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Issue 452 – September 8, 2015

Hi Andy,

I must have looked this up twenty different ways on Google, and still can’t find an answer anywhere… What part(s) of a Cub/Webelos uniform “carries over” to a Boy Scout uniform? For years I’ve been told it’s only the Arrow of Light; are there any others, like the Cub Scout Religious Emblem or Award of Merit (lifesaving)? Will this change with the 2016 revisions of Scout ranks? (Jerry Elya, Gerald R. Ford Council)

Yes, there’s a special “Arrow of Light” badge that’s worn on the Boy Scout uniform and, for adults, there’s an AoL square knot. The square knot for youth religious emblem carries over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts to adult volunteer as well, and yes, a “medal of meritorious service” square knot carries over also.
Dear Andy,

My son just turned 11 and has graduated from 5th grade. He was a member of a Cub Scout pack, but didn’t advance beyond Bear (my husband’s international travel increased and we were unable to keep our son plugged in). At any rate, he just started middle school and we want to get him involved in Boy Scouts. The problem is, I believe, that the requirements say he has to have been involved in a Cub Scout pack for six months prior to transitioning and earned the Arrow of Light. Can he be a Webelos as a 5th Grader to fulfil the prerequisites to becoming a Boy Scout? If not, does that mean he missed the boat on the Scouting experience? (Paulette)

Here’s the good news: Cub Scouting is absolutely not a “prerequisite” to being a Boy Scout! If your son is 11 years old, or completed 5th grade, that’s all that’s necessary—and, in your son’s case, he’s done both! He can join a troop TODAY! Waste no time! Fine a nice troop and sign him up! It’s an experience that’ll have value for the rest of his life! I promise!
Hey Andy,

To be awarded the Star Scout rank, the Scout has to earn four Eagle-required merit badges out of six in total. Do these have to be earned after he earned First Class, or can they be earned before his First Class rank?

On a different subject, in a boy-led troop, can an “adult instructor” be used to teach different skills to the troop as a whole? (Back in the days when I was a Scoutmaster—I’m a grandfather now!—we had an Assistant Scoutmaster for each patrol, and the ASM would instruct the Patrol Leader on various Scoutcraft skills, so that the Patrol Leader could then teach his patrol, but I’m not sure now if that was correct to do.) (Claude Graf)

We’ll do the easy one first…

Merit badges can be earned at any time, and there’s no relationship at all between when they’re earned and the rank they’re used to qualify for. For requirements other than earning merit badges, most are indeed rank-specific (e.g., “While a First Class Scout…”, “While a Star Scout…”, etc.) but this never applies to merit badges. A Scout can, in fact, use merit badges he earned while a Tenderfoot to count toward Eagle requirements and Eagle palms.

A Scout can also “swap out” merit badges for various ranks. Using Star as our example here, req. 3 states that the Scout will have earned 6 merit badges, including any 4 from the Eagle-required list; but this doesn’t mean ONLY 4. So the Scout you’ve mentioned can use all 5 of the merit badges he’s earned, plus 1 more (whether it’s Eagle-required or not) to make it 6 and fulfill req. 3. Let’s assume that he happened to earn 6 Eagle-required to qualify for Star. In that case, when he moves on to Life, he uses all 6 Eagle required plus 2 more required, plus 3 more that can be Eagle-required or not. But it absolutely doesn’t matter when he earned them; he doesn’t have to have earned them only after attaining Star rank.

On the question of who teaches whom, it sounds like you had a pretty good troop when you were Scoutmaster! Although you missed the “ideal” situation (which I’ll describe in a moment) you were darned close—a lot closer than most of the troops I see nowadays!

The very best troops do have Assistant Scoutmasters that coach Scouts who hold the position of Troop Guide (“TG” for short). The TG’s job is to coach the elected Patrol Leaders of new-Scout patrols (i.e., first-year Scouts), so that these new-Scout Patrol Leaders start learning some Scoutcraft as well as leadership skills right away. But—and this is critical—the TG isn’t an “acting Patrol Leader”! And the Assistant Scoutmaster doesn’t act like a Cub Scout “den dad.” The ASM is a coach for the TG only; he leaves the direct Scout-to-Scout coaching where it belongs. (Like I said, you were pretty close!)

The two worst-case scenarios today are when the new Scouts (who usually all come from the same Webelos den and have already been together for three to four years) are busted up and “seeded” into existing patrols, or when an older Scout is “assigned” to the new Scouts as their Patrol Leader, instead of these Scouts electing their own.

As for adult volunteers, the best way to “teach” is by example… A couple of ASMs go on the troop campout and cook something for themselves that smells absolutely delicious—so good that the Scouts wander over and ask, “Hey, that smells awesome! Watcha cookin’?” So the ASMs show them, and give the Scouts the recipe, so they can do it, next time!
Hi Andy,

Now that Scout neckerchiefs now approved for wear with non-uniform clothes, is there a day when we should/could all wear a neckerchief to work to promote Scouting and demonstrate our commitment? Like B-P’s birthday or something else like this? (Mitch Erickson, Commissioner, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)

Yup, there sure is…right along with the rest of the uniform! It’s called “Scout Sunday.”
Dear Andy,

Once a merit badge has been earned and awarded, “blue cards” often become illegible if not simply lost. Some of my Scouts would like replacement blue cards to put in keepsake binders they’ve made. Is this okay? Can I issue a replacement blue card? (Todd Cronin)

Even better than a “blue card” stub is the BSA-issued “Merit Badge Pocket Certificate” (Scoutstuff SKU 34393). They’re inexpensive (19 cents!) and they’re a permanent recognition of having earned a merit badge. May I respectfully suggest your troop begin adopting their use from now on, and even retroactively for Scouts who’d like to have ‘em?
Hello Andy,

In a Boy Scout troop, can the Charted Organization Representative also be the Committee Chair? (Our adult leadership pool is pretty sparse and this doubling up would help, but I didn’t know if it’s okay or not.) (Andrew Maley, Woodbridge, CT)

Yes, the CC can double-register as CR; your District Executive or council registrar will confirm this for you.

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. 452 – 9/8/2015 – 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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