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Here’s a follow-up on the Green Zone CSPs. They’re $10 each and can be ordered directly from:
PSC 559, Box 6527
FPO, AP 96377-6527
Does a professional have to meet the requirement of earning the Commissioner’s Arrowhead Honor to qualify for a Masters degree in the College of Commissioner Science? Also, does being a professional qualify for the requirement of being a registered commissioner? (Garry, CC, Southeast Louisiana Council)
I’m sorta not getting this… Why would a career Scouting professional be earning a recognition aimed at improving the quality of the BSA’s corps of volunteers?
Do you know if there is a CPR patch to be worn on the right uniform sleeve? The only CPR patch I’ve found through Scout Supply is a heart-shaped patch. (Bill Higgenbottom, Georgia-Carolina Council)
That 99-cent CPR patch that the BSA offers might be worn on the right pocket (“temporary” position) but, no, there’s no such patch that goes on the right sleeve. The right sleeve is for the American flag, a den number or patrol patch, a current Quality Unit patch, and a Sea Scout Long Cruise patch, and that’s pretty much it for that sleeve.
My son, in Sussex County NJ, wants to earn the Veterinary Medicine merit badge. He was told that there’s no counselor for that merit badge in our area. What do we do? How do we find a counselor in a neighboring county? Thanks for your help. (Jeanne Sevean, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)
You do nothing. Your Scout son starts by asking his Scoutmaster to please check with a neighboring district a counselor. If that produces no results, the council immediately north of him is Hudson Valley, to the west is Eastern Pennsylvania, and one county east is Northern New Jersey. Your son, or his Scoutmaster, can contact these councils, beginning with the geographically closest, and see if they have a counselor for that merit badge. (And, just so this subject is covered: Yes, it’s perfectly OK for a Scout to avail himself of a counselor in a neighboring district or council, the only “requirement” being that the counselor is registered as such, there.) If all of these should fail, but he happens to know a friendly veterinarian nearby, he (not you) can go visit him or her, bring the merit badge pamphlet with him, explain what he’s interested in doing, and ask that DVM if he or she would be willing to register with your council as a merit badge counselor (this costs nothing, by the way) and then work with him on this badge.
Why should your son do these things, and not you? Because some of the things we hope to instill through the Scouting program are goal-setting, self-determination, self-actualization, and individual initiative, and you don’t really want to get in the way of these goals!
My Life Scout son went to his board of review last night and didn’t get his Eagle. They told him he was articulate, well-spoken, and well-prepared, and even went on to say how far ahead of most young men his age he was. His Eagle project was great, they said, and they knew that, as a result, he’s taken a further personal interest in the children’s hospital he helped, and has continued to help them, now almost six months after he finished his Eagle project! However, he was also told that they “hadn’t seen enough” leadership” from him, so they’ve asked him to serve an additional three months of leadership in his own troop. So now he’s a Chaplain Aide for his troop, but in order to do that he was told he’d have to quit being a Den Chief, because you can’t be a Den Chief and hold another leadership position in a Boy Scout troop. My son feels like he had to choose becoming an Eagle over his Cub Scouts, with whom he’s worked for over a year! Thanks for listening! I can’t talk to anyone else. They just think I’m “being a Mom.” (Elizabeth Swafford
This is one really strange troop! In the first place, the position of Den Chief qualifies as a leadership position for the rank of Eagle, and if your son’s been doing this for at least a year as a Life Scout, that’s twice as long as is required for advancement! Second, nowhere in any BSA policies or procedures does it say that a Scout must abandon one leadership position in order to take on another: Holding more than one leadership position is entirely up to the Scout and his abilities, energy, interest, and available time. Third, it is a BSA policy that, in a board of review that had this end-result, the Scout must be given a follow-up letter confirming the agreements reached on the action(s) necessary for advancement to Eagle, including a time period (i.e., a specific date for a second board of review). This sounds like a very sadly uninformed group of people!
So, your son should get that letter right away, and he should check it for accuracy of agreement and make sure there’s nothing vague or subject to possible misinterpretation in it, that might backfire down the road. If he has a question, he should ask it. He should also approach his Scoutmaster about the Chaplain Aide position, and secure the Scoutmaster’s assurance that he’ll provide the necessary training, so that he’ll be successful.
If the letter, etc. are withheld or delayed, your son has the right to appeal the entire process and decision at the district level. Contact the district advancement chair (who is supposed to have a representative present at the board of review) and ask for a new review.
For Eagle project financing, the plan seems to indicate that monies/donations can be from any source: family, friends, even the organization benefiting. (I just want to make sure that a “fund-raiser” isn’t a mandatory part of the plan if financing can be achieved by other means.)
Also, for helpers/workers other that the one adult over 21 with Youth Protection training, is everyone else able to participate, such as friends outside of Scouting?
Finally, what is the troop committee’s role in reviewing an Eagle project? (Dave Schaeffer, ASM, Troop 901)
Fund-raising can’t be the main purpose of an Eagle project, even if it’s for an organization other than the BSA. Fund-raising can, however, be a part of an overall Eagle project, if money is needed to buy materials, supplies, etc. There can also be direct donations of materials, supplies, and, of course, money, too. This would not be considered “fund-raising,” but it’s an important part of the project plan description because it answers the question of how the materials/supplies will be obtained, or how the money to buy them will be obtained. Gifting of money from parents or relatives, or money spent from the Eagle candidate’s own pocket, is not encouraged. This non-encouragement relates to the purpose of the Eagle project, which is not about building something or other, but about putting leadership skills to use.
Those who are the Eagle candidate’s helpers are most usually his personal friends. They may be Scouts, or not. It doesn’t matter. (As an aside, I know of a very popular young man whose entire “helper team” was his high school’s female cheerleaders!) Siblings may be helpers, as well. Parents may be helpers, and the preference here is that they perhaps might do some driving, but experience has demonstrated that the Scout’s task is actually made more difficult when “Dad” is on-site, because Dad often thinks he’s back building his kid’s Pinewood Derby car! (Are you getting me on this?) This sometimes happens with “Stage Moms,” too! Be cautious of seemingly heavy parental involvement.
