Devotional: Simple Truths Shine Through

bshb0“No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws. So every Scout should have a religion. Religion seems a very simple thing: First, Love and serve God. Second, love and serve your neighbor.” — Baden-Powell from his 1908 book, “Scouting for Boys”

  • Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (NASB)
  • “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NASB)

IMGP7180“The atheists….maintain that a religion that has to be learnt from books written by men cannot be a true one. But they don’t seem to see that besides printed books….God has given us as one step the great Book of Nature to read; and they cannot say that there is untruth there – the facts stand before them….I do not suggest Nature Study as a form of worship or as a substitute for religion, but I advocate the understanding of Nature as a step, in certain cases, towards gaining religion.” – BP from “Rovering To Success”, 1930

  • “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” – Psalm 19:1 (NASB)
  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:18-20 (NASB)

“Christ gave His life to show us that example, namely, to “Be Prepared” – no matter what it costs to ourselves – to do the right thing for others” – BP from “Adventuring To Manhood”, 1936

  • “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:3-11 (NASB)
  • “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit. The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:1-11 (NLT)

Scouters, continue to exercise your Duty to God faithfully and reverently.


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Scout Stave Dish Washing Rack


Awesome use of scout staves for a very functional dishwashing station. First Class scouts have the skills to do this, and it’s a hand’s on learning exercise to teach Tenderfoot/Second Class more lashing skills for sign-offs.

Originally posted on SCOUT - PIONEERING:

Very Functional Camp Kitchen Gadget

Very Functional Camp Kitchen Gadget

Background and History. Washing mealtime utensils on a camping trip can range from using paper plates (no washing) to “Philmont-style” (lick ‘em clean and sanitize in boiling water). Through the years, Scouting has come up with a variety of “dish washing assembly line” configurations. For a wide range of field applications, the three container method has proven itself tried and true:

  • 1st container: Washing (hot soapy water)
  • 2nd container: Rinsing (hot clean water)
  • 3rd container: Sanitizing (very hot water containing an environmentally-friendly chemical agent)
A Scout Patrol Using a Ground Level Dish Washing Assembly Line

A Scout Patrol Using a Ground Level Dish Washing Assembly Line

On many overnight camping and backpacking trips, this approach has been adapted, sometimes combining the second and third containers into one 8 quart pot, sometimes using wash basins. In all cases, the initial step is to clean or scrape off as much excess food as possible into a designated receptacle, before placing anything into the 1st container. Most often the final step, is to…

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Belief in God…

Scouting Magazine publishes many interesting articles throughout the year, and the accompanying blog “Bryan on Scouting” is equally interesting.  Sometimes they cover issues that arise from controversial decisions or program elements.

At the blog site they’ve published an article titled “About the ‘belief in God’ requirement in Scouting” and the source article can be viewed by clicking HERE.

This provocative article begins:

the-good-samaritanThe BSA asks its members to affirm a belief in God.

That doesn’t mean the Boy Scouts of America tells its members which religion to practice.

It doesn’t mean Scouts and Scouters must attend their faith’s worship services every week; a Scout could practice his faith privately at home, for example.

Here’s what it does mean. I’m quoting the relevant line from the 2014 Guide to Advancement:

“All that is required is the acknowledgment of belief in God as stated in the Declaration of Religious Principle and the Scout Oath, and the ability to be reverent as stated in the Scout Law.”

In the seven short hours since it was first posted, 108 comments were filed about the details of this simple description.

It’s my personal belief that by being “religiously pluralistic” (open to all faiths and treating all faiths as equally valid paths to God) could make people uncomfortable for many different reasons:

  • Faith and religious practice are highly personal issues and it’s natural for people to defend their own belief and faith practice since they were raised in that structure or have recently determined to follow those practices.
  • Not everyone can agree on what constitutes a “belief in God” since some faith practices don’t declare a theistic viewpoint (i.e. Buddhism is often characterized as not having a belief in a central or singular God, but BSA recognizes this philosophy as a religion and Buddhist practice as belief in God)
  • Many families simply don’t participate in organized, formal “church services” and feel awkward being confronted about their belief in God.  Sometimes, it’s easier to say “I’m not sure what I believe” or “I don’t believe” when there’s no regular practice in the home to visit a place of worship regularly.

R. Chip Turner, Chairman of the BSA’s Religious Relationships Task Force also offered some advice within the source article:

…we should help Scouts and their families come to realize that a belief in God is integral to Scouting and is a key element in character building. This does not reflect a change in BSA policy nor does it place Scouters in the role of religious leaders…belief in God is a cornerstone of Scouting. As Scouters, we have a tremendous opportunity to reflect this core principle while helping teach respect for the beliefs of others in pursuit of doing our “duty to God.”

Unfortunately, the BSA’s own president has been quoted as saying “In scouting, there’s a secular emphasis on values and virtue that is not found anyplace else” which at face value seems to contradict the notion that moral and ethical values are derived or delivered from a Higher Being called “God”.

  • Chapel View 2If our values (as scouts) comes from mankind, how can we agree on the common definition of each point of the scout law?  The foundation shifts from personal view to personal view or from time to time as society redefines the rules of acceptable behavior. How can such an organization lay claim to “timeless values” under such circumstances?
  • Worse, how can BSA continue to exclude secular atheists from participating in BSA’s “secular values” program?  If morals and ethics are not integrally linked to God, then BSA ought to welcome anyone who wishes to join the organization, right?

