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  • SM approval?

    Youth must be under the age of 21, hold the BSA First Class rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach, be elected by the youth members of their troop or team.

    what factors should a scoutmaster take into account when giving approval? or should all boys who have all the other requirements met go up for election and be left up to the boys vote?

    it's something that was never discussed with SM training and I haven't seen the question asked before. I ask as someone who may soon be taking on SM position and with a troop that for years has not had a SM who was OA member and just let all boys who met requirements go up for election and our last few elections have been very "popularity" vote rather than boys who are "honor" scouts and just wondering if the SM approval would solve this issue.

  • #2
    I'll be honest that is a toughie. Growing up, the OA had a tougher unit election process and, with the exception of when new scouts joined the troop and when I heard how a SM rigged an election so everyone got in under the old rules, even is a lazy, good for nothing "scout" was eligible, the scouts in the troop would not elect that person. They wanted to make sure the OA took the best. In your shoes, I'd try to get the concept of the OA being the best in scouting and get the "culture" within the troop that the scouts will select the best and not have to worry about it.

    But here is my $.02 worth.

    1) Carefully review and think about does the scout live up to the concept of service. Is he one who may be a PITB all the time, or most of the time BUT does work with the younger scouts, does his responsibilities with the patrol and troop, etc.

    2) Think if the scout is really living up to the Oath and Law.

    3) If you think a scout isn't worthy of being on the ballot then you need to do the following.

    A) I'd talk to him and counsel him before the unit election. I'd use the Socratic method to get him to realize that he isn't ready for the OA yet and that you will not approve him for the ballot.

    B) DO NOT SIGN OFF FOR HIM TO BE ON THE BALLOT!!!! (caps for emphasis. If you read some of my previous posts on the topic, you know why.)

    As stated above I'd try to develop a culture within the troop that OA is for the "best in Scouting." Reinforce the concepts of "who is the person most likely to help you out on a trip and in life overall?" "Who is really sets the example?" and "Who would you want with you in the backcountry when things go wrong and you need everyone working together?" Or to redo that last one, ' who would you trust with your life in the backcountry if things went wrong?"

    But if you do let the Scouts decide on their own and you approve everyone,then you must be prepared for Scouts to elect the one you you personally wouldn't approve. I had one SM approve everyone, and when the one he didn't think should be elected did, he wanted the Scout to be removed and the team would not do it, and I backed them up to the hilt.

    So if you trust your scouts, you gotta let them make the mistakes.

    Good luck


    • #3
      Be careful not to "add to the requirements." This thing about whom you would trust your life to when lost in the wilderness is way over the top. That's a far cry from whom you like to camp with, because they follow a duty roster and they're cheerful when they do.


      • #4
        A month or so out from the election, I send a letter to all the eligible scouts in troop and tell them if they want to be on the ballot, they need to meet with me. Before doing so I ask them to talk to the other OA members in the troop and/or go online and find out what the OA is all about, what OA members do and what the time commitment will bel. I also ask that they make two commitments: 1) is to follow through and complete the Ordeal; and, 2)to attend at least two OA functions over the coming year, one of which is conclave or fellowship, the major fun events.

        I tell them if they do those two thing and decide the OA really isn't for them, then fine. At that point if they're not interested in participating, then move on.

        My interest is determining if they are really interested in the OA or if they're just looking at another resume stuffer. Completing the Ordeal and committing to two events simply gives them a reasonable look at the OA so they can decide if it's for them or not.


        • #5
          BDT....what eagle says is fine and I agree with it...

          Because typically the fellow you describe as happy and follows the rules is the same fellow I would trust in the woods with me.....

          I would not take the fellow who won't carry his fair share of the food, shelter or water. Or doesn't know how to take care of himself.


          • #6
            I don't believe I've ever vetoed anyone. If the Scout wants to run and is otherwise eligible, I'll let him be on the ballot (I can imagine some extreme situations, but they've never come up). The Scouts have shown pretty good discernment in who they elect. The ones that I might have considered vetoing end up getting hardly any votes.


            • #7
              Oak Tree brings up an important point. After discussing the OA with the Troop before your election, be sure that all Scoutmaster approved Scouts have given their desire to have their name on the ballot.

