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Issue 191 – October 7, 2009

Dear Andy,

My son just started Cub Scouts and we’re working on his belt loops. Is there a belt loop for Tae Kwon Do? My son has been taking this for several years and continues to participate. It seems that if there are belt loops for football, basketball, table tennis, etc., there should be one for other activities that are just as athletic. Even more so for the type of activities that encourage diversity. (Daniel Lim)

You’ve asked a very good question!

The first thing I’d recommend—just between you n’ me—is that it’s better for parent-and-son in Cub Scouting to work together on achievements (that is, Tiger, Wolf, whatever level your son happens to have started in) than the CS Academics and Sports program, because that program is supplemental and is largely den activity-oriented.

The CSA&S program offers 17 academic areas and 23 sports areas, with more on their way. Notice that none of the sports involve “body-contact” or “hitting.” Tae Kwon Do, on the other hand, means “the way of the foot and fist,” as in “how to kick and punch.” The very nature and emphasis of Tae Kwon Do—even if conducted without an opponent—is what most likely keeps it from being a part of any Scouting emphasis, just as football, boxing, Ju Jitsu, Karate, fencing, and so on are not parts of the Scouting program. It’s neither about athleticism nor diversity—it’s about a sport that has at its heart the concept of striking aggressively another.

Moreover, not everything that a boy does in Cub Scouting or Boy Scouting has a “badge,” “patch,” or “belt loop” at the end of the trail. Some things are done for the joy of doing them, and this is satisfaction enough.

So, while as a parent I applaud your son’s interest in the Tae Kwon Do discipline and encourage you to continue to bond with your son in this way, I would say don’t worry about belt loops and such, because the main Cub Scout advancement trail gives him many, many opportunities to explore new areas with both Dad and Mom, and to receive recognitions for having done these things!

Dear Andy,

Our troop is doing a newsletter for our Scouts and parents. My question has to do with pictures with Scouts’ names under them. We know that this is not to be done on Internet websites, but what about troop newsletters that go only to people involved in the troop? (Rick Miller, Great Sauk Trail Council, MI)

A troop newsletter is a wonderful idea; however, because it’s impossible to predict where printed newsletters wind up, it’s advisable to omit minors’ names directly associated with photos. For more on this, check with your council’s risk management (or similar) committee.

Dear Andy,

I’m currently moving from Cubmaster to Scoutmaster, along with my son, who has earned his Arrow of Light and is graduating to Boy Scouts. We’re trying to get his uniform ready, and we’re wondering: Does the “Recruiter” patch he earned as a Cub Scout transfer over to his Boy Scout uniform? (He’s been in the tan shirt since he was a first-year Webelos.) Also, when we remove the Webelos badge from his tan shirt, does it get replaced with the “Scout” patch, or are there requirements for him to do before he can wear it? (I know that the first Boy Scout rank is Tenderfoot, but is there a patch he wears to signify that he’s a Boy Scout, or does the pocket stay empty until he makes Tenderfoot?) (Jason Duhamell, Lincoln Trails Council, NE)

Regarding the “Recruiter” patch, the general rule is that, except for the Arrow of Light badge, patches or badges earned in the Cub Scout program don’t transfer to a boy’s Boy Scout uniform. Regarding Boy Scout advancement, the Webelos rank badge is replaced by the “Scout” badge following the completion of several requirements, as described in the Boy Scout Handbook (any edition).

Hello Andy,

I’m writing on behalf of my 15 year-old son, who has special needs: he’s on a ventilator, in a wheel chair, and can’t read or write. He can speak, not at great length, but he does comprehend quite a bit. He’s working on his ranks and merit badges with hopes of earning Eagle, but clearly he can’t do everything. How do we know what to do as is, and what to alternate? I don’t want it to be easy for him, but I also don’t want to push him farther than he can go. I’m willing to do a lot with him. I have read a lot of things and discussed them with him. We work on things together but I do a lot of the work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially things like altering requirements and service project ideas. (Name & Council Withheld)

Congratulations to your son for making these efforts, and to you for being there, at his side. Yes, there is an alternate advancement path available to him, and it’s described in several BSA books, including Boy Scout Requirements and Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures, which you and your son’s Scoutmaster and troop committee need to read and contemplate together. The upshot is that, while alternate requirements may be developed for him, via collaboration between his troop’s adult leaders (i.e., not his parent, regardless of how well-meaning your intentions might be) and the district or council advancement committee. Moreover, it’s not your place to do his work for him, because there’s neither glory nor any feeling of self-accomplishment for him if he hasn’t done the work himself. So, begin a conversation with his Scoutmaster and troop committee immediately—don’t wait.

