Is Scouting Worth it?

August 31, 2011 by Steven Valley · 2 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

August 31, 2011

Falls Church City can count as one of its many assets a strong and vibrant scouting community.  There are four cub-scout packs and three boy-scout troops in and around the city with strong and diverse memberships. So it’s not surprising that scouting should be as popular as it is in a community that boasts a long history of civic involvement and a commitment to education, two main tenants of scouting. Parents in Falls Church regard education and family life among the main reasons they moved here and they seek out activities that promote those things.

With the start of the new school year, after school and weekend clubs are beginning to be formed, scouting is one of those and recruiting materials for the various packs and troops are being assembled for distribution. Schedules are being drafted and first meetings are being planned. So, if you’re interested in joining one of the city’s packs or troops the following article may be of interest to you.

So much of what we do as parents is geared towards helping our children negotiate the trials and tribulations of growing up. We want to make sure that every aspect of their day-to-day interactions is enriching, safe, and time well spent. We worry about them, we talk with them about the dangers around them, we drive them to any number of sporting and school related activities, we constantly direct them towards learning opportunities, and we always have in the back of our minds, “He’ll need this experience later on to help him get into a good school”.

Joining Cub Scouts as Tigers or Wolves seems like a fun distraction, but what you don’t know is that if (and this is a big if) he sticks with it through Eagle Scout, it might increase his chances of getting into a top tier school. How is that possible? Take a look at the following table:

# Institution ’09 accept rate
1 Harvard Univ. Cambridge, MA 7%
2 Princeton Univ. Princeton, NJ 10%
3 Yale Univ. New Haven, CT 8%
4 Columbia Univ. New York, NY 10%
5 Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA 8%
6 Univ. of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 18%
7 Calif. Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA 15%
8 MIT Cambridge, MA 11%
9 Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 13%
10 Duke Univ. Durham, NC 19%

Source: Ranking by US News and World Report, 2009

In 2009 the top 10 colleges in the country had an average acceptance rate of 12%, that’s down 3% from 2005. In 2008 (the latest year this data is available) these same colleges had an average of 17,000 applications submitted to each of them for admission and of those applications; an average of 2,600 were accepted at each. One more fact is that admission figures for these same institutions for the past 7 years show that their acceptance rates have remained relatively flat.*

Now if you couple those figures with the fact that the U.S. Education Department predicted that the largest graduating high school class in US history was in 2008.  That class was 3.3** million students in size (for comparison, in 1980 there was 2.3 million HS Grads***), and that number will stay relatively constant until 2016 when it will dip slightly to 3.2 million and then gradually begin to rise again. In addition to this, over the past 10 years the number of colleges that high school seniors apply to has increased to 15**** schools (this number is up 3 fold since the early ‘90’s). By using shared application sites colleges make their application process easily replicated.  Students fill out one application and customize sections of it for the different institutions they want the site to submit it to.  Companies like aggregate over 400 college applications and make it easy to apply to and pay for, one-stop-shopping!  It’s easy to see that we have a problem here.

That problem being; if the number of high school graduates is increasing, along with the number of applications from each college bound high school student, and the number of students being accepted by top colleges is dropping, how in the world does your child stand out in that crowd and get noticed?

By being a Cub Scout and sticking with it all the way through to being an Eagle Scout, that’s how.

In a recent major newspaper article the author wrote about high school students who were over-scheduled with activities and how most college acceptance boards were beginning to see through this mélange of activities for what it was really worth, nothing. The acceptance boards asked; how can students who take part in 15-20 activities get anything out of participating in them? Either they are super human and can live without sleep or they were outright lying about their experiences in them since they couldn’t possibly get anything of value from the brief periods of time they could devote to them.

Now, nothing will ever take the place of having excellent grades, and high SAT scores to prove that you’re a good student to college admissions boards. But in order to stand out, these same boards are looking for good students who have done 3 to 4 out of school activities over a long period of time. Not the 17 or so last minute activities done poorly and in an obvious shallow attempt to impress admissions personnel and pad resumes.

This article went on to state these same admissions boards indicated that sports, music, and civic groups rank among the top activities a college bound student should take part in. But they added a twist, the student needs to have done them for more than just a few years and their participation needs to be verifiable. Cub Scouts leading into Boy Scouts satisfies those requirements.

Scouts who participate fully in all that a Pack has to offer begin to form a connection with the city that hosts them and with its residents. They begin to see that reaching out and helping for the good of others is a smart thing to do. Mostly they begin to understand how the world of Scouting works and they form connections to boy scout troops in their community who help with some of the shared community service events, scouting for food is a big one.  This journey begins with cub scouts and ends in boy scouts where he’ll do the same type of work but now it goes on to a higher purpose.

