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Issue 502 – October 11, 2016

Dear Andy,

My son is working on Camping merit badge and I’m wondering if there’s any guidance as far as what constitutes “planning and carrying out a snow camping experience.” Is the goal specifically pitching a tent and sleeping when there is an accumulation of snow on the ground? Or being prepared to handle cold/freezing weather and whatever snow may fall during a campout? Thanks! (Jodi)

Good question! The best answer will come from a conversation between your son and his Camping Merit Badge Counselor. This can be done via phone call or—better—in-person at their next get-together. (Please pass our conversation along to your son, so that he can get his answer and take change of that requirement for himself.)
Hi Andy,

I know that two elective activities are required for Webelos and three elective activities for Arrow of Light. If a Webelos Scout completes all the other requirements for both Webelos and for Arrow of Light, can he then complete three electives and have those three apply to both Webelos (two electives) and Arrow of Light (the first two, plus one more), or does he need to complete a total of five electives to earn these two ranks? (Jill)

Thanks for double-checking! The answer is a minimum of five (5) completed in total for these two ranks—2 for Webelos and then 3 different ones for Arrow of Light—with the option to do even more, if the Scout elects to.
Hi Andy,

I’m having a difficult time keeping our older Scouts interested in our troop meetings. They’re bored and I feel like we’re losing their interest. Our troop has a wide age-range: from 11 to 17. My personal challenge is to help guide our meetings to be more interesting, thereby getting these older Scouts more involved. Any ideas? Thanks! (Steve Kopezna, SM, Suffolk County Council, NY)

First, don’t feel alone–this frequently happens!

How about you and a designated Assistant Scoutmaster (maybe one whose son is one of these older Scouts?) sit down and meet with these Scouts, and ask them what they’d like to be doing? Maybe some would like to focus on wrapping up their Life or Eagle requirements? Maybe some would like more, or less, leadership involvement with the troop? Maybe they’d like to form a Venture Patrol among themselves, and arrange some special “high adventure”-oriented trips that just this patrol does? Maybe they’d like to get more involved in the Order of the Arrow lodge or chapter events (assuming they’ve been elected to the OA, of course)? I think the key is to listen to them carefully and then work out a plan (that they own!), and then assign an ASM to them, for guidance and possible logistics.
Dear Andy,

In our troop, we have a particularly challenging Scout. In addition to having parents who are regularly in and out of jail (he’s essentially being raised by his grandparents), he also displays signs of ADHD (or something like it). He’s constantly trying to be the center of attention; he encourages his fellow Scouts to follow his lead, and that’s when the trouble starts. Recently, on a camping trip, he got several Scouts to wear moss as “wigs.” On another trip, he took off his shirt and rolled in the grass until he was covered with chigger bites. We’ve appointed a more senior Scout to be his mentor, but this hasn’t fixed the problem. I’m open to any ideas or suggestions! (SM slowly losing mind)

I understand the problem… First questions: Is this Scout in a patrol and does the troop use The Patrol Method? (If not, then this needs to be put in place.) If so, then I think a three-way conversation between the Scoutmaster, the Senior Patrol Leader, and this Scout’s own Patrol Leader needs to happen. Put the issue on the table—it’s the “elephant in the kitchen”—so that everyone’s willing to discuss it openly. See of the two youth leaders can come up with a possible solution. Maybe it’s giving this Scout one or more specific responsibilities that are within his capabilities and at the same time will “stretch” him a bit.

Keep in mind that moss-as-a-wig is more goofy than actually damaging (except to the moss) and rolling around in chigger territory provides a lesson of its own!

So, for instance, maybe he needs to be the troop’s “morale officer” who indeed comes up with silly but harmless ideas that let these boys be boys and not “perfect little Scouts.”

One thing I’d STOP doing right away is assigning a “babysitter” to him—that’s unfair to the babysitter and will be completely transparent to the “problem Scout”—who may not be such a problem if his energy can be channeled!
Dear Andy,

We have a growing troop and though it’s still immature, it’s becoming more seasoned every month. A large part of that is due to a few of us new leaders who’ve been Scouts and now Scouters since we were boys ourselves. As a result, we, the adult leaders, completely understand that our troop absolutely must be Scout-led and grounded in The Patrol Method.

One of our Assistant Scoutmasters owns a 300-acre plot, with fields and a forest, and even a creek and four-acre pond! On it, he’s given permission for our troop to carve out a ten-acre area complete with a centrally located campsite (with pavilion) for adult leaders, and four separate patrol campsites separated from each other by about 120 or so feet.

Our maiden campout on this property is coming up soon, and everything seems perfect…except for one concern I have. There’s also a nice cabin (basically, a house) on the property, but not in or adjacent to the ten acres, that the adult leaders want to use instead of setting up their own campsite near the on-site pavilion.

Though I’d personally love to be in a cabin with four other great guys, I feel it would be much better for the adults to at least be within earshot of the patrol sites. Essentially, it’s a safety concern. Am I being overprotective of the Scouts, or am I on the right track here? (Troy Shively, Shippensburg, PA)

These Scouts deserve and need an adult presence nearby—at least two adult leaders, per YP guidelines—not in a closed cabin somewhere. Even if the cabin is “within earshot” of the patrol sites, with its doors and windows closed, you’re all at a disadvantage. So no, you’re not being overprotective”—you’re being diligent and vigilant.

Take a second look at Norman Rockwell’s “Scoutmaster” painting… He’s right there, with the Scouts he’s responsible for!

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. 502 – 10/11/2016 – 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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