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Issue 165 – March 12, 2009

Dear Andy,

Our Scoutmaster balks at the thought of having to take the medical forms of the youth and adults with him every time the troop goes on an outing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a trip to the fire house or a trek on the Appalachian Trail: His attitude is that following the Guide to Safe Scouting, including Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, Climb On Safely, and so on is for everyone else except him and our troop. I’ve asked him on various trips to take the medicals and releases along, but his reply is always, “Nothing’s happened so far, and nothing will this time, either.” I can’t get through to him the importance of having the medicals of each Scout and adult on the trip with us and the importance of following the GTSS. He just doesn’t want to hear it. Last year I finally persuaded him to take First Aid kits; up till then he’d use the rationale that since each Scout has his own, we don’t need a troop kit. I don’t want anything to happen to this troop. I know there’s nothing in the GTSS that says you must take these forms along; you just have to have one signed by a doctor. I really worry about this. I think we’re asking for trouble! What can I do to get our Scoutmaster and the other leaders (whom he’s convinced of his point of view, as well) to see this is not good, and that we need to have a medical on everyone in the troop and take them where ever we go. As far as the GTSS, the other leaders say that we shouldn’t waste our time worrying about training, and should instead spend time with our Scouts having fun. This is a downright scary thought! (Assistant Scoutmaster—Name & Council Withheld)

Yes, the guy’s definitely off-base and the likelihood of luck running out and being faced with a very unpleasant reality is high. However, if you’re the ASM, how about simply volunteering to “put the book together” and then bring it along on trips? It only has to be kept in the car, after all… It doesn’t have to be back-packed in, because in any emergency, you’re all coming out, anyway! Then, if you can’t make the trip, give it to another guy who’s going and you don’t even have to mention this to the Scoutmaster. This makes you “the good guy” instead of that bee always buzzin’ around his head over this. Plus, the troop’s now safer than before. Sounds to me like everybody wins once we decide which problem, fixed, will do the most good!


Dear Andy,

Other than a Scout turning 18, is there any expiration date for his advancements? One of our troop’s Scouts moved out of council a little over a year ago. I gave his parents a completed transfer form and documentation of his advancements and merit badges earned, and sent a copy of all that to his new council. I recently received an email from his parents, saying that they were just now getting him back into Scouting. I’m wondering: If his membership in Scouting expired about a year ago, are his advancements and merit badges still valid, or will he need to start over when his parents sign him back up? (Doug Swift, SM, William D. Boyce Council, IL)

Advancements, completed requirements, and completed merit badges or their requirements never expire during a boy’s tenure as a Scout, and never, ever need to be repeated, for any reason whatsoever. Done is done.


Dear Andy,

Since reconnecting with Scouting last year, I’ve scoured the Internet for all things Scout-related. In this process, I’ve discovered Ernest Thompson Seton, who I don’t recall learning much about as a Scout. Of course, we knew who Baden-Powell was, and we knew the story of William D. Boyce and the “unknown Scout.” But Seton seems to have received little ink. Do you think many Scouters don’t know much about Seton’s contributions, especially to the founding of the BSA? (John Rekus)

Let’s not forget that there’s the Seton Museum at Philmont. Beyond B-P, the “big three” in the BSA are Seton, Beard, and of course James E. West. Seton is probably the least generally known—he had neither the “rustic glamour” of Uncle Dan or the longevity-of-influence of West. Seton also had several significant disagreements, first with Baden-Powell, claiming that B-P had stolen his youth movement ideas, and later with Beard and West as well… perhaps symptoms of the “authority figure issues” of his youth? The Tim Jeal biography of B-P goes into a bit more detail on this than does the Hillcourt biography. Check out, also, Wikipedia.

