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Issue 474 – February 16, 2016

Dear Andy,

One of our troop’s Assistant Scoutmasters asked the Scouts to assist in filling in pot holes in the parking of our troop’s Scout house. The Scouts are expecting to earn service hours credit for the work they did. However, as Advancement Chair, I feel they shouldn’t receive service hour credit for work done to benefit our troop. Do you have or know of any BSA guidelines regarding the types of services that are or aren’t eligible for earning service hour credits? (Ed Moninghoff)

Luckily for your Scouts and your Scout house too, the only “non-Scouting” service policy is for Eagle Scout service projects. These must indeed be for entities or organizations other than Scouting-related. Everywhere else (meaning: for all other ranks, and even just to help out because that’s what Scouts do!), Scout houses, Scout summer camps, and even your local council’s service center are fair game and Scouts can and should absolutely receive credit for service.
Dear Andy,

One of our troop committee members occasionally signs off on rank requirements completed, while on camp-outs. This seems to be allowed when the Scoutmaster designates someone else to do this, and can include Assistant Scoutmasters, committee members, and even other, more experienced, Scouts. In our case, the troop has an Assistant Scoutmaster who is the designate when the Scoutmaster can’t attend a meeting or other activity, in the case the sign-off is for the Scoutmaster’s son. But, as a committee member, he or she also sits on boards of review for the Scout who received the sign-off at the camp-out. This doesn’t seem to fit the “key three checks and balances” of a troop’s advancement program. Can committee members actually sit on boards of review for a Scout for whom they have done rank requirement sign- offs? (Sherrie Nielsen)

It’s usually okay, because boards of review really aren’t about “checks and balances.” The key purpose of a board of review is to learn how well the troop’s program is delivering the kind of Scouting experience that will attract and keep boys and young men involved. However, if you wish to keep things absolutely “clean,” then just switch out one committee member for another for any particular Scout’s board of review, in the same way you’d do a switch-out for the father, mother, uncle, or aunt of a Scout sitting for a review.
Dear Andy,

I find myself in a position I hadn’t considered before: I have no “home” in Scouting. After a move to a new state, we immediately found a pack for our Webelos son, and then my Star Scout son and I took our time checking out troops in the area. Our younger son just crossed over, and he and his brother have settled into a nice, mid-sized troop with a Scoutmaster whom I respect and I think really understands the true purpose of Scouting.

Backing up a few years, I started as a Den Leader, later was appointed President of the packs’ sponsoring PTO, becoming Chartered Organization Representative for both pack and troop, then Committee Chair of the troop and Cubmaster of the pack. Along the way, I’ve taken just about every sort of training available—save Wood Badge—including Baloo, OWL, IOLS, COPE Instructor, Climbing & Rappelling Instructor, Pioneering, and Map & Compass. What I hadn’t expected was that the troop my sons joined didn’t accept my adult application. As it turned out, the Scoutmaster explained to me that the troop actually has more registered adult volunteers than Scouts! I can’t disagree: The last thing a patrol needs is a gang of adults tagging along on a hike or camp-out!

So what are my options? All the other troops in the area meet on the same night, so volunteering with another troop would be logistically difficult if not impossible. Maybe I could help at the district level? (Temporarily “Homeless” Scouter)

There’s a District Training Chair out there who’d love to hear from you! Seriously, track down your district’s DE or Training Chair, and step up!
Dear Andy,

Where is the Cub Scout “Cyber Chip” patch worn? Internet searches have yielded nothing on patch placement for it. (Dana, DL)

Centered on the right pocket, or anywhere on the Cub Scout red “patch vest.”
Dear Andy,

My husband is a “Scoutaholic.” In turn, for all his hard work he’s received seven Eagle Mentor pins. He likes to wear them with pride on his left pocket, but it’s getting a little crowded and I don’t like all the holes they’re making in his shirt when I have to remove them to wash it. Do you know of anything I could put his Mentor pins on that could be easily removed for washing, but not directly on the shirt? I’m thinking of maybe something like the old-fashioned “mother’s ribbons” that I made back in the day, to display our sons’ rank pins. Thanks! (Lori Knapp)

Well here’s the really weird part… Those Mentor pins aren’t designed for uniform wear. That’s right: The BSA specifies that they’re for “civvies” only. Yes, I know that most Scouters who receive one from a Scout do pin them on their shirts, and I also know there’s supposed to be no such thing as the “Patch Police.” But I’m obliged, as a working Commissioner, to tell you the truth as it stands and not “wink” at “unofficial” stuff.

