Personal Management MB+

When I took Personal Management merit badge, I wish they had spent more time in the book promoting the value of planning for retirement from your first paycheck.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of great information to learn in the merit badge program — savings versus investing, budgeting and so on; however, I think there are a lot of scouts who could have benefited from the advice in a recent “Business Insider” article (click HERE).

From the article:

If you want to have a comfortable retirement, it is very important to begin saving early. It’s a point that can’t be reiterated enough.

Here is another example why.

Consider two hypothetical savers, Emily and Dave. Emily puts $200 per month into a retirement account with an estimated 6% rate of return starting at 25. Dave starts saving $200 per month at 35, just 10 years after Emily.

Both continue to add $200 each month until they retire at 65.

By the time they are 65, Emily has contributed $96,000, while Dave has contributed $72,000.

Here’s the trajectory of both of those accounts:

Retirement savings trajectory from BI magazine
While in this example, Emily put in more money (about a third more) than Dave by starting ten years sooner, she really outclassed Dave’s savings upon retirement – by about double!  In fact, she ended up with slightly more than $400,000 but Dave ended up with slightly more than $200,000.

This is the power of compounding interest which is more fully described in another “Business Insider” article (click HERE) which examines how to end up with a MILLION dollars at age 65 by simply stashing some cash on a monthly basis when you get your first job.

In that article, they make an assumption that the rate of return on savings or investments is fixed at 6% regardless of when you start your saving for retirement (which isn’t a terrible way to illustrate the advantage of starting early since market rates can fluctuate from highs to lows throughout a person’s life).

From the article:

Here is how much you would need to save each month at a 6% annual rate of return, starting at different ages. So if you’re 20, and you want to retire a millionaire, you should be socking away $361 per month. If you’re starting at 25, that jumps to $499. You can see how as you get older, you need to be saving much, much more:

monthly savings chart new

Bottom line: It is much better to start saving young. Two things are happening here. First, by starting to save at 20 instead of 40, you have many more individual monthly payments, and can spread out your total principal investment over a longer period of time. Second, and much more importantly, by saving earlier, you can better take advantage of compound interest.

I know there are smart scouts out there who will say; “But wait a minute!  If I can get a better average interest rate over time, I don’t have to contribute as much each month”  That’s true.  The article included a chart showing how interest rate would affect your monthly payment depending on when you started your savings adventure:

monthly savings table good

So, when you get your first job, you’ll be amazed by two things:

  1. How much money gets taken out of your check for taxes
  2. How much you could spend on eating out, getting a cool car, impressing your friends or generally wasting money without a budget.

If you’re smart, you’ll put money away each month and learn how to invest wisely.  That way you won’t be surprised when you cash your final paycheck and wonder how you’ll be able to live on “what’s left” of your savings.

A Scout is Thrifty!

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What Makes a Leader?

Repost from

Check out this video and remember there are a lot of young men who don’t have exposure to leadership development thru scouting or other programs.

Donovan Campbell, author of The Leader’s Code, offers the following quote from Characteristics of a Leader, a FamilyLife Today radio broadcast:

DM-SN-88-08371The statue is of William Leftwich. It is a statue of a man, with one arm pointed to his left—his rifle is in that arm—his body is clearly running in the direction of his outstretched rifle. His right arm is crooked; and it is beckoning those who, although unseen, are behind him. His head is pointed back at them. You can tell he’s yelling something. Below that statue, it says simply, “Follow me!”

“And that, I think, is a phenomenal picture of leadership. It is: “If you want to know where to go, watch me. Follow me because I will be doing what I ask you to do, and I will be leading the way toward a mission that is worthy of being accomplished.” This man, ultimately, died in Viet Nam because he went on every rescue mission for the Reconnaissance Marines that he sent out. One day, on the rescue mission of the men he commanded, his helicopter was shot down and he died. He was doing exactly what he asked his men to do. When he said, “Follow me!” they listened.”

Voddie Baucham had this to say about leadership (from Discovering Biblical Leadership – a FamilyLife Today radio broadcast):

“If you look in Ephesians, Chapter 5, and you look at the list of qualifications, really, for a husband—you look at this picture of what it means to be a Christ-like leader—basically, to lead a wife as Christ leads the church. You find that the picture is not just about a guy who pounds his chest and, “Me man; you woman—me speak; you do.” He’s to lead in love. He’s to lead in the Word. He’s to lead in righteousness. He’s to lead in selflessness, and he is to lead in intimacy.

