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Issue 492 – June 21, 2016

Hi, Andy,

I have a question about the Camping National Outdoor Award that you probably have addressed before, and I’m not sure where else to go. I have done an internet search, but have not found a source to answer the question.

I understand the definition of “under the auspices of Scouting,” and the definition and process for counting the 20 days/nights of camping for the Camping merit badge. Does the process of counting nights for the Camping National Outdoor Award continue the same as for the merit badge? For example, if a Scout has earned Camping MB, and goes on a backpacking trek under the auspices of Scouting during which he spends ten nights under the stars, can he still only count two of those (or is it four?) nights toward the Camping National Outdoor Award, or can he count all ten? (Bob Fales, ASM, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)

Here’s the whole deal:

Everything’s explained in detail. If you have any problems with the language, use Occam’s Razor and assume the simplest explanation is the right one.

Hi again Andy,

Yes, I’ve read that page plus several others that are official and unofficial BSA blogs/publications. Let’s start with these premises: All nights camping will be done “under the auspices of Scouting,” and “nights of camping” will mean under the stars or in a tent or other structure that the Scout has erected himself or helped to erect with another Scout, except for traditional BSA summer camp where the tent has already been erected.

Now, I think that at least part of my confusion may come from the pairing of Camping merit badge with the Camping National Outdoor Award (NOA). Two blogs by “Bryan on Scouting” detail how to define nights of camping for the Camping merit badge:

For Camping merit badge, only five or six nights from one long-term camp (long-term=at least five nights) may be counted toward the required 20 nights, and all the rest must come from short-term camping, that is, campouts planned for four nights or fewer. All 20 could come from short-term camping, but one long-term camp (e.g., BSA summer camp [as long as not in a building]) of five or six nights is allowed.

So now let’s shift gears to the Camping NOA (slightly edited for brevity): Earn First Class rank, earn Camping merit badge, earn any two of Cooking, First Aid, or Pioneering merit badges. Now here’s the sticky part: Complete 25 days and nights of camping, including six consecutive days (five nights) of camping, including nights camped as part of requirements 1 through 3 above. Boy Scouts must complete six consecutive days (five nights) of the 25 nights at a BSA accredited resident camp.

Let’s look closer at that last one. The camping must include one long-term session at a BSA accredited resident camp. Now the real issue: How do we count the five nights beyond the 20 required for Camping merit badge, and all subsequent nights for gold (each additional 25 nights beyond the first 25) and silver (each 100 nights beyond the first 25) awards. Must those nights be counted as for Camping merit badge, that is, only short-term camps beyond one long-term camp? Or are we now free to count all nights of camping, regardless of short-term or long-term, including additional nights at a “BSA accredited resident camp.”

Try as I might, I can’t find an official BSA-sanctioned publication, website, or blog that addresses this question. Any help is appreciated. Thanks. (Bob Fales)

Simple: Since there’s no mention of “short-term” camping for the NOA, count all nights. Again, Occam’s Razor (otherwise, you’ll get tangled up in your own knickers!)

Thanks, Andy. I’d suspected as much, but wanted an “official” opinion. (Bob Fales)

Whoa! “Official” is above my personal pay-grade; I’m a volunteer just like you. I’ve learned, however, in the 16 years of answering questions and writing these columns that the simplest “interpretation” is the correct one in 99.9% of all cases.
Greetings Andy,

I recently accepted the position of the CR and committee chair (for now) for our troop and Scouting program. In an attempt to clean-up the registrations for our unit and chartered organization, as the CR I contacted our council through our District Executive to ask that adult unit volunteers who were no longer serving on the committee or no loner involved with the troop be removed from the unit’s roster so that the official roster and charter information would be accurate and properly reflect the current committee and other adult volunteers. However, the D.E. told me that these changes couldn’t be made until next year’s re-charter time.

That seems ludicrous to me. It not only creates an inaccurate representation of our adult volunteer count but it also impacts our “stats”—such as the designations of who is correctly trained for his or her position, who’s completed YPT, and so forth. The D.E. further told me that unless the individuals who had left and are no longer in contact with the troop filled out a new application with a new position code, these individuals would remain on our roster.

Obviously, we can’t ask folks who left the troop to fill out more paperwork or take training (to what end, if they’ve left?). It also seems odd that the council would want a unit roster that they know is completely flawed. Additionally, two of the individuals who left the troop were the previously listed CR and the former CC, who stepped down.

But, for some reason when the paperwork was processed for the new CR/CC, the council automatically converted those who had previously held those positions to the same positions they’d once held, despite to fact that these people are no longer a part of the unit or chartered organization and no current application for them in these positions had ever been created or signed. This is completely puzzling. Can you offer any guidance or help? (Name & Council Withheld)

D.E.’s, despite what they may think, don’t necessarily know all the in’s and out’s of stuff like this. But council registrars do! So here’s how to do what you want to accomplish, as related to me by my home council’s registrar…

First, pick up the phone and call your council registrar (he or she will be listed on your council’s website under “Contact Us”). Introduce yourself, your position as CR and the sponsor you’re representing. Tell the registrar that you want to clean some “dead wood” out of the “adult” portion of your troop’s roster, and that you’ll be sending an email with the names that should be removed (yes, the council does need this in writing, and an email is sufficient). Then send the email to the registrar, with the names you’d like to have removed from the roster.

Now the computer that this will be entered in is a workhorse of a different color. The names just “removed” will still show on the roster, but they’ll be there with an “expired” date. Don’t worry about that—computers are simply like that, sometimes.

Then, when your end-of-year re-chartering documents are produced, those names should be gone, and that’s that!
Dear Andy,

I’m a new parent to Boy Scouting and trying to get familiar with the 2016 requirements. Can you help me with the requirements for camping to reach First Class rank? There seem to be a couple of different opinions regarding the statement, “participate in ten separate troop/patrol activities, six of which include overnight camping” (Handbook, page 445). Based on this, does a Scout need six different campouts or six nights of camping? In other words, would three campouts with two nights each, meet the requirement, or would this example only account for three of the six? (Clint, Castle Rock, CO)

That requirement isn’t about “nights”—It’s about activities, or, in another word, events. A one-night campout is one event. A two-night campout is one event. A one-night campout plus a two-night campout totals two events. And so it goes…
Dear Andy,

I am taking over our council’s Venturing committee. I know that YPT applies to emails and text communications as well as face-to-face conversations. Is there a simple explanation of this to share with our new officers, and are there any recommendations or best practices that could but in place to build a climate of safe communication? (Howie Barnes)

The general YP rule is simple: Don’t engage in one-on-one contact or communications between one adult and one minor. Personally, the method I’ve followed for years, for both emails and texts, as a Merit Badge Counselor and also when I receive letters to this column sent by youth (under age 18) is straightforward. When I’m responding to an email, I simply Cc a trusted third party and then ask the original sender to Cc a parent or other adult if communicating further.

For phone calls from minors, my wife is usually nearby, so I’ll ask her to stay in the room until the call is completed.

As an MBC, some years ago I was working separately with two Scouts whose parents were unable to be present at our meetings and my wife wasn’t home, and they weren’t working with a “buddy.” So, for Scout #1, we met in the town’s public library, and, for Scout #2, we sat on my front porch in full view of our neighbors.

This is probably more than you need, but some of it may help when the inescapable “What if…?” comes up.

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. 492 – 6/21/2016 – 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.

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