Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/commish2/public_html/askandy/wp-content/themes/canvas/functions/admin-hooks.php on line 160
Author Avatar

Issue 395 – April 29, 2014

________________________________________
Dear Andy,

In the BSA’s JTE (“Journey to Excellence”) program, the color order is Bronze-Silver-Gold. This looks weird. I thought it was supposed to be Bronze-Gold-Silver. What’s the deal here? (H. Sprockette, SM)

Yup, that’s the order for JTE: Bronze-Silver-Gold. Even though the BSA has, since 1910, employed Bronze-Gold-Silver (as in Eagle palms, regional vs. council shoulder loops, the old Explorer awards, and recent Venturing awards), which follows the centuries-old “military color order,” whoever designed the JTE program believed it would be “less confusing” (their words) for this program to use the “Olympic” color order instead, even though the BSA had never used it before, anywhere (check the JTE “FAQs”)
==========
Dear Andy,

My son will attend an Advance-O-Rama merit badge program on Fire Safety and we’ve got the worksheet, but now we’re being told to read the merit badge pamphlet too. I’ve looked at the main BSA website and don’t see how to get that. Also, where do I get a “blue card”? (Lawrence Clark)

The merit badge pamphlet is available at your local Scout shop or online at www.scoutstuff.org. As for the “blue card,” you don’t get that, Dad; this is for your son to do, not you. He simply tells his Scoutmaster that he’d like to earn Fire Safety merit badge, and then ask for a “blue card.” The Scoutmaster will give him one and sign it.

Please keep in mind that your son is a Boy Scout now, not a “Webelos III Scout,” and so he needs to do for himself. It’s time for a caring dad to take a couple of steps back, so your son can grow into the kind of man you want him to be.
==========
Hi Andy,

My son is receiving his Eagle next week and he would like to give the mentor pin to his aunt (my sister). Is this okay? My son’s scout troop hasn’t helped much over the years, and he’s had to attend other troops’ scout camps and Pow Wows to accomplish what he has. Most of his support has been from friends, family, and other troops. Would it be appropriate or possible to give the mentor pin to his aunt, who has participated in Scouts for over ten years and has raised three fine young men who are all Eagle Scouts? My son’s aunt played a huge role in his attaining the Eagle rank. My sister was the Advancement Coordinator for her own sons’ troop and included my son in multiple Pow-Wows and also helped him go to another troop’s summer camp when our own troop was staying home for the summer. She also tracked all of his advancement, guided him with merit badges, and helped him sort through his Eagle rank application paperwork and leadership service project tracking. I do understand that the mentor pin isn’t to be given to a parent, but can a woman receive it for a new Eagle, as a way of saying “Thanks”? (K.D.)

The Eagle Mentor pin is a wonderful way to say “Thank You.” So, in light of your sister’s help and guidance along your son’s journey to Eagle, it would be absolutely appropriate to present it to her, and it can certainly be given to a woman!
==========
Hello Andy,

I’ve been in Scouting for the past two dozen years or more, serving in many positions from Cub Scouts through Venturing. But here’s one that has me stumped: Who chooses Assistant Scoutmasters? Is this done by the Scoutmaster? The troop committee? The Committee Chair? Someone else? Related to this, if there are current ASMs on the roster who don’t show up at meetings and don’t work well with either the Scoutmaster or the Scouts themselves, does the Scoutmaster have the right to ask them to step aside, and replace them with other adults ready and willing (and able!) to work as a team and work well with the Scouts of the troop? (Dale Jones)

Assistants are selected by the Scoutmaster, who makes the recommendation to the Committee Chair, who, in turn, obtains the endorsement of the Chartered Organization Representative. If an ASM isn’t doing his job, or doing it incorrectly, and is unwilling or unable to change despite personal counseling, then the Scoutmaster recommends to the Committee Chair that the ASM be removed from this slot, which decision is thereupon endorsed by the CR and the ASM is asked to take another position or resign. Should the ASM be reluctant to do either of these, then the SM, CC, and CR reach agreement and remove him. In short, the authority to “hire” includes the authority to “fire.”
==========
Dear Andy,

Who is authorized to give the “Eagle Charge” at a court of honor? (Ray Dobbs)

Understanding that the “Eagle Charge” is ceremonial nicety and not in any way mandatory, ultimately anyone can do this. If the Eagle Charge is included in the court of honor, the Scoutmaster, the Committee Chair, or a “visiting dignitary,” in that order, are good choices.
==========
Dear Andy,

First, thank you for all you do for the Scouting community! You’re a valuable resource who just keeps on giving!

