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!

The National Scout Jamboree

The Boy Scouts of America have announced the theme of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree: “Live Scouting’s Adventure”. The theme echoes the BSA’s century-old legacy of adventuresome spirit and tireless self-improvement. The theme and new logo, both announced via the ScoutingNewsroom.org, symbolize the energetic outdoor activities available through scouting.

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The logo for the 2017 National Jamoree

The National Scouting Jamboree is a gathering of members and staff of the Boy Scouts of America and members of the public and is Scouting’s most recognizable event. Thousands of scouts, young and old, converge for about a week and a half to celebrate the organization and the amazing things the BSA are able to do. In 1937, the first jamboree was held in Washington D.C and was attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The next Jamboree was not held until after World War II in 1950. Following that, the jamboree has been held every 3-5 years.

From 1981 until 2010, the national Scouting Jamboree was held at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The military installation played host to the 35,000 scouts and some 250,000 visitors every time the jamboree was held. The jamboree has a new permanent home, though. In 2013, the jamboree was held at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.

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A local news story about the 2013 National Jamboree || WBDJ 7 Roanoke, Virginia

The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, or The Summit, is located in Mount Hope in WV. It is the BSA’s newest high adventure base and also is home to the National Center for Scouting Excellence. The site was made possible by a $50 million donation by the Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation. That donation is the largest in the history of the Boy Scouts of America. Aided by extreme generosity by the Susan and Walter Scott Foundation and other benefactors, construction on the facility began in 2010. Combined donations are estimated to total near $300 million. The massive 10,600 acre facility has over 5-miles of zip lines, over 35 miles of hiking trails, shooting ranges, and venues for rock climbing and bouldering, kayaking and even BMX and skateboarding parks.

The next National Scouting Jamboree will take place July 19-28, 2017.

Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America Part II

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

Here is part two of Robert Proctor’s look at the collaboration between Norman Rockwell and Boy Scouts of America. In this video, we look at Rockwell’s paintings during the 1940s. Much happened during this time period. As WWII ramps up, you can see a shift in the tone of the paintings. Rockwell is urging us all to do our duty and contribute to the war time effort. Enjoy!

Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America Part I

The Boy Scouts of America and Norman Rockwell from Robert Proctor Multisoft on Vimeo.

This video showcases the paintings that Norman Rockwell did for the Boy Scouts of America from 1925 to 1939. During this time period, Rockwell shows us Boy Scouts at their work. Stay tuned for more videos showing the collaboration between the BSA and Rockwell.

16 Year Old Eagle Scout Honored

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Matt Moniz (Image from Men’s Journal)

Matt Moniz, an Eagle Scout from Boulder, Colorado, was recently honored as having achieved one of “The Best Record-Breaking Feats of 2014” by Men’s Journal. What was his record breaking feat? Summiting both the 5th and the 6th tallest mountains in the world (Makalu and Cho Oyu respectively) in only a week. Needless to say, this is quite an accomplishment, but many people, including the afore mentioned publication and the Boy Scouts of America themselves, are saying it anyway.

According to the coverage of this award on the Boy Scouts’ website, this is not the first mountaineering honor earned by Moniz. in 2010 Moniz was named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the year after it took him only 43 days to summit the highest points in all 50 states. I had to double check the National Geographic article while writing this, actually, because I though that must have been a typo. In fact it was not. This kid is a natural climber.

This is a great example of why the Boy Scouts of America is great for youngsters. Now, obviously not every scout is going to break mountain climbing records before they are old enough to drive, nor receive awards from national magazines. But, what the Boy Scouts’ do is instill a love and respect for the outdoors and for outdoor activities, and teach people how to interact responsibly and safely with nature. Even if the activity is just learning how to set up a camp, how to start a fire, or how to use a compass, these are skills that can transcend someone’s activities with the Boy Scouts into many other parts of life. Even if young men aren’t scaling the highest mountains in the world and breaking records, it is important for them to get outside and away from their electronics every once in a while, if not much more often than that.

Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America

Norman Rockwell had an illustrious artistic career, thanks in great part to his famous partnership with the Boy Scouts. For over 60 years, Rockwell maintained a long and solid professional connection with the group, an association that left the world with an important artistic legacy and a powerful influence in the world of scouting.

It all began in the Autumn of 1912, when an 18 year old Rockwell sought work from Boys’ Life magazine. After an initial feature in the Founders of Our Country publication, Rockwell dove immediately into working for Boys’ Life, first as a successful staff artist, and then as an art editor a year later.

