All posts by Rochelle Randles

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About Rochelle Randles

Rochelle Randles is a communications specialist at the Boy Scouts of America. She enjoys sharing incredible adventure stories within the Scouting community and beyond. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at

Hartford STEM Scouts’ Vortex Brings STEM Adventure to New Communities

bsa-vortex-ste-1-copy-2The STEM Scouts of Hartford, Conn. are one lucky group of scientific surveyors. Not only do they get to participate in cool, hands-on experiments and learn alongside STEM experts—they get to do it in a pretty sweet ride!

The Connecticut Rivers Council is one of several councils throughout the country to have a Vortex– a mobile lab where kids are encouraged to pursue passions in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEM Scouts Vortex labs feature all kinds of tools for exciting lessons in STEM, such as multiple smart TVs, computers, microscopes and a variety of lab equipment for fun, hands-on experiments for all ages.

experiment-stemAs Connecticut Rivers Council STEM executive Heather Shepard puts it, “the Vortex is a thirty-foot science classroom on wheels.”

STEM Scouts councils who have these vehicles roll the mobile labs through their towns and neighborhoods to deliver adventures in STEM to schools and community events, inspiring tomorrow’s STEM leaders along the way. From 3D printing to discovering new creatures under a microscope, Vortex labs offer engaging activities, sure to captivate youth of all scientific interests.

stem-vortex-copySTEM Scouts is open to boys and girls in elementary school, middle school and high school. By encouraging children to participate in STEM activities at a young age, STEM Scouts provides a great opportunity for collaboration and gives all youth a chance to become experts in a rapidly growing field.

“What STEM Scouts does is not just prepare them for STEM, but also prepares them to be a good employee and a good citizen,” said STEM educator David Mangus.

For more on the Hartford STEM Scouts, watch the video below and check out their website here. Head to to learn more about this exciting program.

Head to to learn more about this exciting program.

Adventure Science Center of Nashville Brings New Opportunities to Local STEM Scouts

July 2010 (nwbASC0316.jpg) Photo by Nathan W Berry. Adventure Science Center.
(Photo credit: Adventure Science Center of Nashville)

Adventures in science are in store for STEM Scouts of the Middle Tennessee Council. Thanks to a new partnership with the Adventure Science Center of Nashville, these young innovators will get to explore the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) on a new level.

The Adventure Science Center of Nashville has been engaging with families through science for more than 70 years. From its variety of interactive exhibits, to hands-on classes, the Center is an idyllic place for STEM Scouts to master exciting new skills and concepts.

The Adventure Science Center announced the partnership in a recent news release, detailing the opportunities that will be made available for Nashville STEM Scouts. Not only will the Center host STEM Scout labs; Adventure Science Center educators will lead meetings and activities!

With the help of expert guidance, youth can discover a passion for STEM through fun, hands-on experiences.

stem-scouts-copyBSA’s STEM Scouts pilot program is open to boys and girls, grades 3 through 12. Now available in 20 councils across the U.S., the program is growing at a time when young people are looking for more real-world experiences integrated into their STEM education, according to a recent report.

“Finding a way to engage students in STEM learning outside the classroom can sometimes be difficult,” said Tiffany Farmer, Ph.D., Director of Education and Community Engagement at Adventure Science Center. “Our educators are thrilled about the program. It’s an opportunity for them to share their own experiences in the STEM workplace, build relationships, and positively impact students’ abilities to retain STEM knowledge.”

To read more about this new partnership, head to the Adventure Science Center’s website for the full story.

STEM Scouts offers youth the chance to explore their interests in STEM-related fields through hands-on learning and exciting encounters with science, technology, engineering, and math. Learn more about the pilot program at

UNC Running Back Elijah Hood Takes Eagle Scout Values to the Gridiron

UNC running back and Eagle Scout, Elijah Hood (Photo credit: Robert Willett/ the Charlotte Observer)
UNC running back and Eagle Scout, Elijah Hood
(Photo credit: Robert Willett/ the Charlotte Observer)

College football kicks off this weekend and when University of North Carolina running back Elijah Hood steps onto the field for the first time in the 2016 season, he’ll Be Prepared for whatever the season brings. Why? Because he’s an Eagle Scout!

That’s right— Hood may have charged through opponents to collect an impressive 1,463 yards last season, but off the field, the offensive back is still friendly, courteous, and kind.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Hood proudly carries his Eagle Scout card in his wallet.  Whether he’s chatting with someone about this noteworthy accomplishment, or simply wants to reflect on his time as a Scout, he’s got proof of Scouting’s highest rank within reach.

