And I’m going to work my ticket if I can…

calmticketThose of us that have been to Wood Badge, and those that have been around to hear a group of Wood Badgers sing the Gilwell song have heard the refrain “and I’m going to work my ticket if I can..”
What the heck does that mean?
Well, there is not a real simple answer other than to explain what the ticket is and the attitude of all Scouts and Scouters.. WHOA!.. All Scouts and Scouters???  Yes.. from a very early age in Scouting we pledge to “Do our Best”  To give it a 100%.. the “it” is whatever we find ourselves doing.  So to work the ticket if I can.. well, we suggest to one another that we will do our best to work the ticket that we write while in Wood Badge.
The Ticket.
The readers digest version of the ticket is this; British soldiers would have to purchase their tickets back to England at the end of their service.  This was a real big deal when the soldier found himself in India, Africa, or other far away places that the British Empire sent their Army.  So the soldier would request assignments closer and closer to home.  This became a goal of the soldier to make his way back to England.
Baden Powell used the “Ticket” as an analogy for setting goals and accomplishing them, thus leaving a lasting legacy in Scouting.
Wood Badge has adopted the Ticket as part of the program since the beginning.  The ticket is the way to move the participant to seeing his or her vision to reality.
So when we work our ticket we are working our goals that get us to accomplishing our mission which eventually see’s our vision to something that is very real.
Doing our Best to leave a Legacy in Scouting and our world.
So we are going to work our tickets if we can!
Another fantastic Tradition of Wood Badge and Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Close the back door

back-doorThere are two phrases that absolutely drive me up the wall, First is “Aging out” and the other is “Eagleing Out”.  No where in Scouting are those two terms found.  These are terms founded by lazy leaders that do not understand the entire Scouting program or are not creative enough to keep a Scout interested enough in Scouting to stay.
So what does this have to do with the subject at hand?  Everything.
You can never out recruit you losses.  When we allow Scouts to leave our program, a program designed to keep them through adulthood and reinforce the “Lifetime” of Scouting we lose as an organization.  We allow the institutional knowledge to walk out the door.. institutional knowledge of youth leadership.  We lose the succession of youth leaders passing down the unit traditions, skills, and attitudes.  We lose the ability for youth to train the next group of youth to lead their Troop.
When we let the backdoor swing wide open, we take away the opportunity for the young person to continue in the program.  With Venturing and Sea Scouts providing fantastic co ed adventures, we should be encouraging our Scouts to seek those opportunities while maintaining some level of activity with the Troop.
Our Unit started a program we call “Vertical Scouting”.. I will talk more about that later, but essentially it amounts to providing Scouting opportunities that flow through the spectrum of Scouting programs.  From age 6 to 21 the youth of our program have a vertical look at all that Scouting has to offer.  We form that in a single Scout group that allows the young Scout and his family to see what lays ahead for them in Scouting.  It sets the table for retaining Scouts for a life time of Scouting.  It removes the attitude of “Aging Out”…  it provides an opportunity for an Eagle Scout to stay in Scouts and continue to lead and make a contribution to the unit as a whole.  It introduces young women to the Scouting program and keeps teen aged young men interested in more adventures in a co ed environment.  We often joke about our Scouts getting to that age of getting the “3 G’s”  Girls, Gas, and Goofing Off… Well we know they start driving, that won’t change, doing values based activities with girls is a healthy way of growing their character, and we all know that goofing off with other Scouts is way better than most alternatives.
This program offers excellent opportunities to retain our Scouts.  And that is what our goal is.  Close the back door, start growing tomorrows Scout Adult leaders in the units they are playing the game with a purpose in now.
Think about ways you can close that backdoor in your unit.  Retain Scouts, and stop the “OUT”.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Tradition and Legacy

