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Tuesday Talkback: Does your troop have an adult patrol?

March 3, 2015

Boy Scouts belong to patrols; Boy Scout leaders don’t.

These adults fall outside of the typical troop structure in which a senior patrol leader helms a group of patrols, each led by a patrol leader.

But in some troops, just for fun, these adults form their own patrol — if in name only. In some troops, they’re called the Geezer patrol. In others, perhaps in a nod to an adult leader’s place on the sidelines, they’re known as the Rocking Chair patrol.

Should troops have adult patrols? If so, what makes a good name for an unofficial adult patrol? And what’s the BSA’s official stance on adult patrols?

Let’s talk.

The BSA’s stance on adult patrols

Here’s the official response from the BSA’s Peter Self. As usual from Peter, it’s nuanced and well-crafted.

Baden-Powell was once quoted as saying, “The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.” As patrols are formed, it is intended that their membership will remain together throughout their Scouting years. Beginning as a new Scout patrol, they become a tightly knit unit, which is dependent upon one another and yet finds strength and independence in their brotherhood. It is in the safety and camaraderie of the patrol that lessons of leadership and cooperation are learned from each other. The patrol name and the emblem which reflects that name are two of the ways that this group uniquely identifies itself.

While adult leaders are invaluable and necessary in this growth process, they need to be accessible to each of the Scouts, in every patrol, and not insulated from the Scouts in their own tight group. For this reason you will not find mention of adult patrols in our literature and why we do not form our adult leaders into patrols in the course of our normal program operations.

Having said all of this, there is no specific statement in our literature which prohibits adults from wearing a patrol emblem, but if you compare closely the pictures of the Boy Scout uniform to the adult leader uniforms on the last two pages of the Guide to Awards and Insignia, you’ll notice only a few differences. One of these is the absence of a patrol emblem on the adult uniform.

So while adult patrols aren’t an official part of the BSA’s program, nobody is going to stop you from forming one. Especially if it’s a name and little else.

Oh, and there’s no uniform police that will rip the patrol emblem from your adult leader uniform, either.

With that in mind…

Does your troop have an adult patrol? If so, what’s it called?

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, let’s continue the conversation in the comments section.

Questions for discussion:

  • Should troops have adult patrols?
  • If so, what role should adult patrols serve?
  • What are some of your favorite names for adult patrols? (I’m partial to the Rocking Chair patrol myself.)

Posted on March 3, 2015 by in Boy Scouting, Tuesday Talkbacks // 46 Comments

Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge requirements released

February 26, 2015
For decades, teens have used their own language — one of emojis, shorthand and coded messages passed in school hallways — to communicate without words.

And now, for the first time, those skills could translate into a merit badge. Today the Boy Scouts of America officially releases Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge, the BSA’s 135th current merit badge. (You can see the complete list here.) Look for the merit badge pamphlet in your local Scout Shop and at soon.

Requirement 9c is one straight out of 2015. It asks Scouts to discuss text-message symbols, also known as emoticons or emojis, and share their 10 favorites. Then comes the fun part: “see if your counselor or parent can identify the meaning or usage of each symbol.”

Think you know what all those symbols mean, mom or dad? Get ready to prove it to your Scouts.

Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge isn’t just about emojis. Read more of this post

Bryan Wendell | February 26, 2015 at 8:00 am | Categories: Merit Badges | URL:

Venturer shares ‘5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me’

February 24, 2015

LydiaLydia G., a 17-year-old Venturer from Virginia, is active in her church and community, but when people learn she’s a Venturer, they sometimes ask, “What is that?”

Venturing, she tells them, is a youth program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and young women who are at least 14 (or 13 and finished with the eighth grade) but not yet 21. It’s all about providing positive, fun experiences for young people.

“We are unique in the fact that we are youth led,” she tells them. “We plan what we want our adventures to be, and then we plan how we are going to get there.”

But then they ask what she’s learned from participating in Scouting.

That’s when Lydia, who has earned the Venturing TRUST Award, shares this terrific piece of writing with them. It’s called “5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me,” and it’s a nice reminder that what you do as an adult volunteer matters. The proof exists in young people like Lydia.

5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me

By Lydia G.