That said, do also keep in mind that Boy Scouting is not in any way purely about “advancement.” Many boys and young men get a great deal from the program, even when advancement to Eagle is not necessarily in their future. Participation is the key. The more your son’s generally able to participate in, the more he’ll enjoy the Scouting program and the more he’ll take away from it experiences and learnings that can last a lifetime. So, don’t make “Eagle” your objective: Make as full an experience as possible under the circumstances your goal for your son. Ranks and merit badges are for him—not you on his behalf—to earn.

Dear Andy,

Is “Webmaster” a new troop officer position, or is it still under the Scribe or Historian office? (Craig Scharpenberg)

It’s a new Boy Scout youth leadership position.

Dear Andy,

Is there a rule that allows a Scout with medical disability to earn Eagle after his 18th birthday? I thought I’d read one, but can’t find it. (Harry Cummings, ASM, Chester County Council, PA)

Check out two BSA books: Boy Scout Requirements and Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures. You’ll find just what you’re looking for!


Dear Andy,

Our district’s Roundtables are on the third Thursday of each month. We have a couple of units in our district that meet on Thursdays. The leaders in these units meet all the requirements for their service knots, with the exception of Roundtable attendance. (Granted, they have the option to go to our council’s University of Scouting, but they don’t have as many options as the leaders in units that don’t meet on Thursdays. My District Commissioner is putting pressure on me, as Roundtable Commissioner, to change the Roundtable night, but that just shifts the problem to another night. I’m also concerned that having an inconsistent Roundtable night will make things more confusing. I’m looking for an alternative here. I’m sure these people can go to another district’s roundtable, but I’m not sure if there are any neighboring districts with Roundtables on a night other than Thursday, plus, they could be of less value and information communication than one’s own district Roundtable. I’m looking for a win-win, but without changing the requirements. Any thoughts? (Carl Sommer, RTC, Occoneechee Council, NC)
These folks, instead of putting undue and unnecessary pressure on you, might consider starting by reading the progress records, starting with the Boy Scout Leader’s Training Award and the Scoutmaster’s Key: Each of these lists the requirements for these recognitions. In the case of the first one, attending six Roundtables in a two-year period is (a) hardly oppressive or impossible and (b) is just one of 12 optional requirements of which merely five are to be completed. In the case of the second, there are no requirements to attend Roundtables at all! As for Cub Scouting recognitions, the situations are similar. So any argument to change nights for folks who have no real burden anyway, or a minor one at best, tends to fall pretty flat. Obviously folks can skip a unit meeting once is a while (gives assistants a chance to practice what they’ll be actually doing “full-time” in a year or so), or, as you suggest, go to a different district’s Roundtable, on another night, if they really want to. My take? Simple: Stick to your guns and continue to serve the greatest number.


Hi Andy,

I just signed up my son to be a Bear Cub Scout. I started looking at the advancement badges and one is “faith and religion.” My son knows good from bad and right from wrong, and he’s never been to any church. If my son has to have a religion that he’s supposed to follow, I have a problem with that. I was in Scouts back in the late 60s-early 70s and I don’t recall any prayers or religious stuff. I’d like to know the policy on religion in Cub Scouts. (Glenn Folley)

I’m guessing you’re talking about the Bear achievements 1a and 1b. Understanding that Scouting does include having a fundamental belief in God by any name, these two achievements are not inappropriate to what the Scouting program in general and the Cub Scout program in particular is designed to teach or instill. Notice that both of these achievements provide that whatever is done “in your home” is perfectly acceptable, and after having done these simple things with his parents, your son may have his book signed by you, his Akela.

As far as “times change,” yes, they do. I just looked at a Bear Cub Scout book published in 1948. Nothing on faith was included, but there was an Arrow Point opportunity for Boxing! However, the BSA, although absolutely nonsectarian in every way, has always held that a fundamental belief is one of the cornerstones of good citizenship—and that principle goes all the way back to “Day One.”