“His rise through the Scouts coincided with his development into a coveted football prospect. He likes to think they both influenced each other, that the skills he learned in scouts translated to the field, and vice versa,” said Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer.

As a Scout, Hood had several sources of inspiration fueling his resolve to reach Eagle. Both his father and uncle had been Scouts, and his mother encouraged his Scouting goals. In fact, he even made a promise to his grandmother that one day he would be an Eagle Scout.

For most, things tend to speed up towards the end of high school and given Hood’s high involvement with sports, early college enrollment, and other various activities that accompany graduation, completing his Eagle Scout requirements didn’t come without a challenge.

But a busy schedule was no match for Hood’s Scouting spirit. With true determination, Hood buckled down and added one more item to his busy schedule— his Eagle project. The Scout converted a small field into a new gravel parking lot for his church and finally, years as a Scout in the Mecklenburg County Council, he received his Eagle award in the Spring of 2014.

BSA blogger and Eagle Scout expert Bryan on Scouting, wrote in a recent post, “In Hood, we see proof that the ideals of Scouting stay with you long after you swap shoulder loops on a Scout uniform for shoulder pads under a football uniform.”

While reflecting on the Scout Oath and Motto, he explained to the Charlotte Observer, “It’s like, in my brain…It’s just a general work ethic and dedication kind of thing. The honesty, trustworthiness. The wake-up-every-day-and-kind-of-put-your-best-foot-forward kind of attitude. Try to be the best citizen you can be – the best person you can be…Contribute to the community.”

Of all the story lines playing out this season, the potential for North Carolina’s resurgence will be watched closely. The Eagle Scout and his team will have to hit the ground running tomorrow, as they face the University of Georgia’s skilled defensive line under the direction of UGA’s new head coach, Kirby Smart.

Needless to say, Hood will be pivotal for the season opener, as he’s tasked with protecting the team’s new quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.

This Eagle Scout’s work ethic is sure to come in handy for UNC, and with Hood’s help, the Tar Heels could again rise to the top as ACC’s Costal Division champion.

Hood’s story goes to show that Scouting and sports can coexist, and even work together to highlight a Scout’s talent. Head to Scouting Wire to learn how.

Find out more about Elijah Hood and his Eagle Scout legacy by reading Andrew Carter’s article in the Charlotte Observer, then get another Eagle’s perspective in the story by Bryan on Scouting.

After a Successful Debut, VenturingFest Announces 2018 Event

This summer, more than 700 Venturers from across the country joined together for the first ever VenturingFest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. The event was a mighty success and the next VenturingFest has been officially announced for 2018—just in time for the High-Adventure program’s 20th anniversary.

BSA VenturingFrom zip lines and water sports to concerts with new friends, VenturingFest shows off the best the Summit  has to offer. And according to Bryan on Scouting, the High-Adventure Base will once again host the dynamic youth of BSA’s Venturing program from July 1 to 6, 2018.

“VenturingFest 2016 was such a success because it brought together hundreds of youth from all around the country to have fun around something they have in common, Venturing.,” said Jessica Janscha, Venturing Staff Advisor at BSA’s National Service Center. “Their love for the program showed in the service projects, friendships made, and photos and videos on social media.”

Venturing invites young men and women from ages 14-20 (or 13 and have completed 8th grade) to participate in exciting and meaningful activities that not only thrill and excite, but also help develop character and leadership skills.

Venturers can chose a specialty from a plethora of different activities, so naturally, the Summit was the perfect venue to host the summer celebration. And with the program’s 20th anniversary in 2018, the next VenturingFest is sure to be an unforgettable Summit celebration. As Bryan on Scouting puts it, “Venturing turns 20 in 2018, and you and your crew are invited to the party.”

In fact, the Venturing staff is already hard at work, planning the anniversary festivities. “We’re working to make the 2018 event the most incredible Venturing experience yet by having more crews join us for an event that will celebrate 20 years of Venturing in the most epic way possible,” said Janscha.

Learn more about the Venturing program by heading to

For more on Venturing’s 20th birthday bash, make sure to check out the full story by Bryan on Scouting.

Local Police and Housing Authority Form Cub Scout Pack for NC Youth

WPD Cpl. Craig Melville socializes with a Wilmington Cub Scout during a pack meeting. (Photo credit: Mike Spencer/ Star News Online)
WPD Cpl. Craig Melville socializes with a Wilmington Cub Scout during a pack meeting. (Photo credit: Mike Spencer/ Star News Online)

A local police department and housing authority in Wilmington, North Carolina, joined forces recently in an effort to offer a positive and productive way for local youth to spend their time.

