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Issue 186 – July 29, 2009

Hi Andy,

You wrote “Get A Life”—I wish I’d written that! (Brent, French Creek Council)

Thanks! You and a whole bunch of folks feel the same way!

Hi Andy,

With regards to that Cub Scout leader who said he’d earned the “British Arrow of Light,” as a Scout leader from the UK who’s now involved with an American troop in the US, I can tell you that I’d not heard of “Arrow of Light” before and I was a Cub in the UK in the late 1980s and Cub Scout Leader in the early 2000s, so if there was such a thing, it had to have been in the 1970s, when the Arrow scheme was started. As for the rest, well it’s certainly different here, but the overall aims are the same, as are the Scouts themselves. (Richard Horler, Prairielands Council, Il)

You’ve just confirmed what I pretty much suspected; however, since there are no real “victims” here, this is one we’ll just let it go. Cheers!

Dear Andy,

Is there a compiled listing of all Eagle Scouts? (Mike Boylan, Atlanta Area Council GA)

Yup. The BSA National Office in Irving, TX has it. Give ’em a call and ask for the Eagle Scout Service Office.

Dear Andy,

Recently, one of the Scouts in our troop was disciplined by our troop committee for actions that took place outside of a Scouting event. The action involved the misuse of a bow and arrow, and was discovered on YouTube. I’m wondering what the proper disciplinary actions would be… Is the committee actually justified in punishing the Scout? Do they actually have this sort of authority, even though what happened had nothing to do with the troop or his patrol, and happened outside of a Scouting event? The committee told him that they’re “suspending his YouTube account”…can or should they really do this? (SPL’s Name & Council Withheld)

What happens outside of a troop or patrol meeting or outing is none of the troop’s or committee’s business. To “discipline” a Scout for actions away from the troop or his patrol is a huge over-step! Next thing you know, they’ll be checking with guidance counselors, pastors, rabbis, and the local police—all of which is, of course, nonsense. Moreover, this is Boy Scouting; not the cops and certainly not a courtroom. The pity is that they totally missed the opportunity for a heart-to-heart in which the Scout can learn and grow and mature. Shame on them.

Hi Andy,

I just realized that my Scout friend (see letter above) only told you about the YouTube incident. I’ll start from the beginning, for your thoughts on this. This guy—a Scout in our troop—had some friends over to his house one day and, while they were all there, he aimed a loaded bow at one of the others, for a couple seconds. As a result of this, the troop committee took away his Totin’ Chip, gave him a “strike” in the troop’s “Strike System,” made him delete all his YouTube videos, and banned him from shooting firearms when the troop goes to rifle ranges. I know what he did was foolish, but is this punishable by the troop? Do you think there’s any way to make our Scoutmaster and committee change their minds about this? (Second Scout’s Name & Council Withheld)

I’ve already given your SPL my best points-of-view and I’m not sure adding further will help anyone. Yes, that Scout was wrong—sounds like he had a moment of “stupid”—but Scouting’s not about “punishing;” it’s about learning what’s the right thing to do, and then doing it. Plus, if it happens outside of Scouts, it’s just that: Outside of Scouts. Besides, taking away a Totin’ Chip for something that didn’t involve woods tools is sorta silly. “Strike system”? What a bunch o’ hooey! The Scoutmaster’s job (and, by extension, the committee’s job) is to catch Scouts getting it right and praising them. It’s definitely not about looking for ways to “ding” Scouts! That’s just not what Scouting’s all about.

What this particular Scout did is to be managed by his parents and, to some extent, by his own friends, but the troop has nothing to do with it. The committee and Scoutmaster are way off base on this one!

Hi Andy!

I’m a Scout in that same troop! I believe you just talked to my other two friends about a Scout who was disciplined for something he did outside of Scouts. You see, this Scout is a very nice person and I’d like this problem to be resolved. There’s a scheduled PLC meeting for my troop tonight, and I’ll be trying to get this undone. So, do you think you could respond to me as if I were a Scoutmaster? Thank you and have a great day! (Third Scout’s Name & Council Withheld)

I think I’ve given you my best insights in my other two messages, but I’ll add this thought: Your three Scouts are doing half of what’s exactly right, and the other half is to have a talk with your Robin Hood friend, so that he doesn’t get a case of stupid again.

