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Issue 159 – January 4, 2009

Dear Andy, One of your recent Q&As was for a chap who’ll be serving as a Camp Commissioner this coming summer. Here’s an example of a “Camp Commissioner Guide” that one of my NCS (National Camping School) participants created for the CC course:CampCommissionerStaffGuide_2006.pdf

Here’s another, from a camp where I served as Commissioner:


(Ken King, NCS/NAYLE/NJLIC, Three Fires Council, IL)

Thanks! I’m recommending that we add your two references to the USSSP data base.

Dear Andy,

Do you have any written documentation on the correct order of placement of “square knots”? If so, I’d like to get a copy to pass out to some of my Scouting friends, to show how some things change within the program. Thanks! (Keith Westergaard, ADC, Bay-Lakes Council, WI)

At one time, the BSA did attempt to define a “correct” order-of-placement for square knots. This was, however, discontinued (largely because it was hopelessly unenforceable, if not totally petty, IMHO) a whole bunch of years ago. The order, today, is at the discretion and preference of the wearer, and the sole remaining guideline isn’t about placement—it’s about duplication: We don’t wear multiple identical square knots. Maybe you can find a really, really old BSA Insignia Guide that talks about the “old order.” But if not, this has probably gone the way of the dodo bird. Happily.

Dear Andy,

Requirement 9 for the Scoutmaster’s Key states: “Participate as an adult in youth leader training by either serving on the staff or attending the Scoutmaster Orientation session of the National Youth Leader Training conference.” I’m not able to staff our council’s NYLT so I asked our NYLT Course Director about the orientation session. His reply was that he didn’t know what the BSA was referring to. I’m trying to find out what this orientation session might be, so I can meet that requirement. Can you help? (BTW, I enjoy your columns.) (Christopher Sokiera, SM, Greater Pittsburgh Council, PA)

Aaah… Flattery will get you… everywhere!

Your question’s an excellent one, and I’m going to give you my own take on it, based on having earned this key plus having been a JLT, NYLT, and NJLIC staffer…

Although the progress record you’re referring to does indeed refer to a Scoutmasters’ orientation session for what’s now the NYLT course, the NYLT syllabus itself, despite it’s thoroughness, makes no reference to such an event, except by hinting at it in the “promotion” section of the staff guide. So let’s do a little brainstorming here…

The orientation for Scoutmasters would most likely have an educational aspect to it, so that a council’s Scoutmasters can learn more about how NYLT helps their own troop’s youth leaders grow, and how NYLT supports troop-level youth leader training (which is the most important training any Scoutmaster can do for the youth he serves). It would likely also have a promotional aspect to it, so that Scoutmasters promote their Scouts to attend. This orientation might contain some examples of what’s learned (e.g., “EDGE,” “SMART,” etc.) and perhaps an outline of the overall course content, the Scouts’ daily lives, and so forth. But this would, I’m suspecting, be totally a function of how much and how well your own council supports and promotes its NYLT courses!

If your council has such an orientation session, then simply attend it. If it doesn’t, maybe you’d like to help the NYLT Course Director develop and put on one. This would sure be a big help to him, the council, and—ultimately—the Scouts!

Dear Andy,

Can an adult leader earn the religious knot by having worked with his or her son on the Student Workbook, completed the Adult Mentor Workbook, and attended the preacher sessions with their son? (Sherry Thomas, Pack Activities Chair, Atlanta Area Council, GA)
Any adult volunteer can be nominated for his or her faith- or denomination-appropriate adult recognition. You’ll find substantial information on this at (Note: This is not a BSA program, but is a program that’s recognized by the BSA).