Each week, Cub Scouts in the Cape Fear Council gather at the local learning center to explore new skills, enjoy fun activities, and develop character, thanks to this inspiring demonstration of community collaboration.

The new Cub Scout pack was originally the brainchild of Capt. Kathy Cochran of the Wilmington Police Department. In late 2015, after the homicides of two area teens, Cochran was inspired to create a safe place where children could find community support.

Even when Cochran moved to a new position, department officers were still determined to serve the new Cub Scouts.

To ensure the pack’s success, the WPD joined with the local housing authority to apply for a grant to fund the pack’s enrollment and supply the new Cub Scouts with proper uniforms.

A mother and her Cub Scout prepare for a pack meeting. (Photo credit: Mike Spencer/ Star News Online)
A mother and her Cub Scout prepare for a pack meeting. (Photo credit: Mike Spencer/ Star News Online)

Community teamwork is key

The housing authority serves as the pack’s charter organization and WPD officers even provide transportation to make sure all boys who want to participate in the program are able to do so.

The housing authority’s chief executive officer, Katrina Redmon explained to Star News Online how the Wilmington police have played an integral part in helping to serve Wilmington’s youth.

“Our police force already does a phenomenal amount for our children,” Redmon said. “They take them on field trips. They are on first-name basis. They help on and off the school bus. We could not do without the dedication of those folks.”

For more on this inspiring story, read the full article by Star News Online, the head to to learn how youth and adults can get involved in communities across the country.

Exploring Summerfest Debuts at the Summit Bechtel Reserve

Summerfest2016This week, Explorers from around the country gathered at BSA’s National High-Adventure Base, the Summit Bechtel Reserve, for the first-ever Exploring Summerfest 2016. A first-time camp experience for many of the attendees, the experience was made possible thanks in part to a donation from Wenzel.

The outdoor retreat, which runs from July 27-30, hosts youth from BSA’s Exploring program, who are in the midst of summer excitement as we speak. From experiencing the epic outdoor thrills of the Summit to kicking back at the Summerfest Luau, Explorers from all career fields are in for three days of back-to-back adventure.

Summerfest attendees end each action-packed day by camping out in tents set throughout the Summit’s incredible landscape. Since a number of Summerfest participants included some first-time campers that did not have a sleeping bag of their own, BSA teamed up with Wenzelone of the Exxel Outdoors family of outdoor recreational gear brands, who donated 300 sleeping bags for the Exploring event.

“We at Wenzel are heartened and inspired by BSA’s commitment to providing youth with invigorating and formative Scouting experiences at Exploring Summerfest 2016,” commented Tory Upham, general manager of Exxel Outdoors. “We’re honored to donate sleeping bags for these new Scouts to enjoy a great night’s sleep under the stars.”

Summerfest 2016 will be the first major outdoor experience for some of the attendees, and the outdoor retailer’s sponsorship is helping to give these youth a camping adventure to remember.

For more information on the Wenzel brand, visit, and to learn more about this event, head to the Summerfest 2016 website!

About Exploring

BSA’s Exploring program gives youth the guidance needed to succeed on the path toward discovering their future through one-on-one mentorship and real life experiences. You can learn more about this program at

How These Explorers Are Blazing the Trail for the Next Generation

Explorers from the Greater New York Councils participate in a panel discussion at the annual IDEAGEN - UN Summit. (Photo credit: Dorothy Browne)
Explorers from the Greater New York Councils participate in a panel discussion at the annual IDEAGEN – UN Summit. (Photo credit: Dorothy Browne)

On July 13, 2016, a team of Explorers, advisors, and Scout staff attended the IDEAGEN – UN Empowering Women and Girls 2030 Summit. This annual event brings together luminaries from across sectors to explore challenges and develop ways to empower women and girls throughout the planet.

Explorers Liseth V., Hanslyn Y., Madina C., Aileen T., and Genesis M., of the Greater New York Councils, joined the summit to reflect on leadership in the Exploring program.

For the Explorers, the summit presented a unique opportunity to meet an amazing array of top female leaders engaged in entrepreneurial development in Southeast Asia, female education with the Peace Corps, nutrition education and famine relief in Africa, and even manufacturing and design for NASA in-space projects!

Other participants had the opportunity to hear the Explorers share their experiences as women and girls learning how to be leaders in urban settings. Genesis M., who earned Explorer of the Year in her New York police precinct, served as a panelist for “The Next Generation” youth discussion.

“Being part of the Exploring program shows that you can surpass traditional expectations, particularly as a Latina.  I was one of the few girls who was the Explorer of the year for my post,” Genesis said during the panel.

