Author Avatar

Issue 237 – December 18, 2010

Dear Andy,

Have you read this? It’s from the new Advancement Policies & Procedures book, page 27: “The Scout should be neat in his appearance; however, a uniform is not required. Local boards of review may not make up their own rules about wearing a uniform.” What happened to the 8th Method of Scouting? And while I’m thinking about this, I guess we won’t need uniforms at all! Now the council doesn’t have to worry about stocking them, and all of those patches and merit badges! Who wrote this, and what were they smoking? Will this mean I can go to the next Jamboree in jeans? (I gotta go take a cold shower!) (Bill Casler, Great Alaska Council)

Let’s be hugely thankful that that sentence is in there! That sentence in advancement policies and procedures is to prevent nasty, vindictive, self-important little tin gods from finding yet another way to ambush and “flunk” a Scout at his board of review for not wearing “official” socks or because some badge was ¼” from where it’s supposed to be!

Dear Andy,

Scouts, in addition to troop and patrol activities, participate in numerous sports activities including baseball teams, football teams, soccer teams, basketball teams, and so on. Some have recently asked me if they could earn the Sports or Athletics merit badge, based on their past season (they hadn’t looked into earning the merit badge before their season started). We’ve looked at the requirements and what they’ve done last season (with the exception of the written requirements, of course) has been fulfilled. Do these Scouts have to start all over, or can their participation from their last season count toward earning these merit badges? (Richard Fowler, MBC, Alabama/Florida Council)

Happily, they don’t have to go back to the starting gate! BSA literature recommends to Scouts that, when starting a merit badge, they discuss with their counselor what they’ve already done! How’s that for good news!

Dear Andy,

One of my units asked me a question that I need an answer to, including, if possible, a BSA publication I can refer to, as back-up. The question is: Who “legally” owns a Scouting unit’s money? For example: Church A is chartered to have Troop 1, and the church decides to sell their building and move the congregation two counties away. So Church B buys Church A’s building, but doesn’t want to sponsor a Scouting unit. Plus, most of the Scouts don’t want to travel two counties away, and so plan to transfer into more local troops. Meanwhile, Troop 1 has been fund-raising and there’s a significant amount of money in each Scout’s account, as determined by the troop committee. Now, Church A wants to sponsor a Scouting unit at their new location and has asked for Troop 1’sfunds to use as seed money for a new troop. Who owns the money? (Gary Coverston, ADC, Colonial Virginia Council)

The example you’ve given strikes me as fairly unrealistic, because, if a bunch of Scouts (and their parents) aren’t willing to travel “two counties away” to go to troop meetings, by what stretch do we presume that an entire congregation is willing to do this. But, I suppose stranger things have happened. So let’s tackle this, anyway…

I think there need to be two answers. The first is about the money that belongs to the Scouts themselves, that the troop is holding for them in the troop’s account. That money should be given back to the Scouts who earned it, in checks payable to each Scout in the amount that he earned. It’s the Scouts’ money—they should have it; not the troop or anyone else. This should be done immediately. Then, regarding any funds remaining after these disbursements have been made, the example you gave, as I mentioned at the outset, if real, is very messy. So right away contact your local professional, who can give you the council’s official answer, and what to do next. Again, waste no time.

Hi Andy,

Our troop is discussing various ways to recruit new boys into becoming Scouts. One of our Scouts suggested we “invite a friend” for a campout or other activity. However, one of our committee members says guests aren’t covered by insurance.I disagree and think we should proceed with the invite a friend idea. I do remember something about this in a session on troop liability at a Commissioner College. Am I on the right track? Are we covered? (John Frazier, CC, Great Pittsburgh Council, PA)

Confirm this with your own council’s risk management committee of course, but yes, my information tells me you’re correct: Guests of BSA units are covered by BSA insurance.