Beyond the Easel 1969|| A rare self portrait by Norman Rockwell

Beyond the Easel 1969 || A rare self portrait by Norman Rockwell

In 1917, Rockwell was a gangly, underweight 23 year old man. He attempted to join the Navy but was at first rejected for his weight. Though he eventually slipped in thanks to a friendly Navy medical professional, Rockwell only remained in the Navy for a year. By 1918, the war had ended and Rockwell was given special early discharge after painting a portrait of his commanding officer.

Ever since then, the work came pouring in, bringing with it fame and riches. After much traveling in the booming 1920s, Rockwell channelled his artistic focus back to his interest in scouting. In 1925, he published his first Boy Scout calendar painting with Brown & Bigelow. It was the first of 50 calendar paintings that Rockwell would make over the next half a century to represent honorable and patriotic images of Boy Scouts in action.

Though Rockwell published illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post and Look magazine, his primary focused remained those calendar publications. For over 50 years he managed to keep his paintings innovative, brilliant, and worthy of celebration. His paintings lasted for most of the Boy Scouts’ entire history, and helped it maintain a positive image during a period of heavy growth and popularity.

Rockwell died at the age of 84 in 1978, but his paintings will live on and leave the Boy Scouts with a lasting legacy.

Boy Scout Completists in Rare Company

An Eagle Scout has achieved something that few Boy Scouts do — he has earned all 138 merit badges. Greg Memmott of Draper, Utah, was awarded the final 8 badges at a Boy Scouts of America Court of Honor in the end of September. Memmott, 17, has been working towards this incredible goal for the past 4 years. He saw a neighbor accomplish the same feat, and was inspired to do it himself.

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Greg Memmott with his Merit Badges (photo: KSL.com)

Memmott has been an Eagle Scout since he was 14 and has been awarded nine Eagle Palms in the subsequent years. Earning all 138 merit badges demanded an incredible time investment. Memmott would spend roughly 6 hours per week during the school year to accomplishing his goal. During the summer he was able to put in considerably more time.

But just how rare is this feat? Rare enough that the Boy Scouts of America do not keep a formal record of scouts who earn all the merit badges. Earlier this year, two brothers in Virginia were able to complete the task at the staggeringly young ages of 11 and 13.

A privately-run website, MeditBadgeKnot.com, is actively petitioning the BSA to formally recognize the accomplishment and honor it with a square knot patch they have designed. They are acting as an informal registry for those who have been awarded all available merit badges. Currently, they list 17  young men who have done so in 2014.

While their list of achievers is far from complete and official, it is a great start to properly recognizing the hard work of scouts who go far above and beyond. Many scouts earn enough to become Eagle scouts and are soon after around 17 years old and transitioning out of the Boy Scouts. It would be nice for the BSA to give special recognition for those who start early and work diligently to earn all the merit badges before leaving the Boy Scouts. In any case, congratulations to those who have achieved this awesome accomplishment!

Boy Scouts of America Recognize Young Hero

As the Boy Scouts of America continue their fall recruitment through the month of September, they take a moment to recognize one of their own.  Coming February, the Boy Scouts of America will present Emery Benson the honor medal for his heroic actions last summer when he saved another person’s life.

Hero Scout Emery Benson (Photo: Jim Matheny, WBIR)

Hero Scout Emery Benson (Photo: Jim Matheny, WBIR)

A Maryville Boy Scout, Emory was on a hike along Big Creek last summer with family and friends.  Due to higher than average rainfall last summer, Mouse Creek Falls was significantly more dangerous, as the rapids were more ferocious than usual.  As a result of the increased rainfall, conditions were far too rough for swimming.

While eating lunch alongside Mouse Creek Falls, a 7-year-old Devon Leslie found himself hovering near the waters edge.  Unfortunately, his curiosity brought him too close to the water as he accidently slipped and fell into the thrashing waters.  Devons mother, Laurie Leslie, looked on in horror as he was swept downriver.

Fortunately for the Leslie family, Boy Scout Emery Benson found himself in a position to put his recently earned swimming badge to the test.  Having heard the desperate screams of a mother in need, Emery threw down his lunch and sprung into action. According to Ms. Leslie, Emery wasted no time, immediately jumping into the dangerous waters in hopes of saving a helpless Devon Leslie.  Swimming diagonally to meet the path of Devon, Emery eventually made contact and swam them both towards a safer area where they could climb out.  Both boys were fine.

In the face of such a traumatic event, the families developed a greater appreciation for the training and education young Emery has received through the Boy Scouts.  Now, a year older, and having completed his life-saving merit badge, Emery is officially trained for rescues similar to the one he instinctively performed last summer.  Boy Scouts all across America will continue to develop these valuable skills, and with members like Emery, these skills will inevitably to prove their worth.

Scout leaders will continue their fall recruitment from now through the end of September.