Archive | January, 2012
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BSA & Edison Nation Innovation Challenge

BSA & Edison Nation have launched a great opportunity for young inventors with an Innovation Challenge that is open to youth and young adults aged 7 to 21.   Check out the video above for details about the challenge.  Edison Nation will invest up to $1 million to turn ideas from challenge winners into reality.  Winners may also appear on the television series.  Pretty awesome stuff!!

More details about the challenge can be found at:


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New Training Materials

With grateful thanks to Mike Lamb, Michael Menefee, and David Skolnick;  I am very pleased to announce the availability of the following new training materials of interest to Commissioners and Scoutmasters.  These are excellent materials from great Scouters!

2012 CCS Doctoral Thesis Guide: Doctoral Thesis Guide – Standards and Formats (Word 2003 Version) by Michael Menefee, Assistant Council Commissioner, Heart of Virginia Council & Dean of the Doctoral Program, HoV Commissioner College

BCS 113: New Unit Sustainment by Mike Lamb, Assistant Council Commissioner, Los Angeles Area Council

DCS 600: Doctoral Thesis Seminar – Combines DCS 601, 602, 603 & 604 (PowerPoint 2003 Version) by Michael Menefee, Assistant Council Commissioner, Heart of Virginia Council & Dean of the Doctoral Program, HoV Commissioner College

DCS 716: Journey to Excellence – District by Mike Lamb, Assistant Council Commissioner, Los Angeles Area Council

Leadership Skills for Troops Multi-lingual Training Presentation by David Skolnick, Old Colony Council

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Tough Scouts TV Series

“Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?” This new series will be running on the National Geographic channel later this year. There will be six episodes pitting adults against tough Scouts in Scoutcraft challenges based on the 100 year old Scout handbook. There is some early scoop in a recent Hollywood Reporter article, “TCA: National Geographic Channel Greenlights Boy Scout, Tuna Fishing Series”! Will update you when we have dates for this series.

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Discontinued Square Knots

Welcome Mike Walton (Settummanque) as a guest editor!

Imprompu photo for a Scouting event. I have learned since then that I need to have someone more professional to do these photos!! This was taken in the summer of 1992.

Okay. Looking at the Scout shirt attached to this note, one can tell that I’ve been around Scouting a long, long time; that I’ve saved a life, protected the outdoors, gave some money to Scouting (actually, someone else gave some money to Scouting in my name). Earned the highest youth awards in each program — Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Exploring.  Did some other things as an Exploring volunteer.  Did some other things as a Boy Scouting volunteer. Church things, community things, international things.

Well, the BSA wants to consoldate some of the more than 40 or so square knot emblems — those little things on the left side of my shirt which resemble military ribbons — they are the Scouting version of ribbons — and I’m okay with this. Not all together cool, because under the plan I will technically be unable to wear one of those things for saving the life of a kid when I was a kid. Oh well… the BSA says that the things I and others have earned or received will continue to be valid for the life of the wearer/receipient.  Just that those “coming up” won’t be able to earn/wear/display those awards — because they will be “discontinued.”

Two people from the BSA’s Supply Group tell me that while the plan was to remove anywhere from 12 to 15 of the square knot insignia, that the current plan is to remove eight initially, with another four to be removed in 2014 or 2015:

This year (2012), the five former Cub Scout “Training” Awards — the Cubmaster, Cub Scout Den Leader (Training) Award, the WEBELOS Den Leader (Training) Award, the Tiger Cub Den Leader (Training) Award, and the Pack Trainer (Training) Award — will all be CONVERTED to other training recognitions, to make thing consistant across all programs.  The Cubmaster (Training) Award will be discontinued and new holders will earn the Scouter’s Key Award and wear a small Cub Scout program device on the ribbon of the medal as well as on the square knot insignia (as it was prior to 1987, when the new Cub Scout awards was first introduced).  The three Den Leader awards will be rolled up into the Scouter’s Training Award recognition, with program devices to be worn on the medal’s ribbon and on the square knot insignia signifying the program in which the award was earned within.

