Back in your February 2006 column, Rick Pixler asked about a list of BSA National Presidents. After putting a lot of bits and pieces together, I had a pretty good list. I finally opened up the late Robert Peterson’s book, The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure, and found that it had a list in the back that was complete up to Sanford McDonnell (1984-86). Then I found Charles Piggot (1986-88) through Ed Whitacre in the Scouting article listed below. So here’s the entire list, from 1910 right up to today:
|2006–present||William F. “Rick” Cronk|
|2004–2006||John C. Cushman III|
|2002–2004||Roy S. Roberts|
|2000–2002||Milton H. Ward|
|1998–2000||Edward E. Whitacre Jr.|
|1996–1998||John W. Creighton Jr.|
|1994–1996||Norman Ralph Augustine|
|1992–1994||John L. Clendenin|
|1990–1992||Richard H. Leet|
|1988–1990||Harold S. Hook|
|1986–1988||Charles M. Pigott|
|1984–1986||Sanford N. McDonnell|
|1982–1984||Edward C. Joullian III|
|1980–1982||Thomas C. MacAvoy|
|1979–1980||Downing B. Jenks|
|1979||John D. Murchison (died in office)|
|1977–1979||Downing B. Jenks|
|1975–1977||Arch H. Munson|
|1973–1975||Robert W. Reneker|
|1964–1968||Thomas J. Watson Jr.|
|1959–1964||Ellsworth H. Augustus|
|1956–1959||Kenneth K. Bechtel|
|1951–1956||John M. Schiff|
|1931–1946||Walter W. Head|
|1931||Mortimer L. Schiff (died in office)|
|1926–1931||Walter W. Head|
|1925–1926||Milton A. McRae (died in office)|
|1925–1926||James J. Storrow|
|1910–1925||Colin H. Livingston|
Peterson, Robert W. (1984). The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure. American Heritage. ISBN 0-8281-1173-1.
Halter, Jon C. (1999). Strong Values, Strong Leaders. Scouting magazine. BSA.
Yours in Scouting,
Ed Palmer, ASM, Troop 84/Advisor, Crew 84, Stonewall Jackson Area Council, Stuarts Draft, VA
Thank you, Ed!
I have a question about Cub Scout belt loops. Is there a prescribed way these are to be presented to the Cub, like, does the Den Leader hand these out at Den or Pack meetings, or can a parent just go buy them for the Cub after he completes the requirements? I’m asking because my son has been involved in a lot of things this summer and when I checked the requirements for the different sports and academics belt loops I saw that he had only one or two requirements to go for about five different belt loops, so I’m thinking that would be good to integrate these into his summer activities, so that he can earn the belt loops. Does this sound like a good approach, by a parent? (Chris)
Belt loops for Cub Scout Sports and Academics are typically presented at Pack meetings, along with rank (Wolf, Bear, etc.) advancements, Arrow Points, Webelos Activity Badges and Compass Points, etc. Rarely, they’re presented in Den meetings by the Den Leader. So, no, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a Cub’s parent to just go out and buy these for his or her son. But your idea of completing belt loop requirements over the summer, so that your son can continue to absorb new learnings and learn new skills, is a wonderful idea! Yes, belt loops can definitely be earned within a family setting; they’re not contingent on Den-level activities (although there may be some requirements that might need to involve other boys in your son’s Den). For a complete listing of belt loops and how they’re earned (keep in mind that the requirements will be different, based on your son’s rank), go here:
For Boy Scout Star rank requirement 5, the “positions of responsibility” list doesn’t include Assistant Patrol Leader (“APL”). Do you know why? Do you know when the position of APL first came about? There’s no mention of APL in my BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK-11th Edition — I can find nothing in the index, or on any page. Shouldn’t APL be considered one of the “positions of responsibility” for rank advancement? There’s even a patch for it! Do you know of any ruling or information regarding allowing the APL position to satisfy Star rank req. 5? (Lisa Berber, MC-Treasurer, Troop 2274, Los Padres Council Lompoc, CA)
Yup, you’re pretty right—the BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK (11th Edition) mentions the Assistant Patrol Leader position only once, on page 56. In your search, did you happen to notice that Assistant Patrol Leader isn’t a position that qualifies as a “position of responsibility” for Star or Life or Eagle? And, Yes, I can definitely tell you why that is. It’s because APL is a purely backup and “helper” position (the APL leads the Patrol ONLY when the PL does not), even though it might possibly have some responsibilities as assigned by the PL. Even more important, no APL sits on the Patrol Leaders Council (this being the leadership “core” of the Troop, which makes all annual program plans and sets the agendas and responsibilities for all Troop meetings, with the Scoutmaster’s support and occasional guidance). Now just in case you start thinking that this should render the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL) position also “ineligible,” you’ll discover (refer to the SCOUTMASTER HANDBOOK for this) that the ASPL does have a very specific and defined set of responsibilities, including the actual hands-on training of other youth leaders in the Troop. To answer one your ancillary questions, No, the APL position should definitely not be considered one of the “positions of responsibility” for Star, Life, or Eagle rank advancement. To answer another, if history is any indication, it’s unlikely that this will change in our lifetimes, because if you go ‘way back to the 7th Edition of the BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK—written more than 40 years ago—you’ll find exactly the same positions of responsibility as today, and these don’t include APL! When was the APL position first established? Check out the BSA-HANDBOOK FOR BOYS, First Edition, 1911.
Who is allowed to sign off requirements in a Scout’s HANDBOOK? I’m aware of Troops where Scouts who are First Class rank and beyond regularly sign off on Tenderfoot through First Class requirements, but the Troop my son’s in has a policy that it can only be a non-relative Scoutmaster or ASM. Are there any actual BSA policies on this? (Fred Philibert, Tantaqua District, Northern New Jersey Council, NJ)
According to the BSA book, ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE POLICIES & PROCEDURES: “A Scout may be tested on rank requirements by his Patrol leader, Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, a Troop committee member, or a member of his Troop.” The BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK (see pp. 33, 65, 113, 177, 178, and 181) tells the Scout: “As you complete each requirement, ask your Scoutmaster to initial his or her approval” (notice that is says “initial;” not “test” or “re-test”). So, these two statements, put together, tell me that while the Scoutmaster might be the one who ultimately “signs the book” for requirements completed, help along the way toward completion, and even testing, can be done by any number of others—both youth and adult—associated with the Troop, and that this is in no way affected one way or the other by blood relations, including Merit Badges.
