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.
Do any of the activity items such as earning the Astronomy pin, count towards an activity that helps toearn a Compass Point? Or do you only do activities from the book? We’re confused. (Diane Fala, Cape Fear Council, NC)
“Compass Points” represent numbers of activity badges earned. How this works is described on page 36 of the Webelos Handbook. If, after reading this, you have further questions, just write to me again.
This is about wearing the Scout uniform at a public event. Our troop is hosting an evening in the city park in our little town very soon. There will be a bluegrass band, and the students of a local music teacher will also be performing. Our troop’s Scouts will be serving hot dogs, ice cream, and drinks, and some may be giving some demonstrations of Scout skills. So, do the Scouts wear the formal Scout shirt in this setting, or not? The Scouts are hoping not because it’ll be hot that evening, but the Scoutmaster thinks otherwise. So now I, as Committee Chair, wonder about the appropriateness of wearing the Scout shirt. There is some kind of rule about wearing the shirts in certain situations? What’s the rule? (Janet Kimbrell, CC)
The “rule” in this case is the rule of one’s heart… Scouts providing service to their community, in a public place where they will be recognized as Scouts, would be untrue to their hearts to wear anything other than their complete uniforms, or as much of the uniform as they own. For those who are half-hearted Scouts, or the boys who are embarrassed to be Scouts, and the boys who have less than complete respect for themselves, plus the boys who don’t think they’re worthy to be Scouts, I’m sure something less than the compete uniform will fit just fine!
We need some advice on the existence of a BSA policy regarding alcohol served at a meeting located separately from where the Scouts of the troop actually meet.
Our troop meets at a local Moose Lodge building. The lodge building has a lounge that serves alcoholic beverages. This room is enclosed and separate from the room where the troop meets. There is a rest room that’s in an area separate from both the troop meeting room and the lounge, and each of these two rooms has its own separate doorway to the restrooms—In fact, no Scout ever needs to go into the lounge, for any reason, and no lounge patron ever needs enter the troop meeting room. In this situation and configuration, can you advise as to whether or not any BSA policy exists that would prohibit a Scout troop from meeting in a venue such as this? My suspicion is that there’s no such policy, but someone else in our council has implied that there’s a prohibition, but when pressed admitted to not being an authority on the topic and not knowing exactly where this might be written down. Can you help clear the air here? (Mike Holden, Baltimore Area Council, MD)
Well, I’ll tell you this, first… Hats off to whomever insisted that the one who made the implication of a BSA policy back it up with the written word, and I hope it was added that until that happened, there will be no change in practice and there will certainly be no further conversation on this subject.
On the second point, yes, there’s definitely a BSA policy that prohibits alcoholic beverages where Scouts are present. However, since no Scouts are present in the room where the alcoholic beverages are, and the alcoholic beverages aren’t present in the room where the Scouts meet, the policy is being followed, it would certainly seem to me.
According to “www.boyscouttrail.com,” req. 5 for the Arrow of Light badge says: “Participate in a Webelos overnight campout or day hike (If you have already done this when you earned your Outdoorsman activity badge, you may not use it to fulfill requirements for your Arrow of Light Award requirements).” We are seeing two possible ways of interpreting this:
– One: A Scout completes this requirement by doing a Webelos overnight campout or a day hike, provided he doesn’t count the same hike or campout that he used to complete a requirement for Outdoorsman.
– Two: A Scout completes this requirement by doing a Webelos overnight campout or a day hike, but if he did the day hike for Outdoorsman, then he must do an overnight campout for Arrow of Light, or vice-versa.
Some parents and leaders in our pack feel that a Scout can do two day hikes or two campouts or any combination—it doesn’t matter—while others feel that an overnight campout must be included because this will better prepare a boy for Boy Scouts.
Can you shed any light on this? (Name & Council Withheld)
If you need a Solomon’s Decision handed down by the BSA National Office, by all means write to them directly. In the meanwhile, consider that the requirement uses the word, “or,” as in either a day hike or an overnight campout qualifies as completing this requirement. Moreover, the parenthetical addition doesn’t state or even suggest that if one of the two options has been done for the Outdoorsman activity badge then the other of the two options must be done for req. 5. Consequently, it’s reasonable to conclude, based on the total language of the requirement, that any combination works: Two day hikes, two campouts, or one of each in either order.
