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Issue 183 – July 12, 2009

Dear Andy,

In a recent column, you were asked about wearing a Jamboree patch from another country, and you said that, per the Insignia Policy, we are not to wear insignia from other Scout associations. That’s not quite true… I just took a look at the on-line version of the Insignia Guide. Here’s what it says about other Scout Associations: “Scouters occasionally receive awards from Scouting associations of other nations, and it is important that they know how these awards should be worn. This does not include jamboree patches. Following are the regulations for wearing such awards: 1. They are always worn when visiting the country whose Scouting association presented the award or when attending a meeting or function attended by Scouters from that country. 2. Medals awarded by other associations are worn above the left breast pocket.” Since it says “this doesn’t include Jamboree patches,” my understanding is that we can wear foreign Jamboree patches. (Michael R. Brown)

Although you certainly have sharp eyes, you may not have read quite far enough… A little further down, the same source you cited goes on to say, “The general rule is that badges awarded by organizations other than the Boy Scouts of America may not be worn…” Religious emblems are, of course, exceptions, as are special recognitions like Historic Trails medals. Then, a bit further along, jamboree emblems are discussed and it’s obvious that the guide is talking about BSA jamboree emblems. Consequently, to wear a patch issued by a non-BSA Scouting organization—whether it’s a jamboree patch or something else—is a technical no-no, and that’s what this Scouter was asking about.

Dear Andy,

My grandson recently joined a new troop. He is a Star scout and was elected to the Order of the Arrow. After sitting in on a number of parent-and-committee meetings, I’m finding this troop to be totally disorganized—a sad day for a once nationally renowned troop. It seems that following a change in leadership, the troop’s current Scoutmaster is a nice gentleman who believes that Scout meetings are for fun and games; not learning. Our older Scouts are drifting away and the younger ones are becoming more and more discouraged. Our Committee Chair has addressed this situation with our Chartered Organization Representative, asking that our present Scoutmaster be replaced, but this has been totally rejected. At the same time, we now have parents who are trying to get their sons advanced through un-Scout-like procedures. On top of this, now our Committee Chair is quitting.

Our troop has a parent book covering the basics of what’s expected, but I’d like to see this broadened and put into a definite policies-and-procedures format. I’ve heard that the BSA National Council has one to use as a reference, but I can’t find it. I don’t want to come across as “the pushy grandma” but things need to be corralled before the program collapses, the troop splits up, and feelings are hurt. Any suggestions? Also, can we remove (read: fire) a Chartered Organization Representative? (Name & Council Withheld)

Throw out any troop “policies and procedures” book, “rule” book, or anything else along these lines. Having these around won’t save this troop and making it even more comprehensive will only serve to doom the troop faster. Yes, I’m absolutely serious.

What makes Scouting work isn’t a bunch of rules. The BSA purposefully has no such “unit-level bylaws template” or anything else along these lines, because they’re poison.

Here’s what will help this troop do a turn-around: Everybody takes basic training together. That’s right: Every adult volunteer registered with the troop, or interested in being a registered volunteer, goes to training, and you all do this together.

Now, some basics…

The head of your sponsor (aka “chartered organization”) appoints the Chartered Organization Representative (aka “CR”). The CR has hire-fire authority over every other adult position in the troop, including the Committee Chair and the scoutmaster. Often, the CR is also the Committee Chair, and this is a legitimate “duplication.” If you have a CR/CC combination, this person has the same authority as the CR alone.

First, clean house. If the Scoutmaster needs replacing, then replace him. If you don’t have someone who will immediately step in, don’t keep an ineffectual Scoutmaster: Remove him even if this creates a vacancy. Same goes for the CC.

The most important thing that can be done to revitalize this troop is to return the power to the Scouts themselves. They are self-governing, through the Patrol Leaders Council, led by the Senior Patrol Leader. If a new troop election needs to take place to get this up and running, do it. For troop meetings, Google “Troop Meeting Plan,” download it, print a bunch of copies, and then stick to it exactly.

The second-most important thing that can be done to save this troop is to have permanent patrols with their own elected Patrol Leaders. If this needs to be done, then the Scouts do this for themselves–no “all-knowing, all-seeing adult makes the decisions as to who is in what patrol(s). The Scouts must do this for themselves, or it’s just not going to work.

Third: Everybody buys themselves a copy of the Scoutmaster Handbook and reads the chapters on troop structure, operations, and program planning.

Fourth: Take a hike. That’s right: Get out there! There’s nothing that kills a troop faster than not getting out-of-doors. This is the very best way to brush away the cobwebs that have formed and starts breaking down the hairball that’s been getting larger and larger.
Fifth: Have a parents meeting and make sure every parent knows in no uncertain terms that Boy Scouting ain’t “Webelos 3”! This is HANDS-OFF! Parents don’t do for their sons what these boys should be doing for themselves. End of story. They’re either on the committee, or they’re wallpaper. No meddling, no hovering, and no spoon-feeding.

Do these five things right away and you’ll save the troop. If there’s opposition or stalling, get your grandson off the Titanic and go find a troop that’s working right.

Thank you so much for answering fast and frank. So… How do we replace the CR so we can start the clean-up process?

Go to your sponsor’s head. Tell ’em you need a new CR. Describe how the troop’s going down the tubes and how it needs to be fixed from the top-down or soon there’ll be no troop at all. Then volunteer for the position (puts you in the cat-bird seat!), or ask that an ally be put in that slot. Don’t mince words. If this person doesn’t buy in, it’s time to go find a new troop, because corrupted organizations can’t be fixed “from within”—It takes a major overhaul starting at the top to start getting it fixed.

Hi Andy,

I was going through a box of Scouting items that had belonged to my late uncle—he was an Explorer in the late 30’s-early 40’s. Among the items in thee box were his merit badge sash. On its front are his merit badges and rank pins; on the back of the sash were many other uniform patches including town strip and unit numeral, and on both sides of the numeral were red stars. I found in my copy of the 1940 handbook that these were called “Standard Troop Stars,” but there was no description of what they meant. I consulted two Scoutmasters’ handbooks I have from that era, but nothing is mentioned. Do you know anything about what Standard Troop Stars represent? (Dave Mountney, UC, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)

Those stars are the predecessors of the Quality Unit Award, under a program called “unit achievement plan,” that incorporated measurements of leadership training, youth advancement, outdoor program, service, and so forth. There were various levels, the highest being the “National Standard Troop.”


Dear Andy,

For about a year now, our pack’s treasurer (who is also the District Day Camp Director—this will be relevant in a moment) has been very vague in her financial reports to the pack committee. The committee doesn’t receive anything in writing from her, and she doesn’t ever give exact amounts, usually saying something like, “Well, I don’t have the bank statements with me because I forgot to bring them, but we have a balance of about…” and we’d leave these meetings not knowing for sure what had been deposited, what had been withdrawn, and what the actual balance really was.

Recently, one of our parents expressed concern to our Committee Chair that this woman had just spent a week of day camp in a rented cabin at that state park where day camp is held, and that a pack check had been used to cover part of the cabin cost. So the Chair called our council service center and asked if the district had paid for the cabin or not, and was told that the district hadn’t, but that they’d heard that a check from a pack had paid for it. The Chair then sent an email, followed up by a voice-mail message, to the treasurer, asking for her to bring the pack’s checkbook and all bank statement from the past 12 months to an upcoming committee meeting (date time, and location provided). She didn’t show up. We were able to confirm that she knew of the meeting, but didn’t want to attend. At the committee meeting, we voted to give her a week to bring us the pack’s financial records, we’d have to replace her. Her response was to send only part of the information requested to the council service center instead of to the Chair, and then gave a very vague financial report dating back only about five months to the Chair.

What now? Do we give her a little more time? Or replace her? Or what? (Name & Council Withheld)

Based on what you’ve described here, the very first thing you should check is at the bank: Who are the signatories on the pack’s checking account? They should be, at the very least, the designated treasurer, of course, and the pack’s Committee Chair. You can find this out by going to the bank, bringing your pack’s chartering roster. That way, if the CC isn’t listed, then he or she can get that signature added on the spot. Once that happens, ask for duplicate statements for the past six months (there may be a small fee for this, but it’ll be worth the price). Go over the statements, which will tell you how much money the pack has, and how it’s being spent. If everything looks OK, then don’t sweat it. If it doesn’t look Kosher, then call the treasurer and say you’re going to pick up all records today, and specify a mutually convenient time–even if it’s late at night. If the treasurer in any way balks at this, go back to the bank, close the existing account immediately, and open a new one with new signatories.

It doesn’t take a “committee vote” to remove the treasurer. The CC simply says to him or her, “Thank you for your services; they will no longer be needed.” That’s it; it’s done. No reason need be given, and there is no recourse. Go the very next morning to your council service center and have that person’s name removed from the roster. Game over.

The council has no direct jurisdiction over any of this, so don’t entangle them. This is something you all in the pack must manage for yourselves. I’m thinking that letting grass grow under this may not be fiscally wise.

Hi Andy,

In my district, there’s interest in forming a Venturing team, but I’ve recently been learning about Varsity teams. I’m wondering if you can shed some light on the differences and advantages of each of these. Great column! (Jeff Roush, UC, Daniel Webster Council, NH)

Ahh…flattery will get you…everywhere! Venturers are in groups called crews, and members range in age from 14 through 20. Venturing crews can do just about anything their members dream up… from caving to backpacking, sailing to shooting sports, chess to camping and hiking, high adventure treks to cycling trips, even foreign travel, and along the way they have a myriad of advancement opportunities. They can be and mostly are co-ed, which is pretty cool. Varsity Scout teams, on the other hand, are traditional sports-focused—baseball, basketball, volleyball, and so on—and their members are older Boy Scouts (ages 13 through 17), and of course not co-ed. The biggest consideration, however, is that in order for Varsity Scout teams to function at all, they need other Varsity teams to compete with!

That’s the briefest of overviews, but it may be enough to help you and others set a direction.

Hey Andy,

I’m a troop advancement chair. We have an adult volunteer who needs an Arrow of Light square knot, and I don’t know where to get one. Our council’s Scout Shop said that this needed to be ordered from the BSA national office–do you have the mailing address, email address, or phone number, so I can get this taken care of for him? (Barbara Kloetzke, Sunrise River Council, MN)

I just called your Minneapolis Scout Shop, and Jan said, “Just come on in and buy it.” Simple as that!

Hey Andy,

Are the medals issued on the Salem Witch Trail (a BSA historic trail) appropriate to be worn on the uniform of Catholic Church-sponsored troops? The medal shows a witch on a broom. Also, the Pirate Trek (also a BSA historic trail) medal shows a skull and crossbones. What’s your feeling about these? (Bill Egan, ASM, Theodore Roosevelt Council, NY)

These medals recognize the completion of hiking an historic trail; they don’t symbolize anything beyond that. Therefore, I’d say they’re perfectly OK to wear at a court of honor, regardless of a Scout’s or Scouter’s religious persuasion, or the troop’s sponsor. In arriving at this conclusion, I’m assuming that Catholic boys may go see a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie or even a classic Errol Flynn flick, or learn in their school’s history class that no witches were ever actually burned-at-the-stake in Salem, and that these instances wouldn’t damage their faith or their relationship with their church.

Thanks for asking a very good question, and for being sensitive to such matters. In the end, however, these are merely recognitions of activities; not symbols of initiatives or beliefs.

Dear Andy,

After reading another letter to you about BSA uniforms being made in China, I just had to add our own situation…

My troop is operating in one of the more poor U.S. cities, where it’s tough for some of our families to afford the cost of the high-priced Scout uniform. When one father asked the Scout Shop manager why they cost so much, the reply was that the uniforms were quality-made in the U.S. Now the uniforms are made in China, but the prices of the uniforms, instead of decreasing, have actually increased.

I spoke with a BSA representative in the National Supply Division about why they’re doing business with China, and his reply was that Scouting is a world-wide movement and so the BSA was simply competing in a world-wide marketplace. But when I asked him if he realized that there’s no Scouting in China, he said I’m wrong—that Scouting does exist in China. I did some further research, and can state without hesitation that while Scouting may operate in Hong Kong and Taiwan, it absolutely doesn’t in mainland China, where our BSA uniforms are made. So I asked him if there was some recent change I perhaps wasn’t aware of, since the World Organization of Scouting Movement (“WOSM”) lists China as a country that doesn’t permit the Scouting movement to operate allow Scouting, at which point he did admit that he’d never even checked the WOSM or their website. Then, he hung up.

Andy, there are lots of countries throughout the world—even as close as Mexico, which is expanding its Scouting program to include more than just the upper class—that manufacture garments at prices we can better afford, where the BSA could have their uniforms manufactured, and these countries encourage the Scout movement.

It’s a sad day when our own BSA, with its “Timeless Values” theme, has decided to do business with one of only six countries in the world where Scouting doesn’t and will not be allowed to operate. On top of this, whatever happened to the ideal of “Duty to Country”?

From the World Organization of the Scout Movement website, these countries have (and are unlikely to ever have) Scouting: Andorra, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (i.e., North Korea), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Myanmar. (Sam Rikar)

I agree with you, especially about the apparent repudiation of values and ideals. Maybe all Scouters, Scouts, and Scout families need to write to our Chief Scout Executive, Bob Mazzuca, telling him how we feel about this.

Though the uniform has always been a bit pricey, knowing that it’s made in America always justified the cost. To get American quality, a product made in our free country for an organization that believes in duty to God and country, the price was worth it.

The uniform needs to be obtainable for all Scouts from all walks of life. Raising an already high price on a China-made uniform—where workers are paid less for a day’s work than what Americans receive for an hour at minimum wage—goes against every Scouting principle I know.

One of my old Scout handbooks puts it this way: “Your uniform is part of the thrill of being a Scout. Put on your uniform and you feel ready for hiking, camping, and other active Scout events…There is real significance to that khaki uniform. First of all, it shows that you belong…You are a member of the largest youth movement the free world has ever seen. It stands for the spirit of true democracy…It puts rich and poor on an equal basis in the spirit of brotherhood.”

Yes, I’m going to write to Bob Mazzuca, and I hope others will, too. (Sam Rikar)

Hello Andy,

I’d like to add to the discussion of American-made uniforms. For at least a little while, there’s a choice. During the “buy one-get one” sale, I bought a cotton shirt and pants, and both had “Made in the USA” labels in them. This gives us a chance to “vote with our wallets”—we can show the BSA that we’re willing to buy American-made uniforms! (Guy Klose)

Great idea! Voting with our wallets often gets attention. But, if you feel strongly about this, then do take the time to write a letter—We teach “democracy in action” to our Scouts, so here’s a chance for us to practice what we preach!

Dear Andy,

This isn’t so much a question as it’s some observations on a couple of recent letters and the answers you provided…

First, as advancement coordinator for my troop, the first thing I do when I get in a new batch of merit badge or rank patches is to remove the embarrassing “Made in China” sticker from the back.

Second, when we go to summer camp, Scouts’ parents aren’t invited, period. They can visit, and they do, but they can’t stay. The adult leaders who are with the Scouts in camp must have taken training and be in uniform. Moreover, each will have a specific function in addition to the group functions we all share. Parents—untrained and not in uniform—just get in the way by mercilessly hovering over their sons. The same goes for other troop outings: No parents unless they’re trained, have a specific function, and are willing to let the Scouts do their thing without needless intervention. Nobody just “goes along for the ride.”

I read everything you write. Keep it up! (Bill Ewing, MC, Great Southwest Council, NM)

I do the same thing with those stickers!

I agree 110% with the “no drop-ins” policy. We don’t need “helicopter parents” (you know…always hovering where they shouldn’t be) and we absolutely don’t need “seagull parents” (zoom in, poop everywhere, zoom out) anywhere, and we especially don’t need ’em at Scout camp and troop outings! Boy Scouts ain’t “Webelos 3”!

Dear Andy,

I’m a new Unit Commissioner. My District Executive recruited me to serve several units, one of which is my sons’ troop.

My Eagle Scout-with-Bronze Palm son went last night to a troop meeting and was offered his Gold Palm board of review, but only two members (of a four-member committee) sat on it. They said that the Bishop (this happens to be an LDS troop) would be sitting in, too, but he’s not registered on the troop charter in any capacity. When I explained that they need a minimum of three registered committee members, they didn’t do the review. I called my District Executive about this, but he told me that he’d said this was OK—that it’s not necessary that all members of a review be registered committee members. Then, I read your comment in your June 21st column, “…registered committee members…sit on boards of review for Tenderfoot through Life, and for Eagle Palms…” So is this Bishop eligible to be on a board of review, or not? Can you point me to the answer to this in BSA literature? (Name & Council Withheld)

The BSA book, Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures (No. 33088) clearly points out that only registered committee members may sit on boards of review for all ranks and palms with the sole exception of Eagle, and that a board of review must be made up of at least three and no more than six qualified adults. The Scoutmaster Handbook says the same thing. This particular policy has been around for decades.

That said, as a parent, you really don’t want to torpedo your own son. Palms aren’t ranks, so seriously consider letting it be, otherwise you’re risking shooting your son his kneecap by delaying his opportunity to earn more palms, if he wants to, before he’s 18!

Hello Andy,

I’d like to know if it’s possible to initiate a new merit badge, and, if so, how that can be accomplished. (No Name or Council)

On website, go to “advancement” and then to “merit badges” and way down the bottom you’ll find some insights into your question.

Dear Andy,

I read your comments on Sea Scouting and, while nothing you said was incorrect, I thought I’d add a thought…

As you noted, Sea Scouting does follow a naval tradition. From the beginning, adults too often ran the show more so than youth. Ideally, this shouldn’t be the way happens in a Sea Scout ship, any more than in a troop, but too often that’s the case. While you’ll sometimes encounter the Scout leader who only gives lip service to the concept of “Scout-run,” you’ll find some hide-bound Sea Scout leaders who feel that a “proper” ship should be more adult-run than it should be, and they run like a Navy ship, with watches and all the rest. If, however, the leaders have received proper training, we hope they’ll step back and give the youth room to grow.

Also, as to the supposed “Venturing-Sea Scout” split: There is no split. This is due to a misunderstanding of what happened in the recent re-org of the national staff and divisions. Many Sea Scout leaders have misinterpreted this to mean that Sea Scouting isn’t a part of Venturing: Not so. In fact, the National Sea Scout Director just published a letter stating this (it’s at website). (Michael R. Brown)

Thanks for the supplemental insights and information. As I noted, Sea Scouting is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of all the BSA programs. As to the current re-org going on, while it will probably pan out and be beneficial in the long run, right now it sort of resembles that famous Abbott n’ Costello “Who’s on first?” routine. Let’s give it a little time!

Dear Andy,

I’ve heard some Scout leaders object to what’s often called “double-dipping” on merit badge requirements. For example, req. 3 of Communications merit badge says, “Write a five-minute speech. Give it at a meeting of a group,” and req. 5 of Disabilities Awareness merit badge says, “Explain what advocacy is. Do one of the following advocacy activities: a. Present a counselor approved disabilities awareness program to a Cub Scout pack or other group. During your presentation, explain and use person first language…”

To me it’s “thrifty” if a Scout, following the above example, writes a five-minute speech about disabilities advocacy and presents it to a Cub Scout pack. Are there any rules against doing this? Is there anything written that supports doing it? (Donald Dillon. MC, Central Florida Council)

There’s a fine line here… Yes, it’s possible to adapt the speech required for Communications to the other merit badge’s requirement; however, we need to note that there can be a big difference between a speech and a program/presentation.

We also need to consider that it would be quite unusual for these two merit badges to have the same Merit Badge Counselor, which means that so long as each requirement is met, as written, there’s hardly harm. In fact, to be really direct, how would one Merit Badge Counselor even know what a Scout did with another Merit Badge Counselor?

Thanks for the conundrum, but I do think it’s self-soluble.

Hi Andy,

Can you please show me a picture of where the religious emblem pin, the perfect attendance pin and bar, and the summertime award pin go on the uniform? (Manuela Valle)

Go here:

The attendance pin (it’s not necessarily for “perfect” attendance, by the way) goes above the right pocket, on the side nearest the center of the shirt, at a height above the pocket equal to where the stars go. The religious award pin goes over the same pocket, centered above it.

Hi Andy,

I’m directing a group of Boy Scouts for our Cub Scout day camp program this year, and although I’ve been involved in Cub Scouts for five years, I’m new to Boy Scouting. What would be an appropriate merit badge for the Boy Scouts to earn for their participation as assistants to the day camp program leaders? (Kevin McKay, ASM, Cradle of Liberty Council, PA)

Thanks for asking an important question! Boy Scouts don’t receive “merit badges” for providing service as you’ve described. They get thanks and a pat on the back, and an extra hot dog at lunchtime. Scouts don’t do stuff “for badges;” they do stuff because they’re Scouts.

Dear Andy’

I’d thought that a troop committee was supposed to act on proper training and make the troop aware of training opportunities, including registering Scouts or adult leaders. For example, with Boy Scouting training such as Brownsea, where troops are permitted to send one Scout, but a troop wants to send a second Scout… If the committee votes to send one Scout and is paying for his participation, adding a second Scout shouldn’t be a problem, So, should the committee act again and take a formal vote? (Name & Council Withheld)

No actual “vote” is truly needed… The Committee Chair asks the treasurer if there’s enough money in the troop’s piggy bank to send another Scout, the treasurer says yes, the Committee Chair looks around the room and says, “Are we all on the same page here?” and everyone nods, and so off we go! (Try using Robert’s Rules of Order and you’ll pretty much suck the life out of committee meetings!)


Hey Andy,

Where does the Arrow of Light badge go on the Boy Scout uniform? I’m quite sure that it’s under the left pocket with the rays pointing up. (Becky Wilson)

Yup, you’ve got it exactly right. Take a look at the inside front cover of the handbook.

Dear Andy,

For the Camping merit badge days-and-nights camping requirement, if a Scout spent six nights at summer camp last year and another six nights at summer camp this year, along with at least eight other weekend camping trips, would that fulfill the 20 days-and-nights requirement? It’s not clear if summer camp can only be counted once. (Joe Reid, ASM, Suffolk County Council, NY)

For Camping merit badge, the maximum number of days and nights accumulated from summer camp is one week—that’s seven (7) days and nights. This Scout can use six from last year plus one from this year, and that adds up to seven (6+1=7). The remaining thirteen (13) can’t be from a summer camp (aka “long-term camp”); they need to be short-term overnights (one, two, three days and nights at a time) with his troop and/or patrol. The requirement’s pretty clear on this.


Hello Andy,

I’d like to make a PowerPoint presentation for teaching “respect” to our young troop. Do you have any suggestions? (James Sumner, ASM, Great Smoky Mountain Council, TN)

Yup: To be direct: Forget “Death by PowerPoint”!

The best way for your troop or any troop to develop a sense of decorum and mutual respect is not by having an adult do a presentation. Instead, please consider these alternatives (all of which should be done—not just one or perhaps two):

All adults model respectful treatment of others, at every meeting and campout. This includes using “Sir” and “Ma’am” appropriately and referring to each troop member as “Scout.” This is the only place, let’s remember where these young people aren’t “boys,” or “kids,” or “son,” “sonny boy,” or anything else—they’reScouts.

Bring back (or reinforce, if you already do this), saluting one’s “superiors.” Scouts salute their patrol leaders before speaking, Patrol Leaders salute their Senior Patrol Leader, and so on. (This used to be normal practice in at least the first half of Scouting’s century.)

The Senior Patrol Leader asks the Patrol Leaders to gather from their patrol members “rules of standard conduct” (which they write down), and then the Patrol Leaders decide what ones to apply to the whole troop, in discussion and decision in the Patrol Leaders Council. This should include things like “no pushing or shoving,” “no name-calling,” show up 5 minutes before every meeting, respecting the Scout sign when it’s raised, and so on. (When these are decided on by the Scouts, they’ll stick, because the Scouts have actual “ownership” of them and no “us versus them” scenario is established.)

Get into full uniform for everything. (Scouts generally behave better when they look like Scouts and not just boys in tan shirts.)

Keep “penalties” for infractions to an absolute minimum, if at all!

Use the Patrol System always.

The Scoutmaster uses his Scoutmaster’s Minute at the end of at least the next twelve troop meetings, to give a positive example of what one of the points of the Scout Law means in one’s daily life.

Always remember that the Scout Law is absolutely unique among laws… It describes what a Scout is and does and never ever uses the word “no” or the words “thou shalt not…” This is the most powerful arrow in Scouting’s quiver of ethical behavior!

Thanks for asking a very important question!

Dear Andy,

I’m working toward my Environmental Science merit badge and one of the requirements is to “Identify the contribution made by the Boy Scouts of America to Environmental Science. Include dates, name, and events if any.” I’m wondering if you know if you can tell me some or tell me where to find these? (Scout’s Name Withheld)

Although I don’t have this particular merit badge pamphlet in front of me, I’d be surprised to find that this information isn’t in it, in the very first chapter! However, if it’s not, then it’s time to call or meet with your Merit Badge Counselor and ask him or her for suggestions on finding out what you need. That’s what Merit Badge Counselors are for!

Doing merit badges on my own is new for me. I’ve only done them at Scout camps. So do you normally find most of the information you need in the merit badge books?

Yup! That’s were what you need is, and they’re actually fun to read! Also, be sure you’re working with a registered Merit Badge Counselor before you do anything—Don’t do the work first and then try to go find a Counselor! Go read page 187 of your Boy Scout Handbook!

Dear Andy,

I’m a newly certified as a shotgun instructor for the Boy Scouts in North Carolina. Does that same certification apply to South Carolina too? (Rog Rodgers)

Depends… Are ya gonna shoot at the same stuff south o’ the border? Just kidding! Best to check with the folks who issued the certificate. It should be “legal” anywhere, but it’s always a good idea to double-check.

Happy Scouting!



Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)(July 12, 2009 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2009)

Letters to AskAndy may be published at the discretion of the columnist and the editor. If you prefer to have your name or affiliation withheld from publication, please advise in your letter..


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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