Boy Scouts Ski Trips: 3 Of The Best Ski Slopes On The East Coast

Homewood_SkiTeamsHeader_658x358pxThere is magic to being outdoors in the winter. Camping, skiing, snowboarding, spending time outdoors in the beautiful white powder snow. They can also be some of the most challenging of outdoor adventures.

The Boy Scouts of America operates the National Cold-Weather Camping Development Center at Northern Tier through the Okpik program. Boy Scouts are well-versed in outdoor safety, and more importantly, winter outdoor safety. They also spend time going on ski trips together as a fun way to bond during the winter months, and this list covers some of the best ski slopes that they journey to on these adventures.

While many people head to the Western part of the United States to ski, it’s actually quite possible to ski on the East Coast as well. Don’t overlook the steep, impressive, exhilarating and powdery slopes of the East Coast. Here are a few of the best East Coast slopes:

1) Jay Peak, Vermont

This peak offers an experience that is not too different from the Western ski experience. This intense and steep terrain is far from many other landmarks, thus making it a path less traveled even for those who live on the East Coast. Jay Peak gets quite a lot of snow. In fact, the last two seasons, Jay Peak received more total snowfall than Squaw Valley. Over the past ten years, Jay Peak has gotten an average of 355 inches of snow annually. If you ski at Jay Peak, expect an experience similar to skiing in the woods. While February and March tend to produce the most snowfall, the high amount of snowfall in this area makes almost any time of year perfect for skiing.

2) Killington, Vermont

Killington is one of the most popular skiing resorts on the East Coast. It is large with six peaks and is always crowded. This is definitely more of a tourist scene than an opportunity to become one with nature, but it is an experience you won’t soon forget. Killington has the longest seasons on the East Coast, bragging that it is almost always the first to open and the last to close. At this big slope, there’s something for everyone, from rugged terrain to a series of bumps and moguls to give you an adrenaline rush while you ski.

3) Whiteface, New York

Any true skier will want to head to Whiteface in New York. The 1980 Olympics occurred on this mountain, so you know it’s no joke. If you don’t like ski slopes with base “villages”, this is the place for you. Building on this area while abiding by Adirondack park regulations is very difficult, so there are very few base operations. This area has incredible views of the WIlmington Notch the wilderness around the Adirondacks. The nearby mountain village of Lake Placid is a must-visit if you want an authentic experience. If you get outside of Lake Placid, you will be able to experience the wilderness of Upstate New York. But if you visit here, you’ll want to pack many extra layers as the weather here is extremely cold and cloudy. But if you’re a true skier, you’ll want to visit Whiteface at least once in your life.

Anyone who is serious about skiing should not only stick to the western half of the United States. There are a number of slopes on the East Coast that will provide any skier with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to visit these slopes to experience what East Coast skiing is all about. It may be different from the Western slopes, but you won’t regret it.

The 25 Year Project: An Eagle Scout’s Endless Quest

The 25 Year Project- An Eagle Scout's Endless Quest

To rise to the rank of Eagle, Boy Scouts must design, lead and complete a community-based project with their troop. Most of these projects take place over the course of weeks, or months. Concise projects followed by graduation to Eagle are the status quo for most Boy Scouts, however, one particular project headed by Ryan White is about to celebrate it 25th year of unbroken continuity.

Ryan’s quest began in winter of 1991. His mother discovered that a local mall which ran a toy collection each holiday season had not gathered nearly enough toys to meet the requests of local underprivileged migrant families. With the help of Father Federico, an assistant priest in Ryan’s hometown of Murphysboro, Illinois, Ryan and his mother held a drive to collect additional toys and provide local children a Christmas to remember.

Ryan caught the Christmas bug in winter ‘91. Ever since the success of that first quest, Ryan was inspired to make Christmas Day as special and memorable for others as his childhood holidays were for him.