These days, the “lore” of Scouting is often lost entirely, or eschewed in favor of “how to…” I’ve for years felt strongly that, in all training, we spend too much time on “how to” and vastly too little time on WHY. I believe, further, that the arbitrary drifting from the “model troop” and “model patrol” (yup, “model pack,” too) is a consequence of our failing to tell the new people we train WHY we do things in Scouting the way we do. So, if the newly trained leader doesn’t understand WHY it’s this way or that way, of course they’re tempted to “improve” things! And that’s where the whole program gets in trouble!

Bring back the paths of the pioneers, rhythms of the Red Man, and lace liberally with the knights of yore and their code of chivalry and you’ll return the romance of Scouting to its roots. Is there an age when this isn’t needed?

Hi Andy,

After reading one of your recent columns about the three-wheeled Pinewood Derby cars, I couldn’t keep from writing. When my son was in Cub Scouts, his pack had a great approach to the Pinewood Derby. First off, we didn’t own a very good track, and we borrowed one or two each year that weren’t much better—all had been Dad-built at some time in the dim past; they all looked old enough to have sailed on the ark! On top of this, one of these tracks was reputed have a “fast lane” that almost always produced the winning car. So here’s how we handled it… At check-in, the cars were weighed and checked for correct axles and wheels. Each car that passed muster was put aside till race time, and each “driver” was given a “license” (an index card with his name) that was hung on a string so each “driver” could wear it like a pit pass. The three tracks set up so they were spread out around the gym, with parent volunteers on each track: One at the starting block and one for each lane at the finish line. The Cubs could then race their cars on whatever track they wanted, against whomever they wanted—They just lined up at the track of their choice. As the cars came down the track, the adults at the bottom watched the order of finish (no fancy timers here) and when the Cubs picked up their cars, their licenses were marked with a colored dot: Blue for first place, Red for second, Green for third, and Yellow for fourth. The Cubs would run from track to track, challenging their buddies and comparing dots. Some of them managed to run 30 or 40 races in an hour! Because the boys themselves had and ran their own cars, dads were less inclined to “take over” and the boys had a blast running their cars as many times as they wanted! Every Cub who raced received a patch, and there were trophies, but we didn’t spend a lot of money here because the “main event” wasn’t the final, ultimate heat—it was racing all afternoon long! (Merilee Evers, Former DL, Cascade Pacific Council, WA)

I love your story! I wish more packs would “see the light” and realize that this is a Pinewood Derby with blocks of wood, four nails, four simple wheels, and some paint; it ain’t the bleedin’ Olympics!

Hi Andy,

I’m on the parent committee of my son’s troop and we’re going through what I think might be “growing pains.” Here’s the question: Is it within BSA rules and regulations for a Scout who has just earned his Arrow of Light three months ago to already have earned the rank of Second Class? Is it possible for this same Scout to have earned a 25-trip recognition, with credit given for trips he took while a Cub Scout? (Dan Pelletier)

The requirements for “Scout,” followed by the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, and so on up to Eagle and beyond, may all be found in the Boy Scout Handbook. Do take a moment to check out the ones you have specific questions about.

In brief, once a boy who has earned the Arrow of Light joins a Boy Scout troop, earning the Scout badge is a no-brainer: It’s virtually identical to what he did for the AoL. Then, he starts the actual Boy Scout ranks. Earning Tenderfoot has a 30-day requirement in it, so completing all requirements will take no less than a month. But, while he’s doing these requirements, a Scout can also be working on requirements for Second Class and First Class as well (notice, importantly, that this doesn’t work like Cub Scouts at all!). This means that beginning with joining a troop to completing Second Class rank in about three months is absolutely possible; in fact, most troops encourage and support this!

As for getting “credit” for outings and activities, the Boy Scout requirements absolutely do state, “While a Boy Scout…” or “With your patrol or troop…” (i.e., not “den” or “pack”), so that what a boy has done as a Cub Scout stays in his Cub Scout “resume” and doesn’t get carried forward into Boy Scouting.

