All posts by Gina Circelli

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About Gina Circelli

This blog is managed and written by staff of the Communications Department of the Boy Scouts of America.

From Sea to Scuba Certified: Scouts Earn Unique Merit Badge

Last month, five Scouts from Troop 73 in Novato, CA, emerged from the somewhat tumultuous waters of Monterey. Their preparations had paid off with a certified skill that will allow them to explore a world most of us will never see.


Through merit badges, the BSA offers young men a distinct opportunity to build a skill that advances not only their development as Scouts but also trains them for hobbies and future careers. For instance, when a Scout earns the Scuba Diving merit badge, he must also establish himself as a certified scuba diver. Organizations like Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) allow Scouts to earn their diving or junior diving (meaning the Scout must dive with a certified adult until he’s 15 years old) as part of achieving the merit badge.

After Troop 73’s Scouts completed home study and a prep course in the pool at the Pinnacles Dive Center, the boys, their parent volunteers, and instructors camped out on the shores of Monterey for exploratory dives.

Despite rough waters, the Scouts were able to complete everything needed to earn both scuba certification and the Scuba Diving merit badge. Those requirements include training on what to do if things go wrong during a dive.

“We had to do skills like cleaning our masks if they get filled up with water,” one of the scuba Scouts, Eagle Scout Joe, explained to California Diver Magazine. “If, let’s say your buddy got really tired, you can tow him back to shore. So, we practiced our tows. We also did an emergency ascent, in case you’re out of air. We also shared air with our buddy in case they ran out of air and they ascended to the surface.”

Learn more about the other Scouts who took the plunge to get scuba certified, as they share what motivated them to go for the badge and what they glimpsed in the deep blue. Check out the full story on California Diver or watch the magazine’s video here.

How Soccer-Playing Robots Led This Eagle Scout to Become a Professor

A team of robots defeating the reigning World Cup champs may be the stuff sci-fi fantasies are made of, but for Eagle Scout and University of Utah’s assistant professor Dr. Tucker Hermans, it’s reality. In fact, the notion is one that hooked him on the realm of robotics.

Photo: Utah Robotics, University of Utah
Photo: Utah Robotics, University of Utah

As a sophomore at Bowdoin College, Hermans joined the school’s robot soccer team Northern Bites. The team programmed autonomous robots to compete in the RoboCup, an annual competition that aims to develop robots able to defeat the human World Cup champions by 2050.

The experience was instrumental for the future doctor, assistant professor, and robotics whiz’s career path. He even became one of the team’s captains.

“I was hooked,” Hermans said. “In my final year we placed second in the world, and I left Bowdoin to start my Ph.D. in robotics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.”

The rest was history for Hermans, who helped with the Robotics merit badge during his studies.

“I played a small role in helping run a merit badge class on robotics as a graduate student at Georgia Tech,” Hermans explained. “My friends in the robotics Ph.D. program organized the event and I helped out by giving a talk on safety around robots and supervising Scouts in programming Lego Mindstorms robots.”

Scouts, Robotics, and STEM Careers

Dr. Tucker Hermans comes from a Scouting legacy. His father, Dr. Michael Hermans (pictured right), and two brothers also earned Eagle Scout.
Dr. Tucker Hermans (left) comes from an Eagle-packed family. His father, Dr. Michael Hermans (right), and two brothers also earned Scouting’s highest rank. (Photo: Kathryn Hermans)

The assistant professor cites two Philmont treks and the 2001 National Scout Jamboree as his favorite Scouting memories. Thanks to his experience from Tiger Cub to Eagle, Hermans thinks Scouts can utilize robotics to better serve their communities.

“Scouts can work to identify where robotics can help their society by finding areas where robotics could be applied to improve the lives of others,” he said.

This idea of robots assisting the lives of humans is where much of Hermans’ interest lies. He explained how robots could act as aids, allowing humans to spend more time doing things they love. He noted this concept is especially helpful for older adults and senior citizens.

