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Issue 181 – July 7, 2009

Dear Andy,

Would you please give me an accurate interpretation of Second Class Req. 2a and First Class Req. 3? Would the Scout actually have a total of 5 overnight camps and 5 troop/patrol activities or…? (I was challenged on this recently and would like your clarification on this.) (Name & Council Withheld)

Thanks for giving me an easy one!

Second Class req. 2a. says, “Since joining (i.e., joining Boy Scouts), have participated in five separate troop (and/or) patrol activities other than meetings, two of which included camping overnight. That’s a no-brainer: Five events outside regular meetings since becoming a Boy Scout, and 2 of these are camping trips.

First Class req. 3. says, “Since joining (i.e., joining Boy Scouts–not “since becoming a Second Class Scout”!), have participated in ten…three of which included camping overnight. Also a no-brainer: To what the Scout did for Second Class, add five more activities outside of regular meetings and one more overnight campout. That adds up to ten, including three, on a calculator and on my fingers, too!

So, with that put to bed, what was the “challenge”?

Hi Andy,

I truly appreciate your answer. The “challenge” thrown at me was that a Second Class Scout has to go on a total of 5 campouts to qualify for the First Class requirement. I guess everyone interprets things differently. (N&CW)

The beauty of BSA requirements is how little “interpretations” are actually needed. The straightforward reading of the language of the requirements is all that’s necessary in 99.999% of cases. That said, it’s (unfortunately) not unusual for folks to put their own “spin” on a requirement, even though there’s usually nothing in the requirement itself that is in any way vague or unclear. Our job, as volunteers, isn’t to “interpret” requirements but to help Scouts achieve themas written.


Dear Andy,

If a Scout is asked to leave a troop because of endangering other Scouts and/or himself, is he permitted to join another troop in the council?

We have a 14 year-old Life Scout (I’ll call him “Billy”) in our troop who tied up another Scout on a campout, while that other Scout was asleep. Billy admitted that he did it, and we got a written statement from the tied-up Scout (he woke up during the tying, so he saw who did it).

A few days after this incident, Billy had his Life rank board of review. When asked if he “lived by the Scout Oath and Law” in his daily life, he said yes. A few committee members thought he should be dismissed from the troop right then and there because he wasn’t honest at the board and because of the seriousness of the tying up incident; however, the decision was made to let him stay in the troop but he couldn’t hold a leadership position for six months (to give him time to reflect) and he also couldn’t start his Eagle project for six months.

So, while he’s “on probation,” he goes to summer camp with the troop. The first thing that happened was at the archery range. Billy was told by staff to stop pointing the loaded bow into the air. He continued to joke around and then shot an arrow straight up. The arrow landed about 15 feet from a group of adults. The archery range was then closed because of safety.

Then, Billy decided to spray bug repellent onto the wood floor of a group tent at night, and then light it on fire while Scouts were in the tent. Billy himself ended up burning his knuckles. His parents were called to remove him from camp at 10 that same evening.

Billy’s parents just want him to earn Eagle. Our committee doesn’t feel that Billy truly wants to be in the program, but stays in for his parents. The committee’s major concern is the safety of other Scouts. Members of the troop committee are considering two options:

1: Put Billy a one-year probation, where we would not be permitted to hold any leadership position and one of his parents must accompany him on all troop campouts.

2: De-register him entirely.

If we go with Option 2, or Billy quits the troop under Option 1, can he register with another troop and begin working on his Eagle? What recourse do we have in this situation? (Name & Council Withheld)

Sorta messy situation you’ve got here. So this’ll be divided into three sections: What’s missing, what went wrong, and what you all can do now.

First, conspicuously absent from your chronology are:

– What happened at the Scoutmaster’s Conference for Life rank and what kept the Scoutmaster from not stopping this Scout in his tracks right then and there, before even a board of review?

– What was the board of review’s rationale for approving the rank advancement of a Scout who acted as he did and apparently has no clue that this isn’t Scout-like behavior?

