Scouting Urban Legends
Unsupported Claims of Requirements and Other Trivia
By Donald S. Roberts
Uniforms when traveling. "Uniforms are required by insurance regulations so that all scouts are covered when traveling in vehicles." This one is often taught at Trek Leader sessions and Scoutmaster training. I've never found the "rule."
World Scout Patch is mandatory.
"Knots are only for adults!" Sorry, but there are several knots that youth (CS, BS, V, etc) can wear: Youth Religious Knot, all the lifesaving knots, OA Distinguished Service Award, Venturing Silver Award, Explorer Achievement Award.
"Its ok to wear the World Conservation Award in place of the World Crest [or beside it]". Sorry, no. It goes on the right pocket. Too many times kids I ask about this say their scoutmaster told them that's where it goes. Some even claim the SM learned that recently (this was back in the 80s) National had changed the rules where it's worn.
"Its ok to wear the [Merit Badge or OA] Sash off my belt so I can wear the other one across my shoulder". Sorry, no. Wear one or the other. Wear the MB Sash at court of honors. Save the OA sash for OA events. Avoid wearing the MB sash at events like the Jamboree, etc. Too much risk of losing it.
"I can wear every Quality Unit [Honor Unit, etc] patch I've received. In double rows, too". Sorry, no. You only wear the current one.
"I visited the Jamboree, so I get to wear the Jamboree patch!". Sorry, no. Only Jamboree participants (contingent members and staff) get to wear the patch. This is in part why National made a different patch for visitors at the last jamboree, and that visitor patch is worn on the right pocket, not above, where the Jamboree patch is usually worn.
I went to several Jamborees, so I can wear more than one jamboree patch on my shirt. Only one patch can be placed above the right pocket. An additional patch could be placed on the right pocket in the position of the temporary patch, but that's it.
"JOTA (Jamboree on the air) is a Jamboree, so I wear the patch above the right pocket." Sorry, no. JOTA is worn on the right pocket, like other temporary insignia.
National has set down what "Class A", "Class B", etc uniforms are. Sorry, no. That's local custom (unit or council). Class A usually means the full uniform, while Class B means an activity uniform.
Everything a Scout (or Scouter) needs is in the Scout handbook . . . except for a few uniform details....
A scout must wear a neckerchief as part of the field uniform. Not so, the neckerchief is entirely optional.
"BSA requires all scouts to have uniforms to be scouts." Not true.
Tents must be 10 feet apart. "Tents must be ten feet apart in case one of them catches on fire." This was taught at Woodbadge. No mention of this in the G2SS. In some areas we camp in, try and find room for this one!
No knives over 6 inches. "No blade of any knife may be over six inches long" "No Buck Knives" and other restrictions. The G2SS states that knives are part of the program, but that long sheath knives should be avoided. (But even then, my interpretation is that they are not *banned*).
"Liquid fuels are not allowed per BSA policy" or any of the many variants on this (anything which implies that the BSA treats propane stoves any differently than white gas stoves).
An 11 year old can't backpack, or you must be 14 to backpack. Although for some high adventure treks (such as Philmont) you must be 14, generally even the youngest boy scouts can go on backpacks.
You must use your own council's summer camp. Sorry, haven't found a council yet that has this restriction.
Women can't go backpacking with a troop. No, if the woman can do the hiking (or the man or boy, for that matter), she should be allowed to go.
"Little Johnny Scout isn't covered by unit accident insurance until his application is turned in to the council." Actually, a Scout is covered by unit accident insurance as soon as the unit accepts the application.
"No power tools. Especially for Cub Scouts."
"You must have a Totin Chip card in your possession to use a knife or axe."
"I know how to shoot, I'll teach the shotgun (or rifle) merit badge even though I'm not an NRA certified instructor."
"It's ok, they have lifeguards -- we don't need to worry about Safe Swim Defense."
"It is BSA Policy that all medications be turned over to the SM or another adult at all Scout functions." I think this comes from the policy in effect at most Scout Camps I have visited. But it clearly is not the BSA policy as evidence in the G2SS and in the SM Handbook.
One hour a week!!