Ryan didn’t have to look far to find a worthy cause to undertake for his Eagle project the following year. Accompanied by Judy White, Ryan’s mother and assistant scoutmaster, and nine friends from Troop 4, Ryan collected new toys and even repaired a few that were used and broken. The toys were then wrapped and delivered to local migrant camps to spark smiles and help create great Christmas memories. Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and St. Andrews, a local church, Ryan’s project required over 100 hours of hard work to complete.

To Ryan, Judy and Troop 4, that time was more than well spent. Thanks to their efforts, a few more children were able to experience the heart-pounding joy of rushing downstairs Christmas morning to see gifts under their tree. Their toy drive was met with such success that every year since, Troop 4 has come together on the first Monday of December to collect toys and distribute them among the less fortunate. Over the years, the number of children who unwrap Troop 4’s toys on Christmas has swelled from a handful of locals to over 200 across Southern Illinois.

As we approach the holidays, those always blissful but often hectic days which mark the passing of another year, it’s the small acts of kindness like Troop 4’s toy drive which seem even more beautiful in contrast to the unrest and violence we hear about about all too often.

The Boy Scouts of America Have A New Leadership Complex In The Works

In June of 2016, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) celebrated the groundbreaking of the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex. This facility, located at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia, will provide training on the principles of leadership. The facility will further the organization’s mission to develop and shape the next generation of America’s leaders. The complex will be completed in 2020, at which point the BSA hopes to make the site available for leadership events. The BSA is currently exploring opportunities to make this dream a reality.

The complex is named after the BSA’s oldest partner and largest sponsor of Scouting units, who is also the president of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The complex will feature a number of guest speakers and offer several training methods and learning experiences regarding topics like conflict resolution, communication, and storytelling.

Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, says that the Summit Bechtel Reserve is a perfect location for the complex, since the reserve offers life-changing experiences to young people that they cannot receive anywhere else. All Scouts in BSA programs gain a number of leadership skills, and the complex will provide opportunities to formalize this training. This allows the Scouts to be better prepared to practice leadership throughout their lives.

The development of the complex will add to the economic impact that the Summit Bachtel Reserve has already had on the area. Additionally, every job on-site that is related to construction is expected to support local employment.

Jack Furst, a private equity investor who has overseen every stage of this project, stated that West Virginia has been a great partner ever since plans to develop the Summit Bechtel Reserve were announced. Furst and the team look forward to working with the state further to build the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex, which will ultimately make progress for the entire region.

With the building of this complex, there is now an opportunity to recognize the BSA’s partnership with the Church, as well as the dedication to Scouting that Thomas S. Monson has exhibited. Monson is a longstanding member of the National Executive Board of the BSA. He has worked as a selfless volunteer, receiving the BSA’s Silver Beaver and Silver Buffalo awards, in addition to international awards like the Silver Fox and Bronze Wolf. Monson has stated in a video message recorded for the event that he is deeply honored to have this state-of-the-art complex named after him.

Monson is not the only person who will be celebrated with the building of this complex. The structures that make up the complex will be named after four BSA founders and some of the nation’s top business leaders. This includes Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation, John D. Tickle, Sr., the Chairman of the Strongwell Corporation, W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., the Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, Inc., and Philip M. Condit, the new retired Former Chairman and CEO of Boeing.

Come 2020, this complex will make a big difference in its local community and in the lives of many Scouts.

Scouting-Inspired Preparatory School Builds Leadership Within Students

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There are a number of different approaches to teaching, from the methods used in Montessori schools to those used in other charter schools. St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark New Jersey takes another unique approach that is based on a familiar handbook. That handbook is the Boy Scout Handbook. This school’s leadership structure is based strongly on the values of the Boy Scouts of America. Students gain the opportunity to lead their peers and make decisions regarding the happenings in the school. Perhaps most importantly, they are able to make mistakes and learn from them in a positive and constructive way.

Edwin Leahy, the headmaster of St. Benedict’s, was inspired by the Boy Scout Handbook to create a learning environment based on the morals of the Boy Scouts. This school was recently featured on an episode of 60 Minutes, in which journalist Scott Pelley explores the story behind St. Benedict’s and its student-based leadership.

