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Is it ever appropriate to "slow" a Scout's advancement?

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  • Is it ever appropriate to "slow" a Scout's advancement?

    I know a SM in my district who feels that Scouts "advancing too quickly" should be "slowed down". He also believes that boys should be "older" when they take on positions of responsibility because it will mean more to them.

    I'm not sure I disagree with him but his definitions of "advancing too quickly" and "older", as well as his methods for "slowing people down", sort of raise my hackles a bit. From my conversation with him, Scouts who advance at a rate that would have them at Eagle at/before 16 YO are moving too quickly. In his opinion, a 14-15 YO Eagle is unacceptable regardless of the boy's ability or motivation.

    Most concerning to me are the several methods that he uses to "slow them down". He described them like tools in a toolbox with a certain gleam in his eye. Here are his favorites:

    - Cancel or delay a SM conference until after a COH. He says that this can delay a boy for months because Scouts often forget to reschedule until just before the next COH.

    - Require a Scout to schedule an appointment with the Troop Advancment Chair to guarantee that all of his MB records or service hours are properly recorded before he can schedule a SM Conference. This is not Troop policy and only boys he wants to "slow down" are told to do it.

    - Refuse to accept positions like bugler, librarian, historian, scribe, etc as leadership. He wants younger boys to serve as PLs and, if they are not elected, to wait until they are. He only allows older boys in the SPL election and has once nixed the choice of a younger ASPL.

    - Require a Scout to do extra months in a leadership position because of a missed outing (1 missed outing = 1 extra month). This also applies to younger boys who missed Summer Camp due to events like Jamboree but not to older boys who missed who went to Philmont or "are bored of Summer Camp".

    - Talk to the Scout and convince him that his parents are pushing him too hard and that he should be having more fun.

    I should mention that this man has been SM of a Troop of ~65 boys for about 6 years now. He is very highly respected and well liked inside and outside the troop. His churn rate is a bit high but otherwise he's considered a stellar leader in these parts.

    In your experiences, does this sound appropriate to you?

    Does BSA have any specific guidelines or recommendations about age and rank?


  • LanceEagle
    This seems to be a case of a Scouter putting himself, and his personal views, ahead of what's best for the scouts. I agree fully that scouts who proactively, plan, prepare and complete the necessary advancement requirements should be permitted to advance without having 'roadblocks' placed in their path by SM's who are of the belief that a boy should not be allowed to advance too quickly or achieve Eagle before a certain age. I also could not disagree more with those Scouters who insist that all scouts who have a sincere desire to advance are somehow not enjoying their scouting experience because they are focusing on advancing.

    Ultimately all boys should be allowed to advance based on their own willingness to do so. A scout who is active and who rightfully takes the necessary steps to successfully complete the requirements needed to advance in rank, should have that opportunity and should not be held back based on a personal opinion of a SM. There's simply no basis for that within the BSA program and within the requirements as outlined.

    By the same token, if a scout chooses to take it slow or perhaps not focus on advancment at all, then that's completely fine as well. Let each scout choose his own path. Spur those who may want and need extra support, but don't penalize those who have the initiative and drive to achieve ranks on their own.

    I would recommend talking with you SM first, one on one, as a courtesy. If no resolution, and it sounds like that is likely, bring it to your TC and then, if necessary, to Council.

    Leave a comment:

  • fred johnson
    I just caught up on reading this thread. I saw that an earlier poster said their unit defined expecations that included " for the last 6 months ".

    "for the last six months" ... You can do that because your scouts might not know better. But the BSA GTA doesn't defend that. You can set expectations, but once met, they are met. You can't say "for the last six months". BSA GTA PDF Page 21 point three says "If, for the time period, a scout or ....meets those aspects of his unit’s pre-established expectations that refer to a level of activity, then he is considered active and the requirement is met. Time counted as "active" need not be consecutive. A boy may piece together any times he has been active and still qualifying."

    I think this is where units often get in trouble. The BSA advancement expectations are actually pretty manageable as far as time is concerned. I think I remember seeing it's possible for a scout who's 12 years old to even earn eagle. BSA only requires 16 total months of activity for Eagle.

