by Megan SmolenyakMegan's website

The last time I wished I were an 11-year-old boy was — well, never.   But right now, I’d like to swap places with one.  Why?  Free DNA testing.  I’m not kidding.

In one of the more unusual arrangements I’ve heard of, free Y-DNA testing is being offered for active Boys Scouts of America.  To learn more, go to ScoutMedia (http://www.scoutmedia.org/) and click on the “free DNA/genealogy test” link toward the upper, left-hand corner.  There you’ll be taken to a page explaining the SMGF/BSA Participation Special.  It’s a multi-step process, but will save the usual $100-$230 for a mid-range test (that is, one with 20-some-odd markers).

The SMGF referenced above is the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation.  To receive a free test, it is necessary to first participate in the SMGF study.  This kit can be ordered via the website and must be submitted with four or more generations of one’s family tree.  Once the kit is received back by the lab, a coupon will be emailed.  With coupon in hand, you can then call Relative Genetics at 1-800-956-9362 to request a free test.  If you’d rather not submit a sample and pedigree to SMGF, there’s an option to order a kit at a steeply discounted $95 — still a good price.

Are you a ScoutMaster?
While this is a great bargain for individual Boy Scouts, it could be even more intriguing if entire troops joined the world of genetic genealogy.  A little snooping around the internet reveals that 5,714 genealogy merit badges were awarded in 2004 – and 177,121 have been awarded in total.  In 2004, that puts genealogy roughly on a par with skiing, skating, salesmanship, railroading, bird study, collection, home repairs and radio.  Not bad company — but it pales in comparison to woodwork and archery, both of which were completed by more than ten times as many Scouts. 

Perhaps a 21st century dash of science would enhance the appeal to today’s Scouts.  Forensics is wildly popular with students — largely because of DNA — so why not introduce genetics into the genealogy arena?  It’s true the requirements for the genealogy merit badge (http://usscouts.org/mb/mb056.html) are mum on the topic of DNA, but what a great way to provoke interest.  Especially when it’s free!

Jump In Today!
If you’re a ScoutMaster or a Boy Scout or simply know someone who is, please spread the word soon because it’s hard to say how long this offer will last.  And should you decide to take advantage of this special arrangement, I’d like to hear from you.  Your experiences may well be of interest to other Scouts and ScoutMasters, so I’ll try to share them in a future article.  In the meantime, enjoy your adventures in the world of “genetealogy”!


Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, co-author (with Ann Turner) of Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree (as well as In Search of Our Ancestors, Honoring Our Ancestors and They Came to America), can be contacted through www.genetealogy.com and www.honoringourancestors.com. 

Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:

Upcoming Events Where Megan Will Be Speaking:

  • Burlington County Genealogy Club
    (April 5, 2006, Westampton, NJ)
  • Genealogy Federation of Long Island
    (April 8, 2006, Stony Brook, NY)
  • Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia
    (April 10, 2006, Elkins Park, PA)
  • Virginia Genealogical Society
    (April 22, 2006, Location TBD)
  • Rockland County Genealogical Society
    (May 6, 2006, New City, New York)
  • Roots in the Boot
    (July 15, 2006, Pittsburgh, PA)

Details and links to upcoming events

6 thoughts on “DNA for BSA

  1. I am definitely going to tell our Scout Master about this one. I have no more Scout aged boys in my home, but I hope the Scouts in our area will take advantage of this opportunity.

  2. I am on our Boy Scout Committee with two boys in the troop currently. What is the value to us – given that the web site says that individuals do not receive their test results back. What can we learn from this testing. Also, what do they mean about getting a profile from a commercial lab – is that something one must then pay for?

    “Due to privacy issues, samples are analyzed for database construction purposes only and individual results are not given back to participants. However, you may obtain your genetic marker profile from a commercial lab if you would like to search the SMGF database.”

  3. Hi Barbara,

    I need to clarify one piece of the article:

    “Once the kit is received back by the lab, a coupon will be emailed. With coupon in hand, you can then call Relative Genetics at 1-800-956-9362 to request a free test.”

    You won’t get results back from SMGF, but you’ll get a coupon for a test by Relative Genetics, a commercial testing company. Once you get that coupon, you’ll need to call the number above and explain that the test you’re ordering from Relative Genetics is for a Boy Scout. They’ll make the arrangements to process the (commercial) test for free.

  4. Megan- Thank you so much for clearing up Barbara’s question. I was a bit confused between the two sites myself. But even with just doing the Sorenson test for entry into the database the information for future generations, or others who can afford to get the commercial results seems to be a tremendous boon. I’m thinking of having my brother do this if he will, even if he won’t pay for his own results. We’re one of those lovely names that everybody has…Miller! LOL I’d stumbled across this originally a while back and forgotten to bookmark it. Thanks for the heads up for my boyscout! And I passed the information on to the troop leader as well.

  5. Just another small question, is this for Boy Scouts only, can Scoutmasters, leaders, committee members also apply for this since they are ‘registered’ members of the Boy Scouts? Thanks very much for providing this information.

  6. I’m sorry, Leah, but I’m not sure. I believe it’s intended specifically for the youngsters, but it would definitely be worth checking with the folks at Scout Media (see the link in the article above).

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