– Has this sort of behavior never before happened with this Scout, or has there been other perhaps more “forgivable” stuff that’s been turned a blind eye to?

– What’s going on in his life that would prompt such behavior? (And if the Scoutmaster and committee don’t know, what has prevented them from having a heart-to-heart with the Scout and/or with his parents, to find out?)

– Who is this Scout’s father? Some sorta potentate, perhaps? Maybe a council-level volunteer folks are afraid to rile? What?

Here’s where the adults in the troop messed up:

– First, they allowed a Scout who displayed aggressive behavior and/or extremely weak judgment to advance in rank with virtual impunity, thereby “passing the buck” to the Scoutmaster and Eagle rank board members, perhaps hoping that someone else will “do the heavy lifting.”

– Then, by not taking immediate action to remove a clear and present danger from the troop, they’ve put themselves in an equivocating position. If they act now, after having allowed this Scout to remain in the troop after all three incidents, on what basis will they remove him and how will they defend that position when the parents demand reinstatement?

(By the way, the camp staff also biffed up: Instead of closing the archery range “for safety,” it would have been a better idea to remove the Scout immediately and either have a Dutch Uncle talk with him or remove him from camp on-the-spot. This would have at least averted what can only be classified as arson.

So all-in-all, the biggest mess here was created not so much by a wayward Scout but by adults who maybe need spine transplants. That’s because behavior that endangers others must be dealt with instantly, and the danger must be either totally neutralized or totally removed.

So, what to do…

Begin with a serious private conversation with the parents, to determine what’s going on in this teenager’s life that may be causing these behaviors, and suggest that they seek professional help outside of non-professional Scouting volunteers. Include in this conversation that, when it comes to safety, there can only be zero tolerance, and that’s already been stretched past reasonableness, so that this Scout will indeed be removed from the troop, regardless of “promises.” Make sure the parents understand that if their son remains in the troop, and another Scout is injured by him–even “accidentally”–they, the adult leaders, won’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to liability, because they already knew of his dangerous behavior. To say it another way, if the troop committee allows this dangerous teenager to remain in the troop, and someone is injured, all the liability falls on their heads, because they knew and permitted it.

Then, report all of this, in writing, to the council’s Scout Executive.

After that, ask the Scout Executive whether or not he or you should advise other nearby troops of this Scout’s behaviors and the decision you all made.

If you don’t do this, you not only endanger others by your lack of action but you at the very least have set in motion what’s likely to become yet another “Eagle crisis,” and I’m gonna get another letter in six months to a year!

Thanks for finding me and for writing. There’s a section in the Scoutmaster Handbook that deals with issues like this, and lays out what must be done. I’ve used that, and added commentary, to better frame the situation you all happen to be in at the moment. Yes, it’s a tough decision. The decision about a Scout with behaviors like this is never easy, but you’ve got the rest of the troop to consider, and they have to come first.


Hi Andy,

My son and his Webelos den just joined a Boy Scout troop. I was their Webelos Den Leader, and now I’ll be an Assistant Scoutmaster. The boys in the (former) den have decided to become the “Bigfoot Patrol.” Naturally, I’ll be working very closely with this patrol, since I’ve been with these boys for years. So, is it acceptable for me, as an Assistant Scoutmaster, to wear the Bigfoot Patrol patch on my uniform? (Greg Bourke, Lincoln Heritage Council, KY)

Don’t even think about it! Nope, this is not the thing to do, because only members of the Bigfoot Patrol get to wear that badge, and ASMs aren’t patrol members! Not even the Troop Guide, whose position is in between you and the patrol, doesn’t get to wear the Bigfoot Patrol badge. BTW, the Troop Guide is who you actually coach (you’re figuring out that you’re not the Den Leader any more, right?), because you don’t actually coach, mentor, or lead the patrol itself, or even their elected Patrol Leader—that’s the job of the Troop Guide!