    Units get in trouble because they lose connection with the scout for a period of time, LEAVE THE SCOUT ON THE ROSTER and then the scout comes back to claim his advancement as is his right. If you choose to have the scout on your roster, then the scout has a right to claim his advancement. There is no "for the last XXX months".

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  • Basementdweller
    commented on 's reply
    that is ridiculous.....this isn't cub scouts......

    Do your best and that is good enough.....

    Either he does it or he doesn't.....

    Here is a rope, tie me a bowline, what is it used for.........Did he do it does he know what it is used for....

    Here is an egg, cook it for me.....he does or doesn't do it..

    Pitch this tent in the best spot in this field.....he does or doesn't......why did you pick that spot.....

  • fred johnson
    commented on 's reply
    Your council's interpretation is NOT supported by a clear text reading of the BSA GTA. Heck the title itself is "Alternative to the third test if expectations are not met". There is no wording in the BSA GTA 2011 page 21 that defends your council's interpretation.

  • jblake47
    Every boy is different. Every boy learns in different ways. To sum total it down to a set of rules is pretty much a waste of time and can in fact turn off a lot of active/super achieving scouts.

    As a boy-led type of person, when I had a young TF come to me and say he was needing service project hours for advancement, I asked him what he was doing about it. When it dawned on him that sitting around waiting for someone else to plan it out was a virtual waste of time, he went out contacted the DNR and set up a project and invited the troop to participate. I'm glad I didn't tell him he needed to be wearing a POR patch or over 13 years old to do that. Was that going above and beyond the scope of participating in a 1 hour service project? Yep. So what? He learned something, he organized something and he had fun. End of discussion. It would have been okay with me if he waited for the next service project to come along, and it would have been okay with me what he ended up doing. The boy made his own decision and went after it. I really don't see it in the realm of the SM to dictate to the boys what they can and can't do. Mentoring means giving opportunities, not taking them away.

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  • blw2
    Now as a boy, I went through cubs but I didn't get very far along the path in Boy Scouts.... I'm a Cub Leader now, so I don't have experience in this area...... BUT I sure don't like the sounds of this leader.

    I understand that if a boy isn't mature enough and isn't doing a good job I a given position he shouldn't get credit for it as if he did well.....
    An example that I can think of..... At my church, there are a couple small garden areas with a bench or two set, nice landscaping, etc.... and a small sign indicating that it was so & so's Eagle project.... a good effort, but the benches aren't even sitting level! Bugs me every time in fact last Sunday I said to my wife I had half a mind to sneak out some Saturday after noon and level them out! I don't know what the project requirements are exactly, but I might believe that there would be room for slowing something like that down.....

    .....but why squash enthusiasm? What's wrong with a young Eagle? Seems to me that a troop would benefit from having a few eagles in the troop for a while, as opposed to the boys that earn eagle then age out the next day. An active eagle in the troop could be an inspiration to the younger boys..... make the rank seem more achievable..... and it could help the young eagle by being in a position of seniority and leadership.

    No sir, don't like it at all and in fact I think I would have to call him on it. Not right to make up rules.

    Leave a comment:

  • Venividi
    commented on 's reply
    Perhaps some people view a unit that has high, yet realistic standards is really just a unit that is needlessly holding a kid back until they "deserve to be eagle".

    If kids are quiting because knot tying and cooking is too much work, that should not mean that standards should be lowered so that it is easier for them. There may be other factors that can be looked at: perhaps there isn't sufficient "fun factor" in the program; i.e, patrol vs patrol competitions on scout skills, with recognition for best patrol; cooking competitions at campouts, perhaps one with the mayor and/or teachers invited as tasters; a skills teaching weekend where scouts teach scout skills to webelos scouts. Heck, I've even seen a troop where scouts have a day when scouts teach scout skills to parents. It gives scouts a reason to spend time practicing skills, becasue there is a worthwhile goal.
    I'm with qwazse. Yes, high school students have many demands on their time. They must prioritize, and they will make time for those activities that are worthwhile and meaningful to them. If the troop program is structured to rely on older scouts, making them feel that they are needed (and the program has prepared them), many of the high school aged boys will continue to come. If the program is the same old same old, with mostly hanging out, then they will spend there time on things that are more meaningful and challenging to them (and for some, that is computer games).
    Give them a reason to give the troop a high priority in their lives.
    Last edited by Venividi; 05-21-2013, 12:08 PM.

