Category Archives: News

Community and Council: Local becomes Legendary

Like any new entity, The Spirit of Adventure Council experiences new milestones each day as it matures and adapts. CSP-Family (1)The release of the council shoulder patch (CSP) is the most recent of these! Way back in the summer, we asked Scouts to draw and submit patch ideas, the marketing committee reviewed the designs and ultimately choose the patch that is now available in stores.

Much of the dialogue throughout the patch design process focused on our identity. In contrast the name of that was chosen does NOT showcase any type of geographical or historical significance, but instead seeks to embody the aspirational intent of Scouting itself. (please read the blog about the decision about the significance of the name) The patch however is FULL of geographical and historical references. While we couldn’t fit every single reference to our heritage in one small patch – the committee certainly has many unique references without making the patch too busy.

One critical sentiment the group wanted to reflect in the patch is our focus on community. The focus of the new council is “helping Scouting thrive in your community” unique council patch can reflect that mission (it’s also a pretty cool throw back to the old school town and state patches)

The best reason to buy these limited time patches: A Scout is friendly, and Scouting teaches citizenship. It’s a great opportunity for Scouts to recognize that Scouting has no boundaries; a Scout at camp can meet new friends and learn instantly about their community.

LimitedCSPFor a limited time only, this CSP will be available to order with your unit’s local town name placed at the bottom of the patch. Coordinate your order with your Unit leader and/or other units in your city/town.

Click here for the order form – the order forms will also be available at December Roundtables

Allagash or Bust!

Submitted by Nicole Conte, Crew 345 President, Lone Tree Staff Member

Only days after all but two of our members graduated from high school, we set out for Allagash Maine, or as we like to call it, “Almost Canada.”  TheAllagash2 trip began early Sunday morning.  We gathered together, clad in traffic-cone orange Crew 345 T-shirts and brimming with a surprising amount of energy for teenagers that early in the morning.  We packed up quickly then painted decorated the van; “Crew 345,” “Allagash or bust!” and venturing symbols covered all sides of the van in vibrant red, white, and blue letters.  With group pictures taken, and goodbyes to parents said, it was time to begin our journey.

The road trip up to Maine was full of excitement.  We talked, laughed, had a couple dance parties and even listened to old folk tales about the Allagash River and mountains.  After reaching the outfitters, we pitched camp.  We cooked up spectacular diner and shared our eagerness to get on the river the next day.  In the morning, we packed up headed for the Allagash and then, the rain began.

We decided not to let a bit of rain deter us from adventuring down the class three rapids which began our river run.  The rapids went very well at first, it felt epic and thrilling racing down the river dodging rocks and aiming for the most treacherous sections of rapids, just for the fun of it.  Then, the first canoe tipped, then the second, and the third.  Thankfully, we had dropped our gear at the bottom of the rapids so nothing was lost.  The journey down the rapids quickly turned into a series of rescue missions in which one canoe would sink in the process of turning another one upright.  Eventually, this vicious cycle was righted and we made it to the bottom of the rapids drenched through every layer of clothing, but thrilled to have survived the river.       The weather was frigid and we still had miles to go before reaching our next campsite.  After a rugged two mile paddle, we reached camp in not the highest of spirits.  However, the chance to dry out by the fire and devour an impressively delicious steak dinner replenished our moral.

The next couple days brought icy rain, a major test of willpower and a peculiar conversation with a park ranger about his crusade to find the best sushi in Canada.  The days were cold and despite our best water proofing efforts, everything was wet.  Every time the rain let up for a moment we were quick to hang things up to dry.  But then, the rain would start again and it was back to square one.  Though this leg of the trip proved difficult, it may have been the most important for us.  We powered through by depending on each other for encouragement and with excessive joking about our own misfortunes.  As tough as the first few days may have been, Wednesday made it all worth it.