Hey Andy,

Saw a newspaper headline: “Boy Scout Earns All 121 Merit Badges”—Why is my BS alarm screaming? Here it is: “A Long Island teenager has earned all 121 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America. It’s an accomplishment the local arm of the organization calls ‘an almost unheard-of feat.’ Oceanside resident Shawn Goldsmith earned his final badge—for Bugling—in time for his 18th birthday (the cut-off point). He far surpassed the 21 badges required to achieve the elite rank of Eagle Scout. He said he took about five years to earn his first 62 badges and then nearly doubled that number in a matter of months. He did it with the encouragement of his grandmother, who died shortly before he reached his goal. The Binghamton University freshman was awarded his final badges on Dec. 19. He said he hopes to become a businessman and politician.” (Bill Casler, Great Alaska Council)

I guess I really can’t comment on how this was accomplished, except to say that he’d had to have had the complicity of up to 100 Merit Badge Counselors in order for there to be anything untoward about his accomplishment. I think we need to keep in mind that the merit badge program isn’t designed to make an “expert” out of anyone, but, rather, to give a young man a solid introduction to the subject matter—whether it’s one of the Citizenships, or Camping, or American Business, or Pet Care, or any of the others, even First Aid. So I’d say turn off the buzzer, relax, and let your own Scouts know about this. Who knows…One of ’em just might get inspired!

NetCommish Comment: Congratulations to Shawn! That’s awesome.

BSA does not track how many Scouts have earned all of the available merit badges. However, a non-BSA website,, has compiled a list of some 64 Scouts who have earned all of the available merit badges.

Dear Andy,

How we can find out the theme for the 2009 Blue & Gold Banquet? Each year, none of our leaders can seem to find out what the theme is until it’s very close to the banquet, and then we have to scramble for the dens to make their decorations. I’ve tried Internet searches, but I’ve come up empty-handed. Any clue on where to look? Thanks! (Lisa Green, Golden Empire Council, CA)

The basic is that the B&G is a birthday party! Scouting’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell, was born on February 22, 1857, and the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on February 8, 1910. (This is why “Scout Sunday” is also in the month of February.) So go ahead and get two cakes, with “Happy Birthday B-P” and “Happy Birthday BSA” on them and have a blast!

Thanks, Andy. I’m wondering, though… Is this birthday thing supposed to get extra focus this year, rather than have another theme as well? Last year, we had a theme of “Chinese New Year” and all the dens decorated their tables accordingly. The year before, we had a sort of “Hawaiian-Pacific” theme. So, even though I knew the B&G is a birthday thing, I’m assuming there’s another special theme for this year. If there is, what would be the source of this information? It seems like our local district should know it and have it posted on their website as early as possible. As I mentioned, we had the same problem last year: nobody could get an answer on what the theme was supposed to be. I finally got an answer out of the clerk at the Scout Shop, in January. (Lisa Green)

Usually, it’s published in the Cub Scout Program Helps pamphlet (No.34409 – $2.99), which I’ve assumed you’ve already checked into. But, if I’m mistaken, you can typically pick these up at your local Scout Shop. Or This is not something the council or district would necessarily put on their website (so don’t fault them!) because it’s a national program, with national program support.

Hello Andy,

Can you tell me who was the youngest Eagle Scout ever? (Michelle Toth, Mom of 2nd Class Scout, Greater Cleveland Council, OH)

Just Google “youngest eagle scout” and watch what happens!

BTW, Maybe this is your son’s goal…? If so, that’s cool. But Scouting’s not about “being an Eagle.” It’s about having fun, hanging with buddies, getting outside, learning cool stuff, and such. It’s about doing stuff you don’t get to do in school, church, synagogue, team, or club, and having fun doing it. Robert Baden-Powell, who founded Scouting over a hundred years ago, put it this way: “Advancement’s like a suntan—something that happens naturally while you’re having fun in the out-of-doors.” That’s still how it is! So go ahead and be an Eagle! And, as you do it, share adventures with your buddies, and laugh a lot!

Thanks, Andy! We just didn’t know who the youngest was, because the BSA doesn’t publish such information.

