Outdoor adventures are a key part of any Scout’s journey. For local Eagle Scout Braeden Johnson, this summer’s adventures took him from the sands of Sea Base to the rushing waters of the Northern Tier and finally to the awe-inspiring views of Philmont. It’s a summer that represents many of the pinnacle experiences of Scouting.
Eagle Scout Braeden, from Troop 788 in Castle Rock completed a Triple Crown this summer. The Triple Crown of National High Adventure Awardwas created in 1995 to both promote the Boy Scouts of America’s national high adventure programs and help identify those Scouts with a thirst for high adventure who may be interested in serving on the staff of Northern Tier High Adventure and other national high adventure bases. Recipients have participated in at least one qualifying high adventure program at three of the BSA’s four national high adventure bases.
He started with Sea Base in June where he completed the Scuba Dive adventure, at the end of June he went to Northern Tier as part of a Wilderness Voyage where he paddled over 175 miles in 2 weeks. In July he completed a 9-day trek of 50 miles at Philmont.
He stated that each High Adventure Camp offers something so unique, Northern Tier gives you the best wilderness experience, while Philmont gives you the best Scouting experience. Sea Base and scuba diving was so much fun he wants to go back when he is 18 and be a Dive Master for Sea Base.
Next year he will complete the Grand Slam with the OA Summit Experience doing an ATV Experience and will stay to do another OA Trail Crew at Summit. He has ambitions of completing an Order of the Arrow Grand Slam in the next two summers.
He wants to be an ambassador to younger scouts letting them know how different the High Adventure Camps are from Summer Camp.
The Denver Area Council is also pleased to recognize our nominee to the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.
Our Council had 398 Eagle Scout Service projects in 2020, including the young women in the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts. Below are the projects from across the Council that were selected as Optimist Outstanding Eagle Project District winners, as well as the Council winner of the Donlie P. Smith Award and our Council nominee for the Adams Award! These Eagles have been recognized for their impressive projects, and are only a sampling of the valuable contributions our Council Eagle Scouts contribute to the community.
Council service projects had a total of 64,404 volunteer hours for a value of $1,636,506.00 plus materials. Way to go, Eagles!
Bob Dickinson, Denver Area Council Board Member
The Donlie P. Smith Award Winner of the Denver Area Council
Cameron N. Swaney, Troop 199, Denver, CO. Zuma’s Rescue Ranch Constructing the North Pasture Shed and Fence. This project involved building a 500-foot-long fence to allow horses that had been rescued to have more room to roam. Also, a shed was built in the North Pasture to help protect the horses in inclement weather. Zuma’s mission is to rescue and provide horses that are in their twilight years to have a respectful ‘retirement’. The ranch also provides therapy horses for hundreds of mentally challenged people. Cameron’s project involved over 642 hours and raised over $8,100 to complete the project.
The Optimist Club of Monaco South, Denver Area Council award has been named the Donlie P. Smith Award in recognition of his leadership to recognize Eagle Scouts. This is an Optimist Club award of the Outstanding Eagle Projects District Award winners submitted within the Denver Area Council.
Logan D. Spendlove, Troop 342, Lakewood, CO. Steph’s Memorial Bridge. Logan’s project was rebuilding a 56’ long and 6’ wide bridge over a marshy area in Belmar Park. The bridge was made safe again for pedestrians and was wheelchair accessible. It took over 345 hours to complete and $1,975.00 was raised to accomplish the project.
Black Feather District
Charlotte Beatson, Troop 114G, Littleton, CO. St. Mary Parish Garden Greenhouse. For this project, Charlotte took a shed kit and converted it into a greenhouse with 10 additional windows. The greenhouse was a part of an existing parish and school garden. The purpose was to allow students to be able to grow plants throughout the year in their outdoor education classes. The garden also serves as a part of the Parish food bank. Over 319 hours and $2,250.00 was raised to get the job done!
Tyler J. Hirsch, Troop 494, Aurora, CO. Antelope Ridge Elementary Stairs. At this school there was a well-travelled hill down to an existing sidewalk and a lot of erosion was making it unsafe and difficult to maneuver especially during rainy times. Tyler was able to terrace the hill and created 17 steps down to the sidewalk. Tyler and his crew put in over 726 hours and raised over $2,120.00 to accomplish the result.
