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Scouting Tech: FREE Eagle Court of Honor Invitations

Hey Scouter! If you’re here because you’re preparing for your Scout’s upcoming Court of Honor, congratulations to all of you. What an awesome accomplishment! I hope this post finds you proud and happy, as you should be.

A Scout Is Thrifty! While you make plans for your upcoming celebration, I’m sure you’re considering ways to do so without breaking the bank. I’d love to help you out if I can by offering four FREE customizable and printable Eagle Court of Honor invitation templates.

Design 1
Green background with American flag and Eagle details. This file includes a cover page with instructions and two identical pages that can be printed two per sheet. There is not a watermark on the printed copy.

>> Download PDF



Design 2
Tan background with American flag and Eagle details. This file includes a cover page with instructions and two identical pages that can be printed two per sheet. There is not a watermark on the printed copy.

>> Download PDF




Design 3
Red, white and blue background with Eagle details. This file includes a cover page with instructions and two identical pages that can be printed two per sheet. There is not a watermark on the printed copy.

>> Download PDF

Design 4
Simple design with a red ribbon and Eagle details. This file includes a cover page with instructions and two identical pages that can be printed two per sheet. There is not a watermark on the printed copy.

>> Download PDF

Additional Resources for Eagles

Did this post help you plan your Scout’s Eagle Court of Honor? Tell me all about it in the comments. As always, help me spread the word about this and other FREE resources for Scouters by following my blog, sharing my blog, liking this post, and following me on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to LOOK WIDER STILL.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: JEOPARDY! Scouting Showdown

“I think what makes ‘Jeopardy!’ special is that, among all the quiz and game shows out there, ours tends to encourage learning.”
-Alex Trebek

When it comes to trivia, there’s one game show that stands out from the rest, and that’s Jeopardy! (Sorry, Cash Cab. Although that show was pretty great, too.) Even if you aren’t an avid fan, you know the theme song, which you’re humming right now, and you likely agree that Alex Trebek was the single greatest television host of all time.

Like pretty much every PL at the helm of a virtual patrol, my son and his Scouts are starting to burn out with the virtual format. It’s hard to make it more exciting than school, especially for a teenager, and they’re all looking for a Tuesday night “off,” so to speak. My son and I talked about it at length and he tasked me with trying to make a review game that they could play via Zoom but that looked and felt different from his other meetings. Jeopardy! Scouting Showdown was born, and after a week of testing, we think we have it ready to roll out for other Scouters to use.

When shown in Presenter mode, the Jeopardy! Scouting Showdown Slide Presentation is interactive. When you’re on the “live game boards,” the host can click a category value and go straight to the answer. There are even sound effects, because you can’t have Jeopardy! without its iconic theme. It’s easy to use, and if you’re brave, the categories and answers can even be edited to suit your patrol. There are two rounds, just like the real deal, the second of which includes two Daily Doubles. There’s even a Final Jeopardy question! The answers vary across several subjects, like “Life or Death”, and “Let’s Get Cooking.” There’s even a category of Scouting questions that made it onto a live show at some point in time.

Because, try as we might, none of us are Alex Trebek, I’ve included a Host Packet explaining how the Presentation works, the game rules, the answers and questions, and even a points tracker. Simply print that out before your meeting, hit Present on the slideshow, and you’re ready to go.

As always, if you download Jeopardy! Scouting Showdown, use it in a meeting, and had fun, please let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow me here at LookWiderStill.com, on Facebook, and even Instagram.

Jeopardy! Scouting Showdown File Downloads

  • Jeopardy! Scouting Showdown (Google Slides)
  • Host Packet (PDF)
  • Scout Packet with Game and Points Boards (PDF)

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Check out my other Scouting games…

Featured

Scouting Tech: Bear Den Slides and Meeting Resources

Well, we’ve made it to 2021! While there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, many units continue to encounter hurdles for meeting face-to-face. With winter weather bearing down on much of the U.S., outdoor meetings are a little less convenient, especially for Cubs.

So, while we’re all still navigating a very different year in programming, many of us are trying to find ways to present Cub Scout adventures in a virtual setting. Having been a den leader for many years, I have been working on updating and converting my archived materials to help YOU plan a full year of virtual programming.

Take a breath. I’ve got you.

Below you’ll find a link to a Google Slide file entitled “Look Wider Still: Bear Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File”. This file contains 43 slides full of adventure requirements and resources like external links, embeddable (is that a word) YouTube videos, and downloadable/printable files I’ve created to keep your Scouts on track this year.

To use it:

  • Make a copy of this file by clicking File > Make a Copy > Entire Presentation.
  • Make a copy of your presentation for every meeting, editing the content with the included resources however you’d like.
  • Give your presentations meaningful names, like “October 16 2020 Bear Meeting Baloo the Builder”.  This will make it easy to find in your Slides collection and to share with others.
  • Make copies of / download the linked Google Drive files within as well!

You can then pick and choose the slides you’d like to use, deleting those that you won’t need for your specific meeting adventure. Easy!

Download the Tiger Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File

This file is available with viewer permissions. You will need to follow the instructions above to make edits to the Tiger Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File.

Best of Luck!

As always, I share these files in the hopes that it helps give you back some of your free time and helps ease the stress of the planning process. I’d love to know how you used the Bear Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools and what you thought about the resources. Did this help you reclaim a few spare minutes? Did it make den planning a breeze this year? What would you add or change?

Thank you for stopping by! Please follow Look Wider Still, like and comment on this post, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Need help planning your virtual den meetings all year long?

I’ve created a series of Google Slides that can be shared via your favorite virtual meeting program.

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Additional Look Wider Still Resources

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A Mother’s Musings: When Your Scout Saves a Life

“Being brave isn’t the absence of fear.
Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.”

– Bear Grylls, Chief Ambassador of World Scouting

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

From the very beginning of their Cub Scouting career, youth in the Scouting program are provided opportunities to learn skills that will benefit them for life. From teamwork to respecting wildlife, physical fitness to good citizenship, helping others to emergency response, and more. There are very few moments as fulfilling as noticing your Lion or Tiger thanking a Veteran, watching your Wolf raise a flag, seeing your Bear safely utilize a pocket knife, or knowing that your Webelos can prepare a meal over a campfire. Surely the motto, “Be Prepared!”, resonates with us all, even if we aren’t ourselves wearing a uniform. Knowing how to confidently exist in a hurdle-filled world is likely why we registered our children in the first place, but sometimes the fun of the program acts like a spoonful of sugar, and we often forget that what they’re learning is preparing them for more than whittling soap arrowheads.

There are countless proud moments for any parent or leader. Sometimes it’s just in seeing your Scout in uniform, working hard alongside their peers, but there are monumental moments that arise where they go above and beyond the call of the program and take action in a way that is equal parts training and personal integrity… like when they save a life. I can tell you from personal experience that what you feel then is more than pride, it’s overwhelming gratitude and admiration.

Ever look up to a Cub Scout? It’s wonderfully humbling. Let me tell you the story of my son, Nate.

His very first den meeting.

Nate joined Cub Scout Pack 521 in Mechanicsville, Virginia, in the fall of 2015 as a Tiger. In what I didn’t know would be the best decision of my life, I signed-on as den leader, and so began an adventure of a lifetime. Following in his big brother, Michael’s, footsteps, Nate welcomed the challenges of the Cub Scouting program and flourished alongside other Scouts who would become some of his very best friends. There were campouts to be had, s’mores to be eaten, fish to be caught, targets to be shot, and adventures to complete. They did it all.

Three of the more memorable adventures involved water. Completing the “Spirit of the Water” adventure their Wolf year was particularly fun for his den, because who doesn’t want to literally jump right in and learn about water safety? Our Bear year, we tackled “Salmon Run” together. I have a vivid memory of my assistant den leader teaching this merry band of Bears how to perform reaching rescues using pool noodles, pool nets, and beach towels. It was amazing seeing such young people practicing something so important. Fast forward to their Webelos year, completing the “Aquanaut” adventure together at both our neighborhood pool and the unguarded pool we visit often with his grandparents. With the help of his brother and grandmother, Nate honed in on expert diving skills, and perfected the “order of rescue” and reach and throw rescue techniques.

Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. [cited 2012 May 3]. Available from: URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.
He’s part fish.

From Tiger to Webelos, the program introduces and practices emergency response throughout. Every Cub Scout learns how to react in an emergency, who to call, how to call, and that being calm in a stressful situation can make all the difference in its outcome. Each rank builds upon these skills, preparing youth to react appropriately no matter the severity of the emergency. As they bridge into Scouts BSA Troops, those skills are mastered and, as a result, Scouts become some of the most important members of their community.

You won’t be hard-pressed to find articles and stories of Scouts saving lives throughout history. For us, we open our mailbox once a month and flip right to the Scouts in Action section in our Scout Life magazine to read about the true stories of their heroics and bravery. The recurring theme in each story is that these young boys, girls, men, and women draw from a deep well of knowledge learned through their rank adventures, applying their bravery to selflessly and brilliantly save a life. If you aren’t up on your Scouts in Action, I suggest reading through the linked archives above. These Scouts are incredible.

Imagine how it must feel to be one of those youth, springing into action and changing what has the potential of being a grievous and life-ending situation. Imagine being only 9-years-old when one of those situations presents itself and the burden of bravery lands squarely on your shoulders and altruism and empathy take over.

That’s what happened to Nate in the summer of 2019.

June 30th was just a regular summer day for Nate and Michael. Our family was spending the day in Maryland enjoying the Chesapeake Bay, boating with grandparents, and swimming for hours on end in their local, unguarded pool. It was sunny, 90 degrees, and the water was crystal clear. Aside from a raft and a couple of adults, the boys had the pool to themselves for most of the afternoon, using all that space to practice diving. As the day went on, we were joined by a grandmother and her 5-year-old grandson, Bentley. He was known to be a weak swimmer and relied on Nate’s raft to “keep up” with the older boys. Despite our family watching over him in the water, his wild energy had him jumping from and back onto the raft until he was utterly exhausted.

Things can go from fun to terrifying in a flash, especially with children and especially where there’s water. Drowning is silent – you can’t take your eyes off of the children in your care for even an instant, no matter their swimming skills or strength. “I noticed Bentley was underwater so I watched him for about ten seconds to see if he would come up. When he didn’t, I knew he was drowning.” Nate recalls. With all of the splashing, it was impossible to see that Bentley had jumped from the raft and became too tired to pull himself back up. Before any of the adults could react, Nate sprang into action.

“I dove into the pool down to the bottom, grabbed him up, and swam him to the parents in the shallow water. He looked like he was very tired.”

Nate dove into the five-foot depth, pulled the full bodyweight of a kindergartener from the bottom, hugged him from behind, and swam him to safety. My boy did this bravely and without panic. As he explained what had happened to the adults in the pool, it was clear that Nate had just saved a life and that even a moment more would have been too much for little Bentley. We were all understandably shaken by the experience, and all Nate could do was consider how he’d teach this boy to swim the next time they were together at the pool. This isn’t where the story ends.

That evening, as I was digesting the events of the day, I posted about it on Facebook and proudly read to Nate all of the love and support he was receiving from our friends and family. If you’re a Scouter, you know that it isn’t just about the youth. You gain a new community of lifelong friends that care about your family and have the experience to guide you toward opportunities you didn’t know existed. Such was the case here. Many Scouter friends commented that Nate should be nominated for the Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award, something I never would have known to do. (Big thanks to Ben Ward and Heather Dunton for the insight, encouragement, and support!!)

About the Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award Recommendation, the Wait, and What Comes Next

When a registered Scout attempts to save or saves a life, they qualify for one of three national-level awards for either Lifesaving or Meritorious Action. The Recommendation for Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award is a fillable PDF that summarizes the action taken by the Scout and then details the incident by the nominee, rescued persons, and witnesses. These are submitted to your local Council, who then forwards them to the National Court of Honor for consideration. The National Court of Honor reviews the recommendation and determines if the actions taken qualify for an award, and if so, which award the Scout will receive.

This is where a Scout is patient. It’s impossible to know who said it first, but no truer words were spoken than “anything worth having is worth waiting for.” Trust the process and try not to let the time it takes for the National Court of Honor to review your Scout’s recommendation make you feel like their actions weren’t worthy of recognition. It will take some time before you get word that the recommendation has been received, much less reviewed. Touch base with your Council every once in a while, advocate for your Scout and have faith in the process.

At the Friends of Scouting Dinner!
L to R: David Saunders (Assistant Den Leader who taught Nate pool rescues), me (the proud mom), Mike (the proud Dad), Michael (seated, proud big brother), and Nate (the man of the hour)

As we waited, Nate’s heroics were graciously celebrated by our local Scouting community. We are proud members of the Battlefield District in the Heart of Virginia Council, and they treated (and continue to treat) Nate like a celebrity. He was immediately honored at our annual Friends of Scouting Dinner, receiving a standing ovation in front of hundreds of proud and supportive guests.

Nate was even interviewed by our Director of Field Services, Mr. Bill Givler, who, along with the amazing Lakayla Bonaparte, created a wonderful video about his actions in the pool that day.

I can’t impart upon you enough how important a strong relationship with your District and Council is on any given, normal day, but especially in situations like this. The way they treated Nate was exactly how I want every Scout to be treated at all times, with respect and consideration. The folks at the helm are everyday heroes!

Nearly two years after his application was submitted, Nate received word that he would receive the rare Heroism Award, a special medal and knot that was reinstated by Scouts BSA in 2018. As explained by Bryan on Scouting, this award is presented to youth members or adult leaders who demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at minimal personal risk. It is one of three lifesaving awards presented by the National Court of Honor. Two meritorious action awards are also considered when you submit a recommendation. Each one is a tremendous honor, and every recipient deserves the recognition they receive!

Award Presentation… Hang On Tight!

On December 30, 2020, Nate capped off everyone’s difficult year on a very high note. The Heart of Virginia Council Director of Field Services, Bill Givler, and Council Commissioner, Tom Wood, awarded Nate with his Heroism Award in a socially-distanced presentation that he’ll never forget. Nate was proud to receive his Heroism Award medal, knot, and special certificate. What Mr. Givler and Mr. Wood said to him that day will stick with him forever, becoming a big part of the way he sees himself and others for the rest of his life.

We thought, surely this is the epitome of coolness? There’s no way this could get any more exciting for Nate… right? Well, then the inaugural edition of the newly re-branded Scout Life Magazine arrived in our mailbox. It was already a collector’s item for us, but when my husband thumbed through it, the excited scream he let out sealed its fate as our favorite edition of all time. Right there on page 41, among the heroes in the Scouts in Action section was a rendering of a boy we’d know anywhere.

When your Scout receives an award from the National Court of Honor for Lifesaving or Meritorious Action, they are automatically included in the Scouts in Action section of Scout Life Magazine. We had no idea! Keep this in mind and reach out to your Council after publication, as they receive numerous copies for recruitment purposes and would likely be thrilled to provide you with several. You’ll want every copy you can get!

What happens next is on you, parents and/or leadership! In our household, we’re firm believers in helping others without expecting recognition or reward. However, in special circumstances like this, it’s important to document these special accomplishments. Reach out to your local newspapers and celebrate your Scout in your community. Our local publication, the Mechanicsville Local, allowed for me to write and submit an article on Nate’s behalf, of which I’ve collected countless copies for various purposes.

This is a wonderful opportunity to promote your Scouting units, as well! Give copious shout-outs to your District and Council members who supported your Scout along the way. Include your chartering organization, family, and friends. Celebrate service and heroism! Spread the love. Be the good news we all want and need to hear.

A Mother’s Musing

When you fill out the Scouts BSA Youth Application, you do it because you want something more for your child. You want for them to become a leader, a stand-up citizen, and possibly a lifesaver. You want for them to know how to take care of themselves and others, to be selfless, kind, and trustworthy. You want them to feel confident and sure of themselves, and to be mindful of others. You want every opportunity for success to be available to them, for them to appreciate hard work and dedication, and for them to achieve something great. As parents and leaders, we tend to get caught up in the details of a thing without seeing it for what it is. Sometimes we see the numbered requirements and not the end goal of an adventure. My advice to us all is to simply step back for a moment and take it all in because what we’re experiencing in these years with our youth is unbelievably important and special. Tackle the experience with joy and patience. Acknowledge when, through training and bravery, your Scouts step beyond what you think they’re capable of and onto a path you couldn’t have seen in your wildest dreams. For me, this has been a lesson in patience. It has expanded my understanding of pride and helped me to see my sons in a completely different way. Kids are capable of more than we give them credit for, and where they will always need and deserve our advocacy and encouragement, they can and will do some seriously amazing things.

If your Scout has thrown aside fear or trepidation in an effort to save a life, congratulations! You are raising and training a hero. Celebrate them with fervor. Honor them. Shout their praises from the rooftops! Let their world know that their selfless bravery is the baseline for which we should all act at all times. Be patient and trust in the process. Know that a year or two might go by without an update about their recommendation, but that every link in the chain is working hard to acknowledge your Scout.

Last but not least, and most importantly, feel these feelings. As a mother, when my son carried Bentley to me in the pool that day, it took some time before the shock wore off and the tears erupted. Your son or daughter will need for you to listen to them throughout this process, but especially directly after they’ve saved a life. Mindfully and thoughtfully listen to their worries and concerns, carefully debrief them of the situation. Comfort, console, and encourage them. Remember that even a Troop-level Scout is still a child and that actions like these are far bigger than they realize. There’s a lot of trauma involved that takes time and care to process. If they need assistance processing the event, please hear them and get them the professional help they need.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Featured

Cub Scout Activities: Pinewood Derby Resources

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Please remember that the links to editable Slides are the official Look Wider Still copies of those files. Please do not request editor access to those files! I’ve spent a lot of time re-building Slideshows and Certificate files to remove changes made by users. Please make copies of those files and work from your copies! Thank you!!

Whether your Pack is hosting an in-person, drive-thru, or virtual event, one thing is certain… the Pinewood Derby Race is the one event your Scouts have been waiting for all year! You could even argue that this year in particular, holding onto Scouting traditions is more important than ever. Planning your event as you always have just isn’t an option for the 2020-2021 Year in Scouting, so I’ve created a few free resources I hope will help make your job a little easier.

I’ve put together two themes for you to choose from, red and blue. Each theme includes:

  • Printable Pit Passes
  • A Google Slides template
  • Printable Signage
  • A Zoom Background
  • Editable Race Certificates

There are also a set of free, downloadable race certificates to save you a little bit of time and money. A Scout is thrifty, afterall.

How to Use the Pit Passes

Print the Pit Passes from the theme of your choice, cut to size, then laminate each individual pass. Punch a hole at the top of each pass and use yarn to create a lanyard, long enough for a Scout to put on without having to untie a knot. As cars are entered into Pit Row (registered), give each racer their own Pit Pass. Use permanent marker to write in their Racer name and the name of their car! If your race software provides a number for each Racer, write that (along with the date) on the back of their pass.

I’ve used Office Max for years when printing my Pit Passes. They can print your passes on heavy weight paper or even card stock. If you are skipping lamination, use a heavy card stock for your passes.

How to Use the Google Slides Templates

When you open the slideshow, click the File dropdown and select Make a Copy > Entire Presentation. You can make edits to your saved copy of the slideshow. Note that the first slide includes a Cub Scout logo with the default unit numbers “111”. That is an editable textbox that can be used to customize that logo for your own unit!

If you are hosing a virtual Pinewood Derby Race, you can share your screen in Zoom and click the Present button on the top right of your Google Slide screen. This will share your slideshow with your Zoom participants, full-screen. You can use your arrow keys to navigate through the slideshow! Don’t forget to use your matching Zoom backgrounds!