“Most guys don’t understand servant-leadership from that perspective. So, it’s very important that when we talk about the way a husband is supposed to lead, we don’t just take the culture’s definition of leadership and superimpose that on the Scriptures. We have to get into the Word of God to determine what biblical leadership in the home looks like; and then look for an individual who understands that, as opposed to just the cultural norm.”

So how about you?  How would you characterize the essential elements of personal leadership?  Do you struggle with any of these elements?  (I know I’m always trying to reflect on ways to improve…)

Leadership certainly isn’t reserved for scout meetings and campouts. It’s interwoven throughout our daily lives — how we talk with our spouse, encourage our children, engage our boss or our direct report employees, and even how we greet strangers.

Taking a vision for our lives — whether to “help other people at all times” or simply enough to “Walk Worthy” — and applying it is a great first step.  I think the rest of the trail is simply sticking to that vision, accepting feedback and incorporating personal growth into our day to day.


Some common characteristics of a leader:

  • Vision – ability to see a “future situation” and work backwards to establish a plan to get to that desired outcome
  • Communication/Delegation – ability to share the vision with team-mates in a way that motivates them to contribute their individual skills to the attainment of the vision.
  • Organization – ability to identify needed resources and formulate a step-wise plan to attain the desired “future situation”
  • Commitment – consistent, urgent desire to attain the vision without wavering due to unexpected setbacks or unanticipated obstacles
  • Compassion for team-mates – a genuine concern for the welfare of those people who help the leader achieve the vision.  A leader invests in his/her team-mates so that they grow, but also steps back to let them exercise their delegated tasks using their individual (unique) strengths.  While a leader with no compassion can attain short term goals or complete projects quickly, they may lose their effective motivation of team-mates and their continued willingness to participate in attaining the shared vision.
  • Positive Attitude (cheerful) – ability to see obstacles and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.  Focuses team-mates on attaining the vision through celebrating the benefits of the final outcome and marking progress through attainable milestones along the way.

This is not an exhaustive list, but covers some points that most strong leaders would take advantage of to grow their teams and accomplish big plans.  How do these points affect your role at home, work, church, scouts, or other situations?

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Soccer player admits he wasn’t fouled, rejects penalty kick


A scout is trustworthy, courteous, obedient, cheerful, brave, and clean. Examples of good sportsmanship need to be celebrated and this soccer player could have been boo-ed by his supporters or disciplined by a coach who cared more about winning than winning fairly.

Thankfully, the situation was hailed by all as the right thing to do. Scouts should remember that there may come times in their later life when bosses, co-workers and others will ask them to “keep silent”, “look the other way” or “take the penalty call advantage since winning is paramount to their organization”, etc.

Scouts should remain true to their ideals, and fight for what’s right despite the possible personal costs of doing the right thing.

Scouts who are Christian might also find encouragement from these verses from the Bible:

  • James 4:17 ESV – “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
  • Romans 12:21 ESV – “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
  • Titus 3:1-2 (ESV) – “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

Originally posted on For The Win:

Soccer players have been known to take dives, especially in the penalty box, on occasion when things aren’t going their way. But in a crucial Bundesliga game between Werder Bremen and FC Nürnberg — two sides stuck in the lower half of the table where the threat of relegation looms — Bremen’s Aaron Hunt did the opposite.


After it appeared Hunt tripped over a Nürnberg player in the box and was given a penalty by referee, he protested the decision. Hunt popped back up and admitted to the referee that Javier Horacio Pinola did not bring him down, and the penalty was waved off. FCN players lined up to shake Hunt’s hand after the play. Bremen led 2-0 at the time, and held on to win by that score.


In the same game, Nürnberg’s Hiroshi Kiyotake gave up a corner kick, admitting to the referee that he touched the ball…

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Are You Ready for Natural Disasters?


bshb0The 1911 BSA Handbook states

…The motto, “Be Prepared,” means that the scout is always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do his duty. To be prepared in mind, by having disciplined himself to be obedient, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that may occur, so that he may know the right thing to do at the right moment, and be willing to do it. To be prepared in body, by making himself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and then to do it.”  

Scouts should try their very best to exemplify the motto, “be prepared” by training themselves on how to respond to various situations or conditions that may befall them.