John M. Ryan, Troop 199, Denver, CO. Park Infrastructure Upgrades at Bluff Lake Nature Center: Construction of Benches, Shade Pergola and Educational Kiosk for Park Visitors and Schoolchildren. This project is pretty much described in the title. John was able to assemble a crew of 22 people to help put up two structures and build benches for people to use while visiting the Nature Center located in the Stapleton neighborhood. A total of 562 people hours was needed and $12,275.00 was raised to make this project a success.
John is also this year’s Adams Award nominee from the Denver Area Council! The Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award is intended to recognize valuable service of an exceptional nature by a Scout to a religious institution, a school, a community, or another entity while doing his or her Eagle Scout service project. Congratulations Jack from the Denver Area Council Eagle Scout Recognition Committee!
Three Rivers District
Dylan West. Troop 225, Glenwood Springs, CO. Sopris Elementary School Flagpole Flowerbed and Beautification. This project entailed taking a drab area around the school’s flagpole and made it more appealing by putting in a half circle raised flowerbed. It made the flagpole area be more inviting and hopefully respected. Over 511 hours were needed to pull this project off along with $1,300.00 raised.
John Kahanek, V. Troop 17, Westminster, CO. US National Forest Service Giberson Bay Project. There was a need for a 450-foot buck and rail fence at the parking lot at Giberson Bay, Lake Dillon before this project could be called finished. In addition, the project involved rehabbing a kiosk as well as 14 ‘social trails’ and creating a 10’ staircase to the beach. All told, 240 hours were put in and over $4,000.00 of in-kind donations were made.
Once again- a huge congratulations to all of our Eagles and award winners!
Inaugural Female Eagle Scout Savannah Letson has QUITE a resume. While she has only been involved in Scouting officially for five years, she has achieved dozens of leadership roles and recognitions. Care to go through her accomplishments? They look a little like this…
Joined Venturing in 2015 and went to Florida Sea Base. Then started her own crew in 2016.
Earned her Venturing Summit award and Ranger award in 2018.
Kodiak Challenge Senior Crew Leader 2018.
Working on her quartermaster award as well, currently an able rank sea scout Started her own ship in 2019.
Council VOA vice president 2018 NYLT SPL 2019 Area 2 VOA President 2019 Area 2 Sea Scout Boatswain 2020 Member of the first SEAL course graduates for the Whitewater Colorado SEAL NAYLE Senior Crew Leader 2020 Earned her Wood Badge beads in 2020 Powderhorn staff in 2020
Order of the Arrow Firsts: First group of female ordeal candidates and members Feb (election) Mar (ordeal) (with Carissa) 2019 First youth female brotherhood class Sept 2019 First Tahosa Lodge female youth to attend NLS First Tahosa Lodge female ceremonialist First Tahosa Lodge Grey Wolf chapter chapter chief 2019-2020 First female youth to lead the Lodge Banquet First Female youth Lodge vice chief of Inductions Only youth female on the National Leadership Seminar training team nationally, representing Western Region Also on a western region OA committee designing new ways to engage youth arrowmen to lead!
Want to know where she’s headed next? Check out this interview from December!
Today marks the day of recognition for the young ladies across the country who have worked to be members of this trailblazing group. Congratulations are certainly in order for all girls who have reached this goal and earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Only 7% of Scouts reach the rank of Eagle, but the young women of this class are all about exceeding the norm.
Since the Boy Scouts transitioned to Scouts, BSA and started allowing girls into the program, over 30,000 young ladies across the country have joined the ranks. From that 2019 starting point, the women included in the inaugural class have transitioned from Tenderfoot to Second Class, to First Class, to Star and Life Scout, and finally, to the coveted distinction of Eagle Scout. All in a two-year period!
“It takes effort, commitment and grit to become an Eagle Scout,” said Denver Area Council Scout Executive/CEO Chuck Brasfeild. “I’m proud of these trailblazers, this first class of female Eagle Scouts. All of us at Denver Area Council salute the first class of female Eagle Scouts and look forward to the future Eagle Scouts to come over our next 100 years!”
