There is only one Scoutmaster

I once had four bosses in the same job, all at the same time.

At one point in my career, I was a department head at a branch location of a company that had a half-dozen locations around the country. Our branch had two divisions, which my department supported, and each division had a manager. The location had a general manager who ran the overall branch operation, and the corporate headquarters had a chief of the department that I headed. I effectively answered to all of them.

Talk about confusion!

There were times when I felt like I was being pulled in four directions. Manager A wanted something done, but it went against what the corporate head’s policies permitted. Meanwhile, Manager B and the general manager were asking me to do different things as well. There was no clear managerial chain of command, and the way things ran in this organization made it difficult to rectify the situation. I left after a couple years, primarily for greener pastures, but also because the conflicting structure made it difficult for me to satisfy everyone.

If this befuddled me, think of how it would affect a Scout-age boy. Continue reading “There is only one Scoutmaster”


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2017 Advancement Updates

January first is usually a significant day in the advancement process. Most rank and merit badge requirement changes become effective as of the first of the year. New Year’s Day in 2016 marked significant and sweeping changes in Boy Scout requirements. Most ranks saw changes or an overhaul, and Scout was added as an official rank and not just the joining requirement. The permissive period started January 1, 2016, meaning that Scouts who were working toward a rank could continue to use the old requirements until they completed that rank, but had to use the new requirements if they started after that date. As of January 1, 2017, all Scouts have to use the new requirements.

Possibly less noticed were the requirement changes that took effect January 1, 2017. Yes, there were a few – some you probably didn’t hear about – but they are worth noting. Continue reading “2017 Advancement Updates”


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Summer camp, or merit badge factory?

Summer camp is one of Scouting’s great traditions. For youth and adult alike, it’s great to get away for a week or more, camp under the canopy of trees, enjoy the fine summer weather (yes, even the liquid sunshine!), and get back in touch with the great outdoors and what’s really important.

However, most camps are set up just like school. Scouts are up and off to breakfast, then fill their days with a schedule of classes. There’s a short break for lunch. Dinnertime comes around, and there are more merit badge opportunities in the evening. If a Scout wants to work really hard, he can earn seven or eight merit badges.

Is that the point of going to camp? Continue reading “Summer camp, or merit badge factory?”


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Help your Scouts pay their own way

As youth groups go, Scouting is extremely cost-effective. Where else can Scouts experience fun and adventure for such a reasonable cost?

When I share the opportunity to become a Friend of Scouting, I often tell parents gathered at courts of honor and Blue & Gold Banquets that, dollar for dollar, Scouting is one of the least expensive youth programs available. Many parents understand this if they also pay the costs associated with other youth activities like travel sports. And the value is not just in the good times the Scouts enjoy, but the broad spectrum of activities – not to mention the values and aims of Scouting that we (hopefully) deliver.

But there is a cost, even though it isn’t that much, and someone needs to pay it. Continue reading “Help your Scouts pay their own way”


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The merit badge counselor’s role

If you’re a merit badge counselor, you’re probably pretty familiar with the role that merit badges play in the Boy Scout advancement system. Once they reach First Class, Scouts must earn a certain number of merit badges to continue advancing, with some drawn from the list of badges required for the rank of Eagle Scout and the rest on any subject at the Scout’s discretion.

The merit badge counselor, therefore, has a pivotal role in the advancement process for our older Scouts, and the Scouting experience for all Boy Scouts. Continue reading “The merit badge counselor’s role”


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