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 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.

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!