Friday, July 12, 2019

Elmhurst Scouts BSA Troop for Girls Doubles in Size

Troop 117G, the first Elmhurst-based girl troop of Scouts BSA program of Boys Scouts of America, has now reached 20 members since it was started on February 1, 2019. Troop 117G is tied for first with Troop 1505 in Three Fires Council for girl troop with the most members. A troop in Cincinnati, OH has the most girls in the Central Region of BSA with 36 members.

Troop 117G, which is the sister troop to Troop 117B chartered at Christ United Methodist Church in South Elmhurst, opened their charter with 10 members back in February.

“We have attracted girls from around the area to our troop,” said John Lothian, Scoutmaster of Troop 117G. “Our commitment to a youth-led troop has resonated with families looking for a troop where their daughters can have similar experiences as their sons, who also may be in Scouts.”

Scouts from Troop 117G and 117B are headed to summer camp for a week at Camp Freeland Leslie in Oxford, Wisconsin.  The girls of 117G will have 9 Scouts attending in their first year as official members of Scouts BSA. The boys of 117B are bringing 10 Scouts in their separate patrols.

One member of Troop 117G is signed up for three different summer camps, as she attempts to become an Eagle Scout in the first class of girls to make that rank next Fall.

Two girls from 117G participated in a week-long National Youth Leadership Training camp at Owasippe Scout Reservation after receiving a fully-paid scholarship from the Fearless Girl National Youth Leadership Training Fund of the Pathway to Adventure Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Owasippe is the oldest Scout camp in the U.S. and is owned and operated by the Pathway to Adventure Council.

"Boy Scouts has always been a wonderful program for our boys to learn life and leadership skills,” said John Fabry, Committee Chair of Troop 117G, Troop 117B (for 10 years) and Venture Crew 711. “We are glad that we can now extend this opportunity to girls in our communities. There is a lot of excitement in our new troop as each of our girls determines how they want to approach the path to Eagle Scout."

Troop 117G was created from members of Exploring Club #1, which was established in 2017 to teach the girls the same first class trail lessons that boys would learn at the same age. Now the girls, as members of Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts), can earn the ranks by completing the requirements.

Some members of Troop 117G are also members of Venture Crew 711 or Crew 57, which is a Scouting program for older boys and girls ages 14-20.

More information about Troops 117G and 117B is available on the website.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Drew Glassford Made Me Think Big About Innovation and Scouting

Drew Glassford, formerly Director of Strategic Initiatives for Boy Scouts of America, has been named the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dundee. While he worked with Boy Scouts Drew he made me think big about innovation and Scouting and in some ways changed my life.

I first met Drew at the LaSalle Street After Hours Event several years ago. That event, which was once the LaSalle Street Dinner and now is the LaSalle Street Trading Tech Awards, is the financial district of Chicago's way of financially supporting the Boy Scouts in Chicago.

Joe Guinan and Christ Hehmeyer approached me to help promote the event, as Joe was the chairperson and Chris was on the organizing committee. Joe has formerly been a Scoutmaster in Chicago, I learned. He is also an Eagle Scout. He had some young men who had been in his Scout Troop that worked for him at Advantage Futures.

I suggested the John Lothian Productions do an interview with these young men and publish the video in the John Lothian Newsletter as a way to promote the event. Needless to say, this pro-bono gift to the Boy Scout event attracted the attention of the professional Scouters from the Chicago Area Council, including Glassford who had been assigned to the Chicago area to fundraise and develop strategic initiatives, especially around STEM.

Glassford and Scouter Michael LoPresti, the founder of the National Foundation Innovation Fund, were putting together a group of people from across several Boy Scout Councils from the Chicago and Northern Indiana area and asked me to participate.

I love Scouting and innovation, so Drew had me at mere mention of the word innovation. This group met at the home of Dennis Chookaszian in the North Shore suburbs. Dennis had been the chairman of the Chicago Area Council back in the 1980s and was on the national board for Boy Scouts.

What came out of this meeting was that the Scouts wanted a STEM basecamp in Chicago, on Northerly Island that would be a $30 million facility. This would give the Boy Scouts a premiere location not hid in the woods, but on the lakefront of Chicago, where they could teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics to Scouts and community members alike.

