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Issue 210 – March 28, 2010

Dear Andy,

I was going through my old Scout equipment the other day with my grandson. Even though I’ll be 58 this year I still have everything I used when Scouting was a big part of my life. My grandson, who’s just 6, was full of questions about everything. While we were taking my mess kit apart and putting it back together, he asked me a question I couldn’t answer. Maybe you can help. What were the holes in the frying pan handle used for? I just drew a blank, but promised to find out for him. Did they actually have a use? I know this may be a stupid question, but I need to know. Thanks! (David Kane)

That’s not a stupid question at all! In fact, your grandson has pretty sharp and inquisitive eyes! The small round hole at what would be the rear of the handle (when reversed and screwed tightly, for making the handle) would have a piece of twine through it, so the pan could be hung on a twig to dry after washing. The oval hole was simply to reduce the amount of aluminum needed and to strengthen that angled portion of the handle/clamp.

Now that these mysteries are solved, I hope you’ll take him out in the back yard and do some cooking with it, just like you did as a Scout! (Do you remember how we’d make a soapy paste to coat the outside of the pan and pot, to make them easier to clean later?) Have fun!

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your terrific columns!

I ran into a strange situation… I was informed at the council’s Scout shop that the oval Webelos badge has been discontinued for 2010 (actually, the person behind the counter said that the oval badge orders will not be shipped out at all in this centennial year), so that Webelos Scouts with tan shirts will have to use the blue, diamond-shaped Webelos badge or the centennial diamond-shaped Webelos badge instead. Why temporarily discontinue the oval badge only to bring it back next year? I would think most would have preferred the option to select either current badge or the centennial badge, in either oval or diamond format. (Kirk Sumida, Aloha Council, HI)

I just happened to be at my local council service center earlier today and dropped by the Scout shop. Guess what… There, in a bin, plain as the nose on my face, were the 2010 oval Webelos badges! So, I’d have to say at this point that whomever you spoke with was pretty uninformed! But the good news is that your Webelos Scouts definitely have an oval badge for their tan shirts—and it’s a Centennial badge, to boot!

Dear Andy,

I’m trying to locate an updated version of BSA bylaws and I can’t seem to find it on any of the scout sites I looked at. The question is, when a volunteer is removed from a district committee position, how is that position filled again? Does it have to follow the same rules as when nominating a new committee and its members at the start of each charter year? (Tina Mitchell, South Florida Council)

Short answer: Yup.

Hi Andy,

We have two Webelos II and three Webelos I Scouts, and need to know if we can start our own Boy Scout troop. How many youth members do we need, to do this? (Glenda Kohli, Black Swamp Area Council, OH)

Check with your local council, particularly your District Executive, but as I recall it takes a minimum of five boys to start a troop. There’s also a minimum number of adult volunteers needed, so be sure to check. Do you have a sponsor? A place to meet?

With all of this, is there some reason why these boys wouldn’t be joining a nearby troop that’s already established?

Hi Andy,

I’m helping our latest Eagle Scout’s mom with her son’s court of honor. I’m looking for the list of people to write to, for requesting letters of congratulations (e.g., the President, State Governor, Senators, and so on). I found one online last year, but for the life of me I can’t find it now. Any information you can send my way would be appreciated. (Julie Monser, Los Padres Council, CA)

Just Google “eagle congratulations letter” or simply go right here:

Dear Andy,

My son’s been a Den Chief since December 2009. He still needs Den Chief training, but there are no such courses available in our area. I’ve seen them offered at University of Scouting Pow Wows in the past, but, unfortunately, last year none was offered. Then, he was scheduled to take this training at a nearby merit badge college, but due to the weather, this event had to be rescheduled and the Den Chief training was dropped. I recently saw that Den Chief training can be completed on-line. Can my son take the on-line version to fulfill his requirement, or is that just a kind of “fast-start”-type training to inform a Scout of what he can expect to do as a Den Chief, so that he’ll still need to attend a formal Den Chief training course? (Robye Delaney)

If your son’s been a Den Chief for some 3-1/2 months (and he’s presumably being trained, OJT-style, by his Den Leader), what does he “need” a further Den Chief training course for? Even the Den Chief Service Award can be earned (see req. 2) without attending a formal training course, when the Scout is trained by either the Den Leader or an Assistant Cubmaster.

