Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Yes, you read that correctly. The Boy Scouts of America now has an official Youtube channel. As I write this, the channel has twelve videos posted, eleven “Words to Live By” videos and the “State of Scouting” video. You can even watch them in HD. The channel can be found at

It is long overdue in my opinion. The BSA has come up with some excellent promotional videos over the years, along with some pretty corny ones, but yet very few people ever saw them. Speaking for myself, the only time I ever saw most of these videos was when I attended a district or council event. I kept thinking about how the National office should be showing these to the general public, not the people already involved with the program. I am sure budget and costs were the main reasons for not seeing these on television very often.

Now we have the internet. I hope the BSA continues to use it to get the word out about Scouting. This Youtube channel is a step forward in the right direction. It also gives troop and pack leaders another tool to use to promote Scouting, and the Scouts a site to direct their friends to learn more about the program.

I am not sure if anyone from the National office reads this blog but I hope they also use the channel to post some of the older videos created years ago, like the Scout Zone and the We Do It videos. I know I have already posted several older videos to my Youtube channel, but it would be great for better quality videos to posted to the official BSA channel.

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    There has been a lot of talk in a few of the Scouting forums about some new online forms that can be found on the site. I would like to write about two of them today – the tour permit and the medical form.

    The new Tour Permit is actually a writable pdf document in which you can fill in the blanks on your computer. I have downloaded to my computer and have used it for a couple of troop activities. It is pretty much the same information as the old forms, but since it is digital there are a few advantages. The first is that the committee chair, the council, and I can email it to each other, thus making it quicker to use. The other thing I like about it is that we can use digital signatures, which we discovered are very easy to set up and use. It has saved us time in trying to track each other down for those signatures.

    Our council has posted this digital tour permit to its website and can be found at . I am sure it can also be found on the national website, but I did not look for it there.

    After looking at the new yearly Medical Form, I will admit that I like it. It is simple to follow and easy to understand. Best of all, this new form will replace the three current forms that are being used (Class 1, 2, and 3). It looks like the new form will be used by both adults and Scouts, and will even be used for high adventure bases.

    This new form is broken down into three parts. Part A is the general medical information which is provided by the parents, similar to the old Class 1 form. It lists basic information including address and insurance stuff, plus has a section to list up to six perscription drugs. This part is for one day or weekend activities.

    Part B of the form is for long term and strenuous camps and activities, like high adventure bases and summer camps. This is the part that needs to be filled out by a doctor or licensed health-care provider. A height and weight chart is also featured on this page.

    Part C is a new addition to the form. It includes a “Hold Harmless/Release Agreement” and a talent release form for the parents or gaurdian to sign. To tell the truth, in today’s digital age, I think this is an excellent thing to add to the form. This new medical form can be found at

    I plan to hand out the new medical form to all the Scout families this month, even though it looks like they will not be required until next year. I want to get a headstart on this. I also plan to email the digital version of the form to parents in case they would like to fill out the personal information on their computer before printing it off.

    I think these two forms are an excellent step to making things a little easier for troops, crews, and packs. Now the councils and districts just have to get these units to begin using them. I would not think it should be too hard to get that done.

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      I have written in earlier blogs about how I feel the Boy Scouts of America’s national office should be doing more to promote the Scouting program to the American public. It the past, it seems as if they have relied more on the local units to promote the program then trying to do it nationally, and I can understand that, up to a point. During the last five years it has seemed that the national office has disappeared into a cave, ignoring much of the negative press Scouting has received over recent issues, and allowing many people to bad-mouth a great and established program to help boys and young men without making any statement what-so-ever.

      Things seems to be changing now that we have a new national Chief Scout Executive, Robert “Bob” Mazzuca. He does not appear to be afraid of talking to the media, and has already done a few interviews promoting the Scout program and letting the public know what Scouting can offer their boys and families.

      The BSA has produced some good video commercials during the past ten years or so. Unfortunately, I have not seen many of them on national or local television. The only place I see them is at council roundtables, award ceremonies, and a couple websites. That is a shame, but I realize it costs money to air them during a television show.

      So, with this podcast, I am hoping to get some of these commercials seen by more people through the internet. After all, I can not afford to air them on television either, although I have aired them on our local cable access channel as part of our troop’s courts of honor.

