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Issue 257 – May 26, 2011

Andy’s Rule No. 14:

  • The only kind of personal dignity that’s genuine is the kind that’s not made less by the foolishness, meanness, indifference, or invective of others.

ERROR: In my May 19th column, I made the statement that the decisions of boards of review for ranks other than Eagle don’t need to be unanimous. THIS IS INCORRECT. All board of review decisions must be unanimous.

Hi Andy,

About that troop with $10,000 in the bank, here are some ideas they also might want to consider…

Donation to the World Friendship Fund, to help Scouts in other countries.

Troop-named Order of the Condor (

(Yes, this is an international Scouting association).

Donation to units in their council or district that serve lower-income and/or inner-city or minority Scouts, or handicapped Scouts, or buy equipment and/or uniforms for the lower-income units, so their boys can look like Scouts and have a better time!

Help a start-up unit with seed money (with a stipulation that the start-up unit “pay it forward” after they get on their own feet).

Keep an ear open for units in their council whose gear has been stolen (it happens) or severely damaged by a flood or other natural disaster, then help replace the lost gear.

Donation to a Boys & Girls Club that serves non-Scouting kids in their area.

A $500 or $1,000 Eagle Scholarship to a boy in need of college help, either to supplement what their council offers, or maybe for a Scout who just misses out on the council’s scholarship selection.

A High Adventure scholarship for a low-income Scout who needs help raising money to go Philmont, Northern Tier, or Sea Base.

A troop-sponsored “campership” fund to help low-income Scouts in other units in their town afford summer camp.

These guys can definitely think beyond their own unit, which was the point of the ideas you gave them, too. (Bob Elliott, UC, Northern Star Council, MN)

NetCommish Comment: Bob’s comment about loss due to natural disaster proved out this week when a monster tornado tore through Joplin, Missouri. Some chartering organizations were hit hard and the places where Scout units met, stored their gear, etc. were destroyed. Not much information is available, so I’d recommend checking from time to time on the Ozark Trails Council Facebook Page to ask how to help for units that have an excess and want to assist. The same is true for other Council websites for communities along the Mississippi that were hit hard by flooding recently. We can be especially proud of our fellow Scouts in Missouri who are helping with donations to help those affected by the disaster. Scouts in Springfield helped fill a semi trailer with donations in less than two days and the effort is continuing.

Dear Andy,

I enjoy reading your columns. I think you’re really dialed in and, most importantly, you “call ’em like you see ’em”. I’ve recently been nominated to serve as our District Commissioner. Not having filled a role this important before, I’m anxious as to what would be considered a “good job.” Any advice for me? Anything I should focus on? What would you advise a newly minted DC? From your perspective, what makes a good DC? (Name & Council Withheld)

Know about that 3:1 target ratio? That’s units-to-Unit Commissioners, and that’s the one that’s most elusive. For 2010, your region was the best of the BSA’s four in narrowing the gap to 3.7:1 from 3.9:1 the year before, and since that’s an average maybe your council and your own district is already at or beating the goal! If so, keep up the great work and show others how to do it. If not, thenremember always that the identification, recruiting, training, and retention of a quality corps of Unit Commissioners are the most important responsibilities you’ll have as District Commissioner. Everything else falls secondary to this, because it’s the Unit Commissioner corps that delivers such a high percentage of the “pay off” on the fourth promise of a district to it’s units: Quality direct unit service.

To do this, you’ll need the eyes of the best sniper you’ve ever heard of or read about, the silver-yet-100% honest tongue of a top salesman, the training ability of Basketball Coach John Wooden, and the perspicacity of Survivor’s Jeff Probst. You’ll need the strength, stamina, and energy of Theodore Roosevelt, quiet team-building ability of Dwight Eisenhower, gentle joy of Mohandas Gandhi, subtle genius of James Monroe, diplomacy of Dag Hammarskjold, and backbone of George Patton, all wrapped up in the boundless enthusiasm of Ronald Reagan. That’s all!