AllagashEarly in the afternoon on our third day on the river day the clouds broke and we saw blue sky for the first time in what felt at like ages.  With clear skies came a warm sun and lifted spirits.  This change could not have come at a better time because that was the night we stayed at Allagash Falls.  Camp
was completely set up by late afternoon.  Now, we had a chance to go exploring.  After a short venture through the woods the trees parted to reveal a beautiful forty foot waterfall shimmering in the afternoon sun and rushing down the rocks with awe inspiring natural power.   Hours past exploring the falls, climbing the rocks, taking pictures and swimming in the slower waters.  In one section of the falls we found a massive snow pile tucked in a curve of the rock formation.  So there we were, in the middle of June, next to a waterfall, having a snowball fight!  Our time at Allagash Falls was probably the greatest part of our entire trip.

We stayed at the falls late into the next morning.  Nobody wanted to leave, but we needed to press on.  Leaving the falls was sad, but the weather continued to be beautiful. We had covered so much ground during the rainy days that the last couple days were enjoyable and relaxing.  Sometimes we paddled and raced and other times we held on to the gunnels of each other’s canoes and just floated down the river as one big raft while singing camp songs and          Josh’s favorite Taylor Swift hits.  We even encountered more rapids toward the end.  But this time, we were ready.  Not a single canoe was tipped!

As we reached our final reach our landing space on our final morning, a sense of triumph flooded over us.  We had accomplished something significant.  We had made it together as a team and as closer friends than we had ever been before.  It felt like if we could make it sixty-two miles down the Allagash River in four and a half days, we could do anything.Allagash3

Months later, I asked my fellow crew members to reflect and tell me what their favorite canoe trip memory was.  For some it was the chance to go explore something new every day.  For others it was the conversations we had around the dinner table or late into the night by the fire.  Our trip down the Allagash really had something to offer everyone.

Since the Allagash, our crew has changed.  Some of our crew members have moved on as they began college and new members have joined, bright eyed and ready to learn.  This is the life cycle of a Venture Crew.  While things change and we move on to new adventures, our good times, and bad times on the Allagash will always be a part of crew 345 history.  In our future we will be hiking Mt. Chocorua.  This coming winter we hope to do some ice climbing, and the springtime may bring zip lining in the White Mountains.  And after that, who knows?

“Un juego con un propósito …”

Enviado por Francisco Guzmán, Cubmaster, Pack 109, Chelsea

Después de una breve conversación con Chuck el otro día, me sentí obligado a poner mis pensamientos por escrito. Espero que esto anime a otros a recordar el impacto que tiene nuestro programa al aire libre en los jóvenes.

Cada año, durante la última semana de septiembre, nuestro pack Cub Scout pasa una noche en el Camp Sayre como una manera de dar la bienvenida a nuestros nuevos Cub Scouts, y una introducción a los padres a lo que realmente es el Movimiento Scout. Siempre me sorprende y me emociona ver las reacciones que veo cuando nuestros nuevos Cub Scouts llegan al tiro con arco y rangos BB, o simplemente a el campamento en sí.
Este año, sin embargo, fue especialmente gratificante …

Hemos invitado a un nuevo Boy Scout a nuestro viaje. Su madre la conozco por negocios que tenemos juntos. Había oído a mi hijo y a mi hablar de algunas de las experiencias que nuestros Boy Scouts han tenido este año, y nos preguntó si su hijo podría unirse. Ellos se unieron a nosotros en nuestro día de registro, y con bastante rapidez todos nos dieron la sensación de que no estaba tan interesado. Asistió a la primera pareja de reunión, pero no estaba comprometido. Parecía que sólo quería hacer feliz a su mamá.

Decidimos invitarle a nuestro viaje Cub Scout Kick off para que compartiera con 2 niños que recien pasaron de Cub Scouts a Boy Scouts, ellos fueron completando algunos trabajos de Meerit Badgen (insignia al Merito). Al principio parecía vacilante, pero después de hablar con su mamá, el Nuevo Bouy Scout estuvo de acuerdo.