This $30 million price tag was a little above my pay grade, but it made me start to think big. How do you make something big happen I asked myself? You start small. I started to develop a plan of building commercial and civic support for STEM and Scouting in Chicago. Then something else happened.

I was asked by professional Scouters in the Chicago Area Council and the STEM coordinator for the Chicago area Councils to reinvent the LaSalle Street After Hours event. This request gave me the platform for starting my small project to building commercial and civic support for STEM.

The plan I presented to another meeting organized by Glassford at Dennis Chookaszian's home again, to the innovation group with some new additions, was the Trading Tech 300 program.

But it also had a bigger plan because after I first came up with the Trading Tech 300 program I sensed that it was not large scale enough to fight the problem we were seeking to address, namely gangs, guns and drugs in Chicago and their influence the youth of Chicago.

I needed to make the project bigger. So how do you make something bigger? You start by making a big goal. My goal was and is to make Chicago the STEM Capital of the World. Chicago once was the STEM Capital of the World when it held the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, or World's Fair. Chicago introduced electricity to the world and the Ferris Wheel.

That fair left Chicago with two big things, the Museum of Science and Industry building and the Field Museum collection, which later received its own building.

That was were I learned STEM as a kid outside of the classroom, going on field trips to those museums. What if we were to bring another World's Fair to Chicago, I thought. That could leave us with a facility to teach STEM in Scouting and more for another 50 or more years.

So that was my big plan. Bring a World's Fair to Chicago. At the next year's LaSalle Street After Hours event I gave a speech and outlined my grand vision, including the start of the Trading Tech 300 merit badge clinic program.

I had sensed how the demise of the trading floors and all the traders, and the consolidation of the brokerage firms supporting them had hurt the event as electronic trading grew in popularity. I saw how firms did not like to expose their non-trader talent to the industry and protect their privacy. And I saw how Scouting needed to reconnect with the financial community in Chicago, especially after divisive issues around membership standards were resolved.

The Trading Tech 300 program is right out of the Guide for Advancement. Merit badges should be taught two Scouts to one Merit Badge Counselor, except in a group setting where the subject matter of the badge is interactive as it is used in a business or organization. We would take Scouting right into the businesses in the financial district.

Joe Guinan's Advantage Futures kicked off the Trading Tech 300 program with the Public Speaking and Chess Merit badges and has held clinics every summer since it launched in 2015.

Each year the Pathway to Adventure Council has offered merit badge clinics in the offices of firms around the financial district. Some of the biggest names in the industry have hosted clinics, including CME Group, Cboe, DRW, Advantage Futures, Spot Trading, NFA, Glenstar Properties, Icap and even John J. Lothian & Company, Inc. Last summer we even held two classes in New York at Nasdaq in Times Square.

Drew Glassford's invitation to come talk about innovation in Scouting spurred this innovation. He had the good sense to believe me when he and Michael LoPresti approached me for a donation for the National Foundation Innovation Fund. I told both of them that the least valuable thing I have to offer is my money. My imagination and use of the good will I have developed in my career used for Scouting purposes, would be more valuable than money.

But having said this, I had to deliver. I think the success of Trading Tech 300, which has morphed into Scouting Tech, is a good indication I have. Scouting Tech now is made up of Trading Tech, Civic Tech, Medical Tech and Building Tech as other industries are being organized to use the same merit badge clinic formula as Trading Tech.

But there was still this World's Fair idea out there. I pivoted on how to accomplish this last year. Rather than have the World's Fair leave us with a venue to teach STEM, I sought a venue to teach STEM that might be a template for how to attract a World's Fair to Chicago.

And that venue is the current focus of my attention. A proposal has been made to a civic non-profit to partner on a building part of a larger project where the Scouts could have a facility to teach STEM to Scouts and for use by the community.

Think of a facility where Boeing sponsors a high tech area where the aviation merit badge is taught to Scouts, or local students who might use the STEM center during the weekdays. Union Pacific and the Railroading badge, or Google with Digital Technologies are other examples. We are only limited by our imaginations. A STEM center like this can help build the STEM-centered workforce Chicago needs.