Hello Andy,

I’m writing from Switzerland again. Req. 12 of the Webelos Outdoorsman activity badge says, “Visit a nearby Boy Scout camp with your Webelos den.” Would this be a council camp facility? A camp set up by Scouts for a campout? Something else? Freundliche Grüsse. (Rick Hautekeete)

Of course, we know that req. 12 is one of the “optionals,” yes? OK, so what’s a “Boy Scout camp”? This phrase typically means a camp owned and operated by a Scout council, for Scouts to use. In Switzerland, the Kandersteg Scout Center would certainly qualify! Bitte.

Dear Andy,

Couple of your columns ago, I found it interesting that the troop committee chair was holding back on a Scout because his project plan wasn’t detailed enough. We had that problem in our district. So that troop’s wouldn’t interrupt things like this differently from one another, the Eagle Chair of our District Advancement Committee suggested this as a guide: Ask the Scout this question…”If something were to happen to you, is the project plan written in sufficient detail that someone else could take the plan and complete your project?” This has worked well for us. It directs the Scout to have a “parts list,” a “shopping list,” working drawings or “before” photos with sketches, and so on, all of which help the Scout himself visualize what he’s about to embark on. In the past, some Scouts might have a plan that says, “I’m going to build 15 widgets,” and it stops there. That left lots of questions: How are you going to do it, how much material will you need, what type of material, where do you plan to get it, what sizes, and on and on. So, while that’s is just a suggestion, I can tell you it seems to work well in our district, and we’ve passed it on to all our districts. (Bruce Stohlman, Council Advancement Chair, Mid-America Council, IA/NE/SD)

I really like your approach… Makes good sense and gives the Scout a template he can visualize and then work toward. I’ve also seen districts use a two-step approach, the first being just a quick paragraph stating the concept: Here’s the problem/situation—here’s what I want to do—here’s the result I’m anticipating. Once this gets a green light on the concept, then the Scout does the full plan write-up. This has helped prevent a Scout (even with guidance at the troop level!) doing massive work on developing a plan for a project that just doesn’t fit the mold of an Eagle project (easy example: A fund-raiser to benefit some charitable organization, or repairs at the council camp—and yes, some folks still don’t know that these geese don’t fly!).

Dear Andy,

This summer I’m working with EDGE Outreach, a not-for-profit organization that equips and trains people to provide potable water to communities in developing countries around the world. I’m researching the possibility of creating a Water Purification merit badge, to promote education about issues surrounding clean water. After reading the information posted on the U.S. Scouting Service Project website, it seems that getting the BSA National Council to approve such a merit badge would be a difficult task; however, I’ve read elsewhere that it’s possible to create a merit badge for use inside a troop (coordinating with a Merit Badge Counselor). Is such a thing possible? Could it even be done within a council or region? (Porter Stevens, Eagle Scout, Lincoln Heritage Council, KY)

Merit badges are only configured and approved at the national level, by folks at the BSA National Office in Irving (suburb of Dallas), Texas. As you’ve already read, new merit badge subjects take quite some time and effort to eventually become vetted and an official part of the BSA merit badge program. There are no “local” merit badges—none at the troop level, district level, council level, or even regional level. They are entirely national. Period. There will be no registered Merit Badge Counselors for any sort of “local” (maybe “non-national” is a better way to say it) merit badge, because one can’t be approved as a counselor for a merit badge that isn’t recognized by the BSA national office.

OK, so that’s not a path likely to take you anywhere fast. So then, what can you do? Well, step back for a second and see if it might be a training module of some sort, like “Leave No Trace” has become in the past several years. Oh, but virtually every single household in America has access to clean, potable water; consequently, consumer “education” or “training” or “equipment” is 99.9% unnecessary anywhere in any of our fifty states. Functionally, there’s no problem to solve here.

But that doesn’t have to mean a dead end… Let’s suppose there’s a country that has two things: a water problem and a Scout association. Perhaps the idea might be to link up American Scout units with Scout units or groups in the country that needs help in the potable water department, and figure out some way to collaborate to help the less fortunate country?