Observándolo durante las siguientes 24 horas me hizo entender que todos los desafíos de ser un voluntario scout valen la pena! Fuimos en una caminata desde el Museo Trailside al campamento. Rápidamente se sintio conectado con la orientación y lectura de un mapa. Cuando llegamos al campamento comenzó la creación de su propia tienda de campaña. Si alguien se acuerda de la primera vez que levantó una tienda, sabe que no es necesariamente fácil. Reimos juntos! Con un poco de entrenamiento, se las arregló para montar su tienda de campaña. Entonces él también ayudó en la construcción de la fogata, cocinar, e incluso llevó a algunos de los skits y canciones.

En el medio de la noche, su tienda se derrumbó !! Como un verdadero scout, se limitó a encogerse de hombros, y se volvió a dormir. A la mañana siguiente él simplemente preguntó si podíamos llevar la tienda de campaña para la próxima reunión de Scouts, por lo que podríamos aprender cómo armarla correctamente. Entonces supe que habíamos logrado nuestra misión de convertirlo en un Boy Scout.

PS: No ha perdido una sola reunion, ya que el viaje realmente involucró todas las actividades, y está prestando atención en la planificación de su viaje de camping en enero.

“A Game with a Purpose…”

Submitted by Francisco Guzman, Cubmaster, Pack 109, Chelsea

After a quick conversation with Chuck the other day, I felt compelled to put my thoughts in writing. I hope this will encourage others to remember the impact that our Outdoors program has on youth.

Every year, during the last weekend in September, our Cub Scout pack goes on an overnight at Camp Sayre as a way to welcome to our new Cub Scouts, and an introduce the parents to what Scouting really is. I am always amazed and thrilled by the reactions I see when our new Cub Scouts get to the Archery and BB ranges, or just the camp itself.

This year though, it was especially rewarding…

We invited a new Boy Scout on our trip. His mother is a business acquaintance of mine. She had heard my son and I talk about some of the experiences our Boy Scouts had this year, and asked if her son could join. They joined us at our Registration day, and fairly quickly we all got the feeling that he was not that interested. He attended the first couple of meeting, but was not engaged. He seemed to just want to make mom happy.
We decided to invite him to our Cub Scout Kick off trip to tag along with 2 recent Boy Scout crossovers who were completing some Merit Badge work. At first he seemed hesitant, but after talking to mom, he agreed.

Watching him over the next 24 hours is what makes all the challenges of being a Scout volunteer worth it! We went on a hike from the Trailside Museum to Camp. He quickly became engaged in the orienteering and map reading. When we arrived at camp he began setting up his own tent. If anyone remembers the first time they pitched a tent, you know it is not necessary easy. We all shared a laugh together! With some coaching, he managed to set up his tent. Then he also assisted in building the camp fire, cooking, and even led some of the skits and songs.

In the middle of the night, his tent collapsed!! As a true Scout, he simply shrug it off, and went back to sleep. The following morning he simply asked if we could bring the tent to the next Scout meeting, so he could learn how to set it up correctly. I knew then, we had succeeded in our mission of turning him into a Boy Scout.

PS: He has not missed a meeting since the trip, is truly engaged in every activity, and is assisting in the planning of their next camping trip in January.

Showcasing the Value of Scouting in Underserved Communities

Submitted by Komba Lamina, Beacon of Freedom District Executive

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the decline in bowling clubs and how it relates to trends across America with far fewer people joining organized groups. The piece also mentioned that even though there are fewer bowling clubs, the number of people bowling has actually increased.

The question that came to mind after reading that piece was: how come bowling clubs are disappearing when more people are bowling? The answer to this question could be a host of reasons: bad experiences with bowling clubs, the frequency with which people bowl nowadays is limited, and it is not worth paying a monthly fee… etc. All of this can be summarized as value. It seems to me that people do not see the value of bowling clubs, so why must they pay for it, attend meetings, or participate in its up-keep.

I view Scouting in urban communities through that same lens. The value Scouting aims to inject in every youth is directly in line with what parents in every community want for their child. Yet, a lot of people in the communities where I work are unfamiliar with the values of the Boy Scouts of America. Many recognize the brand, of course; on the other hand they are unaware that Scouting is for character development, citizenship, and physical fitness (and citizenship begins at home, the example of which is taking care of your home, your community then country). Because if they did, they will volunteer to be a Cubmaster, a Den leader, a committee member etc.

