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Issue 30 – April 2004

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Dear Andy,

We’re planning our council’s Commissioner’s College, and a question has come up about prerequisites. Are there any prerequisites for roundtable commissioner training, such as commissioner basic training? Also, what should be the training track for a RT commissioner? Can you give any references to this subject from Scouting literature? Thanks! (Ray O’Neill, Occoneechee Council, Oxford, NC)

It’s always a good idea for all commissioners to have experienced “Commissioner Basic”—that way, everybody’s on the same page and they’ve all seen the same “big picture.” That said, Roundtable Commissioners are a special breed—They’re both unit-serving Commissioners (after all, it’s the leaders of the units in their district who come to their Roundtables) AND they’re district-level training volunteers, too! A Commissioners College represents an opportunity for everyone to get supplemental training and ideas that will help them in their chosen volunteer positions. I’d certainly encourage RT Commissioners to participate, and to do this you’ll need supplemental course material. You’ll find some information right on my host’s site. Go to Also, the BSA supply division has a book you’ll want to get, called CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR COMMISSIONERS (#WW33615D-$7.00). It doesn’t have a huge amount, but it’s a great place to start. Go to For a training track that’ll work best, consult with your own RT Commissioners and find out what they really need FROM THEM! Maybe they need information on resources for opening and closing ceremonies, or a list of available presenters of various program-related subjects, or new ideas on how to promote RTs and encourage participation, or whether an “attendance bead” program can work, or how to get the units themselves to provide program content, or how to reach out to commercial operations (e.g., outdoor equipment stores) for program content. Whatever they have to say, build sessions around their expressed needs—that always works better than anything “canned.” And, if you’re trying to create guidelines for degree-earning, I believe you’re pretty much at liberty to develop this for yourself. But, be sure to include some Unit Commissioner stuff, like “The Lifesaving Commissioner” and/or “How to Remove a Volunteer,” because these are subjects that can be very useful to RT Commissioners, also.

Hi Andy,

As a Unit Commissioner, I earned the Arrowhead Award, using the UC requirements. Shortly after earning it—even prior to receiving it—I was appointed Assistant District Commissioner. As I’m sure you know, the ADC has a different set of requirements for the Arrowhead Award. Having earned this award previously, am I authorized to wear it as an ADC? (Erik Heck, ADC, Croatan Trails District, East Carolina Council)

Referring to the BSA literature, primarily the COMMISSIONER FIELD BOOK FOR UNIT SERVICE (#33621C), YES, you should absolutely wear the ARROWHEAD HONOR emblem directly under your Commissioner badge on your left sleeve REGARDLESS of the specific Commissioner position you presently hold. My long understanding of this particular recognition—worn only in concert with a Commissioner badge and not with any other position badge—is that, once earned, it is not required that you earn it a second time or beyond, and absolutely only one “Arrowhead” is worn. So, if you’re going to work toward either the Commissioner’s Key or the Scouter’s Training Award for Commissioners as an ADC, your District Commissioner should not unreasonably withhold ADC-level “credit” for your having earned the Arrowhead Honor as a UC (especially if he’s the guy who asked you to take the ADC job!).

Dear Andy,

We have our annual Blue & Gold dinner coming up. Our Wolf Den wants to do something special (like a “Wolf” centerpiece) for our table. Any suggestions on how to craft this project? (Jackie Rostow)

Get your hands on the CS LEADER HOW-TO BOOK (#LT33832A), at your council’s Scout Shop or order it directly from the BSA National Supply Division at or 1-800-323-0732. Its price is about nine dollars or so, and it’s well worth every penny! In it, you’ll find a bunch of crafts, activities and games for both Den and Pack meetings. Also, check the “Program Helps” section of the SCOUTING Magazine you receive as a registered Cub Scout leader. These are your very best resources, not only for your upcoming B&G but throughout the life of your Den!