dadbeadsIt seems that all of my life I have been a part of or surrounded by organizations that are rich in tradition and have left lasting marks on society, our country, and the people that are served by those organizations.  The Army is one of those organizations that for 21 years I lived in, learned, and passed on traditions.  During my service, I made it a point to understand and appreciate those traditions and while not making new traditions, found my way to leave or be a part of the legacy of our Army.
Scouting has been a part of my life since I was about 7 years old.  Scouting is rich in tradition and has seen its share of leaders that left a lasting mark or legacy in Scouting.  Baden Powell, William Hillcourt, James E. West, and countless Scoutmasters that have left their chapters in the story of Scouting.  These traditions that have been built on our programs values and goals that shape the vision of Scouting are passed down from generation to generation of Scouts and Scouters.
Spend the day at your local Summer Camp, listen to the songs and laughter.  Take in the spirit that the camp instills in the campers.  The local traditions of the camp come alive year after year.  A legacy built over time and energy of Scouts and Scouters that love their camp and want to see it last forever.  It always lasts in their collective hearts as long as that Scouting Spirit stays with them.
One of the greatest parts of Scouting that I have embraced is the Wood Badge program.  The fact that it is a direct link to our founder Baden Powell.  A link of training leaders to make Scouting and their world better.  The rich traditions in Wood Badge that are passed from Course to Course and Scouter to Scouter through the wearing of little wooden beads.
The Woggle and neckerchief that link all Scouting programs world wide.  These traditions are special to me because they remind me of the legacy that Baden Powell left.  A vision as clear as the planting of oak trees for future building at Oxford.  The legacy of Baden Powell to train leaders to make the game with a purpose meaningful and lasting in the youth of the world.  The tradition that comes with that legacy that is passed from Course Director to Course Director.  And now it is my turn.
Over the last three days, my dad and I have been working on a piece of tradition and Wood Badge Lore.  We made a replica of Chief Dinizulu’s Wooden Bead necklace.  The beads that would later be presented to the first Wood Badge class.  The same beads that 104 years later still represent the completion of a Wood Badge ticket.  What a wonderful tradition and legacy.
This opportunity for me has caused me to think a lot about the tradition and legacy of what I am about to do over the next year.  I am honored to be a part of that legacy and tradition.
What traditions to do appreciate?  Home, Family, Scouting…?  Please share your favorite, leave a comment.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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One small step for …!

wood-badge-clipart-1In 2015 I was informed that the Council had decided that I would be a Wood Badge Course Director, if I chose to accept the position.  It did not take a lot of time for the answer to come from somewhere in the brain to the mouth and I quickly said I would be honored.  I was at Staff Development 1 for a course I was staffing.  I wanted to run downstairs and tell everyone, but I was told not to say anything until I was given the “OK” to do so.  That “OK” didn’t come for a whole year.  So I sat on the information and began taking notes.  After the course in 2015 ended, I was told that I would be the Assistant Scoutmaster for Program for one of the courses in 2016 in preparation for becoming a Course Director.  I was contacted by the Course Director for W1-492-16-1 and invited to serve on his course.  I was again.. honored to serve.  And I continued taking notes.
Mid way through the course, I was paid a visit by the Council Program Director.  We chatted about locations and dates for my course in 2017.  He also gave me the “OK” to start talking to possible staff members.  I did not want to do that while on course, but there were a few staff members on the course in 2016 that I wanted to be a part of my team in 2017.  So I quietly and discreetly pulled them aside and had rather quick discussions about their level of interest and possibility of staffing with me.   And I continued to take notes.
The syllabus drives Wood Badge training.  The delivery is pretty much standard from one course to the next, with a touch of personality that each staff brings to it.  So much of the note taking was along the lines of assessment.  Both my self assessment of where I thought I was in the Wood Badge Training staff and what I thought went right or not so right.  Little things like the way the troop arrives at Gilwell Field or how meal times went.
It amounts to pages and pages of notes, a lot of great stuff, and things that I would rather not see on “My” course.  The syllabus is what it is and won’t be changed.  But adding my personality and that of the staff to it will be a big part.  Eliminating “Stuff” or “Things” just for the sake of doing “Stuff” is another thing I want to take a look at.  Now I like “Stuff” like the next guy, but when the “stuff” takes over the program… I have an issue with it.  I have seen staff’s that get wrapped up in “stuff” and forget the main reason they are on staff.  That is not to say that “stuff” is unimportant… again, time and place and the reason for the “stuff” needs to be considered.
Enough of that.
So, for the better part of two years I have had a looming task over me.  The fact that I have been entrusted with being the Course Director of Wood Badge.  A program that I love and see the benefits that reach all over Scouting.  For two years I have waited to get a staff together, to start planning the course, to get the ball rolling.  The course will be the second of two courses in our Council in 2017.  It will be in August at one of our gems of the Council, Butte Creek Scout Ranch.  Needless to say, I’m excited.
Tomorrow is the first time I really get to act in the part of Course Director.  Some of the staff that I am building and I are meeting at Butte Creek to look at the facilities.  It has been a long time since our Council has held a Wood Badge course there.
We will be looking at physical arrangements for the training area.  Camp sites, kitchen, Gilwell Field, Activity areas, Parking, water, shower house and more.  For a few hours we will take the first steps on an incredible journey.  One that they are joining with me to make it a great training experience for 56 Scouters of our Council.
This past two years of taking notes, watching, and staffing a program that I love is now in my hands.  Tomorrow is the first big step in the process, but just one small step on the journey!
I’ll be posting a lot about this journey this year and next.  If you are a Wood Badger, come along for the journey.  If you have not yet gone to Wood Badge… GO!  But come along with me on this climb to Gilwell!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Scout Book

