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Issue 50 – Mid-April 2005

Hi Andy,

First, I want to thank you for your informative column. I’ve learned many things here that I’d think I should have learned in leader training, but didn’t! My question has to do with the appropriateness of a specific service project that was recently promoted by our Troop’s ASM. Our state law now makes it a primary offense to ride in a car without a seatbelt. Our town’s Police Chief has approached our District Commissioner with the idea of having our Boy Scouts perform a service project by observing traffic and tallying seatbelt usage in the cars as they pass by a specific point, as part of a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This immediately set off alarm bells in my mind. Considering that the Scouts would be standing out in public, in uniform, gathering information for law enforcement (probably just a public awareness and education campaign, but still…) I don’t think it’s appropriate. And don’t even get me started on the YPG (“Youth Protection Guidelines”) concerns! Plus, if the Police Chief really needs the information, I imagine there’s money available from the state to gather it. I’ve shared my concerns with the ASM, and my son won’t participate, but I’m concerned about the mindset that caused our DC and our Troop’s ASM both to pass the request from the Chief of Police uncritically all the way to the Troop-and-Scout level. Is this really an appropriate service project for our Troop, or I am being hypersensitive? (G.R.)

Based on what you’ve told me, Yup, I think you may be hypersensitive on this one! Ever heard of Law Enforcement Explorers? That BSA program’s been around for a couple of decades now. These Explorers typically wear police-type uniforms with a “Law Enforcement Explorer” badge prominently displayed. This is exactly up their alley (they also do traffic control, crowd control, bicycle safety checks, honor guards, police car ride-alongs, and so forth). This alone should help with the understanding that a service project like this looks real appropriate for a Boy Scout Troop!

If I were part of the organizing team, I’d want to make sure a few things are done…

– Ask the Police Department to assign at least one officer to be present, not to supervise so much as to answer questions that might be asked by motor-ists and/or other passers-by.

– Have at least two fully uniformed adult Troop leaders present at all times, for two-deep leadership.

– Make sure that every Scout who participates is in full and complete uniform (this is a highly visible public service and your Scouts need to absolutely shine!).

– Be sure the Scouts are grouped by “buddy pairs.”

Since these Scouts will be observing and recording, this is a terrific lesson in observation skills as well as public diplomacy and community service. I’d recommend trying to get past your initial trepidations and ask yourself just this one question: If this is, in fact, appropriate for Boy Scouts, then how can I contribute to this being the most positive experience possible for these Scouts?

Finally, remember this: Reaching as far back as World War One, the Boy Scouts have steadfastly delivered community service in their towns, counties, states, and the nation, and this current request for their services is certainly a meaningful extension of that long and worthy heritage.

Dear Andy,

I’m a new District Commissioner. I noticed a number for a form in the back of the administrative training guide—it’s a commission for new Commissioners which apparently isn’t recognized at My book is a 2004 edition. Any ideas? Thanks! (Marshall Horn, DC, Lone Star District, Buffalo Trail Council)

Well, I looked through my own copy of the BSA’s “Library of Literature” retail catalog and couldn’t find what I think you’re looking for, BUT you’ll find paydirt at the USSSP’s website… go to http://netcommish.comand there you’ll find two “clickable” items that I think are just what the doctor ordered:

– (Unofficial) Commissioning Form, by Randy Worcester, ADC, Cogioba District, Middle Tennessee Council

– Commissioner Ceremony and Commissioner Pledge

Dear Andy,

Thanks for the very informative website! Here’s my question: My son crossed over from Webelos to Boy Scouts a couple of months ago. Although I was active in the Pack leadership for several years when he was a Cub, I now find myself wondering what role, if any, would be right for me in the Troop. On one hand I want to give my son more of a chance to experience Scouts without “Mom” always being nearby. On the other hand, I’ve done all this training (including OLS and Wood Badge), accumulated experiences, and had a lot of fun with the boys in the Cub program, and I’d like to still be able to use that knowledge somehow. The Troop, while welcoming, has about 15 ASMs and a bunch of committee members already, and doesn’t seem to need more of anything. Plus, I get the impression that they’re not terribly open to new ways of doing things (like improving their Webelos-Scout Transition Program, which could use work, in my view) anyway. What’s your experience in terms of former Cub leaders making the leap? Is it better to just sit back and watch for a year or so? Should I be looking for an opportunity outside the Troop—maybe at the district level instead? Or should I look (again) at getting involved in the Troop now? (L.L., Great Sauk Trail Council)

Wow! A “Cub Mom” who wants to keep going! This is WONDERFUL! Your commitment and enthusiasm are what keeps Scouting moving forward from generation to generation, and I hope you’ll find your “spot”! I agree with you that, at this point, your own son probably needs a little less of Mom and a little more “male bonding,” but that sure doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you to continue to contribute, especially if you enjoy it! Here are two suggestions…

– Unless the Troop is totally granite-bound and can’t understand the value of new leaders and fresh ideas, you might want to offer to be the go-between for the W-to-S transition. This is usually an ASM position, but “title” isn’t all that critical–committee member will work just fine.