There are also editable certificates available in each theme. These are also Google Slides. When you open these files, please click the File dropdown and select Make a Copy > Entire Presentation. You should work from your copied presentation.

Blue Theme

Use the links below to download your FREE Blue Theme resources.

Blue Theme Zoom Background

Red Theme

Use the links below to download your FREE Red Theme resources.

Red Theme Zoom Background

Other Great Pinewood Derby Resources

There are countless great resources out there to help you pull off an amazing Pinewood Derby. Here are a few I thought would be helpful to you this year.

How to Host a Pinewood Derby Event Safely This Year, Bryan on Scouting Article

First, Second, and Third Place Pinewood Derby Trophies, Amazon.com

Checkered Flag Goodie Bags, Amazon.com

Derby Dome Display Cases, ABC Pinewood Derby (great for appearance awards)

19 Perfect Songs for your Pinewood Derby Playlist, Cub Scout Ideas

Pinewood Derby Printables, the Mormon Home

SkyFall Done Font, dafont.com free download

Pinewood Pete Graphite, Amazon.com

Best Wishes for a Great Pinewood Derby Race!

I hope that you get some good use out of these special resources! If you use them for race day, let me know in the comments. How did it go? What were the cars like this year? Were you in-person or virtual? Tell me everything. And don’t forget to like this post, share it, and follow Look Wider Still!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I have personally purchased and used the products I suggest.

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Kids Stuff: Dad Jokes for Cubmasters – Christmas Edition

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly!

Happy Holidays, Scouters! My gift to you this holiday season is a handful of groaners and some resources to make your virtual meetings a little easier to plan this month. Cheers to saving time in this, the happiest and busiest month of all. How about some Dad Jokes and Zoom backgrounds to make your day a little brighter?

Looking to round-out an awesome holiday-themed virtual celebration? Here are a few additional resources for your virtual meeting.

  • Scouting Tech: Bitmoji Scout Settings Expansion for Winter Holidays! ‘Tis the season to be, well, a whole lotta things… jolly being at the top of the list! I have been blissfully and intentionally unaware of just how quickly the holidays will be upon us, but since the weather has finally changed and the air is pretty nippy right now, there’s no denying it’s time to start thinking of ways to celebrate with our Scouts. If you’re still using Bitmoji to make your Den, Pack, and Troop meetings a little more fun, then I have an early present for you! I’ve pulled together a brand new expansion pack to help you celebrate the winter season and all of its special holidays.

Bonus Zoom Backgrounds

I wish all of you a holly, jolly holiday season! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa! Before you go, give this post a quick like or comment, and don’t forget to follow Look Wider Still.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Featured

Scouting Tech: Bitmoji Scout Setting Expansion Winter Holidays!

See my original post, Scouting Tech: Bitmoji Den and Pack Meeting Settings, for the Base pack and Scouts Expansion pack, as well as a video tutorial to learn how to use Bitmoji!

‘Tis the season to be, well, a whole lotta things… jolly being at the top of the list! I have been blissfully and intentionally unaware of just how quickly the holidays will be upon us, but since the weather has finally changed and the air is pretty nippy right now, there’s no denying it’s time to start thinking of ways to celebrate with our Scouts.

If you’re still using Bitmoji to make your Den, Pack, and Troop meetings a little more fun, then I have an early present for you! I’ve pulled together a brand new expansion pack to help you celebrate the winter season and all of its special holidays.

Included in the Winter Holidays pack are:

  • 17 holiday-themed backgrounds
  • 56 transparent accessory images
  • Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, New Year, Chinese New Year, and even Snowy Winter

You can use this expansion pack all on its own OR download the original base pack and the Scouting expansion pack (both linked below) and amass quite the Bitmoji collection. The best part is that it’s really just a launching point for you to get those creative juices flowing and add your own personalized images. Don’t have graphic design software? No problem. Use a website like remove.bg to give any image a transparent background.

Bitmoji is full of holiday-themed character stickers, from Thanksgiving to the New Year. Take advantage of them all and add some spice (and levity) to your meeting setting.

>> Download the new Bitmoji Scout Setting Expansion Winter Holidays! to get a head start on your holiday preparations!

Other FREE Downloads on Teachers Pay Teachers

>> Bitmoji Scouting Themed Den and Pack Meeting Settings and Accessories
A collection of seventeen setting templates, custom “artwork” for the walls, and over 50 transparent accessory graphics, all in a Scouting theme!

Go virtual with Den and Pack meetings and bring your meeting space to your Scouts, right from your desktop!

What’s included:
· Five blank room templates (gray, navy, blue, tan, green)
· Five den meeting templates (Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos)
· Five Oath, Law, Outdoor Code templates (gray, navy, blue, tan, green)
· Two special event templates (birthday and camping)
· Seven custom artwork graphics (Oath, Law, Pocketknife Pledge, and more)
· 50+ transparent accessory graphics (shelves, tables, tents, rugs, whiteboards, tents, plants, lighting, pets, and more)

>> Bitmoji Scouting Themed Expansion Pack, now including GSUSA!
Includes:
· four additional Scouting scenes
· seven GSUSA themed scenes
· 40 new transparent accessories, including Scout neckerchiefs in seven colors, GSUSA-themed Oath and Law artwork, additional lighting, windows with views, seating, and more
· Transparent images and full setting backgrounds that can be used for GSUSA, Scouts BSA, and Cub Scouts

So, what do you think?

Will you create your own Bitmoji you? Will you use Google Slides and my Bitmoji settings for your Den and/or Pack meetings? Have you already used resources like this? How did it go?

Don’t forget to like and comment on this post, then follow Look Wider Still to be the first to know about new LWS posts.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Scouting Tech: Wolf Den Slides and Meeting Resources

Congratulations, Scouters, you have made it to your new Year in Scouting, which means you are likely up to your neck in to-do lists. While we’re all still navigating a very different year in programming, many of us are trying to find ways to present Cub Scout adventures in a virtual setting. Having been a den leader for many years, I have been working on updating and converting my archived materials to help YOU plan a full year of virtual programming.

Take a breath. I’ve got you.

Below you’ll find a link to a Google Slide file entitled “Look Wider Still: Wolf Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File”. This file contains 50 slides full of adventure requirements and resources like external links, embeddable (is that a word) YouTube videos, and downloadable/printable files I’ve created to keep your Scouts on track this year.

To use it:

  • Make a copy of this file by clicking File > Make a Copy > Entire Presentation.
  • Make a copy of your presentation for every meeting, editing the content with the included resources however you’d like.
  • Give your presentations meaningful names, like “October 16 2020 Wolf Meeting Code of the Wolf”.  This will make it easy to find in your Slides collection and to share with others.
  • Make copies of / download the linked Google Drive files within as well!

You can then pick and choose the slides you’d like to use, deleting those that you won’t need for your specific meeting adventure. Easy!

Download the Wolf Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File

This file is available with viewer permissions. You will need to follow the instructions above to make edits to the Wolf Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File. This file has been beefed up as of February 19, 2021!

Best of Luck!

As always, I share these files in the hopes that it helps give you back some of your free time and helps ease the stress of the planning process. I’d love to know how you used the Wolf Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools and what you thought about the resources. Did this help you reclaim a few spare minutes? Did it make den planning a breeze this year? What would you add or change?

Thank you for stopping by! Please follow Look Wider Still, like and comment on this post, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Need help planning your virtual den meetings all year long?

I’ve created a series of Google Slides that can be shared via your favorite virtual meeting program.

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Additional Look Wider Still Resources

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Kids Stuff: Dad Jokes for Cubmasters – Thanksgiving Edition

There’s always something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, ya turkeys! No matter how your Pack celebrates the holiday, make sure you throw a little humor into the plan. Dad Jokes are perfect for any and every occasion, and this collection of Thanksgiving jokes is sure to get a few clucks from your crowd.

Looking to round-out an awesome Thanksgiving-themed virtual celebration? Here are a few additional resources for your virtual meeting.

Bonus Zoom Backgrounds

Bonus Google Slide Presentation

Save a copy of this Thanksgiving-themed Google Slide Presentation, which includes the history of Veterans Day, and customize for your unit! You can even edit the Pack numerals.

I wish all of you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving! Before you go, give this post a quick like or comment, and don’t forget to follow Look Wider Still.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Kids Stuff: Dad Jokes for Cubmasters – Halloween Edition

Trick or treat!
Bags of sweets!
Ghosts are walking down the street!

Happy Halloween, Scouters! If ever there was a holiday that begged for a great Dad Joke (or even better, a groaner), it’s Halloween. Here are a few you can save and share with your unit. Feel free to post it on your Facebook group, share it via Zoom, or pass along in an email.

Looking to round-out an awesome Halloween-themed virtual celebration? Here are a few additional resources for your virtual meeting, Trunk-or-Treat, or at-home Halloween!

I wish all of you a very happy and healthy Halloween! Before you go, give a ghoul a quick like or comment, and don’t forget to Look Wider Still.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Scouting Tech: Virtual Games for Scouts

Looking for a game to put some pep in your next virtual meeting? I’ve pulled together a collection of Look Wider Still games that can be played over your favorite online conferencing platform. Keep it simple – make it fun. That’s the Scouting way.

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: JEOPARDY! Scouting Showdown

“I think what makes ‘Jeopardy!’ special is that, among all the quiz and game shows out there, ours tends to encourage learning.”-Alex Trebek

Like pretty much every PL at the helm of a virtual patrol, my son and his Scouts are starting to burn out with the virtual format. It’s hard to make it more exciting than school, especially for a teenager, and they’re all looking for a Tuesday night “off,” so to speak. My son and I talked about it at length and he tasked me with trying to make a review game that they could play via Zoom but that looked and felt different from his other meetings. Jeopardy! Scouting Showdown was born, and after a week of testing, we think we have it ready to roll out for other Scouters to use.

>> Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: JEOPARDY! Scouting Showdown

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: 2nd Class Rank BINGO Game

It’s hard to find fresh ideas to bring life to the Scouting program over Zoom, so when my son (a PL) asks to reinvent a tried and true game, we do it and we share. Back in May, he and I worked together to create a series of S.C.O.U.T. game boards to cover Scout Rank materials. His patrol is moving up in the ranks and many are ready to earn 2nd Class. Accordingly, some new game boards were required. If your Scouts are moving up and are ready to earn their 2nd Class Rank, this BINGO Game is a great review of the materials.

>> Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: 2nd Class Rank BINGO Game!

Scouting-Themed Pictionary

If you find yourself in a slump or in need of a last-minute game, try my Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game! Complete with a free printable Pictionary Word Cards and links to a number randomizer and timer, this post has everything you need for a fun game of Scouting Pictionary.

>> Scouting-Themed Pictionary

SCOUTERGORIES

Do you remember family game night growing up? Some games made for a fun evening, like Candy Land and Life while others turned typically sweet family members into wild-eyed logophiles, like Scattergories. Why not find a way to play Scattergories for Scouts… SCOUTERGORIES! Complete with a list of rules, links to an online letter generator and official Scattergories letter die (with timer), and printable game lists, this makes for a fun break during your next Zoom meeting.

>> SCOUTERGORIES

Virtual Whisper Game

The Scouts Whisper Game is a great opportunity to encourage Scout Spirit and practice the trustworthy, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful points of our Scout Law. Much like the Whisper Challenge played on the Tonight Show, this game offers up funny phrases that Scouts try to guess by reading lips, all over Zoom, Skype, or any other virtual meeting program. Complete with game rules and a printable set of whisper phrases, you can’t go wrong with this simple Scouting game.

>> Scouts Whisper Game

Scout Rank Bingo Game

There are a LOT of great Scouting Bingo games out there that have been shared in the last several months, many of which help your Scouts continue on the advancement trail. We worked together to pull a series of six individual S.C.O.U.T. game boards that specifically review the Scout Rank materials. This post has everything you need to help your new Scouts earn their very first rank.

>> Scout Rank Bingo

Survival Situation Game

Make the most of your platform and use breakout rooms to get your den or patrol working together. With four full survival situations and all of the materials you need to lead your Scouts through a deserted island, the zombie apocalypse, the wilderness, and an extreme adventure injury, you’ve got the makings of a great meeting game.

>> Survival Situation Games

More Games to Come

As my son continues thinking up ways to convert games to suit his virtual meetings, I’ll update the Look Wider Still Game Zone! Keep your eyes peeled here for updates.

Don’t forget to follow Look Wider Still to be the first to know when new materials are posted. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Have you used any of these games in your virtual meetings? Tell me all about it in the comments, and don’t forget to like this post!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Scouting Tech: Tiger Den Slides and Meeting Resources

Congratulations, Scouters, you have made it to your new Year in Scouting, which means you are likely up to your neck in to-do lists. Chances are good that your dining room table is a mountain of Scout stuff, and your spare room and garage look a little something like this…

While we’re all still navigating a very different year in programming, many of us are trying to find ways to present Cub Scout adventures in a virtual setting. Having been a den leader for many years, I have been working on updating and converting my archived materials to help YOU plan a full year of virtual programming.

Take a breath. I’ve got you.

Below you’ll find a link to a Google Slide file entitled “Look Wider Still: Tiger Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File”. This file contains 43 slides full of adventure requirements and resources like external links, embeddable (is that a word) YouTube videos, and downloadable/printable files I’ve created to keep your Scouts on track this year.

To use it:

  • Make a copy of this file by clicking File > Make a Copy > Entire Presentation.
  • Make a copy of your presentation for every meeting, editing the content with the included resources however you’d like.
  • Give your presentations meaningful names, like “October 16 2020 Tiger Meeting My Tiger Jungle”.  This will make it easy to find in your Slides collection and to share with others.
  • Make copies of / download the linked Google Drive files within as well!

You can then pick and choose the slides you’d like to use, deleting those that you won’t need for your specific meeting adventure. Easy!

Download the Tiger Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File

This file is available with viewer permissions. You will need to follow the instructions above to make edits to the Tiger Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools Master File. This file has been beefed up as of February 18, 2021!

Best of Luck!

As always, I share these files in the hopes that it helps give you back some of your free time and helps ease the stress of the planning process. I’d love to know how you used the Tiger Den Slides & Meeting Organization Tools and what you thought about the resources. Did this help you reclaim a few spare minutes? Did it make den planning a breeze this year? What would you add or change?

Thank you for stopping by! Please follow Look Wider Still, like and comment on this post, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Need help planning your virtual den meetings all year long?

I’ve created a series of Google Slides that can be shared via your favorite virtual meeting program.

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Additional Look Wider Still Resources

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Cub Scout Leadership: Free Bobcat Rank Videos

It’s that time of year again, where we’re (hopefully) welcoming scores of Scouts, filling up our dens with new, smiling faces! Unless they’re a Lion, all new Scouts could and should start working on their Bobcat rank right away. There are a bunch of fun ways to help these Scouts earn their very first rank… for instance, check out my post Cub Scouts Bobcat for lots of great ideas and activities to get these kids started both virtually or in-person.

In the spirit of not reinventing the wheel, I wanted to share what I created as part of a special project on behalf of my Council. My part of the project included videos that are being used to help teach the Bobcat rank that I thought I should go ahead and put out into the world for you to use. You can preview the videos below, made using Powtoon, then save some or all from my >> Look Wider Still Bobcat Videos Google Drive folder <<

A Scout Is

Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful

Friendly, Courteous, Kind

Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty

Brave, Clean, and Reverent

Cub Scout Motto: Do Your Best

Youth Protection Pamphlet

How and Where to Use These Videos

Where these can easily be played individually throughout one or several den meetings, I found that dropping them into Google Slides helped make the presentation a little more fun! They can easily be added into a template, like the ones I shared in my post Scouting Tech: Visual Aids for Virtual Meetings, and played as part of your presentation. That saves you from opening YouTube and having an inappropriate video show up as a suggestion, as well.

Yours in Scouting

I hope these Bobcat videos are helpful to you as you plan and execute an awesome Year in Scouting! I’d love to see how you used these and hear all about your brand new Bobcats. Best wishes to all of you!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Kids Stuff: Setting-Up Devices to Print Using Google Cloud Print

UPDATE 12/9/20: Google has announced that Cloud Printing will no longer be supported after December 31, 2021. Here are some options to help migrate from Cloud Print.

When the ball dropped and we rang in the brand new year, I don’t think any of us had “learn an entirely new set of tech skills” on our list of resolutions. Yet, here we are, picking up little tips and tricks and going pro as we navigate working from home and virtual schooling. How exciting for our resumes?

The new school year presented several hurdles that weren’t covered in the volumes of emails and help docs our county shared, and as we’ve kicked off week two in this new format, I’ve found that the one hurdle that continues to trip us up is printing from our new devices.

Let me know if this is a regular conversation in your home, “Mom, I need to make a copy of this Schoology document and save it to my Drive so I can fill it in electronically, but when I do I can’t see my teacher and I’m getting lost.”

CHEERS TO OUR EDUCATORS!

Can we please just take a moment to put out into the universe how much we love and appreciate our educators? These underappreciated, underpaid people are saints!

It took some time and a bunch of clicking around to figure out a solution to this issue, and what works for us is Google Cloud Print. This has been a life-saver for my boys, who are using tiny county-issued Chromebooks to attend school. When they open a file in Drive and attempt to work on it AND split their screen to simultaneously attend their Zoom meeting, their Drive file is minimized to a size that even their fresh, young eyes can’t work with. We print hard copies and they work from those with a full-sized Zoom screen, instead.

What is Google Cloud Print? It’s a printing service that connects your home printer with other devices over your Wi-Fi. Your computer must have the Chrome browser installed, and the accounts you provide access to your printer must be logged-in to the Google Account you share access with in order to print.

Here’s how to set up Google Cloud Print for your family:

  1. In Chrome, visit the Google Cloud Print website
  2. Click the “GO TO MY CLOUD PRINT” button
  3. Click the “Add a Cloud-Ready Printer” link on the left-hand side of your screen and search for your printer to ensure that it’s Cloud compatible
  4. Open up a new tab in Chrome and type chrome://devices in the address bar and press enter
  5. Under “New Devices,” find your printer and click “Manage”
  6. In the “Confirm registration” box that appears, click “Register”. Complete the registration process.
  7. Open a new tab to your Google Cloud Print console and click the “Printers” link on the left-hand side
  8. Your printer should now be listed as available for Cloud Printing
  9. Select your printer and click the green “Share” button to invite users to access it
  10. In the “Invite people” box, type in your child’s Google account address as provided by your school and make sure their access is set to “Can print”

You’ll see that some printer brands have their own instructions for setting-up their devices with Google Cloud Print, so my instructions above may not work for every printer. Ours is a Dell and was set-up fairly easily using the steps above. Here’s a link to Google Cloud Print Help if you run into any issues getting set-up.

Your students can now open their files in any of the Google Suite programs and send jobs to your home printer over your Wi-Fi. This has been a tremendous help to our family and has made virtual school just a little bit easier for our students.

Hope this is helpful! Do you have other tips and tricks that have helped your family jump a hurdle? Do you struggle with something and need help? Did you get your students set-up with Google Cloud Print? How’s school going so far? I want to hear it all.

Have a great day,
Rebekah

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Kids Stuff: All About Geocaching Adventure Labs

Interested in Geocaching basics? Learn everything you could ever want to know on my post, Kids Stuff: Geocaching Adventures.

If ever there has been a perfect time to get into Geocaching, it’s right now. All summer long, brand new cachers have started popping up on the scene, looking for new and fun ways to get their families out of isolation and into the wide, wide world. Groundspeak, knowing their game naturally appeals to the more, shall we say, introverted decided to take this opportunity to reinvent Lab Caches. Way back when, Lab Caches were a cache type that involved exploring an area and answering questions about it on a separate website, much the way the new Adventure Lab Caches work. However, tech being what it was, things got a little hairy, cell towers got jammed, and though you left with a smiley, you also had a few new gray hairs.

