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Issue 480 – March 29, 2016

Dear Andy,

Do we have to have at least one CPR-certified person if we’re taking a troop on an overnight camp-out? I can’t find any reference that says if it’s required or not. (Name & Council Withheld)

It’s not required, but it’s sure a good idea if you have someone with this training. (If not, maybe some of your adult volunteers and older Scouts can sign up for this with your town’s rescue squad or other CPR training resource?)
Hi Andy,

How is “camping” defined? This question comes up over and over. Most units probably take it to mean sleeping overnight outdoors in a tent, hammock, or just on the ground (i.e., “under the stars”), and wouldn’t consider sleeping in a cabin as counting. (I think in the past, when you’ve written about camping, you’ve pretty much defined it this way.)

But now, looking at the new Second Class and First Class rank requirements 1a, it looks like camping can include sleeping in a cabin. Here’s what it now says for First Class: “Since joining, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, six of which include overnight camping… On at least five of the six campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).”

So five have to be in a tent or structure the Scout puts up. This leaves the question: What can the sixth be? Can it be sleeping in a tent someone else pitched? On the ground? Hammock? And what about a cabin? It seems as if a night in a cabin can now count.

Given this new requirement language, how should the “old” requirement be handled? This is important because many Scouts will be finishing up their Second Class or First Class ranks in 2016 still under the old requirements. It might be kind of hard to argue with someone who feels cabin camping counts under the old, maybe even for all of the required campouts.

I’m sure the BSA altered this requirement as a way to help clarify for everyone what “camping” means. The BSA probably meant that under the old requirements, even though a tent or other structure wasn’t specifically mentioned. And, as you’ve said many times, they can’t state everything and some things should be obvious without saying so. But again, since the old requirements said nothing about camping being in a tent, it might be kind of hard to now argue with someone who feels cabin camping counts under the old requirements. Any further thoughts on this little wrinkle? (Name & Council Withheld)

If “Occam’s razor” doesn’t work try this: You can’t have it both ways. Use the old requirements—exactly as written—or use the new requirements if just starting out; but don’t attempt the “blend” the two.
Dear Andy,

I’m hoping you can help me with a major problem I am having. I just came home from a troop parent meeting and I am almost in tears because I just found out that the troop my son joined isn’t running the program the way the founder, Baden-Powell, envisioned. My son joined a troop that he loved and was having so much fun learning the Boy Scout way. But then the Scoutmaster was told to step down, with no discussion or parents’ input at all! When a parent approached the man who essentially “fired” the Scoutmaster and questioned this, that parent was told that the one who did this “didn’t care” what anyone thought! I’m taking that to mean he didn’t care about Boy Scouts, he didn’t care about our program, he didn’t care about our concerns, he didn’t care about following the Boy Scout Handbook, and he didn’t care about my or anyone else’s son.

Why are people who don’t care about the program allowed in Boy Scouts? Why are people who’ve lost their zeal allowed in Boy Scouts? Why are people who no longer believe in the Oath, Law, and Motto allowed in Boy Scouts? Why are people who aren’t interested in keeping our children safe allowed in Boy Scouts? Why are people who aren’t interested in preserving our children’s innocence allowed in Boy Scouts?

How do I tell my son, who wants to be an Eagle Scout, that the Scouting Oath and Law no longer exist and he shouldn’t pursue his dream? I am in tears because I don’t understand how following the rules, and calling people out for not following the rules, is a bad thing. This incident has made me question everything I believe in about Scouting. (Name & Council Withheld)

The Scouting spirit is far from dead! It’s not “The BSA” that has caused the problem you’re describing; it’s the people in that particular troop who are the problem, and their actions are governed by their Chartered Organization (a church, a school, etc.), which has been authorized by the BSA to carry out the Scouting program, including “vetting” and monitoring the adult volunteers associated with that troop. Moreover, Scouting has no “exclusive” on “dirty politics”—this exists in business, not-for-profits, education, sports, and in fact any human endeavor where more than one person is involved (it even exists in some families).