– Also, you might enjoy turning your experience and training into a benefit for new parents, by joining your district’s training team. For this avenue, I think the best thing to do might be to meet with your District Executive and/or District Chair, describe your situation, and ask where your experience could best be put to use!

Hello Andy,

I’m a Den Leader and I’m trying to find where to order the Donor Awareness badges. My local Scout Shop hasn’t ever heard of this program or award, let alone where to find it! Help!!! Also, I’m looking for some different awards for my Cubs to earn this summer and fall. I already know of all the new awards but I am trying to find a list of awards and patches, or maybe some catalogs I can look at to get some new ideas. Thank you! (K.C.)

Go to Donor Awareness information, and then try calling the BSA National Supply Division at 1-800-323-0732. If National Supply can’t help you, try calling or email-ing other councils’ scout shops and arrange to have them mailed to you.

For other things to do over the summer, the Cub Scout Sports & Academics programs are terrific, and can easily be done on a Den basis. Also, go for the Cub Scout 75th Anniversary achievements! They’re pretty cool, too, and they’re a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Hi Andy,

My question’s about a request by a Chartered Organization Representative (COR) for a unit’s roster—both adult and youth. I can see where the adult information is relevant to the COR’s responsibilities, but is it appropriate to release any information about youth members? (Nick Patterson, UC, Greater Yosemite Council)

You’re not “releasing” information—in the sense of giving it to an “outsider”—if you give roster information to a unit’s Chartered Organization Rep! The COR is, after all, an integral member of the sponsor-unit partner-ship and a registered Scouter to boot! — Registered with the unit itself, for goodness sakes! In that light, I can’t see any reason on earth why anyone would consider withholding unit-related information from a person in this capacity. However, you might want to ask the purpose behind the request, not as some sort of “inquisition,” but because you might be able to help in some further way!

Dear Andy,

I’m trying to find out the national policy on removing Scouts and adults from a unit’s charter. We have a debate currently on whether someone can be dropped from the charter upon quitting the unit (due to loss of interest and/ or too many other activities), or can they only be removed a recharter time? (Timothy S. Brownson, Sr.; CC, Troop 152, Brogue, PA)

Unless there’s some compelling urgency, the usual way is as you described it—to simply wait till the charter rolls around again and cross out the name or names. This avoids having to give back partial-year dues/insurance refunds and such. Also, it allows the Scout to come back to the Troop after his sport season ends, and pick up where he left off (nothing wrong with that, by the way!), or even join another Troop, if he wishes. We “Do Our Best” to keep youth IN Scouting; not hustle them out the door the minute sports season hits.

Dear Andy,

Our local council says that Youth Protection Training is required for all registered adult leaders. What do you do when none of the Den or Pack leaders has taken it and don’t seem to be interested in taking it (even though it’s only 30 minutes online)? I can’t seem to get through to them either the importance of it or that it’s required. Since I can’t “fire” a volunteer leader on the spot for this (or can I?), what do I do? Do I simply terminate their membership in the Pack right then and there, or do I wait until recharter time and simply not allow them to reregister unless they can show completion of YPT? And don’t even get me started about Leader Specific Training or BALOO! The Pack is pretty new—just two years old—and the former Cubmaster never really pushed people to get trained. As usual, without making it a necessity or priority, people always made excuses for not going. (Thanks for all your insight and advice. I have about 15-30 minutes in the mornings before I leave for work that I try to sit down and re-read your newsletters. Talk about wanting to make this required reading!) (Charles Wickersham, CM)

Cubmasters have enough to do without the additional burden of carrying the torch for training, too! That’s the job of your Pack’s Committee Chair. If the Chair is on your side, then here’s a way to promote YPT without you guys being the bad guys… Invite either your Commissioner, or your District Executive, or your District or Council YP TRAINER to your next committee and/or Den Leaders’ meeting and ask them to “pitch” it and respond to the negatives, while you support the training idea!

What these reluctant folks don’t get is that this really isn’t “youth” protection training at all – It’s ADULT LEADER PROTECTION! And, in this litigious world, we sure need it!

Howdy, Andy!

