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Issue 520 – March 7, 2017

Dear Andy,

Can the Hunter Safety certification count for the Rifle Shooting merit badge requirements 2K and 2L? (Alison Sunderland)

The very best answer to your question will be from a qualified and currently registered Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Counselor.

Thanks, Andy. I found and spoke with a Merit Badge Counselor about this, and he advised me that, here in Utah, the Hunter Safety certification doesn’t fulfill those requirements for Rifle Shooting, but it does fulfill the “know the hunting laws in your state” requirement (Section 1F). (Alison Sunderland)

I’m delighted that you’ve not only got a solid answer but you’ve also connected with a knowledgeable counselor.
Hi Andy,

We’re coming along very nicely as a Wolf den. I know that, in our Tiger year, parents played an integral part, and weren’t just dropping off their sons and leaving. But, now that it’s a Wolf den, how is it decided when to make the shift from parents staying, to drop-offs? Whose decision is that to make? I know that, based on Youth Protection guidelines, a parent who wishes to attend and observe can’t be refused access to the meeting, and that’s certainly not a difficulty. But, what about making the transition? (Paul Reins, Tidewater Council, VA)

The great thing about Scouting is that, almost invariably, the BSA has already solved questions like this–in writing!

So let’s start here (from the website resources)…

“May parents attend den meetings? Cub Scouting is open to parents at all times. Den meetings are intended to be an activity for the individual boys, and your den leader will be working hard to keep the Cub Scouts focused. If you would like to be present at a den meeting, ask the den leader in advance so that the leader can plan a way for you to observe or participate.”

The key here is that parents let the Den Leader know in advance, and then the smart DL will put that parent to work in some way. This avoids a “parent coffee klatch” during the den meeting you’re trying to run.

We also have this…

“How long is a Cub Scout meeting? For Cub Scout age dens, working on Wolf or Bear…meetings are usually 45 minutes to one hour.”

My own recommendation, having been a Den Leader, is that 45 minutes is about perfect for Wolf dens.

So, at the outset of the Wolf program, the Cubmaster and Den Leader can let these parents know that it’s okay to do a drop-off (so long as they return in 45 minutes to pick up their sons), and if they’d like to stay and participate (in small ways) the DL would welcome and can definitely accommodate this.

Also, a great resource for Den Leaders at the Wolf level and beyond is to have the services of a Den Chief: A Boy Scout from a local troop who is pre-screened (by the Den Leader) and then recruited to attend den meetings and act as the Den Leader’s top assistant.
Dear Andy,

My son just had—on the day before his 18th birthday, with all other requirements completed—his Scoutmaster conference for Eagle rank. In that conference, when asked how important getting the Eagle badge was to him, my son replied that it wasn’t “getting the badge” that was important to him so much as it was important to learn and enjoy the Scouting experience, which he’s done since he was seven years old. On the basis of this response, his Scoutmaster told him he “didn’t have Scout spirit” and refused to sign my son’s Eagle rank application or recommend him for a board of review. Now what??? (Scout Dad)

A Scoutmaster conference is not for the purpose of “approving” or “denying” a Scout his opportunity to progress to the rank of Eagle. Your son’s Scoutmaster misused this conference and exceeded his authority.

It would seem to me, after that “learning and enjoying the Scout experience” is exactly what a youth-serving volunteer should be happy to hear, whereas “getting a badge” is hardly a reason to be or remain a Scout. So denying a Scout because getting a badge isn’t at the forefront of his thinking flies in the face of everything the BSA advancement method and process is in place to accomplish. I’d personally stand beside your son and defend his viewpoint in the face of all opposition!

So, what to do as a father…

Go to this link:

Then download the BSA GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT and save it to file.

Next, go to Topic Section 8. Boards of Review and start reading. Focus specifically on Sub-Topic Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances.

Here’s you’ll find the following key statements:

“Boards of review must be granted when requirements are met. A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity.”

“A board of review under disputed circumstances…for the Eagle Scout rank…is held at the district or council level. (Adult leaders) from the (Scout’s troop) are not involved.” Such boards of review are available to the Scout “…when a unit leader or committee chair does not sign the application (or) if a Scoutmaster conference is denied…”

As for what to do next, a letter describing the so-called “denial” can be written by either the Scout himself, or by his parent or guardian. So if you’d prefer to not have your son “re-live” the experience he had with that miserable excuse for a Scoutmaster, then you can write and submit the letter on his behalf. To do this, collaborate with your district advancement chair so that this alternate process goes smoothly and expediently. In short, waste no time in pursuing this for your son and do not pursue any efforts to have the Scoutmaster recant—such efforts will waste time and energy, and add to the emotional toll that’s already been incurred.

In taking your next steps, except for stuff that must be in writing, avoid email and USE THE PHONE!

Thanks, Andy, but unfortunately our situation continues to be unresolved. I did try to get the Scoutmaster to understand what a conference is for and how it cannot stop a board of review from being held, but he responds by singing the same song as before, with a little addition: Not only is my son not showing Scout spirit but, now that he’s 18, it’s too late to change anything—game over.

That duckwank of a Scoutmaster has obviously dug in his heels, and this is why you’re now permitted (encouraged, in fact!) to bypass him entirely. It’s completely correct for you to do this on your son’s behalf.

The person you need to immediately contact is your district’s advancement committee chair or, in his or her absence, your council’s advancement committee chair. These are the only two people who can take action on behalf of your son. (Please keep me informed of this situation—I don’t want to watch this one go down the tubes!)
Hi Andy,

Our troop just “imported” several new Scouts who just earned Arrow of Light in their pack. One of the AOL requirements is to complete the Cyber Chip for their school grade, which, for 5th Grade, includes meeting with their den or pack to discuss what they’ve learned.

As they’re now working toward their Scout rank, there’s also a requirement to complete the Cyber Chip for their current grade in school, which is still, for them, 5th Grade, and which, therefore, includes the requirement to converse with their den or pack—which, of course, they’ve now moved beyond. So they’re asking what I consider a valid question: Why do they need to do something identical to what they did just a few months ago?

My understanding is that anything done as Cub Scouts can’t be used as credit for Boy Scout requirements. But if they learn a Boy Scout skill as Cub Scouts, and can demonstrate the skill or knowledge, that would be okay. So how does this fit into “have a meeting with your den or pack and discuss…”? (Greg Allen, SM, Sam Houston Area Council, TX)

This is simpler than it may appear at first. The Scout rank requirements include this lead-in statement: “…If you have already completed these requirements…simply demonstrate your knowledge or skills to your Scoutmaster…after joining the troop.”

So, if a boy who’s joining the troop has already earned the Cyber Chip for his grade-level, and his grade hasn’t changed, he can just conference with his Scoutmaster and describe what he’s learned. Okay?

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. 520 – 3/7/2017 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2017]


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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