The typical Scout takes several years to begin working from the starting point, Tenderfoot (which is typically at 10 years old), to reach Eagle by the age of 18. However, the opportunity to be members of this initial group has motivated over a dozen girls from the Denver Area Council to expedite their journeys.
For many of these young women, COVID-19 was a hurdle that simply helped push them on. Several completed projects that were designed to fight the pandemic. Elizabeth Germain was one such Eagle Scout. She raised money and created 500 masks for donation to Volunteers of America. She said she did this to “[help] those most vulnerable and support [her] community.”
For fellow Eagle Leah Jo Maloney, there was no need for a pandemic to live the Scout Oath and help save lives. During a 2019 hike in St. Kits, Leah Jo earned the Medal of Merit for delivering emergency aid to a fellow hiker. During the hike, a woman fell and tore her ACL, in the middle of a jungle trail up a volcano. Jumping to the rescue, Leah Jo put her First Aid Merit Badge skills to use, administering first aid from her packed kit. She says Scouting taught her to “embrace the unexpected” and she “is so grateful to be a part of it.” Her poise and helpful actions made her the first female recipient of the Medal of Merit.
As noted by BoyScoutTrail, “The Merit Medal honors Scouts, Venturers and Scouters that have performed an act of meritorious service above and beyond what is normally expected of a youth or adult member of the Boy Scouts of America. This act should demonstrate exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.”
These two young women are only a small representation of the impressive accomplishments this Inaugural Class has contributed to the world and program.
“Becoming an Eagle Scout represents finishing one chapter of your Scouting journey while beginning another,” Said Mark Truax, chairman of the National Eagle Scout Association’s Denver Chapter. “I am honored and thrilled for this inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. Welcome to the club.”
It is certainly exciting to look forward to how these young ladies, and those who follow in their footsteps, continue to make positive changes in the world as Eagles.
We expect that everyone in Scouting will follow the guidelines listed below, which are based on the CDC’s guidance. In addition, we have instructed local councils to consult with their local and state health departments, as well as local chartered partners, in order to implement appropriate protocols to help keep members, volunteers, and employees safe.
Isolate if you are sick, and do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you, anyone you live with, or anyone you have recently been around feels unwell.
Stay at least 6 feet apart from people who do not live with you. (properly executed Scouting cohorts at council camps may be an exception).
Do not attend any activity/meeting/event if you or anyone you live with has been tested for COVID-19 or another illness and do not have the results back yet.
Units should look to their council regarding whether/how to conduct in-person meetings and activities. If in-person gatherings are permitted, be sure to follow all applicable guidelines and use your council’s version of the Pre-Event Medical Screening Checklist before attending.
We are taking similar steps as a national organization as we continue to evaluate and adapt to the current environment with the best interests of our members, volunteers, and employees in mind.
Thank you for doing your part to ensure that young people continue to benefit from Scouting while protecting the health and safety of our families, friends, and communities.
How To Host a Pinewood Derby Event Safely This Year
Pinewood Derby is NOT Cancelled Because of COVID!
Alright, let’s keep it real here. A lot of things have been cancelled, pared down, and/or changed because COVID came and straight up took residence. BUT, I’m here as a bearer of GOOD news! Your Pinewood Derby season can totally still happen – make contactless racing a thing! It’s time to celebrate one of the most iconic Cub Scout activities.
There are a couple of ways to make your Pinewood Derby races happen without a hitch this year, and we will touch on both of them in-detail, so you can pick which way works the best for where you are located.
First and foremost, be sure to again, follow your local government’s rules and regulations, along with CDC guidelines. Those policies will help you in choosing how to run your event and allow you to stay safe AND have a really successful race day!
Host a Virtual Pinewood Derby Event
Choose a virtual platform. Zoom works for pretty much everything and it has been amazing. You can host free meetings for up to 40 minutes, and chances are, someone in your Pack or Den has a paid account that can host if you need longer! You can also look at making this a Facebook Live event, which will give your Pack or Den the opportunity to share your footage with your Facebook community (and not to mention that you will be able to share the video at a later date!). Both of these platforms give people the chance to comment, chat with, and see other participants, which is obviously a huge part of the race day fun – be sure to encourage audience participation!
