Tuesday, 09 February 2021 17:57

Critical COVID-19 Safety Reminder from BSA

The Scouting community has shown remarkable resilience through this pandemic: units have continued providing vital, socially distant community service, volunteers have facilitated merit badge classes online and outdoors, and thousands of young people have even attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

But it certainly has not been easy. And as we rightfully celebrate the initial distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and perhaps the beginning of the end of this pandemic, it’s important to remember that we must remain vigilant in our daily efforts to combat this deadly disease.

We each have the responsibility—as members of the Boy Scouts of America and as role models for the next generation of leaders—to continue following guidance from public health officials so we can protect not only ourselves but also the people in our dens, packs, troops and crews, as well as the individuals they go home to after attending a Scouting activity.

Scouting is a diverse organization with people of all ages and backgrounds, some of whom are at increased risk for contracting the virus and suffering severe symptoms. Whether you’re a Scouting parent, leader, or employee, you have the power to help protect everyone in the Scouting family by taking basic precautions.

To aid in your efforts, we recently updated our national statement on Covid-19 to include general mitigation measures, also included below, based on the CDC’s latest guidance. When coupled with guidance from your local council and local health department, these simple measures empower us to safely deliver and participate in Scouting programs.

Covid-19 Mitigation Measures for Everyone in Scouting

  • Isolate if you are sick, and do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you, anyone you live with, or anyone you have recently been around feels unwell.

  • Do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you or anyone you live with or have recently been around has been tested for COVID-19 or another illness and does not have the results back yet.

  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from people who do not live with you. (Properly executed Scouting cohorts at council camps may be an exception).

  • Avoid crowds.

  • Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

  • Meet outside if you can.

  • Avoid international travel if possible.
Sunday, 31 January 2021 17:26

A Look at Our History and Our Future

Scouting Family:  

On February 8th, I’m going to wear my Scouting uniform, and I encourage you all to do the same as we celebrate the Boy Scouts of America’s 111th birthday. 

It’s a moment to acknowledge the contributions made by millions of young people and adults to Scouting, as well as the power of our Movement to bring people together to make a positive difference in our communities, our country, and the world. It is a moment to both reflect and look forward. 

This past year demonstrated that the BSA’s mission is more important than ever beforeWhen the pandemic uprooted our livesseemingly overnight, our volunteers and employees found innovative ways to continue delivering programming and a sense of normalcy, which were foundational to so many young livesThousands of Scouts tuned in to virtual events for activities and adventures from homeUnits across the country volunteered in their communities at a time when their service was needed mostAnd in cases where it was safe to do so, Scouts escaped the great indoors with their families or with socially distant Scouting activities.  

As much as we persevered, there’s no denying that this past year was filled with extraordinary challenges—some we faced as a country and others as an organization.   

But here’s one thing I know about the Scouting family: no matter how insurmountable challenges may seemwe can and do rise above when we do so together 

Difficult moments do not define us. What defines us is how we address those momentslearn from them, grow from them, and move forward as one Movement dedicated to preparing young men and women for life.  

As we look to 2021, wall have much to celebrate as we welcome the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts: a group of incredible young women who now share a remarkable achievement with all those who have earned the prestigious rank through the years. These young women are among the many Scouts who continue to find opportunities to serve their communities even on our most challenging days. This perseverance speaks to the resiliency and adaptability of our young people, our programs and our organization.  

I have many hopes for the year aheadyear when I expect more Scouts will be able to safely explore the great outdoorsgo camping, and learn the many life lessons and skills that Scouting has to offer; I look forward to Scouting’s continued role as a partner to families in building character, friendships and memories; and I look forward to coming together, however conditions allow, to continue to help other people at all times and showcase the immense good our Movement can do.  

Whether you’re a Scout, a volunteer, an employee or one of the millions of Scouting alumniask you to join me in wearing the Scouting uniform, neckerchief, or a Scouting emblem on February 8th as a gesture of commitment to and celebration of Scouting’s mission. Whether you’ll be at home, at the office, at school, or connected virtually with others, show your Scouting spirit with me that day in some fashion that might get others to ask you about the BSA. 

And if given the opportunity, I ask you to share with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues what Scouting means to youI am sure each of us will share something unique, but I also believe our stories will share core threadsmemorable adventures, character-building moments and leadership-defining lessonsOur unique Scouting story helps define us as individuals, andcollectivelythey define us as a Movement. I am proud of what we have accomplished in our 111-year history, and I’m energized by what I know we will accomplish in the next 100 years and beyond 

Yours in Scouting,  

Roger Mosby  

President and CEO 

As we look back on this year, it is easy to see the challenges that have become synonymous with 2020. While these challenges are significant, I believe they are outnumbered by the joy, opportunity and hope that surrounded us. 

After all, this was the year when we found unique means to bring Scouting to young people – often in ways we never considered possible. Like when stars like Nick Jonas, Kevin Hart and Mr. Beast donned Scout uniforms to try their hand at learning and showing off the skills millions of Scouts learn every year. Little did we know exactly how much we would inspire skill-building Scouting through digital content.