Dear Andy,

Can new Boy Scouts (recently bridged from Webelos) carry a pocket knife, if they’ve previously earned their Whittlin’ Chip, but haven’t yet earned their Totin’ Chip yet? (Lisa Stephens)

A Webelos Scout recently bridged to a troop and Boy Scouting would do himself well to show his Whittlin’ Chip to his Scoutmaster and state that he’d like to earn his Totin’ Chip. The Totin’ Chip is for Boy Scouts (the Whittlin’ Chip’s for Cubs), so it’s a natural thing to want to earn this as quickly as possible! Of course, until he’s earned his Totin’ Chip, he’d be well-advised to leave his knife safe at home.

Hi Andy,

I’m in the middle of an “issue” with one of the units in our district… It revolves around the first requirement for Eagle Palms as set forth by the BSA, and I can’t find any BSA policy or definition of “active.” It appears as if this is left up to local unit policy. Can you point me in any direction for an answer? (John Erickson, DC, Northern Lights Council, MN)

It’s absolutely incorrect for any individual, unit, district, or council to attempt to define “active.” The BSA national standard on active may be found in the current (2010) edition of Boy Scout Requirements, together with the policy about no messin’ with it.

Thank you, Andy! I’m very aware that if the BSA sets a policy there ain’t no messin’ with it—no more; no less—and most of our Scouters don’t have a problem with that. The problem has been wading through the mountains of paper to find the policy. I’ve been looking for the written words and you showed me the light! Thanks again. (John Erickson)

Glad I could help!

Hi Andy,

We have an issue in our pack that we’d like to get your take on. The grandmother of one of our Cubs advertised “patch sewing services” and our previous Committee Chair sent out a pack-wide e-mail “blast.” A parent hired her, at $2 a patch and a total of 25 patches for her son’s shirt and red patch vest. But when this mom went to pick up the completed work, the grandmother charged her $99, claiming that “It took a lot of gas to go all over the place finding the exact color thread for each patch.” I asked the boy’s mom if she’d ever been contacted by grandma, letting her know that the cost had changed, and the answer was that this hadn’t happened. So, do we, the pack committee, get Grandma’s side of the story and request restitution for the verbal contract of $2 a patch? One committee member thinks it’s not our business, another feels that this was a personal transaction and nothing more, but the rest of us feel it was a pack-related transaction. Any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated! (Name & Council Withheld)

Oh what a lovely mess! Everybody got it wrong… The Chair would have been better off not sending out a pack-wide “broadcast,” Grandma should have honored her original price, and that parent should have considered that magic patch glue stuff, for a couple o’ bucks at the local Scout shop, or simply told Grandma, “You get fifty bucks, or you now own a patch vest.” Now, no one’s gonna be happy, no matter what happens. Frankly, I’d say this is for the three of ’em to work out, and the pack committee doesn’t touch it, not even with a ten-foot pole!

Dear Andy,

I appreciate the guidance you’ve provided me over the past several years that I have been an adult leader, through your columns.

We have several adult leaders that either refuse or don’t make it a priority to get leader-specific training. We can see it is a hindrance as the Scouts try to advance and learn outdoor and other skills. Our Scoutmaster is frustrated and though he wants to make it a “fish or cut bait” situation for the adult leaders in question, he’s hesitating. I don’t think it’s fair to the Scouts (we have five patrols and assign an ASM to each patrol) and Patrol Leaders, who may look for guidance in a variety of situations when the adult(s) in question aren’t trained adequately. So, my question is whether Assistant Scoutmasters have to complete leader-specific training to remain in that position. (Name & Council Withheld)

First, how about we stop mother-henning these Scouts and their patrols. Unless we’re talking about a brand-new Scout patrol (of recently crossed-over Webelos), patrols absolutely do not need some dad hovering over ’em like some gray-haired Big Buddy… Boy Scouting is for BOYS; its men-and-boys connections are actually quite minimal.