Get yourself a copy of the Scoutmaster Handbook and start reading—This definitely ain’t “Webelos 3”!

Thanks, Andy! I think I knew the answer to that one, even as I asked it. You’re right: there’s a night-and-day difference between Cubs and Boy Scouts, and a big difference between being a Den Leader and Assistant Scoutmaster. Lots to learn! I’m going out to the Scout Shop today to get a copy of the Scoutmaster Handbook. (Greg Bourke)

You’re making the right move! Boy Scouting is a program that helps boys mature into young men, accompanied by a sense of individuation from their parents, a sense of kinship with their peers, and growth in competence and especially independence, through learning new skills. Happy Boy Scouting!

Dear Andy,

A while back, I asked about the dates that go on merit badge cards. When are they filled out, and, when Scouts go to summer camp, what’s the best way to list the requirements when there are “sub-” requirements inside one overall requirement? (Ray Dobbs, SM, Tukabatchee Area Council, AL)

Take a look at the third segment of the card—there’s a series of boxes there. That’s where requirements are written in: 1a., 1b., 1c., 2a., 2b., and so on. See that series of three boxes in a row? The first box is for the requirement number, the next one for the date completed, and the third one’s for the counselor’s initials. Then, when the Scout’s completed all requirements, the counselor adds his or her signature and the date of final completion to each of the card’s three segments. This is the date shown on the advancement report as the date the merit badge was completed.


Dear Andy,

I’m not sure how to handle this one, as it goes beyond the level of just a single troop. One of the leaders in the troop my son is in is also the District Advancement Chair. Recently, he mentioned to a group of Scouters that he “doesn’t believe in 13-year-old Eagle Scouts.” Question: In his DAC role, can he actually set different standards from what the BSA defines, in order to create a “better” (his word) sort of Eagle?

My son is pretty enthusiastic, and will have enough merit badges for Star rank in just a few months, but the troop’s adult leaders seem to work at slowing down Scouts’ advancement, and I’m guessing that this is to perhaps prevent Scouts from earning Eagle at the age of 13. Meanwhile, my son’s been in the troop for four months, and he’s still waiting for a Tenderfoot board of review, for which he qualified well over a month ago.

I suppose we can change troops (this seems to be a very serious option), but with one of the troop leaders also having influence at the district level seems to mean that his point of view may be the de facto method of operation at the troop level, too. Do you have any suggestions? (Name & Council Withheld)

As District Advancement Chair, that misguided and self-important gentleman knows (or had better know!) that we don’t add to (or subtract from) rank ormerit badge requirements, and if a Scout has completed the requirements, then he’s earned the rank or merit badge. Yes, it’s that straightforward, and it’s intended to be. Requirements apply to all four million plus youths in the Scouting programs and if each and every adult leader with an ego so shriveled that he or she has to make up arbitrary rules and standards, mayhem would rule. Obviously, that’s not what the BSA has in mind. Requirements are requirements. They’re not “minimum standards,” nor are they in any way subject to individual whim or whimsy.

This isn’t about what any single individual, or troop, or district, or even council happens to “believe.” Personal beliefs when it comes to the BSA advancement program are utterly irrelevant. It’s the height of pomposity and conceit to presume to supersede BSA requirements. Moreover, people who do this actually have very low self-esteem and want to pull everyone else down to their own miserable level, and who better to inflict this on than an innocent child!

I’d be very tempted to have a private (non-email!) conversation with the Council Advancement Chair about anyone at the district level who is as wrong as this pontificating dolt. He needs to be thrown out on his ear before he does further damage. If the CAC doesn’t “get it,” or isn’t willing to do something, run, don’t walk!


Dear Andy,

Our troop is off to summer camp shortly. Our Scouts are signing up for summer camp classes. There are four class periods during the day. Many are merit badge classes, in which a Scout can earn four or five merit badges in a week. For younger Scouts, there’s a series of classes that teach the Scouting skills required for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class.

