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Scout Sunday 2015 is Feb. 8 — here’s how to celebrate

January 22, 2015

Scout Sunday is already one of the highlights of the BSA year. But Scout Sunday 2015 promises to be even more special.


That’s because this year’s Scout Sunday falls on Feb. 8, the BSA’s birthday. (The Boy Scouts of America was founded on Feb. 8, 1910.)

The last time Scout Sunday fell on Feb. 8 was in 2009. It won’t happen again until 2026.

So there’s extra incentive to make this year’s celebration even more meaningful. On Scout Sunday, uniformed Scouts and Scouters across the country will greet the congregation, participate in worship services, receive religious awards and conduct service projects to benefit their place of worship.

The goal: Thank the religious institution for their service as the unit’s chartered organization.

Some religious institutions and the Scout units they serve have a Scout Sunday plan that’s been in place for years. If so, great.

If not, here are some ways to make this year’s Scout Sunday extra special. Read more of this post

Bryan Wendell | January 22, 2015 at 8:00 am | Categories: Boy Scouting, Cub Scouting, Scouting Tips | URL:

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BSA discourages use of unofficial merit badge worksheets

January 13, 2015

Merit badges aren’t easy to earn. They’re meant to challenge the mind, to build character, and to educate through trial and error.

Unofficial merit badge worksheets hasten this process — but not always in a good way. These printable documents are meant to help Scouts complete requirements by filling in the blanks. Sure, they can be time-saving tools, but too often they’re used in the wrong way.

That’s why the Boy Scouts of America discourages — but doesn’t ban — the use of these worksheets, which are available online.

What does that mean? Look for requirements with verbs like “discuss,” “show,” “tell,” “explain,” “demonstrate” or “identify.” Requirements like those aren’t meant to be completed by filling in a blank on some worksheet, says Chris Hunt, team leader of the BSA’s Content Management Team.

Merit badge worksheets are “permitted only for fulfilling requirements where something is to be done in writing,” he says. And merit badge counselors may never require the use of merit badge worksheets and may, if they choose, refuse to accept them, Hunt says.

This has been a rule in the Guide to Advancement for a couple of years, but it’s worth clarifying. So here goes …

What are merit badge worksheets?

Unofficial merit badge worksheets, sometimes called workbooks, are fill-in-the-blank documents for Scouts working on merit badges. Some counselors will print copies for Scouts and use them while teaching the merit badge.

These worksheets list every requirement, even those with verbs like the “discuss,” “show” or “tell,” and include blank spaces with each.

Why are they discouraged?

Unofficial merit badge worksheets emphasize speed over education.

Take the First Aid merit badge as an example. Requirement 3d says, “Show the steps that need to be taken for someone suffering from a severe cut on the leg and on the wrist.”

On one worksheet I found online, that requirement is listed with a big blank space, ostensibly for the Scout to write out the steps. That’s not OK.

The Scout should “show” by literally showing these steps to his counselor — not writing them down. The reason’s simple: Scouts learn better that way.

What does the Guide to Advancement say?

Here’s the relevant section, Unofficial Worksheets and Learning Aids, 2013 Guide to Advancement (PDF).

Worksheets and other materials that may be of assistance in earning merit badges are available from a variety of places including unofficial sources on the Internet and even troop libraries. Use of these aids is permissible as long as the materials can be correlated with the current requirements that Scouts must fulfill. Completing “worksheets” may suffice where a requirement calls for something in writing, but this would not work for a requirement where the Scout must discuss, tell, show, or demonstrate, etc. Note that Scouts shall not be required to use these learning aids in order to complete a merit badge.

What does the BSA say?

Hunt offers this further explanation and rationale. Please read the whole thing and ask your fellow merit badge counselors to do the same.

When merit badge requirements are developed, they are meant to challenge a Scout’s thought process, to cause him to learn and practice skills, to help him explore areas of interest and dispel misconceptions, and to bring about interaction with others — especially positive adult role models.

Worksheets are a shortcut. They present on paper what should be arrived at through thought and interaction — through asking questions and trial and error. They often tend to create or support an atmosphere of “get the merit badge finished as efficiently and quickly as possible,” when the objective should be a significant learning experience that builds character, citizenship, and physical or mental fitness.

Worksheets can prevent struggling with requirements, when it is the struggle that can lead to retention of lessons learned.

We don’t like worksheets, and we’re reasonably sure our founder would be horrified by their very existence. That said, we realize their use is extensive and that prohibiting them would be unrealistic. That’s why they are permitted only for fulfilling requirements where something is to be done in writing.

Worksheets must not be accepted in fulfillment of requirements that call for “showing,” “demonstrating,” “discussing,” or whatever else the written word does not fully accomplish.

Furthermore, Scouts must never be required to use worksheets. The decision to use them belongs to the Scout. Not one merit badge requirement says anything like, “Use a worksheet downloaded from the Internet to…”

Merit badge counselors may refuse to accept worksheets but they are not allowed to require their use.

