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Issue 164 – March 8, 2009

Dear Andy,

In our troop, there’s a limit on the number of adults and parents who can participate with our troop on outings and such—several are fire fighters, EMTs, or work shifts. We have a Scout with Asperger’s Syndrome in our troop. We encourage his participation; however, due to past experiences with him and the limited number of “responsibility-free” adult leaders, our committee has asked his mother that she or someone that she designates who is familiar with and can interact with this Scout be present for overnights and other extended trips. Our past experiences with him have, unfortunately, included his running off, biting himself, stabbing himself with a pen, hitting others, and soiling himself. We don’t want to exclude him from activities, but his behavior has endangered both himself and other Scouts.

His mother, in meeting with the committee, said that she understood our concerns, but that her own health issues would keep her from attending campouts with him, and that she only had a few family members who could attend with him, so it was understood by all that if she didn’t have someone to go with him, she’d explain to him that he’d have to pass. The full intent was that, over time, this Scout would work his way up to going on campouts without having to have direct adult supervision.

But then, as we’re getting ready to leave on our very next campout, she shows up with her son, telling us that she’ll not be able to attend and that there was no other adult family member available to go with him, but since the campout’s so nearby, he should be allowed to go on his own. So as not to disappoint or embarrass the Scout, we allowed him to go. As luck would have it this time, we did have an available adult to keep watch on him and in general he did pretty well, with fewer than normal issues.

We’re now planning another overnight trip, with a minimum of eight Scouts already signed up, but with only two adults. The trip will require three hours of travel time each way, and will be held at a museum that requires one adult for every four Scouts. This mother has already said that neither she nor another family member can attend, but she still wants her son to go. This means that this’ll be the second outing since the agreement, and we still don’t have this mother’s cooperation.

We usually have at least one campout a month, and we’re not only concerned for the welfare of this Scout but for the welfare of all the other Scouts that we’re responsible for. Are we out of line if we don’t allow this Scout to attend overnights and long distance trips if his mother or designated family member doesn’t attend to give the Scout the supervision he needs? (Name Withheld in the East Texas Area Council)

Behavioral problems, whether Asperger’s Syndrome-related or not, often have to do with refusal to hear the word, No. Abetting this problem is good people’s reluctance to use the word, No.

You all in your troop have been admirably accepting of this difficult young man. His problems aren’t easy ones. You’ve chosen an excellent present-time solution and long-range goal. The parent has agreed, but is now ignoring that agreement. It’s time to say No. Without exception. No is No, and No doesn’t change to maybe or yes if she shows up with her son or wheedles or whines or assures you everything is fine. No is No. You all must start doing this. In doing so, you are protecting this Scout and you are protecting the others in the troop.

Make the right decision, then stick to it. If this mother shows up with her son when she’s already been told No, it’s her responsibility if her son is in any way embarrassed or made to feel uncomfortable or disappointed, and it’s not your responsibility to rescue that mother from her error of judgment.

Hi Andy,

I’m a Pack Committee Chair who’s at the end of his rope. The Cubmaster and some committee members are openly contemptuous of our district leadership, training programs, and our chartered organization. They routinely speak of them as encumbrances at best, the enemy at worst. They chafe at the idea of the chartered organization participating in adult leader approval, and they openly deride the value of district training programs and district activities for the boys in our pack. I’m not sure what, if anything, I can do. The chartered organization and district have been very helpful in most areas, as far as I’ve seen, and I think the relationship our pack has with both adds significant value. What do I do? (Name & Council Withheld)

As Committee Chair, it’s your responsibility, along with the Chartered Organization Representative, to provide the boys in your care with the best possible adult volunteers. If you have people who just aren’t getting the idea that they need to participate in training and they need to support their fellow volunteers at the district level (who, just like them, started out at the unit level), then it’s time for you and the COR to replace them. Yes, it’s really that straightforward.

