Author Avatar

Issue 226 – Andy’s Laws

In no particular order…

Commissioners are responsible for everything and have authority over nothing.

The fastest way to create uncertainty about such Scouting fundamentals as The Patrol Method is to explain them in no uncertain terms.

Left to themselves, Scouters will spend more time debating which way a “square knot” should face than how to train the youth of the unit.

It is always easier to fix the blame than it is to fix the problem.

People will always volunteer first for positions that are already successfully filled.

Memories are longest when something has gone wrong and shortest when it has gone right.

No advancement requirement can be so simply written that it cannot be re-stated in a more complicated way. (You know who you are…)

For every 100 Scouts happily on the trail to Eagle, there are 1,000 guerillas out there, waiting to ambush.

When a unit decides to create its own “policies” the one most obviously correct, beyond all need of cross-checking against BSA policies, is the mistake.

“Patrols of convenience” aren’t.

The Scouter untrained has as much chance of success as a turtle in a triathlon.

Why read about the right way to do something when we can more easily perpetuate the errors of the past.

“Twenty years of experience” is often one year of experience repeated 19 more times.

No intelligent system or method is immune to idiocy.

Beware proclamations that there’s no “I” in teamwork— the speaker’s already figured out that there’s a “me.”

When you succeed, you will immediately be joined by others claiming equal responsibility for the success; when you fail, you fail alone.

Waiting for things to improve of their own accord is like expecting the avalanche to divide and go around you.

Expect the worst from a youth and he will deliver exactly that.

If fixing a unit that’s off-course looks easy, you haven’t met the ringleaders yet.

All beneficial suggestions will be ignored; when the opposite is done, and fails, the blame will be assigned to the original suggester.

Tomorrow (as in: “I’ll do that/get that/return that/etc. for you tomorrow”) does not mean tomorrow; it only means not today.

In any conversation, pure drivel tends to drive out ordinary drivel.

If you want to know a person’s greatest weakness or incapacity, listen to what they brag about most.

All training courses are obsolete, especially those that are brand-new.

Inside every big-hatted Scoutmaster is a shriveled ego.

If there is a typo or error in a handbook, it will be the one that creates the most confusion.

When you are asked and have agreed to be an intermediary or liaison between one entity and another, those who asked you will be the first to play “leap-frog.”

In any debate of BSA policy, the information most needed will be the least available.

The data base will be found to be faulty only after all data have been entered.

When a training staff member fails to arrive on time, it will be the person who is scheduled to go on first.

When all else fails, RTBH.

There is no good age to earn the rank of Eagle. At 13 or 14, the Scout obviously doesn’t understand the significance of what he’s accomplished. At 17, he’s old and what took him so long. At 15 or 16, he was obviously pressured by his parents.

On requirements: “close enough” isn’t.

The more a Scoutmaster rants about Venturing, the Order of the Arrow, and such “stealing” his Scouts, the more Scouts will flee the troop to get away from him.

In Scouting, the ultimate volunteers are not the adults; they’re the Scouts themselves.

“Long story, short” never is.

To reduce transmission of bias and bad habits, be sure to assign responsibility for training to the least experienced.

Given enough time, every volunteer position will be filled by someone who is incompetent to carry out its responsibilities. So will every paid position. Thus, all accomplishments will be produced by those who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.

However, super-competence is always resented more than incompetence.

It is always easier to perpetuate an error than it is to expend the effort to correct it.

An ounce of bragging is worth a pound of performance.

Scouting has only one True North.

The time spent on any agenda item will be inversely proportional to its importance.

“War stories” aren’t… They are soliloquies to the glory of the teller.

In any confrontation between authority and influence, the latter always wins.

If there is a way to put off an important decision, a good bureaucracy will find it.

Always speak with authority; if challenged, obfuscate.

No example will ever prove the other person’s point.

If you can smile when things have gone all wrong, it means you’ve thought of someone you can blame it on.

The efficiency of any committee is inversely proportional to the number of its members.

At any gathering, the one with the most to say will have the smallest meaningful contribution to make.

Never argue with a fool… Bystanders may not be able to know the difference.

After accepting a task, procrastinate. If you procrastinate long enough, responsibility for the task will return to the original delegator.

A motion to adjourn needs neither a second nor a vote.

A good decision today trumps a perfect decision tomorrow.

The perceived size of any task is directly proportional to the amount of delay in beginning it.

Always set Friday as the deadline; this way, you will always have the result on the following Monday.

In any group, 80% of the work will be accomplished by 20% of the members.

In any group, 10% will always want to row in the opposite direction.

A Scouting volunteer’s performance is inversely proportional to the number of “hats” he or she wears.

Self-proclaimed experts will avoid the small errors in an effort to sweep toward the grand fallacy.

When someone says, “Oh, by the way…” listen carefully. What follows will be the most important thing this person has to say.

When you’re right, you can’t help yourself.

The number of people who dislike you is directly proportional to your propensity to be right.

Sending a turkey to training will result in… a trained turkey.

Happy Scouting!


Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)
(August 24, 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.

Read Andy's full biography

Comments are closed.