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The BSA with no rank advancement

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  • #16

    When I was a teenager, my best friend's parents bought a Dairy Queen franchise. The very first thing the corporate trainer taught us? Always use the term "product" instead of "ice cream."

    By law, soft serve is not ice cream, in the same way that (in the absence of a free market) the BSA's "product" is not Scouting.

    Perhaps it is helpful to refer to our mess as the "BSA's product," since most of the problems we discuss stem from the fact that (hidden by BSA training) we have replaced Scouting with stuff that boys hate, have always hated, and will continue to hate until the end of time.

    Basementdweller writes:

    "But so many adults are Rank driven....If we removed that component of the program, which it seems brings the worst out in some folks, what would the Boy Scouting Look like......"

    Actually, "rank advancement" refers to two components, neither of which are Baden-Powell's Scouting (which is to say "Scouting" in the rest of the world).

    "Rank" in Scouting refers to a leadership position. In real Scouting, the central Rank is "Patrol Leader." The purpose of a Patrol Leader is to get a Patrol into the backwoods without adult supervision. Or, when Patrols camp together as a Troop, the purpose of a Patrol Leader is to camp a Patrol 300 feet from the nearest Patrol. The purpose of a Patrol Leader in the BSA's product is as a generic, interchangeable six-month "POR" to teach office cubical success formulas using trained, two-deep helicopters and "controlled failure."

    There are no "POR" requirements in Scouting. A natural leader freely gives his time to others. Patrol Leaders are appointed by the Scoutmaster in consultation with the Patrol and/or Court of Honor (PLC). A Patrol Leader is chosen for his ability to move a Patrol through the backwoods without injury to the Patrol members, and his ability to run a Troop without a "Committee" of indoor mommies and daddies. For this reason alone most Wood Badgers point with pride to the fact that the BSA's product is the opposite of Scouting, designed instead to "teach boys about democracy" through six month popularity contests and (as a natural consequence) constant adult surveillance.

    There is no "Advancement" in Scouting. The closest equivalent would be "Current Proficiency," or "Progressive training in Scoutcraft and Public Service skills." Current Proficiency means constant retesting. To wear any award patch in Scouting, a Scout must repass his "qualifying badges" (such as a first aid Public Service badge) every 12-18 months. The BSA's product is the opposite of Scouting, represented neatly by the slogan of Scoutcraft incompetency "Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle." In other words the ability of an Eagle to tie a clove hitch or save a life is trivial. What's important is "character and leadership:" Which boils down to an Eagle's opinions, and his ability to build a park bench using pop CEO-wannabe theory.

    There are no Boards of Review or Scout Spirit requirements in Scouting. In the BSA product, "Boy Led" means adult-controlled.

    There are no hated schoolwork badges in Scouting. Scouting is designed to appeal to outdoor boys. The BSA product is the opposite of Scouting, designed for parlor boys by the morbidly obese: Professional BSA millionaires who hate camping.

    There are no "service hour" requirements in Scouting. A Scout freely gives his time to others. Baden-Powell called that "Practical Christianity." In the BSA's product, boys are taught to extract compensation for services rendered. Why not just pay them to love Jesus?

    Yours at 300 feet,



    • packsaddle
      packsaddle commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, I can tell you this: I just love reading you, Kudu, and Basement's plain spokenness. Thanks for sticking around.

      Kudu, after reading the above, I'm almost sorry I started that thread over in the Woodbadge forum in which I asked 'Why Woodbadge?'. But who knows, maybe someone will have a good response to it.

    • King Ding Dong
      King Ding Dong commented
      Editing a comment
      Pack I hope they do respond. I am interested in it but I want to know more about what the benefits are. What the BSA provides may not be Scouting, but that is the program we are working with.

      I know with my son we are just going to focus on the Scoutcraft skills and fun stuff for now. At summer camp he is signed up for pioneering, basketry, cooking, geology and swimming. He is weak on knots, but we have acouple of weeks home together to work on those. We have two nurses in the troop so they will work on FA. Maybe in the fall he might tackle 1 eagle required like personal fitness. He needs that focus on building his strength.

      He likes geology and is always curious what kind of rock something he picks up is. On a hike he found a 7 lb sandstone and insisted on putting in his pack and bringing it home.