1. Scouting has taught me what respect and equality can look like.

As a Venturer, every time I put on my uniform, I am more than a female or tagalong sibling. I am a Scout. As such, I am treated as an equal in most Scouting environments, even if I am one of the only females. I work hard and I play hard, right along with every other Scout.

2. Scouting has taught me to know who I am and to be true to myself.

I have been challenged in all of my awards that I have earned thus far to know exactly what I believe and why. This covers everything from my personal faith to why I do what I do in everyday living.

3. Scouting has taught me to get out of my “bubble.”

Sometimes it has taught me this despite myself, but it is something I value. I have never gone to a Scout event or earned an award and not been faced with opposition or trying circumstances. It challenges me to look at things differently, to be flexible, and in all things: DO MY BEST!

4. Scouting has taught me to savor the little things in life that I often ignore.

There is honestly nothing more breathtaking than a colorful sunset or sunrise painted by God. There is nothing more peaceful than gazing at the stars in all their glory. There is nothing more satisfying than realizing you made it through a trying day, and it feels amazing. And there is nothing sweeter than knowing you are part of something.

5. Scouting has taught me the value of teamwork.

No, this is not some new novelty to me, but if you have ever seen a group of Scouts work together, you know exactly what I am talking about. The class clowns and valedictorians, the band kids and the athletes, the CEOs and the janitors, the “well-off” and the “barely making it.” People from different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures, all coming under the “umbrella” of Scouting to get something accomplished. Whether that be planning a Scout meeting or putting into motion a summer camp. We work hard, and we play hard….as a TEAM!

In conclusion, Scouting has taught me many life lessons, more by example than instruction. These are things that no money or class could ever teach me; they are things I value. I would hope that I would continue to learn from being involved in Scouting and that I would be able to teach more by example than instruction.
Posted by Bryan Wendell February 24, 2015,  Bryan on Scouting Blog

UP Conservation Scholarship

February 13, 2015


As part of Earth Day, Union Pacific is offering four scholarships worth $500 each to support conservation projects that high school students complete in their communities. Conservation initiatives can include (but aren’t limited to) projects such as building bird houses or bat houses to improving an arboretum or a trail.

Deadline to apply is April 15, 2015.


Anyone can subscribe to Eagles’ Call, the official magazine for Eagle Scouts

February 11, 2015

Eagles'-Call-Winter-2015-coverEagle Scouts go on to do great things. They play and coach in Super Bowls, race in the Iditarod,direct nightly news shows and serve as our nation’s defense secretary.

Showcasing those accomplishments is the goal of Eagles’ Call, the quarterly magazine from the National Eagle Scout Association.

All active NESA members automatically receive Eagles’ Call magazine as a perk of membership. That’s not changing. What you might not know, however, is that non-Eagles can subscribe.

The price is normally $10 a year (four issues), but I’ve secured a special discount code for blog readers that cuts that price in half. Use the promo code EGCBLG14 to get Eagles’ Call for $5 a year (four issues).

To subscribe, click here.

Spring 2015 issue coming soon

You won’t want to miss the Spring 2015 issue of Eagles’ Call. Inside, you’ll meet a number of remarkable Eagle Scouts, including Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds, storm chaser extraordinaire Reed Timmer and bestselling author Brandon Mull.

Posted on February 11, 2015 by in Eagle Scout // 0 Comments

Scouts, Venturers give a 3-D-printed hand to kids in need

January 28, 2015

3-d-printed-hands-2This could be the coolest STEM-related Scout service project I’ve ever seen.

Scouts and Venturers in Baltimore are creating 3-D-printed hands to distribute to kids in need around the world.

Increasingly affordable and simple to use, 3-D printers do exactly as their name implies: they create, seemingly out of thin air, a three-dimensional model of pretty much anything you can think of. Prosthetic hands are among the more altruistic 3-D-printed items around.

Among the beneficiaries of these 3-D-printed hands: Children born with partially formed arms, a category that accounts for one in every 1,500 children worldwide.

Standard prosthetic arms and hands cost thousands of dollars. Assuming you already have access to a 3-D printer, 3-D-printed hands can be made for less than $100.

