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Issue 195 – November 4, 2009

Dear Andy,

Can you clarify when local tour permits are required? Specifically, do Order of the Arrow events need a tour permit, or is a different form used? (Sandy Scharpenberg)

Most OA events—Ordeal weekends, camp cleanups, conclaves, and so on—take place on council property, for which no tour permit’s required. Anyway, there’s only one local tour permit form, so my guess would be this is the one that would be used =if an OA lodge or chapter went “off-site,” so to speak. Your local council service center should be able to tell you for sure.

Hi Andy,

Here’s an update I’ve just received: These are the merit badges that have been approved, with their approximate launch schedules: SCUBA, Q4 2009; Scouting Heritage, Q4 2009; GPS/GIS, Q1 2010; Robotics, Q2 2010. (Steve Hanson, Scout Shop Manager, Capitol Area Council, TX)

Thanks for the heads-up!

Dear Andy,

Couple of columns ago, a Scouter pointed out that on the back of the new, full-color merit badge pamphlets, there’s a photo of a Scout with two Camping merit badges on the sash. Well, someone at the national office must have gotten wind of this (or maybe they noticed all by themselves?), because a second press runs cropped him down so the duplicate badge doesn’t show. Even more recent pamphlets are now showing a Scout with the new Centennial uniform, complete with the new green shoulder loops and a new merit badge sash. Ah, the times they are a-changing. (Steve Hanson, Scout Shop Manager, Capitol Area Council, TX)

Maybe somebody at national reads my columns (just kidding)! Thanks for the new insights—it’s good to see little glitches like these getting fixed. They’re hardly “lethal” but they’re sure distracting for some folks!

Dear Andy,

I could have sworn I’ve seen this discussed somewhere, but I can’t find it now: With the issuance of the new Boy Scout Handbook, does this mean that all Scouts must now fulfill rank requirements as described in that book? Someone locally said that a Scout only has to complete requirements that are in his current handbook; that is, the 11th edition. Is this true? On one hand, I can see where a requirement is a requirement and all Scouts should be bound to meeting it. But on the other hand, an older Scout might not know all the revisions or updates if he’s using his personal handbook, and he might not be able to plan for them, even though the additional requirements don’t look too difficult to do. Can you clarify? (Jim Berklan)

It’s pretty straightforward…

The BSA has indeed created some new requirements, and some new opportunities, for Scouts advancing through the ranks, and has set a changeover date. Tenderfoot has one new requirement; Second Class, four; First Class, two; and Life, one (no changes for Star). In addition, there are two new qualifying leadership positions for Star, Life, and Eagle. All of these become effective on January 1, 2010, says the BSA.

This means, of course, that any Scout who completes any of these ranks byDecember 31, 2009 uses the current requirements, and that any Scout who will be working toward a rank other than Star or Eagle beyond December 31, 2009 will complete the new requirements in addition to the current requirements. This also means that any Scout who newly begins work toward Star, Life, or Eagle beginning January 1, 2010 will have two new leadership positions available to “tenure” in.

The handbook’s twelfth edition will, of course, be of help to any Scout who has not reached the rank of Eagle before January 1, 2010, and so it’s certainly a benefit to have one of these!

This being the twelfth edition, it’s obvious that something along these lines has happened up to eleven times before, and in all cases the changeover was neither particularly traumatic nor distressing. This falls in the Nike brand theme of “just do it.”

Here’s more on the subject of new handbooks…

Hi Andy,

As a Scout Shop Manager, I’m getting the question, “Do I have to have a new handbook?” Here’s what I’m suggesting: If a Scout is already (or nearly) First Class, then he doesn’t necessarily have to get his own copy of the newest handbook—although it’s a very good book—because the changes in requirements for Star and beyond are fairly modest. However, a troop would want to have at least a few reference copies for their older Scouts to use in training sessions with new Scouts who will be joining. And, every new Scout joining the troop from now on will want to have the new handbook. (Steve Hanson, Capitol Area Council, TX)

Thanks for your comments—a very sensible approach to the new handbook situation (which is hardly new—it happens about every ten years or so). BTW, the new handbook looks pretty terrific!