  • qwazse
    commented on 's reply
    Yes, very important activities like playing online games,breaking the axles on their 4WD, working to pay for the next game system, guitar, threads for the school dance, fuel-injection system, bling for the girlfriend, etc ... I'm sorry, but the HS kids who I see making Eagle are the ones who are very active in church and band/sports, make high marks in school, attend the occasional dance or two, and maybe even pick up a nice girlfriend along the way. They show up at meetings, and call in when they can't make it. Even when they turn 18, are taking intensive college classes, pulling double-shifts at work, or maybe even married, they apologize for not coming around very often!
    So, although I don't believe in making a gung-ho 12 y.o. kid (emphasis on *kid* not parent thereof) wait out some bureaucratic clock, I do believe that a lot of the Life/Eagle requirements are intended for 15-17 year old boys whose lives may be very full. (E.g., Family-Life, Personal Management, Personal Fitness, and Lifesaving start to take on real adult meanings.) A boy has no less chance of making Eagle in High School than he does in Jr. High. In fact, by High School they boy has made a lot of connections that my inspire his choices in MB's, leadership training, and service projects.

  • eghiglie
    If the kid has done his best, meets the requirements and performs the actions required then don't hold them back. Many troops do hold kids back until they "deserve to be Eagle" and good luck to them. With the number of kids that quit because tying knots and cooking is too much work you try to do what you can with what you have. I recall a few years that the national average is just under 15 yo. Once high school hits their time becomes precious and scarce with homework and other activities.

    Leave a comment:

  • mozartbrau
    Originally posted by fred8033 View Post
    Slight correction. Alternative only applies if troop has pre-established expectations and the scout does not meet those. If the troop does not have pre-established (i.e. written), the third test is passed. You only use the alternative if the scout fails to meet documented written pre-existing unit expectations. "Alternative to the third test if expectations are not met: If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity oriented expectations, then.... "
    I asked that very question of Council. What I got back was for the third test was:

    - Troop has pre-established activity guidelines? If so, the Scout must meet them. If not, then he can explain why using that alternate test.
    - Troop does not have pre-established guidelines? Then the alternate test is automatically in play.

    According to my Council, a unit wants to give the benefit of the doubt to the Scout but establish procedures if he does not meet certain guidelines. To automatically pass a Scout as "active" simply because a unit does not have written attendance guidelines was apprrently not the intent of this passage. At least, that's what my Council said so I have to go with that.

    Leave a comment:

  • fred8033
    commented on 's reply
    Slight correction. Alternative only applies if troop has pre-established expectations and the scout does not meet those. If the troop does not have pre-established (i.e. written), the third test is passed. You only use the alternative if the scout fails to meet documented written pre-existing unit expectations.

    "Alternative to the third test if expectations are not met: If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity oriented expectations, then.... "
    Last edited by fred8033; 04-17-2013, 02:17 PM.

  • Basementdweller
    commented on 's reply
    In the SMC.......the boy who answers yes or no to all the questions even if you go fish for more answers....

    Your in band? yes
    I understand you play trumpet, how do you like playing? yes
    any challenges in play? Nope.

  • Sqyire21
    commented on 's reply
    I'm confused by your questoin. "yes and no kinda guy?" Yes, you're right, the conference is pretty much pass/fail.. but if the scout says he's really done with scouting and doesn't want to be here.. should you pass him? What if he says something contrary to scouting? You can fail them... But, if a scout isn't present or participating in the scouting program...the SM doesn't have to agree to hold the conference... or he can agree to hold the conference, and say "I don't agree you're active enough, and until you improve, I won't sign off on this requirement." I see nothing wrong with that. No tricks. Nothing underhanded. If you're not up to scratch..tell them so.. and see if they improve.

  • Brewmeister
    If a boy is truly motivated and needs a POR, there is always Den Chief. This is truly the most underutilized position out there. It's also one of the most time consuming. But it really puts the onus on the boy--if he is truly seeking the opportunity he wants and needs there it is.

    Leave a comment: