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  • Advancement and Overbearing Parents

    After thinking about poor old Krampus's situation, I am not sure what I would do...

    So you have parents who study the guide to advancement, track their scouts every activity and plan summer camp to the nth degree.....Then expect their scouts advancement to be signed off the second he successfully completes something the first time..... At summer camp, The first year program completion is fact and the Scouts home unit is not permitted to evaluate the scouts.....

    If you do not credit the scout the second the parents thinks you should, they call the CC and then District or council to get satisfaction.....

    So what would you do if your unit had a bunch of Parents like that????

    How does a unit change the culture????

  • #2
    I don't have an answer. I just thought I'd bump this topic so people can see it.



    • #3
      The last troop I was with had a bunch of these types of parents. Now I'm recruiting a new troop closer to my home area. Sometimes there's nothing one can do except move on to where these people can't reach you.

      BSA would be a great organization if it wasn't for all the politics one has to deal with.


      • ghermanno
        ghermanno commented
        Editing a comment
        Good thing we are non-political. (LOL) Unfortunately we have parents that think their boys should be 11 yr old eagles but that they should not have responsibility of 1st Class Scout due to them being only 12 and a 1st Class Scout....

        My $0.02

    • #4
      My SMs (two consecutive ones over a period of years) were drawing fire because boys weren't advancing according to someone's timetable. (Over this time I had seen boys quit because of the unending emphasis on requirements. And those new-fangled trail-to-first-class courses produce boys who were no more competent.) What I ultimately did when SM #2 got this issue thrown in his face ... I made it very clear in a committee meeting:

      1. that we (SMs and ASMs) were not doing 1st class 1st year.
      2. that 1st class skills were to be demonstrated to a PL, not an SM or ASM or any camp staff, for sign-off.
      3. that not every boy was going to advance 1 rank per year. In fact most would go through a period of staying at the same rank for a couple of years, and that would be fine.
      4. advancement chair's troop-master was a back-up for a boy's book, not the other way around.
      5. that we were going to have the same through-put of Eagles as always.
      6. (this was more via body language) that NOBODY was going to yank the SM's chain on this EVER. We want him to feel good about every boy who comes to him for a conference.

      The CC fell in line no problem. The advancement chair continues to do a great service to the boys. The boys are pretty good at teaching and evaluating skills. Obtaining Eagle is really no harder than it used to be. Moms still have to suffer procrastinating boys. We're courteous and patient with the poor ladies. We tell them that if their boy fall's short, we'll still love him.

      Fallout? We lost a few members and this might have been one of the straws. We've not gotten cross-overs for two years. We have had older boy's friends or younger brothers join but not in the numbers we'd like.

      But, we sure are having a whole lot of fun without feeling like we're on a treadmill.


      • #5
        Thanks for doing this topic. Another wrinkle to my problem is that the TC is populated by parents who's son wants to rocket through and make Eagle by 14. Anything that stands in their way they see as bad.


        • #6
          During Webelos parent orientation the presentation goes something like this: "We do not believe in serving-up an advancement program on a platter. You don't get a badge for just showing up. Our Scouts are served best by taking more time to advance, putting forth the real work and effort and not having the program handed to them. If your expectation is that your son will earn Eagle in a couple years so he can check that box on his resume and move on to other things, we strongly suggest you find another troop."

          Set the expectations hard and early.


          • #7
            >If you do not credit the scout the second the parents thinks you should, they call the CC and then District or council to get satisfaction.....

            If you have discussed vision of how your troop will implement the methods to achieve the aims with the CC, Advancement chair, COR, then a call to the CC is a non-issue, because s/he has your back. If the vision is generally following BSA program, a call to the DE may result in a visit from a unit commissioner, but they will back you also. Next step is a meeting with the offending parent(s). Explain again to the parents that their vision of advancement is not in line with the troop's vision, and that they have a choice of accepting the troop's vision, or of finding another unit. And that yuo will be happy to have the AC transfer any records.