And when the pandemic hit, Scouting stepped up to the challenge, and Scouting found a way to make a difference.

When children yearned for a sense of normalcy during stay-at-home orders, Scouting provided countless hours of programming through virtual meetings, adventures, council merit badge clinics and even a National Camp-In and two virtual Family Fun Fest events. In fact, of the one million merit badges and adventures that Scouts worked on and earned this year, a tremendous number of those were earned virtually. And, when it was safe for youth to enjoy some adventures in the outdoors, Scouting stepped up to make socially distant experiences possible.

When communities struggled to find face coverings, Scouts rallied to donate neckerchiefs, sew masks, make face shields, and help those on the front lines and throughout our communities stay safe.

When families struggled with how to put food on the table, Scouting helped raise more than $100,000 for Feeding America and helped restock countless local food banks with Scouting for Food initiatives throughout local councils.

When teachers and schools faced the task of preparing for this unusual school year, Scouting offered support by supporting AdoptAClassroom.org, so teachers could access the supplies they need to welcome students back to class – both online and in person.

Importantly, Scouting has continued to build character, confidence, and leadership during this turbulent year – just consider these amazing Scouts that have inspired us this year:

These are a few of the remarkable stories that remind us of the power of Scouting.

This power does not come from the recognition our efforts receive, but rather from the kindness that prompts our work and the impact we make.

Scouting teaches young people how to respond to challenges with solutions and that their potential to be a change for good in the world is limitless – encumbered only by the limits of their imagination and will. It is a life lesson we should all carry with us.

As we take stock at the end of the year, I hope you will also look to find the silver lining that inspires you, your families, your units and communities.

I hope you know that you – Scouts, volunteers, employees, families, donors, partners and alumni – are an integral part of the BSA’s silver lining. Thank you for your continued support of the Scouting movement – your commitment, work and support have helped make some incredible things possible, and you are an essential part of our ability to empower young people now and in the years to come.

I wish you the happiest of holidays and a new year where many more youth will be able to learn, grow and Scout on!

Roger Mosby

President and CEO

Watch and share this video!

BSA 2020 A Look Back from Boy Scouts of America on Vimeo.

It’s a story being called a “holiday miracle.” When their sled crashed into an icy pond, two young children were saved from drowning by a Scout who led his friends to form a human chain to rescue them.

Reminiscent of a scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this real-life accident terrified the children and their parents, but the nearby Scout and his friends knew what to do to help save the day. 

Rich Heid, the children’s father, and Stephanie Irlbeck, the children’s mother, shared the story with Good Morning America.

“I started screaming, ‘Jump off, jump off!'” Rich said, recounting how he tried in vain to keep his children, four-year-old RJ and eight-year-old Olivia, from careening into the frozen pond on their sled. 

“You could see the fear in their eyes,” Stephanie said, adding that she also started yelling for help. 

That’s when Kieran Foley, a Scout who was nearby with his friends, heard the commotion, assessed the situation, and started putting a plan into action to help. Kieran and his friends formed a human chain to go in and rescue the children, and got them back to their parents.

Check out the amazing story from Good Morning America below.

all photos: Good Morning America

Congratulations to Marcus Ragland as Scout executive of the Westmoreland-Fayette Council in Greensburg, PA, effective January 15, 2021.

Marcus began his Scouting career in 2002 as a District Executive at the Heart of Virginia Council in Richmond, VA where he moved on to become the Field Director. In 2016, Marcus went on to serve as Director of Field Service at the Seneca Waterways Council in Rochester, NY.

Marcus is an Eagle Scout who enjoys woodworking, camping, and spending time with family.

Marcus and his wife Heather, have a 7-year-old daughter named Sadie who is a Wolf Scout, and a 3 year old son named Emmett who can’t wait to follow in his sister’s footsteps.

Please join us in congratulating Marcus as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Westmoreland-Fayette Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Please join us in congratulating Manuel Ramos, who will serve as Scout Executive of the Chief Seattle Council in Seattle, Washington, effective December 15, 2020.

Manny began his Scouting career in 1998 as a District Executive with the Circle Ten Council in Dallas, Texas. He moved on to become District Director in the Denver Area Council in Denver, Colorado and later Assistant Scout Executive with the Nevada Area Council in Reno, Nevada. In 2009 he was promoted to the Director of Field Service in the Chief Seattle Council before being selected to serve as the Scout Executive of the South Texas Council in Corpus Christi, Texas . He joined the National Council as the Western Region Talent Manager in 2017, before being selected to serve in his current role as Western Region Area 1 Director.

Manny is a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana. He is an Eagle Scout who enjoys boxing, swimming, travel, cooking, and spending time with family.

Manny and his wife Jenny have two children: Shan (Scouts BSA) and Cash (Wolf).

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

Wednesday, 02 December 2020 19:43

TIME’s 2020 Kid of the Year Is a STEM Scout!

