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Issue 498 – August 16, 2016

In my previous column (No. 497 – August 3rd), Jim Byers asked, “In Venturing and Sea Scouts, if you have a coed group on an overnight outing, you need both a male and a female adult leader. Okay so far, but then what’s the reasoning that says a Boy Scout troop (or team) can go on an overnight with two female adult leaders and no male adult leader?”

Among follow-up reader comments came this, from Ken King: “This was discussed at VenturingFest just this past week, with the BSA’s National Venturing Director, Jessica Ayala. She agreed with the inconsistency and plans to seek an adjustment. She will be meeting with the BSA Youth Protection decision-makers in Texas on this issue, which is recognized as a ‘double standard.’ No official change has taken place yet, but it’s likely to happen soon.” So stay tuned, folks…
Hi Andy,

I’m searching for a “Proud Parent” ribbon—the “old” style of a single red-white-blue ribbon attached to a gold “Proud Parent” bar-and-clasp (not the current neck ribbon) to match my other son’s, who is an Eagle Scout. Do you know of anywhere to find/buy one? (Nancy Routt)

What you’re apparently looking for is now pretty much an “antique”… The BSA’s catalog doesn’t show that style anymore. However, I did spot one on eBay and the seller is looking for twenty bucks for it, including the attached rank pins. I think I’d wander around a bit more before springing for that one, but at least you know you can find a match for the one you have for your older son.
(This letter was written in the spring 2016)
Dear Andy,

Our son’s Eagle project has been approved: It has the four signatures required to get start the project. He’s also secured all the materials he’ll need through donations and by going to businesses and friends. He’s now ready to confirm a date with his beneficiary to carry out the project with his beneficiary. But it’s baseball season and it’s also very busy time of the year when school year is ending, weekend camping, Scout fundraiser weekend, summer Scout camp, and the list goes on! So he proposed a couple of dates that looked like they might work to his Life-to-Eagle Coach, but she told him that those dates wouldn’t work because the troop already has planned activities on those same dates. She did follow this up with a list of dates when the troop is available, because he must have Scouts as helpers, and also told him that a troop leader must be present to observe how well he leads his project.

He’d like to pick a date and time that would work for the helpers he’s planning on, which include teammates, classmates, friends, and neighbors; if some Scouts are available, that would be fine by him, but he doesn’t see how this would be “mandatory.” The same applies to adult troop leaders: They don’t need to “observe” him as he leads his team.

We’ve done some checking in the BSA GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT—Topic and discovered that not only doesn’t he have to have Scouts as helpers, he doesn’t have to have troop leader “overseers,” either. In fact, the GTE confirms that, so long as he has a minimum of two helpers (“Helpers may be involved in Scouting or not and any age appropriate for the work”) he’s perfectly “legal.” (Do I have that right?)

Our son was planning to have at least 10 to 15 helpers and he’s confident he can lead his project without any so-called “observers.” This means that the date doesn’t have to be one on which his troop and a troop leader are available, yes? Or would it be wiser to have a scout leader there so he/she can see his leadership skills and to make sure no one takes his leadership from him? Would it be easier for his board of review if an adult troop leader has witnessed his work? Couldn’t he just include in his report how he demonstrated his leadership and then just field questions at his board of review? Thanks! (Scout parents)

Yes, you’re 100% correct and the lady associated with the troop is not. There’s no BSA stipulation for this Eagle requirement making it mandatory that there be project helpers who are Scouts, and there’s absolutely no stipulation that demands an adult unit volunteer be present for the purpose of “observing” the scout’s “leadership.” (Moreover, no individual, unit, district, or council can alter any BSA requirement, regardless of purported “reason” or “rationale.”)

This is where your son and his fellow Life Scouts in the troop need an “advocate”—an Eagle Project Coach who can stand up for a Scout who’s confronted with stuff like this. (When a Scout—a minor—must deal with an adult of this type, it’s sorta like bringin’ a knife to a gun fight. Scouts need adult support to help make sure things are done the way they’re supposed to be done and not the way one person might want, just “because.”)
Hi Andy,

We have a Scout in our troop who only comes to meetings and events because his dad, an adult volunteer, makes him come. Dad proudly tells people that if his son doesn’t “do Scouting,” he’ll find him something to do that he’ll like even less (i.e., find a way to “punish” the kid for not participating in something he dislikes). Scouting just isn’t this boy’s “thing.” Yes, he’s advancing, but only because he’s forced to from the home front (“or else!” I’m guessing). He’s never gone out of his way to help another Scout learn a skill; he’s been uncooperative when directed by adults. He just doesn’t want to be there! I feel badly for this boy. I’m also not enchanted by the fact that he’ll do the requirements for Eagle without having the real desire of his own to learn what makes a true Eagle—instead, it’s just stuff he has to do to make his father happy. When a parent like this dad has his son doing a “Bataan Death March” through Scouting just for the glory it brings to himself, and his son doesn’t give a darn except that it’s what Dad wants, what do we do? (Frustrated Scoutmaster)

It’s a really tough situation for a boy, when his father is doing something like this—probably with the best of intentions, but not really in the best interests of his son. I’d suggest a quiet, personal (but “in public”) Scoutmaster’s conference with this young man… Try to learn from him what his actual interests are, where he’d rather be, what he’d actually prefer doing. Maybe it’s sports, or a club at his school, or something else. Whatever it is, do your best to get him to talk about it. Avoid what he “doesn’t like” about Scouts—that’s not where you want to steer the conversation. Then, if you can “peel the onion” and get to what he’d prefer to be doing, ask him if he’d be okay with your talking with his father about this, on his behalf (I hope you get a “yes”!). (This will take kindness, willingness to listen, and some skill in getting the boy to talk. Remember that he doesn’t want to “disappoint” his father, but at the same time he’s torn.)

Next step: Have a separate private conversation with this dad. Candidly, tell him you’ve spoken with his son and learned what the boy is really interested in. Then, gently, ask the father if he’d be willing to consider making a change and help his son pursue what the boy would really rather be doing. Let him know that his son is always welcome back, but maybe it’s time to allow the boy to pursue his own interests—and Dad can help him get started.

Obviously, this may or may not work. But I think it’s worth a shot, for the sake of the boy.
Hi Andy,

Can a Life Scout do a maintenance update of a pre-existing Eagle Scout project? We have a Life Scout who wants to repair-replace the roping on an existing rope bridge that was an Eagle Scout project from several years back that needs some “rehab” work. He wouldn’t be replacing the brackets securing the ropes to the trees; he’d simply be replacing the rope as it has deteriorated over the last five years (when the original Scout built the bridge). Or would this be more of a troop-wide service project? (Joan Ballard)

This is one that the Scout himself needs to discuss with his Eagle Advisor or Eagle Project Coach (if his troop has one of these), and certainly a member of your district’s advancement committee. Whether it was a former Eagle service project isn’t necessarily relevant…pro or con. What’s important are: is it needed, is it of sufficient magnitude, and will it provide an opportunity to demonstrate leadership of others. If it’s yes to these three essential issues, the likelihood is high that it will qualify. If not, then it’s absolutely a great troop service project!

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. 498 – 8/16/2016 – 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.

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