            If you haven't already been communicating expectations with families, start to do so frequently. At special parents meetings, at COH's, at informal chats with parents as after they have brought their son for a weekend campout and everyone is waiting for the patrol leaders to organize their patorls and get the individual and patrol gear loaded into vehicles. Note that other parents are watching what you do. Are you standing by the troo's vision, or are you giving in to an overbearing parent. Whichever way you go, that is the reputation that your troop will develop. Which will affect the type of family that is attracted to your unit. If you stand firm will lose some, but gain others that want their son to be in a program that helps him grow to a greater extent. If you bend to the overbearing parent, you will lose some families that have higher standards for their son, and continue to attract families that want that type of program.


            • #8
              Another advantage I have Krampus.....I have a committee of life long troop members ....60-70 year old Eagles...

              They can be a cranky bunch, but they have my back and like the energy in the troop room......I wish they would ease up on my 13 year old spl a bit.......Tough crowd some nights.

              Those parent shenanigans won't dent their armor and they have seen it all........

              While they don't camp with us, they have been known to come out for dinner saturday night if we aren't too far from town.

              ​a couple are fantastic story tellers around the campfire......

              I just can't spin a tale like them, no matter how hard I try....


              • #9
                I agree with everyone about a scout needing to actually have the skill to get a sign off. Once he has 1st class what control do you really have over advancement, if he performs his POR and completes a acceptable Eagle Project ? The way I understand it the MBs are out of your control. Do you deny a POR even if a Scout wants to perform one, but doesn't have that dynamic personality to get elected ?

                Eagle at 13 or 14 does not seem out of line to me if the Scout, shows up, camps, performs his duties, participates, leads when allowed to, lives scout law etc. Does he need to win the popularity contests also?


                • #10
                  KDD, you're talking about a truly rare scout.

                  Bottom line (and this goes for adults too): the respect goes to the person who does their job. Last month we made it clear to the boys (most working on Star, Life, Eagle) that we don't care how long you've had a POR patch on your sleeve. If you've done no work, you haven't held the position. Period. Conversely, if you don't have a patch on your sleeve, but you've done 4-6 months of work making the troop run successfully we will make sure your POR is properly signed off, in spite of what bean-counting detractors say. We've instructed our committee, when the sit on BOR's to ask "What did you do as <insert POR here>?" So, start preparing for your BOR now by doing what needs to be done.

                  Don't know where the topic is, but at one point my CC got word that a MBC had misgivings about signing a blue card for a boy who was coming to Eagle "under the line". The CC called the boy telling him he was refusing to sign the eagle app. The boy calls me about appeals. (File under why-I-hate-cell-phones.)
                  I ask him the question "Did you complete the requirements?"
                  .... Silence ... then "No."
                  I reply "Well, then let's stop discussing one medal. You have lots to be proud of in your scouting career."

                  Get your key adults on the same page. Keep them there. It will work out.


                  • King Ding Dong
                    King Ding Dong commented
                    Editing a comment
                    With all due respect, out in the business world the respect does not go the person who does their job. It goes to the person who plays the political game the best. With proper adult guidance it seems Scouts takes some out that out of the equation, but still seems ripe for abuse.

                    All it takes is one person of influence who has a personality conflict or grudge against you to sink or stifle your career.

                • #11
                  Scouting is to be experienced not completed. Experience takes time.

                  It's all about creating a culture within your troop which emphasizes experience rather than checking boxes. Do you run merit badge classes? Do you use the First Year/First Class program? Do you insist your Scouts take a full slate of merit badges at summer camp? Do you fuss at boys who skip classes because they want to hang out with their friends? Do you attend the local Merit Badge University?

