From Harlem to Camp Keowa
Ingredients for a moving, heartwarming documentary film:
The result is 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem, a film that follows four of the Harlem Scouts from the skyscrapers and teeming streets of New York City to the vernal woods of Camp Keowa in upstate New York.
Boy Scouts of Harlem is the brainchild of directors Justin Szlasa (rhymes with “plaza”) and Jake Boritt, who also supplied the film’s often stunning camera work. For Szlasa, an Eagle Scout from a longtime Scouting family, the film was a way to salute an organization that did much to shape his early life. “I really felt obliged to give back and spread the word” about Scouting, he says.
The filmmakers chose Troop 759, which meets at the Church of the Master in Harlem. That’s where they met Scoutmaster Okpoti Sowah, a Ghanan-born graduate of Columbia University who has been a Scout leader since 1978, and new Scout Keith Dozier, who gets plenty of screen time as he faces the challenges of Camp Keowa: the climbing tower, strange noises in the night, and repeated attempts to become a swimmer.
Bonding with the troop through 2007 and 2008, the filmmakers compiled 180 hours of film that they whittled into a 72-minute testimonial to the fun and fellowship of Scouting.
Look for the film starting May 1 on PBS stations across the country. Check your local listings for times and dates. To see clips from the film, purchase a copy, or arrange a money-earning opportunity for your troop, go to harlemscouts.com.
Does Scouting Matter?
Everybody knows, or thinks they know, that Scouting helps young people grow into good citizens with strong character, leadership skills, and a solid ethical foundation. Now, that’s being put to scientific scrutiny. Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion is launching a series of studies examining the role of Scouting in developing and sustaining what social scientists call “prosocial behavior.” The two-year project is funded by a $992,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
Baylor’s Dr. Byron Johnson, the project’s principal investigator, hopes the studies will definitively answer a number of important questions about Boy Scouts, including “Does Scouting matter?” and “Is Scouting associated with beneficial results over time?”
Baylor will work with the Gallup Organization to identify large, nationally representative samples of men who were and were not Scouts. Further comparisons will be made between non-Scouts, Eagle Scouts, and former Scouts who did not attain the rank of Eagle. Then we’ll see if science backs up what everybody knows.
Theater in the Wild
During a long day on the ropes course or the lake, your troop’s resident photographers are bound to take dozens of great digital photos. How cool would it be to head back to camp and see all those fun photos right then, projected onto a tent or a screen in sizes up to 40 inches high?
And that’s exactly what anyone can do with the $430 Nikon CoolPix S1000pj, the world’s first digital camera with a built-in projector. The 12.1 megapixel camera comes with a 5x wide-angle zoom lens, and you can add special effects and music to the slide shows you create right there in camp. That should pump up the action for those campfire skits!
How the Pros Do It
Scott Stuckey, managing editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine (and a former editor of Boys’ Life), says that readers routinely ask the same question about the stellar photographs that appear in the magazine: “How did your photographer do it?”
Now here’s a book that will answer that question: the National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Travel Photography ($22). In researching the book, Stuckey interviewed 15 leading freelance photographers (two, Bob Krist and Vince Heptig, shoot for BSA magazines) who share specific strategies for shooting different types of destinations. Besides offering plenty of tips on equipment, composition, lighting, and exposure, chapters such as “Seek Out the Authentic” and “Add Adventure and Nature” will help Scout leaders take their shutterbug skills and digital dazzle to the next level.
Scouts in 'The World of Tomorrow'
The fabulous New York World’s Fair of 1939 brought a booster shot of enthusiasm to a country shaking off the doldrums of the Great Depression. The fairgrounds east of New York City were crowded with dazzling buildings housing unheard-of new technology that promised a prosperous and fascinating future.
And the Boy Scouts were right in the middle of it, helping in a variety of ways. On nearly two acres, selected Scouts from across the country built a demonstration Scout camp surrounded by a stockade and a 40-foot totem pole. During the fair, Scouts served as ushers, guards of honor at official ceremonies, and color guards for special events. On Boy Scout Day during the fair, 63,000 Scouts attended, making it the largest gathering of Scouts in the world up to that time.
Where Eagles Share
Maybe it’s been years or decades since the proud day you earned your Eagle, but why let the memories fade? Tell your Eagle story and keep the memories green with myNESA.org, an online forum where Eagle Scouts of all ages can share their achievements with family and friends.
At myNESA.org, you’ll find several ways of preserving those memories. Create a personalized shadowbox in which you can capture stories, timeline events, awards, and photos. Members can choose from more than 300 interactive Scouting awards, badges, and insignia. The service builds community, too. With the ScoutGram feature, viewers can add their own comments or congratulate the member on a job well done. Additionally, built-in search capabilities make it easy to find and connect with friends throughout the network.
For more details about cost and access, go to myNESA.org.
America Honors Scouting With Centennial Coin, Stamp
If it seems as if the whole country is getting involved in Scouting’s 100th Anniversary, OK, maybe it is. Two great “birthday presents” for Scouting appear this year—a Scout stamp and an official Scout coin.
As a result of a bill sponsored by U. S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, the U. S. Mint will initially produce 350,000 silver-dollar coins to commemorate the centennial. The mint turns out only two commemorative coins each year. A $10 surcharge on each coin will raise $3.5 million for the BSA Foundation, which will support extending Scouting in hard-to-serve areas.
The obverse (heads side) design of the coin depicts a Cub Scout in the foreground with a Boy Scout and female Venturer in the background saluting. The Venturer represents how BSA has evolved over the past century to serve all the youth of America, including girls. The reverse (tails) design features the BSA emblem and these inscriptions: United States of America, Boy Scouts of America, Be Prepared, E Pluribus Unum, and One Dollar. The coin is due out March 23. Get it from the U.S. Mint at catalog.usmint.gov.
The new 44-cent postage stamp, the “Celebrate Scouting” stamp, will be issued at the centennial jamboree in July at Fort AP Hill, Va. The stamp, designed by California artist Craig Frazier, depicts a modern Scout standing on a rocky summit, silhouetted against the shadow of a classic Scout peering through binoculars.
As any serious philatelist knows, the centennial stamp won’t mark the first time Scouting has been honored this way. Other stamps have appeared in the past, most notably for the 40th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries of the BSA.
Scouts don’t need to be told that the great outdoors is, well, great, but now they have five new reasons to get out there and master outdoor skills.
The reasons: New award badges in Camping, Hiking, Riding, Aquatics, and Adventure debut this year. To earn the awards, Scouts must complete:
The fun doesn’t end with the five badges. Also new this year is the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement, which will be the highest outdoor adventure award in Scouting. The requirements for that medal are:
See detailed requirements and application forms at myscouting.org.
Tell It Like It Is
Sure, who doesn’t? Now you can put those opinions to work for Scouting with the National Scouting Research Panels, a new sounding board where Scouts, adult volunteers, and Cub Scout parents can chime in with constructive comments.
Those who sign up will receive no more than four e-mailed surveys per year from the BSA. And everyone who participates will have a chance at winning an iTunes gift card or other prize.
Go to scouting.org/scoutsource/applications/bsasurveycenter to get started. Once you’re there, you’ll be asked for a password. Here’s what to enter:
Be sure to have your membership card nearby because you’ll need it to sign up. The registration process is simple, and then you’ll be “in the system” and ready to let your voice be heard. .
Oh, That's Rich
I’m one of those leaders who has stayed involved in Scouting long after my son turned 18. I love giving back to a program that I believe in.
Last year, a first-year Scout asked me to point out which of the older boys was my son. I told him my son was in college and wasn’t in the troop anymore. He replied, “Oh, so you just do this for the money?”
Christopher Wegman, Caldwell, N.J.
Do you have a Laugh-Out-Loud Scouting anecdote? Write it up in 150 words or less and submit it to LOL! at scoutingmagazine.org. If we print it, we’ll pay you $50.