Scouting Urban Legends

Unsupported Claims of Requirements and Other Trivia

Compiled from various scouters submissions to the Scouts-L mailing list.

Clicking on the links will take you to the original post, as archived in the Scouts-L WWW archive.

In rare cases, follow-ups may have been used to provide additional clarity or information.

For additional submissions, errors or omissions, please write to Lou Schwing



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. You need to have a fully filled out, approved and accurate tour permit on file to be covered, and need to follow health & safety regs. Uniforming is not in any way required for liability coverage.

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 its 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.

"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 proper uniforming. Plus you will see some wearing silver and gold loops with the green shirts.

"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.

"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.



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).

Females' tents needed to be on the opposite side of the campsite with their doors facing away from the others.



"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 life guards -- we don't need to worry about Safe Swim Defense."



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.

"Once trained, always trained".

"If it ain't rainin, we ain't trainin'"

"The only place that a REAL Scout leader would be is in a Troop."


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.

"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.

"The service hours for Life must involve some planning, such as helping plan an Eagle Project".



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.

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.


Merit Badges

"You can't earn a Merit Badge until you're First Class."

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 sign off 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."



All prayers at Scouting events have to be ecumenical. Follow up

"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.


List originally compiled by: Donald S. Roberts