Page 1

Newsletter for Scouting Alumni association Affiliates

alumni alive! Summer 2014

What’s Inside Director’s Message.........................2 Alumni News.........................................4 Happenings..............................................6 Program...................................................8 Profiles.......................................................10

Director’s Message At the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in late May, the National Eagle Scout Association announced its new program, NESA World Explorers. In development over the past three years, the initiative now has an official name—and some lofty ambitions. Here’s a little history of where this program came from and where it’s going.

“The Eagle has landed” and “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” To continue this distinguished tradition, NESA began in 2011 to award deserving Eagle Scouts unparalleled, hands-on study and adventure opportunities, and the program continues to expand into new territory—literally. We conduct nationwide searches for the best possible Eagle Scouts to send on world-class expeditions with today’s top explorers. Three years in a row, Eagle Scouts planning to become marine scientists have gone to sea with Dr. Bob Ballard on his research ship Nautilus. In 2013, we also selected the Eagle Scout Astronomer, who met with the country’s top astronomers at a mirror-casting event in Tucson, Arizona, where a 25-footdiameter mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope was being made.

In 1928, The New York Times carried the headline “Scouts in Race for Honor of Joining Byrd’s Expedition,” and Eagle Scouts have played significant roles in America’s discoveries of the world and universe ever since. Eagle Scout and Pennsylvania native Paul Siple became the “Erie Scout With Byrd” and was a critical member of Commander Robert Byrd’s two-year exploration of the South Pole. Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong captivated the nation 41 years later with 2

Also this year, an Eagle Scout went to Antarctica with noted polar explorer Sir Robert Swan, and an Eagle Scout Biologist will be going to Ecuador to study jungle biology. Paul Siple was the first, many years ago, but NESA has brought back, through several different STEM-based avenues, inspiring and life-changing programs, and even more are planned for next year. For more on the NESA World Explorers program, visit

Bill Steele Director, Scouting Alumni Association and National Eagle Scout Association


alumni news Alumni Association Taking the Next Step

To that end, Pease sees the national group as becoming something of a federation of local alumni programs—whether those local programs target alumni in general, Eagle Scouts, camp staff members, or other populations. “Do you have a summer camp alumni association? If not, we can show you how to build one. Do you have an Alpha Phi Omega alumni group in your area? We’ve been talking with them to figure out how we can leverage their alumni to help in local councils,” Pease said.

The Boy Scouts of America has an estimated 50 million living alumni—more than any group except the U.S. military. The BSA’s huge group includes former youth members, of course, but it also includes former leaders, Scout parents, camp staff members, and others who’ve been touched by Scouting over the past 100 years.

Pease also plans to have the national group provide crucial back-office support, such as database management, to local groups. “That’s most often the area where alumni groups fail; they don’t put in the day-to-day work that is necessary to keep their alumni records current,” he said. “You can have the best program in the world, but if you can’t reach your alumni with it, it doesn’t mean anything.”

To reconnect with this large group, the Ed Pease BSA launched the Scouting Alumni Association in 2011. But that was just the first step. Under new Scouting Alumni Association Committee Chairman Ed Pease, the BSA is taking bold new steps to connect with those who know the value of Scouting best. This year, Pease’s committee has increased from eight to 25 members, and most of the new members have professional alumni relations experience or have worked on alumni efforts at the local council level.

Like many of his committee members, Pease, who is senior vice president for government relations, Rolls-Royce North America, brings both professional and volunteer experience to his new role. He is the former vice president for advancement at Indiana State University and the former president of the Philmont Staff Association. During his time with the PSA, membership tripled, and the organization completed its first million-dollar capital campaign.

That council-based experience is critical, because the national committee’s focus is increasingly local. “A person’s primary loyalty is more often local than national anyway,” Pease said. “If you don’t acknowledge that and support that, you’re probably not going to be successful.”

Pease is quick to deflect credit for those accomplishments, however. “We were successful because we engaged a lot of talented alumni who were willing to give their time,” he said. In a few years, the same may be seen in the Scouting Alumni Association.


New Plaque Memorializes Eagle Scout Projects

Coughlin decided that the Boy Scouts of America should offer a standard, high-quality plaque that could be posted at the sites of Eagle Scout projects. He worked his contacts in the national organization, and last year the BSA introduced the Eagle Scout Service Project Marker, No. 617492. This $199.99 plaque displays the Eagle Scout’s name, troop number and city, project date, and project description. Made of black marble, it’s designed to withstand the elements for years to come. Best of all, it comes with an initial membership in the National Eagle Scout Association for the Scout whose project it recognizes. (A simpler, nonpersonalized marker, No. 611429, is available for $49.99.)