Dear Andy,

The head of one of our chartered organizations is asking: Why doesn’t the BSA charter their own units; why does the BSA need an outside organization to charter units? I’ve observed that there seems to be a belief that the BSA doesn’t charter its own units so as to limit the BSA’s liability. For myself, I’m wondering why BSA units aren’t chartered the same way as Girl Scout troops. After all, aren’t both national organizations chartered by Congress? (John Dondanville, Great Lakes Council, MI)

I can give you my personal take on this so long as you understand that this isn’t an “official” answer. From what I’ve read about Scouting’s beginnings, some 100 years ago, when Boy Scouting was in its infancy in the U.S., it was largely promoted as a youth program adjunct to the already existing youth programs of various institutions, including the YMCA and various religions and religious denominations. In other words, Boy Scouting wasn’t intended to replace anything already existing or to be some sort of stand-alone youth program; instead, the program and how it worked was offered to these institutions as a way to improve or enhance their present youth programs. Consequently, the BSA organization wouldn’t “own” the troops; the institutions adopting the program would be the owners. Part of the reason for this was that this assured each institution that its own tenets and principles would be maintained, since they had oversight of the Scout program and the troop they sponsored. Thus, each troop—and, later, Cub Scout pack, Explorer post, Venturing crew, Sea Scout ship, Air Scout/Explorer squadron, and so forth—would be a relatively autonomous unit, under the direction of the institution that sponsored it, but using the program materials provided by the BSA national council (and, later, local councils). This method has been successful for some ten decades, and there’s no sign of change. Interestingly, this method of chartering and sponsorship doesn’t seem to have anything to do with liability or insurance; the BSA insures all members, and always has.

The GSUSA followed a different model, and all GSUSA units are indeed owned outright and directly supervised by their local councils.

These fundamentally different structures are, I’m guessing, one of the reasons why it’s probable that these two organizations will never merge into one—on either side of the equation, the structural change would simply be too wrenching.

I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface here, and I also may not be all that accurate. I recommend that you carry out your own research. There are any number of pretty good books about the early years of both movements, plus biographies of their founders, a number of which I’ve read, and am reading right now. Give ‘em a try!

Dear Andy,

I want to serve on our district committee, as District Finance Chair. I hold a BS in accounting, an MS in taxation, and have a decade of hands-on experience as a staff accountant and, ultimately, corporate CFO. However, the District Chair says I don’t have enough Scouting experience for this position, even though I’m on my son’s pack’s committee as secretary, I attend all roundtables and district leadership meetings, I’ve taken Cub Scout leader training, and I’m at all pack committee meetings and pack leaders meetings. What more can I do to prove I can handle the Finance Chair’s job? Currently, there’s no one in the position. There are others on the district committee who want me in that slot, but the District Chair makes the final decision. Do you have any ideas? I really want to serve on the district committee and I don’t understand why the District Finance Chair needs to have even more Scouting experience, especially since the position’s vacant. (Name & Council Withheld)

Your heart’s in the right place, your volunteer efforts are significant, your credentials are impressive, and you certainly appear to be enthusiastic! However, I’m wondering just how much research you may have done into the actual job description and responsibilities of a District Finance Chair. You see, experience as a CPA, CFO, tax expert, accounting whiz, and so on count least for this position, and what counts most is your ability to influence people to step up and work to raise money or to write checks. The BSA does provide a very decent description of this position. Some of the descriptive points are obvious, while others may not be so plain. Let’s review…

The obvious stuff: Report to the District Chair, make sure the district follows the council’s finance policies, serve on the council finance committee (if there is one), support district activities involving income and expenses to assure proper procedures.

The maybe not-so-obvious stuff: Recruit and train additional committee members to do special tasks assigned by the council, run the district’s annual “Friends of Scouting” fund-raising campaign and meet the district’s goal by the target date specified by the council, build and/or maintain a positive relationship with the United Way (translation: make sure the UW provides contributions to the council), develop prospects and retain interest of contributors (translation: find some “whales” and get them to open their wallets for Scouting), support the council’s annual popcorn selling program (translation: be or find a “Popcorn Colonel” to run this and get as many units in the district as you can to participate, including inventory management and sales goal-setting), support council endowment development (translation: get new James E. West Fellowships at $1,000 a pop), review units’ fund-raising project applications, and achieve the district’s share of council finance campaigns (translation: you are responsible for hitting all revenue development goals of every council and district fund-raising effort).

So, if this is truly what you’re interested in, then it seems to me that what you’ll need to do is convince the District Chair and the District Executive that, aside from the accounting side of things, you’re a money-generating whiz kid! Do this, and your volunteer future is assured, because the most frequent reason why the District Finance Chair position is vacant is that nobody’s willing to take on that sort of challenge. So if you’re up for it, GO FOR IT!

