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Issue 542 – August 29, 2017

Dear Andy,

We have an Eagle Scout candidate who transferred from our troop to another when he was a Star Scout. While at that other troop he received his Life rank. Following this, he transferred back to our troop and has since completed all requirements for Eagle. The council staff, while reviewing his Eagle packet, discovered that he’d only been Star rank for 125 days (slightly more than four months) instead of six months, as required. Apparently, the other troop may have given him “credit” for the two months that he was in our troop. Now back in our troop, he’s been a Life Scout for 997 days, or more than 32 months. The council folks have recently recommended that we hold a second Life rank board of review right away, and then have this Scout wait an additional six months, at which time he can re-apply for Eagle rank (and board of review). What does the BSA National Advancement Committee do in cases like this? Thanks! (David Molter, CC, Pikes Peak Council, CO)

Although I was, while it existed, a member of the BSA National Advancement Advisory Panel of volunteers, I’m not a member of the BSA National Advancement Committee, so it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on what they might recommend. (But I do have an “ace in the hole” here, which you’ll see in just a moment…)

From my own experience and research, a Scout’s rank isn’t dependent on what troop (or troops) he’s a member of, so long as he’s registered and active in at least one troop. This means that the key dates for this Scout are (1) the date of his Star board of review and (2) the date of his Life board of review. So long as these dates are at least six months apart (and it’s definitely months—counting by days isn’t how it’s done) he’s in great shape. Of course, he also needs six months between his Life and his Eagle boards of review.

Here’s what I mean by months instead of days for ranks (which the BSA is specific about… Let’s say a Scout has his Star review on February 2. So, for Life, the review can be held on August 2. Note that even though, by day-count in a non-leap year, this is only 179 days, it’s precisely six months, making it completely valid.

Based on what you’ve described, there seems to have been some sort of glitch in date-counting. If the Scout is indeed “short” between Star and Life, the advancement chairs of both troops may need to have a conversation with your council’s advancement chair to work out how best to handle this hiccup. In this regard, it seems to me that this date mix-up may have been caused by one troop’s adult leadership and not by the Scout himself, in which case some sort of leniency may be granted; but that’s not for me to comment on—that’s a troop-and-council decision. In any case, it’s definitely a disservice to the Scout to make him wait yet another six months because adult leadership messed up the timing.

Thanks, Andy, for your help in adding clarity to this issue. Your observation that the Scout did nothing wrong and that it was an oversight by the adults is the exact way I should have looked at it from the beginning.

I’m going to write a letter to the council, explaining the circumstances and send a copy on to the council’s Eagle board of review personnel. I have contacted the Registrar and she is now aware with this approach and will not delay the scheduling of the Eagle Board of Review. (David)

Our ace in the hole: I just reached out to Mr. Michael LoVecchio, the Advancement Specialist at the BSA National Office. Here’s his sound advice, in its entirety (CAPS MINE)…

“The council was incorrect in suggesting another Life board of review be held – the Life board of review was held and the Scout was passed. The dates of his Star and Life board of review must remain as is and it does not matter how long this Scout was a Life Scout—it does not have any bearing.

“What needs to be done is for the unit leadership to write a letter that explains the reason(s) why the Life board of review was held prematurely. This letter needs to be attached to the Eagle Scout rank application when submitting it to the council service center. Although the council will not be able to verify the application electronically, it can be noted and signed as verified by the council. The application with the attached letter, the project workbook, and the references’ recommendations may now be submitted to the board of review chair to schedule and conduct the board of review. A SCOUT SHALL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ERRORS IN THE COMPLETION OF REQUIREMENTS THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY APPROVED—INCLUDING A BOARD OF REVIEW—BY ADULTS.

“The members of the Eagle Scout board of review are only responsible for ensuring the requirements for Eagle have been completed, not the previous ranks.

“I hope this helps in resolving your issue. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

Thank you, Mike! And best wishes to your about-to-be Eagle Scout, David!

Thank you both for your help! The council folks have changed their minds and are charging forward. (David)
Hi Andy,

I just started reading your column, and I love it! (As the newly selected chair of our district committee, I can use all the help I can get!)

Anyway, I just saw the question about BP’s height, and while I don’t have a precise answer, many years ago I “met” BP on a trip to London, where he was standing amongst a crowd at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. So my suggestion would be to try to visit him there (assuming he’s still on display)…and bring a ruler. (Sage Lichtenwalner, Patriots’ Path Council, NJ)

Thanks for being a new loyal reader and thanks for all you’re doing for the youth of your district! Your suggestion is absolutely unique and doubly clever

I can’t find anything online or in B-P’s several biographies (Hillcourt, Jeal, etc.), but I have found photos of him standing next to such “find-able” notables as King Edward VIII and US President William Howard Taft. Based on eye-balling B-P’s height relative to these two (Edward was 5’7″ – Taft was 6′) it looks like our founder was somewhere around 5’8″—5’9″… that’s a guess, of course.

Also, keep in mind that the average height of an Englishman in the mid-1800s (B-P was born in 1857) was 5’5″, making B-P (born in 1857) above this average if he was 5’8″-5’9″ (even accounting for a rise in the UK to 5’10” by 1900. Meanwhile in the US, the average American male adult was typically up to 2” taller than his British counterpart.
Hi Andy,

As far as the maximum number of square knots an adult leader can wear, which you wrote about in a recent column, it’s a good thing that nine is the recommendation, because at many adult leader conferences, classes, and so on, a number of adult leaders had so many square knots they looked like third-world generals! I agree that, similar to Scouts, if an adult volunteer earned a square knot, they should wear it proudly, whether it be one or a hundred! (JS)

Which is it? Is it okay to “wear (square knots) proudly, whether it be one or one hundred”? Or is it, “third world general”? You need to make up your mind where you stand here.

In addition to “third world general,” men and women who have earned or been awarded a significant number of “square knots” are also pejoratively referred to as “Russian generals,” “Mexican generals,” and worse. Of course, this is invariably by fellow Scouters with significantly fewer such recognitions, as if to say, “to build myself up, I’m going to tear you down.”

When we ask a Scout, “Why do you believe you should be an Eagle Scout?” and his response is, “Because I’ve done the work and I live by the Scout Oath and Law,” that’s the very best answer he can give. Why, then, should we tear down a fellow Scouter who’s walked the extra mile for the youth of our country?

Okay, Andy, maybe I wasn’t as clear as I thought I should be. First and foremost, I wholeheartedly agree that if you earned it, you should be more than welcome and entitled to wear it. My comment about third-world generals was more of an attempt at humor (just maybe a misunderstood one). My point was that some leaders I’ve met have earned so many knots that they looked like a Mexican general…again, they’re more than entitled to wear them. Some even looked like they’d soon run out of shirt if they earned any more! The third-world general wasn’t used to disparage the “knotted” leaders, just to highlight how many knots I’ve seen some leaders wear, which actually impressed me to know that they’ve either gone through that much training, or worked so hard to earn them. (JS)

Your respect for adult as well as youth commitment and achievement is admirable. That said—and trust me on this—”third world general” isn’t taken to be “a sign of respect” and it’s definitely not funny. I recommend you drop this and others like it, and simply thank your fellow Scouters for their impressive service to American youth.

Happy Scouting!


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Just to me at: 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. 542 – 8/29/2017 – 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.

Read Andy's full biography

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