Author Avatar

Issue 97 – Mid-March 2007

Dear Andy,

I’ve been a Scoutmaster for more than 20 years in my home town, and now I’m finishing an active duty mobilization in Afghanistan. I’m wondering if the Iraq Green Zone Council has a shoulder patch. If you know of a source please give me a yell. (D.B.)

I don’t know if there’s one or not, but you guys sure as heck deserve one! Check out, and contact, BSA Direct Service:

Dear Andy,

In your first March column, Rusty Rodke, Great Southwest Council, asked about the American Indian Scout Association. Their official website, with much more information is at:

I hope this helps. (Craig B., Jersey Shore Council)


Dear Andy,

In an earlier column, Mike Kerrigan, Revolutionary Trails Council, asked you about “Deliver The Promise” (No. 18-251). I’ve done some checking and this doesn’t appear in the current list of Bin Resource items. Sometimes there may be a bit of back-stock, so calling your local Scout Shop and asking them to call National Supply doesn’t hurt, but it looks like it’s out of print. (Steve Hanson, Scout Shop Manager, Capitol Area Council, Austin, TX)

Hi Andy,

For “Deliver The Promise’,” I Searched and found this:

This is on a web site published by Lewis Orans. Happy to help! (George Fosselius, ADC, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council, CA)


Dear Andy,

I’m one of the BSA editors in the Scouting Project over at Wikipedia. It looks like you got the information on the Life Scout badge from our article, which we just merged into the main Boy Scout section. It was merely a stub, and we felt it wasn’t going to grow much:

Under emblems, you’ll now find: “Life is a First Class emblem on a red heart, and initially symbolized the first aid and health-related merit badges required for the rank, but now signifies that the ideals of Scouting have become a part of the Scout’s life and character.”

As to sheath knives, you are quite correct that the only BSA statement about these is the recommendation in GTSS. Of course, individual councils, camps, units, camporees and other events may have their own guidelines. In our own troop, we abide by this: “Personal utility knives will be a folding blade, preferably a lock-back blade, with a blade length of not more than 4 inches. Fixed-blade knives used for cooking or preparing foods may not be stored or carried on the person but will be stored and carried in a case, pack, or container. Axes, hatchets, machetes, and saws will be properly sheathed when not in use and will not be worn or stored on the person.” (We figured that if they can’t wear it, then the urge to carry something big will be minimized.) (Ed Palmer, ASM-Troop 84, Advisor-Venturing Crew 84, Stuarts Draft, VA)

Yup, Wikipedia was absolutely my source! Thanks for your work there!

Love your “can use it but can’t carry it” way of handling things. We guys just hafta have sumthin’ big hangin’ off the right side of our belt—the bigger the better! (Goes back to the days of the six-gun, I’ll bet!)

Dear Andy,

When I became a Cubmaster, I starting looking around for new exciting ceremonies for recognition during rank advancements, and decided on “painted face” ceremonies. Our pack committee liked the idea, and so we went with it. No, the Cubs’ faces didn’t get totally painted, but simple marks were made…a Bobcat paw, the mark of a Bear, and so on…either on their cheeks or their foreheads. The boys loved it! Trying to develop something comparable for Arrow of Light, I happened upon our OA lodge’s Vice-Chief for ceremonies, and he readily suggested using his team as the mechanism to award the Arrow of Light and tie it to my painted face ceremony. He and I sat down and developed the ceremony, and set it into motion. Then, at the end of the Webelos II year, when they were ready to receive the Arrow of Light, the OA ceremonies team came to our Blue & Gold dinner and make the presentation in front of over 150 Scouts and family members. You could have heard a pin drop that night! You could see many different expressions on the faces of the Scouts that night, most of them were proud expressions to be receiving this Arrow of Light given to them by the Cubmaster and the “Mighty Chief.” This tradition has continued with this pack for the last several years, and I don’t see and end to it.

Two years ago, I suggested to the new Vice-Chief of ceremonies that we extend the ceremony to other packs that may want it. But initially, after presenting the idea at a CSL Roundtable, only a few bought in. So we did the ceremony, as asked for, and the leaders of the packs couldn’t get over how mesmerized the audience was, and the attention everyone paid during the ceremony! Well, you guessed it! Once the initial Cubmasters and Den Leaders started talking up a storm after each ceremony, we’re booked almost a year in advance for more than 20 packs! We had to create two ceremony teams!

