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Issue 337 – November 28, 2012

Rule No. 100
• Never leave the Scouting Movement with the regret that you might have served better the youth in your care had you just taken the time for training.
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Dear Andy,

I’m looking to build a supply cart for Cub Scout pack meetings (we have no storage at our sponsor’s meeting place, but we do have a shed on the property). The cart would eliminate the need for multiple trips back and forth to the shed on a meeting night. I’m thinking of some sort of rolling cart with large all-terrain, flat-free wheels. The cart would be rolled up and down a ramp into our shed. I’m thinking of these items being in the cart:
– Den boxes, where they could store their den flag and other stuff.
– Den flag poles and pole stands.
– The pack, American, and state flags and stands.
– A “white board” for announcements folks can read as they come in.
– A box of pack song books.
– The pack’s a/v gear (small speaker system and wireless mike set).

The idea is someone would bring the cart to the main area of the building, and the Denner for each den would be responsible for getting and returning the gear for their respective dens.

Before starting, I’m wondering if others had built something similar, or if anyone has suggestions for building (or buying) something along these lines. I can be reached by email at cubmaster@pack222nc.org Thanks for your offer to publish this! (Carl Sommer, CM)
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Hello Andy,

Our son is a 12 year-old First Class Scout, soon to be Star (everything done except one required merit badge), and he’s very determined to earn Eagle. He signed up for some of the classes offered by Microsoft at a local store (he’d already completed one badge there, and has two more on his schedule to take within the next month). However, a recent change in Scoutmasters is putting a roadblock up—to the point of possibly preventing our son from taking the classes. The new Scoutmaster recently sent out a long letter, stating that, more than likely when a Scout requests a “blue card,” he won’t sign it if it’s for “nothing more than a two-hour class.” In his letter, he specifically stated our council’s “Merit Badge University” classes were in this category and Scouts won’t be approved to go.

Despite numerous conversations with the Scoutmaster on this issue, by our Committee Chair and even our District Executive, he remains intransigent, even to the point of stating that he doesn’t believe some of the merit badges offered at our council’s summer camp were “worthy” of acknowledgement. Now, the Committee Chair seems to be on the side of the idea that a Scoutmaster can, in fact, not allow Scouts to attend MBUs or other group merit badge opportunities. At first, the District Executive said that the Scoutmaster was wrong in doing this, but now he’s agreeing with the Scoutmaster, meaning that the Scoutmaster now has the power to decide whether or not a Scout can work toward a merit badge based on where and who the counselor is. How can a Scoutmaster go against BSA policy and BSA approved merit badge sessions and deny Scouts the right to participate in these, when they’re already council-approved? Isn’t that like making up your own Eagle requirements? (Name & Council Withheld)

Let’s star with what the BSA National Council says about the authority of Merit Badge Counselors:

RULES & REGULATIONS OF THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, Article X., Section 1., Clause 14.: “The responsibility for merit badges shall rest with the Merit Badge Counselor approved by the local council and district advancement committee. The merit badge counselor shall prepare and qualify youth members. There shall be no board of review procedure for merit badges.”

Therefore, a Scoutmaster’s post-completion “approval” or “denial” is not permitted.

BSA GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT (2011 Printing) Section 7.0.4.6 (page 43): “Once a registered and approved Merit Badge Counselor has passed a Scout on requirements for a merit badge, it cannot be taken away. Nor does unit leadership have the authority to retract approval, or take a badge away.”

Therefore, a Scoutmaster not only cannot “disapprove” of a merit badge duly completed, but a Scoutmaster cannot take away any duly earned merit badge previously earned.

BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK (11th Edition), page 14: “You can advance (in rank) at your own pace.”

BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK (12th Edition), page 54: “(with) self-leadership…you can figure out the (advancement) steps to get from where you are now to where you want to be.”

Therefore, no one except the Scout himself will decide on his velocity through the Boy Scout ranks and merit badges.

BOY SCOUT REQUIREMENTS (2012), page 20: “Any Boy Scout…may earn any (merit badge) at any time.”

Therefore, no one has the authority to prevent a Boy Scout from working toward the merit badge he has chosen for himself.