"Training is optional."
Two deep leadership is required at all meetings. The rule is that you have to have two leaders on *trips* or *outings* (except patrol activities) and that there can be no one-on-one between boys and leaders. However, I'll certainly agree that two-deep at meetings is a huge plus.
"Two-deep leadership means you have to have two adults in the car"?
Or, "Two-deep leadership is for youth protection."
Neither is true-- it's the "rule of three" that applies in each situation.
Fill in all the forms, do all the training, use 2 deep leadership, follow all the procedures - if anything goes wrong and you did nothing wrong, your council will stand behind you.
"Once trained, always trained".
The scoutmaster of a troop must be male. Not. Similar is the concept that women cannot act as the scoutmaster at summer camp or on an outing.
"The only place that a REAL Scout leader would be is in a Troop."
"Females can't be registered as a (insert position)." Not true. They can and have been registered in every volunteer position BSA offers. The only restrictions are on youth membership.
Advancement and Service Hours
"You can't work on second class requirements until you earn tenderfoot!" (Substitute first class after second class if you'd like) I guess those are the old time Scouters.
"Scouts can't help Scouts." Dealing with not counting services hours for a lower ranked scout working on an Eagle project for another scout.
Time requirements for Second and First Class ranks (other than the 30 days to become a Tenderfoot - requirement 10a)
"You HAVE to plan and carry out your own service project for star and life rank."
"The service hours for Life must involve some planning, such as helping plan an Eagle Project".
"To become Star and Life you must demonstrate leadership." The rule is you must hold one (or a combination) of the listed positions for the requisite time, there is no requirement for actually leading.
"It's okay (or recommended) that SA's be on boards of review since they know the boys." Actually, that's exactly the reason they're not allowed on BOR's. In the Advancement Committee policies and procedures, 1999 printing on page 27 states in part; " This board of review is made up of at least three and not more than six members of the troop committee. Unit leaders, assistant unit leaders, relatives, or guardians may not serve as members of a Scout's board of review". (bold accent done in the book)
"You can't wear the Eagle badge on your uniform until you have your Eagle Court of Honor." Wrong-o-- you can get out your needle and thread ("advancement application kit") as soon as you get the letter from National. The advancement guide says that advancement is to be presented to the Scout at the first regularly scheduled troop meeting after it is earned, and there's no "…except for Eagle" in it.
"The ultimate goal for a boy scout is to earn the Eagle rank." Sorry, folks, but the goal is to build character, citizenship and fitness. Earning Eagle, or any rank, is just one (alternate) way of reaching those goals.
An Eagle Project must be at least XX hours.
"An Eagle service project must produce something tangible"
Eagle projects must follow exactly what was planned, no deviations
You must complete all merit badges before starting your Eagle Project.
A Scout's leadership experience MUST include SPL before he can make Eagle Scout.
Your Eagle Board of Review must be before your 18th birthday.
There is a minimum age for Eagle Scouts.
You must be a member of the Order of the Arrow to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.
One I actually heard in the Scout Office (attributed to the Council Advancement Chairman) - "The Eagle Application can't be accepted for processing after midnight the day before the scout's 18th birthday". To compound it, they didn't even know that the correct answer is in the Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures.
"The Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook is sent to National." Actually, the Eagle Scout Application itself is usually the only document sent to National.
Only Scouts (in your Troop) can work on Eagle Projects and conversely
Nobody but Scouts can work on Eagle Projects.
"The Scoutmaster must sign the Eagle Application for a Scout to have an Eagle Board of Review." Although it rarely takes place, an Eagle Board of Review may be held without the Scoutmaster's signature on the Application.
"Adult Eagle Scouts cannot wear their medal to Eagle Courts of Honor." - Not true. The Uniform & Insignia Guide explicitly allows this. It's the cloth patch that cannot be worn by adults.
"You can't earn a Merit Badge until you're First Class."
If you start a merit badge at camp, you must finish it at camp. Not true, any registered merit badge counselor for that badge can elect to accept the work already completed and allow the rest of the work for him or her to sign off.
