Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2009's November Tweets

November had a number of interesting topics, including "THE" stamp for the BSA Centennial.

November's Top 10:
  1. ScoutSigns: 100th Anniversary Postage Stamp to be Announced! http://ow.ly/zQkO 
  2. #scouts New Post: Weekend Patrol Box #26 http://ow.ly/15ZTqe 
  3. Assorted BSA forms to tuck away for a rainy day... http://ow.ly/DrPB includes talent survey and adult/youth transfer forms 
  4. #scouts New Post: Weekend Patrol Box #25 http://ow.ly/15YozR 
  5. Merit Badge of the Week: Backpacking http://ow.ly/15NraY 
  6. #scouts Weekend Patrol Box #24--enjoy! http://ow.ly/wklF 
  7. #scouts New Post: Weekend Patrol Box #23 http://ow.ly/15TT05 
  8. #scouts New Post: Merit Badge of the Week: Cinematography http://ow.ly/160Yb3 
  9. BSA Pack Trainer qualifications and responsibilities http://ow.ly/Brla 
  10. Cub Scout Pack Newsletter, Poster, and Calendar Templates http://ow.ly/yyFk 
A bit discouraging, I have to admit, are the numbers for the merit badge series--may have to rethink the approach--what do you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Merit Badge of the Week: Cinematography

America loves movies.  Even small towns have a movie theater with the latest films from Hollywood.  Libraries loan DVDs and video stores abound.  Netflix will deliver them to your mailbox or over the Internet.

Need more?  Youtube is one of the most popular sites on the Internet.  In just under five years, Youtube has become a household name--20 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

According to Wikipedia, the Cinematography merit badge came to life with the help of an Eagle Scout--Steven Spielberg.  Apparently he personally attended the National Jamboree in 1989 to help launch the award as a merit badge counselor.

While this merit badges had a high-profile start, the Cinematography merit badge has been awarded only about 50,000 times in 20 years.

  1. Basics
  2. Cinematography.com--forums for amateur and professional cinematographers
  3. Boy Scouts of America on Youtube, and Boy's Life on Youtube
  4. Free Microsoft Movie Maker software download.
  5. Microsoft:  Get Started with Windows Movie Maker--this is what you can do.  Wow.
  6. Microsoft:  Creating and Sharing Great Movies--adding titles, credits, music and special effects to your movie
  7. 4-H has a filmmaking studio online.  Very educational and makes you feel like you can do it!
  8. Camera and sound techniques from an amateur filmmaker.
  9. Filmmaking for Dummies book--nuts and bolts for anyone to be able to make a film
  10. TV, video and motion picture camera operator career information:  Bureau of Labor Statistics
Related Merit Badges:  Graphic Arts, Photography, Theatre

Comments or resources to share?  Please leave a note in the Comments section or tweet away.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Weekend Patrol Box #26

Fall is in the air, no doubt about it.  Depending on where you are it might still be toasty warm during the day, or the trees might be at the height of color, or you have already had your fill of snow.

While the Scouts are out and about searching for letterboxes and geocaches, we can sit back and maintain the Patrol Box--make sure the water is hot, plenty of packets of hot chocolate and soup on hand and, of course, plenty of strong coffee to keep the chill off.

Also the right time of the year for apple cider.

However you run your patrol box this weekend, enjoy this week's Patrol Box.