For more information, refer to the Guide to Advancement, Page 2, “BSA policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program” and Page 53, topic, “Unofficial Worksheets and Learning Aids.”

Important postscript

Once again, unofficial merit badge worksheets only may be used for completing requirements when the requirement specifically instructs a Scout to write something.

That said, one set of worksheets online includes this disclaimer at the top:

The work space provided for each requirement should be used by the Scout to make notes for discussing the item with his counselor, not for providing the full and complete answers. Each Scout must do each requirement.

If Scouts use this space solely to make notes for a verbal discussion with their counselor, that’s fine. It’s only a problem if the Scout submits the written notes as a substitute for completing the requirement.

In a sense, taking notes on one of these merit badge worksheets should be no different from taking notes in a spiral notebook. A Scout wouldn’t turn in his notebook to fulfill a requirement, but he should be allowed to use those notes for a discussion with his counselor.

It’s an important distinction, all aimed at making earning a merit badge a challenging, rewarding experience for the Scout.

Ask the Expert

Find other expertly answered questions here, and ask your own by emailing me.

Posted on January 13, 2015 by in Ask the Expert, Merit Badges.

2014 Popcorn Photo Contest Grand Prize Winner

January 9, 2015

Congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner of the fall 2014 Popcorn Photo Contest, Jackie Herout and Pack 308 Cub Scouts in Soaring Eagle District! Below is the Grand Prize winning photo, and the $250 Grand Prize package!

Grand prize winning photo  Den 10 640x400

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE 2015 POPCORN PHOTO CONTESTThe $250 Grand Prize Winner Package consists of a Eureka 3-season, 3-man tent; a battery powered lantern; an Antidote Reservoir Camelbak, an issue of Outdoor Gear featuring paracord crafts complete with a bundle of paracord and clips; a camping knife; a BSA key chain; a large Camping Weekender Duffle Bag, and this campers favorite – a Power Cap, a cap with two flashlights built into the bill. Enjoy!

The new Winter Camping Photo Contest began January 1 and end March 31, 2015.  See the new Winter Camping Photo Contest guidelines and go snap some photos that show why you love winter camping! Have fun!

Happy Holidays from the Mid-America Council, Camp Cedars, and Little Sioux Scout Ranch

December 26, 2014

Happy Holidays from the Mid-America Council staff and families to yours!

Happy Holidays from everyone at Little Sioux Scout Ranch and Camp Cedars! We look forward to a great year ahead. Enjoy this video from the camping team! See you all in summer 2015!

Visit Visit Visit

Order Camp Cards Before Jan. 21

December 23, 2014

CAMP CARD IMAGE 2015Do you want more boys to go to camp?   Camp Cards is a program which allows Mid‐America Council Scouts the opportunity to earn their way to camp!   Camp Cards are $5 each and have discounts to multiple vendors!  Each pack, troop or crew will make 50% commission on each card sold!

On top of commission, Scouts can earn FREE camp!  Cub Scouts who sell 80 cards will also earn a FREE 5‐day Cub Day Camp or Cub resident camp in 2015 on top of their commission.  Boy Scouts who sell 180 cards will also earn a FREE week at Camp Cedars in 2015 on top of their commission.

You must order your Camp Cards before January 21.  

Go to to order your Camp Cards!  Camp Cards will be available at March roundtable for units signing up before January 21, 2014.  It’s easy – no money due upfront!

The Mid‐America Council will offer different cards in the following geographical areas:

  • Nebraska: Fremont, Columbus and Norfolk
  • Northwestern Iowa: Sioux City and rural parts of northern Iowa
  • Upper Middle Iowa: Areas around Fort Dodge and Humboldt
  • Southwest Iowa: Areas around Council Bluffs and Red Oak
  • Omaha Metro: including Bellevue

Camp Card Quick facts
Order camp cards online before January 21. Any commitment after January 21, 2015 cannot be guaranteed.  Click here to order cards:

Get your cards at the March roundtable.  Sell cards through March and April.  Sales end April 30, 2015.  Each unit will earn 50% commission for each card sold: $2.50 for each card.  All money and unsold cards are due at the May roundtable*

*Return Policy:  Return of unsold cards will be accepted until May 15 with the following conditions:
A unit may return up to 25% of their order.  Any additional returns after 25% will be charged a $0.50 per card restocking fee. The cards must be complete, with no tabs removed. Returns after May 15 will not be accepted, and the unit will be financially responsible.