As for the original purpose of the question: just curiosity. My son is participating just the way you’ve stated in your “BTW” note. He’s very active, loving it, and trying everything he can. He loves to try new things and he really, really loves the outdoors and the week-long tent camp-outs. His level of activity with the Scouts led me to ask the question, since he’s earning the merit badges and ranks very quickly. Thanks again! (Michelle Toth)

You’re right: the BSA doesn’t publish it and, although I can only guess here, I’ll bet it’s based on the fundamental philosophy that advancement’s not a “race.” But there are about 1,600 citations when you do the search I mentioned, and while some are duplications, some are pretty interesting.

There is something pretty cool about earning Eagle by, let’s say, 14 or 15, and it’s that you can wear that oval Eagle badge for another 3 to 4 years! And continue to go for merit badges that interest you, if you like! But there’s nothing about Scouts that says this has to be a rush… A guy has a full 7 years, and what he does with them is entirely up to him! And, let’s remember this: Most Scouts—more than nine out of ten, in fact—don’t make the effort to make it to Eagle, and that doesn’t mean in any way that they’ve somehow “failed”!

Thanks for writing and have fun with your son, and watching him grow!

Hi Andy,

I saw that Q&A about Eagle candidates choosing a member of their board of review, especially your reply about “there’s never been a policy, one way or the other, with regard to this,” and “as to ‘forbidding’ it, there’s nothing to forbid, since there’s never been national recognition of such a practice in the first place.”

Actually, Andy, I know there was an old edition of BSA Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures that did make a provision for an Eagle candidate to be allowed to invite someone with knowledge of the significance of the Eagle award to be included on his board of review. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what year it was because I’ve been helping with Eagle advancement at the district level in different councils since 1986. But I’ll try to find it and let you know.

I know of no recent discussion of the topic at all in BSA circles, but the rules for Eagle boards of review would allow enough flexibility for a local council to allow this practice to continue if all members of the board of review meet the age and “understanding” criteria. In our district, we’ve continued this practice when asked, and in the cases I’ve been involved with, it’s worked very well. In cases where the visitor’s a Scouting outsider, it always gives them a very positive impression of the program. Also, those concerned about it shouldn’t worry about a Scout-invited visitor railroading a board of review—I’ve never met someone invited this way to not take the responsibility very seriously. Recommending to national that a Scout be elevated to the Eagle rank must be unanimous and it is hardly likely that a Scout would invite someone who would cast a vote to delay his advancement while in the opposite case, the other, perhaps more knowledgeable reviewers, should in theory make sure that appropriate standards are upheld.

Thanks also for your advice to the New Jersey Scouter in your December 8th column who had a misinformed district representative on an Eagle Board of Review there. It is amazing to me how many adults really miss the boat when it comes to our role in developing fit citizens of character. James E. West was and is still right when he said the BSA’s three biggest needs are training, training, and training. I’ve read you column on and off for a long time and always appreciate your straight shooting effort to hold to the true intent of the program and knock off the baloney of adults who “make stuff up.” Thanks for your service to Scouting. (Dave Kugler, Venturing Crew Advisor, Pikes Peak Council, CO)

That memory of yours must be considerably longer than my own! I’ve been involved in troop-level Eagle boards, as the council representative, only since 1988 and I’ve never, ever heard or read about any such “official” accommodation. Certainly, on an informal basis, a Scout can recommend, suggest, or even request a member of his board of review for Eagle, since, except for the council or district representative the other members may be from any walk of life and registered in the BSA or not.

“Railroading”? In two decades as an active Scouter and seven years (and thousands of letters) writing this column, this is the first I’ve heard this concern raised. Frankly, I’m not sure it’s even possible, given how boards of review are structured. But, hey, let’s not forget the head of the U.S. Patent Office, who wanted that office closed down “because everything that can be invented, has been,” in… 1900!

I am, however, concerned about the notion of “elevating.” It’s a small point, perhaps, but I believe an important one, to recognize that a Scout becomes an Eagle Scout on the basis of his own diligent work and not because someone’s “awarding” him something, or “elevating” him out of their own infinite wisdom. A board of review is not to “judge” but to affirm, commend, and encourage. Once the board of review has determined that the requirements have been met in accordance with the standards set by the BSA national council, the rank belongs to the Scout who’s earned it.