TIME 2020 Kid of the Year – STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao. photo: Sharif Hamza for TIME

Each year since 1927, TIME has selected a Person of the Year to feature in the pages of the magazine. In addition to that annual feature, this year, the magazine is highlighting its first-ever TIME Kid of the Year. On the cover of the Dec. 14 edition of the magazine, you’ll find a face familiar to many in the Scouting community – STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao.

In her TIME interview, which you can read here, Gitanjali continues sharing remarkable insights like those from this 2017 Scouting Wire article

Her continued focus on innovation has led her to scientific breakthroughs in detecting harmful contaminants in water and diagnosing early stage opioid addiction. Those advances come in addition to her earlier work developing a life-saving device for snake bites. 

In 2017, she was chosen America’s Top Young Scientist as winner of the 2017 Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge, and the BSA’s own Middle Tennessee Council recognized her as its STEM Scout of the Year in 2017. These honors led to her inclusion in the delegation for the 2017 BSA Report to the Nation.  

Undoubtedly, these outstanding accomplishments are just the beginning for this impressive and inspiring STEM Scout. 

A hearty congratulations to STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao for being recognized as the TIME 2020 Kid of the Year

Be sure to read Gitanjali’s full interview, conducted by Angelina Jolie, in TIME, and watch TIME’s Kid of the Year broadcast special on Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.

You can also watch her interview below:

all photos Sharif Hamza for TIME.

Monday, 30 November 2020 07:33

Conservation Fascination

Story by Peter Livengood, Westmoreland-Fayette Council

Bracing against the wind and bitter cold, I patiently perched atop a mountain early one September morning. The fog in the valley had begun to lift, and the sun was sparkling in the clear blue sky.

I had just one question: Would I see them, or was I standing out here in the cold to test the strength of my thermals? After months and months of research and planning, I was thoroughly prepared for this day, but I could still feel a nagging uncertainty in the pit of my stomach—or was that anticipation?

If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about, I’ll fill in the blanks. As an Eagle Scout, I had discovered the magical, captivating activity of raptor watching, a citizen scientist endeavor where trained volunteers identify and count migrating birds of prey to estimate their populations and chart their patterns. I was on this mountain because that activity had piqued my scientific interest. I had to know more. I needed to analyze and be a part of conserving these majestic raptors.

On that frigid morning, I wished that I, too, could fly away to a warmer place, but even my numbing toes couldn’t tear me away. I wedged myself into a spot protected from the biting wind and gazed upward, still and quiet, observing and recording hundreds of raptors—eagles, hawks, falcons—along their heat-seeking migratory path.

Hawks seized this Eagles heart.
That day, hawks seized and flew away with this Eagle Scout’s heart. The experience inspired me, and I’m a man of action. There were active hawk watch sites on most of the major ridges in Pennsylvania—except one: Chestnut Ridge.

So, I did a little something with that yet untapped ridge to improve the monitoring capacity of the hawkwatching community and made it a part of my quest to earn the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award. My brother Calvin and I established the Summit Mountain Hawkwatch (SMHW) situated atop Chestnut Ridge in southwestern Pennsylvania. This location offers an excellent view of the surrounding terrain and is perfect for watchers to spot a variety of migrating raptors, including broad-winged hawks, sharp-shins, falcons, and eagles.

I am phenomenally proud that, after three watching seasons, the Hawk Migration Association of North America designated this site, part of my BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award application portfolio, an official observation site. I created a page on hawkcount.org dedicated to data collected at SMHW. All migrating raptor count data collected at this site, alongside other hawkwatch sites’ data, will be used by researchers to assess raptor population trends.

Whatever your passion is, pursue it.
Inspired by my experience that day and fueled by a National Eagle Scout Association scholarship, I plan to combine my passion for research with my love for teaching to become a dynamic advocate for the environment––in the field, the classroom and perhaps, one day, the halls of Congress.

Do not be afraid to dream big or soar high. When you do, people will come together to support you. I want to thank the donors, Scouting volunteers, and natural resource professionals who have contributed to make my conservation projects possible. Because of you, I have a purpose and passion to follow, backed by the resources I need to fulfill my dreams.

And if you ever feel adventurous, come visit me at the hawk watch. Sit on the mountaintop, soak up the view, and watch the miracle of migration. Just don’t forget your binoculars!

_____________________________________________________

Peter, thank you for telling your Scouting story! You inspire future Eagle Scouts to follow their dreams.

 

Special thanks to our donors and alumni who graciously give time, talent, and treasure to support Scouting. Peter is able to pay for a great deal of his accelerated education after receiving NESA’s Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke Scholarship. You make a positive impact on young people’s lives. Scouting only happens because of people like you!

 

About Peter Livengood 

Peter has been a Scout in Troop 687 in Farmington, Pennsylvania. since 2013. He is certified as a Conservation Ambassador by the Pennsylvania Wildlife Leadership Academy and attended the Penn State Conservation Leadership School. He currently serves on the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation.

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