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Issue 527 – April 18, 2017

Dear Andy,

I’ve heard that some troops are recruiting new members by inviting Scout-age boys to come on a campout. The idea is camping is where we shine, and boys who missed or dropped out of Cub Scouts can be hooked back in. Before I go ahead with this, I want to make sure there’s no BSA rule against this, and that insurance will cover the non-Scout. I’ve checked the GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING and searched OTHER BSA documents but I can’t find a definitive answer. I think this would be a great recruitment tool…if it’s allowed. Can you help? On another subject: “Virtual Scouting”—You had me hook, line and sinker! (Ed Steele)

I’m delighted you enjoyed this year’s April 1st issue!

Yes, your troop’s in the clear on non-Scouts coming along on hikes and campouts… As guests of the troop, they’re definitely covered by the “umbrella” insurance. Go for it!
Hello Andy,

Does sleeping in a hotel or someone’s home in a sleeping bag count as a “camping night” for advancement? (Megan Chung)

Requirements are pretty specific: “Campout…sleep in a tent you have helped pitch,” “Campout…spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).” No “interpretation” necessary.
Hi Andy,

My troop has an ongoing question and debate: If you’re serving as color guard, do the Scouts salute, or not? (Jenn Davis, RTC, Greater Cleveland Council, OH)

First, a slight tweak in nomenclature: They’re called a Flag Detail (because they’re carrying neither ceremonial rifles nor swords).

Except for the one who leads the Pledge, the Flag Detail members don’t salute. They stand at attention.

(As a more-than-nice touch, especially if this is in front of the general public, all Scouts in the Flag Detail will be uniformed identically. All Scout long pants or all shorts and matching socks, all with neckerchiefs or none with neckerchiefs—not a “mix”—and, if neckerchiefs are worn, make sure every Scout uses a slide—no overhand knots! Also, hats/caps aren’t “mandatory” but same principle applies, and definitely no headgear indoors.)
Dear Andy,

I retired as a Cub Scouting leader a few years ago. Now, one of my original Cub Scouts is a Boy Scout and has earned the rank of Eagle. He’s asked me to attend his court of honor, including participating in the ceremony. Can or should I wear my uniform to this event? (John Bangert)

I’d say it’s your choice… However, if this Scout “knew you as a uniformed leader,” then showing up in that uniform—and it still fits!—would be a hoot! (There’s no “Scout Police,” so do what feels right.)
Good one this past April Fool’s Day Andy! Envisioning everyone with their cell phones glued to their hands all the time, I started to fall for it!

Actually, it brought something to mind that we could use some suggestions on a situation… We have a Scout who’s working toward Star rank who is a high school freshman, but attending school in another state—he’s about a hundred miles away. He wants to continue to advance, and Eagle is his target. Can you help us with any suggestions on how to handle the four- to six-month “position of responsibility” requirements? Also, what are your thoughts on the requirement to “be active in your troop?” (We’ve never had to “define” this last one until now!)

On the surface, it might seem to make sense for this Scout to find a troop where he attends school, but he doesn’t want to do that; he wants to continue with our troop. First off, he’s a founding member of the troop and I’m sure that has something to do with it. Also, my guess is that his school schedule is so intense that he wouldn’t be able to do much more in a troop near school than he does with us when school is in session. When he’s home, he attends our meetings and events, and participates as much as any other normal Scout can. If he was a member of a troop near school, he would lose this opportunity when school is NOT in session. Any thoughts on this? Thanks! Ed Colaianni, CC, Pathway to Adventure Council, IL)

The good news is that Eagle-qualifying positions of responsibility cover a wide range (aside from direct leadership), including Scribe, Librarian, Historian, and Webmaster to note a few that don’t necessarily demand attending most if not all troop meetings and outings. Depending on this Scout’s interests and abilities, and assuming he sometimes comes home on the occasional weekend (or maybe a lot of weekends?), he certainly could consider tackling Webmaster or Historian, which seem to me to be the two most likely options. I especially like Webmaster, because articles and postings can be sent to him, so that he can update the troop’s website on a regular basis. This would certainly fulfill both the letter and the spirit of this requirement. What do you think… Could this work?

In addition, assuming he’s home over the summer and understanding that multiple positions can be held, just so long as they add up to the number of required months, maybe he could be a “summer camp” Patrol Leader or ASPL? This way, he gets some direct leadership experience too!

As for “active,” I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over this (and you sure don’t need a “carved-in-granite” definition). Just ask yourself—or, better, ask this Scout—is he doing his level best to participate in as many Scouting opportunities as geography and his schedule permit! If the answer’s Yes, then that’s that!

PS, Glad you liked this year’s April 1st column!
Hi Andy,

We have a situation in our troop that I’d like to get your feedback on. We’ve been reminding our Scouts who have been Tenderfoot through First Class that after December 31st the old requirements can no longer be used and they will have to go with the new rank requirements. We’ve been bringing this up regularly since the BSA announced the new requirements back in 2015. In January 2016, we told them they have one year left and we’ve created many opportunities to help them advance, with frequent reminders through announcements, emails, discussions with parents, and home visits with Scouts and their parents. We did a big push last November and December, with further encouragement as the deadline approached. The committee provided several impromptu boards of reviews and our Scoutmaster even offered to have Scouts go to his house during Christmas break for last-minute sign-offs, and we scheduled boards of review right up to December 31st. A few Scouts took advantage of this, but many didn’t, and now the old requirements are no longer an option.

So now we have a Scout who’s been in our troop since he crossed over close to four years ago. Just before the Christmas break, he had everything signed off for Second Class except for his board of review. He had his Scoutmaster conference during the break, and could have stayed around a bit longer and we would have held a board of review, but he didn’t stay. Then, another review night was offered to all eligible Scouts just before the New Year, to give any Scout who needed this the opportunity. He missed that, too, because his family went on vacation out of state.

There are a couple approaches being discussed on how to handle this situation, but I thought I’d reach out to you for your insights. What are your thoughts? Do we hold the board of review now, and award Second Class to this Scout, or does he now continue with Second Class using the new requirements? And who should make this decision… The Scoutmaster, or the Committee Chair? (Mike Pease)

Using Occam’s Razor, the most expedient solution here is to hold a review as soon as everyone’s available, with the intent of a successful conclusion to that conversation (at this rank level, we’re looking at maybe five to ten minutes, that’s it!). Since boards of review aren’t requirements in and of themselves, you’re not violating any deadlines or rules in this regard.

Of course, that’s the end of the “old” requirements and in with the new from now on. The grace period ended at midnight on December 31, 2016, and beginning January 1, 2017 all new requirements apply with no exceptions.

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. 527 – 4/18/2017 – 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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