We have a “problem Scout” in our Troop. He’s becoming more and more enterprising in asserting his dominance over other Scouts and, in his own way, even over most of the adults associated with the Troop. His actions are overt in the case of the Scouts and covert in the case of the adults. I say “covert” because this boy takes any opportunity when no adults are nearby to bully and intimidate other Scouts, essentially ignoring the admonitions, counseling, encouragement, etc., that we adult leaders have offered. What’s worse, at the first opportunity after the end of a recent crossover ceremony, this Scout systematically began to “brainwash” the brand-new Scouts, with his own “traditionally initiation ceremony”—I’m calling it “traditional” because he has been doing this every “new” Scout in their first encounter with him ever since I’ve been involved with this Troop (which is a couple of years, now).
Most recently, his little “ceremony” got him in trouble, because the parents of the new Scouts got wind of this and demanded that the Scoutmaster do something about it immediately. Now, we’re about to have special committee-and-parent meeting. But the Scoutmaster and other adults are reluctant to really do any serious “discipline” here because this troublesome Scout’s father is considered one of the founders of the Troop. Here. We have the paradox of an honorable, and charismatic Scouter who is, despite these fine qualities, a virtually absent and uninvolved parent when it comes to his own son. So, I have to ask a few questions, so we have some idea of how to best deal with this situation.
The Rules and Regulations of the BSA state: “The unit committee should review repetitive or serious incidents of misbehavior in consultation with the parents of the youth, to determine a course of corrective action including possible revocation of the youth’s membership in the unit.” My question is this: What does “revocation of the youth’s membership in the unit” mean? Does this mean removal from the Troop’s membership roster, but not removal from membership (that is, registration) in the BSA? My understanding is that, if after a youth’s membership in the unit is revoked by that unit, he’s still a registered youth member of the BSA (meaning he can join another unit, advance, etc., if he chooses to) and that “full” revocation doesn’t happen until the Troop’s next re-chartering, when the youth is then “dropped” from the unit roster submitted to the local council.
Next, referring to “…if problem behavior persists, a unit may revoke a Scout’s membership in that unit…when a unit revokes a Scout’s membership, it should promptly notify the council of the action,” what does “may” mean? Is it intended to mean “is allowed to”?
If you can offer any guidance on these questions, our Troop would sure appreciate it! (C.B.)
Yes, a Troop has the right (and obligation to the health of the Troop as a whole) to terminate a Scout, particularly in a problematic behavioral situation that gives the appearance of being incorrigible. When the Troop terminates the Scout (“revokes his membership in the unit”), he is removed from the Troop roster and informed that he is no longer welcome to attend Troop meetings or any other gatherings involving the Troop or any Scouts in it. The Scout does, however, remain registered as a youth member of the Boy Scouts of America until the end of the Troop’s charter year. Between the date of termination and the end of the charter year, the Scout has the right to seek out and join another Troop (if they’ll have him, of course, and that’s their decision to make), or he can become a “Lone Scout” (Yes, that program still exists, and would be available to him). If neither of these events occurs, by the time of the Troop’s re-chartering, then upon his non-renewal/non-re-registration when his (former) Troop’s charter comes due, he will subsequently drop off the BSA registration records.
I’ve also learned from a knowledgeable BSA professional that it is absolutely worthwhile for the unit to make any such termination a “formal” procedure, by inviting the Scout AND his parents to a meeting with (at the very least) the Scoutmaster and Troop Committee Chair (it’s not a bad idea at all to invite a member of the local professional staff—your local District Executive, for instance—to attend this meeting as well (the DE’s role would be that of a confirmatory witness; not arbitrator). Additional supportive committee members in that meeting can also help, even if they don’t have speaking roles.
All that said, I have to believe that what you’re dealing with are symptoms, and that the true root of the problem here is the triangular relationship between this Scout, his “dynamic Scouter” father, and Scouting itself. This young man’s behavior suggests—loud and clear—that HE DOESN’T WANT TO BE A SCOUT. And, to make matters worse, he probably doesn’t know how to tell his father this! So, what does he do? He “acts out”—he acts in ways that should get him booted out of the Troop. (He’s probably wondering why you all haven’t done this already…He may even be wondering how far he has to “escalate” his behavior for you folks to do what both you and he know should have been done a long time ago!). It’s time to stop walking small around your Troop’s “elephant-in-the-campsite” and take action. You cannot and must not sacrifice a Troop-full of Scouts for one very unhappy boy who doesn’t know how to tell his father that he just doesn’t want to be a Boy Scout. You all need to stop trying to dissect the “language” of the action you need to take, and step up and take action. Right now.
Love your column—You’ve been a great resource. I started reading it while I was District Advancement Chairman and now I really need it, as a new District Commissioner! May I reprint your column as a training discussion for our Unit Commissioners? (Jim Williams, DC, Frontier District, Los Angeles Area Council, CA)
Sure! Just so long as you show ol’ Andy here as your source, go right ahead and borrow as much as you’d like!
I love your column and often refer others to it. I’m a new Scouter—I was a First Class Scout about 30 years ago, but got back “in” when my son started Cub Scouting and I became Committee Chair and then Cubmaster. He’s bridged over to Boy Scouts, and I’m on the Troop Committee. The Troop my son’s in seems like a good one, but uniforms are a bit lax. The Scoutmaster has a “shirt’s enough” policy, and this drives me nuts! I believe there’s only one uniform, that parts of the uniform shouldn’t be worn with “civvies,” and that a uniform should be required for both Boards of Review and Courts of Honor. I want a complete uniform, but I myself wear a cheap pair of olive drab slacks that would fool anyone but a Scout Shop manager—in my view, that’s far superior to wearing jeans. Hypocritical? Perhaps, but I often point out that someone can “try” to look completely uniformed without breaking the bank. I was an advocate of navy blue “school uniform” pants available from chain stores as an $8 substitute for $36 Cub Scout pants, and it’s impossible to tell the two apart, so I’m not a total fanatic. Socks? Outa sight-outa mind. But then I sat on my first Board of Review, with a Scout going for First Class, and I had to bite my tongue when he showed up in Scout shirt and neckerchief, and… sweatpants!