  1. Troop Positions of Responsibility--BSA job descriptions for your troop's leadership and for Troop Leadership Training. (via bsahandbook.org)
  2. Build and fly a 1900 Wright Glider (via centennialofflight.gov
  3. I can't say enough about the possibilities of this trip:  hike or bike from Washington DC to Pittsburgh--330 miles. (via adventurecycling.org  and @advcyclingassoc).  We've backpacked 150 miles of it, and the Scouts love it. Venturers?
  4. Something completely different--write a novel in November?  Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is online and ready to help you out--they have a Young Writer's Program too that might interest your Scouts. (via nanowrimo.org and @nanowrimo)
  5. Merit Badge of the Week:  Chemistry
  6. New stuff at Scoutstuff! (via Scoutstuff.org and @scoutstuff)  Nice Scout hoodie just in time for Christmas.
  7. Cub Scout newsletter, poster and calendar templates for leaders (via Scouting.org and @boyscouts)
  8. Also at Scouting.org, BSA's official Twitter feeds (via Scouting.org and @boyscouts)
  9. Cubs and families:  Ranger Rick has 4 outdoor fall activities for you--Leaf Labyrinth, Leaf Angels, Leaf Memory (!), and Leaf Rubbings. (via National Wildlife Federation and @nwf)
  10. "African Adventures" by Baden-Powell (via Amazon)
So, will you go to Africa, learn about chemistry, make a leaf angel, write a novel, build an airplane or bike an adventure?  This week you can do it all!  Comments below or via Twitter are appreciated!

100th Anniversary Postage Stamp to be Announced!

Scouting has been celebrated on postage stamps around the world.  Some collectors only focus on those stamps.  There is even an organization for it:  Scouts on Stamps Society International.

There was also a big drive on Facebook to have an official stamp created for our 100th Anniversary, too. It showed that a lot of folks were upset that the anniversary may go unnoticed.

Well, looks like the wait might be over, per SOSSI website.

12 NOV 2009 at 10AM, the United States Postal Service is announcing a Celebrate Scouting stamp at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Can't wait to see it!  And I can't wait to hear the story behind the stamps creation.  Oversight? Public pressure?  Did folks just not communicate well?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Merit Badge of the Week: Chemistry

The sweet smell of gasoline?  Chemistry.

The sweeter smell of perfume?  Chemistry.

The bane of high school students all across the world?  Yep, the same chemistry.

Does physics get its own merit badge?  Nope.  Biology? Nada.  This is the only science badge you can still earn in any high school in the country just by going to class and paying attention.

Now if we can just find a way to connect the dots between this merit badge and the Scouts appreciation for gas fumes and per-fumes!  About 6000 Scouts each year do that now.

Attention chemistry teachers!  Check your students for Boy Scouts and see how you can help.


  1. Basics
  2. Chemistry is a tough subject--no argument.  Whether you want the merit badge or need to master it for school, I recommend the Chemistry for Dummies book and workbook bundle.  $10 off right now. [I use the Dummies series all the time to learn new things--excellent tools for self-education!]
  3. Chemistry projects for kids on About.
  4. Definitely for Scouters!  Burning Money Magic Trick (Brief commercial first.)
  5. OK, one more:  Hot Ice
  6. General Chemistry Online from Frostburg State University (a Scientific American Science and Technology Web Award winner) If you are a chemistry geek or want to be one, this site is fun!  (I was one in high school and college--we are special people!)
  7. MIT's OpenCourseWare project brings one of the finest chemistry programs in the country to you...free.
  8. The American Chemical Society brings you information on careers, college and education material  and...the Molecule of the Week (lower right hand corner)!
  9. Kitchen Chemistry from Penn State--includes "Find the Speed of Light with Marshmallows"
  10. First aid tips from the American Association of Poison Control Centers--brief and to the point.  Chemicals and lab equipment can be dangerous--be careful!

Related Merit Badges:  Composite Materials, Nuclear Science

Comments or resources to share?  Please leave a note in the Comments section or tweet away.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Troop Leadership Training: Troop Positions of Responsibility

Troop Leadership Training is happening in November for our troop (more here).

In a very timely email, this link appeared from the email ether:

Troop Positions of Responsibility
The following leadership positions count toward Boy Scout advancement. For more information, see the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook (#32501) and Patrol Leader Handbook (#32502A).

