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Issue 447 – July 17, 2015

Hi Andy,

I have to point out your response about shooting sports targets isn’t completely right. Starting on page 52 of the BSA NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS MANUAL, it says the following for Boy Scout and Varsity Scout Air Rifle, Rifle, and Archery; and Venturing and Sea Scout Rifle: “…are allowed to use tasteful and appropriate animal silhouette targets (paper and 3-D targets) with archery and all firearms approved for their use. Appropriate animal silhouettes include wild game species that are normally hunted. Human form and zombie silhouette targets are not approved for use.”

The only reason that I happened to know this is that I’m the Facilities Maintenance Manager for our camp and we’re in the middle of revamping our shooting facility and talking about different events and types of targets permitted. I, like you, had always heard that it’s “no targets of things with faces,” but someone else said they’d seen them at other camps, so—me being the one who usually ends up doing the research—hit the books (so many manuals, so little time!). Anyway, I did eventually find that statement, and thought I’d pass it along…it’s not something you’d find in “everyday reading.” Hope it helps! (Bobby Sammons)

Thanks for that source and quote! Just when I think I’ve read every possible piece of BSA literature, here’s another one! I’m going to get myself a copy of this and read it, thanks to you!
Dear Andy,

Last year we inherited a Life Scout from another troop. We had gotten the impression that his old troop had some issues with him, but we pretty much overlooked “ancient history.” At our council’s request, we mentored this Scout through his Eagle service project and tried to prepare him for his Eagle board of review, but then we learned (too late) that he’d gone ahead and scheduled his own board of review without us knowing about it—he never said a word!

As it turned out, the review members found him terse at best and belligerent besides (behavior we’d not previously seen from him, although we did get the impression he was in a “let’s get this over-with” mode). At any rate, the result of this review was a unanimous decision to not recommend him for the Eagle rank.

The young man’s father showed up at a recent meeting, about three weeks after the Scout’s unsuccessful review, and starting threatening actual physical harm to the reviewers if they didn’t reverse their decisions and “pass” his son.

We’ve never to anyone’s memory ever written off a young man…but this one’s close. We’ve alerted our council advancement people and our reviewers. Is there anything further we can or should do for this young man? (Joe Powell)

This Scout, unfortunately, shot himself in the kneecaps when he proceeded on his own, although it’s a bit of a mystery to me as to how this happened. (I’m suspecting that, in your council, Eagle reviews aren’t held at the troop level; they’re held at the district or council level.) At any rate, he’s had one board of review, and it proved unsuccessful, so that’s that. He doesn’t get a second one (so you can tell that irate father to settle downs and stop with the threats, because such threats are the last sort of help his son needs right now): The BSA GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT Topic, 10 (page 47 of the GTA 2011 Printing) states: “An Eagle candidate may have only one board of review. Subsequent action falls under the appeals process [See ‘Appealing a Decision,’]”

GTA Topic [Appealing a Decision] (page 48) goes on to say: “If a board of review does not recommend a candidate for rank advancement, only the Scout or his parent…may appeal the decision to the local council…See ‘Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances,’” The process is fully described in this Topic (see page 48) plus Topics and (page 49).

At this point, further action is out of your and the troop’s hands except that you can—as you’ve apparently done, and good for you!—write a letter to the appropriate council-level people recommending that they recognize the appeal.

As for that out-of-control father, counseled point-blank that he needs to change his behavior or run the risk of sabotaging whatever chance his son might have through the appeal process. Show the man what I’ve just described and suggest that he read the topics thoroughly, because although Scouting provides a second chance and even a third (the national council) expressly for situations like this, the kind of attitude he’s presently displaying isn’t going to serve his son well.

We can’t ever control the actions others, but we can take action to help them through a miss-step. Kudos for sticking by your Scout!
Dear Andy,

You’ve made some comments about trailers being unnecessary. That may be true for troops in small towns, but for those of us in large urban areas, a trailer is absolutely a necessity. Most of our camp sites are one-and-a-half to five hours away, and our attempts to recruit parents to provide transportation has proven unsuccessful. So, we usually have a half-dozen or so vehicles to carry the 20-30 scouts that generally attend a campout, with one of the vehicles pulling a trailer for the gear. Moreover, at our district’s recent Camporee, every single troop there had a trailer (one had brought two!). (Ross McMicken, MC, Sam Houston Area Council, TX)

Part of the consideration here is whether adults associated with Boy Scout troops understand that the fundamental unit in Boy Scouting is the PATROL. (Boy Scouting is designed so that a group of patrols will operate under the “umbrella” called a “troop” rather than thinking that the troop is the primary unit and has patrols in it.) If you’ve been through Wood Badge training, in particular, you already know that your patrol and patrol-mates are where 90% of all bonding and cooperation occurs.