I recently reviewed our Troop’s new “Handbook” (put together for us by a recent Wood Badge graduate) that stated that pants, belt, socks, and hat were all optional. I suggested replacing that entire section with quotes from Baden-Powell. When uniforming comes up, it seems that the emphasis is on Scouts who can’t afford it. What about those who feel that it just isn’t cool? I’ve done a lot of reading, and the consensus seems to be that the Scout should wear as much of the uniform as he can afford, and if a neckerchief is all, so be it. But what if he just doesn’t feel like wearing one? Here’s my quandary: much as I read and reread, I can’t find anywhere that it’s REQUIRED to wear a Scout uniform for a Board of Review or Scoutmaster Conference. Would insisting on this be considered “adding to the requirements”? (Fred Philibert, Tantaqua District, Northern New Jersey Council, NJ)
The current BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK describes the uniform on pages 12 and 13, and nowhere does the HANDBOOK (or any other BSA literature, for that matter) state that deviations from the national standard are either optional, at the discretion of any unit, or permissible for any reason. In fact, the uniform is one of the eight specific “Methods of Scouting,” as described in all Boy Scout Leader training courses.
Baden-Powell himself put it more gently, but equally to the point, this way: “Scouting does not demand that the boy wear a uniform, but what boy with Scouting in his heart wouldn’t wear his complete uniform?”
Personally, I love it when I’m told that partial uniforming is elected by a unit because of the high cost of the pants, belt, etc., and/or that folks “can’t afford” a complete uniform. This means, by their own definition, all we’re talking about is money! So, a unit fund-raiser becomes a simple way to make the “problem” (as they’ve defined it) go away! So does tapping into a uniform exchange (they’re even on-line!). And, when this happens, there’s no other argument to fall back on! BUT, this only happens when you’re in a “power position,” such as Scoutmaster or Committee Chair. Don’t attempt this unless you occupy one of those two positions, or you’ll wind up the Troop pariah instead of savior!
I’ve sat on well over 100 Eagle Boards of Review. Only twice did a Scout show up not wearing a full and complete uniform. In both cases, before the review actually started, I simply “thought out-loud” (with a little wink) to the group as a whole, like this…
“Hmmm…I’m looking for a candidate for the rank of Eagle—the highest and most prestigious rank in all of Scouting—who’s ready to proceed with his Board of Review, and I don’t see him, yet. Maybe we should wait about 10 or 15 minutes, to give the candidate time to properly present himself?”
In both cases, the erstwhile candidates “got it.” One instantly swapped pants with a fellow Scout in the Troop meeting going on in another room. The other called his parents and asked them to bring over his brother’s uniform pants and belt. Both Boards of Review concluded successfully, as they’re supposed to do.
As a Commissioner, I’ve seen a Troop’s “attitude” toward uniforming change virtually overnight. The new Scoutmaster would pull the names of two Scouts from a hat and, if these Scouts were in complete and accurate uniform, he’d give them a prize (usually a small item, like a flashlight or a compass or sometimes just a candy bar). If either was out of uniform, no prize. By the third meeting after he started doing this, every Scout had a pair of Scout pants (not ODs from the Army-Navy store), belt, and socks!
Remember this: Boys, being remarkably responsive creatures, will live up to our expectations. If we let them know we expect ragamuffin-like attire, they live up to that. If we expect the very best of them, as we should, well, you know what’ll happen…
When I was a Scoutmaster (which wasn’t “back in the Dark Ages”!) our Troop—every Scout and every adult—wore complete uniforms for everything… at meetings, when we went camping and hiking, and on every occasion we were functioning as Scouts. This practice had profound advantages, not only in appearance but in behavior and skills as well. Our Troop was always “Top Troop” at summer camp. Our Patrols took top honors at all Camporees. We were selected several times for local television appearances by roving reporters who spotted us. We were frequently tapped as color guards for major council events (where we got to stay for dinner!) because the professional staff knew they could always count on us to look sharp! Some of our Troop’s Scouts were even in a Jamboree commemorative video – Yup, the one produced by the National Office – because a roving video crew spotted them in full uniform, when “Jamboree regulations” said that activity uniforms would be OK for the day!
So, yes, while you can’t “add a requirement” by “demanding” complete uniforms at Boards of Review, Courts of Honor, and such, there’ a whole bunch of ways to get a Troop uniformed—So long as it starts at the top! (Just between you n‘ me, your Troop’s Scouts do know that you’re not wearing BSA pants—Don’t kid yourself! You’ve gotta walk the talk, my friend, or it don’t amount to squat, especially with a bunch of Scouts!)
First of all, I’m 100% in favor of Scouts in uniform at all Scout events. But if anyone gets in the way of a Scout’s advancement merely because he doesn’t wear his uniform or doesn’t wear all of it, they’re WRONG. The SCOUTMASTER HANDBOOK states that a Scout isn’t required to have a uniform in order to be a Boy Scout (this is in the section about uniforming). While the uniform is one of the eight methods of Scouting, there is nothing in Scouting policy that makes it mandatory for a boy to have a Scout uniform in order to be a Boy Scout. To promote good uniforming in a friendly and non-judgmental way, simply teach Scouts the purpose of the uniform and why and how we wear it. In a Board of Review, this can be reinforced by asking the Scout why we wear uniforms in Scouting and encouraging him to do so at his next review. This is part of what “Scout Spirit” is all about! (Don McDow, UC & former SM, 25+ Year Veteran, Greater Alabama Council, AL)
Well said! Some 25-Year Scouters actually have one year of experience repeated 24 more times—I’m sure glad you’re not in that group!