      This podcast posting includes five commercials produced by the Boy Scouts of America. Each commercial uses a point of the Scout Law as its theme: trustworthy, helpful, obedient, thrifty, and reverent. I hope you enjoy them as must as I did when I first saw them.

      Please leave a comment here using the link below, or at the PTC Media forums, or at iTunes. Or drop me an email at

      Click here to DOWNLOAD this Podcast
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      Check out the other Scouting podcasts at PTC Media.

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        I am not sure if you saw the article or not, but Chief Scout Executive Robert Mazzuca was recently interviewed for an article in the newspaper, USA Today. I thought it was a well done article, and I am glad to see that our Scout Executive is not afraid to speak to the media to discuss the positive aspects about the Scouting program. Here is a short except from the article:

        Q: When people of business discuss leadership, they use words such as vision, passion, charisma. Why do the Scouts use these 12 words: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent?

        A: Charisma and other personality traits may determine how far up the ladder you go, but the 12 points of the Scout Law define your character. If you don’t have integrity, you’re not a good leader no matter how charismatic.

        Q: Which one of the 12 would you most recommend to a business executive?

        A: (Pause). I think brave. You can’t do the right thing and be effective without some courage.

        Q: The Scouts are retooling as they head into their second 100 years. What changes are being made?

        A: We’ve been engaged with (management consultant) McKinsey folks for months. Over 100 years, you get a little arthritic and bureaucratic. We are steeped in tradition, which is a good thing, but we’re not particularly good at innovation and renewal. We don’t want to abandon tradition, but we want to be nimble. I’m writing a blog now. It’s gotten more traction and excitement than anything I’ve done in my life. It’s cool.

        To read the whole article click HERE. I am not sure how long USA Today leaves their articles online so you might want to check this out quickly.

        Also, do not forget to read the sidebar information about Robert Mazzuca. There are a couple good bits of information there including Mazzuca’s Tips:
        There are many ways to the top, but great leaders must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
        The most important Boy Scout quality of a business leader is bravery. You can’t do the right thing without courage.
        Companies need to be proactive and define themselves, or someone else will.
        Encourage personal responsibility. It’s a hallmark of leadership.

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          For a few years now, the Boy Scouts of America has done background checks on new adult leaders in troops, packs, and crews. When the organization first began doing this I thought it was a bit extreme, but I have gotten used to the idea. I have also noticed that others groups, clubs, and even schools now do the same thing for their volunteers.

          Will background checks work to keep out the rift raft and troublemakers? I am sure it will help, but nothing is one hundred percent foolproof. It does sound like it has stopped some “undesirables” from holding Scout leadership positions. Unfortunately, it is also stopping some good people from holding a leadership role due to mistakes made early in their lives.

          For example, I had a father who was very active with the troop. He worked well with the boys and they respected him. He was a good assistant scoutmaster. Unfortunately, when the council did a background check on him the council found that he had made a few wrong choices in his life over twenty five years ago. and then denied his application. This gentleman had straightened out his life a generation ago, has raised a fine family, and had already proven himself to be a good troop leader, but the BSA says that he is no longer good enough the be an assistant scoutmaster. (And no, I am not going to write here what his record showed, even though I know because he and I have talked about it.)

          In this example, I think the background check has backfired against the local troop, and thus the BSA. This policy is actually keeping a good man out of the program. It makes me wonder how many more times this has happened around the country. Don’t get me wrong though, I happen to agree the background checks are a good idea, but I also think we need to take a look at the current character of the person, not just what happens to be on record from a generation ago. After all, people do change. They learn from their mistakes.

          Or are we now going to teach the boys that once they make a mistake we should hold that against them for their entire lives?

          I have been a scoutmaster in Scouting for over 25 years, so the background check has not been done on me yet. Last week I did receive a letter from the National Office asking me to complete a form because they are now doing the checks on all adult leaders. I can mail the form in, or I can do it online.

          I am not worried. I have never been arrested, never done drugs, never been part of a political demonstration. I have never even got a speeding ticket. I am just an ordinary law abiding citizen of Minnesota. Always have been, always plan to be.

          However, when I think about it, would this not be a dandy way to get out of being a scoutmaster after all these years? Hey Bubba, pass me a bottle of beer and give me the keys! It is time to get a record. (I am kidding, of course.)