As young people like Eagle Scout Kenneth Shinozuka make national news (and trips to the White House) for projects in this vein of thought, Hermans encourages Scouts to keep their minds open to careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Hermans said Scouts should buck the norm when considering what the stereotypical STEM mind might be like.

“A career in STEM is open to everyone,” he noted. “You don’t need to be a ‘math person’ or a ‘nerd’ to be a part of our field. I much prefer spending time hiking outdoors to playing video games at home.”

And as for the Scout who loves science but feels skittish about how he or she will fit in the STEM world, Hermans has some advice.

“Scouts should seek out role models in the STEM field with whom they can identify and not worry if they aren’t like everyone around them,” Hermans recommended. “Being different is a great thing in this context. It means you think differently and have something unique and valuable to offer!”

Learn more about Dr. Hermans’ background and research on the University of Utah Robotics page.

Deafness Doesn’t Define This Eagle Scout

The term “disability” doesn’t really fit Noah F.

He’s an Eagle Scout, a filmmaker, an actor, and an athlete. He also happens to be deaf, but that’s only made the Scout more creative.

Noah, a senior at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, KS, has a passion for creating short, silent films. A self-taught film visionary, he stars in, directs, and edits his unique work himself.

“I want to show you can make movies that don’t have to use sound,” said Noah told FOX4 KC when he was named the station’s weekly Young Achiever. “Movies that are very visual in nature.”

While Noah hopes to continue his pursuits as a profession behind the camera, he also wants to be in front of the lens. And his theater teacher Jennifer Carlino thinks these aspirations are in reach.

“He’s just a really great, unique person,” said Carlino. “I can definitely visualize him as a famous filmmaker. I believe he’ll be able to do that. I can visualize him telling his stories in a unique way and perspective …”

And being deaf? It’s not slowing Noah down.

“People who think deaf people can’t do certain things, it’s not true,” Noah said. “Deaf people can do anything just like hearing people. The only thing they can’t do is hear.”

Even Noah’s Scoutmaster Jeff Smith has witnessed the Eagle’s ability to assimilate with his fellow Scouts with ease.

“It shows there are no limitations,” Smith said.

That’s exactly the way Noah wants people to view him: driven, determined, and not labeled by a disability.

Get even more inspired by Noah by checking out the video below or heading to FOX4 KC to read the full story.

Order of the Arrow #DareToDo Campaign Challenges Scouts to Help Others

As youth navigate a sea of selfies and Snapchats, the Boy Scouts of America’s national honor society Order of the Arrow (OA) tasks Scouts to find ways to promote good turns on social media.

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, during the National OA Conference at Michigan State University, OA Chief Alex Call (the org’s top youth leader), introduced an idea to 15,000 guests and staff members in attendance. The premise of Call’s mission was simple: Individual, small acts of service when added together, can change the world.

“Each day, opportunities to demonstrate unselfish service present themselves,” Call told the conference.

That idea has since turned into an invitation to the entire country to do one small, kind act of service daily. Dubbed the #DareToDo initiative, the challenge also encourages kids and adults to question, “What if I use social media to help someone besides myself?”

Now, good turns are shaking up social media, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram.

Days 48 – 49: Provided a listening ear to the tailor yesterday when I picked up clothes and we talked all about life….

Posted by Raymond Cheung on Saturday, September 26, 2015

How to Participate in #DareToDo

A month after the campaign launched, this movement is spreading across the globe, with millions of people seeing #DareToDo on social media, billboards, and television. Thousands of posts show users taking advantage of the opportunity to do a good turn daily – a longtime mission for all Scouts.

The #DareToDo challenge asks participants to complete one act of service each day for 100 days and, then, share their good turn on social media, calling others to join in on the good deeds.

The acts of service don’t need to be monumental (see some participants small but meaningful examples in the social media posts above). The reach and depth of #DareToDo builds off the culmination of posts circulating online.

For more information on the #DareToDo challenge, check out, and like/follow the project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scout Acts Quickly to Save Choking Baby

Photo: Andrew Cephas
Photo: Andrew Cephas

Your idea of a hero might not be an 11-year-old boy. But if he’s a Scout, he may very well save your life or the life of your new baby.