Dear Andy,

I was at my district committee meeting and they said they’d heard that I’m the new District Planner. I didn’t have a clue what they’re talking about. So, what does a District Planner do? I can’t find the position on the website. (Ken Horne, Greater Yosemite Council, CA)

Well, in the first place, we’re a volunteer organization, so you never have to accept an ostensibly “assigned” position without first being told what it entails and agreeing to it, or modifying the “offer” to fit your availability and interests. So, go ask, and see if it’s something you might want to tackle. If it’s not, don’t be shy—Folks usually don’t do well when they’re railroaded into volunteer jobs!

Dear Andy,

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

No, it’s not. When the next patrol elections of Patrol Leaders rolls around, every member of the patrol (except, most likely, the incumbent Patrol Leader) is eligible to be elected. Then, the newly-elected chooses his APL, based on his own criteria. So what happens to former Patrol Leaders? Why they become troop Guides, troop OA Representatives, Scribes, and so on! They’re also, of course, eligible to stand for election to Senior Patrol Leader, or being selected by the new SPL to be an ASPL!

Well, does this mean that the incumbent Patrol Leader shouldn’t run for a second term?

I didn’t say that… If, in your troop, you want to offer incumbent PLs the opportunity for a “second term,” that’s perfectly OK. But there are myriad opportunities in addition to this, and we want our Scouts to keep trying new stuff; not get wedded to the old. (Besides, wouldn’t it be a little embarrassing for an incumbent PL to run again, and lose?) Think it over… I’m sure good sense will prevail!

Dear Andy,

I’ve not been able to locate anything online about “community service” guidelines—is there any publication on this? For instance, can a Scout count his time as an altar boy as community service time? Our troop committee is split on the decision to allow a Scout to use his altar boy time this way, because his father is the minister of the church and so some of us feel that since the Scout “has” to go to church with his family, there’s no great effort put forth here; however, a Scout making the time to schedule, organize, and show up for duty at, let’s say, a Ronald McDonald House, is a different story. Your thoughts would be helpful. Also, are we correct in stating that Scouts who help a fellow Scout in his Eagle project can be allowed to count that time as “service hours”? (CC, Council Withheld)

Being made to go to church (if that’s actually the case, of course) and sitting in the pew with one’s family, versus serving as an acolyte at one’s church would seem to me to be in two different categories. A parallel might be going to school versus serving in some capacity of service (i.e., not merely being a student) while there. For us employed older folks, it might be the difference between going to work and putting in our time versus serving on a company-supported community service committee or activity during our normal working hours. In short, there’s a difference between what one is obliged to do and what one elects to do, because being an acolyte is definitely not something that’s mandatory (even if going to church happens to be). Since our mission in Scouting is to encourage and support service to others, it would be an unusual rationale that would prohibit acknowledgment of this Scout’s service to his church and its members. Further, since the argument for denying this Scout acknowledgment of his service as an acolyte is at least partly based on his father’s calling, you’re implying that another Scout who is an acolyte and does not have a father who is a minister would be in the clear, in this regard. I hope you can see the potential unfairness of what can only be called a double-standard. Bottom line: Since the main point of the requirements for Second Class, Star, and Life (note that there’s no comparable requirement for First Class) is to encourage a Scout to offer service to others, then serving as an acolyte, regardless of one’s “back-story” as it were, should be more than acceptable. Your best “guideline” in this area will almost always be your own good sense.

As for helping a fellow Scout on his service project for Eagle, this should be unquestioned. The answer is, of course, that this can and should definitely be acknowledged.

In all cases, how the Scout gets there and gets on with the rest of his day afterward is not a part of the consideration… Some may hitch a ride with a parent; others may take public transportation, still others might walk or use their bicycle, and yet others may “car-pool” with a buddy Scout and his driving parent. Yet none of this matters, because it’s outside the area of the service itself.

All of the foregoing falls to the Scoutmaster to make the very best decisions possible, in conformation with the mission of the Scouting program, and I hope you’re willing to share this conversation with him.

Dear Andy,

Are cork guns approved for Cub Scouts? (Shelly Rawlins, RTC, Verdugo Hills Council, CA)

Why would they need to be? Cub Scouts can shoot real bb-guns under the direction of a qualified range officer at a supervised range on BSA property, so who wants to mess with cork pop-guns!

Hi Andy,

My question’s about finishing one’s Eagle requirements—specifically the Eagle service project.

