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Issue 325 – August 24, 2012

Rule No. 87
When you’re actually right you can count on one or two folks hearing you; when you’re wrong you can count on everyone hearing you.
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Seems like my August 1st column about earning Eagle Scout rank by age 14—15 at the most rang some bells…especially my final comment about the benefits of being an early-teen Eagle! Here are two comments I received about it…

Dear Andy,

Thanks! Now I need to get my grandson to read this and apply it!
And yes, that line about a date’s parents is dead on. In fact, Eagle’s often a better credential than National Honor Society president or captain of a Varsity team! (Glenn Overby II, Prairielands Council, IL)

Dear Andy,

I read “EAGLE—It’s A No-Brainer” with the same level of anticipation that I read all your columns. When a new one comes out it’s the highlight of my day.

I have to admit: I was a touch sad reading it, thinking about how I could have been done so much quicker and enjoyed the pride of my Eagle badge, rather than finishing just past my 18th birthday as I did. But I didn’t slack off. I spent three years with the same den of Cub Scouts, taking them from Wolf to Webelos, and I’m proud to say that six of the original eight earned Eagle! I read on down the page, and a lot of things were wonderful points I can give to the units I’m currently a Commissioner for, but the one that caught my eye the most was your very last point: “Finally, and this one may not be important to you now, but I’ll personally guarantee it’s a ‘topper’… In just a few years, being an Eagle Scout is going to absolutely delight the parents of your date!”

Over ten years ago, I met a wonderful woman through Scouting. She said to me on many occasions, “The reason I even talked to you in the first place was because you were a Boy Scout.” But, she went on to say that I had to be an Eagle Scout before she’d be my girlfriend! She did become my girlfriend, and I did delight her father (a career Army officer, no less) with my accomplishment and the good manners that all Eagle Scouts come with (her mother was a little tougher to please, but mothers usually are). Then, after dating for a while, I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! I lost her to a senseless act of violence many years ago, and I miss her every day, but I treasure the wonderful times we had. Those times would have never happened, as she reminded me a lot, if I hadn’t been an Eagle Scout. (Chris Snider, UC, Occoneechee Council, NC)
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Dear Andy,

My son is in the Order of the Arrow, isn’t very active right now with his troop due to school and extracurricular activities, bur wants to continue to involved in the OA. His Scoutmaster told him that unless he’s active in the troop, he can’t be an OA member or participate in lodge activities. Is that how it works? And if he does have to be active in the troop in order to stay in the OA, what exactly is the definition of “active”? (Scout Parent)

I understand that your son’s Scoutmaster is trying to keep your son active in the troop. This is in itself admirable. Troop participation is one of the ways your son will continue to grow in body and mind, wisdom and ethics, and I encourage him to find ways to participate, at the very least, occasionally. Speaking frankly, it’s almost impossible to not be able to attend a single meeting or outing, after all, and the younger Scouts in his troop need his example of leadership and service to others!

As for the Order of the Arrow, yes: Once an Arrowman; always an Arrowman. Assuming your son has paid his lodge dues, he’s eligible to participate in lodge and/or chapter activities as often as he’d like and is able to. Being “active” (per someone else’s definition) in his troop isn’t a prerequisite to OA participation. In fact, what your son’s Scoutmaster is perhaps overlooking is the power of the OA to keep older young men like your son involved in Scouting, where they otherwise might drop out!

That said, I have a feeling it’s time for your son to stand up on his own. I appreciate your taking the time to write to me, as his parent, but your son could have written to me just as well, so long as he copies you! So encourage your son to take charge of his life—including his Scouting life—and get moving!
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Hey Andy,

I have a 16 year old Life Scout in the troop who had an oxygen deficit when he was born and, as a result, behind in the learning department and somewhat socially lacking as well. Our chartered organization has recently changed locations and the troop is going to have a big flag ceremony with media and the works. Our Patrol Leaders Council will be doing the actual ceremony, but it turns out that the flag they’ll be using for this is much larger than the one they’re normally used to. Anyway, while they were practicing there was some frustration with handling the larger flag that ended up with this Scout throwing the flag on the ground and walking off.

