Author Avatar

Issue 45 – December 2004

Dear Andy,

In my travels as a Friends of Scouting contribution “encourager,” I’ve run into several men who were Scouts maybe fifty or so years ago, and a couple of them referred to themselves as a “Double-Eagle.” I’ve never heard of a “Double Eagle”—Do you have any idea what this means? (J.K., Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)

Back in the 1950s, when the green uniform Exploring program was around—when the original Explorer Silver Award actually meant something (before the “Circle V” program changed everything)—Explorers earned ratings instead of merit badges for the ranks of Apprentice, Bronze, Gold, and Silver. There were nine different ratings: aviation, communications, craft, emergency, navigation, outdoor, physical fitness, seamanship, and vocational. In depth and extent of requirements, each rating was easily the equivalent of five to six merit badges, and it took a minimum of four ratings along with a myriad of social, outdoor, citizenship, and service activities, plus demonstrating leadership, to ultimately earn the Silver Award. So rigorous were these requirements that when you earned it, along with the Boy Scout Eagle, you were called a Double Eagle. (Would you like to guess how I happen to know this…?)

Dear Andy,

To earn the Summertime Award for Cub Scouts, can you use Day Camp and Resident Camp, if these were done as a Pack? Or does it have to be three other activities done by the Pack? This was a question that I’ve had two different answers on, and I want to know for sure which is right. (Percy Shackles, UC, Osage Trails District, Great Rivers Council, Sedalia MO)

The whole idea of the National Summertime Pack Award is to keep the Pack together and doing things in the summer, when the Cubs and their families have more free time. To earn it, all the Pack has to do is plan and carry out a Pack activity for June, July, and August. On that basis, virtually ANY Pack activity will “count”—and they don’t even have to be different activities—so that should surely include a Pack’s participation in Day Camp and Resident Camp, so long as both weren’t done in the same month (in which case, you’d count one, but not both, toward the three activities needed over that three-month period). Seems like a no-brainer to me!

Dear Andy,

A question has arisen as to the composition of a Board of Review for Eagle Palms— What should the make-up be, and when is the Palm confirmed (or denied). My understanding is that once a decision of the Board of Review has been made, and the Scout’s book signed, the award is considered earned. Please clarify, if this not the case. What do the BSA guidelines reflect with respect to this issue? (Ray Coser, West Central Florida Council)
The Board of Review composition for Eagle Palms is exactly the same as Tenderfoot through Life: No less than three nor more than six members of the unit committee (specifically, registered unit committee members or unit committee chair—registration codes MC and CC). On successful completion of a Board of Review for any rank (which vote must be unanimous), everything for that rank is now done and the rank is in place, nor can it be withdrawn from the Scout at any later time, by any person, unit, district, or council. These aren’t “guidelines”—they’re BSA policies, and you’ll find them in the booklet, ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. As for “denying” an Eagle Palm at the Board of Review, something absolutely dramatic and totally unexpected must have occurred for this to happen, because, in the first place, we’re already talking about an Eagle Scout. Moreover, if the Scout is somehow found to be “incomplete” in meeting the requirements for a Palm (which, given the minimal requirements, would be pretty darned difficult!), he would not be “denied” so much as he’d be counseled on what more is expected of him (in writing, by the way), and given a time-frame and new Board date. This is also per BSA procedures.

Dear Andy,

Last month, you told a Scouter (Pedersenta6) that he could serve in two units at the same time. I’d have to caution all Scouters helping more than one unit, especially those that are involved in two or more different chartering organizations. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of dealing with leaders who’ve tried to do that, with good intensions that have gone bad. Leaders finding themselves helping one unit and their boy belongs to another is really a bad combination, in my estimation. Here’s an example: A Scoutmaster from a Troop at chartering organization “A” was also a Den Leader in a Pack sponsored by organization “B.” The Scoutmaster was encouraging the Cubs in that Pack to join his Troop, and this upset the Scoutmaster of the Troop sponsored by CO “B” because it left his Troop without any new Webelos joining CO “B’s” Troop! It’s a great thing to want to help out another unit, but good intensions do go bad if we’re not careful with our own leadership skills. (Tim Gelvin, ADC, Susquehannock District, Susquehanna Council, PA)

Your concerns not withstanding, and I certainly agree that they’re important ones, I’m going to stand by my comments regarding dual roles in different units, when practicable. I’m also going to stand by my position that one’s own son’s unit—be it a Pack, Den, or Troop—always comes first. Your concerns, if you take a close look, have more to do with a dual-role leader overstepping the bounds of propriety than with the dual roles themselves. If one is both a Scoutmaster and a Den Leader, as was the case you described, then that person has an obligation to wear only one hat at a time. When we start to confuse our roles, or begin to blend them, disruptiveness if not chaos follows. The situation you describe went sour when the Den Leader started to wear his Scoutmaster’s hat in the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason. This is about propriety; not about multiple roles. I’m not going to describe dual role combinations that are less susceptible to this sort of mismanagement–the permutations are too many. Besides, the central issue is not what Scouting job or jobs you have, but how well you’re able to maintain the boundaries of each!