About two months before his 18th birthday, with just the project to go, for Eagle, my son approached individuals at our local park about redoing some of their picnicking shelter roofs. The individual he talked with strung him along for over a month; finally, with only about three weeks to go before his birthday, this individual told my son that the project he wanted to do had been taken by another Scout, and that he didn’t have anything for him. (Coincidental with this, we were gone for a week on a family trip.)

When we returned, we came up with the idea of doing something at our township baseball field. We checked it out and then contacted one of township supervisors, who met with my son at the ball field and described what he’d like to have done. My son told him that the project sounded good, and the supervisor got the OK for it from the town at their next meeting, then contacted us with the green light. My son gave the supervisor a list of materials he’d need to do the project, and the supervisor agreed, but held back ordering the metal roofing till after the other refurbishments would have been completed. The materials, minus the roofing, were delivered, and my son and his helpers went to work—and they completed everything they could possibly do, except for the roofing of course, before his 18th birthday (the shelters sat with tarps over them, awaiting delivery of the roofing). Unfortunately, because the roofing was ordered later, the material didn’t arrive until five days after his birthday.

My son had in good faith completed everything he could, save the roofing—the ordering and delivery of which he had no control over.

My son did go back with his help crew and finish the work, but because the roofing was ordered late and delivered later, the entire work wasn’t completed before his 18th birthday.

To me, it doesn’t seem fair that he has to suffer the consequence of not being able to get his Eagle award because of another person’s delays. Are there any allowances that can be made for situations like his, or is he just out of luck? (Name & Council Withheld)

Scouting’s all about learning “life lessons.” Maybe your son’s learned a few lessons the hard way. Like planning is important—You can’t cram for a harvest. Or that we can’t guarantee the actions of another person. Or unless we move the ball forward, it’s not going to move by itself. Or, as Theodore Roosevelt said nearly a hundred years ago, the only shots that count are the ones you fire.

That said, there’s also a small window of opportunity. You’ll notice, in the ESLSP Workbook, there’s a place to describe “changes.” This might be used to describe how the original project plan couldn’t be fully carried out because of the actions (or inactions) of others, over whom your son had no control. Couple this with a letter of detailed explanation by the recipient of the service (the same person who signed off at the end of the project) about how the needed roof materials weren’t ordered in time to match the work party schedule. Then your son takes both the workbook and the letter to the district advancement person whose signature is needed and asks for a sign-off on the basis that all the work that could be done was, in fact, done.

This is for the review of your district or council advancement committee, so your son should waste no time in getting his documentation together and presenting it. Advancement committees are largely made up of volunteers, and they’re usually pretty fair and even-minded folks. So I’d definitely give this a shot.

Dear Andy,

I’m a Webelos Den Leader, and we’re going on a pack campout next weekend. At our last campout, one of my boys brought his Nintendo DS’s (that’s right, he has two of them!). We’d told our own son that electronics on a campout was inappropriate and he could find better ways to occupy his time, but we seemed to be the only ones there who bothered by this. I know that when the boys cross over to Boy Scouts they won’t allow electronics. Should we be standing up on the issue now? I was hoping to approach the boy’s parents before our next campout. (Jen Haubrich, Cornhusker Council, NE)

Yes, “electronics” really don’t have a place at Cub Scout family camping events and should be left home. If they’re present, the leaders should be asking the boys’ parents to capture these and put them away in a safe place till the outing’s concluded. Parents who are reluctant, or who refuse, may need to be told that it’s not an area for opinions or discussion: It’s no and a pack policy, so that’s that, and if they still have a problem they may need to look elsewhere for a parent-son activity.

Dear Andy,

This is about Eagle Scout letters of recommendation. As I read the second of the requirements listed on the official Eagle Scout Rank Application, I don’t see that letters of recommendation are explicitly required: “…List the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf.”

I sit on Eagle boards of review. I’ve yet to see an application that hasn’t included letters of recommendation. But in reading the actual requirement, it seems like an actual letter isn’t mandatory. So, how would you interpret that requirement? (Vince Brashear, ASM, Las Vegas Area Council, NV)

Having myself sat on a bunch of Eagle boards, I can confirm that the usual recommendation is provided in letter form. However, this isn’t mandatory, which is confirmed in Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures.


