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Issue 218 – June 6, 2010

Dear Andy,

In that question about patrol food-shopping, you recommended that a designated Scout or two does the shopping, then brings the bill back to the patrolfor an equal-share reimbursement.

Another way is to estimate the total bill in advance, build in a “safety amount,” and divide this among the patrol members, and then the Scouts do the actual food-buying. This way, the shopper Scouts aren’t out any money up front. This should work just as well, and—this way—all the Scouts are committed and have some skin in the game, up front! If there’s a surplus, then the Scouts all get some money back (or the grubmasters can snag an extra item or two for a surprise treat) and if there’s a deficit, then the grubmasters just have to chip in a little bit at the store to make up the difference, and then they get that money back from the other Scouts.

If it’s a fairly new patrol, it may take a few campouts for them to get their estimatesclose to the actual, so maybe a “patrol pricing expedition” might be a good idea—they each spread out in the grocery store to check out prices, calculating servings, and figuring out the best deals (Do we want the 8-count bag of bagels, or the 12-count? Which size pouch of instant mashed potatoes is a better deal? And so on). The patrol could even build a price list for standard items, so that future estimates are a piece of cake (NPI). (Dan Shortridge, Campmaster, Del-Mar-Va Council)

Yup, that’s a terrific way to do it—I like it even better than my own suggestion, because of the “commitment” idea!—so thanks for taking the time to write!


Dear Andy,

For the Scoutmaster conference for rank advancement, if the Scoutmaster can’t be present, can an ASM fill in and do this? Can this be a regular assignment that a Scoutmaster gives to and ASM on a more-or-less “permanent” basis?

We have 64 Scouts in the troop and we’re very backlogged with rank advancement. The Scoutmaster can’t always be at troop meetings because of his work schedule, so we’re trying to figure out our options so the Scouts can advance in a timely manner (some have waited a month). (Name & Council Withheld)

If a Scoutmaster is temporarily unable to complete his responsibilities with regard to conferences with Scouts ready to advance in rank, yes, by all means appoint a temporary substitute (an ASM is an excellent temporary substitute). Scouts shouldn’t have to wait and wait for this, and shouldn’t be held back from advancing because of an adult scheduling problem. This definitely needs a short-term fix. However, if the Scoutmaster’s personal schedule is going to be an ongoing problem in this area, then a permanent solution is needed—perhaps as easy as the Scoutmaster and an ASM who is available switching badges.


Dear Andy,

While our troop wants to make sure we qualifyfor a Quality Unit Award patch each year, there are some years in which we miss earning it.If our troop last earned a QUA in, let’s say, 2008, can we continue to wear that patch until we earn a current one, or should we be taking the 2008 patch off?Is there a BSA uniform policy on this? (Steven Arnold, ASM, WesternLos AngelesCounty Council, CA)

BSA policy states that you can wear the latest QUA the unit has earned!


Dear Andy,

In the “Three Tubsdishwashing regimen, the first tub is hot soapy water, the next is warm rinse water, and the last is warm water with a bit of bleach to sanitize, right?Or is the rinse water last? (Scott Wolf, ASM, Sam Houston Area Council, TX)

Check out page 307 of the new Boy Scout Handbook


Dear Andy,

Who in our troop can teach BSA Safety Afloat and BSA Safe Swim Defense to the Scouts and adult volunteers in our troop? (Darryl, ASM, MississippiValley Council, IA)

Most councils have training committees that keep a list of folks qualified to teach these two courses. Reach out and ask. If you come up dry,not to worry… Both can be done online at http://olc.Scouting.org