Think of a facility where there is technology that a local school would never have, but that could be shared by school students, Scouts and even adult learners.

I have even suggested a way to help pay for this depending on how it was structured. If the Illinois Lottery designated some games to support the STEM center, it would attract new people to the lottery.

If we had enough large corporate entities supporting the STEM center and its technology driven learning environment, it could be a template for a bigger effort, maybe even a World's Fair.

It all started when Joe Guinan and Chris Hehmeyer came to my office and asked for some help. And that opened the door for Drew Glassford of the Boy Scouts to ask me to think big.

I wish Drew the best in his new endeavor with the Boys & Girls Club of Dundee. I appreciate his brining me into an environment where my skills, good will and love of Scouting could be put to good use.  Drew made a difference in my life and I am forever grateful for his help and support.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

NEX Group Holds Geocaching Trading Tech 300 Merit Badge Clinic in Chicago's Financial District

NEX Group held a Trading Tech 300 merit badge workshop in the financial district of Chicago. It was led by NEX's Tom Scanlan. The Scouts earned the geocaching merit badge while exploring key locations near the center of the financial district at LaSalle and Jackson.

NEX was helped in the Chicago Board of Trade Building by security officer Jefferson Davis, an enthusiastic supporter of the Scouts.

Trading Tech 300 is a program I created with the help of professionals from the Pathway to Adventure Council of Boy Scouts of America. The merit badge workshops are held in financial related firms around the Chicago's financial district, including firms who have traditionally supported the LaSalle Street Dinner. Today the LaSalle Street Dinner is the LaSalle Trading Tech Awards.

However, this year, a Trading Tech 300 workshop was also held in New York at Nasdaq with the help of head of communications Allan Schoenberg.

Thank you to NEX Group and Tom Scanlan and his associates for supporting Scouting and the Trading Tech 300 program. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

At the Troop 117 meeting on Monday night we discussed the various ways to start a fire. By far the most delicious way was to use an aluminum can and bar of chocolate.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Troop 117 Reaches Golden Fun For Third Straight Year

For the third year in a row, Elmhurst Boy Scout Troop 117 has earned the gold level of the Journey to Excellence Award of Boy Scouts of America, the only Troop in Potawatomi Trails District to achieve this accomplishment during this timeframe.

Chartered by Christ United Methodist Church on Swain Avenue, Troop 117 excelled in all categories of the Journey to Excellence Scouting recognition program that measures the activities, planning, training, advancement, retention, service projects and other factors.

Troop 117 scored 1575 points to earn the gold level of the Journey to Excellence Award, needing only 1000 to reach this level.

The Troop is currently lead by Senior Patrol Leader James Clohessy, an eighth grader at Timothy Christian. Greg Gley is the Scoutmaster, succeeding former Scoutmaster John Lothian in 2016. John Fabry has served as Troop 117’s Committee Chair since 2010. 

Activities during the year included seven Boy Scouts and one Venturing Crew Member attending the National Jamboree during the summer in West Virginia. Additionally, the Troop, Crew 711 and Exploring Club #1, collaborating units chartered by Christ United Methodist Church, joined  for a canoe trip down the Wisconsin river. The group also overcame adverse weather and held a Turkey Feast for the families of the Troop and local Webelos in November and attended the 100th year of the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon in West Lafayette, IN. 

The Troop took a week in June to zipline inside a Southern Illinois cave, explored Mammoth Cave, went horseback riding and outdoor ziplining and had fun at an adventure park. They also attended Grant’s Pilgrimage in Galena, IL and took a ski trip in Wisconsin. Most other Troop 117 Scouts, those not attending the National Jamboree, attended Camp Freeland Leslie in Wisconsin over the summer.

For more information about Troop 117, visit

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Girl Scouts Complain about Competition in Scouting

My daughter Katherine is a Boy Scout. Actually, she is a Venturing Crew member, part of Boy Scouts of American open to boys and girls age 14 to 21. She was a Girl Scout, but quit many years ago when many girls in her “troop” lost interest.