Why? Because their values are directly align with the values of Scouting.

Part of my job as the District Executive for Beacon of Freedom in underserved communities (known to many as ScoutReach) in Massachusetts’ largest Council is to communicate and showcase the value of Scouting in these communities; it is building awareness; it is building long lasting relationships.

In case you are wondering what ScoutReach is or the criteria used to determine where a ScoutReach unit is established: it is a Scouting Troop or Pack established in communities where half of the students qualify for the free lunch program. In the Spirit of Adventure Council, we serve communities in Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Lynn, Lawrence, and Lowell. Thanks to our great volunteers and few staff for ensuring that all of our Scouts are working on advancements, and are fully engaged in all that Scouting has to offer despite their economic background.

Please help us spread the value of Scouting in underserved communities. Here’s how:

On behalf of the youth in Beacon of Freedom District, thank you very much in advance for your support.

Mostrando el valor de Scouting en las comunidades marginadas

Enviado por Komba Lamina, Beacon of Freedom (Faro de la Libertad) Distrito Ejecutivo

Hace unas pocas semanas,  escribimos sobre la disminución de los clubes de bolos y cómo se relaciona con las tendencias a través de América con muchas menos personas que entran en grupos organizados. El excrito también mencionó que a pesar de que hay menos clubes de bolos, el número de personas interesadas en jugar bolos en realidad ha aumentado.

La pregunta que me vino a la mente después de leer esa pieza era: ¿cómo es que los clubes de bolos están desapareciendo cuando hay más personas interesadas en jugar bolos? La respuesta a esta pregunta podría ser una serie de razones: malas experiencias con los clubes de bolos, la frecuencia con la que la gente suele jugar a los bolos en la actualidad es limitada, y no vale la pena pagar una cuota mensual, etc … A todo esto se le puede dar un gran valor. Me parece que la gente no ve el valor de los clubes de bolos, así que ¿por qué deben pagar por ello, asistir a reuniones, o participar en sus tornamentos?.

Considero que el Movimiento Scout en las comunidades urbanas se puede ver a través de la misma lente. El valor en Scouting es pretender poner en línea en cada joven directamente  con lo que los padres en todas las comunidades quieren para su hijo. Sin embargo, una gran cantidad de personas en las comunidades donde trabajo no están familiarizados con los valores de los Boy Scouts of America. Muchos reconocen el nombre, por supuesto; sin embargo, por otra parte no son conscientes de que el Movimiento Scout es para el desarrollo del carácter, la ciudadanía, y la condición física (y la ciudadanía comienza en casa, el ejemplo del cual se hace cargo de su casa, su comunidad a continuación, su país). Porque si lo hicieran, se ofrecerían como voluntarios para ser un Cubmaster, un líder Den, un miembro del comité etc.

¿Por qué? Debido a que sus valores se alinean directamente con los valores del Movimiento Scout.

Parte de mi trabajo como Ejecutivo del Distrito para Beacon of Fredoom (faro de la libertad) en las comunidades marginadas (conocido por muchos como Scoutreach) en el Consejo más grande de Massachusetts es comunicar y mostrar el valor del Movimiento Scout en estas comunidades; que es la construcción de la conciencia y construyendo relaciones duraderas.

En caso de que usted se este preguntando qué es Scoutreach o los criterios utilizados para determinar cuando se haya establecido una unidad Scoutreach: se trata de una tropa de Scouts o un pack establecida en comunidades donde la mitad de los estudiantes califican para el programa de almuerzo gratis. En el Consejo de Spirit of Adventure, servimos a las comunidades en Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Lynn, Lawrence y Lowell. Gracias a nuestros grandes voluntarios y poco personal para asegurar que todos nuestros Scouts trabajen en los avances, y participen plenamente en todo lo que tiene que ofrecer el Movimiento Scout a pesar de su situación económica.