The Pack Trainer (Training) Award will be discontinued and a new Trainer’s Award will be developed for all programs, with Cub Scouters wearing the small Cub Scout program device to signify that they met the requirements as a Pack Trainer.

Additionally, the two remaining Exploring Awards will be discontinued — the Spurgeon Award and the “Universal Exploring Award” square knot will be no longer available in 2014. The red/white/blue and silver square knot insignia represented some six former Exploring awards (the first two versions of the Silver Award; the Ranger, Ace, Exploring Achievement Awards; and the the Growth Opportunity in Leadership Development (GOLD) Award) as well as holders of a local Council or national Young American Award.

Several of the awards formerly presented to segments of the Scouting community will be rolled up in 2014 and a new Scouting Community Awards square knot emblem will be created to replace the:  George Meany Award, the Young Service Award, the Pena Award and the Asian Scouting Service Award.

The Philmont Training Center Award square knot and device will be discontinued in 2013 along with the Doctorate of Commissioner Science and the Commissioner Award of Excellence (which, as you stated, was just introduced last fall).  The Commissioner Award of Merit will be rolled up into the Scouters’ Award of Merit and a small Commissioner emblem is to be attached to the square knot signifying the attainment of the award.

(I am pettioning the BSA to reinstate the Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award as a special shoulder insignia — perhaps fully embrordered with the shiny Mylar thread since we’re going back to the 70s with this stuff…)

The Speakers Bank and Alumni Connections Awards have become local Council-based awards and their square knots will continue to be available until exhausted (like, perhaps, in the next few months).

The Sea Badge cloth emblem also is going away and the BSA is not allowing the Sea Scouting community an exception — the metal Sea Badge will continue to be the highest training recognition in that program; it just will no longer have a  “knot emblem” — official or otherwise. (not a big loss there, because the official “knot emblem” really sucked and the unofficial ones never could get the size right to match the other square knot insignia.

And…I have been told that the Heroism Award is being discontinued, so that square knot insignia will go away as well as the medal.

First version of Pack Trainer Award square knot. Didn’t fly because the blue knot was similiar to other knot emblems.

Holders of all of the previous awards — and their square knot insignia — will continue to be able to wear them on the official uniforms; however, your best bet is to make friends with someone who has several of those knot thingys so that you can have replacements as the uniforms go onward.

And just so I can keep the rumor going; part of the reasoning for the reduction in the number of square knot insignia pieces is so the BSA can start re-manufacturing the knot insignia with the green backgrounds to match the Venturing field uniforms as much as they do the current “Universal” field uniforms.

Why to do away with these?  Two big reasons: low demand (not enough people were actually earning the awards) and a need to stem the tide on “we need a square knot for the X award because otherwise it wouldn’t get any traction”.  In both cases, one sees that this is NOT the case (exhibit “A”, the Alumni Award.  Less than 200 people earned the thing since its introduction two years ago) (exhibit “B”, the PTC Trainers Award. Less than 75 people have earned the award since it’s introduction three years ago) (exhibit “C”, the Spurgeon Award is no longer awarded to BSA members and only four Learning for Life/Exploring leaders received the award whom are also eligible to wear the knot as BSA volunteers).

There’s a rumor that it’s mainly because there’s a bunch of Scouters out there who have, like, fourty billion of these knot thingys on their shirts and the BSA is jealous that with the number of things on the shirt, the more “power” one has.  Stupid. Even with the reduction and consolidations listed above, there’s still going to be something like 15 or so square knot items in which a 40-year BSA volunteer will be able to wear.  Most BSA volunteers are going to continue to wear many of the discontinued ones way into the ’30s.  The impact of these awards will mainly be limited to Cub Scouters who will not be able to wear two rows of training awards and instead two square knot emblems with Cub Scouting program devices on them.

This is all I know…the official announcement about many of these awards has already been made — check out SCOUTING and Training Times, the BSA’s online training e-zine for more details.  Other discontinutions will be announced during the BSA’s Annual meeting in Florida this spring.