The first time we saw a Lab Cache was when we attended GeoWoodstock XIII way back in 2015. With thousands of cachers in attendance, signing logs on the physical caches in and around Boonsboro, Maryland got to be an impossible task. Are you really finding a cache if it’s physically in the hands of a hundred people standing in line ahead of you? They offered up Lab Caches that were findable for a certain amount of time, and man were they creative. Check out this video by The Geocaching Vlogger.

My boys STILL remember the mouse trap Lab Cache!

As the years passed, technology improved, and apps like Pokemon Go started getting popular, Geocaching decided to take steps toward meeting the expectations of veteran and new cachers alike. I mean, how many micros can you find before you’re bored? To start, they reinstated another archived cache type, the Virtual. Out of the blue, cachers started receiving invitations to create their own virtual caches, and with lots of creativity and a little freedom, some really cool new listings started popping up at locations where physical containers simply weren’t allowed (or would be difficult to maintain).

We got an invitation to create a Virtual Cache and decided to highlight the largest solar installation in the Washington, DC area at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Football Team. Entitled “Greenskins,” our virtual spotlights the solar array containing more than 8,000 panels that generates the amount of energy equivalent to two and a half times the power consumed during regular season game days. The real star, however, is the 30-foot tall quarterback statue dubbed “Solar Man.” To make the find, cachers need to take a picture of the Solar Man and post it to their log. Simple as that! We love it when the notifications come in on game days… here are a few of our favorite logs.

Follow us on Instagram to share in our adventures and see what kinds of caches we’re publishing! @team_ngeocaching

The Virtual’s went over well, but two years have passed since they first made a comeback and with the pandemic pushing everyone outside, Geocaching went one step further and started inviting cachers to create brand new Adventure Lab caches.

So, what IS an Adventure Lab, anyway? These are location-based puzzles that take you from one spot to another, collecting information and answering questions as you go, earning a smiley for each stage you complete. Unlike traditional, multi, and mystery caches, there aren’t physical containers hidden anywhere. Instead, you’re sleuthing for information that you’re entering into the Adventure Lab app. The app utilizes geofencing to verify that players are, indeed, on location and a fun interface to make logging each stage interesting. While they work out the kinks – and there are some – Geocaching is only opening these up to a limited number of experienced premium member cachers, but they seem to hope that everyone will be able to publish their own in the future.

We were excited to receive an invitation to create our own Adventure Lab, and knew exactly what we wanted to do; a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Oval Portrait” using the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to set the scene. Our The Oval Portrait Adventure Lab combines clips of the 1934 silent film based on the short story to tell the tale of an artist so obsessed with his work that he neglects to notice he’s painted the life out of his young wife. Using artwork from the American Art gallery, we were able to pull together the story in a way we feel is interesting and, certainly, not possible were an Adventure Lab not given to us. Most new Adventure Labs are associated with a Bonus Cache that provides a physical container with a log inside, just for the fun of it. We’re so grateful to the fine folks at the Poe Museum in Richmond for allowing us to place our “The Oval Portrait Adventure Lab BONUS” on-site. How cool is that?

How do you find Adventure Labs near you? Download the Adventure Lab app on the App Store or Google Play and follow the instructions. Then, hit the pavement (or dirt or polished museum floor) to start collecting clues and smileys. It’s truly that easy.

Adventure Labs and Scouting

As units move toward a virtual Year in Scouting, Geocaching makes for the perfect adventure companion. It teaches Scouts all about GPS technology, gets them outdoors, takes them to new and exciting places, is great for families, and easily the most socially distanced game of all time. Look up your local Adventure Labs, find one that will take your Scouts somewhere interesting, and send them on their way. Make a video of yourself at some of the locations explaining what Adventure Labs are, how to access them, and what they’ll find along the way. Challenge your Scouts to find specific caches and report back on their experiences. Geocaching (and Adventure Labs) are a great way to keep it simple and make it fun.

Have you tried Geocaching yet? What’s your favorite find? Will you try finding Adventure Labs? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and follow Look Wider Still. Thank you!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Scouting Tech: Building Your Unit Website with New Google Sites

This tutorial teaches Scouters how to develop a Unit website utilizing
New Google Sites.

A Scout is a lot of things, as we all know. They’re all 12 Points of the Scout Law and so much more; and if this year is any indication of our enduring Scout Spirit, then I’d say with confidence that a Scout is also both resilient and flexible. In fact, resiliency seems to be the theme of 2020. Each of us has found a way to stay engaged and involved despite the hurdles and hardships, and as we face down what promises to be a difficult and possibly detrimental recruiting season, it’s important to remember that a good Scout is always prepared.

I type that knowing many units are struggling to retain their leadership team, much less recruit brand new Scouts into the fold. Let’s all take a moment to look back at the Cub Scouting program and tell ourselves it’s time to do your best, not just sometimes but all the time, and that your best is different from anyone else’s best… and that’s okay.

Recruitment is always a wild time of year, and this one promises to be nothing less than a skill-building opportunity. To that end, I’d like to be as helpful as possible and offer up some guidance on creating a virtual representation of your unit that will attract new families and keep them informed and engaged throughout your very new, very different Scouting Year. A public website should be on your list of recruitment basics, and I want to show you how to do it as simply as possible.

Though our original Pack website was built using Classic Google Sites, I’ve since come to love New Google Sites and feel like it’s perfect for Scouting Units. New Google Sites utilizes the entire Google Suite of online programs, making it easy to drop documents, images, and even calendars into your site with very little effort. You can also use basic editing shortcuts like CTRL+V to paste, CTRL+Z to undo, etc. It also allows you to drag and drop sections from one place to another as opposed to deleting and re-creating content, which is a total dream!

To learn how to build your unit’s website using Classic Google Sites, make sure you navigate over to that post now!

Get A Pack Google E-mail Account

You’ll want to create a Google e-mail (Gmail) account for your Pack, even if you already have an existing email for communication purposes. You’ll use this account to login to Google Sites, and since it’s not your personal e-mail address, it can be passed on to the next leader to fill the webmaster role. Share the account information with your Committee Chairperson and Cubmaster!

Consider Your Basics

Make a list of what you consider to be the basics you want to share on your website. You’ll need to describe your Pack, focusing on the program you offer and how that sets you apart from other local Packs, and your meeting schedule. You’ll also need to provide a way for potential families to communicate with you, be that a Google Form or a simple paragraph providing your contact information. Do you want to link your social media accounts to your website? Maybe share newsletters or announcements? Think about what you would want to see on a Units website as a potential member.

Using that list of basics, create a simple wireframe of your site. A wireframe is essentially a blueprint of your site, a schematic or skeletal view of how information will be organized on your site jotted down on paper. Think of it like a flow chart of information! Remember that we’re supposed to Keep It Simple in Scouting.

Anyone else have a drawer full of scrap paper? A Scout is Thrifty… and a wireframe should be simple.

If you open our Pack website at www.Pack521.com, you should be able to see how this wireframe ultimately became a website.

Create A Google Site

To create a Google Site, make sure you are logged into your unit’s Google account before navigating to Google Sites. The banner at the very top will have a section for creating a new site. You can choose one of the templates (clicking “Template Gallery ^ v” will expand that section and show additional options) or start with a blank site.

TEMPLATES are great for novice webmasters and provide you with a lot of pre-fab structure that will make for a beautiful Scout Unit website. You would simply replace the stock images with your own, drop in text, and have a site in a few short hours.

BLANK SITES are easy for everyone and ideal for those webmasters who really want to customize a great site. Even blank sites have layout themes, so you aren’t starting from scratch. For this post, I’m using a Blank Site.

>> A working copy of my template website can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/pack521va/ . I will refer to this often throughout this post.

Name Your Site

Your site will open and look remarkably, well, blank. To start customization, hover over the “Untitled Site” text and update it with your Unit’s information. For instance, my template site is entitled “Cub Scout Pack 521, Virginia”. This title will appear on the browser tab and Google search results, so make sure it’s meaningful but not too long.

Page Title and / or Header Graphic

The page you are currently seeing is, by default, your homepage. If you click the “Pages” tab on the far-right window, you’ll see that it’s even called home. You can hover over the three vertical dots next to “Home” to change the name of this page, but it will remain the first page of your website, where visitors will be directed if they find you in a search engine.

You can click the “Your page title” text to edit it. This is a great opportunity to welcome guests to your page from the word go. Something meaningful like “Welcome to Pack 521” is a great start! If you have a header graphic that you’d prefer to use, which includes text, you can delete the page title text block entirely and, instead, change the header type and upload an image from your device. I opted to remove the text and upload an image on my template site.

Google displays the center of your header graphic, and because it’s responsive, what you see will depend on the kind of device it’s being displayed on. Your header graphic will display differently on a smart phone versus a tablet or PC… and it will display differently on your PC if you have a full screen versus a split screen. That makes it tricky to customize your header graphic. You can save a copy and use this template on Google Drawing to design your header graphic. Note that the white area will likely not appear on your Google Site when you upload it to your template. Once you’ve completed your image, you can save it as a png and download it to your device. Return to your site and upload it by clicking on the “Change Image” > “Upload” button. You can also upload it to your Google Drive and navigate to it using the same “Change Image” button. Google Sites will automatically apply a filter that edits your image to make the text overlayed on it (like the navigational items we’ll add later), but this can be removed by hovering over the image and clicking the three stars on the bottom-right of the image to “Remove Readability Adjustment.”

If you’d like to go a step further and brand your header graphic with official Scouts BSA images and colors, you’ll want to open the BSA Brand Identity Guide and Brand Center.

Homepage Content

The basics of a good home page are:

  • clear navigation
  • announcements and reminders
  • eye-catching imagery or videos
  • a calendar

To add announcements and reminders, click the “Insert” tab on the right-hand navigational pane. There, you can choose a layout for your announcements. I chose the first layout option for my template site because it gave me space for announcements AND an image or video. From here, I selected the text block at the top to create a section title… for instance, “Pack Announcements.” In the secondary block, I formatted this as a bulleted list to help separate announcements, and used text formatting like bolding and italicizing. To edit the image, just click on the + icon to upload an image from your device or Drive, or embed a YouTube video, calendar, or map! How cool is that??

Announcement Banners appear at the top of your page and highlight a special event or call to action. This would be great for redirecting potential families to recruitment materials! To add an Announcement Banner, just click on the gray gear at the top right of your screen to open Settings. Select “Announcement Banner” to edit the message, add a link and format to suit your design!

Eye-catching imagery or videos are a great way to get attention, especially when they’re right at the top of your home page. Scouts BSA provides us with an awesome marketing center full of hundreds of beautiful downloadable, licensed images and videos. Everything from Cub Scouts catching fish to Venturing action shots. Bookmark the BSA Brand Center’s Marketing Library and keep that resource handy at all times. Don’t forget to check out the Brand Guidelines to make sure you’re using the right logo and colors. This BSA Digital Design System is my favorite of all helps these days – it’s ease of use makes it a trusted tool in my design arsenal.

My Pack synced up their ScoutBook calendar with their Google Calendar, and embedded that calendar on their Google Site. To learn how to sync your ScoutBook and Google Calendars, read my post entitled Scouting Tech: Syncing Your ScoutBook and Google Calendars.

To add this calendar to your Google Site, choose “Calendar” from the “Insert” tab on the right-hand navigational pane. Choose your calendar and “Insert” to confirm. You can easily drag your calendar to resize it however you’d like, and by clicking the gray gear icon that appears when your calendar is selected, you can customize its settings. By default, the View Mode is set to “Agenda,” but can be changed to “Month” or “Week” using the drop-down. Click “Done” to save your settings.

You can easily add a Footer by clicking the “+ Footer” button that appears when you hover over the bottom of your page. This is the perfect spot for posting a brief tagline and your email address and other quick contact information. When you type out a Gmail address, it will automatically create a hyperlink!

Changing Your Color Theme

By clicking on the “Themes” tab on the right-hand navigational pane, you’ll see a series of themes that will change the appearance of your site. By default, your suite is set to “Simple,” but can be changed to several other themes with a simple click. I chose “Level” for my template site and used the color-picker to choose my theme color. The blue Scouts BSA branded adventure banner at the bottom of my header graphic is the color #003a7a. If you use the same image as part of your header graphic, you can paste that value into the color-picker to match. I set the background of my Pack Announements section to match by hovering over that section and choosing the color pallet “Section Background” icon and choosing Emphasis 2. Play around with these settings to personalize your website to your liking!

Adding Google Drive Files and a “Filing Cabinet”

The Classic Google Sites include a Filing Cabinet page type that is no longer available in the New Google Sites. Having a place for visitors to find important documents is key, so let’s learn how to use Google Drive to get this done. Consider thoughtful file directories for items you want to share with visitors to your site. For instance, “Den Leader Documents” and “Parent Documents.” Create folders in your Google Drive to organize your files, then drop your files into those folders! It’s really as easy as that.

To share Google Drive Files with site visitors, you’ll first create a new page using the “Pages” tab on the right-hand navigational pane. Click the blue + at the bottom of your screen and name your new page. On my template site, I created a page for “Forms & Guides“, which I used to house documents that I’d uploaded to my Google Drive. The header graphic and theme you choose will move over to all new pages of your website, which saves you a lot of time. My Forms & Guides page was easy to create. I created a page title by clicking the “Insert” tab at the right-hand navigational pane and clicking “Text Box.” I resized and formatted it to suit my page, choosing Emphasis 1 from the “Section Background” settings for that section. Click “Drive” from the “Insert” tab and navigate to one or your folders… for instance, “Den Leader Documents,” as mentioned above. Click “Insert” and resize your window to suit your preferences. Repeat that process for all of the folders you want to include on your website. You’ll see that, by default, your folders are dropped in as List View by default. You can change this to Grid View to see previews of each file as opposed to the file name and details by clicking the gray gear Settings icon that appears when you hover over your embedded folder.

Adding Links to Social Media

To include your Facebook and Twitter pages on your website, click the “Pages” tab on your right-most navigation pane and hover over the + icon at the bottom of the page. An option to add a “New Link” appears. Name your new link something logical, like “Facebook” or “Twitter” and paste your link to those sites below. By default, the new link will open in a new tab, but if you’d like for it to open in the existing tab, you can un-check that box before clicking “Done.”

Sanity Check!

Still with me? Put ‘er there!

Get up – stretch – do a little dance – get some water – take care of yourself – rejoice, because you’ve got yourself a basic website! Let’s dig a little deeper.

Additional Page Ideas

For new families, learning about Scouting and getting to know the countless units in your area can be a daunting task. Make it easy for them by laying out Den Information, introducing your Leadership Team, and telling them About Your Pack or Troop.

I created a Den Information Google Doc that I saved to my Google Drive, then added to the Den Information page of my template site. I like that it can be printed from there as opposed to trying to print the entire page of the website.

Your Leadership Team is the heart of your organization, so consider introducing them to the public on your new site. Include photos (in uniform, of course) to let Scouts see who it is they’ll be learning from this year, and have each leader write out a brief bio that explains their connection to Scouting, their leadership role, and what they like to do outside of Scouting.

An About Us page is an invaluable tool for introducing your organization to the community. Show off your awards and special recognition (like your Journey To Excellence status), as well as links to your social media accounts, information about the schools you serve and your sponsoring organization, contact information, and your Scouting history! You can even include links to your Council and District sites as well as other resources that might be helpful to your site visitors, like Scout Shop information.

You can easily develop a Google Form to capture information from perspective Scouts, then drop it into your new Site using the “Insert” tab and selecting “Google Forms” from the available options. It will embed your form into your page and allow families to submit the forms to you directly from your site!

Be-A-Scout Online Unit Application

In the best interest of easing recruiting, add a link to your unit’s registration/application page through My.Scouting.org. If you aren’t sure what your link is, visit beascout.scouting.org and search for your unit. Right-click on the blue “Apply Now” button that appears under your unit listing and select “Copy Link Address.” On your Google Site, click the “Pages” tab hover over the + icon and choose “New link.” Paste your link into the appropriate field, then name your link something logical like “Apply Now!” Your new link will appear in your navigation.

Navigation Details

You’ll notice that, with every new page or link you create, your navigation menu updates automatically across all pages. By default, your navigation menu appears horizontally across the top right-hand side of your site. You can click the gray gear for that section’s Settings and select “Side” from the mode drop-down. This creates a vertical menu that is hidden on the left-hand side of your site and can be accessed by clicking the three lines that now appear next to your site title. On the “Pages” tab, you can drag your pages and links into the order you prefer, which will be reflected in your navigation menu.

You’re Ready To Publish

Your site is just about ready – all that’s left to do now is publish it! Google Sites makes this as simple as clicking a button. You’ll find a purple “Publish” button on the top right-hand side of your screen. When you click it for the very first time, a “Publish to the web” window will appear, which will allow you to make some minor tweaks before going live. A default web address will populate based on the name you gave your site. You can use what was provided or click inside of that text box and make changes. You can also manage who views your site. By default, any published site will be Public to anyone on the web, and should remain that way. You can also check a box to request that public search engines do NOT display your site – I caution against checking that box as it will limit who can find you online. Don’t forget to confirm that you would like to Publish your page.

A “Your site has been published successfully” message will pop-up from the bottom of your page! CONGRATULATIONS, GUYS! YOU HAVE A SITE! You can quickly view your published site by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the “Publish” button and selecting “View Published Site“.

Custom Website Domain

You can purchase a personalized domain and forward it to point to your new Google Site. For instance, our Google Site URL is https://sites.google.com/site/pack521va/. That’s a lot to remember and print on flyers and other promotional materails. But http://www.Pack521.com is shorter, logical, and easier for a busy mom or dad to remember.

We purchased the Pack521.com domain through GoDaddy. To do this, you’ll need to create an account, then visit their domain name search page and look for your desired domain. The search will let you know if it is available and give you pricing plan information for the .com extension as well as many other available extensions. We chose .com and registered it for two years for right around $30.00

Follow these directions on support.google.com for step-by-step instruction on setting your custom website domain to redirect to your new Google Site.

This step might also require a 24-hour or so stand up period where GoDaddy processes the new domain forwarding. By the next day you should be able to type your domain name into your browser address bar and it will forward to your Google Site like magic!

Okay, Now You Really Are Done!

This is a LOT to digest, but I hope that I’ve made it as straight forward as possible and saved you some first-timer missteps along the way. Do you have a Pack or Troop website? What provider did you use? Have you used Google Sites or Domain Forwarding through a vendor like GoDaddy? Share your website in the comments below!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Featured

Scouting Tech: Visual Aids for Virtual Meetings

2020 will go down in history for a lot of reasons, but I sure hope the countless positives will outweigh the negatives when tested by time. What I’ll remember most about 2020 is that the world was encouraged to think outside of the box and then moved to share their clever creativity with everyone else.

It’s absolutely no surprise that many of those clever creative thinkers are our educators! You can’t search Pinterest without finding countless resources that were thoughtfully and carefully developed by our educators, many of which are so flexible and well done that they can be tweaked with very little effort to suit the needs of other groups – like Scouters!

Laura Cahill is a genius!

When I stumbled upon a blog post by engageducate.com, my first thought was, “how can this brilliant idea be used for Scouting?” A virtual Zoom background that displays an agenda, is attractive and attention-grabbing, helps maintain order, clearly displays expectations, and can be used to organize materials like You Tube and supportive links? Sign.Me.Up.