                  Merit badges are "out of your control" only if you believe the drivel coming out of the national "Advancement Team." If you know of a counselor who routinely pencil whips blue cards don't send your Scouts to them. (And that includes summer camp.) If a Scout presents you with a completed blue card for which you both know the Scout didn't do the work, maybe you don't rip the card in half, but you do have a talk with the Scout about doing the right thing, about what Trustworthy means and about the joy and satisfaction of really achieving something and not accepting unearned awards?

                  There is much more art to Scoutmastership than science. You don't want to lay down a bunch of Thou Shall Nots, but you can sure nudge the Scouts -- and ultimately your troop's program -- in the right direction with a few well-placed comments, some friendly advice here, a kind word there and stern look of disapproval as needed.


                  • #12
                    > Do you deny a POR even if a Scout wants to perform one, but doesn't have that dynamic personality to get elected ?

                    Look at it from a different perspective. Scouts are not denied a POR, they earn the right to serve in one, and they don't get one until they have demonstrated that they are reliable.
                    POR's shouldn't be given out because a scout wants one. POR's exist because the troop has a job that needs to be done on a regular basis. A scout that has shown that he is reliable is very likely to get appointed by the SPL and approved by the SM (I hope that you are not having elections for any POR other than PL and SPL; the rest of the POR's are appointed positions).

                    A scout that is unreliable (doesn't follow through on other tasks as a member of a patrol, doesn't join in willingly or volunteer for camp chores, whines about his task on duty roster, misses a lot of campouts, not fulfilling the duties of his previous POR, etc.) should not be given a POR by the SPL, nor approved by the SM. That is the scout that needs a friendly chat with the SM about why he didn't get a POR that he wanted, about cheerfully doing chores, about demonstrating trustworthiness, about how the troop needs scout leaders that actively contribute to the troop in order for the troop to survive and be a fun place for other scouts, and things he can do over the next 6 months to earn the SPL and SM's trust that he can be counted on to actually serve in a POR instead of merely wearing a patch on a sleeve.
                    THAT is the kind of SM conference and experience that can help a scout grow.


                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Sounds great, but the limited number of available POR make me very wary of larger Troops, even though there may be many benefits to them. As anyone that works for a corporation knows, merit alone does not get you a promotion. The popularity contest is always present, it is human nature.

                    • Venividi
                      Venividi commented
                      Editing a comment
                      SM should be having discussions with the SPL about the importance of assigning POR's to scouts that he can count on to do the tasks, over those that try to get by with as little effort as possible, but are his friends. A mature scout will recognize and agree with that. A scout that doesn't see that probably wasn't ready to run for SPL, and if your troop is getting that type of scout getting elected as SPL and/or PL's, more coaching is needed to the troop members on what makes a good leader, and the SM actively discouraging scouts that are not ready from running for election, actively encouraging those that have demonstrated reliability to run, and coaching leaders on what to look for in a scout tht they want to appoint to a POR.

                      I haven't worked with a larger troop, so I may be off base, - I expect that a SM in a large troup could find enough POR's such that any scout that has demonstrated that he is reliable could have one. Have a web site? Let a scout maintain it. Most cub dens do not have den chiefs. A large troop should have enough parents to give one or two the responsibility of talking with den leaders to promote the use of a den chief. A troop is only limited in the number of den chief positions by the number of dens in the area.
                      Though in a typical troop, most of the young scouts are still learning to be contributing members of their patrol and troop.

                    • koolaidman
                      koolaidman commented
                      Editing a comment
                      There's always the special project assigned by the SM too.

                  • #13
                    We're a big troop with 60+ boys. Over the past few years I've eliminated many of the PORs which turned into do-nothing jobs like Historian and Librarian. Only very rarely do we have an official Instructor. But I've never had a Scout held up on a rank due to the lack of a POR. Granted, just because you make First Class today doesn't mean you get a POR tomorrow -- you usually need to wait for the election cycle to come around.

                    In fact, even with a big troop, we're more likely to have jobs go begging because boys already have the POR box checked. Last fall no one wanted to take Troop Scribe. So I did it. Took 15 minutes every week for me to call the roll. Bueller....Bueller...Bueller.... After the second week the senior guys realized I would do that the entire six month term and recruited a Scribe.