Now here’s the biggest deal of all: Any boy who’s getting his skids greased by “helpful” adults is the ultimate biggest loser and what a pity that nobody in his family’s figured this out! But, it’s not worth the acrimony and general ill-will, to say nothing of collateral damage, to attempt to “correct” these folks. If you’re the Scoutmaster, don’t sign off and stick to your guns. Same if you’re the troop advancement chair. But avoid “lecturing,” if you possibly can. And, if you’re a parent and not a registered troop volunteer, then your primary responsibility is to support your own son; it’s definitely not to bird-dog or even blow the whistle on other parents’ sons.

Dear Andy,

When a Boy Scout turns 18 and wishes to remain with his troop, what position or rank does he hold? The age requirement to be a leader in a troop or pack is 21. We have three such Scouts turning 18 in the next few months. What are their options? (Tony Piatek, SM & ACM, Shenandoah Area Council, WV)

What you’re looking for is actually right on page two of the adult volunteer application. A young man or woman between the ages of 18 and 21 may register as, and hold the position of, Assistant Scoutmaster, Assistant Cubmaster, Assistant Den Leader, Assistant Webelos Den Leader, or Assistant Varsity Scout Coach. So, if any or all of your three Scouts wish to remain active with their troop, they can be Assistant Scoutmasters and join the adult leadership corps of the troop.

If, however, they wish to remain active in a different way, they can join a Venturing crew and remain “youth” (in a manner of speaking) until their 21st birthdays. Check this option out—It can be very appealing and a heck of a lot of fun!


Hi Andy,

I volunteer at a Cub Scout summer day camp, where I teach cooking —which I really think the boys enjoy. I’m wondering how to go about making a new belt loop. I’ve noticed that Scouts do a lot of cooking, but there’s no Cooking Belt Loop. (Cindy Martin, TDL)

First, let’s understand that the “belt loops” are symbols for the Cub Scout Sports & Academics program—a supplemental achievement program that already has two primary areas of focus: Namely, sports and academics. As a consequence, it wouldn’t be unlikely for your idea of a cooking “belt loop” to fall on deaf ears. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun, meaningful, and rewarding cooking program!

Try two things: Be judicious; then be creative. For instance, Wolf achievement 8 (“Cooking and Eating”) has five parts to be completed, and 8a and 8e can definitely be done at a Cub day camp, so plan on those two and ask their Den Leaders if it’s OK for you to initial their books on pages 79 and 81, instead of their parent-as-Akela. But don’t try to “bend” the other requirements to fit the day camp environment, because, in Scouting, we don’t change requirements. That’s the “judicious” part. Now the “creative” part involves something else that may not be an in-the-book requirement, like having a s’mores building-and-toasting contest, and giving out 3-inch long loops of knotted brown and white yarn that they can affix over the right button and under the right flap of their Cub uniform and join the “Stupendous S’Mores Smokin’ Team!!!

You’re gettin’ the idea here, right…? Just go and run with it!

Dear Andy,

I’m working on my Wood Badge ticket as a District Member-at-Large and troop committee member. I’m responsible for updating and maintaining our district’s merit badge List. For part of my ticket, I’ve chosen to research what a Merit Badge Dean does and what the pros and cons are for having such a position. I’m not getting very far with a Google search. I see references to who the Deans are, but not on what they do. Any suggestions or information would be useful. (Greg Shepherd, Baden-Powell Council, NY)

A Merit Badge Dean is, in my experience, usually the guy on the district advancement committee who keeps the MBC list current and helps when there are “holes” in merit badge coverage. It’s largely a paperwork job, communicating with Scoutmasters (they’re the ones who receive the most current MBC lists from the dean, and report to the dean if they’ve noticed any MBCs who have left the program, or who are not getting positive feedback from the Scouts, etc.). As to the pro’s and con’s, if your Google searches are giving you the names of deans in various councils, then you just haven’t taken your “research” far enough… Contact them, tell ‘em what you’re doing, and ask ‘em!