As far as “preparing boys to be Boy Scouts,” while everyone should have figured out by now that the entire 18-month Webelos/Arrow of Light program is specifically designed to do that, all campouts (not counting “resident camps”) in the Cub Scout program require that the boy be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Our troop has expanded from 18 to 40 Scouts and yes, we feel truly blessed. My question’s about a troop vote to determine whether an item (in this case a beret) can be made part of our regular uniforms. The idea was presented to the Scouts in a pretty informal manner and there appeared to be a majority interest in making this a go. Then the adults got involved—some of whom are military veterans—and you’d think the United States Congress had intervened! In a boy-led troop, when a vote needs to be taken by the Scouts for something that will become troop policy, is it simply a matter of having a quorum at a meeting and the SPL announcing the question-then a Yea-Nay vote, or is there some other method that should be employed? (Bill Rush, MC, Istrouma Area Council, LA)
There are two (and only two) uniform parts Scouts can decide on. One is the neckerchief and the other is headgear. If the Scouts want to wear the red BSA berets that were popular in the 70’s, and you can find them or find facsimiles of them, then you’re good to go. But the Scouts need to know that the original red BSA beret or a virtually identical red beret is their only beret option. Also, once the decision’s made by the Scouts, it applies to everyone—adults included.
For the troop’s apparent “supreme court” of uniforming: No official BSA uniform or uniform part ever becomes obsolete. (Confession: I still fold over the tops of my knee socks so I can wear my woven green Boy Scout sock tabs—with garters!)
I’ve recently taken over the duties of Scoutmaster again after an overseas deployment. At the last boards of review conducted, the reviewers were our Unit Commissioner and a committee member. The troop has a Committee Chair, but this person wasn’t involved. Since I’ve returned, and in the process of reorganizing the troop, the Unit Commissioner has resigned, and a new Committee Chair and three new committee members have been appointed. We now have nine Scouts and I’ve conducted numerous boards of review in the past, with the guidance from Unit Commissioners (who have always sat on our boards). I’m working with our new Committee Chair to have the boards of review conducted they way they’re supposed to be done (having been a Boy Scout volunteer for years, I’ve found out that things aren’t always conducted as they’re supposed to be, even though there are numerous guidelines and policies available). So I’m trying right now to conduct boards of review with the specified minimum of three members. I have the Committee Chair and one other committee member ready set to sit on the boards, and I’m trying to get other committee members to do this, too, although they’ve been reluctant to commit. So here’s the question: If I can’t get a minimum of three committee members to sit on reviews, can we fill in with Assistant Scoutmasters or do we have to hold off on advancing a Scout because of lack committee involvement? Meanwhile, I do get it that this idea of Unit Commissioners sitting on boards of review isn’t permitted. (Lowell Phillips, Coronado Area Council, KS)
Frankly, I’m totally flummoxed by the idea of committee members not wanting to sit on boards of review! In the first place, this is part of their “job description.” More importantly, if they have a son in the troop, this is a way for them to see first-hand what goes on when the door’s closed, so they can provide their own sons with insights (the biggest one being: You’re not on trial!). Moreover, since boards of review are most often held while troop meetings are going on (yup…same date and time and location—just use another room), and they drop off and pick up their sons anyway, what’s the big deal here? But, to answer your question directly—and maybe this is what needs to be told to these hang-back committee members—yes, there’s no rank advancement for their son and his friends if they’re not willing to carry out boards of review. If they still won’t do this, well, it’s time to find folks who will, and then replace these people.
I’m writing to you so I may better understand my role as the religious leader for the Cub Scouts of the pack I’m newly involved with. I’m new to this role and would like to know what is required and what I need to do to assure that our Cub Scouts will have an amazing year with my lessons. I appreciate anything that you would be able to help me with. I thank you in advance. (Elizabeth Burke)
A good place to start is http://praypub.org/mainframeset.htm
Just find your faith and start reading! These are wonderful programs for youth and completely approved by the BSA!
