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Issue 329 – October 4, 2012

Rule No. 92
The unit with the fewest youth will be the one requiring the most attention by their commissioner.
Dear Andy,

I’ve taken Safe Swim Defense training but I’ll admit I’m still confused. Do the lifeguards have to be BSA Lifeguard certified, or can any responsible person be designated lifeguard? (Mark Sharman)

BSA Lifeguard certification is a BSA recommendation; it’s not a compliance requirement for Safe Swim Defense. There are no stated certifications required of SSD lifeguards.

That said, it’s always a good idea to have at least one BSA Lifeguard on a trip that’s going to include in-water activities. It’s also a good idea to choose lifeguards from among Scouts who have completed at least Swimming merit badge and, ideally, Lifesaving as well.
Hello Andy,

At our chartered organization, the pastor’s asked me to become the Chartered Organization Representative. I know that I have to drop as an Assistant Scoutmaster, correct? But can I still work with the Scouts to help them with their rank requirements, such as for Tenderfoot, Second Class, etc., to get the requirements signed off? I know the church wants me to take this position, but want to still help with the Scouts. (Sal Castronovo)

If you take the CR slot, you’re correct: You’ll drop the ASM registration. This might be a good thing, if you’re interested in turning this troop into a real Boy Scout troop! You see, Boy Scouting is all about peers and peer-group relationships, including learning from one another! Neither SMs nor ASMs are really there to “teach” so much as to gently guide the Senior Patrol Leader and Patrol Leaders so that they can teach their fellow Scouts! Want proof? OK… Go to Tenderfoot (yup, Tenderfoot…the very first rank of Scouting) and read req. 4c: “Using the EDGE method (which is in the handbook, BTW), teach another Scout…” Now check out Second Class, req’s. 1a and 3c… Both ask for demonstrations. Are you figuring out that these demonstrations can be to other Scouts? Yup, that’s peer-to-peer teaching, too! First Class has similar requirements, with the same intent. The requirements don’t say “Demonstrate to your Scoutmaster…” or “Tell your Scoutmaster…” deliberately.

So take the position and guide this troop to become more closely aimed at Scouting’s True North!
Dear Andy,

For the Eagle rank Scoutmaster conference, does the Scoutmaster himself need to do this, or can an Assistant SM do it?

My son talked face-to-face with the Scoutmaster two weeks ago about a conference. Since then he’s also emailed and left two voice-mail messages, with no response from the Scoutmaster. I’m frustrated with the lack of response and would like to know if my son can ask one of the Assistant Scoutmasters. This is the only thing standing between my son and his Eagle board of review. (Lisa Corley)

The BSA expects the Scoutmaster to conduct all Scoutmaster conferences, for all ranks. This is not for delegation or it would say “or designee”!

If your son’s not getting what he’s asked for—which should actually be initiated by the Scoutmaster—your best help, as a parent, is to have a heart-to-heart, in-person chat with the Committee Chair and demand the conference for your son… The Scoutmaster does, after all, report to the Committee Chair.
Dear Andy,

My husband and I just received custody of my 17 year old step-son, who is close to receiving his Eagle Scout rank. Prior to coming to live with us, he had his merit badges transferred to his troop leader where he had been in a boarding school. But that leader is no longer involved in Scouting at the school and hasn’t responded to my email messages, and no one has a phone number for him…not even the school! I’ve been told by a local troop leader that my step-son he has to have that troop leader send him a transfer application and a list of he’s earned. Since I can’t get this information from him, are there any national records or databases where he can get this documentation, so that he can finish his Eagle before he graduates and joins the Marines? (Sherry)

If your step-son has his rank pocket cards and merit badge cards (or the “applicant” stubs from his merit badge “blue cards”) he simply shows these to the Scoutmaster of his new troop. Don’t worry about a “transfer form.” Simply fill out a new application for him and register him in the troop where he’ll now be living.

If advancement records are still problematic, call the service center of the BSA council that covers the area in which he formerly resided—they should have received advancement reports for his prior troop, and can reconstruct the records for your step-son.

