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Issue 4 – September 2002

Dear Andy, Just before each of our annual Courts of Honor, we go to our local Scout Shop to buy the rank and merit badges to award, and often there aren’t enough in the bins for all of our Scouts. Why can’t the Scout Shop stock more, so that we don’t have to disappoint the Scouts when we have no badges to give them? (M.V., Scotch Plains Treasurer)

Hold the phone! ONE Court of Honor a year? You guys better study up on the BSA advancement process! Scouts who earn ranks and merit badges are supposed to get these at the very earliest opportunity – definitely NOT once a year! So the easiest solution is to get with the program and present rank advancements in your regular Troop meetings, just as fast as they’re earned. The purpose of a Court of Honor is to formally recognize each Scout’s advancements (all of them!) since the last Court; not to actually present the badges themselves.

Dear Andy, Our District has an adult volunteer recognition event coming up, and we’d like to have a really sharp opening ceremony. Any ideas? (D.H., District Advancement Chair)

Here are two ideas. First, ask your Unit Commissioners which of their units is the sharpest, that might be interested in doing this. Then, ask them to “get the word out” that you’re looking for something special, and see what units would like to put something together – something original – that goes beyond the usual “pledge-oath-law”routine, or does these in some unique way. Second idea – The Council just held our annual College of Commissioner Science, and the opening ceremony was done by Law Enforcement Post 188, sponsored by the Roxbury PD (Lt. Joe Franklin, Advisor, 973-448-2092), and the closing by the Woa-palanne Lodge OA Ceremonies Team (Jason Hollingsworth, Ceremonies Chair, 908-686-4396). Both were terrific! Call them and see what you can put together!

Dear Andy, My son has “aged out” of our Troop, and it’s time for me to turn my Committee Chair over to the“next generation.” I’d like to stay involved in Scouting, and I’m thinking about being a Unit Commissioner, so I can continue to keep an eye on the Troop I’ve been involved with for the past seven years. But I’ve been told that I can’t be a Unit Commissioner for my own unit, ‘cause I’d “show favoritism.” What do youthink? (J.S., North Plainfield Committee Chair)

What do I think? I think somebody’s got their head screwed on backwards! The Unit Commissioner’s first and most important job is to be THE UNIT’S BEST FRIEND and I can’t think of anyone better for a job like this than someone who’s been there for seven years. Ignore the “favoritism” stuff and sign on! Then ask to be assigned to one or two more units in your town that may not be quite as successful as your own, and help them, too, by being “Scouting’s Front-Line Ambassador.” Cross-pollinating good Scouting ideas from one unit to others is what it’s all about. Go for it!

Dear Andy, I’m noticing that when it comes to getting new ideas, information and such, you mostly suggest calling other volunteers – you almost never say,“Call Council.” What gives? (W.C., Neshanic Venturing Crew Advisor)

“Council” is an important part of the Scouting “infrastructure” – for things like administration, record-keeping, facilities management, and such. But the real “Scouting experts” are other volunteers just like you! Besides, there are a lot more volunteers –over 5,000 of us! – than there are “profess-sionals” (about 40) in this Council. We’re the ones “out there” running the programs, going camping, taking our units on outings, and helping each other unit-by-unit and district-by-district, so we represent an incredible resource to ourselves! Think of it this way, if experts were dollars, would you rather have 40 in your pocket – or 5,000!

Dear Andy, When we run our Pinewood Derby, we know that some of the parents have built the cars their sons are racing, and others haven’t. How can we “level the playing field” so that the boys build their own cars and the parents keep their hands off? (H.Q., Rockaway Cubmaster)

Get parents to keep their hands off? You gotta be kidding – that’s tougher than getting a kid to eat lima beans and like ‘em! But, you want fairness, and I agree, so why not have two races – boys cars AND parents’ cars – separately. Of course, it’s not manda-tory that a parent build a car, but for those who get itchy fingers when it comes to little blocks of wood, this gives them the satisfaction they need and keeps their sons’ cars relatively “clean.” (By the way, you do have other competitions besides speed, right? Like most radical design, best paint job, and so on. This helps the 99% who don’t have the fastest car win a trophy, too! And besides, it’s just more fun that way.)

Happy Scouting,


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(Issue 4 – September 2002)



About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

Read Andy's full biography

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