Dear Andy,

My dad and me were watching a bad lightning storm on the back porch. He told me you close the windows, because lightning will come inside on a draft or a breeze. I thought lightning goes from the ground, up and shouldn’t be able to come in that way unless there’s something shiny or metallic nearby. Who’s right? (Scout’s Name Withheld)

There are many types of lightning and lightning strikes. Some lightning strikes are ground-to-cloud; many are cloud-to-ground, and there are other types as well. For an excellent description of lightning in all its forms, try “Wikipedia”—just do a search for “lightning” and you and your dad can have a good read together! And, if your dad’s a Scouter, he can take a new BSA training course in weather safety, on-line!

Hi Andy,

I really enjoy your column. I’m a long-time reader and now a first-time writer. My problem is, hopefully, a simple one… I’m trying to locate a copy of the current Scoutmaster Handbook. I can’t find it at and the listing at says it’s currently unavailable. Is a new handbook being produced right now, making it temporarily unavailable? Or maybe I’m looking in the wrong places? I can’t imagine that such a staple of the movement isn’t available! (Pete McCarran, ASM, Rip Van Winkle Council, NY)

I just Googled “scoutmaster handbook” and found ancillary sellers through that have new copies available for as low as $7.50 plus $3.99 for shipping. Go for it!


Dear Andy,

I’ve been a faithful reader for years and I’ve learned much from your thoughtful, wise advice. My question concerns uniforms. In past columns, you’ve noted that it’s permissible to wear older Scout uniforms, patches, etc., provided they are official BSA equipment. In this 100th anniversary year, I’d like to honor the memory of the many Scouters who helped me on my journey to Eagle (‘64) by wearing some of the uniforms that were regulation when I was a Scout. Knowing that I may get challenged on this, could you please provide a BSA reference that I can use to defend my choice of Scout attire. Thanks so much for your column, and for all you do for Scouting. (Frank, UC, San Diego-Imperial Council, CA)

The “writing” is simplicity itself: Every Uniform Inspection Sheet says “Official”—as in “Official shirt/uniform shirt,” “Official pants/uniform pants,” etc., etc. Nowhere does it say “new” or “newest” or “latest version” or “only…” Therefore, if anyone’s stupid or insensitive enough to give you any lip at all, just tell ’em: “Go show me where it says that, in writing, and in the meanwhile, button yer lip and start acting like a Scout (or Scouter) should…There’s a little thing called “courteous,” or have you forgotten…?”

(Maybe they’re simply envious that you can still fit in your old Boy Scout uniform, while they’re suffering from a large case of “Dunlop’s Disease”!)

Dear Andy,

What book is the “Boy Scouts Requirements-2009”? I can’t seem to find it. (Ken Osfield, North Florida Council)

It’s Catalog No. 33216—a very common book that virtually all Scouts Shops should be carrying. If yours doesn’t, go and buy it… It’s $4.99 plus shipping and any applicable tax.

Hi Andy,

My son earned the Conservation Award. Where is it supposed to go on the uniform? (John Newton)

Centered on the right pocket. If there’s something already there, then he makes a choice as to which one he wants there.

Dear Andy,

Can a boy who earned his Cub Scout religious emblem (and square knot) transfer the square knot it to his Boy Scout uniform? (Angel Anderson, Blue Grass Council, KY)

Yup, he sure can! And there’s even a miniature “device” he can pin on it, that shows the program (i.e., Cub Scouts) in which he earned it. That way, when he earns it at the Boy Scout level, he can put that device on it, too!

Hi Andy,

What do we do when money that’s supposed to be in our unit’s bank account just isn’t there, and the treasurer, when asked where the money is, resigns instead of showing the necessary documentation? What’s the best next step? Do we go to our council people with our suspicions and paperwork, or is this a law enforcement issue? Do we confront the resigning treasurer, to provide the opportunity for an explanation? Do we just overlook it and move on? (Name & Council Withheld)

You go to the head of your unit’s sponsoring organization: The sponsor owns the unit; not the BSA or even your local council. This is a civil matter that may or may not need to be brought to the attention of the local authorities, in part depending on what sort of dollar amount we’re talking about here. The sponsor head will make the ultimate decision about this aspect. I’m sorry that this happened, and it’s why many units have a “checks-and-balances” system and also require more than a single signature on any check, and do not permit check-writers to write checks to themselves, regardless of the apparent legitimacy of receipts. Also, be very careful of what you put in emails or any other form of writing—better to use the phone or, even better, face-to-face. This avoids the possibility of libel (although it does not avoid slander). Finally, do understand that I’m not an attorney and what I’ve just said doesn’t constitute legal advice.

