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Physically strong and mentally awake? Prove it. That’s the challenge facing the youth and adult competitors on Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?, including (above, from left) Keegan Rice, Rio Gifford, Lee Torno, Diallo Whitaker, Paul Mondello, David Cannon, and Rob Nelson.

Keegan Rice paddling—furiously steer their way through the rocks effortlessly, while the disorganized adults blunder along. When the teams portage over some rocks, Paul Mondello later recalls, “It hit me—I haven’t been this tired in years! It blasted me, and by the time we got the boat back in the river, I was exhausted. I run marathons, and I don’t remember being that tired.” “The whitewater rafting is a great example of

how the teamwork and leadership of the Boy Scout movement comes into play,” Mike explains after the competition. “With rafting, you need a team that’s in sync and knows how to communicate and can execute the core ideals of the Boy Scouts—following directions and adding your input at the same time, and working together to achieve a goal. “The adults weren’t working the same way—they

had three leaders and no followers, so they didn’t get anything done.” In this first match, the adults are beaten—and badly,

arriving at the finish line more than seven minutes after the Scouts. Afterward, Torno struggles to find an upside to their humiliation. “Well,” he offers, “nobody died.” Presenting this struggle between the adult former

Scouts and current Eagle Scouts to the viewers at home is one way that the Boy Scouts of America aims to refresh its image. But this reality-type show isn’t just about nail-biting competition. Within each challenge, the teamwork and character of the Scouts shines—just the kind of take-home lesson the BSA hopes to give

34 S COUTING ¿ January•FEBruary 2013

The six-episode Tougher?, which debuts this spring on the National Geographic Channel, comes from the mind of Thom Beers, producer and narrator of Ice Road Truckers and Storage Wars, among other hit shows. This time it’s current Boy Scouts and adult former Scouts in the spotlight, meaning it’s a chance for the country to take a second look at what today’s Scouts do—whitewater rafting, rappelling, shooting, canoeing, and other muscle-flexing feats designed to keep viewers glued to the TV. That is, of course, until the episode ends and future Scouts turn to their parents and say, “Sign me up!” Current Scouts and Scouters will find value in the show’s message, too: Scouting helps prepare young men and women for all of life’s adventures.

current and future Scouts and their parents. What better way to showcase this than on a national televi- sion show?

ARE YOU TOUGHER THAN A BOY SCOUT? is the brainchild of Thom Beers, the producer of such hit action-reality series as Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, and himself a one-time Boy Scout. “I loved being a Boy Scout,” he recalls. “It was awesome. I was three merit badges short of being an Eagle Scout, and for 40 years this has bugged the heck out of me. It gnawed at me.” At the same time, the Boy Scouts of America is

looking to update its reputation. “Many people out there have a perception of Scouting that’s about 30 years old,” says Stephen Medlicott, marketing group director for the BSA. “That’s the hardest thing to change. Ninety-five percent know who we are but have an old perception of what the brand is. To fix that, we call it ‘changing the conversation.’”

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