A cautionary note (since I don’t know the pack’s “demographics”)… If the boys in the pack are of more than one faith or denomination, then all must be acknowledged and respected; the BSA while endorsing the need for beliefs in a God by any name, is totally nondenominational and prohibits proselytizing.
Thank you very much. I am not sure about everyone’s beliefs but I do know that most of us are Christians. I appreciate your help and this website looks as thought it will be a great start.
What you’ll want to do is to acquaint the boys and their parents with the opportunities available to earn religious award recognitions in their own particular faiths/denominations, and give them the website information so that they can check this out. As for more than this, I’m not certain what you have in mind, since, in the Cub Scout program, there’s no volunteer position specifically of a chaplaincy-type nature. So, I’m assuming that this is something that you’ll be doing informally, and not a part of regular pack meetings other than, perhaps, an invocation and benediction, and that’s fine.
We’d like to take the Wood Badge training, and we’re repeatedly told by our district and council training people that we should do this, but this council doesn’t offer any courses that exclude Sundays. For us, Sunday is set aside for church activities. The council training people tell us that we have to get permission from our Scout Executive in order to take Wood Badge in another council (where Sundays aren’t a stumbling block). What do we do to advance ourselves in training yet also do our “duty to our God”? (S. Huntington, Ohio)
There are two things you can do. First, have an eyeball-to-eyeball conversation with your Scout Executive about an out-of-council course that doesn’t include Sundays (take the time to locate one first, of course). Second, but concurrently, have a conversation with the head of your church, branch, ward, or stake, to see what allowances may be available to you. Following these two conversations, I’m sure that a pathway will reveal itself.
Good morning Andy,
I’m working with our new Council Advancement Chair. He has asked that I research all of the awards and start setting up procedures for handling them. I think that I have most of them under control, but there are a few that I’m having problems with and I thought, just maybe, you may have more information than I, or point me in the right direction. Here are the awards I need more information on:
Do you have anything on the Touch of Gold Certificate other than it’s a council award for service to youth with disabilities? For instance, are there specific criteria for it? Also, is there a photo of it somewhere that I can get a copy of?
I’ve been following the Duke of Edinburgh Award for a few years now. Last May, Bob Mazzuca and Prince Edward launched the pilot program in five BSA councils: Baden-Powell, NY; Circle 10, TX; Los Angeles Area, CA; National Capital Area, MD; and Yocona, MS. Do you have any information on this one? (Bill Casler, Great Alaska Council)
One mystery will evaporate with a change in spelling: Try Torch of Gold, then go here: www.wwswd.org/torch-of-gold.htm
First off, thanks for writing this amazing column! I learn a lot whenever I read it. My first question is: Where is it, in writing, that the ASPL and Troop Guide(s) are appointed by the SPL, who is elected? My troop currently elects all three, and I’m looking to change it.
My second question is about NAYLE. I live in the Alamo Area Council, Texas, so none of the new locations for NAYLE (one in Missouri, one in New York, two in California) are close to me. Will NAYLE still be offered at Philmont? (Troop Guide, Alamo Area Council, TX)
For your first question, it’s in the Scoutmaster Handbook on page 13. There, it specifically states that “with the approval of the Scoutmaster, the ASPL is appointed by the Senior Patrol Leader…” and it does not describe this as an “optional” way to do it. Troop Guides, interestingly, exist for only one purpose: He’s a mentor and guide to a new-Scout patrol. So, if your troop has no new-Scout patrols, it has no need for Troop Guides!
For your second question, yes, NAYLE will definitely be offered at Philmont this summer, in addition to the other new locations, so be sure to sign up! The other locations are so that it’s easier (and less expensive) for Scouts who don’t live as close to Philmont as you do to get to NAYLE!
Thanks! Our troop is currently reorganizing patrols, so we have two new Scout patrols of 5-6 each. The Troop Guides for the new Scout patrols were elected by the entire troop, so the new Scouts’ preferences didn’t really matter much. The entire troop also elected the ASPL.