My question is about year-round camping. I’m the Scoutmaster of a troop with about 70 Scouts, a very active committee, and several support dads as well as a half-dozen ASMs. I feel like we’re a successful troop except in one area… We run our program on a ten-month plan, and “go dark” in July and August for “summer vacation.” I’d like to change this. Do you know of, or where I can find, supporting material to validate year-round camping? (Mike Wooddell, SM)

I’m assuming your troop goes to Scout camp during the summer “vacation” period…at least I sure hope so! If you’re not doing this, what’s the point? The whole rest of the Scouting year is designed to make this the capstone for the Scouts!

As for going on other outdoor adventures over the summer, if your Patrol Leaders Council agrees that they want to do this, then they should just do it! “Fun in the out-of-doors” isn’t “legislated”—Scouts want to do it ’cause it’s…FUN! You don’t need “something in writing.” This is a Scout decision at the PLC level, and the PLC should be encouraged to “think outside the box” and come up with some creative outings that would be fun and different ’cause they’re in the warm summer months! Like a trip to a beach or lake, a bike-hike, etc., etc. This can be done patrol-by-patrol, too! It doesn’t have to be an entire troop outing; in fact, patrol activities in the summer (not to the exclusion of the rest of the year) are a great way to reinforce and actualize The Patrol Method.
==========
Dear Andy,

I went to my son’s troop meeting last night. My son was the only uniformed Scout. The meeting just started…no Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath and Law, or anything in any way “ceremonial.” The Scoutmaster ran the whole show from start to finish, more like what you’ve called “The World’s Oldest Patrol Leader” than a Scoutmaster. Within a few days, I discovered in conversations at our council service center that this troop has had exactly zero rank advancements in the past two years.

But an Eagle Scout from this troop has just moved back into the area and has volunteered to be an Assistant Scoutmaster. He’s 25 years old and very enthusiastic. And I understand the program the way it’s supposed to be (he’s already pointed out to the Scoutmaster that the Senior Patrol Leader is supposed to be leading troop meetings). If he were Scoutmaster instead of an ASM, I’m betting this troop could be a real troop of Scouts instead of a large “Webelos III den.”

Do we, the Scouts’ parents have the authority to demand a change in Scoutmasters? If we, or someone else, can’t get a change made here, there’s going to be no troop at all pretty soon! Two families have already left for another troop, and many others are simply afraid of this Scoutmaster’s bad temper to try having any sort of conversation about repairing this troop. If I could get a coalition going, who do we talk to? (Name & Council Withheld)

You’re fortunate to have a simple two-step process right at your fingertips. First, ask that 25 year-old Eagle if he’d be willing to be Scoutmaster. When he agrees, then here’s what to do…

All parents call for a meeting with the head of your sponsoring organization. Meet in-person (no emails!), en masse. Demand (yes, politely demand) that the current Scoutmaster be removed immediately, and advise the head that there is a volunteer who’s agreed to immediately step into that slot. If necessary—but only if necessary—advise the head that, if this isn’t done, you will all—every one of you—immediately remove your sons from the troop and transfer them into a nearby troop. If there is no immediate action, do it, end of story.

Never lose sight of this crystal clear fact: You all are doing this to SAVE YOUR SONS. “Saving the troop” is always secondary to this aim. Don’t waver, don’t crumble in the face of rhetoric, and don’t take “I’m sure we can leave things as they are and work them out over time” as an answer.
==========
Hello Andy,

Our troop has a history of presenting the cloth Eagle badge to a Scout at his Eagle court of honor. I recently read that the Eagle rank should be treated just like all other ranks in its presentation. The suggestion was that the Scout receive the cloth badge to wear at the first opportunity after we receive notification from the BSA that the Scout has been approved as an Eagle. (It’s tough for a Scout to wait for the Eagle court of honor for this, especially since, in our troop, it can take three or more months to organize the event.) (Roger Burcroff, CC)

