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Issue 10 – February 2003

Want to breathe some new life into an opening ceremony for a Blue & Gold meeting, Court of Honor, or other special occasion? Here’s something a fellow Commissioner sent to me about our American Flag and how and why it’s folded the way it is, that you can convert into a “voice-over”… WHY THE FLAG IS FOLDED 13 TIMES.

The first fold is a symbol of life.

Second fold: A symbol of our belief in eternal life in God.

Third fold: In honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

Fourth fold: Represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

Fifth: A tribute to our Country. To quote Stephen Decatur: “Our Country …may she always be right; but she is still our country, right or wrong.”

Sixth: For where our hearts lie. It is with our hands over our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Seventh: A tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through them that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our Republic.

Eighth: A tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mothers, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

Ninth: A tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith in God, their love, loyalty and devotion, that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

Tenth: A tribute to our fathers; for they, too, have given their sons and daughters for the defense of our Country.

Eleventh: In the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Twelfth: In the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

After the thirteenth fold, when the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our nation’s motto: “In God We Trust.”

When the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a tri-cornered hat, reminding us of the Revolutionary War, and soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and ship-mates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

Now, on to our questions this month…

Dear Andy,

I’m a pretty new Scoutmaster, and I’m wondering – besides Camping and First Aid, are there any other Merit Badges a Scoutmaster can sign off for a Scout in his Troop? (D.L., SM, Rockaway, NJ)

Whoops! Are you telling me that you want to act in the place of a registered Merit Badge Counselor, without being a registered Counselor? Sorry, only registered Counselors are authorized to do this! No exceptions. So, if you want to handle these Merit Badges, then get yourself registered as a Counselor for them with your Council (Yes, you can be registered more than one way, so this doesn’t mean you have to “give up” Scoutmastering). But, if you’re just talking about pro-viding letters of verification (like, “Billy Jones has camped for 30 days and nights”) for the Scout to give to a Counselor, there’s no problem at all. In fact, that’s a great way to help Scouts advance!

Dear Andy,

I’m taking Commissioner Training. There’s lots of talk about helping units solve their problems by counseling, advising and so forth, but not much about when our “iron fist” goes to work. What’s the general rule on this? How much patience do you give before you just lay down the law and enforce the rules? (K.M., UC, Rahway, NJ)

You’ll be disappointed if you’re hoping to use any sort of “iron fist.” You see, there is none! Commissioners are many things – ambassadors, counselors, advisors, best friends, information resources – but not “dictators,” “cops” or, as you put it, “iron fists.” Yes, sometimes units and their leaders get off-track delivering the Scouting program, and a challenge to you, as Commissioner, is to help them back on track while remaining their friend. This is critical, because they might stray again, and will need your intercession again. And, when they do, they need to know that you’re there for them, and not “against” them, that you’ll aid them, not beat ‘em up, ‘cause that’s just not what Commissioners do!

Dear Andy,

We have a Scoutmaster that interprets “boy run” very literally. Which means that there’s hardly any semblance of organization and our Troop meetings usually have a couple dozen Scouts playing free-for-all basketball the whole meeting. Our Scoutmaster says this is OK because, “That’s what the boys want to do.” The Troop is large—over 100 scouts—which only compounds things more. There are plenty of adults at every meeting, but no one wants to intervene. Can we get this Troop “back on track” or is it hopeless? (A.S., parent, Zionsville, IL)