Hey Andy,

I’m originally from Troop 80, down in Texas. I got my Eagle many years ago, plus Order of the Arrow and so on. Now, I’m a writer here in New York. I’ve written an endearing script about my time at Philmont in New Mexico, and I want to know who to reach out to for more information involving rights. The script itself renders like “’Stand By Me’ meets ‘National Geographic’.” (Marshall Mills)

You win the “Off-The-Wall Question Of The Month” award! Let’s see what we can do here. “’Stand By Me’ meets ‘National Geographic’” sounds pretty cool! I’m guessing you’re talking about copyright “rights,” and I’m gonna bet your question has to do with the age-old controversy of “how can I show this to a studio without my idea getting ripped off.” Well, my Scouting friend, ol’ Andy here isn’t an attorney, and I think that’s who you need to talk to. Thinking about what you do and where you work, I’m betting you can track down the right kind of attorney faster than a New York minute!

Hello Andy,

I want to help out with the sheet music for the Scouter who was asking for the Philmont Hymn. The Boy Scout Songbook has both songs in it. The Philmont hymn is in sheet music, but On My Honor is just the words. I have also found pretty much what I need on the Internet. This site has the song, “On My Honor,” and you can download the MP3 by Burl Ives. He does a great version of it. Here’s the URL…

I hope this helps. (Rob Lord, DC, Clinton Valley Council)

Hey, that’s terrific! Thanks, Rob. Readers—check it out!

Dear Andy,

What’s a Camporee? (Cecily Garnhardt)

Great question and thanks for asking! “Camporee” is a word literally “invented” by the Scouting movement, as is the word, Jamboree, which came directly from Scouting’s founder, Lord Robert S.S. Baden-Powell.

A camporee typically refers to an event, usually over a weekend, when a group of Boy Scout Troops gather together at a single camping location for friendly competition. The group is usually from a single district within a Boy Scout Council; sometimes, the entire Council holds a Camporee.

A Camporee includes competitions in which Scouts, competing by Patrols, get to use the Scoutcraft skills they’ve learned — the skills are typically limited to what one learns in the course of completing the requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. Usually, you’ll see competitive events based around First Aid, Orienteering (using a compass and maybe a map, too), knot-tying, Pioneering (lashing poles together to build something), Nature (identifying plants by their leaves, or animals by their tracks, or something else along these lines), and so on.

When several Councils band together for such an event, it’s usually called a Jamboree—sometimes a “SuperCamporee.” But, by whatever name, it’s the time for Scouts and their Patrols to “show their stuff and show what they’re made of.” Often, there will be judging for the best Patrol flag, cleanest campsite, most accurately uniformed Patrol, and so on. There’s also usually a campfire on the Saturday night, with Patrol skits and songs, too!

All of this is done in a sportsmanlike manner, and goodwill shows loudly and clearly! Camporees are great fun, and no Scout should miss out on them!

Dear Andy,

Do you know of any Commissioner awards called the “Wreath of Service” or “Crest of Service”? (Ed Hanke, ADC, Lake Sands District, Panama City, FL)

Two nationally recognized Commissioner recognitions that aren’t training-focused, are the Commissioner’s Arrowhead Honor and the Distinguished Commissioner Award. Of course, a local council can apply to the national council for approval of a council-level recognition, so the two you mention may be in this category; that is, council-level and nationally approved. They’d most likely fall into this category if a special “square knot” emblem were involved. However, short of this, a council or even a district may have a special recognition such as these that don’t involve an emblem in a “permanent” position on the uniform. I recall one of my former councils had a “Commissioner of the Year” recognition, with a special plaque that hung in the council service center’s entryway. I sure like the idea of a wreath or crest, since only commissioners and service professionals have emblems containing a wreath—and service is what it stands for!

Hey Andy,

Barry Vavak asked you about the Deputy District Commissioner position and patch. Unfortunately there’s no such position, therefore no such patch. How do we change that? I’m the DC for a district that has 9 Area ADCs, 3 Lifesaving ADCs, a Training ADC, and a Recruiting ADC. With a district of this size, it would be great to have a “number-two” person—a Vice- or Deputy-DC—whatever the title. It would be nice to have someone who’s prepared to take my place when I’m unable to be at some meeting or function. Plus, what a great grooming ground for my replacement! This person could take on other responsibilities that the DC deems necessary as well. In my case, I might put a V- or D-DC in charge of the district’s Lifesaving Team. My guess is that I’m not alone in seeing this need. So, how do we move the mountain? How do we go about getting this to become part of the national program—including badge, referenced in training manuals and other literature, and so on? What would you suggest? (Michael O’Donnell, DC, Greater Saint Louis Area Council, MO)

