Gift Ideas for Scouts and Scouters

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Clarke Green posts a regular list of scout wish list for Christmas and the holidays.

Take a look to see if it helps for last minute gifts.


New Duty to God Requirements: Are we a religious organization?

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As many scoutmasters have learned, January 1, 2016 brings new boy scout rank advancement requirements. The moving of requirements among the ranks is not getting much attention. Neither is the specificity of the type of service hours now required: specific conservation requirements.

The scout’s demonstration of observing his religious duties is getting attention.

The great Bobwhite Blather blog addresses the question of whether this demonstrates that the BSA is or is not a “religious organization.” His analysis is well worth a considered read.’s Clarke Green contributed to this analysis, last June, when he took a look at how Baden Powell thought a Scout’s Own service should be managed. Clarke goes further in critiquing some of the current interpretations and inconsistencies in the current BSA definitions of Duty to God.

Clarke’s analysis clearly in another article demonstrates that encouraging a scout to examine his religious beliefs within the religious emblem program gives a scoutmaster the ability to avoid entering a debate on the subject of “what constitutes an acceptable religion” and still upholds the principles of Duty to God.

No matter how a scout answers the question for himself, the most important part is for his scoutmaster to encourage the scout to enter the realm of seeking answers to questions about his own beliefs. This seeking process can be either through his own self-study or with his own house of worship.

Scouting is an active process of learning. We put scouts in the position of making moral and ethical choices on a campout by deciding how to treat his patrol well, especially when things don’t always go smoothly. The Duty to God is supposed to put these questions into a realm of questions that rise about the current moment. A momentary conflict between patrol members can and should turn into a moment of learning about life outside of the patrol.

Having a working mental vocabulary of his own beliefs creates a tool for self-improvement. His actions and self-reflections within a larger context cause those self-discoveries to come faster and to have a greater impact.

These new requirements encourage religious self-exploration and not any mandatory conclusions, other than the scout is part of a larger world than just himself. He needs to figure out how he is a small part of a larger world.

District Elections Thursday

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Reminder that Thursday, December 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm at St Luke’s United Methodist Church, Luke’s Lodge (outbuilding on the northeast corner of campus), 100 W 86th St, first floor, Indianapolis, IN 46260 (please note wrong location posted originally).

For more information see this post.

Remember eligible voters include Chartered Organization Representatives, District Members-at-Large (meaning current committee members), and Council Members-at-Large living in North Star District.

Please make sure that your Chartered Organization Representative plans to attend to speak for your unit.

Congratulations to the newest Eagles!

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Here is the latest report from Eagle Boards Coordinator Jerry Simon:

These North Star scouts successfully completed their Eagle BOR last night, December 9th. This will be their date-of-rank but only after the applications are approved by National. Normally it takes two to four weeks for the Eagle Rank packet to get back to CAC but, due to the time of year, it may be closer to the longer period.[]
Zachary Badger T- 358
Jonathan Martz  T- 73
James Raines  T- 269
Luther Rice  T- 358
Nicholas Rivelli T-35
John Sweeny T- 514
Jesper Wiebke  T- 358
Brendan Williams T-174
Congratulations to each of these young gentlemen. We are all proud of you and your efforts.

Pinewood Derby Track

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As we enter into a new season of Pinewood Derby racing, we will have some changes to how district supplies tracks.

Fred Steinhoff, our stalwart Pinewood Derby track provider, is preparing to retire out of state. Fred has been working with Pack 830 Bill Buchalter to hand off those responsibilities. Pinewood Derby track

Recently Pack 830 has built a new and beautiful track. It is a bit longer than the old track. Consequently, the races will have a bit of a different feel.

Bill Buchalter said, “As much as I am available I will help those packs with track setup and with running their derby for them as Fred did in the past.” Bill explained that his job takes him out of state sometimes with less warning than he would wish for pinewood derby planning, but there is a plan in place. “[A]ny commitments that I make to help with another pack’s pinewood derby will have to be with the understanding that [I might be] shipped out for work…. Fortunately, there are lots of other parents in Pack 830 that routinely step up to help out – so if I’m not available we should hopefully be able to find someone else who can.”

If there are emergencies, Fred Steinhoff is still available.

Now is the time to make sure that your pack has reserved the track for your pinewood derby. Please contact Bill via email at

Fred also reminds us that the District Pinewood Derby will be Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the American Legion Post #3 in Broad Ripple. Click the link to reserve your ticket. The top 3 finishers compete for free. All others, including adults and siblings, are welcome to enter events for a fee. There will be Cub scout official heats that comply with BSA rules, adult heats, sibling heats, and non-compliant heats.Look forward to seeing you there.

Roundtable for December

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A quick reminder that Roundtable is Thursday night at Second Presbyterian at 6:30 pm.

Sharla Merrick our Cub Roundtable Chair will have a session on “Making a Holiday Themed Woggle.” (If you don’t know what a “woggle” is British English for “Neckerchief Slide.”)

Commissioner’s Staff will have an open discussion of the new Boy Scout Requirements for 2016. Come prepared with questions!


Rechartering Update Dec 1st

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Congratulations to North Star District! We have 100% of our units have turned in their Applications for Rechartering as of this morning!

To make matters even more exciting, according to Council’s report published this morning, we are the district with the most units having completed rechartering, including dues  payments, JTE reports, and member applications.

Thank you to the work of our dedicated scouters to make this possible.