You can't get your "First Aid" merit badge until you are First Class, because you haven't taken all of the TESTS related to first aid.
"You only have one year after you start a merit badge to complete it."
Merit badge partials expire six months they are issued
Merit Badge Counselor applications must be approved by the Troop Committee.
"You don't need to be a registered merit badge councilor to teach a merit badge"
You have to do a board of review for each merit badge.
"If merit badge requirements change while you are doing that badge you MUST earn the merit badge in accordance with the new requirements."
"A scout MUST earn the merit badge under the requirements as written when he started the badge."
"A Scout can't earn a merit badge after the BSA has eliminated the badge." He sure can, as long as he started working on the badge prior to the badge's elimination.
"MB are awarded at the next Court of Honor." Not.
"But we've always done it that way!"
From a former District Executive: "I can bend any rule in the book except the requirements for Eagle."
From our Field Director: "These Division and District totals aren't just a numbers game."
From our Council Exec: "We are implementing a new computer software program called Scout Net and it will revolutionize the way we keep our records"
Only the Boy Scouts and the American Legion have been authorized by Congress to retire flags.
"Your Chartered Organization Rep will handle that" to which I wrote, "or your Unit Commissioner."
"You have to be at least 10.5 years old to be Arrow of Light." Actually, it all depends on the age of the boy when he enters fourth grade. If a boy has a December 1 birthday in a state that allows it, he could turn 9 on Dec. 1 of fourth grade. One of the alternatives for AOL is six months after completing fourth grade, so that boy would reach that milestone right around his 10th birthday, at which point he could be AOL, and could then join a troop.
"AOL and bridging (crossover, graduation) are one and the same." Although one of the requirements for AOL is to fill out an application for boy scouts, earning the rank has no direct relation to crossing over into boy scouts. In fact, the requirement does not include paying the fee, so the AOL doesn't actually have to join a troop, only fill out the application.
A venturing crew must be coed. Nope, can be all male or all female.
"We're a Venture Patrol, so we're wearing the orange loops!" Sorry, only Varsity Scout Teams wear those.
"We're a Venture Patrol, so we can wear the green shirts, right?" Sorry, no. Only Venturers wear those. You're Boy Scouts, so you wear tan. That "Venture" strip is your identification of being a Venture Patrol.
"We don't have to wear green loops with our green Venturing shirts. Its just redundant". Sorry, no. The Venturing Reference Guide in the Venturing Leader Manual makes it clear you *do* wear the green loops with the green shirt. This is proper uniforming. Plus you will see some wearing silver and gold loops with the green shirts.
Venturing is just Exploring with a new name. Not really, Exploring still exists under Learning for Life. There is some overlap with the old Exploring, but Ventering doesn't have the affiliation/focus with organizations like police or fire fighting that Exploring had.
The left-handed scout handshake was banned as a sign of a secret society. Not!
All prayers at Scouting events have to be ecumenical.
"I don't want my scouts going to the OA, because all they do is take away my best scouts with nothing in return".
Patrol leaders, once elected, are in the job for some fixed amt of time (4 mos, 6 mos, whatever). Not. You can look it up. The patrol can reelect a new one as needed/indicated/desired, and no one has the authority to stop them.
"You cannot be in BSA if you live in a foreign country unless your parent is working for the U.S. government." - False. Direct Service BSA and the two overseas councils cover the world outside the U.S. and its territories. Aloha Council includes the former trust territories in the Pacific. No specific employment criteria exists.
"That transfer isn't any good without your handbook and merit badge cards." Not true. A completed transfer summarizes the status of the scout in the same way a transcript summarizes report cards. The transfer form is all that is needed to verify the scout's status.
"BSA has abolished Lone Scouts." Not true. Still available and growing.
"Sea Scouts were abolished in 1965." - Not true. Still very active.
"Sea Scout Ships must be located on the ocean." - Not true. There are very active ships in Kansas and Oklahoma for example.
"Female leaders can't be in OA." - Not true. OA is co-ed at all levels except where the youth membership requires the individual have achieved first class rank.
Compiled By Donald S. Roberts From Contributions To Scouts-L mailing List
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.