Dear Andy,

I have a question regarding the requirements for the First Aid merit badge. Should a Scout be First Class rank before receiving this merit badge? When I read the merit badge’s requirement 1—“Satisfy your counselor that you have current knowledge of all first-aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks”—it sounds to me like the Scout should have already earned Tenderfoot and Second Class. Please help. (Preston Brown, SM, East Carolina Council, NC)

Stick with the precise wording of the requirement. Does it say a Scout must be First Class? Or Second Class? Or even Tenderfoot? No? Then the answer’s No. Rank isn’t required in order to earn First Aid merit badge; however, knowledge of the First Aid-related requirements for the three foundational ranks certainly is required! BTW, “satisfy” may be by showing the MBC that all of these requirements are signed off in one’s handbook—That makes it a no-brainer! But that’s not mandatory, either!

Dear Andy,

Our troop has historically had an operating philosophy that any fully trained adult, regardless of gender, could go on campouts. Now we have a new Scoutmaster, and, without consultation or conversation with the troop committee, he has begun telling potential new Scout families at recruiting meetings, and current parents as well, that he prefers women to not go on campouts. Because of this two potential new families chose to join another troop. Now, he has called a troop meeting, “open to adults and Scouts,” to discuss women on campouts, with a District Executive as moderator. Thirty minutes has been allotted to this meeting, which is scheduled to take place before the regularly scheduled committee meeting, where the Scoutmaster plans to explain his point of view. As you might imagine, there are strong feelings on this subject. Can you give us guidance on how to best handle this issue? What’s your opinion on whether women should go on campouts? (Paula Clay, Chaplain, Sam Houston Area Council, TX)

Be prepared, and keep an eye peeled for steam-rollers.

To my mind, this isn’t so much about “women on campouts” as it’s about Scoutmasters who make arbitrary decisions of significant proportions and impact without consultation with the troop committee or the Committee Chair (the Scoutmaster ultimately reports to the CC, by the way), and then try to ram-rod them through. So, before any “forum” on the subject of adults on campouts takes place, I’d think the Committee Chair and maybe the whole troop committee wants to sit down with this Scoutmaster and have a serious conversation with him about whether or not this is the right job in the troop for him. Are you getting my drift here?

As for a District Executive functioning as “moderator” in a forum such as you’ve described, I have difficulty conceiving of anything more inappropriate for a D.E. to be doing. Are you getting my drift here, too?

Greetings Andy,

What happened to all the information the handbooks used to have on edible wild plants? I’ve looked in the handbook and scoured a variety of Scout sites looking for edible wild stuff, and keep coming up empty-handed. When I was a Scout, there was quite a lot of information on this subject, and I can clearly recall it being taught at Junior Leader Training. I think there was even a requirement for First Class that involved identifying a certain number of edible wilds in the field. Any idea what gives? Did some Scouts eat some bad mushrooms and die? (John Rekus)

A bit of cursory research suggests that “edible wild plants” disappeared from the requirements for First Class in 1990, with the appearance of the new Tenth Edition of the handbook and concurrent rank requirements. Go to any handbook before that and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for! You can still teach this, you know; you just can’t make it a “requirement.” This follows the principle of “teaching beyond the requirements but holding to the requirements—no more, no less—for advancement.” For instance, I still teach “silent signals” to Senior Patrol Leaders and their Patrol Leaders, as part of Youth Leader Training (formerly JLT), simply because it’s the most efficient, effective way of guiding and directing Scouts in meetings and in the field! Interestingly, the Scouts take to this “old” stuff like ducks to water! (You should see what happens to their eyes when I set up a Kim’s Game!) So, don’t give up the ship—Just reinvent it! (Yes, this is one case where I will say “reinvent.” What I mean is resuscitate it—give it new life!)


Dear Andy,

I have a question about the activity or Class B uniform. I taught a segment on uniforming and insignia at an advanced Cub Scout leader training course for our council and since then have become somewhat of a ”walking guide” on the subject. I’m always noticing improper uniform practices and I’m careful not to make the same mistakes (I usually don’t point these out to people unless it comes up in conversation).