If adults are going to be present while the work is being done and the helpers are being led by the Eagle candidate, their roles should be “like wallpaper” if at all possible. Tow-deep is the rule, by the way. But an ideal situation is one in which the Scout himself is in charge of everything, and in this particular regard this means in charge of the adults, too. The minute an adult—any adult—begins to take over, this isn’t an Eagle project any more!
The troop committee reviews the project plan in the spirit of helping end encouraging the Scout. Noting an important piece of information missing, pointing it out, and softly making the suggestion that the Scout may want to flesh out that part a little more is certainly appropriate. Donning figurative “black robes” to “judge” the project plan is anathema to the spirit of the review. Properly carried out, a review will result in either a signature on the spot or a one go-round only second draft of the plan. This should not be a protracted exercise and the Scout should never be “failed” or be expected to do re-write after re-write.
The earlier in the process the troop committee gets the district advancement chair involved, the faster and smoother the sign-off process will go.
What should a project plan look like and contain? Think of it as a recipe. That is, if the plan were given to someone else, who knew nothing about it, by following the plan as written the project can be completed successfully.
The whole idea is to support the Scout’s success and to not put artificial and arbitrary roadblocks in his way.
As a new District Commissioner, I’ve been asked several times what the standard is for “showing Scout spirit” for advancing in rank. Is there any place I can find some guidelines to help new troops form their own policies on this? (Bill Doody, DC, Three Fires Council)
Great question—Thanks for asking! Here’s the best news: No troop needs to, or should, “form their own policy” for what Scout Spirit means. The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America has already done this.
From The Boy Scout Handbook:
“Scout spirit refers to the effort you make to live up to the ideals of Scouting. The Oath, Law, motto, and slogan serve as everyday guidelines for a good life (p.47).”
“Most requirements for Scout ranks can be measured by other people. When you set out to swim 50 feet fore the Second Class swimming requirement, anyone can see that you have covered the distance. How well you live the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your life, though, is something for you to judge. You know when you are being kind, when you are helpful and a good friend. You know when you are trustworthy and reverent. You alone know how you act when no one is around to witness what you do. Do the best you can to live each day by the Scout Oath and Law (p.108).”
“The Scout Oath and Scout Law are not just for reciting at meetings. They are not just to be obeyed while you are wearing a uniform. The spirit of Scouting that they represent is every bit as important when you are at home, at school, and in your community…The standards set by the Scout Oath and Scout Law are very high. Strive to reach them every day, and you will find that they become as natural for you to live by as they are for you to say (p.164).”
“By now (Star, Life, and Eagle ranks), the Scout Oath and the twelve points of the Scout Law should be the guidelines by which you direct your actions in your family, community, church, school, and nation. Living by these high standards is always a personal choice and something only you can fully measure. But by now, many other people should be seeing qualities in you that make it clear you are choosing wisely (p.170).”
From The Scoutmaster Handbook:
“The ideals of the Boy Scouts of America are spelled out in the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout motto, and Scout slogan. Boy Scouts and adult leaders incorporating these ideals into their daily lives are said to have Scout spirit (p.8).”
“Each (board of) review should…include a discussion of ways in which the Scout sees himself living up to the Scout Oath and Law in his everyday life (p.121).”
So there it is: The standards are the four cornerstones of Scouting and the best one to determine this is the Scout himself.
The next question you’ll be asked is what does “active” mean, and for this one I refer you to the column I wrote on this subject.
At our upcoming district camp, I’m doing the campfire and think it would be a good idea to dress in a similar uniform to what Baden-Powell would have worn, but finding it a bit hard to find anything. I have the hat, necker, and woggle; it’s just the rest I’m struggling with. Any chance you could help? Thanks! (Gemma Chilton, Cub Leader, First Carlton Colville Air Scout Group, Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK)
Try this URL:
This is B-P’s makeshift “uniform” when he first took that bunch of boys to Brownsea Island, for his famous “experiment.” Later, of course, it took on a more “formal” look, and there are many photos available by simply Googling “baden powell photos.” I’d opt for the makeshift version (or something like it) myself, because it’s germ of the idea.
I’m looking for a web page that shows all current merit badges along with their names, to print out. My sons are working on merit badges and don’t always remember the names of the badges, and this would help me to help them. (Bea, Rio Grande Council, TX)
Go to http://usscouts.org/advancementTOC.asp#merit for a complete list of all merit badges and their requirements!
Our new troop’s been using the Troop Meeting Plan since “Day One.” In the “skill instruction” segment, we’ve been breaking the Scouts up into different groups; not in patrols (Thanks for your suggestion on that!). But most of our Scouts don’t practice skills outside of troop meetings, so it’s difficult. We use the skill instructions to try to get the Scouts to advance. Is this correct, or should they work on skills at home? We’re going to have a SPL election soon, and I’ll explain to the Scouts that the election isn’t a popularity contest. (Carlo, SM, Troop 455, Tampa Bay, FL)
OK, the Troop Meeting Plan is in place. This is good! And you have skills instruction in “skill groups,” which is just fine! And, yes, it’s not unusual for boys to “skip their homework”–they do it in school all the time! No reason for Scout stuff to be any different!
Scout skills: The best way to complete requirements is to USE THE SKILLS IN ACTION. That’s why, for instance, requirements often state, “On a camp-out with your troop or patrol…” The big idea is to get your Scouts “out there” where they use what they’ve learned in a real environment. To simply sit inside, in some room of a building, tying knots (for instance) is about as un-Scouting as we can get!
“Popularity”: Every election is a “popularity contest.” Don’t for a minute think they’re not! Hillary’s getting people on her side BECAUSE SHE’S POPULAR! Obama’s doing exactly the same thing, for the same reason! So is Romney! In our case, when a Scout’s popular, he’s more likely to get others to follow his lead, get cooperation, and get things done! Can you imagine an UN-popular leader accomplishing anything! So, don’t worry about this, because you can’t stop it from happening, anyway! Your job is to TRAIN the elected leaders, whoever they may be; it’s not to “steer” or “slant” the election!
The Scoutmaster believes that one of the Life Scouts in our troop (one of my son’s friends) isn’t “Eagle quality” and seems to be creating obstacles to prevent him from advancing to Eagle rank.