My wife and I are our Pack’s new Committee Chair and Cubmaster (respectively). The Pack’s fairly vibrant, with roughly 50 Cub Scouts and at least two good-sized Dens of each rank, and we just crossed-over three large Webelos Dens to the Troop we’re affiliated with. But I feel as if we’re a shiny apple that’s full of worms on the inside. You see, for the past several years, we’ve been drifting away from many things that the Cub Scout Leader Book describes. For instance, no one seems to care whether our adult leaders go to training or not, we don’t check any references on the applications of new volunteers whom no one knows, and we have virtually no uniforming at all, especially among our Den Leaders (“They’re volunteers! They might quit if we try to guide them or tell them we need for them to be uniformed, to set the example,” is the argument given). We’ve also discarded shared leadership in our Tiger Cub Dens because, they say, “It’s much easier to have one Den Leader handle everything” (this particular practice is what brought me into leadership—my son’s Tiger Cub Den Leader quit, and our Den didn’t even meet for two months). The leadership we’re attracting, not training, and then enabling, is putting our program and our Cubs at risk. My wife and I think that, after 75 years, the BSA probably knows more about the Cub Scout program and how a Pack should run than people trying to implement their own whimsical management structure and notions. We also understand that we’re obligated to uphold the BSA’s policies—something seemingly lost on other adults in the Pack, in particular our committee secretary and our advancement chair. Just recently, these two people were planning to train our new Tiger Den Leaders themselves (rather than take advantage of standardized district-level training)! Without reciting every mistake or deviation from what’s supposed to be happening, let me just say that my wife and I have scheduled a talk with our Chartered Organization Representative (COR) to see if we’ll get any actual support if we decide to make necessary changes in the Pack Committee. I think I can honestly say we’ve tried to work as a team with our other parent-volunteers. We’ve tried to keep from alienating anyone by trying to change things all at once, but, instead, gradually moving things back to what the program’s supposed to be. But even that “soft” approach has resulted in outright resistance and acrimony. That brings me to our question” What actual options do we have? More specifically, what does it take to remove someone from a pack committee? The Cub Scout Leader Book says that a Pack’s committee members are appointed by the COR (although that apparently hasn’t happened here) and that their duties are assigned by the Committee Chair. Can we actually do this, if the COR is on our side? What if he’s not?
We do have a concern that we’ll be targeted for removal if we persist in our trying to get this Pack on track. We both dread the effect this might have on our youth membership; however, the people we’re dealing with don’t necessarily think about putting the boys first, and might try to get us canned. On that point, I assume that any vote by the Pack Committee or the Den Leaders to remove anyone who is supposed to be appointed by the COR is “illegal” and would hopefully be overturned by our District. But what about Cubmasters and Assistant Cubmasters, who are supposed to be appointed by the Pack Committee? Does a simple majority vote win? If so, my goose is probably cooked, and maybe my wife’s too! (J&T)
Well, it does seem as if your Pack is aimed quite a bit away from Scouting’s True North, and since you and your wife have both taken your training, you do know what’s the Cub Scout Program and what’s not. So let’s cover some basics:
– Most councils stipulate that Leaders MUST be trained; this is not an option.
– Scouting has been a uniformed organization since 1910, and Cub Scouting has been a uniformed program since 1930. Period.
– It’s not mandatory that a new volunteer’s references be called, if this person is known to other Pack parents and leaders and is verbally vouched for. Only when the person’s a complete stranger would you really need to do this.
– Unless someone holds the specific registered position of Pack Trainer (registration code PT), they are NOT qualified to train anyone in the Pack. Without a filled PT position, leaders without training must go to district or council training sessions.
As Committee Chair and Cubmaster, you two have the obligation and AUTHORITY to make changes, and the RIGHT to stop this Pack from circling the drain, BUT if you use that power—even a teensy little bit—it’ll come back to bite you. So, instead of being powerful, your challenge is to be CLEVER…Clever in the best of ways. Here are some “tricks of the trade”…
– Reach out to your DISTRICT COMMISSIONER and your DISTRICT TRAINING CHAIR (both volunteers—just like you) and invite them to your next committee or leaders meeting—Let THEM make the pitch for following the program and getting trained; not you!
– In Pack meetings, give small prizes (a “Jolly Rancher” piece or something similar works just fine) to all Cubs who are in FULL UNIFORM! Say nothing else, and don’t chastise those who aren’t.
– Give a “Best Dressed” fun award (can be just a computer-generated “certificate”) to any leader who’s in full uniform!
– Spend a few bucks and get every Den Leader a PROGRAM HELPS book—the one with the monthly themes—and then build Pack meetings around them.
– For Den Leaders that don’t “get it” and decide they’re going to threaten you with quitting, call a Den parents meeting immediately and announce to them all, face-to-face (no emails!), that “Mary, here, isn’t able to continue, and so unless one of you is willing to step up and take her place, this Den will have to be dissolved for lack of leadership.” If no one steps up, do it—dissolve the Den. It’s “tough love,” but anything else is going to ultimately destroy the Den anyway!
– Do NOT be tempted to “combine” Dens, it that would create a new Den of more than 8, and do NOT accept the argument from two parents that “We’ll be ‘co-leaders’ and manage a larger group just fine!” It won’t work. Never has!
– Recruit like-minded parents to be committee members. Pitch it this way: “As a committee member, you’re not uniformed, you don’t have to attend Den meetings, but you do take some training and then attend Pack Committee meetings and Pack meetings (which you would, anyway, as parents), and you carry out your responsibilities as our Pack’s (treasurer, advancement person, etc.) on your own time, at your convenience.”
– Even though you’ve both taken the training, if at all possible re-take it WITH your new parents, so that you can do some team-building at the same time!
– Encourage as many folks as you can to read my columns—even the “old” ones—because there’s lots of important Cub Scout stuff in them that will help get the job done, that you won’t find “in the book”!
As for “getting canned,” DON’T PANIC! Remember: You’re the “good guys.” That’s why you MUST bring in at least a Commissioner. If your unit doesn’t have one, get your District Commissioner to assign one RIGHT NOW. Make the call TODAY. And tell ’em you want someone who knows the Cub Scout program inside and out. Also, right away, have a conversation about this mess with the head of your sponsor and tell them what you’re trying to accomplish, and why.
All that said, I do have an alternate course of action for you. Let’s remember that you ultimately want to give your own son the best possible Cub Scouting experience you can. So, with that in mind, if you find that you “can’t teach hogs to ice-skate” (it usually wastes your time and annoys the hogs), then both of you quit your present positions and become Den Leader and Assistant DL of your son’s own Den, and then make it happen just for that Den (your son and his friends), all the way through to Webelos and Arrow of Light. If you give your son and his Den-friends a positive experience, they’ll go on to be Boy Scouts, and that’s a big part of what this is all about!