Patrol Leader

The patrol leader is the top leader of a patrol. He represents the patrol at all patrol leaders’ council meetings and the annual program planning conference and keeps patrol members informed of decisions made. He plays a key role in planning, leading, and evaluating patrol meetings and activities and prepares the patrol to participate in all troop activities. The patrol leader learns about the abilities of other patrol members and full involves them in patrol and troop activities by assigning them specific tasks and responsibilities. He encourages patrol members to complete advancement requirements and sets a good example by continuing to pursue his own advancement.

Senior Patrol Leader

The senior patrol leader is the top leader of the troop. He is responsible for the troop’s overall operation. With guidance from the Scoutmaster, he takes charge of troop meetings, of the patrol leaders’ council, and of all troop activities, and he does everything he can to help each patrol be successful. He is responsible for annual program planning conferences and assists the Scoutmaster in conducting troop leadership training. The senior patrol leader presides over the patrol leaders’ council and works closely with each patrol leader to plan troop meetings and make arrangements for troop activities. All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose their senior patrol leader. Rank and age requirements to be a senior patrol leader are determined by each troop, as is the schedule of elections. During a Scout’s time as senior patrol leader, he is not a member of any patrol but may participate with a Venture patrol in high-adventure activities.

Assistant Senior Patrol Leader

The assistant senior patrol leader works closely with the senior patrol leader to help the troop move forward and serves as acting senior patrol leader when the senior patrol leader is absent. Among his specific duties, the assistant senior patrol leader trains and provides direction to the troop quartermaster, scribe, historian, librarian, instructors, and Order of the Arrow representative. During his tenure as assistant senior patrol leader he is not a member of a patrol, but he may participate in the high-adventure activities of a Venture patrol. Large troops may have more than one assistant senior patrol leader, each appointed by the senior patrol leader.

Troop Guide

The troop guide is both a leader and a mentor to the members of the new-Scout patrol. He should be an older Scout who holds at least the First Class rank and can work well with younger Scouts. He helps the patrol leader of the new-Scout patrol in much the same way that a Scoutmaster works with a senior patrol leader to provide direction, coaching, and support. The troop guide is not a member of another patrol but may participate in the high-adventure activities of a Venture patrol.


The quartermaster is the troop’s supply boss. He keeps an inventory of troop equipment and sees that the gear is in good condition. He works with patrol quartermasters as they check out equipment and return it, and at meetings of the patrol leaders’ council he reports on the status of equipment in need of replacement or repair. In carrying out his responsibilities, he may have the guidance of a member of the troop committee.


The scribe is the troop’s secretary. Though not a voting member, he attends meetings of the patrol leaders’ council and keeps a record of the discussions. He cooperates with the patrol scribes to record attendance and dues payments at troop meetings and to maintain troop advancement records. A member of the troop committee may assist him with his work.


The historian collects and preserves troop photographs, news stories, trophies, flags, scrapbooks, awards, and other memorabilia and makes materials available for Scouting activities, the media, and troop history projects.


The troop librarian oversees the care and use of troop books, pamphlets, magazines, audiovisuals, and merit badge counselor lists. He checks out these materials to Scouts and leaders and maintains records to ensure that everything is returned. He may also suggest the acquisition of new literature and report the need to repair or replace any current holdings.


Each instructor is an older troop member proficient in a Scouting skill. He must also have the ability to teach that skill to others. An instructor typically teaches subjects that Scouts are eager to learn—especially those such as first aid, camping, and backpacking—that are required for outdoor activities and rank advancement. A troop can have more than one instructor.

Leave No Trace Trainer (new in 2010)

The Leave No Trace Trainer specializes in teaching Leave No Trace principles and ensuring that the troop follows these principles on outings. He can also help Scouts earn the Leave No Trace award. He should have a thorough understanding of and commitment to Leave No Trace. Ideally, he should have completed Leave No Trace training and earned the Camping and Environmental Science merit badges.

Chaplain Aide

The chaplain aide assists the troop chaplain (usually an adult from the troop committee or the chartered organization) in serving the religious needs of the troop. He ensures that religious holidays are considered during the troop’s program planning process and promotes the BSA’s religious emblems program.