“Railroading” is something that, unfortunately, I’ve seen both “for” and “against” a Scout, more often in the last ten years than ever before. It’s usually the result of untrained people taking things into their own hands and making up their own rules. I won’t get on a tangent about “dumbed down,” poor quality, or no training at all, but I believe that every case I’ve seen is a result of one of those.

I hope I can find the old copy that I can remember, but it was definitely “Advancement Policies and Procedures.” My wife has been a District Advancement Chair for many years, and she remembers it too. She agrees that it wasn’t a local directive, but rather a national one in this same book. Regardless, it’s not in the current book, so it’s not particularly relevant, I guess.

On “elevating,” we know that a Scout’s diligence is what qualifies him as an Eagle Scout and that his board of review should “affirm, commend, and encourage,” and the rank is ultimately his to hold (although the BSA can still control the use of the physical award itself according to its own bylaws). Members of our family have unfortunately been called upon from time to time in different councils to stand up in very uncomfortable settings to ignorant adults who want it some other way, so we’ve been “tested” on the concept and never wavered. However, I will maintain that only the national council can “elevate” a Scout to the rank of Eagle upon the recommendation of his board of review or approval of an appeal submitted on a Scout’s behalf when a board of review fails to provide that recommendation. Regardless of how well a Scout performs and makes the Scout Oath and Law a part of his life, the national council is still the ultimate authority for the Eagle rank and action on its part is a required prerequisite to award it. This of course in no way diminishes his personal accomplishments nor does it make a board of review a panel of “judges.” Members are what its name states: reviewers. It is just the way the BSA has always maintained the standard of the rank. (Dave Kugler)

Yes, the BSA national council maintains the standards of the requirements for all ranks and merit badges; it does not “police” or in any way “judge” the qualities of the young men who complete these requirements. This responsibility falls to each of the now just around 300 local councils and their operational arms, their districts.

Notice, on the application for the rank of Eagle Scout (I’m looking at No.52-728A at the moment), the applicant is approved by the unit itself, via the unit leader’s signature, and then it is certified by the council, and finally it is approved by the board of review and certified by the Scout Executive. At this point, it’s sent to the national office, where it is validated, which, according to the current ACP&P booklet means that signatures are in their proper places, dates are accurate relative to one another (e.g., tenure in rank, tenure in leadership position, etc.), and such. There is no judgment involved here, even though the word “approved” is used. It’s truly the candidate’s board of review that is the ultimate and deciding factor, since no information other than the application itself is ever provided to the Eagle Scout Service at the national office. So, no “elevation” takes place, either overtly or by implication. Yes, I’m parsing. I believe it’s important. But that’s me.

Meanwhile, I absolutely have seen all sorts of roadblocks thrown up in a Scout’s pathway to advancement and Eagle, and if you’ve spent any time at all reading the columns I’ve been writing over the past seven years, you can get a sense for how much this goes on. I’ve been fortunate, however, to have never had to confront “railroading” in a board of review.

People like you and me and your wife and others I’ve come to know through their writing to me are often a Scout’s “white knight,” and thank goodness. Keep on keepin’ on!

Dear Andy,

I’m an old Scout of sorts. I earned my Eagle in 1973 and spent a couple of years after that assisting others in my troop. But years and life took over from there, and I’m now 51 and looking toward retirement. My fondest wish now would be to get re-involved in Scouting, professionally or voluntarily (as a Commissioner, perhaps). I’ve been reading some of the new Scouting materials out there, and now I’m wondering: How do I get back into Scouting? I’d be in the Atlanta or Northeast Georgia council area. (Mark Brown)

What a wonderful aspiration! Based on where you live and the nearest council service center (or both!), make an in-person appointment with the Scout Executive there, sit down, and talk it over!

Dear Andy,

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Jamboree patches went above the right shirt pocket and, back then, we could wear one National Jamboree patch and one World Jamboree patch side-by-side if we’d been to both.