NetCommish Comments: Here’s a few more ideas:
– Invite parents and leaders to take Cub Scout Leader training online at https://scoutnet.scouting.org/elearning/ — they can do this in their homes, offices, or even the local library. Some will take you up on the offer and begin to see some good information on how things are supposed to work.
– Find out when your Council or District has a Cub Scout Leader Pow Wow or monthly Cub Scout Leader Roundtable. Invite one or two parents or leaders to come with you to each event so that they can be exposed to how things are done with other units. Usually the enthusiasm at such events tends to catch too.
– At a parents meeting arrange to show a video of a successful Pack meeting with good uniforming. You should be able to find out from a Commissioner or Professional Scouter which units are really tops in your area. Arrange to visit one. Take a video camera (borrow if you need to) and film an opening and a few highlights. Do the same at other events during the year like the Pinewood Derby. Make your own film or ask other Scouters to help. And don’t be afraid to ask Scouters in other units to help.
– Invite a Boy Scout Troop to do an opening or closing ceremony for you. (Make sure that this is a well uniformed unit and that they arrive in full uniform) Cubs will see the uniforms and want to be like the older boys. The more they want to wear uniforms, the more likely mom and dad will see the light.
I’ve been a Scoutmaster now for four years, I’ve taken most of the training I can, and I’ve been involved with four Eagle Scout Projects so far. A week ago, someone pointed out to me a rather large newspaper article about a Scout in my Troop who wanted to do his Eagle Scout Project with property owned by a patriotic ladies group in town. I’d not heard or seen anything about this Scout’s proposed project, but somehow he got the “town fathers” involved, and they’re now trying to force this group—The Daughters of the War of 1812—to cede their land and monuments to the town! I’m past town historian and the town’s past Historical Society President, and knew as far back as 20 years ago that this land and the monuments on it were owned by the DW1812! If this Scout had come to me first, and run his ideas past me, as I guess Eagle Scouts are supposed to, I could have saved him a lot of effort and these ladies a lot of grief over possibly losing their property. I sent an email message to all the Troop’s Scouts and their parents, expressing my displeasure at getting these women upset, and pointed out that Eagle Scout Projects, as far as I knew, were to be first run by the Scoutmaster for advice. Now in our Troop committee, we have about four people who try to do things their way, and tonight I walked into a setup, where the COR was there (he had been invited there by one of the four) and they all started grilling me. Without even hearing my feelings on the issue, I was asked to apologize to the Scout (this Scout’s mother is the advancement chair, by the way). Also in this same meeting, the wife of one of the four that I mentioned earlier stated that the Scouts in the Troop were afraid of me, and several had dropped out of the Troop because of this. I don’t get it. I stand five-foot five! I guess my head is on the block, but I want to ask this: What’s the proper way to replace a Scoutmaster, and where can I find that in writing. Later, I called the COR and he told me that the man who called him to that meeting tried to get me replaced about a year ago, too. This man is a Unit Commissioner. His wife is on the committee and I guess he is, too. I am getting out of Scouting because of them, but I don’t want to leave the Troop in a mess. I’m just not sure how to handle this. Then I just found out that the Eagle project Scout’s mother called our District Executive and told him that I was a control freak. I have no other problems with anyone else in the Troop except these four people, who happen to control the committee. These people are always trying to find a way around me. I do believe in Standards, and I believe that an Eagle Scout should earn his rank. My feeling is that these parents don’t want their sons to be too put out by what I require, which is nothing more than the requirements of the Scouting ranks, as written. (G.R.)
First off, you’re weren’t wrong in stopping that Scout from proceeding further, and owe no one an apology, even though I must say that I don’t personally favor broadcast emails as a way to deal with one-to-one matter. If you’re unsure, I’m telling you right now: An Eagle Scout candidate absolutely must have his Scoutmaster’s signature (and several others, too) before beginning any work whatsoever on an Eagle project. I also support your decision to move away from this Troop. Quite simply, this is your personal time, so if it isn’t fun anymore, you have every right (and an obligation to yourself!) to move on and find something that is fun! How does this happen? Simple: YOU RESIGN, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. End of story.
But I do have a concern, and it’s this… You seem to be “guessing,” and using equivocating statements like, “as far as I knew…”? I’m concerned that, while the parents calling you “control freak” and “scary” are probably projecting, there’s a reasonable chance that you’re hoping that someone’s going to say to you “Oh, come back, don’t quit—all is forgiven.” Ain’t gonna happen, my friend! Bite the bullet, or don’t, but don’t wait for praise and accolades from these people—they don’t have it in them to give you what you want.
Is there a council or national policy regarding Troop committee positions and Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmasters? More specifically, can an Assistant Scoutmaster also be a Troop Committee member or the Committee Chair? It seems like a possibility for conflict to me. Is there a rule?
Another question: How is a unit’s Committee Chair selected? As I recall there’s a book on Troop Committee stuff, and I hope to be able to stop by the Scout Shop today to pick one up. (Bob Dudley, SM, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)
You really don’t need some BSA “policy” for the first of your questions; this one’s a no-brainer: There’s absolutely no point to being both an ASM and a CC, or both a Scoutmaster and a member of the unit committee, or any other sort of dual membership registration within the same unit. This isn’t “common sense.” This is GOOD SENSE. SMs and ASMs are involved in Troop PROGRAM; CCs and MCs are involved in Troop SUPPORT and ADMINISTRATION. Got somebody who wants to wear two hats in the same Troop? Tell ‘em, “NO, that’s not how we do things here.” Why? Because this sort of stuff starts to implode on itself real fast, and it’s messy. For instance, an ASM reports in to the SM, and the SM reports in to the Troop Committee. How, then, can the SM report in to a committee chair or member who, because he or she is also an ASM, ultimately reports in to the SM? In the military, this is called a “cluster ____” (you know the missing word!). If your folks are already doing this, change it at your next rechartering. If you need help, call on your Commissioner service team!
