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: In the BSA Handbook, it says that youth and Scouters can have multiple registrations, for example, Venturers, Sea Scouts, Scouts BSA, etc. My question is, can a Cub Scout belong to multiple packs? Can a Scout belong to multiple troops at the same time? If so, does one unit have primary stays or authorization over the other unit, for advancement (for example, for a Scoutmaster conference, or a board review)? Can you have multiple assistant Scoutmasters from different troops signing off on different requirements? Can you have a Scoutmaster conference with one unit and then have a board of review with the other?

A: Scouts can be registered in multiple units at the same time. From the BSA’s registration guidebook: “Individuals who are registered with the BSA may multiple register in another BSA unit … by completing a new BSA youth application.” This is especially convenient in a situation in which a youth might be splitting time in two different households far away from each other. What this requires is communication and cooperation between the two units. All decisions on advancement, Scoutmaster conferences, boards of review and other mechanisms of the BSA program should be discussed and decided between the two units. There is no single right way to handle it. The key is for leadership in both units to do what is best for the Scout.

Q: I keep coming across an “old Scoutmaster myth” that a Scout needs to be a specific rank before becoming a den chief. Can you dispel this?

A: This is, indeed, a myth. A den chief helps Cub Scouts advance through Cub Scout ranks and encourages Cub Scouts to join a troop upon graduation. All Scouts BSA members and Venturers are eligible to serve as a den chief. They are selected by the senior patrol leader and Scoutmaster and approved by the Cubmaster and the pack committee for recommendation to the den leader. In order to earn the Den Chief Service Award, the den chief must advance one rank during their time in the position, but the BSA does not specify a minimum rank requirement.

Q: The Life rank requirement states that for a position of responsibility: “a leadership project can be completed instead of a position of responsibility for Star or Life.” Does this leadership project need to be the same four-to-six-month length of time as for the other positions of responsibility?  (Or used in conjunction with other positions to fulfill the time period?) Or can the Scoutmaster assign a project that takes say, a month, and consider that fulfilling the entire requirement in and of itself?

A: There is no set time length for how long the leadership project should take. The unit leader should consult the unit committee and unit advancement coordinator to arrive at suitable standards. The experience should provide lessons similar to those of the listed positions of responsibility, but it must not be confused with, or compared to, the scope of an Eagle Scout service project.

Q: After nine years of holding the position of COR, a new member of the pack’s committee has brought up the question of who is allowed to vote on the committee. I gave her my response, but it was questioned.  We have been doing it that way since we started the units. Please list all members who can vote.

A: There are no national guidelines on who is a voting member of the committee. This would ultimately be up to the chartered organization, as they are the ones who approve the committee chair.

Q: We suddenly have a unit commissioner for an exemplary troop with girls of about 90 members. Why do we need a unit commissioner? Our committee chair has been unable to attend for a couple months so this UC has taken over meetings. Is a unit commissioner registered to a particular troop? If not, how can he be in the committee?

A: Unit commissioners are volunteers who help units succeed with a good program that attracts and retains youth members. They are considered “non-unit registrants,” meaning they register directly with the council and not with any specific unit. Some commissioners might work with several units at the same time. Unit commissioners are some of the BSA’s most highly valued volunteers; however, if you feel like yours is overstepping their bounds, initiate a conversation with your district executive. There’s a good chance your commissioner is just trying to help and doesn’t mean to be intrusive.

About Aaron Derr 175 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.