This has done wonders for our OA lodge, too! The ceremonies have exposed the Webelos Scouts and their packs to the realm of “Boy” Scouting, and have strengthened the ties of brotherhood more than any one program could have. It has also assisted in ceremony team recruitment for the lodge!

If your readers would like a copy of the Arrow of Light Ceremony script, just go to and grab it from there. (Curtis Stansfield, SM, Troop 413, National Capitol Area Council, VA)

Thanks for a great example of how a simple idea can become a major force!

Dear Andy,

I’m on a quest for some information about troop by-laws. At a recent troop committee meeting, members brought up some new things that we thought should be brought up for a vote. But, a problem: No one can find our by-laws. (The former committee chair is no longer with the troop and when I asked him if he still had a copy he said he’d look, but ultimately he was unable to find them.) What do we do now? Many of us are new to the troop this year, and I’m thinking that if we can’t find them, we should write and vote on new by-laws. Is this the right way to go about it? (Jennifer Sutton, MC, North Florida Council, FL)

Here’s the best news of the day: YOU DON’T NEED TROOP BY-LAWS! The BSA has all the policies and procedures you’d ever need already in place and so long as these are followed nothing else is necessary. Stop wasting time on this and get out there and deliver a Scouting program to the boys. Everything you need is in the BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK, the SCOUTMASTER HANDBOOK and the TROOP COMMITTEE GUIDE… Get these, and then all of you GET TO TRAINING—FAST! Just remember that, as Scouting volunteers, you all serve at the pleasure of the Scouts; it’s not the other way around.

Dear Andy,

Is there a list of standard patrol emblems? Our Scout are trying to name their patrols and we’d like to keep it basic (their imaginations are going way out there so we just want to give them some choices). (Ray Luellen, MC, Troop 381, Baltimore Area Council, MD)

The BSA Supply Division has 39 different, pre-embroidered patrol emblems to choose from. Go to:

Dear Andy,

You recently said, “Wood Badge is for both Cub Scout and Boy Scout volunteer leaders. 21st Century Wood Badge combines both the Cub Scout and the Boy Scout programs and provides a broader, more ‘universal’ perspective than the predecessor Wood Badge courses, which were two separate courses, one for Cub Scout and one for Boy Scout leaders.” OK… I guess us Venturing and Sea Scout leaders need to go elsewhere—Wood Badge is not for us. :) Also, Varsity Scouts are outa luck, more so after they stopped doing Varsity Scout Wood Badge. (Michael R. Brown)

Yup, you’re right… Wood Badge is for Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders. This doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t benefit from it, but probably not nearly as much as those involved direct with Cub Scouting and/or Boy Scouting. For Venturing, there’s VLST (formerly called VALBT and also referred to currently as VST) and then Powder Horn (which was specifically designed to not be “Wood Badge for Venturing”), and for Sea Scouts there’s SSOST and then Sea Badge (which resembles Wood Badge only by name similarity). As for Varsity, you’re absolutely right! But keep smilin’ anyway, because if you look at the opening of my response to Joanna, I said, “Wood Badge is…an advanced level of training available to ALL BSA adult volunteers, regardless of position…”

Hi Andy,

My son, a Life Scout, recently joined a new troop (his former troop kinda died). A year ago, while still in his former troop, he was asked, and took on the responsibility, to be a Den Chief. He had just earned Life at that time, and now that he’s a candidate for Eagle (project and all merit badges completed), the committee chair of his current troop has turned him down twice because “he didn’t serve in OUR troop,” and proceeded to write this across my son’s Eagle rank application. Even the district advancement chair sent my son back to his troop, telling him that he’d have to hold a leadership position in his troop for it to “count.” Told this, my son did his homework: He went to our Scout Shop and bought the BSA “Advancement Policies” book, and then he called the BSA National Office and spoke with the National Advancement Director there. As a result, his Scoutmaster finally signed off on his Eagle application, because my son proved that what these people were telling him wasn’t correct. But the “fallout” on this was that these men are now pretty mad at him, and they’re now implying that he “cheated.” So, although everything’s signed off, they’re now stalling. He could have had his Eagle board of review over three months ago, and he’s still waiting! The district advancement chair is meeting with him again—this will be the third time my son’s been called in for a meeting, with no board of review!