Hi Andy,

We’re building some court of honor props, and I’m having trouble finding posters to match what we want. We want stands for each rank advancement, with a bulb to light up each rank. These will stand seven feet tall. I thought it would be easy to find a poster of each rank, so we can cut out the emblem and mount it on top of the seven-foot poles, but I can’t find anything. Specifically, I’m looking for a 16”x20” poster of each rank emblem. Do you have any ideas? (Shaye Larsen, SM, Trapper Trails Council, UT)

The BSA (Supply Division or your local Scout Shop) sells heavy cardboard posters with the ranks depicted on them; however, I’m personally not sure that they’re 16″x20″ in size. Try calling 1-800-323-0736 or your local council.

Dear Andy,

Can a Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster also be a registered merit badge counselor? Also, can family activities be used to meet merit badge requirements that aren’t specifically stated as “do with the family,” such as the family takes a 10-mile hike and then signs-off on this Hiking merit badge requirement. (Cheryl Hair, Great Smoky Mountain Council, TN)

Yes, a Scoutmaster or ASM can be a Merit Badge Counselor, too. However convenient, this isn’t necessarily a wonderful idea for the Scouts in the troop they’re registered with, because one of the two goals of the merit badge program is for Scouts to independently contact and then work with adults whom they don’t know on a week in, week out basis.

Since all merit badge requirements are done under the guidance of a Merit Badge Counselor, a Scout can certainly ask that Counselor if it’s OK for his family to “be along for the ride,” so to speak, and the Counselor will decide whether this conforms to the purpose and intent of the requirement. Do understand that Boy Scouting is not intended to be a “family program”—it’s a program in which boys and young men learn to assert their individuality and independence, and to gain self-assurance and confidence while interacting with their peers under the “fly-on-the-wall” watchful guidance of a Scoutmaster and a very limited number of other non-family adults. “Family hikes,” “family camping,” and so on are Cub Scout activities; they’re decidedly not Boy Scout activities.

Dear Andy,

During a recent Eagle Scout court of honor, one of the senior Scouts made a salute correction to another Scout during the Pledge of Allegiance. Should this senior Scout have made the correction during this ceremony, or should he have let it go? (I’m the troop’s new Scoutmaster and it’s my own son who is being called out for making this correction. I’m looking to you for an independent opinion on the matter, and may be a suggestion of protocol for corrections during these types of formal events. (Name Withheld, Connecticut Rivers Council)

Let’s start here: The Scouts in a troop “report” to their Patrol Leaders and the PLs in turn “report” to the Senior Patrol Leader, who is guided by the Scoutmaster. Notice how there are no other adults involved with the Scouts themselves on an ongoing basis. Therefore, if it’s adults who are “calling out” your son for his gaffe, it’s the adults who are way out of line and need to be told to cut it out.

As far as your son’s concerned, he probably goofed a bit. I’m sure he was well-intentioned, and wanted to get things right. He’s now learned that rehearsals and practicing actually mean something! He’s also learned that we don’t try to adjust things in the middle of a ceremony—we simply go ahead and make it appear as if that’s exactly what we’d planned all along.

On the other hand, if he shouted out, “IT’S YOUR RIGHT HAND, BOZO!” then I’d have to say he needs a lesson in how to keep his trap shut! <wink>

Dear Andy,

If someone’s listed on the charter under the code IH, are they automatically on the unit committee? (Laurel)

The institutional Head need not even be registered. If he or she is, then that person is an “ex officio” member of the unit committee, and this means informational and advisory; not decision-making. The CR (aka “Chartered Organization Representative”) isn’t a member of the unit committee either, and serves in the same way the head would. Committee members are only those who are registered under the code MC or CC. (Yup, this means that the Scoutmaster isn’t a member of the committee, either.)

Hey Andy,

I’m a former—and soon to be again—Scoutmaster and my question is this: What are your thoughts on “classroom-style” merit badges taught once-a-month inside a troop meeting? I’ve expressed my dismay at this process of teaching to our sponsor because I feel that it takes away from the merit badge subject matter and seems to focus on getting the badge, instead. This is a change I’ve promised to make when I come back on board as Scoutmaster. I know it will meet with opposition, and I don’t want to offend anyone, but I think they may have slipped away from the desired intention and result of the merit badge program. Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. (Scouter, Golden Empire Council, CA)

Face it: You’re going to offend some folks, it’s unavoidable. No way around it. But if you’re the Scoutmaster, it’s your responsibility to deliver the Scouting program the way it’s written. That’s why it’s written!

Refer to the Scoutmaster Handbook. Also, print out the Troop Meeting Plan that you can download

Then, point out that nowhere in the Troop Meeting Plan (which, by the way, as existed in this format for decades) is there a provision for “merit badge classes.” Then use it, just as written.

You can also refer to this:

Again, note that nowhere here does it describe merit badges as being done classroom-style in troop meetings.

Finally, you can point out that one of the two objectives of the Merit Badge Program (and this has been in place since “day one”) is for Scouts to gain experience individually contacting and working with adults whom they don’t necessarily know! (The other objective is to gain knowledge and learn skills that may lead to life-long hobbies or careers.)

I’m sure these folks have the best of intentions; however, by more-or-less spoon-feeding merit badges, they’re actually defeating 50% of the purpose of the Merit Badge Program as created by the BSA. In short, it may be expedient, but it’s simply not Scouting.

Very best wishes in returning this troop to the True North of Scouting.

Hello Andy,

I’ve been a Cub Scout leader for the past three years with my oldest son, who’s now a Webelos II. I also have an eight year-old son who’s now a Wolf. I called my council service center to find out if there’s a skateboarding belt loop. They told me No. But I’ve done some research and came to find out that there are some new belt loops coming out. I’d like to find out if I can get the requirements for the skateboarding belt loop, because he has taken a camp for it and learned a lot and we go to the skateboarding park at least once or twice a month, and I’m trying to get the belt loop for this out of the way this summer. Can you help? (Michel Richard, Calcasieu Area Council, LA)

Y’know… It’s perfectly OK for boys, including Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts, to do stuff even though there’s no patch, loop, medal, pin, or certificate! It’s called having fun. If we teach them that everything they do gets a badge, patch, medal, belt loop, certificate, or whatever, imagine how disappointed they’re going to be when “life” hits ’em between the eyes!

Getting some recognition for some of what we do is cool, and definitely appropriate to bolstering self-esteem and so on, but there are also times when we do stuff just because we’re Scouts, and it’s fun to do!

In the proverbial “helping the little old lady across the street” scenario, it doesn’t work if, on arriving at the other curb, she turns around and hands the Scouts a tip! It’s even worse if they accept it!

So, go skateboarding! And relax! Scouting is about having fun outdoors as much as we can. And we do get rewards. Here they are: A healthy sun-tan and a big grin!

Dear Andy,

My son has registered for the 2010 National Scout Jamboree and paid the money required by our council. When is he authorized to wear the Centennial Jamboree patch above his right pocket? Now? Next year? During the Jamboree? Or after the Jamboree? Also, where can he get the patch now, or does he have to wait? (Eric Lee Hothem)

Your son is, I expect, a member of what will become one of your council’s Jamboree troops—provisional troops with leaders and Scouts from throughout your council. Soon, formation will actually begin, and when this happens, various identifiers will be available, including Jamboree patches, Jamboree council patches, and so on. Until then, just hang in there! All will happen in due time! It is, after all, more than a year away!


Dear Andy,

Is there is a specific period of time for which the various adult training courses must be “refreshed”?

I’ve been trying to collect training records of each of our troop’s adult volunteers. I started with the records our council has on file and quickly discovered that our long-time adult leaders’ records are very outdated. This raised the question about when things like Youth Protection Training and Scoutmaster Specific Training should be retaken. For many, the last time they took any training was eight years ago.

When I completed my own Troop Leader Specific training in 2005, we were with older Scoutmasters who were retaking it because they were directed by our council. They’d been told that training had to be retaken every five years to be current. Our council also requires adults to retake the Youth Protection training every two years.

So, can you tell me what training has to be “refreshed” and when, or at least point me to where I can find that information? (Cary Trout, ASM, Indian Trail Council, NY)

Most BSA training cards (the ones issued to participants after they successfully complete a course) have a date and expiration printed right on them. Check out Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, BSA Life Guard and BSA Life Guard Counselor, to name a few that work this way. For those that may not, ask the district or council training committee how they’re handling it. That said, some training doesn’t expire, per se. Included here would be things like Scoutmastership or Cub Scout Leader Fundamentals (which have both gone by a whole variety of names over the years). Now that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be repeated from time to time (helps keep the chrome polished, and we always will pick up on something we didn’t quite catch the last time around) for good Scouting “hygiene.” Another way to keep leaders trained is to invite them to staff a course they’re taken—it’s amazing just how well ideas seat themselves when we are asked to teach them—this, to me, has always been the preferred way of “continuing education.”

Dear Andy,

We just read with great interest your comments on over whether or not letters of recommendation are actually required for Eagle Scout candidates. In our council, written letters of recommendation are required to be presented at the Eagle rank board of review: No letters means no review. The council’s “Life to Eagle Guidebook” (p. 16) specifically says letters are required. We’d appreciate absolute clarity: Who’s correct? (Jennifer Sessions, Atlanta Area Council, GA)

The clarity on this issue doesn’t come from me or my “opinion;” it’s straight from the BSA language on the subject. If you check both the Eagle Scout rank application and the BSA book titled Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures, nowhere does it say letters are necessary, and these documents certainly don’t say that letters are in any way mandatory. Yes, they can be conveniences, but they’re hardly the only way to obtain references or recommendations, and the book points that out clearly. Moreover, since no one has control over the people who might be asked to write such letters, what would the council do in the situation—certainly a remote one, but not impossible—that the people asked chose not to write letters? Is this really a valid reason to withhold a board of review from a Scout who has fulfilled the language of that requirement by providing names and contact information—we must remember that this is all he’s required to do and we cannot add to that requirement (or any other, for that matter).

So, without falling on our swords over this, it’s certainly worth suggesting that such a local council “requirement” is probably unenforceable and therefore should be dropped—especially since it’s not the Scout’s responsibility to provide these or present them.


Dear Andy,

Another question: Is there anything we can do regarding the Chartered Organization Representative getting overly involved in everything? While it’s nice to have his expertise and willingness to help out, he’s out of touch with how to deal with younger Scouts. He doesn’t let them have any fun and is perceived by the Scouts as being a total grump. I know that he means well, but it’s turning off many of the Scouts and the troop is becoming more adult-run than boy-run. It’s a delicate situation. He has a lot of influence at the council level, especially with Eagle boards of review. Any advice? (Name & Council Withheld)

The Scoutmaster and Committee Chair, together, need to take this gentleman aside and point out to him that, despite his obviously good intentions, no adult other than the Scoutmaster has actual direct contact with the Scouts themselves in a correctly organized and run troop. It’s absolutely critical that he understand that any adult who gets in between the Scoutmaster and the Scouts, unless specifically invited for a specific topic and a specified amount of time, is actually damaging the Scouting program as it’s intended to be run. If he doesn’t get this and respect it, you’re faced with going to the head of your chartered organization and asking that this gentleman be replaced, immediately.

On the subject of his apparent “power,” you do know that, by acknowledging that he’s capable of carrying out a vendetta against Scouts in your troop if you were to “correct” him, you’re effectively telling me that he should be removed from the troop, as fast as humanly possible. Or is this a projection or an unsupported fear on your part?

Dear Andy,

Thanks for writing a wonderful column. I started reading about a week ago, at the behest of a fellow Commissioner, and I’m going through every column. Lots of great insights and tips!

A comment made by another, more seasoned Commissioner has me a little boggled: He’s not attending an upcoming Commissioner training opportunity because the date conflicts with a Goodwill Good Turn and so he’ll be out with his units helping collect bags. Why would the council set a date that they knew conflicted like this, which begs the question of why would I, myself, go to the training instead of helping my units? Now I’ve been a Commissioner for about a month and the extent of my training so far is reading the Commissioner Fieldbook a couple of times, so talking to the other Unit Commissioners in my area would be far more valuable to me than collecting bags alongside the units I serve. My understanding is that, as Unit Commissioners, our job is to help our units run the Scouting program by being a liaison between the unit and the district and council, and by providing assistance as requested or
needed, but not getting involved with the unit at such a level that we’re going on outings and helping with service projects. Should Unit Commissioners be that involved with the activities of the units they’re working with? (Name & Council Withheld)

The UC is a unit’s best friend, from an “uncle” perspective… We cheer our units on, and watch ’em go. We watch ’em roll up their sleeves and holler our support. We’re on the side, you see, not in the race itself. And we’re on the sidelines where we can cheer; not in the trench itself. We “float like a butterfly” always, but never, ever “sting like a bee.”

We’re never “inside” our units’ problems; we’re always on the outside, guiding them to developing their own solutions. We never take sides, except the side of BSA policies and procedures, and we deal with these as gently or as firmly as the situation demands.

We don’t get down in the mud to “prove ourselves”—we’ve already done that and that’s why we’re Commissioners. We use our previous experiences there to mentor the units we presently serve.

Getting as much training as we possibly can, and while doing so interacting with fellow Commissioners and asking questions like How do you…? is the very best way to help our units. To be even more direct, slogging along with your unit’s leaders, shoulder-to-shoulder, is helping your own ego and doing nothing for your unit.

Don’t modify your thinking. You’ve got it right. Stick to the plan. Stay in training.

Hi Andy,

All the units in our council have an April 1st recharter date. But that’s a date I’d really like to see moved to say, June 1st. Do all councils use the same recharter date? What act of heaven, earth, or congress would be needed to change this?

You see, in April we still have a month or so left of our program for the traditional school year, so a June date would coincide better with not only the school schedule, but also with recruiting for the fall
and getting new leadership in place. It’s not a huge problem, but certainly something that would make things more straightforward for many units. Any thoughts? (Carl Sommer, CM, Occoneechee Council, NC)

Used to be that all units had their own “anniversary” dates and months, so that new chartering, rechartering, and registrations went on all the time. Among other effects of this, each council usually had to have at least one full-time person (often more, in larger councils) devoted to handling re-registering units—on average two or more a day every working day of the year—including all sorts of accompanying financial transactions, communications back to the unit and out to the national office and so on, rather relentlessly. Another effect was that is was difficult to tell, at any particular moment in time, just how Scouting was doing in the more than 300 service areas served by each BSA council, because the membership numbers changed from one day to the next! Then there was the mass confusion that would happen when the 18-month Webelos program was put in place nationally some 20 years ago. Now, we had massive numbers of youth members and often many adults as well transferring their registrations from packs to troops in February and March, but often one or the other of these two units didn’t re-charter for many months afterwards, or had re-chartered just before the cross-overs, making the numbers and all of the paperwork even messier! Ouch! Double-Ouch!

Most if not all councils have worked hard, over the past two decades, to get re-chartering done all in one month. Some councils have chosen December, others chose March, some choose April, some choose other months, depending on their situations, manpower availability, and so on. This has enormously streamlined and simplified the process, nationwide.

However, none of this actually helps you… Here’s the deal: You’re supposed to be graduating your Webelos II Scouts in February, or March at the latest, and they should all be in Boy Scout troops by March, or April at the latest. So, in accordance with this, your council wisely picked April as the re-charter date, so that the boys and adults who have moved from packs to troops get properly registered in their new units right at the time this actually happens. In short, your Webelos II Scouts should not be in the pack after April 1st! Simple as that!

As far as “school year” is concerned, you need to remind yourself that Scouting isn’t a “school year” program; it’s a year-round program, even Cub Scouts! In fact, lots of packs do their “fall recruiting” in the spring—They sign up all their current boys and families AND they recruit the incomingTiger Cubs and parent-partners before the end of the school year in June, so that they can get up and running fast, in September (or even August, in some locales).

Does this help?

Yes it does, and for 75 percent of our units the April date works great. Where it has rough edges is that, like most packs, we have a couple of activities in the summer, but not regular meetings, so in May we have a ceremony for moving the boys to their next den level. The confusion is, who is the Den Leader in April still the Den Leader in May? We have some parents who want to stay on through May, to move the boys up, but don’t intend to continue past that hand-off. We also have a big overnight trip at the end of the year, which happens in May, and it’s our preference to take only registered boys on it, so those who don’t re-register on the April 1st date, as well as the Webelos IIs who have moved on in February aren’t part of that.

April 1 is a pretty good balance in general, but like most things I find in this council, the focus seems to be more on Boy Scouts than on what helpsCub Scouts. At least that’s my observation. (Carl Sommer)

I’m gonna guess that your Cubs may not really be getting the short shrift you think they may… After all, 90% of Boy Scouts come from those blue uniforms you take such good care of!

As far as the year-end trip, if you do this every year, then your Webelos IIs have already done it as Wolves, Bears, Webelos Is, and maybe Tigers, too, so it shouldn’t be too great a loss for them… especially if they’re now Boy Scouts, doing’ big Boy Scout stuff!

When you graduate them on time, there’s no Webelos II den in April-May-June anyway, so there’s no Den Leader, either! This shouldn’t be a problem unless somebody’s doing “double duty” (which, technically, they’re not supposed to be doing), but then they get to stay on in their other position (which isn’t strictly “legal” but I’m not gonna blow the whistle!).

Go ahead and do your “movin’ up” ceremony in May—Not a problem! So your Web IIs aren’t there—It’s OK: They’ve graduated! HOWEVER, if you like, why not invite them back for a visit—Being sure they come in their new Boy Scout uniforms, to show off! It would be even more special if you included them in the movin’ up ceremony, so that they “pronounce” the Wolves to be new Bears, and so on!


Dear Andy,

I need some clarification for when I talk to our Scoutmaster (I’m the Chartered Organization Representative of a three year-old troop)…

When Scouts forget to bring their handbooks to a troop meeting, the Scoutmaster makes them do ten push-ups. This has had the effect of Scouts who’ve left their hand books at home wanting to ditch the meeting. Now, they’re starting regular uniform inspections and it’s ten push-ups for every badge out of place or missing, no Scout socks, and so on. The result is that the Scouts now hate having to wear uniforms at all.

I’d say rewards trump punishments for correct uniforming, but how do we do that? (Maybe if they were rewarded, instead, they’d get back to where they should be.) In this regard, who’s supposed to be doing these inspections… The Scoutmaster, or Senior Patrol Leader with the Patrol leaders, or what? Is there a preferred way?

Also, corporal punishment, although prohibited by the BSA in any form, isn’t defined by the BSA in any literature I’ve found so far, so I don’t know if this idea of push-ups falls in this area or not.

On top of all this, we have boys being picked on or beat up at school for being Scouts, so that now the older Scouts don’t want to be in parades anymore. (Even a Life Scout is about to quit because the persecution is so bad.) What can we do to ease that off? (Name and Council removed by request)

First, get the BSA book, The Chartered Organization Representative. Scout Shop or rush delivery

Push-ups are totally inappropriate in Scouting and are in absolute violation of BSA policy. This is abuse of implied power and emotional if not physical abuse of youth—a felony in most states. This must stop immediately.

Whoever came up with this approach to “building character” should be fired immediately. If more than one, then anyone associated with or in defense of this should be fired immediately. This is the job and responsibility and authority of the CR. Now the people removed do not need to be given a reason why, or “three strikes” or anything like that, since this isn’t an “employment” situation and this isn’t a business. Simply, “Thank you for your services; they are no longer needed.”