Before I became a Scoutmaster, I sat in on a few of these classes, and witnessed as many as 30 or more Scouts being taught knot-tying, first aid, fire-building, and so on by a single camp staffer (usually a college student working his summer job). Then, at week’s end, the troops received a list of their Scouts’ requirement completions.

I’m concerned that our Scouts may sit and listen through a class, maybe observe a demonstration of a skill, and even do a little bit of hands-on, and get signed off. But, for me, I’d like to assure that our Scouts have really learned the skills before I sign their handbooks. So, if I send them to these kinds of skills classes, is it OK for me to test the Scouts myself, to be sure that they’ve learned the skills? I would like to practice a bit of quality control and have the Scouts build a fire, demonstrate some first aid, tie the knots and lashings, and orient a compass to a map.

I don’t think this is like a merit badge, where the counselor’s signature is the end of the trail—I think this is more like the troop teaching the Scouts (by using the camp staff), then testing the Scout on what he’s learned, and then giving recognition in a court of honor when he passes to the next rank. (Allan Green, SM)

In case you haven’t noticed in my columns yet, I have absolutely no use for anything that even begins to resemble “Scout school.” I consider this about as wrong-headed as it gets! Boys join and stay in Scouting precisely because it’s not like school!

Good Scouting learning is close-up, visceral, tangible, kinetic, personal, and as far away from “cookie-cutter” and “spoon-feeding” as we can get!

“Classes” of 30 or more, with a single “instructor” just isn’t the way to go. “Mass learning” is precisely what Baden-Powell created the Scout program to not be like! Scouts learn by doing; not by observing, taking notes, listening, or any other such classroom-like nonsense.

OK, summer camps are geared for “sessions” with Merit Badge Counselors and other staff members. I get that. I was a camp staffer for more than a half-dozen years, myself. However, the very best camps keep the groups small and hands-on. Camps that forget that they’re Scout camps do what the one you’ve described does. Ugh.

So how about doing the “basics” in your own troop site, with gear that you’ve brought and using the couple of adults who have gone to camp with the troop. (Also, this keeps the adult leaders from feeling like they’re glorified baby-sitters!) Let the Scouts earn merit badges, but keep the Scoutcraft stuff “inside” the troop. Heck it’s not that hard: It’s largely exactly what you’d do on a troop camping trip!

If you do use the camp’s “classes,” you definitely can work with the Scouts to see just how much, and how well, they’ve learned. Try not to make this look or feel like a “final exam.” Make it fun and interactive and—insofar as you’re able—a game to be played rather than a test to be taken. Do it in small doses, in several small get-togethers throughout the week. Also, during the week, drop in on those “classes” and stay for a while—this gives you a better feel for the quality of the teaching that’s going on!


Dear Andy,

I have a Scout who’s having a hard time getting through his First Class swim test, and it’s holding him up from advancing. Is there an alternative to that swim test? I know he’ll eventually get it, but it’s been over a half-year since he earned Second Class and this has stalled him.

He’s 13. He plays no sports. But he has no apparent permanent physical challenges. He was rescued from the bottom of a pool when he was seven, but that seems to be behind him. He can swim 25 yards, but his weak spot is breathing and stroke techniques—he’s like a dog on wet linoleum: a whole lot of movement but he doesn’t go anywhere. He’s been coached locally and has had private swim lessons from a local high school coach. This same thing happened to his older brother, who learned to swim at age 17. He’s been finished with all the other First Class requirements for over eight months. I’d hate to see him remain a Second Class Scout for another four years (!) but how long should a boy stay stuck in one place like this? (Jim Patchen, SM, Golden Empire Council, CA)

The very first Q&A in my June 21, 2009 column deals with a very similar situation. There, I offer some very detailed information on ways to accomplish the First Class swimming requirement. Among them is a possible remedy to the breathing-while-swimming problem. This young man needs to learn a stroke that has a “glide” to it, which the side-stroke definitely does. If he continues to try swimming freestyle, we’re going to continue to see thrashing arms and legs while he slowly settles to the bottom. Instead of a “coach,” he needs to find an instructor who works with people who have difficulty learning how to swim (coaches teach swimmers how to win races; they don’t necessarily teach the foundational stuff).

Perhaps his older brother, if available, can help him in some way, if they share identical difficulties?

Unless there’s a permanent physical or mental disability documented in writing by a licensed medical services provider, there’s no alternate path for this Scout: No alternate requirement can be arbitrarily substituted and the existing requirement can’t be altered to accommodate him.

I wish I had a “magic wand” to make this easier, but that’s just not going to happen. He needs to learn a stroke that doesn’t involve rhythmic breathing the way the freestyle does. If he can find someone to teach him that, and then teach him the elementary backstroke (same thing: no breathing problem!), he’s go it made in the shade!


Dear Andy,

I’ve just enlisted in the U.S. Navy and, because I’m an Eagle Scout, I’m eligible for an automatic advancement. The problem is that in-between when I earned Eagle (age 14) and today (I’m 22 now) I’ve misplaced the rank card. How do I get a replacement? I can’t seem to find anywhere to get a replacement, or anything to actually verify that I’m an Eagle Scout. Any help would be greatly appreciated. (Allyn Johnson, USN)

First, thank you for your decision to serve our country in the Navy!

The BSA has a service specifically to help you: It’s the Eagle Scout Service Center, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane (PO Box 152079), Irving, TX 75015-2079, phone 972-580-2000.

If I were in your shoes, I’d call ’em up, if possible, ask for the Eagle Scout Service Center, and tell ’em that the rank was earned in 2001, and tell ’em where (what troop and council). They should be able to pull up your record; ask ’em to send you a letter confirming your rank, and ask how you can get a replacement card, too. I’m sure they’ll do everything possible to help you out as quickly as they can!


Hi Andy,

I have a Bugler badge and don’t know where it’s supposed to go on the uniform. Can you help? (Harry Phillips)

The Bugler badge is for Boy Scouts, and is a “position” badge. It’s worn directly under the troop numeral on the left sleeve. If another position is held (e.g., Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, Quartermaster, etc.) then the wearer makes a choice as to which one will be worn, because only one such badge is permitted in that place, and this type of badge can’t be worn anywhere else on the uniform.

The reason I asked is that I was a Boy Scout Bugler and Musician, and now, as an adult, I belong to Bugles Across America (BAA): We play taps at military services for active duty and veterans’ funerals, when no military bugler is available or the only other choice is a recording and a “boom box” (which many military families really resent!). I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for doing this. I wear my Scouter’s uniform because even though I’m not in the military, wearing some kind of uniform helps me to identify with those who wore the uniform of the armed services when they were alive, and because I think what I’m doing reflects well on the Boy Scouts of America. I’m proud of what I do, and proud that I can represent Scouting, and so I thought that sewing my old Bugler badge back on would be a way of showing respect to buglers in general, to those for whom I play, and to those who served their country in the armed forces. (Harry)

I’m familiar with the BAA program and volunteers, and I have complete respect for what you do, and for whom you do it. That said, I also assume that right now, today, you’re a registered Scouter and that that’s why you wear a Scouter’s uniform. If you’re going to sew on that badge, it’s likely no one will stop you (there are no MPs in Scouting); however, you do need to keep in mind that it’s a badge for a boy; not an adult. If by some chance you’re not currently registered, how about signing up? As a Merit Badge Counselor for Bugling merit badge, you’d be perfectly “legal” in uniform, and you could also help a Scout or two learn what you know—and for MBCs there’s no annual fee! That’s a win-win-win!


Dear Andy,

We have a leader in our pack who says he earned the Arrow of Light award as a British Cub Scout. Can he wear the square knot for that on his BSA uniform? (Rick Hautekeete, MC, Transatlantic Council, Basel, Switzerland)

I’m assuming this leader is younger than 47, because there was no “Arrow of Light” rank anywhere in or out of the BSA until 1972, so he’d have to have been born in 1962 or later to have earned it. I’m also not convinced that British Cubs have an “Arrow of Light” rank at all. However, since we’re talking about a mere piece of cloth with some thread on it, and we’re talking about a Cub Scout rank (i.e., not Eagle Scout or Silver Beaver or Heroism Medal), I probably wouldn’t make a big deal out of this: If he wants to wear it, and believes he’s earned it, don’t try to stand in his way. You’ve got much bigger poissons to fry!


Hi Andy,

Our son will soon be a Wolf Cub Scout and we’re wondering if, at this age, he can earn one of the academic belt loops. (Keith Erickson, Hiawathaland Council, MI)

Take a look at the booklet that describes the Cub Scout Sports & Academics program—a program that’s supplemental to the achievements and electives found in the Wolf and Bear books. Yes, as soon as he’s a Wolf, your son can work on any of the belt loops in this program that he’d like (as a responsible parent and integral to the overall success of the den, I’d be tempted to offer the Den Leader a little reprieve by offering to do this for any other boys in the den who are interested, too!). That said, don’t overlook the fact that your son can also start right in on the Wolf achievements as soon as his Tiger year ends (usually coincides with the end of this school year), and of course he does these largely at home, with you and Mom as Akela!


Dear Andy,

Back in your April 20th column, you raised a question about what the troop committee has to vote on, and you listed a number of things, such as what programs and where to camp, as areas that are determined by the Scouts, not the committee. You seemed to suggest that the committee doesn’t have to vote on anything! Well what about the approval of an Eagle Scout Service Project? It’s my understanding that a Scout submits his proposal for his Eagle project to the troop committee, which then determines if it’s acceptable. Doesn’t this require voting? (John Rekus, Baltimore Area Council, MD)

The approval of an Eagle service project is not by committee vote. The Scout is helped (not “approved” or “vetoed”) by the member of the troop committee who is assigned to this responsibility. Sometimes it’s the Troop Advancement Chair; sometimes it’s the Eagle Advisor; sometimes it’s the Committee Chair. But it is definitely, absolutely, not the committee as a whole and there is never, ever a “vote” taken.

(Notice that on page 9 of the Workbook, merely the signature of a member of the troop committee is necessary—not the entire committee.)

Thanks for bringing up this important point.


Dear Andy,

This is my first time actually writing and, by the way, I love how you give kudos to the Girl Scout flag ceremonies!

I’m involved with both of my kids’ Scouting units, one being a Cub Scout pack and the other a Girl Scout troop. I took over the Cub den from my husband and I’m so thankful that I did! My kids have me so involved in camping, outings, and conservation. It’s wonderful when the teacher becomes the student through the eyes of her children!

I have sat by quietly with our pack. I’ve made baby step changes this year, such as a short prayer at pack meetings and saying grace before meals while on campouts. You know… Scouting things.

Well now I’m about to be Cubmaster, thinking that the only way you can change what you don’t like is to be in charge. Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not this crazed mother who wants to be involved in every aspect of my kids’ lives—I do Scouts and just Scouts. But when I hear of Scouts I think of a uniformed kid doing some type of volunteer work for his or her community, camping, and of course s’mores. So I want to make sure my kids get these things.

My son’s about to be a Webelos I. The Webelos II Den Leader has received a lot of parent complaints for the past several years. He seems to have a pattern of starting the year out strong, but then fades by Thanksgiving, when he starts making promises he doesn’t keep, canceling den meetings without informing his parents, skipping pack meetings and even the Pinewood Derby (even though his den is there), and so on. We’ve actually lost a few pack families because of this. This guy wears three other pack “hats” too: Pack Trainer, Outdoor Chair, and Webmaster. But he doesn’t do much of anything with those except post a lot of his own kid’s photos on the pack’s website.