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            The next National Jamboree is only two and one half years away! It is time to start thinking about whether or not I intend to attend as an adult leader.

            My decision will be based on the Boy Scouts of my troop. If several of them decide to attend then I will apply to be one of the troop leaders. If they don’t, then I won’t. But I think it would be great to attend another Jamboree.

            I was the scoutmaster of Troop 1417 during the 2001 National Jamboree. I participated in a lot of meetings to prepare for that trip. But it was worth it. I was lucky to have a great team of assistant scoutmasters and junior leaders. I was also blessed to have a great group of Boy Scouts in my Jambo troop. Things went so well that during the reunion meeting held a few weeks after returning from the trip, I told the parents that I never want to attend another Jamboree again. The Scouts and leaders of Troop 1417 set the bar so high that I was sure I would never have another troop as good as this one.

            Well, several years have now gone by and the itch to attend another Jamboree needs scratching. Of course, this being the Jamboree celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America is just one more reason to attend.

            As far as I know, the Central Minnesota Council has not formed a Jamboree committee yet. I hope they do soon. I know it takes nearly two years to prepare for a trip of this magnitude. I would expect the transportation to be one of the biggest issues.

            In 2001, the council sent two troops to the Jamboree. In 2005, the council was able to send three troops to Virginia, which was nearly ten percent of the Boy Scouts in our council. (We are not a large council.) It would be great to see our council send three troops in 2010. Or even four troops. Of course, the problem could be finding enough adults to accompany the troops. Just one more reason for the council to get started early.

            The 2010 National Jamboree promises to be the biggest event in the BSA’s history. I think it would be great to be one small part of it. Now, I just have to convince my Boy Scouts.

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              The first requirement for the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle is to be active in your troop and patrol for at least 4 or 6 months as the previous rank. This is a pretty vague requirement and can be one that troop leadership can struggle with sometimes. What does it mean to “be active” in the troop and patrol?

              The national BSA website states:
              A Scout is considered to be active in his unit if:

              1. He is registered in his unit (registration fees are current).
              2. He has not been dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons.
              3. He is engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (Scoutmaster conference, informs the Scout of upcoming unit activities, through personal contact, and so on).

              The unit leaders are responsible for maintaining contact with the Scout on a regular basis. The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings. However, unit leaders must ensure that he is fulfilling the obligations of his assigned leadership position. If he is not, then they should remove the Scout from that position.

              Okay, that made things crystal clear, didn’t it? I think that statement made things even more confusing for scoutmasters and troop leaders. Let me explain my view on this BSA statement.

              If you read this as the “letter of the law”, a Scout only needs to be registered to “be active”. He does not need to attend any troop meetings or troop activities. It seems to be the scoutmaster’s and unit leadership’s job to contact him and tell him what the troop has coming up, but gosh, he does not need to attend them. Um, excuse me National Office, but how is a Scout to be considered active if he does not attend meetings and outings? (Keep in mind, I am only writing about being active, not about his position of responsibility.)

              I understand National’s statement of “The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings.” Every Scout is not going to make every meeting or activity. A youth in Scouting is usually active in other groups and activities. If he is in sports then practice and games will conflict with Scouting. Family schedules conflict with Scouting. Even homework can get in the way of attending a troop meeting. So yes, I agree that we cannot impose a percentage requirement on attendance.

              When I meet with new Scouts, and Scouts during their Scoutmaster’s Conference, I tell the boys, and parents, that I would like them to set a goal of attending at least two thirds of the troop meetings and at least half of the outings. This is a goal, a guideline, for the boys to follow. An example – I have had several Scouts over the years that have been involved in high school hockey. They sort of disappear from Scouting during those three months of the season. But they still try to make meetings and activities when they are able to. This is a sign to me that they want to be active in the troop. Once the season is over they return to the regular schedule. I can live with that.

              According to this statement from National, it seems that a Scout would never have to attend a meeting or activity to qualify as being active in the troop. Sorry, but I do not agree with that. It is not fair to the boys who are active in the troop. A Boy Scout must make an attempt to attend meetings and activities. Would a coach allow a player to play in the game if he never showed up for practice? Would the the school allow a student to letter in an activity if he did not participate in that activity? Would an employer keep employing a young man if he did not show up for work when he was scheduled? No, no, and no.