Each and every day at St. Benedict’s, the values of the Scouting program play into the techniques used in the school system. One may be wondering exactly how this works, given that typically in a school system the teachers and the leaders and the students are followers. But St. Benedict’s system has been proven to bring its students to success. In fact, it was this system implemented by headmaster Edwin Leahy that turned the school around.

Leahy was a student at St. Benedict’s years before he became the headmaster and implemented his unique approach. After graduating, Leahy looked at St. Benedict’s as a former student and wanted to figure out how to improve this struggling school. As a man who relies heavily on the moral code of the Boy Scouts, he turned to the Boy Scout Handbook for inspiration. There he got the idea that children can lead themselves. Almost 50 years later, the school is a testament to the success that occurs when the Boy Scouts’ values are implemented into a school system.

Students are organized into groups, in which they compete for top grades. Students are given the opportunity to elect peer leaders from their groups. Students do a lot of the jobs typically allotted to faculty members, such as leading the group, setting schedules, and coordinating events. The school’s motto states that “Whatever hurts my brother hurts me”, indicating that the team outweighs the individual.

Leadership and teamwork aren’t the only aspects of Scouting that the school incorporates into its program. Every spring, the upperclassmen lead the new students on a four-day 55-mile hike. This allows the students to get to know one another while also interacting with nature.

Edwin Leahy has certainly left is his mark on St. Benedict’s school, and it is making a huge difference. In fact, most of the students enrolled at St. Benedict’s are from lower income communities where gang violence is rampant. This incredible school shows how the leadership values of Scouting can change a community and build brighter futures for young people.

The Boy Scouts Guide to a Cross-Country Bike Trip

A while ago, I wrote an article about a group of boy scouts who were embarking on a cross-country bicycle trip in honor of a classmate of their who had lost the fight against cancer. This was not only a fitting tribute to a fallen friend, but also an incredibly brave and difficult undertaking for bikers of all levels, let alone a group of untrained youths. Having raised over $30,000 and completed their trip successfully, the seven riders have some advice for anyone else thinking of trying their own cross-country bike ride.bike trip

  • Train a lot: This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised. Not only should you train more than you think is necessary, but you should also make sure you’re training with the equipment that you’re bringing with you.
  • Plan ahead: Make sure you have some sort of plan or schedule that you’re looking to stick with. It will make the entire trip easier, more manageable, and will allow you to enjoy every day’s new adventures since you don’t have to worry about the future as much.
  • Find a cause: While it isn’t necessary, riding for a cause makes the trip easier and more worthwhile. Not only that, but with a cause you’ll be helping people and will run into others who share your vision and cause.
  • Travel light: This might also seem obvious, but make sure you don’t pack too much. You’ll be traveling far and a heavy load will simply make things more difficult than they will already be.
  • Always carry food and water: Make sure you have enough food and water, especially if you don’t know when you’ll be able to stop for more. If anything, make sure you have too much of both because the last thing you want is to run out when you need it most.
  • Think about your load: You’re going to be traveling long distances by bike. Make sure you actually need everything that you’ve packed and know that there’s no shame in sending things either further up the road or back home.
  • Pay attention: You’re going to be riding a bike across one of the largest, most diverse, and most beautiful countries in the world. Make sure you’re paying attention and watching your surroundings — you’ll see things you’ve never seen before and every part of the road is going to be different than what’s in front or behind you.

These are some pretty great tips for a bike ride of any length and have that classic sense of Boy Scout realism behind them. Make sure you plan ahead and have fun!

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

10 Things to Know About the Cub Scouts in 2015, Pt. 2

This is the continuation of my last post on this blog in which I talked about changes to one of the country’s most beloved institutions. The Cub and Boy Scouts of America are undergoing some changes that are going to make the program noticeably different when compared to previous years or what parents themselves went through as scouts. Here are 5 more changes to the curriculum, experience, and goals of the Scouts. While some people may see these as good or as bad, all that matters is that our boys have as much fun and learn the lessons that we learned when we were Scouts, regardless of any changes in how things are done.