Dear Andy,

We have a question about “Two-Deep Leadership” when it comes to camping trips. Currently in our troop, anadult driver (usually a Scoutmaster, ASM, or committee member) drives a group of Scouts—however many can be seat-belted into their vehicle—to various camping sites or other activities. We usually have just the one adult driver and the Scouts in the vehicle. Are we making a mistake? Is two-deep leadership required inside the cars; that is, at least two adults plus the Scouts? (RJ, MC, Simon Kenton Council, OH)

No, you’re not making a mistake based on how I read the GTSS. “Two-Deep Leadership” is a safety guideline; the buddy system (i.e., two or more Scouts with a single adult) answers a youth protection issue.

Dear Andy,

We’re in a really strange situation with my son’s Cub Scout pack and I’m afraid that if I speak up any more we’ll be kicked out of the BSA.

The problem began with my son receiving pins, badges, belt loops and such without really earning them. His Den Leader, it turns out, didn’t actually plan den meetings; what she did instead was tell parents totake their sons on field trips. My son is a Webelos I and doesn’t evenknow the Scout Oath or salute. I’ve brought this up with our Committee Chair but get ignored. On top of this, they, the adults, have humiliated, threatened, and ostracized my son.They use the Boy Scouts as their own club with their own rules and they ignore the BSA rules and policies.

There’s another meeting scheduled with the Committee Chair and Chartered Organization Representative. Can they ask us to go look for another pack? I don’t think they should be permitted to get away with this. What do you think? (Name & Council Withheld)

Yes, this situation, as you describe it, sounds strange. OK, so your son has been a first-year Webelos Scout for the past several months, and he doesn’t yet know the Boy Scout Oath and Law or the salute, and I’m going to guess he’s probably pretty rusty on the Scout sign, handshake, motto, and slogan, too, to say nothing of the Outdoor Code. Have you and his dad been at-home resources for him to learn and practice these things? Does he recite and do them with you, so that you can respond and help him learn the bits and pieces he needs to get in order to put the whole thing together? How many times a week does one of you do this with your son? How about Req. 1: You or your husband reading the parent guide section of his Webelos book… Have you done this and asked your son’s Den Leader to sign this off as completed? Does your son regularly attend den meetings, or is it more hit-or-miss if there are other conflicting events at school, sports, church, and so on? You see, even at the Webelos level there are still things your son can do with you, at home, so that his Den Leader can properly sign his Webelos handbook as being completed.

Beyond this and much more importantly, if you’ve witnessed your son being publicly humiliated, threatened, and ostracized by the adult volunteers in his Cub Scout pack, then you have the absolute right and obligation to instantly remove your son from emotional harm’s way and find another pack that doesn’t do this to boys. That’s right: Get your son in a pack the delivers the BSA program for boys in his age group, and don’t look over your shoulder!

I certainly hope this reduces your fear that speaking up for your son gets you nothing but “expelled” from a unit. This is simply not the case in 99.99% of all Scouting units. However, in an abusive situation, don’t wait—get your son to safety.

Dear Andy,

Here’s a quickie question that I get asked by Scouts about to have their boards of review: If we’re wearing a Varsity Scout or Venturer uniform, what do we do with our merit badge sash? Do we wear it, or not? (Marsha Grammar)

The merit badge sash is an “extra,” actually, so this means it’s at the wearer’s discretion. It’s not “wrong” to wear it anymore than it’s “wrong” to leave it home! (Used to be that there were forest green sashes that matched the Explorer forest green shirt, but these went the way of the buggy whip years ago!) Now there’s of course no problem with a Varsity Scout wearing his sash (it’s actually a pretty good idea to do this, so that if he’s asked what merit badges he’s earned, he can refer to it!), but if a Venturer isn’t wearing his Boy Scout uniform while at a board of review for a Boy Scout rank, he may want to simply bring it along with him but not necessarily wear it (but for goodness sakes let’s not dangle it from our belts—not only a BSA no-no but also pretty tacky).

Dear Andy,

Completing the Doctorate for a Commissioner College means either writing a thesis or doing a project. My understanding is that, in a council that has a Commissioner College you do a thesis, and in a council without a CC you can do a project. But I’m wondering if a Commissioner who’s a candidate for the doctoral level can do either a thesis or a project, so long as his council approves it, regardless of whether the council has a CC or not. The reason I’m asking is that I’ve been selected to be the new Dean for the doctoral program for our council CC and I can’t find a formal ruling on this. Right now in our council, we only permit the thesis option, but I have been asked about doing a project instead. (Mike Menefee, ACC, Heart of Virginia Council)

Good question, and here’s even better news: As Dean of the doctoral program for your council, you can do whatever you believe will work best for Commissioners and Commissioner service! There’s no “national standard” that I’ve ever heard of, so since we’re not talkin’ Harvard or Oxford, how about just doing what you believe is the right thing to do!