I don’t have all the details from witnesses yet, but the fundamental issue I’m trying to wrap my head around right now is what drove this Scout to do what I consider a reprehensible offense by throwing the flag to the ground. My beginning thoughts are to have the Scout replace the flag and then to and retire the original, now desecrated, flag. But I also believe that the Scout who threw it on the ground needs additional consequences. I’m thinking about delaying his Scoutmaster conference for Eagle by one month, to give him time to think about his action. You helped me sort out another issue a while back; can you lend any thoughts to this one? (California Scoutmaster with a military background)

Distilling the scenario: A mentally and emotionally challenged young man became frustrated with an American flag of a size unfamiliar to him and, in frustration, threw it down. If I have that right, there’s been no “reprehensible act” or “desecration”—flags of all sorts touch the ground by being dropped and by other means as well, including events such as at the hands of this challenged and frustrated Scout, who needs help. An American flag that touches the ground need not ever be replaced; just dust it off and return it to its correct position. Second, there’s no punishment—ever—in Scouting; there are learnings and lessons.

Bottom line: This Scout needs your help; not reprimand or punishment. As his Scoutmaster, you’re the equivalent of a kindly and understanding uncle or older brother; not a sergeant major. Get eyeball-to-eyeball with this young man and talk it out. Help him describe what frustrated him, and help him come up with a solution. Along the way, you can gently point out that throwing things isn’t the best way to let out frustrations; maybe a brisk walk or chopping wood or something like that helps release the tension and adrenaline buildup that frustration often creates. You’re his friend; not his taskmaster, and definitely not his warden.

Scouting isn’t the military, or even a precursor to it, although many young men with Scouting experience find this (and law enforcement too, by the way) to be an excellent vocation as they get older. Remember Baden-Powell: “The military trains men for war; Scouting educates boys for peace.” ________________________________________
Dear Andy,

Where does a Unit Commissioner go to record unit visits and contacts? (Shelby, UC)

Go to “myscouting.org” and sign in. Then go to the left-side, gray-shaded sidebar to “District Tools” and click on “Unit Visit Tracking.”
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Hi Andy,

The adult application states, with a few exceptions, that “no one may register in more than one position in the same unit.” One of the exceptions is the Chartered Organization Representative (“CR”), who can also serve as Committee Chair (“CC”), or vice-versa.

At first, this exception seems to make sense, given that one of the CC’s responsibilities is to maintain a close relationship with the chartered organization, and you can’t get any closer than the CC and CR being the came person.

However, I’ve heard stories of a troop with youth protection violations. As it’s told, the CC is one of those violating the rules. Obviously, he doesn’t want the chartered organization to become aware of what’s going on, and since he’s also the CR, that’s easy to do. This leaves the other adults in the unit with no one to go to, short of someone else in the chartered organization. The other adults are hesitant to do that because they assume the chartered organization will support the CC/CR since he’s a member of the organization. Given this situation, it seems crazy to allow the same person to register in both positions. (Name & Council Withheld)

Looking at the situation you’ve described, let’s start here: “Violating BSA Youth Protection policies” means that the sons of these “other adults” are being subjected to child endangerment and/or child abuse. Their reluctance to take this to the executive officer of the chartered organization is perfectly understandable…assuming, of course, that these parents are prepared to have their sons endangered and/or abused! If, on the other hand, they have some interest in their sons’ well-being, and they’re willing to grow spines, then the course of action is obvious.

Let’s transpose this situation to school… If they believed their sons were being subjected to endangerment and/or abuse by a teacher, wouldn’t they go straight to the principal? Or would they be equally reluctant to do this out of unsupported fear that the principal will automatically take the side of the teacher?