A year-and-a-half ago, this Scout (let’s call him “Johnny”) asked the Scoutmaster for an advisor to help guide him for his Eagle project (he’d already found a project, met with the benefiting organization, and received preliminary approval). Instead of providing an advisor, the Scoutmaster told Johnny to go look at other Scouts’ Eagle Project proposals. Johnny did this, and he kept in touch with the benefiting organization. He ultimately began writing the project plan on his own. A full year later, Johnny again asked his Scoutmaster for an advisor. This time, the Scoutmaster told Johnny that he had no recollection of him ever asking for an advisor, and that he’d try to find one, but all the advisors were really busy with other Scouts. A month later, Johnny was finally provided an advisor, and the two of them finalized the project plan, which the benefiting organization signed off on (that was three months ago); however, when Johnny and his advisor gave it to the Scoutmaster for signature, along with the advisor’s assurance that the project was “ready to go,” the Scoutmaster, instead of signing it, started making Johnny revise and then re-revise the plan. Each time Johnny and the Scoutmaster met, the Scoutmaster would bring up new changes he wanted made. Then, a month ago, the Scoutmaster told Johnny that “It usually takes a year to write a proposal,” and that he didn’t think Johnny would finish it in time. The Scoutmaster then told Johnny’s parents that he didn’t think that Johnny would be able to get any good references for his Eagle rank application. Last night, after Johnny turned in yet another revision of his project plan, the Scoutmaster gave it back to him with even more new changes. Meanwhile, the advisor talked to the Scoutmaster about the fact that Johnny was “doing his best” and isn’t that what he’s supposed to do, and asked for more up-front guidance from the Scoutmaster, so that Johnny wouldn’t have to keep making revisions only to be shot down again and again. The scoutmaster said that he was “too busy to do that,” and anyway the proposal process is supposed to work that way—one revision after another. The Scoutmaster also said that “anything less would be lowering his standards and letting the Scout just go through the motions in getting the Eagle rank,” following that statement up with another one: “I’m afraid that when Johnny gets to his Eagle board of review, one of the committee members will say that he’s not worthy, and so Johnny will be going through all of this work for nothing.”
So, wise and wonderful one, it’s now less than six months till Johnny’s 18th birthday, and we’re wondering what to do. (Name & Council Withheld)
Assuming that the Scout has complied with his Scoutmaster’s requests, this Scoutmaster is guilty of at least one of two things: Either he can’t make up his mind, or he can’t give clear instructions. It would be, of course, unconscionable for this Scoutmaster to be purposefully throwing roadblocks in front of this (or any!) Scout in the perverted hope that the Scout will run out of time.
In this regard, I’m having trouble understanding why Johnny’s Eagle Advisor hasn’t climbed on that Scoutmaster’s chest with a fountain pen and simply told him, flat out, Enough of this nonsense! Sign the bloody form!
If I were in Johnny’s shoes, here’s what I’d do…
1) I’d write out a chronology of the interactions I’ve had with my Scoutmaster, being sure to include dates (approximate, if exact dates can’t be recalled). I’d do this in “bullet-point” format (not a “Dear Diary…” approach).
2) I’d then enlist the aid of my Eagle Advisor to schedule a meeting for the two of us with the District Advancement Chair. This meeting should be right away. No more arbitrary delays.
3) With my advisor, I’d go see the DAC, briefly explain the situation and what’s been happening, and ask for an over-ride on the Scoutmaster’s signature. (Now the DAC may want to contact the Scoutmaster to verify what he’s been told, and this is fine. It simply needs to be done sooner rather than later.)
Now just by way of background, while it may take a while to come up with an Eagle project concept, it should take no more than a couple of days to write up an Eagle project plan, and it should require no more than a single revision to satisfy anyone (Scoutmaster, receiving organization, unit committee member, or DAC) who believes there should be a revision. This total process can ordinarily be accomplished in a week, assuming everyone’s invested in success. Two weeks at the most.
Time for some action here. Enough of tolerating the forced delays on one little tin god who’s got it wrong to start with!
The Netcommish Comments:
This is unmitigated nonsense. The Eagle project is not supposed to be some exercise in corporate waffling to prepare a person for a life of revisions and change and it is not the Scoutmaster’s job to plan to have revision after revision. The Scoutmaster’s job is to be a coach and to see that the Scout succeeds. That job requires the Scoutmaster to spend quality time with the Scout, to work out what is needed, help through guided discovery, and then let the Scout have a go at actually doing a project instead of being lost in the paperwork.
Young men working toward Eagle are not corporate clerks and for the most part are not much interested in paperwork at all. The idea of a project plan is not to have the young Scout suddenly shift from an activity-focused lifestyle to acting like a adult going through some process management adventure, but instead to help assure that the project itself succeeds and provides a benefit to the intended recipients of the service.
While in some cases there may be a need for a few sessions with a difficult project, this is something that should be accomplished in short order and not over months.
Andy’s advice is dead-on and if for any reason it looks like the District Advancement Chairman is not moving on this, I’d put in a call to the Scout Executive for the Council and ask for his intervention in getting things moving. At the same time, I might also be looking for a different Troop that will help the young man in the next six months.
What’s the correct way to wear the Order of the Arrow sash? I understand the direction as described in the OA Handbook; my question is: Do you wear the OA sash to a troop Court of Honor? If so, do you wear it over the merit badge sash, or without the merit badge sash? Or do you wear it only for OA recognition? The book stated that you could wear the OA sash to any event where you’re being recognized for the OA accomplishment. Recently three of our Scouts were being recognized for completing the OA Ordeal, but they were directed by a (non-OA) adult leader that they were not to wear these sashes at the Court of Honor. We all need to grow together with what’s the right thing to do. (Bill Higgenbottom, Georgia-Carolina Council)
You’ve almost, just about, got it right… The OA sash is worn when (and only when) a Scout or Scouter is specifically representing the Order of the Arrow and the OA Lodge. And, a Scout never, ever wears both his OA sash and his merit badge sash. This also means that neither one is ever worn hanging over the belt (to “make room” for the other one)—this is about as tacky and incorrect as brown shoes with a tuxedo!