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The covers of the new Cub Scout program books.

  1. STEM is now fully integrated: As STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) classes become more and more important and focused on in schools across the country, the Boy Scouts are doing their part to introduce STEM courses focus on it throughout the experience. No longer are STEM badges relegated to the side, STEM is now a vital and fully-integrated part of the Boy Scouts and will continue to be for a long time.
  2. Citizenship AND service: While the Boy Scouts are continuing their emphasis on citizenship and bring a patriotic American, there is now an extra emphasis on citizenship through service as well. Community service is now a necessary and important part of the Scouting experience.
  3. Nutrition now also focuses on doing, not just learning: Now, the Scouts aren’t just going to be learning how to be healthy and what to avoid — they’re also going to be putting that knowledge into practice. Eating healthy and exercise now have a greater importance within the Scouting experience and Scouts are even asked to bring healthy snacks to share with their den.
  4. Increased camping requirements: While camping was always important in the past, there is now an increased emphasis on it as our world becomes more technological and indoors. Since the Scouts is frequently the only camping opportunity for boys from cities and urban areas, there is now more camping!
  5. Knots, fires, hiking — they’re all still there: Even with these changes (some of which are more sweeping than others), the basics of the Scouts has remained and will continue to do so. There is even more of these sorts of survival and outdoorsy activities than there were before, something that many parents will find to be a good things.

These are just 5 (and 10 in total) of the changes that the Scouts of America are undergoing this year. While the program may look different, it seems as though it’s gotten even better than it was. Happy camping!

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

10 Things to Know About the Cub Scouts in 2015, Pt. 1

The Cub Scouts are to the Boy Scouts what preschool is to school. It is where the future leaders of the world learn the very basic tenants of what it means to be a Boy Scout and how to work hard with a purpose in mind. Like many venerable and long-lived institutions around the world, the Cub Scouts haven’t changed all that much in the past years. That being said, it seems as though the Cub Scouts have recently undergone a massive overhaul so that what they teach and instill is more in line with the world we currently live in. Here are the first 5 major differences that parents should know about for the Cub Scouts in 2015.

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The covers of the new Cub Scout program books.

  1. One oath, one law: Up until this year, every level in the Scouting organization had a different oath and set of laws that required scouts to constantly readjust and re-memorize whenever they rose to the next level. This is no longer the case and in an attempt to bring all the levels closer together, all levels in the Scouting organization are going to be memorizing and following the same oath and the same law. The new oath is “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, morally straight and mentally awake.” and the new law is “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” These will go far towards bringing all the levels closer together and fostering an understanding of how what you learned as a Cub Scout is still relevant as you’re entering your Eagle Scout phase.
  2. The ranks are unchanged: While the oath and law aspect of the scouts might be different, the ranking system isn’t changing. This means that all boys that join the Cub Scouts will still start as a Bobcat.
  3. No more academic or sports programs: These programs have been scrapped since they have nothing to do with the ranking system within the Scouting organizations. Since they didn’t have anything to do with rank advancement and most kids got the badges for pursuing activities they would’ve normally outside of the Scouting program, they are no longer around.
  4. Advancement is simplified: Now, instead of needing to accomplish a different number of badges and activities for each level, all levels simply need to complete exactly 7 “adventures” before they can move higher. This will go far towards getting rid of any confusion and difficulties when it comes to figuring out what you still need to complete to advance to a higher level.
  5. Instant recognition through belt-loops: Instead of receiving instant or delayed recognition based on your rank and a series of convoluted rules, recognition is now instant due to the use of belt-loops which speak to the activity accomplished as well as the age-group and rank the scout is. This will go far towards helping the children stay motivated about working towards their goals.

These are just 5 of the 10 major changes. I’ll be writing about the remaining 5 in my next post but if you’d like to read them all now, click the link here.

Boy Scouts Embark on Cross-Country Bike Trip for Charity

Losing a friend can be one of more traumatic experiences in a young person’s life, especially if it’s to a disease as powerful and wasting as cancer. However, tragedy and trauma can frequently lead to good things and this seems to be the case when talking about the 7 Boy Scouts who have embarked on a cross-country bike ride in honor of a lost friend and in an attempt to raise funds and awareness for the disease which took her life. The 7 bikers began their epic trek fon June 15th in Florence, Oregon and, with 3,000 miles down and only 3,000 left, they’re looking to wrap things up on August 18th in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

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Pictured, from left, in Florence, Oregon: David Margolies, Brian Richardson, Alex Broz, Andrew de Figueiredo, Max Morgan, Will Owen, and Sam Billings. Photo contributed.

This story, while heart-wrenching, speaks to the classic ideals and attitudes of the Boy Scouts of America. After reading this article, I have never been more proud to be associated with this fantastic group of young men who have taken it upon themselves to accomplish something that even seasoned adults and bikers would be wary of. They are biking over 6,000 miles in 66 days and they aren’t just biking on roads. These young men have crossed over some of the most rugged terrain this country has to offer, including the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains. They have crossed the Continental Divide and there’s no looking back now!

The inspiration for this trek came from a death of a close friend to all of the boys from germ-cell cancer. Their friend had always expressed a strong desire to help others in need and so when she passed, the 7 Boy Scouts decided that the bike ride would be done in her memory and to raise funds to fight the disease that took her life. They are riding under the banner of the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation which works to support and fund cancer programs and treatment for teenagers in hospitals across the country. This is a fitting tribute to her memory and I know that they’re both raising the funds and awareness that they set out to raise.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here. To follow their trip and to learn how you can help, click here.

The History of the Pinewood Derby

Anyone one who was a Cub Scout surely has fond memories of the annual Pinewood Derby. One of the Boy Scouts of America’s most beloved traditions, the Pinewood Derby is certainly one of the highlights of the year. For the uninitiated, the Pinewood Derby is a competition were scouts and parents build a model car from wood and race them against others on a downhill track. The cars are constructed from a kit, as to level the playing field. The kit contains a block of pine, fours wheels made of plastic and metal nails to serve as axels. Though there are rules dictating the dimensions of the cars, the event allows scouts and parents to be creative when constructing their cars. While it is a competition, the beauty of the event is families working together and everyone showcasing their cool creations.

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Examples of Pinewood Derby cars on a track. (photo: Getty Images)

The history of the event is just as heartwarming as it’s legacy. The first Pinewood Derby was held in Manhattan Beach, California over sixty years ago in May of 1953. The event was the brainchild of Don Murphy, the Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 280C. Murphy’s son, a member of the pack, was too young to compete in the upcoming Soap Box Derby, where young men drive small cars down a hill. At ten years old, Don’s son would have to wait two more years to compete. To salve his son’s disappointment, Don devised a competition that younger scouts could compete in. A model maker in his spare time, Don thought up a competition where all participants received a kit and built model cars, which would be raced down a track.

For Don, the real benefit of the event was getting to work closely with his son and to create an opportunity for other parents to collaborate with their sons. The Pinewood Derby promotes both craftsmanship and sportsmanship, two hallmarks of the Boy Scouts of America. The event gained traction quickly and spread far and wide. These days, Pinewood Derbies are vastly popular. Ask anyone who has gone through the Boy Scouts, and they will have great memories to share about their experience. Here’s to another 60 years!

Norman Rockwell and Boy Scouts of America Part III

Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America Part III from Robert Proctor Multisoft on Vimeo.

Robert Proctor, President of Multisoft, has another video showcasing the collaboration between the BSA and Norman Rockwell. In this edition, we look at the 1950s. WWII is over and American has never been stronger. In these paintings, we see Boy Scouts in that Rockwellian America that we all hold dear when looking back at the 1950s. Enjoy!