I can’t find any mention of a “Class B” uniform. The Cub Scout Leader Book (p. 12-11) states: “Uniform parts should not be worn separately or with civilian clothing. The entire uniform should be worn or not at all. The pack does not have the authority to make changes to the uniform.” Would that mean that a tee-shirt worn with Scout pants or shorts violates this policy? I’m guilty of wearing the Class B uniform, and it’s part of our training course’s staff uniform guide. Also, if you’re wearing a Class B uniform, do you still salute the flag? How about if you’re wearing a Scout shirt but with jeans? I’m not trying to be the “Uniform Cop,” but I’d like to get clarification for when I’m asked. Thanks. (Joshua Brown, CM, Utah National Parks Council)

Would it shock you to learn that, although we’ve been using these unofficial designations for decades, the BSA does not have “Class A” or “Class B” or “Class anything” uniforms! There’s just one official uniform, and it includes all the parts. The uniform inspection forms make this perfectly clear.

That said, it’s nevertheless quite permissible to wear an alternate (yet still official) shirt, such as a unit-specific or BSA-issue tee-shirt or golf-type shirt, with the rest of the uniform parts (i.e., official pants or shorts, official socks, and official belt), when the activity or activities one will be participating in suggest that this would be more practical and/or appropriate.

In the latter case, we still salute and such because we’re still “in uniform.”

There is, however, absolutely no provision whatsoever for non-uniform pants or shorts: Jeans, Dockers, chinos, camo’s, or anything else as substitutes for official pants or shorts is strictly a no-no.

If you’re asked, your best bet, always, is to refer folks to their handbooks. All anyone—youth or adult—ever needs to know about uniforming is in each of the handbooks, from Tiger through Scout Scout, and including Venturing, Sea Scouting, and even Exploring.

Here’s the fundamental “rule” to follow: When you’re in full uniform you’re never, ever wrong. Simple as that!

Oh, yeah, one more thing… the three absolute worst positions to ever be in or be known for are “Patch Police,” “Council Cop,” and “Uniform Inspector-General.”

Hi Andy,

Can a Cub Scout earn the Leave No Trace patch more than once? We have several Cubs who earned it last year, as Wolves; can they earn it again, as Bears, or is this a one-time thing? Also, can you help me understand the difference between a service and a conservation project? Thanks. (Teresa Miles, DL, Blue Grass Council, KY)

Your Cubs can absolutely earn the LNT patch more than once! Go here for Just be sure that only one badge gets worn on the uniform, and only on the right pocket! A conservation project is a service project that focuses on conservation.

Dear Andy,

Back in the 60’s and earlier, BSA badges of office for both youth and adult leaders were iconic, with no words on them to identify the position. Can you tell me what the scheme was for Commissioners? I know that there were also more Commissioner types then, drilling down to Neighborhood Commissioners, but what did a District Commissioner’s badge look like, and an Assistant District Commissioner’s badge, and so on? They all had the service wreath and the first class emblem, but I don’t know what the color scheme was. (It would be really a neat idea if the BSA made replicas of these old badges available to folks, to accentuate the movement’s history as part of the 100th anniversary celebration!) (Joseph Bell, ADC, Bucks County Council, PA)

I was a Scout when there were no words on the position badges. You had to know, by their symbols and colors, what each meant. As a result, we all really paid attention to these, so that we could show our Scouting knowledge by understanding what each one meant… Patrol Leader was two green bars, SPL was one-and-a-half green bars under the First Class emblem, ASPL was two green bars under the First Class emblem, Scoutmaster was the First Class emblem all in silver surrounded by BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, ASM was the same but in gold, JASM was a combination of brown-and-gold, Scribe was a the universal emblem over two crossed quills, Quartermaster was a wheel-and-key, and so on. It was this way from 1910 on, for the next 62 years; then, in 1972, the words were added.

From memory here…For Commissioners, until 1972, District Commissioner was wreath-and-First Class emblem in silver, but the eagle was gold. For ADC the wreath was silver but the First Class emblem and eagle were gold. For Neighborhood Commissioner (what, today, we’d call Unit Commissioner), the wreath and the emblem and the eagle were all gold. For Council Commissioner, everything was silver: Wreath, emblem, and eagle.

Personally, I’d love to see us return to the no-word versions of all position badges. They worked. They encouraged us to learn badge “vocabulary.” And they were darned cool-looking! They also minimized the “I out-rank you, ha-ha” syndrome! I agree that the centennial would be a perfect time to do this!

NetCommish Comment:

Andy is doing pretty good from memory. The color scheme in old BSA patches always used silver as superior to gold in the same way the military insignia does. So you always knew that a patch with more silver was higher up so to speak. At the Council level the wreath was silver. At the district level the wreath was gold. For Commissioners the First Class Badge was dark blue. For professionals it was red.

Here is a picture of an Assistant Council Commissioner

Assistant Council Commissioner Circa 1960

Here are some more scans with labels – these are from my collection – gifts from back in the 1960s.

Commissioner Patches from the 1960's

Dear Andy,

Our troop is arranging a trip to the Northern Tier boundary waters canoe base this coming summer. On past trips to this high adventure base, we’ve stayed at a place called Giants Ridge. This time, though, one of our Assistant Scoutmasters mentioned that he has a cousin who lives in a large (three-story) house in the area, and he suggested that the troop stay there instead of at Giants Ridge. Is his cousin’s house an acceptable place to stay, in the eyes of the BSA? Would the BSA require that some sort of background check be done on the people living there before members of a Scouting unit could stay there? (David Goodnight, Longhorn Council, TX)

What a wonderful gesture on that cousin’s part, to offer their home to you all! “Background check”? For what? Scouts and their leaders will all be together, and what a delightful shared experience (to say nothing of helping economize in these belt-tightening times!). Go and enjoy!

Hi Andy,

I came across your Ask Andy columns, and have a very important question—can you help me? My boyfriend is in Scouts. In five days he’s turning 18. He has to do a project to become an Eagle Scout. He wrote up a project and turned it in, but it took five days before he received a phone call telling him that he had to rewrite it with some revisions. He can rewrite it, that’s not a problem, but then he has to resubmit it. By the time he does this and gets an answer back, it’ll likely be right on top of his 18th birthday. Is there any possibility there’s a different way to go with this, like is it possible now he can even become an Eagle Scout? Even past his 18th birthday just a few days? I can’t stand seeing him sad. Please help if you can. (Diane)

Thanks for finding me and for writing. Your boyfriend is very luck to have someone as caring as you! I hope he knows this!

Unfortunately, the day before his 18th birthday is his last day as a Boy Scout. There’s no way around this unless he’s mentally or physically challenged and it’s confirmed by a medical practitioner, or if a “force majeure” (“Act of God”) has somehow prevented him from completing the requirements.

The situation, as you describe it, may or may not be salvageable. If he’s 17, I’d hope he has a driver’s license and access to a car. He can immediately do the re-write, then drive his revised document around and get the signatures he needs right now, today. Getting the signatures, he then needs to immediately recruit his helpers and put them to work, so that everything’s completed by midnight three days from now. If he can do these things, he’s met the deadline. If he can’t, well, then he can’t and that’s that. It’s really all up to him at this point, and the fact is he’s really had seven years to do this.

BUT… Did you know that, out of every 100 Scout Scouts, about 98 are not Eagle Scouts? That’s right, not. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of or even much saddened by. If he had a great time as a Scout for the past seven years, then that’s just fine! I’ve attached a file that talks more about this. Show it to him. Maybe it’ll help a little bit.
Smile. Give him a hug. And be sure he knows you’re still his girlfriend, even if he’s not an Eagle. He earned Life Scout rank, and I can tell you that that is darned impressive! He should never, ever think of himself as “only” a Life Scout… This is a very significant accomplishment, all by itself!


Hi Andy,

I’m not sure if you’re the person I should ask… I’m suggesting a Science merit badge. I know that we have a Chemistry merit badge already, but this would make all branches of science available to our Scouts and it would teach them about the scientific method. One of the requirements of this badge would be doing a Science Fair project. It wouldn’t have to win in competition, but just planning an experiment, carrying it out, and then reporting about it in a display would be an invaluable experience that I’d like more kids to have.

I’m the mom of an Eagle Scout and I continue to work with one of the local BSA groups. I’m also a science fair judge for our district science fair. I push science and I promote the Boy Scouts, and I’d like to see this new merit badge available to Scouts across the country. We all expect science to come up with solutions to many of our problems—we need to prepare more kids for careers in science. We also need to make more people who will never be scientists themselves aware of how science investigations work—It’s an important part of living in the 21st Century! (Judy Hensley, Rocky Mountain Council, CO)
I think you’re right on the money! For where to send your ideas, go to the USSSP website’s “advancement” section, then “merit badges” and, in there, you’ll find some good information on proposing new merit badges. Thanks for finding me, and for writing!


Dear Andy,

What’s the correct placement of Eagle Palms on the uniform? (Ron Milton, ASM, Lewis & Clark Council, MO)

A Scout places the palms on the ribbon of his Eagle medal, and wears the medal-with-palms at courts of honor and other “high-level” events; an adult Scouter may pin the palm(s) to his Eagle “square knot.”


Dear Andy,

When I was a young Cubmaster, a wise older Scouter told me that if I ever had a question, just ask my Commissioner! Now I’m a Troop Committee Chair and use that advice on a regular basis! I’ve asked my Unit Commissioner these questions, but he’s stumped:

– Is it written anywhere that a “complete uniform” is always permissible? I’ve heard for years that if little Johnny shows up in Grandpa’s uniform, it’s acceptable, provided little Johnny doesn’t try to mix old uniform parts with new uniform parts.

– I’m wearing the Oscar de la Renta-designed uniform and need some new socks. I went to the Scout Shop and they informed me that I can wear the new Centennial socks with the old uniform, and went on to say that I could also mix new pants with old shirts. Since there’s no new uniform manual issued to go with the Centennial uniform yet, how would I go about verifying this? (You see, I’m getting ready for Wood Badge and don’t want to go “out of uniform.” I’m not quite the “uniform police,” but I’ll always try to be right, as an example. (Donald Dillon, Central Florida Council)

Working a bit to get it right, without being “righteous” about it is just fine! Stay on course, and encourage your Scouts to, also, by your example in action. If absolutely necessary, you can use words; but then try to use as few as possible. We tend to learn more with our eyes than our ears.

One reason why you may find something about “old” and “new” uniforms and uniform parts hard to find, I suspect, is that it’s in the category of “Duh.” That’s right… No BSA uniform or uniform part ever becomes “obsolete.” Like Boy Scout ranks—once First Class, always First Class, and so on—uniforms (and their parts) that were “official” once, still are. There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever in writing that even suggests that, when a new uniform or part is introduced, everything before it must be tossed in the bone pile. That would be counter to the whole “A Scout is Thrifty” ethic!

So, when little Johnny shows up with Grandpa’s campaign hat, pop’s olive Scout shirt, contemporary BSA shorts, and knee-socks with green garters-and-tabs—He’s you betcha in uniform!

Let’s try this: If somebody ever tells you that you “must” wear the new shirt (or whatever) with the new pants and that you can’t wear the “old” pants (or whatever) anymore, simply reply, “That’s interesting… would you mind showing me that in writing, please.” And then, until they do, just keep on doin’ what yer doin’!

Thanks. Is there anything saying that it’s OK to mix uniform generation parts? I know I don’t need to go out and buy a complete Centennial uniform, but could I wear my old overseas cap, or beret with the Centennial uniform?

New question: When will the uniform inspection sheets be updated and will they accommodate all of the headgear offered by BSA? The last sheets I saw indicated that leaders can only wear the campaign hat or the olive-and-red visor cap. (Donald Dillon)

You can find the newest uniform inspection sheets and placement guides here: Notice, when you do, that the headgear worn is in accordance with what the troop has decided (i.e., it’s not arbitrary), which means that you’re not going to want to wear your Smokey Bear hat, or your beret, or your Garrison cap, or whatever, until you’ve checked with your Wood Badge Scoutmaster or committee or Coach Counselor (Troop Guide, Patrol Guide, whatever) and asked what their preference for the course is going to be.

Per the Boy Scout Handbook, baseball-style BSA caps and BSA campaign (Smokey Bear) hats, while optional, are perfectly “legal.”

The “full uniform” as defined by the BSA is exactly what you’d expect it to be. My own troop, in Southern California a few years back, elected to go with short-sleeved shirts, and shorts-and-knee socks instead of long pants, and this turned out to be a wonderfully practical choice!

Outside the US, the three things that say SCOUT are: Campaign hat, neckerchief, and knee socks.

Also in the handbook, you’ll notice that, for outdoor activities, the BSA says it’s BSA T-shirt, and BSA shorts, socks, and belt. Caps are optional. This is certainly a “uniform,” and a very practical one, at that! So of course we salute… Our flag, and our leaders, too!

Hello Andy,

Can a council, district, or unit require that a Scout use a locally amended copy of the Eagle Project Workbook? The Project requirement reads, in part, “You must use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 18-927, in meeting this requirement.” The requirement goes to the extent of specifying a document number. Can a council, district, or unit alter this document? (Clarke Green, SM, Chester County Council, PA)

Nope. That’s tantamount to altering a requirement, and we know that that’s a huge no-no! (But you knew this already, right?)

Hi Andy,

Once a Cub Scout has earned a badge, does he have to pay money for it? My son’s Cubmaster, who is also the Den Leader, has told us that we could sell more popcorn or sell cards to cover the cost of the badge, or we could just pay for it out-of-pocket. I’d always thought that once a Scout had earned his badge, he’d earned it and didn’t have to pay for it. Could you please let me know about this? Thank you. (Misty Sutton, Northeast Georgia Council)

Thanks for finding me, and for writing! Every Cub Scout pack (and Boy Scout troop) has its own way of covering expenses like badges and so on. Some packs have flat-rate annual pack dues, like maybe $50 or $60 or $100, and this amount covers the membership fee paid by the pack to the BSA national council, Boy’s Life magazine, awards (like badges and patches), Pinewood Derby cars, and so on. Obviously, the more that’s paid for by the pack, the more each family pays in dues.

It sounds like your pack has a very low dues amount (Now I don’t know your pack of course, but I’m going to try guessing it’s less than $50 a year), and if that’s the case, then individual expenses (like badges and so forth) have to be paid for in some other way—Badges don’t grow on trees, of course. So, your pack is giving you, as you’ve mentioned, a couple of options: You can just cover the cost of the badge, or you can sell a bit more popcorn for the pack (the pack gets a % of the sales, to help defray costs), or sell cards (again, the pack gets a %). That’s actually pretty fair. And we’re not exactly talking about a ton o’ money here. But the bottom line is simply this: Those badges, just like your son’s uniform parts, cost money and need to be paid for somehow. You pack may be more fair than you first thought!


Hi Andy,

My son is a Webelos Scout, and we attend The Beaufort Church of God. After reviewing the religious emblems program, I need to know which category of the Duty to God religious emblems does this church fall under. (Morris Williams, AWDL)

Wonderful question! Check this and then wander around in site till you fine-tune exactly what you’re after! The best news, of course, is that there’s definitely a program for your son!


