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Issue 462 – November 24, 2015

Dear Andy,

I just read your last week’s issue (November 19th) regarding adult leader training. I may have missed reading it in your reply, but I thought Youth Protection Training was mandatory for all adult leaders who have contact with youth, and I thought this was a BSA-wide thing, as it is in our council. (Joe Sefcik, Connecticut Rivers Council)

Yup, YPT is mandatory, but that’s not the kind of training “Bill” was discussing last week… He was referring to Scoutmaster/ASM-Specific and OLS, and Unit Committee training—the training that helps volunteers deliver the Boy Scout program as intended and not according to whim, personal past experience (which is often flawed, usually caused by the same error in not seeking position-specific training), or the often common notion of “I just made up a better way than the BSA…”
Hi Andy,

Referring to last week’s issue, could you clarify a few things about Venture Patrols? First, you said, “At age 16, he’s also qualified to be a member of the troop’s Venture Patrol.” Is there a minimum age for a Scout to be in a Venture Patrol? Here’s a source that says it can be age 13: (check out the “Types of Patrols” section). Also, the PATROL LEADER HANDBOOK says that a troop can set its own age limits.

I’ve heard that the term, “Venture Patrol,” was phased out (or is being phased out) in favor of “Older Scout Patrol,” supposedly to avoid confusion with Venturing. To add to the confusion over what this patrol is supposed to be called, the PATROL LEADER HANDBOOK says that “Venture Patrols” are one of the three types of patrols, but where it describes each type, it calls them, alternatively “Senior Patrol” and “Older Scout Patrol” and goes on to say, “Your troop can decide its own age limits and names for the senior, older boy patrols.”

Then there’s the “Venture” strip ( which some say is for a Venture Patrol and others say it’s for a Venturing crew. It doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the insignia guide, nor does scoutstuff say what it’s for. It’s listed on the uniform inspection sheet, but that just states where to wear it; not what it’s for. Is this to show that a Scout is in a Venture Patrol? If so, then that would support the belief that “Venture Patrol” is still the proper term, rather than “Older Scout Patrol.” Any idea what’s what? (Ed)

If your resource (which I use also, BTW) says “13” then age 16 should be a no-brainer! Personally, if I were involved in a troop that wanted one or more Venture Patrols, I’d likely recommend age 14 OR HS Freshman as a good place to start.

“Venture Patrol” is the name used by your source…so I’d say it’s about as current as you might want. (Besides, there’s even a special—WooHoo!—VENTURE badge to go with it! It’s Scoutstuff Item #19 – $1.49.)

But…Apart from the “VENTURE” strip, which is indeed a Boy Scout badge (check its background color), “Scoutstuff” is pretty messed up… It refers to most Venturing items as “Venture” and that’s just way wrong!

Finally, who wants to be called an “older Scout patrol”??? If I were in that patrol, I’d much rather be the Lame Ducks or the Marauding Marmots, or the Bad-Butt Bears or something else that a teen-ager is into…but “older”? No way!

Hello Andy,

Last Memorial Day (May 2015) I was introduced to a nine year-old Webelos I Scout whose Den Leader hadn’t had many meetings over the previous year. At that point, this boy’s den had only one or two boys left in it, and their parents were concerned because they loved Scouting and wanted to move on the Boy Scouts. Because this first boy would turn ten in September, I invited him and his dad to come to our meetings and other troop events in as a guest. Once he started showing up, I suggested to our newer Scouts that perhaps they could assist this boy in completing his Arrow of Light requirements, so that on his tenth birthday in September he could join the troop. It seems to have worked out just fine, so maybe it’s academic to ask at this point, but what do you think about how we handled this? (Joe Rosenfeld, SM, Patterson, NY)

So long as the parent(s) participated as they needed to and the boy followed the requirements as written, I think you found an elegant way to keep a boy and his family involved in the program until he could become a Boy Scout, instead of doing nothing and thereby allowing him to “drop through the crack,” so to speak.

Theodore Roosevelt put it this way: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Hey Andy,

The GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING (“GTSS”) says it’s unauthorized to “Point any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual.” I’m looking for the reason behind this, preferably in writing. I think it would help those of us trying to explain paintball and water gun issues to those who don’t understand the principles behind this decision. I tried looking through the GTSS, but it only says it’s unauthorized. I get that…but why? Is there anything from the BSA that explains the foundation of why we don’t point guns at each other, such as a quote from Baden-Powell, that would help me help others understand why the BSA takes this stance? (Robert Wilcox)

It’s patently not necessary for a policy to “explain itself.” For instance, there’s a policy that prohibits the presence of Scouts where alcoholic beverages are served, which provides no further explanation. The prohibition of chain-saw usage is likewise not explained. The reason for these and many others it three-fold. First, as policies, they don’t require explanation, because “explanation” would open the “Pandora’s Box” of discussion where there is to be none. The second is that such policies are designed to provide a safe activity environment. Third, some policies are designed to be in concert with the ethical standards of the Scouting movement and are consequently not subject to discussion or debate. It’s like driving laws: One is to come to a full stop at STOP signs, period—no explanation required.
Dear Andy,

We just got a Venturing crew up and running, and I have a question about the leadership requirement for both genders (one leader, one age 21+ adult) to be present at all coed outings. Does a regular meeting being held at our regular meeting place qualify as an “outing”? On a totally different topic, who is considered “qualified” to conduct a swimmer classification test at the unit level? Does it need to be somebody with water safety or lifesaving “credentials” or can it be simply an adult unit leader? (Name & Council Withheld)

“Outing” means “out.” As in going somewhere other than one’s normal meeting place. “Two-deep” applies when you’re going somewhere; not when you’re “home”…”home” being where you normally meet. The purpose of this isn’t “youth protection” so much as it’s for safety… If one of the minimum four on an outing is injured, you have two pairs: One adult and one youth. The injured and another stays behind; the other two seek help. Yup, it’s that simple.

“Two-deep” can’t possibly apply to at-home situations. Take Merit Badge Counselors as a good example. “Two-deep” isn’t required when a youth and his buddy (adult or another youth) meet with a single adult; just so long as “one-on-one” is avoided.

So, for a regular unit meeting, believe-it-or-not, any one registered adult with YP training is all that’s necessary so long as two or more youth, or one youth and one adult whether trained or not, are all that’s necessary to be in complete compliance with BSA safety standards.

As for the swim test, if it’s done at a local pool (community, YMCA, etc.) invariably a lifeguard who’s not a BSA member will be present, for safety. But this person’s “credentials” aren’t required for the test itself. In this situation, any leader can administer the swim test. In an “away” situation, SSD would logically be followed and, again, that’s all that’s necessary.
Dear Andy,

I have two questions… First, who has the ability to remove a committee member from their position—is it the Committee Chair (“CC”) or the Chartered Organization Representative (“CR”)? Second, who has voting rights at a committee meeting? Thanks! (Name & Council Withheld)

Both the CC and CR have the ability to approve or remove a unit volunteer, and the CR supersedes the CC.

Only members of the committee (CC and MC) are the decision-makers; however, their decisions must be consistent with the methods, aims, and goals of the BSA and with the aims and goals of the chartering organization.

Ultimately, however, “votes,” per se, should be unnecessary when a committee is functioning well and everyone understands that they’re there to serve the troop and not to “issue orders” or “make policy,” and that’s because the BSA has already established all the policies and procedures required to operate a successful Scouting unit.

Okay, so those are the answers to your questions. But what I’d really like to know is this: What’s going on in your unit that would cause you to ask questions like these? (TBC…)

Happy Scouting…and Happy Thanksgiving!


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. 462 – 11/24/2015 – 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.

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