Hi Andy,

I’m a relatively new Assistant Scoutmaster. I’ve bee instructed that Scouts seeking ranks beyond First Class, in this troop, are required to complete a “Scoutmaster Conference Worksheet” before their actual conversation with the Scoutmaster, which they then submit for their board of review. (I’ve attached the worksheet for your reference—it was created by the previous Scoutmaster.) (Patrick Lesley, ASM, Bay Area Council, TX)

I’ve just read that pedantic, soul-sucking, cheerless form. What a load o’ horsepucky. This is anathema to the purpose of a Scoutmaster’s conference and should be burned; the author should be taken out and shot. Somebody needs to read the bloody Scoutmaster Handbook.

Dear Andy,

One of our troop’s Eagle Scouts is registered with us as an Assistant Scoutmaster although he’s away at college. He assists a local troop near his college as an ASM. He wants to stay registered with our troop rather than the one he’s working with, and pays us the yearly registration fee. My question is, does it matter? Our troop makes sure all registered adults have been trained for their positions, but I don’t know if this young man is trained or not. When he comes home, he occasionally goes camping with our troop, but not in the capacity of an ASM—he goes more as “just another Scout.” I’ve asked him to forward copies of his training cards to me, so I can update his records, but I haven’t received anything. Should his training (other than YPT) be a concern to our troop, or is his training the concern of the troop he’s presently working with? Do I continue to register him with our troop, or recommend that he register elsewhere? Does it matter? (Lori Carson, Tidewater Council, VA)

If this guy’s functioning as an Assistant Scoutmaster in a troop nearby where he’s residing for a while, it seems like it would make more sense for him to register with that troop. If he’s registering with your troop, but he’s not around to do much of anything, you’re essentially carrying dead weight. Send him his money back and suggest that he register in his present locale, and—after he’s done with college—if he returns to your area and would like to be actively involved with the troop, you’d be happy to register him again. This way, his “tenure” is unbroken and he’s registered where he’s actually contributing. What do you think?

As far as camping with the troop is concerned, he absolutely must camp as an adult, with the adults, and absolutely not camp as a Scout or in the Scouts’ campsite.

Hi Andy,

I’m a Wolf ADL and I’m looking to set up a website for our den. Can you tell me where I can find an easy way to set this up—one where I won’t need a lot of technical background? (Wendy McKenrick, ADL, Chester County Council, PA)

Websites are usually set up for packs and troops; not dens or patrols… Have a conversation with your pack’s Committee Chair first!

Dear Andy,

A week ago, a Scout directly lied to me about something that I’d asked him to do. Once I caught him in the lie, and asked him if he lied, he simply replied, “Yes, Sir.” There was no explanation, no admission of wrongdoing, no apology, and no remorse. Now, my problem is that I have a Scoutmaster conference with this same Scout, for First Class rank, and I don’t think I can sign off on his “living the Scout Oath and Law,” in view of this. Any thoughts? (John DeBellevue, SM, Longhorn Council, TX)

Of course, you’ve said nothing about the magnitude of this incident… That is, did he lie about chewing on a piece of gum when you’d told him not to, or did he lie about who burned the barn down? So here’s an overview…

Remembering that we Scouts promise to “do our best” to live up to the principles of the Scout Oath and Law—that is to say, we don’t commit to perfection, which is of course impossible—you may want to talk with this Scout, heart-to-heart, about what’s going on that would have caused him to not tell the truth, and what lesson or message, if any, he’s taken away from this “incident.”

Also, from your description, you didn’t ask for an explanation or any admission of purported “guilt,” you didn’t ask for an apology, and I’m not sure how you’d assess “remorse.” But, of course I wasn’t there and I can only rely on what you tell me.