Don’t give up on that Troop yet! That Scoutmaster’s on the right track when he takes literally that “Boy Scout Troops are Scout run.” He just hasn’t taken it far enough. If he takes that one part literally, he’d better be taking literally a few other things, too, like the Scoutmaster’s most important job is to train and mentor boy LEADERS, and he advises the PATROL LEADERS COUNCIL, and he offers recommendations for TROOP MEETING PROGRAM PLANNING. I get the feeling maybe he’s using the “boy run” part to take the lazy way out of doing the rest! A Troop of 100 should have at least a dozen PATROLS of 6 to 8 Scouts each, with elected PATROL LEADERS. Scouts age 16 or over are be appointed JR. ASSISTANT SCOUTMASTERS, each with a specific area of responsibility. There should be one SENIOR PATROL LEADER, who has, maybe a couple of ASSISTANT SPL’s. The Troop meetings are run by the SPL, who works through the PL’s and uses his Assistant SPL’s and JASM’s for special occasions, like Scoutcraft instructions, inter-patrol games, and so forth. Basketballs are fine, if they’re available during the “gathering time” (usually the 15 minutes immediately before the formal opening of the meeting), but then they should be put away for the duration of the meeting. (After all, boys don’t have to be Scouts to play basketball!) Then, the meeting itself should have a set number of regular segments, starting with an opening ceremony and including “Patrol Corners” for event planning, some Scoutcraft instruction, an inter-patrol game based on the Scoutcraft just learned, and a closing ceremony with “Scoutmaster’s Minute.” All of this stuff is “in the book,” and the dozen or so parents who attend these meetings should be insisting on these things – these are the important things that set the Scouting program apart from “boys’ clubs,” etc. So, first, get hold the SCOUTMASTER’S HANDBOOK (go to your local Scout Shop) and do some more reading. Then, all parents should approach the SM and Troop committee and request that the Troop be run according to the program laid out. Now, the SM might threaten to resign (that’s sometimes a threat used so they don’t have to change anything or get better at their jobs). If that happens, ACCEPT THE RESIGNATION. Yup, accept it, and don’t waffle, because if you don’t nothing’s gonna change! Then, from among the involved parents, select a new Scoutmaster and GO TO A TRAINING COURSE. Scared? Don’t be. A Scout-run Troop that’s well-run makes the Scoutmaster’s job an easy and highly rewarding one! Especially when there are other parents involved who will back him up and help support the Troop program!

Hi Andy,

We’re just finishing up our last year of Webelos, and we’re looking for some ideas for the Crossing Over Ceremony. We want it to be really special for them. If you could help we would greatly appreciate it. (T.N., Webelos Den Leader, Whiteville, NC)

Congratulations! It’s fun but not always an easy job to take Bear Cubs all the way through the Webelos program to graduation, but it sure feels great when you get there! The Cub Scout Fun Book has some cool ceremonies in it, and it should be available at your local Scout Shop. Also, go to your District’s monthly Roundtable meeting and ask around—I’m sure you’ll get some great ideas there, too. When I was a Webelos Den Leader, I combined the Arrow of Light Ceremony with the “Bridging” Ceremony, and I was able to get our local Order of the Arrow Lodge (this is an honor camping fraternity of Boy Scouts) involved. Each Webelos Scout in my Den received an actual arrow, and each arrow had painted on it a series of rings around the shaft corresponding to the number of Activity Badges (pins) that each boy had earned. But, the bridging was most important. I’m assuming you have a bridge, or can borrow or make one. That’s important, but the most important part is to make sure there’s a Scoutmaster from each of the Troops the boys will join (yes, they can definitely join different Troops, depending on their own personal preferences), and each Scoutmaster should have with him a Troop neckerchief and slide. As each Webelos Scout’s name is announced, he AND HIS PARENTS cross the bridge together and the Scoutmaster replaces the Webelos neckerchief and slide with those of the Troop. If affordable (each situation is different), the Scoutmaster might present the parents with a Boy Scout Handbook. Some Scoutmasters like to bring a Boy Scout with them to assist. Usually it’s the Troop’s Senior Patrol Leader. Other times, it might be the Den Chief from the Troop who was a part of the Den. Both ways are excellent, and should be encouraged. By the way, I hope one or more of your leaders and parents plan to get involved in your sons’ Troop, too!

Dear Andy,

My husband and I are leading a brand new Cub Scout Pack. Our Pack isn’t your typical unit—I only have 3rd grade Bears, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle taking on all the grades. I need help on giving out funny goofy awards for my Cub Scouts at our Blue & Gold dinner. Could you give me any ideas?? (D. &T. W., CM/DL, Portland, OR)

Hey, CONGRATULATIONS for having the gumption and grit to start a new unit! My hats off to you! For special awards, you hit a “party supply” store, where they have pre-made medals-on-ribbons (Olympic-style). You can put stickers on the back with the Cub’s name and “award designation.” Or, try a craft store like AC Moore, Michael’s or Rag Shop, and buy ribbons and little dangly things that can be assembled in the same way. Also, consider something similar for parents, too! (Boys love to see their parents get recognition — almost more than the other way around.) But, just like the boys, if you award one, you need to award all! Now, a brief cautionary note: Be sure your “fun/goofy” ideas don’t accidentally “insult” anyone — like, if you give an award for “tallest Cub” what do you do for the shortest, or if there’s a “most athletic,” what do you do for the couch potato? Something else you might want to explore—and these are REAL awards!—are the BELT LOOP programs for SPORTS and ACADEMICS. These can be done in Den meetings, without interfering with regular rank advancement (for which the parents are “Akela”), and this way you can make some real and significant award presentations at your Blue & Gold and other Pack meetings! There are also some “stand-alone” activities, like Donor Awareness, and the boys get a cool patch they can wear on their right pockets! Also, go to your district’s once-a-month Roundtable meetings, get to know some other leaders like yourselves, and ask them for some more ideas! They’ll love to share with you!