The Explorers were joined by three post advisors, who shared insights on how the career exploration program helps both youth and communities.

“Exploring is a school-to-work transition program providing young women the opportunity to learn about careers, build leadership abilities, and provide community service,” said Mt. Sinai Hospital Business Exploring Post advisor Ana Rodriguez.

The advisor explained that her Exploring post is helping to develop the next generation of healthcare leaders. “Women have been a powerful driving force in health care.”

According to Genesis, participating in the summit provided a new outlook on preparing for her own future. “After IDEAGEN, I grew more knowledge and happiness knowing that in this great big country we live in, women and girls are always being admired throughout all organizations. I thank and congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to continue to provide a greater and brighter future for us now!”

Exploring provides hands-on activities and one-on-one mentorship for youth looking to discover their future. Find out more at!

To learn more about this annual summit, visit

Eagle Rescues Boy & Grandfather from Rip Current

Eagle Scout Clay B., 18, Used the training he learned in Scouting to save the lives of two swimmers. (Photo credit: WWSB)
Eagle Scout Clay B., 18, used the training he learned in Scouting to save the lives of two swimmers. (Photo credit: WWSB)

Quick thinking and proper training can save lives in an emergency. That was exactly what Eagle Scout Clay B., 18, demonstrated at Lido Beach in Sarasota, Florida.

When the Eagle Scout set out for the beach earlier this June, he expected a relaxing day of waves, sand, and boogie boarding. What Clay didn’t expect, was that he’d soon be using his Scout skills to save lives.

Clay was in the water on his boogie board when he heard a cry for help coming from a distressed swimmer, WWSB reports.

The Scout sighted a man and his 13-year-old grandson in the water about 300 yards north of the beach, where they had been trapped in a current. Remembering his Scout training, Clay swam to the pair and helped the boy swim to safety.

“He was screaming that he wasn’t going to get back to land, and so I just had him looking in my eyes the whole time, trying to keep him calm,” Clay told WWSB.

When the boy was safely ashore, Clay swam out once again to assist the boy’s grandfather.  Using his boogie board, the Scout helped the man stay afloat until lifeguard Mark Miller could reach them.

“When the conditions are rough like that, you need to be extremely cautious, and if you’re going to swim, you need to swim near a lifeguard,” Miller cautioned.

According to WWSB, Clay made this rip-current rescue thanks to the training he learned in Scouting. However, Clay doesn’t necessarily consider himself a hero. Like a true Scout, he’s just grateful he was able to assist someone in need. “I don’t know if I was really laying my life on the line, I was just trying to help somebody out,” he said.

You can read more about this Eagle Scout’s heroic act, in the original story by WWSB.

To learn more about the positive impact that Scouting can have on young people like Luke, be sure to check out this article on the recent Tufts study.

Video Credit: WWSB

Sonoma Valley Teens Seek Adventure, Find Venturing

Venturers copy
Abigail C., and her friends experience adventure and learning through BSA’s Venturing program. (Photo credit: Dianne Reber Hart/ Sonoma Index-Tribune)

When Abigail C., 17, of Sonoma Valley, Calif., saw all the things her brother was able to experience with his Boy Scout troop in the Redwood Empire Council, the Sonoma Valley teen decided it was time to seek the thrill of the outdoors herself.

“I wanted an opportunity to join other girls to do crazy stuff we normally don’t have an opportunity to do at home,” Abigail told the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

It was this quest for adventure that lead Abigail to establish a new Venturing crew, where she and other girls could learn new skills, take on new challenges, and develop character.

Venturing, a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America, provides positive experiences to young men and women 13–20 years of age to help them grow into responsible and caring adults.

With the help of community and family members, Abigail began to lay the groundwork for the new crew. Before long, other adventure-seeking girls like Abigail were ready to join the crew.

As plans for the crew moved forward, the girls witnessed the helpfulness of Scouts, firsthand. A local Boy Scout troop and the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley helped get the Venturers off to a strong start by giving them a place to meet and offering to share outdoor equipment.

Thanks to the initiative taken by Abigail and her founding crew members, the girls have been able to experience an array of adventures, including cold-weather camping, star-gazing, and team-building exercises such as completing a ropes course.

The Venturers participate in camping, hiking, and more with their crew. (Photo credit: Dianne Reber Hart/ Sonoma Index-Tribune)
The Venturers participating in a ropes course with their crew. (Photo credit: Dianne Reber Hart/ Sonoma Index-Tribune)

The crew has faced obstacles, but by working together, these Venturers have also gained valuable leadership skills. For example, scheduling can be a challenge since girls live in both Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley. The members are also full-time students and participate in extracurricular activities.