In February of 2014 I wrote a review of Scout Book.  At the time, a pretty new system for recording Scout Data for your unit.  In that post I was given the opportunity to give away a couple subscriptions to Scout Book.
I was also given a free year for my unit, which we never used as our unit decided to stay with Troopmaster.
Since February of 2014, I have received more emails about Scout Book than of any other subject I have blogged about.  That’s great and I hope that I have been able to answer the questions and give some advice along the way.
Here is the number One question:  Do you have any more free subscriptions to give away?
The answer is No I do not… thanks for asking.
The Boy Scouts of America has adopted Scout Book now and the program is officially the property of the Boy Scouts of America.  When it was new it was independently owned and when they reached out to me they wanted a review.  They offered the free subscriptions as part of a promotion for Scout Book.  I am sorry if I don’t have any more.. that’s up the BSA now.
So if you are interested in Scout Book.. check out the Scout Book site and let me know what you think.
Thanks for all the emails and all the great questions.  I wish I had more to give.. but it is what it is.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Uniform Police

The "Not so new" Centennial UniformWe have all heard of the “Uniform Police” in our Scouting circles.  I am not a member of the Police Force charged with making a scene about uniform violations and forcing a Council wide investigation on this patch or that.. tongue in cheek, but we all know “That guy”.
Here is my position on the uniform.  Wear it and when you do wear it correctly.
The Uniform of the Boy Scouts of America is part of the methods that get us to accomplishing our goals.  It is a mark of membership on the team.  It is an identifier of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
It is NOT required, but if worn it should be worn correctly.
There are plenty of resources out there that tell us how to wear the uniform.  There are guides and PDF’s that show us what we can and can not wear.  There is a chart that shows proper placement of patches and how to wear a sash.
So we don’t need a police force, we have the BSA.  We do not need to make members feel bad about volunteering their time, spending their money, and giving hours and hours to serve our youth.
When I wear the uniform, and boy do I wear it a lot…I wear it completely and properly.  I wear the shirt, pants, socks, and all of my patches are authorized and in the right place.  I don’t do this to avoid the uniform police, I do it because I am a leader.  I set the example of what right looks like.  I model what I expect.
My Troop is a fully uniformed Troop.  We do it because it is a part of Scouting.  We do it because we are team and teams wear uniforms.  We all wear the full uniform.  It is NOT a money issue.  There are ways to get around the cost of a uniform.  We encourage “experienced” uniforms to be handed down.  We provide a uniform closet for our Scouts.  We wear the uniform like we want the Scouts to wear it.
When we started our uniform closet, I went to the local Good Will.  I purchased as much Scout uniform stuff as I could find.  I bought something like 4 shirts, 3 pair of pants, shorts, and even two of the red Jack shirts.  I think I spent a total of $40.  That was enough to seed the closet and get things started.  We now have enough uniform items to outfit a patrol.
The point is.. as a leader we should not make excuses.. we should find solutions.  It is about the methods Scouting that move us to the Aims of our Organization.  That is your charge as a Scout leader.  Not to be the uniform police, but to encourage proper uniform wear.
I would rather have a Scout that has patches all screwed up wearing the uniform than not wearing it.  I never make an issue of how they sew on their patches.  I praise them for being in a full uniform.  A subtle hand out once in a while of the Uniform Inspection sheet may be enough to move the patches to the right spot on the shirt.
Don’t be that guy.. encourage your Leaders and your Scouts to wear the uniform and wear it right.  It’s important for your unit and Scouting.  Says Scouting!
“The uniform makes for brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country”. Robert Baden-Powell