Hey Andy,

I know a Scouter who wears a Canadian National Jamboree patch in the place over the right pocket of the shirt reserved for the BSA National Jamboree patch. I had assumed that this spot was reserved for wearing ONLY the American National Jamboree patch (provided the wearer was a participant or staff member). Is it correct to wear any other nation’s jamboree patch in this location, even if the wearer was a participant or staff member of that jamboree? (J.C., Past Council President, Ann Arbor, MI)

Technically, this one’s pretty much a no-brainer, but there’s more to it than that! Only one BSA National or one World Jamboree patch can be worn above the right pocket of the uniform, and only if the wearer has been an actual participant or staffer (like, not just a “day-tripper”). So, technically, a Canadian Jamboree patch wouldn’t be “authorized” on a BSA uniform. Now comes the hard part — What to do about it! This is a judgment call. If the guy were wearing something other than a Jamboree patch over the right pocket, I might be tempted to mention something to him, privately. I’ve seen lots of stuff worn there, from camp patches to world conservation awards, to just about you-name-it. When it’s someone I know, I’ll very quietly and privately suggest where the “misplaced” patch is supposed to be worn (and I’ll always give a reason, like “leaving it there can mislead the Scouts or parents or other adult leaders…”). But, at least here, we have a Jamboree patch, even though it’s Canadian. So, this one’s your call, based on your relationship with this Scouter, and also based a little bit on his Scouting position (like, is he a Member-at-Large, or the Council Commissioner?).

Dear Andy,

I’m a Unit Commissioner-in-Training and I’m looking for a reference. My question is about the inclusion of Senior Patrol Leaders in Boy Scout Leader Roundtables. The only reference I’ve found so far is your answer to a question in your Winter 2001-2002 “Ask Andy.” At our Commissioners Meeting, during the discussion about Roundtables, I said to the new RT Commissioner that the SPLs should be invited. He replied that that isn’t stated anywhere in the BSA literature and that there must be a reason that they’re not invited. I know I’ve seen it, but some BSA publications are changed and the changes aren’t identified. Are we supposed to compare every new publication word for word to discover the differences? So, is the invitation of SPLs to RTs explicitly mentioned in the guide for Roundtables, or in other publications? I’d appreciate any explicit citations you can give to me. Or, that it’s just one of those good ideas that was never in the BSA literature, as far as we know? Thanks for your efforts. I like the “Ask Andy” format and the topics are ones that are common. It’s good to see the answers written so well. (J.N., UC, Princeton, NJ)

You’ve asked me two questions here, and I’m going to tackle them in reverse order for you. As far as changes in programs, etc. are concerned, what I’ve noticed is that, if they’re small or subtle changes, little is mentioned from one publication to the next, usually because the essential intent hasn’t changed. But, when the changes are big ones, like what’s happened with Swimming Merit Badge or Wood Badge for the 21st Century, there’s lots of pre-publicity, and publications are usually given a whole new look. A lot can be found in SCOUTING Magazine, especially in the front sections on “news.” So, try not to make yourself crazy by looking for wording changes from one edition to the next. Look for the “big stuff” that really matters! And this leads right into the first question you asked me… I’m not sure there’s any publication that states whether Senior Patrol Leaders are “permitted” to attend Roundtables or not. But, to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to find “chapter-and-verse.” Let’s step out of the forest for a moment, and look at it. Roundtables provide program ideas. The two key people in a Troop who can use program ideas are the Senior Patrol Leader and the Scoutmaster—in that order! The SPL needs to communicate program ideas to the Patrol Leaders, in the Patrol Leaders Council, and the Scoutmaster is there to back him up. So, if I were a really smart Scoutmaster, and I had a Senior Patrol Leader who’s able to attend Roundtables, I’d encourage this! And, if I were the RT Commissioner, I’d want the SPLs at the meetings, and I’d give them “speaking parts,” like conducting the opening ceremony, or doing the closing, or talking about their Troop’s last “adventure.” So, instead of trying to find the “rule,” I’d give my energy to encouraging SPL attendance at RT’s (without making it “mandatory”—remember, the true “volunteers” in this program are the Scouts, and without them, we gray-haired folks would be out of a job!).