Using Laura Cahill’s awesome video tutorials, I was all set-up in Google Slides and happily clicking along, creating sample meeting agendas and thinking up ways to modify this from a classroom resource to a Den/Pack meeting tool.

My first test of this format was to have my son, a Patrol Leader, set up an agenda board and supporting slides for an upcoming patrol meeting. In under 30 minutes, he had organized his meeting plan into a Google Slideshow that set the tone for a smooth, interesting meeting. He’s since worked hard to make his patrol agendas even more interactive, finding new ways to use Google Slides to his advantage. His biggest win is that he can use materials that already exist on the web without having to manage the links. He simply shares his screen to his Slideshow and, in Presentation mode, is able to click on the links he creates for himself. Here’s an example of a recent Google Slide patrol meeting he developed.

Why Google Slideshow Agendas Are Made For Cub Scouts!

Where this is perfect for Troop-level meetings, it is especially engaging for our younger Scouts at the Pack-level. When we adopted virtual meetings in the spring, we noticed that some Scouts dropped off because it felt a lot like school. As we were all learning how to use new-to-us technology, like Zoom, we were building the plane while we flew it… there was a tremendous learning curve and guess what? Whether you built a Boeing or one of those paper airplanes that immediately nosedive into the carpet, you did a great job!

The good news is, we’ve had months of trial and error to learn and grow from, and now we’re ready to embrace a Year in Scouting that looks almost nothing like anything we’ve ever seen before, and we’re not going into this thing along. We have each other, and I for one will share any and every piece of wisdom I glean in the process.

So, here’s why Google Slideshow Agendas are made for Cub Scouts. These little lords and ladies need visual aids to stay interested. It’s no fun for us as adults to sit through an hour of someone talking to us over Zoom, so it’s easy to imagine the torture that is an hour-long lecture as an elementary school aged child. Google Slides provides you with almost limitless opportunities for pulling together eye-catching, interesting, fun presentations that can be shared and passed down to other leaders. Having all of your virtual meeting materials in one place will make your job as den leader that much easier – it won’t be necessary to juggle clicking around to find materials on the web or trying to remember where you found something on the fly. It will also help you to stay on track and add resources to your meeting, like You Tube links and interactive games, that will keep your Scouts engaged.

Please feel free to make a copy of this template, which includes Google Slides for each den, some Pack meeting slides, and even meeting openers, to include the Pledge of Allegiance, Cub Scout Oath, and Scout Law.

A sample Lion Den slide from the template (linked above).

Once you’ve logged into Zoom, you can share your screen and click the “Present” button in the top right corner of your screen to set your Google Slideshow to full-screen, making it viewable to all of your meeting attendees. It’s that easy!

Need help planning your virtual den meetings all year long?

I’ve created a series of Google Slides that can be shared via your favorite virtual meeting program.

Don’t Forget…

There are countless resources available to you, so please don’t reinvent the wheel when planning the content for your meeting. The template (linked above) includes some suggested resources to help you keep it simple, make it fun. Use my Free Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Zoom Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings to make great Google Slide backgrounds, and check out some of my Virtual Games below to help keep your Scouts excited about joining your awesome online meetings.

Youth Protection is still central to a safe and successful Scouting program. Please take some time to read my post, Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World, to ensure you and your Scouts enjoy a great Year in Scouting together.

Last but not least, please take it easy on yourself! That you’re even reading this or doing other research to help plan your virtual meetings means that you’re going above and beyond for the youth in your charge. You’re a hero who’s keeping Scouting alive in a difficult time – THANK YOU for your service to our Scouts and THANK YOU for remembering that Scouts are always prepared and always ready to do their best. Nice work!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Virtual Games

See Also…

Featured

Savory Recipes: Sloppy Joseph’s Crockpot Mesquite BBQ Beef on Rolls

If summer 2020 has been anything, it’s rainy. Here in Richmond, it’s the rainiest August on record, and we’re only halfway through! We’re getting a pretty good soak right now as I type, and with no end in sight, I’m starting to line up my family’s favorite rainy-day recipes on my weekly meal plan.

There’s no better smell than that of onions, peppers and garlic sauteing. Change my mind.

As I thumbed through my recipe box, I found this awesome recipe for Crockpot Mesquite BBQ Beef on Rolls, or as I’d dubbed it, Sloppy Joseph’s. This recipe is full of all the good stuff you love about Sloppy Joe’s, but with a lot more oomph. It’s a fancier version of a classic, hence why I call it by it’s full name. It’s a snap to pull together, cooks away in the crockpot with little to no supervision, and makes for a great rainy day recipe that the whole family will enjoy.

To quote the hubs, “this is delicious!” Not to mention all the smells that fill your house, from the sauteing onions and peppers, to the simmering barbecue.

Prep time on this recipe is less than 20 minutes. You brown your beef and saute the veggies, then let your crockpot do all the hard work. In a few short hours, you’ll smile as you overload your favorite rolls with heaping spoonfuls of the bbq beef and coleslaw.

We’re BBQ sauce snobs and refuse to buy anything other than Sweet Baby Ray’s – that sauce is the boss, afterall. I used the Honey Barbeque Sauce for this particular recipe, with a teaspoon or so of the Honey Chipotle. Your favorite sauce will do, of course! We also prefer Martin’s Potato Rolls over regular hamburger buns, but again, that’s just our preference. This recipe will be a hit no matter what bread you put it on – and let’s face it, it’s not like you’re picking it up and eating it. This is ultimately an open faced sandwich situation, so anything will do.

Every time I share a crockpot recipe, I feel obligated to talk about the exact appliance that I own. I love my crockpot so much, it’s like my handy, reliable little sidekick that I absolutely cannot live without. I own the 8-Quart Oval Crock-Pot, and I love it for several reasons:

  • it’s ovular, which means it can hold a nice roast or tenderloin without having to cut it down
  • it has a glass lid, as opposed to plastic
  • it’s manual, so I can only get myself in so much trouble with the three temperature settings

Here’s the recipe for Sloppy Joseph’s Crockpot Mesquite BBQ Beef on Rolls; feel free to save and print it for your own recipe box!

This recipe makes about six servings, which is enough for my family of four to enjoy for dinner, then we fight it out for who gets to have it for lunch the next day! 🙂

Have I convinced you to add this to your meal plan for the week? Are you wearing more rain boots than bathing suits this summer? What’s your favorite crockpot recipe? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to like this post and follow Look Wider Still to get notifications for all of my posts!

-Rebekah

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising.

Featured

Scouting Activities: Scouting-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game!

As the weeks go on and virtual meetings continue, your PL might find themselves running out of good ideas to keep things exciting and interesting. You can only share screen so many Power Point presentations before Scouts start taking virtual naps during their weekly virtual Patrol meeting. If you find yourself in a slump or in need of a last-minute game, try my Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game!

What you need:

The Rules

The rules are pretty much the same as the board game.

  1. Pictionary word cards will have letters on them denoting the type of word they will be drawing. For instance, a “D” means the word is difficult or challenging, an “A” means it’s an action word, and so on.
  2. Split your attendees into two equal teams.  They will determine who their first “picturist” will be, then rotate with each word.  Flip a coin to determine which team draws first.
  3. The host will flip or randomly choose a card using the randomizer, then private chat the word and category to the “picturist”.   The “picturist”  will tell their team the category only.
  4. Each team will have 60 seconds to guess what their “picturist” is drawing to earn a point.   The opposing team will NOT guess at this time.
  5. If the team correctly guesses the word, they earn the point and continue on to drawing another word. If the team incorrectly guesses the word and runs out of time, the opposing team can discuss for 10 seconds and a team representative will provide one guess.  If they guess correctly, they steal the point.  Regardless of their success in stealing the point, they will take the next turn drawing.
  6. Set the timer for 60-seconds and draw!
  7. The winning team has the most points at the end of your game. They get mega bragging rights!

Don’t forget…

  • Drawings cannot include letters or numbers (you cannot spell out the word).
  • You cannot use secret clues like an ear for “sounds like” or dashes to show a number of letters in the word(s).
  • Opposing teams cannot shout out answers, they must remain quiet or muted until it is their turn.
  • You can draw “mail” for the word “male” or “blew” for the word “blue”. Homonyms are just fine!

How to use the Whiteboard Feature

Visit the Zoom Support Site for the prerequisite client download information.

Your PL is the host of the Zoom meeting, so they will need to perform the following:

  1. Click the share screen button in the meeting tool bar.
  2. Click Whiteboard (a blue marker and line icon).
  3. Click share.
  4. The annotation tools will appear, which Scouts can use to draw.
  5. You can use the page controls in the bottom-right corner to create new pages for each drawing.

Scout-Themed Pictionary Word Cards

Remember that, when you share with your Scout the word and category they are drawing, they will tell everyone the category only so they know what kind of word they are guessing. Here’s an example of what they can expect for each of the categories.

>> Download Scout-Themed Pictionary Word Cards (PDF)

Enjoy!

Hopefully this spares you a little bit of time spent planning your next Patrol meeting. If you’ve given this one a try and enjoyed it, please share it with your Scouting buddies. Don’t forget to like and comment on this post, subscribe to Look Wider Still, and follow me on Facebook.

YIS,
Rebekah

Looking for more ideas? Check out these posts:

Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World It seems to me that social distancing has brought the world closer than ever, from apartment complexes in Italy and China singing in concert, to authors performing Facebook Live readings for the masses, singers and songwriters performing free concerts from home, artists sharing tutorials so we can release our collective creativity, educators hosting live classes and providing our students with more materials than could ever be imagined so they can stay on track, and anyone with a sewing machine making face masks to share with medical professionals on the front line all over the world. Human beings are just the coolest! We really get things done! Above all, Scouts never give up! Despite the space between us, we still find ways to come together. Incredibly, we live in a time where programs that connect us are readily available and, most of the time, free to use.

Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game! Do you remember family game night growing up? Some games made for a fun evening, like Candy Land and Life while others turned typically sweet family members into wild-eyed logophiles, like Scattergories. Was that just my childhood home? I hope so. As an adult, I’ve come to love the game again. My son (the PL) and I were talking about games he could play over Zoom this week, and in the midst of a pretty desperate brainstorm, a lightbulb went off. What about Scattergories for Scouts… Scoutergories?

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game You can’t be all business all the time… all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, afterall. Starting off a patrol meeting with a little game is a mood-lifter and gets everyone in the right frame of mind for learning. Don’t forget to keep it simple, make it fun! The Scouts Whisper Game is a great opportunity to encourage Scout Spirit and practice the trustworthy, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful points of our Scout Law. Much like the Whisper Challenge played on the Tonight Show, this game offers up funny phrases that Scouts try to guess by reading lips, all over Zoom, Skype, or any other virtual meeting program.

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game My son (PL) is wrapping up the 30 Day Rank Challenge posted by the Heart of America Council, with his brand new patrol of brand new Scouts, and as he mulled over how to test them on what they’ve learned. After careful consideration, we talked over his strategy and he decided he’d rather make it a game than outright quiz his patrol on Scouting details. Keep it simple, make it fun! Right? So we brainstormed games that could be played through his next Zoom meeting, and landed squarely on BINGO. There are a LOT of great Scouting Bingo games out there that have been shared in the last several months, many of which help your Scouts continue on the advancement trail. We worked together to pull a series of six individual S.C.O.U.T. game boards that specifically review the Scout Rank materials.

Scouting Tech: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games Before splitting Scouts into breakout rooms, my son read off a survival situation and provided a fun list of found items they would need to use to make it through their situation. He pasted the list in the Zoom chat and then used the broadcast feature to send it to them again once they were sent to their rooms. He gave them five minutes to discuss the situation, rank their items from most- to least-important, and brought them back together as a full group to discuss. He encouraged them to have fun together, and to choose a group representative to come back and share what they’d discussed. My son randomly chose who would go into each breakout room (literally just figured out how many would need to be in each room and started clicking with reckless abandon… a very teenaged boy thing to do) and sent them on their way.

Featured

Scouts BSA Merit Badge: Using Google Classrooms for Virtual Merit Badges

This crazy coronavirus has certainly changed the world we live in. All of us are adapting the way we shop, the way we socialize, and the way we parent. We’re grappling with an overwhelming amount of information and the politicization of every decision we make, most of the time struggling to determine the lesser of two evils and feeling judged no matter where we land.

Scouter friends and parents, please know that every last one of us is doing our best to navigate absolutely uncharted waters. How about we make a deal right now to support each other in the decisions we have to make as opposed to chiding our friends and neighbors. Being helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful is literally part of the law we swear to abide by as Scouts. Don’t ever forget that!

We can debate the cons of this horrible virus all the live-long day… in fact, most of us do and that’s alright. But why don’t we take a moment to look at some of the great opportunities that have been gifted to us as we grow through this difficult time.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

– Plato

Plato said it best. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” If you consider the many wonderful things that have come from our new normal, you’ll start to feel a little overwhelmed with pride. Human beings are coming together and sharing generously in their expertise, time, and talents in ways that we hadn’t thought of until now. We are harnessing the power of technology that we’ve really only been using to share meme’s and research the symptoms of our imaginary illnesses.

I couldn’t help it. I’m human.

Teachers – real life super heroes – are developing an entirely brand new way of educating our children at the drop of a hat. Museums have opened access to their collections, allowing families to see exhibits from around the world. NASA is providing virtual tours and educational materials. World class learning resources are being shared for public use at absolutely no cost. Musicians are hosting concerts online to keep spirits up. Communities are collecting hand sanitizers, paper towels, toilet paper, and food items for the at-risk in their neighborhoods. Streaming platforms are changing the way we watch movies and keep ourselves entertained. Grocery stores are delivering. Don’t even get me started on mother nature springing to life in ways I certainly never thought I’d ever see.

Scouting is absolutely not exempt from the benefits of all these changes. We have so much available to us now that we can safely share with our Scouts and their families, and with the help of platforms like Skype and Zoom, many of us haven’t so much as skipped a beat or stepped foot off the advancement trail. Historically, Scouts embrace difficulty and find ways to move adversity out of their way. They know how to BE PREPARED, and where none of us saw any of this coming, they were somehow still ready.

So how do we continue to leverage these awesome opportunities to our advantage? We embrace it with open arms, realize its value and potential, and put some time into making it work for us.

As a merit badge counselor, I’ve been concerned about how the Scouts in my charge would continue to earn badges in this time of social distancing. What I’ve learned from my own children and their Scout peers is that they are absolutely flourishing in the virtual environment, and with the encouragement of their parents and leadership team, the sky is truly the limit. I was pointed to a Virtual Merit Badge Classes Facebook Group (please do a search so you can join properly) that shares a bajillion great ideas on offering virtual merit badges. Many of the counselors on the group are using Google Classrooms to guide Scouts either in a format with scheduled meetings or self-guided at the Scouts pace. By developing and offering up a merit badge through Google Classrooms, you are providing the opportunity to learn and earn to a greater number of deserving Scouts. Who knows what phases we’ll be in over the coming months – this is one way to keep Scouting alive in a virtual world.

Developed with educators across the country, Google Classrooms is free, meets high security standards, provides simple organization, and is easy for everyone to use (including you).

Sample of Pets Merit Badge BSA Google Classroom

I’ve developed a Sample of Pets Merit Badge BSA in Google Classroom and a Sample of Art Merit Badge BSA in Google Classroom (these are exact copies of my working copies of my Pets and Art Merit Badge BSA Classrooms). Click the + symbol in the upper right hand corner to select “Join Class” and use code hljr4jk for Pets and cujkd5w for Art. Feel free to poke around to see how they work, but please don’t submit work through this sample Classrooms.

  • the Stream tab is essentially a log of the activity in the Classroom
  • the Classwork tab has all of the requirements organized with supporting materials attached as downloadable files
  • the Class Drive folder houses all of your classroom materials, like copies of the merit badge requirements, workbook, and logs

Creating your Google Classroom

  1. To start, click the + symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the Google Classroom homepage, and select “Create Class”. Read and acknowledge the notice regarding use of Google Classroom with G Suit for Education (this doesn’t apply to us) and click Continue.
  2. Create your class details. I chose to name my classrooms with the merit badge name and Scouts BSA. For instance, Pets Merit Badge Scouts BSA. For subject, I use “Merit Badge”. Click Create.
  3. Once your classroom has been created, you’ll notice that Google assigns your classroom a code in the top left corner of your header image. You will share that code with Scouts who choose to utilize your merit badge classroom.
  4. You are by default taken to the Stream tab when you first enter a Google classroom. To start creating requirements, you will click the Classwork tab.
  5. To create your first requirement, click the blue +Create button at the top and choose Assignment. Use the requirement number for your title (Requirement 1), then add the requirement details to the instructions. On the right-hand side of your screen, click on the points drop down and choose ungraded. Under topic, click create topic and create a new topic called Requirements.
  6. You’ll return to your Classwork tab. Repeat this process for all of your requirements, choosing the Requirements topic you created in step 5 as you go.
  7. To create a notice about blue cards, click the blue +Create button at the top and choose Assignment. Use Blue Cards or something similar for the title and add details to your instructions. Again, choose ungraded, but this time you’ll create a new topic entitled Getting Started (or something similar).
  8. These sections and assignments are organized as most-recent at the top. You can, however, drag an entire block of assignments by clicking on their topic title (like “Getting Started”) and drag the block where you’d like for it to go.
  9. Now click on the link for your Class Drive folder. Create a folder for Requirements and Workbooks and move copies of those files from your own PC to your new Class Drive folder. You can drag and drop these files.
  10. If you have supporting documentation, like PPT templates or logs that you’ve created, you can back out of your Requirements and Workbooks folder and drop those items in your main Class Drive folder.
  11. Once you have supporting documentation dropped into your Class Drive folder, you can go one step further and link it to a specific requirement. Return to your classroom’s Classwork tab and edit a specific requirement. Click the Add button with the paperclip icon and link to the appropriate file in your Class Drive folder.
  12. You’re all set! As Scouts work on their merit badge and drop files in your Class Drive folder, you’ll receive alerts and can review what’s been submitted for completion.

What About Blue Cards?

Where all units require that Scouts have merit badge participation approved before they begin seeking out a counselor, some may even require that they have a physical blue card completed by adult leadership as well.

In the case that your Scout has a unit-provided physical blue card, encourage them to mail it to you for your completion. Send it back to them as quickly as possible!

In the case that your Scout needs for you to provide a physical blue card, you can find several fillable and printable PDF templates online. I like this one from the gatewayscouting.org website.

If you have a ScoutBook account and have updated your Positions to include Merit Badge Counselor, you can be added as a Connection to participating Scouts, manage their Merit Badge progress and issue a blue card.

Classroom Syllabus and Youth Protection

Because some Scouts might opt to use this Classroom as a self-guided and self-paced merit badge opportunity, I like to create a syllabus that outlines how the classroom works, how “assignments” should be submitted, and how to contact me. A copy of my Pets Merit Badge – Google Classroom Syllabus can be found in my Sample of Pets Merit Badge BSA classroom Class Drive folder (linked above).

If you create a Google Classroom, you must ALWAYS keep Youth Protection in the forefront of your mind at all times. Ensure that your training is completed and up-to-date, ensure that parents are present in all virtual meetings, and always include an adult in all correspondence with the Scout. Read my post, Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World for lots of great information and resources to keep you and your Scouts safe!

Deleting a Google Classroom

You can delete a Google Classroom on the Google Classroom homepage. Click on the three horizontal dots and select Archive. Then, click on the three horizontal lines at the top of your screen and select Archived Classes. Locate the class you want to delete, click on the three horizontal dots and select Delete. This cannot be undone – the Classroom and associated Class Drive folder have been removed.