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Hey gang.. I would really love for this blog to make a difference.  Can you help me reach more Scouters?
I want to have another contest and try to boost the number of subscribers/ Followers of the blog.
Help me with that.. what kind of contest?  What kind of prize?  The floor is yours… leave me a comment or drop me an email at
Thanks a million!

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The Life of a Serendipitist

I think it is important to have “Hero’s” in life. People that we look up to or try to learn from chapters of their lives. William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt is one of my hero’s. His love for the Scouting program drove him and in the end elevated him to a father of Scouting in one sense or another. Scouting in America would not be what it is without Green Bar Bill. I wish I could have met him.
William Hillcourt wrote the following essay on his life. I want to share it with you, because I think that in the end we will all find that there is a hidden treasure out there with our name on it.

Who is today's "Green Bar Bill"?The Life of a Serendipitist
By William Hillcourt

Did you ever hear the story of the King of Serendip? He had three sons. He was proud of them and saw to it that they had the very best upbringing. He brought in the finest swordsmen and athletes of his kingdom to coach them in all the fitness skills of a true knight. He had the wisest men of the country teach them about the world and its wonders. He himself taught them kingship: how to rule with compassion and fairness.

He loved his three sons equally well. But as he grew old, he wondered which of them would make the best king when his own days were up. He decided to put them to the test: He sent them out into the world with one year to find a very special treasure. When the year was up, they returned.

All three had failed! Not one of them had found the treasure he had been sent out to find. BUT-each of them had found a treasure far more precious than any their father could have imagined!

Out of this story of the King of Serendip have come two words for the English language: serendipity, a gift for finding valuable things not sought for, and serendipitist, the person who does the finding.

Columbus, the greatest serendipitist of all time, became one at the age of 41. I became one at 25. The treasureColumbussought was the fulfillment of his dream of findingIndiaby sailing west. Mine was the fulfillment of a similar dream: of circling the globe before settling down in my nativeDenmarkfor the rest of my life.

Columbusfailed in his quest. He did not find the route toIndia. He found something far superior: a new world. I failed in mine-for the time being. But I, too, found something far better than what I sought. I found a different country to treasure and serve, a girl to love and cherish, a challenging career and a lifework in Scouting.

It took some doing. It took timing, special skills, willingness to take a chance and the ability to recognize treasure when I saw it, plus some extraordinary coincidences. As to timing: I was born at exactly the right time for Scouting, in 1900, the year when a British officer by the name of Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell became the greatest military hero in the war the British Empire was fighting in South Africa.

I was 10 at the right time for becoming a Scout inDenmark: Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys had just been translated into Danish. I got it for a Christmas gift. It told me how to become a Scout. I became one in January 1911.

I was at the right age also and had reached the right advancement-the Danish equivalent of Eagle-when my troop picked me to represent it at the first World Jamboree inLondonin 1920. I celebrated my birthday that year by joining 5,000 other Scouts in proclaiming Baden-Powell Chief Scout of the World.

