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Issue 9 – January 2003

Dear Andy, For Eagle Scouts, where can we get a list of people who write congratulatory letters? (M.J.K., SM, Garwood)

You have any number of options here! Locally, be sure to contact Mr. John Lawson, of the Sons of the American Revolution, at and he’ll prepare a special certificate and he’ll also check to see if the Eagle qualifies for a SAR scholarship. Also, our own Council Service Centers also stocks request forms for the US Army Youth Certificate of Recognition. And then go online to addresses.pdf and you’ll find some 8 pages of dignitaries, incl-uding President Bush, our astronauts, all the way to Bill Gates. Go for it!

Dear Andy, Our Troop’s advance-ment chair wants to start including Merit Badge classes in our Troops meetings, taught by Troop parents, to help our Scouts advance faster and easier. I say this idea is counter to the objectives and purposes of Merit Badges, and we should do our best to avoid ever doing this. Who’s right? (B.F., SM, Chester)

YOU are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! And please stick to your guns. I guess your advancement chair needs to study up on the two essential purposes for Merit Badges. The first is for the Scout to develop new skills or interests that could lead to a career or life-long hobby. The second is to contact and work with a person he doesn’t know. “Classes” taught by parents inside Troop meetings not only defeat the two essential purposes of Merit Badges, but it also turns Troop meetings into “Scout school.” This is just as deadly. Boys don’t join Scouts to “go to yet another school.” They join, and stay, because it’s NOT school! Besides, the people that work with Scouts on Merit Badges are called Counselors; not “teachers,” and there’s an absolutely valid reason why that’s a key part of the whole Scouting experience for the boy.

Dear Andy, Some of our Pack’s leaders and parents don’t want to bother with training like “Risk Zone,” “Safety Afloat,” “Baloo,” or “Youth Protection.” They say this stuff is “just common sense” and they spend enough time taking their boys on outings anyway, and after all, what’s more important – going on outings or sitting in some room being told what they already know. I’m at my wit’s end! What can I do? (L.H., CC, Scotch Plains)

Well, short of holding a gun to their heads, not much! But, you might want to remind them that, if they’re on an outing, and there’s an accident, and a lawsuit, and they don’t have the right training or they didn’t follow a “BSA Basic” (like “The Buddy System,” or “Two-Deep Leadership,” etc.) when it comes to covering costs, the BSA will very simply walk away, and they’re hangin’ there, blowin’ in the wind. And, you might want to follow up with a question: “We’re sending your son out with untrained leaders, OK?” That might sound a little harsh, but remember that, among youth service organizations, Scouting has an envi-able track record for low injuries and fatalities on land and water, and there are three reasons for that: TRAINING, TRAINING, and TRAINING!

Dear Andy, To help them “get ready” for Eagle, we’re thinking of having our Star Scouts do “mini-projects” for their Life rank. You know – complete with a write-up, and getting signatures, just a little “smaller” than a full Eagle Service Project. What do you think? (L.S., Troop Advancement Chair, Bedminster)

I really think your heart’s in the right place! But – and this is a big BUT! – by doing that, you’re adding to the Life rank requirement of six hours of service, and you just can’t do that! It’s a national policy that requirements can’t be added to or reduced from what’s stated – no matter how good the ultimate intent. But let’s come back to your basic idea: Helping Star Scouts understand what they’ll be doing when they go for Eagle. How about having the Eagle Scouts in your Troop make special presentations on their own projects – what they did, how they went about doing it – to the Star and even Life Scouts? Then, how about making sure that the Star & Life Scouts pitch in on upcoming Eagle rank projects? That could give you just the results you’re searching for!

Dear Andy, Where can I get information on famous Scouts and/or famous Eagle Scouts? (S.K., Scout parent)

If you have access to the Internet – and even if you don’t have it at home, check with your local library, which probably does – just go to any reliable search engine (I like “GOOGLE,” but the choice is yours) and enter: famous scouts or famous eagle scouts. You’ll get a whole bunch of sites that will give you just what you want.

Dear Andy, Are Sea Scouts still around? (C.A., former Sea Scout, Elizabeth)

You bet! Sea Scouts are alive and well! There are two Sea Scout Ships in our own council, based in Linden, and many around the state and country.

Happy Scouting,


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(Issue 9 – January 2003)


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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