People who live and breathe Scouting often forget that those outside the movement aren’t aware of Scouting’s impact on America. Take Eagle Scout service projects. Last year’s class of 56,841 Eagle Scouts generated 9.3 million hours of community service through their Eagle Scout projects. That works out to more than 25,000 hours of service every single day of the year. Non-Scouters often enjoy the fruits of all that labor in the form of hiking trails or playgrounds that Scouts have built—and they occasionally see the Scouts at work—but by and large, the work is out of sight and thus out of mind.

The plaques have proved popular. In fact, the Greater New York Councils now underwrites the cost for each new Eagle Scout project conducted in the Big Apple. Even better, according to Director of Field Service Chris Coscia, “Our ranger staff will go out and install it for them.”

That realization hit Scouting alumnus Jack Coughlin of Larchmont, New York, a few years ago as he sat on a park bench in a highway rest area. After admiring some nearby landscaping, he discovered a homemade plaque that explained that the improvements were the result of an Eagle Scout project. “You could see it was made by a kid,” he said. “It was a wooden plaque where he had burned in his name.”

But the plaques aren’t limited to new Eagle Scout projects. Families, troops, and councils can purchase them to commemorate projects completed years or even decades ago. In fact, Coughlin presented the very first plaque to the father of Lenny Joyner, an Eagle Scout who died in a 2012 hiking accident. Joyner’s project, which he’d continued to maintain for more than a decade, was completed in 1997. For more information on the new project marker, visit


Happenings Iconic Scouting Sites Offer Volunteer Vacation Opportunities

This September, the Volunteer Vacation program will return to Northern Tier for the second year and to Philmont Scout Ranch for the third year. Northern Tier participants will stay in cabins at base camp and work on a nine-mile system of winter trails; at Philmont, participants will camp in the backcountry most nights and work on a trail in the Deer Lake Mesa area.

Scouting alumnus Chuck Morlock of Chicago spends a lot of time out in nature—a lot. “I’ve backpacked in over 50 different wilderness areas in the USA and paddled kayaks, rafts, and canoes in two dozen additional places—places that others built and maintained over the years,” he said. Since he can’t pay those people back, Morlock pays their gifts forward by participating in the American Hiking Society’s Volunteer Vacation program. Each year, the AHS offers 50 to 60 weeklong Volunteer Vacation opportunities at sites around the country. Participants stay in tents or cabins and spend their days doing trail work to benefit their fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

Cost is $295 per person or $260 for AHS members, while the youth fee is $190. (All youth participants must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.)

Last fall, Morlock was part of the inaugural Volunteer Vacation program at the BSA’s Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base, part of the Northern Tier National High Adventure Program. He and 13 other volunteers spent five days clearing brush and fallen trees from the portage trails canoeists use to go from lake to lake. It was hard work, he said, but participants got to enjoy “the scenic beauty, the draw of the wilderness, and the opportunity to canoe in the Boundary Waters.” On their last day, they visited a site that features 400-year-old Native American petroglyphs—a special reward for a job well done. (You can read more about Morlock’s trip—and see pictures and a video—at

Volunteer Vacations offer Scouting alumni a unique opportunity to visit two of Scouting’s most iconic sites and help ensure that those sites can continue to serve today’s Scouts. As Morlock said, “If we users don’t pay forward for the future generations through maintenance and construction projects, my—and others’—kids and grandkids might not have these opportunities.” For more information, visit Note that both programs have limited space.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Morlock


President’s Installation, Awards Highlight National Annual Meeting Men and women whose lives have been immeasurably improved by Scouting can often point to a specific moment that put their lives on a new trajectory. Scouting alumnus Dr. Robert M. Gates is no exception. The former CIA director and secretary of defense has often said, only half-jokingly, that the junior leader training program he completed at Philmont Scout Ranch as a teenager was “the best and only leadership course I ever took.”

The National Annual Meeting is also when the Silver Buffalo Award—Scouting’s highest adult honor—is presented. This year, the award went to nine volunteers, many of whom began their Scouting tenure as Cub Scouts and who, like their new president, remember the moments that changed them for the better forever. This year’s Silver Buffalo Award recipients: • David L. Beck (Salt Lake City, Utah), general president of the Young Men organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Toby Capps (Renton, Washington), a leader in countless national Boy Scout and Order of the Arrow events • Michael G. Hoffman (Scottsdale, Arizona), a veteran leader in Boy Scouting, Girl Scouting, and the Delta Sigma national fraternity

Dr. Robert M. Gates

• Joe Manchin (Fairmont, West Virginia), who, as governor of West Virginia, provided vital support to the creation of the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve

BSA National President

In May, Dr. Gates brought that training home. At the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Gates was installed as the BSA’s 35th national president, replacing fellow Scouting alumnus Wayne Perry. Gates will serve two one-year terms as Scouting’s top volunteer and leader of the National Executive Board, working closely with National Commissioner Tico Perez and Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock. All three men are Eagle Scouts. (Watch Dr. Gates’ National Annual Meeting address at watch?v=HaBbrNN5iSU.)

