Old Lone Scouting BSA shoulder patch emblem

How Do I Get MY Son to be a "Lone Scout"?

Content added by Mike Walton

Image of cover to Lone Scouting Friend and Counselor booklet

Cover of Lone Scouting Friend and Counselor booklet

Here's the reality: of the BSA's 287 local Councils (as of this summer), only a THIRD of them (or 118 of them) allow Lone Cub Scouts and Lone Boy Scouts. Despite what you have been told or feel like you've read, Lone Scouting is a local Council OPTION -- not a "right". Why?

- Lone Scouting requires resources that many Councils do not have -- or enough of to support you. You will need a Commissioner and most Districts are critically short Commissioners; and they want to use those volunteers to work with troubled units to help build them back up to speed).

- Lone Scouting requires training and experience that many Councils do not have -- we have many local Councils that have large holes in their volunteer and professional ranks, and you "pressing them" for an additional exception is a problem. In just about every local Council, there are at least two field executive vacancies and districts are short volunteer staffing too.

- Lone Scouting does not "sell". You have to remember that the BSA is a business; and as a business, the BSA depends on large numbers of their products. Their products are Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, Varsity Scout Teams, Venturing Crews and Sea Scout Ships. Lone Scouting is a "unit of two" as opposed to a "unit of five to seven" (or more) in all of those other programs. Therefore, a LOT OF "pushback" will occur even if you can justify registration as a Lone Scout.

So knowing all of this, here's what you need to do in order to register your son as a Lone Scout. The first thing is to make an appointment to talk with your Council's Scout Executive. This is an important meeting, so please don't blow it off. You will need his or her permission -- and signature in order to register your son as a Lone Cub Scout or Lone Boy Scout; and to register yourself as a Lone Scout Friend and Counselor. Here's some additional items you need to do in advance of that meeting:

- first, arm yourself with all of the material supporting Lone Scouting as a program OPTION. You can find much of this information by going to the BSA's website (http://www.scouting.org) and doing a search for Lone Scouting. The Lone Scouting Yahoo group and its resources can also help you. Reach out to fellow homeschoolers. And by all means, gather information from your local Council's website too. .

- second, download and familize yourself with the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor Manual (cover shown left). It's available for download from the BSA's website. It is also available as a download from our references page. I would recommend BUYING a printed copy in addition to the online version -- so you will be armed when people start challenging you about your role in Scouting! This is IMPORTANT -- you need to come into this meeting knowing just as much about Lone Scouting as the Council Scout Executive will know about your son!!

- third, you MUST complete the Youth Protection training which is offered by the BSA for free. It is a requirement that ALL BSA volunteers, regardless of position or role, participate and take this training every two years -- and in order to be registered, one must attach a copy of the Youth Protection training certificate TO the adult volunteer application before it can be processed. (In other words, you have to take the training BEFORE the meeting...) The training takes about 30 minutes and is great stuff -- even if you decide that Lone Scouting is not what you and your son would like to do!

- fourth, as I stated above , you need to come to the meeting with information about your son's particular experiences.

Here's what he or she is going to ask you to make a determination about allowing your son to register as a Lone Scout:

- who is going to be the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor for your son? Are they aware of what they need to do (include the mandatory training required of all volunteers)?

- how much time are you going to dedicate to Scouting with your son? In addition to the time spent on meeting the requirments, you will have to arrange time to take your son to work with merit badge counselors, other District or Council volunteers, and of course, summer camp..

- why can't your son thrive in one of the existing Boy Scout Troops in the community you live in? What hurdles or obsticles keeps your son from actively being a part of that Troop or Team?

(this is where your materials and information come in handy)

- how will you help the growth of the Scouting program where you live (he is asking you "what's the probability that down the road a few years, that you can talk your neighbors' sons into Scouting and perhaps "convert" that Lone Scout "unit of two" into a Troop of five or more boys)?

- and finally, can you assist or will you assist the local Council in locating and developing resources for your son?

Don't feel bad about the decision he or she makes in denying the application. A lot of Scout Executives have to make valued decisions about whether or not to enroll Lone Cub Scouts or Lone Boy Scouts. Their jobs and that of the success of the local Council depends in part on their abilty to provide program for all youth in the Council. They are being graded starting this past fall on their ability to provide that programming -- and some Councils have already made the decision not to try to provide "specialized support" in the way of Lone Scouting. It's a hard bridge to cross without the volunteer support.

Most Council Scout Executives however, will approve your applications and register your son and yourself as Lone Scouts if your justification is valid and if their Council offers the program as an option.

"Wait a minute, Mike...we're only talking about what, eight or ten Scouts in the entire Council. Surely SOMEONE can support Lone Scouting..." You're looking at this from the "eight to ten Scouts" side. The Council has to provide structure to support Lone Scouting and training for key volunteers, which costs money. If the Council is already hard-strapped for cash, there may not be money in their Council to support Lone Scouting. This is why Friends of Scouting (the Council's annual fund raising campaign) and that stupid Popcorn sales are important for you to support as a Lone Scouting "unit".

"Can I register my son in an adjacent Council if my Council doesn't "do Lone Scouting"? You sure can, subject to the approval of that Council's Scout Executive in that adjacent Council. You will have to "plead your case" with that Council's Scout Executive and be ready to answer those questions I posted above.

"I talked with a District guy who said "yeah, he'll take the application and approve him as a Lone Boy Scout."

HE or SHE does NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY to register your son as a Lone Boy Scout. Period. The BSA's Administration Guide and the Scout Executive Manual both state that ONLY THE SCOUT EXECUTIVE/COUNCIL EXECUTIVE/CEO of the Council can approve Lone Scout applications and Lone Scout Friends and Counseiors. This is because the Council is registering the Scout -- NOT the District. Districts can no longer register Lone Scouts.

"What do I have to do to register my son and I as Lone Scouts?" You need to get a New Unit application, an adult registration application and a youth application. All three applications need to be submitted to the Council and approved by the Scout Executive before you are registered.

Keep in mind that whomever the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor will be needs to take the online Youth Protection program training and attach the printed-out certificate to the adult application. You cannot do this over the phone.

"You're making this out to be tougher than it is, Mike...I've heard (or talked with) someone and they said that all I needed to do is to fill out some paperwork and send it in with some money and we'll all set. Why are you making this seem so friggin' tough?"

Because it IS in MANY local Councils; and if it wasn't tough for your friend, it was only because nobody really knew what to do and they just went through the motions. It'll catch up with them later when they realize that nothing's being recorded at the Council level, and that the paperwork they sent in "way back when" is now lost somewhere and they can't recall who they talked with (and besides, they're gone now...District Executives spend only a few short years in those roles before they move onward).

Doing it the right way and insuring that you have permissions from the *senior most professional executive in the Council* (the Scout Executive, or SE), insures success from the start.

Bottom lines: the Lone Scouting program is a PROGRAM OPTION; not all local Councils will do this, and no amount of "pressure" from "National" will make them do it. Every local Council is a "franchase" of the national organization. Some may have "Lone Scouting" and others may not.

It really depends on a lot of elements...some which I've outlined here. But if you want to place your son in the BSA's Lone Scouting program, you can do it...it just takes a bit of prep work on the part of you and the local Council.

BSA Info