I’ve told the current Cubmaster and Committee Chair that, for things like this, you just say, “Thanks for volunteering but your help is no longer needed,” but they just talk about how he means well, or maybe we should have a committee meeting about it. (I say great, let’s have one!)

I know that, as Cubmaster I can’t do much except go to my Committee Chair and voice my concerns, but I’m afraid this has fallen on deaf ears and sounds more like I’m ranting than trying to get this fixed. But I’m a woman, next year’s Bear Den Leader will be a woman, and the incoming Tiger Den Leader will also be a woman. There are certain things that I want to make sure I have a good commitment from the dads. I’ve asked this guy if he’s going to be involved next year and that I need to make sure I have support, and of course he says he’s in, but I want him out.

So, from the knowledge that I have gained from your columns—I’ve given up my den to become the Cubmaster, I have a dad who’s willing to take over the Webelos II den, and I’ve told our Committee Chair my concerns, to which he says he agrees, but he’s just not doing anything to solve the problem. What is my next step? Do I have one? (Name & Council Withheld)

Unfortunately, your pack’s “problem child” isn’t unique. In many packs, there’s someone who takes on too many responsibilities, and then one or more of those begins to crumble pretty quickly. Too many hats can tumble the whole stack—simple as that!

This is a job for your Committee Chair, with your guidance. The Chair has a relatively easy job: Go to the problem child, tell him he’s wearing too many hats, and, for the good of the pack, he’s being relieved of his responsibilities as Den Leader, but that the pack is really looking forward to all of the other good things he does. This is a tell; not an “ask.” The Chair has the authority to do this. This isn’t the time to listen to or be dissuaded by excuses, or by promised to “do better.” It’s simply a done deal. The decision’s been made (no “committee vote” or any other sort of vote is needed, by the way, and that’s per BSA policy).

In doing this, since you already have someone lined up to step into the Webelos Den Leader slot, it’s a mere crack in the sidewalk; not the Grand Canyon.

If your Committee Chair simply will not do what he’s supposed to do, you have two choices: Ask him to relinquish the Chair position to you so that someone will do what’s necessary, or forget the Cubmaster position and be your son’s Webelos I Den Leader.


Hello Andy,

Our pack has questions on how the Cubs can earn their BB and Archery belt loop and pin. Can the Scouts go to a conservation club with a trained, licensed, and insured range officer? (Shea Verdoux, Tall Pine Council, MI)

The BSA is specific regarding the use of BB guns and archery for Tiger Cubs, Wolf and Bear Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts: “BB Guns and Archery equipment may be used by all three groups in the Cub Scouting program when participating in a district or council outdoor program, specifically day camps, Cub Scout program resident camps, council-managed family camping programs, or council activities where there are properly trained supervisors and all standards for BSA shooting sports are enforced. Archery and BB Gun shooting are not to be done at the pack level.”

If your plan is to pursue either or both of these two activities in a venue other than described in the Guide To Safe Scouting policies (above), then you’ll want to fill out a tour permit and have it cleared in advance by your council’s risk management committee.


Dear Andy,

When it comes to Webelos Dens ready to bridge into Boy Scouting, there are a few Scoutmasters in our area who absolutely insist that they must join the troop that’s sponsored by the same chartered organization as the pack. I believe that boys are best served by “shopping around” to find a troop that’s the right fit for them. Any guidance as to what’s right? (Paul Napoli, National Capital Area Council, MD)

Webelos dens are free to explore all troops within a reasonable distance of where they live. While it’s certainly hoped that they’ll choose their “big brother troop,” there’s absolutely no BSA policy or even guideline that says this must be so. That said, the smart big brother troop will do everything possible to assure that this happens—the most important thing being to make sure they’re delivering a top-quality Boy Scout program to all boys!

It’s also important to recognize that a boy never “marries” either a pack or a troop. A boy is free to join any pack or any troop that he wants to, and even once he’s joined, a boy can change if he wants to be in a different pack or troop instead.

Thanks for asking a very important question!

Happy Scouting!



Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)(July 7, 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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