First, let’s look at some definitions (per Webster’s). An “assistant” is one who assists and holds a subordinate (i.e., lower) position. While a “deputy” is also an “assistant,” a deputy is authorized (“deputized”) to “exercise full authority in the absence of the superior (with) equal authority in emergencies.” In the UK and Canada (to name just two countries—there are others), “Deputy District Commissioner” is the title used; there are no ADCs in the Scout organizations of these countries. The BSA used to have DDCs and not ADCs, but this was changed a couple of decades ago (don’t ask me why—I haven’t a clue!). But some councils even today continue to use the DDC position, in ways very similar to your own and separate in responsibilities from ADCs, whose job is largely to supervise and grow their UC corps. One solution without “going to the mountain” would simply be to appoint a “First ADC,” “Second ADC,” etc., much in the same way as there is a “First ASM” and a “Second ASM” for Jamboree troops. Of course, it would be nice to have a position badge that corresponds to the title, but these were phased out a long time ago! One option would be to seek out patch traders, and see if they have some old DDC patches kickin’ around that they’d sell or trade. Heresy? Maybe. But I’d rather call it “an experiment.” If it works, then you can bring it to the attention of the head of the Boy Scout Division at the national office. The other (and maybe easier) option, of course, is to do exactly what you’re doing; that is, to have an ADC-Training, ADC-Intervention/Lifesaving, ADC-Area 1, ADC-Area 2, etc. Then you could have a “First ADC” (who’s your eventual replacement) and a “Second ADC” (who is further backup). Although ADC doesn’t carry quite the same implied strength as DDC, this could still work pretty nicely. A brief case in point… In my own District, we needed a Commissioner to provide oversight to an area that had four Troops but no Cub Scout Packs. So, we went on the ‘Net and found one of those old “Troop Commissioner” patches, bought it, gave it to him for his uniform (instead of the UC patch), and everything’s working just fine!

Baden-Powell began the Scouting movement as “a jolly experiment.” I’ve never found a reason to walk away from that fundamental idea!

Hi Andy,

I saw your response to the question regarding the location of the child protection and risk zone patches for an adult leader’s uniform. If I also have a Safe Swim/Safety Afloat patch, do they (can they) all go below the right pocket. Is there any specific order (YP, RZ, then SSD/SA)? Do you just keep adding them underneath each other, under the right pocket? Do any go side-by-side, or do they go straight down, centered under the pocket? (Tom Nadblieny)

Neither the RZ or the YP “trained” patches go BELOW the right pocket—they go ON the right pocket (but not the flap!). The only badges that for certain go BELOW a uniform shirt pocket are the Arrow of Light (below a Boy Scout’s left pocket) and Recruiter (below a Cub Scout’s or Boy Scout’s right pocket). However, adult Scouters don’t wear either one of these two.

I suppose, because they involve training, a SSD or SA patch could be worn in the “temporary” position (that is, on the right pocket) of your Scouter’s shirt. However, I’d personally be disinclined to do that. If you check it out, you’ll find that other water skills-related badges (like BSA Aquatics Instructor, BSA Life Guard, Snorkeling BSA, Mile Swim, and so on) aren’t worn on the uniform at all—they’re worn on your swim trunks. There’s even a specification for which side of your swim trunks they each should be worn! So, I’d be tempted more to put a SSD and/or a SA patch there, rather than on my uniform.

Related to that, I personally don’t wear every single badge or emblem that I’m technically entitled to wear—it gets a little cluttered if not “gaudy” after a while. Yes, I have more than a dozen “square knots,” and these I wear. But I think there’s a certain “dignity” to a relatively conservative Scouter’s uniform. In fact, because my Troop (when I was a Scoutmaster) always went everywhere in uniform, the only badge I wore on the front of my “camping shirt” was an Eagle square knot. I saved my fully badged uniform for Troop meetings and Courts of Honor, so that parents would know that their sons were being led by someone with experience (even though most of them had no clue as to what the badges stood for). However, when I changed my SM badge for a Commissioner’s, I decided to wear a uniform shirt with more badges (Jamboree, OA, Philmont Training Center, and so on), because I felt it’s important for the unit leaders I served to know that I’ve walked the talk. So, whatever you should decide to do, making your uniform fit your personal philosophy as well as your Scouting job and experience may be something to consider.