On your second question, both the current and the previous editions of the TROOP COMMITTEE GUIDEBOOK are very specific about the committee being selected and approved by the Chartered Organization (the head, specifically; not the Chartered Organization Representative, which is a liaison/communications position) and both are equally silent on how a member of that committee becomes the chair. This suggests that the method is optional. Usually, someone volunteers to chair the committee (it’s always a good idea to make this for a specific period of time—one year, two years, etc.—rather than having it open-ended). If there’s already a chair, and he or she wants to step down, one would hope that a successor has been identified, trained (the “shadow me” method works best), and then presented to the committee. (When we hear about a “vote,” it’s more often an attempt to vote someone OUT of the chair rather than IN, so this is pretty much baloney!) Whatever method your committee uses, the idea is to have it happen by accord and agreement, rather than by default or fiat.
And by the way, neither the SM nor any ASMs are members of the unit committee (not even “ex officio”) although the SM typically attends the committee’s meetings.
Recently my district asked me to be the District Recruiting Chair for Boy Scouts. Do you think it would be a good idea to create a marketing plan that would act like a guide for our district, in order to understand how we as a district can bring in more youth membership? Another question, my Scouting friends and I have been talking and we feel that while opportunities such as Roundtables, the University of Scouting, the Commissioner, Scouting magazine, and Boy’s Life magazine are all excellent resources, we’re thinking of proposing to the national office the idea of a JOURNAL dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America. Journals, as you may know, are texts that give information about various subject matter. This would be geared towards those who would like to submit a paper concerning various topics, such as youth and mental health, youth leadership methods, recruiting tactics, and the list goes on. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. (Alex J. Segneri)
First, let’s talk about marketing plans. Marketing plans are only as good as those who are committed to carrying them out. Unless you have an enthusiastic team that’s ready to truly make a difference, don’t waste your time (“marketing,” as the saying goes, “is a salesman’s excuse for not making calls”). The marketing plan for your district may be really very simple. I think it might boil down to five questions, followed by four more:
1 – Who are our customers?
2 – WHY are they are customers? (Turned around: What is it we’re offering that they want to buy?)
3 – Who are our competition’s customers?
4 – What does our competition (which includes lethargy) offer that we don’t?
5 – What do we need to do to capture more of our market? (This doesn’t mean change the program; it might simply mean get the word out there!)
A – What are we doing RIGHT, that we should KEEP doing?
B – What are we doing that we should STOP?
C – What do we have to CHANGE, and do differently?
D – What are we NOT doing, that we have to START doing?
Now, on to journals, keeping in mind at all times that, as you asked, these are my personal thoughts…
Professionally, I’ve read juried journals and industry publications for years, so I do have some knowledge of what you’re talking about. I’ve also been in Scouting long enough to see the transition of “Scouting” magazine from close to what you’re seeking to a virtual waste of paper. Originally, this publication was focused in the direction you’re seeking, and was a definite aid to us volunteer Scouters in most capacities. But over the years, the BSA shifted its focus (note that Scouting magazine’s sub-head is now “A Family Magazine”) and instead of retaining its focus on the needs of in-the-trenches volunteers in the movement, it has become pabulum: There are articles on general parenting, silly anagrams and crossword puzzles, and a whole bunch of stuff that just doesn’t matter in day-in, day-out Scouting. Yes, the news about changes, upcoming events, and so on are still valuable. But these are becoming smaller and smaller proportions of the publication as a whole. My personal guess is that, in the pursuit of advertising dollars, the BSA sacrificed focus in order to appeal to mass advertisers (interestingly, it doesn’t look like that worked too very well!). At any rate, while this might have become the journal you’re looking for, it went exactly the other way.
Ironically, I’ll bet most seasoned Scouters would have been willing to pay a significant subscription fee for a truly useful journal. But that was before the Internet. If you do some exploring of the USSSP.com site, for instance, you’ll discover that it’s become very like the journal you’re looking for. There are other sites as well, of course, but none more extensive than this! Then there’s the “American Scouting Digest“—an unofficial periodical that seems headed in the right direction, relative to what you’re seeking.
So where are we? Well, an official (or even unofficial) journal would be terrific, and would definitely be of value. But it would have to be juried, and would need an incisive and knowledgeable editorial staff as well (have you noticed that pieces written by Scouters are often of the “My Scouting History” or “My Scouting Memories” variety? These are wonderful reminiscences, but hardly appropriate for a true journal.) Most journals have an academic bent. Why? Simple: Professors spend half their careers writing (I have a son who’s one, so I do speak with some direct knowledge here), but Scouters don’t. We have insights, and experiences worth sharing, and skills, but most of us aren’t skilled writers in the sense of “craft.” This is why a jury and editorial staff are critical. Now the jury can be pro bono, but not the editors and ancillary staff, whose salaries could run a half-million bucks, and nothing’s been printed yet. Now, let’s look at the potential audience. In round numbers, the BSA has about a half-million Cub Scouting volunteers and another half-million Boy Scouting volunteers. Let’s say there are two journals, each published twice a year—one for each group. Let’s assume that 20 percent of each group subscribes. Now let’s guess that the total cost to create, produce and deliver four journals a year to 200,000 total subscribers (this would include salaries, overhead, equipment, outside printing and fulfillment, postage, etc.) is $2 million. This would put a subscription for two issues a year at $50 annually—Yup, $25 a pop! But let’s say I’m wrong by a factor of 2. That would bring the annual subscription to $25, again for just two issues, or $12.50 each. Could this be pulled off? Not impossible! Hey, if there’s a Scouter who’s also in the publishing biz, it might be easier than you think! But you need to look at both sides of the mountain.
Well, your question produced a sort of “think-piece” here, and I apologize. The bottom line, I think, is that the raw idea is outstanding, but maybe unaffordable. But don’t let my musings stop you from pursuing it—Heck, if NASA and the Astronauts accepted every warning about their missions, the Eagle would never have landed!