Dear Andy,

I’ve just agreed to be a Unit Commissioner. The units I’m being asked to serve are special needs: Low income, gang-influences, discipline problems, school grade achievement issues, single parents, ethnically diverse, and the list goes on. I’ve just learned that the boys—Webelos level into Boy Scouts—don’t have any uniforms and are typically engaged through an after-school sports program. My direct contact as a Senior District Executive and the after-school adult leaders receive stipends. In this assignment I’m informed that I’m expected to interpret Scouting in a most liberal way. For myself, I believe that uniforms (of some sort) are needed, for the sake of team spirit, some semblance of discipline, and to show advancement. Who do I go to, to make this point? Does the BSA national office help provide any uniforms for this cohort? (Name & Council Withheld)

Sit down with your Senior District Executive and tell him what you believe— It’s a more than valid point and it’s in keeping with the methods of Scouting. Then, as a team, go talk to the local leaders and express the same point of view, to get buy-in. Then, you need a fund-raiser. Work out with the local leader what kind of fund-raiser the boys themselves and any parents available might do, then help them develop a plan of action and help them help themselves by making it happen. But don’t do it for them! Unless they do it, and then start getting some stuff that looks like a uniform (even if it’s just silk-screened tee-shirts!), there’ll be no ownership and no pride. Sweat equity is key!

Worst case scenario: You don’t get buy-in “at the top.” This means you’ve got no support, and it suggests that you’re unlikely to get any, on any other initiatives, in the future. That’s time to tell ‘em thanks but you want a different assignment. You see, as a volunteer, you have this absolute right (and obligation to yourself—it’s your life and free time!) to do good work that’s supported and that will give you a sense of accomplishment down the road. Without these two elements, it’s going to be an exercise in angst.

Dear Andy,

I’m Cubmaster of a very active pack of about 60 Cubs. I’ve been a Den Leader for the pasteight years and Cubmaster for almost four years as well. My dilemma is that my youngest son is crossing over into Boy Scouting in just a few months and I don’t have anyone to replace me. I’ve been trying to find someone for a year now, so that I could mentor him or her through the pack’s easy summer activities, popcorn sales, Pinewood Derby, and B&G before I move on. I have three Assistant Cubmasters but none of them is willing to step up, and no other parents have expressed any interest, either—and it’s sure not like I haven’t been out there asking!. In the time I’ve been Cubmaster, I’ve worked very hard to deliver a great program, and I’m beginning to get afraid that it’ll all go away when I leave. In fact, I’d consider it a failure on my part if, after everything I’ve done to promote this program, I can’t find anyone who would think it’s important enough to keep going. Do you have any suggestions? (Name & Council Withheld)

(There’s a basic rule-of-thumb in volunteerism—especially in Scouting: As a new volunteer or a volunteer in a new position, your very first and most important responsibility is to begin the process of identifying and training the person who will eventually be your replacement.)

In your situation, yes, I do have a suggestion: Put the responsibility for identifying and recruiting a new Cubmaster where it belongs. This is the stated responsibility of the pack’s Committee Chair and chartered organization (aka “sponsor”), and that’s who needs to take charge of this, says the BSA. Your only actual responsibility is to announce to the CC and committee that, when your son moves on, in whatever month, you will be moving on, also. End of story. No guilt or remorse, and no waffling—This indeed is their job!

Hi Andy,

My son crossed over to Boy Scouts a few months back. We’re struggling with understanding how things work. My son went to summer camp and, while there, he signed himself up for their “Eagle Quest” program for younger Scouts and completed all requirements for Tenderfoot and Second Class and First Class ranks—and he has the camp staff-signed paperwork to prove it! That was at the end of July. Our troop does Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review in sort of assembly-line fashion, only three or four times a year, so my son dutifully waited over two months and just had his reviews this past October…well, two of them, anyway. Seems that, when it came to First Class, my son’s Scoutmaster said he wasn’t finished yet (but wouldn’t say what was incomplete, even though the camp staff has signed off on every single requirement for the rank) and refused to schedule my son for his board of review for this rank. If the troop stays on its usual schedule, there won’t be another opportunity for a conference or review till January or maybe February, which means that even though my son completed everything for First Class in July, his best shot at this rank won’t happen till at least a half-year later, and this already seems unconscionable.