Also, at age 17, we would hope he’s capable of taking care of these things for himself, so that you’re more his guide than actually doing these things for him. As Scouting’s founder Lord Baden-Powell himself said, “Never do for a boy (or young man) what he can do for himself.”
Dear Andy,

For merit badges that require service hours to complete, can those same hours be used toward rank advancement? If they can’t, where is this written (so we can show a parent)? Related to that, if services are done at church, for, let’s say, confirmation, can those hours also be used for rank advancement? (Donna Plegue)

For Scouts’ service to those in need, the BSA wisely doesn’t have a “rule.” This is left to the Scout’s own conscience. The question the Scout needs to ask himself when he’s considering using his service to, let’s say, the homeless, for a rank advancement, is this: “Do I want to use this same effort helping others for some other requirement—a merit badge, maybe—or do I want to get out there and make more of a difference in the lives of others, by helping more where I can do more good?” For decision-making, he can use such guides as “Helpful,” “Kind,” “Do A Good Turn Daily,” and “…To help other people at all times.”
Dear Andy,

I’m a troop committee member who just signed up to be a Merit Badge Counselor. Can you clear up something for me? Do all the requirements for a merit badge have to be completed only after the “blue card” has been signed by the Scoutmaster, or can the Scout apply things he’s already done toward the merit badge requirements? For example, if a Scout was in a band last year, does that count toward his Music merit badge, or does he have to be in band after starting the merit badge?
(Mike Rives, Indian Nations Council, OK)

Check page 20 of BOY SCOUT REQUIREMENTS. The statement regarding work started or completed prior to beginning work with a merit badge counselor is addressed: “…you may share the work you have already started or completed.”
Hi Andy,

I joined Scouting—Scouts Canada (which, unlike the BSA, is co-ed) only few months, although I have 20 years of personal camping experience. I’m still a “newbie” compared to others who have lots more years experience in this program. At a recent camp-out, one Patrol Leader showed her attitude. I was what we call a “Patrol Mentor,” but she considered me unqualified to teach her and her patrol members. At the camp, she didn’t listen to me whenever I offered suggestions, and actually teamed up with other girls to ignore me. The issue was “camp kitchen sanitation.” I’d told her that they needed to prepare hot water for washing dishes, but their retort was, “We don’t need hot water to wash dirty dishes.” What would you suggest I do to handle situations like this… I’m guessing they won’t go away anytime soon? (Josephine)

Sometimes, teens, regardless of gender, need to learn by their mistakes, and sometime we need to let ’em learn that way. But a significant exception to this is in the area of health and safety. Improperly sanitizing cooking and eating equipment can produce some nasty results, including dysentery, which can flatten the entire group. In this case, you have every right—and obligation—to unequivocally insist that cleaning be done hygienically. You’re ultimately responsible for their welfare, so make it stick. This isn’t about “experience;” it’s about good sense. If they don’t have any, you’re going to have to stand tall and inject it, if necessary.
Dear Andy,

I’m the father of a Scout. My son recently faced a board of review that was more akin to an inquisition. At camp this past summer he had a homesick problem that took a bit to work through. But this was brought up to him and used to actually belittle him. As you can guess, I’m fighting mad and want this biased and un-Scout-like review totally removed from his record. I’ve already contacted the Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, and the local council people, but no one seems to care. Can you suggest a course of action here? (Name & Council Withheld)

I’m truly sorry that this happened to your son. It’s wrong. You have every right to be furious, and so does your son.

The local council has no control over such behavior by troop volunteers, because the chartered organization that sponsors the troop owns it and is responsible for the volunteers in it. If the Scoutmaster isn’t willing to stand up for the Scouts he’s there to serve, and won’t demand that the reviewers rescind their incorrect decision, then you need to find another troop for your son… One within acceptable driving distance that has a Scoutmaster and other volunteers who understand that Scouting is about building boys into men; not knocking them down.