Hi Andy,

I’m a little concerned about having “too many” badges on my shirt, because I think it takes something away from the notion that the boys earn the badges, not the parents. On the other hand, I do want to make a statement to some of the parents, particularly the new ones that could get some training (YP & RZ, come to mind) so they can pitch in and count towards the number of approved supervisory adults required during a trip. So, until we get some of these folks into training, I think I’ll wear all three badges on my right pocket (unlike you, the only other “extra” badge I have is the “Trained” badge on the left sleeve—so my shirt is practically empty at the moment). Since we’re planning a Spring canoe trip and the water will be too cold for swimming, putting SSD/SA on my swim trunks wouldn’t help, so I’ll put that one on the right pocket for now, and transfer it over to my swim trunks when the hot weather comes. I do like the idea of having 2 shirts (one all decked out and the other fairly simple), but in my case, that’ll have to wait until I get a few more badges. It would be nice if the BSA developed an “official” jacket, so that adult leaders have somewhere practical to put all of their badges. Thanks again. (Tom Nadblieny)

I like your thinking—especially the part about being an example for other parents who need to be as informed as possible about how to keep their sons safe! And, I absolutely admire your own efforts in this. When I was a fairly new Scouter, I did much the same as you’re doing. After a while, you’ll find that your shirt becomes sort of a “magnet,” and you’ll be making some new decisions. Meanwhile, keep on keepin’ on—and ENJOY!

Hi (again) Andy,

Since you seem to be someone fairly high up in the BSA, can I be so bold as to suggest that someone fairly high up in Scouting (you, for example) push national to create a policy where whenever an adult leader receives a patch for some training exercise or whatever, that instructions on where and when to wear the patch come along with the patch at the same time the patch is awarded, like, “Congratulations…Here’s your patch and here’s the instructions on where to wear it (or not to wear it if the case may be).” I bring this up because the BSA doesn’t need everyone wearing patches in a willy nilly wherever fashion and there’s a fair amount of misinformation being circulated on where to wear these training patches (or at least the story keeps changing). We need to get everyone on the same page with this one. (Tom Nadbielny)

Oh, don’t I wish I were “high up” in Scouting—Maybe they’d double my pay! You know… Like 2×0 is still zero! I’m a volunteer, just like you. The only real difference between us may be I’ve been doing this a little longer, and got my thumb stuck in more places than you! But, your suggestion is a terrific one… In fact, so terrific that I’m gonna figure out some way to get it into the national office in Irving, Texas!

Dear Andy,

One of the Troops I serve as a Unit Commissioner has a policy that a Scout coming before a Board of Review has to be in full and correct uniform or he automatically “fails” the Board—no exceptions. In BSA literature, where does it say that a Scout has to do this, and that a Board can flunk him if he doesn’t? Thanks. (J.M., UC, Michigan)

This Troop’s advancement folks, and probably their Scoutmaster, too, should get nominated for the “Hall of Shame”! There is absolutely no “rule” or “policy” in Scouting that says a Scout MUST be in full and correct uniform to have a Board of Review. Period. (And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts I could find an error in that Scoutmaster’s uniform that makes this whole thing look really silly! Adults notoriously put patches in the wrong places and forget to wear Scout socks!) These people are horribly misguided. Yes, full and correct uniforming is always encouraged, and should receive more and more emphasis as a Scout moves up in the ranks. But “fail” a Scout? Pardon me, but, in Scouting, no Scout EVER “fails.” That’s the whole darned point!

Dear Andy,

A Scout in my Troop is working on his Eagle application. I’ve obtained a pdf file of the application form (BSA form 58-728) off the national web site, but I’m trying to find a “WORD” version so it can be filled in electronically. Have you seen this? Can you direct me to a source? I’ve checked several Web sites, but no luck yet! (G.A., SM, New Jersey)

The Grand Canyon Council’s done a terrific job with just what you’re looking for. Here’s the URL to go to:

Happy Scouting!


Got a question? Send it to me sure to let me know your Scouting position, town, state, and council!

(April 2004 – Copyright © 2004 Andy McCommish)


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.

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