Scouting Forums

Lone Scout Authorized by Council even though the scout can attend regular meetings?

In our situation, we have 3 girls in a new troop. The girls have been meeting regularly. One lives 15 min away, one lived 45 min away, and the final one lives locally. Each have boys troops that their respective brothers attends closer to their homes. Meeting time and day had been moved to accommodate all schedules allowing regular attendance. The one 15 min away, who is also the SPL, asked council to be a lone scout to have the freedom of not having to perform activities with the group. I suspect it is to circumvent the system and allow faster awards and advancement. (There is clear evidence and a criminal conviction of similar cheating/stealing activity from her parent.) Council told the troop leader that lone scout status would be approved and that she should be welcomed to meetings, but once lone scout idea gets out, all will decide to take that route and attend meetings with boys in coed fashion - directly against written guidance by national. Many documents clearly specify who can participate as a lone scout.

“The Lone Scout plan provide a Scouting opportunity for boys who cannot readily join a unit or attend meetings.” (Scouting in Rural Communities,p53)

“Who can be a Lone Scout? Boys who cannot attend regular meetings of packs and troops are eligible to become Lone Cub Scouts or Lone Boy Scouts.” (Commissioner Administration of Unit Service, p43)

“Because regular interaction between youth and leaders in the BSA’s traditional programs has many advantages, we must keep in mind that Lone Scouting is not intended for youth who are able to safely attend meetings of traditional Cub Scout packs or Scout troops.” (511-420.pdf)

“Youth who are able to attend regular meetings of packs and troops are not eligible for Lone Cub Scout or Lone Scouts BSA member status.” (The Lone Scout Plan)

I want to be clear. There are 3 in the troop. If one gets this status, even though she is able to attend regular meetings, then the other who lives 45 min away will do it too. And then, with only one left, there will be no more regular meetings and all will be lone scouts. From the information above, this is not the intent of the BSA Lone Scout Program. Did council get it wrong? Shouldn’t Council be following BSA policies? What can be done to save the troop?

I would recommend talking to your council about your concerns.

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Concerns have already been communicated with council. That is why I am checking here. If they have leeway to bend the policies, then I understand their ability to make the decision. If they don’t, then I need to know where to go next.

If you are really worried about the letter of BSA policy, you need a minimum of 5 youth to charter a troop.


The troop is already chartered. It’s my understanding that once it is chartered it stays chartered and is thus an option for scouts to attend. My concern is not with the chartered status, but rather with the council’s determination that a lone scout status can be applied to a scout who can attend regular meetings at a charted troop - which clearly contradicts the previously mentioned policies.

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Lone Scout membership is up to the council. A troop needs 5 to recharter, but can have 3 (?) with Council Executive approval. Some councils require 10.

That is sort of what i thought.

Yes, I understand that the Lone Scout Membership is up to the council. That is clear. Also, as I mentioned, I am not concerned with the re-charter. What I am concerned with is the ability for the council to bypass or not follow the very specific policies written by national. So are you saying that the council does not have to abide by national’s policies? The fact that National took the time to write this seems to me to indicate that it is important: “Youth who are able to attend regular meetings of packs and troops are not eligible for Lone Cub Scout or Lone Scouts BSA member status.” (The Lone Scout Plan)

At the risk of hurting feelings i am going to saybwhat is being hinted at here. That is, your troop should never jave been chartered. It is failing in less than a year and needs to merge with a larger troop or disband. The problem isnt with your council and the frustration is misplaced.

Council is granting lone scout status because they know your troop wont survive recharter, they recognize the writing on the walls.

I am sorry, but you sound very negative and repeatedly do not answer the question I have posed very much like a politician. The troop has only been in existence 2 months, so as I have repeatedly stated, the charter and recharter is not in question. The question restated again is “Does the council have authority to override national policy?”. I would appreciate it if you would respond only to that question and provide references that support your response. I have read all the council administrative policies but may have missed something.

I suggest you contact the BSA National Council with your question. The people who read and answer these posts are volunteers, just like you. If you want an official answer, you need to contact those in a position to provide it.


I realize that you are angry at the council and are angry at me but your troop isnt flailing because a single scout went lone scout status.

What happened to the two other missing scouts, you started with 5 where are they?

You can start a troop with only 3 Scouts, if you have the approval of the council’s Scout Executive. It sounds like that is what happened here.

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Jennifer, you are correct. It was approved and the council had that authority given to it by National…making the charter issue irrelevant.