Most if not all OA lodges present their new members with the lodge OA “flap” patch, worn on the flap of the right uniform pocket. This is the most that typically needs to be worn, to signify membership. If these Scouts don’t have these yet, they need to buy them if available, and sew them on their uniforms in time for the court of honor. If this can’t be done, then it would be pretty cool for the troop itself to present them with the OA Pocket Device (go to www.scoutstuff.org, click on “uniforms and insignia” and then click on “miscellaneous”), which costs only $3.59. Most local Scout Shops carry this item, and it’s not “restricted.” (By the way, the photo showing this at the ScoutStuff web site is incorrect—The device is attached to the button of the right pocket, but under the flap, not over, as depicted.)
Going back to your September 2006 column, one of your readers mentioned that he’d been a Lion in Cub Scouting and had an Arrow of Light pin he didn’t remember earning. From the beginning of Cubbing (as it was originally known), the Arrow of Light was the leader of the Webelos tribe that included all of the Cubs. In 1941, this was changed and Webelos became a rank for 11-½ year-old Cubs and used the arrow and rays as the Webelos badge. In 1967, Lion was eliminated and the current Webelos badge and program was introduced. The arrow and rays emblem became the new Arrow of Light badge. Thus, if he was a Lion, then that emblem is a Webelos badge. References:
(Ed Palmer, ASM, Troop 84)
Great bit of history and tracking! Thanks!
I’m trying to look up the criteria to earn the attendance pin. Can you help? (Mark Kopel, Atlanta Area Council, GA)
The attendance pin can mean whatever you want it to mean. It’s not an “advancement,” per se, nor is purchasing the pin “restricted” (you don’t need an advancement form to buy it). Just don’t make it identical to a “service star.”
Let’s say a Scout takes a swimming merit badge class (or cooking, first aid, etc.) at summer camp. He earns the merit badge. He returns home and approaches a leader regarding an advancement requirement that was also demonstrated as part of the merit badge. After confirming that the merit badge was earned, can the leader sign off that requirement, or does the Scout have to repeat demonstrating that skill? (Chris Danford, Longhorn Council, TX)
The question’s a good one, and I’ve not seen anything in the BSA literature that directly addresses it. But, we do know that the BSA advancement program isn’t invested in lots of repetition! Learn it, use it, be recognized for it, and move on! is pretty much the underlying philosophy. The other thing you’ll note is that very few requirements are exact duplicates of one another. For instance, communications and public speaking merit badges both have requirements for writing and giving a speech, but they’re of specifically different lengths (for specific reasons, by the way). Here’s another: Both citizenship-community and communications involve visiting a public meeting, but the post-meeting tasks are quite different (again, different purposes). Nevertheless, there are some that do require the identical skill. For instance, an opening requirement for both swimming and lifesaving merit badges is to have successfully completed the Second Class and First Class swim tests. Another: Both first aid and lifesaving merit badges require a demonstration of the proper technique for CPR. It would certainly seem, in these latter instances that if a Scout is First Class rank, he’s already met the matching requirement for swimming and lifesaving merit badges; if he’s earned lifesaving merit badge, he’s already completed the CPR requirement for first aid merit badge.
That said, the bottom line is USE GOOD JUDGMENT. For instance, as a merit badge counselor for both swimming and lifesaving (among a few others), I’d want to see the Scout actually do a bit of swimming, showing me that he can do several stroke types, knows how to enter the water feet first, and has been taught properly how to float, but I wouldn’t necessarily have him swim the whole hundred yards because at this juncture I’m more interested in proficiency than stamina (stamina will come later on). In other words, if the ostensibly already completed requirement relates to a life-threatening activity, I’d for sure want to see with my own eyes that the Scout is OK.
So, now we have to take it a step further: What happens if you as for a “sample” of the skill, just to see for yourself that it’s there, and it’s not? (Yes, this can definitely happen, although it’s pretty rare.) Well, in this case, I usually tell the Scout that “everything’s OK…we’re just going to ‘polish the chrome’ a little bit.” (In other words, I’ll never, ever say to a Scout, “You swim like a ROCK! Who passed you on THAT?” because that’s demeaning of the Scout and derogatory to whomever thought he or she was doing the proper thing.) So, while we’re doing other stuff, I’ll work casually on the skill that needs improvement, and this way the end-result is a Scout who’s mastered the skill and is proficient, without necessarily knowing he’s been “re-taught.”
I need to know about appointed positions. I understand that, with the Scoutmaster’s approval, the Senior Patrol Leader (“SPL”) appoints the Troop Order of the Arrow Representative (“TOAR”) for his troop, but what if the SPL himself wants to be the TOAR? Can he appoint himself? Is this an acceptable and/or appropriate thing to do? (Ron Balcom, Advancement Chair, Troop 951, Naples, FL)
Yes, the TOAR is appointed by the SPL, with the SM’s approval. So far, so good. Now here’s the “Catch 22″… The TOAR reports to the ASPL! So, if the SPL wanted this job, he’d be reporting to the guy who reports to himself! Or, if there’s no ASPL, then he’d be reporting directly to himself! Weird? You bet! And besides, it doesn’t help in the area of team-building. So, I’d say the SPL has a choice to make… Would he like to stay in the SPL position, or would he like to pass that on to the next guy (by troop election, of course) and take on the TOAR position? (Hey, life is a series of interesting choices, so this is a good opportunity for learning!)
Some further notes on some recent questions from your friend in the Capitol Area Council Scout Shop again…
Scout Shops still sell Cub Scout advancement tracking spread-sheets. And, at $1.99 a pop for almost all of them, they’re good deals! Tigers: 34715B; Wolves-Bears combined: 34192A; Webelos: 34187C; Boy Scouts: 34506D; Venturers: 34199. Law Enforcement Explorers ($3.99): 33729B.
For wearing the “trained” patch that goes on the left sleeve, the Leadership Training Committee Guide (34169A-$4.99) specifies what constitutes a trained leader. See pages 14, 16, 19 and 21 in the 2006 printing.
The Crime Prevention Award emblem is item no. 04189, sells for $2.40, and is available through your local council on completion of the application.
Orange circles for Tiger year pins have been discontinued, and are replaced by the standard yellow backing that all associated with the Cub Scout program wear.
There are now more current versions of Selecting District People (now #34512A- $3.89) and The District (now #33070E- $3.89).