To become an Eagle Scout he’ll move through 6 rank levels, he’ll need 21 merit badges, he’ll be graded on his participation and leadership in the troop, he’ll take part in 100’s of hours of community service, and he’ll need to plan and present his Eagle project. To do his Eagle project he’ll use all of the things he’s learned in school and in scouting. He’ll then document and present the results of that project to a group of leaders and professionals outside of the school system for approval. In essence his Eagle project is a three dimensional thesis, presented, developed, approved, and graded by a board of community professionals, in essence they validate his secondary education.

Here are some other facts about scouting that you may not be aware of from a recent survey. For every 100 scouts:

  • 18 will develop a hobby that will last through their adult life
  • 17 will become future Scout volunteers
  • 8 will enter a vocation that was learned through the merit badge system
  • 2 will become Eagle Scouts
  • 1 will use his Scouting skills to save the life of another person

So is it worth it? I think so, if you’re looking to help your child stand out in a crowd and participate in a program that has real value?  The journey in scouting has nothing equal to it and he can use the experiences he’s had in scouting later on to help him get into a good school.

*Numbers obtained and assembled from those institutions web sites for admissions figures
**College Board, Trends in Number of High School Graduates: National PPT file
***US ED Inst of Education Sciences,
****The College Board


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September at the Library

August 31, 2011 by Falls Church Times Staff · Leave a Comment 


August 31, 2011

September book discussions include City of Thieves by David Benioff on Thursday, September 1 and Barefoot in Baghdad by Manal Omar on Tuesday, September 13.

Story hours resume in the Youth Services Room on Monday, September 12.

A special story hour will be held on “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, Monday, September 19.

Details on these and other events are available in the library’s monthly newsletter.


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Crime Report for August 23 – 29

August 30, 2011 by (see byline) · Leave a Comment 


August 30, 2011

Public Drunkenness and Drinking In Public, 6700 block Wilson Blvd. (Eden Center).  On Aug. 23, a 31 year old Herndon woman was arrested for Public Drunkenness and Drinking In Public.

Driving Under the Influence, 100 block S. West St.  On Aug. 23, an officer conducted a traffic stop for a motor vehicle violation.  The driver, a 28 year old Alexandria man, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence.

Public Drunkenness, 100 block E. Columbia St.  On Aug. 23, a 52 year old Arlington man was arrested for Public Drunkenness.  He is also being held on a US Marshall ’s Office warrant for a Probation Violation.

Stolen Vehicle, 1200 block Ellison St.  On Aug. 24, 2:48 a.m., a vehicle was stolen from the residents’ driveway.  The vehicle was recovered the same morning in Prince William County .

Vandalism, 601 S. Oak St. (Thomas Jefferson Elementary School).  On Aug. 24, swing set seats were cut in half graffiti was found on a picnic table.

Larceny of Motor Vehicle Parts, 200 block Cleave Dr.  On Aug. 24, the right side view mirror to the victim’s vehicle was removed sometime overnight.

Larceny from Building, 113 Park Ave. Suite 300 (Human Touch Home Health).  On Aug. 24, the victim’s phone was stolen from an unattended desk sometime overnight.

Trespassing, Public Drunkenness, and Smoking In a Non-Designated Area, 6757 Wilson Blvd. (Eden Center).  On Aug. 24, an officer observed an individual smoking tobacco products in the hallway of the Eden Center.  The individual was also previously banned from entering the Eden Center.  A 26 year old Riverdale, MD man was arrested for Trespassing, Public Drunkenness, and Smoking In a Non-Designated Area.

Larceny from Building, 442 S. Washington St. (Elevation Burger).  On Aug. 24, 11:45 a.m., an unknown suspect stole a wallet from a customer’s purse hanging from a chair.

Larceny from Building, 6775 Wilson Blvd. (Rice Paper Restaurant).  On Aug. 25, unknown suspect(s) stole a fire alarm control box system sometime overnight.

Shoplifting, 6607 Wilson Blvd. (BJ’s Wholesale).  On Aug. 25, an officer responded to the location for a report of beer being shoplifted.  A 24 year old Fairfax man was arrested for Shoplifiting.

Larceny from Building, 803 W. Broad St. Suite 400 (National Massage Therapy Institute).  On Aug. 25, an iPod Touch, and various personal items were stolen from an unattended backpack sometime between 12 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.

Larceny of Motor Vehicle Parts, 101 W. Jefferson St. ( Falls Church Auto Body).  On Aug. 26, two airbags were stolen from vehicles awaiting repair.

Driving Under the Influence, 100 block W. Greenway Blvd.  On Aug. 27, an officer conducted a traffic stop for a motor vehicle violation.  The driver, a 54 year old Falls Church man, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence.