Look Wider Still

We are absolutely living in a time where virtual Scouting is paramount for keeping Scouts interested and on the advancement trail. Offering to share your merit badge counseling experience with a wider group of youth can be what keeps them from quitting the program.

What do you think about virtual merit badge counseling? What other programs do you use? Have you tried Google Classrooms? What would you add to this post?

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Other Posts that Might Be Helpful

Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World It seems to me that social distancing has brought the world closer than ever, from apartment complexes in Italy and China singing in concert, to authors performing Facebook Live readings for the masses, singers and songwriters performing free concerts from home, artists sharing tutorials so we can release our collective creativity, educators hosting live classes and providing our students with more materials than could ever be imagined so they can stay on track, and anyone with a sewing machine making face masks to share with medical professionals on the front line all over the world. Human beings are just the coolest! We really get things done! Above all, Scouts never give up! Despite the space between us, we still find ways to come together. Incredibly, we live in a time where programs that connect us are readily available and, most of the time, free to use.

Scouting Tech: Online Conferencing Tools for Virtual Meetings We’re navigating some seriously uncharted territory right now, trying to find ways to maintain some normalcy and keep the kids from physically turning into the Fortnite character they’re obsessively playing. It’s been pleasantly surprising to witness the outpouring of knowledge and generosity in the last week; the sharing of wisdom and resources is truly inspiring. Guys! We’ve got this! I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking up ways to keep my Scouts on track. My den of AOLs was expecting to bridge in April, and I’m hopeful we still can, but not meeting in person has put a huge damper on the last of our den plans. I had all these great ideas – a fireside program, s’mores, reminiscing on the years we’ve spent together, encouraging them to be brave as they take the big leap into a boy-led Troop.

Scouting Tech: Free Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings If you’re looking to switch things up in your next Zoom meeting, and hide the piles of Scout Stuff stacked up in your room, consider virtual backgrounds. I’m sure you’ve had Scouts floating in space or enjoying a tropical vacation in recent meetings, and maybe you’ve wondered how. If you’re able to use the virtual backgrounds without a green screen, or used your Scout Skills to make one for your next meeting, you’ll need to find some cool backgrounds. There are TONS of freebies out there, but I thought I’d take some time to create Cub Scout and Scouts BSA -specific images that are free to use.

Featured

Scouts BSA Merit Badge: Citizenship in Society

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.

Maya Angelou

I want to grow. I want to be better. You grow. We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.

Tupac Shakur

Update November 1, 2021: Citizenship in Society has been released! The requirements have been officially shared with the Scouting community, you can register to counsel this merit badge, and it will indeed become Eagle Required in 2022. Learn more!

Update September 29, 2021: The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Merit Badge will be released as Citizenship in Society in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates regarding the requirements and if this will join the other Citizenships as an Eagle Required badge.

Update January 7, 2021: Per Scouting.org, the introduction of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Merit Badge has been postponed while Scouts BSA considers and evaluates feedback received regarding the proposed requirements.

It’s an understatement to say that our country is growing right before our very eyes. I quote Tupac often in my life (truly, I could write a thesis on Tupac as America’s most under-appreciated poet) because I feel, deeply, that he understood the divide in a way that was far beyond his years. His honest personal experience is so beautifully recorded through his lyrics, and it’s as important now as it was when he put pen to paper. When I think about what’s happening in the streets of America right this very moment, I can’t help but consider what Tupac meant when he said, “you have to grow through what you go through.” We’re actively growing through what we’re going through, and it’s encouraging to see real legislation being passed and hearts being changed.

Somehow, this is just the beginning, and we’re 400 years in. We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m proud of the steps being made, especially by the BSA. On June 15, 2020, they released a statement entitled “BSA’s Commitment to Act Against Racial Injustice,” in which they admitted their failures as a youth-serving organization to provide a solid foundation for inclusion. The responses from fellow Scouters have been all over the map, but it’s encouraging to read the messages of support and excitement from the majority who feel this statement is long, long overdue.

Part of their statement is as follows:

The twelve points of the Scout Law that define a Scout are all important, but at this moment, we are called on to be brave. Brave means taking action because it is the right thing to do and being an upstander even when it may prompt criticism from some. We realize we have not been as brave as we should have been because, as Scouts, we must always stand for what is right and take action when the situation demands it.

The statement also announced their commitment to develop a new Eagle-required Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion merit badge, which will pull from existing American Cultures, and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, to promote the understanding of all of the cultures and walks of life right here in America.

I look forward to seeing the merit badge requirements, then signing myself up to lead it. As soon as this information is shared, I will update this post accordingly!

I’m a big fan of seeking out the best possible information and sharing it, as opposed to reinventing the wheel. Therefore, I suggest adding Bryan On Scouting’s post entitled “Answering common questions about the BSA’s commitment to act against racial injustice” (published June 24, 2020) to your reading list. He answers some of the most commonly-asked questions, including how the BSA is balancing their support of BLM as well as their support of the incredible men and women who serve in law enforcement. (Yes, you can do both!)

If you’re like me and you’re interested in going a few steps further to help our youth understand how important this time in American history is, consider a few of these resources:

I’m proud to wear tan and green, now more than ever. It’s an encouraging time that I hope leads to real change and a national commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Featured

Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game!

Do you remember family game night growing up? Some games made for a fun evening, like Candy Land and Life while others turned typically sweet family members into wild-eyed logophiles, like Scattergories. Was that just my childhood home? I hope so.

As an adult, I’ve come to love the game again. My son (the PL) and I were talking about games he could play over Zoom this week, and in the midst of a pretty desperate brainstorm, a lightbulb went off. What about Scattergories for Scouts… Scoutergories?

If, like me, you vowed never to play the game again after experiencing the adults in your life go ballistic once or twice, you’ve probably forgotten the gist of the game. Per howdoyouplayit.com, each player gets a series of lists (in our case, there are 4), which are to be played in order. A letter die is rolled to reveal the letter you will be playing for the list you are on and a timer is set. (So, you’ll roll one letter and complete list 1, roll another letter and complete list 2, etc.) Players attempt to create an answer for each item on their list using the letter that was rolled, within a certain amount of time (normally 2 minutes). When the time runs out for each list, everyone takes turns reading their answers. If another player had your answer, you both cross that answer out. Each unique answer left on your list is worth one point.

You can also earn bonus points for alliteration! Say you roll a “d” and a category is “breakfast foods,” your answer of “Dunkin Donuts” would earn you two points.

Where some folks will argue rules all day and night (and into the next day, and in some families for decades), Scouts should be encouraged to be creative and have fun. Think about what the most common answer would be for a category and avoid it at all costs. For instance, if “animal” is one of your categories and you’ve rolled a “d”, you can bet most of your Scouts will answer with “dog”. How many will instead answer with “dingo”? If an answer is challenged, the majority rules on acceptability.

Because Scouts can’t physically roll a letter die via Zoom, use an online letter generator like this one at Random.com. You can also use this Scattergories Letter Die (with timer).

One of four game lists (linked below)

I’ve created a series of four SCOUTERGORIES game lists (PDF) that you can download and send off to your Scouts during your meeting (did you know you can send documents via Zoom chat?). I have a second series of more program-specific lists coming soon!

So? What do you think?

Will SCOUTERGORIES end up on your meeting plan this week? Tell me all about how it went in the comments, and don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to Look Wider Still!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Other Virtual Game Ideas

Scouting Activities: Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game

As the weeks go on and virtual meetings continue, your PL might find themselves running out of good ideas to keep things exciting and interesting. You can only share screen so many Power Point presentations before Scouts start taking virtual naps during their weekly virtual Patrol meeting. If you find yourself in a slump or in need of a last-minute game, try my Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game!

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game

You can’t be all business all the time… all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, afterall. Starting off a patrol meeting with a little game is a mood-lifter and gets everyone in the right frame of mind for learning. Don’t forget to keep it simple, make it fun!

The Scouts Whisper Game is a great opportunity to encourage Scout Spirit and practice the trustworthy, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful points of our Scout Law. Much like the Whisper Challenge played on the Tonight Show, this game offers up funny phrases that Scouts try to guess by reading lips, all over Zoom, Skype, or any other virtual meeting program. Learn more at Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game.

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: VirtScouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game

My son (PL) is wrapping up the 30 Day Rank Challenge posted by the Heart of America Council, with his brand new patrol of brand new Scouts, and as he mulled over how to test them on what they’ve learned. After careful consideration, we talked over his strategy and he decided he’d rather make it a game than outright quiz his patrol on Scouting details. Keep it simple, make it fun! Right? So we brainstormed games that could be played through his next Zoom meeting, and landed squarely on BINGO.

There are a LOT of great Scouting Bingo games out there that have been shared in the last several months, many of which help your Scouts continue on the advancement trail. We worked together to pull a series of six individual S.C.O.U.T. game boards that specifically review the Scout Rank materials. Learn more at Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game.

Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games

Before splitting Scouts into breakout rooms, my son read off a survival situation and provided a fun list of found items they would need to use to make it through their situation. He pasted the list in the Zoom chat and then used the broadcast feature to send it to them again once they were sent to their rooms. He gave them five minutes to discuss the situation, rank their items from most- to least-important, and brought them back together as a full group to discuss. He encouraged them to have fun together, and to choose a group representative to come back and share what they’d discussed. My son randomly chose who would go into each breakout room (literally just figured out how many would need to be in each room and started clicking with reckless abandon… a very teenaged boy thing to do) and sent them on their way. Learn more at Scouting Tech: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games.

Featured

Scouting Activities: Flag Ceremonies and Retirements

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Our Scout Oath goes back to the 1908 publication of “Scouting for Boys”, where “Be Prepared” was defined as “always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.” Originally referred to as the “Scout Promise,” Scouts would stand, raise their right hand in the Scout Sign, and recite,

“On my honour I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and the King/Queen/my Country, to help other people at all times and to obey the Scout Law.”

Very little has changed over these 112 years, and Scouts around the globe proudly pledge their loyalty to their country through service and active patriotism. Our meetings start with the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath, and Scout Law. We lay wreaths at the graves of our Veterans. We send popcorn and care packages to our active duty Troops. We wear a flag on our uniform, salute the flag on the moon, and treat all US flags with the same respect and reverence with which we treat the brave men and women who have served our country.

The Pack I served went to great lengths to protect and respect our flag, and ceremonies celebrating the service of our flags are important part of its programming. Here are a few resources to help you incorporate flag ceremonies into your unit traditions.

American Flag Etiquette at Unit Meetings

ScoutingMagazine.org has a great article that outlines flag etiquette in Scouting. There are a few rules every unit will need to follow:

  • while in procession, the American flag will lead the right-most line in the formation (the marching right)
  • the American flag is the first to be posted to its stand, on the left-most side of the audience
  • uniformed Scouts and Scouters will quietly observe the flag, holding their Scout Salute
  • plain clothed attendees will place their hands over their hearts
  • do not let the flag touch anything beneath it (this means younger Scouts with little control over a heavy flag and staff should be assisted by an older Scout or adult leader to ensure the flag doesn’t touch the ground)

American Flag Etiquette at Outdoor Events

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Scouting campsite without an American flag posted in the common area! Where general flag etiquette notes that it’s a universal custom to display your flag from sunrise to sunset on stationary flagstaffs in the open, you can proudly fly our flag twenty-four hours a day at your campsite as long as it is properly illuminated. Learn more about Flag Etiquette at www.usflag.org.

Flag Ceremony Basics

An opening flag ceremony can be as simple or involved as you’d like to make it, and will depend heavily on your participants. Packs should adopt simple ceremonies that can be easily executed by even the youngest Scout (with help, of course), where Troops should use something more age-appropriate.

Regardless of the unit type, all ceremonies should post the flag in the same order (American flag first) and in the correct location (American flag to the audience left).

Simple Flag Ceremony

A simple flag ceremony for younger Scouts looks a little something like this:

Determine who will participate in your Color Guard (the Scouts who carry and post the American and Unit flags) and who will lead the ceremony. The color guard will line up in two equal lines. The left-most line will be led by a Scout carrying the unit flag, whereas the right-most line will be led by a Scout carrying the flag of our nation. To open the ceremony, they will wait for the ceremony leader to initiate and provide ceremony prompts, as follows.

Leader: Color Guard, attention. Will the audience please rise? (The color guard will stand straight, perfect their lines, and prepare to march. The audience will stand.)

Leader: Color Guard, advance. Scout Salute. (This is a prompt for both lines to begin their forward march and for all uniformed Scouts to properly salute the flag. The Color Guard does NOT salute.)

Leader: Color Guard, halt. (The color guard is prompted to end their forward march where the audience seating begins, a distance from both flag stands. The Color Guard still does NOT salute.)

Leader: Please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance. (All participants recite the Pledge of Allegiance save the Color Guard.)

Leader: Two. (Scouts drop their salute. Participants remove their hands from their hearts.)

Leader: Color Guard, post the colors. (The flag bearers post the flags to their stands while the other Scouts in the color guard remain in place. The American flag is posted first, crossing from its right-most position to the left-most stand. The unit flag follows, crossing from its left-most position to the right-most stand. At this time, the Color Guard salutes the American flag.)

Leader: Color Guard, retreat. (The Scouts in the color guard turn and walk to their starting point in two straight lines. Then they join their fellow Scouts in the audience.)

Print or refer to this when practicing and performing your opening ceremony.

To close your ceremony:

Leader: Color Guard, attention. Will the audience please rise? (The color guard will stand straight, perfect their lines, and prepare to march. The audience will stand.)

Leader: Color Guard, advance. Scout Salute. (This is a prompt for both lines to begin their forward march and for all uniformed Scouts to properly salute the flag. The Color Guard does NOT salute.)

Leader: Color Guard, halt. (The color guard is prompted to end their forward march where the audience seating begins, a distance from both flag stands. The Color Guard still does NOT salute.)

Leader: Color Guard, retire the colors. (The flag bearers march to the flags and lift from the bases. The American flag is crossed from its position to the right-most line, followed by the unit flag which is crossed from its position to the left-most line. Both lines retreat to their starting point.)

Leader: Two. (Scouts drop their salute.)

Print or refer to this when practicing and performing your closing ceremony.

PRO TIP: Look around your meeting space. Are there low ceilings, ducts, or doorways that your flag-bearers will need to negotiate? Prepare them for those areas ahead of your ceremony.

Complex Flag Ceremony

Older Scouts are more than able to conduct a complex flag ceremony. These include the simple ceremony prompts in addition to a few others. For a more complex opening to your ceremony:

Leader: Color Guard, attention. Audience, please rise.

Leader: Scout Salute. Those not in uniform, please place your right hand over your heart.

Leader: Color Guard, forward march.

Leader: Color Guard, halt.

Leader: Color Guard, cross the colors.

Leader: Please recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Leader: Two.

Leader: Scout Sign. Please join us in reciting the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Leader: Two.

Leader: Color Guard, post the flag of the United States of America.

Leader: Color Guard, post the flag of Troop ___.

Leader: Color Guard, honor your colors.

Leader: Color Guard, retreat.

Leader: Audience, please be seated.

To close your ceremony:

Leader: Color Guard, attention. Audience, please rise.

Leader: Scout Salute.

Leader: Color Guard, forward march.

Leader: Color Guard, halt.

Leader: Color Guard, retire your colors.

Leader: Two.

Leader: Audience, please be seated.

Honoring the Flag

In Scouting, our deliberate duty to country provides us with countless opportunities to honor our flag. From observing national patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day to participating in special Wreaths Across America events over the holidays, Scouters should be prepared to honor our flag throughout the year. Here are a few great ceremonies for special holidays and events.

Memorial Day Flag Ceremony and Etiquette

Did you know that there is a specific way to fly our flag on Memorial Day? As your Scouts raise and lower the flag on this special holiday, remember that it must first be flown at half-staff from sunrise to noon, then raised briskly to full-staff until sunset. This is how our country honors our battle heroes. Learn more about Memorial Day flag etiquette on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website.

At 3:00pm local time, Scouts should salute the American flag in uniform and say, out loud, the name of a fallen hero. At 3:01pm local time, all Scouts who play the bugle or horn are invited to play “Taps”. Learn more about how you can salute our fallen heroes on Memorial Day at Scouting.org.

Memorial Day is observed the last Monday of May.

Flag Day and Independence Day Ceremonies and Etiquette

Commemorating the adoption of the flag in June of 1777, Flag Day is a wonderful opportunity to perform your duty to country. Though it’s not an official federal holiday, Flag Day is still celebrated around the country, traditionally with official flag retirement ceremonies.

Independence Day is, of course, a federal holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted on July 4th, 1776. It’s true that this day is known for it’s fireworks, parades, barbecues, and family gatherings, but good Scouts know that it’s another opportunity to honor the flag. Refer back to Flag Etiquette at www.usflag.org for specific details, especially those concerning parading the flag in procession. Much like your color guard ceremony, the flag will remain in the right-most position as Scouts march in procession.

Per US Flag Code Section 176, burning the flag is the preferred method of retirement. I like to refer back to a 2014 article on ScoutingMagazine.org that best explains the four options for retiring American flags, which takes into consideration environmentally-responsible retirement options. A printable flag retirement ceremony used by my Pack for many years is linked in the “Flag Retirement” section below.

BoyScoutTrail.com has a page dedicated to flag readings and poetry that are perfect for Flag Day and Independence Day ceremonies.

Flag Day is observed on June 14th. Independence Day is observed on July 4th.

Veterans Day Flag Ceremony and Etiquette

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of WWI on June 4th, 1926, and simultaneously marked November 11th as the official “cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals,” noting that it was also the beginning of peaceful relations between the US and other nations. As such, the date was made a legal holiday to be observed annually in honor of the men and women who bravely serve the United States of America in the branches of our fine armed services. The proclamation also noted that the flag would be displayed on all Government buildings and that all Americans would be invited to observe friendly ceremonies in observance.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs notes many suggested activities and ceremonies to pay tribute to the men and women who have served. Suggested introductory remarks perfectly set the tone:

When Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” almost 200 years
ago, he called America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Those words are as true today as they were then.


Throughout this Nation’s history, America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines
and coastguardsmen have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom,
to aid our friends and allies, and to turn back aggressors.


We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the more than 650,000
American servicemembers who died in battle or the 1.4 million who were
wounded. We can, however, recognize and thank the 25 million veterans still
living today.


These words are inscribed on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.:
“Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend
a country they never knew and a people they never met.”


Those words apply equally to many of our World War I, World War II, Vietnam
War and Gulf War veterans as well. They apply to today’s active duty
servicemembers — tomorrow’s veterans — who are helping to maintain

peace throughout the world.

Today, it is our privilege to say “thank you” to all of America’s veterans, to let
them know that we appreciate them for their service and honor them for their
sacrifices.

The price of freedom is high. We cannot afford to forget those willing to pay it.
Today, we celebrate America’s veterans for keeping this Nation “the land of
the free and the home of the brave.”

Our unit has observed Veterans Day at our November meetings by discussing the importance of the holiday and rising to salute the Veterans in attendance.

Veterans Day is observed annually on November 11th and honors military veterans and marks the anniversary of the end of World War I.  November 11, 2020 marked the 102nd anniversary of the end of WWI.

Today there are nearly 22 million veterans of the United States Armed Forces living among us and chances are good that at least one of these American heroes are a family member or close friend of ours, perhaps in attendance here today.

In fact, would our Veteran’s please stand?  Scouts, please stand and turn to our Veterans.  SCOUT SALUTE. <hold salute>  Would the families of our Veteran’s please stand? <hold salute>  TWO.  Ladies and gentlemen, let’s please convey our thanks with a round of applause.

Veterans Day is observed on November 11th.

