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Issue 530 – May 9, 2017

“Thought for the Day”…

We applaud the youngest Olympic Gold Medalist. We honor the octogenarian who crosses the finish line at the Boston or New York marathon. But when it comes to Eagle Scouts, far too many of us dismiss this singular achievement by calling the youngest “baby Eagles” or the oldest “cardiac Eagles.” Shame on us! The only thing these demeaning remarks do is identify the speaker as insensitive and…in a word…stupid. (I’ll go one step further here and speculate that the odds are 96 to 4 that the speaker himself is a “Life for life”…or less.)
Hey Andy,

I’d just like to provide some more information relating to one of your answers last week about international transfers. The GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT Topic (page 39) describes a process for comparable advancement for international Scouts. I hope this helps whoever submitted that question. (Aidan Firman, Lone Scout, Pretoria, South Africa)

Yup, you’re right on, and thanks! A problem between the UK and the US is that few requirements actually align. Among Scout Associations in countries other than the UK, there are indeed possible comparables, but the UK’s structure is significantly different from what we have here in the US
Hi Andy,

Does adult training count toward OA camping nights? Our lodge adviser rejected one of our adult nominations because they included camping that was not with their unit. Specifically, Wood Badge (as one short term weekend) and National Camp School (in tents at a NY BSA Camp) as the long term camping. We’ve been told that only camping where the adult is providing leadership to their unit can be counted. (Name & Council Withheld)

Happily, the OA Guide to Unit Elections states that the camping requirement for adults is identical to that of youth: “…15 nights of Boy Scout camping while registered with a troop…within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement. The balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each.” There is absolutely no stipulation that “training events don’t count.”
Hi Andy,
I’ve seen that you’ve addressed the rank requirements regarding Second to First Class rank advancement. I’m in agreement with your post from 2015 that the camping nights are cumulative, due to the fact the rank requirement reads “since joining the troop.” Has this changed with the new book that came out in 2016? Our troop has an advancement chair who absolutely refuses to use the wording “since joining,” saying, instead, that “separate events” means separate from Second-to-First Class ranks and has begun to make the Scouts attend a total of nine campouts between the two ranks. He says he’s “allowed” to make this “decision.” As a result, I called the BSA National Office. They gave me two different answers. When I called a couple of weeks ago, I was told that the nights were cumulative since joining. But today, a young man at the national office said it’s nine total nights because it would be considered “double dipping” to count the first three nights again for the next rank. Why doesn’t BSA just define it in the wording as cumulative or not? And how do I advocate in the best possible way for the Scouts? (Name & Council Withheld)

About the “young man” in Dallas that you spoke with… is he an employee of, or a senior-level volunteer with, either the BSA National Office in Irving, Texas, or the Circle Ten Council-BSA in Dallas itself? If so, his title or position is critical here. Unless he has a direct connection to the BSA National Advancement Team or that local council’s advancement committee, he has no foundation to make any statement, or draw any conclusion, about requirements for ranks or merit badges.

The people you want to want to speak with—via email is just fine—are the Advancement Team, which I’ve copied here for faster action.

As far as the activity requirements for Second Class (1a) and First Class (1a) ranks are concerned, “since joining” needs no “interpretation” and obviously means we count from the day the boy became a Scout when he joined his troop. Then, understanding that Tenderfoot req. 1b asks the Scout to camp overnight on a patrol or troop campout, Second Class (1a) asks for a total of three campouts since joining, and First Class (1a) asks for a total of six campouts since joining, then six is the obvious total number of campouts necessary. It’s not nine; it’s not ten: It’s six, and here’s how it’s done:

Tenderfoot: 1 campout.
Second Class: 2 more plus the first one = 3 campouts, minimum on attaining this rank.
First Class: 3 more plus the 3 from Tenderfoot and Second Class = 6. DONE! Now, on to lots more campouts and adventures!!!

Of course, the requirements ask for more participation than just campouts beyond troop and patrol meetings, but it’s not mandatory that the other activities be campouts…They can be day-hikes, trips to a historical site or a museum, a patrol or troop community service project, participation in Scout Sunday/Sabbath, and so on…

I hope this helps; however, I’ll caution you that while I’m a working commissioner and a former district advancement committee chair and vice-chair, I’m not presently a member of my district’s or my council’s advancement committee. So, when you receive word back from the BSA’s Advancement Team, that’s what you should consider “gospel.”
Hi Andy,

Couple of things I’ve noticed about “color guards” and “flag details”…

First, for units of the Boy Scouts of America, there should be no such thing as a “color guard.” The BSA has “flag details.” “Color guard” is a military term for an assembly that guards the colors—in other words, a unit armed with either swords or guns to “guard” the colors. Since BSA policy forbids members representing the organization from carrying arms, there really can’t be BSA color guards. This idea is muddied by the fact that the Scout Handbook, when describing a flag ceremony, uses the phrase “color guard.” At least it’s only with a suggested script on page 61: “A Simple Flag Ceremony.” That same script has extra verbiage at the end, as you mentioned.

Second, another proper command at the end of the ceremony is, “Flag detail, recover.” (James Flynn, Mecklenburg County Council, NC)

Although the BSA introduced an “Honor Guard” patch (Supply No. 621029) in 2015, it’s neither a “position of responsibility” badge nor worn on the left sleeve, but it’s, of course, as incorrect as those silly and superfluous (IMHO) “Totin’ Chip” and “Firem’n Chit” flap-type patches that inevitably get sewn on Scouts’ front pocket flaps even though they’re designated “not for uniform wear.” Fortunately, however, “color guard” isn’t used in any rank requirement: Tenderfoot 7a.: “Demonstrate how to display, raise, lower, and fold the U.S. flag”; Second Class 8a.: “Participate in a flag ceremony for your school, religious institution, chartered organization, community, or Scouting activity.”

And yes, you’ve spotted the hiccup in the handbook.

On procedure at the conclusion, “Flag detail, recover” sounds a lot better to me than the often-used “Color guard, retreat” or “Color guard, retreat the colors.” There seems to be a fixation on “retreating” at the close of an event or meeting, instead of simply saying, “Flag detail, retire the colors.”

There’s also another weird one I heard used just the other night. After the U.S. Flag had been saluted and the Pledge of Allegiance completed, the Scout in charge said (ya can’t make this stuff up!), “Flag detail, retreat” instead of “Flag detail, dismissed.” Go figure!

Happy Scouting, Folks!


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. 530 – 5/9/2017 – 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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