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Issue 523 — March 28, 2017

Hi Andy,

Any ideas or resources on recruiting for Venturing crews, especially female crew members and advisors? (Ed Millington, Teen Programs, Washington Crossing Council, NJ-PA)

If we’re talking about increasing membership in existing crews, I think your best resource will be the current Venturers themselves. Consider visiting with crews to help them develop lists of their own friends from school, sports, church, etc. who aren’t in the crew, and them help them develop an event that would be adventurous enough to attract their friends yet benign enough to not require massive amounts of equipment or pre-event training. Next, they’ll need a “script” for making the invite, and how to follow up post-event (maybe with another event?). In short, “likes attract likes,” and the best way to expand the “reach” of a crew is to create community-and-target group visibility.

If we’re talking about new crew formation, your council’s membership development team is likely your best resource; even better, a council committee devoted to Venturing.
Hi Andy,

I know that, for our pack’s Tiger den and year, parents stay for all meetings—no “drop-and-run” here. But, when the Cubs become a Wolf den, how is it decided when to make the shift to drop-offs? Whose decision is that to make? I know that, based on Youth Protection guidelines, a parent who wishes to stay and observe is never refused, and—for us—that’s not a problem. But how do we have a smooth transition? (Paul Reins, Wolf DL, 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 Den Leader 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, again from…

“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) their son’s Den Leader 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.

Thanks, Andy! I’m actually in the opposite situation. We’re 60 percent through our Wolf program year and we still expect parents to stay, just as they did when their sons were Tigers. I’m ready to transition, but I’m not in a huge hurry. (Paul Reins)

If your den meetings run 45 minutes, it’s probably easier for parents to hang out, but you certainly can feel free to give ’em a choice…right now! In fact, at the Bear level, you’ll definitely want to employ a bit more separation. This would be preparatory to what will follow after Bear.
Dear Andy,

Would you happen to know when—what year—the District Award of Merit was created? (Don Riley)

Yup. That would be 1971.

(For reference, this recognition is a council-level award presented by the district, in the same was that the Silver Beaver is a national-level award presented by the council.)
Dear Andy,

About the “new” 2017 Boy Scout Advancements… We have several Scouts who have completed Second Class rank in 2016, and we know that they all will now be using the new requirements from First Class up through Eagle. What we haven’t figured out is how to complete these requirements for First Class…

8a. After completing 2nd Class requirement 7a, be physically active at least 30 minutes each day for five days a week for four weeks. Keep track of your activities.

8b. Share your challenges and successes in completing 1st Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life.

Do they just do the 30-day activities for First Class even though they didn’t do Second Class req. 7a? (John Burnham)

Yes, these Second Class Scouts will complete the fitness requirements for First Class (8a and 8b) as written. (But I’m a bit confused, because the matching Second Class requirements (7a and 7b) were in place throughout 2016, so are you telling me that these weren’t completed in that year?)
Hi Andy,

Your response, a while back, to the two Second Class Scouts who couldn’t pass the BSA Swim Test was right on the money! The endurance part of the test beats up a lot of Scouts, even when they already know how to swim. I’ve found find that many Scouts—particularly the younger Scouts—are so excited at the outset of the test that, even if they’re fit, they start out too “hot”—they try to burn up the water like they’re Michael Phelps doing a 50-meter sprint. I’ve even seen adults get overexerted, but for a different reason: usually, they’re trying to show off, or at least trying not to be last! I’m constantly telling both Scouts and adults, “This isn’t a race—take your time,” but the excitement of being tested causes them to try to fly through the water instead of setting a moderate, steady pace for themselves. The goal, they seem to forget, is to finish; not finish faster than everyone else!

Last summer, I decided to get in the pool with them and swim the test alongside each of them. I told each swimmer that they’re not to swim any faster than the fat old guy swimming next to them , which usually makes them laugh and helps them relax a little. Some of them are so tense they’re fighting their own body and burning up precious energy, so getting them to relax helps. I sidestroke at a slow pace and sometimes call out encouragement along the way if I see they’re starting to tire. Once they have passed it for the first time alongside the old fat guy, they understand how to pace themselves and have no problem repeating the test and completing it. Part of it is just breaking through a mental barrier: once they know they can do it and see that it can be done, they have no problems after that. (The only downside is that I’m pretty tired at the end of pool time after swimming back and forth with multiple swimmers.) (Jason Orton)

You and I must have “read the same book”… I’ve done exactly the same thing as you, on multiple occasions over a whole bunch of years! (The toughest time was at a lake in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains—7,200 ft. elevation, 47 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was 50 years old at the time. Interesting situation here: The greatest danger, I discovered, wasn’t hypothermia…it was hyperventilation when you first hit the water!)
Hey Andy,

You raised an issue a little while ago about troop meetings that are supposed to be fun and Scout-led…

I’ve been Scoutmaster of a troop on a military base overseas for the past 14 years. I tell my Assistants and our Senior Patrol Leader that the 90 minutes we have for troop meetings can’t be 90 minutes of “boot camp,” or 90 minutes of “school,” or even 90 minutes of “recess.” There has to be a mix: patrol meetings, team games, some basic skill instruction, all inside those 90 minutes, and if we can’t do this who’d ever want to come to another troop meeting?!?

Well just last night, the troop walked down to the troop meetings room from our staff quarters while I paused on the way to gather up an Assistant Scoutmaster. When we got to the fenced area inside of which was the building that held our troop meetings, we discovered that the Scouts had closed and locked the fence gate behind them. While waiting for a second key to arrive, the Scouts—about thirty of ‘em in our troop—just went about the business of holding a troop meeting. When we finally got in, we found one of our Eagles—a 16 year old Scout—teaching the newer Scouts all about knots and splicing, and they were actually paying attention! I’m beginning to wonder…maybe this Scout-led stuff actually works when we adults get out of the way and just give it a chance? Cheers from a long-time reader! (Jeff Stone)

Hey, wait a minute! Wadda ya mean, allowing the Scouts to lead themselves! That’s chaos! You’d better take charge and start running “Webelos III” like yer supposed to!

Thanks— great story!

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. 523 – 3/28/2017 – 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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