Patrol Leaders learn their skills from, ideally, their Senior Patrol Leader or another Scout who knows and can teach the skill(s), or—in their absence—the Scoutmaster, period.

ASMs have specific sets of responsibilities, and the Scoutmaster would do the troop well to re-read that section of his Scoutmaster Handbook! But, just so the point’s not missed: One job ASMs don’t have is to mother-hen some patrol.

So, with this as background, it’s time to fish or cut bait. The ASMs take their position-specific training by end of June this year or they’re out of that position, and they can re-register as committee members (and take the committee training, which is a lighter load), or de-register entirely. Here’s the fundamental principle: If adults are unwilling to do what’s expected of them, how can they possibly expect to be role-models for the youth they’re ostensibly there to serve?

Hi Andy,

Regarding merit badge “blue card” management and the troop… Should the advancement coordinator take and keep both the unit’s part of the card and the Scout’s part as well, giving the Scout his part back only at the next Court of Honor, along with the badge itself and the signed merit badge certificate? (Understand that the court of honor may be weeks or months away.) Or, should the advancement coordinator give the Scout’s part back to him right away, after checking it over for completeness, and only keep the unit’s copy of the card? (Tina Daly Chatroo)

Actually, it’s the Scout himself who is in charge of the three segments of the “blue card.” When he’s completed the merit badge’s requirements, the Merit Badge Counselor signs the unit and the applicant segments and keeps the third segment for his or her own files (I keep mine in a three-ring binder using plastic baseball card holders; however, a rubber band works just as well). The Scout then takes the remaining two segments to his Scoutmaster, and obtains the Scoutmaster’s signature indicating that this merit badge has been recorded as earned in the troop’s records, giving the Scoutmaster the unit segment and keeping the remaining (applicant) segment for himself.

When he receives the actual signed merit badge certificate (along with the badge), the smart Scout will staple his blue card segment to the card, and keep both in a safe place.

Hi Andy,

I’ve been told that BSA rules stipulate that Boy Scouts aren’t allowed to use power tools. But I see in the Guide to Safe Scouting (on the chart) that power tools are acceptable for Boy Scouts’ use; however, I find no reference to that in the text of this book.

My son is beginning his Eagle project and the use of power tools, especially power drills and power screwdrivers, will be very important in building benches. I agreed that I’d try to find an official BSA response for him to share with our troop committee. Can you provide a reference point that we can use, to show the committee that Scouts may use power tools and, if there are qualifiers, what they are? (Debbie Cross, National Capital Area Council, VA)

The reason you can’t find anything in writing is that the BSA has no policies whatsoever regarding power tools, except for chain saws (which your son won’t need, anyway). So, just ask whoever’s tellin’ you or your son this stuff to produce the purported “policies” in writing, so that you can read ’em. Meanwhile, the easiest way to avoid a big stink and still get the job done is to use hand tools. That’s right: hand tools, like hand drills and regular screwdrivers and saws and so on… These are perfectly fine tools, they’re relatively quiet, your son needs no “power source” except the hands and arms of his helpers, and no one can stop him from using these, or insist on “supervising-like-a-hovercraft” while they’re in use! Go for it!


Hi Andy,

I became an Assistant Scoutmaster about seven years ago. In that time, another ASM was also the troop’s advancement coordinator. Then, about two years ago, I became the advancement coordinator. The new Scoutmaster doesn’t like me, or my wife, who is the troop’s treasurer, and wants us out of our positions. The Chartered Organization Representative wants my wife to stay on as treasurer, but the Scoutmaster keeps telling her that she’s been treasurer long enough. Meanwhile, neither the parents nor the other committee members have any sort of problem with her.

