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seems like skirting the bare minimum

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  • seems like skirting the bare minimum

    I'm spinning off from my own thread because of a situation we have developing. I am honestly interested in other opinions, so please let them fly.

    It is about one newest Eagle candidate. He's 17, turning 18 in late January. He recently completed his project, and had completed all other work. But it is his backstory that is a little troubling.

    His Life BoR was in April '09. Although I didn't witness it, I've been told that at that board he came across as bored and disinterested in the troop. At that point, he had been a patrol leader, but then again, at the time the troop was pretty much allowing do-nothing PoRs. I don't recall him showing up much after that, and he didn't attend summer camp in July. There was an August '09 5-day canoe trip that he went on.

    Over the next couple of years, I don't really recall seeing him at any meetings, except when he came to some specifically to talk to me about two merit badges I counsel. I would guess that this was 2 or 3 meetings. No outings, and that didn't surprise, given that I'd heard that he projected "bored and disinterested" at his Life BoR.

    The next time I heard from him, it was an email note in Aug '11, where it sounded like he was collecting date for an Eagle app (it was a question about the dates of the two merit badges I had signed off). I asked him about that, he confirmed it, and after I checked our Troopmaster records, I sent him a query about his PoR while a Life Scout. He told me that he felt that he had completed it, because it had been signed off in his book by the SPL.

    [more backstory: the troop had major problems with no-nothing PoRs, which included this particular SPL -- we rarely saw him the year he was SPL, but apparently sometime after the Life BoR in 4/09 and the canoe trip, 8/09, he signed off a PoR for this Scout for Eagle; meanwhile an Advancement Chair, now our SM, and I, now our CC, had been working on rebuilding the troop and working on actual fulfillment of PoRs]

    Anyway, a signed-off PoR in a handbook versus no knowledge that a PoR had ever been held.

    Things got messy from there, which I think I can skip over -- CC, dad, Advancement Chair, SM and I all got involved. Scout explored moving to another troop, and was sent back to us (a gentle suggestion that he should work out his problems with us rather than move).

    All that leads to sometime earlier this spring. The old Advancement Chair/new SM has a conference with the returning Scout. They come to an agreement of what the Scout should do in his remaining months. He needed to have an actual PoR, and an easy one (troop historian) that he could work on in his spare time was opened up, he was asked to participate in some troop meetings, and participate in 3 outings. He needed to finish something like 5 merit badges and a project. He was looking to have his application signed this week.

    So actively participating in the PoR hasn't been an issue, although as the recipient of his troop history information, he didn't really spend all that much time on it, and certainly there was no leadership involved. It was kind of bare minimum. His project was finished at the beginning of this month.

    He has shown up to some meetings, but it is the "3 outings" part where we've had an issue. He attended one day hike. No other outings. In fact, only one reported night of camping since Aug '09. The troop has had nine outings, since March, and a couple of service projects. The SM, through email, warned him a couple of months ago that he had agreed to attend some outings. The Scout's response was "I am aware of that."

    When he contacted us about signatures last week, the SM reminded him again about outings, and the Scout said "can't we come to some kind of compromise?". We set up a conference with the Scout, the SM and I last night. We reviewed the project workbook signed that off, then debated the application signatures.

    The Scout's position started with a hardcopy (that a family friend, an old district advancement guy had given him) which explained the old "active = registered" advancement policy. I pointed out to the Scout that the 2011 Guide To Advancement had clarified that a unit is able to set a "reasonable expectation" of participation. In email last night, when I sent him a link to the document, I stated that I thought that the "reasonable expectation" would correspond with the agreement that the SM and the Scout made, for him to attend at least 3 outings, only one of which he had.

    The Scout claimed that he had wanted to attend one outing that had been cancelled (it was an overnight with our Cub Scout Pack that was scuttled with a severe weather forecast) and that on at least two other outings, he had actually been traveling with his family. That leaves about seven outings he isn't talking about.

    The SM's position is pretty clear...the Scout had made an agreement, and didn't take advantage of any of the nine outings that had happened. He argues that if the Scout thinks Eagle is important enough, he would find a way to attend.

    The Scout's position is also pretty clear. He argues that he is busy, and that he had conflicts for outings. After I sent him the link to the Guide To Advancement, he read the section on "active" pretty thoroughly, and was working on an argument that justified his not participating on outings.