If, in the face of these policies—for which no one’s “opinion” has any sway whatsoever—your son’s Scoutmaster refuses to budge, there are two choices:

1. Since it’s doubtful that your son has been somehow singled out—I’ll guarantee you this Scoutmaster is doing this in one way or another to every Scout in the troop—all Scouts’ parents band together and demand that the Committee Chair remove him immediately. If the CC refuses or balks, go straight to the head of the sponsoring organization, describe what’s going on, and make the same demand. THIS IS YOUR RIGHT AS SCOUT PARENTS!

2. Find a nearby troop that’s doing things as the BSA had prescribed and transfer your son immediately.

The second is an easier solution that will save one boy; the first is not as difficult as you likely think—it just needs a catalyst—and will affect hundreds of Scouts! Your pick.
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Dear Andy,

If Senior Patrol Leader is for Boy Scouts, what are the Cub Scout and Venturing equivalents? (Long Do)

There’s no directly comparable position in packs and crews. In a troop, the Scout-elected Senior Patrol Leader runs the meetings, chairs the Patrol Leaders Council, and supervises all outdoor activities, with the behind-the-scenery guidance of the Scoutmaster. In a pack, this is the (adult) Cubmaster’s responsibility. In a crew, this is the job of the elected President (a Venturer) with the behind-the-scenery guidance of the Crew Advisor.
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Dear Andy,

I read your August 11 column about Scouts reaching Eagle rank by 13 or 14, and I’m confused. We have a district advancement committee chair who says that he’ll not allow a 13 year-old Scout to have an Eagle board of review unless the he first interviews the Scout and finds him to be “worthy.” He claims to have found 13 year-old Eagle candidates who hadn’t done the work, or who “raced” through the ranks, or whose parents had signed off on their merit badges without the Scout doing the work, or whose parents has done their Eagle projects for them. This man has openly stated at Roundtable meetings that he tells 13 year old Scouts to go back their troop, hold a position of responsibility for a year or two, or work in the OA for a while, and then apply in a couple of years when they’re “more mature,” and “can better appreciate the Eagle rank.” As for me, I’d thought it was the responsibility of the board of review to determine the merit of the Scout’s efforts.

I’m a Scoutmaster; I don’t really have any clout at the district level. The advancement chairman has been in that position for 15 years, and isn’t ever questioned or challenged. If I send him a 13 year-old for an Eagle board of review, how can we make sure it actually? Is there BSA literature we can present to him? Is there an appeals process? Other Scoutmasters aren’t ready to do much challenging, because they don’t want to be on his bad side or have their Scouts put in his cross-hairs. In this situation, we just don’t have the luxury of being able to “vote with our feet.” What do we do? (Name & Council Withheld)

What is it that makes this unfortunately misguided soul think that it’s only “young” Eagle candidates that get dragged across the finish line by parents and so forth? There’s no “exclusive” here. Any Scout is subject to the same parental interference, especially since, currently, some half of all Scouts earn Eagle at age 17 and over (that statistic courtesy of the BSA).

The real problem here is that this poor chap’s been in his current position at least fourteen years and eleven months too long. (This is why many councils and districts set term limits for such positions, and why every district-level volunteer is re-nominated annually.)

For the Scouts in your own troop, it’s simple: If the Scout has done the work and completed the requirements for Eagle rank, then he gets his board of review and he’s an Eagle. Your job, and the job of your troop’s Eagle Mentor and advancement coordinator, is to make sure that the requirements he completes within the troop aren’t spoon-fed, the Merit Badge Counselors you recommend he contact and work with understand their roles and the importance of completing the stated requirements as written, you (his Scoutmaster) provide the necessary training and coaching for his positions of responsibility in the troop, and his parents are given gentle “keep away orders” when it’s time for his service project. Then, when it comes to meeting with your district’s erstwhile champion of ancient Eagles, you go with your Eagle candidate and make certain that he doesn’t get steam-rollered or otherwise browbeaten or intimidated. If you’ve carried out your responsibilities to the Scout, he’ll have no problem keeping his sails aloft and rudder aimed true to his goal.