My son is a third generation Scout. He’s 16 and earned Eagle rank two years ago. He’s holding a 4.0+ GPA, and is a Sunday School volunteer. Scouting helped my son find his way to Varsity Swimming, volunteer work, Red Cross Life Guarding, and holding the job of swimming instructor at our city pool. He pitched for the school’s JV baseball team last year. He serves as an instructor in his Scout Troop, and made orienteering maps of a local state park and taught orienteering and hiking skills to new Scouts each fall for the last three years. He serves as a helper on other Scouts’ Eagle projects, helps the Troop set up our Church’s rummage sale, and serves as the “Voice of the Eagle” at our Troop’s Courts of Honor. He still sells fundraising popcorn each year! He and several other Scouts in our Troop are multi-sport high school athletes. He’s recently been appointed by his school’s principal to a problem-solving committee selected by the school faculty. In short, he and several of his Troop friends are “all-around guys” who volunteer both in the Troop and at multiple “outside” endeavors as well, much of their “can-do” approach to life and helping others having been instilled in them through their involvement with Scouting over the years.
Recently, our new Scoutmaster and his ASM have stated that these boys—my son and his Scouting friends—“Owe the Troop more than they’re giving.” Neither of these men has a kid in high school yet, and don’t seem to understand that, for instance, band members receive a grade drop if they miss events (regardless of the nature of the conflicting event, Scouting or otherwise), during “band season.” They also don’t seem to get it that high school athletes will be benched or cut if they miss practice or team events. Finally, they don’t seem to listen to the notion that a young man might wish to excel in his honors and “AP” (advanced placement) classes and that this often means studying on weekends, even if he’d rather be camping or hiking with his Troop! Instead, these two new adult leaders talk about young men like these having “no Scout Spirit,” being “not worthy of Eagle rank,” and that they must “make a choice” between Scouting and their other activities. They’ve gone so far as to say publicly that these particular young men “poison the Troop.” Both the SM and ASM stall these Scouts when they come to them for Merit Badge help, and instead use this as an opportunity to lecture them on their “obligations.” It seems like these two men are trying to turn this Troop into a “Scouting EXCLUSIVELY or you’re OUT” Troop. I’ve checked Scoutmaster’s handbooks all the way back to the 1930s, and they all say the same thing: That older boys are almost invariably less available, due to their intensified school studies, part-time jobs and other work, sports, music, and on and on, and that Troops should welcome them back and encourage their participation, in whatever time they have available. Can you provide any advice on this? (Carl Constantino, Simon Kenton Council, OH)
Any Scoutmaster or other adult associated with a Boy Scout Troop who displays the sort of attitude toward multi-faceted young men that the SM and ASM you’ve described are doing deserves just one thing: BOOT THEM OUT OF THAT TROOP BEFORE THEY POISON IT!
Boy Scouting is the single-most flexible, most forgiving program a boy or young man will ever be part of! In Scouting, there’s no “either-or” (as in “Soccer or Scouts,” “Band or Scouts,” “Little League or Scouts,” and so on). There’s no “Solomon’s Decision” in Scouts. Boys can be Scouts and be everything else they want to be, too! In fact, there’s only one thing that Eagle Scouts really have in common, and it’s this: THEY’RE INTO EVERYTHING! You won’t find an Eagle Scout who’s been a “Scout Nerd,” where all he does with his life is Boy Scout stuff. Every single Eagle Scout I’ve ever met has invariably been a “Renaissance Man” in his own right. The Troop’s present SM and ASM have it 18o degrees BACKWARDS.
First off, Scouts “owe” their Troops ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It doesn’t matter whether they’re Eagles or Tenderfoot Scouts, being a Scout is not about “payback.” Scouting is about “paying it forward.” NOT to the Troop, but to their communities and schools, their nation and their God. It’s plain from your letter that your son and his friends are doing this. The Troop is the nexus for service outward; not inward.
Second, it doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure this stuff out; all it takes is reading the BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK. Moreover, telling Eagle Scouts that they don’t deserve a rank they’ve worked diligently to earn, or that they have no Scout Spirit because they don’t show up at every meeting and outing is tantamount to emotional abuse—a reportable offence.
Finally, if these new men don’t straighten up and fly right, right now, without further discussion, it’s the paramount job of the Troop’s sponsor and Troop committee—at whose discretion the SM and ASM serve—to replace them without further ado.
I’m a Cub Scout leader. I have a Cub Scout; not a Boy Scout (yet). I’ve never volunteered in a Boy Scout position, but I do run into Boy Scout leaders at District and Council functions. They all want to shake my hand “left handed,” the Boy Scout way. I shake hands the Cub Scout way, with my right hand, with two fingers inside the other person’s wrist. More than once when I’m extending my right hand to shake, a BOY Scouter will “correct” me, saying, “We’re in uniform, so we need to shake left-handed,” except that I’m in my CUB Scout leader uniform. Maybe some folks have been out of Cub Scouting for such a long time that they don’t remember the Cub Scout handshake, or maybe they never learned it, or maybe they don’t understand that others might not be as experienced as they in Boy Scout ways. How should I handle this? (Amanda, DL, Circle 10 Council, Plano, TX)
‘ve run into this, too, and know exactly what you mean. These Scouters are probably well-meaning and think they’re “helping” you. Having tried a variety of responses to this sort of thing, here’s what I’ve come up with as a fairly decent way to handle this situation: If they extend their left hand before you’ve extended your right, simply shake hands with the left, in the Boy Scout manner (since you’ve indicated that you do know how to do this now); and if you’ve extended your right hand first and they extend their left, don’t drop your right hand but simply grasp their fingers and shake, saying, “Glad to meet you, and when you’d like to learn how Cub Scouts and their leaders shake hands, I’d be happy to show you.”
