Courage has always been a quality by which men measure themselves and others. To a Scout, bravery means not only the courage to face physical danger, but the determination to stand up for the right. – The Eagle Challenge

In April my family and I attend the Spring Fair at the county fairgrounds. The fairgrounds are a place I have been to many times over the years. I’ve seen concerts by groups like the Beach Boys. I’ve seen demolition derbies. I’ve seen rodeos. I’ve purchased honey straight from the farm. I’ve ridden the rides. And, I’ve eaten the elephant ears.

The fairgrounds host two big fairs each year, the Spring Fair and the Fall Fair. I personally prefer the fair in the spring since there are fewer people and just about as much to see and do.

This year we packed the family into the car and made the 45 minute drive as usual. It was unseasonably hot for April and so come the late afternoon, we headed for the cool refuge of the exhibitors hall. We wandered the aisles filled with hundred of exhibitors and maybe a thousand people for about half an hour when we heard an incredible explosion from the North. As I heard the sound and looked to the North side of the building I saw the massive windows flex inward but not break. The sound was so powerful I could feel it hit me on the inside.

The hundreds of people inside the building were immediately hushed and we could hear the various hums and beeps and whirs of the wares for sale. Everyone stopped walking and looked at each other or to that North wall. My head spun and my mind raced as I quickly assessed the safety of my family and everyone else in the building. The sound subsided and we clearly were not in imminent danger, but something was wrong outside.

Having been to the fairgrounds many times I knew that the “Big Top” was just outside the doors. It was a 200 foot steel tower where people strap into seats and are shot up to the top by air pressure and then dropped down in a series of falls. My minds most logical conclusion was that the ride had toppled over.

Maybe a second had gone by and as I chose my next action I looked at my family. They were hushed and curious and safe, I decided. I quickly determined that with my first aid training and leadership skills, I needed to head toward the emergency.

I asked my wife if she had her cell phone, she did. I told them I was going to head for the sound and that I loved them. And to the North I trotted.

As I moved toward the emergency I was shocked by how many people were standing around, quiet. They were not running away, falling for cover, or running to help. They were simply standing in curiosity. As I passed some looked at me and other asked me what had happened as I went by. As I came closer to the door I noticed a few others trotting toward the doors with me, having made the same decision as I. As I turned the corner and could see through the glass doors to the outside I could see people walking by without care. There was no screaming or calls for help. As I cleared the door and looked around with several others, we discovered there was clearly nothing to worry about.

That is when I heard a new sound. The announcer in the stadium was starting to call the action at the demolition derby that had just started. Apparently the explosive sound was from some sort of firework lit off to celebrate the festivities. There was no emergency.

Some say running toward an emergency takes courage and bravery and is what heroes are made of. Others say that running away is better.

As scouts we are trained in the skills of first aid, leadership, decision-making, and teamwork. Put yourself inside that exhibitors hall for a moment, hearing that explosion, seeing that you and your family are not in immediate danger. What will you do?



Continue reading Some Run in When Others Run Out

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Scouts come from many backgrounds, beliefs, and family situations. Scouts deal with a large amount of diversity, challenge, aggression, passion, and change. Scouts are young men and young men look around them for people to emulate, good or bad. — Scoutmaster Kelly

As a Scoutmaster I am, for many scouts, the most important example in the Troop. My behavior is watched closely. My words are heard, if not always followed. My ideas and thoughts are considered.

My challenge as a Scoutmaster is to constantly represent the values of Scouting so that when scouts consider, hear, or see me, they are looking at the very sort of man Scouting wants them to be. I am not perfect and it is important that the scouts in the troop know this and learn how I deal with defeat, weakness, and poor decisions because they will face these same situations their entire lives.

My job as a Scoutmaster is to mentor, teach, guide, coach, evangelize, discuss, and promote the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Outdoor Code in such a way that Scouts learn how to apply these values to their own lives.

Sometimes this means a scout must be told that they have not yet achieved something they have worked for. Sometimes this means a scout is to be celebrated and raised up in front of the troop. Sometimes this means that I put myself aside to do what Scouting wants taught. Sometimes this means that I am vulnerable in front of Scouts so that they learn what it is like to be a man.

The merit of a Scoutmaster is measured by the men he helps create.

When you consider your next Scoutmaster’s Minute. Consider that the parents of these young men have chosen you as the Scoutmaster for their sons. Take the opportunity to teach them and take the time to make it worth it.