The bugler plays the bugle (or a similar interest) to mark key moments during the day on troop outings, such as reveille and lights out. He must know the required bugle calls and should ideally have earned the Bugling merit badge.

Den Chief

The den chief works with a den of Cub Scouts and with their adult leaders. He takes part in den meetings, encourages Cub Scout advancement, and is a role model for younger boys. Serving as den chief can be a great first leadership experience for a Scout.

Webelos Den Chief

A Webelos den chief can help plan and assist with the leadership of Webelos den meetings and field activities. He can lead songs and stunts, and encourage Webelos Scouts to progress into the Boy Scout troop.

Order of the Arrow Troop Representative

The Order of the Arrow representative serves as a communication link between the troop and the local Order of the Arrow lodge. By enhancing the image of the Order as a service arm to the troop, he promotes the Order, encourages Scouts to take part in all sorts of camping opportunities, and helps pave the way for older Scouts to become involved in high-adventure programs. The OA troop representative assists with leadership skills training. He reports to the assistant senior patrol leader.

Troop Webmaster (new in 2010)

The troop webmaster is responsible for maintaining the troop’s website. He should make sure that information posted on the website is correct and up to date and that members’ and leaders’ privacy is protected. A member of the troop committee may assist him with his work.

Junior Assistant Scoutmaster

A Scout at least 16 years of age who has shown outstanding leadership skills may be appointed by the senior patrol leader, with the advice and consent of the Scoutmaster, to serve as a junior assistant Scoutmaster. These young men (a troop may have more than one junior assistant Scoutmaster) follow the guidance of the Scoutmaster in providing support and supervision to other boy leaders in the troop. Upon his 18th birthday, a junior assistant Scoutmaster will be eligible to become an assistant Scoutmaster.

We'll make good use of this during our training.

What materials do you use for Troop Leadership Training?  What works the best for you?  The worst?  Leave your thoughts below.

Troop Leadership Training: Patrol Positions of Responsibility

Our troop is running Troop Leadership Training in place of the normal meetings this month.  We haven't had one in a while, we are about to have elections, and the SPL decided this was easier than trying to get everyone to attend a special session (or worse, do it during our campout next weekend).

Serendipitously, this floated across my email a few minutes ago from BSAHandbook.org:

Patrol Positions of Responsibility

The following leadership positions with a patrol can make the patrol more effective and
fun. For more information, see the Patrol Leader Handbook (#32502A).

Patrol Leader
The patrol leader is the top leader of a patrol. The duties of the patrol leader include:
Represent the patrol at all patrol leaders’ council meetings and the annual
program planning conference.
Keep patrol members informed of decisions made by the patrol leaders’ council.
Play a key role in planning, leading, and evaluating patrol meetings and activities.
Help the patrol prepare to participate in all troop activities.
Learn about the abilities of other patrol members and fully involve them in patrol
and troop activities by assigning them specific tasks and responsibilities.
Attend troop leadership training and continue to work on advancement.
Encourage patrol members to complete their own advancement requirements.
Recruit new members to maintain a full patrol.
Set a good example by having a positive attitude, wearing the Scout uniform,
showing patrol spirit, and expecting the best from yourself and others.
Devote the time necessary to be an effective leader.
Work with others in the troop to make the troop go.
Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
Solicit ideas and concerns from patrol members so they have input to the
planning and operation of the patrol.