At a recent committee meeting, I was given the choice of being either an ASM or a committee member-and-advancement coordinator. The prior advancement coordinator, having been an ASM as well, had never sat on a board of review. I put the question to our District Executive and he claimed that this is a grey area and isn’t prohibited. As an ASM, I have no responsibilities in that position: I’m not in charge of new Scouts, a patrol, older Scouts, or anything that would interfere with keeping track of advancement records. Which way do we go here? (Name & Council Withheld)

The BSA’s statement is plain as the nose on yer face: Boards of review are made up of registered members of the troop committee. The BSA also states precisely what the responsibilities of an Assistant Scoutmaster are, and being the troop’s advancement coordinator isn’t among them. The BSA also describes the troop advancement coordinator as being a member of the troop committee. Consequently, regardless of what individuals in your troop may or may not have done in the past, there’s absolutely no reason why you all can’t get this right, starting right away. As for you, personally, if you’re going to serve on the committee, as advancement coordinator, then you’d absolutely want to change your registration code from AS to MC.

Dear Andy,

The Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook has signature lines for “Scoutmaster/Coach/Advisor.” I interpret this to mean the Unit leader—that is, Boy Scout Troop Scoutmaster, or Varsity Team Coach, or Venture Crew Advisor; and not Eagle Advisor. The Eagle Advisor may sign in the Committee Member space. I’d appreciate an official judgment from the BSA National Office. (David Grulke, SM, Connecticut Rivers Council)

Of course, I’m Andy and not the “BSA National Office;” however, and luckily, “judgment” or “interpretation” isn’t necessary… You’ve read it exactly correctly! If you need more, do contact the BSA national service office in Irving, TX (982-580-2000) directly.

Dear Andy,

Somewhere, there’s information about when an active Scout dies his parents can be given a certificate in his honor. I’d hoped that I’d never have the need for one, but I’m looking for it now. Can you help me? (Al Cresanto, ASM, West Tennessee Area Council)

It’s called the SPIRIT OF THE EAGLE award… Google that, and you’ll get a variety of links for description and application.

I’m sorry for this family’s loss, and for the loss of a Scout –

Dear Andy,

What Scout ranks and leadership positions are OK for signing off on other Scouts’ rank requirements, particularly the skill-based Scout through First Class requirements? There seems to be an opinion in our troop that only the SPL and ASPLs can do this. We’ve just set up Troop Guides with new Scout patrols; the Troop Guides are all at least First Class rank (some are Star), and if they can sign off on the rank requirements of their patrol members, it would help spread the work load, develop them as leaders, and help build their credibility as leaders in the eyes of their patrol members. (Cliff Boldt, MC & advancement coordinator, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)

Many, many troops have an arrangement whereby any Scout of a higher rank than the Scout working on a requirement can sign that Scout off when he completes the requirement successfully. Most often, this is his own Patrol Leader, which is about as appropriate as you can get! To put this burden on the Senior Patrol Leader of even a modestly-sized troop can be not only overwhelming for the SPL but it also slows down the rate at which the Scouts can advance! The Senior Patrol Leader simply has enough to do with running the troop meetings, working with the Patrol Leaders, and receiving leadership guidance from the Scoutmaster, so that adding this to his already full plate can cause the whole thing to come crashing down! Moreover, ASPLs have specific responsibilities; they’re not simply “substitutes” for the SPL, so that throwing this to them inhibits what they’re supposed to be doing!

Bottom line: Let the Patrol Leaders know that they can sign off on rank requirements, so long as it’s for a rank below their own.

On Troop Guides: These Scouts are not “temporary Patrol Leaders” for new Scout patrols or even members of the new Scout patrol for which they’re mentoring the patrol’s elected Patrol Leader! New Scout patrols elect their own Patrol Leaders, just as all other patrols do, and the role of the Troop Guide is to coach and guide the new Scout Patrol Leader; not to do his job for him. (To emphasize: Troop Guides are members of their own patrols; they’re not members of the new Scout patrol they’re assigned to on a short-term basis!) A good way to handle advancement requirements in a new Scout patrol is for the Troop Guide to informally “re-certify” what the Patrol Leader has stated regarding his patrol members having completed requirements, and on the strength of this testimony, the Scoutmaster can actually sign the book.