Littering, 6757 Wilson Blvd. (Eden Center).  On Aug. 28, an officer observed an individual occupying a parked vehicle throw beer bottles to the ground.  A 54 year old Silver Spring, MD man was arrested for Littering.

Larceny from Building, 223 Little Falls St. (Community Center).  On Aug. 28, an iPod Touch and cell phone was stolen from an unattended backpack sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Driving Under the Influence, 1000 block E. Broad St.  On Aug. 28, an officer conducted a traffic stop for a motor vehicle violation.  The driver, a 32 year old Herndon man was arrested for Driving Under the Influence.

Robbery and Malicious Wounding, 306 Hillwood Ave. (Lesley Restaurant).  On Aug. 29, 2:00 a.m., a customer leaving the restaurant was allegedly assaulted by three Hispanic males.  The victim reported his wallet was stolen and he was stabbed during the altercation.  Victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

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City Restores Services After Hurricane

August 28, 2011 by (see byline) · Leave a Comment 

August 28, 2011

Several hours after rains and winds from Hurricane Irene left Falls Church City, all City traffic lights are operating normally and the Community Center and Library will be open regular operating hours today, but some residents and businesses are still without power.

According to Dominion Power, some Falls Church customers still do not have electricity.  Dominion is working to restore service and citizens can report outages with Dominion by calling 866-366-4357.  To be safe, residents should stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas and debris and treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they’re energized.   Residents should also note that exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide and can be deadly, so only run generators outside with proper ventilation.  Fuel for generators should be stored safely outside.

City crews worked through the night and this morning to clear downed trees in public right-of-ways. Despite several downed trees and many branches, no City streets are blocked.  Trees cut by City crews have been moved to the side of the road and will be collected in the next few weeks and eventually recycled.  Because a federal emergency was not declared for the City of Falls Church, City collection of brush debris from Hurricane Irene will follow normal brush collection procedures.  Instructions for bundled brush collection are available on the City web site or by calling 703-248-5176 (TTY 711) Monday through Friday.  To request a special collection of unbundled brush ($75 per 2 cubic yards of material) call 703-248-5160 or self-haul material to the Fairfax County Transfer Station (4618 West Ox Road); fees may apply; call 703-631-1179 (TTY 711) for more information

While the heavy rains and strongest winds from Irene have left the area, it is possible some trees may still fall.  To report a downed tree in Falls Church, call the non-emergency police line at 703-248-5053.  Call 911 only for emergencies.

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VIDEO: Falls Church Residents Prepare for Irene

August 26, 2011 by Andrew Finein · Leave a Comment 

Video Editor
August 26, 2011

As Hurricane Irene is set to impact this area Saturday night into Sunday morning, Falls Church area residents are rushing to local stores and gas stations to prepare for the worst. Batteries, bread, and water are some of the first items to disappear from the shelves at the Falls Plazza Giant in Falls Church.

Officials recommend stocking up with 2-3 days of food and water, as well as plenty of batteries to power those TVs and radios.  They also suggest filling gas tanks in case of an emergency. As always, residents should check local news and radio stations for updates. Falls Church City will issue email and text alerts through and post on the City’s Facebook page.

Here are some important numbers that you may need during the upcoming storm:

  • Dominion Power: 866-366-4357
  • City Water Service: 703-248-5071
  • City InfoLine, manned starting at 6 a.m. on Sunday: 703-248-5200
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City Announces Storm Information Line

August 26, 2011 by (see byline) · Leave a Comment 


August 26, 2011

As Hurricane Irene roars up the East Coast, the City of Falls Church continues to prepare for heavy rains and possible high winds that could cause downed trees and power outages late Saturday and early Sunday.  City Manager Wyatt Shields said the City is taking necessary precautions to keep residents and employees safe, to keep streets open and to maintain City services, especially water. 

Falls Church Police encourage the public to stay off the streets during the storm to keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles.  Calls to 911 should only be for emergencies.  To report power outages, call Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-366-4357.  The City has set up a Storm Information Line, 703-248-5200 (TTY 711), which will be answered during the peak of the storm by a City staff member beginning at 6 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28.  When not answered by staff, the phone line will carry recorded information.   A list of emergency contact numbers is available on the City web site: along with other emergency information and updates about City services.  Weather emergency information is also posted on the City’s facebook page: and FCC-TV (Cox channel 12, Verizon channel 35, RCN channel 2).

City residents should make preparations now for possibly several hours of bad weather and power outages.  Supplies to have on hand include non-perishable food and water for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio with extra batteries, a flashlight with extra batteries, and basic first aid supplies. 

