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Issue 499 – August 30, 2016

In my previous column (Issue 498—August 16th) a parent had written about her son, a Life Scout, who was told that work on his project for Eagle “must have Scouts as helpers” and “a troop leader must be present to observe how well he leads his project.” I replied that there’s no BSA stipulation making it mandatory that there be project helpers who are Scouts, and there’s absolutely no stipulation that demands adult unit volunteers be present specifically for the purpose of observing the Scout’s “leadership” of the project. As a result, quite a few folks wrote in (special thanks to Matt Culbertson and Wayne Huddleston!), pointing out that the “Sweet 16 of Safety” definitely applies to projects for Eagle rank and that indeed there needs to be “two-deep (adult) leadership” on such projects because they’re considered “unit activities.”

Yes, adult presence for safety assurance is definitely required, and the GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT as well as the GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING provide the guidelines for this (including how to apply “two-deep leadership”). That affirmed, the crux of the question wasn’t from a safety standpoint; it was about an adult “troop leader” being present to “judge” the Scout’s “leadership.” So here’s the bottom line as far as I’m concerned: Safety standards by all means, but nuts on the notion of “leadership watchdogs” at projects for Eagle.
Dear Andy,

Is it appropriate for a council’s Scout Executive to deny a unit-level adult volunteer membership in the BSA, after the chartered organization has already signed off because the person at question has been known by members of the organization for several decades and is generally considered a pillar of our community? Upon denial of membership, neither this person nor any of us associated with either the chartered organization or the unit itself (I’m the unit’s Committee Chair) was provided with any alert or substantiation related to the denial. Is this allowed? (Name & Council Withheld)

For any adult volunteer to be summarily removed from or denied BSA membership is pretty weird. There are usually only two reasons why this can happen: Significant violation of youth protection policies or criminal activity. There are no other reasons that I’m aware of that can trigger a summary dismissal; however, I’m neither a council officer nor BSA professional nor attorney.

If I were in your shoes, the first person I’d want to speak with is of course the volunteer himself or herself. There’s a chance they may understand what’s happened, and why, and it’s to be left alone if they want to leave things as they are and not discuss it further—in which case, you’ll need to find a new volunteer and that’ll be pretty much the end of the story here.

If, however, this person believes there are no grounds for this action and wishes to pursue a reinstatement, then it’s definitely appropriate to reach out to your council president immediately. You and he or she may want to do this by phone to begin with, and that may be all that’s needed. If that’s not successful, then it’s time to do this in writing, possibly with a copy to your Area Commissioner as well.
Dear Andy,

Our Presbyterian church is in search of denomination pastors, elders, or officers who can work with a Cub Scout on his God & Me religious emblem. The pack this family (who are members of our church) is involved with, with their son, is chartered by a United Methodist church, so this is why we need someone at a high level in our denomination. Unfortunately, our pastors are at the moment unavailable to work with this boy, so we’re looking at other options for him. Can you provide any guidance for us? (Administrative Assistant to the Pastors)

Although it’s disappointing that no pastor is available at the moment, the good news is that laity can do this! Here’s what P.R.A.Y. ( has to say: “ADULT MENTOR PROGRAM. Parents have the option of enrolling in the God and Me Adult Mentor Program. In this program, the parent is an active learning participant alongside the child. The parent would have lessons and projects to complete in the Mentor Workbook just like the child, and then both parent and child would work on the student curriculum together. The mentor program is designed to provide the adult with additional opportunities to model his or her Christian faith and to help a young child talk about his or her belief in God.”

All that’s needed is for one or two parents to say, “Yes, I’d love to do this!” and it can happen. (I’m recommending two parents because it’s always more enjoyable when you’re sharing something like this, and it also means that the program can continue to move forward even if one of the two is unavailable at a scheduled meeting time.)
Hi Andy,

Since when has it been the rule that a CR (Chartered Organization Representative) can appoint or remove unit leaders? I thought that was a troop committee function. (Name & Council Withheld)

Yup, it’s true… check page 2 of the BSA Adult Volunteer Application. The CR actually does have “hire-fire” authority, subject only to approval by the head (“Executive Officer” on the charter renewal documents) of the chartered organization. One reason for possible confusion is that the CR position is the only one that can be a “double-register” in the same unit (most often being the CR-CC combo).
Dear Andy,

I’m looking for information on the history of the different awards for commissioners and also any current updates on requirements. Can you help me? Gracias! (Hector Velez, DC, Puerto Rico Council)

Good news! The Commissioner section of the BSA’s website lists all available commissioner recognitions and the requirements for each. (De nada!)
Hi Andy,

I’m looking for the current BSA definition of “active” as it relates to Boy Scout rank advancement. Can you give me a heads-up on this? (Tad Davis)

The best description of “active” can be found in the BSA’s 2015 GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT. Check out Topic
Hi Andy,

I’ve got a question about the requirement in Citizenship in the Community, where I’d do 8 hours of service time and how that lines up with the Star rank requirement of 6 service hours. Can I do the 8 hours of service for Cit-Community and count it for the Star requirement too? I’d also like to know when doing the Citizenship in the Community, does the organization have to be a non-profit organization, and how do you know if they’re non-profit or not? Is a “charitable organization” the same as non-profit? (Kevin, First Class Scout)

Good questions! Take a look at the exact language of Cit-Community req. 7(c). Not only will what you choose to do get approved ahead of time by both your Merit Badge Counselor and your parents, but you’ll be doing it along with other requirements for Cit-Community that relate to it. Then, assuming you’re working toward Star rank at precisely the same time (something that doesn’t always line up so nicely), your intended service for the rank’s requirement gets approved by somebody else…your Scoutmaster, for the rank. But, let’s say they do line up. Since the BSA doesn’t subscribe to the notion of “make-work” (that is, work that only serves to keep someone busy), it’s entirely likely that you’ll be able to get approval from all three people.

On your second question, a “charitable organization” and a “not-for-profit organization” are the same: Neither one is a commercial or for-profit business. You can discuss which specific organizations fit this definition in a conversation with your Merit Badge Counselor. (An easy way to tell is to use a search engine and find the organization’s URL. If it’s a “dot-com” it’s a business; if it’s a “dot-org” or a “dot-edu” it’s likely (but not guaranteed) a not-for-profit.

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. 499 – 8/30/2016 – 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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