For the new Scout family that couldn’t find the “How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide” pamphlet in the new Boy Scout Handbook, that was most likely a printer or production error. All the copies our council has sold do contain the pamphlet, including the coil spine version. Only the Permabound© hardback didn’t contain it, and that version’s been discontinued.
It turns out that it’s OK for youth members of Venturing Crews that wear the green uniform to wear both the Arrow of Light and the Eagle rank badges on their uniforms, according to page 35 of the most recent Insignia Guide. Presumably, this means until age 21. The Guide’s silent regarding Sea Scouts. (Steve Hanson)
Thanks for pitching in, Steve! Much appreciated!
A question has arisen about the age difference between Scouts sharing a tent. My understanding is that there can be no more than a three-year age difference between boys when sharing a tent, unless they’re brothers. Can you please advise me or tell me where I may look for this information. I checked the Youth Protection training guide and found nothing. (Mark Griffee, ASM, Troop 1011, Walkersville, MD)
Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to find that “rule.” You can’t because it’s not there. Lots of Scouting “old wives tales” are out there! Others include: “merit badge ‘partials’ are only good for a year,” “‘troop uniforms’ are OK,” “wearing ‘camo’ pants as a uniform part is OK,” “Scoutmasters can sign off on camping merit badge,” “Eagle projects can’t be started till all 21 merit badges are done,” and on and on… I’m glad that we put at least this one to rest!
My brother and I are planning a 25-year Scout reunion and we’d like to present our Scoutmaster with an award for his years of service to our troop. Is there an existing award that can be given for such occasions, or would we have to come up with something on our own? (Joe and Travis Jiskra)
What a wonderful idea! There are three possible sources for you: There’s a BSA catalog, the BSA’s www.scoutstuff.org website, and your local Scout Shop. Any one of these will have a dandy array of presentation items that you can choose from for appropriateness and that will fit your budget! Your Scoutmaster must be one swell guy!
I’m working on my Wood Badge ticket, and I’m beginning to think that writing a ticket as a Unit Commissioner is going to be pretty hard. (Robert Randolph)
It’s not that difficult… You just need to be a little creative. Try to find something you’d actually enjoy doing! This doesn’t have to be a painful experience! (And don’t let your Patrol Counselor buffalo you into committing to do more than you’re prepared to do!)
. . . unless you are in the Buffalo Patrol. <wink>
I’m a Unit Commissioner. I really love what I do for Scouting. But I’m having a problem with my District Commissioner. He’s a great guy, and he’s held a few other Scouting positions that he’s been wonderful in. But as a DC, it’s just not working. I’m the only active UC in our district, we have no Commissioners meetings, no Assistant District Commissioners, the last time he and I even spoke was at the district Christmas banquet, when I approached him, and he’s never called me or come up to me at a meeting to see how my units are doing. I’m pretty new to the commissioner service, and I do need help with my units’ problems from time to time. So far, I’ve just been muddling through them. When I spoke with him at the Christmas banquet about a problem one of my units had, his response was, “They can do whatever they want to do, because I’m over it.” The vast majority of units in this district are really struggling, and they have no unit service at all! I’m about at the end of my rope! Who do I need to speak to about this…the District Chair and/or District Executive, or the Council Commissioner? (Name & Council Withheld)
As a Unit Commissioner, your very first responsibility is to the units you serve. I’m hoping you have no more than maybe three or four, and if you’ve been asked to serve more than that, pick the ones you want and tell your district folks that that’s the limit of your availability. Period.
The “Key 3” of any district consists of the District Chair, the District Commissioner, and the District Executive. It’s likely that the Chair and the DE already know the problem and shortcomings of the District Commissioner, so “alerting” them will do you no good. And blowing the proverbial whistle with the Council Commish won’t do a lick of good either, because this is a district-level situation. So, although, from the tone of your letter, “complaining” doesn’t seem to be your style, let’s just cover this area anyway and agree that this won’t work.
You can solve your own immediate problems by starting to visit your district’s roundtable meetings, or even by going to a neighboring district’s commissioner meetings. The latter not to blow the whistle but, instead, to maybe find a guy or gal you get along with, whom you can call and get ideas from when you have a question or need an ear to listen. Then, of course, there’s always me. So far, I’ve published 96 columns and somewhere in there, there’s likely to be an answer or two that might help you. If not, then write again, anytime you like! But the DC problem is not one you can solve, and if you like unit service, then absolutely don’t try to solve the problem by offering to take the job, because District Commissioner is a selling and administrative position, not one of unit service.
Can you clarify the requirements for the “individual” aspect of the National Camping Award for cumulative days and nights of camping! I looked at the only official form I could find… It had the logo, “Scout it Out,” on it, but no form number that I could find. It states: “Individual Scouts and Scouters may qualify for the cumulative patch by participating in campouts with their families, patrols, or other groups.” The Troop my older boy is in (he crossed over about a year ago) only counts campouts taken with the Troop. As I read the requirement, I believe he should be able to count all the campouts (whether with his Cub Scout Pack, our family, or any other campout) that he’s been on since he became a Tiger, some six years ago. I also became a Scouter six years ago, and I’d think I would count my campouts from that same date. In this same vein, could a Cub Scout earn this award before he graduates to Boy Scouts? (Victor Stephenson, CM, Pack 685, & ASM, Troop 1853, Springfield, VA)
The National Camping Award is for Boy Scout troops, and is earned by Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts may qualify for cumulative awards by camping with their troop, their patrol, their family, or another group. Records are kept by the troop, on an annual basis. All of this tells us clearly that this is not an award to be earned in whole or in part by Cub/Webelos Scouts. It is earned by Boy Scouts.
The other day, The Netcommish received the letter below. The Black Eagle, Mike Walton, responded to it. Both are worth repeating here, followed by some end-thoughts of my own…
We’re experiencing peanut allergies, and also considerable opposition to providing a safe environment for the boys who are allergic from many, including our unit’s committee chair! Could you please give us some guidance on how to handle this? I see this as an opportunity to teach and live with acceptance of diversity…or would that be teaching about diversity and acceptance! (Pack Secretary)
Here’s Mike Walton’s reply…
”Knowledge of allergies and related illnesses are always great opportunities to not only educate but also to share strategies for living. I am personally allergic to melon and coconut—two things which are parts of many summer camp living situations; as well as grass pollen (hay fever).
