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Issue 5 – October 2002

Dear Andy, We used to have Order of the Arrow elections, but our old Scoutmaster stopped letting those OA guys in. He said those elections are just “popularity contests.” I’m a new Scoutmaster and don’t know what to do. Can you help me? (E.N., Morris Plains Scoutmaster)

Sure! Hey, you bet OA elections are popularity contests! And the Scouts that are popular are the ones who show up, show leadership, teach new skills to younger Scouts, and are good, safe campers. So where’s the problem? An OA election is a great way for these Scouts to get recognition from the other Troop members, and the OA will help instill in your elected Scouts the spirit of cheerful service to others. It doesn’t get any better than that! So call Peter Keays, Woapalanne Lodge Chief (973-593-9255) and tell him you’d like an OA election team to visit your Troop right away

Dear Andy, Our Scoutmaster doesn’t think one of our Scouts should be an Eagle. He signed the Scout’s Eagle Application, but now he’s telling our advancement committee that they shouldn’t “pass” this Scout on his Eagle Board because he really hasn’t “shown Scout Spirit.” What now? (K.T., Vernon Advancement Chair)

Let me get this straight – Your Scout-master signed the Scout’s application and now he’s bad-mouthing the kid? Sorry, Mister Scoutmaster — If the application’s signed, the story’s over! I’d urge the advancement committee to absolutely ignore anything that Scoutmaster has to say about this Scout (and maybe counsel the Scout-master on his own “Scout Spirit”!).

Dear Andy, A requirement for a Merit Badge I counsel is “attend a town meeting…”But in our town, the next meeting is over a month away, and the Scouts would like to complete the badge sooner. Can I substitute a requirement, instead of that one? (O.Y., Garwood MB Counselor)

Well, the BSA National Council says specifically that nobody can add to or subtract from a requirement, so I’m guessing the Scouts might have to just wait. But, nothing says the town meeting has to be their town! So, a way out of this is to find a town meeting in another town that happens sooner! This way, the requirement remains intact and the Scouts can get their wish! Sounds like a “win-win”!

Dear Andy, I have an Eagle Scout candidate who’s completed all his requirements, and now I’m reviewing the letters of recommendation he obtained. His letter from his spiritual advisor is not from his Priest but from his Godmother. This struck me as a little odd, and I haven’t ever run into this before. He’s a confirmed member of his church, so I know he’s gone through CCD with a Priest. Is a Godmother considered an acceptable spiritual advisor? (C.S., Fanwood Advancement Chair)

Actually, you’ve given me two questions here, and they’re both good ones. The first (although you didn’t ask it directly) is, “Who asks for and obtains the recommendation letters? And the answer is…NOT THE SCOUT! The Scout’s job, here, is to give you, the Advancement Chair, the names and addresses of no less than five people who can recommend him (of the six listed on the application for Eagle, the only optional one is “employer”). YOU then write to all five or six, explaining your request and asking these people to write to YOU in return – absolutely not the Scout. Now, for the second part: “spiritual” (actually the application says“religious”). Here, an “advisor” isn’t necessary, although that’s surely a nice idea, nor is even an “organized religion” required. All that’s required is someone who has knowledge of the Scout’ religious beliefs and how he lives these in his daily life. So, Godparent sounds fine!

Dear Andy, Where can our Pack get the most current copy of the BSA book, Guide to Safe Scouting? (Q.D., Morris Plains Cubmaster).

Go to face.html. The first is the “official” BSA version; the second gives the text of the 1999 edition plus updates through 9/01 and what the differences are! And, Yes, these are in process of becoming hot links on our council Web site:

Dear Andy, A Scout just called me, to work on a Merit Badge I counsel. He told me that he won’t take up much of my time, because he’s completed most of the requirements already. It seems his Scoutmaster (who’s not a counselor for this badge) has been “signing off” on requirements, but the Scout doesn’t even have a “blue card.” What do I do with this? (H.D., Watchung MB Counselor)

Well, maybe both the Scout andhis Scoutmaster need a little “counseling.” They might want to start by checking out page 187 in the Boy Scout Handbook. That’s where it lists the 3 steps to earning a MB, and working on the requirements is – you guessed it – third! But, this doesn’t help the Scout right this minute, and my suggestion is this: YOU are the Counselor and it’s YOUR signature that’s going to be on his card, so if the Scout did the requirement already, it should be a breeze for him to repeat it for you, so that you absolutely know he can do it!

Happy Scouting


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(Issue 5 – October 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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