Hi Andy,

It’s me again! I agree with you completely about including SPLs and for the reasons you cite. However, when I suggested at the next Commissioners meeting that the advertisements for Roundtables include SPLs on the list of those who should come, the response from the new Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner was that he hadn’t seen that advocated, especially in the guide for RTs, and there must be a reason for the omission. He tried to find other reasons that SPLs should not be included, like, it could embarrass the Scoutmasters if they had to talk about the youth leadership in their Troops if their SPLs were there. I was challenged to find out where the suggestion was made—so I was following up when I found your “Ask Andy” column. (J.N., UC, Princeton, NJ)

Three important points here. First, if the Roundtable topic is one that must have interaction, then the “speaking freely” argument falls apart. Now, here’s the most important part: DON’T DO SOMEONE ELSE’S JOB FOR THEM, and DON’T TRY TO FORCE SOMEONE TO DO THEIR JOB THE WAY YOU’D DO IT! We have to believe, among volunteers especially, that each one of us is doing the very best job we know how to do. This applies to you, as a UC, and to your District’s RT Commissioner as well. They don’t “encroach” on your “territory” (I hope!), and they deserve the same courtesy. So, once you’ve made your suggestion, move on. If they accept it, great! If they don’t, that’s OK, too! You’ve done your job by making the suggestion, and that’s where it stops! (Trust me on this one like you’ve never trusted before!) Third point: Maybe your RT Commissioner needs to remember a few things, like… Cub Scouts was an experimental program that became a part of Scouting because it WORKED, the Order of the Arrow started out as nothing more than a summer camp program, and the 18-month Webelos program was just something a couple of Packs started when they realized that the Troops they fed into were losing boys over the summer! Now, if the truth be known, I’m pretty much a “by-the-book” sort of guy! But, where there’s latitude to grow a program (like, when “National” omits something, sometimes because they may not have thought of it!), then I’m all in favor of experimenting. So, how about this as a “middle ground” – Have a “special” Roundtable that’s directly aimed at the SM-SPL relationship, and invite the SPLs. Then, watch the dynamics of the evening, and if there’s general agreement that things just got better because of new thinking and involvement, then everyone will “get the message”! We can spend lots of time trying to find the “rule” on how many angels are allowed to dance on the head of a pin, or we can put our energy into making our program delivery process better and better. The choice is ours, every day! The BSA program has many policies and procedures, and these are valid and are to be followed, for safety and for consistency of program delivery. But, when a movement like Scouting’s been around for nearly 100 years, it couldn’t do this unless it provided “room” for new, fresh, and forward-thinking ideas!

Dear Andy,

What’s the intent of the Pinewood Derby? I see so many disappointed boys and hear parents giving self-esteem pep talks after this event, I’m really curious to the purpose. (G.H., parent, Iowa City, IA)

You’ve raised a good question, and you seem to be pretty open-minded about it, so here goes… The Cub Scout program is about several things, one of which—the most important—is strengthening the relationship between the Cub Scout and his parents, and another is about doing things (as opposed to passive observation). The most important thing that happens when it’s Pinewood Derby time is that the boy and his dad (or alternate adult male role model) get to do something special together—build a Pinewood Derby car! What happens after that is just “details.” But, these “details” can be important, too. Packs sensitive to boys’ feelings as well as boys’ natural competitive spirit make sure that there’s more than just a single “race” and a single winner. There are winning cars at the Den level as well as the Pack level, and not just for speed! There are winners for design, like “coolest,” “funniest,” “most colorful,” “most radical design,” and on and on. No, this won’t necessarily make every Cub Scout’s car a “winner,” and that’s really OK, because it encourages higher achievement “next year.” But, there should definitely be lots of winners. Now, there’s a theory “out there” that says “everybody should ‘win’ something,” but you have to understand boys’ motivations. If “everybody” gets a ribbon or prize, boys don’t see this as “everyone wins;” they see it (though they may not tell you this in so many words) as “there are NO real winners.” Every boy wants HIS car to be the fastest, and so long as the track is objective and fair, every boy can see the simple fact that some cars are faster than others. That’s just a fact. Boys CAN live with that! And “self esteem pep talks” are really unnecessary, because they have often more to do with the parents than the boy. And now a little secret: I still have my own Pinewood Derby car, from when I was a Cub Scout (I won’t tell you exactly how old it is, except this hint: It’s probably older than YOU!). I haven’t saved it all these years because it was a winner (it never won a single race!). I saved it because I remember how I BUILT IT WITH MY DAD.