Anyway, that’s one idea. I’m sure there are dozens of others, just waiting to be explored! Very best wishes in your next brainstorming session!

Dear Andy,

I’m a Scouting Mom who’s been in Scouting for most of my life, as a Girl Scout myself for 12 years and now with four sons, two of whom are Eagle Scouts. Recently, our family was transferred to Texas from a Yankee state, and my two youngest joined a local Cub Scout pack. I volunteered to help, and the folks in the pack said yes. But, turns out this pack’s been pretty poorly run for a lot of years, no one had any training beyond Youth Protection, and they didn’t follow the GTSS, just sort of making it up as they went along. I actually looked for another pack, but the next closest was nearly an hour’s drive away. But since both the prior Cubmaster and the Committee Chair had asked me to pitch in, we stayed. I told them that I played by the rules, however, but they still said they wanted help from me, as the pack’s new Cubmaster. I quickly took the training I needed and got in touch with my Unit Commissioner for help. I started implementing standards for pack and den meetings, parent involvement, and so on, and—truth be told—most of the parents have been absolutely wonderful about the improvements we’re now making in the program. But there’s a bad apple in the barrel. One in particular doesn’t like it that this Yankee’s come on in and is changing things. She uses “Facebook,” apparently, to bad-mouth me and what we’re trying to do here. After a recent pack outing—the first in years—she had nothing but complaints about it in general and me in particular, which appeared (again) on Facebook. How do I deal with a parent like this? Others have tried to speak with her, to try to show her that what I’m initiating is what Cub Scout packs are supposed to be doing, but it’s a deaf ears situation. Our Unit Commissioner supports our new program enthusiastically (especially since this was a pack on the edge of having its triage plugs pulled), but this woman persists. What do I do?

You ignore her, starting right now.

In dealing with people like this, we don’t “fight fire with fire”—we fight it with water.

Refusing to react, or to give her your attention, is the strongest arrow in your quiver. Her greatest fear is being ignored; it confirms her own low (but very private) opinion of herself. Don’t react, or even respond. Don’t single her out, or complain about her to anyone—including your own family—ever.

In the spirit of “talk softly but carry a big stick,” if this woman persists with her social networking diatribes, it may become time to ask your supporting Commissioner and District Executive, if necessary, to sit down with this woman and point out to her that her actions make her vulnerable to a cyber-bullying suit, which can have various unhappy consequences, including public embarrassment, civil reprimand if not punishment, and in some jurisdictions fines.

In the pack, it’s critical that the Cubmaster and the Committee Chair are closely aligned, because technically the Cubmaster serves at the pleasure of the Committee Chair and the Chartered Organization (or the Chartered Organization’s Representative).

The focus needs to remain on the Den Leaders, as they themselves focus directly on their dens of boys. Reward the Den Leaders as often and as meaningfully as you can, to keep them moving forward always with a shared vision. Continually reinforce to them that, when they get it right, their own sons get something that’ll last them a lifetime.

Hello Andy,

When did fund-raising (e.g., FOS) become the main focus of BSA councils and districts? It seems that our Roundtables these days are one big FOS pitch after another. I realize that we’re in some difficult financial circumstances nation-wide, but I believe that it’s the responsibility of the council’s professional staff to raise money; not the volunteers month after month. If a council is in the red, then perhaps a different or better marketing plan needs to be implemented. In the real world, if a CEO or COO can’t stay in the black, he or she isn’t going to have that job for very long! Troops traditionally do some sort of fund-raising, to have a better program and support there own activities. If it’s a choice between making up for a council-wide deficit or helping a troop’s local program, what does one do? When packs and troops participate in council-run events (e.g., going to summer camp that’s owned by the council) they’re supporting their council; when we attend Camporees or Cub Family weekends, we’re contributing, too. Our unit-level “jobs” focus on training, teaching, personal growth, citizenship, opportunities, and areas like that. What’s your take on the whole FOS idea? (Wayne Christiansen, SM, Twin Rivers Council, NY)

Thanks for asking a very important question!