      I known there are school systems that fall short on civics, but it seems like he gets enough of that in school. The three Citizenship MBs just seem like not fun and overkill.

      I will have to go back and look at some of Kudu's previous posts.

    • Basementdweller
      Basementdweller commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks I think????

  • #17
    <<I recall, as a scout in the '70s, some encouragement. But not much. Most leaders took the angle: If you want to earn Eagle, great, get to work and let me know how it goes. If you don't, that's fine, glad you are in the troop, hope you are enjoying the camping and backpacking.


    During my term as Scoutmaster from 1982-1987, my emphasis was to offer opportunities for boys to earn Tenderfoot through 1st class. Boys who wanted to do more were welcome to do so, but it wasn't a part of my troop program.

    I still think the MOST IMPORTANT rank is First Class. We sell the promise of learning to be a competent hiker and camper to attract boys into Boy Scouts, and that's whatFirst class ought to represent.


    • #18
      Boy Scouts has simply become an "Eagle" Factory..Scouts no longer Earn Rank they simply advance on a Timeline. They Progress simply by having little or No skills. we have adopted a "No Scout Left Behind" concept in fear we will offend them.

      I helped a new scout the other night on fussing and whipping a rope because the Star and Life Scouts did not know how to do it.
      Scouts no longer have to learn and retain knowledge


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        JP, happens all the time to me as well. But, I'd tell the T2FC scout "excuse me one moment while I give your SPL/PL a refresher course."

        Then I tell the older scout to abandon that EDGE method, get with the younger scout and his book and the both of them learn together by my tried-and-true referential learning method.

        Nobody is off the hook because of a lapse of memory.

      • perdidochas
        perdidochas commented
        Editing a comment
        If the older scouts can't whip a rope, it's not the boys fault--it's the leaders' fault for not having enough opportunities to do it. Personally, I think whipping a rope is almost an obsolete skill (yes, I can do it, and I'm pretty good at it), as most ropes now are fused. I know in "real" life I never whip a rope, but I often fuse a rope. That said, I'm not a sailor.

        I don't understand the problem with EDGE. It's basic teaching--tell how to do it, show it, help them do it, and give them a chance to do it. The real problem is that we are not doing the EDGE method, not some problem with the EDGE method. The problem is we are not doing the last E. If we were, we wouldn't be having problem reteaching it.

        I think an easy way to increase knot knowledge by scouts is to have a bucket full of 2-3 ft long pieces of rope. If scouts have rope available, they will tie knots. Before long, you have an impromptu knot contest. Until a year ago, my troop met in a church gym, that we shared with every other group that our COR offered. They gave us an old classroom trailer for our use last October. I've seen an improvement in knot knowledge because we have that bucket of rope always available.

    • #19
      Nearly all the problems that I've had with advancement have been due to parents and people who fail to grasp and understand the methods of scouting.
      There are times when I read about some poor little Lad who is held up on a pedestal for becoming "The youngest Eagle Scout" or "The youngest Scout to earn each and every merit badge"
      I say that he is a poor little fellow, because to my way of thinking he has been cheated or maybe even robbed of the opportunity to enjoy the journey .

      Some years back when I served as District Chairman, one of my goals was to update and make the List of District Merit Badge Counselors a tool that really worked.
      The list we had over the years had been re-formatted but never really gone over and brought up to date.
      Some people on the list had moved and the list didn't have the right address or phone number, some people had quit Scouting and no longer had any involvement and a good many of the people on the list were no more, they were dead.
      Working with the District Advancement Chair. And the Dean of Merit Badges, we tried to contact or find out who was where and who wanted to remain on the list.
      It didn't take long for us to find out that the task was more than we could manage.
      So the District Committee (With a lot of help from me.) Made it known that the list was being done away with in six months time and a new list would be made available. Anyone wanting to be on the new District Merit Badge list would have to apply and the District Advancement Committee would approve or not approve the application.

      Boy oh Boy!! Did I ever get it.
      Some people thought that I was being very unfair. I received a few nasty emails and the parking lot meetings held after R/T and other District meetings lasted longer than ever.
      The District Advancement Chair. Who was and still is a very nice fellow had requested that unless there were special circumstances, that people not apply for more than five badges.
      There was one ASM in a Troop that was on the old list down for 137!
      Of course I knew and the Advancement Chair. knew that according to the guide lines that National put out, we couldn't stop anyone being a MBC for more than five, but the guide lines didn't say that the anyone would be guaranteed to be on the list for more than five.