I’m looking for a graphic of the Commissioner service wreath in black-and-white. Do you know where I might find it? (JoAnn Fisher)
Sure do! Go to this address (right inside the USSSP website) and you’ll find a whole bunch of Commissioner clipart:
I’m an Advancement Chair and an Assistant District Commissioner, and I need some help in researching a Scouting recognition. It’s called The Conservation Good Turn Award. The patch for this is sold in our council’s Scout Shop, but I can’t find any information on it. Is this still an active award, and what are the requirements? (Mark Kopel, Milton District, Atlanta Area Council, Alpharetta, GA)
I found it here:
I am a Den Leader of ten great Bear Cubs. I’m thankful that most of their parents are interested in their son’s Den meetings, but this is also my problem, because the parents come and stay at the Den meetings, with their mobile and often crying younger brothers and sisters, and all of them think nothing of interrupting, talking (not quietly) amongst themselves, and generally distracting their Cub Scout sons in the meetings. They’ll also butt in and start doing the work for their sons instead of letting them do it themselves. One of these parents, in particular, constantly screams loudly and unnecessarily at her son during our meetings, even with outbursts like, “I’m going to bust your butt !” So, all told, I’ve got ten Cubs and another 10 siblings, plus that many adults (mostly moms) every week! This just does not make the environment easy to teach the Cubs. Even my Assistant DL brings her two younger kids! Even on “good” days, there are simply too many people in my home! I’ve put up with this so far because I know Cub Scouts is family oriented and I don’t think I can tell them to leave, according to BSA policy. However, it’s getting to the point where I just can’t lead the Den or have meetings this way. My priority is that I follow BSA policy, and that the Cubs do the Bear requirements in a fun way, and in a manner that they “get it,” but that’s simply not happening. On the other hand, I don’t want to tell the parents to not come at all, because next year—for Webelos and the Activity Badges—I’ll be needing as much help as I can get! What can I do, according to BSA policy, to get the parents to not bring distracting siblings, not come to each and every meeting, and only come if they’re going to actually help (without doing their son’s work)? (Amanda, DL, Circle 10 Council, Plano, TX)
Before I tackle your question about parents-and-siblings and such, we have to get something else out of the way first. Rank advancements for Wolf and Bear and Arrow Points aren’t done in Den meetings—This is one big No-No! These are done at home, with parents as Akela (Yes, this includes signing his book, too!). You actually are interfering with the program as it’s intended to be delivered when you take away the parents’ jobs by doing pre-Webelos advancement stuff in your Den meetings. Now, just in case you’re thinking, “If I don’t do it, these boys won’t advance!” I’ll remind you that your job, as Den Leader, is to counsel the parents and tell them flat out what their own responsibilities are. And, yes, if they don’t do it, their sons won’t advance, and it’s absolutely NOT your job to “rescue” anybody—parent or Cub! (This isn’t my opinion—This is how the BSA designed the Cub Scout program to be carried out!)
OK, with that taken care of, let’s move on to your main question…
Time for a separate parent conference! Right away—Don’t delay a minute longer! You absolutely have the right—and the obligation to the Cub Scouts in your care—to ask every one of these parents to take their parties somewhere else. Tell them precisely what you’ve told me here, point for point. The only other adult besides you who should be at a Den meeting is one Assistant Den Leader (or, at a minimum, a parent-helper). If your Den meetings are in your home, and it’s big enough, put all parents and other kids in a separate room where they can’t see or hear the Den meeting. If that’s impossible, send them on their way —They can pick up their sons in an hour. No exceptions for any reason. If they argue, tough! It’s your home, and your volunteer time, and if they want you to continue, that’s the way it is. End of story!
If you’re worried you might “hurting their feelings,” get over it! They sure don’t have any problem disregarding your own feelings! As for Momma Loudmouth, she’s gotta be the first to go! And get those rug rats outa there!
This isn’t about “BSA Policy;” this is about common courtesy. If anybody says they’re not leaving, you can tell ’em to leave and take their son, too, if that’s what it takes to make this happen. We’re talking about your own home here.
If your Assistant DL has trouble with this because of her own other kids, tell the other parents that they need to cover for her by “babysitting” her kids while she’s helping you run the meetings. If they’re not willing to do this, well, they just don’t “get it.”
The time for every parent, brother, and sister to show up and stay is the monthly Pack meeting; not Den meetings.
Make it happen — You’re the only one who can! Don’t waffle; don’t back down; don’t stand for exceptions! And, this is not about the “next” meeting—This is right now, today, this minute. The meeting doesn’t start till they’re out the door! (This isn’t about being mean or nasty or anything like that; this is about bringing some sanity to what’s become an insane situation!)
I’m a regular reader, and really enjoy your column. I appreciated your commentary on square knots. I’ve run up against the attitude that displaying all those awards is somehow gaudy, too, and I simply don’t understand it. I think that there are even more reasons to wear what you’ve earned. First, I think that it shows the Scouts that you, as an adult leader, are working to make the Scouting program better, even if its “behind the scenes.” This is a way of letting them know that you’re dedicated to Scouting, and a leader wants to be the best leader he or she can be! Second, awards are one way for the BSA to make sure that what needs to get done gets done. The things you have to do for the award are things that, for the most part, you should be trying to do anyway! This is the same for Scouts and Scouters: We require certain Merit Badges for Star, Life, and Eagle because we want young people to know what it means to be an American citizen, how to make a budget, how important it is to be physically fit, and so on. It’s the same for adults. This is a way the BSA ensures that we’re all striving to provide the best program for our Scouts! (J.M., Blackhawk Area Council, IL-WI)
You’ve absolutely caught on to the BSA’s “hidden agenda”—If you earn the awards that are available to you to earn, you’re carrying out the mission of the BSA!
One other aspect of this that was in my first draft but then got cut (the piece was getting a little on the long side, and something had to go!) is the idea that, when one Scouter picks on or otherwise tries to make fun of a fellow Scouter over the rightful wearing of recognitions earned or received, they’re essentially repudiating some pretty important Scouting aspects, like Friendly, Courteous, and Kind, to name just three.
I’m looking for the official way to go about removing a volunteer from a Troop. (D.R., Connecticut Rivers Council, Prospect, CT)
Here’s the deal: The one person who really has the authority to remove a unit-level adult volunteer from that unit is the head of the chartered organization. The general rule is, you can be removed by whomever assigned you to the position in the first place. So this means that, in the case of a unit-level volunteer, it’s not the Commissioner or district executive or chartered organization representative (COR) or even the council’s Scout executive (unless we’re talking about abuse as defined in youth protection training). Now if by chance you mean that you’d like to “transition” some folks to different Scouting jobs than they have right now, then write again and tell me this, and we’ll take a different path.
Got a question? Send it to me atAskAndyBSA@yahoo.com.
(Please include your Council name and home state)
(August 2006 – Copyright © 2006 Andy McCommish)