Finally, keep in mind that committee members don’t “substitute” for Patrol Leaders or even the Scoutmaster, in coaching Scouts or signing off on requirements. The principle here is, as always, Never do for a Scout what he can do for himself.

Dear Andy,

I’m a new District Commissioner. My problem is motivating our Unit Commissioners to do their jobs, from visitation to reporting. I’ve been able to recruit new Commissioners well, but can’t motivate them. Any ideas? (Richard Furrow, DC, Blue Ridge Mountains Council, VA)

There’s a conundrum here… If you’ve “recruited well,” then these new Commissioners should know that a big part of their job is to show up at the units they serve! Heck, if they’re not visiting their units, and they’re not keeping track of their units’ progress and improvements in delivering the Scouting program, then just what are they doing, besides wearing red jackets n’ drinking their units’ coffee? So my big question is this: What were they told they’d be doing, when they first signed on?

OK, enough about that (you got the point!)… How about asking them what has to happen, in order for them to get out there and do what they’re commissioned to do? What are the barriers? What do they think might be done to overcome those barriers? How will they do this? This becomes a true brain-storming session with them, to get them out of their caves and get them thinking about what’s really important. Finally, do they even know that, after unit leaders, they are the most important people in Scouting! This is what you need to instill in them!

Now, even though it’s described in the Commissioner Fieldbook for Unit Service, some folks are simply shy or unsure about what to do when they walk into a unit’s meeting. So, maybe we use The Buddy System (you’ve heard of that, right?<wink>). That’s right… Take a new Commissioner under your wing and you both go and visit the unit, together (ride-share, even, so that you have pre- and post-visit talking time). While visiting, introduce him around, and then model the behavior you’re expecting from him, so that he gets the idea that it’s not a Daniel-in-the-lion’s-den situation. This may be all he needs to gather the confidence to do this by himself!

Hi Andy,

I’ve been scouring the Internet hoping to find someone, or somewhere, to go to for help that could possibly shed some light on how Eagle projects are funded. My son is working toward his Eagle rank and was told by the gentlemen who overseas this for our area (sorry, I’m not sure what his title is) that my son can’t solicit donations for his project—that he must do fund-raising to obtain the dollars he needs to carry out his project. Is this true? I’m having a hard time finding any rules or even guidelines to help us understand this. This same gentleman stated that this is a new policy, recently established at the national level. By way of background, this is my second son to go for his Eagle. My first son solicited materials and cash donations from our local business community for his project without a hitch. Can you help me understand how and/or when this may have changed, and point me to the place to find the rules to follow now? I’d really appreciate any insight you can give! (Laura L. Hebert)

I’m guessing that your son will need to ask whomever has been pontificating this malarkey just what the difference is between “fund-raising” and “soliciting,” since asking folks to contribute—whether one-on-one or en masse—still boils down to the same thing: obtaining donations. You need to know that the BSA makes no distinction between the two. Your son might ask—as politely as possible, of course, and in-person (no email!)—to be shown, in BSA literature, where it says that one is OK and the other isn’t (the reason for asking this question is obviously because no such distinction will be found!).

As a personal aside, the Eagle candidates in our town who need funding and materials go to our local Rotary Club with the project plan and its financial needs and we always write them a check, then they go to the local hardware store and lumber yard and, again showing the plan, obtain many of the materials shown in the plan for free or at cost, and then they do a car-wash or something else to capture any remaining dollars that might still be needed, and there’s no question but that all of these activities demonstrate leadership capabilities (and a huge scoop of bravery and aplomb, too!).

Dear Andy,

We have a blessed troop. We are active campers and on average have more than 14 troop campouts a year, year after year. Unfortunately our monthly campouts are limited by travel time, to and from, so we stick pretty closely to a maximum four hour one-way trip.