Dear Andy,

My wife, daughter, and I have been invited to attend court of honor for a young man who will be awarded his Eagle Scout rank. This young man happens to be an exception—he’s a special needs young man—and he’s succeeded in earning this most prestigious rank. I’d like to thank the Boy Scouts of America for their sensitivity, assistance and compassion on his behalf. (We have a special needs daughter whom we adopted, and that’s how these two met.) What is the proper protocol for individuals privileged to be invited to this ceremony, with respect to the Scout? Is it appropriate to present the Scout with a gift for his accomplishment? We want to be sure to follow what’s customary; your response and assistance would be most appreciated. (Patrick Mc Fadden, York, PA)

Thanks for finding me, and for writing. I have nothing but admiration for your compassion toward your own daughter, and to this young man on the brink of one of life’s serious rites of passage. Yes, earning one’s Eagle rank is in that category, and for him to have done so under less than optimal circumstances says a great deal about this young man’s character, his vision for himself, and his determination to achieve his personal goals. The BSA has wisely provided the pathway, but a young man like this nevertheless has to decide for himself to walk it or not… No one will spoon-feed him, purposefully, because what he earns, he owns.

Your local BSA council—the York-Adams Council—has a service center and likely a Scout Shop, on White Street, in York. Hop on over there and see what Eagle commemoratives they have on hand or can order for you that might fit your budget and be appropriate for this young man. Wrap it, and present it to him privately. I’m sure this will be a special moment for you all! Very best wishes for all you and your wife do, too!

Dear Andy,

You’ve expressed objections to merit badge “work sheets”—even those available on the USSSP website! You’ve said that worksheets like these are “counter to the two main purposes of merit badges.” I’m very curious as to what you had in mind by that comment. Would you be willing to elaborate? (John Rekus)

Sure… Merit badges are all about the interaction between a teen-aged boy and an adult mentor. It’s another form of role-modeling and an opportunity to impart, from one generation to the next, insights that just aren’t “in the book.” Remember that book, written some years ago (1984, if memory serves) by Mark McCormack, called, “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes From A Street-Smart Executive“? This is what I’m talking about: Insights that can only come from one who’s “been there”—not stuff from a book.

Unfortunately there are erstwhile MBCs out there who just don’t get it. One I know calls himself an “Examiner” and administers the equivalent of final exams to the Scouts unlucky enough to be sent in his direction. Another, who’s MBC for Personal Management, meets once, tells the Scout, “Here’s the book; come back in three months and I’ll see how you did,” and then, three months later, may “pass” the Scout or may tell him, “Sorry, you didn’t do it right; I’ll see you in three more months.”

People like this are not only clueless, but they’re corrupting the very program designed to help young men transition from being boys to becoming men.

So, back to those worksheets and such… Their first problem is that they imply that a Scout can go it on his own. Further, in their rigidity and formality, suck the life out of what’s supposed to be an interesting, fun, challenging endeavor that’s highly humanly interactive and rife with insights, anecdotes, life-lessons, and, yes, maybe even a “war story” or two!

Think of learning to fly… Do we go download “worksheets,” rent an aircraft, and practice our takeoffs and landings by ourselves till we can get into the air and back down to terra firma, and be able to use the plane again, and thenwe go find an instructor to check us out? Of course not! For reasons hardly needing further elaboration.

Hi Andy,

My son has the religious award square knot he received when he was a Wolf Cub Scout—the purple one with the silver knot. Can he wear it when he becomes a Boy Scout? (Will Williams, AWDL, Coastal Carolina Council, SC)

Yup, he sure can! BTW, there’s a small Cub Scout “device” he can put on the knot, but I wouldn’t bother doing that until he earns the Boy Scout-level religious award… Then he gets to wear two devices (at courts of honor… they’ll likely fall off during the regular rough-and-tumble of being a Scout!)

Dear Andy,

I was in our local Scout Shop this past week, and saw that there’s a new 2008 printing of the Webelos Leaders Guidebook. I’m guessing this means that the 2006 books we have (and have been able to pass down from leader to leader the past couple of years) are null and void. Does anyone know what the differences are, or is it just a new printing run, but with the same content? (Carl)

Excellent question, and I wish I had the perfect answer for you. I can tell you from personal experience that these particular books might have minor tweaks and perhaps a new cover graphic, but changes are often modest at most and sometimes not at all! So don’t dump your “old” books just yet! Instead, ask at your Scout Shop if anyone knows of any major changes (sometimes, these are listed in the front of the new books; sometimes not).


Hi Andy,

Is it permissible to wear the new Centennial insignia on the old uniform? We have new Scouts entering the program and would like to transition our older Scouts over. The new numerals and shoulder loops wouldn’t be a hardship, when compared to replacing shirts and all the other patches (and, for leaders, all those knots!). (Ed Keane, Northern New Jersey Council)

Sure it’s legal! Anything that was ever official still is, and mixing-and-matching has always been acceptable! Scouts are thrifty… We certainly don’t throw away perfectly good uniform shirts, but we can absolutely change out and update the patches and shoulder loops on ’em! Heck, the BSA even has developed two different standards for the left sleeve, depending on whether there’s a pocket on it or not!


Dear Andy,

I’ve been asked to open our District Award of Merit annual dinner with a presentation on the history of this award. Do you have any background I can use? (Wayne Unwin, SM, Tall Pine Council, MI)

The District Award of Merit was introduced in 1970, as a precursor (not prerequisite) to the Silver Beaver. It is the only nationally-designated recognition that functions at the district level; therefore it is the only official “square knot” that isn’t a square knot—it’s an overhand knot (one less “loop”). You now have everything I know about it. You may want to ask your District Executive or Scout Executive if they can get more information for you, from Texas.


Dear Andy,

I’m a Life Scout. I need to earn Citizenship in the Community merit badge. I have my “blue card,” but my Scoutmaster doesn’t know of a Merit Badge Counselor for this merit badge, and it’s not offered at camp. Can you help, please? (Scout’s Name Withheld—Occoneechee Council, NC)

Your Boy Scout council publishes a list of every Merit Badge Counselor, for every merit badge offered in your council, and I’m absolutely sure that that list will include Citizenship in the Community! Ask your Scoutmaster to contact the district or council advancement committee and request that list. If your Scoutmaster cannot do this for any reason, call up your local council, ask for the registrar, and ask the registrar to give you the names and phone numbers of any Merit Badge Counselors for this merit badge who lives in or near your home town. If for any reason this doesn’t work, write to me again and we’ll find a different solution.


Dear Andy,

I’m the Committee Chair for our pack and I have a son who’s a Wolf Cub. In addition to being the CC, I’m also the “unofficial” Assistant Den Leader for my son’s Den—I help our Den Leader with crafts and games, plan some meetings and outings, and help with record-keeping.

My question is this: How do I get my point across to a certain parent that no matter how many requirements we do during meetings and outings, some things simply have to be done at home with the parent as Akela?

We have ten boys in the den. Of these, four are returning from last year and six are additions from this fall’s round-up. Three of these six have actively participating parents who help their sons complete the requirements for Bobcat and are on course to complete Wolf soon. Of the other three, one gets a ride with the Den Leader (his mother has never been to a den or pack meeting), one has been to four out of 15 meetings, and one attends meetings about half the time. Of these three, not one has had a single requirement signed by their Akela. Even though their attendance hasn’t been perfect, each boy has met all requirements for Bobcat during den meetings other than number 8 (“with your parent or guardian…”), and some of the Wolf requirements have been met due to the projects and crafts that we do during meetings. I’ve sat down with two of the parents, (the third has never been to a meeting) and shown them in the book where to sign and what to do for their son to earn his Bobcat, but nothing seems to work. I’ve explained that all the work their sons have done will not result in any recognition at pack meetings without their help. I don’t want to be rude or offensive to these parents, and I can’t give these boys their Bobcat pins with only seven requirements met. What can I do to get into these parents’ heads that they’re going to have to put forth some effort to help their sons? (Jason Layman, Great Smoky Mountain Council, TN)