It is better to have a Scoutmasterless troop than a troop run by a child-abusing martinet.

I think that because they’re new they’re unaware of the definition. It says “no corporal punishment” but it doesn’t give examples (sit-ups, push-ups, running…a list of about five would be helpful, in order to see the parameters). Most of these adults think “corporal punishment” means actual striking. (I asked our District Executive and he wasn’t sure; said for me to call the national BSA office.)

I’m teaching New Leader Essentials and Cub Scout Leader-Specific training shortly and I want to inform new leaders correctly—not just my opinion. If you have any further thoughts, I’d appreciate knowing them.

As the troop’s CR, I guarantee you that the Scoutmaster will be told today. I believe he’ll respond positively—I think it was just out of not knowing. I just needed ammunition and a definition before talking with him and the ASMs and committee, so everyone’s on the same page. (Name removed by request)

Let’s get this on the table right now… I don’t give a flying fig whether this jerk of a Scoutmaster is new, old, didn’t know, or what: If he doesn’t have the brains to know that WE DO NOT PUNISH BOYS LIKE THEY’RE IN BOOT CAMP he doesn’t get a license to supervise teen-aged boys.

Scouting is all about reinforcing the positive. Try this quotation: “The job of the Scoutmaster is to find the good in every boy, and bring it out in him.” This DOESN’T HAPPEN when you’re telling them to “drop and give me ten.”

I’m profoundly grateful that you’ve written to me about this. Now, it’s up to you: Kill this cancer. It cannot, must not be allowed to continue. Then, all parents and their sons must be told, in a public meeting, that this has stopped and will never, ever happen again. Here’s your clear and present danger: These parents have the right to bring charges and to sue you and the sponsor—not the BSA, because the sponsor owns the unit and the CR approves every adult; not the BSA. If this doesn’t get stopped instantly, I can promise you that there’s a lawn-mower in your future, and guess who’s the grass.

I’ve reserved the issue of harassment and bullying at school and elsewhere till last because it needs to be dealt with in part separately, but also because what this idiot of a Scoutmaster has done with this “Drop and give me ten” nonsense has definitely contributed to your Scouts’ miserable self-esteem. By pulling this nonsense, instead of making Scouts feel special and worthy, he’s shrunk their spines and made them feel inferior and like victims. Scouts who are treated with dignity and respect will return the same; Scouts who are demeaned will feel inferior and once this sets in the bullies can quickly identify ripe targets for their own anger issues.

Surprise: Scouts have been subject to being picked on by the “outsiders” from Day One. The local bullies tried to pick on my fellow Scouts and me over 50 years ago! There’s nothing new here and this isn’t some new phenomenon. Bullies are bullies. Their angst toward peers who are Scouts have to do with envy, small egos, and fundamental cowardice. Stand up to them and they shrink away. There are sections in the Boy Scout Handbook and the Scoutmaster Handbook on how to deal with bullies, and it’s also part of the Youth Protection curriculum. Instead of inflicting on them a Scoutmaster who’s nothing more than a martinet, your Scouts deserve a Scoutmaster who can help them learn and use the skills necessary to deflate and disarm bullies. It begins with feeling good about being a Scout. Stop dithering and get them a Scoutmaster who can do the job right.


Dear Andy,

I’m currently deployed at a military base in Afghanistan just outside of Kabul. I’m looking into forming a Law Enforcement Explorer Post for young American soldiers who are interested in police work. I’ve been looking at the BSA website and haven’t found any reference to Explorers, or the requirements for chartering a unit. I’m wondering if you might give me some direction on this? Great columns, by the way! (LTC Timothy A. Hodge, Provost Marshal)

I think there are two websites that might help you…

The first is for Exploring, in the Learning for Life

The second is Direct

Check out the Exploring website first, I think, and then reach out to the Direct Service folks and tell them exactly what you’ve told me!

Happy Scouting!



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(July 29, 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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