One more question: Is it OK for troops to make First Class rank a requirement for all leadership positions? That’s what our troop does, so the new Scout patrol will have a older Scout as their Patrol Leader, another older Scout as Troop Guide, and maybe even a third older Scout as Assistant Patrol Leader. I thought this was a little excessive, but I don’t know the BSA’s official take on this. (TG)
To your first question, yes, it’s OK for a troop (that’s you Scouts, BTW) to set some qualifications on the leadership positions (PL, ASPL, SPL, TG) and positions of responsibility (Scribe, QM, etc.) if you wish to. First Class isn’t a bad idea for a PL of a regular (meaning NOT new-Scout) patrol, or for ASPL or SPL, but may not be so important for Scribe, QM, Webmaster, and so on. Also, did you know that Assistant PLs are also picked by the Patrol Leader and they’re not the “second highest in patrol votes” and they’re certainly not appointed by an appointed PL!
We currently have Patrol Leaders appoint their Assistants, but is it okay for the new Scouts to be forced to have a older Scout as their Patrol Leader in addition to an older Scout Troop Guide helping out?
All Patrol Leaders are elected—Even those in new-Scout patrols! The Troop Guide is a mentor; he doesn’t “take charge” of the patrol!
So, is it your personal opinion or is it BSA policy that a Patrol Leader of a new Scout patrol should be a new Scout, too?
Not my opinion… When I give you my opinion, I’ll tell you it’s an opinion. Here’s the deal: That new-Scout patrol is a patrol, right? OK, so how do patrols get patrol leaders? Duh, they elect ’em, says the BSA! So, just because they’re new doesn’t mean they don’t get to elect their own Patrol Leader, just like all other patrols! Besides, if someone jams ’em up with a Patrol Leader they didn’t elect, who’s an “older” member of the troop, then tell me what a Troop Guide is needed for!
Thanks for the great ideas, and sorry, I was a little thick-skulled toward the end there! One last thing: As a Life Scout (I turned thirteen a few months ago), how do I go about getting our election process changed? The next troop committee meeting is next month, and I could write a formal business proposal (I am a geek—I do stuff like that), or I could introduce the idea at our next PLC meeting (We have a quick review after each meeting and we meet a few other times) and ask our Scoutmaster to talk to it. What’s your take on this? (TG)
Don’t sweat it — You’re doing great! And 13’s a great age to be a Life Scout! (I earned Eagle at 15, and my brother did it at 14, along with three of his best friends, all 14 also!)
Check out the Scoutmaster Handbook first, so you have your ammo. Then go to: www.bsa-troop29.org/downloads/resources/Scoutmasters Handbook1of3.pdf and then to page 12. Print from page 12 to as far into that chapter as you need to, so that you have the exact words and nobody can say, “Oh, yeah, well that’s just a suggestion or guideline or whatever…” Start by showing this to your SPL and getting him aboard. Then each of you goes to a couple of Patrol Leaders, shows them the same thing, and gets them on board, then all of you finish up with the balance of the Patrol Leaders so that you’ve all bought into this. Then, hold your PLC meeting, talk briefly amongst yourselves, and reach an agreement right then and there that this is the sort of troop you all want (you’ve actually all already made this decision—this is how you get it formalized and “public”). So now, right there in that meeting, you all ask your Scoutmaster (very politely and respectfully, of course) that he should please go to the troop committee and inform them that the PLC has decided to follow the Scouting way and this is how the troop’s going to do things, starting right now, tonight. And if this means holding brand-new elections tonight, then that’s OK—just do ’em. (In other words, don’t let any “reasons” why it can’t work right now “but we’ll think about it…” get in your way. Tell these good people that, as the youth leaders of your troop, you all want to follow the BSA way—That should be tough to argue against, which is exactly why you say it exactly that way!)
Well, even allowing for a couple of shocked parents and some small hiccups along the way, this should get you where you want to be. If there’s still resistance, you might want to say, “OK, we’ll try it this way for the next six months, and if we don’t like it, we’ll fix it.” That takes a little pressure off, buys some time (although you know you’re never going back!), and helps the adults in the troop agree (“…Well, how bad could it be, and even the boys are willing to switch back if needed…” — You see how this works? Good!) Never forget: You’re selling!
So, let’s summarize:
– Get all the Scouts who hold positions on board and in agreement first. If any have issues, resolve them quietly, and before the PLC meeting.
