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by mark ray WHAT I’VE LEARNED

Hal Daumé How to succeed with a smile, a silver tongue, and plenty of ‘cookies.’

FactSheet Hal Daumé


CURRENT CITY: Berkeley Heights, N.J.

HAL DAUMÉ’S SCOUTING CAREER got off to an auspicious start when he joined Cub Scouting and had Mrs. Wolf as his first den leader. He was surprised that his next den leader wasn’t Mrs. Bear—and even more sur- prised a few years later when his first two Boy Scout troops were flops. The third troop was great, however, and he was hooked. After Daumé’s younger

CURRENT POSITIONS: Member, BSA National Advancement Advisory Panel; unit commissioner; council advisory board member; board member, U.S. Scouting Service Project; author, “Ask Andy” Scouting advice column

DAY JOB: Managing director, Inter-National Consulting Group, LLC

FAVORITE CAMP:Camp Kern (Southern Sierra Council, Bakersfield, Calif.), which has the finest staff development I’ve ever seen, topping even Philmont

PROUDEST MOMENTS IN SCOUTING: At my younger son’s Eagle ceremony, I was asked to do the Eagle charge, and I was so emotionally choked up I totally blew it. (He forgave me!)


son became a Boy Scout, Daumé decided to give him space and become a unit com- missioner, relinquishing his Scoutmaster role. He’s been serving in that role ever since. In 2001, realizing that

there weren’t enough com- missioners to go around, Daumé created the “Ask Andy” advice column. Since then, he’s written more than 300 columns that have been read by Scouters from every BSA council and more than 40 countries.

WHY DO YOU ENJOY SERVING AS A COMMISSIONER? It’s as close to ground level as you can be without being the unit leader. Yes, you’re at a distance from the Scouts, but you get to see the unit mature and grow, and you know that you’ve contributed to that.

SCOUTING ¿  

HOW DO YOU AS A COM- MISSIONER CONTRIBUTE TO STRENGTHENING A UNIT? I give attaboys as often as I can. That sounds more like a velvet glove than an iron fist. We have no iron fists. We only have three things: our smiles, our silver tongues, and cookies.

COOKIES? If you’re a guest in someone’s home, and you’re going to hang around awhile, don’t you bring cookies? As commissioners, our “cookies” may be a flyer about Cub Scout day camp, or some more infor- mation on the NYLT course in the council, or a brochure about NAYLE, or information on Philmont treks. When we show up, people are anticipating it. That’s a lot better than, “Oh brother, here he comes again.”

YOU’VE SAID YOU OFFER PRESCRIP- TIONS THAT LEAD TO SOLUTIONS RATHER THAN SOLUTIONS THEM- SELVES. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? When I first started writing “Andy,” people would ask questions, and I’d quote them chapter and verse out of BSA literature. Then I realized that’s like handing a man a fish instead of teaching him how to fish. So I changed, and instead of quoting, I’d tell folks, “The answer’s in the Scoutmaster Handbook on page 54.” What’s my goal?

To get people reading. If they crack open a handbook, they’re going to learn something.

HOW ELSE DO YOU, AS A COMMIS- SIONER, HELP YOUR UNITS? I present charters annually to every one of my units, and I ask the people who are involved in the troop to stand. Then I say, “If you’re a parent and you’re sitting, shake the hand of a standing parent and tell them that you’re going to follow them.” The current volunteers love this because it helps them recruit the next generation.


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