aisles, cursing the minutes for loitering—waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

“When we reach the station, that will be it!” we say.  “When I’m 18!” “When I finish college!” “When I can buy a new Mercedes!” “When I retire, I will live happily ever after!”

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no specific place to arrive at once and for all.  The true joy of life is the trip.  The station is only a dream.  It constantly outdistances us.

“Relish the moment!” is a good thought, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24:  “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad.  It is the regrets over yesterday and the fears of tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.  Instead, climb the mountains and swim the rivers, watch more sunsets and less TV;  laugh more, cry less.  Life must be lived as long as we go along.  The station comes soon enough.


(adapted from pp.13-14 in BSA Troop Program Resources)


A Stamp to Celebrate Scouting

November 11, 2009

Centennial Scouting Stamp

The US Postal Service is unveiling a ‘Celebrate Scouting‘ stamp recognizing 100 years of Scouting in America at an event Thursday 12 November, 10am EST, at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, DC.

The Heart of Virginia Council posted this about the event:

In 2010, the Boy Scouts of America will receive an incredible honor from the United States Postal Service (USPS), the “Celebrate Scouting” stamp. Offering a tribute to the impact of a century of Scouting on the American landscape, the stamp will become widely available during the summer of 2010.

If you’re going to be in Washington, DC metro area, please join us. Scouts, volunteers, BSA professional staff, and community supporters are invited to take part in this momentous occasion.

A “Vice President Sustainability” will represent the United States Postal Service, and an Assistant Chief Scout Executive will represent the Boy Scouts of America.  They will be joined by National Honorary Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America National Hall of Leadership.  The USPS media advisory posted at the Scouts on Stamps Society International website says:

With this stamp, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates the adventure and spirit of scouting. Since the creation of the international youth scouting movement some 100 years ago, hundreds of millions of children have benefited from opportunities for adventure, skill building, leadership, personal development, and community service provided by scouting organizations. To create this original stamp design, illustrator Craig Frazier of Mill Valley, Calif., depicted the images of two different scouts in clothing and accessories that are often part of the outdoor scouting experience – hats, packs, boots and binoculars.

BSA 50the anniversary stamp
I’m a stamp collector myself, if not very active the last few years. Nations around the world have honored Lord Baden-Powell’s grand idea.  In 1960, the USPS honored the 50th anniversary of the BSA with a Norman Rockwell-design 4¢ commemorative stamp. The new design itself, as you see at top, isn’t bad.  It isn’t exactly Norman Rockwell either.  As BSA has dribbled out Centennial products and initiatives this year, I’ve been as interested in what they say about what the brass in Dallas are thinking about the organization, as I have been about the actual items themselves.

I don’t know how much say the BSA had into the stamp design, but their launch page has a link to a fact sheet-like page (pdf) on the stamp that describes the “international youth scouting movement” founded 100 years ago.  It further notes:

Historically, scouts had to find their way by the stars or map, to notice tracks and interpret their meaning, and to fend for themselves.

Each generation struggles to keep Scouting relevant to the next.  We take what we are given, the heritage of outdoorsmanship and citizenship, and add leadership and technology and other skills for the future.  In a fixed sum system, each addition means a subtraction.  Have we given up more than we have gained?  Do we still remember how to find our way?

Then there’s this bit:

Boys and girls alike have been involved in the scouting movement from its earliest days; female scouts are often called guides. Today, coed scouting is the norm in many countries.

And this is relevant how?  Yeah, as politically correct posturing.  It’s not factually wrong, but damns with faint praise.  It’s just not relevant, thank you very much.

The last bit is enlightening as well:

To create this original design, illustrator Craig Frazier depicted the images of two different scouts in clothing and accessories that are often part of the outdoor scouting experience—hats, packs, boots, and binoculars. At first glance, one sees the large silhouette of a scout peering through binoculars. Within this figure is another scout perched atop a mountain taking in the vista. “I wanted a level of discovery to be portrayed in the stamp itself,” Frazier recalls. He continues, “The small figure and landscape indicate very hard, directional light coming from low on the horizon—either early morning or late afternoon. The sky has that pale blue to indigo transition that happens only at those two times of day.”

Whether or not we see ourselves as pathfinders first, the people behind this stamp see us that way.

And I’m OK with that.

H/T to Scouting News.  If you are a Scout or Scouter with an interest in philately, check out Stamp Collecting Merit Badge and Scouts on Stamps Society International.


Scoutmaster Minute—Our Flag

November 1, 2009

C-11-07 Flags


Two upcoming events remind me of the sacrifices we have made for freedom—Veteran’s Day on 11/11 marking the end of the First World War and the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November which many mark as the end of the Cold War.


Our flag stands for freedom and equality. It is the banner of a people who are still willing to lay down their lives in defense of right, justice, and freedom. It is the emblem by which we proclaim to the world that this is “the home of the brave and the land of the free.”


Our flag is an emblem of true patriotism—the patriotism of deeds; the patriotism of courage, of loyalty, of devotion to freedom, justice, and humanity; the patriotism of men who have lived and died, not for themselves but for their country.


When we look at our flag—its star and stripes, its vivid red, white, and blue—and read its story and hear its message, when we contemplate what our flag means and what it stands for, and when we consider the sacrifices made and the lives given so that our flag could still be flying over us today, we are quietly reminded to cherish, to protect, and to defend it.



(adapted from p.13 in BSA Troop Program Resources)