I’m terribly sorry that you’re feeling so awful about what happened, but I can promise you it’s not hopeless or “the end of the world” and it’s certainly not the “end of Scouting” for your son!

You’ve told me the area you live in, and I’ve given you the contact information for the local BSA council that serves your area, including the name and contact information for the professional Scouting individuals who can help you.

You son is free to join any troop he wishes, without restriction of any kind. He can also transfer from one troop to another if he’s unhappy in the troop he’s in, and this isn’t called “quitting” because boys are truly Scouting’s very first “volunteers.” So go to the website I gave you and do a little research on other troops in your area, and then go visit them. Find one that looks pretty much okay (none will be “perfect”) and then transfer your son. Yes, you might have to drive a little farther, but it’s not about that—it’s about working to get your son the very best Scouting experience available.
Hi Andy,

The article below appeared in our local newspaper, and has me puzzled. Can you clarify when Scouts are able to raise money for another organization? This seems to be a very confusing topic, judging from the number of comments that I see in Scout-related Internet sites.

I know that my own sons and many other Scouts have raised funds to complete an Eagle project. In those cases, they’re raising money to buy materiel for the project. They then use volunteers to add value and complete the project, and we know this must be for an organization other than Scouting. But in the case described in this article, it appears that the troop held a fundraiser to raise money for a non-Scout entity so that that organization could then purchase a needed item. Their intentions were pure, and they provided a great service to the residents of their town. But was this correct?

What guidelines apply in this case? Online, I see applications and FAQs about raising funds for the unit, but not about raising money for outside organizations (like Eagle project beneficiaries and law enforcement entities).

Here’s the article (names deleted)…

“An (anytown) police dog will soon be sporting a bullet- and stab-proof vest, thanks to (Org. Name), a (state)-based nonprofit and the fund-raising efforts of a Boy Scout troop. (The police dog) will receive the vest in eight to ten weeks. (Scout’s name) of Boy Scout Troop X, hosted a fund-raiser to get the vest.”

So what does the BSA say about when it’s okay to raise money for a non-BSA organization? (Name & Council Withheld)

That would be never. The BSA is crystal-clear on this. The BSA Rules & Regulations regarding fund-raising, Article XI, Section 1, Clause 2 states that BSA youth members “shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors*…in support of other** organizations.” (* “solicitors” means fund-raisers) (** “other” means non-BSA)

This doesn’t limit Scouting families, separately from their contributions to Scouting via the council’s Friends of Scouting or other programs, to independently donate to “other organizations”—they can do so as their interests and finances permit. But their sons, as Scouts, absolutely don’t “raise money” for any organization other than their troop and their council (e.g., popcorn sales, etc.). If a Scout wishes to donate his own personal money to an organization, he’s of course permitted to do this as he sees fit (e.g., his school’s band, football team, etc., or his place of worship, etc.), and he can participate in school-wide and church-wide fund-raisers, as a student or church member; but not as a Scout.

In the same vein, Scout troops and pack don’t raise money for organizations other than their own or their local BSA council, anymore than Red Cross volunteers raise money for the American Cancer Society (or vice-versa).
Ben Ward, ADC, from the Heart of Virginia Council-BSA, alerted me on a new BSA decision that we all need to be aware of…

There’s been a lot of interest in some new activities, specifically Bubbleball, Knockerball™, Zorbing, Battle Ball™, bubble soccer or football, and similar orb activities where participants run into each other or roll around on land or water. So, much, in fact, that the BSA national risk management committee has taken a very serious look at these activities, and the very next online revision of the BSA GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING will be making this statement:

“Bubbleball, Knockerball™, Zorbing, Battle Ball™, bubble soccer or football, and similar orb activities where participants run into each other or roll around on land or water has been reviewed and is now unauthorized.” (underline mine)

Let’s all keep our Scouts safe!

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. 480 – 3/29/2016 – 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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