Yes, your council’s FOS program is absolutely necessary in order to keep things running. Unlike, say, the YMCA, where the financial model is (a) much bigger monthly membership fees (a one month fee for one member could pay the annual fees for every Scout in a medium-sized troop) and (b) funding-by-program (e.g., sign up for swimming—pay a fee; sign up for Pilates—pay a fee; etc.), the BSA is largely un-funded in these ways. As for summer camps, if each camper actually paid the precise proportion of what it financially requires to keep the camp up and running, that camp will have priced itself out of the market. In the same vein, if Camporee fees truly covered the cost of even professional staff oversight, the price would be so high that nobody would show up! So, the bottom line is that without FOS you’d have no council office, no staff, no summer camp, and the list goes on… But, of course, FOS is only part of the complete equation. There’s also grants, endowment contributions, one-off fund-raisers (e.g., recognition dinners), Popcorn sales (huge help to the bottom line, and fine products!), and so on. Each and all of these help keep your council solvent, which in turn keeps it from being subsumed by a neighboring council that has its financial ducks in order.

That said, Roundtables are for disseminating program-related information and ideas, of which FOS, Popcorn sales, etc. can be an occasional part; but Roundtables aren’t for the exclusive use of the fund-raisers—volunteer or otherwise—month after month. If this is what’s happening, then this needs to be brought to the district’s Commissioner staff and maybe even the District Operating Committee, so you all can get back on track.

Councils support the units they serve, and these units can, in turn, help support their councils by participating in the annual FOS campaign, selling carloads of Popcorn, going to their own council’s summer camp, and showing up at Camporees and other council-driven events. This is a two-way street.

Dear Andy,

I’m a Webelos Leader. This year in our Bear Den there’s a boy who’s currently in the third grade and has earned his Bear badge. We were just informed by his parents that he’s going to be held back in school next year: He’ll be repeating third grade. In the pack, should he be switched back to a Bear den again, or should he move on with his present den? My feeling is that he shouldn’t have to spend a second year in Bears, which would be boring for him and he could lose interest and drop from Scouting entirely. Can you add any insights on this situation? (Mary Pat)

Let’s first keep in mind that, regardless of grade, a boy who’s 11 years old is instantly eligible to be a Boy Scout. On this basis, the best course of action may be to sit down with the parents, explain to them how the Cub/Webelos-to-Boy Scout transition works, and ask them how they’d like for the pack to manage their son. For instance, if he stays with his present den, he’d be a Webelos I third-grader next year, and then a Webelos II fourth grader the next year (and approaching age 11), and if he earns his Arrow of Light he’s eligible to be a Boy Scout right then and there, regardless of what grade he’s in. You might also—here’s a concept!—consider asking the boy himself! My thinking says keep him moving forward, because “same-old, same-old” is a killer at any age!

So there’s no problem moving him along, into Webelos, right along with the rest of his den? This is great news! (Mary Pat)

Understanding that the rank activities and electives in Cub Scouting are age- and grade-specific, to require a boy to repeat what he’s already done (and which will now bore him to tears) isn’t what we’re trying to accomplish here. Besides, he’s bonded with the other boys in his den and to lose them now can be a pretty permanent sadness.

This Scouting movement of ours is all about “growing” boys. We can’t help them grow if we let them get “pot-bound”!

Dear Andy,

Our pack is sending six Cubs and three adults to resident camp. We don’t have a single vehicle big enough for all nine of us, so we’re planning on taking two cars, which means that one of the cars will have just one adult in it. Does this violate the “two-deep leadership” rule? Do we need to have two adults each car? (John MacKinnon)

“Two-deep leadership” applies to unit-level activities; it’s virtually impossible to apply the “two deep” rule to transportation. One adult in a vehicle is fine, so long as he or she is transporting a son only or a son plus other youth members (which will mean, of course, that the “Buddy System” comes into play). So one vehicle with two adults and two or three boys and then a second vehicle with one adult and three or four boys should be just fine. If you want to check further, reach out to the folks on your council’s health and safety committee, or their risk management committee.