As another blogger indicated

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? 

From what I’ve seen from internet postings by other scouters, it seems as though many scout units fail to proactively promote this issue (belief in God) in material ways so that scouts would be more comfortable during Boards of Review or Scoutmaster Conferences when they are going to be asked about their belief in God.

Personal conversations with other scout leaders (during my time with BSA) indicated two (simplistic) sets of opinions:

  1. Scout Reverent medalsthat many leaders are very uncomfortable with discussing faith issues with boys for fear of upsetting parents, and BSA would be “simpler” if they dropped the whole “God-thing” and just focused on camping, etc. (like “little league” or “martial arts”, etc.)
  2. BSA is an opportunity to promote specific faith practices within the unit confines.  This means that Baptist units work to promote Baptistic, Christian faith among it’s troop families, and units chartered to Roman Catholic churches would promote RC practices to boys in it’s care (not forcing any boy to participate in specific worship practices if they were individually uncomfortable in doing so — per the declaration of religious principles)  This concept was promoted by PRAY and BSA through webinars in 2013 (titled “Baptist Scouting Ministry: Growing & Retaining Membership in Baptist Churches“)

Personally, I think it’s great that BSA wants to strengthen its promotion of core scouting ideals such as “Duty to God” and “A scout is Reverent”.  A belief in God, the development of personal faith and the fellowship afforded from regular community worship can be a strong foundation for facing the issues of growing up in this world.

However, I’m still concerned (as a parent) that misaligned family and organizational objectives will likely lead to unintended results — more specifically, a family who values their particular faith practice and wants to instill a distinctive worldview within their children may find themselves at odds with BSA’s pluralism (

Other organizations, which use all of the distinctive scouting methods, but have a particular and unashamed connection to a specific faith practice may be a better fit for those families who want to raise their children to fully understand and practice their faith assertively.

  • What do you think about BSA’s requirement to assert a belief in God?
  • How does your unit cope with this requirement?
  • Do your scouts and their families support this requirement which has been in place for over a century?
  • Would scouting be better off without faith elements incorporated?  If so, should BSA encourage atheists to join since it would be a 100% secular program at that point?
  • Considering the numerous alternative scouting programs which are tied to a specific faith practice, why would devout families continue to align themselves with a pluralistic organization who characterizes their values as secular in origin?
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Trip Report: Allaire State Park

Originally posted on Trail Life Troop 113:

While we had heard of the many features and attractions hosted by this park, our family had never made it a priority to visit until this Fall.  In hindsight, we should have visited this park years ago since it was quite a pleasant surprise. Not only are the camping/hiking/biking facilities very well maintained, but the quality of the two local attractions were excellent for both teaching local history and for fun factor.

The park, as described at the NJ State Park web site:

Allaire State Park is probably best known for its historic 19th-century iron making town, Allaire Village, and its antique steam trains on the Pine Creek Railroad. The Manasquan River, which winds through the park, attracts canoeists and fishermen. The river’s floodplain provides habitat for over 200 species of wildflowers, trees and plants as well as habitat for birds and other wildlife. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders…

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Trip Report: Taconic State Park

Originally posted on Trail Life Troop 113:

IMGP7176My sons and I visited Taconic State Park in New York on Friday, September 12th thru Saturday, September 13th.  This campground had been recommended to us by a friend and we had never been to this part of New York State.  Taconic State Park…”is located along 16 miles of the Taconic Mountain Range, sharing a border with Massachusetts and Connecticut.” (  This “tri-state” area is home to ridges and farm-land valleys with forested streams, waterfalls and lots of friendly folks.

The park is divided into two distinctive areas:  Copake Falls Area (to the North) and Rudd Pond Area (to the South).  We camped at the Copake Falls Area (roughly a two hour drive from Bergen County, NJ)

This park area offers 45 tent sites, 25 tent platforms, 36 trailer sites and three cabin areas for a total of 106 campsites and 18 cabins.  The cabins…

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Letter to Yourself

Originally posted on Trail Life Troop 113:

IMG_20140726_124121465Trailmen, I read a blog post today that was very interesting and might prove to be a good personal growth exercise.

The original blog post is titled “A letter to my 22 year old self” and can be viewed at this link:

In this posting, the author pens a letter to describe to his younger self where he’ll end up in a matter of years, and to provide advice and guidance on navigating the trail ahead with hope and stronger preparation.

His advice starts simply enough – “I want you to do four things:Serve. Learn. Read. Grow.”  Next he elaborates on each point with specifics.  It’s an interesting article and you may want to read it through for yourself.

I’d like to encourage readers to:

  1. consider a time in their life’s past when they were confronted by a monster decision, a scary situation, the…

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What’s Your Vision?

Originally posted on Trail Life Troop 113:

Robert Lewis, author of “Quest for Authentic Manhood” and “Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood” has been quoted as saying:

Freedom Award logo“What hurts men the most is when they don’t have a vision that calls them forth.”

What does he mean and what are the implications of that statement?

  • “Vision” = “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”
  • “Call Forth” = “tosummonintoaction;bringintoexistence”

In very general terms, a man can be full of action and engagement, or passive and idle.  Of course, we’re most beneficial to everyone around us when we’re committed and productive.

From the beginnings of recorded history, we take note of accomplishments of mankind — what was done, built, named, invented, realized or even conquered.  Civilizations have risen and fallen, we’ve orbited the Earth, stepped foot on the Moon…

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