When an 8-month baby began choking, 11-year-old Dalton N. was jolted into action. He was at a friend’s house with his dad. That’s when he saw the distressed mother of the choking baby unable to dislodge a piece of apple from her child’s airways.

Dalton braced the baby against his arm and adeptly patted between the baby’s shoulder blades. Suddenly, the infant was coughing and breathing.

Like any good hero, Dalton is modest about the whole encounter.

“I don’t know if I consider myself a hero,” Dalton told Southern Maryland Newspapers Online. “I’m trained, so I was just doing my job.”

In Boy Scouts, Dalton received basic first aid training. The Scout continued his training at a fire camp hosted by the volunteer fire department of St. Leonard, MD. That’s where he gained the lifesaving skills that ensured a happy, healthy 8-month old baby stayed that way.

And more heroism is in Dalton’s future. He hopes to volunteer at a fire department and join the Marines when he’s old enough.

Read more about how Dalton’s parents feel about their son’s act of bravery by checking out the full story on Southern Maryland Newspapers Online.

How This Eagle Scout Hopeful Is Making His Meeting Place More Accessible

Jim is making sure both his parents can be at all his Scouting events. Photo: Calvin Jensen)
Jim is making sure both his parents can be at all his Scouting events. (Photo: Calvin Jensen)

Twelve-year-old Scout Jim A.’s mother wasn’t able to come to his Scouting events. Her wheelchair couldn’t get up the stairs to the cultural hall of his LDS meeting place. So, like any courteous Scout, Jim took action.

Since the building was not up to date with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Jim decided to use his Eagle project as an opportunity to construct a ramp so people with limited mobility can get into the building. He also plans to rebuild the facility’s stairs and add accessible parking for everyone.

“It will improve the church building greatly, because one, it will be the start of beginning to modernize our church, especially to ADA standards,” Jim told Utah’s KSL.

The project is not without challenges. Jim is planning a reconfiguration of the building’s ventilation system, as the new ramp will block where air circulates. But the Scout is prepared and plans to place a tube to ensure ventilation is undisrupted.

As the project breaks ground this month, Jim hopes it not only brings him to Eagle Scout rank but also allows his mom to attend his Eagle Court of Honor.

Jim broke ground on constructing a ramp to help his mother and other church members access a local LDS building. (Photo: Jo Ellen A.)
Jim is constructing a ramp to help his mother and other church members access a local LDS building. (Photo: Jo Ellen A.)

Read more about Jim’s quest to help his mom and other members of the church by reading the full story on Utah’s KSL.

Scouts Now Hold a World Record for Popping Bubble Wrap!

How many Scouts does it take to set the world record for most people popping bubble wrap at one time? The magic number is 2,681.

At the Denver Area Council‘s annual Camporee, Scouts and leaders gathered to bust the record, an achievement that began with a bang of a drum and continued with the rhythmic bursting of bubble wrap. Two minutes later, bubble wrap legends had been born.

The act of popping bubble wrap is a joyous (and pretty addicting) one. Scout Mike S. equated the experience to Christmas morning.

“It’s like you’re opening up presents. It’s so awesome,” Mike explained to Guinness World Records.

The delighted Scouts more than doubled the standing record of 1,119 participants from a high school in Australia.

Guinness World Records adjudicator Michael Empiric was on sight at the event to officially deem the new record holders.

Watch the video below to see bubble wrap history being made by Scouts!

American Ninja Warrior Champ Discovered Climbing in Scouts

In the seven-season run of American Ninja Warrior, no one had ever won on the show. That is, until a former Boy Scout dominated the course this week.

Isaac Caldiero, 33, completed the final course in the competition Monday, beating out competitor Geoff Britten by scaling a 75-foot rope about 3 seconds faster.

Photo: David Becker/NBC
Photo: David Becker/NBC


Caldiero’s tremendous hard work and athletic faire culminated in a history-making American Ninja Warrior victory. But where did his passion for climbing begin?