Can they do this? Or is my son getting the run-around because he’s still 13 years old (he turns 14 in May)? He’s already earned over 70 merit badges…Is this a bad thing? What can he do to get his board of review?

I’m asking because my “Turbo-Scout” (he started as a Tiger) who always wanted to do everything in Scouting is starting to, shall I say, “really dislike” Scouting! What can we do? (Name Withheld)

Taking your questions in order…

Yup, it does sure look like your son’s been given the royal run-around. Whether it’s because of his age or whether it’s for some other reason (like, these guys don’t know BSA policy from a hole-in-the-ground) can’t be determined. I can confirm for you with total assuredness: If your son dutifully carried out the responsibilities of Den Chief for at least six months while a Life Scout, this absolutely qualifies him for Eagle req. 4, regardless of the troop or troops he may have been registered in during this time. Moreover, your son deserves high marks for “doing his homework” and then standing up for himself! As for Eagle req. 1 (“Be active in your troop…for a period of at least six months”), this does not have to be in a single troop. That is, if a Scout transfers troops during this six-month period, but was active in the first troop up till the time of transfer and then active in his next troop beginning with the transfer, then he was still “active” in “his” troop for that duration.

No, it’s not a “bad thing” at all that he’s earned 70 or more merit badges. Every merit badge is about a different subject, so here’s a 13 year-old boy who’s gained knowledge and skills in more than 70 different areas!

To get his board of review may take contacting the council advancement chair, since the district guy seems to have proven himself a bit of a Dodo by getting the leadership position stuff all wrong. As for the upcoming meeting with this bird, what your son might consider doing is to bring a “buddy” to that meeting. The “buddy” will be a silent witness, and will take notes on the content, tone, and tenor of the conversation. This buddy can be your son’s father, or an adult associate with his troop who’s on his side, or even a teacher, pastor, priest, or rabbi! It can even be a good neighbor. The primary purpose is to have an independent “third party” present. A secondary purpose is so that this boy doesn’t get run over by rhetoric. So then, at that meeting, your son can make this statement: “Sir, since I have completed all of the requirements for the rank of Eagle, I am respectfully requesting a Board of Review.” The buddy takes notes on the reply. Got it?

Finally, and very important, it falls to you, as his parent, to make sure that your son understands that it’s probably not “Scouting” that’s putting him through this wringer; it’s jerks. Jerks can be found anywhere… In school, church, clubs, businesses, sports, and, yes, Scouting, too. He’s going to come across jerks throughout his life, and they have nothing to do with Scouting—They’d still be jerks even if they weren’t in Scouting! Your job is to make sure he understands this important difference!

Dear Andy,

I’d like to know how I can get the Cub Scout Sports program guide (No. 34299). I also need information on being first-time Webelos Den Leader (my husband) and Pack Committee Chair (me). Gena & Nick Suiter, Afton, MO)

Hats off to you two for getting involved! Scouting is truly a life-changing experience, for your son and for the two of you, too!

You’re in the Greater St. Louis Area Council. The service center is at 4568 West Pine Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108-2193. The phone there is (314) 361-0600, and the web site is

Get in touch with your council and get their schedule for New Leader Essentials training, and Position-Specific training, and get there ASAP! This is absolutely your best and fastest way to get what you need to know under your belts. If you can’t go together (which is always more fun), then split up and do it separately, but make sure you both do it — No “messenger service” here!

The two books you’ll need most are the Cub Scout Leader Guide and the Webelos Leader Guide. Your council’s Scout Shop should have these in stock. If not, go to Also, read your own son’s Webelos book! Your Scout Shop can also give you the information and any pamphlets you’ll need for the Cub Scout Academics and Sports programs.

Dear Andy,

Your readers may be interested in hearing about this… The Northern Lights District of the Hiawatha-Seaway Council, NY, has an Eagle Project recognition tour of sorts, called “Cache to Eagle.” The tour consists uses geo-caching—a sort of high-tech treasure hunt—as a means to bring attention to Eagle Projects that have been done in our area. A “geocache” complete with log book, is placed on, in, or near an Eagle Project, and then its coordinates are placed online at, where the coordinates can be accessed and gone after. This highlights some of the local Eagle Projects that have been done by our Scouts. As a bonus, we’ve made a patch available to those who find all twelve of the caches, and send in a form with the correct code word from each cache (Hmm…12 caches with code words in them… I wonder: Whatever could they be?). For those who would be interesting in finding our geocaches, or setting up a “Cache to Eagle” in their own neck of the woods, they can check ours out at by entering “Hiawatha-Seaway Northern Lights Cache to Eagle” in the search area, or use:
(Jon Matthis, CM, Potsdam, NY)

Personally, I think what you’re doing is really cool! Check it out, folks!