YIS, SM Kelly


Image: Richard Szwejkowski

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Gordon Ramsay Scoutmaster's Minute

For those of you that don’t think cooking is cool, there is something I want you to know. There are some exceptionally rich Chefs out there. You probably all know Hell’s Kitchen, where Chef Gordon Ramsay screams and yells and swears at contestants to get them to raise their game in the kitchen. Did you know that Chef Ramsay is worth around $100 million and earns around $225,000 per episode? He also owns some amazing fine dining restaurants, authored several books, and is in around 20 other TV shows. This represents a business build around his personal brand that generate more than $35 million per year. Being a Chef requires a lot of skills including cooking, leadership, management, and teamwork, just to name a few. Being Chef Ramsay also requires amazing business know-how. Being a Boy Scout teaches you many of these skills… will you be the next Gordon Ramsay?


Reference: Gordon Ramsay Makes 38 Million a Year 2012
Image: GordonRamsaySubmissions

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Scoutmaster's Minute Boy Scout Popcorn

Get scouts selling popcorn with some background, perspective, and an appeal to their values.

SM Kelly Writes: Troops have differing opinions on the value of selling popcorn. I am very interested in how your troop sees popcorn as a part of the fundraising and scouting strategy. Please take a minute to leave a comment at the end of this post or start a discussion on social media.

As you know, when you sell boy scout popcorn the profits from the sale benefit our council and this troop. In the past the profit may have benefited you directly, but that is no longer the case. This is now a fundraiser that benefits the entire troop. Being part of a Boy Scout Troop is being part of a community, just like living in a city, a neighborhood, attending youth group, school, church, or living on a cul-de-sac makes you part of a community. When you sell popcorn that money goes back into your community… the Troop and the PLC and Committee use it to help all of us out. So, lets take a minute and talk about how this fundraiser works.

First, the Popcorn Kernel works with the council to get everything setup. Then, you get out there and sell a $20 bag of popcorn to someone. When that money comes in, Trail’s End Popcorn eventually gets about $4 (20%) for making the popcorn. The local council gets about $8 (40%), to put on Scouting in this area, operate scout camps, support Order Of The Arrow, and things like that. Finally, the troop gets around $8 (40%) to support the general fund.

Now, let me tell you about some of the great things the troop does with the money we raise from your success at selling popcorn.

  • 10 bags of popcorn covers the expenses to join Scouting such as the scout book, uniform, patches, neckerchief, and council fees
  • 10 bags of popcorn covers 4 scouts or adults that attend camporee, which your PLC chooses to pay from the troop budget
  • 15 bags of popcorn support one scout who is having trouble paying for summer camp
  • 20 bags of popcorn supports the troop program budget for one month

So that is gives you some insight into the money side of the fundraiser. Now let’s talk about what selling boy scout popcorn does for your customers and for the community.

When you go meet your family at home, neighbors down the street, and community members at the local store to sell popcorn you are supporting everything this troop does. You are also ambassadors of Scouting and of your community. Perhaps best of all, you are selling something that people actually want to buy. In fact, Scouts all over the country, just like you, sell thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds of popcorn.

Think about the experience of one of your neighbors or community members when they get to buy popcorn from you. When they see you they think about the values and lessons and opportunities you are being given in Scouting. They know that their money supports Scouting when they buy popcorn so they are supporting their community. When they get the box or bag or tin of popcorn they are reminded of the support they provided. Later, when they or their friends eat the popcorn, they are reminded of you, the troop, and the community they are a part of. So, as a customer, buying popcorn really works out great.

Selling popcorn requires you to be brave, to be helpful, friendly, cheerful, and to do your best. Your effort getting out there and selling popcorn supports not just you, and this troop, but the entire community. Be brave. Do your best. That is just what Scouts do.


Image: Popcorn by New Jersey National Guard

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Scoutmaster's Minute Eagle Scout Project Paint Sprayer

When you pick an Eagle Project, make sure to pick one that is amazing because your time in scouting has prepared you to do just that! This is the story of my project.

I was not a scout that moved through scouting quickly. Sure, I reached first class in about a year, but that isn’t so hard. I spent quite a while at the rank of Star scout. I also spent quite a bit of time as a Life scout. Now, I was not one of those that you hear about that gets everything done just before his 18th birthday, but let’s just say my parents would have preferred that I finish it up sooner than I did.

When I was 17 I started planning a project. I had spent a lot of time as Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and Senior Patrol Leader and I was good at organizing campouts, meetings, and outings. After asking our Eagle Scout coordinator (my dad) for project ideas, a rather large one was dropped on my lap: organizing the repainting of the outside of the church building where my troop met.