“I grew up involved in the Boy Scouts of America and that really helped me develop my passion for the outdoors,” Caldiero told Outside.

From there, Caldiero launched into a life of traveling, scoring odd jobs, and, of course, scaling impressive peaks. He and his girlfriend (and fellow American Ninja Warrior competitor) Laura Kisana traveled the country in a 1978 RV, jumping from one climbing destination to the next.

While his active lifestyle prepared him for this week’s big win, it wasn’t easy. In fact, Caldiero has been on the show for three years. And he’s not this season’s only competitor with a Scouting background who’s up for repeat American Ninja Warrior quests.

Early in season seven, viewers met Eagle Scout Jackson Meyer, dubbed the #NinjaScout because he wore his uniform on the course. Meyer’s run ended in the Venice city finals, but he says he hopes to return to the show.

As for Caldiero’s next steps, his million dollar prize winnings will ease his international travels to the South African Rocklands where he and Kisana plan to, what else, climb.

From touring climbing spots in an RV, to the set of American Ninja Warrior, to a triumphant trek to South Africa, Caldiero proves a new passion for a young Scout can change his life.

St. Louis Boy Scout Hero Earns Honor Medal

What does it take to earn the Boy Scouts of America’s Honor Medal? Scout John “Jack” McClain of the Greater St. Louis Area Council knows.

The Honor Medal is earned by youth or adult leaders who have demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self. One of the fewer than 100 annual recipients of this prestigious award, McClain was bestowed the medal this week for saving the life of a girl who was drowning last summer.


On May 14, 2014, Jack and a friend were swimming in the creek at the Huzzah Valley Campground, where water levels were high and current strong. While Jack was swimming, he saw a young girl attempt to cross the creek carrying a lawn chair. The current caught the chair, dragging the girl into deeper water. As the girl struggled to keep her head above water, she called for help. Luckily, the right ears heard her.

Jack was able to grab the girl’s hand, swim to where he could stand, and pull her toward the shore. There, he and his friend helped her get out of the water.

The young hero credits the lifesaving and first aid training he received through the Boy Scouts for his ability to act quickly and remain calm in a dangerous situation. He has also earned the swimming merit badge which he believes aided him in rescuing the girl.

“I try to live the Scout Oath and Law every day,” said Jack, a freshman at De Smet Jesuit High School. “Scouting has taught me a lot of valuable skills. I feel like I am a better person and I know how to do the right things thanks to the values that Scouting and my parents have taught me.”Ron Green and Jack McClain

How Boy Scouts Are Helping Us Understand Bat Populations

Bats in DeSoto County, MS, are kind of a mystery. Thanks to Boy Scout Troop 41, the county is starting to better understand the bat species there.

“As far as we know, no one has ever done a study in this area,” Mississippi Bats Working Group (MBWG) volunteer Becky Rosamond explained to DeSoto Times. “We know very little about the bats in DeSoto County. We have a good idea because there has been work done in surrounding counties, but not here.”

The MBWG teamed up with Troop 41 to net some of the various bat species in the area. The experience has been new for the Scouts and volunteers alike, as netting close to human civilization is not the norm.

Mississippi Bats Working Group and Boy Scout Troop 41 worked together to study bat populations in southern DeSoto County. (Photo: Margaret Hicks)
Mississippi Bats Working Group and Boy Scout Troop 41 worked together to study bat populations in southern DeSoto County. (Photo: Margaret Hicks)


Netting involves large mist nets held up by poles. Bats fly into the nets, giving the team a chance to study them.

Eagle Scout Fisher V. explained the netting contraption simply: “It’s like a giant hair net.”

While this may be the first time these Scouts are directly involved in the observation of bat species, their efforts are part of the BSA’s long history of learning about wildlife.

“This is a great opportunity to get Scouts out in the environment and show them how they have a direct impact on their environment,” Scout Leader Danny Van Pelt told DeSoto Times. “Scouting and conservation go hand in hand. Teaching boys to respect nature is at the heart of Scouting.”

Learn more about how Scouts aided in the study and what they found by reading the full story on DeSoto Times.