Dear Andy,

I’ll be leaving the Commissioners staff later this month, and I’ve accepted a Troop Committee position and will also become OA Chapter Advisor. So, I’ll be re-patching a couple of my uniform shirts. When I do this, do I still wear the Commissioner’s Arrowhead on the left sleeve and, if so, do I take off the “Trained” strip? (Tom Miller, ADC, Blue Ridge Council, SC)

Dear Andy,

Sorry! I didn’t read all the instructions before I sent you my question. DUH! (Tom Miller)

So…You’ve figured out that only Commissioners in active service (that is, while wearing a Commissioner’s badge) wear the Arrowhead, Yes? But, I’m going to guess that you’ve received training in multiple areas, so that the TRAINED strip can probably stay in place (although I’d probably recommend moving it up on the sleeve, so that it’s just below your new position badge).

Dear Andy,

Our Council’s service area, here in New Jersey, covers over 1,400 square miles (that’s tw-thirds the size of Delaware and one-third larger than the entire state of Rhode Island), yet our Order of the Arrow lodge steadfastly refuses to consider the idea having chapters that could align with our seven districts. They ignore the fact that, if we had chapters, more Arrowmen would be able to actively participate in OA activities, because the drive-time to chapter meetings would be vastly less than having to go to one semi-central location (for lodge meetings) from the far reaches of the council’s perimeter. They ignore the fact that, with no “allegiance” to or involvement with their home districts, there’s no way Arrowmen can be encouraged to support district-level activities, such as Camporees, Klondike derbies, etc. They also ignore the fact that the lodge’s unit election team, skeletal as it is, invariably refuses to visit many of our Troops because they’re “too far away” to serve (funny how this argument works in one direction but is ignored in the other!). The lodge also claims that “youth leadership would be depleted” if there were chapters, when, by personal experience, I know that exactly the opposite is what will happen. Yet, they bellyache when new Arrowmen complete the Ordeal, get their sashes and flaps, and then participate no further. Is there anything that can be done to change this Neanderthal-like thinking? Or are we stuck with this iconoclastic, ineffective, self-defeating situation forever? (Name withheld by request)

Yup, you’re stuck! Unless these supposedly well-meaning people start thinking outside the little box they’ve crammed their brains into, nothing’s going to change. And there’s really no “appeal process” available to you, either. The “supreme chief” of the lodge is your Council’s Scout Executive (not the Lodge Chief or the Lodge Advisor), so if you’ve made your “pitch” to him and nothing’s changed, nothing will change until he moves on and you get a Scout Executive with a broader vision and more ecumenical way of thinking! Bad situations, especially in volunteer organizations like Scouting, can’t be fixed from the outside, or even from the inside—they can only be fixed from the top. So, short of getting yourself appointed Lodge Advisor, you’re outa luck. Sorry!

Hi Andy,

I’m a new Cubmaster, and I’m trying to “upgrade” our Pack’s uniforming. For years, our Pack’s leaders have been telling parents that, “If you can’t afford the full uniform, the shirt will do,” and so we’ve become about the most rag-tag outfit you’ve ever seen! Folks won’t buy the pants because “they’re too expensive” and because “they’re only worn at Den and Pack meetings, so they’re a waste of money.” Any thoughts on what we can do to change this and get it the way it ought to be? (K.V., So. Northfield, NJ)

Y’know, I’ve never understood the mentality behind “$30.45 is too much for a pair of Navy blue pants that can be worn at Den and Pack meetings, school, church, visiting the grandparents, and so on…” Especially when “baggies” and such can cost twice that and still look like trash! But, Hey, that’s me! So, what to do… One Pack I know picks four or five Cubs’ names at random (from the proverbial “hat”) at Pack meetings every month and, if the Cub whose name is picked is in full uniform, he gets a prize (prizes are inexpensive “trinkets” purchased for just this purpose at party stores—“SpongeBobSquarePants” keychains, mini-flashlights, and so on). It took ‘em three months, and the whole Pack started showing up in full uniform! But, for argument’s sake, let’s say that money really is a problem. In that case, go sell Trails End popcorn! It helps your Council and District, and when each Cub family sells about $100 worth of the stuff, there’s enough money coming back to the Pack to buy every Cub a pair of Cub pants! Mission accomplished!

Dear Andy,

In your November column, you answered a question about the wearing of Eagle palms by saying, “You’ll see some folks wearing palms pinned to their Eagle ‘square knot,’ but this is—strictly speaking—not supposed to be done.” While I don’t have a copy of my Insignia Guide with me, you CAN wear the palms on the knots. Wasn’t always so, but now you’re allowed to. I’ve also seen Scouts wear them on their Eagle badges, but I’m uncertain if that’s OK. (Michael Brown)

Yup, my own further research (BSA Insignia Guide–2003-0505) says it’s OK to wear the palms on the Eagle knot, and so I stand corrected! But, No, they’re definitely NOT worn on the oval Eagle badge. Thanks for your sharp eyes!

Happy Scouting!!


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

(December 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.

Read Andy's full biography

Comments are closed.