And my timing was right when, at 25, I set out to see the world, fit and prepared with the kind of know-how I would need to get along.

But let me get back to my beginnings.

I was born on August 6, 1900, in Aarhus, Denmark, the third son of a prosperous building contractor. My childhood years were carefree ones. My teen-age years were rough. My father nearly went bankrupt in an economic depression of 1909. He kept the family afloat building stations for the expanding Danish railroad. We moved from place to place wherever his work took him. My Scouting became Lone Scouting: Troops were few and far apart in those early days of Danish Scouting. When we finally returned to my home town, my Scout life really took off. I became a patrol leader and senior patrol leader in Aarhus Troop 3 under an extraordinary Scoutmaster, Jorgen Boje.

By then I had to think of my future. My main hobbies as a boy had been chemistry and botany. They added up to pharmacy. For my early training, I became a “disciple” in the 400-year-old pharmacy of my home town. When my disciple years were over, I went to Copenhagen to finish my studies at the Pharmaceutical College. I had hardly arrived before I was invited to become the Scoutmaster of Copenhagen’s most famous troop, Vedel’s Own. I accepted.

I had another childhood hobby to satisfy: writing. In whatever time I had left from studying and of the Danish Boy Scouts, got out a Scout handbook and wrote a boys’ book based on the experience of my own patrol camping on a desert island in Denmark’s largest lake. It wasn’t a runaway best seller, but it had a respectable sale for a first novel by a 23-yearold.

Danish Scouting was astir in those days. The Danish team at the lst World jamboree in London had won the world championship in Scouting. Because of that, the 2nd World Jamboree was coming to Denmark. I made up my mind that my whole Copenhagen troop would take part in it. It did.

At the same time I made up my mind about my own future. I had become a full-fledged pharmacist in May 1924. One week after, I walked into the office of one of the largestCopenhagennewspapers and offered my services as its jamboree correspondent. “I know all about jamborees,” I told the editor. I had been at the only one ever held. “And I can write.” I had two books to show him. He took me on. And I left pharmacy forever.

My reporting must have been satisfactory. After the jamboree, the editor made me the managing editor of the paper’s Sunday magazine. I could look forward to a good solid newspaper career.

But I had become a restless dreamer. The two world jamborees had stirred my blood. I had met people from around the world. I wanted to meet them on their home grounds. I arranged with my newspaper to be its roaming reporter on a trip around the world. I took off in September 1925, coveredLondonand southernEngland, then settled down for a month inLiverpoolto write another boys’ book. It paid my boat fare forNew York, where I landed in February 1926. There I spent the spring writing articles about its teeming life.

From time to time I visited the national office of the Boy Scouts to pick up my mail fromDenmarkand to see a friend, Bill Wessel. He had been the Scoutmaster of the American troop that won the world championship in Scouting at the jamboree inDenmark. He arranged for me to spend the summer at the camp of the New York Boy Scouts.

It was here that I became an Indian “expert.” Besides taking part in the camp’s main activities, I spent much of my time in the sub camp run by Julian Salomon who later wrote the book Indian Crafts and Indian Lore. He was to have staged four Indian dances for the large pageant that was to close the camp season but was called home because of illness in the family. The pageant director was frantic. Julian calmed him. “Use the Danish Scout,” he said, “he knows the dances.” So I was put to work teaching half-a hundred Brooklyn Scouts four Indian dances. The pageant was a success.

The Danish Chief Scout had asked me to find out how the sales of Scout uniforms and equipment were handled in other countries-in Denmark they had been in private hands from the start. To learn, I took a job with the BSA Supply Service.

On a cold December day I was checking in a shipment of World War I surplus army signal flag poles in front of the warehouse when one of the heavy boxes tumbled over, knocked me down and broke my right leg. An ambulance rushed me to the hospital. The bones were set and a plaster cast applied. I was out on the street on crutches three days later. I wasn’t particularly perturbed. “The Lord will provide,” I figured. He did.

