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.

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.