Wreaths Across America Ceremonies

Wreaths Across America is a national effort to “Remember, Honor and Teach” by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and locations across the country and abroad. This special service project honors our veterans in moving ceremony, and Scouts are often seen laying wreaths at local cemeteries in December.

My unit works with a local county park to provide wreaths for a Veterans Memorial that celebrates the lives and sacrifices of our local service men and women. Each year we gather around the flag and perform a special ceremony that, I admit, is difficult to get through and focuses heavily on The Flag Remembers Christmas. I first read this poem on the Scouter Mom blog and knew it would be central to our ceremony from that moment on.

Our Wreath Laying at Veterans Memorial Ceremony (PDF) can be downloaded, printed, and used in your special ceremony this holiday season.

Flag Retirement

In an effort not to reinvent the wheel (I do only have one hour for Scout stuff, afterall), I refer everyone to ScoutingMagazine.com‘s article regarding the retirement of worn American flags. They lay out four options for the proper retirement of flags, most notably by burning.

As noted in the link above, units who are uncomfortable retiring flags should reach out to their local VFW post or Elks Lodge to ensure flags are retired respectfully. I suggest attending the retirement ceremony and becoming more comfortable with performing them as a unit in the future.

Scouts might ask why it’s appropriate to burn a flag in retirement when it’s not appropriate to burn it in protest. I’ve had countless new Scouts or family ask why it isn’t considered desecration when Scouting units or VFW posts burn a flag. In short, retiring a flag in this way is similar to the respectful cremation of the deceased. Our flag is worthy of veneration and is a reverent tribute to its service to our country.

What constitutes an unfit flag? According to US Flag Code, Title 4, Section 8k, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Per flagsusa.com, flags are ready for retirement when it is unable to be cleaned or repaired, or is too tattered to respectfully fly. Many Scouting units will collect unfit flags in the community and perform a retirement ceremony as soon as possible.

Packs and Troops often perform these ceremonies as part of a campfire program, in which flags are ceremoniously burned over their campfire. A reading of “I Am Old Glory” is appropriate.

“I AM OLD GLORY” I am old glory; for more the 9 score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans. Born amid the first flames of America’s fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of 13 colonies to a united nation of 50 sovereign states. Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith, my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions. Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage. They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity. They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men. So long as men love liberty more than life itself, so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America.

Our Flag Retirement Ceremony (PDF) can be downloaded, printed, and used in your special ceremony this holiday season.

Don’t forget to retrieve the flag grommets after your fire has cooled. We use these to honor our Veterans by presenting them in a meaningful way on holidays like Veterans Day. They can also be left on the graves of or at parks and monuments memorializing our fallen heroes. They can also be presented to the Scouts who performed the flag retirement ceremony to save as a memento of their duty to country. Some Scouts include grommets on neckerchief slides, bracelets or ornaments. A quick search for “flag grommet crafts” on Pinterest brings up several great ideas!

Properly Folding the American Flag

It’s important that all flags are folded appropriately before they are retired. Here’s a great video by Scouts BSA explaining how Scouts should fold and hold the flag.

Flags and Accessories

I don’t suggest products unless I’ve purchased them myself, and I’m excited to give a shout out to the fine folks at Gettysburg Flag Works. Two years ago, we replaced our parade flag poles and spindles/toppers with their products. We purchased the Hardwood Parade and Indoor Flagpoles for both our American and Unit flags. You can also purchase your floor stands and toppers, like this plastic slip-fit Eagle for your American flag. The Scout Shop also sells toppers, like these Universal Emblem and Eagle Scout Emblem toppers. Just double-check the pole diameters against the topper sizes to make sure they fit.

Regular sand-filled flag bases aren’t going to cut it at a campsite. Consider ground stakes that are meant for flag poles to keep the flag upright at all times. You can also pickup flag pole brackets that can be installed directly onto your Scout trailer. Don’t forget to pick-up a solar-powered light to ensure your flag is properly illuminated all night long.

What Are Your Unit Traditions?

Scouting traditions vary from unit to unit, but a duty to country is one part of the program and lifestyle that transcends geographical borders. How does your unit celebrate our flag? Do you have special retirement ceremonies that you’d like to share?

Did I miss something? Get something wrong? Teach you something new? Let me know in the comments.

As always, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share Look Wider Still!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Featured

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game

“Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. In the same time it is educative, and (like Mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receives.

– Lord Robert Baden-Powell

A jolly game sounds good about now, and if you’re several weeks into virtual meetings, you’re looking for new ideas. Last week I shared my son’s Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game, and you all seemed to enjoy it so I thought I’d share what he’s up to next.

You can’t be all business all the time… all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, afterall. Starting off a patrol meeting with a little game is a mood-lifter and gets everyone in the right frame of mind for learning. Don’t forget to keep it simple, make it fun!

The Scouts Whisper Game is a great opportunity to encourage Scout Spirit and practice the trustworthy, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful points of our Scout Law. Much like the Whisper Challenge played on the Tonight Show, this game offers up funny phrases that Scouts try to guess by reading lips, all over Zoom, Skype, or any other virtual meeting program.

Here are the rules:

  • The PL will split the patrol into two equal teams. 
  • To decide which team goes first, representatives from each of the two teams will call either head or tails, and the PL will flip a coin.
  • The team will then decide who will go first, and the PL will message that Scout a phrase.
  • The Scout will then mute their microphone and say the phrase.  Their team mates (not members of the other team) will guess the phrase.
  • If they haven’t guessed the correct phrase in 30 seconds, the opposing team can discuss for 10 seconds and make one guess.
  • Whoever guesses correctly earns their team 10 points and dibs on the next phrase.
  • This continues until all Scouts have had a chance to participate OR an allotted amount of time passes.

Some of the phrases:

  • A Scout is Loyal
  • I pledge allegiance
  • I eat pancakes
  • Blow your nose

Download:

A Scouts Virtual Whisper Game (PDF)

I hope this is helpful to your Scouts and that it finds you in good health! Don’t forget to follow, like, and share Look Wider Still.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Scouting Activities: Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game

As the weeks go on and virtual meetings continue, your PL might find themselves running out of good ideas to keep things exciting and interesting. You can only share screen so many Power Point presentations before Scouts start taking virtual naps during their weekly virtual Patrol meeting. If you find yourself in a slump or in need of a last-minute game, try my Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game!

Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game

Do you remember family game night growing up? Some games made for a fun evening, like Candy Land and Life while others turned typically sweet family members into wild-eyed logophiles, like Scattergories. Was that just my childhood home? I hope so.

As an adult, I’ve come to love the game again. My son (the PL) and I were talking about games he could play over Zoom this week, and in the midst of a pretty desperate brainstorm, a lightbulb went off. What about Scattergories for Scouts… Scoutergories? Learn more at Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game!

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank BINGO Game

My son (PL) is wrapping up the 30 Day Rank Challenge posted by the Heart of America Council, with his brand new patrol of brand new Scouts, and as he mulled over how to test them on what they’ve learned. After careful consideration, we talked over his strategy and he decided he’d rather make it a game than outright quiz his patrol on Scouting details. Keep it simple, make it fun! Right? So we brainstormed games that could be played through his next Zoom meeting, and landed squarely on BINGO. Learn more at Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game.

Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games

Before splitting Scouts into breakout rooms, my son read off a survival situation and provided a fun list of found items they would need to use to make it through their situation. He pasted the list in the Zoom chat and then used the broadcast feature to send it to them again once they were sent to their rooms. He gave them five minutes to discuss the situation, rank their items from most- to least-important, and brought them back together as a full group to discuss. He encouraged them to have fun together, and to choose a group representative to come back and share what they’d discussed. My son randomly chose who would go into each breakout room (literally just figured out how many would need to be in each room and started clicking with reckless abandon… a very teenaged boy thing to do) and sent them on their way. Learn more at Scouting Tech: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games.

Preparing AOLs (and their PL’s) for Scout Rank

Their first meeting is simple: simple flag ceremony, the Lord’s Prayer, roll call, introductions, an overview of the Scout rank and 30-day Challenge, and patrol business. They’ll start thinking of their patrol name and yell, and each Scout can work on flag design ideas. The PL will set a standard for uniforming and let Scouts know there will be periodic checks. Scouts will be tasked with working to complete days 1-7 on the 30-Day Challenge. Before closing out for the night, they can play a virtual game or perform a task together, like learning a new knot. A simple closing, to include a closing thought by the PL and/or APLs about the importance of Scouting, wraps up the meeting. Learn more at Pack-to-Troop Transitions: Preparing AOLs (and their PL’s) for Scout Rank.

Free Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings

If you’re looking to switch things up in your next Zoom meeting, and hide the piles of Scout Stuff stacked up in your room, consider virtual backgrounds. I’m sure you’ve had Scouts floating in space or enjoying a tropical vacation in recent meetings, and maybe you’ve wondered how. In a recent update, Zoom made it possible to change your background without a green screen, which seems to work well for my Scouts on tablets or laptops, but my old PC doesn’t have the processing power to make it happen. If you’re able to use the virtual backgrounds without a green screen, or used your Scout Skills to make one for your next meeting, you’ll need to find some cool backgrounds. There are TONS of freebies out there, but I thought I’d take some time to create Cub Scout and Scouts BSA -specific images that are free to use. Learn more at Scouting Tech: Free Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings.

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Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game

Maybe my favorite LWS graphic yet!

My son (PL) is wrapping up the 30 Day Rank Challenge posted by the Heart of America Council, with his brand new patrol of brand new Scouts, and as he mulled over how to test them on what they’ve learned. After careful consideration, we talked over his strategy and he decided he’d rather make it a game than outright quiz his patrol on Scouting details. Keep it simple, make it fun! Right? So we brainstormed games that could be played through his next Zoom meeting, and landed squarely on BINGO.

There are a LOT of great Scouting Bingo games out there that have been shared in the last several months, many of which help your Scouts continue on the advancement trail. We worked together to pull a series of six individual S.C.O.U.T. game boards that specifically review the Scout Rank materials. Here’s how it works:

Download the S.C.O.U.T. Game Boards, Rules, and Questions

First, download the six S.C.O.U.T. Game Boards (PDF) and forward it to your patrol via email, ScoutBook, Facebook… however you communicate with your crew. Then, download the S.C.O.U.T. Game Rules and Questions.

Explain and Play Your Game

Have your Scouts choose the board they’d like to play with. Next, read your game rules and answer questions Scouts may have. Then, choose one of the two randomized numbers lists (or make your own) and ask the questions in order of the list. Don’t read out the answers! When a Scout yells “SCOUT!”, check their board against the answers. If they were correct, they’ve won the game. If not, continue asking questions. You can either end the game after the first person successfully wins or keep going until you’ve asked all of the questions.

Have Fun!

Make it a rousing game of Bingo by getting into that Scout Spirit and taking on the persona of a real game show host!

Did You Know…

Bingo was originally called “beano,” as it was a county fair game where players marked their game cards with beans. It was changed to “bingo” after a toy salesman named Edwin Lowe overheard someone accidentally yell it instead of “beano”. It stuck! He went on to become a bingo pioneer, mathematically devising 6,000 different bingo cards that would allow for fewer simultaneous bingo’s in the same round. Big brain! Learn more about the history of bingo here!

Enjoy S.C.O.U.T. Bingo in Good Health

I hope this is helpful to your Scouts and that it finds you in good health! Don’t forget to follow, like, and share Look Wider Still.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: 2nd Class Rank BINGO Game

It’s hard to find fresh ideas to bring life to the Scouting program over Zoom, so when my son (a PL) asks to reinvent a tried and true game, we do it and we share. Back in May, he and I worked together to create a series of S.C.O.U.T. game boards to cover Scout Rank materials. His patrol is moving up in the ranks and many are ready to earn 2nd Class. Accordingly, some new game boards were required. If your Scouts are moving up and are ready to earn their 2nd Class Rank, this BINGO Game is a great review of the materials. Visit Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: 2nd Class Rank BINGO Game!

Scouting Activities: Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game

As the weeks go on and virtual meetings continue, your PL might find themselves running out of good ideas to keep things exciting and interesting. You can only share screen so many Power Point presentations before Scouts start taking virtual naps during their weekly virtual Patrol meeting. If you find yourself in a slump or in need of a last-minute game, try my Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game!

Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game

Do you remember family game night growing up? Some games made for a fun evening, like Candy Land and Life while others turned typically sweet family members into wild-eyed logophiles, like Scattergories. Was that just my childhood home? I hope so.

As an adult, I’ve come to love the game again. My son (the PL) and I were talking about games he could play over Zoom this week, and in the midst of a pretty desperate brainstorm, a lightbulb went off. What about Scattergories for Scouts… Scoutergories? Learn more at Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game!

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game

“Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. In the same time it is educative, and (like mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receives.” Lord Robert Baden-PowellA jolly game sounds good about now, and if you’re several weeks into virtual meetings, you’re looking for new ideas, so I thought I’d share what my PL son is up to next. Learn more at Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game.

Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games

Before splitting Scouts into breakout rooms, my son read off a survival situation and provided a fun list of found items they would need to use to make it through their situation. He pasted the list in the Zoom chat and then used the broadcast feature to send it to them again once they were sent to their rooms. He gave them five minutes to discuss the situation, rank their items from most- to least-important, and brought them back together as a full group to discuss. He encouraged them to have fun together, and to choose a group representative to come back and share what they’d discussed. My son randomly chose who would go into each breakout room (literally just figured out how many would need to be in each room and started clicking with reckless abandon… a very teenaged boy thing to do) and sent them on their way. Learn more at Scouting Tech: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games.

Preparing AOLs (and their PL’s) for Scout Rank

Their first meeting is simple: simple flag ceremony, the Lord’s Prayer, roll call, introductions, an overview of the Scout rank and 30-day Challenge, and patrol business. They’ll start thinking of their patrol name and yell, and each Scout can work on flag design ideas. The PL will set a standard for uniforming and let Scouts know there will be periodic checks. Scouts will be tasked with working to complete days 1-7 on the 30-Day Challenge. Before closing out for the night, they can play a virtual game or perform a task together, like learning a new knot. A simple closing, to include a closing thought by the PL and/or APLs about the importance of Scouting, wraps up the meeting. Learn more at Pack-to-Troop Transitions: Preparing AOLs (and their PL’s) for Scout Rank.

Free Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings

If you’re looking to switch things up in your next Zoom meeting, and hide the piles of Scout Stuff stacked up in your room, consider virtual backgrounds. I’m sure you’ve had Scouts floating in space or enjoying a tropical vacation in recent meetings, and maybe you’ve wondered how. In a recent update, Zoom made it possible to change your background without a green screen, which seems to work well for my Scouts on tablets or laptops, but my old PC doesn’t have the processing power to make it happen. If you’re able to use the virtual backgrounds without a green screen, or used your Scout Skills to make one for your next meeting, you’ll need to find some cool backgrounds. There are TONS of freebies out there, but I thought I’d take some time to create Cub Scout and Scouts BSA -specific images that are free to use. Learn more at Scouting Tech: Free Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings.

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Air Fryer Recipes: Quick and Easy Fruit Hand Pies

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”

– Jane Austen

It’s true that some recipes can bring you back to happier, simpler times. Now that summer has officially kicked off here in the States, there isn’t any recipe as iconic or comforting as apple pie. Simply stated, it tastes estival, and I can’t think of anything better than that.

These days I’m looking for opportunities to simplify my life without losing any of the quality we’ve all come to enjoy over here, and as my love affair with my 7-Quart PowerXL (Target) or (Amazon) continues, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. Every time I logged into Pinterest, I was getting served up links to beautiful hand pies in a vast array of flavors, but kept going back to three or four apple pie recipes that looked too good not to try. Since I have yet to perfect a pie crust (if you have a fool-proof recipe, please point me in its direction), I lean heavily on store-bought crusts and decided to try my hand (aka: wing it) with my local store brand crusts. They didn’t disappoint!

Ingredients:
Makes 8 fruit hand pies

  • 1 box of refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • 21 oz. can of fruit filling (one can made 8 pies)
  • turbinado sugar
  • butter-flavored cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat air fryer to 350 for 5 minutes
  2. Unroll pie crusts and, using a 4.5″ cookie cutter, cut 4 rounds from each crust
    (you may need to re-roll leftover crust to get 4 rounds)
  3. Spray one side of each round with butter-flavored cooking spray
  4. Flip each round to the “dry” side and spoon in fruit filling
  5. Wet the inside border of each round and fold in half, pressing the edges with a fork
  6. Cut 3 slits into the top of each hand pie
  7. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the top of each hand pie
  8. Bake two hand pies at a time in the air fryer for 11 minutes
Before hitting the air fryer

My kids hear the air fryer start and they emerge from their Hobbit Holes to find out what’s cooking. They were delighted to hear that I was trying something new – but especially that they were having apple pie for dessert. The big test, though, is my husband. Apple pie is his second favorite dessert (I don’t think I can pull off an air fryer carrot cake, but maybe I’ll try), and I have tried countless times over the years to perfect an apple pie recipe with just about no success. But these? He ate one directly out of the air fryer, making it precisely 700 degrees in the center, and suffered through it because “this is unbelievable!” I can confirm that they make the perfect breakfast the next morning, as well, pairing beautifully with your favorite coffee!

Hot out of the air fryer

Somehow that miracle machine roasts the perfect chicken, makes the best wings, and pulls off pie crust like a total champ! If you don’t have a 7-Quart PowerXL (or any air fryer, really), I cannot suggest it enough. Make room in your pantry or find a spot in your cabinet, and thank me later!

Don’t stop at apple hand pies. Choose your favorite fruit filling and have fun personalizing this recipe. Cherry hand pies are on the meal plan for the coming month and I know the whole family will be happy to try them.

Do you have a great air fryer recipe I should try? Have you made your own air fryer hand pies and have suggestions? Did you use this recipe and fall in love with your air fryer all over again? Tell me everything in the comments! Don’t forget to follow, like, and share Look Wider Still.

Have a great day,
Rebekah

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Scouting Tech: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games

My oldest son is working to complete his Eagle and has the special opportunity to lead the newest Scouts (recent AOL graduates) in earning their Scout Rank virtually. He’s leaned heavily on the 30 Day Rank Challenge posted by the Heart of America Council, and over the last few weeks has learned a lot about the different tools available using Zoom conferencing.

I go into detail about how he’s leading his new patrol in my post “Pack-to-Troop Transitions: Preparing AOLs (and their PL’s) for Scout Rank“.

Despite the flood of creativity and generosity online, he was struggling to find a fun game that Scouts could play virtually. It wasn’t until I was invited to attend a Girl Talk, Inc. Zoom chapter meeting hosted by two dear friends that the light bulbs started going off. They were utilizing breakout rooms to get the girls in their chapter to work together to solve survival situations. It was brilliant, fun, and fostered team work. In the week that followed, my son and I worked to figure out how to best use those breakout rooms and tested it out on his patrol.

I would be remiss not to give full credit for three of the survival situations listed below to the RVA Chapter of Girl Talk, Inc. My heroes!

What Are Breakout Rooms?

These are little side meeting spaces that allow you to break your full meeting into smaller groups that can be called back to your full meeting with the click of a button. The Troop hosts full group meetings and uses the breakout rooms for separate patrol rooms, and since the meeting hosts can designate specific attendees to specific rooms, it makes keeping their group organized a snap.

My son purchased his own Zoom membership so his patrol logs into a regular meeting and they use breakout rooms to play games. They’re easy to set-up and use! Here’s a quick overview from the folks at Zoom.