”A simple solution would be a meeting with everyone present and having a school nurse or a doctor specializing in allergies to come in and explain why we have allergies and why is important that we honor and recognize allergies that individual Scouts and Scouters have. Having someone outside of the unit to come in is much better than having a parent or the Scout to attempt to explain it—that outside person provides some ‘importance’ to the meeting, and everyone is liable to pay attention, participate and ask questions.
”The next step is a step similar to what I have to do for my job. I am wearing a red ’alert tag’ on my dog tag chain to alert people of the allergies I have. In this way, when I am incapable of telling folks otherwise, medical personnel can quickly provide aid to me without having to have medical files handy. If not a red tag around the neck, perhaps a red ‘waterproofed’ card to go into a pocket or wallet. This ‘tag’ should contain the person’s name, the specific allergies, two points of contact, and the name or location of the medical treatment facility which normally takes care of their allergic reactions. That’s it…anything more than that, and it would be quickly passed over…
”The next step is a ‘quality control’ step. Since you know that there are people in your unit who have peanut oil
allergies, you should have someone (someones) in your unit designated as the ‘allergy screeners.’ Their job is to take a look at the menus and the items in the menus which may cause allergic reactions among the Scouts and Scouters.
As Explorer Advisor, we had a young woman who was allergic to mold. After our Student Health Services office came in and explained that while mold is all around us, concentrations of mold happen in damp areas, and those areas can cause respiratory problems. She explained to us what we could do to solve the situation temporarily and encourage Kathy to carry around what medicines she needed and to show two other individuals where they are and what they are in case she cannot self-medicate (this brings up an entire new set of questions about the value of having adults to administer medicines or have the individual to administer medicines…I leave that to your unit’s leadership to figure out and work through…J”
As for myself, I generally favor ideas like Mike’s, so long as we don’t set up an environment or mentality that reduces or eliminates one’s own personally responsibility for oneself. Yes, the unit and its adult leaders are responsible for the general safety and well-being of the youth served, but the unit and its adults cannot be responsible for each individual idiosyncrasy, IMHO. If a kid has an allergy, I expect him to take care of himself. This is, I think, called “self-reliance,” which is something I think we’re supposed to be encouraging.
Many Scout summer camps, and even Philmont, have vats of PB&J available at every dining hall meal, for those who’d prefer to eschew the cheeseburgers in paradise or the rattlesnake stew from hell. But this doesn’t mean that little Fargus should slather up a slice of Wonder bread, chomp it down, and then expect someone to whip out an Epi-Pen to save him from himself!
Same with troop/patrol camping. If the Scout’s allergic to chocolate, I expect him to have the brains to NOT DRINK THE FLIPPIN’ COCOA!
I think it’s a nifty idea to bring in someone who can talk about allergies, but not to the point of stultifying a unit or paralyzing their desire to get out there in the greenery! Five minute talk, tops. And who cares if it’s a parent, a Scout, or Santa Claus, so long as they’re knowledgeable on the subject and treat it broadly, without singling out individuals (e.g., “…and poor little Cosmo over there… He’s allergic to leaves!”).
”War story” time: Had a Scout, once, whose mother told me all about his asthma, and how worried she was that we’d be spending a week at 6,000 Ft. elevation. The kid never once so much as wheezed, all week long (Yes, I kept a weather-eye out for him). But, guess what (you already know what)… A week later, when his mother drove in to take him home, as soon as she showed up with a car-full of his sisters and grandmother, he had an asthma attack right there on the spot!
Anyway, it’s an important issue, but it’s also an individual issue, as far as I’m concerned. Yes, the leader needs to be aware of any abnormalities, as does the camp’s health officers, but let’s be sure not to turn these otherwise stalwart boys into weak-kneed snivelers!
Nuff sed.Dear Andy
When does a Scout actually become an Eagle Scout…Is it when he passes his board of review, or when everything is signed at the national level, or is it when he’s actually given his Court of Honor? (Wyantt May, Quivira Council, KS)
The date on which one becomes an Eagle Scout is the date of his board of review.
Although I agree with you that a poster-board advancement display is much better for the boys in the Den, there are some good tracking spreadsheets on the geocities web site. Here’s the URL:
Maybe that Den Leader who wrote to you could consider keeping her records in an Excel spreadsheet, and ALSO fill in the poster for her Cubs to see their progress. (Barry Nupen, DC, Aloha Council, HI)
I checked ‘em out and the spreadsheets you’re suggesting are pretty good! Thanks! There are also tracking forms in PackMaster software.
We have a selection of Excel spreadsheets available at http://clipart.usscouts.org/Software.asp that may be helpful along with a listing of many websites that offer Scouting related software.
HELP! Yesterday, we had our troop elections. My son came home very disappointed (on the brink of tears) with the outcome of this meeting, which involved changing up the entire Patrol members for reasons not quite known to anyone.
Apparently, a meeting was held among a few (but hardly all) of the troop’s adult leaders and they decided that the entire troop needed to be “revamped.” So, most Scouts were separated from their original patrols and placed into different patrols. When parents complained, they were told that this was in an effort to allow for leadership positions among the Scouts and that the troop committee made this decision. Neither statement proved to be true.
My son joined this troop a year ago, with five other boys, all of whom were placed in the same patrol, which made perfect sense, since these six boys had been together since they were Tiger Cubs. Several boys, including those of other patrols who were also separated from their original patrols, are also very unhappy. After I spoke with few of their parents, I learned that many of these boys also were on the brink of tears after being torn from their friends, because in our troop, boys of the same patrol sleep in the same tents and do things together during campouts. Making matters worse, my son was placed in a patrol in which none of the boys are his friends; in fact, they actually “rub him the wrong way,” their “grain” goes in opposite directions…however you want to put it. Today, he has expressed deep concern and unhappiness with this situation and I’m at a loss as what to do. I’ve tried to make him look at the positive side of things, and I can tell he has been trying to make some effort to change his feelings, but it just isn’t working. He did sway, for a few moments, to the side of trying to work with these boys, but he just can’t seem to get used to the idea that he’ll enjoy campouts with boys who have nothing in common with him, they way he used to with his five friends. So, here are my questions:
– Is it appropriate to allow such radical changes to be made strictly under the order of a select few adult leaders, or should there have been proper representation from among the Scouts themselves and all of the adult leaders?