(Yes, a boy can transfer from one troop to another anytime he chooses. As for that review, there’s no written record needing to be expunged.)
Dear Andy,

I’m Scoutmaster of a troop that’s been chartered for some time by a local church. It hasn’t always been a happy relationship, even though we volunteer for service to the church, schedule a Scout Sunday with them every year, and invite church members to Scout breakfasts, and more. Basically, some church members just don’t like “those kids” in “their” church, and express this in a variety of ways. Recently, our Chartered Organization Representative—the Scoutmaster before me, and also a major contributor to the church—moved out of the area. Along with him went our troop’s best support. As a result, we’re actively seeking a new sponsor—one that might actually like having a bunch of Boy Scouts around! So, here’s the question… Our Troop Number—312—is very important to us. The Scouts have actually made up a troop cheer based on it: “Live the 3—Run the 12!” So, under what circumstances can we charter at another church (we’ve just identified a happier new home), yet keep our number? We understand that, technically, the present sponsor “owns” the number, as a part of the charter agreement with the council. ((Dennis Freeman, SM, Trapper Trails Council, WY)

Good for you all, for finding a more compatible sponsor! As far as your troop number is concerned, your two best resources are (1) your District Executive and (2) your Council Registrar. Consider an in-person meeting with your DE, who can loop in the Registrar after you’ve reviewed your situation, plans, and desires. (You’ll need that DE for the “paperwork” part of the CO change process, so get on board with him early for a smoother ride!)

Thanks for the advice, Andy! We’ve given the DE a heads-up, and it looks like we’re headed in the right direction. That number is a BIG deal to our Scouts! (Dennis Freeman)

You bet it is! Glad it looks like this will work out for you all!
Hello Andy,

I’m wondering if you could direct me to a website or publication that can guide me on what the actual steps are when there’s a treasurer transition on a unit committee. I’m the incoming treasurer for our troop and I want to make sure we’re following BSA regulations. (Paula Wentzel)

The process is simple and doesn’t require “BSA policy.” The outgoing treasurer gives to the incoming treasurer all financial records, checkbook, etc., and the Committee Chair makes certain that the outgoing treasurer’s name is removed from the bank’s account signature card and the incoming treasurer’s signature is added as a replacement. (Best practice: Only two names on the account signature card: the treasurer and the CC.)

BTW, it’s usually best to make certain there’s a unit procedure that the CC will approve all expenditures in advance and that checks written above a pre-established ceiling require two signatures: one by the treasurer and the second by the CC. ________________________________________
Dear Andy,

Has the BSA ever awarded an Eagle to a person who failed to complete it by his 18th birthday, but the project was completed and it benefitted the community? This person went on in life to lead his own son to Eagle, and his other son is headed to Eagle, too. He was a dedicated Scout, Assistant Scoutmaster, and Scoutmaster before his time on this earth was cut short. He showed in life what he’d learned in Scouting through his church work and as a volunteer firefighter. If anyone were to receive an Honorary Eagle, he’d be the one! (Les Titcher)

I’m not aware of any honorary Eagle ranks having ever been awarded, posthumously or otherwise, but you can certainly double-check this with the BSA’s national office: 972-580-2000.

I’m suspecting that the gentleman you wish to honor, who had to be at least around 40 years old or so, maybe older, came to terms with the Eagle issue many years ago; witness how he stayed involved and supported his sons. So this might not necessarily be the way to proceed. Consider a conversation with his sons and widow, and ask them what they might like… Perhaps it’s a James E. West Fellowship in his name, or on behalf of his widow and/or sons. Or something done by your local council in his memory. Or perhaps a memorial at the council’s camp or service center. I’m sure that, with a bit of creative collaborative thinking, something to remember him by will be found. Please accept my condolences to his family, and to the troop he served so well.
Dear Andy,

I have three Eagle Scouts in my troop who will all turn 18 before December 31st this year—the magical re-charter date. Each would very much like to continue with the troop from January through at least June, or until they go off to college. The dilemma is this: It appears the only option is for them to register as Assistant Scoutmasters, and while they’re willing and able to take the YP training, they’re also faced with getting position-specific trained as well, all before the re-charter deadline, which is now less than three months away. This is very short timing to accomplish all this, but if they don’t get this training it’ll negatively impact the troop’s JTE results, which are important to us all.

I’ve heard they can register as “Code 92”—College-age registrant-at-large—which will make them members of the council, but not the troop. But, that seems like it’s just moving the problem; not solving it. What’s the best advice I can give them and our troop? (Joyce Jordan, MC)

I think I have really good news for you! The BSA created a new registration code—92U—which means Unit College Scouter Reserve, for exactly the situation you’ve described. Yes, Youth Protection Training is required, but that’s it! No other training’s needed, and you can keep them registered with your troop (all application criteria and fees apply, of course).

Happy Scouting!


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Write to 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. 329 – 10/4/2012 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2012]


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

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