So, if a troop travels by patrol, and puts transportation for the patrol in the hands of the Scouts of each patrol, there’s usually no problem, regardless of the troop’s home base (urban, rural, etc.) or the distance to the site. For weekend camp-outs and day-hikes, which constitute the majority of patrols’ activities, each Scout in the patrol is responsible for 70% his own gear and 30% patrol gear and food. Drivers are “patrol parents,” and they have a huge stake in successful and on-time arrival, which makes them incredibly unlikely to “bail out” at the last minute.

With “patrol gear” (larger cook kits, tents, etc.) stored in a “troop shed/locker” and checked out and back in, your troop’s Quartermaster all of a sudden has a real job to go with the badge he’s wearing!

Handling everything by patrol also eliminates the nonsense of “patrols of convenience.” You’ll no longer scrunch together several Scouts from the Wacko Wolverines and another couple of Scouts from the Bloody Bears to make up a “weekend patrol” that has no history, no bonding, and no future.

That said, it does sound to me like you’ve got it figured out, and you’re using your trailer well. The key point is that it’s definitely more of a “luxury” than some sort of absolute “necessity.”
Hi Andy,

What’s the salute in Scouting for boys? Is it with two fingers, or three like the Girl Scouts? (Marta Terrell)

Cub Scouts salute with two fingers. Boy Scouts salute with three fingers.
Hi Andy —

Our son, who did not participate in troop events for almost a year, has finally become involved in Scouting again and attends meetings and outings. He isn’t in it for advancement, has no aspirations of making Eagle, doesn’t really care to attend High Adventures, but likes going on weekend outings and to summer camp.

One of our ongoing fundraisers is collecting aluminum cans for recycling via two “cage” trailers in town. Adults transport the cans, and the Scouts are expected to maintain the trailer, which involves removing trash bags and non-aluminum items, and disposing of them. Most of the funds received are routed toward the high adventure program to help cover crew costs.

The SPL just came out with a new duty roster for Scouts who have “trailer duty” till the end of the year, and my son’s name is at the top of the list. His job: to clean the trailer twice…this month and again in the fall. He didn’t volunteer for this—he was, essentially, “drafted.” Being dictated to like this was one of the things that originally turned him off of Scouting, and now he feels he’s being dictated to again. He has no intention of doing the trailer cleaning because he was never asked.

As his Dad, I agree that Scouts should participate in fundraisers that benefit their activities, but shouldn’t this participation be voluntary? (Name and Council Withheld)

I’m not sure I agree with the term, “drafted.” “Assigned, along with other Scouts” seems closer to what more likely happened. Perhaps your son should be having a conversation with the Senior Patrol Leader—making it in-person (no texting or email), and cordial. He has a legitimate question: How did his name get on the list, especially since he’s not connected with any of the activities the funds are used for? On the other hand, is this really the very first time in his experience with this troop that “duty rosters” have been developed with no input from the Scouts whose names are on the list, or is it that your son objects to the particular “duty”? And, of course, the overarching question is this: Whatever happened to the Scouting ideals of “Helpful,” “Obedient,” “Cheerful,” and “Help other people at all times”? It strikes me that your son needs a bit of “attitude adjustment” along the lines of what’s good for his patrol and troop will benefit him, too,…when he shows up like he’s supposed to be doing as a contributing member of his patrol.
Dear Andy,

When a troop shuts down, what’s the correct why to handle the equipment and trailer that we have. There are other nearby troops that want to buy the equipment and with the money we wanted to do one last trip or community project, so that the Scouts who have been in this troop can have one last good memory. Or does all the equipment have to go back to the chartered organization? (Ginger Kleist)

I’m sorry to hear of a troop’s demise… are you certain there’s no way to sustain it? Have you had personal conversations with your District Executive and the head of the chartered organization? Please do this before throwing in the towel.

If salvage just isn’t going to happen, be sure that as many Scouts as possible are transferred over to one of those nearby troops, so they can continue to enjoy, and receive value from, the Scouting program.

To answer your question, assuming the demise is unstoppable, the chartered organization is the owner of the unit and, as such, is the rightful owner of all funds, gear, and equipment. It would be more than inappropriate to disperse remaining funds, or the equipment, without having a serious in-person discussion with the head of the chartered organization.