Dear Andy,

How do DCs and ADCs make their Unit Commissioners accountable for attending monthly unit meetings? What are some ways we can do that?

Also, as a Unit Commissioner, I earned the Arrowhead Honor and the Unit Commissioner Key. I’ve since become District Commissioner. You’ve said in a prior column that it’s OK to wear an Arrowhead earned as a UC on a DC uniform. Is that correct? I’m asking because I didn’t see it in the Commissioner Handbook. In this regard, I have two Keys and I’m working on a third. When would it be appropriate to wear the medal? Or do you just hang them on the wall? (Rick Curran, DC, Chicora District, Pee Dee Area Council, SC)

To get UCs visiting their units, hold a gun to their heads! No, we can’t do that! Baaaad idea! (But, boy, there were times I’d sure like to!) Instead, when you have your Commissioners meetings, ask each Commissioner for a brief (like 60-second) run-down on the general health or perhaps a unique event going on, for each of the units he or she covers. Go around the room, just in the order everyone’s sitting. The ones who don’t get out there will identify themselves pretty quickly. Keep this up for a couple of months, and when it’s obvious around the room who the non-visitors are, take each one aside individually and do a brief “Scoutmaster’s Conference” with them… “Say, John, I’m noticing that you seem to have a problem getting out there to your troops/packs and I’m wondering how I can help you. How about you and I go together this coming week…” Give it a try.

On the Arrowhead, Yes, you continue to wear it. It can only be earned once, and, no matter what level you earned it at, you continue to wear it even if your Commissioner position changes. It’s only removed once you no longer hold a Commissioner position.

The Scouter’s Key can be earned in various positions, and a small brass device is available to pin on the square knot to indicate the position(s) in which you earned it (in other words, we don’t wear duplicate square knots). The same is true of the Scouter’s Training Award. As for the medals that accompany these, they’re usually better kept in your personal memorabilia album or box.

Dear Andy,

I went to my local Scout Shop to purchase orange backings for Tiger Cub service stars, and was told they’re no longer producing orange backing and that Tiger Cubs use the yellow disks behind the stars now. If a boy starts as a Tiger and complete his Webelos years, he will have earned a five-year yellow-backed star. Is this true or is my local Scout Shop making up rules rather than keeping items in stock?

Also, they told me that the Crime Prevention patch isn’t available any longer. Has this program ended? Or, can I order these patches directly from National? Or is our Scout Shop supposed to order them when we make the request? (Mark Kopel)

I’m just not gonna mess with little colored disks, but I can tell you that the Crime Prevention Award emblem is item number 04189 and sells for $2.40 and is available through your local council on completion of the application.

Dear Andy,

We’ve been a “district-in-restructure,” absent a District Executive for some time. Is there an organizational chart available online that lists what a district’s committees should be and what duties fall under which committee and chair? (DT, Detroit Area Council, MI)

Yes there is, and your best resource is, of course, your own council’s Scout Executive. There are also two booklets you’ll want to get your hands on: Selecting District People (No. 34512C) and The District (No. 3079A).

Dear Andy,

Our troop recently acquired a new Scout, who transferred in from another troop. He brought his Boy Scout Handbook and met with our advancement chair, but she refused to accept any of the signoffs for rank advancement because his former Scoutmaster had signed off in the front of the rank chapters instead of in the back of the book, and didn’t date his signatures. Can these be valid reasons to not accept rank requirements? I’m asking because I’m new to Boy Scouting and although I’ve taken all the appropriate training, our advancement chair seems somehow way too rigid—she’ll even make the Scouts tie knots in their boards of review, and I don’t think that’s what’s supposed to be done. We’re trying to infuse some positive changes, but here we think there’s a problem, and nobody wants to confront our advancement chair for fear they’ll have to do her job…and Yes, it’s a big one! (Name Withheld)

There just one very simple rule to abide by here: Scout’s Honor. If the Scout says he did it AND he has signatures to back up his assertions, your advancement chair is projecting a very unsavory personal characteristic by refusing to take the Scout’s word. Do your troop and Scouts a favor and get yourself an advancement chair who respects the word of a Scout.