Dear Andy,

Am I missing something here? For this summer, we have Scouts signed up to begin and complete Snow Sports merit badge at a BSA summer camp in Oklahoma—where there’s no snow (and hardly a hill)—The camp’s set up so that the skiing’s done on a rug! For this merit badge, a Scout can complete either downhill, cross-country, or snow-boarding. Am I missing something that the Snow Sports merit badge can be completed without snow, or is the merit badge pamphlet so defective that snow isn’t required. To quote from the pamphlet: “On a gentle slope, demonstrate some of the beginning maneuvers learned in skiing. Include the straight run, gliding wedge, wedge stop, sidestep, and herringbone maneuvers,” “On slightly steeper terrain, show linked wedge turns,” “On a moderate slope, demonstrate five to 10 Christies,” “Make a controlled run down an intermediate slope and demonstrate the following: short-, medium-, and long-radius parallel turns, a sideslip and safety (hockey) stop to each side,” “Traverse across a slope,” (and) “Demonstrate the ability to ski in varied conditions, including changes in pitch, snow conditions, and moguls. Maintain your balance and ability to turn.” I’ve italicized snow conditions because it’s the only place in the requirements that actually addresses snow.

Does this mean that, for example, requirements 5 and 6 in the Swimming merit badge (“Swim continuously for 150 yards using the following strokes in good form and in a strong manner: front crawl or trudgen for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, sidestroke for 25 yards, breaststroke for 25 yards, and elementary backstroke for 50 yards,” “Float face up in a resting position for at least one minute,” “Demonstrate survival floating for at least five minutes,” “While wearing a properly fitted personal floatation device (PFD), demonstrate the ‘help’ and huddle positions…”) don’t need to be done in water, since it doesn’t specifically state that the requirements need to be in the water (other requirements in the pamphlet state water, etc.). Maybe the Scout could make a swimming “motion” while walking along a sidewalk for 150 yards, or something like that, and “float” on a nice, soft, grassy meadow.(Bob Hendrick, Circle Ten Council, TX)

Well, you did get me to go from just plain puzzled to a mild chuckle or two… No, I don’t think the pamphlets or requirements are at fault or lacking anything… They are, after all, called SNOW Sports and SWIMMING, respectively, so I really don’t think it’s possible to complete a merit badge that has “snow” in its name sans snow anymore than I think “swimming” can be done on dry land… But that’s jus’ l’il ole me!Maybe someone else, in their infinite wisdom, can develop a way to do woodcarving using Jell-O or metalworking using Play-Doh, or (remember this one?) rabbitraising using emus orbeavers, or how about snails.


Hello Andy,

Should a Scoutmaster sign both areas of a merit badge blue card before the Scout starts a merit badge? And, after the merit badge is completed, does the Scout bring the blue card to the Advancement Chair or to the Scoutmaster? (Danielle Goins)

When the Scout first comes to the Scoutmaster to tell him that he wants to start merit badge such-and-such, the Scoutmaster gives him an application (aka “blue card”) and signs the front of it. Then, after the Scouts completed the requirements and the Merit Badge Counselor has signed the two segments that he gives to the Scout (the MBC keeps the third segment), the Scout returns to the Scoutmaster, who then signs the inside of the front segment. This signifies that the Scoutmasters received the card back and will have the merit badge listed as completed in the Scout’s advancement records (the recording’s usually done by the advancement coordinator). The next steps are, of course, to file the advancement report with the council service center, obtain the merit badge card and the badge itself, and then to present it to the Scout as the earliest available troop meeting.
This procedure is described in various BSA publications.


Dear Andy,

I was just awarded my Unit Commissioners Key, and I also have my Scoutmasters Key. Both are the green-and-white square knot. Is it proper to have two devices on one square knot, or is it two identical square knots with a different device on each? (Richard Barden, CR, Glaciers Edge Council, WI)

The BSA says two devices, one square knot.