So, since the classic Scout/Scouter red wool jac-shirt is an “accessory” and not a uniform or part thereof, how about getting your husband one for his next birthday (or other special occasion)? That’s a place where he can wear those pins with duly deserved pride (and, since those jac-shirts are dry-cleaned maybe once a year, HE can de-pin and re-pin instead of YOU!)
Dear Andy,

If a patrol wants to do an activity on their own, outside of the troop, like going on a patrol hike or campout, or having a patrol meeting at one of the Scouts’ homes or back yards, what liabilities do they need to address so that they’re covered by BSA safe Scouting policies? (Charlie Brader, Greater St. Louis Area Council, MO)

The Guide To Safe Scouting permits this—just a quick read will get them where they need to be! One way is for two troop adults or parents to go along on an overnight but set up their tent, cooking area, etc. APART from the patrol. For day hikes, the Scouts can do this and maintain cellphone contact. As for in-town patrol meetings, these are no problem at all! Here are the main operative guidelines:

“All Scouts registered in Boy Scout troops are eligible to participate in troop or patrol overnight campouts, camporees, and resident camps… There are instances, such as patrol activities, when the presence of adult leaders is not required and adult leadership may be limited to patrol leadership training and guidance. With proper training, guidance, and approval by troop leaders, the patrol can conduct day hikes and service projects… A Boy Scout patrol may participate in patrol activities with the permission of its Scoutmaster and parents/guardians… Appropriate adult leadership must be present for all overnight Scouting activities… A minimum of two registered adult leaders, or one registered leader and a participating Scout’s parent, or another adult are required for all trips and outings. One of these adults must be 21 years of age or older… All Scouting activities should apply the ‘Sweet 16 of BSA Safety’.”
Dear Andy,

My son is in a Webelos I den this year and attends a Catholic school that sponsors the pack. This year he became an altar server. He performs his altar serving duty for both his individual class masses during the week and the community masses on the weekends. He’s just received a certificate and pin of completion for the altar serving program. Now, his Den Leader is not allowing him to wear his altar server pin on his uniform, stating that “the BSA and our pack do not allow boys to wear pins, badges, etc. that aren’t BSA-approved.” Is this really the case, or is this something that’s at the Den Leader’s (or the pack’s) discretion? Wouldn’t altar serving fall under Scouting’s “duty to God” principle and, as such, shouldn’t he be allowed to wear his pin on his uniform? The language in the “Special Regulations” is a bit fuzzy on this. (Name & Council Withheld)

Yup, your son’s Den Leader has it right: There’s indeed a very “non-fuzzy” BSA policy that non-BSA patches, pins, and so forth don’t go on the uniform. That said, I’m delighted to let you know that the BSA offers a red “patch vest” for Cub/Webelos Scouts (and beyond—go here to see ’em: where a pin like this and other patches and paraphernalia (Scout and non-Scout) can be placed and worn proudly at den meetings, pack meetings, and outings too! The vests cost only $14.99, so show these to your son’s Den Leader and suggest that every boy in the den acquire one! They’re fun, and they’re a great keepsake after your son moves on to Boy Scouting!
Hi Andy,

I’m hoping you can clarify a few things for myself and a couple of other leaders in our pack. Our committee includes a Chair and a treasurer (husband and wife), and…Cubmaster. We used to have a secretary and an advancement coordinator on the committee, but the husband and wife “team” dropped both of them. So now, in addition to these two, Cubmaster participates in making all committee-level decisions. In the research I’ve done, my impression is that the Cubmaster isn’t supposed to simultaneously be on the committee or make committee-type decisions. Any advice on whether or not what these three are doing is okay? (Name & Council Withheld)

This is a bit of a mess… Of course, we know that Cubmasters aren’t simultaneously “committee members”—that’s what we learned when we took position-specific training! (They all did get trained, yes?)

The committee includes the Chair, secretary, advancement coordinator, treasurer, etc., etc. The committee supports the Cubmaster and Den Leaders as they carry out the pack’s program. (They need to get trained, too!)

You all need to start pulling together in the same direction, as a team. Keep this in mind: Your single objective is to deliver the best Cub Scout program to your sons as you all possibly can, and it’s unlikely this can happen when there’s a triumvirate running the show.

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. 474 – 2/16/2016 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2016]


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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