    So, as more background...one of his fall conflicts is HS marching band -- my oldest son is in the same band, so I know the schedule. I know that if this Scout wants to, he could probably make appearances at our fall outings (September, there is a Saturday 9am to 2pm rehearsal; October, there is a Sunday event; November, there is a Friday game, and a Sunday parade -- Saturday is open).

    I'm pretty sure what my next steps will be -- I'll outline some of those ideas after I hear what you'se guys have to say...

    By the way, the SM reads this forum, and may respond, especially to clear up any problems with what I've said :-).

    Thanks,
    Guy

  • #2
    I feel your pain and agree with where you are going, but he has met the requirements and the Council would probably side with the boy if you turn him down and he appeals.

    Comment


    • #3
      Can I ask what, exactly, was the purpose of asking him to attend 3 outings? Was it to provide leadership to a bunch of Scouts that he had never really interacted with before, and do you think had he been there, it would have made any difference? Or was it because you could ask him to do that? I'm not suggesting it was an unreasonable request - I am suggesting that maybe it would have been even more reasonable if there hadn't been so much time passing between fall 2009 and spring 2012. I can't help but think that request would actually have created more of a burden on everyone else, than on the Scout (not that he fulfilled the request anyway, or did he - stay tuned) since now you either have "dead weight" on the trips with you or you have younger Scouts wondering just why they should be following this guy. Who benefits by this Scout showing up for a few hours at a campout just to meet this 3 activity requirement? I can't think of anyone.

      When he was more active back in 2009, was it Troop policy that the SPL could sign of on POR's? If so, and the SPL had signed him off on the Life POR, then technically, he really didn't need to do another one and that he did should count as a bonus since the unit changed the rules on that one.

      Then there is this conundrum - would individualized active requirements be considered reasonable? I think we need to read beyond the paragraph heading for active test # 3 which reads: "The Scout meets the unit's reasonable expectations; or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained." The rest of the paragraph reads: "If, for the time period required, a Scout or qualifying Venturer or Sea Scout 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 qualify."

      What jumps at me is the unit's "pre-established expectations". I think there are two possible ways to interpret this. One is that you meet with each individual Scout at BOR's or SM Conferences and develop an individualized plan, as you did with this Scout. I don't believe that this is the actual intent of this paragraph as it would allow abuses of the system - it would allow a SM to require a boy he doesn't like to attend double the activities of a boy he likes. I suppose it could also be argued that the meeting really didn't pre-establish any expectations - it added expectations in the middle of the process (and I would suggest that even if a Scout did nothing for the first 8 months after earning Life, meeting with him 8 months after earning Life is too late to "pre-establish" anything, let alone the time period we're talking here). Plus, it sounds like way too much work to have to keep track of.

      The other intent is for units to develop, and announce, a single set of expectations that everyone is to follow. I believe this is the true intent of the GTA. If we accept that this is the intent, that units develop and announce a single set of expectations, then sitting down with the Scout and agreeing to an individualized plan wasn't the right way to go about it. So then the question becomes, does your unit have a universal set of expectations that apply to all and if not, can you really ding a youth for not meeting an individualized set of expectations that doesn't meet the intent of the GTA definition of active in the first place?

      Next there is this conundrum. The GTA allows for alternatives to the third test of active (which is that the Scout meets the units reasonable expectations). He says he's been busy - he even points out an external program (HS Band) that supports that contention - things like HS sports and band are just the kinds of activities the BSA was referring to in the alternative test - he would likely meet the active test. Now here's the conundrum, if we accept that the intent of the third test is to allow for individualized active expectations, then we must also accept that the alternative to the third test still applies to those individualized expectatons, just as if were a set of universal expectations, which means that even if the Scout accepted the 3 activity threshold, the alternative test can still override that agreement.

      My opinion, based on accepting the latter interpretation, is he's met the BSA's expectation of active, by using the alternative third test, and he should have his paperwork signed.



      Comment


      • #4
        >>After I sent him the link to the Guide To Advancement, he read the section on "active" pretty thoroughly, and was working on an argument that justified his not participating on outings.

        Comment


        • #5
          Did he already think that he'd met the requirement of being active by October 2009? He doesn't have to be active for the time immediately preceding the Eagle award.

          I do think the troop can set reasonable expectations, but they can't be retroactive and take away something that the boy had already done.

