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Issue 553 – December 5, 2017

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Hi Andy,

Our Troop has a board of review process that operates very smoothly and places a high priority on making sure the content and discussion is beneficial to our Scouts and assists them along their advancement path. While at a recent campout, two of our newer Scouts completed their requirements for Tenderfoot rank. Our Scoutmaster was delighted that they’d accomplished this and had a conference with each of them right there at the campout. Since I serve as chair of our troop’s boards of review and was also there at the campout, our Scoutmaster asked if we could do these two reviews while here. Great idea, I thought, and checked to see who our minimum three review members could be. Besides myself, we had one other committee member with us; however, to have a third member we (incorrectly, we discovered on returning home) included an Assistant Scoutmaster as the third member for both reviews. (I might mention that this particular ASM—even though registered with our troop—is primarily involved in our Sea Scout program; he hasn’t been involved in signing off on either of these Scouts’ Tenderfoot requirements.)

We all were mostly focused on accommodating these Scouts’ on the spot and excited about the idea of holding their reviews at a picnic table in the woods. As it turned out, both reviews were among our best—the Scouts were relaxed and we reviewers were focused and friendly; these were definitely conversations and not “final exams.”

But now I’ve come to learn (“RTFM”—Read The Friendly Manual!) that to have included an ASM was a mistake.

What do we do now? Should the reviews be conducted again? Do we let the reviews stand, with the ASM’s signature as one of the three reviewers? I’d never want my mistake to cause either of these young Scouts an issue as they progress along their respective advancement paths. Your input and guidance would be greatly appreciated. (Name & Council Withheld)

Thanks for your candor. I think I have good news for you: You can consider those two boards of review successful to the point of not needing to repeat them. Yes, there was an error. This error wasn’t a violation of safety or youth protection policy; instead, you “called an audible” based on the availability of registered adults, and did it in the best interests of the Scouts themselves. So my own call would be to let the positive results stand.

It’s important, in situations like this, to recognize that Scouts are never “penalized” when we adult volunteers make a mistake—and this one’s pretty minor when we take the long view. Besides, this won’t happen again—your own convictions won’t let that happen. So take a deep breath, thank your fellow Scouters for their cooperation and Scout-minded approach to those two reviews, and go forward without guilt. You learned something important and your troop will be the better for it. (BTW, I really like the idea of doing reviews in a camp setting. Seems to me this is what Scouting’s all about.)
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Hi Andy,

Can an Eagle Scout lose his rank if he’s subject to a restraining order by a court of law or is arrested by the police?” (Name & Council Withheld)

For this one, I reached out to Michael J. Lo Vecchio, BSA Program Team—Advancement Specialist, and here’s Mike’s answer: “Once a Scout has earned the Eagle Scout rank, it cannot be revoked unless it was fraudulently obtained—then it takes a legal team to make that determination. Regardless of an Eagle Scout’s subsequent indiscretions, his Eagle status is not revoked.” (Thanks, Mike!)

For anyone who’s wondering why this would be so, consider this: Eagle Scout is a rank that’s available to be earned by any Scout in good standing with the initiative and willingness to complete a significant series of requirements leading to this achievement. Eagle isn’t—despite frequent misinterpretations—an “honor” that’s “bestowed” by the Boy Scouts of America. This is quite unlike, for instance, the military Medal of Honor, which is by nomination only, the bestowal of which is authorized by Congress. Therefore, because Eagle rank is earned and not bestowed, there is no person or body that can revoke it.
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Dear Andy,

Can a Scout troop require that all its members—youth and adult—have a current, complete annual physical (Parts A, B, and C)? I’m asking because our troop here in Colorado routinely camps year-round: in the winter months we’re in the mountains at elevations between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, and often below zero temperatures; in the summer we’ll hike to elevations reaching 14,000 feet and higher. And of course we go the summer camp at altitude, too. I find the GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING a bit sketchy on the matter. Thanks! (Sid Hughes, ADC, Denver Area Council, CO)

Yup, there are at least six peaks over 14,000 feet elevation in Colorado! At that elevation, the atmosphere is 50% of what it is at sea level. But, of course, you all don’t live at sea level; you live daily at about 5,000 feet or more and have been doing so, in the main, for some time… years, very often. (More about this in just a little bit.)

The GTSS, Part V (page 30) describes the three parts—A, B, and C—necessary for various levels of activity. Every year, all participants in all Scouting activities, including day camps, local tours, and weekend camping trips of less than 72 hours, complete Parts A and B, and then give these completed forms to the unit leader.

Part A is an informed consent, release agreement, and authorization that is signed by every participant (or the parent or legal guardian of all
youth under age 18).

Part B is general information and a health history of each participant. (Note that neither Part A nor Part B requires an appointment with a licensed physician or the incumbent cost of same.)

Part C comes into play when an activity is going to be at a Scouting resident, tour, or trek camp (typically a week or more), or a Scouting event of more than 72 hours (e.g., NYLT, Wood Badge, etc.). This is where this third part will be completed as well, by a certified and licensed physician (MD, DO), nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.

Personally—and I’m speaking only as a boots-on-the-ground volunteer who’s hiked and camped “at altitude” over several decades, including long-term camping at >7,000 feet and skiing at >13,000 feet—I think it would be unwise to make a complete physical exam compulsory for those who won’t be engaging in Part C-type activities, on the basis that it’s (a) not compulsory, (b) potentially burdensome, and (c) potentially expensive.

That said, when I was a Scoutmaster, one of our troop’s parents was an MD, and he offered to provide physicals for the entire troop and all registered adult volunteers pro bono. This was obviously a very generous and highly unique gesture for a relatively smaller troop; it’s likely not to be matched every day! But if you have someone associated with your troop who’s willing to do this, then of course you’ll want to accept that generosity.

But if indeed all your Scouts are going to summer camp, then—as you point out–you’re all going to need to do Part C anyway—including the accompanying adults! So, without imposing a “rule,” you can simply ask for copies of this to be kept in the Scoutmaster’s “go-bag” along with the Part A and Part B forms.
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Hi Andy,

I remember seeing that adults could wear their Eagle medals to formal events. Obviously, this includes Eagle courts of honor. What about routine (quarterly) courts of honor? We encourage our Scouts to pull out all the stops and wear their full “Class A” uniforms, sash, neckerchief, cap, etc. And our adult leaders also wear their Wood Badge neckers, woggles, beads, and campaign hats. We encourage our Eagles to wear their medals; should our adult Eagles wear theirs, too? Thanks!
(Chet Lapeza)

Absolutely! There’s really no such animal as a “routine” court of honor—they’re ALL special for the Scouts receiving recognition for their achievements…and certainly for their parents, too! ALL Eagles regardless of age should be warmly encouraged to wear these very special medals. After all, each one represents a “one-in-twenty” Scout!

Happy Scouting!

Andy

Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Just to me at: askandybsa@yahoo.com. 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. 553– 12/05/2017 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2017]

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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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