Fact is, people “lie” all the time! Some by omission; some by commission; some do both. Can you, personally, “cast the first stone”? I know I can’t! But I can always find a lesson “inside” an incident that caused me to skirt the truth in order to protect myself in some way.

When you talk with this young man, be sure to not ask “why…?’ questions but instead ask “what…?” questions. For instance, never ever ask this Scout (or anyone!), “Why did you do that?” But do ask, “What was going on that caused you to say ___ instead of ___?”

Are you getting me here? Good! Because the most important thing to remember is that the good Scoutmaster never judges his Scouts; he first comes to understand them, then he guides and helps them grow into men.

Dear Andy,

Where is the Hornaday Conservation Badge worn on the Boy Scout uniform? (Randy Smith, ASM, Crossroads of America Council, IN)

The medal, when worn for special occasions, is pinned immediately over the left pocket, same place as Eagle, Religious, etc.

Dear Andy,

At camp last summer, half the children became sick. The leaders of the camp decided to keep the boys at camp—this was done without consultation with the parents. The illnesses half Norovirus and half a fast-moving flu with high fever (up to 103 F. for one or two days). In the end, two-thirds of the troop came down with one or the other—in part because the boys were required to stay in camp. The leaders there said, “It’s proper Scouting.” Is it?

Is it BSA policy to use the “permission to treat” forms as a substitute for parental authority? No contact was made with the parents until word leaked out by cell-phone and parents began calling. Then, the parents were contacted en masse and admonished for not trusting the leaders. No individual contacts were made with any parent about treatment decisions for their child; instead, the troop doctors took this upon themselves.

I’d like to find a BSA policy on parental notification in the event of illness and on the use of permission-to-treat in non-emergency conditions. (Name & Council Withheld)

As a parent myself, I can absolutely appreciate your concern for your son’s welfare as well as that of his friends in the troop. This is a matter that won’t be solved by tracking down rules. This needs to be talked out in person. If you try email, I can assure you of disaster. Instead, call your council’s Scout Executive and schedule an in-person meeting with him, to express your concerns and achieve closure. This is what Scout Executives are for, so help him earn his pay!

Hi Andy,

I’m writing on behalf of my son, who has been very busy—he’s had a week of Boy Scout camp and then a week at SEAL training for Sea Scouts, plus an extended time as a counselor at a marine biology camp. Time is running out as he tries to complete the requirements to advance to Life and then focus on Eagle prior to his 18th birthday.

My question is: To fulfill the Camping merit badge requirement 9, the Scout must have spent 20 days and 20 nights at a designated Scouting activity or event. My son has 15 with his Boy Scout troop, and five more with his Sea Scout ship. Does a Sea Scout overnight constitute a “Scouting activity” for the purposes of this merit badge? (Donna Woviotis)

Before we go any further, this is a question your son should be asking his Camping Merit Badge Counselor.

Those 20 days and nights can be spent on any Scouting activity, and Sea Scouts is definitely a Scouting activity—provided we’re actually camping, and not berthing below decks on a ship. The keys are these: Were at least 13 of these days and nights in a tent your son pitched or “under the stars,” and were no more than 7 at a Scout long-term camp where the tent was already set up?

Your son’s Merit Badge Counselor will be able to sort this all out for him. I suggest that he get in touch with that person immediately.

Hi Andy,

At camp this past summer, a couple of our Scouts received partials in Swimming and Woodworking merit badges. The requirements they needed to meet are the Second and First Class “Swim Test” and completing a woodworking project, respectively.

First, does it take a Merit Badge Counselor to complete Swimming merit badge if the only requirement remaining to be done is a rank requirement in the handbook, or can a leader sign off and the Scout receives the merit badge? Second, if the Scout has been trained on proper use of woodworking tools and techniques and the Scout started a canoe and didn’t complete the hollowing-out portion, can he complete the canoe and have a leader sign off?