Thanks for asking a very important question. And, actually, you just might have things a bit topsy-turvy. You see, especially at the Wolf and Bear levels of Cub Scouting, the advancement program (both ranks and Arrow Points) is designed to be done at home, with the boy’s parent as Akela, 98% of the time! There are only a very few requirements for either rank that actually need to be done with one’s den. Nearly all requirements for these two ranks are designed and expected to be done outside of den meetings–at home with one’s parent(s). Therefore, any den that includes “doing requirements” as a regular part of den meetings is actually missing the point. This is, in reality, getting in the way of the purpose of the Cub Scout advancement program at these levels.

Only at the Webelos level does the Den Leader actually include advancement requirements in den meetings, and personally sign off on requirements. To be doing this before the boys have reached the Webelos level deprives the boy and his parent(s) from fully enjoying the Cub Scout program and what it has to offer.

If even after parent conferences (first making sure that they’ve read the parent’s section of their son’s Wolf or Bear book, of course) parents just aren’t getting it that this is for them to take charge of, the worst thing a Den Leader can do is become an “enabler” by doing in den meetings what the parent is supposed to be doing at home.

The best way for a parent to “get the message” is for them to come to a pack meeting and see other boys being recognized for advancement, but not their own son. This may be a bit wrenching, the first time it happens, but it’s the only way things will change! And the ones who’ll change it will be the boys themselves: Let them give their parents a kick in the pants to get with the program!

BTW, that “enabling” car-pool has to stop, also.

Dear Andy,

Can a Scout’s volunteer work performed at a Boy Scout camp be counted towards service hour requirements for Second Class, Star, and Life ranks? (Also, just out of curiosity, do you have any theories as to why there’s no service requirement for First Class?) (Rick Holmes, Troop m River District, Connecticut Rivers Council

Yes, there’s absolutely no reason why service performed in and for a Boy Scout camp or other property can’t be credited toward the service time requirement of these ranks. It’s only the recipient of an Eagle candidate’s leadership service project that must exclude the BSA.

Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class are, of course, the three foundational ranks of Scouting (“Scout” isn’t a rank, as you probably know). As such, these three set the foundation by including all of the essential skills and experiences a well-rounded (i.e., “first class”) Scout will have. They are interlocking and cumulative. The requirements for each, when taken all together, will give a boy and young man everything he needs to know or have experienced in order to be a competent, capable, and effective Scout. The ranks beyond these three are, more or less, the icing on a very well-formulated cake. They move the Scout in several new directions, including learning and experiencing a more diverse set of skills and knowledge through the earning or both required and elective merit badges (including the experience of reaching out to, working with, and learning from adults he doesn’t readily know from within his troop), learning and practicing leadership skills on-the-job, and expanding on the ethic of giving service to others, at three additional levels each more challenging than the one before. In sum, it’s a brilliantly conceived program of progressively more challenging opportunities aimed at increasing skills and knowledge, of course, but also designed to grow the “inner Scout” in his sense of self-worth, sense of his capability to lead others, and sense of the worthiness of service to others as a life-ethic.