Survival Situation Games

Before splitting Scouts into breakout rooms, my son read off a survival situation and provided a fun list of found items they would need to use to make it through their situation. He pasted the list in the Zoom chat and then used the broadcast feature to send it to them again once they were sent to their rooms. He gave them five minutes to discuss the situation, rank their items from most- to least-important, and brought them back together as a full group to discuss. He encouraged them to have fun together, and to choose a group representative to come back and share what they’d discussed. My son randomly chose who would go into each breakout room (literally just figured out how many would need to be in each room and started clicking with reckless abandon… a very teenaged boy thing to do) and sent them on their way.

The results were hilarious! First, they returned to the full group with giant smiles on their faces. They loved that they could go off together at random, that each of their voices mattered, and that they could decide who was in charge. (Surprisingly, they took turns with each situation, which made me one very proud former den leader.)

Without further adieu, here are some of the survival situations the Scouts worked on together.

Situation 1: The Deserted Island

Your patrol is sailing together for the very first time! You’re all learning the ropes when a storm blows in unexpectedly. You try to make it back to the dock, but the swells are too large and the wind blows you out to sea. Your boat begins taking on water, and in a flash of lightning, you begin to sink. You’re wearing life jackets, but you swim out to gear and debris that’s floating in the water around you to stay above water, and spend a long night riding out the waves. The sun rises over calmer water, and you find yourselves within swimming distance of a small deserted island. A Scout is brave! You swim to shore and immediately begin searching for items that might help you survive. You find:

  • a mirror
  • a book
  • a fork
  • a mattress
  • a roll of twine
  • your choice of one of the Scout Six Essentials

How on Earth are you going to survive? You have five minutes to discuss your situation and the items you have available to you. Rank them from most- to least-important and how you would use them. Choose a group representative to come back to explain your list and reasoning. A list of your found items will be pasted into chat and broadcasted to your groups. Ready, set, go!

Situation 2: The Zombie Apocalypse

It’s the summer of 2020 and the Zombie Apocalypse has begun. Before transmissions went down, scientists deduced it was spread by the Murder Hornets. Your group has managed to find one another and compile your gear into one large cache, knowing there is strength in numbers. Because the virus spread so quickly, you each have only what you were able to grab.

  • bug spray
  • golf club
  • shovel
  • night vision goggles
  • pile of lumber
  • your choice of one of the Scout Six Essentials

Use those brains while you’ve got ’em! You have five minutes to discuss your situation and the items you have available to you. Rank them from most- to least-important and how you would use them. Choose a group representative to come back to explain your list and reasoning. A list of your found items will be pasted into chat and broadcasted to your groups. Ready, set, go!

Situation 3: The Wilderness

Your patrol has been planning a camping adventure for the last several months and are finally ready to head out. You make it to your destination and set-up camp before heading out on a long, pre-dinner hike. The weather is beautiful and you stay out longer than planned. As the sun starts getting low, you decide to head back and make those delicious hobo packets you’ve been thinking about all day long. But as soon as camp is within sight, you know something is terribly wrong! A bear came by while you were gone, ate all of your food, and destroyed your gear. All that’s left are:

  • a flashlight
  • a yo-yo
  • some clothespins
  • a pocket knife
  • a pair of stilts
  • your choice of one of the Scout Six Essentials

It’s going to be a long two days and nights before your adult leaders arrive to bring you home. You have five minutes to discuss your situation and the items you have available to you. Rank them from most- to least-important and how you would use them. Choose a group representative to come back to explain your list and reasoning. A list of your found items will be pasted into chat and broadcasted to your groups. Ready, set, go!

Situation 4: The Extreme Adventure Injury

It’s a beautiful day for adventure, so you and your patrol decide to take that biking trip you’ve been talking about. It’s late December, so it’s pretty cold but the ground is dry and you want to head out to make the most of the daylight hours. You’ve double checked your bike and gear, and everything looks great, so you meet up on a remote bike trail and head out. Time flies when you’re having fun, and you realize you’re losing light and decide to call it a day when one of you falls off your bike and breaks an arm. “Great,” you think, “it’s cold and getting dark – how could this get any worse?” That’s when the snow starts. Just like any good Scout, each of you has the Six Essentials in your pack, but your buddy can’t ride back and is in distress. You have the following items that might help:

  • a small pile of lint you found in your coat pocket
  • a Troop neckerchief
  • your phone, but the cold is quickly draining the battery
  • a pocketknife
  • a bike lock and chain

You’re running out of daylight! You have five minutes to discuss your situation and the items you have available to you. Rank them from most- to least-important and how you would use them. Choose a group representative to come back to explain your list and reasoning. A list of your found items will be pasted into chat and broadcasted to your groups. Ready, set, go!

Would Your Scouts Survive?

Seems to me there’s nothing a Scout can’t do, and if their ability to be flexible and use new technology to continue on with the program is any indication, I think our youth are going to keep the rest of us moving forward no matter the situation. In fact, I think their ingenuity and creativity in these trying times will change the Scouting program forever, and in countless wonderful ways.

So what do you think? Would your Scouts survive? How did these survival situation games go over with your unit? What would you add or change? I want to know all about it! Don’t forget to follow, like, and share Look Wider Still to stay in the loop.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Scouting Activities: Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game

As the weeks go on and virtual meetings continue, your PL might find themselves running out of good ideas to keep things exciting and interesting. You can only share screen so many Power Point presentations before Scouts start taking virtual naps during their weekly virtual Patrol meeting. If you find yourself in a slump or in need of a last-minute game, try my Scout-Themed Pictionary Zoom Game!

Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game

Do you remember family game night growing up? Some games made for a fun evening, like Candy Land and Life while others turned typically sweet family members into wild-eyed logophiles, like Scattergories. Was that just my childhood home? I hope so.

As an adult, I’ve come to love the game again. My son (the PL) and I were talking about games he could play over Zoom this week, and in the midst of a pretty desperate brainstorm, a lightbulb went off. What about Scattergories for Scouts… Scoutergories? Learn more at Scouting Activities: SCOUTERGORIES Zoom Game!

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game

“Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. In the same time it is educative, and (like mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receives.” Lord Robert Baden-PowellA jolly game sounds good about now, and if you’re several weeks into virtual meetings, you’re looking for new ideas, so I thought I’d share what my PL son is up to next. Learn more at Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Virtual Whisper Game.

Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank BINGO Game

My son (PL) is wrapping up the 30 Day Rank Challenge posted by the Heart of America Council, with his brand new patrol of brand new Scouts, and as he mulled over how to test them on what they’ve learned. After careful consideration, we talked over his strategy and he decided he’d rather make it a game than outright quiz his patrol on Scouting details. Keep it simple, make it fun! Right? So we brainstormed games that could be played through his next Zoom meeting, and landed squarely on BINGO. Learn more at Scouts BSA Patrol Activities: Scout Rank Bingo Game.

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Cub Scout Leadership: Annual Pack Program Planning

I’ve been mulling over what I would jot down next, and I had considered Annual Pack Program Planning but thought it was too much to wrap my head around these days. Fifth-grade fractions and decimals and ninth-grade geometry are eating up all of my available brain cells, so my processing power has been maxed out for weeks. I’m awaiting the day that I look in the mirror only to find two blue screens where I used to have eyes. The reboot I needed came when my Council’s Director of Field Service / COO reached out to me for some help in creating a short video for Pack leadership to be aired at our upcoming virtual Unit Program Planning Party (UP3) event. It’s always a pleasure and privilege to work with the folks at the Heart of Virginia Council and Battlefield District, so of course I was happy to participate. Now that the video is recorded and I’m still a little wired from the two-too-many cups of coffee I enjoyed today, I figure it’s the perfect time to put those talking points to work here. Two birds, one stone.

So, what is pack program planning? Just in case you’re new to your Pack Committee or need a refresh, it’s an annual meeting or series of meetings in which all members of your leadership team work together to establish the upcoming 12-month calendar of pack events. This also includes drafting and approving an operating budget. These planning meetings (also referred to as conferences) take place in late spring and/or early summer, just ahead of the brand new Year in Scouting.

Why are these meetings so important? Well, for one, we serve an organization whose motto is not, in fact, “Just Wing It!” We have the invaluable job of serving the youth in our community, and we all know that youth lose interest in disorganized events. Have you ever overheard a Scout utter, “this is lame” at a special meeting? It’s heartbreaking, and it has a domino effect that sucks the wind right out of dedicated leaders sails, makes parents lose their faith in you, and discourages those parents to volunteer their time and talents. Never wing it.

Here’s the tried and true method my Pack uses to complete our annual pack program planning.

A successful plan evolves all year long. We are in a constant state of program planning and review, and this is why our Pack is able to provide a great program year after year.

Step 1: Survey Your Families

We start with a parent survey developed by our Committee Chairperson and delivered to families in the spring. This survey asks for feedback on the previous Year in Scouting and requests suggestions for the upcoming year. This is an invaluable tool that weighs heavily in our planning process.

Step 2: Pack Committee Chair and Cubmaster Meeting

Next, the Pack Committee Chair and Cubmaster meet to draft a program plan for the upcoming Year in Scouting. This meeting is prefaced by countless texts, emails, and phone calls, and is normally several hours long. In this meeting, we review the previous year’s calendar and discuss the results of the parent survey. We purchase a large desktop calendar for the upcoming year – you can buy annual calendars that begin in July of the current year and end in June of the following year (like this one from Office Depot) – and pencil in important dates from our Council, District, Troop, Chartered Organization, and school calendars. Next, we pencil in our core Scouting program events, like Den and Pack meetings, camping trips (to include rain dates), Pinewood Derby, Family Bake-Off, Blue and Gold Banquet, Arrow of Light Bridging, and more. Then we determine which additional activities we’d like to draft into the plan and develop a written copy that we will present to our Pack Committee.

Holding this particular meeting offline is important! Delivering a proposed plan to the full Pack Committee for review helps the whole planning process run smoothly and efficiently.

Step 3: Pack Committee Program Planning Meeting #1

The draft program is now presented to our Pack Committee for review. Because good decisions are never made on an empty stomach, we always bring pizza… and lots of it. This is another lengthy but important meeting where the plan is considered in great detail and each event is discussed, changed if necessary, and approved. Budget line items, like expected trailer maintenance or equipment purchases, are discussed and approved. Additionally, we use this meeting to determine who will formally coordinate each of our events. Finally, we move to have the Committee Chair and Treasurer meet to formulate a proposed budget.

Step 4: Pack Committee Chair and Treasurer Meeting

In this meeting, the Pack Committee Chair and Treasurer use the program plan to draft a budget. To do this, they roughly estimate the number of Scouts expected to return and to be recruited in the coming months. They consider the previous year’s fundraising efforts to estimate what to expect in the coming year, the previous year’s expenditures, and other factors for the year. At this point, the budget is compared against our membership numbers and dues are assessed. This proposed budget is then brought to the Pack Committee for final review and approval.

Step 5: Pack Committee Program Planning Meeting #2

At this final program planning meeting, the Pack Committee hashes out the final details. We discuss the program plan and proposed budget, make adjustments as necessary, and finalize dues to arrive at an approved plan for the year.

Step 6: Spread the Word

The last step in this process is to publish an official “Year in Scouting” calendar and share it with your Pack families. We also provide the Pack Committee and Chartering Organization with the approved budget and Pack Program Plan, and we host a parent informational meeting to go over the details (normally as part of the first Pack meeting of the new year).

Look Wider Still

You have to be flexible because even the best-laid plan will be met with challenges and you’ll need to learn how to adjust. Inclement weather is our biggest obstacle in Cub Scouting, and we’ve learned to bake in rain dates and Plans C-Z when planning our program for the year. We meet as a Pack Committee each and every month to discuss the previous month’s events, the actual budget line items associated with those events, and make adjustments to the budget as we go. We also discuss, like Roses and Thorns, the high and low points of each event, which helps us to better determine what will be included in the coming year’s program plan.

Too much to read? Well, let me and a few of my friends lay it out for you. I Scout in the Heart of Virginia Council, who puts on an amazing “Unit Program Planning Party”, aka: UP3, to help Units prepare for the year ahead. I was honored to be included as the Cub Scout representative to talk about how my Pack plans a top-notch program and stays on budget.

Sample Year in Scouting Calendar

In case you’re looking for a calendar template, here’s our calendar for the 2019-2020 Year in Scouting… which is, of course, a total bust from March on. The events in black are part of our core program, while the items in orange and blue are add-on’s (meaning they were new to our program this year or had a fee associated with them), the events in red are items from our local school calendars, and the green events are special Council or District level camping opportunities. The fleur de lis denotes events with a fee that are eligible for reimbursement out of individual Scout Accounts. When our Scouts participate in fundraising, the money they earn goes into a Scout Account that helps them to pay for dues, camp registration fees, uniforming, and other Scout-related expenses.

Here’s a free, editable Sample Pack Calendar. The fleur de lis in the image above appear as “H” in this document. You’ll need to download the Fleur De Lys free font for that to format correctly.

I Hope This is Helpful

I know it’s a lot of information, but this process is truly the most important part of planning a great program for your Scouts and their families. Don’t forget to Keep It Simple, Make It Fun and stay flexible.

Did this post help you with your unit’s program planning? What would you add? What works best for your Pack? Tell me all about it in the comments, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to Look Wider Still!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Pantry Organization: FREE Printable Pantry, Freezer, and Meal Plan Inventories

I’ve been a stay-at-home / work-from-home mom for about six years now. I’m a very organized person, but before I took the plunge and started working out of the house, I was doing my grocery shopping when I had a few spare minutes and things were out of control. I would impulse and over buy.

One of the first items on my to-do list was clean and inventory my fridge, freezer, and pantry. I don’t remember the exact number, but I was astonished by how many cans of cream of mushroom soup I’d accumulated over the years. I swear it was around a dozen cans, stashed alongside at least four cans of black eyed peas (why?) and a variety of canned cranberry sauces. The kicker? I had cream of mushroom soup on my grocery list.

It took a long time to get out of the habit of buying things without checking my supplies first. I was also buying ingredients with the intention of making specific recipes, but forgetting what I had or what I was planning to make and throwing spoiled food – and lots of good money – away.

I’m big on bullet journaling and found that a weekly spread with a section for meal planning was critical if I were to realistically kick my overbuying habit. My budget loved me and it felt great that my family was eating in more and wasting less.

Right now we’re socially distancing, especially at the grocery store. I decided early on that the grocery store would be my biggest risk and that I would lay out thoughtful meal plans with the intent on going only once every two or more weeks. To get that done, I needed to start by inventorying my pantry and freezer. I created a printable inventory to help track what I had so I could better prepare for trips to the grocery store. A matching meal inventory was a must! Now that I’ve been using them successfully for about a month, I thought I’d share.

Pantry Inventory

How I use this: First, I performed a pantry inventory of everything I already had in stock, using a highlighter to denote in-stock quantities. As I’ve made recipes using those items, I’ve marked the appropriate number of boxes with an x. There are 15 total squares, which should be more than enough for tracking these items for a long time. I had no idea I had so many packets of salmon!

Freezer Inventory

How I use this: The link for the freezer inventory takes you to an improved version of what is pictured above. This works exactly like the pantry inventory, only it includes columns to write-in the date it was frozen and a use-by date.

Meal Inventory

How I use this: The link to the meal inventory takes you to an improved version of what is pictured above. I keep this right on the refrigerator where I can see it. This has been a life-saver during my weekly meal planning and has helped me extend the time between shopping trips.

Big Box Retailers

Your local big box retailer offers up online shopping with one-stop pickup. My kids are devouring snacks like it’s their job, and the cost of buying Cheez-Its and drinks was getting ridiculous. Instead, we order snacks, drinks, and other items (like toilet paper and paper towels, if we’re lucky) and pick it all up with little to no contact with other people. It’s kind of amazing, and it keeps us from breaking the bank or making more trips to the regular grocery store. If you aren’t already a member of your local store, now’s the perfect time to make that commitment. You won’t regret it.

Save Money with iBotta

You can save even more time and money just by signing up with iBotta. I’ve linked up to my favorite grocery stores using my rewards or membership numbers and automatically save quite a bit on items I already purchase. At Christmastime, I converted my savings into an Amazon gift card and used it to buy a Bose Soundbar. Give it a try! If you join, consider using my code: oyxjtpi.

Happy Organizing!

Let me know in the comments if these inventories helped you get organized. Did they make shopping and meal planning more efficient? Are you throwing away less? Eating in more? I hope so!

Stay healthy,
Rebekah

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Two-in-One Recipes: Air Fried Whole Chicken Roaster & Chicken Noodle Soup

Growing up with Depression-Era grandparents made me aware of how often we all waste food. Nothing irritates me more than throwing away an unopened package of lettuce or having a tomato go bad; so it’s no surprise that I love a good “two-for-one” recipe. This one is my favorite and is made better and easier with the help of my new air fryer (a Christmas gift from my aunt).

There are countless brands of air fryers out there, but mine is a 7-Quart PowerXL, and I’m partial. Not only does this air fryer make the most incredible wings and drumsticks of all time, it also perfectly cooks frozen fries, salmon patties, hamburgers, hot dogs, and whole chicken roasters! The basket has a non-stick coating so there’s no need for cooking spray or parchment paper, and the whole thing cleans up easily. We use it almost as often as we use our 8-Quart Oval Crock-Pot.

Prepping this recipe is easy. Preheat your air fryer at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. While you wait, rinse and pat dry your roaster. Then, rub the entire chicken with grapeseed oil (olive oil or vegetable oil will also work, but I find that the higher the smoke point, the crispier the chicken). Season all sides of the chicken with black pepper and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Use regular salt sparingly, and only if you feel it’s absolutely necessary.

Once the air fryer is preheated, place your chicken in the basket, breast side down. Set the timer for 30 minutes. Flip your chicken breast side up and fry an additional 20 minutes. Use a food thermometer to ensure that you’ve hit 165 degrees before carving and serving your chicken. If it isn’t ready after 50 total minutes, fry in 5 minute intervals and recheck.

Serve your chicken with your favorite sides, like mashed potatoes, peas, and a nice salad. When you’ve carved what you want off of your chicken, place what’s left in a big stock pot and cover it with water. Store it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, bring your pot to a fast boil, then reduce to low and simmer all day (5 to 6 hours) to make an awesome chicken stock. This will also separate a lot of meat from your chicken that you’ll add back to the prepared stock.

Place a strainer over a second pot or large bowl and pour your stock and chicken over the strainer. Add the pieces of chicken meat from your strainer to your stock and throw everything else away – except, of course, your wish bone. Place your stock and chicken over low heat and bring to a boil, adding in frozen soup vegetables and uncooked egg noodles. Boil on low until your noodles are soft, then serve!

Served up with a nice piece of bread and butter, this soup can’t be beat. It’s that feel-good family recipe that warms your belly and your heart. It technically would keep in the refrigerator for several days, but even this big ol’ pot of soup disappears pretty quickly in my house.

Do you have a family-favorite recipe that reminds you of home? Do you have a recipe that performs double-duty and makes two different dishes? I would seriously love to know about it. Let me know if these Air Fryer Whole Chicken Roaster and Chicken Noodle Soup recipes make your regular rotation in the comments, and don’t forget to like and subscribe.

Get More Bang From Your Cluck

Looking to get a little more out of that chicken? Save a bone or two and try out this awesome Rubber Chicken Bone Science Experiment on thoughtco.com!

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Scouting Tech: Free Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings

If you’re looking to switch things up in your next Zoom meeting, and hide the piles of Scout Stuff stacked up in your room, consider virtual backgrounds. I’m sure you’ve had Scouts floating in space or enjoying a tropical vacation in recent meetings, and maybe you’ve wondered how.

Check out this great article by canva.com entitled “How to use Zoom virtual backgrounds” for more information and a great tutorial to get started.