Dear Andy,

Our troop wants to visit the Centennial Jamboree in 2010 for three or four days, instead of going to summer camp. However, I’ve heard that the BSA has a rule that units not registered as actual Jamboree participants can only go for one day and can’t camp within 50 miles of the Jamboree site (I’m told that tour permits for this will be rejected). I also read on the Jamboree website that “visiting Scouts will not be able to participate in action center and/or program area activities.” To me, this means that visitors can walk around and look at stuff, but can’t participate in any of the good stuff, which doesn’t sound like much fun for a group of energetic Scouts. That would be like going to Disney World and not being allowed to go on any of the rides. Do you have any information on whether what I’ve just described is correct, or who I can contact to clarify them? We’ll can the idea if walking around if that’s all that’s available to visitors. (Matt Riti, CC, Central New Jersey Council)

As far as I know, that sounds about right… Visitors are just that: Visitors. They’re not participants. Participants have paid fees that cover the costs of the action centers and program areas; visitors haven’t. The proper analogy might be more like wanting to “visit” a movie theater and, while there, see the film, but not pay the admission fee that the actual audience has paid to see the movie. To stick with your own analogy, maybe you can explain how someone gets into Disney World without paying the entrance fee? But of course we’re dealing with hearsay. Your best bet is to pick up the phone, call the national office, and ask to speak to someone in the Jamboree Division.

Regarding the Disney analogy, as far as I know, unless someone wants to sneak into Disney (which is illegal of course) there’s no way to get in without paying the entrance fee (unless you get a complimentary pass or something to that effect). The analogy was meant to show how being at a fun place but not being able to participate in any of the fun stuff is not a lot of fun. It wasn’t meant to suggest or condone “theft of services.”

“Being in a fun place but not being able to participate” is quite different from visiting a Jamboree (no “visitors’ fee,” of course) and wanting to do what the Scouts who paid to be there are doing. Go visit, and enjoy the exhibits and stuff that are open to all! But do check with the BSA Jamboree Division.


Dear Andy,

Discipline seems to be a gray area in Scouting books. We had a Star Scout bring fireworks to summer camp. His dad, who is also the Scoutmaster, dealt with the issue personally—it wasn’t brought to the troop committee—by suspending his son from the troop for two months and removing him from his Patrol Leader position while at camp. But this suspension was during the summer months, so not much happen, anyway. This same Scout now wants a board review for Life rank. I’d like your thoughts on the chosen disciplinary action, and whether you think the troop committee should have been brought into the picture. (Name & Council Withheld)

Since I don’t know what state you’re in, I don’t know if possession of fireworks results in being thrown in the slammer or not, so I’m going to assume that this was in the category of “slightly rebellious and pretty dumb teenager.”

What to do is, of course, an on-the-spot call, and we all make the best decisions we can, at the moment we have to make them. For me, had I been the Scoutmaster, I probably would not have “suspended” the Scout (son or not), because this is effectively prevents him from learning the life lessons that Scouting subtly teaches! It’s like saying to a student who cheats on a math test (maybe because he’s weak in that subject) that he can’t take math anymore. In situations like this, removing a youth from exactly what he needs most can sometimes be even dumber than the offense itself!

Should the committee “get involved”? Nope. It just isn’t that big a deal, and we’re not going to turn it into a federal case. Besides, it’s the Scoutmaster’s responsibility to deal with stuff like this directly; only if he’s confronted with a problem larger than he’s able to handle does he need to involve the troop committee.

Now had the Scout brought a cherry bomb or two and blown up a latrine, I’m sure I’d feel differently. But in a situation that’s really about being mischievous more than about bringing harm to anyone, I think it’s best left alone.

As for a board of review, if the Scout’s completed all requirements for a rank, he’s entitled to this as fast as one can be convened! The committee does not have the authority or right to withhold a board of review from an otherwise qualified Scout, for any reason. However, it’s not inappropriate to ask him, in that conversation, what lesson, if any, he took away from that incident. But if the committee thinks in any way that they have the arbitrary right to “flunk” this kid, they’re sadly misguided, misinformed, and mistaken. Scouting is about “teaching moments”—It’s not about “crime and punishment.”

Hi Andy,

I’ve been a loyal reader for years, and cannot count the number of times your column has set me straight on something. I proudly wear my “Ask Andy” pin on my uniform shirt, and have referred countless Scouts and Scouters to your columns. So thanks for all you do for Scouting!

I’ve read many times over those years your clarification on the question of Eagle candidates and requesting letters of reference. Recently though, it was pointed out to me that the 2008 printing of the Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures publication (33088) includes the following update under “Step 6” (page 31): “If desired by the council, the candidate may be asked to deliver a blank reference form and envelopes to the listed references.” Additional text about late or missing references has also been added following that sentence.