Hi Andy,

The church that sponsors our troop also sponsors a Venturing crew. Some of the boys are members of both. An issue about uniforms has come up. The boys want to wear their Venturing uniforms totroop meetings, even though they’re registered Boy Scouts. The crew’s meetings take place on different evenings from troop meetings, so it’s not like they’re moving from one activity to another. What is proper? Can these two uniforms be worn interchangeably by youth members who belong to both a troop and a crew? (Melody Harrelson, Venturing MC, Coastal Carolina Council, SC)

This is an interesting situation! First, a little history… There was a time in Scouting when it was standard procedure in many troops that, when a Scout hit age 14, he became an Explorer and joined an Explorer post that was intimately linked to the Boy Scout troop (same sponsor, often same meeting night, just met for a bit more after the troop meeting ended). Of course, as Explorers, we got to wear our forest green shirts and pants, with spankin’ white web belts and brown neckties, and I can tell you from personal experience that this was totally aspirational—There wasn’t a Scout in the troop who wasn’t counting the days, if not minutes, to his 14th birthday, so he could wear “the greens” like the big guys! It was, I must tell you, POWERFUL!

So now you’re in a situation not too far away from mine of several decades ago… And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the same aspirational elements are operating. So, understanding that you’re hearing this from a volunteer Scouter whose boots are on the ground and who wants to keep young men in the program as long as possible, here’s how I’d call it…

– If you’re double-registered in the troop and in the crew and you’re under 18 and male, you can wear your Venturing uniform to troop meetings and outings but it must be complete, with Venturing shirt, Venturing or Philmont belt, Venturing pants or shorts, and Venturing socks—no exceptions.

– If you don’t want to wear the whole Venturing uniform, then you wear your Boy Scout uniform, and no “mix-and-match.”

– In either case, if the troop wears neckerchiefs, all youth—Scouts and Venturers both—wear neckerchiefs. Again, no exceptions.

Talk over with the Scoutmaster the idea of first presenting this to the officers of the Venturing crew and see what they have to say. Then, if they buy in, tell them that it’s not a done deal yet—Not until the troop’s Patrol Leaders Council (the Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders) agree, which the Scoutmaster will coordinate. If both groups agree, you’ve got a deal. If one says yes but the other says no, then it’s no deal till the two groups work it out between themselves and then come to both the crew’s Advisor and the troop’s Scoutmaster with their own proposal.

Dear Andy,

There’s arisen a discussion of whether or not Scouts not being reviewed should be allowed to sit in on a board of review for another Scout. Some feel that if it’s for, let’s say, Tenderfoot, then having an older Scout in the room helps relieve the tension of the board of review. Others feel that boards of review are a great opportunity for the troop committee to meet with the Scout and to be able to discuss things going on within the troop in a confidential manner. What’s the opinion of the BSA National Office on this? Is this done, or even allowed? (Kim Stanton, ADC, Seneca Waterways Council, NY)

The BSA is 100% specific on who is in the room when a board of review is being conducted for the ranks Tenderfoot through Life: Three to six registered members of the unit committee, plus the Scout seeking advancement, and—optionally—his Scoutmaster, as an observer. That’s it. We don’t have the authority to change this, as of course being a Commissioner you already know. Consequently, we can have as many opinions on this as we have toes and fingers and while this might make for a lively discussion is doesn’t make for a hill o’ beans. As to the point about “tension,” the BSA has already firmly established that there should be none; moreover, since the Scoutmaster has the opportunity to personally introduce the Scout, and then remain in the room, the possibility of “tension” occurring should be zero. That is, unless there are still folks out there who think boards of review are final exams, orals, or inquisitions, in which case the presence of another Scout isn’t going to amount to very much in the face of tin gods and supreme court judges.