Assistant Patrol Leader
The assistant patrol leader takes charge of the patrol whenever the patrol leader is not
available. The duties of the assistant patrol leader include:
Assist the patrol leader in planning and chairing patrol meetings.
Lend a hand in leading patrol activities and building patrol spirit.
Help the patrol prepare for troop activities.
Assist the scribe in keeping current the advancement records of patrol members.
Monitor the advancement progress of patrol members.
Represent the patrol at patrol leaders’ council meetings when the patrol leader
cannot attend.
Set a good example.
Wear the uniform correctly.
Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
Show Scout spirit.
In addition, the assistant patrol leader may be given special assignments such as
working on a patrol service project or assisting certain patrol members with their

Patrol Scribe
The scribe of a patrol keeps the log—a record of what goes on at each patrol meeting. It
provides an accurate account of decisions made, assignments of responsibilities, and
patrol plans for upcoming events. To refresh everyone’s memory at the beginning of a
patrol meeting, the scribe may read the most recent log entry. The scribe checks
attendance, collects and records dues, and manages the budgets for outings. He may
also be the patrol’s Internet webmaster, encouraging patrol members to use e-mail to
communicate with one another between meetings. The task is best suited to someone
who has good writing skills, is well organized, and is dependable.

Patrol Quartermaster
The patrol quartermaster is responsible for the patrol equipment. He maintains inventory
of all of the patrol gear and makes sure it is clean and ready for the patrol to use. If an
item is broken, he repairs it if he can; if he can’t, he brings it to the attention of the patrol
leader. If the patrol has a chuck box for its frontcountry camp kitchen, the quartermaster
can monitor its contents and see that it is fully stocked with cook gear and staple items.
He checks out the gear for campouts and other patrol outings, and he makes sure
everything is returned and properly stored afterward. The responsibilities of the
quartermaster are suited for a Scout who is organized, dependable, and aware of

Patrol Grubmaster
The grubmaster of a patrol takes the lead in planning menus for hikes and campouts. Of
course, everyone in the patrol has a say in what he would like to eat. The grubmaster
helps make those wishes into reality by writing out the menu, itemizing the ingredients,
ensuring that purchases are made, and supervising food repackaging before a trip.
Scouts who are completing advancement requirements for cooking can work closely
with the grubmaster. The grubmaster should be a Scout who is familiar with the cooking
chapter of The Boy Scout Handbook and is aware of the importance of good nutrition. It
will help if he is also good at math and measurements.

Patrol Cheermaster
The cheermaster leads the patrol in yells, songs, and skits. His is a vital role when the
patrol is taking part in campfire programs. Just as important can be his contributions to
patrol spirit during long hikes, when the weather on a camping trip turns stormy, or
when the patrol is challenged by adversity. He should be an upbeat, outgoing person
who can get up in front of a group and lead a song or a cheer.

Yeah, we'll be using that resource.

When does your troop do Troop Leadership Training?  Certain time of the year, as needed, never? Share your thoughts below.

Monday, November 02, 2009

October's Top Tweets

According to Hootsuite, 1434 hits were registered in October on items posted to Scoutsigns or that I just found interesting on Twitter.

The Patrol Boxes seem to be the most popular items, and disappointingly the Merit Badge of the Week didn't do so well this month.  I'll have to try a little harder.  Is there something on the merit badges that you would like to see added or changed?

Here were the Top 10 tweets in October:

3.  Weekend Patrol Box #22  82 Clicks

Catch the video if you haven't already!  Was anyone else glad to FINALLY see the new Academics and Sports requirements?  Even if they are unofficial so far.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekend Patrol Box #25

This week's Patrol Box was hard to put together.  There was a lot of stuff to come across my plate this week, which is good for Scouters!  What I don't use this week, will probably go into the hopper for next week.

Weather was the first thing--I don't know about you, but ours has been all over the place. 30s some nights, rain, clouds, and tomorrow looks like it might get close to 75 degrees for "Trick or Treating".

My grass is still green and I picked 2 cups of cherry tomatoes the other day.

Be prepared, take the Hazardous Weather training, and keep a pot of soup on the back burner for the Scouts.

