As the tagline promises, I’ve created this blog as a repository for ideas related to writing, Scouting, and writing on Scouting. I talk about the books I sell at EagleBook.com, my other Scouting-related writing projects, and other items of interest. I hope you find the blog of interest. If you have ideas to share, just post a comment on the About page.

Scouting for Boys: The App



Few 20th-century books have had more impact on society than Scouting for Boy, the world’s first Boy Scout handbook (and, in many ways, an introduction to Boy Scouting to the world at large). First published in as a six-part serial in 1907, the book later appeared as a single volume and later still (after Scouting spread around the world) in a “world brotherhood” edition.

Now, it’s available as an iPhone app for $4.99.

This app, Scouting for Boys, is not just a digital version of the book. (In fact, you’d be better off buying a print or Kindle version if you just want to read the book.) Instead, the book provides facsimiles of the original serial version’s pages, the pages of Baden-Powell’s typescript that still exist, a variety of correspondence related to the book’s publication, an essay about the book’s development, a gallery of images from the book, and even three early reviews of the book. Here’s an excerpt from one of those reviews:

The object of the gallant general appears to be to induce the little boys of this country to be up and doing, to imitate the prowess of Richard the Lion-hearted and the Crusaders who careered around the world in days of old when knights were bold. He shows that there may be peace-scouting as well as war-scouting, for has not Milton told us that “Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war!” Thus, when war’s alarms do not call the little boy to fight for his country at the front he may serve her by removing a piece of banana-skin from the pavement or by helping an old lady across the road–excellent and sound advice.

The app is not perfect–three B-P videos it links to never loaded for me–but it’s nonetheless a fun way to explore Scouting’s founding document.

To Have and to Hold



Christmas is coming, a time when many young people will be end up sitting on floors piled high with gifts (followed, in short order, by parents sitting at desks piled high with bills).

The floor is a great place for kids to sit on Christmas morning. Otherwise, they don’t have any place to set one gift while they open another.

Which brings us to Eagle Scout courts of honor.

A central part of any Eagle court of honor is the handing of stuff to the new Eagle. He gets his medal pinned to his shirt, of course, and perhaps a neckerchief draped around his neck, but all his other mementos—certificates, letters, plaques, belt buckles, etc.—are handed to him during the ceremony.

So what’s a guy to do with all that stuff? Hopefully, if you’ve planned ahead sufficiently, there will be a small table strategically placed nearby. As recognition items are handed to the honoree, he can set them on the table, leaving himself free to accept congratulatory handshakes, hugs, or simply more recognition items.


Making New Year’s Reservations



As you may have noticed, Christmas is just around the corner. But another looming holiday—New Year’s Day—may have more impact on your troop operations.

Although a lucky handful of troops have their own meeting places, the vast majority use space provided by their chartered organizations. This could be dedicated space, such as a Scout room in a church basement, or space that the troop must share with other groups.

If you share space, now’s a good time to make sure that you’ve reserved the rooms you need for 2015. Standing reservations often end with the calendar year, meaning that the room you’ve been counting on using every Tuesday night could be grabbed by another group.

While you’ll typically make a standing reservation, be sure to consider exceptions. You’ll undoubtedly cancel your troop meeting during summer camp, for example, and you may need to reserve a different room for courts of honor or other special events. It would be awfully embarrassing to show up your spring court of honor only to find the Women’s Knitting Society using “your” room.

Scholarly Writings



Scouters and parents planning Eagle Scout courts of honor often solicit letters from all sorts of dignitaries, from government officials and military leaders to athletes and celebrities. While that’s fine, I think it’s also important to request letters from people who are a little closer to the honoree than his favorite NFL quarterback.

Awhile back, one reader of The Eagle Court of Honor Book took that idea to its logical conclusion. Since her son’s ceremony was taking place after his freshman year at college, she requested letters from the president of his university and the head of his department. As she explained to me, “Not only would those letters mean a lot to my son, but I am sure that those who know him at college would be honored to be able to extend their congratulations.”

I might add that it never hurts to be known—for good things—by the president of your university!

What unique congratulatory letters have you seen? The comments section is open.

No-Excuses Marketing



In case you missed it, Adweek just announced its best ad of 2014. And the winner was an ad that didn’t actually exist. Really.

For its “If We Made It” campaign, the company that brews Newcastle Brown Ale imagined the Super Bowl ad it would make if it had the money. The sophisticated campaign included storyboards (mockups) of would-be ads, video of focus groups hearing about the ads, real celebrities, and–of course–Twitter hashtags.

Here’s the part of the Adweek story I found especially interesting:

In the end, the clutter around the Super Bowl itself made it impossible to break through during the event itself, says [Newcastle’s brand director, Quinn] Kilbury. But more importantly, the overall effort generated some 1 billion media impressions, a milestone he says puts Newcastle on par with the kind of advertisers who pony up for Big Game airtime.

That’s right. By not running a Super Bowl ad, the brand got as much attention as companies that spent $4 million for a 30-second commercial.

Now, if you’ve stuck with me this long, you probably wonder what the connection with Scouting is. It’s simply this: Many Scouters bemoan the fact that they don’t have the budgets to advertise the program, so they don’t even try. By thinking differently and creatively, however, you can get your message out for little or no money–through texting, Facebook ads, chartered-organization and school newsletters, etc.

How do you market your troop? Post your ideas in the comments section.

If you need a little inspiration, you can learn more about the Newscastle campaign at http://www.ifwemadeit.com. Just be aware that the content is not necessarily safe for work–or for Scouting.

Philmont for Procrastinators



Received wisdom says that getting a crew slot at Philmont Scout Ranch is harder than getting a parking space at the mall on Black Friday. But that’s not the case for 2015. As of late last week, there were spaces in the schedule for more than 100 crews on 2015 backpacking treks.

Why? Perhaps it’s the oversold National Order of the Arrow Conference. Perhaps it’s competition from the Summit Bechtel Reserve or other high-adventure bases. Or perhaps Scouters have simply been scared off by the seemingly impossible odds. Whatever the reason, it’s not too late to get your troop to Philmont next summer.

For an up-to-date list of available arrival dates, visit http://www.philmontscoutranch.org/Camping/Registration/HowToReserve/Openings.aspx. (You’ll also find contact information on that page.)

Don’t delay, however. Like Black Friday sales, this opportunity won’t last forever.

Mike Rowe’s Eagle Scout Letter



There’s little doubt that Mike Rowe, best known as host of TV’s “Dirty Jobs,” was the star of the closing arena show at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree, a role he reprised again in 2013. But did you know that Rowe, an Eagle Scout from Baltimore, will send a personalized letter of congratulations to any new Eagle Scout?

You can read the letter, and learn how to request a copy, at http://www.mikeroweworks.com/scrap-yard/eagle-scout-letter/. Quite different from the typical congratulatory letter, Rowe’s letter helps put the Eagle Scout Award in context for those Scouts who look forward to resting on their laurels in the years to come.

In fact, you ever find yourself in the position of writing congratulatory letters, you probably couldn’t find a better model to follow.

(Photo Credit: Phil Kloer/USFWS)