Sample of Camp Card Vendors**:  

  • Nebraska: Hy‐Vee, Runza, Graham Tire, Cubby’s, Subway
  • Northwest Iowa: Hy‐Vee, Sneaky’s, Casey’s, Rush Lanes, Cylde’s Grill and Pub
  • Upper Middle Iowa: Tap & Pizza, Subway, Long John Silver’s, Hy‐Vee, Fort Frenzy, Taco John’s
  • Southwest Iowa: Runza, Molly Faye’s Flowers, Cubby’s, Scout Shop, Casey’s
  • Omaha Metro: Amazing Pizza Machine, Runza, Casey’s, Graham Tire, Petrows Restaurant
  • **Vendors are subject to change – updated vendors posted on MAC website:

Questions?  Please call Erin Glidden at 402.514.3028, or email:

High Adventure openings for Florida Sea Base, Philmont, and The Summit in 2015 and 2016

December 21, 2014

The Mid-America Council is dedicated to ensuring every youth has an opportunity to attend a BSA High Adventure Base.  Some are provided through a contingent experience, which means the trip is organized through a committee of volunteers in the Mid-America Council, and may contain Scouts and adults from all over the council.  See the opportunities below!

Council contingent fees are all inclusive.  The fee includes the program fee, all travel costs, meals, and special mementos for the Mid-America Council contingent. 

Individual or group registrations accepted.  Philmont, Florida Sea Base, and Northern Tier require all youth must be 14-years of age, or 13-years of age and have completed the 8th grade. Summit requires all youth must be 13-years of age by September 1 of the year attending.  No exceptions.

Questions?  Please contact the Council High Adventure Chair, Hunter Horste.

SEABASEFlorida Sea Base 2016  

Commitment deadline Dec. 31, 2014.  

We’re planning to send three crews of up to 24 total participants.  Participants will enjoy the Florida Keys Adventure Program at Sea Base, which includes a variety of activities over a seven-day period. The Mid-America Council is currently awaiting approval on our contingent dates for 2016.  We have applied for the following options:  June 4-11, 2016;  May 29 – June 5, 2016;  June 2-9, 2016.  The total fee for contingent participants will be approximately $2,000.  A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot.  Register online.   Check out Florida Sea Base Website.

PHILMONTPhilmont Scout Ranch 

2015 – Reservations are still available!

June 14 – 27, 2015.  Six crews are headed to Philmont this summer!  Experience a two-week backpacking trek, and participate in activities throughout the hike.  The total fee for contingent participants will be no more than $1,400.  A $125 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot.  Register online.

2016 – Make your reservation by May 1, 2015 for June 12 – 25, 2016.  Six crews of up to 72 participants will be going to Philmont.   Participants will enjoy exploring more than 200-square miles of rugged New Mexico wilderness, which includes a variety of activities over a twelve-day trek at Philmont.  The total fee for contingent participants will be approximately $1,400.  A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot. Register online.  Check out Philmont Scout Ranch Website.

SUMMMITSummit Bechtel Reserve 

2015 and 2016 – Make your reservation today!  Participants will enjoy the Summit Experience, which includes a half-day program at each of the Summit adventure sports venues – The Canopy, The Rocks, Low and High Gear, The Park, The Trax, The Bows, The Barrels, Bravo Lake, and The Ropes.  Participants will also get a thrilling ride down that 3,100 foot Big Zip!

July 18, 2015 – July 26, 2015.  Make your reservation by January 15, 2015!  The total fee for contingent participants will be approximately $1,750.  A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot.  Register online 

July 23, 2016 – July 31, 2016.  The total fee for contingent participants will be approximately $1,850.  A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot. Register online.  Check out the Summit Website.

Jan. 17 webcasts will help prepare you for the new Cub Scout program

December 18, 2014

cub handbooks images

Jan. 17 webcasts will help prepare you for the new Cub Scout program

Posted on December 15, 2014 by Bryan Wendell in Cub ScoutingScouting TipsTraining // 23 

Hey, did you hear there’s a new Cub Scout program launching June 1, 2015?

If so, you know it’ll be more exciting for boys and easier to implement for unit leaders.

But you probably still have questions about how it’ll work. There’s good news: You can get many of those questions answered by watching a special webcast on Jan. 17.

The webcasts will cover the coming changes, how to prepare and when resources will be available. Sessions are position-specific, but anyone in any role who has an interest in the new Cub Scout program is welcome to attend. No login or special registration is required.

If you can’t make any of these sessions, don’t worry. They’ll be recorded for later viewing.  Here’s the schedule:

New Cub Scout Program Webcasts Schedule

Cubmaster Webcasts

  • 8 a.m. (Central) Saturday, Jan. 17, or
  • 3 p.m. (Central) Saturday, Jan. 17

Den Leader Webcasts

  • 9:30 a.m. (Central) Saturday, Jan. 17, or
  • 4:30 p.m. (Central) Saturday, Jan. 17

LDS-Specific Considerations*

  • 11 a.m. (Central) Saturday, Jan. 17, or
  • 6 p.m. (Central) Saturday, Jan. 17

* It is recommended that those interested in the LDS session view one of the role-specific sessions first.

Where to view the webcasts

Click here to attend a webcast: (No login is required.)

Questions?  Please contact your unit commissioner, Cubmaster, or Mike Evano at 402-431-9272.


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