While waiting, he’s been working on merit badges, completing nine including five Eagle-required, and he’s served as a Den Chief for four months already, so that by the time of the next conferences-and-reviews he’ll have served in this position for at least eight months, but for these to be credited for Star rank req. 5, he’ll have to have served while a First Class Scout, and so from an advancement point-of-view the eight months he’s already served won’t count for a bloody thing! So, if the troop’s schedule holds true, their process will have cost my son more than a half-year at a time when he’s enthusiastic and self-motivated. Do these adult leaders really think that their shuffling their feet in the sand approach to Scouts who are ready and want to advance is going to keep them going strong once high school hits with all its more intensive academics, exciting letter sports seasons year-round, clubs, music and choral groups, and—let’s get it said—girls provide new worlds of interest and excitement?

Is this really how the Boy Scout program works? Do they truly control when Scouts get to advance, and make it as slow as possible? To what end? What in the world might the goals of such behavior be? Because, as I see it, the largest possible consequence is that Scouts with spines who are self-motivated will walk away from a road-blocking troop like this with nary a further thought, leaving behind the spineless, malleable, obsequies that have as much chance of becoming happy, productive, responsible citizens as pigs have to become eagles. (Scout Parent in Gerald R. Ford Council, MI)

First, just to be certain, double-check your son’s handbook for the requirements believed to be completed, including Second Class req. 3a., which involves five separate troop or patrol activities excluding regular troop or patrol meetings and includes at least two campouts (i.e., overnighters) since joining the troop. Then check First Class req. 3., which requires five more such activities of which at least one more will be a campout. If, in fact, your son has completed all requirements for all three ranks—Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class—then he is definitely deserving of Scoutmaster’s conferences and boards of review for all three ranks (which, by the way, may be done back-to-back on the same date, according to the BSA—there’s no “waiting period” required and the handbook tells that story very well).

Next, you need to determine what First Class requirement(s) your son’s Scoutmaster believes haven’t been completed yet— By actual requirement number (this means you don’t accept any vague remarks about “waiting a bit” or “he needs to mature a little”—these are both spurious because a Scout is encouraged by the BSA to advance at the pace he sets for himself, and no one is permitted to “slow him down”). So with that requirement number, check your son’s handbook, and figure out what’s going on here.

In this regard, it would be better if Dad can do this, rather than Mom (just trust me on this one, OK?).

If everything does check out, and all requirements are indeed completed, just as you’ve said, then the unfortunate conclusion may be that this is the wrong troop to be in. You see, there are plenty of troops out there that believe that the adult volunteers are there to serve the needs of the Scouts—and not the other way around! There are plenty of troops that have boards of review whenever a Scout’s ready to advance, which is as the Boy Scout program was designed! And there are plenty of troops that encourage Scouts’ advancement rather than placing roadblocks in their way. You may well need to check out the neighborhood and go visit a couple of other troops, knowing that it’s perfectly OK to change troops—it’s done all the time!—and the boy needs to find the one that he likes the most!

Finally, two more things…

– Read the first several chapters of your son’s Boy Scout Handbook , so that you know what the BSA is promising him, that troops are supposed to be delivering.

– Recognize, and help your son recognize, that advancement isn’t a race—the journey is supposed to be enjoyed; not sped through to just knock off requirements!

Thanks! What we’re being told now is that the Scoutmaster doesn’t think my son and three fellow Scouts who crossed over with him (all four did the camp’s Eagle Quest program and all four were signed off as completed through First Class) have “mastered the skills” of these three ranks—they don’t “know their stuff well enough” so they’re going to be re-tested by the Scoutmaster until he’s “satisfied.”

These troop leaders went on to say that they “want the Scouts to take their time with advancement” so that they’ll stay in the troop till they’re 18.

Fundamentally, they’re killing the enthusiasm my son and his friends started out with. First, the boys were told, “Don’t work on advancements in the spring; you’ll get to do that at camp. But then they go to camp and do it, but now it’s “not good enough.” Then it’s “Don’t work on merit badges till you get Tenderfoot done.” My son goes to every meeting and every campout, and they don’t work on anything or even do much of anything: At the last campout, the parents did all the cooking while the Scouts stood around and watched (they weren’t even given “helper” tasks). So the Scoutmaster says the Scouts should “master skills,” but never provides any opportunities for just learning anything, and there’s sure no “mastering” going on!

We did do some reading in our son’s handbook, and that’s where we didn’t realize that merit badges, even though signed off as completed by the Merit Badge Counselor, are all reviewed again by the Scoutmaster before he’ll “sign off” on them.