          If the requirements were set before the boy began his tenure as a Life Scout, then I would side with the troop. But in this case it sounds like the requirement had been completed earlier.

          If there are "reasonable expectations", I think that they should be stated for everyone.

          In this case, I would sign it and move on, and make sure I've clarified the rules going forward.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am inclined to agree with the other comments. Even if the SM refuses to sign the eagle application, an eagle BOR will likely approve the award, and if an eagle BOR does not, the council will. If the SM feels strongly enough that the youth was less than sincere throughout all the described course of dealing, perhaps the SM should simply not sign the application as the SM's form of personal protest. However, you would all do well to resign yourselves to the inevitability of this young man getting his eagle.

            We had a somewhat similar situation in our troop a few years ago. The issues were different, but neither the SM nor the CC would sign the eagle application and council gave the young man his eagle anyway, without going to national.

            I am somewhat apalled at the idea of youth leadership signing off on POR requirements. Having youth leaders sign off on T21 requirements is one thing, but the POR fulfillment should be up to the SM. In my mind it is part of what the SM does.(This message has been edited by eisely)

            Comment


            • #7
              I replied earlier in the other thread about measuring it straight by if the scout met the eagle requirements. If he did, sign off.

              I also have another perspective. If the scout is turning 18 in a few months, he's been in the program for 7+ years. Probably cub scouts before it. Scouting represents probably over half his life. BUT ... most of his friends have probably moved on. A few might be left. The majority of his scouting experience was from when he was 10/11 years old thru probably 14/15 years old. It's a pretty common pattern. Scouts begin to discover girls, start working at scout camps or "real" jobs and just exploring other aspects of life.

              Though we want the scout as involved currently as we are involved currently, take another perspective. This kid is still coming back. He still values scouting. Even with everything else in life, this kid still values something about scouting. I think that's great. If the scout completed the Eagle requirements, I'd be proud to sign his eagle application.

              The simple fact is that a 10/11 year old boy is going to be wide eye open, nervous but also excited about scouting. A 17 year old boy has been-there, done-that. He's looking at many other things happening or about to happen in his life. Don't penalize him for it. Celebrate that he keeps coming back and give him a positive experience to end his short-term scouting career. Heck, this kid will probably re-engage scouting with his kids later in life.

              Comment


              • #8
                Don't assume the SM will be overruled. One of my predecessors as SM in our troop had a similiar issue several years ago and would not sign off. The scout appealed to council and they backed the SM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree with Calico, Eagledad, OakTree, etc., however...

                  I still think this situation can be salvaged, perhaps not to everyone's complete satisfaction, but at least so that this Scout does live up to (or somewhere close to) the commitment he made rather than spending his last five months as a Scout preparing for his future career as a lawyer by parsing every syllable and comma in the Guide to Advancement, and then on to the "dispute procedure" and possibly an appeal. (And the current version of that book, at least the chapter on Eagle advancements and BOR's, was pretty clearly written or at least heavily edited by lawyers and reads largely like a legal document.) The way I read the GTA (section 8.0.3.2), he WILL get a BOR if he asks for one (although I think the lawyers need to do a little more work clarifying that section), although of course these issues may be raised.

                  But is that even necessary? He still has five months. As you say, he can attend at least single days of two outings in that time. Maybe he should do more, but it's a reasonable compromise. I'll bet that if everybody is trying, he can find a night to spend camping with the troop, and then make the other outing a day hike. Or let HIM organize a day hike with his patrol, on a day of HIS choosing. Maybe the SM and another adult can go also. Make sort of a fun thing out of it, "Johnny's Eagle Hike". Or has too much "bad blood" built up for that? That would be a shame. As some other posters have pointed out, he has already done a lot with the troop. So he got bored after awhile. He still stuck it out, and here he is at the "finish line" -- not in the way "we" would ideally like, but there he is. Hopefully this can still be turned from a negative into a positive.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yah, GKlose, I think yeh know the right answer, eh?

                    The lad hasn't demonstrated to yeh anything resembling what yeh would consider "active", or "scout spirit", or genuinely servin' the troop responsibly.