Dear Andy,

My son, and I with him, crossed-over from Webelos and joined a recently formed “sister troop” (instead of a larger, more established troop “down the street”)at the end of February. This troop held no meetings for over a month. Then, when they did, they had absolutely no preplanning or organized activities. I suggested that we have the PLC start using the Troop Meeting Plan but this was shrugged off as being unnecessary, since there’s only one patrol made up of the existing Scouts in the troop, and the Scoutmaster believes they we should hold off on putting the new Scouts into their own patrol. Before these new Scouts joined, the only troop “leaders” were the Scoutmaster and his son, the appointedSenior Patrol Leader. Then, all the Scouts were assigned a position, but when some of the new Scouts asked for positions, too, they were told they could have “co-“ positions, the rationale being that since they’re new they couldn’t vote for their leaders because they hadn’t “bonded” yet. The troop has no long-term schedule of activities, and the excuse is that “we’ll just try to squeeze things in when we can.”Camping, when it happens is done in the Scoutmaster’s back yard. When I and other parents have offered to help, we’re put off—The guy who’s Scoutmaster has his own way of doing things and will play the “we’re boy-led” card whenever anyone asks why something’s done or not done the way it is, or why the troop isn’t following what the Boy Scout Handbook has promised our sons.A couple of us have taken the Troop Leader Training and have a pretty good idea of how things are supposed to be done and this sure isn’t it! None of the Webelos who joined some three months ago has receivedhis Scout badge yet because the Scoutmaster hasn’t had a conference with them. Most of the Scouts are now close to finishing Tenderfoot, so I guess they’ll get both at the same time. On top of everything else, troop meetings are at 4 PM in the afternoon, so it’s just about impossible for most parents to even attend.

My son and his friends wanted to join the other troop—which is truly Scout-run and has a full calendar of activities—but I pushed them to join this troop instead, promising that I’d work to help this troop grow and make sure they had the opportunity to reach First Class by the end of next year. Instead, they’re locked into atroop with no direction, no organization, and no excitement, that’s barely meeting twice in a month. I feel I’ve really let my son and his friends down. What do I do now? I made the commitment and took the training, but it’s all for nothing—I can’t be part of the meetings, there are no committee meetings, and whatever chance I do get to voice an opinion or provide input is ignored or just laughed off. Do I just hang around to go to the council camps and summer camp since we need two-deep leadership and Im the only other parent besides the Scoutmasterwho’s trained, or should we find a troop that “gets it? I want to be part of developing our current troop, but its been a few months and the changes I thought that the newly crossed-over Scouts and Scouters could help facilitate aren’t welcome. (Name Withheld, DesPlainesValley Council, IL)

The first cold fact to face is this: This isn’t a troop; it’s a single patrol being run by the world’s oldest patrol leader. This is no place for your son and his friends, or any boy to be. Your efforts to turn this troop around are honorable, but have already proved and will continue to prove futile. It’s like the old story about “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?” and the answer is: “One, but the light bulb has to want to change.” Get out of that adult-led gang that calls itself a “troop.” Get out now. It won’t improve by itself and doesn’t want help. This is a waste of your time andmore importantlyit’s a waste of your son’s and his friends’ time.

Now this next may sound like a whack upside the head, and it probably is: Next time, listen to your son.

So what about your promise to your son and his friends? Simple… You tell ’em that you gave it 100% effort but people can’t be “made” to change, so you fulfilled your promise and now it’s time to move on, because these people refuse to be saved.

Here’s the good news: No ones “locked in” to this (or any) troop. For a one-dollar transfer fee apiece, you’re all out of there in a heartbeat. Stop shoveling water upstream with a pitchfork and transfer over to a troop that’s getting it right.

“Look for a troop”? You gotta be joking! Your son and his friends already found it. Don’t waste another moment.


Hi Andy,

How do Venturing Scouts do a hand salute or the Venturing sign? (Rich Kemp)

Both: Full hand (no fingers folded) with thumb at side of index finger.

That taken care of, let’s fix the nomenclature: Members of a Venturing crew are called Venturers; members of a troop’s venture patrol are called Boy Scouts. There are no “Venturing Scouts” or even “Venture Scouts.”