As you can imagine, this was a big project and fortunately for me there was a professional painter in the congregation that was willing to donate the paint and a very small, experienced crew. That left a huge amount of work to prepare the building, cover all the windows and trim lines, help the painters, then clean everything away.

I met the painter at his home to get all the details, met with the pastor to request the help of the church community, and met with my dad to make a plan for advertising and pulling it all off. Once all that was ready I completed my Eagle Scout Project Packet and I was ready to go.

I needed a very large crew and so when the time came I started advertising at troop meetings and on Sundays at the church. Even though I was experienced talking in front of scouts, it made me nervous to present in front of the church community. I also asked the church members to bring items for a great pot-luck lunch, which they agreed to.

The big day came and thanks to my advertising I had plenty of people, approximately 80. Now the second phase of the project began, getting them all working productively. They were broken up into teams and sent to various areas of the building to prepare it for painting. It took all morning to get the building ready and so we broke for lunch before starting the paint job.

The painters ate quickly and were started on the job quickly. Then we all swarmed behind them to remove the masking and such. By about 4pm we were done and I was exhausted.

Throughout the day I never did any masking, painting, or protecting plants. I did however keep 80 people working on all the different things that needed doing. It required a lot of planning up front, a great plan for getting the work done, and a lot of help from people who knew more than me.

During my project I learned to ask people I didn’t know for help. I learned to be brave. I learned that planning is at least half the project. I also learned that I could do something amazing.

When you start thinking about your Eagle Project, make sure to pick a project that is amazing because everything you have done in scouting has prepared you to do just that.


Image: Paint Sprayer by Doug McCaughan

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Scoutmaster's Minute Eagle Scout

Becoming an Eagle Scout is a special achievement that you earn and in earning Scouting’s highest rank, you are changed forever. This is how.

The rank of Eagle Scout is one that just 4% of young men that participate in Scouting achieve. Those that do achieve it, are changed by the knowledge and experience they gain along the way. Case and point, when looking at the credentials of all the governors of all the states 4 of them are Eagle Scouts, 8%. You might think that number is small though consider that less than 0.65% of men in the United States are Eagle Scouts. Let me tell you about the trail to Eagle and why it is worthy of your effort.

When you joined you earn the Boy Scout rank of Scout. In earning this rank you learn the Scout Oath and Scout Law which represent the values all scouts are expected to live by. At this first step toward the Eagle rank you have the foundation you need for life, if you live your life by it.

You become a little older and in time you earn the rank of Tenderfoot. Your efforts in this achievement teach you how to hike, camp, cook, tie knots, become physically fit, do basic first aid, respect Old Glory, and live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. By spending the time to become a Tenderfoot you have already separated yourself from most of your friends outside of Scouting.

You again become a little older, you continue down the trail to Eagle and you earn the rank of Second Class. Your effort is rewarded as you lean to use a map and compass, to minimize your impact to the environment through “Leave No Trace”, to contribute to your community, your first aid skills improve, you spend time swimming, and earning money. You are now a 2nd Class Scout.

A little older and a little further on the Boy Scout trail you earn First Class. Now you know all of Scouting’s basics including first aid, environmental awareness, navigation, knots, cooking, hiking, camping, and the patrol method. You have also started to understand how the Scout Oath and Scout Law guide you in life.

Now you start to focus on boy scout merit badges and your leadership skills and you earn the rank of Star Scout. To earn this rank you conduct more service to your community, hold a leadership position, you live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and you complete 6 merit badges that interest you. In earning Star you are now setting your own direction in life based on what you learned achieving First Class.

You have probably built some momentum now and you continue on the path by earning the rank of Life. Those who earn Life continue to live by the Oath and Law, continue to earn merit badges, continue to learn about leadership, continue to provide service to the community, and you start learning how to effectively teach other scouts. You now know how to give back.

Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is difficult. To earn the right to be called an Eagle Scout you must complete a project that brings together many of the skills you learned along the trail to Eagle including, at least, service and leadership. You also must complete a difficult and at times stressful interview for your Board of Review. Earning Eagle Scout is achieving a goal that required you to learn many, many things and will change the path of your life.

Eagle Scouts are different from everyone else in many ways. They are more physically fit. They are more connected to their family, friends, coworkers, and community. Eagle Scouts are more likely to protect and enhance the environment. They are more likely to have personal and professional goals, and to achieve them. Eagle Scouts are better at planning. Eagle Scouts are more prepared. Perhaps most importantly, Eagle Scouts state that they have stronger morality, tolerance, and respect for diversity than non-Eagles and non-Scouts.

The rank of Eagle Scout is a goal worthy of your effort. In achieving the rank of Eagle you will be changed forever.