At this time, the following units have had their Applications for Recharter approved in their entirety:

Pack 0018,Pack 0171,Pack 0586,Troop 0018,Troop 0056,Troop 0073,Troop 0174,Troop 0343,Troop 0358,Troop 0586,Troop 0804, and Crew 0408.

The following units have completed their paperwork and are simply waiting on the Council Registrar to approve the Application for Recharter:

Pack 0035, Pack 0064, Pack 0084, Pack 0098, Pack 174, Pack 0175, Pack 0830, Pack 3582, Pack 3583, Pack 3584, Troop 0035, Troop 0069, Troop 0269, Crew 0069, and Crew 0358.

The remaining units have been contacted about outstanding issues. We expect quick resolutions on all remaining issues. Thank you for that!

The following units have submitted their Journey to Excellence Reports for 2015:

Pack 0018, Pack 0035, Pack 0084, Pack 0105, Pack 0171, Pack 0174, Pack 0179, Pack 0358, Pack 0514, Pack 0586, Pack 0830, Pack 3582, Pack 3583, Pack 3584, Troop 0018, Troop 0035, Troop 0056, Troop 0069, Troop 0073, Troop 0174,Troop 0269, Troop 0343, Troop 0358, Troop 0514, Troop 0586, Troop 0804, Crew 0358, Crew 0408, and Crew 1121.

Out of this list, we have 21 Golds, 5 Silvers, and 1 Bronze (with one submitted report that has not been included in this list). This adds 150 points to our District’s Journey to Excellence score and is Gold-Level performance.

Thank you again to our units for such dedicated work!

Thanksgiving Lessons for Scouting

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As Thanksgiving arrives this year, we begin considering more time with extended family and friends. Scouting tends to be put on the backshelf. Even so, Thanksgiving is a great time to think about the philosophy and lessons of scouting. (While this article is focused on boy scout troops, the same lessons of unit cohesion apply to Cub Scout Dens and Venturing Crews, too.)

The history of Thanksgiving is not often as it is represented in the media. To truly learn the lessons of Thanksgiving, we need to return to the the true story of Thanksgiving.

When the Plymouth colonists arrived and were moored alongside shore, they entered into the famed Mayflower Compact, effectively the first constitution written in North America. The Romans had previously had their Twelve Tables, the Swiss their agreement of confederation, and the Jamestown colony their royal charter. All of these were written agreement of government organization, but were all written in Europe. The Compact did not emphasize powers and duties like the US Constitution. It emphasized that all the colonists agreed to be subject to a common government as it was constituted from “time to time.” (That phrase is lawyer-speak for changes that occur every once in a while.) So they agreed to stick to the colony as the rules changed.

This agreeing to be part of the group and be subject to its changing rules is the first similarity between the Compact and a boy scout troop. While the rules for troop organization and management are far more detailed in the Senior Patrol Leader’s Handbook, the new Troop Leaders’ Guide Book (which replaced the Scoutmaster’s Handbook this year), and the Scout Handbook than the Mayflower Compact, neither these scouting handbooks nor the Compact define the daily rules of performance. Neither tells who cooks food, cleans, or organizes the day’s activities. Those are left for future decisions. Consequently, both systems leave lots of room for future lessons to be built into the future activities and organization of the band of people participating.

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Useful Camp Gadgets: Revisited

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Back in June, shortly after I started this website, I posted an article about useful camp gadgets for Firecrafter requirements. It is read regularly each week.

This past weekend, I finally had a chance to go on a troop campout for the first time since I took the position as District Commissioner. I decided to use my own advice. I made a crude lantern holder.

As you can see from the previous post, my design is largely a knock-off.

While I was working with the hand drill by the campfire, one of our thespian scouts walked up and asked, almost as if reading from a script of the prior post, “What are you doing?”

I explained that I am teaching myself a pioneering method that is different the method in the scout handbook.

“What’s it called?” he asked.

“Cat drill. It’s based on a system I found on an Italian scout troop’s website.”

“Why are you doing it?” he continued.

I told him, “I want to be able to teach scouts who are interested how to do it. But, first, I have to make sure that I know how to do it. So I am experimenting on this campout.”

“Well, if you are doing it at summer camp, I want to learn how to do it,” he finished.

“Sounds like a great idea to me!” I exclaimed.

This entire project required a $12.00 hand drill from Amazon’s website, a $3.00 set of bits, a $1.00 ball of twine, and sticks I found near the campfire. Next time, it will cost me nothing but time.

Who knows who will join me. Maybe we’ll make something bigger.

Rechartering Updates 11-21-2015

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Note about this report’s completeness: This report is based solely on information available to the District Commissioner as of the date of publication. Due to lags in information-sharing from the Council registrar or information communicated to other Commissioners, there may be missing information in this report. Sorry for any confusion that these information-gaps cause. Your assistance in filling gaps is always appreciated. Pack 625 is intentionally omitted from this report. Troop 191 is only included for purposes of Journey to Excellence reporting.

As of Saturday afternoon, here is the current status of North Star District’s Application for Rechartering and Journey to Excellence Reports.

First, the units that have turned in their Applications for Recharter include

Received recharter 151121

Thank you again to our units for moving rechartering along quickly.

In the next report, we will be looking at any units that have been officially marked as “Completed Rechartering.” This means that these units have completed all necessary paperwork, YPT reporting, JTE reporting, and payments of dues. Our goal is to have 100% of our units “Completed Rechartering” before Thanksgiving this week. Council Commissioner’s deadline for completing rechartering is November 30, 2015.

(Read below the fold for reports on Journey to Excellence results in the District.)

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