Enjoy the Patrol Box!
  1. Twitter--if you haven't joined Scouting on Twitter yet, you might be missing something.  From NASA to gardening, I get a lot of information here each week.
  2. Cub Scouts--(Unofficial) New Academics and Sports belt loop and pin requirements--13 new ones!
  3. Boy's Life brings you pumpkin tossing...just scroll over the L...and click on a pumpkin.
  4. Video you have to watch:  Really, it is why we are here.
  5. Venturers--you can earn the "A Year of Celebration" patch and ribbons, too.
  6. Merit Badge of the Week:  Canoeing
  7. New Book, pre-order 34% off: "Boy Scouts of America:  A Centennial History"  Help make it a bestseller!  288 pages of Scouting.
  8. Wildlife vampires--oxpeckers, vampire finches and leeches...'tis the season...
  9. Not done with Halloween thoughts yet:  America's Scariest Trails from Backpacker.com.
  10. Another Scouting YahooGroup:  Lone Scouts
Take some time to explore new areas of Scouting this weekend!

Comments?  Feel free to share your thoughts below!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(Unofficial) New Academics and Sports Requirements: Index

Unofficial or not, the new Academics and Sports belt loop and pin requirements are making their way around the Internet.

Last week, I mentioned (#9) that the podcast "An Hour a Week" had news on the new Academics and Sports program.  KISMIF.org has posted the requirements to a few of them, too.  Cub Scout Talk on YahooGroups included a link to all of them.

The new ones proposed are:
  1. Abilities Awareness
  2. Family Travel
  3. Good Manners
  4. Hiking
  5. Hockey
  6. Horseback Riding
  7. Kickball
  8. Nutrition
  9. Pet Care
  10. Photography
  11. Reading and Writing
  12. Skateboarding
  13. Video Games
Thirteen new belt loops and pins--which is 2 more than had been leaked back in March and April.

No word on whether or not any of the older ones will be retired.

We still need to see if they are all approved.  Don't start earning them until they are.

Which is your favorite idea?  Which is the least?  Do you use the Academics and Sports program in your den or pack?  Comment below or @Scoutsigns.

(Unofficial) New Academics and Sports Requirements: Abilities Awareness

Unofficial Academics and Sports requirements for Abilities Awareness:

Belt Loop
Complete these three requirements:
1. Visit with a child or adult with special needs. Find out what they enjoy and what they find difficult.
2. Attend a special needs event such as Easter Seals, Special Olympics, a performance with sign language interpretation, an activity with Needs or Guiding Eyes dogs, or a wheelchair race. Tell your adult leader what the participants were able to do.
3. Make a display about one or more special needs. It can include physical, learning, or mental challenges. Share the display at a pack meeting.

Earn the Abilities Awareness belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:
1. Look at three different wheelchairs. Explain their differences. With an adult’s help and permission, try to operate one.
2. Using sign language, demonstrate the Cub Scout Promise and motto.
3. Read a book about a person with a special need.
4. Explain how your school helps students with special needs (elevators, ramps, small classes, special tools and equipment, specialized teachers). Show some of these special resources to an adult or family member.
5. Describe one of the following and its purpose: Occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical therapy. Visit with a person who works in one of these fields and learn about his or her position.
6. Read about a famous person who has been physically or mentally challenged.  Report what you learned to your den or family.
7. For two one-hour periods, and with adult supervision, go about your normal routine doing chores, watching television, studying, etc. Change your abilities by using one of these experiences:
  • Hearing impairment—Muffle your ears with earmuffs or bandages.
  • Sight impairment—Blindfold one or both eyes.
  • Physical impairment—Bind an arm or leg so that it cannot be used.
  • Speaking impairment—Cover your mouth or do not speak.
  • Choose an impairment of your own that is approved by an adult.
8. Look at a catalog and find three items that could help a person with special needs in their daily life. Explain how each item would help the individual.
9. Volunteer and help someone with special needs in school, sports or another supervised activity.
10. Visit a nursing home or elderly person and help someone with a meal.
11. Talk to someone who works with people who have special needs. Ask what the person’s job is like and how he or she helps people with special needs.