Hi Andy,

In Issue 5 (October 2002) of “Ask Andy,” you addressed a question about the Eagle Scout religious/spiritual letter of reference. I also have a question about a religion-related requirement. Wolf requirement 11c states, “Find out how you can help your church, synagogue, or religious fellowship,” and then provides a blank to be filled in by the Cub Scout (after the words “I found out _____”). If the issue is raised, how should I respond to parents who may think this is unfair or impertinent or who don’t have their sons involved in an organized religion (or who might be “both Christian and Jewish”)? How about if the parents sign the requirement as complete, but the Cub Scouts have nothing written? Am I overstepping if I find parental approval of blank lines a problem? (P.W., Den Leader)

Wolf requirement 11…. Let’s see… We already know that the key purpose of Cub Scouts is to strengthen the boy-parent relationship, and this requirement is part of that, because it encourages the Cub Scout and his parents to talk about some religious issues. Not a particular religion, of course, because that’s outside the scope of what Scouting’s all about. But definitely about religious thinking and convictions – in fact, this requirement actually has three parts, beginning with a conversation about what “duty to God” means, continuing in the area of how one can “practice or demonstrate…religious beliefs,” and then finishing with what the Cub Scout can do to help his church, synagogue, or religious fellowship. First off, let’s remind ourselves that these are very broad requirements, and certainly don’t require being an “official” member of any organized religion — the wording about “religious fellowship” is pretty broad; and could even be taken to mean the “fellowship” that exists right at home (only!). So, beginning with as “easy” an area as a belief in God (even “God” by another name or designation, in fact), this requirement is all about talking – having a conversation with Mom and Dad. It doesn’t even say the Cub Scout has to do anything! This is called “getting your feet wet.” Now, if it should turn out that a parent thinks this requirement is “impertinent,” then you might need to point out that there are four fundamental principles in Scouting, including duty to God, duty to Country, duty to others, and duty to self, and while very simple these are not “bendable.” Now, “part two” of your question: What about “writing stuff down.” Well, let’s look at the requirements again. They talk about talking, having ideas, and finding out, but they don’t talk about “writing.” So, if I were in your shoes, I’d consider those lines in the book optional — the Cub Scout can use them if he’d like, or leave them blank. And, I’d also remember that — particularly for this requirement — the parent is Akela, and we are honor-bound to accept what Akela says, including Den Leaders!

Dear Andy,

I’m a new Den Leader. I started in October with a Den of seven, but I’ve already lost one Cub to another same-level Den in the Pack. The reason I lost him that while I hold weekly Den meetings (except for pack meeting weeks, so I have 3 or 4 Den meetings each month) the other Den meets no more than once a month, which parents seem to like, because there’s less stress on their own schedules. I’ve explained to my Cubs’ parents (who are all new to the program) and even written a pretty long explanation that I sent to them by email, that weekly Den meetings are central to the program, as well as explaining what the purposes and methods of Cub Scouting are. The Cub Scouts in my den are having a good time at meetings, but some of the parents are noticing that the other Den requires a lot less time for the “same” rank badge. I’m sure I’m not perfect, but I’ve taken training and attend Roundtables, and I do my level best to fulfill the program. Obviously, if I lose another one or two to the other Den, it will become my own Waterloo. Are there strategies I could employ? I really don’t want to give up on weekly den meetings! (P.W., Den Leader)

Hey, what a GREAT question! I’ll bet there are a few Packs and Dens who could use a “refresher” here. Let’s start by taking a look at a couple of important things. First off, there are – count ‘em – 58 different requirements (including “sub”-requirements) for Wolf, and there’s exactly one that can’t be done anywhere but in a Den meeting: 2b-the flag ceremony. All the other 57 requirements are designed to be done at home, with parent-as-Akela. So my first suggestion to you and every other Den Leader is LET THE PARENTS BE THEIR BOYS’ AKELAS, and resist “doing requirements” in Den meetings. The next thing we should look at is: How often should Dens meet? Dens work best when they meet once a week, and – instead of your thinking about possibly “cutting back” – all Dens in the Pack should be encouraged to increase their meetings to weekly. To be really blunt, any Den meeting only once or twice a month is severely short-changing the Cubs! If weekly meetings are “difficult” for some parents, help them arrange car-pools, so that everyone shares. You have six in your Den right now, and that’s just about perfect. I wouldn’t try to “recruit” more, and I’d simply make my meetings so interesting and exciting that the Cubs WANT to be at every meeting! As for the “parallel Den,” there needs to be an understanding between you and the other Den Leader that you don’t “poach” from one another, and stand fast with the parent who wants to switch. Your Den (and their parents) are lucky to have someone like you, who’s dedicated, enthusiastic, doesn’t feel the need to “re-invent” the program, and is willing to try to make things right for the Cubs. Here are some ways to really cement your Den…

