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17 July 2019

The First Scout Martyr: Saint Alexis the Passion-Bearer

The Most August Scout, Holy Passion-Bearer Tsarevich-Martyr Alexis. Killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
If we need an example of a life following the Scout Law, then we do not need to look farther than the vita of our Brother-in-Scouting, the Holy Passion-bearer Alexis, Heir to the Russian Throne.  Saint Alexis was a Scout of the Tsarskoe Selo chapter. He became the first martyr within Scouting.

From the first day of his birth on July 30, 1904, Saint Alexis was thrown into suffering: he had developed hemophilia. This genetic disease, which St. Alexis received through his mother, the Holy Empress Alexandra, from her grandmother, the English Queen Victoria, causes incoägulability of the blood, owing to which a small scrape or any wrong move could entail death. Moreover, attacks of the disease are connected to great pains.

It would be understandable if, on the basis of such sufferings, St Alexis turned into a withdrawn, antisocial, and angry teenager. However, this did not happen. Instead, in the words of witnesses and peers, St Alexis was lively and happy, smart and noble, kind and attentive, and direct with his sympathies and emotions. Moreover, the disease seemed to teach him thoughtfulness and humility, and created within him a strong faith in the Lord, a very strong will, and empathy for the sufferings of the people. It was also seen that he loved his homeland and was a fierce patriot.

By order of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, the book of the founder of the World Scouting Movement, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, "Scouting For Boys," was translated into the Russian language. The Sovereign not only acquiesced to the idea and symbols of scouting (the motto and emblem), but called to make every effort in order for Russian society to become interested in the Scouting Movement.

In July of 1914 the First World War began, which proved to be quite tragic for Russia. Russia mobilized, and together with others to the Front, went the founder of Russian Scouting, Oleg I. Pantuckoff [Pantyukhov]. However, at that time, a Scouting chapter has already developed in Tsarskoe Selo. St Alexis took great interest in Scouting, especially because his friend and relative, Grand Duke Georgy, being an active Scout, told him about the meets and hikes. St. Alexis quickly entered the ranks of the Tsarskoe Selo chapter of Scouts, becoming the second member of the Imperial Family after Georgy, of which he remained proud until the end of his life.

It is known to us exactly how actively St Alexis was able to take part in scout life, seeing as, speaking not of his disease, he had serious obligations: not only in preparation of becoming the ruler, but also in fulfilling his duty as the Heir to the Throne and taking part in public initiatives. Thus, as the heir, he was the chief of an entire series of regiments and was obligated to visit them with the goal of raising morale. His father often took him with him to the Front, and St Alexis loved his, as he took interest in military matters. However, we know that St Alexis remembered out motto "Be Prepared!" for his whole life, and tried to follow it always and everywhere.

Action on the Front did not turn in Russia's favor. Russia could not allow a prolonged war for herself. Defeat and great losses, a lack of manpower at the read, the interruption of production, hardships with provisions for the army, problems with supplies in the cities - all of this aggravated unhappiness in the populace and opened to door for the demagogues, and eventually, led to a crisis in leadership. The Emperor had to abdicate from the Throne on behalf of himself and his son, and the Provisional Government came to power, which in turn was quickly overthrown by the Bolsheviks.

The Provisional Government had already arrested the Imperial Family. The Bolsheviks, then, sent the family into exile in Ekaterinburg, intensified the prison régime and, finally, decided to completely destroy the family. On the horrifying night of July 16-17, 1918, the Bolshevik wardens ordered that the family get dressed and descend into the semi-basement of the house with the supposed purpose of evacuation. St Alexis, who was afflicted by his disease, was carried in his father's arms. Then, into the basement entered a death squad of mostly Hungarians (Russians were not trusted), the death sentence was read, the ringleader of the squad thereupon shot St Nicholas in the head, and this served as the signal for the other guns to fire at close range. The wounded Saint Alexis was finished off with bayonets and rifle butts. He was only 13 years of age upon his death.

At the end of the 20th century, the remains of the martyrs were found and identified. For his blameless death, for meekness, humility, and godliness during the most difficult of circumstances, for bravery in the face of suffering, for the very considerable moral dimensions to which he rose, for his unwavering faith, the Orthodox Church added St Alexis into the synaxis of passion-bearers.

