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Issue 457 – October 15, 2015

Hi Andy,

I found this very nice Personal Management Merit Badge Workbook using a google search. I would like to use it for our Merit Badge College, but it has a copyright: “Workbook © Copyright 2015 – U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. – All Rights Reserved”. How do I obtain a “right to use” that workbook? (Chris Hatch)

This is the work of Paul Wolf, a board member of the USSSP, and here’s what he has to say (thanks, Paul!)…

As we state in the fine print at the bottom of every page of our web site: Materials found at U. S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. Websites may be reproduced and used locally by Scouting volunteers for training purposes consistent with the programs of the Boy Scouts of America. So feel free to use our workbook at your Merit Badge College. That’s
well within the rights granted by our copyright and the statement in the
paragraph I just quoted. You can print copies for the Scouts to use, or
provide a link to the on-line versions. The only restrictions we put on
distribution are these:

1. Don’t make copies available for download from a website other than
ours, BSA’s official web sites ( or, or, and

2. Don’t edit or modify the workbooks, other than by entering data, or
expanding or contracting the data entry areas as needed.

Remember that the workbooks are designed to be an AID for the Scouts, to organize their thoughts so they can discuss the requirements with their counselors. Counselors CANNOT insist on their use, and the Scouts must still complete all requirements AS WRITTEN.

Important: Every Scout must actually and personally complete every requirement. For instance, if a requirement says “show,” “demonstrate,” or “discuss,” then EVERY Scout must do that. It is unacceptable to consider requirements completed merely on the basis of sitting in classrooms watching demonstrations, or remaining silent during discussions.
Hi Andy,

Can you tell me the rules behind the unit-earning application? We have a problem with an out-of-council unit that’s selling popcorn at a local store inside our council service area, and the rub is that they’re earning big money! They’ve taken over a location a unit in our own council could use, but can’t because that outside unit got there first and are holding on to it tightly. They didn’t ask anyone for permission; they just did it. When our troop was told that spot was taken, we assumed some other unit in our council got there first, but that’s not the case: Turns out it’s a unit from a neighboring community just across the council dividing line, and they make huge money on popcorn and wreaths. We’d like to do an Eagle project fundraiser there, but the key store tells us they’re already booked with tis other unit straight through the end of the year.

I took this issue up with a fellow Scouter, questioning why this unit didn’t ask permission to do this instead of just encroaching on a site our own units could use, but he told me that since it’s popcorn, which is a council fund-raiser, the unit-level fundraising application and rules don’t apply, and so they didn’t have to ask; they could just go wherever they wanted to.

What’s the deal here? I asked our Council Scout Executive about this, but guess is he likely won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Can you give me some insight on this? (Name & Council Withheld)

The best way to learn the “rules” involved in council- and unit-level fund-raisers is to read the BSA documents related to this subject. Just use any search engine for: BSA Fundraising policies and procedures, BSA guides to unit money-earning projects, and BSA product sales and policy issues manual.

Your Scouter friend is right: Generally, popcorn sales are council-level fund-raisers, so the issue you’re describing may require more a council-to-council conversation than a unit-to-council conversation. Wreaths, however, may be different, so further checking on your part may be required.

I can’t tell from your letter whether the particular selling location you’re concerned about is on the fringe between two councils or somewhere deep inside your council’s service area. If the latter, I’d agree that there definitely needs to be a conversation between the two Scout Executives or council revenue development committee chairs. If, however, we’re talking about a fringe area, that’s a horse of a different color.

Apparently, you haven’t received a response to your inquiry from your Scout Executive yet, so it may be unfair to “predict” a negative response. If you used email, that’s probably not the best approach; S.E.s are typically inundated with email messages from staff and volunteers all day long, and must therefore start prioritizing from the moment they arrive at the service center each morning. Your best bet is to set an appointment and go visit with him, eyeball-to-eyeball; second-best is a phone call (but don’t leave a lengthy message if you get voice mail—just state that you have a question about fund-raising and ask for the name of the person you should speak with). And as long as we’re on the subject of professional staff, where’s your District Executive? This should be the very first person you contact if you’re going to go the professional route. But there’s also someone else missing here: Your own district’s revenue development chair. I’d suggest starting here.
Dear Andy,

I recently helped run a merit badge college for our district. During a meeting with the counselors, nearly all of them related an experience in which a parent all of a sudden started “defending” essentially shoddy work by their son. For some reason I can’t understand, parents are pushing for their sons to do the least possible of work just so they can “bag a badge.” What’s going on here? (John)

In parents’ orientation sessions, they need to know that, unlike Cub Scouts, Boy Scouting isn’t about “badge bagging”—You know what I mean: Get caught picking yer nose and somebody hands you a patch for it!