      Six months past and soon after we had our new list,
      The Advancement Committee and the Dean of MB's had worked their tails off.
      I was very proud that one of my goals had been reached.

      A little while later I just happened to be in the Council Service Center when a Scouter from the District arrived.
      He was getting ready for a COH that was happening later that week. He had a big stack of blue cards.
      The nice Lady who works in the Council Scout Shop gave him the badges that he asked for.
      I was a little upset and called the Council Advancement Chair. Telling him that it was a waste of the Districts time, working on District MB Lists and having people apply to be MBC's if at the end of the day no one in the Service Center was checking the Blue Cards.
      He must have talked with someone?
      I received a call from our DE saying that the girls in the "Office" were in an uproar telling the SE that they just didn't have time to check these Blue Cards.
      Oh! Well You win some and you lose some.


      • #20
        My general observation, though, is that the scouts enjoying the program are earning rank the fastest. I don't think getting rid of rank advancement will fix the ills of BSA. I think reducing paperwork merit badges would be the best thing to do. I would combine the three citizenship badges back into one. I would combine Family Life and Personal management into a single badge. I would add to the outdoors badges required.


        • skeptic
          skeptic commented
          Editing a comment
          Our office no longer keeps a copy of the blue card, just the advancement report. So, if a merit badge is to verified as from a registered counselor, then it is up to the unit to do it. Most actually do; but I am sure there are a few that just shrug it off as a minor detail or unneeded chore.

      • #21
        Joining the party late, but oh well.

        So far oldest has visited 2 troop meetings and camped with 2 troops for a total of 4. First pushed the advancement angle, but had serious challenges over the weekend camp out. Kinda sad when a dad had to mime to his First Class scout what to do, and the SM was speaking very loudly to another leader while his scouts are within hearing range. Oldest was not impressed.

        Second troop let the Scouts have fun with the Webelos, to the point that an adult cooked dinner so they could have more fun, plus the cook is an awesome chef. BUT the scouts did the clean up and were in charge. Son had a very good time and brought back memories.

        Third troop was the "organized chaos" meeting. Older guys were preparing to go backpacking for a week on the AT, younger guys not going were working on basic scout skills with 2 older scouts not going on the AT trip.

        Fourth Troop was another organized chaos one. Relatively new troop, been around about 3-4 year now, but leaders are outstanding. SPL didn't show up, but one of the PLs stepped up to the plate. OK the meeting didn't turn out as it was planned, but the PL adapted, improvised, and overcame. Everyone had fun.

        The comment made by three of the troops was that we will provide you the opportunity for advancement, but you are responsible for doing, getting it recorded, and keeping track of it.

        And what made me proud of my son was the following, "Dad, I want to join a troop that camps a lot."


        • desertrat77
          desertrat77 commented
          Editing a comment
          Eagle92, thanks, that made my day!

      • #22
        If Boy Scouting were indeed simply an "Eagle Factory," you would think that there would be a much higher percentage of boys earning Eagle. Instead it sits at 7% in 2012--a year when boys were particularly motivated because of the centennial. Most years it's about 4%. Granted, a higher percentage than in the 60's, but hardly indicative of an epidemic of "high-speed, low-drag" mediocrity.

        When I read comments about adults who earned their Eagles back in the glory days of scouting, and how inadequate everybody that has come after them is by comparison, it sounds like the most petty bunch of sour grapes. I can just see the same adults on their rocking chairs on porches some day, entertaining their grandkids with stories of how they had to walk 20 miles to school each day, uphill both ways, in snowstorms that lasted well into July.
        Last edited by Brewmeister; 08-16-2013, 11:44 AM.


        • #23
          We have a troop that brags that their Eagle percentage is 80% of boys that join. Explain to me exactly how is that possible????

          While I don't think that the BSA is just an Eagle Mill....There are units that abuse it and then BSA simply becomes another class room exercise.

          So with falling membership numbers why is the percentages on eagle going up??? More dedicated youth??? Easier requirements????