The hands rely on simple technology: Strings act as tendons that open and close the fingers when the wrist bends. Some of the hands are precise and powerful enough to let users pick up a spoon and eat cereal. Others let kids wear a baseball glove and catch a fly ball. Talk about returning freedom to kids with disabilities.

What was once a potential source of embarrassment for these kids now makes other boys and girls jealous. The hands turn these kids into human Transformers, and it helps that the devices have cool names like the Raptor, the Cyborg Beast and the Talon.

“Luke used to be shy about his hand and sometimes hid it behind his back,” Gregg Dennison, father of 8-year-old “Little Cool Hand” Luke, told Popular Science. Luke was born without a left hand, and Dennison purchased his own 3-D printer and made a hand for Luke. “Now, Luke shows off his 3-D-printed hand at school. It really boosted his confidence.”

This is where Scouting comes in

Maria Esquela is a Baltimore-area mom and Scout leader who set up workshops to train Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers and Girl Scouts to assemble 3-D-printed prosthetic hands.

Esquela has hosted four workshops, and so far her Scouts and Venturers have assembled 46 hands. The hands are printed by e-NABLE, a group that develops open-source designs for 3-D-printed hands. The Scouts and Venturers assemble the fresh-off-the-printer parts.

Teens have a reputation for not being able to sit still for more than 20 minutes, but these youngsters enjoyed the project so much it was tough getting them to quit at the end of the day.

“Every Scout there was fully engaged in the project and didn’t want to stop because they understood the mission and believed in it,” Esquela told E-Nabling the Future.

Venturer Connor Brock, who sent me this blog post idea, took one of the 3-D-printed hands he created to a boy at Johns Hopkins Hospital. That one moment made all the tedious, precise work of assembling hands worth it, he said.

“I went to Hopkins for this fitting for this kid in Virginia,” he told Not Impossible Now. “It was a great experience because these pieces I was making I got to see assembled and put on this kid who had never had a left arm. And within 10 minutes he was picking up a ball and playing games with his sister. It was really great. It made everything real for me.”

Sources: Not Impossible Now, Popular Science, E-Nabling the Future

Posted on January 28, 2015 by in Scouting in the News, Service, STEM

Honor Guard patch now available for Boy Scouts

January 27, 2015

honor-guard-patchIf you want a ceremony done right, call the Boy Scouts.

For more than a century, Boy Scout Honor Guards have added reverence, dignity and patriotism to events like baseball games, camporees, parades, inaugurations, funerals and more.

And now, for the first time, there’s an official Honor Guard patch to recognize Scouts who take on this important role.

The patch, which goes on the right sleeve, is being shipped out to Scout shops (Supply No. 621029) now. It’s also available for shipment from Before driving to your Scout shop, be sure to call to make sure it has the patch in stock.

Here’s what else you need to know about this new patch. 

It’s worn on the right sleeve (not left).

Unlike position patches (senior patrol leader, scribe, patrol leader, etc.), which are worn on the left sleeve, the Honor Guard patch goes on the right sleeve. It goes in one of two places, depending on which other patches the Scout is wearing:

  • A half-inch under the patrol emblem (aka “position 3″)
  • Right under (and touching) the Journey to Excellence unit award.

In this way, it’s just like the Musician badge for members of troop bands or drum corps.


Honor Guard members may wear it at any time.

Boy Scouts who are members of an Honor Guard may wear this patch at any time, even if they aren’t serving an Honor Guard role at that exact moment. In other words, there’s no need to remove this patch when attending a troop event that doesn’t require Honor Guard services.

And because the patch goes on the right sleeve, a Boy Scout can wear his Honor Guard patch and his regular position of responsibility patch simultaneously.

The idea started with a troop in Baltimore.

The new patch was created with help from Troop 944 of the Baltimore Area Council. Nice job, guys!

Honor Guard does not count for advancement purposes.

As is the case with the Musician patch/role, serving in the Honor Guard doesn’t count as a position of responsibility needed for advancement. What does count?

For Boy Scout troops, it’s: Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, Venture patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, bugler, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, troop Webmaster, or Leave No Trace trainer.

Posted on January 27, 2015 by in Boy Scouting // 39 Comments


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