I find it puzzling to have to wait an entire year to complete a merit badge, if the same MBC has to finish the “blue card.” (Chuck Morris, ASM, Pine Tree Council, ME)

No Scout needs to wait an entire year! Any Merit Badge Counselor listed by your district or council as covering the specific merit badge desired (e.g., Swimming, Woodworking, Woodcarving, Lifesaving, etc.) can help a Scout complete the requirements he began at camp. All the Scout needs to do is tell his Scoutmaster that he needs the name and contact information for a MBC who handles the merit badge, and his Scoutmaster will give him that information from the district or council MBC list. The Scout then makes the contact, meets the Counselor, and does the work. Can unit leaders sign off on merit badges? Absolutely not. Only MBCs can do this. BSA policy, my Scouting Friend!

Dear Andy,

We have a very aggressive advancement chair in our troop—not a bad thing in itself, I suppose, but, as a relatively new Scout parent, I’m wondering where an advancement chair’s responsibilities start and stop. Perhaps it’s because the Scoutmaster and some others might leave a bit of a decision-making vacuum, which this strong personality eagerly fills, but this advancement chair is determining which merit badges will be pursued during troop meetings each school semester, telling the Scouts what ought to be pursued on campouts (e.g., “Billy should cook some meals and Albert, Bubba, and Charles should identify poisonous plants!”) and so forth.

This person gets the Scouts to think about and pursue Eagle-required badges, so that rank advancements move along, but sometimes it’s almost too much. I’d thought that the Scoutmaster should be determining the general content of troop meetings and activities, but this advancement chair seems to be pretty much dictating all troop program content, and our Scoutmaster, being a pretty polite guy, doesn’t want to interfere with enthusiasm.

I’m afraid that, while we don’t want to subjugate an eager advancement chair into simply accepting filled-out cards, filing paperwork, and so on, we also don’t want this person essentially running the troop’s program. Or do we? It seems hard for this person to back off sometimes, especially since he’s “read up” and invested a lot of time in the job—and is no dummy by any means

This advancement czar that you’ve got isn’t a dummy, but he’s absolutely a power-monger and if he refuses to do his job as it’s supposed to be done, he should be canned on the spot.

Obviously, if anyone in the troop has taken even the most fundamental training, or done the most meager of reading, you already know you’ve got a megalomaniac whack-job on your hands.

Do your homework. You already know that merit badge work doesn’t belong in troop meetings, that the advancement coordinator doesn’t—in his infinite wisdom—pre-select merit badges for Scouts to work toward, and he sure doesn’t usurp the Scoutmaster’s role in chatting with Scouts about how they’re coming along. Since you already know this stuff, why in the name of all that’s holy do you tolerate this nonsense?

“Very aggressive” is definitely a bad thing, so let’s stop ignoring the elephant in the living room. “Pushing” Scouts to advance is a bad thing and you all need to stop being enablers. Pushing the Scoutmaster around is a bad thing that that “polite” Scoutmaster needs to tell this guy to go pound sand down a rat hole.

Yes, you absolutely want to change the title of this position to “advancement coordinator” and get the job back to what it’s supposed to be, which is paperwork and scheduling boards of review when the Scoutmaster tells him to (and that’s it, by the way).

This is more than a “strong personality”—this is a self-appointed Supreme Court Justice who has found a way to make all of you—Scouts and Scouters alike—do his bidding. If you want this troop to survive, bust him back to what he’s supposed to be doing or show him the door.

Ironically, this situation is probably more a case of others not stepping up to the plate, coupled with an inexperienced, non-assertive Scoutmaster who didn’t have much Scouting background before his kids started, rather than purely some brute threatening others out of the way. So it’s not as if there’s a huge outcry going on here, and most of us just don’t know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be done.

It’s basically what I’d call “hostage-taking” by a super-volunteer who winds up having others become so dependent him that they’re now convinced that they can’t do without him. He’s also smart enough to know how to out-flank any perceived threat to his power.

If the Committee Chair (who should also be the Chartered Organization Rep.) has the cajones to fire this Napoleon, it’s over and done with—there’s no “recourse” or pathway back into the unit—there’s no way or place to appeal the decision; it’s over and done with. And the good news is that all it takes is to say, “Thank your for your services; they’re no longer needed.” That’s it. Then, the CC tells the committee and SM, OK here’s how we’re going to divvy up this job, including we’re not going to do a lot of the stuff this guy was doing, because it’s unnecessary and it’s inappropriate.