              Years ago when the voting procedures were much more restrictive, Scouts on the ballot that had no intention on becoming OA members, messed it up for the other candidates.

              If a Scoutmaster approves a candidate and they are voted into the OA, becomes a member, and then becomes inactive, as soon as that inactive Scout's annual membership expires, the OA flap comes off the uniform and the wearing of the sash is not allowed. That's the Scoutmaster's responsibility. Let's do it right for all of the active OA members.



              • #8
                I had the opposite experience - I was two or so weeks away from FC when the election team came. My SM tried to put me and another boy on the eligible list. I spoke up and said we hadn't earned the rank yet - kind of embarrassed the SM. I'm glad of it, though, because I was too young and would've been a sash and dasher. When I got elected a few years later, I jumped in wholeheartedly, and it was great.


                • #9
                  At each rank advancement, the SM has to sign off on Scout spirit. Determining if a "qualified" scout should be on the election ballot is no different. If the boy doesn't live by the oath and law, doesn't attend meetings, misses campouts, etc., is he showing Scout spirit? Should he be included on the ballot for OA. My Associate Adviser was at an election a year or two ago where the SM did nothing to prepare and simply asked the boys to raise their hand if they wanted to be in OA.....without checking to see if they were eligible. We actually work hard, very hard to provide detailed information to the SM's EVERY year about the election process and then this yahoo asks for a show of hands. Really? Is the rest of your program like this? SM approval isn't rocket surgery.


                  • #10

                    Not trying to add requirements one bit, just going old school.

                    Gotta remember back in the day when I became an Arrowman, First Aid MB was required for First Class rank.

                    My troop had the concept that a FC or higher scout could not only take care of himself in the outdoors, but someone else as well if things happened.

                    Kinda like Whitey in FOLLOW ME BOYS being able to rescue the scout on the cliff.


                    • #11
                      Yep, if you've got inept, spiritless fellows for FC scouts, your problems are bigger than elections!


                      • #12
                        I have our OA Rep explain the the Troop what OA is about. Following that I meet with each eligible scout to discuss whether they are ready and just as importantly whether they want to run.

                        Several of our older scouts have no desire to participate. Even though it shouldn't having them on the ballots impacts the other candidates.


                        • #13
                          yes the troop has had some issues in the last couple of years, mainly due to SM and ASM that would attend meetings when could, but hardly any campouts other than HA trip. So while those of us who camped would report back to those needing info. about who was behaving and who was great helpers etc. it does NOT always get seen translated into rank advancements. something that I also plan on addressing if I become SM, but for those that are already meet "requirements" is what I was curious about.

                          personally this whole first class in first year is putting boys not ready for OA eligible plus rushing boys through without really getting an idea of service and working with others.


                          • #14
                            Whoa Nelly!

                            Eagle92 and Twocubdad - riddle me this.

                            How on Earth could you not approve these Scouts who met the first class rank? To earn first class doesn't the scout have to demonstrate scout spirit? Doesn't he need to perform service for 2nd Class? So are you going to arbitrarily say you don't care about rank reqs but you do for OA? Or, you have a higher bar for OA?

                            This is a pet peeve of mind. I've seen so many Scouters lower the bar and then when an OA election or Eagle comes around all of a sudden they start taking the requirements seriously or start re-evaluating what it means to demonstrate scout spirit, etc. Why? Don't you think this is extremely confusing and picked up on by teens super sensitive hypocrisy meters?

                            For myself, I always err on the side of letting the youth advance. Sometimes, when a child become an OA member or Eagle Scout, they start living up to the expectations. Also, what is the downside? Not much in my estimation.


                            • #15
                              This is a good thread.
                              I got the OA going back in my troop a few years ago. We had lost all of our older OA boys, and had no adult OA members.
                              The few that we had were nothing more than patch wearers. In hindsight I see that they had no adults to get them to the events.
                              When we hold elections, I caution them that I don't wants "Sash n Dash" OA members.

                              If the OA is to be Scoutings Honor Society, they should be held to a higher standard, IMHO, than the average scout that gets to First Class. That standard, in my mind, should be making most campouts, cheerful service while camping, and a willingness to serve others.
                              Most adults can separate these groups in three minutes.

                              I the past few years I was liberal with my approval, and the results are as to be expected.
                              Next election, I'm going to go a different way. Now to quantify that!