Por favor, ayúdenos a difundir el valor del Movimiento Scout en las comunidades marginadas.

Así es cómo:

En nombre de la juventud en el Distrito Beacon of Freedom (Faro de Libertad),  muchas gracias de antemano por su apoyo.

STEM Program Development

Spirit of Adventure has been selected to help develop STEM programs for middle-school age youth!

Remember that science teacher you had in elementary school that really made it all come alive for you? He or she had those awesome experiments that you couldn’t stop thinking about even after leaving school…maybe it was making ice cream in a #10 can, or growing mold on bread in your closet, or planting things and observing their growth. And, you know that you think about that teacher every time you pass along that knowledge to your Scouts (perhaps even using the same experiment they did with you).

We’re seeking Scout Leaders who teach STEM skills to Scouts to participate in a 90-minute focus group about the needs, expectations, interests, and challenges of mentors. This information will be used to guide the development of an innovative suite of digital tools aimed at improving mentors’ communication with middle school-aged youth. During the focus group we’ll be discussing topics such as the steps Scouts or other youth need to take to enter STEM-related careers, how mentors communicate with middle-school aged youth, why people choose to become mentors, and challenges that mentors face.

Those selected to participate will earn a FREE WEEK at either of our STEM Camps for your child, or for a Scout of your choosing.

If you are a Scout leader who teaches any STEM related merit badge or skills, and are interested in participating and sharing your experiences with us, please email Darrin Johnson (and pass along to other Scout leaders who teach STEM skills).

For now, possible dates are:

11/14, Saturday
11/16, Monday
11/19, Thursday
11/20, Friday

We have some flexibility regarding times (and even dates) but first we’d like to gauge interest in helping with this process.

The study is conducted in cooperation with WGBH and will be held at their headquarters at One Guest Street, Boston, MA 02135

Thanks for your interest and participation – it’s because of you that our youth have awesome program, and aspire to do great things!

Adaptation: Changing a Culture

Submitted by Chuck Eaton, Scout Executive

It has been an enlightening Fall as we rolled through the first typical six weeks of Scouting in the Spirit of Adventure Council. During the summer we had the benefit of simply running a few Scout camps: the highlight of our program. However, they are in many ways separate from the day-to-day, week-to-week operation of running a Pack, Troop or Crew. Once we hit September, all the units started up and the committees returned to their work, cultural differences started to emerge. Those differences are both our biggest challenge and greatest opportunity: crafting something new, adaptable, and flexible, to help us play better in the 21st Century marketplace of youth activity and family culture.

In this blog, I’ll lay out a few of the early changes and indications of what and how we are working together to help Scouting thrive in every community.