According to the Sonoma Index-Review, the girls agree Venturing is worth the effort because of the experiences the program provides.

Abigail, who now serves as the crew president, told the Sonoma Index-Tribune how beneficial the Venturing program has been for her. “It’s amazing how we’ve grown as a group in the first year, and the skills and perspectives we’ve gained.”

Read more about this Venturing crew in the original story by the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

To learn more about the adventures and opportunities Venturing offers to young men and women, check out the video below then head to

Scouts Explore Higher Education at Merit Badge University

Story by Lido Vizzutti of the Montana Council

Zachary R. uses a large telescope to inspect the surface of the Sun during Merit Badge University 4. (Photo credit: Lido Vizzutti)
Zachary R. uses a large telescope to inspect the surface of the Sun during Merit Badge University 4. (Photo credit: Lido Vizzutti)

We are told to never stare directly into the sun – and for good reason. Yet that is exactly what Scouts get to do at Merit Badge University (MBU).

Using a large telescope – perched on its three legs outside the small observatory at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. – Scouts take turns inspecting dark sun spots and roaring solar flares magnified in impressive detail. Garnering gasps and wows, this is an experience not readily available to many Scouts scattered across Montana.

That is the premise of MBU— bring together Scouts, Venturers and adults from across a rural state and provide them the opportunity to earn merit badges in a collegiate setting.

“It’s all about the advantages for the Scouts,” said Beth Wheeler, who is not only one of the event organizers, but also a Carroll College employee and Committee Chair for Troop 214. “Such a program provides resources that Scouts may not have access to in their own areas. It opens up a menu to the boys of topics they may have not even thought to consider given their location.

“Things like access to a chemistry lab and observatory are not readily available in other settings,” said Wheeler. “Getting (Scouts) to spend the day having fun on a college campus, successfully transitioning from class to class, partaking of the dining hall bounty and interacting with friendly helpful teachers will hopefully go a long way in encouraging them to consider college in their own futures.”

Vincente G., left, and Josh Z., build and Express-Bot while taking the Robotics Course in the basement of ExplorationWorks! during Merit Badge University 4. (Photo credit: Lido Vizzutti)

The idea for MBU was born, like so many inspirations, around a campfire. Troop 214 had recently held their own “Merit Badge Blitz” where boys worked all day on one of several merit badges. Carroll College President and Eagle Scout Dr. Tom Evans shared his experience with a similar event in Texas and wondered if the “Blitz” could be expanded and tailored to the Helena campus.

Now, upon completing its fourth year, MBU has grown from 150 participants in 2013 to this year’s 535 registered [Scouts] and over 150 registered adults. Course options have expanded to over 40 offerings, from Archery, Metal Work, Pioneering, Geocaching and Moviemaking; to Robotics, Chemistry, Chess and Aviation – only to name a few.

As the event has grown, so has the surrounding community support. Over the past four years, collaborating groups like Helena College, Allegra Marketing, Great West Engineering, KLJ Engineering and ExplorationWorks! have donated time, materials and classroom space.

On the first night of the event, some attendees clambered into sleeping bags in the campus gymnasium and others pitched tents on the adjacent practice football field, reconnecting with friends made at camp or from other troops.

Up with the sun on Saturday, the campus buzzed with enthusiasm as the Scouts and Venturers attended their courses taught by college students and professionals in their fields.

Scouts gather around a beaker of water and oil during a visual lesson in liquid viscosity in the Chemistry Course at Merit Badge University 4. (Photo credit: Lido Vizzutti)
Scouts gather around a beaker of water and oil during a visual lesson in liquid viscosity in the Chemistry Course at Merit Badge University 4. (Photo credit: Lido Vizzutti)

“Carroll College has been so kind to let us use their campus for the day,” said Sean L., 13. “I personally have taken merit badges that I normally wouldn’t do in Great Falls. Over the years I have done Architecture, Geocaching, Journalism and Citizenship in the Nation. I look forward to it every year.”

For the youth attending, it is a glimpse into what a collegiate atmosphere can be like.

“I like being at the college,” said Sean F., a 15-year-old Life Scout. “ I can see what I’ll look like when I go to (Montana State University).”

Work on Merit Badge University 5 is already underway and is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, 2017, with the overnight option on Friday, March 31, 2017.

To learn more about how Scouts can discover new career paths and unlock their potential, head to

Have you attended a Merit Badge University? Share your favorite part in the comments!

Scouting Newsroom would like to thank Media Specialist Lido Vizzutti of the Montana Council for submitting this story.