All ranks—Tenderfoot through Eagle—should be publicly presented to the Scout at the very earliest opportunity following his successful board of review. The very next troop meeting is the ideal to strive for. This has been a BSA protocol from pretty much “Day One.” Absolutely give that Scout his cloth Eagle badge, and suggest that he sew or get it sewn on his uniform shirt right away! After all, he is unquestionably an Eagle, and should show it. Keep the medal—worn only on special occasions, anyway—for the court of honor, when it can be made “special” (Mom pins it on, etc…). And, as long as we’re on this subject, consider presenting the medal at a regular troop court of honor. Make it the highlight of the event! This way you’ll have the greatest number of Scouts present, and the new Eagle becomes an instant role model for others still on the Eagle trail.
==========
Dear Andy,

Do Scouts who receive their first religious emblem and knot receive the relevant device also? We’re told that the first time a Scout earns a religious emblem, he receives the knot and emblem, but he only receives devices for the knot when he earns subsequent religious emblems. Is this correct? (Name & Council Withheld)

The general way this works is: The first time the religious emblem is earned, the Scout receives (in addition to the medal) a “square knot” badge, but he does not receive any “device” for it. Devices are then employed when the Scout earns a second (or more) religious emblem.
==========
Hello Andy,

My son recently joined scouts. He’s interested in working on the Music merit badge. He’s been in the band program at his school for the past year, but has just gotten a “blue card” signed to begin working on the merit badge. Can he count this previous work done toward his merit badge, or does he have to start counting his time in the music program since the card was signed by his Scoutmaster? (Corey Hart)

Good news! The BOY SCOUT REQUIREMENTS book specifically states that prior work counts.
==========
Dear Andy,

My son is raising money for his Eagle project by selling flowers around the neighborhood. He wants to have any checks made payable to his troop, but identified as being for his project, so that he can use the money to buy what’s going to be needed. In his “talk” and flyer he’s stating that money is being raised on behalf of the named beneficiary and that any funds left over will go to that beneficiary. But now he’s being told by council personnel that we can’t deposit the money in the troop account (they’re unclear as to why). If you read the Eagle Project Workbook, it says you can do this. Can you help clear this up? (Name & Council Withheld)

Whoever you spoke with the council service center is full of beans. Deposit the money in the troop’s account, keep precise records, and disperse any remaining funds to the recipient after the project’s complete—just as planned. That’s it.

Just be sure that your son isn’t the only Scout selling the flowers… He needs to show leadership by teaching others how to sell, and then turning them loose! (BTW, for Eagle projects, there’s no rule that says only Scouts can be helpers. Your son can recruit friends, neighbors, and classmates too!)
==========
Dear Andy,

This is probably a real dumb question. I really didn’t notice it until someone brought it up at a Roundtable. I’ve tried looking for an answer using Google. I found answers, but I’m not sure if they are correct. Here it is…

Camping merit badge req. 9 says, “Camp a total of at least 20 days and 20 nights.” What is a camping “day”? Most of our camp-outs start Friday night and end Sunday afternoon. I’ve been considering that two nights. Are we supposed to be looking at how many “days” they camp? If so, what is a “day”? Since we’re getting back before Sunday night, does it count as two nights but not two days? (John Pinchot)

There’s no such thing as a “dumb question”! So you don’t drive yourself nuts about this, just figure that some time on Friday to approximately the same time on Saturday is one day-and-night, and some time on Saturday to approximately the same time on Sunday is the second day-and-night. So leave your stop-watch home!
==========
Dear Andy,

I’ve just checked, and the Cub Scout “Leave No Trace” award is still listed on the BSA’s scouting.org website, but according to the National Supply Division this item (SKU 8797) is obsolete and no longer available. I’m pretty surprised to learn that this change happened over a year ago. Do you know if there’s a replacement for this and, if so, what it is? (David Olson, Conservation Committee, Northern Star Council, MN)

Yup, the Cub Scout “Leave No Trace Awareness Award” program and patch have indeed been discontinued. The replacement for these is the Cub Scout “Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award.” Here’s where to check it out:

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/OutdoorProgram/OutdoorEthics/Awards/CubScout.aspx

Thanks to your sharp eyes, the BSA will shortly be updating their website to reflect this change. It’s readers like you, who take the time to write when you spot something that seems off, who really make a difference. Thanks!

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. 395 – 4/29/2014 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2014]

Bookmark and Share
avatar

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.

Read Andy's full biography

Comments are closed.