Hello Andy,

I’m the parent of a Arrow of Light Scout, and I’m confused. Can you tell me exactly how many activity badges my son needs to earn for his Arrow of Light? Does he need to complete all 20 activity badges, or not? Can you tell me what activity badges need to be for sure completed? I’ve been to many websites, and find myself getting more and more confused, as it’s not really written anywhere how many need to be earned. Also, do the boys first get the blue Webelos patch, and then the beige patch after receiving Arrow of Light, or do they get just one and it’s either blue if they are not going on to Boy Scouts or beige if they are? (Kelly Kaminski, Cleveland Area Council, OH)

Checking your son’s WEBELOS Handbook, you’ll notice (refer to page 49, req. 6) that, to earn his Webelos Badge, he earned three activity badges in addition to completing the other requirements. Now, turn to page 63, and notice that req. 3 states that he’ll be earning five more activity badges, and it points out which ones in particular he’ll need to earn. The blue Webelos badge is for blue shirts; the tan one is for tan shirts—that’s the only difference.

Dear Andy,

I’m a Star Scout and I’m having trouble putting together a Life Scout project proposal plan. I’d like to know what I should include in my proposal form. It would be great to get some pointers on what to include in it. (Julian)

There is no such thing as a Star Scout to “putting together” a “Life Scout project proposal plan,” in order to meet Life rank req. 4. That requirement simply says: “…take part in service projects totaling…six hours…These…must be approved by your Scoutmaster.”

Your and your Scoutmaster already know that rank and merit badge requirements established by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America are to be carried out precisely as written, with no alterations, “interpretations,” additions or subtractions, and that no one—not your troop, district, or council, and certainly not your Scoutmaster—has the authority to deviate in any way from what the BSA states (the sole exception to this, for rank requirements only, is in the case of a certified, licensed medical statement of a permanent mental of physical disability). So, all you need to do is to tell your Scoutmaster that, for instance, you’re planning to help your friend in the troop, who is a Life Scout, with his Eagle service project, and that will take “X” hours, and then your school’s student service club (Key Club, or Interact, Club, or some other student group…) is doing a town-wide “Spring Clean-Up” day next week and you’re going to be there helping out for “Y” hours, and your neighbor, who is an 87 year-old widow needs her lawn mowed and you’ve told her that you’re happy to do it for her, and you’re not accepting any “pay” for this, and that’s “Z” hours, and these add up to six hours, so that should be fine for Life requirement 4, yes? And of course, he should be saying “Yes, go for it!” right there, on the spot, right? But somehow, I’m figuring that that’s not what’s going on in your troop. So how about either telling me that what I just described is exactly what happens in your troop, and this is going to be a no-brainer, or tell me what’s actually going on here.

Hi Andy,

My Scoutmaster is telling me to do a proposal plan for a service project that I must carry out in order to earn Life Scout rank. Is he right?

No, he’s absolutely, positively not right. He’s flat-out wrong.

Take a moment to re-read the requirement in your handbook, and then ask your father first, then your Scoutmaster and the Troop Committee Chair to read it, too. The requirement’s all about service time; there’s not a thing in there about writing a “proposal plan” for some sort of “project.” All of you need to know that the BSA National Council states clearly that no one—no one!—is allowed to alter a requirement in any way. More: All BSA requirements are national standards that apply to every Scout in all Scout units, and if somebody’s dishing out baloney like, “Well, in this troop…” or “That’s just the ‘minimum’ requirement…” somebody needs to tell ‘em that that’s what it is: Baloney!

If anyone in your troop is having a problem with what I’m saying here, after they’ve actually done their homework, they can write to me for where they can find the real requirements and the BSA policies that go with them.

(If I sound a bit exercised about this, that’s because I’m already having nightmares about how many other requirements this Scoutmaster has changed and how many other Scouts he’s damaged.)

Dear Andy,

For the Venturing program, I need information and pictures if possible on proper uniform badge placement. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. (James Conley, Sequoyah Council, CA)

Badge placement is fundamentally the same on all Scouting uniforms, and Venturing is no different. For a quick and easy template, the adult Scouter inspection sheet is a good guide.