Pick the race location with care. Be sure to have a set up that is brightly lit and where the camera has a great view of the racetrack. You’ll need a big space, so a garage or basement are good options if you’re in a location that gets cold or has inclement weather, but a park is a good option for locations with warmer temp – just be sure to check your internet connection. (If you are near Denver, there is also a possibility of arranging to stage and run your virtual event from our office).
Have good gear. Use a computer with a newer camera (poll your Scouting families to find the best one!) and for best sound quality, use headphones with a built-in speaker so the host can move around and emcee it up from all areas of the track. To up the quality of experience even more for your Scouts, use multiple cameras – one on the finish line and one taking in the entire track.
Set up strong logistics. Just like you have support with building, set up a strong procedure to help support the race day.
Set a specific drop off date with specific times.
Create a space for cars to be dropped off with no contact – place out boxes or trays for people to put their cars in and use gloves for all car handling.
Next, and you can get as in-depth as you want here – if you want to host a mini check-in as a live event, you can set that up via whichever platform you prefer. If not, then you can simply have the host run through and do the weigh-ins and checks (again, use gloves for added protection when handling cars!).
These are just a few highlights to note while swapping your race day to virtual. For a full how-to on hosting a race, check out this article, or if you are looking for a full-blown checklist, check out this blog, and then adjust as-needed for these COVID times.
Host a Socially Distanced Race Event
Again, please be sure to stay in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, both with your local government and the CDC for safely hosting gatherings. If you are looking for guidance, check out this checklist (all you have to do is remember SAFE!) that you should definitely complete before you move toward an in-person event. This year, instead of pulling together the whole Pack for a Pinewood Derby event, your in-person races may look like one or two Dens getting together to keep the number of people down.
Select your location carefully! Perhaps your local park has an area large enough to accommodate a race with lots of space to distance.
Use cones or markers to set up family pods that are 6 feet apart – this will allow for stress-free watching! I also highly recommend bringing camp chairs to help everyone stay in their watch pods.
Just like with all Pinewood Derby races, logistics are important! Decide ahead of time on how you are managing the drop off of cars:
You can address this like the virtual event and have a drop off point for cars, and then one person can handle the cars while wearing gloves.
The Cub Scouts could each handle their own cars so that nobody else touches them, taking their own race car through weigh in, placing their car on the racetrack, and then picking their car up when their race is over.
Here’s the thing. As lots of you know, it always takes tight logistics to run a smooth and successful Pinewood Derby race day. This year is no different – with just a few extra precautions added in, you can have the BEST race day!
What other ideas do you have around hosting Pinewood Derby races this year? Drop them in the comments below and participate in the national conversation by posting your Pinewood Derby pictures on social using the #VirtualPinewoodDerby hashtag!
Gracing the cover of the first ever TIME Kid of the Year is young scientist Gitanjali Rao. On the cover, she is sporting Converse shoes, a collection of medals reflecting just a sampling of her scientific successes and a bright white STEM Scouts lab coat. As noted in the dazzling TIME article, the 15-year old beat over 5,000 other nominees for the honor.
She has a wide variety of accomplishments, with innovations in areas ranging from testing water quality to battling opioid addiction. In all of these fields, she uses her process of ‘observe, brainstorm, research, build communicate’ to tackle any given problem. Her gifted mind, backed by an obviously extremely strong work ethic has enabled her to accomplish a sprawling resume that she houses in the form of her personal website.
Beyond working on her anti-cyberbullying app (Kindly), writing a book and a host of other inventions and innovations, Ms. Rao also hosts workshops to educate and inspire other young scientists around the world. She does this because, as noted in her interview with TIME, she says “[Her] goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.”