Depending on where you live, you may face the potential for a range of natural disasters. Here’s a short list of examples:

If you need a single source of tips and reminders for these sorts of conditions, check out and grab an “emergency preparedness” merit badge booklet, too!

A natural disaster is an opportunity for scouts to offer service to others while they protect their family and clean up from the event(s) that caused a disruption in their normal lives.

The “Ready.Gov” web site suggests that you ought to:

  1. Getting informed
  2. Having a game plan,
  3. Stock a disaster kit and
  4. Get involved in community preparedness by organizing teams, teaching others to be as prepared, or volunteering with disaster relief agencies.

A Scout helps other people at all times.  Be ready for the worst nature is likely to throw at you throughout the year.

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Boy Scouts’ Compromise Happened Long Ago

IMGP6832Boy Scouts’ Compromise Happened Long Ago. (LINK)

Repost of an article (from a year ago) by another thoughtful blogger that was pivotal in changing the way I looked at BSA.  It’s not about membership issues for me — now or a year ago.  It’s much deeper than that.

From that post:

…the root cause is much deeper. At some point in their history the Scouts decided to make who God is a local decision. When my sons and I were involved in Scouts several years back, I attended leadership training on the religious achievements portion of the Cub Scout handbook. Though held at an ostensibly Christian church, the training made it clear god could be whoever the boys and their families thought he, she or it was. The god of Scouting is much like the god of Alcoholics Anonymous, a “higher power” that is whatever one wants it to be. Sure, you have to believe in god to be a Scout, you just don’t have to be too specific about it.

This brings us to the basis for morals. How can an organization that will not take a stand on the identity of God be expected to take a stand on specific moral issues? There is a direct connection between the law and the Law Giver. If you’re not really sure who the Law Giver is, how can you be sure whether [any] specific behavior is “morally straight” or not? 

Further accentuating this point is a posting on which includes a BSA memo dated June 7, 1991 which states:

Q. Some people maintain that God is a tree, a rock or a stream. Would a person believing such be eligible to be a member of Scouting?

The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion. The Scout Oath states a requirement for a Scout to observe a duty to God, and the Scout Law requires a Scout to be reverent. Again, interpretation is the responsibility of the Scout, his parents and religious leaders. [So as far as BSA cares, "god" can be a rock, tree, or stream]

Knowing this about BSA, why did I think I had the right to dictate to a ‘National Organization’ my solitary view of who God is?  Well, my duty to God (as defined in my Bible) says that I have an obligation to evangelize.  On the other hand, BSA clearly (by their own “declaration of religious principles” document) doesn’t care about my opinion being more or less “right” than any other scouter (everyone’s dues money spends the same way), and they don’t want to be convinced one way or the other (i.e. rock, tree, stream, creator of the universe, what’s the difference?).

Sandy Hook 2011 011

As a Christian father of sons, called by many verses in scripture to raise them in the Word of God (Dt 4:10, Dt 6:1-9, Dt 11:19, Ps 78:4-6, Ps 127:3-5, Pr 22:6, Eph 6:4, Col. 3:21, Heb 12:9-10,, how can I reconcile BSA’s worldview and a genuine Christian worldview? Short answer = “I can’t.

BSA’s objective to build men of “moral” character falls short of my Lord’s stated goal to raise men who’ve been redeemed (Romans 10:9-10), walk in sanctification, imitate Christ and obey the Word.  Some would argue that it was never BSA’s job to fulfill my faith obligation, and I’d agree, but if that’s true, why align myself with BSA instead of an organization who’s goals and objectives are closer to (and distinctively support) my own?

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (KJV) — Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord [there is only one true God]: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

This realization that BSA’s and my own goals were divergent and incompatible got me off my “BSA-is-wonderful” center and got me to look much more closely at organizations which offer BSA methods and processes for leadership development, self-reliance, etc but with a distinctively Christian worldview.



There are MANY very vibrant and enthusiastic outdoor youth programs which have strong parallels to scouting (in terms of the good methods of imparting responsibility, organizational skills, communication, self-direction, leadership, etc.) which also celebrate your family’s faith practice without compromise or inappropriate pluralism (or “indifferentism” as a new term I’ve learned)

If you’ve landed at this page looking for alternatives, there are many.  For my family, we had leaned towards Christian Service Brigade, but then swerved towards Trail Life USA for various reasons.  Is one better than the other?  No, they’re simply different.  Is there one that’s best?  Yes, but only from your family’s perspective — not because they topped out a “list” or got more positive reviews than any other.  You must find your best fit for your faith practice.