 


Hi Andy,

We have a question about Camping merit badge.The book says, “…You may use a week of long-term camp toward this requirement…”but our troop seems to think that a Scout mustgo to summer camp.(I think they say youcan use five days of summer camp.) So is it mandatory that a Scoutgoes on a weeklong campout, or not? (Marc in Oklahoma)

Yes, to accomplish 20 days and nights of Scout camping for this merit badge, a week (that’s up to seven days and seven nights) of long-term (meaning Scout summer camp) may be used. But this is absolutely not mandatory, according to the language of that requirement. If, for instance, a Scout has camped all 20 days and nights in a tent he pitched or under the stars, while on Scouting campouts, he’s met this requirement 100%.


Dear Andy,

I’ve been serving as one of our council’s area-serving Assistant Council Commissioners, and I’ve been recently asked to become the Assistant Council Commissioner for Roundtables. There seems to be a difference of opinion between me and our Council Commissioner. Our Council commissioner insists that basic training for Roundtable Commissioners begins with regular Commissioner basic training and that Roundtable training is added on as supplemental. I’ve been working with Roundtable Commissioners off and on for 15 years and in this time I’ve never considered regular Commissioner basic training to be a “prerequisite” for Roundtable leader training. As a matter of fact, the syllabus for CSRT training specifically states: “Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner & Staff Basic Training.” Can you direct me to a resource that describes whats considered basic training for a Cub Scout or Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner and/or staff? (Name & Council Withheld)

Opinions about “sticks-in-the-mud” aside, I think your best resource here is going to be your own council’s training chair or, failing that, call the national office and ask for the training departmentthey may be able to point you toward a syllabus. However, because I don’t believe you’re going to “convince” anyone of your right-ness, even if you convinced Moses to show up with a fresh set of tablets. This appears to be more a battle of wills than rules.


Dear Andy,

Could you please tell me how the Wolf Cub elective Arrow Points get placed on the Cub Scout shirt? I’m aware that they get placed below the left pocket, with gold Arrow Points on top, but how many silver Arrow Points, in how many rows, are correct?Our son has two gold and seven silver Arrow Points and I’m wondering if I have them placed correctly. (Heidi Trottier)

The first Arrow Point a Cub Scout earns for the Wolf rank or the Bear rank is gold; after the first gold Arrow Point for each one of these ranks, all others are silver. The Arrow Points point downward. The first or gold Arrow Point is placed below the bottom seam of the left pocket, under the bottom point of the Wolf badge or the Bear badge. Silver Arrow Points are lined in side-by-side pairs below the single gold Arrow Point for each rank. For a picture better than all of these words, refer to the inside back cover of your son’s Cub Scout book.


Dear Andy,

Can you clarify what’s meant by, “While a Life Scout, serve actively for a period of six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility…” I take this to mean that a Life Scoutmay serve for a period totalingsix months—that this can be, let’s say, two months as a Patrol Leader and then four months as a Quartermaster. Or even three different positions that, when totaled, add up to six months since becoming a Life Scout.However, some in our troop, who have been in Scouting a long time, are adamant that the Scout must serve the full six months in a single position and that the time cant be split between different positions, and—more—that these six months must be consecutive. I cant find anything official to explain this requirement in any more detail. Can you please help? I’ve noticed that even the Eagle Scout rank application has multiple “position” lines, but the others in my troop are intransigent about this. (Name & Council Withheld)

Let’s break this down. First, we see that the BSA states the duration as six months, and that the BSA says nothing about whether these six months must be consecutive, or not. Second, we note that the BSA states that, in this six month time, one or more qualified positions may be held. From this, it is a short and simple step to conclude that the BSA is telling us that a Life Scout may serve in one, or two, or more qualified positions, and that this can be in a single six-month period or on a series of shorter periods that, when added up, total six months. Note, in particular, that no “interpretation” is necessary; merely a simple reading and comprehending of the words used in describing the requirement. This is of course why the Eagle application has two lines and why, if more are needed, they can simply be added in.