              Part of the Scouting program is to teach the boys responsibility. A Scout needs to attend troop functions, or at least make a good attempt to do so. If a Scout does not want to actually be active in the program then he needs to make a decision whether to continue his membership. Sorry National, I am not signing off a boy just because he is registered and because I talk to him a few times. A Scout will need to attend troop meetings and functions, not just meet with merit badge councilors, if I am to sign my name to that advancement form.

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                It happened on September first. Roy Williams, our national chief Scout executive for the past seven years, retired. I believe Mr. Williams had a rough seven years. At least I would call them rough. The BSA has had its share of problems lately. And, at least at the troop level of the organization, I really have not seen a lot of leadership from the national office lately, though I will give them credit for sticking to the principles and ideals of Scouting during all the media hub-bub and not backing down. I wish there would have been more done and said by national, but for some reason they decided to stay pretty quiet during these last few years.

                We now have a new chief Scout executive. His name is Robert “Bob” Mazzuca, and according to his profile found at he has held a lot of district, council, regional, and national positions during the last 36 years. While this may be a good thing for the BSA at the national level, I am afraid that those of us “in the trenches” may not see much of a change in the national organization. Here is a piece of the news release:

                “Mazzuca’s most recent position was with the National Council of the BSA as assistant Chief Scout Executive, a position he’s held since 2006. He received a bachelor of arts in history from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He and his wife Nanette have two sons. Bob began his Scouting career in 1971 in Modesto, Calif., as a district executive and an Exploring executive. He became the Exploring director in Sacramento in 1975 and eventually served as a field director and the director of field service. In 1983, Mazzuca became the Scout executive in Stockton, Calif. In 1987, Bob became area director in the Western Region and he was promoted to Scout executive of the Golden Empire Council in Sacramento in 1988. In 1992, he was named assistant region director for the Southern Region and in 1995, the Scout executive in Pittsburgh.”

                Of course, this is just my opinion, but I think Mr. Mazzuca may have been out of touch with Cub packs, Scout troops, and Venture crews for too long. I fear that someone who has been on the regional and national level for as long as Mr. Mazzuca has been could be out of touch with the real reason for Scouting, namely, the boys. Has he gotten so involved with the politics on the national level that he will fail to help the program of Scouting? Has he become so entrenched with other national officers and pencils pushers that he will forget about the volunteers at the troop and pack level? Will he be a leader who’s number one concern is financial, or will he concentrate on the Scouting program and lead us into a new resurgence of Scouting?

                Mr. Mazzuca, I have a few suggestions for you. First, take the time to meet the volunteers on a local level from across the country. Get out and meet the scoutmasters, and Cubmasters, and crew advisers. Listen to their concerns. See how things are going from their perspective. There is no way to get this type of information by sitting behind a desk in Texas.

                Second, I would like to see National begin to promote Scouting more on a national level. The BSA has been beat up a bit during the last several years. It is time to start promoting the good that Scouting does locally and nationally. The BSA has done well informing it’s councils and regions about how well things are going, but I think it is time to start letting the common folk know about Scouting. Advertise! It is not a dirty word. Yes, it may cost some money, but I think this organization is worth it, don’t you? Use the internet! I have posted Scouting videos on YouTube and our troop’s website. And guess what? People do watch them. I think national has mostly overlooked this avenue of communication.

                Third, how about making things less costly within the Scouting organization. Oh, I am not talking about our yearly fees. I think they are reasonable. I would like to see the cost of Scout uniforms and equipment come down in price to a more reasonable level. Requiring us to pay $35-$40 dollars for the uniform shirt is pretty high, especially for the quality of the shirt. I pay less for dress shirts. And don’t even get me started on the pants and shorts. I can buy two or three pairs of great quality jeans for the cost of one Boy Scout trouser that will not wear near as long. If you want the boys to dress in the full Scout uniform then make it affordable for the boys and adult leaders.

                Well, that is enough of my personal opinion for the moment. I know that Mr. Mazzuca will probably never see this blog, but it feels good to at least write about a few of my concerns. And if you do read this, Mr. Mazzuca, I invite to post a response and let us know what you have planned for the Boy Scouts of America.

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