                    Veni's right. One of the things I find both remarkable and satisfying, is that merit really does pay off. It does take some time, but the boys really do take notice of the kids who jump in and help. Last week I had a conversation with my Troop Guide about getting him some help. I told him to talk to the SPL, but for him to recruit someone he want to work with. His best friend -- who is terribly unreliable and a big goof-off was standing there and immediately volunteered. The TG looked at me, then looked back at his friend and just said "no." As they walked away with the friend was basically begging for the job, but the TG stuck to his guns. Friends are friends and pals are pals, but people know where to look when work is to be done.


                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      There is also that pesky election cycle that can delay you as much as six months. That can add up to 18 months to advancement. In my book that is holding up advancement. I know it is just one of the methods, but a very important one to keep them motivated. Thus the appeal of a smaller troop vs a larger one with more opportunities for activities.

                      Sorry to be so cynical, but my kid has some issues and is a geeky loner so he is never going to win the popularity contests. I like our current troop and it has a solid core of parent involvement on the committe, but it does seem like a 14 and out troop. Though that does seem to be a rather universal problem. I was hoping for a more vertical social environment for him rather the relatively horizontal stratification of school.

                      He is very smart, just missing the gifted program by 1% so the book learning parts will not be a problem. His holdups will likely be some of the physical challenges. He can't roll up his bag small enough to fit in the sack, it is a challenge for me. Need to get a larger sack. We spent a lot of time and money over the past three years on swimming so that should be a cinch, he is way ahead of the NSP.

                      One aspect I need to come to grips with is that Scouts trains them for life where forces beyond your control impact you, whereas success at school and to a lesser degree sports are largely dependent on your own effort and ability.

                    • dcsimmons
                      dcsimmons commented
                      Editing a comment
                      KDD, been there and got the scars. My son is ASD. We've had all the same years of swimming lessons. I bought all the same larger stuff sacks for sleeping bags and ground pads. Struggled with backpacking and canoeing because of physical strength and stamina, etc. FWIW, last summer he and I canoed with our crew through the BWCA and kicked butt. Not because we were stronger but because we practiced and were just better. He packs his own pack and those bigger stuff sacks are now in my camping gear closet. To be honest the social aspect of scouting hasn't been great for him. Too much bullying. But he's learned to be more self-reliant and to deal with the bullies. He's also learned to explain to folks that he's a problem eater because of his disability, not a picky eater and that there is a difference (IIRC that was from another thread you commented on). With any luck, he'll be an Eagle before we go to Jamboree this summer. He's signed up for Whitewater rafting, Dad is petrified . There's nothing wrong with the Webmaster PoR or Librarian or Historian. Encourage him to ask for the POR when he eligible and ready. Support him in being the best Webmaster, Librarian or Historian possible if that's where he lands. The R is for responsibility. Not every scout is going to be the SPL nor do they need to be.

                  • #14
                    Originally posted by Twocubdad View Post
                    Merit badges are "out of your control" only if you believe the drivel coming out of the national "Advancement Team." If you know of a counselor who routinely pencil whips blue cards don't send your Scouts to them. (And that includes summer camp.) If a Scout presents you with a completed blue card for which you both know the Scout didn't do the work, maybe you don't rip the card in half, but you do have a talk with the Scout about doing the right thing, about what Trustworthy means and about the joy and satisfaction of really achieving something and not accepting unearned awards?
                    I wish this were true but it simply isn't. I get the merit badge counselor and mb college point. However, if you go to summer camp and watch a mb class which is horribly instructed where the scouts literally learn nothing, and the counselor signs off, then there is nothing the scoutmaster can do if the scout (or parents) want that badge. Sure, we can have a talk about honesty. But what 11 or 12 year old is going to understand that he spent 5 days with a guy talking about Dead Island instead of teachhing him forestry? He's going to know he attended the class, wanted to learn, read his book and learned very little. If the counselor signs off on the card we cannot deny him his badge. We cannot make him re-do the badge in whole or in part. We cannot test him on what he learned before we give him the badge. If he wants it he is entitled to if by BSA.