To take this to both extremes, a Life Scout can serve as, say, Senior Patrol Leader for six continuous months, OR he can serve as Senior Patrol Leader for two months, Scribe for three months, and troop OA Representative for one month, none of which need to be back-to-back with the others, and in both scenarios he will have met the requirement as stated by the BSA. To put some sort of “personal spin” on this or any requirement is strictly taboo: No council, district, unit, or individual is permitted by the BSA to apply any further sort of stipulation to any stated requirementso that it would be a violation of BSA national policy to insist on one way of meeting this requirement to the exclusion of equally acceptable alternatives.


Dear Andy,

Our troop’s chartered organization is a sportsman’s club that’s incorporated as a 501(c)(7) not-for-profit fraternal club. They’ve been our troop’s sponsor for 39 consecutive years. One of our life Scouts would like to give back to them by doing his Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project for the club. Theres a question, however, as to the eligibility of doing so, due to the club’s incorporated status, although, apparently, another project has been done there at some time in the past. Personally, I see no problem, but some others are nervous. What’s your take on this? (Rick Miller, SM, Great Sauk Trail Council, MI)

There are many types of not-for-profit (501) organizations, and all are equally eligible to receive services by Boy Scouts…whether as Eagle projects or just general unit service projects! Let that Scout know he can go for it! If the district or council advancement committee has any questions, they can always ask the club to provide a W-9 form, which would clearly indicate its eligibility.


Dear Andy,

What’s the proper way for a patrol of Scouts, none of whom is First Class rank yet, to elect a patrol leader? My understanding is that a Scout must be First Class to be a patrol leader. (Rich Johnston, ASM, Patriot’s Path Council, NJ)

Neither rank nor age is in any way mandatory to be elected Patrol Leader, according to the BSA. In fact, the BSA doesn’t impose any stipulations on any elected or appointed Boy Scout leadership position!So, in the case of the patrol you asked about, they can certainly have an election. They’ll elect their own Patrol Leader from amongst themselves, and then he, in turn, will select his Assistant Patrol Leader.Simple as that! (Whatever you do, don’t “assign” a “temporary Patrol Leader” from outside this patrol, or they’ll never quite come together as a team!)


Dear Andy,

I’ve been searching for sheet music (prefer piano but will take anything) for a song we call, “B-P Spirit. I can find nothing in hundreds of search modes on Internet. We need sheet music so we can teach our Cubs and Scouts how to sing and play this great song! I hope you can help. (Neil Bailey, Former DC, Silver Jubilee District, Hong Kong Scout Association)

Hmmm… Can you give me the first couple of lines of lyric for this song?

Hi Andy,

The words are:

I’ve got the B-P spirit right in my head,

Right in my head, right in my head,

I’ve got the B-P spirit right in my head to stay.

Mostly, this song is sung in overseas groups (Europe and Asia); American Scouts tend to sing particularly American songs. (Neil)

The words you gave me are what I was hoping for… In the American BSA, we sing the same song this way, sung while standing. We call it “Scouting Spirit” sung (approximately) to the tune of “Joy in My Heart”:

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

Up in my head, (point)

Up in my head, (point)

Up in my head, (point)

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

Up in my head, (point)

Up in my head to stay. (point)

 

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

Deep in my heart (point)

continue as in first verse

 

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

Down in my feet (point)

continue as in first verse

 

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

All over me (wave hands down from head to foot)

continue as in first verse

 

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

Up in my head, (point)

Deep in my heart, (point)

Down in my feet, (point)

I’ve got that Scouting spirit,

All over me, (wave hands…)

All over me to stay. (wave hands)
The “Joy In My Heart” melody can be found at:

http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/look_inside/7535590/audio/40466

Use the first full verse, and then just repeat it! Now how’s that for a wonderful “Scouting connection”! Thanks for finding me and for writing!

Happy Scouting!

Andy

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

(June 6, 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..

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About AskAndy

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

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

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