That famous Forest Witcraft quote first appeared in Scouting magazine

Recently, Bryan on Scouting published a blog post about Forest Whitcraft and his essay that is often misattributed to “Anonymous.” In reality, he was not anonymous at all, but a very active and dedicated Scouter.

Whitcraft was even the Managing Editor of Scouting Magazine from 1951 to 1958 – that in itself is pretty cool.

But as I dug around to find some more information about this man I found out that he was actually born here in Wisconsin, August 24th, 1894. I’m not sure how he got involved in Scouting – he would have probably been just a little bit too old to have been a Scout himself by the time the BSA was realizing its’ birth in 1910. But by the 1930s he was actively involved teaching National Camp School and Scoutmastership. He went on to become a Scout Executive in the 1940s, and of course Managing Editor of Scouting by the 1950s.

He passed away in 1967 – then known as Dr. Witcraft and having touched the lives of millions of children both through his work in Scouting, but also his dedication to teaching and theology.

Pretty cool for being “anonymous,” don’t you think?

Posted in National Program by Dan Gross. Comments Off on That famous Forest Witcraft quote first appeared in Scouting magazine

Merit Badge Updates December 2014

Attention Merit Badge Counselors and Unit Leaders:

The Boy Scouts of America announces a new information resource entitled “Counselor’s Compass.” This publication, to be issued as an e-newsletter, will support merit badge counselors in four ways:

  1. Things to do. What new counselors should do prior to counseling a merit badge, such as become familiar with Guide to Advancement and the educational presentation, Essentials of Merit Badge Counseling, available under “Advancement Educational Presentations” at
  2. Steps for Success. Tips that can be helpful for both new and experienced counselors as they work with Scouts, such as the importance of using the latest pamphlet and requirements.
  3. Glad You Asked. Articles that address commonly asked questions sent to
  4. News You Can Use. Merit badge fun facts, and information on new badges.

Subscribing to Counselor’s Compass is similar to subscribing to Advancement News: Send a message to, with “SUBSCRIBE” in the subject line. Indicate your name, email address, and council in the message text.

Cooking Merit Badge: The Clock Is Ticking

Scouts beginning work on the Cooking merit badge on or after January 1, 2015 must use the new requirements introduced in late 2013. Any Scout who began work on the Cooking merit badge prior to January 1 using the old requirements may continue to use those requirements until he finishes the badge. For questions, see Guide to Advancement, topic, “What To Do When Requirements Change.”

Last Chance to Earn the Computers Merit Badge!

Time runs out at the end of December with the classic Computers Merit Badge, which is being replaced by several new variations on Digital Technologies. Earn it while you still have time!

Posted in Boy Scouts Program by Dan Gross. Comments Off on Merit Badge Updates December 2014

Parent Orientation and Education

One of the responsibilities of the unit advancement coordinator is to instruct parents, guardians, unit leadership, and committee members on appropriate methods to encourage advancement (Guide To Advancement, topic An ideal time to accomplish this would be during one or more of the unit’s parent meetings that are required to meet the Journey to Excellence gold level. Since new Scout parents will be involved, the first of these meetings each year may need to be the most comprehensive, with those later used to “refresh” everyone’s understanding.

The topics for a first meeting might include the following—some of which are best covered by the unit leader and committee chair, and some by the advancement coordinator:

What Scouting is all about: After citing the aims of Scouting, it is a good idea to use terms that parents will understand. Remind them that their wild and wooly six- or eleven-year olds running around in the next room will be the fathers of their grandchildren in not too many years! Though our common goal is for these boys to become men who live their lives by the Scout Oath and Law, we all need to remember that from the boy’s point of view, Scouting has to be fun.

Who the leaders of the unit are: Parents want to know who is involved, so they know where to get help when they volunteer. At a minimum, the unit leader and committee chair should reintroduce themselves and quickly outline how they work together, particularly on advancement matters. At a troop’s parent meeting, the Scoutmaster should introduce the senior patrol leader and let him describe his role.

The language of Scouting: New parents may not be familiar with the terms, “pack,” “den,” “troop,” and “patrol,” much less the relationships between them. Parents need to understand how the pack is organized, or how the troop is boy-run. This is also the time to explain the uniform policy, pointing out how the different badges their sons will earn will reflect their accomplishments.

What is advancement? The unit advancement coordinator should explain the mechanics of advancement. Cub Scout parents should be informed about the key role they play in encouraging their boys, signing off certain requirements, and attending pack meetings to cheer their Cub Scouts on. Boy Scout parents should learn they now have a new role. They no longer sign off requirements, but their continued interest in their son’s progress is no less critical than it was in Cub Scouting. Finally, leaders and parents alike, should be reminded that advancement is a tool we use to make Scouting fun. It is not an end in itself and each boy should advance at his own pace.

Keeping parents informed invites them to become more involved in pack or troop management, which in turn, will keep boys in Scouting longer, giving us more chance to influence their character. Isn’t that what we’re all about?

This article appears on Page 5 of the BSA’s November/December 2014 issue of Advancement News.

Posted in Boy Scouts Cub Scouts Venturing by Dan Gross. Comments Off on Parent Orientation and Education

Hey Volunteer – THANKS!

International Volunteer Day (IVD) is a chance for volunteer-involving organizations and individual volunteers to promote their contributions to development at local, national and international levels. By merging UN support with a grassroots mandate, IVD is a unique opportunity for volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit organizations, community groups and the private sector.

IVD was established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December.

On IVD 2014, we not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets – but also pay special tribute to people’s participation in making a difference locally, nationally and globally. IVD 2014 highlights the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grass-roots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating space for participation that leads to: stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.

On 5 December 2014 join us in recognizing the commitment of all volunteers, and applaud hundreds of millions of people who volunteer to make change happen.

To post/read about volunteer actions all over the world and to download useful tools and information, please visit:

This article first published on the UN Volunteers Website.

Posted in International by Dan Gross. Comments Off on Hey Volunteer – THANKS!

January Webcasts on the New Cub Scouting Program

As you know, a new Cub Scouting program is launching June 1, 2015 that will be more fun and exciting for boys, and easier to implement for unit leaders. To ensure units are ready to make the transition, a series of webcasts will be hosted in January. The webcasts will outline the coming changes, how to prepare, and when resources will be available.

Although the content will be geared to the roles listed, anyone with an interest in learning about the new Cub Scouting program is welcome to attend.

The sessions will be recorded for later viewing. It is easy to attend! Just navigate your Internet browser to: and you are ready to view the webcast!

Cubmaster Webcasts

  • Saturday, January 17 at 8:00am (Central)
  • Saturday, January 17 at 3:00pm (Central)

Den Leader Webcasts

  • Saturday, January 17 at 9:30am (Central)
  • Saturday, January 17 at 4:30pm (Central)

LDS-Specific Considerations *

  • Saturday, January 17 at 11:00am (Central)
  • Saturday, January 17 at 6:00pm (Central)

*It is recommended that those interested in the LDS session view one of the role specific sessions first.

Posted in Cub Scouts National Training by Dan Gross. Comments Off on January Webcasts on the New Cub Scouting Program