                    I have had conversations with kids about such things and mom and dad eventually step in and make Tommy's decision for him. While my own kid gave back a badge that he felt he did not earn (was awarded achery but had not qualified with a 170 or better), I would say most kids are not that respectful of the process. They will check the box and move on...sadly.


                    • Baseballfan
                      Baseballfan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Agree completely! You must have been so proud of your Scout for giving back the badge. I've had this happen twice (not my sons) and it is a heartwarming moment. One was a boy who seems to be growing out of being a serious troublemaker and gave back a summer camp award he had not completed, and the other was a Webelos in my Den who *tried* to give back an activity badge because he thought he had not finished it. We actually had to sit down and go over everything we had done to prove it to him. I wish more Scouts (and parents) had this attitude!

                    • mozartbrau
                      mozartbrau commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Hope you bought him an ice cream and had a father son moment. Those don't come along that often.

                    • Basementdweller
                      Basementdweller commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Well Krampus, next summer don't go to a merit badge summer camp....

                      take the troop some where else and do anything but farm merit badges.....

                      The parents will never buy it will they????

                  • #15
                    This all brings up another issue. To what level of mastery do we expect a scout to achieve at a skill before a t-1st requirement is signed off ? The Scoutcraft skills should be improved and honed as he gains experience. If we expect them to be an expert at them before they are signed off, I see the potential for the boys to really loose interest in both performing and teaching them down the road.

                    For instance some of these tents are really difficult to set up alone. The map and compass skills are important, but do we require a mastery such that working on the orienteering MB is just a refresher.

                    The swimming MB book is one that I am still fretting about. I am a certified Y instructor and RC lifeguard, so I understand the strokes, but taking that pamphlet literally, I don't see any boy under the age of 14 having the mastery to complete it. My boys have been on a year round Y swim team for two years and that book seems to expect a very advanced whip kick.


                    • Venividi
                      Venividi commented
                      Editing a comment
                      To what level of mastery do we expect a scout to achieve at a skill before a t-1st requirement is signed off ?

                      My view: think with the end in mind. What are you trying to accomplish. More importantly, what are the SM/CC/AC trying to accomplish?

                      Scouting is set up so that a boy learns skills so that he can teach them to others. Those others are the scouts that come after him over the next several years. How does one become a leader? One prerequisite is to be repected by the others as someone that knows what to do and how to do it. So the question that you have to answer is what level of proiciency is needed that they boy is comfortable continuing to do it, and could teach it to the next crop of scouts a year from now? That is when he will be recognized and respected by the other scouts. This requires not only learning, but continued usage. The sign off on skills is merely a formality somewhere in the middle. the exact spot isn't important. What is important is that the other scouts can look to him as the guy to go to when they have questions or need help. Sign off of requirements and advancement are ineffective otherwise.

                    • qwazse
                      qwazse commented
                      Editing a comment
                      KDD, very simply: a first class scout is qualified to take his patrol hiking and camping. So, if a boy can tie a clove-hitch when asked, he gets that requirement. If he's comfortable enough to navigate his patrol through you're troops usual haunts, he gets that requirement. I know those tents seem unwieldy now, but he'll be snapping them up in no time. The other stuff (including positions of responsibility) will also come naturally.

                      Oh, and there is a difference in swimming for enjoyment, and swimming for races. Most MBCs have to actually "slow the racers down" so they can relax and perfect those strokes. Then they catch on fairly quickly. I suspect your boy will knock this one out with no problem.

                      Trust me, before you know it, he'll be borrowing the car to take his college buddies for weekends in the wild lands.