A week after my accident I hobbled into the national office on my crutches to pick up my mail. I was walking to the elevator when an astonishing coincidence changed my life completely. Someone else was on his way to the same elevator: James E. West, the dynamic Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. He knew of my accident. He stopped to greet me, then said, “Well, my young man, what do you think of American Scouting?” The elevator came. We went down together, chatting.

His words may have been just a casual remark. But I took them seriously. I wrote an 18-page report and sent it to him. It was complimentary in spots, critical in others. But for each criticism I offered a suggestion for remedying the situation.

Within a week, he had me in his office. “While I don’t agree with everything in your report, I am interested in what you say about the Boy Scouts of America not using the patrol method effectively. You suggest that we should have a Handbook for Patrol Leaders. What should it contain?”

I told him what I had in mind.
“Would you be interested in writing it?” he asked.

“I should like to,” I said, “but my English isn’t that good.”

“For any person in this world who has an idea,” he told me, you can get a hundred to put it in final shape. So why not try?”

And that’s how I became a member of the national staff of the BSA.

My English in those days was the English of a 13-14-year-old American school boy, exactly the age of the boy leader for whom the book was intended. My manuscript was hardly touched in editing. I received the first copy of my first book in English the day I arrived atArrowePark,Birkenhead,England, for the opening of the 3rd World jamboree, July 31, 1929.

That fall the bottom fell out of the American economy with the stock market crash of October 29. The United Statessank into the deepest depression in its history. All phases of American life were affected, including magazine publishing. James E. West was determined that Boys Life, the Boy Scout magazine, should survive. But money was needed. He applied for a Rockefeller Foundation loan. The foundation studied the magazines contents. It came to the conclusion that Boys Life was not sufficiently different from the other boys’ magazines to warrant the loan. But it hinted that it might reconsider if more Scouting material were added.

I suddenly found myself an assistant editor of Boys’ Life responsible for editing its Scouting sections and writing a monthly feature of MY own. What should it be? I decided on a page of hints for patrol leaders. To make it more exciting, it should be written by a mysterious person. By what name? The patrol leader’s badge in those days was a square of cloth with two green bars embroidered on it. I took those bars, added my nickname and became Green Bar Bill in the October 1932 issue of Boys Life.

The following spring I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I had found the girl of my dreams, Grace Brown, the Chief Scout Executive’s personal secretary. As a teenager, she had vowed never to marry a foreigner, never to marry a blond, not to get married in June. But when a blond foreigner said to her, “The boat leaves for European June 3, will you marry me?” She didn’t say “No” and she didn’t say “Yes’-she said, “Of course!” She knew that all Danes spend most of their lives riding bicycles. She decided that our honeymoon trip through Denmark,Germany,Czechoslovakia,Austria   and into Hungary for the 4th World Jamboree should be by bike. We had an adventurous journey of exactly 100 days.

Back home again, we settled into a New York City apartment-but not for long.

The Schiff Scout Reservation, a beautiful 480-acre estate in the rolling hills of new Jersey, had been dedicated in 1933 as a training center for the Boy Scouts of America. Green Bar Bill had a dream that he conveyed to the Chief Scout Executive: “If Green Bar Bill is to go on urging patrols to a vigorous life in the outdoors, he should live in the outdoors he is writing about. He should live on the Schiff Scout Reservation.” West agreed. Green Bar Bill and his mate moved into their new home-a remodeled sheep barn in September 1934.

The twenty years that followed became the most productive of my whole life.

My first major assignment at Schiff was the writing of a new Handbook for Scoutmasters. I had been a Scoutmaster in Denmark but knew nothing about Scoutmastering American boys. To write the book, I had to know. I gathered the boys of the nearby Mendham village into a troop and took on the job of Scoutmaster. During the sixteen years of my Scoutmastership, Troop 1, Mendham, New Jersey, was the most photographed Scout troop in the world.