Seriously, we do need to educate parents, especially on the notion that “Do Your BEST!” really means something, and that “good enough” isn’t. Scouts themselves are often just fine, but parents’ expectations need management. How many Scouts are asked, as they come home from summer camp, “How many merit badges did you get?” (notice “get,” not “earn”), instead of “Did you have a great time?”
Hi Andy

Are there any national training courses that you’d recommend for our new troop youth leaders? We’ll have several new Scouts taking on leadership positions in our troop soon, and they’ll need to be trained in the best ways possible. (Mark Kociemba)

NYLT is an excellent council-level leadership training course; best when Scouts reach First Class rank. The BSA used to have NJLIC (National Junior Leader Instructor Camp) but this was replaced with NAYLE, available at Philmont and at other BSA high adventure bases, but this—National Advanced Youth Leadership Experiences—doesn’t provide troops with Scouts returning with troop-oriented leadership training (It’s more of an individual experience). After NYLT, there’s the Leadership Academy, which trains youth to be NYLT staffers (it’s run on the East Coast only). The best bet, especially for newer Scouts, is still Scoutmaster/SPL-run in-troop training (“Training Scouts to Run their own Troop” is still a BSA principle and a Scoutmaster’s most important responsibility according to the SCOUTMASTER HANDBOOK).

Here’s what you’ll find at
Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST). The purpose of the ILST course is to teach Scouts with leadership positions about their new roles and how to most effectively reach success in that role. It’s intended to help Boy Scouts in leadership positions within their troop understand their responsibilities and to equip them with organizational and leadership skills to fulfill those responsibilities. ILST is the first course in the series of leadership training offered to Boy Scouts and is a replacement for Troop Leadership Training. Completion of ILST is a prerequisite for Boy Scouts to participate in the more advanced leadership courses National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). It’s also required to participate in a Kodiak Challenge Trek.
Dear Andy,

We had a situation come up in a board of review where the Scout stated he liked nothing about Scouting; he doesn’t want to be in scouts at all!

This has been an ongoing concern with this particular Scout from “day one.” In Scoutmaster conferences, he states the same thing: The only reason he’s in the troop is because his father makes him attend and participate in the activities. We’ve tried everything we can think of to engage his interest and improve his attitude, but no luck. Because of his bad attitude, I just don’t feel it’s right to promote him to the next rank. I feel his attitude isn’t a good reflection on the Scouting program or our troop, and promoting him without his even attempting to change isn’t beneficial for anyone. And it certainly doesn’t fulfill the concept of “living the Scout Oath and Law in his daily life”! Even the other Scouts’ in the troop are wearing thin in patience with him. Do you have any advice or suggestions? We’d greatly appreciate anything you might suggest to help this young man get past his bad attitude. (Name & Council Withheld)

I’m really tempted to reclassify this entirely. This sorry young man doesn’t have a “bad attitude toward Scouts”—He simply doesn’t want to be in this program! In this regard, he’s not much different from about seven or eight out of every ten boys! In fact, maybe he should be complimented for having the chutzpah to speak up about this! So your job, now, is to have a sit-down, eyeball-to-eyeball conversation with his father and ask that man to please find something—some program, sport, or activity—that his son would actually like doing, instead of forcing him to continue plodding along in something he doesn’t like or want! This isn’t very far afield from forcing a boy to play Little League baseball when he’d much rather play lacrosse…or chess!

One of the finest Scout Executives I’ve ever known had a son who preferred BMX biking to Scouts and—guess what—that father had the good sense to listen to his son and let him do what he loved! So guess what happened after a few years? Yup, that young man made it to the nationals and came in second in the U.S., in BMX biking…all because a father actually listened to his son!

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. 457 – 10/15/2015 – 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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