  • Use Den meeting time for the BELT LOOP programs — Cub Scout Sports and Cub Scout Academics — which you are the Akela for. Your Cubs will earn a bunch of belt loops and, when presented at Pack meetings, will put your Cub Scouts in the spotlight right away.
  • Look for other “extracurricular” opportunities, like the Donor Awareness program (the Cubs get a cool patch for this one!) or the National Physical Fitness Award (also a special patch).
  • Create “buddy teams” with responsibilities for each coming meeting, on a rotating basis, like “Billy and John will do next week’s flag-and-promise opening,” “Sean and Mike will bring the snacks—one brings juice boxes and the other granola bars,” “Peter and Tom will tell about the “Pine Tree Flag,” and so on.
  • Visit a local Troop—get yourself a Den Chief. Have him help the Cubs create a “Den yell.” Appoint a Denner and Assistant Denner each month, and rotate—this month’s Assistant becomes next month’s Denner, and a new Cub becomes Assistant, etc. (make sure they wear the shoulder bars).
  • Develop “bonding” within your Den, which will keep the boys attached emotionally and prevent further “runaways.” (In fact, this is going to produce boys who want to be in your Den!) Like, using an Indian theme, let each Cub Scout select (from a list you provide) his own “Indian Name” (you, too!) and then use those names at some part of every meeting.

Dear Andy,

Our town has only one Troop, with a successful 75-year history. But our community is growing rapidly. Right now, we have over 200 Webelos and Cub Scouts, and our Troop just got 30 of them on a “Crossing-the-Bridge” ceremony! I realize that another Troop will have to form or this one’s going to collapse under its own weight. Hopefully this can be done in a positive and healthy way. Any suggestions? (A.S., Zionsville, IN)

Yes, Troop size definitely needs management here. There are a couple of ways to do this. One way is to convert Scouts age 14 and older into one or more new Venturing Crews. Any Boy Scout who has reached First Class rank can continue working toward Eagle as a Venturer, and Venturing is co-ed, so this opens the door for even more young people (that is, GIRLS!) to be a part of the Scouting program. Plus, Venturing has its own ranks for advancement — the Silver Award and the Ranger Award being the two top ranks (both males and females can earn these!). Venturing is more “high adventure” than Boy Scouting, and in my own council has great appeal to “older” teens! The second way is to plan for next year and, instead of having all those Webelos Scouts join the current Troop, have them become a new Troop right off the bat. This way, you’re not “splitting up” a Troop. Since each Troop will have its own “personality,” Webelos Scouts in the future will have a choice, and this helps transition them with fewer dropouts between Webelos and Boy Scouting. For either (or both!) of these options, talk with your District Commissioner (a volunteer) and your District Executive (paid council staff) to help you make it happen.

Dear Andy,

Well, this just beats all. Our Pack’s awards person has announced by e-mail that she’s too busy to pick up awards for our February Pack meeting, and March is our B&G banquet (which is somehow reserved only for rank awards)…and then she’s out, but her replacement is too busy in April, and since we didn’t have a Pack meeting in January at all. Result is that I have Cubs with awards earned as far back as mid-November who won’t get them until…May?!? If I decide to award them in a Den ceremony, how deeply would I offend Lord Baden-Powell? (W.P., Den Leader)

I’d be real tempted to go buy the awards myself, and present them as fast as possible! You absolutely can make presentations in your Den meeting, and then make the announcement at the Pack meeting of Cubs’ names and awards. Especially with circumstances like you’ve just told me about. And, by the way, I’m informed that B-P won’t be rolling over – He believed in speedy recognition for accomplishments!

Well that’s it for this month! Some great questions from a whole bunch of spirited, dedicated leaders – and you really gave me a workout! See y’all next month, and…


Happy Scouting,


Have a question? Send it via email to

(Issue 10 – February 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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