SOURCE: SGPA Scoutmaster periodical "Expertise" #166. July 2018, pp 8-9. Compiled by Scoutmaster Alexander Taurke from publicly-accessible documents for the upcoming book "The Faithful"Translated by Michael Kazmierczak of the Saint George Pathfinders a.k.a. Russian Youth Scout Association Abroad (in Exile).

15 July 2019

The Corps of Discovery's 20th Anniversary Flap Patches Now Available for Sea Scouts, Venturers, Scouts, Explorers, and Scouters!

CoD Flap Patch on the Official Sea Scout Uniform (TOSSU)
The very limited edition 20th Anniversary Corps of Discovery flap patch, which was previously available for pre-order, is now made and available for order from the official Corps of Discovery web site at https://www.thecorpsofdiscovery.org/recognition.html. The theme of the 20 year flap is that everyone was entitled to vote. On November 24, 1805, the Corps of Discovery, led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, votes to spend the winter on the south bank of the Columbia River. All members of the expedition are allowed to participate. This is the first election by Americans in the West, and the first election to include a woman, a Native American Indian, and an African American slave.

Corps of Discovery Flap Patch on the Red BSA Jac-Shirt
This is the first ever Corps of Discovery flap that is available in standard Venturing/Scouting flap as well as a Sea Scouting or red BSA Jac-Shirt flap patch. While the new design does not have the logo of the Corps of Discovery on it, the CoD pin still fits on the new flaps and looks good. (In the past the COD pin was worn above the program strip, translator strip, and nameplate, but it is currently worn on the Corps of Discovery flap patch or an OA flap patch [if said person is a member of both the CoD and the OA] instead).

CoD pin (with permanent party disk) on the new 20th Anniversary Flap
Included in this blog post are pictured of the new Sea Scout/Jac-Shirt patch both with and without the CoD pin, so you can see how good it looks on both, before you order one for your Sea Scout uniform, red BSA Jac-Shirt, and your personal Scouting badge collection. Please forgive the poor quality of the photos taken by my mobile phone. Currently only 12 more of the Sea Scout/Jac Shirt version are left and a few more of the standard Scout/Venturing flaps remain. If you wish to order some, I suggest you order quickly.

14 June 2019

REVIEW: Cub Scouts Preview Adventures

Recently the BSA introduced 2 Preview Adventures for Cub Scouts, The Protect Yourself Rules Preview Adventure and Yo-Yo Preview Adventure, 2 corporately sponsored Adventures. So my new Tiger and WEBELOS Cub Scouts tried them out and here is their feedback. But first a brief description of each Adventure.
  • In partnership with the Barbara Sinatra Foundation we are proud to present the Protect Yourself Rules Adventure. This adventure is designed to provide your Cub Scouts information on how to Recognize, Respond, and Report abuse as part of the BSA’s Personal Safety Awareness program. This adventure is available for all Cub Scouts. It may be earned in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light badges of rank. (Lions do not earn Cyber Chip). If used in place of the Cyber Chip requirement, it may not be used as an elective adventure towards that badge of rank.
  • In partnership with Duncan Toys, we are proud to present the Yo-Yo Preview Adventure. This adventure develops eye-hand coordination and teaches fundamental concepts of gravity, motion, and energy. This adventure is available for the following ranks: Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light Cub Scouts.
For the record, both of my Cub Scouts have already taken their Cyber Chip for this Cub Scout Year, and so this was to be done as an elective. Both said they thought it was much more detailed and helped them more than Cyber Chip and can see this being a new more modern replacement for the Cyber Chip. Both thought it was very good and made them think.

Only my Webelos Scout was eligible for the Yo-Yo Adventure, although my Tiger Cub Scout really wanted to do it as well. The adventure recommends THIS Yo-Yo for the Adventure, and it definitely helps to have the right kind of Yo-Yo! The above link is the cheapest way to buy the recommended yo-yo. My Webelos thought this adventure was a little hard, but overall fun and was probably one of the shortest adventures he has ever done in Cub Scouts.

So overall my Cub Scouts recommend both adventures. You can check them out yourself at https://www.scouting.org/programs/cub-scouts/preview-adventures/

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