  • Customer Service 
    • Popcorn delivery – we had some great positive feedback from the improvements in the popcorn delivery system this year. The Council spent significant portion of the popcorn profits to increase the customer service.
      • “I just want to pass along a very appreciative THANK YOU to the two gentlemen that delivered our popcorn for Rowley Pack 15 to me yesterday.  I had every intention of having them drop the cases in my driveway and incrementally getting them down into the basement.  The guys helped me bring ALL 128 cases down to the basement, it was awesome. They were great!”
    • Council Open six days a week – as a somewhat unintended consequence of “open to the public” we re-organized our support staff to have a receptionist at the Egan Center on Saturdays. When we started doing that and the phone rang for other non-camp related questions, Scout leaders were happily greeted by an actual person on Saturday who often answered their question and solved their concern.
  • Project Based Giving 
    • Last week the properties committee held our first ever “Volunteer Auction” with over 20 people in attendance. Each of these skilled workers committed to donate time and expertise to various projects at our camps. Over 100 projects were “up for auction” and about 25 of those were selected. Spirit of Adventure will pay for the materials and the workers will make a contribution of time and talent to complete the project.
  • Governance “How we make Decisions” 
    • From the very beginning (May 28, 2015) we talked about the strategic direction of Camp Sayre and the camps that now make up the “Northern Network.” As part of that process we talked about Lone Tree as a camp that we would, over time, develop a specific direction designed to help Scouting thrive. But, until that time the direction was developed, it would be “on hold” with some basic alterations designed to maximize efficiency to its program and facility.  Now we are ready to start developing that direction. To develop that direction we will hold listening sessions specifically for how Lone Tree fits into the strategic plan.
      • Monday, October 26th, 7:00 PM @ First Presbyterian Church, 346 Broadway, Haverhill
      • Sunday, November 1st, 2:30 PM @ Flint Public Library, 1 S Main St, Middleton
      • Monday, November 2nd 7:00 PM @ EDCO 36 Middlesex Turnpike, Bedford
  • Merit Badge Counselor List
    • One of the greatest customer service concerns that came out of the initial listening sessions was the unnecessary and bureaucratic difficulty caused when trying to register and secure an accurate list of merit badge counselors.
    • After two focus groups at summer camp, and meetings with the VP of Program, District Advancement Chairs, and the full Advancement Committee, we enacted a plan that would eliminate the problems and streamline the system.
      • This procedural change impacts a very small percentage of merit badges (less than 10%) and a much smaller percentage of our total membership (less than 3%). The entire design was to make the process simpler. Sadly, many folks were taken back by the speed of the change and the perceived burden it put on unit leaders.
      • To be clear – it does not put any additional or new burdens on unit leaders, quite the opposite. The concern over the change speaks more to the decades long struggle with customer service and a disappointingly well-earned lack of faith in “The Council.” I find that to be heart breaking.
    • One unit leader recommended some opportunities to enhance the new procedure:
      • a Google doc for all unit leaders to help find the counselor for the hard-to-find merit badge.
      • GREAT IDEA, Instituted now! By adding this simple, self-managed list any scout leader can update the list in real time.
      • For a unit leader to contact the merit badge counselor, they should reach out to Marian McQuaid at the customer service center. She will confirm Scouter’s registration status (if they are registered – they are cleared for YPT) and she’ll provide the contact information.

Things will change – that’s why we merged 🙂

They will change for the better and if there is a problem with the change, we’ll adapt and tweak the new system. Before the merger, one council leader said of the two cultures “one culture is concerned with doing it right, while the other is concerned with doing the right thing.” This is very insightful, and neither perspective is better than the other; in fact, the reason we have such high hopes for this merger is because these two perspectives are inherently compatible.

Not that it’s always easy 🙂

I hope to see everyone at the listening sessions or some of the Roundtables in the coming weeks and months to discuss these and other changes as we work together to help Scouting thrive.

Scouts, What Did You Do on Your Vacation?

As the New England Base Camp starts to come into its own, as the first ever public outdoor adventure experience “Powered by Scouting.” We have developed a series of free activities and displays throughout the Egan Center.  The displays inspire and encourage and include

  1. Famous Massachusetts Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
  2. Brain puzzles and riddles
  3. Bouldering
  4. Mammals in the Blue Hills
  5. What to pack for the outdoors
  6. Scouting heritage in Massachusetts
  7. Animal tracks
  8. 3-D printer
  9. Science and STEM
  10. Your New England Adventure!

Number 10 is where you can help!

We are creating a display of Scouts all around New England. Send us your group photo in front of a recognizable New England landmark or while participating in a uniquely New England activity.

The collage above is meant to provide some ideas and shows: a hundred Scouts visiting Battleship Cove, a Girl Scout troop at Fenway, Boy Scouts cycling on the Cape, a troop with their flag atop Mount Washington, a couple troops along the Freedom Trail, a Brownie Troop at Plymouth Plantation, and a Venture Crew whitewater rafting in Maine.

To submit your New England Adventure send a high resolution photo along with a brief description of your adventure. Selected photos will be printed and framed along with a description of your trip. Some items will be displayed on line through social media.

Winning photos will receive a $200 voucher to Base Camp valid throughout 2016. So take a moment, submit your recent New England Scout Adventure here, and start planning your next one!