Hi Andy,

Our pack’s committee has taken the position that “we’re not a baby-sitting service” and that all parents are required to be all ovf their sons’ meetings. Now I’m aware of the initiative that encourages parents to attend, but I’ve not seen anything that requires them to attend. According to our Cubmaster there’s a BSA policy that Tiger Cub parents must attend. But this overall attitude about parents showing up has cost our pack over 20 boys. Does the BSA actually have a policy like this? And, if so, can the Chartered Organization Representative override it? In fact, can the COR override any policy or vote of the pack committee if it’s determined that it’s not in the best interests of, inappropriate for, or dangerous to the boys in the pack? (Bob Rice, COR, Alapaha Area Council, GA)

Get yourself a copy of the BSA publication, The Chartered Organization Representative (No. 33118D) and the Guide To Safe Scouting (No. 34416). It’s all in those. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts…

Regarding mandatory parental attendance, the committee’s being excessive in their demands, and losing boys as a result. The whole object here is to serve as many youth as possible; not as few. To encourage parents is the limit of what can be done. Trying to enforce a “show up or else” policy will always lead to chasing people away, which is the very last thing we’re here to do in Scouting! However, the object is to encourage parents and families to attend pack meetings, not den meetings. It is absolutely not expected that parents and siblings attend den meetings and if this is being even encouraged, the committee doesn’t understand the Cub Scout program!

When pack meeting are built around getting the Cubs themselves in the spotlight (i.e., not making them a mere “audience” for entertainment of some sort), then parents will want to be there, to see their kid! This should be a no-brainer!

If the committee is contemplating some activity that violates a BSA safe Scouting policy, the COR has every right to read ’em the riot act, because it’s the Chartered Organization that will be a defendant in an injury lawsuit!

The COR also has total “hire-fire authority” so that if a unit’s committee starts going off the deep end, the COR can replace whomever is not figuring out how the Scouting program’s supposed to be delivered.

Dear Andy,

While at dinner, my dad saw a woman choking and he ran across the room to perform the Heimlich Maneuver (more than once) to dislodge the food that was stuck in her trachea. My dad’s a dentist and he’s always the first one to jump up if someone’s in need or in trouble. He’s not someone who goes about boasting about what he does. I believe this act of valor might be recognized with a BSA award for heroism, since he literally saved a life. But I don’t know who I should contact, or how one goes about applying for such a recognition for someone. If you know that would be great! Thank you for your time. (Eagle Scout’s Name Withheld, Indian Nations Council, OK)

Your father’s life-saving act is definitely noteworthy, and you’ve done the right thing by reaching out. Your next step is to get in touch with your council’s Scout Executive. The phone number to call is 1-800-367-1272. Give a call, ask for the Scout Executive, and describe just what you’ve told me. You’ll probably be given the name of the council advancement chair, and you’ll probably be asked to put together a letter containing as many details as possible. Also, you’ll likely be asked to provide date and exact location (the name of the restaurant, etc.), the names and contact information for as many witnesses as possible, including the woman who received aid from your dad. The entire process is a long one, so get on this right away!

Dear Andy,

Forgive me if this is well-trodden ground, but I can foresee a knotty situation developing in the year ahead and would like your thoughts.

Here’s the deal: In our pack we have some pretty organized and equally aggressive Webelos II Den Leaders, who have the Scouts in their dens earning just about everything under the sun, very, very early (they have enough stuff done, including Arrow of Light, to have crossed over to Boy Scouts in a year instead of 18 months).