If the chartered organization wishes to retain both the funds and equipment, this is their choice and it must be followed to the letter. (After all, who’s to say a Scouting unit won’t be started up again at some point in the future?)

But let’s say the chartered organization is interested in making a donation of the funds and equipment… For the funds, a very thoughtful and memorable use would be a donation toward the council’s summer camp, for needed non-consumable equipment (one or more new canoes, perhaps). Or, depending on the amount available, consider funding a staff building, pole barn, shower facility, or maybe a new or extended dock at the waterfront. Something like this, with a plaque attached that recognizes the donor and year, would be completely appropriate, if the chartered organization agrees. As for equipment, again, check with your council first. Perhaps some could be used at a camping facility. Another option would be to donate some or all of the remainder to a new troop just starting up, or perhaps to inner-city Scouts who may be financially at need. Again, secure the chartered organization’s permission first, so there are no surprises down the road.

Thanks, Andy. Our area has two troops and we don’t have enough boys to keep both of them going. Both troops have trailer full of equipment. There are other troops, not quite as close, that are short on items, and we’re going to pass some gear forward. (Ginger)

Regardless of good intentions, disposing of a Scouting unit’s funds or equipment without the express permission of the head of the chartered organization can be considered theft. If the chartered organization has not given their permission for this, this can be a chargeable offense. Get permission in writing before you act.

(I heard back from Ginger a few days later. They’re doing the right thing, and in good Scout spirit!)
Dear Andy,

Do you know of any resources available, or do you have some examples yourself, of meaningful recognitions for adult unit leaders who have been approved by the BSA National Office for their “veteran” pins? Our troop’s chartered organization is having an across-the-spectrum recognition ceremony for volunteers, and asked for examples or input for what to say about these long-standing leaders. These two individuals, both almost as old as our troop (which was founded in 1930) have over four decades of service to our troop, including Scoutmaster, Commissioner, and Chartered Organization Representative posts. They’ve seen over 40 Eagle Scouts go through the ranks during that time. We’re interested in having a starting point for the event organizers to work with, beyond a photo of these fellows huddled with the troop founder in their 1960’s uniforms. Your advice would be appreciated. (Rich Heimbach, ASM, New Birth of Freedom Council, PA)

Forty years and more is pretty exceptional! While I don’t know of any templates you can draw from, but I do have a suggestion… Find the exact years these fine Scouters began their Scouting “careers.” Then go to Wikipedia and do a search for those years. Copy and paste each year, or if they’re all in the same decade, capture that decade. Select major events from the years or the decade and create a “bullet point” document from which to speak. (I’ve attached a document titled “1936” as an example for you.) Now, all you need do is present the appropriate year or decade’s major events to the audience, wrapping up with, “And this is the same year (NAME) joined Scouting!” Then present the Veteran’s Pin. The audience will appreciate it, and so will your recipients. I’ve done this as a Commissioner, for charter presentations, and it’s been an enjoyable experience for all.
Hi Andy,

I’m Committee Chair of a newer troop. We are just this year enjoying some Eagle projects! It’s an exciting time in our troop. But we have a few of these Life Scouts who have stopped attending troop meetings and events. I’ve heard that some are working on their Eagle projects and want to move forward in rank. How active do Scouts like these need to be, in order to advance in rank? If so, what defines “active?” And what advice can you give me in talking with these Scouts about this point? (Name & Council Withheld)

“Working on Eagle projects” isn’t a substitute for Eagle req. 1: “Be active in your troop…for a period of at least six months after you have achieved the rank of Life Scout.” Nor is it a substitute for Eagle req. 4: “Serve actively in your (troop) for a period of six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility: Patrol Leader, ASPL, SPL, Venture Patrol Leader, TG, OA Troop Rep, Den Chief, Scribe, Librarian, Historian, QM, JASM, Chaplain Aide, Instructor, Webmaster, or LNT Trainer.”

Now maybe these Life Scouts have already completed both of these requirements. If that’s the case, it’s not necessary that they continue now as actively as they were during the six-month period(s) in which both requirements were completed. However, if they’re still within the first six months of their Life boards of review and their activity and position of responsibility levels are falling off, they need immediate counseling by the Scoutmaster.

For more on “active” refer to the BSA GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT (SKU 614448). (It’s available as an online download, but buying the book itself is the better way to go because you’ll get a bound copy.)

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. 447 – 7/17/2015 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2015]


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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