I’m wondering if a Commissioner who’s also a District Committee member has to have a different uniform for being a unit leader. I’m also a Den Leader and Assistant Scoutmaster, and I really can’t afford to buy all those different shirts. Should I just be wearing the highest registered position shirt to all functions? (Don)

So, you’re a DL, an ASM, a UC (I’m guessing), and a district committee member. My first cautionary note is that wearing four Scout hats is potentially dangerous to health — the health of your family life, that is! I know Scouters tend to all have the same speech impediment… the inability to say “No.” But, it’s really OK to say, “This isn’t a good time,” and avoid wearing any more hats than you already have. I’m guessing, also, that you have two sons — One’s a Cub Scout and the older one’s a Boy Scout. If that’s the case, then I’d sure want to give my best energies to my DL and ASM positions, for obvious reasons. In fact, if I could drop the other two positions for a while, I’d sure try to do that — Family should ALWAYS come first! That off my chest, let’s answer your question…

You don’t need four different shirts, because, first off, district committee people don’t need uniforms, and, second, the only differences between DL, ASM, and UC are the unit numeral and the position badge. Sew two pieces of “Velcro” onto one shirt, in the unit numeral and the position badge locations of the left sleeve. Sew or glue the obverse “Velcro” onto the numerals and the position badges. Then, get three sets of shoulder loops — Blue, red, and silver (for Cubs, Scouts, and commissioner) — that you can change as needed. So, if you’re going into a den or pack meeting, you just stick on the pack number and DL badge; if a troop meeting, the other number and the ASM badge; and if you’re going out as a commissioner, you leave off the numbers and just stick on the commissioner’s badge. One shirt, three configurations. Cool, Huh?

A final note: There is no “highest” position in Scouting. Commissioners don’t “out-rank” Scoutmasters or Cubmasters, for instance. And even Cubmasters don’t out-rank Den Leaders. In Scouting, unlike the military or law enforcement, we have “positions” not “ranks,” and each badge — be it DL or Council Commissioner — describes the nature of the job. Period. For instance, I’m a former Council Commissioner and right now I’m a Unit Commissioner. Was I “demoted”? Nope! I simply have a different job, and the position badge I wear describes it.

Dear Andy,

We’re trying to refine the structure of our Troop, as older leaders look for successors to keep the fires burning. We are a self-chartered unit, which we understand is very rare. That means our chartered organization involves essentially the same folks as our Troop committee. Because of this unusual situation, one person now serves as Chartered Organization Representative, Executive Officer (formerly called Institutional Head) and Troop Committee Chair. However, we’re not sure if it’s good to combine these positions for the purposes of efficiency and effectiveness. Perhaps it puts too much on the shoulders of one individual. Or maybe it’s fine, given that we don’t really have a separate chartered organization. Can you describe the responsi-bilities of each of these positions so our committee can discuss this with a better understanding of what this person or these people should be doing? I’ve been able to find some information on Chartered Organization Representative and Committee Chair, but hardly anything about the “Executive Officer” or “Institutional Head.” Thanks! (David Melendy, Capitol Hill Scouts, Washington, DC)

A few years ago, the BSA published a small booklet called the TROOP COMMITTEE GUIDEBOOK. This excellent resource may still be available, and I urge you to get one, if available. There’s also a current training module called the “Troop Committee Challenge,” and I urge all of your committee members to take this module. Meanwhile, let’s see if I can help a little…

The “Executive Officer” of the sponsoring organization needn’t be a registered Scouter. If a church or synagogue, let’s say, is the sponsor, then the “Executive Officer” is the pastor or the rabbi. If a PTA, it would be the PTA president. If a military veteran’s organization, the commander. If a local fire department, the chief. And so on. So, if your sponsor is something like “Friends of Troop XX,” whoever is “president” of that group doesn’t have to register with the BSA. The COR (Chartered Organization Representative) is a registered position, and the role is liaison between the sponsor and the unit. The Troop Committee Chair, or another member of the Troop Committee can hold this position in addition to their regular registered position, because it’s not particularly burdensome under normal circumstances. The real key is to have a significant number of registered committee positions — treasurer, secretary, advancement chair, membership chair, etc. — so that the Troop and its program are adequately supported.

Dear Andy,

I’m looking for sample ceremonies for the Ranger Award and the Venturing Silver Award. I’ve been searching the web for four solid days! Do you have any resources or contacts to help us?! Thank you! (Deborah McKay, ACA, Venturing Crew 71, Atlanta Area Council)

I’m thinking that you, yourself, and other adults associated with your Venturing Crew are the best resources! Just as there’s no “official” ceremony for Eagle Scout, a ceremony for the Ranger and Silver awards can be equally creative. In your shoes, I’d probably take a look at Eagle ceremonies (there’s a bunch of ’em) and then borrow ideas to create “scripts” for these important Venturing awards that can be passed on as other members of the Crew achieve these, too.