– At the PLC, when everybody’s on board with the idea, you, as Senior Patrol Leader, bring it up, answer a couple of (pre-thought-of) questions, and then ask: “Do we want to do it the BSA way, or not?” And you make sure everybody knows to say, in a pretty big voice, “Yeah! Let’s do it the BSA way!”
– Then, you give the Scoutmaster the job of telling the committee that this is what you all want, so this is what’s going to happen.
(You have, as back-up, the downloads from the handbook, so no one can say you’re making this stuff up or that it’s not “official.”)
(If the Scoutmaster says, “Well, Scout, I think it would be best if you do the presenting to the committee,” grab it—You’ve just won! Just say, “Thanks, Sir, I’d like to do that… Me and our Patrol Leaders Council here are ready to do this right now, tonight.” Then stand tall, with your fellow Scouts, and go do it!)
(Final tip: This is a “full uniform” opportunity—Look like Scouts who lead the way!—From head to toe! Trust me on this one—It’s going to be the tipping point!)
For Citizenship-Community merit badge, if a Scout volunteers for service at his public school, does this qualify as “serving a charitable organization”? (One of our Scouts volunteered as a “safety patrolman” for one semester.) (John Voros, Samoset Council)
Actually, that’s a decision for that Scout’s Merit Badge Counselor to make—this is entirely the MBC’s decision, and that decision is final and unassailable. My own personal observation is that the Scout may have been wiser to consult with his Merit Badge Counselor first, because the school is an educational institution; not a charitable organization, and the difference is, to my mind, a significant one.
One of our Scouts is 16; he’s a Life Scout. He has a girlfriend who is very supportive of him in Scouts. She wants to go to his meetings. She went to a troop meeting last week, and sat back and didn’t interfere with the meeting. Last night, we took a trip to a military museum and she came along. Well, our Committee Chair and one of our ASMs didn’t like this idea; they said these are Scout meetings and girlfriends shouldn’t be there. I’m thinking, on the other hand, that she doesn’t interfere with the Scouts and is there for support.
Have you ever experienced anything with girlfriends going to meetings and the leaders not liking it. To me, having a girl support a Scout is awesome. Again, she doesn’t get involved in the meetings and isn’t with the Scout in any way during the meetings. Are there any BSA rules on this? (Carlo, SM, West Central Florida Council)
While this girl’s attitude is admirable, the answer’s no. This is Boy Scouts. Boy Scouting is not a co-ed program, troops are not co-ed, outdoor activities are not co-ed, and girls—no matter how positively disposed or well-intentioned—are not part of the program, whether they sit on the sidelines or not. Her presence is, bluntly, inappropriate.
However, this is a marvelous opportunity to recommend to both of these young people that theyjoin a Venturing crew (which is definitely co-ed), where they can both have a great time in Scouting! Help them find a nearby crew and help them sign up! (Yes, your Scout can be double-registered, so that he’s still an active member of the troop!)
What’s the policy on Scouts wearing military or pseudo-military clothes at, for instance, meetings and campouts (would there be a difference in policy anyway?)? The attire might be camouflage pants, a military surplus jacket, etc. Seems I’ve heard since I was a boy that the BSA doesn’t allow wearing any military items with or as replacements for the BSA uniform or any part, but I don’t know for sure if—as some have suggested—that’s just “urban myth” by now. No big fuss brewing in our neck o’ the woods, but it came up during a yack-fest at a campout recently and I’m just trying to figure out if I have a leg to stand on when I say I remember this stipulation. Some others think I’m crazy. Any thoughts?
As an aside, I’ve noticed many troops in our area seem to subscribe to the notion that jeans are OK as basic uniform wear with Scout shirts and other accoutrements, so I recognize that there’s some wiggle-room for interpretation and flexibility, in some instances. (Jim Berklan, ASM, Northeast Illinois Council)
Let’s start here: There’s a well-written, long-standing (like, long-standing from “day one”) BSA policy that states clearly that members of this movement will not wear uniforms in imitation of any branch of the military, and that this is a regulation coming from the BSA’s congressional charter, established in 1916. This isn’t a “guideline;” this is a regulation. That makes it pretty straightforward: No military or pseudo-military garb on Scouts.