So as much as I’ve agreed with you that there was no provision for Eagle candidates to obtain their letters of reference in the past, it appears that may have changed somewhat. What’s your take on this? (Jack Boyle, District Advancement Chair, Northern New Jersey Council)

My take is that this is the most meaningful provision in Step 6: “A Scout cannot have a board of review denied or postponed because the council advancement committee does not receive the reference letter forms he delivered.”

This carries with it the further implication that even if no such forms are used, the absence of any reference responses cannot be used to justify the withholding of a board of review.

Thanks for your loyalty and for asking very intelligent questions!

Dear Andy,

I’ve been using your advice to help our Scouting program, and it helps a lot. Some people don’t bother to take the time to read how this program should work. I’ve been involved in the Scouting program for close to 27 years, first as a youth (I made Eagle) and now as a leader for my son’s troop (I also help out on council Eagle boards of review).

On one of the campouts when I first became involved with the troop, we heard about a Scout (let’s call him “Billy”) who was taken in for questioning at school for passing fake $20 bills. (According to a relative of mine who’s on the police force, the story’s true, and so long as Billy keeps his nose clean, there will be no charges filed.)

Billy is now eligible for his Eagle rank board of review, which here is done at the council, not the troop, level. No one at the council level is aware of this situation and Billy’s Scoutmaster hasn’t divulged that he knows anything, but all the Scouts in the troop are aware, because they’re all in the same school.

Can (or should) the board of review deny Billy his rank because of this situation, or are we to base our decision based solely on his actions while a Scout? (We always try to mention to candidates that an Eagle Scout is always held to higher standards, and people will expect more out of an Eagle, so that if they do bad later in life, the fact that they’re an Eagle Scout is always brought out first, which sheds a bad light on Scouting overall.) Also, if we allow him to pass, what does that tell the other Scouts in his troop? (Name & Council Withheld)

The purpose of Scouting is to educate youth in ethical decision-making. This is typically accomplished via “life-lessons” learned along the Scouting trail. What life-lesson, if any, has this young man learned? Has he paid his “debt” for this transgression? Is he seeking a better way, in his life, as a result of this incident? Or are we to hold this over his head for the duration of his Scouting career and perhaps beyond?

Much of this depends on the conversations the Scoutmaster has had with this young man… There isn’t just one “Scoutmaster’s conference,” you know—these conversations are ongoing for the entire seven years a boy and young man will devote to Scouting. What does the Scoutmaster have to say?

Apparently, there are no formal charges here, meaning that there’s no felony or even misdemeanor on file—we have, in effect, a teenager who made a mistake. Did Billy make good on the $40 he owed others? Was this actual dishonesty, or was this a youth’s “can I actually pull this off?” sort of thing? What has his family done about it? Was he suspended from school, or “Dutch Uncle’d”? If, as you say, it will be forgotten so long as Billy’s behavior shows that this is truly a thing of the past, from which he’s learned a lesson, then perhaps we need to put it in the past, too?

As for the Scouts in his troop, perhaps there’s one or more among them who can “cast the first stone”? But, somehow, I’d doubt this.

What happens next is largely between this Scout and his wise and knowing Scoutmaster.

Dear Andy,

My son is getting close to Star rank. Requirement 3 states: “Earn six merit badges including any four from the required list for Eagle.” At the bottom of this same page in his handbook it says: “A Scout may choose any of the 15 required merit badges in the 12 categories to fulfill Requirement 3.” My son would like to use both the Swimming and Hiking merit badges to fulfill this. But because it’s stated in the Eagle requirements section that he can’t use both of these to fulfill his merit badge requirements for Eagle, his Scoutmaster interprets this to mean that he can’t use both, now, to fulfill the Star rank requirement. To help my son, I need an interpretation. (Name Withheld, Central Florida Council)

It’s important to note that no “interpretation” is actually necessary; the requirement is absolutely clear in its language: ANY of the 15! The “split” doesn’t occur until the Eagle rank, and that’s why the Star requirement says any of the 15 and not 12 of the 15. Your son’s Scoutmaster, while meaning well I’m sure, doesn’t need to be so confining, because the BSA itself is not and no one is authorized to supersede the BSA.


Happy Scouting!



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(October 7, 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.

Read Andy's full biography

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