So, how does a pack decide when to have a cross-over ceremony? I’m talking about a ceremony with quite a bit of extra stuff, like Indian dancers and so on—something that’s done just once in a year. What if all Webelos II Scouts don’t want to, or aren’t ready to cross over earlier than January? Does somebody vote, with the majority
deciding when this would be done? My concern is about boys who might not be quite as quick as others to get all this stuff done along with the “front-runners.” (Cubmaster, Northeast Illinois Council)

This is ground that’s always worth covering, and besides, no two situations are ever exactly alike! Let’s start by beginning at the beginning…

I can tell you from personal experience as well as the experience, nationwide, of the BSA program, that the Webelos-to-Scout Transition is five times more successful when it happens in the February-March window than when it happens in April or May or later. The 18-month Webelos program was introduced nationally in 1989 and immediately changed the face of Scouting! Until that time, Webelos Scouts transitioned in May or early June, and by September virtually 80% of those who had gone on to Boy Scouting had dropped out of the troops they’d joined just before the summer months. Shifted to February, 80% of those who transitioned stayed in their troops through the spring and summer and continued the following September! This turnaround in retention is too compelling to treat lightly or cast aside.

Despite this, even today, far too many parents (and some leaders, too) think Cub Scouting is a closed-end program; they don’t understand that the Webelos portion of the program is geared specifically to prepare boys for becoming Boy Scouts. With all of this preparation for a year-and-a-half, it’s a great pity that still so many boys don’t go on to “the real adventure” of Boy Scouting! The 18-month Webelos program, the encouragement by their Den Leader, and the concurrent education of the parents all contribute to retaining youth in the Scouting movement, and that’s what we’re all here to do!

A boy can become a Boy Scout when (a) he becomes 11 years old, OR (b) he completes 5th grade, OR (c) he earns the Arrow of Light award. Yes, these are all “OR” instances. Any one of them works.

That said, if a Webelos den has been together for some 18 months or more (often since they all were in the same Tiger Cub den), then it’s a really excellent idea for them all to transition together, so that they all now become a brand-new Boy Scout patrol (it’s not recommended that a group of Webelos II Scouts, upon joining a troop, get separated and “salted” into preexisting patrols).

February is, of course, the ideal month for a transition such as this. December is, frankly, a little on the short side. If some Webelos II Scouts have completed all the Webelos activity badges that they need for the Arrow of Light (they need only eight of the 20 available), plus the other requirements, there are still a dozen other activity badges that they, in their dens, can work toward! That’s surely enough to keep them all busy until February, and if some don’t earn all dozen remaining, that’s perfectly OK! Ultimately, it’s up to the Webelos Den Leader to more or less “choreograph” activities so that all of the boys in his or her den do earn their Arrow of Light and transition together. This is, in fact, one of the primary goals of the Webelos Den Leader! This point cannot be overemphasized.

If one or more boys in the Webelos II den is unsure about becoming a Boy Scout, most usually it’s actually the parents who are unsure. This goes back to their thinking that this is a closed-end program, and it’s up to the Webelos Den Leader to educate them, so that they understand the importance and value of moving on to the bigger adventure lying ahead! If they don’t understand this, it’s tantamount to telling their son, after he’s run a marathon and almost crossed the finish line, to turn and walk off the track without breaking the tape!

Hello Andy,

A Commissioner, I’ve come across a Den Leader, new to our council, who took her training in her previous council, and who mentioned at a recent Roundtable that Den leaders are not supposed to serve in any other capacities in their packs, including committee positions. When I asked her where she got that information, she could only remember reading it in some Scouting publication (a Den Leaders or Pack Leaders book). I’ve looked through my collection of leaders guidebooks going back ten years, and can find no printed references confirming her statement anywhere. Do you know if this is actually a BSA policy or not, and where it’s officially printed? (Mike Czyzewicz, ADC, Blackhawk Area Council, IL/WI)

In various BSA training guides as well as in various BSA guidebooks for adult unit volunteers, it’s pointed out that the Chartered Organization Representative (“COR”) is the one position that can multiple-register as a unit committee member (it’s often suggested that the COR and the unit committee chair are frequently the same individual). Implicit in this is that other adults do not have multiple registrations within the same unit: A Cubmaster, for instance, doesn’t simultaneously register as a committee member, or a committee member as a Den Leader, and so on. But if you have to have absolute “proof,” then just look at the BSA’s Adult Application itself. It there states in no uncertain terms that one is not permitted to register in more than one position in a unit. So there you have it: It’s a BSA policy (i.e., not a “guideline,” “suggestion,” or even “recommendation”) and it’s stated right on the application. Done deal!

Happy Scouting!



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(November 4, 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.

Read Andy's full biography

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