I’ve recently applied to staff the 2010 Scout Jamboree, and, in response to my application, I received an acknowledgment letter with a National Scout Jamboree-Staff patch enclosed. The letter stated that this patch is worn above the right pocket, but went on to say that only one patch is permissible.

So, am I now to choose whether the new Jamboree patch my ‘71 World Jamboree patch is my preference? Clearly, I’d rather the side-by-side NJ and WJ option, in part because it’s rare to find anybody who’s been to both. (Greg Carr, Sam Houston Area Council, TX)

Sorry, there’s no “side-by-side” anymore! Just one goes above the right pocket; not two, even when one’s a national and the other’s a world. Oh my, the decisions we Scouters have to make! <wink>

Hello Andy,

This is about complying with the Arrow of Light requirements and one of the boys (I’ll call him Willie, as in Willie Webelos) in my den. One of the requirements is: “Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade…and earn the Webelos badge.”

Originally, Willie was in another den. That den merged into mine this past fall (they lost their DL). That DL passed on to me that Willie had attended only about a third of all den meetings and activities in his previous (Webelos I) year.

Since September, we’ve had den meetings, pack meetings, den visits to troops, and two camp-outs as guests of local troops, and out of all of these, Willie’s only showed up two times. (As a matter of fact, for nearly two months I toted around a bag of awards for him, hoping he’d show up so I could present them. Willie finally came to a pack meeting, so I was able to give him his awards.)

Scouting’s about honesty, so I’ve always accepted Webelos Activity Badge completions from parents without question. But because Willie’s missed den meetings and activities, he hasn’t done the “with your Webelos den…” requirements, even though his parents have signed him off for several of these.

Right now, we’re scheduled for one more campout-as-troop-guests, but Willie’s mother says he won’t be able to attend it. Meanwhile, she’s trying to find a troop to do this with on their own, so Willie can meet these requirements before our crossover ceremony in a month. (BTW, doesn’t a “cross-over” need to be done with your den?)

Am I correct in denying this boy his Arrow of Light? (Patrick Lesley, WDL, Bay Area Council, TX)

Thanks for writing and expressing your concerns. There are several points to be considered here. Let’s begin with what I believe is the most important: Neither you, the Den Leader, nor any one else can “approve” or “deny” this badge or any other badge, in Cub Scouting or Boy Scouting, and that’s because it’s not about you. The boy either (a) completes the requirements or (b) he doesn’t. It’s ultimately up to him. “We” don’t control advancement; he does.

Next key point: At the Webelos level, a primary responsibility of the Den Leader is to help the boys in his or her den accomplish the requirements for Webelos and then Arrow of Light, and complete them for these ranks, including, of course, the needed Webelos activity badges and religious awards or requirements. This takes planning, and working hard to get and keep the boys in step and moving forward. Sometimes, it requires “Plan B,” as when a boy, for whatever reason (it really doesn’t matter—we’re talking about 9 and 10 year old boys here), doesn’t complete a requirement along with the rest of his den. This is where the “Semper Gumby” approach comes into play, and where it can make all the difference in a boy’s life!

Another way to say this is: Boys of this age don’t “comply;” they achieve. Or not. (Sometimes, try as we might, we just can’t “save” a boy from himself, or his parents or family, or the family’s schedule and/or priorities. This is when we must be our most compassionate.)

Boys of this age are both sturdy and fragile. Never lose sight of this.

Your letter, despite its detail, mentions nothing about your conferencing with Willie’s parents, to understand the family’s situation and schedule, and the possible demands that are being put on Willie’s day-to-day life. You do seem to be making “judgments,” however, and I’m not getting a good feeling about those.

If a parent, as “Akela,” as signed an activity or achievement or requirement as completed, it’s completed. There is no question. Ever. So long as the requirement is done in accordance with its wording (that is, no adding or subtracting). This is part of every parent conference at the beginning of the Webelos II year. You did do this, yes?

However, at the Webelos level, parents, except in unusual circumstances, aren’t Akela any more. You are. So, why are parents turning in requirement completions to you, and why are you accepting them? You’re supposed to be in charge of these; not the parents, except as consultants, with you at their side.

On that upcoming weekend event with the troop, it’s a daytime only event, yes? Otherwise, his parent needs to stay overnight with him—no way around that one! But, assuming it’s a daytime thing, did you ask this boy’s mother what is keeping him from attending? If you don’t ask about, there’s no possibility for Semper Gumby to kick in. Do ask.

Yes, “with your den” are important words in some of the requirements; they can’t be eschewed. In addition, there’s a third visit to a troop that takes place not with the den but with one or both parents, and there’s no substitute for this, either.

It sounds like, if you’re willing to make the extra effort, an in-person conversation with this boy and his parents, all together, needs to happen, so that everyone’s on the same page.

If they accuse you of being “rigid and inflexible,” all you can do is reiterate that the requirements are the requirements and no one has the authority to deviate from them. If they do the “unfair” routine, stick to your guns, because that’s the baloney that accompanies intimidation with the intent of getting you to cave in. BUT, if they’re sincerely interested in having their son complete these requirements and they’re simply at a loss for how to have this happen in light of other circumstances, then do what you can, stay flexible, but stay with the requirements. Remember: You’re ALL on “the same side of the desk”—You’re ALL on the same “team” working to achieve the same goal.

Hi Andy,

About the sheepshank, the BSA really did remove it. While I don’t know the official reason, I know the practical one: the sheepshank’s a very dangerous knot when used with today’s synthetic ropes. On an old hemp or sisal rope, the sheepshank would hold under tension just fine. But on a slick nylon or polyester rope, the fibers don’t have the level of inherent friction that the sheepshank requires, and it’ll slip and fail under even a moderate load. I found that out the hard way—I was demonstrating it with a synthetic rope by standing on one end and pulling up with my hands on the other end (the sheepshank’s in the middle), and I knocked my hat off when it gave way! If I’d been leaning forward another inch, I’d have punched myself right under the jaw! (Reece Watkins)

The sheepshank has been in every handbook save the current 11th Edition, which kicked in a decade ago. The 10th Edition showed the sheepshank tied with nylon rope and contained a cautionary note not to use it when safety is involved. In the current handbook edition, various knots are shown using both nylon and non-synthetic ropes, so that whether this knot is “prohibited” or just dropped for space still needs clarification for the ultra-retentive. I’m doubting that it’s actually taboo, however, since it’s still one of the knots a Scout will learn in the course of completing the requirements for Pioneering merit badge.

Hi Andy,

A fellow Scouter earned the Commissioner’s Arrowhead Honor as a Unit Commissioner. Now he’s an Assistant District Commissioner. A fellow Commissioner told him that he had to take it off and earn it again under the requirements for his new position. I told him that while there are indeed different requirements for the Arrowhead depending on one’s Commissioner position while beginning to complete the requirements for the Commissioner’s Key, as long as he’s a Commissioner, regardless of which particular position, he’s entitled to wear the Arrowhead. Did I get that right?

I’ve also been asked if one can wear both the new Doctorate of Commissioner Science square knot as well as the Distinguished Commissioner square knot, since they’re the same knot except that the new one has a gold border and the DC knot is all silver. My response here was that the two knots—Doctorate and Distinguished —represented two different sets of requirements and a Commissioner can certainly earn one and not the other, or earn both, and that if both are earned, both can be worn. How’d I do?

Then we have the new NESA Life Member silver border on the Eagle Scout square knot. It strikes me that this one is a variation on the Eagle square knot and not a separate recognition—In other words, if you’re a NESA life member, you don’t wear two knots, you replace your “old” Eagle knot with the silver-bordered new one (meaning you don’t wear both). Yes? No? (Ron Hubbard, Shawnee Trails Council, KY)

Short answer: You’re spot-on: Good guys, 3 – Knot nuts, Zilch.