But when it comes to summer camps of a week or more, we don’t mind traveling great distances! Over the last several years, we’ve camped at Skymont in Tennessee, Camp Daniel Boone in North Carolina, and we especially liked Camp Alexander, near Lake George in Colorado (this one was the best we’ve ever attended—Incredible program, staff, and, of course, food.

In addition to our yearly summer camps, our we also always send a trek/expedition group to Sea Base, Northern Tier, or Philmont (We rotate the High Adventure camps each summer, and we’re already looking forward to that new one that supposed to open in West Virginia in a couple of years!)

As we continue to broaden our horizons, I sure wish there was a list of, say, the “10 Best” or “20 Best” BSA camps of all time. I’ve searched for such a list on the Internet without success. Would it be possible for you to give me leads on some of the best summer camps you’re aware of or—ideally—have first-hand experiences with?

There’s a dilemma, of course: Since summer camps are a huge expense for the troop and our Scouts, we can’t afford to spend the money we do and go to a camp that has an incredible marketing program but then just doesn’t shape up when you get there! We’d appreciate any help you can offer. (Jeff Whitnah, SM, Sam Houston Area Council, TX)

There’s a non-BSA book available through, among other places, titled Scout Camps USA – A Guide to Boy Scouts of America Summer Camps, by Paul Fairbank. Check it out. As you do this, make a list of top criteria that you’re looking for, so that when you contact selected councils, you can ask if their camps offer these!

My own personal favorites are Camp Kern, in the high Sierras of California, on Huntington Lake, run by the Southern Sierra Council, out of Bakersfield, with staff development, when I was there with my troop in the early 90’s, was absolutely second to none, and Camp Cherry Valley, run by the San Gabriel Valley Council, out of Pasadena, CA—this camp is located on the leeward side of Catalina Island, with ocean swimming and canoeing. If you’re looking for “merit badge heaven,” take a serious look at Ockanickan Scout Reservation, run by the Bucks County Council, in Pennsylvania—at last count, they offered some 80+ merit badges, with emphasis on completions, not “partials.” Finally, there’s Sabattis Adventure Camp, located on Long Lake in the Adirondack Wilderness of New York and run by the Patriots’ Path Council based in Florham Park, NJ. Good hunting —

NetCommish Note: The referenced book is out-of-print and only used versions are available – I’ve linked it to Amazon for anyone interested. We maintain free information on Scout Camps at our website that may be helpful.

Dear Andy,

My troop has a parent who has become a major problem. When he doesn’t get his way, he uses foul language, threats, and general intimidation tactics, and has even come close to physical violence. We’ve tried to reason with him, but to no avail. Before the police get involved in front of the Scouts we’d like him out of the troop. Are there any precedents for having a parent removed from a troop and/or its troop meetings? (Name & Council Withheld)

I’m no attorney or peace officer, and can’t provide actual legal advice, but in this situation of abuse (verbal abuse is still abuse), I’d immediately, go to the chartered organization and ask the head of it to write a succinct letter to him that points out that foul language, threatening of minors, and general emotional abuse of minors is not permitted on the chartered organization’s property, by anyone, for any reason, and that he must immediately stop this or he will be asked to remove himself from the property, permanently. I’d then ask the head of the organization to mail this letter “registered,” so that there’s proof of delivery. Following this, if this inappropriate behavior is repeated, I’d contact the local police department, show the letter, and ask for a stay-away order (or whatever it’s called in the jurisdiction).

If, among your troop parents, or among the members of the chartered organization, you do have an attorney, seek counsel—and action. This kind of abuse, as you correctly perceive, cannot be permitted to continue a moment longer.

At most, he will be permitted to drop his son off at the curb, and pick his son up at the curb, but he is not to set foot on the sponsor’s property, period, no exceptions.

Since these behaviors are largely of the bullying kind, you may be confronted with threats, such as removing his son from the troop, refusing to drive to hikes and campouts, and so on. Should this occur, your immediate response can only be, “We regretfully accept your son’s resignation from the troop.” Then do the paperwork the very next day. He needs to understand in no uncertain terms that his tactics will not wash.