“Camo” definitely falls into that arena, so that should eliminate camo, but somebody’s going to bring up the point that sportsmen (e.g., hunters) wear camo, too, so shouldn’t it be OK from that point of view. To my mind (meaning: you won’t find this in “the book”) the answer should still be no, because hunters kill animals and Scouts don’t (yup, there’s no killing in any aspect of Scouting… A Scout can even earn Fishing merit badge without ever killing a fish and, in Riflery and Archery, no silhouettes can ever be used—only bull’s-eyes).
Here’s the deal, I was a Scout in the 50’s, a Scoutmaster in the 60’s and again a Scoutmaster in the 90’s, as a Scout and on both watches—at both ends of this country—the “rules” were incredibly simple: We wore our uniforms for everything, everywhere, in all weather, and for every possible kind of Scouting event and activity you can think of! We didn’t have “Class A” anything: We had uniforms. Heck, that’s what they were made for, and, frankly, it helped parents fork over the price of the stuff when we told them that their sons would be wearing this stuff all the time and not just at courts of honor four times a year! We had no exceptions, so neither the Scouts nor their parents were ever uncertain or confused.
But, on your one point, let’s have a little fun… Let’s try to envision the Green Bay Packers first-string defensive line showing up on a Sunday afternoon with all gear in place except they’re all wearing Levi’s, because their defensive coach said it’s OK to show some flexibility…
However, “back in the day,” when I was a Scout, we lived at the Army-Navy store… Not for dress uniforms or BDUs, but for canteens and web belts to carry them, steel-framed rucksacks, mummy bags, dehydrated food, knives, sometimes hatchets or axes, and sharpening stones. But uniforms? Never crossed our minds…we had uniforms!
Great stuff as always! This ought to make for nice discussion fodder on our campout this weekend! (Jim)
Have fun! And, since it’ll be a discussion, let me add a bit more on the benefits of always wearing your uniforms…
At an OA weekend campout at a national forest, when all the other Scouts were wearing whatever (“civvies” from baggies to cut-offs to backwards ball-caps, to you name it), the OA Scouts from our troop were in uniform. Nearby, a mountaineering instructors’ course was underway, and turns out they needed youth “students” to practice with. The master climber approached us and commented that since we were Scouts (he had no way of knowing that the other 200 or more boys hangin’ out were also Scouts), maybe we’d like to learn some climbing techniques. Our Scouts leaped at the opportunity and for the rest of the afternoon got to learn rock-climbing, belaying, and so on from certified experts—for free!
On a public boat-trip to Catalina Island, off the coast of California, on a Friday evening, headed to a camp clean-up weekend, our Scouts were (again) in full uniform (as always) and a little pissy about it, since none of the other Scouts on this trip (maybe another hundred) were (once again) wearing whatever. That is, until a group of Girl Scouts sauntered up and would only talk to our uniformed Scouts, who ultimately were invited to dinner at the neighboring Girl Scout camp on the island. Want to guess how many Scouts were in uniform on the trip home Sunday night?
The list goes on and on… Our Scouts were on TV in a “local color” show about our district’s Camporee, they were filmed at a Rose Bowl game, my east coast troop was filmed and later on TV (with man-on-the-street interviews, no less) while visiting the Statue of Liberty… Would this have happened in “civvies”? Your guess…
When I went on vacation in Scotland in 2004, I packed my uniform, just for the heck of it… And wouldn’t you know that, when my wife and I were traveling around, enjoying the countryside, we came across an international Scouting Camporee hosted by Scouts-Scotland. It was a Saturday, and there were signs along the entire fenced-in area that held over a thousand Scouts from around the world: NO ADMITTANCE BY PUBLIC TODAY. Well, having our suitcases with us, I went to mine and unpacked my uniform, found a pub where I could change into it, and my wife and I walked up to the entrance… Well, you know the rest of the story– We were admitted of course and treated like visiting royalty for the next four hours!
So, are there little fringe benefits to looking like Scouts? You all can figure it out… You tell ’em, Tenderfoot… You’re a Scout!
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