As far as troop advancement chair is concerned, this can be one of the most rewarding of all unit-level Scouting positions! If I were offered that job, I’d jump at the opportunity! Heck, this is the nexus of the “cream of the crop”! Yes, there’s some paperwork involved, and there’s definitely consultation with the Scoutmaster (the SM contacts the advancement chair when a board of review is needed and the AC does the rest), and then there’s the assembling and briefing of the board of review “team.” Then there’s the scheduling of Eagle boards, and if that ain’t the mountaintop, I’d better hang up my Commissioner’s cap! But that’s about it. So, where’s the “scary” part? I sure can’t figure that one out! Which means that if your present advancement chair doesn’t get her act straightened out IMMEDIATELY, you can flat-out remove her and replace her with someone who can get it right instead of so terribly wrong. This is NOT a time to walk small around this problem volunteer. If she can’t or won’t straighten out and fly right, she’s history! The boys you’re all there to serve (Yes, serve—YOU all are there at their pleasure, not the other way around) deserve much better than what’s being dished out!

Dear Andy,

I’ve searched the uniform inspection sheet and the insignia guide but I haven’t found an answer to this question: Can a Boy Scout wear a religious square knot for an award that he earned as a Cub Scout? Our troop says that they must come off, but I’d thought that, once a boy earned a religious award, he could always wear the knot. (I do understand that they may only wear one religious award knot, no matter how many awards they’ve earned.) (C.P., Cub Scouter, Old Hickory Council, NC)

You troop’s incorrect. The religious square knot, once earned, is worn on every uniform a boy, young man, or man may wear in the course of his Scouting career. Since only one purple-and-silver square knot is worn, no matter how many levels are earned, there are specially-made brass devices that are pinned on the knot that designate the level or levels at which the awards were earned. This isn’t my “opinion,” by the way; this is a BSA insignia policy.

Dear Andy,

I’ve searched a great number of places, including your own back columns. I Googled it, but still can’t find it (even at BSA’s site). The question is: What are the minimum requirements to start a new Cub Scout pack? I know they have to have an Institutional Head (IH) (who could be the COR also?), a Chartered Organization Rep. (COR) (who can serve as Committee Chairman?) Aren’t these the only two that can be dual role? What other spots have to be filled? How many boys are required as a minimum? (Owen Searcy, Coosa, GA)

For these specific questions, the very best place to get your answers isn’t on the Internet, it’s by calling your council service center and asking to speak with the District Executive who covers your area. Coosa is in the Northwest Georgia Council. The address is 100 East 2nd Ave., Suite 10, Rome, GA 30161, the phone is (706) 235-5545, and the URL is

Dear Andy,

A Webelos Den Leader in our “feeder pack” has expressed interest in having his den regularly attend our troop’s meetings and campouts, starting in September when they’re Webelos IIs, and I’m stumped as to a response. While I know it’s a requirement to attend at least one troop meeting and outdoor activity for the Arrow of Light award, just how many is appropriate? His view is “as many as possible.” I’m feeling that more than one or perhaps two meetings will create a distraction, as these boys are nine and ten years old, and while they have already achieved all that’s possible in Cub Scouts/Webelos, they still have to reach the maturity level of Boy Scouts. And as for campouts, I just don’t see how that will work at all (we do have day events such as outdoor cooking—this has historically been our scheduled day for the Webelos—ice skating, day hikes, and fishing, any of which they’re invited to join in on. While I applaud his efforts to introduce his boys to Boy Scouts, I feel that they’re still Webelos and will have to wait for their crossover ceremony before joining in our full agenda. Are there any rules or regulations regarding this matter? (Pete Sander, SM, Troop 34, Pawling, NY)

While I like this Webelos Den Leader’s enthusiasm too, I’m obliged to point out that he’s a bit over the top. The Webelos II program is rigorous enough without introducing another set of meetings plus ongoing camping trips with a troop. The Webelos program is a transitional program, true, but it’s not “junior Boy Scouts.” He needs to focus on the Webelos activity badges, and getting his boys to Arrow of Light. Included in this will be a minimum of three opportunities to visit with your troop… Once at a meeting, once at an outdoor activity (which doesn’t have to be an overnight campout), and once with his parents for a Scoutmaster Conference. To add one or perhaps two more visits is a nice idea, but the idea of doubling the meetings his boys (and their parents, in some cases) will have gets in the way of the program more than it aids it. Show him this message and encourage him to focus on the Webelos program, so that at the right time he graduates all of his den into the troop, rather than losing boys to early burnout.