– What can my son do? Would it be appropriate to appeal this decision? And if so, how?
(Name & Council Withheld)
The key to getting this disaster straightened out is your troop’s Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster is directly (and solely) responsible for troop structure and program, and the committee cannot overrule on this. The committee’s job is to support the Scoutmaster and the troop program, and not to interfere. This is BSA policy.
The Scoutmaster needs to take action immediately. He can send out an announcement to every Scout family, telling them that attendance by their son is imperative at the very next meeting because the troop is going to be organized properly and elections will be held.
Then, right after the opening ceremony, the Scoutmaster tells the whole troop that a mistake has been made, and it’s going to be fixed right here and now, and he proceeds with these steps:
– First, he asks for ALL Scouts present to elect their overall Senior Patrol Leader.
– That election completed, the elected SPL then chooses his Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.
– The Scoutmaster then asks the remaining Scouts to re-group themselves into patrols of their own deciding, any which way they want, just making sure that (a) no patrol is smaller than four Scouts or larger than eight (no larger than six is even better, but this will depend in part on the troop’s overall size), and that (b) every Scout is in a patrol. (The Scoutmaster stands aside as the Scouts regroup themselves—he watches out for bullying, omitting someone, etc., and intervenes only as necessary, which likely will be not at all!) This should take no more than maybe ten minutes.
– The Scoutmaster next asks the Senior Patrol Leader to ask the patrols to each elect one Patrol Leader, and then for that Patrol Leader to select his Assistant Patrol Leader.
– The SPL then asks each patrol to decide on a name for itself.
– In this final step, each Patrol Leader tells the SPL (1) his name, (2) his APL’s name, and (3) his patrol’s name.
Now your job, as a registered committee member, is to gather as many like-thinking fellow committee members and parents as you know, and show up, so that you can run interference for the Scoutmaster, keeping the misanthropes away from him and the troop while he goes through the process I’ve just described. If anyone tries to interfere, take them aside and tell them in no uncertain terms that interference with the Scoutmaster while he’s doing his job is not permitted. Period.
The BSA for 97 years has understood that boys will naturally find and form their own groups and that no adult interference is necessary in this regard. All successful troops follow The Patrol Method, because this is quite literally the essence of and key to the Boy Scouting program. In this regard, the Scouts know what’s best for themselves and ADULTS DO NOT.
As far as “needing a leadership position to advance in rank,” if a Scout is elected by his peers, he’ll advance if he does his job, and if he’s not elected then either he can be appointed to a position such as Quartermaster, Scribe, Chaplain Aide, etc., or he’ll simply have to wait his turn and in the meanwhile improve on his interpersonal skills. No troop is obliged to anoint a Scout with a leadership position who isn’t ready for one — there’s no entitlement here.
Recently a Scouter wrote to The NetCommish asking where it is documented that self-nomination is prohibited for the Silver Beaver Award. The question was a great one that is often asked and because it is asked frequently, we are sharing the response. The writer noted that language like the following appears on many websites, but that it was hard to find a reference to any official publication.
“The Silver Beaver Award is presented upon action of a council executive board of (a) BSA local council…for outstanding service to youth within the council or for outstanding longtime service to youth by a registered Scouter residing within that Council…Candidates for this award must be nominated. Self-nomination disqualifies the candidate.”
You’re right that it’s difficult or impossible to find the information you seek on a public website. The information is contained in a BSA publication that’s copyrighted to the Boy Scouts of America for which permission hasn’t been granted to reproduce the content—Advancement Policies and Procedures Committee Guide—and is the general rule for all adult awards. There are exceptions for special opportunity programs and others, but recognition of service and accomplishments like the Silver Beaver are not excepted; they follow the general rule. In part, the general rule is: “Awards for individuals are proposed, approved, and presented without the recipients’ request or participation.” This is a very polite way of saying, if you ask for the award, you won’t get it.
I’m a Silver Beaver Award recipient and have reviewed candidates for the award in the past. I think my experience is probably similar to almost anyone who has helped to make award recommendations to the national council. We’re always looking for selfless individuals who have over a lifetime in Scouting achieved much, given more, and who will likely continue to be leaders in the Scouting movement for some time to come. We’re looking to recognize the unselfish, unsung heroes, who without thought of self-benefit or reward give service to youth in an outstanding manner over time. I can and will tell you that there have been people who have self-nominated or engaged in ridiculous campaigns to get friends to nominate them doing specific tasks with an eye toward the award. The people reviewing the applications usually get a sense of these things and will not offer a positive recommendation on the individual. Those seeking the award are likely to be viewed as doing what they do for awards and not for the benefit of our youth.
Almost all of our USSSP board of directors members are also Silver Beaver Award recipients, each from a different council. I suspect that each in turn would tell you something similar for their own council. You’ll note that I use the word “recipients” on purpose. Nobody ever earns the Silver Beaver; rather, they are recipients of the honor of being recognized for achievement and service to Scouting. For people who have trouble understanding the type of Scouter who is sought in making recommendations, I generally recommend they watch the movie, “Follow Me Boys,” and note the selfless leadership of the fictional Scoutmaster, Lem Siddons (as played by Fred MacMurray). The leader who becomes a leading community Scouter, who directly helps lots of youth over time, who gives tirelessly of time and effort, and who really makes a difference, is more likely to attract the attention of those who make the recommendations.
There’s nothing I can add that would improve on what The NetCommish just said!
I’m SPL for our troop. We have 33 scouts. I’ve completed all my requirements for Life…They’ve been done for a few months now, and I’m just finishing up the six months tenure requirements. Is it OK to ask for a Scoutmaster Conference right now, even though I have two weeks left to go for six months’ tenure, or do I to wait the full six months before we can do this? I’m asking because it’s not always easy to schedule a conference with our Scoutmaster, because this is a busy time of year for his business and he’s not always around for our entire troop meeting. (SPL in Northern New Jersey Council)
Well, the Scoutmaster’s Conference is usually the very last requirement to be completed, because this is where the Scoutmaster would say to you, “Well, Scout, it looks like you’re all ready to advance in rank! How about I set up a board of review for you.” And then the Scoutmaster contacts your troop’s advancement person and says, “Let’s get this on the calendar, right away!”