Kevin, once again you can’t seem to stay on target. I wish you all the best. It seems clear that you cannot provide the help I need. Thank you for trying.

Edavignon, thank you for providing a helpful response. You’ve directed me to the next step. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

@LDHerrera A Scout is Friendly. I ask you to remember that when responding in the forums, since the many people responding here are volunteers giving their time to help others out.

Thank you. I appreciate that reminder. We all volunteer, some of us more than others, but I’d like to remind you that a scout is also HELPFUL. According to the Scout law, being helpful means that a scout will “Volunteer to help others without expecting a reward” with the important part of that being “to help others” and not just volunteering for the sake of volunteering. When the action does not help, then volunteering is not HELPFUL.

I have been helped by several on this issue and as shown above. I have expressed my appreciation to all because a scout is also COURTEOUS. And once again, I thank you for reminding me about the Scout Law.

Have a great day! :smiley:

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The example Lone Scout list appears to have been updated this year. Here is 2019 and 1998 information for comparison.

2019 When Is Lone Scouting the Right Choice?

from 2019 guidebook

Because regular interaction between youth and leaders in the BSA’s traditional programs has many advantages, we must keep in mind that Lone Scouting is not intended for youth who are able to safely attend meetings of traditional Cub Scout packs or Scout troops. Traditional units, if available, have the best potential to provide a quality Scouting program. Youth in circumstances such as those listed to the right, however, may find that Lone Scouting is the best option. With the right adult friend and counselor, Scouting’s met.

Youth in the following or similar circumstances may find Lone Scouting is the best option.

• Home-schooled where parents do ot want them in a youth group
• U.S. citizens living abroad
• Exchange students away from the United States
• Disability or communicable illness that prevents meeting attendance
• Rural communities far from a unit
• Conflicts with a job, night school, or boarding school
• Families who frequently travel or live on a boat, etc.
• Living arrangements with parents in different communities
• Environments where getting to meetings may put the Scout in danger

A previous Lone Scout Plan, 1998 (2008 printing)

The Boy Scouts of America is proud to provide the Scouting experience to all boys who meet membership requirements. Boys can join the Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts and have the opportunity to grow and learn from Scouting. There are many opportunities for boys to benefit from the Scouting experience.

Why Lone Scouts?
Can a boy become a Cub Scout or Boy Scout if there is no local pack or troop? He certainly can. Throughout the country and the world, boys who do not have access to traditional Scouting units can become Lone Cub Scouts and Lone Boy Scouts.
Circumstances in the life of a boy which may make Lone Scouting a desired option include

• Boys being home schooled whose parents do not want them in a youth group
• Children of American citizens who live abroad
• Exchange students away from the United States for a year or more
• Boys with disabilities that may prevent them from attending regular meetings of packs and troops
• Boys in rural communities who live far from a Scouting unit
• Sons of migratory farm workers
• Boys who attend special schools, night schools, or boarding schools
• Boys who have jobs that conflict with troop meetings
• Boys whose families frequently travel, such as circus families, families who live on boats, and so on
• Boys who alternate living arrangements with parents who live in different communities
• Boys who are unable to attend unit meetings because of life-threatening communicable diseases
• Boys whose parents believe their child might be endangered in getting to Scout unit meetings
Although the Lone Scout might miss the opportunity to participate in activities in the pack or troop, there are certain advantages to his experience. For example, his Scouting activities can be done entirely at home. Boys who live in rural areas have the outdoors close at hand where much of Scouting takes place. Each boy can progress at his own pace, building upon his own interests and abilities. Also, he has the personal help of an adult counselor.

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Thank you for confirming what I have presented in the 511-420.pdf - available online, too.

On page 8 of that 1998 version is a statement in bold letters: “Boys who can attend regular meetings of packs and troops are not eligible for Lone Cub Scout or Lone Boy Scout programs”

@LDHerrera, It seems your mind is made up: You’re attempting to maintain the integrity of your unit. You didn’t come here to find out if the Lone Scout program may be the best way to serve this Scout, but to see if you can use the legality of the Lone Scout program to prevent the youth from leaving your unit.

Before you write me off, I want to point out a few things you said that were not very scout like, in an attempt to allow you to reframe your premise in a more positive tone:

As a standalone statement, that’s pretty harsh judgement on this young woman, even before you implied that she was criminal by association with her parent. Would you make this statement to the youth directly? I hope I just don’t understand what you mean, but if you stand by them, maybe you should do some self reflection.