To look through the other end of the binoculars, too many visits to the troop by these Webelos Scouts starts to diminish the new adventures your current Boy Scouts are expecting to have and begins to turn them into babysitters. Not fair to them!

Dear Andy,

A while back, our Scoutmaster decreed that no Scout may work on a merit badge until he completes First Class rank requirements, on the theory that the Scouts will continue earning merit badges, but not advancing in rank. One of the results of this is that we lose a lot of Scouts in their first year, because they get frustrated that they’re not allowed to pursue merit badges they’re interested in (Yes, they’ve actually told us this!). My own opinion is that the new Scouts are most enthusiastic when they first join our troop, so that going out and earning merit badges helps maintain this interest. I also feel that each Scout is ultimately responsible for his own advancement and advancement timetable—We adults can mentor and guide, but ultimately the decision should be up to the Scout. Despite this, and several conversations on the subject, our Scoutmaster is adamantly sticking to his decree. Do you have any suggestions on how this can best be addressed? (Name Withheld)

Here’s my recommended solution: Give that dunderhead Scoutmaster a kick in his adamant rear end! No, I’m not joking. The BSA learned a long, long time ago that this sort of artificial stonewall impedes advancement; it doesn’t improve it. There used to be such a rule, a bunch of decades ago, and it didn’t work. It backfired, just as you’re seeing now. So the BSA wisely removed all restrictions on when a Scout could start earning merit badges. Which means that this Scoutmaster of yours is actually violating a BSA national policy by insisting on his misguided decree. This isn’t a matter of opinion nor is it open for discussion. He’s in violation of a specific BSA policy and this has to change instantly or he’s history. If you’re the Chartered Organization Executive Officer or Representative, or the Troop’s Committee Chair: Make it happen.

Dear Andy,

I can’t find the answer in any BSA material to this question: Can the square knots earned as a Cub Scout leader be kept on your uniform shirt when you become a Boy Scout leader? (Dennis Vega, AZ)

The square knots we adult Scouters receive (earn) as a result of our service to Scouting’s various programs are absolutely 100% wearable on our uniforms regardless of what program we might currently be involved with or what unit, district, council, or region we might be registered with. That’s the long answer. The short answer is yes, wear your Cub Scouting square knots with humble pride on your Boy Scout leader’s uniform!

Hi Andy,

For the past three years, our Cubmaster has changed the rules on how our pack’s Pinewood Derby is run. Unfortunately, his changes typically benefit his own son, who took overall second place three years ago and first place the past two years in a row (Ino, I’m not the only one who’s noticed this). I said something about it to him, but it was clear he was going to stick to doing things his way, period. My question to you is this: Is the Cubmaster actually allowed to change the rules of an event like this every year and, if not, who do I contact? (Ken, WDL, Central Florida Council)

I’m happy to tell you that there are no Scouting “cops” to patrol your Pinewood Derbies to make sure they operate “within the law.” Your Cubmaster may or may not be stacking the deck, and appearances can always be deceiving…in both directions, good and bad! Your best bet, long-range, is for your pack committee to decide that the Cubmaster does enough what with running pack meetings and all, and help him out by forming a special Pinewood Derby committee that can write out the rules and then run the races, while your Cubmaster simply emcee’s the event. Of course, to make this happen, people will have to step up and be willing to roll up their sleeves, and you’ll obviously need both a committee and committee chair with strong backbones.

Hey Andy,

I’m an adult leader trainer, and a parent recently asked me if there are any consequences to not following the stipulations in the Guide To Safe Scouting (besides the obvious of not being safe.) This question arose because their Cub Scout pack recently had a “pack bicycle ride,” and refused to have several parents and their sons do the ride, because they weren’t wearing cycling helmets, and now two of these families are dropped out of Scouting, claiming that this is because they were denied the opportunity to participate in the bike ride. (Andy Schmidt, Glacier’s Edge Council, WI)

Let’s see… They’re leaving Scouting because someone insisted that, for their personal safety, they wear bike helmets, and they didn’t want to do that, so now Scouting’s “not inclusive.” Well ain’t that flippin’ brilliant!