Dear Andy,

My question comes as a concerned grandparent… We attended our grandson’s—I’ll call him Toby—pack’s Blue & Gold banquet last night. Unfortunately, Toby’s parents are newly divorced and still working through the emotions of a litigation that wasn’t pleasant. Toby’s father is involved in the week-to-week Scout activities and supports them all; Toby’s mother appears to be less involved, but has never voiced any opposition to the program.

As Toby and his fellow Cubs received their Wolf badges, they were also given a pin to give to their parent. Although mostly the mothers got this pin, there were also fathers and grandparents who did, too. Toby’s father was hurt because while he’s the one supporting Toby’s Cub Scout activities, Toby’s mother was given the pin.

I’m trying to understand the significance of the parental award. As grandparents, we want to ensure the right thing is done, from our grandson’s perspective. If the award is to be given to the mother, then it should be. If the award is given to the parent involved, then that should be. If the award is to be given to whomever is there, that night, then that’s also as it should be.

In the end, it would just be helpful to understand what the purpose of the award is, and to whom it should be given. I’m sorry the world has denigrated to such a state, but this is the world we’re living in, and understanding can help resolve this issue. (Name & Council Withheld)

Let’s start here: Have a chat with Toby’s Den Leader and Cubmaster, so that they both know what’s going on. If your grandson’s situation remains terra incognita to these two key people, they can’t help your grandson or his parents (and, yes, thank goodness he still has two parents!).

The “Mother’s Pin” has been around for over 70 years. It’s not an “award.” It’s typically given to moms because, at Cub Scout age, most boys are still pretty attached to Mom, and this reinforces that relationship. Dad may have done the lion’s share of being “Akela” and I’m sure was disappointed that he didn’t get a pin, but pins aren’t what Cub Scouts is about. The relationship he’s building with his son, when he does achievements from the book with him, will truly last a lifetime–I’m speaking from experience on this point!

So let the pin go. Focus on the boy. Share this email exchange with both parents, if possible. And thanks for finding me, and for writing!


Dear Andy,

I need to change my son’s uniform from Cub to Boy Scout—we just bought the new-style tan shirt. Can you give me a detailed diagram of where the patches go? (J. Timmerman, Blue Ridge Council, SC)

Check out your son’s new Boy Scout Handbook… and if you need more, try here:


Hi Andy,

I started Scouts when I was 13. I’m 14 now and only a Tenderfoot. Any tips to try to get my ranks done with faster? (Scout’s Name Withheld, Tuscarora Council, NC)

I sure do! The first thing is, have you read your Boy Scout Handbook—especially page 14 where it says that advancement’s gonna be pretty much up to you.

Now, let’s take a look at the requirements for Second Class. Pages 63-109 give you everything you need to succeed. Have you read them? If not, let’s start now! And let’s look at the actual requirements on pages 64 and 65. Do you see how you need to have gone on five troop activities, including two camping trips? Have you done that? If you have, go to your Scoutmaster, give him the dates of your trips, and ask him to initial req. 2a as completed (that’s on pages 440-441). If you haven’t done all five activities yet, then get yourself signed up and go do ’em! And, while you’re out there, bring a compass with you and ask your Scoutmaster or Patrol Leader for some help in doing req. 1a. They show you how; then you do it! Now, go look at req. 3. That one’s a no-brainer… Tell your Scoutmaster that, at the next troop meeting, you’d like to lead the opening ceremony. Then do it, and ask him to sign your book. Are you getting the idea here? Good!

You see, it’s up to you. You can make it happen, or you can sit back and wait for it to happen. But that’s going to be a really long wait… So get up and show up and, when you’ve done it, get that signature!

Need more? Got some more questions? Write again, anytime! But, from now on, please “Cc” a parent, or use your parent’s email address. OK? OK!

There are only three kinds of people in the world: The ones who make it happen, the ones who watch it happen, and the ones who wonder what happened. We each get to decide which one we want to be!

Happy Scouting!


Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)

(March 8, 2009 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2009)<=”” McCommish=”” Andy=”” ©=”” Copyright=”” –=”” 2009=”” 4,=”” (January=””>

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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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