Archive for the ‘News’ Category


I usually try to keep this blog in an upbeat mood, but I received a letter today from Justin Szalsa, the director of 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem, with some unhappy news this morning. One of the stars of the film, Colin “KC” Byers, has passed away. Here is Justin’s letter, reprinted with his permission:

Dear friends of 759,

I am writing you to report some very sad news. As some of you already know, our friend Colin “KC” Byers, an Eagle Scout and a star of “759,” died suddenly on February 1st . He would have celebrated his 18th birthday on February 9th.

Colin was struck down within a matter of hours by a massive brain trauma related to a blood disorder called ITP that developed very rapidly. Some of you may know that Colin organized a blood drive for his Eagle service project and made it a point to regularly donate blood.

For the Byers family this is a second tragedy in too short a time–Colin’s father, the composer Patrick Byers, died just a few months earlier after a battle with cancer. Colin leaves behind his mother, Jennifer, two younger brothers and a younger sister—along with a very large family and huge group of friends. The Scouts of New York City, The Village of Harlem, Troop 759, Miss Ann, Mr. Sowah, Jake and I are devastated by the loss of our friend. Please remember Colin and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

For those of you in New York City, there will be a memorial service in Colin’s honor at LaGuardia High School at 100 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street on Saturday, February 12th from 10AM-noon.

Also, many of you have asked how you can materially support the Byers family. The Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Councils have offered to assist anyone who’d like to make a donation to support the family. The gift will not be tax deductable but your support will go directly to the family. Simply indicate on your check “Byers Family”and mail it to

Byers Family
c/o Greater New York Councils
Boy Scouts of America
350 Fifth Ave, #430
New York, NY 10118

Finally, Albert Maysels, one of the greatest American documentary filmmakers who I admire very much said to make a good documentary you have to love your subjects. Jake and I love KC, Patrick and the rest of the Byers family. We will miss them.

-Justin Szlasa

Update: A video has been posted to YouTube in memory of Colin –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbLWnAtFTMM

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    A few days ago I wrote about a full page ad in the weekly newspaper celebrating the anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America and the local Scouting program. The spread featured pictures of the local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. It was pretty impressive.

    I received a copy of the Sauk Centre Herald yesterday. (That is the weekly newspaper in our neighboring town that is also owned by the same group as our Melrose Beacon.) I was quite surprised to see a two page ad about Boy Scouting in the center of the first section. The spread features photos of Sauk Centre Troop 25 and Pack 25, Brooten Troop 66, and BBE Pack 667. Sixteen businesses sponsored the ad. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger picture.

    Does your local newspaper do something similar? Let us know about it by leaving a comment.

    Note: The names of the boys have been deleted from the picture as per the Guide To Safe Scouting guidelines.

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      The Melrose Beacon, our local weekly newspaper, arrived in the mail today. I was pleasantly surprised to see a full page “ad” celebrating the anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, along with pictures of the Melrose troop and pack. The spread included The Boy Scout Oath, the Cub Scout Promise, and the Law of The Pack. Information about our council and hot to join a pack or troop was also covered.

      The Melrose Beacon was recently purchased by the same group that owns a local weekly newspaper in Sauk Centre, our neighboring city to the west. The Sauk Centre Herald has included a two page ad featuring the local troops and packs (including Melrose) for the last few years. This year our troop and pack were featured in our own community newspaper.

      Boy Scout Troop 68 and Cub Scout Pack 68 would like to thank the Melrose Beacon and the local businesses who supported this week’s full page feature. The businesses were CAP Enterprises, Kraemer Lumber, Melrose VFW Club, Freeport State Bank, Stearns Electric Association, Loren Pundsack Collision Center, Spaeth Sodding and Nursery, Rahn’s Oil and Propane, Catholic Aid Association, Melrose Pharmacy, Diversicom, and Hennen Lumber Company.

      Isn’t this a great story for 100 Days Of Scouting, Day 2?

      Click on the picture to see a larger picture of the ad. The boys names have been removed in keeping with the B.S.A.’s Youth Protection policy.

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        This is fantastic news, or as Buttons the radical Boy Scout would say, “Totally awesome!”  The World Jamboree will be coming to the United States this decade. According to the Boy Scouts of America Facebook page:

        Great news!

        The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve has been chosen as the site for World Scout Jamboree 2019! Make sure you head over to their Facebook and congratulate them! The North American Scout Associations (Boy Scouts of America, Scouts Canada, and the Scout Association of Mexico) won the bid to host the 24th World Scout Jamboree.

        Are you going to make plans to attend?

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          I recently wrote a blog post about the historical discovery that a Boy Scout program was started in Melrose way back in 1911. I also submitted the post to the Melrose Beacon, our local weekly newspaper. This week’s issue arrived today and the (slightly altered) article found on page 5. And very large, I might add, taking nearly half a page with the photos. (Click on the photo to get a larger version.) Kudos to the Melrose Beacon for supporting the Scouting program in Melrose for the past 31 years.

          The article has also been posted to the newspaper’s website. It can be found at
          http://www.albanyenterprise.com/articles/2010/12/04/melrose_beacon/community/boyscouts.txt

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            As a followup to the previous blog article I thought it would be nice to know which presidents have attended BSA National Jamborees.

            Following are presidents that have attended National Jamborees:
            1937 – Franklin D. Roosevelt
            1950 – Harry Truman
            1960 – Dwight D. Eisenhower
            1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson
            1989 – George Bush
            1997 – Bill Clinton
            2005 – George Bush

            In 2001, George Bush was unable to attend due to inclement weather on the night originally scheduled, and had a schedule conflict on the rescheduled night. Ronald Regan’s 2nd polyp surgery was July 13, 1985 – before the Jamboree (July 24 – 30). He hosted a State Dinner July 23, followed by a trip to Camp David, so would have been well enough to travel.

            I would like to thank “Be_Prepared” from the Scouter.com forums for this information.

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              I am not afraid to say it. President Obama  has lost a few points of respect with me this week when he decided to join the five hosts of The View television show instead of talking to the 40,000 Boy Scout and leaders at the BSA National Jamboree.

              I know, I know. Speaking at the National Jamboree is not in the President’s job description. He only does it if he wants to do it, and if his schedule allows it. But you know, he accepted the position of the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. Why wouldn’t he want to address the young men who are the future of our country. And do it live at the event?

              I understand the Jamboree participants will watch a prerecorded message from President Obama. That is better than nothing. At least the Boy Scouts were worth his time to record a video.

              I attended the 2001 National Jamboree. President Bush was scheduled to appear at a arena show to speak to us. Unfortunately, a storm went through the area and the show was postponed until the next evening. President Bush was not able to make it the following night so he recorded his message for us to watch on the big screens at the arena. (I personally did not mind watching the video. It saved us the time and trouble of going through presidential security.)

              The difference between these two events was that President Bush made the effort to attend the Jamboree, where President Obama did not. It gives me the impression that he decided to sort of brush off the Boy Scouts.

              Come on Mr. President! This is the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. You had a captive audience of nearly 40,000 young men of every race and background, the future of this great country. This event was not something that just came up suddenly. The planning for this Jamboree was going on for years. You could not find the time in your schedule to address the Scouts?

              Yet, you could find time in your schedule to appear on a national daily talk show, and do some fundraising. This gave me the impression that being a celebrity is more important to you then being a leader of this country. And I know I am not the only person to feel this way.

              Mr. President, you could have taped your talk show interview at any time. You only have one week to speak to the young men at the 100th anniversary BSA National Jamboree. In my humble opinion, you blew it.

              Of course, this is my opinion and not the opinion of the Boy Scouts of America. I realize that not everyone shares my point of view. I also realize that the President will probably never read this blog post. But this is something that has been weighing on my mind this week so I wanted to write about it.

              How to you feel about the President skipping a live appearance at the National Jamboree? Please keep your comments civil or I will delete them.

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                The trial is over. After seven years of court battles the trial about wether the Cradle Of Liberty Council, BSA, can stay in the building they paid to have built and pay for the yearly costs, has come to an end. (If I understand correctly, the council has always paid the maintenance costs of the building on the land they rent from the city for $1 a year.)

                It appears that the Boy Scouts have won. According to the philly.com website:

                “A federal jury Wednesday decided that Philadelphia violated the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment rights by using the organization’s anti-gay policy as a reason to evict them from their city-owned offices near Logan Square.”

                The full article can currently be read at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20100623_Federal_Jury_Decides_in_Favor_of_Scouts.html?submit=Vote&oid=1&mr=1&97011914=Y&cid=8500281&pid=97011914

                So, does this mean it is over? I doubt it. It sounds like the city of Philadelphia’s lawyers are already looking toward their options for the next round of legal battles.

                I find it simply amazing that when you consider all the good that Scouting has done for that community, and how that building has not cost the city a dime to build and maintain, and how the city has so many other pressing problems to take care of, that they spend so much time, money, and resources to trying to evict the Boy Scout council. Scouting has been such an asset to Philadelphia. Seems to me like the city has received quite a bargain from the Cradle of Liberty Council.

                It does not make much sense to me. I guess that is why I am not in politics. Wouldn’t it be great if some rich supporter of Scouting would just buy the property and donate it to the council?

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