                    I think yeh set yourself and the boy up for failure when yeh gave him a make-believe POR and make-believe option to demonstrate "active" by comin' on 3 outings. Yeh thought yeh were bein' nice, but that sort of thing never really addresses the issue. The boy should have had to convince the SPL that he was ready and able to do a job, by showin' up a whole bunch of times and helpin' out at various events just to demonstrate to the SPL that he could be relied on. Only when the SPL was comfortable with the lad's commitment and responsibility should he have been considered for a POR.

                    I see this a lot, eh? Adults who try to bend over backwards for a boy, and break da system. That never helps the boy or the unit. Active is active, responsible is responsible, to serve in a position of responsibility yeh have to demonstrate responsibility before anyone is goin' to trust you with a position.

                    So now, what do you do?

                    Our esteemed colleagues will tell yeh that yeh follow da paperwork, so that the boy learns that he is entitled to positions and jobs, and that he is entitled to awards without work, and he can get what he wants by lawyering the fine print instead of behaving with honor.

                    I say balderdash. I just can't figure out for da life of me why all da non-lawyers want to treat da advancement regs in ways that only da worst of the legal profession would treat real laws. :P

                    Yeh serve the boys in your troop and this boy by saying you're sorry, he did not meet your expectations for bein' an active member, he did not meet anyone's reasonable definition of scout spirit, and he should be ashamed as a 17-year-old doin' such a half-hearted job on a POR. Yeh document this thoroughly and refuse to sign his application. Yah, yah, and yeh do it in a way that tries to elicit from him an understanding, and yeh do it with regret and compassion, but yeh do it.

                    Then yeh wash your hands of the matter. He's welcome to appeal, and I wouldn't speculate on da outcome of that. I would expect from what I know of da way these things are being approached that given your documentation the outcome of such an appeal at both da council and national levels would be negative. I wouldn't worry about it or let it upset yeh, though. You've done your part, and that's all you are accountable for. Since he's not an active member in your program, I'd think yeh are under no obligation to offer an Eagle COH.

                    Beavah

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      "Scout explored moving to another troop, and was sent back to us (a gentle suggestion that he should work out his problems with us rather than move)."

                      Nice the unit did the right thing. I wish I had received the same courtesy a few years ago when we caught a scout cheating on his fundraising (unauthorized fundraising and misappropriating money). Committee suspended him so he joined another troop and got Eagle in 2 weeks.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oh, and he'll be an Eagle irregardless of the SM signing off or not.
                        Saw an appeal go two full years until National sided with the scout, he got Eagle. There was even a thread on it here, maybe the longest one in history if you care to read it. Everyone swore it was BS and it couldn't go that long but it did. I knew both parties personally.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          First, let me say I like NJCubScouter's approach to this.

                          The young man still has 5 months before he turns 18. That's a long time. Try to give him - and you, and the troop - a way to end this well. A power play over whether he actually needs to attend a certain number of additional outings isn't going to get you there.

                          Maybe instead of focusing on the "3 outing requirement" for the sake of the three outings (wow, what fun is that - "You must attend 3 times or else!"), you or the SM or somebody can sit with him and ask him to see things from your side. Explain to him what you perceive to have been a problem with the troop in the past (lax leadership, weak PORs, no accountability, resulting in missed opportunities for boys to grow and learn in a fun program). Help him see where the program is heading now, and why you think that's good.

                          Then ask him: How does he think he might contribute to that? Can he see his way to being part of that? Could he recognize that what you're really after with the "three outings" thing isn't to get your pound of flesh out of him, but to ask him to help set an example for younger guys and teach them some of what he knows?

                          Without knowing the kid or his parents, it is hard to say if this might work. But ya know, treat him like the adult he almost is, instead of a sulky 14 year old that he may have been at his Life board in 2009, and he might just surprise you with what he's willing to do.

                          Or not. Like I said, hard to know from a distance.

                          But whatever else, since his Life board was more than 3 years ago, I really think you all need to let go of whether he "came across as bored" in April of 2009. Maybe he *was* bored with the troop back then - possibly because the troop, as you describe, didn't have a very good program up to that point. But whatever the reason for his attitude in April 2009, that was a REALLY long time ago in his life. Thank goodness boys grow up and mature a lot between the ages of 14 and 17!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Call BS on the BS and let the chips fall where they may.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Looking at this......I bet it happens a lot.

                              So dropping all that boy lead crap.....


                              How does a SM keep an eye on his charges to head this nonsense off at the pass????

                              Comment

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