Ask us anything! We answer some of your most frequently asked questions

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Have questions about the BSA? We’ve got answers.

And if we don’t have the answers, we’ll find someone who does.

Below are a handful of questions we’ve recently gotten from readers (some of them multiple times), along with the best answers we can provide.

Leave your question in the comments below, or send us an email, and we’ll answer in a future post.

Q: We are aware of the Citizenship in Society merit badge being required as of July 1. This makes 14 Eagle-required badges. Is the total for Eagle now 21 or 22?

A: The Citizenship in Society merit badge does not increase the number of merit badges required for attainment of the rank of Eagle Scout — it remains 21. With the addition of the Citizenship in Society merit badge, the Eagle Scouts will now have 14 required merit badges to earn and seven that they may select for a total of 21.

Q: Can one of my Scouts bring a friend, who is not a Scout, on a camping trip to try and recruit him to the troop?

A: Yes. As a reminder, leaders need to inform parents of those youth about the activities and obtain parental permission and consent. The “F” in SAFE stands for “fitness and skill” and requires leaders to obtain and review an annual health and medical record on the recruit and make sure the planned activities are age and skill appropriate (For example, would a swim test be needed?). In many cases, this may limit recruiting visits to meetings or more routine outdoor activities, not overnight or extended campouts.

Q: My son earned a recruiter strip as a Cub Scout. It is one of the awards that carried forward in Scoutbook when he bridged. Is he still authorized to wear it? Or must he recruit another Scout?

A: There is no rule that says your son would have to remove his recruiter strip at any point. He can continue to wear it as long as the shirt it’s attached to still fits him. Great job by him of adding another member to the BSA!

Q: Can a Scout working on AOL in a pack be dual registered with the pack to complete AOL rank and with a troop, as long as they are at least 10 years old and in the 5th grade after March 1st? Meaning, they would show up on the official roster with both units — the pack and troop?

A: A youth cannot be a registered member of a Cub Scout pack and a Scouts BSA troop at the same time. We would advise the youth to complete their Arrow of Light requirements with their pack, then join a Scouts BSA troop.

Q: We have an issue with an activity counting toward a merit badge. Do Scouts BSA family event activities count toward merit badges? For example, our troop took a 5-mile canoe trip on a designated Scout family event. Can my son count this towards his merit badge? We desperately are trying to solve this dilemma.

A: Scout activities that include other family members are still official Scouting events and must be operated under the same rules, guidelines and regulations as every other Scouting activity, including youth protection requirements, the collection of medical forms, and the presence of qualified, engaged leadership. Therefore, the presence of family members should not by itself disqualify an activity from counting toward a merit badge requirement. (We once figured out that there are around 58 merit badges a Scout can earn without leaving their home!) The only thing that could disqualify an activity from counting towards a merit badge requirement would be if it’s conducted without regard for BSA rules. Before a Scout works on any merit badge, they should meet with their unit leader and merit badge counselor to make sure the activity will qualify. Whether it’s a family event or not, swimming and watercraft activities such as canoeing must be conducted in accordance with BSA Safe Swim Defense and BSA Safety Afloat and supervised by trained, mature and conscientious adults at least 21 years old. As long as the Scout is working with a registered merit badge counselor and completing the requirements under proper supervision — and as long as the activity itself is conducted in accordance with the SAFE checklist — it should count toward the earning of the merit badge.

Photo by Michael Roytek
About Aaron Derr 148 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.