Andy’s our Council’s “Commissioner extraordinaire.” This is his new column, and he’ll be answering your questions here in every issue.
Dear Andy, I hear you’ve got lots of experience. Better tell me a little about yourself before we start asking you questions! (A.J., Mountainside Parent)
Well, let’s see… I’ve been a Cubmaster and a Scoutmaster and a Den Leader, and as a Scout I was a Patrol leader and SPL. And I’ve also been a committee chair and a commissioner visiting lots of different units for a whole bunch of years. I’ve also been to Philmont, and I’ve been a Jamboree Scoutmaster. Is that enough ?
Dear Andy, Our parents like to drop their boys off before our Pack meetings and then pick them up when the meeting’s over. Is this OK? (B.K., Newton Cubmaster)
Sounds like you’ve got a “BSA means Baby Sitters Anonymous” Pack! Do the parents know that this is when their sons get to perform, and lead songs and skits, and get awards like Wolf and Bear and Arrow Points and stuff? Or is this when you and your Den Leaders are the “stars” of the show, and the boys just sit around like an audience? Maybe you need to reverse things, so that the boys are the stars and you guys sit back and enjoy the show! Along with the parents!
Dear Andy, Our Troop’s been going to Winnebago for a week every summer for years, and we really enjoy it. Now, we’d like to add a second week to our summer camping, but we want to go somewhere else for that week. Any thoughts on where we can find out about other camps? (Z.A., Madison Scoutmaster)
Oh, boy do I have ideas! First, check out Sabattis, our “high adventure camp” in the Adirondacks. Next, check with the Northern NJ and Central NJ councils – they have some dandy camps, and they’re near-by. But, if you’re looking for something really different, remember that our professional staffers have spent time with other councils in other states! Call our Service Centers and talk to them. Start with your own District Executive. I’ll bet they can tell you about camps that will take a little travel to get to, but just might provide exactly what you’re looking for – in places like Rhode Island, Ohio, Illinois and beyond! If you really want some adventure, and you’re willing to travel, there’s a wonderful Scout camp on Catalina (“26 miles across the sea”) Island, California. Call the San Gabriel Valley Council at 626-351-8815. Happy camping!
Dear Andy, We can’t have a Troop swim on camp-outs because although several of our adults are Safe Swim Defense-trained, they don’t have BSA Life Guard. We have two Scouts who earned BSA Life Guard, but they’re under 21 and can’t be supervisors. Can we invite a SSD-trained BSA Life Guard adult from another unit to come with us, so we’re covered? (I.R., Wantage Scoutmaster)
Sure you can, and that’s a great idea, but you don’t have to! So long as your adult supervisor is SSD-trained, and you have Scouts with BSA Life Guard, you’re covered, because the adult supervises (SSD Point 1) and the Scouts are the lifeguards (SSD Point 4). So there you have it! Happy camping – and swimming!
Dear Andy, We just lost our Cub-master – he moved away. He was a great guy, and it’s tough to replace him. I’ve spoken with our parents, but they seem afraid of all the work involved. Any suggestions? (N.W., Roxbury Pack Committee Chair)
When I was a Cubmaster, it was the best “job” I had in all of Scouting. As someone once said, “Cubmasters do none of the work and get all of the glory!” That’s pretty close to accurate. The Cubmaster’s responsible for the content of the monthly Pack meetings, but it’s the Den Leaders who do the work all month, the Cubs who get to perform, and the Cub-master who gets to be the Emcee or “Ringmaster” for the night! If you present it this way, any parent with even a modest flair for “crowd management” would have to be crazy not to want to be Cubmaster!
Dear Andy, I’m a Commissioner and I really like doing this. But a couple of units don’t like it when I drop in unannounced– they think I’m spying. What can I do? (D.M., Union UC)
Maybe “dropping in unannounced” isn’t such a cool idea – Would you do that to a friend? Nope, you’d probably call first to see if it’s OK, and then you’d probably bring some-thing to show your friendship (maybe that tool you borrowed last summer, or some just-baked cookies), right? Well, your units like to be treated the same way, too, so do it! Call first. And maybe if it’s not convenient, respect that! Then, when you do go, bring a gift – maybe a flyer about an upcoming Camporee, or news about a Roundtable or a training event! Or some just-baked cookies! That’s what a true “friend-of-the-unit” would do. I’ll bet you can do it, too!