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Issue 190 – September 28, 2009

Dear Andy,

Is it standard procedure for the Assistant Patrol Leader selected by a Patrol Leader to move into the Patrol Leader position at the end of the PL’s term? (Brooks Jones, Baltimore Area Council MD)

Nope, it’s sure not. When the next patrol elections of Patrol Leaders rolls around, every member of the patrol (except, in most cases, the incumbent Patrol Leader) is eligible to be elected. Then, the newly-elected PL chooses his own APL, based on his own criteria. So, you ask, what happens to those former Patrol Leaders? Why they become Troop Guides, Troop Scribes, Troop OA Representatives, Quartermasters, and so on! They’re also, of course, eligible to stand for election to Senior Patrol Leader, or be selected by the new SPL to be his ASPL!

Dear Andy,

There’s an issue that has a grip on my son’s troop. It’s a small troop with a lot of young Scouts, and our older Scouts are complaining that, when they give the younger Scouts chores to do on campouts, they’re not following through and doing their chores—they’re being disobedient to these older Scouts. Our older Scouts want to have punishments for this.

All of the Scouts in our troop have been told about the BSA prohibition of corporal punishment: “The BSA does not permit the use of corporal punishment by unit leaders when disciplining youth members.” What the Scouts (particularly the older ones) don’t get is the “fine line” of corporal punishment… they don’t understand why other troops in the area have punishments like push-ups or sit-ups to handle these matters of disobedience (these troops use the pretext of the Scout Oath to issue push-ups or sit-ups, as to “helping” the disobedient Scout become “physically fit”). Our current troop policy is that the Scout’s behavior will be an indicator as to whether or not he can go on the next campout; however, this isn’t working. The adults in the troop believe that we’d be in conflict with BSA policy if we would allow this form of punishment, but we also don’t think that push-ups or sit-ups are a form of corporal punishment. We’re at an impasse and don’t know what to do. Can you help us on where the “corporal punishment” line is drawn, and/or give us any suggestions? (Name & Troop Withheld)

Let’s start with this: “Older Scouts” don’t “give orders” to “younger Scouts” —that’s the first glitch here. Scouts are led by their Patrol Leaders. Patrol Leaders are elected by the members of their patrols. Patrols are most typically organized by approximate “age groupings,” because Webelos Scouts enter the troop as a new patrol and can remain an intact patrol for up to seven years. So the first order of business is to stop one group of Scouts from “giving orders” to other groups of (in this case, younger) Scouts.

Concurrent with this, the Scoutmaster needs to provide leadership training (including methods of leading and characteristics of a good leader) to the Patrol Leaders—this, in fact, is a Scoutmaster’s most important responsibility (source: Scoutmaster Handbook).

Next, corporal punishment in any form is absolutely forbidden in Scouting—this can include anything that inflicts physical damage or pain on a Scout. The thinly disguised “push-ups” can inflict pain, even though there’s no “touching” involved; it’s also demeaning and may be construed to be emotional abuse of a minor child (big danger signal here!). So, regardless of what other troops may or may not be doing, since you all already know that their rationale is a bunch o’ horsepucky, don’t even consider it!

Third, Scouting is about “carrots;” and not about “sticks.” Scouts are given positive role models and positive reinforcements and incentives for “being Scouts;” not threats, because we certainly don’t withhold from them the fundamental reason they joined up in the first place! (This is why the Scout Law is totally unique: It describes what a Scout is and doesn’t throw a list of “don’t’s” and “can’t’s” at him!)

Finally, just so we’re perfectly clear about what’s going on here, the reason why your “older” Scouts want to have “punishments” for the “younger” Scouts has nothing to do with behavior or discipline or order-following: It’s all about power and the classic “pecking order.” Do not let this happen!


Dear Andy,

How can a Scoutmaster be allowed to continue in this role when he’s had multiple adulterous affairs, and has left his long-term marriage and continues to see his mistress? (Name & Council Withheld)

If the troop’s sponsor is aware of this, and wishes to take action, it can do so through the head of the organization and the Chartered Organization Representative, because the sponsor actually “owns” the troop and is therefore responsible for all adult volunteers associated with it. The BSA and/or BSA local council doesn’t own the unit and doesn’t have jurisdiction over the adult volunteers associated with it, so please don’t expect action from this direction—it can’t happen. Moreover, if no civil or criminal charges or convictions are present, a BSA council would have even less “opportunity” to even suggest to the sponsor that actions might be considered. If you and others are having a problem, please take the time to speak with the head of your sponsoring organization, and please DON’T USE EMAIL—This must be IN-PERSON, FACE-TO-FACE!

Dear Andy,

What is the official BSA policy regarding knives. The reason I’m asking is that I’ve always been told that the BSA has a strict folding- or locking-blade only policy. Sometimes, however, a sheath knife is the better tool for the job. I’m not talking about double-bladed “boot knives” or daggers; I’m thinking of fillet knives or small (3″ and under) sheath knifes and the like. (Rob Schleich, SM, Occoneechee Council, SC)

The official BSA policy on knives is described in the Guide to Safe Scouting. The last issue I read described the importance of keeping pocket knives clean and sharp, and cautioned about the use of “large sheath (i.e., fixed blade) knives,” because they’re bulky, heavy, and in most instances unnecessary. That said, we must remember, of course, that the BSA sold fixed-blade sheath knives for decades, and they’re still available on eBay and through other sources. The further fact is that all lock-back knives transform into fixed-blade knives when unfolded and locked! However, the advice to keep them small and not let Scouts start carrying blades the size of machetes is excellent—this helps avert injuries! Also, be aware that if your local council’s health and safety committee bans sheath or fixed-blade knives in the interest of safety, they are permitted to do this by the BSA national council if it makes things safer. So, check it out first, and if it’s OK in your council, then use it as a “teaching moment” and let it go at that. A good way to handle it may be to stipulate to your Scouts that any knife with a BSA name and/or symbol or logo on it is OK, but that’s all.

Dear Andy,

In our troop, any Scout who’s Star rank or above can sign off rank requirements for Tenderfoot through First Class. The problem is that many of the Scouts are being signed off who really don’t meet the requirements, due to being friends, in the same patrol with, and so on. Technically, who’s able to sign off on rank requirements? Dave Edwards, Mecklenberg County Council, NC)

“Technically,” your troop’s procedure is OK… The problem you’re facing here is not about the “legalities: but how the Scouts are doing their jobs. You may want to back off just slightly and limit sign-offs to Patrol Leaders and the Senior Patrol Leader only, and then the Scoutmaster can coach these particular Scouts on how to carry out their responsibilities… This is where he can instill in them, as part of their ongoing leadership training and mentoring, the idea that to wink at requirements damages their Scout because he hasn’t really completed what he’s supposed to complete, and this ultimately hurts the troop because it turns the Scouts into less-than-Scouts. There may be a temptation to set up a system whereby a Scout must go to a Patrol Leader other than his own for sign-off, but this doesn’t help cement the relationships within patrols (patrols being the essential “unit” of Boy Scouting, more so than the troop).

The key to this is training, and the grease on the key is the Scoutmaster’s mentoring and sound guidance.

Dear Andy,

I just read your “Get a Life” piece. Good thing that wasn’t one of my troop’s Eagle Courts of Honor… He probably wouldn’t have been allowed to finish his speech (and no sticking around for cake, either!). You’re absolutely spot-on. Merit badges expose a young man to all kinds of things.

I grew up with a guy who had about 80 merit badges. He was also the Drum Major of an extremely good high school marching band (both our Dads were music teachers) the Master Counselor of our DeMolay Chapter, and the starting center on our high school’s basketball team. He and his brother would pick a merit badge to knock out, and they’d do it!

Speaking of learning stuff, as a retired Army Aviator, I now help manage a military airfield. We have a weather station, and those great young Americans routinely teach the Weather merit badge to Scouts in the area. I just gave them a current Weather merit badge pamphlet—one comment from one of the meteorologists was, “I sure wish I had this when I went through tech school!” I remarked that I wish I’d had it when I was in flight school… It’s sure a lot easier to understand, and taught me the same things I struggled through in two weeks of classroom instruction on meteorology!

Point being, Scout merit badges and those pamphlets, have lots of great information. It’s not about earning a little embroidered circle—It’s about all the learning that goes in to the earning! (Jeff Stone, Transatlantic Council, Wiesbaden, Germany)

Thanks for taking the time to write, and for adding to the “ammunition” about the value of learning as much as we can about as much as we can! The only thing I ever noticed about Eagle Scouts that might be called a “common denominator” is that they’re into everything! And isn’t that what this is all about!

Dear Andy,

A friend and fellow Scouter who’s a District Trainer recently ran up against this situation: The council hired a new District Executive last year, and he’s really made things more challenging for her—She’s been working on a major training event for our district and he’s been somewhat critical and non-supportive. When she asked him why she’s the District Trainer, his response was, “Well, you’re better than nothing.” I think it’s reprehensible for a BSA employee to treat a volunteer this way. Do we bring this to the Scout Executive? (Pat Lesley, Bay Area Council, TX)

The problem with jerks is that they’re usually incurable (just like we can’t cure stupid). Best response for your friend: Ignore Clarabell and stick with the job at hand. If he really doesn’t get it, he’ll be soon gone and your friend will still be there, training folks so they can do the best Scouting jobs they’re able, in their volunteer time!


Dear Andy,

For merit badges and rank, we’re told to complete the requirements “as stated” in the book—nothing added and no “freebies.” We’re diligent at running the program as close to the way it’s written as we can, and it pays off (Those who don’t: You should try it!). Our troop has grown from three to 50 boys in just three years, and many of our newly-joining Scouts have migrated to us from troubled units all over the area—They love the program we’re delivering, as evidenced by our having very high attendance at every meeting and plenty of advancement (this comes purely from the Scouts’ initiative; not an “adult-crafted” plan that the Scouts mindlessly follow to end up with “advancement.”

Now here’s the question… For Star and Life rank requirements, a Scout will have served four or six months, respectively, in a position of leadership. The requirement book lists just about every position available to a Scout, except Assistant Patrol Leader. Since, however, APL is a recognized position (it even has its own badge), I have to wonder if we’re being too literal in understanding the requirements. When it’s stated that a Scout will serve as Patrol Leader, does this imply or include the APL position as well? Every explanation of the position(s) that we’ve found say that the PL and APL are expected to be working closely together to lead their patrol. It seems hard to say one is OK, but not the other.

In our troop, the PLs and APLs both work very hard and cover for each other when one is absent due to school, sports, illness, and so on, so it seems unfair that the BSA would deny a Scout credit for being an APL he’s conscientiously working hard in an otherwise recognized leadership position. There usually isn’t much interpretation needed… As you always say, “Show me in print.” I’m wondering, however, if this is one of those times when we’re taking the text too literally, or if there is some explanation that isn’t obvious to us. If not, can you help us understand the logic in denying APLs what they consider “due credit”? (Paul Napoli, ASM, Baltimore Area Council, MD)

Patrol Leaders and Senior Patrol Leaders are elected by their peers. ASPLs and other troop-level positions are selected by the SPL with the mentoring of the Scoutmaster. The Assistant Patrol Leader position, on the other hand, is not by election by his peers, nor is it a troop-level position (as PL is, by right of being a member of the Patrol Leaders Council): It is the lowest-level position and it’s selected by the PL. Therefore, it’s excluded from “qualifying positions” purposefully by the BSA and you’re absolutely correct in following the language of the requirement and not permitting arbitrary “looseness” in the reading of the requirement language. If the APL performs his responsibilities well, he’ll most likely be elected PL the next time there’s an election, or he’ll be spotted by the SPL and asked to take on a more significant leadership position (e.g., Troop Guide, Troop OA Representative, Instructor, and so forth). Stick with what you’re doing—You’ve got it right!


Hi Andy,

Can you put Camporee, camp, or other patch on the back of a merit badge sash? (Jennifer Signer, Westchester Putnam Council, NY)

Yup, you can—It’s “legal”! Just don’t put “old” rank badges there.

Hi Andy,

When you say “Scout’s honor,” do you hold up three fingers, or two? (E. Nolder)

Three. Straight up. Together (i.e., not “spread”). Thethree fingers, held straight up from the forearm, which is at a 90-degree angle to the upper arm, and with the upper arm parallel with the floor (check any Norman Rockwell painting), signify the three parts of the Scout Oath: Duty to God and country, duty to others, and duty to self.


Dear Andy,

I have two concerns. The first is when adults in a troop refer to Scouts as “kids” and “boys.” It seems to me that, when this is done, Scouts are demeaned—They’re Scouts, and should be called such. The flip-side of this is when Scouts call adults “the leaders.” Scouts, especially the Senior Patrol Leader, the ASPL, and the Patrol Leaders are the troop’s leaders; not the adults. How do we change this, so that what we say is consistent with what we espouse? (John Rekus, Baltimore Area Council, MD)

Reinforcing just how special they are by steadfastly referring to the young men in our charge as Scouts goes miles toward subtly building self-esteem and also knocks the sand out of their non-Scout peers who may razz them from time to time! How to do this? Simple: Just ask yourself, “How can I be a positive role model for the behavior I’d like to see?” Then, be what you want others to see and mirror, and only when there’s absolutely no other alternative, use words.


Greetings Andy,

At a recent pack rally, we had a five year-old kindergartener (no brothers or sisters) come in who was really excited about Cub Scouts. Since we’re not in the “Lions” pilot program, we had to turn him away until he gets to first grade, but we hate doing that, especially a boy showing so much enthusiasm, so we’re considering setting up a sort-of “big brother” program within the pack. We’re thinking about pairing him with a Tiger Cub or Wolf, and letting him attend den and pack meetings. We understand that if we do this for this boy, we’d have to offer the opportunity to all kindergarten boys, and we’re prepared to do that. Do you know if the BSA has any type of program to support this, or if this is even allowed within BSA guidelines? One other idea we had was to sign his mother up as a Tiger Den Leader (we need to split that den anyway, and we’re looking for another parent to step up) even though she’d not have a son officially in the den. (I’ve seen Den Leaders without their own children in the den before, but I’m not sure if this situation would be acceptable under BSA guidelines, since she doesn’t have any sons in Scouting at all). We really don’t want to turn this boy away, so any suggestions you can offer on how to get him involved with the pack would be greatly appreciated! (Bob Barracca, WDL, Longhorn Council, TX)

I absolutely appreciate your desire to be flexible, but let’s stretch this situation to the absurd, to see if it holds up… What would you do if you had a highly enthusiastic girl here? Or a highly enthusiastic three-year-old? Or a highly enthusiastic 14-year old? Well, you’d probably find a way to tell the first that Cub Scouts is for boys, and you’d probably tell the other two that Cub Scouts is for boys between the ages of 7, or 1st grade, and up to 11, or the end of 5th grade, or something like this. And, guess what…you’d be right! So, as much as you all would like to accommodate a five-year-old kindergartener, it’s important to remember that, beginning at Tiger, the 4-1/2 years of the Cub Scouting programs are all age- and grade-specific! So mom-and-son would be better served by just waiting a little bit! It’s just that simple. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t keep them in the loop by reaching out and inviting them to visit special events, like your B&G or Pinewood Derby, as “guests of the pack”!


Dear Andy,

Is there some kind of “Thank You” I can give the troop’s leaders at my son’s upcoming Eagle Scout court of honor? (Michelle Stevens)

Hugs always work! As for something tangible, maybe this is more something for your son to do… He can give an Eagle Mentor pin to more than one person, if he likes, just so he doesn’t pass ’em out like M&Ms. He can also get a nice pack of Eagle-embossed note cards, and personally write a Thank You to important people who have supported him along the way—I can tell you for certain that a hand-written note from a Scout I’ve helped in some way raises my spirits and re-charges my Scouting batteries better than any corporate perk or bonus!

Congratulations, Eagle Mom! And congratulations to your Eagle Scout son!

Dear Andy,

We have a Scout who will be turning 18 about halfway through next year. Should he take a year-long (i.e., January 1 through December 31) leadership position? What’s the official word on turning 18 and holding a Boy Scout leadership position? He’s an Eagle Scout, so it’s not as if he “must” hold a leadership position, but he’d like to run for election as Senior Patrol Leader. (Bill Winker)

My own call on this would be that the troop might be remiss in overlooking an Eagle Scout who has held leadership positions in the troop—This Scout can be a valuable asset and certainly a role model for younger Scouts in the troop. A virtually perfect position for him, in this specific situation, would be Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, where he could have a variety of special assignments, and work directly with the Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader. If his “term” is less than a full 12 months, I’d hardly think that would be an important consideration… Better he serves in a leadership role for even just a month, than to sit idly by the roadside for the duration of his tenure. And, when he does turn 18, he’s now qualified to re-register in the troop as an adult, and as an Assistant Scoutmaster! In this capacity, he can remain active (albeit, not as a Boy Scout any longer) until his life moving forward takes him elsewhere.

Hi Andy,

I’m hoping you can help me out with a clarification: My son is a Webelos Scout; he’ll turn age 11 in mid-December, and he’ll be in fifth grade till June of next year. Does he need to end his Webelos time when he turns 11, or can he stay a Webelos and work on his Arrow of Light beyond his 11th birthday? There are several different conflicting statements, and most of them only state when a boy is “eligible” to become a Boy Scout; not when he must leave the Cub Scout program. (Dave Wylie, WDL)

Yes, your son is certainly eligible to become a Boy Scout on his 11th birthday, and he can do this if he wishes. Another option, of course, is to take a few more months and complete the Arrow of Light in February, per the “18-Month Webelos Program,” and then cross-over with his friends and join as a member of a new Scout patrol. Personally, I’m leaning toward the second option, especially if he’s right on the cusp of earning the Arrow of Light. This way, he stays with his den friends! (Yes, it’s perfectly OK to do it this way!)

Dear Andy,

I’ve reviewed all of the BSA training materials on merit badges, and now I’m curious… Our troop’s Scoutmaster has told the committee that he has the authority to deny a Scout the opportunity to start a merit badge, based on whether or not he feels the Scout is “ready.” Now I’ve done my homework, and I can’t find anything to support that. In fact, from what I’ve read, the Scout goes to the Scoutmaster who in turn assists the Scout in finding a Counselor, and it’s the Merit Badge Counselor who then works with the Scout. Can you add any insights here? (Ken Osfield, North Florida Council)

This Scoutmaster, despite what are probably good intentions, is mistaken. He has neither the right nor the authority to be acting as a merit badge “gatekeeper.” Referring to the Boy Scout Handbook-11th Edition, p. 14 tells the Scout that “You can advance at your own pace,” which means not at someone else’s pacefor you. Further in this same book, p. 187 instructs the Scoutmaster to give any Scout seeking a merit badge a signed merit badge application (aka “blue card”) and the name and contact information for an appropriate Merit Badge Counselor. In the Boy Scout Handbook-12th Edition, p. 54 expresses the first thought differently, but with the same fundamental message: The Scoutis in charge of his advancement process and progress. Need more? Just go to Boy Scout Requirements-2009 and turn to p. 22: “Any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time.”

Now, just so there are no back-end mistakes: Once the Merit Badge Counselor has signed the “blue card” indicating that all requirements have been completed, that’s it–the merit badge has been earned: There are no “re-tests” or “quizzes” or further vetting of any kind permitted, and this is a BSA policy.

“Well what about the ‘unit leader signature’ on the inside of the first segment of the blue card… Doesn’t that mean that the Scoutmaster has ‘final approval’?” Nope, it sure doesn’t! That signature simply (and only) means that the duly signed merit badge application has been received and recorded by the troop, and added to an advancement report submitted to the council service center. The badge has been earned, and is not subject to challenge or arbitrary withholding.


Dear Andy,

Does a Scout have to do his overnight campouts with his troop to gain advancement, or can it be with another organization, such as a church group? (Carleen Merchant)

If you review the various requirements for ranks and merit badges that involve camping or hiking, you’ll notice that there’s some very specific language, such as “…with your troop or patrol…” and “…at a designated Scouting activity…” to note just a couple. So, to your question, yes, it’s fundamental that such activities are done within the milieu of Scouting.


Dear Andy,

I’m in the information technology field and in tossing ideas around for some fun activities for our Webelos I’ve thought about having them build computers. I have access to old working computers that are no longer needed. My though is that I’d break these down into their core components and then have the Webelos put them back together. The question is: Would this activity help in achieving any badge? (Tom Lekas, ACM, Northwest Suburban Council, IL)

What a very cool idea! And what an opportunity! You might check the Webelos activity badges, or the Sports & Academics requirements, to see if there’s anything that corresponds. On the other hand, it’s not exactly a bad idea to occasionally do something just for the fun of doing it… Not everything needs to have a piece o’ cloth at the end of the trail!

Dear Andy,

We’re having a running debate over what’s an “official” Scout uniform and can certain items on it be mandated to be worn, and can a Scout who’s not properly wearing his uniform be grounds for denying him a Scoutmaster conference and/or board of review?

The background here is that, a while ago, the Scouts voted to have name tags (embroidered cloth strips) as a part of their uniform, and a considerable amount of time was spent researching the cost and where to have them made and so forth. After they were all made up, the Scouts paid for them out of their monthly dues, and it was understood that it would be the responsibility of each Scout to get them sewn on their shirts.

My take is that this would fall under “Scout spirit.” Another dad involved with the troop considers “Scout spirit” to mean following the Scout Oath and Law, and not about name strips. So, I countered that, in that case, “a Scout is obedient” would cover it. But we’re still not in agreement.

So, should a Scout be passed up the ranks if he’s not properly wearing his uniform, consistently? Don’t you think the older Scouts, as they advance, should be role models, in all regards, for younger Scouts? All of this seems to go to the point of “Scout spirit” as well.

I don’t want to delay a Scoutmaster conference or board of review unnecessarily over this issue, but the Scouts have had these name tags for five months now, and many of them still haven’t had them sewn on. We’re looking for an incentive so that they do this. Any thoughts? (Name & Troop Withheld, Sam Houston Council, TX)

Let’s break your question down into separate parts…

– The Boy Scout uniform and badge placement are depicted and described on pp. 12-13 and the inside front-and-back covers of the Boy Scout Handbook-Eleventh Edition, and pp. 32-33 and the inside front-and-back covers of the Boy Scout Handbook-Twelfth Edition. (Notice that the notion of “troop uniform” is not an option.)

– Technically, sew-on names are not part of a Boy Scout uniform, although, optionally, name badges may be worn.

– Recognize that it would be the highly unusual Scout who sews on his own badges. This is typically the province of the parent, and therefore any conversation about “missing” badges would more likely better be done with the parent than the Scout.

– A correct and complete uniform is not a mandatory requirement for a Scoutmaster’s conference or board of review. In point of cold fact—having nothing to do with anyone’s opinions—the BSA states that “as complete a uniform as possible” is what’s expected (source: Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures).

Consequently, any troop that would deny an otherwise eligible Scout a conference or review on the basis of missing a less-than-official badge is severely missing the point. This strikes me as pedantic and smacking of martinet-like behavior… made all the worse by a Scoutmaster who himself allowed the Scouts to go astray in the first place.

This was the basis for our decision (excerpt from the Rules and Regulations on the BSA website): “Official Uniforms (Clause 2). The official uniforms authorized as evidence of official relationship to the Boy Scouts of America shall be those approved by action of the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America from time to time, as illustrated and correctly described in the handbooks, catalogs, and other official publications of the Boy Scouts of America.” In addition, we considered that the BSA’s uniform inspection sheet at referenced the name tag in the same manner that it referenced the (optional) neckerchief, both of which were voted on by the Scouts to be a part of the official troop uniform. Therefore, I respectfully disagree that we are being pedantic with respect to the name tag issue. Rather, our Scouts’ own vision for the troop is “More Fun, More High Adventure, and More Scout-Led.” The Scouts voted to have name tags, spent their dues to pay for them, and certainly they should be more than able to sew on the name tag within five months of having it issued. So, rather than being considered martinet-like, the Scouts themselves are, indeed, being more self-led. Consequently, the adult advisors do not have to continue enabling those Scouts who do not wish to step up to the plate. As Scoutmaster, I will recommend to the committee that we proceed with Scoutmasters’ conferences and boards of review and let the Scouts reward those who choose to wear the complete uniform—including their nametag.

Finding ways to acknowledge and reward (even if it’s a bite-sized “3 Musketeers” bar!) Scouts who get it right is absolutely the way to go, IMHO. Using less-than-perfect uniforming as a rationale for denying a conference or review isn’t. I believe you all are getting it right, in this regard.

That said, the term the BSA uses on the current uniform inspection form is nameplate; not “name tag.” Cloth, sew-on name tags are not official parts of the Scout uniform, optional or otherwise. Should they be thrown out and start over? Of course not! We’re talking about a piece of cloth with some stitching on it. But, let’s acknowledge that we don’t “ding” Scouts for not wearing something that isn’t official, anyway.

Let’s stick with the positive… It fits better with fun, high adventure, and all-around good Scouting!


Dear Andy,

My son is a brand-new Scout and I’ve just purchased his shirt and patches. Now I’m looking for some instruction that tells me just where each patch should go—I don’t want to mess this all up from the beginning. Where do these things go? (Sharyl Dybvig)

Just refer to the inside front and back covers of your son’s handbook, and also Google “uniform inspection sheet.”

Dear Andy,

Our troop’s new committee chair is of the opinion that the adults listed on the charter are not necessarily members of the troop; he feels that whatever is listed in “TroopMaster” software is the official listing of the troop membership. I need some link or document to demonstrate that members listed on the charter are indeed official members of the troop until they resign or drop off the roster when re-chartering occurs… or I need to know that my presumption is incorrect. (Doug Learn, ASM (former CC), Bucks County Council, PA)

When someone has filled out and submitted the BSA Adult Application (currently 28-501E) or a prior similar form, and paid the appropriate registration fee, that person’s name will appear of the council-provided unit roster, in the specific unit position for which he or she has registered. The application is the seminal document, and the unit roster is the valid, document-based support, showing without equivocation that this person is indeed registered as an adult volunteer with the unit. “TroopMaster” is a secondary file, and is, therefore, not authoritative. This applies to every unit-level adult registered with the troop. A person so registered remains a registered volunteer member of the troop so long as the annual registration fee is paid and he or she does not resign and is not removed by the Chartered Organization or its representative in collaboration with the committee chair. Every one of the more than 1.1 million adults across some 122 thousand traditional Scouting units in 307 BSA councils is registered in this manner.

Happy Scouting!



Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)(September 28, 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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