This isn’t about a BSA registration policy; it’s about parents who seem to not know what to do, and are basing their unwillingness to take proper action on ungrounded fear. Once they decide to grow backbones and stand up for their sons, here are the steps:

1. Confer with one another about what specific violations they believe are occurring (confidential conversations with their sons, individually, will help this process).
2. Accumulate what they’ve now learned and write it down.
3. Schedule a joint meeting of parents—registered and unregistered—with the executive officer of the chartered organization.
4. At that meeting, present the violations and demand that they be investigated and that all persons associated with the violations be either immediately corrected or immediately removed, for the physical and emotional safety of their sons.
5. Make sure 4. happens without delay. ________________________________________
Hey Andy,

What usually happens with equipment and money raised by a Cub Scout pack if their chartered organization decides to start up a Boy Scout troop? It seems to me that since the chartered organization owns the pack, they could take money that the pack raised and use it to fund a troop. In our case, this is what’s being considered, and it’s not sitting well with the pack’s families. Related to this, what happens to a unit’s money and equipment if a chartered organization decides to not sponsor that unit any longer?

We have a pretty large pack that tends to carry over a large amount of money from one year to the next without specific plans for what to do with the funds. Personally, I’d like to see more of it spent on the youth members during the year it was earned. Do you have any thoughts about this? For instance, what would you consider reasonable for a unit to carry over from one year to the next?

Also, we are having a hard time getting our chartered organization to provide us with someone who’s willing to be the Chartered Organization Representative. (Name & Council Withheld)

Money earned by a discrete unit belongs to that unit, but ultimately to the chartered organization (which, of course, actually owns the unit) so long as the unit remains chartered by that organization. If the folks associated with the chartered organization and its pack are interested in starting a troop as well, it would be a fine gesture to help that troop get on its feet by, say, offering to purchase a new troop flag. And, if you all choose to do this, make it a formal and public presentation! But beyond that it’s best for a new unit to carry out its own fund-raising for needed essentials—better senses of ownership and pride, that way.

As for how much money a unit should carry over from one charter year to the next, how about this: Zero. This is a personal viewpoint, based on the principle that the money earned by the youth members and/or their families in any given year should be invested in them (they earned it, after all!). Correctly calculated to cover basic BSA membership fees, an estimate of badges and such that will be bought during the upcoming Scouting year, and a little bit of a cushion for unexpected expenses, the dues will be modest, yet adequate at the same time. There’s no adequate rationale I’ve ever hear that justifies a Scouting unit creating a “war chest.” Plus, my grandfather taught me a long time ago that money not put to use is the same as not having it.

So, if the pack has a bunch of unused money that’s just sitting in an account, put it to use! Make a nice, fat donation to your council’s annual FOS campaign! Or, buy something your council’s Cub Day Camp can use, and have a plaque put on it: “Donated to ABC Council by Pack XYZ”! Or, donate it to something your chartered organization can put to use and have a similar plaque put on it (high school and college graduating classes do this all the time, for good causes and lasting memories!).

For what happens to a unit’s funds in the unlikely event that it closes its doors, I’m sending you a BSA document that describes the procedure.

As for securing a Chartered Organization representative (Code: CR), remember that your pack’s Committee Chair is permitted to double-register as both CC and CR. ________________________________________
Dear Andy,

Back in your July 25th column, you were asked where to find the requirement about “60 credits in the firing activities with a parent or adult partner, and with a certified range officer present.” You said to go to www.boyscouttrail.com/cub-scouts/acadsports/bbshooting.asp

If you look on pages 90 and 91 of the BSA NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS MANUAL (2012 Printing), you’ll notice that there’s no mention of “60 credits.” (Jay Oakman, Mid-America Council)

You’re absolutely correct. Instead, it states: “See the requirements for the BB Shooting belt loop and sports pin…”

Happy Scouting!

Andy

Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Write to askandybsa@yahoo.com. Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous, if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)

[No. 325 – 8/24/2012 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2012]

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About AskAndy

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

Andy 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: 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 & Cliff Dochterman Awards, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

Read Andy's full biography

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