• Robert J. Smith (Holmdel, New Jersey), who has worked tirelessly to improve council operations across the Northeast Region • William W. Stark Jr. (Los Altos Hills, California), who has applied his broad management expertise to push the BSA toward higher achievement • Mark Lewis Stolowitz (Pleasanton, California), a key architect of Wood Badge for the 21st Century

As the name implies, the National Annual Meeting is the BSA’s official business meeting, but it’s also a conglomeration of other meetings. Every national committee holds its own meeting during the three-day event, as do regional boards and affiliated groups. The exhibit hall introduces attendees to the latest program offerings and resources.

• Ralph Wilson “Chip” Turner (Fort Worth, Texas), a linchpin in Scouting’s relationships with faith-based organizations • Rosemary M. Wixon (Salt Lake City, Utah), general president of the Primary organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Program Cub Scouting Gets More Adventurous

Formally unveiled at this year’s National Annual Meeting, the new program takes effect June 1, 2015, for the 2015–2016 program year.

Just in time for its 85th birthday in 2015, Cub Scouting is getting an extreme makeover. An outgrowth of the BSA’s 2010–2015 National Strategic Plan, the makeover is designed to ensure that the program remains relevant to and engaging for all youth.

Extensive information—including complete requirements and samplers of the new Cub Scout handbooks and den leader guides—is available at

That’s not necessarily the case with the current program, which features too little active learning and is not as strongly aligned with the BSA’s mission as Boy Scouting and Venturing are. The current program also can be confusing to leaders and parents, given its dizzying array of belt loops, pins, beads, activity badges, arrow points, and other advancement items. Under the new system, Scouts will still work toward one rank award each year: Tiger (first-graders), Wolf (second-graders), Bear (third-graders), Webelos (fourth-graders), and Arrow of Light (fifth-graders). But the building blocks for those ranks will be completely new—and consistent across the board.

Cub Scout Handbook Sampler

Under the new program, a Scout will earn a rank by completing seven “adventures,” collections of activities built around a common theme, such as first aid or hiking. Each adventure, which is designed to take about three den meetings to complete, will earn a Scout either an adventure loop (worn on the belt for younger boys) or an adventure pin (worn on the Webelos colors for older boys). For Tiger through Bear, boys must complete six required adventures plus one elective. For Webelos, boys must complete five required adventures and two electives. For Arrow of Light, they must complete four required adventures and three electives. With 57 elective adventures across the program, boys should never run out of things to do.


Eagles’ Call Is Now Available for Everyone in Scouting Alumni Alive! may be the official publication of the Scouting Alumni Association, but it is not the BSA’s only alumni publication. Members of the National Eagle Scout Association automatically receive the quarterly magazine Eagles’ Call (formerly Eagle Scout Magazine) four times a year.

This glossy print publication highlights the accomplishments of Eagle Scouts who are making a difference in their communities and the world. Over the years, the magazine has profiled Eagle Scouts who have made their marks on Capitol Hill, in Hollywood, aboard the International Space Station, and at the South Pole.


The magazine also features articles of interest to Eagle Scouts in four areas: members, lifestyle, achievement, and community. And like many alumni publications, it updates NESA members on their fellow Eagle Scouts’ accomplishments.

SPRINg 2014


In order to share these stories with people beyond NESA, the BSA now invites anyone—Eagle Scout or not—to subscribe to the magazine. According to Eagles’ Call Editorial Director Mike Goldman (who also oversees Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines), “We like to think of Eagles’ Call as an aspirational tool, a magazine that can help strengthen the values of the BSA and instill a greater sense of purpose to, for example, Life Scouts and their parents. If by opening up Eagles’ Call to new subscribers we help one boy attain the Eagle rank, then we have done our job.”

And Eagle Scout Rob Ward helps Bring It to Life

ALSo IN ThIS ISSuE: We Can’t Thank Eagle Moms Enough Project Markers Say ‘An Eagle Did This’ Eagle Lands Access to Space Shuttle

The annual subscription is $10. To subscribe, visit AutoGen/eCommerce/Category.asp?ievent=1105840.


profiles Reed Timmer: Storm Chaser

range from lightning-sparked grass fires to softball-sized hail to the need to provide first aid after a tornado has moved through. During Superstorm Sandy, Timmer even reflected on his wintercamping experience as a Scout in Michigan. “We were going up this mountain, and there were 40 inches of snow and nonstop lightning. It was like a hurricane, except it was snow. I was never afraid because I knew that if we made a bad three-point turn on top of that mountain and slid into a ditch, we could just build a snow cave with a breathing hole, and we’d be totally fine,” he said.

Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, once wrote that there is an extra, unwritten point to the Scout Law: “A Scout is not a fool.” At first glance, Scouting alumnus Reed Timmer seems to break that law on a regular basis. After all, who but a fool would drive into a tornado while sane folks are driving away from it? But Timmer is no fool. Nor is he some suicidal thrill-seeker. Instead, he chases storms in order to learn more about them and better protect people from their awesome power.

Timmer survived that trip, as well as hundreds of others from the Mexican to Canadian borders. He has captured more than 200 tornadoes on film and is the first person to film HD video from inside a tornado.

Reed Timmer

A trained meteorologist and passionate advocate of severeweather preparedness, Timmer has appeared on such programs as “Larry King Live,” “Good Morning America,” and “The Tonight Show.” He is currently pursuing his doctorate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma while working as a storm chaser for Oklahoma City’s NBC affiliate, KFOR.

Timmer, who hosts the on-demand series “Tornado Chasers,” travels with the best protection this side of the U.S. Army: a series of three custom vehicles he calls the Dominators. The latest, Dominator 3, began life as a Ford F-350 crew-cab pickup but features a 16-gauge body strengthened with a polyethylene Kevlar composite, thick Lexan windows, and gullwing doors to repel hail. When storms approach, special hydraulic systems lower the vehicle to the ground to prevent wind from getting underneath, and spikes are driven 8 inches into the ground to secure it.

Timmer spoke at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in May and offered advice that applies equally well to the pursuit of tornadoes and merit badges. “Always remember to dominate the storm and never stop chasing,” he said. “That doesn’t apply only to storms but also to chasing your dreams.”

In other words, the vehicle is a 9,500-pound, 385-horsepower embodiment of the Scout motto, “Be prepared.” Timmer embodies the motto as well. “Boy Scouts taught me to be prepared for any scenario,” he said. In his business, that can


Boyd Matson: World Explorer

The Scouting-adventure connection came into focus for Matson during his third ascent of Kilimanjaro—this one with his 20-yearold son. As he asked himself what he was doing there, he remembered that long-ago ascent of Signal Peak and said, “I blame it on the Boy Scouts.” In an essay for National Geographic Traveler (find it at traveler-magazine/unbound/boy-scouts), he wrote, “That organization stole my soul when I was a kid and planted it in the wilderness. I was too young to resist their clever sales pitch built around hiking and camping trips. And their system of rewarding accomplishments with higher ranks and colorful merit badges meant, in effect, there was always one more goal to reach, one more mountain to climb.”

Boyd Matson has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, three times. He has gone scuba diving in both Antarctic and Arctic waters and competed in a 150mile foot race in the Sahara Desert. He has piloted experimental submarines and helped teach captive-bred whooping cranes a migration route. But none of those accomplishments would have been possible without his first big adventure: climbing Signal Peak near Big Spring, Texas, with Boy Boyd Matson Scout Troop 333 from Midland, Texas. Although the peak rises just a couple of hundred feet above the West Texas prairie, it captivated Matson and his fellow Scouts, who could imagine long-gone Native Americans signaling from the peak’s conical top. When they asked their Scoutmaster if they could explore it, he quickly agreed, saying, “Go ahead. See what’s there.”

Matson’s thirst for adventure has served him well as the host of “National Geographic Explorer” and countless National Geographic videos, as a spokesman for the National Geographic Society, and now as host of the weekly radio show “National Geographic Weekend.” Before joining National Geographic, he spent many years in television news, including stints as coanchor of ABC’s “World News Now” and NBC’s “Sunday Today.” Speaking at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in May, where he was named a Distinguished Eagle Scout, Matson said many of his adventures are just like Scout camp: “You’re sleeping in tents, you’re going places that you’ve never been, and you’re exploring and seeing the world in a way you couldn’t have imagined possible because of this confidence you’ve been given.”

Half a century later, the 1961 Eagle Scout continues to accept that invitation. “What happened in Scouting spoke to me,” Matson said. “And it wasn’t just the words of the Law or the Oath, it was the experiences and what it taught me about life and taking challenges and being willing to explore and go on adventures.”

Matson likes to say that he’s been bitten by, scratched by, pooped on, or kissed by most of the creatures found at your local zoo. He has also seen the world and shown it to his fellow Americans, all because a long-ago Scoutmaster invited him to go see what’s there.


ALUMNI ALIVE - Summer 2014  
ALUMNI ALIVE - Summer 2014