The earliest photographs were used to illustrate the Scoutmaster handbook. But when Life magazine came out in 1936 with a new kind of news reporting-photojournalism, combining photographs and captions-I figured that Scoutcraft could be learned the same way. I got the camera equipment I needed, a studio, a darkroom and a helper. With the Mendham Scouts as enthusiastic models, we turned out Boys Life photo features on hiking and camping, cooking and pioneering, swimming and Indian dancing, and many other subjects.

The hundreds, yes, thousands of pictures that were taken came in handy for my next brain storm: a handbook on Scouting illustrated entirely with photographs. It became our first Scout Field Book.

But, possibly, the most important thing to come out of the years we lived at Schiff was the relationship we established with the Chief Scout of the World and his wife, Lady Baden-Powell.

It began on a visit by the Baden-Powells to Schiff in 1935, when Lady B-P, by the coincidence of being with “the right people” at the right time came for breakfast with the Hillcourts and asked her husband to join us afterwards in our cottage. The relationship was greatly strengthened two years later during and after the 5th World Jamboree inHolland. The Baden-Powell’s adopted Grace while I was in camp and had us for house guests at “Pax Hill,” their home inEngland, afterwards. This close relationship specifically with Lady Baden-Powell after B-P’s death in 1941had some important outcomes: She granted me permission to edit Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys into the World Brotherhood Edition that helped reestablish Scouting in devastated countries around the world after World War II. She helped me with the research for my biography about the founder of Scouting,BadenPowell-The Two Lives of a Hero, by turning over to me all her husband’s letters, diaries and sketchbooks. She later presented all these valuable documents to the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1954, the national office of the Boy Scouts of America was moved from New York City to its own building in North Brunswick,New Jersey. In addition to my regular work, I was now assigned the most important task of my whole Scouting career the writing of a new Handbook for Boys to celebrate the forthcoming Golden Jubilee of the Boy Scouts of America. This would involve intensive work in the national office. And so, the Hillcourts left the Schiff Scout Reservation after twenty years and moved into a garden apartment within walking distance of the office.

The new handbook, for the first time with color illustrations and written by a single author, and with the new title of Boy Scout Handbook, was ready for the 50th anniversary festivities in February 1960. So was another book of celebration, The Golden Anniversary Book of Scouting, with text by Bill Hillcourt telling the 50-year history of Scouting in America.

The day for my retirement from the national staff of the Boy Scouts of America arrived August 1, 1965. Grace and I, in 1971, celebrated it by taking off on the trip around the world I had failed to complete at 23. We made it coincide with yet another jamboree, the 13th, in Japan. It was Grace’s sixth and last before she died in 1973. It was my ninth. I finally managed to attend 13 world jamborees out of 15 and all the national Jamborees.

Except for traveling, I had expected a fairly tranquil retirement. But something else was “in the works” that would change my plans again.

A new handbook for Boy Scouts was needed, one that would tell about the romance and excitement of Scouting. I came out of retirement and gave the Boy Scouts of America an offer they couldn’t refuse: “I will give you a year of my life free, gratis, without pay, to write a new Boy Scout Handbook.” My offer was accepted. I started the book October 25, 1977. I finished it October 25, 1978. It came out on schedule, February 8, 1979. Today, three million copies are in print.

After that Boy Scout Handbook came out, I traveled around the country and spoke to Scouters by the thousands at council dinners and conferences. I have met Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Explorers by the tens of thousands at large council shows and camporees, at Diamond Jubilee celebrations and at the National Jamboree.

You may even be one of those Scouts. Did I sign your book? Were you one of the Scouts who asked me if he might shake my hand? Did you possibly press a troop badge or a council patch into my hand? Wherever we may have been together we must both have felt the same vibrant spirit all around us: a great pride in the past of our movement and faith in its future.

I hope you enjoyed that essay as much as I do.  William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt is in fact a hero of mine in every sense of the word.  He shaped Scouting in America as we know it.  Those of us that appreciate the program, it’s history and tradition should continue to look to Green Bar Bill for inspiration, guidance, and the path to running our Scouting programs.
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