Hi Andy,

I’m the mom and Akela of a Tiger Cub. Our pack is about 20 boys, seven of them are Tigers. This is my first experience with Scouting and I have a couple of questions for you. First, is it heard of for a scout to transfer to a different pack? The reason I ask is that our pack doesn’t participate at all in the community and doesn’t do any of the available activities—no food drive, no popcorn sales, no fund-raising, no camping, and some boys are not even being recognized for advancements or achievements. I’ve made recommendations for fundraising ideas and I’ve taken my own son to camp, but we want to be involved in a pack that has more enthusiasm and wants to do these things also. My other question is: My son worked diligently to earn his Tiger badge as well as an outdoor activity badge and a few academic belt loops and pins. His Den Leader told us last week that my son would be getting his Tiger badge at the very next pack meeting. But at the pack meeting last night, this Den Leader told me that he’d decided to wait until next month to give him his badge, so that the other boys would have a chance to get theirs at the same time. As you can imagine, I was furious, and my son was devastated in front of his pack. My son is getting burned out already and I know it’s because he is not being recognized for his hard work. His Den Leader isn’t even using the immediate recognition beads. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated! (Tracy in North Idaho)

Boys join Cub packs; they don’t marry them! My advice is simple: Right away, go find another pack for your son! Waste no time! The one he’s in—if they’re doing what you’re describing—is clueless.

Transfers happen all the time. It costs a dollar to put through the transfer papers. Or, if you want to avoid that mess and possibly somebody “making a scene,” just fill out the paperwork and pay the dues in the new pack, and then call your council office and ask them to remove your son’s name from the other pack’s roster. The whole idea is to make this painless and uncomplicated for your son.

As Akela, you’ve done it right. And there’s never an acceptable justification for withholding recognition of accomplishment!

Hey Andy,

At our troop meeting last night I asked one of our Life Scouts if he knew who had a birthday on February 22nd and when I told him it’s Baden-Powell I got a blank look… He had no idea who I was referring to. Although it’s not a “requirement” to know that sort of stuff, how can a Scout make it to Life rank and not know who Baden-Powell was? I then mentioned the story of the “unknown Scout” and, again, there was no idea as to what I was talking about. (John Rekus)

I remember, as a Scout, reading my handbook cover-to-cover—more than once. And the brown-covered Field Book! Ohmygosh! Again and again! Part of my fascination with the Field Book was that I recognized locales in the photographs: I’d been to Schiff Scout Reservation, where they were shot, the summers of ’56, 57, and ’58!

Maybe Scoutmaster’s minutes need to introduce Scouts to B-P, Boyce, Seton, Beard, West, Theodore Roosevelt (first Chief Scout), and the lore of Scouting! It’s after all, the romance of the woods and the ideals of chivalry that are at the center of what we’re here to accomplish… Maybe we simply need to talk about them more often? A Scoutmaster has between 40 and 60 opportunities each and every year to make this happen.

Need to bring it current? OK, how about describing B-P as Scouting’s Obi Wan Kenobi, or Yoda? How about tales of Uncle Dan and his buckskin? How about playing Kim’s Game in a troop meeting, and then weaving that into a Scoutmaster’s minute?

Think of it another way. What’s the point of learning how to tie a square knot if you don’t learn the thief’s knot, too! With a tale of intrigue and mystery, double-dealing, and catching the bad guy, along with it!

How about B-P’s own original campfire yarns, simply re-told? I still remember the story about observation and the hob-nail boots, and I’ll bet you do, too!

Or, how about this… When Navy aviators in the Pacific Operation of WWII were told they could have three personal items aboard their aircraft when they flew missions and sorties, almost to a man they asked for: The Bible, a knife, and the Boy Scout Handbook.

Hi Andy,

I’m having trouble with requirement 8a of Emergency Preparedness merit badge. I’m not sure how to do that one. Can you give me any tips? I’m a First Class Scout. (Scout’s Name Withheld-South Florida Council)

A description of what a troop mobilization plan is, and how to prepare one, is described in the merit badge pamphlet. If you want to see what a complete plan, including the all-important “telephone tree” looks like, just Google “troop mobilization plan” and then go to the citation that says TROOP 850 EMERGENCY MOBILIZATION PLAN. If you need more than this and your Merit Badge Counselor can’t help you, write to me again and we’ll work on it some more.

Happy Scouting!


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

(March 12, 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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