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for a conference right now, if only to check that everything’s OK and that, in two weeks’ time, you and your Scoutmaster will be talking again, with the intention of your advancing to Life Scout rank.
But the long and short of it is this: If there are only two weeks to go, and he’s a real busy guy, I’d just go ahead right now and schedule a time that’s convenient for the both of you, two weeks from now. In other words, you don’t have to wait till the end of your tenure to ask him to get a date on your calendars that coincides with that! Go for it!
I need to know how a troop meeting runs, from start to finish. Is this available on-line? (Teresa, Heart of America Council, MO)
For the Troop Meeting Plan, go here:
I’m a Webelo Den Leader and we have a question about the semantics with regard to requirements for crossing over to Boy Scouts and the Arrow of Light. The requirement on the Boy Scout site says that a boy must be at least 10 years old and have earned the Arrow of Light. The Arrow of Light requirements in the Webelo handbook says that a boy must be active in his den for six months past his 10th birthday or since completing fourth grade. We’re confused about the “at least 10 versus 10½ years for moving on. I’d appreciate your input. (Chuck Teague, WDL, Columbus, GA)
I really don’t know what it was that you read, or where.
At the BSA website, it says precisely this: “Boy Scouting, one of three membership divisions of the BSA (the others are Cub Scouting and Venturing), is available to boys who have earned the Arrow of Light Award, or have completed the 5th grade, or who are 11 through 17 years old…”
The Cub Scout WEBELOS Handbook, it says precisely this: “Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months since completing the 4th grade (or for at least six months since becoming 10 years old)…”
Neither statement conflicts with the other.
Oh, just one more thing: The singular of Webelos is: Webelos.
What is the expectation of a patrol in relation to the troop? Does “Patrol A” include “Patrol B” in its activities? Our troop, which hasn’t had new Scouts for over the two years, is now faced with ten brand-new recruits, divided into two patrols. One patrol seems to have its act together, and does things on their own, but the other one only gets together at the troop meetings. Should the active patrol include the other, or just continue to do it’s own thing? How is this supposed to work? (ASM, Mark Twain Council, CT)
Although there are seven other “methods” of Scouting, The Patrol Method is the heart and soul of Scouting; it’s what sets Scouting apart from every other youth-serving organization and one of the key reasons why Scouting is the greatest youth movement the world’s ever seen.
The Patrol Method isn’t “a” way of delivering the Scouting program; it’s the only way. Our founder, Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, said that, over a hundred years ago.
Many things in Scouting have been modified, changed, eliminated, and added over the last hundred years, but The Patrol Method has remained intact.
Read today’s BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK (underlines mine):
– Your patrol is a group of good friends working together to make things happen…
– Patrols are the building blocks of Scouting…
– Your patrol is a team…
– Invite your…friends to…become patrol members, too…
– A patrol is just the right size…
– Each member of your patrol will have much to share…
– Friendship, fun, adventure–that’s what a Scout patrol is all about.
For 70 years, the BSA’s Wood Badge advanced Scouter training course has been based on The Patrol Method (“I used to be an Owl, and a good old Owl, too…”).
The troop is the “umbrella” under which patrols operate. The program-deciding body of a troop is the Patrol Leaders Council.
Scoutcraft competitions within a troop, and at Camporees and Klondike Derbies, and the like, are among patrols.
Requirements for the foundational ranks of Scouting include not troops but patrols:
– Know your patrol name, give (its) yell, and describe (its) flag.
– On (a) camp-out, select your patrol site…
– Help plan a patrol menu…
– Serve as your patrol’s cook…
Unless a troop is organized into patrols, there can’t be a Senior Patrol Leader leadership position, because he has no Patrol Leaders to lead!
Show me a troop with no patrols (“Hey, we’re just one, big, happy troop!”) and I’ll show you a Scoutmaster who’s just made himself into the world’s oldest unelected patrol leader.
Although patrols may share activities, events, and outings in parallel with one another, patrols don’t “carry” one another. They don’t “blend” into some sort of “super-patrol.” There’s no such thing as a “lead patrol” or a “tag-along patrol.” Each patrol stands on its own feet.
Mix inferior wine into good wine and you get… bad wine.
When patrols are having problems getting motivated and getting out there, it’s up to the Scoutmaster to provide some extra training for the Patrol Leader, so he knows how to do his job better and get his patrol moving, will all members moving in the same direction. If it’s a new-Scout patrol, then assign an Assistant Scoutmaster to be a direct mentor for the new Patrol Leader (but absolutely resist the temptation to do his job for him!).
No patrols? No Scouting!
I recently read the following statistics regarding the impact Boy Scout movement has had:
”For every 100 boys who join scouting, two will become Eagle Scouts, 12 will have their first contact with a church, five will earn their church award, one will enter the clergy, 18 will develop hobbies used during their adult lives, eight will enter a vocation that was learned through the merit badge program, 17 will be future scout volunteers, one will use his scouting skills to save a life and one will use his skills to save his own life.
”Only four of 100 boys in the United States will become a Scout. But it is interesting to know that, of the leaders of this nation in business, religion and politics, three out of four were scouts. Only 25% of our youth have been scouts and yet 65% of all college and university graduates were Scouts. Two of every three Rhodes Scholars and 53 astronauts were Scouts.”
How true are these statistics? Do you know their source? (Bill Beichley)
These were compiled some years ago by the Boy Scouts of America, by someone in the National Office. Whether or not they’re still statistically precise today, they’re certainly conceptually on-target. Over 100 million boys and young men have been part of the Scouting movement since its inception in 1910. If you track down astronauts; graduates of West Point, Annapolis, and The Ramparts; and captains of sports teams; you’ll find a very disproportionate number have been Scouts or are Eagle Scouts! Also, if you Google “famous Scouts” and/or “famous Eagle Scouts” you’ll find some interesting (and sometimes unexpected) names! How about Henry Aaron, for one!
Have a question? An idea? Found something that works? Send it to me at AskAndyBSA@yahoo.com. (Please include your COUNCIL or your TOWN & STATE)
(Copyright © Mid-April 2007 Andy McCommish)