The City’s preparations include placement of standby generators at City Hall, the Community Center, Public Utilities pumping stations and the Property Yard.  The Community Center and Library will have normal operating hours this weekend unless it becomes unsafe for employees and the public.  The City water system has emergency generators in place to maintain water service.  Although police advise the public to stay off the streets during the storm, the City’s goal is to keep traffic moving and Public Works crews has generators on standby to operate all Broad Street traffic signals and select intersections on Washington Street.  In preparation for possible flooding, City crews have cleared debris from catch basins and storm drains.  

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FOOD: Voting for the Best!

August 26, 2011 by Kathleen Nixon · Leave a Comment 

BY Kathleen Nixon

August 26, 2011

Falls Church Times Staff

It is that time again to get out and vote for the Best Farmers Market. Last year the Falls Church Farmers Market won in the Medium size category and we are going to need everyone’s vote this year to win again!

The American Farmland Trust in its efforts to bring awareness to local farms began the contest as part of the No Farms No Food program.  The America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest is designed to raise national awareness about the importance of supporting fresh food from local farms and farmers.

From my point of view, our local farmers market is not only a nationally ranking farmers market, I see it as a vital part of our community and health. While at the Falls Church Farmers Market, many will ask me “why would I pay $3 a pound for local tomatoes?” For some reason, the cost of tomatoes seems to be the major bellwether in consumers’ minds. Those who ask me know that I will answer in favor of the local seemingly higher cost farmers’ market tomatoes. Many consumers still do not realize that comparing the cost of produce in the local farmers market is not necessarily apples to apples or I should say tomato to tomato.

The tomato in the grocery store is either organically or conventionally raised on a large industrialized farm probably utilizing immigrant labor. If it was raised conventionally there were pesticides and fertilizers involved. The tomato itself was modified to be picked early so it would stay firm in transport. It was also modified so that it would have the “look” of a tomato – the red globe that it typically associated with a tomato.  The cost of the tomato from the grocery stores also includes the cost of federal subsidized water, subsidizing of services for an immigrant population, international or national transport, and the detrimental affects on the environment. On top of this you are not getting all of the nutrients from the tomato that you think you should be getting, so you have to supplement your diet with vitamins.  While it may seem that your grocery store tomato is “cheaper” you have to weigh all the costs into the equation.

This is compared to your farmers’ market tomato which may be red, green, yellow, purple or zebra as it is an heirloom tomato rather than a modified standard tomato. The variety adds to the tastes and textures to the tomatoes.  One of the benefits of shopping at a farmers market is that you can ask the farmer if the tomato was raised with pesticides and fertilizers. This is one of the great benefits of a farmers market and not something you can do at the grocery store. The produce was raised and transported within 150 miles of where it is purchased and thus you are supporting the local economy.  The positive affects on my taste buds, my health, my community and the environment are worth the cost differential between the local and grocery store tomato.

Farmers markets have grown in popularity over the last decade and have become a vital retail channel for many of the local farms in addition to farm stands and CSAs (community supported agriculture). But farmers markets also provide a vital component to our community. It doesn’t matter your political affiliation, economic standing or family size, we all need food. The farmers’ market provides a way to gather our food, commune with the farmers and participate in our community in a way that not only sustains us physically but fiscally, environmentally and spiritually.

So back to the national competition – be it that you enjoy the farmers market for its community feel, catch up with neighbors, listen to music, watch a chef demonstration, eat a tasty treat  or buy your weekly groceries, please take the time to show your community pride in our local community of farmers and our farmers market by voting for Falls Church Farmers Market to be the best Farmers Market ( in the medium category) in the country! Voting ends midnight August 31st!

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Falls Church City Prepares for Hurricane Irene

August 25, 2011 by (see byline) · Leave a Comment 


August 25, 2011 (6:00 pm)

City Manager Wyatt Shields and Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Polera met with City staff from all departments today to review the tracking report for Hurricane Irene, to coordinate preparations, and to discuss response plans.  Although classes don’t begin until after Labor Day, the Falls Church City Public School system is making preparations for the first day of school so also attending today’s meeting was School Superintendent Toni Jones.

Preparing for possible power outages, City staff has tested and fueled standby generators for use at City Hall, the Community Center, public utilities pumping stations, and the property yard.  The Community Center and Mary Riley Styles Public Library will stay open normal operating hours this weekend unless it becomes unsafe for employees and the public.  The City water system has emergency generators in place to maintain water service.  Although police advise the public to stay off the streets during the storm, the City’s goal is to keep traffic moving, and Public Works crews have generators on standby to operate all Broad Street traffic signals and select intersections on Washington Street.  In preparation for possible flooding, City crews have cleared debris from catch basins and storm drains. 

If the storm is severe, the City will open the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate its response and keep the public informed through a variety of communication tools, including:

FCC-TV (Cox channel 12, Verizon channel 35, RCN channel 2)

1680 AM radio

Falls Church Alert

And regular media updates.

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