Verses about choosing carefully how you align your goals with organizational goals:

  • 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV — “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV — “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (sounds harsh, but it’s really just an old way of saying “garbage in = garbage out”, right? Do you want another set of adults or teens “reprogramming” your child to think like the world when you’re investing your time teaching him to think eternally?)
  • 2 John 1:7-11 ESV — “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (see comment above — if your son isn’t learning the truth about God, what’s he learning about when it comes to understanding faith, duty to God, reverence, etc.?)
  • 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 ESV — “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
  • Matthew 6:21 ESV — “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Please note, these verses do not say “hunker down in a bomb shelter and withdraw from all contact with non-Christians” and that’s not the point of the article.

See if you think this is a one sided argument — it’s not.  

We adults have a responsibility to our own children, and to mentor, witness, etc. to others as well.  That mission can be accomplished in a faith-specific organization more effectively than within scouting, too.  While scouting explicitly PROHIBITS proselytizing/evangelistic outreach, faith-specific organizations (much like your neighborhood Vacation Bible School/Vacation Bible Club programs) are focused on reaching out to families! 


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Try this: Identify potential Scout leaders with the Oreo Test


What a fun posting — a way to check on the listening skills and overall commitment of potential leaders….

Originally posted on Bryan on Scouting:

Wondering whether that parent on the other side of the meeting room would make a good Cub Scout, Boy Scout or Venturing leader?

Try the Oreo Test.

Don Lauer of Troop and Pack 9212 in Summerville, S.C., devised the method, and he said it hasn’t failed him yet.

“Just a simple thing,” he tells me. “Plus I like cookies.”

I think it’s brilliant. Here’s how it works … 

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Reaching the Modern-Day Fatherless

Valley Forge History Hike 3 2012 002According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America, one out of three children in America, now live in biological father-absent homes.  Boys with missing dads grow up with many obstacles in their way — this isn’t to place blame (in any way) on single moms who struggle to provide the best possible home life for their children under extraordinary circumstances, but merely to recognize statistics that while grim are very real:

From the National Fatherhood Initiative (

  • Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents
  • Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A’s. This was true for fathers in biological parent families, for stepfathers, and for fathers heading single-parent families.

According to

  • When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, especially their education, their children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior.
  • Boys with actively involved fathers tend to get better grades and perform better on achievement tests.
  • Research shows that even very young children who have experienced high father involvement show an increase in curiosity and in problem solving capacity. Fathers’ involvement seems to encourage children’s exploration of the world around them and confidence in their ability to solve problems.
  • Children with actively involved fathers display less behavior problems in school. 

Other stats about dads:

  • 63% of teen suicides come from fatherless homes. That’s 5 times the national average. SOURCE: U.S. Dept of Health
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
  • 90% of fathers surveyed said that being a father is the most fulfilling role a man can have. SOURCE: W. Jean, et al. “Children’s Time with Fathers in Intact Families.” American Sociological Association.

Why are Dads Missing or “Critically Disconnected” in their Son’s Lives?  Three of the most commonly cited reasons include:

  1. Non-Marital Relationships & Divorce
  2. Incarceration
    1. The Department of Justice has estimated that over 7.3 million children under age 18 have a parent who is in prison, jail, on probation, or on parole. (
  3. Generational Legacy: they didn’t have a dad growing up (or their own father was “under-involved”)

Phillip Holmes posted an excellent blog article at today titled “Finding the Fatherless: A Call to Fill the Gap” (Click HERE to see the entire article)

Let me quote from his article:

IMGP6938Scripture has plenty to say about the orphan and our responsibility to them. We’re instructed that our neglect of the orphan reflects the purity of our faith before the Father (James 1:27). We’re warned that mistreatment of the orphan is punished by the wrath of God (Exodus 22:22–24). We are also exhorted to seek justice for the orphan (Psalm 10:8, 82:3). Since Scripture is our guide for living faithfully in this fallen world, we cannot afford to ignore the orphan if we desire to follow Christ.