As far as “getting on the bad side” of a tyrant, if you Scoutmasters rallied together, along with your Eagle Mentors and advancement coordinators, and all of you together had a “come to Jesus” meeting with your District Chair, I firmly believe you’d carry the day and this Napoleon would be gone by morning. ________________________________________
Hi Andy,

I’m looking for some recruiting tips. It seems more and more school districts are starting to “shy away” from Scouting. We can no longer “actively” recruit for Cub Scouts in our school; we can only leave flyers on a “community table” in the cafeteria (which no one really goes into on “Meet The Teacher Night”) and just hope someone picks them up. We’re very visible in our neighborhood and churches, but I’m wondering if there are any “outside the box” suggestions you might share. We’re thinking about setting up a tent and simulating a campout across from the school on recruiting night, but it’s city property and don’t think it would be allowed. Help? (Daryl, CM, Circle Ten Council, TX)

School districts vary so much around the country that your very best resource is going to be your local council’s District Executive and your district’s membership committee. I’d love to hand you a “silver bullet,” but I truly believe these will be your best bets.

That said, in Scouting, just as with most other groups (Rotary Clubs, Masonic Lodges, Elks Clubs, etc.), often the best way to generate membership is one-on-one. So consider having a “bring a friend night” at a pack meeting, and give small prizes to all Cubs who bring a neighborhood boy or classmate (with at least one parent!) who isn’t a Cub Scout—and give a Cub Scout token of some sort to the visitor and his parents, too!
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Dear Andy,

Several of the leaders in my council are having a discussion about service hours, specifically the difference between Order of the Arrow service and community service. The problem that came about is that some of the OA folks are under the impression that OA service time can be used for both OA “credit” and rank advancement, while others feel that the OA service hours only benefit the BSA council and shouldn’t be used as service hours towards rank advancement.

As an ADC who’s also an Arrowman, I don’t know the answer. We’re looking for something in writing that states what service hours can be used for what. Can you help us, or is this clear as mud? (Sandy Jones)

Wow! You folks are gettin’ waist-deep in the Big Muddy!

The only time “service” can’t be rendered to the BSA or any of its councils, property, etc. is when it’s an Eagle Scout Service Project. At all other times, service can definitely include Scouting-related organizations and facilities, such as a council’s summer camp, Cub Scout day camp (when the service is “free”—that is, non-paid).

Don’t try to split hairs beyond this. Never lose sight of the underlying goal here: To instill in young people the idea that service to others is a way of life throughout our lives. So, never promote service to others as “show up and get service hours” because that’s not service; that’s effectively “working for pay” in the form of service hour credits. Instead, instill this idea: Let’s show up and help out because THAT’S WHAT SCOUTS DO!
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Hi Andy,

I’ve combed many of the normal websites trying to find your statement, “…However, the BSA states clearly that no one will be selected (for a board of review) based on the preference of the Scout.” Can you direct me to where this is stated? (Dave Daly, MAL, Three Fires Council, IL)

You bet I can help! Check the GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT, page 44, Section 8.0.0.3: “The candidate (for the board of review)…shall have no part in selecting any board of review members.” (BTW, this applies to all ranks, and palms.)
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Dear Andy,

My question deals with when a Scout can start working on the requirements for a merit badge. My troop’s advancement coordinator holds steadfast by the rule that work can’t start until the Scoutmaster signs the “Blue Card” indicating the Scout can work on a merit badge. I have my doubts about this. For example, for the Camping merit badge, requirement 9a states that a Scout will “camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events.” Does this mean that any camping activities before the Blue Card for Camping is signed are excluded from this requirement? That could be a lot of days! My research on the BSA website found this statement: “Unless otherwise specified, work for a requirement can be started at any time.”

So, can a Scout start working on a merit badge’s requirements before a Blue Card’s signed by the Scoutmaster? Is a Merit Badge Counselor forbidden from signing off on a requirement if all or part of it was accomplished before the Blue Card was signed? (Larry Osorio, CC)

Just take a good look at page 20 of the BOY SCOUT REQUIREMENTS-2012 book. Tells you right there that, on meeting with his counselor, the Scout will discuss work he’s already done. That’s all you need to know: Prior work (especially camping nights and such) definitely counts! Besides, a troop’s advancement coordinator has no say-so on matters like this, anyway; that job is about record-keeping; not about passing judgment on anything. However, this doesn’t mean that if a Scout’s starting at “zero” he should arbitrarily begin work on a merit badge’s requirements before talking with his Scoutmaster, getting a “blue card,” and meeting with a counselor. After all, what’s left to “counsel” on when that happens, and where’s the guidance and insights that counselors have to offer?

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. 337 – 11/28/2012 – 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. He has previously served in a number of Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and Senior Patrol Leader as youth member. 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.

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