Remove the Arrowhead because he took a new Commissioner job? “Let’s leave no nit un-picked!” Shoot that “Patch Police” Commissioner! This is the kind of righteous (and usually obnoxious) attitude that gets Commissioners kicked out of the units they’re supposed to be serving!

The new Doctorate of Commissioner Science Knot Award (as the BSA calls it), gives every appearance of being separate and distinct from the Distinguished Commissioner Award (and square knot), and so you and I are on exactly the same page here: It’s perfectly “legal” to wear either or both, based on what you’ve accomplished.

The new Eagle Scout-NESA Life Member square knot is a no-brainer: If you’re both, you get to wear a silver-bordered R-W-B knot; if you’re an Eagle but not a NESA Life Member, you keep the knot you’ve been wearing.

Hi Andy,

What’s the BSA protocol or procedure when there’s a disagreement between a Scoutmaster and a Scout’s parent? How should it be handled and who should handle it—the troop committee, or does it go right to the council? (Name Withheld, Daniel Boone Council, NC)

A disagreement such as you describe is a unit-level, adult-to-adult problem that does not involve any Scout in the troop, or anyone at either the district or council level. In fact, it would be inappropriate for district or council folks to be reached out to, or get involved, because the troop is owned by the sponsor; not by the BSA council.

Dear Andy,

We’ve recently been told that there’s been a “national” decision that adult volunteers can no longer concurrently hold more than one council-level position (e.g., Camping Committee member and Roundtable staff). I understand that new blood needs to be brought into these committees, but some of us have time to do more than one. So I’m wondering what, exactly, is national’s stand. (Dennis Carlock, Greater Pittsburgh Council, PA)

Since you haven’t identified your sources, I can’t evaluate the possible “credibility” here. If your Scout Executive or Council President said this, I’d sure sit up and take notice! But, so what… Whether it’s a “national” decision (which I doubt, BTW) or a new policy of your local council (which is not impossible, however unlikely) doesn’t matter much if somebody’s going to enforce it. So, if you get confirmation from a reliable source that your council’s going this route, then I’d say pick the job you like the most and drop the other one, before somebody makes this decision for you and gets it wrong. On the other hand, if you discover that it’s malarkey, be sure to spread the word on that as far and wide as you’re able.

Dear Andy,

You recently received a question about where to get inexpensive craft supplies, like bear claws and arrowheads and such. I was looking for these for my own den and pack, and here are some good .com’s: naturewatch, makingfriends, spiritconnections, sbearstra-dingpost, chichesterinc, blujay, and pelhamgrayson. (Lisa Titus, CM, Daniel Webster Council, NH)

Hey Andy,

Do you know where I can pick up a score card for the new training knots that are shown in the Jan-Feb 2009 “Scouting” magazine? These would be the Speakers Bank Award, Philmont Training Award, and Doctorate of Commissioner Science Award. (Erick Hudson, Gulf Coast Council, FL)

By “score card,” I’m assuming you mean Progress Record, á la Scouter’s Training Award, Key, etc. Here’s where to go for the requirements for these:

Speakers Bank:

Philmont Masters Track:

Doctorate of CS:
Like many other BSA recognitions (e.g., Distinguished Commissioner), these have no Progress Record, and I’ll hazard a guess that there won’t be any. So, if you’re interested in any or all of these, just download and put the requirements you want into a write-able file (e.g., MSWord).

Dear Andy,

My son recently became an Eagle Scout and we’re now planning his awards ceremony. My question is: Who requests the certificates and letters of commendation from government officials, etc? Do we, the parents, do that, or does the Scoutmaster? (Michelle Sirbaugh, Shenandoah Area Council, WV)

Usually, whoever’s putting the program together for the troop court of honor is the one to do or delegate this. Check with your son’s troop advancement chair or Scoutmaster or committee chair—one of these should be able to advise you. Meanwhile, congratulations to your son! And you, too!


Keep on keepin’ on —


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(January 4, 2009 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2009)

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About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

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