Reference: New study shows 46 ways Eagle Scouts are different

Reference: What percentage of population are Eagle Scouts

Image: Eagle Scout Badge by Rennett Stone

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Scoutmaster's Minute Scout's Honor

Living with “Scout’s Honor” is not always the easiest path though it yields lifelong rewards that cannot be measured. This is a story about honor.

In 1908 Lord Baden-Powell wrote the first published version of the Scout Law in Scouting For Boys. The first point of the new Scout Law was “A Scout’s Honor is to be Trusted”. Today, “A Scout’s Honor is to be Trusted” has been shortened to Scout’s Honor. The question is, what does this mean. What does it mean to make a promise or statement and include the words “Scout’s Honor”? Let me tell you a story about honor.

The word honor means things like “great respect”, “keeping an agreement”, and “a privilege”. Honor is all of these things and among men and women it can mean far more. In scouting Trustworthy is the first point of the Scout Law, partially because it is a bridge that must be crossed for a scout to live with honor and to be considered honorable by his peers.

As a young man in high school I was good friends with a particular scout in my troop. We went to outings together, we went to school together, we went to movies and sports together, and eventually we were able to drive each other to our various adventures. Shortly after my friend earned his drivers license we were driving to get ice cream after school. He pulled out of the school and blew past the speed limit sign doing at least 10 miles per hour over the limit. By the time we were a mile down the road he was doing 20 over and I was uncomfortable. The road was straight and there wasn’t any traffic so he kept the pedal down and the speed up.

As we came over a short rise in the road and headed down the other side we passed a police officer looking for just this sort of situation. Young men driving away from the school at high speed. We were promptly at a standstill on the gravel shoulder of the road. My friend was given a ticket. He was quite embarrassed though he talked arrogantly about it as we continued to get ice cream and head home. The ice cream definitely wasn’t as good that day though the story continues.

A few weeks later my friend had to be out of school for the afternoon and I didn’t know why. Later in the week we connected again and he told me the story about how he went to court to contest the speeding ticket. To my amazement he told me, honestly, that he explained to the judge that he was passing a truck and simply had not slowed back down to the speed limit when he came over the rise and the officer observed him speeding. I was amazed, shocked even, that he had not been trustworthy and faced the consequences of his actions. Further, he was quite proud that he had lied and the ticket had been dismissed.

On that day I realized that I had misjudged my good friend. I no longer felt that I could trust him to be loyal or trustworthy to me. With that decision I did not see him as someone with honor any longer and I chose to distance myself from him. We quickly slipped from good friends to friends to acquaintances. Over the years we graduated, we went on to college, and we have started families.

Now, as the opportunity presents itself it is my turn to live honorably and remember that people are able to change their values and decisions. When we have the opportunity to connect I am sure to be open to friendship once again, though throughout the last two decades that friendship has not regained footing.

Living with honor is important to those who make honor a priority. As a scout you get to choose whether you want to be an honorable person and to make decisions as such. If you choose to be someone of honor know that it will not always be easy. There will be times when you must face negative consequences that you would otherwise not face. Also know that there are rewards you cannot measure in the bonds you develop with others.

I challenge you to live with Scouts Honor that would make Lord Baden-Powell proud.



Image: Honor Guard by DVIDSHUB

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Scoutmaster's Minute Tips and Tricks

Presenting a Scoutmaster’s Minute in front of 11-17 year old boys takes bravery and special tactics. Here is what I’ve learned over ten years of leadership.

Let’s face it, Boy Scouts are not the most attentive and respectful audience. However, there are a lot of things you can do as a Scoutmaster presenting a Scoutmaster’s Minute to get them engaged and interested. Some of these may be things you are already familiar with, while others will be new. These are the 5 tips I use to deliver the story and presentation.

Realize these are 11-17 year old boys

What is interesting and exciting to an adult is not the same as what is interesting and exciting to a young man. Young men and boys need more action and adventure. At the most basic level, this is due to the stages of their brain development. So make sure to amp up the story.

Another important aspect of young men is that they learn by moving and experiencing. At times this will include being quiet and still, such as during an engaging, well told story. So, don’t be afraid to start your story with a bang, literally, or a whistle or by jumping up and down. And, don’t hold back on the emotion and body language while delivering your Scoutmaster’s Minute. They’ll love it.

Make the story relevant

If the scouts are learning about making fires then tell a story that has to do with fire and some sort of lesson based on the Scout Oath and Scout Law. For example, I immediately think about a time my cousin and I were playing with fire and it went too far and some lawn chairs were destroyed. Your time in front of the troop can help bring everything the scouts have just experienced back to everyday life.