When Katherine was 16, she told me she wanted to become a Venturing Crew member so she could go to Japan to the World Scout Jamboree. She did and came home full of Scout spirit. She even followed up her trip to Japan with a trip to the National Jamboree this summer as a Venturing Crew unit member.

In Japan there were 132 nations represented. Of the 132, 128 have boys and girls as part of the same organization and program. It was evident, the BSA in the US was behind the curve for World Scouting.

The World Jamboree is coming to the US in 2019 as the United States, Mexico and Canada host the event to be held in West Virginia.

Girl Scouts Accuse Boy Scouts of Recruiting Girls, Souring Century-Old Friendship
Around the time of World War I, two organizations set out to mold young Americans into resourceful and virtuous future leaders, instilling in them the admirable traits of citizenship, loyalty and courage. Members of both groups wore uniforms, explored the wilderness and swore to uphold their values.

Katherine was able to participate in these activities because she is an accomplished camper. She spent time on Boy Scout campouts as a young girl when I had to drag her along because my wife worked on the weekend. She also attended summer camp in Wisconsin, and was used to the challenges of living outdoors.

Many girls however don’t have Katherine’s experience. In fact, for many girls their Scouting experience comes to an end just at the same time it gets interesting for boys.

Without the camping experience that boys get in their tween years, girls are often not prepared for the high adventure available as part of Venture Scouts.

Interesting, the Gold Award of Girl Scouts is the only Girl Scout award that can be worn on the Venture Scout uniform.

I started a Venturing Crew to give my daughter, her friends and some of the older Boy Scouts in my troop an additional Scouting experience. When she and many of her friends left for college, I needed to start all over to rebuild the Venturing Crew.

In order to build a sustainable Venturing Crew, and to respond to interest from girls too young for Venturing, I started an Exploring Club. This Club is a unit of girls only who are being taught the same skills that boys are at the same age. We are teaching them the skills and values of First Class Trail of Boy Scouts.

Friday, these Exploring Club members will go on their first Troop outing, a canoe trip on the Wisconsin river. They were given BSA Safety Afloat training, just like the Boy Scouts. They were given a lesson river canoeing. And they will be given onsite instruction.

The girls are going to do the same thing that the boys are doing, which is what they want. And some of the girls in our Exploring Club are Girl Scouts, and our program is allowing them to accomplish requirements or do things not available from their troop currently. We encourage girls to stay in Girl Scouts while in our Exploring Club and to earn their Gold Award. It is possible to do both.

I don’t know much about Girl Scouts, as my wife was the troop leader, not me. I do know that that the Boy Scouts not competing with the Girl Scouts is one of the worst things the Boy Scouts could have done to them.

Competition makes us better. The message I hear from the Girl Scouts is that they have enjoyed a long monopoly over girls and want to continue to do so. Unfortunately, the world does not work that way.

Already Boy Scouts of America has girls as Venturing Crew or Exploring Post or Club members. Additionally, the Boy Scouts have a pilot program running in a dozen or so councils for STEM Scouts. This program is for boys and girls from grade 3 to 12. It has tremendous potential if developed properly to bring more boys and girls into Scouting that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts traditional programs combined.

I was involved in the early stages of bringing STEM Scouts to Chicago and was told when it was originally designed that the Girl Scouts were asked to participate, but declined. It is their right, and BSA moved forward.

I am a proponent of empowered girls, boys and people. As a Scouter for more than 16 years as an adult I have yet to see anything in the Boy Scout program that a girl could not do. And some of them want to, so I say let them.

I am a big believer in the potential of the Boy Scout program to develop young people into leaders who are good citizens, able and fit outdoors people, productive members of society and stewards of our environment.

Competition is good. The Girl Scouts will need to spend less time asking for a continuation of a monopoly on girls in Scouting and spend more time making their program more dynamic to meet the needs of the girls of today. As a result, girls will have more choices and opportunities.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

This is a video shot by John Lothian News in 2016 to tell the story about the Trading Tech 300 program. You can find details for upcoming Merit Badge workshops as part of the program on the calendar of the website.