Dear Andy,

When a boy fills out his paperwork and joins a Boy Scout troop, how soon can he begin working on his requirements and does he have to earn Scout before he start Tenderfoot? (Suzanne, Longhorn Council, TX)

Checking your son’s handbook, you’ll notice that “Scout” is a joining badge; not a rank. However, it’s definitely the first thing he should concentrate on, and get that badge. Notice that it has ten requirements (refer to page 17), and most of them are no-brainers. He’s already done the first three, he can do the 4th without even breathing heavy, 5 through 8 are mostly straight memory work and not any sort of major hurdle, 9 he does with you and his father, and then, at a troop meeting, he meets with his Scoutmaster, knocks off 10 and demonstrates the others at the same time, and that whole thing should take maybe ten minutes! As soon as that’s done, he starts on Tenderfoot, his first actual Boy Scout rank. The smart Scout will immediately ask his Scoutmaster to do requirement 10a with him, so that “the clock” starts ticking and 30 days later he has the opportunity to wrap up 10b, which would be the last requirement (assuming he does the others in the four weeks in-between 10a and 10b). Meanwhile, if an opportunity to complete a Second Class or First Class requirement presents itself, he should do it and right then and there ask his Scoutmaster to initial and date the requirement in his handbook (refer to pages 432 through 447).

Dear Andy,

I’m struggling with interpretation of a statement in the Guide to Safe Scouting (aka “GTSS”): “It is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America that the use of alcoholic beverages and controlled substances is not permitted at encampments or activities on property owned and/or operated by the Boy Scouts of America, or at any activity involving participation of youth members.”

Suppose a group of Scouts in uniform is enjoying a road meal en route to a Scout activity, and the place they chose to stop at is a popular chain restaurant that serves adult beverages. While they’re eating, elsewhere in the establishment, somebody not with the group is consuming an adult beverage. Has the GTSS rule been broken?

Here’s another scenario: Scouts in uniform are participating in or are guests at a dinner banquet where invited speakers are addressing a larger community. The Scouts make up a small proportion of the total number of attendees. There are adult beverages being served at this event, but not at the table where the Scouts and their adult leaders are seated. At the time of the banquet, the Scout unit is traveling under an approved tour permit. In this scenario, has the GTSS rule been broken? (Name & Council Withheld)

Your questions are good ones and scenarios thought-through; however, because of their specificity I’m going to ultimately defer to your own council’s Scout Executive as the best final source for answers here.

That made clear, my own observations begin with the need to drop the euphemisms: “Adult beverages” are “alcoholic beverages” in the GTSS and that’s the language we stick with, unless we want to start walking small around the issue.

Regarding the first scenario: I personally don’t think having a meal at a public restaurant that has a separate room or area where alcoholic beverages are served and consumed; but, whether in uniform or not, the prudent tour leader will stop at a McDonald’s or KFC or Chick-fil-A or Whataburger or Burger King before stopping at an Appleby’s or Uno’s, or Chili’s or Texas Road House, or any place where beer, wine, or spirits are served. Why? Simple: Why invite a possible problem when the solution is a 50-foot parking lot away! But let’s really stretch things and say you all want to drop a lot of money on calories, carbs, and such, and it ideally needs to be more than burgers. OK, so stop at a Cracker Barrel, where the strongest thing you can get to drink is a Frozen Mug Apple Cider, and fill yer faces!

Second scenario: I’m not going to touch it. Ask your S.E.

Dear Andy,

As a Scout, I was in Troop 5, Charleston, WV, and earned Eagle Scout rank in 1984. I now have a Cub Scout son, and so I’ve been getting involved again. I’ve just been invited to a Friends of Scouting dinner, and I expect that I’ll be wearing a suit to the event. Is it appropriate for me to wear my Eagle medal, on my suit coat lapel? (Mark Pack, Mecklenburg County Council, NC)

It’s 100% appropriate for you to wear your Eagle medal, pinned on your suit jacket’s left breast pocket (right near the top). Congratulations and enjoy your “second generation” of Scouting with your son!

Happy Scouting!



Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)May 26, 2011 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2011)

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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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