I’m an Assistant Scoutmaster. The troop’s advancement coordinator just announced to the entire troop that all merit badges earned prior to obtaining the rank of First Class rank cannot counted toward advancement to Star ranks, and that any merit badges earned prior to Star cannot be counted toward advancement to Life rank; however, they can be used toward the overall merit badge count for Eagle Rank. This edict is very disturbing to many of my of our Scouts, since while at summer camp last year they earned merit badges while they were Second Class and now none of these will be counted toward their advancement to Star, now that they’re First Class rank, because they didn’t earn them after becoming First Class. This is also confusing to me, since the advancement policies tell the Scout: “There are more than 100 merit badges for you to choose from. You may earn any merit badge at any time, with Scoutmaster approval. Don’t wait for someone to tell you when and which merit badge to work on. You don’t need to reach a certain rank in order to be eligible…” This seems to be in contradiction with the recent announcement by our advancement coordinator. Can you shed some light on this subject and the requirements as stated by the national council? (Bill Hamilton)

The plain fact is that advancement coordinator is wrong. Yes, wrong. What this person is stating bears no resemblance to BSA policies and cannot be put in place (no individual, unit, district, or council can supersede BSA national standards and policies). The Committee Chair, Scoutmaster, and all Assistant Scoutmasters need to immediately meet with him and tell him that what he has stated is incorrect and will not be permitted to happen.

DON’T USE EMAIL. The Committee Chair needs to call him on the phone immediately and tell him that he is to arrive 15 minutes ahead of the next troop meeting, where you all together meet him and tell him that no BSA literature—Scoutmaster Handbook, Boy Scout Handbook, Boy Scout Requirements, BSA Advancement Policies and Procedures—supports what he’s said and it will absolutely not happen. If he tries to argue, give him 5 minutes to find, in BSA literature, anything that supports his position (which he won’t be able to do, of course). If he continues to argue, the Committee Chair simply and with no equivocation tells him this: “Either this goes away immediately by your doing, or we will do it and you will consider yourself relieved of all further responsibility with this troop.” That’s right: He’s fired. End of story, and no reinstatement.

You all absolutely cannot permit this to last a moment longer. It damages and confuses the Scouts, and it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.


As our pack’s awards chair, I always try to make the receiving of any award a little more than just routine. Our Bear den has spent several months working on the Emergency Preparedness award. I’ve obtained a 2’x2′ vinyl poster of the Emergency Preparedness, to be placed on a wooden easel. Is there anyone who has already done one of these presentations? My having 54 years of continuous Scouting has made me much aware of the needs of the boys to make presentations special. (David Pottorff, MC, Gulf Stream Council)

For something like this, I’d sure be tempted to invite your local Fire Captain to come and make the presentation!


Dear Andy,

I’ve been researching flag ceremonies to find out the position of the American flag when doing an opening ceremony. The best information I can find is that the American flag is always on its own right. So, when doing the opening ceremony, the American flag is carried on its own the right (relative to the audience) and posted on its own right (relative to the speaker, lectern, front-of-the-room). Given this, the American flag needs to cross over the other flags to get to the speaker’s right. When crossing over, the American flag should be in front of the other flags. I have seen the front to be in front relative to the audience (which is part of the procession) and I have also seen the front as relative to the speaker (posting position). Can you tell me if “in front” when crossing over means the American flag is in front of the other flags relative to the audience, or relative to the speaker? Since the American flag is posted on the right of the speaker, I’ve always said that the American flag should cross closest to the speaker, but I can’t find anything to either support or disprove this viewpoint. (Tony Zabloudil, Last Frontier Council, OK)

Think direction of travel. The American flag is always to its own right when parallel to one or more other flags, or in front of all other flags (i.e., all others follow behind). Therefore, the American flag is crossed by its bearer from right to left approaching the flag stands, and the unit flag etc. crosses from left to right, behind it. This way, when posted, the American flag is to its own right, now facing the audience.

Thanks for asking a pretty cool question!

Happy Scouting!


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

(March 28, 2010 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2010)

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


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

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