In a recent update, Zoom made it possible to change your background without a green screen, which seems to work well for my Scouts on tablets or laptops, but my old PC doesn’t have the processing power to make it happen. For folks like me, there are easy and inexpensive green screen options out there, and some work better than others depending on your meeting space. If your desk is situated so your back is to a wall, you can purchase six or so neon green poster boards that will quickly and easily tape to the wall behind you for perfect virtual background presentations. Maybe you don’t have a wall directly behind you, but instead it’s furniture, cabinets, open doorways, or other more difficult spots… grab some neon green plastic tablecloths and use painters tape to hang them from your ceiling. There are also plenty of fun tutorials for making your own green screen, like this one by cryptostache.com. If you’re a pro who uses their green screen for Scouting, work, and more, maybe invest in a Webaround Portable Webcam Background.

If you’re able to use the virtual backgrounds without a green screen, or used your Scout Skills to make one for your next meeting, you’ll need to find some cool backgrounds. There are TONS of freebies out there, but I thought I’d take some time to create Cub Scout and Scouts BSA -specific images that are free to use.

NOTE: this post has been updated to include Venturing, Sea Scouts, Wood Badge, NYLT, OA, Girl Scouts USA, and fundraising backgrounds.

And one special batch for one of my Scouting Heroes, the Program Support Executive for Heart of Virginia Council, Heather Dunton! Your Unit Popcorn Kernels and Nut Captains are welcome to use these, as well.

I’m sure I’ll add more to these galleries in the next few days, so keep your eyes peeled for updates. In the meantime, enjoy these in good health and let me know in the comments how they worked in your virtual meeting.

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Need help planning your virtual den meetings all year long?

I’ve created a series of Google Slides that can be shared via your favorite virtual meeting program.

Visual Aids for Virtual Meetings

Google Slides provides you with almost limitless opportunities for pulling together eye-catching, interesting, fun presentations that can be shared and passed down to other leaders. Having all of your virtual meeting materials in one place will make your job as den leader that much easier – it won’t be necessary to juggle clicking around to find materials on the web or trying to remember where you found something on the fly. It will also help you to stay on track and add resources to your meeting, like You Tube links and interactive games, that will keep your Scouts engaged. Read more at Scouting Tech: Visual Aids for Virtual Meetings.

Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games

Foster Scout Spirit and team work by dropping your patrol into survival situations and seeing how they would react. By using Zoom Breakout Rooms, you can split your patrol into separate groups to discuss their found items and strategies for survival before presenting to the full group. It’s a great opportunity to use the tech you have available and teach them a thing or two about being prepared for anything! Scouting Tech: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Survival Situation Games

Online Conferencing Tools for Virtual Meetings

We’re navigating some seriously uncharted territory right now, trying to find ways to maintain some normalcy and keep the kids from physically turning into the Fortnite character they’re obsessively playing. It’s been pleasantly surprising to witness the outpouring of knowledge and generosity in the last week; the sharing of wisdom and resources is truly inspiring. Read more in my post, Scouting Tech: Online Conferencing Tools for Virtual Meetings.

How to Run a Virtual Pack Meeting

Well, if you’re doing your part to flatten the curve by sitting on your couch and brainstorming all of the ways you and your Pack can Scout in these difficult times, welcome to the One Hour A Week Club. We’re starting campfires with our Den and Pack meeting plans for kindling, looking for a spot among the dining room table to safely store the Arrow of Light plaques, picking at patch corners to see what could use a new stitch, wearing our uniforms around the house because we’re starting to miss the itchy shorts. Read more in my post, Cub Scout Activities: How to Run a Virtual Pack Meeting.

Youth Protection in a Virtual World

It seems to me that social distancing has brought the world closer than ever, from apartment complexes in Italy and China singing in concert, to authors performing Facebook Live readings for the masses, singers and songwriters performing free concerts from home, artists sharing tutorials so we can release our collective creativity, educators hosting live classes and providing our students with more materials than could ever be imagined so they can stay on track, and anyone with a sewing machine making face masks to share with medical professionals on the front line all over the world. Learn more at Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World.

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I have personally purchased and used the products I suggest.

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Cub Scout Activities: Webelos & AOL Elective, Adventures in Science

At the very beginning of our Webelos year, I told my Scouts that they could vote on and determine the electives we’d complete throughout the year. In the back of my mind, I almost dreaded the day that they’d choose Adventures in Science. Why? I harkened back to my high school chemistry class and got full-body chills. Instead of burying my head in the sand, I decided it was an opportunity to embrace something I didn’t feel completely comfortable with, do my research, and give my Scouts an experience they wouldn’t forget.

That year, I went as a Quirky Quarks Labratory Scientist to our Pack Trunk-or-Treat. In the end, Adventures in Science was a tremendous success that did not, in fact, blow up in my face.

I consider myself to be a fairly creative person, but even I know when it’s time to lean on the professionals who invented the wheel, shared the blueprints, and smiled the whole time. This post is a good mixture of my own tried and true tweaks and their extreme generosity, with credit erupting like that awesome volcano experiment we all did in elementary school.

Adventures in Science Elective Adventure Requirements

  1. An experiment is a “fair test” to compare possible explanations. Draw a picture of a fair test that shows what you need to do to test a fertilizer’s effects on plant growth.
  2. Visit a museum, a college, a laboratory, an observatory, a zoo, an aquarium, or other facility that employs scientists. Prepare three questions ahead of time, and talk to a scientist about his or her work.
  3. Complete any four of the following:
      a. Carry out the experiment you designed for Requirement 1.
      b. If you completed 3A, carry out the experiment again but change the independent variable. Report what you learned about how changing the variable affected plant growth.
      c. Build a model solar system. Chart the distances between the planets so that the model is to scale. Use what you learned from this requirement to explain the value of making a model in science.
      d. With adult supervision, build and launch a model rocket. Use the rocket to design a fair test to answer a question about force or motion.
      e. Create two circuits of three light bulbs and a battery. Construct one as a series circuit and the other as a parallel circuit.
      f. Study the night sky. Sketch the appearance of the North Star (Polaris) and the Big Dipper (part of the Ursa Major constellation) over at least six hours (which may be spread over several nights). Describe what you observed, and explain the meaning of your observations.
      g. With adult assistance, explore safe chemical reactions with household materials. Using two substances, observe what happens when the amounts of the reactants are increased.
      h. Explore properties of motion on a playground. How does the weight of a person affect how fast they slide down a slide or how fast a swing moves? Design a fair test to answer one of those questions.
      i. Read a biography of a scientist. Tell your den leader or the other members of your den what the scientist is famous for and why his or her work is important.

This is a direct copy and paste from usscouts.org, where you can print a PDF and/or DOCX workbook of this adventure. My den completed the bolded requirements to earn this pin.

Den Leader Materials

For In-Person Meetings

If you’re able to meet in-person for this elective, you’re about to have a lot of fun! You can complete all of the bolded requirements above. Here’s what you’ll need:

For Virtual Meetings

We’re all meeting virtually these days, and this allows you some great opportunities to use new technology and digital resources to complete adventures. It’s difficult to complete the circuits requirement (3e) virtually, but you should be able to easily cover the rest. This includes the museum visit in requirement 2! You’ll need everything above, plus the following:

A Few Notes Regarding This Adventure

Remember my trepidation? I hope all of the materials above prove that I dug deep to find a way to enjoy this adventure alongside my AOLs. We started this in March, so half of it was completed before COVID-19 closed schools and shut down our in-person adventuring. We made the best of it and managed to complete the pin with a series of virtual meetings. For instance, we completed circuits in person, but I built and tested the rocket launcher virtually. It’s tough but possible! Here are some notes regarding this adventure.

Simple Circuits

Of all of the activities, my Scouts enjoyed building circuits the most. My son has his circuit sitting on his desk and he fiddles with it just about every day. I used the Cub Scout Ideas’ Simple Circuit Project Tutorials to complete this requirement. Here were my supplies:

Testing my LEDs before the meeting! I did this for almost an hour. You will, too.

Paper Rockets and Launcher

Again, extreme props where they are due because the Cub Scout Ideas’ Tutorial for an Air Rocket Launcher and Paper Rockets simply cannot be improved upon. Sherry’s tutorials are top-notch and this is no exception. In fact, we got our paper rockets to launch at least 90′ into the air, which was impressive even when it was streamed virtually. I suggest cutting out as many fins as possible from thin cardboard boxes in your recycling. This is a great job to task parents with! I purchased all of the materials suggested in the tutorial for under $10 at Home Depot and had parents asking for the link when our meeting was over – several have now built one for themselves and have been sending me photos and videos of some inspiring launches.

If you intend on using empty 2L soda bottles for this activity, consider doing your Coke and Mentos Fountain first!

Seriously – how awesome is that thing?

Coke and Mentos Fountain

The printable on Compound Chem’s “The Secrets of the Coke and Mentos Fountain” page is a tremendous help in explaining the why’s behind this interesting chemical reaction. Seeing is believing, and the fountain conveys well both in-person and virtually. We used store-brand 2L sodas with great success! According to Compound Chem, Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper is a real show-stopper, but we found that regular diet soda versus any number of other sodas gives you quite the bang for your buck. We had to do this virtually and later had Scouts and their families sending in pictures and videos of their OWN fountains.

Diet Coke for the win for one Scout family!

Virtual Scavenger Hunt Challenge

My Adventures in Science, NOVA Award Science Everywhere!: Virtual Scavenger Hunt Challenge was designed to help my Scouts earn both the Adventures in Science pin and the Science Everywhere NOVA module. I did quite a bit of research to ensure I pulled in many different types of science and linking Scouts up with safe and engaging websites. If you use it, please let me know what you thought!

Make sure you download a copy of this to your own Google Forms or local computer before filling it out!

I hope that at least some of this is helpful, and that it saved you a few minutes of your weekly hour of Scouting. Enjoy all of it in good health!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I have personally purchased and used the products I suggest.

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Pack-to-Troop Transitions: Final Reporting and Unit Transfers in ScoutBook

It’s finally happened. Those adorable Tigers (or Lions) of yesterday have completed the Cub Scout program and are bursting out of the nest, soaring toward their next big adventure. We usher them out in ceremony and are sometimes so distracted by the to-do lists and the emotions that we forget to wrap up the digital loose ends. The last thing we can do as leaders to ensure their success at the Troop level is to take great care with their records and deliver them safely and soundly into their new Unit’s ScoutBook account.

There are a few things you’ll need to think about and know before you start clicking away their membership and enjoy your retirement.

Complete Their Cub Scout Records

It’s extremely difficult to back-peddle and update their Cub level records after they’ve been transferred to a Troop, so it’s extremely important that you double-check all advancement and awards for their AOL year before making the switch. Ideally, this would have been completed before their bridging (physical or virtual) so the Pack could purchase and present any final pins or awards before the Scouts move on.

After you’ve updated their records, make sure you’ve approved everything by opening your Den and navigating to Den Reports > Needs Approval Report, and approving any records you missed. This puts those pins and awards on the existing purchasing order. You can navigate to Den Reports > Needs Purchasing Report to screen capture the outgoing AOL items on the list. (Am I the only out here loving the Microsoft Snipping Tool for this?)

Note: It was suggested to me by the ScoutBook User Advisory Council that I just close out and print the official Purchase Order, but the Pack is still working on advancement for the month. Make sure you reach out to your Advancement Chairperson before you make any changes in ScoutBook that might create confusion on a future order.

Run the Cub Scout History Reports

ScoutBook provides a Cub Scout History Report, which provides completion dates for required and elective adventures, service hours, hiking miles, camping nights, special awards, and more. You can pull individual reports by navigating to your Scout’s page > Reports > Cub Scout History Report. You can also pull this report for all of the Scouts in your den at one time by navigating to your Den Page > Reports > Cub Scout History Report. Both reports allow you to save as either Portrait or Landscape PDFs.

These reports are what I call “mission critical” for special projects, like wrapping Arrow of Light Ceremonial Arrows with their individual achievement strips. They’re also a great keepsake for your Scouts. I print copies for each Scout and include them with their arrows when they bridge.

Transferring Scouts to New Troop Units

If your outgoing AOL is transferring into a Troop WITHOUT ScoutBook, there isn’t much for you to do. You would navigate to that Scout > Membership > Current Membership and enter a date in the “Date Ended” field, un-check “Position Approved” and click Update. This will take you to that Scout’s membership page again and will show that most recent membership change under the “Past Membership” header. Since you aren’t adding them to a Troop, simply click out of this window and that Scout is no longer listed as a member of your Pack. If you’re moving with your own Scout into the Troop and are looking for a way to contribute to their overall success – offer to be their ScoutBook Administrator! Set them up with the program, transfer your Scouts in using the techniques below, and they’ll thank you later.

If your outgoing AOL is transferring into a Troop WITH ScoutBook, there are a few ways of moving them out of the Pack.

  1. One way is to simply allow the Youth Application to process. Each Scout will need to fill-out a new application when transferring into a Troop, which will be processed by the Council and, using their BSA Number, will drop them into their new unit automatically.
  2. You can manually move each Scout to a new Troop by navigating to that Scout Scout Membership > Current Membership and enter a date in the “Date Ended” field, un-check “Position Approved” and click Update. You will return to that Scout’s membership page, where you’ll see the red “+ Add” button in the top left. You’ll click that, double-check the Council, choose “Troop” from the Unit Type drop-down and enter the Unit Number in the field. A new “BSA Unit Description” drop-down populates; choose the appropriate unit from the list. Next, if you know the patrol your outgoing Scout will join, choose it from the “Patrol” drop-down. Enter today’s date, any notes you’d like to add, and click the red “Update” button to complete the transfer.
  3. Finally, you can reach out to the Troop to determine who their ScoutBook Administrator is. Search for and add that person as a Connection for each Scout with Full Control permissions. They can then review their Connections and make the transfer above on their own.

Of these three options, I prefer the second. It’s time-consuming but it’s faster than waiting on the application to process and, unless they prefer option three, easier for the Troop Administrators.

They’re Transferred in ScoutBook, But Still Need to Submit a New Youth Application

ScoutBook is a record-keeping program, but not the end-all-be-all in official Scouts BSA membership. The Troop will have these Scouts complete brand new Youth Applications to transfer their membership officially, but it’s a great help to have them moved over in ScoutBook as soon as possible.

They’re Ready to Scout On!

At the time of this post, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 lock down, with all springtime traditions canceled or postponed for sometime in the future. Many Packs have “virtually bridged” their AOL’s, or are waiting to officially bridge them in full ceremony this summer or fall. Those Scouts shouldn’t have to wait to start working on Troop-level advancement now, as expected. Most Troops are offering virtual Patrol Meetings via platforms like Zoom and Skype, and many are using virtual tools to help those new Scouts earn their Scout Rank. See my recent post entitled Pack-to-Troop Transitions: Preparing AOLs (and their PL’s) for Scout Rank for ways to help make this particular transition as easy and engaging as possible until regular meetings are scheduled. Transferring them to their new units in ScoutBook will help those Scouts advance and their new youth leadership team keep track of that advancement right away.

I hope this helps you feel more confident about navigating this big change! Let me know in the comments if you’ve found a more efficient way of transferring Scouts, if this helped you with your transfers, or if I left anything out. Don’t forget to give this post a like and/or share!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

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Pack-to-Troop Transitions: Hiking Staves for Outgoing AOL Leadership

“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”

– John Muir

What an adventure it truly is to lead a group of young boys and girls through the Cub Scouting program. They tell us we need the Scout Six Essentials to do it; water, sun protection, a first aid kit, flashlight, whistle, and (in most cases, most importantly) a snack. But having been involved with the same great Pack for a decade now, I’ve learned that every good leader needs something sturdy to lean on. They need a tool that helps them keep a steady pace, supports them through the more difficult footholds, and gives them the leverage they need to stand proud and tall at the end.

A drawing by Baden-Powell himself, from the cover of the 1908 publication, “Scouting for Boys, Part III

Scout Staves Wiki

A Scout Stave is an important part of any good Scout’s basic accoutrements, and not just because it looks great with the uniform. They serve an important purpose – providing an adventurous Scout with support and safety. It’s more than that, though. Scouts know that any piece of equipment worth carrying has many uses, and the stave is no different from a Swiss Army Knife, for instance. You can use it to splint an injury, secure a patrol flag, as a tent pole or part of a lean-to, for measuring distances, feeling your way through marshy or rough ground, estimating height, linking together in darkness or difficult weather, and of course self defense. It’s impossible to mistake a unit for anything but prepared when they’re led by a Scout carrying a stave.

As a marker of leadership, it’s a logical gift for the intrepid, dedicated Arrow of Light leadership who are bridging their merry little Cub Scouts into a Troop.

I’ve been making personalized hiking staves for outgoing AOL leadership for years now, presenting them at the bridging ceremony. It’s been a true pleasure to see them used by those leaders as they continue on with their Scouts into the Troop or step off the Scout path and go on personal adventures. I’ve seen them used in many ways – some choose to hang them up in pride of place, some add accessories and take them on adventures, others hang lanterns from the end and use them to literally light the way. Making a personalized stave gives you the opportunity to truly think through the blessing each leader has been to your unit, to mull the ways they improved your Pack, to consider how they changed the lives of the youth in their charge. It’s a special process that helps you to clearly see the overall picture of a persons dedication to Scouting.

Making a personalized Scout Stave is easier than it looks, and you can find a lot of great tutorials out there. I tried several before settling on a combination of many, doing what I could NOT to create more work than was absolutely necessary, but without sacrificing any of the important details.

Here’s a list of basic supplies I use to complete this project:

It looks overwhelming, but the beauty of this project is that it’s personalized, so you can use whatever you have on hand to make a beautiful hiking stave. I already have the paracord, stain, poly, brushes, wood burning tool, drill, and sandpaper on hand from a million other projects, and you probably do as well. A lot of Scouters pick-up, whittle and dry their own blank walking sticks; that’s just outside of my wheelhouse and takes time I don’t seem to have. I’ve seen beautiful staves that were hand-painted instead of wood burned! Truly, the sky’s the limit with this project.

Prepping the Staves

I’ve purchased Aspen Walking Sticks – Blank – from TreelineUSA for four straight years and have yet to be anything but extremely pleased with the product. Each stick is, of course, different, but they’re all exceptional quality. Some orders are perfectly straight sticks, and others come with a little more personality (I prefer those). TreelineUSA is a great company with fantastic customer service, and their website is a lot of fun to poke around.

Once your staves arrive, you want to lightly sand them right away. You’ll want to focus a little more heavily on areas where the whittling process has left small imperfections. Next, you’ll want to spend a little time with each stave, finding the most natural way that particular stave should be held. That will help to determine the front and back of the stave, and where a hand will most naturally want to hold it. Once you determine where the hand will naturally go, you’ll drill a hole completely through, from front to back, using a 13/64 bit, about an inch below where your hand rests. This will be where you start your paracord wrap, from the bottom up.

Woodburning

If you are going to woodburn your unit number and/or leaders’ names into your staves, now’s the time. I own a Walnut Hollow Creative Versa-Tool and Wood Burning Tips kit, and I use it regularly. I love this tool! For this project, I like to put the unit numbers facing out, name on the back. Placement is up to you – I normally start burning vertically about an inch below the hole I drilled for my paracord.

One year, we had a smaller den and invited Scouts to come and hand-write their names into the staves with the rounded woodburner tip that comes in the full Walnut Hollow kit linked above. It was a great opportunity to teach those Scouts how to properly and safely use a new tool, and the final product was beautiful! On this years staves, which will be presented to my fellow den leadership, includes a nod to the