Make the story interesting

No one likes a boring movie, a really slow book, or music that is monotone. When you are getting your Scoutmaster’s Minute ready think about the presentation. Also figure out what about it makes it a story. Remember that stories have a beginning, plot, and dramatic end. Stories also have good guys and bad guys. Stories normally close with some sort of learning or lesson. If the last Scoutmaster’s Minute you delivered was a monotone lecture, the scouts probably didn’t get in to it. So, make your time in front of the scouts interesting!

Be personal

I am often told by parents and leaders that I have a great personal connection with the scouts in my troop. I think that the primary way I built this connection is by telling them about me. For example, they know about the time when I was a boy and found myself in a sketchy situation with an adult. They know about the time I was pulled over for speeding. They know about times that I have succeeded and failed. By telling these stories as Scoutmaster’s Minutes and tying them to the Scout Oath or Scout Law you show that your life includes all sorts of situations and opportunities and celebrations, just like theirs.

Adjust the length on the fly

When you get in front of the troop and get them to the point they are listening and start weaving the story in front of them be sure to watch them. If they are really in to it, feel free to embellish a little more and take longer to tell the story. If they are as bored as watching grass grow, speed it up and emphasize the action to try to get them in to it. No matter how they are reacting, be sure to pay attention and adjust your story based on their experience. After all, the Scoutmaster’s Minute isn’t for you… it is for them.


Hopefully these 5 tips will get you down the path to creating great Scoutmaster’s Minutes. If you have other tips please drop them into the comments. If you are looking for more tips, tricks, or guidance please don’t hesitate to use the comment section or the Contact page.



Image: Boy Scout Troop 105 by vastatepartstaff

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Scoutmaster's Minute Trail to Eagle

The Boy Scout Trail-to-Eagle is a long journey and the path taken determines the value received.

The Boy Scout trail is a trail worn by many before you. As a scout you can easily look to your left and right to see those ahead of you on the trail. Though as you look further and further ahead you can see fewer and fewer other scouts. From time to time on the trail you will pass a cabin or campground. You will see others waiting there and you may choose to wait there as well. If you do choose to wait, be wary, for the longer you wait – both the more you will learn, but also the more risk there is that you will not make it to the rank of Eagle Scout. You see, the path varies not necessarily based on the difficulty of the work to achieve each Boy Scout rank, but in the speed at which you choose to cover it. The faster you go, the less you will see and experience along the way. The slower you go, the more you have to experience based on your own ideas of exploration and journey.

As a scout you may or may not have the luxury of choosing the pace at which you proceed along the trail. Some of you will have parents that drive you forward. Others will have personal motivation so strong that you are compelled to constantly push along. Still others will have neither of a push or motivation and must choose for themselves if the reward that comes from success along the trail is enough to continue the journey.

I challenge you to find a reason for yourself, even if your parents are pushing you along. Once you find that reason, hold on to it, let it guide you, let it motivate you, and let it be your own personal victory when you achieve Eagle Scout. When you have a reason that is yours alone, then regardless of the speed at which you cover the trail, the sweetest part of the reward for reaching your goal is your own.



Image: F path by Rupert Ganzer

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Scoutmaster's Minute Helpful

A story about being helpful even when it is inconvenient.

I was riding the bus home the other day. The bus was full with some people standing and all the seats full. Mostly the riders were business people, well dressed, and using their smartphones. We came to a stop and the driver opened the doors to let some riders off. A lady sitting next to a window started navigating her way to the aisle and then around some folks that were standing to get to the door. She finally reached the rear door and went down the steps to the sidewalk. Just as she exited the bus the man that was sitting next to her realized that her phone was sitting on her seat, forgotten. He immediately grabbed the phone, started yelling for her to return, and he started making his way to the rear door. “Maam” he yelled. “Maam” someone yelled toward her from right near the door. The woman did not hear the yells coming from the bus. The man continued for the door and just as he reached the sidewalk the doors of the bus closed and the driver took us away to the next stop, several blocks away.

Sometimes a daily good turn is very inconvenient. That was not the stop where the man wanted to get off the bus and another bus would not come for 15 minutes or so. Sometimes doing a daily good turn takes bravery, for the man did not know if the bus would wait for him or not.

I was not the man who saw the phone, and yelled for the woman, and followed her to return it. I do hope that if I am ever that man, that I take the opportunity to do my daily good turn, to be helpful, to be brave, and to take the inconvenience to do the right thing.



Image: MTA of New York

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