#letsPLAYoutside

Merit Badge Counselors are Mentors: Simplify the Process

Over the past 105 years we recognize that certain aspects of Scouting evolved to become far more complicated than originally intended. Scouting is a community activity, and at its most basic, should not be burdened by complexities. Admittedly, the world is far more nuanced today than it was in 1910, and these modern conditions work in collusion to create a high paced complicated world. Scouting tries to navigate through this new world, yet sadly more often than not, we add to the complexity rather than helping families simplify. One of the folks who lived within the Spirit of Adventure footprint once wrote

When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all encumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real.

Henry David Thoreau

The mission of Spirit of Adventure Council is to help Scouting thrive in all our communities. Often that will mean adding programs or resources – however, like Thoreau teaches us, sometimes it’s best to simplify to improve quality.

When we review merit badge counselor program, we see it has changed to become an over complicated  process. We trust Scoutmasters to develop and run program while keeping the boys safe. The objectives for the merit badge program are simple:

  1. Allow the Scout to set his own goals and work at his own pace while following his own interests
  2. Widen the circle of support for the boy. By reaching out to a community expert and giving the boys another adult role model to work with, we enhance his Scouting experience and provide a tremendous giving opportunity to the expert merit badge counselor.
  3. Provide the cumulative effects of a well-rounded broad understanding of many disciplines
  4. Establish a standard of excellence for the boy through his completion of each requirement

To be honest, over the years Councils have stepped in and created unnecessary and cumbersome oversight. Our Council DOES NOT need to validate the competency of any given volunteer counselor. The scoutmaster, who we trust to run quality program, will make that decision effortlessly. Our Council DOES need to ensure the safety of each boy involved. Therefore each and every merit badge counselor must have a criminal background check and must take youth protection training. The simplest way to do that is to require they are registered members of the BSA.

Admittedly, we have struggled to maintain an up-to-date listing of every certified merit badge counselor. Also, few Scouters require that list anymore. Most Scoutmasters have developed a network of Scout parents to serve as merit badge counselors, or they tap into a neighboring troop’s network.

With today’s level of communication the idea of crowd-sourcing merit badge counselors simply makes more sense. Asking a parent volunteer to serve as a merit badge counselor and as part of that request pay for an annual registration $24 to allow the organization to run a criminal background check and require a youth protection training is far LESS burdensome than the current system. The parent volunteer would become a part of that troops network (and part of their re-charter process) thus simplifying the experience for everyone in the troop.

The Advancement Committee has reviewed and approved this idea and provided a guideline for all Scoutmasters for merit badge crowd sourcing. Check out the new procedure here. This procedure and list of badges requiring certification will be implemented immediately; meanwhile folks still registered in the old system will be grandfathered into the new system through unit rechartering season (this winter).

UPDATE (10/30/15): the online, crowd-sourced Merit Badge Counselor sheet is now live, and available to anyone for editing! Click here to look at the sheet, and be sure to save the URL bit.ly/SoAC-MBC_List so that you can access it.

To use this list:

  1. Simply look up the name, location and skills of the folks in your area who match the needs of your troop.
  2. Contact the Service Center via
    1. phone at 617.615.0004 and ask for Marian or Heather (the service center is open Monday – Saturday 8:30 – 4:30)
    2. or send an e-mail to Marian.McQuaid@scouting.org
  3. Ask for the contact information of the Merit Badge Counselor and the customer service staff will verify the registration status of the individual.
    1. If he or she is a member in good standing they’ll provide the contact information and send an introductory email to the merit badge counselor and copy you (the unit leader).

Updating this list:

  • If a merit badge counselor in a unit is willing to help other Scouts, they can simply upload their information to the spread sheet.
  • Similarly if someone is moving out of the area, or no longer willing or able to help Scouts they can remove themselves from the list.

In this way the list is simply a collection of Scouters willing to share their knowledge as merit badge counselors. No different than a room full of leaders at a roundtable or summer camp.

The list will be reviewed from time to time to eliminate non-registered or out-of-date volunteers, but because the list is self-managed and no contact information is provided until the youth protection requirements of membership have been met – the list has a much more collaborative and casual role in the Scouting community.