Hello Andy,

Here’s a situation that our Pack, Troop and District leaders can’t agree on and I want to get your opinion. The Boy Scouts have an outdoors activity planned this weekend and our SM would like to have an answer before the Boy Scouts go on the weekend camp out. This past year our Webelos IIs worked on fulfilling the requirements for the AOL as all Webelos IIs do. All of our WIIs completed the requirements before the cross-over ceremony except for one boy. He was given two opportunities before the cross-over, but refused to participate both times (one was go on a campout with the Boy Scout Troop (the Scout or the Scout’s father thought it was too cold to go camping) and the second was to visit the Boy Scout camp after the Pinewood Derby race—The Boy Scout campout was literally at the same location and on the same day as the Pack’s Pinewood Derby. The WII participated in the Pinewood Derby but refused to visit the Troop campout, which was literally in view of the Derby location). The Cubmaster made a tough call and said that the WII didn’t fulfill all of the AOL requirements before the cross-over ceremony so he wouldn’t receive the AOL award. At the cross-over he wasn’t awarded the AOL as the other were, so his father asked the Den Leader what could be done so he could get it. Some of our Troop’s leaders, including the SM, heard this and stated that it’s now too late. Thereupon, the Den Leader called our District Office to find out if in fact it was to late, and was told that since the Scout wasn’t 11 yrs old and since he hadn’t filled out or turned in his transfer paperwork then technically he was still a Webelos II and could be awarded the AOL if he visited a Boy Scout outdoor activity before he turned 11. Of course, this has upset not only the Cubmaster but many of the Troop’s leaders, as well. So, my question is this: Can a Webelos Scout fulfill the AOL award requirements and be given this award after he participates in the cross-over ceremony and the Webelos II Den he was part of is dissolved? (By the way, in the meanwhile, the other Webelos IIs that were in the same Den have completed transfer paperwork and joined our Boy Scout Troop!) Thanks in advance for your help! (S.T.)

The answer’s more straightforward than you might imagine: If this Webelos Scout fulfills all AOL requirements before he transfers his registration from his Cub Scout Pack to a Boy Scout Troop, he thereupon will have earned the AOL. But, here’s the rub: The requirement at issue states, specifically: “With your Webelos den, visit…one Boy Scout-oriented outdoor activity.” Now we know that no one has the right to alter a requirement in any way. This is BSA policy; not some rule of Andy’s. I believe the words of the requirement that will be the deciding factor here are: “With your Webelos den...” This means that this young man cannot merely participate in a Boy Scout outdoor activity by himself; he must do so with his den. If the den still exists, and the den visits an appropriate event, then this Webelos Scout will meet the requirement. If, however, the den has disbanded and the Webelos Scouts formerly in it are registered as Boy Scouts, then, to be blunt, the show’s over—Earning the AOL is now impossible. If the latter turns out to be the situation, it might be worth keeping something in mind when speaking with this young man and/or his father, and it’s this: The responsibility of the Pack and the den is to provide the opportunity for advancement; guaranteeing that every boy advances is not a responsibility of the Pack or den – That’s the responsibility of the boy and his family. In this case, it looks like a W-2 is O-O-L!

S.T writes again…

Hey Andy,

Sorry to do this, but just so we have a level playing field here: What constitutes a Den? Can that be one leader and one Webelos Scout? If all of the Scouts have completed their transfer paperwork and have join a Boy Scout Troop except for one, does the Den remain in existence until that boy turns 11 or joins a Troop (even if there are no more Webelos II den meetings—haven’t been any for a month, now)? Thanks again! (S.T.)

Ahhh, I see you’re covering all bases, and that’s a good thing. If you refer to the CUB SCOUT LEADER BOOK (BSA No. 33221A) you’ll find “The Den” defined (Section 1, page 2)) this way: “…a group…a small group of six to eight boys…” Thus, a single boy is not a “den” and even a single boy with a den leader is still not a “den.” The “den” in the case of this particular Webelos Scout is the group of boys that he was with for at least the past year or more, and that’s an unassailable fact. This means, unequivocally, that unless the DEN attends this weekend’s event, the AOL requirement hasn’t been met. And, just so there’s no confusion, getting one other boy to attend with the one in question doesn’t a “den” make!

Now, facts aside, let’s deal with the emotional side of this equation. For this boy (and perhaps his father as well), there are just two paths to be taken. The first is resentment, based on the incorrect belief that advancement, and earning the AOL, is a “right” and not an opportunity, and to descend into rancor and other un-Scout-like behavior. The second is to acknowledge that a personal, individual mistake has been made that won’t be repeated, and to move on to Boy Scouting with a personal commitment that this will not happen again. Here, we need to remember that some 96 out of every 100 Boy Scouts do NOT achieve the rank of Eagle. In the case of this boy, I would hope he now sees the light and commits himself to accept all opportunities for personal growth and development, with Eagle Scout as a personal goal.

Happy Scouting!!


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

(Mid-April 2005 – Copyright © 2005 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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