What do we do here? (N&CW)

Thanks for more of the story. Based on what you’ve described, this is absolutely not the troop for your son, or any boy, to be in for that matter! They are absolutely clueless about how the Boy Scout program is designed to work, or they do know and they’ve made up their own rules, which is even worse.

There is absolutely no point for a boy to be 17 years and 11 months old when he earns Eagle rank; many Scouts have accomplished this before their 14th birthday and done so properly! In my own case, I earned Eagle at age 15, and my brother did it at 14, and then we got to wear our Eagle badges for a whole bunch of years, and go on and earn a rack of merit badges beyond Eagle! In this troop, that’s not going to happen, because the adults involved have a distorted view of how Boy Scout advancement is supposed to work. Did you know, for instance, that once a rank requirement is signed off, it absolutely cannot and must not be re-tested—so says the BSA! This whole notion of “remembering everything” and “mastering skills” is total baloney!

Get your son and his friends out, and join forces with the other parents to find troop for your son and his friends to transfer into and have some fun for a change! Don’t delay! The longer you wait, the less interested in Scouting he and his friends will be—Get ’em transferred while they’re still enthusiastic about what Scouting can offer!

Hi Andy,

This is the “procedure” information that we received at a troop Court of Honor. Is this normal?

TITLE: Merit Badge and Advancement Procedures for Troop XX

Merit Badge Steps

1.The Scout will meet with your Scoutmaster. Discuss what merit badge you will be working on and your plan for completing. How does this fit into your advancement journey? Your Scoutmaster will then issue and sign a “Blue Card.” (Only the Scoutmaster will sign and issue blue cards.)

2.You will work with a Merit Badge Counselor to complete the requirements. After completing all requirements, you will meet with your Scoutmaster to review and sign off.

3.The Scout then turns in two segments of the blue card to the Advancement Chair.

Advancement 1. When a Scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank, he will request a Scoutmaster conference. He will then meet with the Scoutmaster to review what has been learned and accomplished during this part of the Scout’s journey. For Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class, careful attention should be given to knowing the skills. The Scout will continue to use these skills through out his Scouting journey. Knot tying is not something that a Scout can “kinda” know if he is going to participate in high adventures later in his Scouting adventure! While earning these ranks you can work on merit badges for future ranks.

2. Once a Scout makes First Class, the next part of his journey begins. These are time-sensitive ranks so that the Scout can start to develop leadership skills using the basic skills learned in previous ranks. He will be asked to teach those basic skills to new Scouts or other groups.

3. Each Scout is responsible for his Scout Handbook, which he should bring to each meeting and campout, so that requirements can be signed off as completed. All rank advancement charts are in this book.

4. Most of all, HAVE FUN learning and growing. Parents, this is the Scout’s journey and all they need from you is gentle encouragement! If you help too much, the program can’t develop the leader in your Scout! We are a boy-led/adult-guided troop… It’s the BSA way. (Name & Council Withheld)

This is actually pretty close to what’s described in your son’s own handbook, and it’s worthwhile for you to read the initial chapters of that book, to acquaint yourself with the BSA’s national point-of-view and procedures. While your son’s troop’s way of describing this is a little on the academic side, it does go on to say that advancement is and should remain fun, which does hint at the notion that they “get it.”

Dear Andy,

The Scouts in our troop have planned a one-day ski trip. Some of the older Scouts have asked if they can invite girls who are friends of theirs along. My initial thinking is no, this is a troop and a Scout trip; it’s not a Venturing outing, and we should tell these Scouts: No girls. What are your thoughts? (John Frazier, CC, Great Pittsburgh Council, PA)

Someone much wiser than I once observed that inside every problem there’s usually an opportunity. Yes, I agree: Girl friends, just like little brothers, sisters, and parents, don’t really belong on an outing with a troop of hearty Scouts – Scouting isn’t a “family affair” and it’s not a “boys-and-girls club either. Scouting is Scouts with Scouts, with a kindly Scoutmaster as their safety net. With that established, here’s the opportunity: “If you older Scouts would like some guy-and-girl stuff and maybe some stuff that Scouts can’t do, like pistol shooting, or (you can fill in the blank here)… You all might want to start up a Venturing crew! Yes, you can double-register and stay active with our troop, but you can also do some really cool stuff that you can’t do as Boy Scouts!”

What do you think? Worth a shot?

Happy Scouting!



Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)(December 18, 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.