Outside of her school work and person innovation projects noted above, Ms. Rao is a Board Member of the Children’s Kindness Network and a Knowledge Network Partner with Forbes Ignite. She has been honored with the EPA Presidential Youth Award, has been named Discovery Education’s America’s Top Young Scientist and has given several Ted Talks. In addition to these other national-level positions, Ms. Rao was named the STEM Scout of the Year in 2018 after having been a member of STEM Scouts for seven years.
What is STEM Scouts?
As stated in the Mission, “Using experiential activities and interaction with STEM professionals, the goal of the STEM Scouts program is to help young people grow in character and skills as they explore their curiosity about STEM fields. It is hoped that their growing knowledge will translate into the STEM-related careers that are so crucial to our country’s future economy. While the program focuses on future careers in STEM, it is ultimately designed to be challenging, thought-provoking and, most importantly, fun!” STEM Scouts was created nationally seven years ago, with this year being the fifth year of the program in Denver.
We didn’t want to do this program if it wasn’t going to be opened up to both girls and boys, since STEM doesn’t have a gender.
Sarah Barnett, a Scouts BSA District Director who was involved in the initial development of STEM Scouts, “We didn’t want to do this program if it wasn’t going to be opened up to both girls and boys, since STEM doesn’t have a gender.”
That intention has certainly held out for the benefit of Ms. Rao, who has been involved in STEM Scouts for seven years, having been in the initial pilot program. She joined a lab in Tennessee in 2014 and has since moved to the Denver Area Council, where she has been a member of Lab 3003 for four years. As noted above, Scouting saw her honored as the STEM Scout of the Year in 2018.
STEM Scouts labs operate in groups of 10-20 students with at least three leaders per unit. These groups then meet weekly to engage in a variety of standard-backed curricula that provide education and inspiration for the young minds. The lessons – created by STEM educators – focus on participation and achievement to encourage students of all abilities. Additionally, the program provides a variety of leadership opportunities through group work and presentations. In Denver, this program has been continuing even through this difficult school year.
This is the sixth year of Denver’s program. In that time, there have been 66 labs serving over 880 STEM Scouts beyond Ms. Rao. As said by Denver’s STEM Scouts Program Executive Kyle Tons, “We couldn’t be prouder of Gitanjali for her contribution to STEM Scouts and the world. We look forward to all of the future accomplishments this bright young woman will surely achieve.”
Looking to support the STEM Scouts of the Denver Area Council? Donations can be made here. Thank you for your contribution!
This year ushers in our Inaugural Class of Potential Female Eagles at the Denver Area Council! Every Eagle is a point of pride for the Council and we are pleased to announce that approximately two dozen young women are on track to be members of this year’s class! Meet one of these accomplished Scouts: Elizabeth Germain!
As soon as Scouting opened it’s doors to female Scouts, she was ready – helping start a girls troop (Troop 262) on February 1st, 2019. She helped build the troop into a success, and it now has a current roster of 11 active girls!
“We’re the pioneers of scouting. And so, we’re starting and really getting everything up and running. It’ll really help for us to have a close relationship and starting off as the first people of our troop.”
Elizabeth, as quoted in an article by CBS News 4 Denver.
Elizabeth and the troop has fully embraced Scouting, having gone on Troop trips to places like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Garden of the Gods. Elizabeth and a fellow Scout from the Troop even attended the World Jamboree last year!
Ms. Germain has been involved in Scouting since she was 14 years old. Her family has always been very involved in Scouts BSA and her father is even her Scoutmaster. She has also attended and staffed NYLT, and plans to do so again in 2021.
Despite the dynamic times of 2020, she had remained focused and set on her Scouting journey. Her Eagle Project even incorporated helping fight the pandemic: she raised money and created 500 masks for donation to Volunteers of America. She said she did this so as to “[help] those most vulnerable and support [her] community.”
“I have also had so much fun throughout my journey, and I am excited for what the future holds with Scouts!”
Elizabeth Germain on the future of Scouting
As she reflects on the opportunity to earn her Eagle, she says “Scouting has helped me in so many ways – such as helping me gain confidence and leadership skills through all my experiences. Scouting has taught me so many life skills and I am so glad I had the opportunity to achieve Eagle.”
Please join the DAC in congratulating Elizabeth on a job well done!