Of course, I don’t know what the rules for safe biking in Wisconsin are. Maybe Wisconsin has a bike helmet rule, which would be just peachy, because now these families can go move to another, more “inclusive” state!

Now this may not be exactly right, so please check with your own council’s risk management committee, but I’m told it works like this: Violate or ignore a BSA “Safe Scouting” policy and have an accident, and you’re cut loose and thrown to the (legal) sharks faster than Captain Jack Sparrow can walk the plank!

Dear Andy,

We have more Scouts in upper-level ranks than we have available leadership positions at the next election. Obviously, some Scouts aren’t going to be elected, so we’ll have those meet the Star and Life req. 5 by carrying out Scoutmaster-assigned leadership projects to help the troop. But since these projects will directly benefit the troop, can other Scouts who participate receive service-hour credit for this? I’ve understood that credit is only given for Scoutmaster-approved projects that benefit either the chartered organization or the community, so these wouldn’t fit that requirement, but I want to make certain that this is accurate before the Scouts start asking me. I’ve read the Advancement Committee Guide and the Scoutmaster Handbook, and I’ve done web searches, all to no avail for a concrete answer. I’d hate to find out later that I was wrong and the Scouts should have been credited properly. Can you help? (Kim Merrick, Advancement Chair, Troop 491, Montgomery, TX)

You must have one huge troop, with an inordinately huge number of First Class and Star Scouts! Of course, only the SPL and PLs are elected, and all other positions are appointed, but all except APL “count” toward leadership tenure and for several (for instance, JASM, Troop Guide, Den Chief) troops can have more than one! Are you absolutely, positively sure there’s no “room,” because you’d have to have more than 16 Scouts who are ranked First Class, Star, or Life in order to have the problem you’re describing?

Further, as a Scout myself, and an Eagle by age 15, I can recall having to sort of “wait my turn” for leadership. It wasn’t handed to me on a platter just because I needed it. Neither I nor any other Scout had some sort of “entitlement.” If we didn’t get elected and we didn’t want an appointed position, well, we just waited till the time was right…for the troop, and for ourselves.

Now as for Scoutmaster-assigned leadership projects, although these are used rarely, they’re always for the troop! But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “service” projects. A project of this type might be something that, for instance, involves teaching a specialized skill to every member of the troop, and this isn’t a “service project” and other Scouts who might be tapped to teach by the “lead Scout” aren’t performing “service” to anyone except their friend, the lead Scout, and their fellow Scouts. So I’m not sure you even need to deal with the question you’re struggling with, because we’re not talking about service projects in the first place!

Take a good look at the exact wording of the requirement alternative again: “Carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the troop.” Also, note that this applies ONLY to First Class Scouts going for Star, and to Star Scouts going for Life. It does NOT apply to Life Scouts going for Eagle.

Dear Andy,

For a new Scout to earn the “Scout” badge, there’s a requirement that says, “Complete the Pamphlet Exercises. With your parent or guardian, complete the exercises in the pamphlet ‘How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide’.” However, in the new Handbooks and the spiral-bound Handbooks, this pamphlet is no longer included. Any idea why? (Diane Jones, Advancement Chair, Troop 427, Amherst, OH)

Darned good question, and I haven’t a clue! The best answer will probably come directly from your local Scout Shop.

Dear Andy,

My grandson just received his 2007 Pinewood 07 Derby patch. Can you tell me where on his uniform this patch goes? (Rose)

The Pinewood Derby patch can be sewn, centered, on your grandson’s right shirt pocket. If there’s already something there, then it goes either on a red “patch vest” that Scout Shops sell, or in a collection box or album (in other words, not everything gets put on the uniform).

Dear Andy,

How long can an Eagle Scout wear his Eagle badge on his Scout shirt? I seem to recall reading somewhere that an Eagle Scout can wear his badge until his 21st birthday, but I can’t remember where I read this. Is this true? (I love your column. Please keep up the good work.) (Greg Maus, SM, Troop 1122, William D. Boyce Council, IL)

At age 18 (not 21), the oval Eagle badge comes off the left pocket and the R-W-B square knot goes on, centered immediately above the left pocket.

Happy Scouting!


Got a question? Have an idea? Found something that works? Send it to me
(Please include your Council name or your town & state)

(Mid-March 2007 – Copyright © 2007 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.