Congratulations to Ralph Voelker, who will serve as Scout executive of the Bay-Lakes Council in Appleton, Wisconsin, effective May 16, 2020.

Ralph began his Scouting career as an associate district executive at the Denver Area Council in Denver, Colorado. He moved on to become the senior district executive m/p and later camping director at the council. He was promoted to director of camping and then field director at the Cascade Pacific Council in Portland, Oregon, and then in 2003, was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Redwood Empire Council in Santa Rosa, California. From there, he joined the team at the Center for Professional Development as a professional development specialist, and in 2014, was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Pacific Harbors Council in Tacoma, Washington.

Ralph is an Eagle Scout who enjoys writing Scouting stories and voice acting.

Ralph and his wife, Jill, have no children, but are owned by a Bernese Mountain Dog named Ruby Sue.

Please join me in congratulating Ralph as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Bay-Lakes Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs. Join us as Kavneet Singh, Chief Resource and Advocacy Officer of the American Sikh Council, shares a unique perspective on the importance of Guru Nanak Sahibji’s Parkash Purab, Khalsa Saajna Divas and Vaisakhi!

For those who may not be familiar with Guru Nanak Sahibji’s Parkash Purab, Khalsa Saajna Divas and Vaisakhi, can you please tell us a little about the holiday?

It is the most important celebration because it is the day when our Guru Nanak Sahib came (was born) to this world to show us how to get imbued in the universal love and joy of the entire human race.

On this auspicious day, Guru’s Khalsa (fraternity of sovereign equals) were recognized and projected to the world. People were in awe and wonder to see the ultimate form of saint-warriors who changed the destiny of the oppressed and the downtrodden who were slaves of the brahmins for centuries in South Asia.

Furthermore, the cultural harvest festival celebrated in Punjab happens to be “Vaisakhi” which also falls on the same day! Spring brings blossom in the environment, and so does the harvesting of crops in Punjab, which brings bountiful abundance.

It is not any accident or a coincidence that the birth of the founder of the Sikh religion and the formation of the Khalsa are on the same day. It is the deliberate, well-thought foresight of the glorious enlightener to charge us with the spirit of the truly sovereign through his divine revelations, so we remember both.

You can read more about Day of ‘1 Vasakh 552 Nanakshahi’ (April 14) according to the Mool Nanakshahi (Sikh) Calendar here.

Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?

Sikh American Scouts typically celebrate this religious holiday by singing Gurbani (verses from the Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh Scripture), dressing up colorfully, engaging in Gatka (Sikh martial art), and distributing delicious food to all (langar).

For Scout units that may have a member of Sikh faith, what are some considerations and ways these Scout units can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe this holiday?

Non-Sikh Scouts and the Scout units can help support the Sikh American Scout by being part of the festivities. If some decide to support by wearing a turban to show solidarity, that would be great. The Sikh turban is a commandment by our Gurus, and it is a crown, a symbol of honor, dignity, freedom, justice, and sovereignty. 

Special thanks to Kavneet Singh, Chief Resource and Advocacy Officer of the American Sikh Council, for sharing this with Scouting Wire. 

In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs. Join us as Syed E. Naqvi, consultant at World Islamic Committee on Scouting, shares a unique perspective on the importance of Ramadan!

For those who may not know what Ramadan is, can you please tell us a little about this holiday?

Ramadan, the month of spirituality, education, and tolerance. This Islamic holiday is always observed during the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, which is 11 days shorter than the solar, or Gregorian calendar. That means Ramadan moves through the months and seasons of the solar year; sometimes in the long hot days of summer and sometimes in freezing, snow days of winter. 

Ramadan is the holiest month in Islam, and the practicing Muslims consider it a retreat camp to practice spirituality, discipline, kindness, forgiveness, giving, and charity as well as being educational and enlightening. Many pray more and spend time reflecting on the Holy Book, the Quran.  

This year, Ramadan starts on the 25th of April. On the first day, many Muslims receive congrats from their non-Muslim fellows, and they feel proud of it. If you have Muslim friends, you may congratulate them by using the famous Islamic phrase, “Ramadan Mubarak!” (Happy Ramadan!). Most of them understand and even use this phrase, despite the fact that it is in Arabic.

Every day of fasting finishes around sunset by prayer with a traditional meal called “iftar” (breaking fast). Many break their fast with something sweet, like dates. 

The holy month of Ramadan ends with a celebration that marks its end, known as “Eid al-Fitr” (Celebration of breaking fast). Many Muslims celebrate Eid by attending Islamic centers to perform Eid-Prayer, meet and exchange congratulations with community members, and giving gifts to children.

Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?

Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, it will be challenging for many of us.  As we progress through this holy month, remember those who are in poverty, famine, or war that are also fasting in this unfortunate time of year, even without a major epidemic.  

For Scout units that may have a member of Muslim faith, what are some considerations and ways these Scout units can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe this holiday?

While many think only eating or drinking invalidates fast during Ramadan, lying, gossiping, and other sinful acts also invalidate someone’s fast, and that is why Muslims are advised to make an extra effort to be more mindful of what they do during this blessed month. Many reset their year resolutions in Ramadan or start new goals for their spiritual growth. For units who have members of the Muslim faith, it’s very helpful to be mindful and considerate of these factors.  

Special thanks to Syed E. Naqvi, consultant for the World Islamic Committee on Scouting for sharing his story with Scouting Wire. 

In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs. Join us as Steven Scheid, Director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, General Commission on United Methodist Men, shares a unique perspective on the importance of Easter!

For those who may not know what Easter is, can you please tell us a little about this holiday?

Easter is possibly the most special day in the year to Christians. The entire week leading up to Easter is a journey through the events before Jesus was crucified. We take time to remember the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the week before. Youth, including a lot of Scouts, are  invited to wave palm branches to herald the coming of the king. Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday. We remember the trial of Jesus. Friday, known as Good Friday, we remember the crucifixion. This week helps Christians reflect on the coming resurrection and their lives. Easter Sunday is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. It represents the culmination of His earthly ministry by the conquering of death. On the first Easter Sunday, the resurrected Jesus appeared first to Mary outside the tomb. Sunday became the day of worship for most Christians based on this pivotal event. The high point of the day is the attending of church services or mass. Many churches will hold an early service right at sunrise. This service is called the Sunrise Service.

Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?

Easter is celebrated today with a variety of traditions. Many of these traditions have been adopted over time as various world cultures came into the Christian faith. The dying or decorating of Easter Eggs is a very popular tradition. Many Scout Troops will help to hide Easter Eggs for the big Easter Egg Hunt in their communities. 

For Scout units that may have a member of Christian faith, what are some considerations and ways these Scout units can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe this holiday?

If your Pack, Troop, or Crew has Christians represented, Easter weekend is not an ideal time to schedule a camping trip – even though the weather may be perfect to be outside. Scouts could ask a local Christian church if the unit can help with or participate in the Easter Egg Hunt. There is frequently a need for people who can keep up with excited little ones. There may be other ways for interested Scouts to help serve, like setting up chairs outside for a Sunrise Service, or bringing flowers for a “living cross.”

Special thanks to Steven Scheid, Director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, General Commission on United Methodist Men, for sharing this with Scouting Wire. 

In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs. Join us as Bruce Chudacoff, Chairman of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting shares a unique perspective on the importance of Passover!

For those who may not be familiar with Passover, can you please tell us a little about this holiday?

All Jewish holidays begin at sundown. Passover is an 8-day holiday which, this year, begins Wednesday, April 8. The date of the holiday is different each year because the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, not a solar one. All major Jewish and other religious holidays can be found on the BSA Calendar of Religious Observances.

Passover observes the Exodus from Egypt approximately 3,500 years ago. The story is that the patriarch Jacob’s son, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his brothers and ended up in Egypt, where he was falsely imprisoned. While there, he was able to interpret the dreams of two of the Pharaoh’s advisors. When no one could interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh, one of them remembered Joseph. He was brought before the Pharaoh and interpreted his dreams to mean that Egypt was about to have seven years of good harvests followed by seven years of famine. The Pharaoh appointed Joseph to help Egypt through the famine. He later brought his family there. Over a period of 420 years, Joseph’s following grew from the 70 people in his family to over 1 million people. The Egyptians enslaved these people and forced them to build cities. 

Moses was born in Egypt and raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter in the court. When he became an adult, he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite. Moses killed the Egyptian and was banished. At the age of 80, Moses encountered the presence of God in a bush that burned but was not consumed by the fire. God instructed him to take his brother Aaron and return to Egypt where he was to free the Israelites. Moses spoke to the Pharaoh and asked him to let the people go. When the Pharaoh refused, God brought 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, beginning with turning the waters of the Nile River to blood and ending with the killing of the first born children of Egypt.

The term Passover comes from the story about how the Angel of Death struck Egypt at midnight. The Israelites had been instructed to sacrifice lambs, eat them at a communal meal that night, then place blood from the lambs on their doorposts. The Angel of Death “passed over” the Jewish homes. Shortly thereafter, the Israelites left Egypt, crossed over the Sea of Reeds, and headed to the promised land of Israel, which they reached after 40 years in the wilderness.

The Torah, the Five Books of Moses, (Old Testament) contains the instruction that every Jew must relive the Exodus and tell the story of it to their children on Passover. This is done on the first two nights of the holiday at the seder, which means “order.” 

This year, because of social distancing, many Jewish families cannot come together for the seder and are holding virtual seders over the Internet. 

Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday?

Since Passover is a family holiday, the seder is not often celebrated in units. However, some interfaith units have been known to have their own seder during or before the holiday to learn the story of Passover.  

For Scout units that may have a member of Jewish faith, what are some considerations and ways to show support for their fellow Scouts who observe this holiday?

The proper greeting for Passover is Chag Sameah, which means, “have a good holiday.” Scouts who have Jewish friends can wish them a Chag Sameah. They can ask their Jewish friends to tell them the story of Passover and share a piece of matzoh with them.

Special thanks to Bruce Chudacoff, Chairman of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting for sharing this with Scouting Wire. 

Please join us as we congratulate Chuck Brasfeild, who will serve as Scout executive of the Denver Area Council in Denver, Colorado, effective May 1, 2020.

Chuck began his Scouting career in 1998 as a district executive at the Central Florida Council in Orlando, Florida. He served in various positions at the council over the next ten years, the last three as director of field service. In 2009, he was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Flint River Council in Griffin, Georgia, and then in 2014, as Scout executive of the Golden Empire Council in Sacramento, California.

Chuck is a basketball coach, Scout leader, and enjoys anything outdoors. His current hobbies are chicken farming and manual labor, which apparently go hand-in-hand.

Chuck and his wife, Katie, have three children: Will (12) a Tenderfoot, Robbie (15) a Life Scout, and Laura Grace (19) who has served on Jamboree staff twice as a member of the skate park staff.

In the comments below, please help us send Chuck our well wishes as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Denver Area Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Please join us as we congratulate Randy Saunders, who will serve as Scout executive of the Southern Sierra Council in Bakersfield, California, effective April 16, 2020.

Randy began his Scouting career in 1994 as a district executive at the Gulf Ridge Council in Tampa, Florida. He served as a senior district executive, field director, program director, and camping director at the council before moving on to serve as a program director and later director of field service of the Great Southwest Council in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Randy is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, who enjoys backpacking, golf, and traveling.

Randy and his wife, Nicole, have one son named Isiah, who is a student at the University of New Mexico.

Please help us send Randy our well wishes in the comments below as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Southern Sierra Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

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