During Old Testament times, the word “orphan” most often referred to children that were fatherless and not only isolated to those who had lost both parents. However, when our culture thinks about orphans, hardly anyone thinks about the boy or girl growing up in a single-mother home. I think this is a result of two assumptions in our culture. First, women are able to work and provide for families, therefore, we assume that if a child is financially secure, this eliminates the necessity of the father. Second, distinctions in gender roles have been bleached, thus eliminating the idea that men and women make unique contributions to the home.

But contrary to society’s claims, fathers play a crucial role in the mental, emotional, and spiritual development of a child.

IMGP6895I’d take this a step further — there are boys whose dad is physically present at home, but emotionally and spiritually “under-involved” in their son’s life – these dads may care deeply about their children but have jobs that force them to work nights and weekends. They may also be dads who “don’t do the church thing” or are consumed with pursuing a better golf score or “catching the action” of professional sports, etc.

In any event, those of us who can step up and fill a void (in an appropriate environment) should do so – not as replacement fathers, but as male mentors…setting an example or being a role model.

IMGP6824For me, I became a scoutmaster of a faith-based boy scout troop.  It was a rewarding (and at times frustrating) role to play, but it got me much closer to God and much closer to my own family (despite the drain on my time and resources).  A scout pledges to help other people at all times, to be friendly, courteous, kind, and reverent.  Out of consideration of scouting ideals, reaching the fatherless ought to be central to BSA’s aims and methods.

This is so important for many reasons.  Consider some additional points offered by Mr. Holmes via Voddie Baucham:

Voddie Baucham has noted some startling statistics on fatherlessness. Nearly 75 percent of fatherless American children will experience poverty before the age of eleven, compared to 20 percent of those raised by two parents. In fact, fatherlessness is the number one cause of poverty in America. Although it happens on occasion, very few children are living in poverty with a father in the home.

Children living in homes where fathers are absent are far more likely to be expelled from school. They are also more likely to drop out of school, develop emotional or behavioral problems, commit suicide, and fall victim to child abuse or neglect. Fatherless males are far more likely to become violent criminals (fatherless males represent 70 percent of the prison population serving long-term sentences) (Baucham, What He Must Be, 22).

The assumption that the father is of little use in the home and lives of children is costly. This mindset is especially unfortunate because the church has adopted it, at the very least, in practice, even in Reformed circles. We reveal this when we show little care for those without fathers. If we can agree that the fatherless should be considered orphans, and even the children with absentee dads, does the church have a responsibility?

To find the fatherless, one doesn’t necessarily need an agency. We’re everywhere. We’re your next-door neighbors. We’re in your school systems. We’re in your local congregations. According to the US Department of Census, 43% of children in the United States live without their father (and these statistics can’t account for fathers who are physically present yet absent in every other way).

If the church wants to bring up young male and female leaders in their congregations and effectively evangelize their city, they must address the issue of fatherlessness.

FIRE!How does your church and/or youth organization address this issue?  The growth of Trail Life USA has been amazing.  This Christian-Worldview based outdoor adventure program is open to virtually any youth member who is willing to participate.  The troops that have formed come from both former BSA units who want to embrace a thoroughly Christian Worldview in their activities, and from families/churches who have NEVER been involved with BSA in the past (40% of newly chartered troops have no prior adventuring experience with BSA).

Paul states (in 1 Cor 4: 15-17):

For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.

This model of mentoring should be evident in our church families.  Further Titus 2:6-8 states:

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Investing time in the healthy development of young men pays incredible dividends to this and following generations. Your involvement may:

  • 2013-11-02_13-48-03_332break a cycle of non-existent “father commitment ” within a family tree
  • set up a young man to become a much stronger husband to his future wife
  • set a young man on a new course away from trouble and towards a healthy relationship with God
  • serve to get a young man into professional counseling before underlying frustrations become outward rage
  • lead young men to not only value moral behavior, but recognize the depravity within their hearts and acknowledge that only God’s grace can save them from eternal damnation.

Waiting for someone else to step up is a recipe for disaster and it’s not what we’re admonished by scriptures to do (James 1:27; Psalm 10:8; Psalm 82:3,

Consider volunteering to support Trail Life USA (or another faith based youth organization that’s closer to your own liking, see list below) — start a troop, be a trail guide, chaperon a trip, offer to drive, be a trail badge mentor in areas of interest or vocation.  It may save a life.

Addendum – Faith Based Youth Organizations

2013-07-03_Pirate Gateway

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