Do you know this to be true? I would make the argument that the scout that lives 45 minutes away could meet the criteria for Lone Scout, depending on certain things. An hour and a half of driving for a meeting of similar length every week takes a lot of time out of a high schooler’s busy schedule. Not to mention potential financial impact of mileage (gas and wear and tear of the car). And if the youth doesn’t have her own car or drive herself, that’s even more hardship on the family. And it’s family dependent. What you might not bat an eye at, might be significant hardship for another family. So maybe the scout that lives 45 minutes away should be the one asking questions about the Lone Scout program. The fact that either of these girls has been making it to meetings so far does not imply their ability to continue doing so.

This is where you had already decided what was wrong, and filtered half of people’s answer’s out without listening to them. You assume that the council is not following BSA policies. In your opinion, the scout does not meet the criteria, but perhaps the council has actually determined she does. Your last question is not “How can I keep my troop from collapsing?” but rather “How can I force this girl to not leave?”

Let’s examine the spirit of the Lone Scout request: If you successfully prevent this girl from becoming a Lone Scout, will she stay with your troop? If the answer is no (and it more than likely is), then she was leaving regardless. Would the youth be better served by being a Lone Scout that is welcomed to Troop meetings, or by not being a scout altogether? Does the fact that the Scout becomes a Lone Scout mean she can’t come to YOUR troop meetings when it isn’t a hardship, but still maintain the ability to continue when circumstances prevent her from meeting regularly? Is the fact that she’ll attend a closer boy’s troop a given?

Next, and I want to emphasize this:
If you are not among the people that reviews these requests, you do not have a right to know why the Lone Scout request has been made, nor why it was approved. Perhaps the scout has been made to feel unwelcome and unsafe in your unit. Perhaps her home life is changing in ways you’re not privy to. That’s between the scout and the council, and you should let it go.

I can see you have a strong desire to prevent the unit from failing. I recommend that you take the time and effort you are investing in this and direct it instead towards recruiting additional youth to your unit, rather than fighting to prevent the few youth you have from leaving it. A strong unit will be made up of youth that are happy to be there, with leaders that are happy to support them.

Best of luck recruiting new youth to grow your troop. We need more girls in the program.


Daniel, thank you for replying. I would never write off a thoughtful responses that are applicable to the stated topic.

It is my suspicion that the child in question did not seek lone scout status, rather that it is an effort by the parent who had been caught in activities in this organization and many other youth organizations. When someone has a history of getting around the rules, and you see similar actions by the same person, you tend to think there is something going on. Again, I clearly presented it as my suspicion and not a fact. A suspicion is not judgement and is not relevant to the council’s ability to override national policy on lone scout status however it could be relevant as to the motive. Your calling me out for having a harsh judgement is in fact a harsh judgment on my statement. Unless I missed something, In no way have i said anything negative about any youth. My questions relate to Council’s handling of lone scout status.

I have no crystal ball. I cannot see the future, but it would be logical. I know if there are no longer requirements for lone scout status, I would want to take advantage of that as well. The parent 45 minutes away agrees. It is difficult to grow a troop when there are no meetings and everyone is granted lone scout status. Do you think perhaps that is why National put that policy in place? Maybe they want to promote participation in troops rather than participation as a lone scout if it can be avoided.

I sure did listen as the content of my post was turned and twisted off topic. And you see my many attempts to bring them back on topic. If I step on a nail and go see a doctor and the doctor focuses on my weight when I’m suffering from the nail, I will try to get him to focus on the nail. Maybe my weight is a problem but I’d rather take care of the nail. How about you?

So my focus throughout this post has been clear. The policy is clear. The Council does have avenues mentioned in the policy that provide reasons to allow lone scout status. I was clearly aware of these when I provided the post including all the references. My question was based on the premise that the scout can safely attend regular meetings as she has been doing since the meetings were moved to accommodate her schedule. That is a fact.

When council doesn’t appear to abide by the policy, when the results of the council’s decision affects many others and not just the one, what can be done? You have responded with some very thoughtful ideas which may very well be relevant to this issue. I had previously considered them all myself which is why I only wanted a direct response to a direct question. It appears there is no manner in which a Council can override National policy, or at least no manner which has been shown to me or that I have read. In my dealing with other organizations, this is not always the case. A sub-organization normally has the ability to petition to break the rules in certain cases. Perhaps that was done here. And as you say, perhaps there are circumstances that I am not privy to. Those have been considered and I am waiting for a response from the Council. If that is the case, they need only say that. National has said that the Council should be following the policies. I’ll let you know what happens.

Thank you for contributing. I appreciate it. I have my answer. Best of luck to you!