George Nash Smith was a lifelong Scout who understood that there are many obstacles in life. However, it is about how you approach and overcome these obstacles that determines who you are. Smith earned his Eagle in 1942, but stayed active with his fellow Scouts for over 70 years! Learn more about his story below, or by reading his book.
Not if, but how.
George Nash Smith’s philosophy for life
George Nash Smith joined the Boy Scouts of America in 1939 as a member of Troop 1, in Denver, Colorado. He became an Eagle Scout on October 7, 1942, at the age of 14. In late 1943, during WWII the adult troop leader for Troop 1, Bob Shurtliff, was drafted and George became the de facto troop leader. He was 15 and the oldest Eagle Scout in the troop at the time.
During the summer of 1944, Troop 1 spent two weeks at Camp Tahosa. This was the first summer the troop attended camp without an adult leader. Troop 1 was awarded “Winning Troop” each week and George received a special award from the camp for his role as Provisional Troop Leader. During his four-year tenure as Scout leader of Troop 1, 20 out of approximately 30 boys achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. George set the example by earning at least one Merit Badge, each court of honor, and finished with a total of 61 Merit Badges (earning 8 palms). George and his fellow Eagle Scouts formed Eagles of Troop 1 (ETO), on February 10, 1946, to further unite the group. They created a motto: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win!” and created a troop emblem, articles of incorporation, and even gave each other quirky nicknames like: Greenie, Pat, Earthquake McGoon, Horseradish, Mole, and Flyswatter. The group held annual banquets, hikes, and cookouts.
George stepped down as
the leader of Troop 1 when he started college at Colorado A&M in 1946
however, he kept the spirit of Scouting alive with the ETO alumni members by
creating communication, fellowship, and comradery. They continued to gather
every year, holding banquets, cookouts, and eventually weekend family reunions
every five years. While their numbers have decreased over the years due to
“Father Time,” the ETO alumni fellowship has remained strong for more than 73
years and they continue to be an important part of each other’s lives.
George has four boys, Flint, Quade, Cody, and Tyle, who are all Eagle Scouts. George has received notoriety for having a family of climbers. He led his four sons (ages 8 – 16) to conquer not only all of Colorado’s famous “Fourteeners” (peaks over 14,000 feet), but all the “Fourteeners” in the contiguous US; a total of 68 peaks in 48 days. The family and its climbing feats have been chronicled in numerous publications including The Denver Post and Sports Illustrated magazine.
George received his Outstanding Eagle Award on September 21, 2019. This well-deserved award is emblematic of Eagle Scouts who make a large and positive impact close to home.
After this full and Scouting-brimmed life, Mr. Smith passed away last month at the age of 92. His adventures may have come to an end, but his story continues in his memoir.
Eagle season is upon us! As we enter the months of our Scouts passing their Boards of Review and becoming Eagles, the DAC will be sharing a selection of stories about our endeavoring Scouts and their service projects.
Thomas C. completed an Eagle Scout project at Orchard Avenue Elementary School to help students with autism, ADD, and sensory problems by creating a Sensory Pathway in the school. Thomas created the Sensory Pathway with pieces of plexiglass covering the brick wall and vinyl stickers the students can use when they are having a difficult time concentrating.
Thomas is a 14 year old Scout from Troop 303 in the Majestic Mesas District in Grand Junction, Colorado. When envisioning his Eagle Project, Thomas said he always wanted to help students with special needs. His original idea was to plan some sort of camping experience. However, like many others, he learned that he had to change his plans in 2020. Creating a sensory pathway was a well-needed alternative for the benefit of the students at Orchard Avenue.
“[Being an Eagle Scout is] about having fun with new people while helping others. “
When Thomas was asked about his project, he said that he has always been passionate about helping disadvantaged and differently abled students. Through his project, he learned that “you need the right people for the job” in order to have a successful project. Becoming an Eagle Scout is a prestigious accomplishment. For 14 year old Thomas, “it’s about having fun with new people while helping others who have problems and needs.”
Congratulations on your Eagle Scout, Thomas! Orchard Avenue Elementary School and your Council thank you for your service.