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Internet Scout – Prepared, Aware, & Alert

The U.S. Scouting Service Project ( has an Internet Scout Patch Program that is designed to help foster a family approach to youth use of the Internet.  The hope is that families will, by working through these requirements, develop a better understanding of the Internet, its dangers, and adopt safer practices.

We also hope that the dialog that is started in this program will continue and provide young people with a home safety net for their Internet use.

While the Internet offers many wonderful possibilities, it is also a dangerous place with predators and unrestrained content that may not always be appropriate for young people. While there is no way to prevent misuse of the Internet and no way to absolutely prevent any of the risks associated with using the Internet, it is our hope that parents and children who engage in a dialog about internet issues will reduce these risks and have a safer experience.

The patch design incorporates the words “Prepared”, “Aware”, and “Alert” because it is our hope that by working through the requirements with an adult mentor (parent or leader) that the Scout will be better prepared to use the Internet with an awareness of potential dangers that will keep the Scout alert to problems.  The red bordered patch is for youth participants.  The gold bordered patch is for adult mentors.

You can find out more about the program and review the requirements at

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Fitness and Scout Leaders

If you have been around Scouting very long, you know that the three core objectives in BSA’s program are developing character, citizenship, and personal fitness. The last of these three often gets short-shrift, especially in the adult leader ranks where example is important.

No, I’m not being critical of paunchy old Commissioners or Scouters with shirt buttons dangerously close to becoming airborne missiles.  Far from it.  Like many, I know all too well how age and gravity work.   Grin.

The thing is, we need to set the example if we expect Scouts to take fitness seriously and it would be wonderful to keep great leaders longer.  Nothing is sadder than to learn that a highly respected and skilled Scout leader and friend had to quit Scouting or died because of  a heart attack after battling high blood pressure and obesity.

I know it is a hard thing to make changes that are healthier and that fighting the bulge is no easy task – trust me I really do.  But old dogs do learn new tricks and so I’m thankful that a friend shared a great free publication with me from the National Institute of Health that his doctor recommended.   The publication is “Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH” (DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension).  This publication is available online for free at

The publication includes some great recipes for healthier meals that might even work for the Old Goats Patrol in your Troop.  Take a look at the section called “Recipes for Heart Health” and you’ll find some tasty ideas.  If that isn’t enough to get you started, there are books like  The DASH Diet Action Plan that provide meal plans and many more recipes. And yes, there is an app for that, if you have an iPhone.   Check out MyDASHDiet.

Caveat – I’m not a doctor or a health care professional.  I’m just an old paunchy Commish looking for ways to make better choices.  Please follow the directions from your health care providers and consult with them about your own health issues.



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Knots or Knot Cartoon Contest

Knots or Knot is the featured monthly cartoon series that has appeared on the U.S. Scouting Service Project web site on a regular basis since June 1999. The cartoonist is Rich Diesslin, who has also provided cartoons to National Jamboree newspapers. Rich is conducting a contest with a blank cartoon where you can suggest a caption.

February 2012
Knots or Not Kaption Kontest

Enter your Caption ideas on Facebook at (KNOTS or Not Scouting Cartoons Group), or comment on the KNOTS Blog,
or E-mail Rich directly if you don’t use facebook.

Enter often as you like – contest submissions end on January 27th!

The winner gets a by-line, a print resolution version of the cartoon and a Free Autographed Copy of Knots Cartoons (the full-color paperback book).

Last year’s winner – Fred Lauckner – January 2011


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Old Scouts Can Reconnect as Alumni

Know an adult that was in Scouting as a youth?   If you do, you may want to let them know about the Scouting Alumni Association.  For only $35, an adult who was involved in Scouting as a youth can reconnect as an Alumni member via the web at    According to the BSA web site on 1/1/2012, new members will receive the following benefits in addition to keeping up to date on Scouting:

  • Quarterly electronic newsletter Alumni Alive!
  • Cell phone ring tones of 10 bugle calls
  • Alumni Scrapbook accessibility to post your Scouting stories
  • Free one-year membership to the National Scouting Museum
  • Packet sent upon joining containing an embossed affiliation card, lapel pin, luggage tag, and window cling
  • One-time discount on a purchase from BSA Supply Group
  • And more …
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