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This time SM in hot water

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  • #16
    I think Beav's got it.

    I started to write that I would give the Scout/Dad a chance to mend their ways (which would include the dad totally disengaging from the troop), but my suspicion is you are beyond that. I guess it's a good question to ask yourself, though.

    I kinda think the whole internal appeals process is bull. The job of the adults -- whether on the SM side or the committee side -- is to work together to deliver the program. My committee chairman is the best ASM I have. I probably do more committee work than any committee member. He and I talk almost daily. There aren't many substantive decisions made which we don't consult on. If I'm having problems like this one, my CC is going to be on board from the very first. That suddenly, presumably after a number of years of tolerating this family's behavior, the CC switches hats and is a dispassionate appeals judge is silly.

    Beavah's right that you either support the SM or find a new one. Hate to say it, Cross, but it's time for you to earn that CC/COR salary.


    • #17
      I understand what people are saying about supporting the SM, but the new advancement book is pretty clear: If the Scout believes he has passed the requirements, he is entitled to a BOR. It doesn't necessarily mean he passes the BOR. I didn't find anything specific in the book about consultation between the SM and BOR members before the BOR, but there is no reason why the SM can't make his case to the members. Then it's up to them, and if the Scout is not approved for advancement at that time, he can appeal to council or work on the deficiencies identified at the BOR.

      Is this all a bit too legalistic and procedure-driven, considering the close relationships that exist in many units between the SM and committee members? Sure. But there really does have to be a procedure in place when there is a dispute, and hopefully those disputes will be very few and far between.


      • #18
        As much as it pains me to say it, Beavah hit it right on the head.

        Deal with elephant in the room. The family bucks the troops program. I agree with Beavah but I'd give them one final chance. Use Beavah's process to call them on the carpet. Explain it's clear they are unhappy, etc. (See what Beavah wrote.) But also cleanly identify what the troop expects of members and if they can work within that boundary, you'll be glad to have them in the troop. BUT, don't let it become a big discussion. If there is the smallest protest, immediately let them know it's best if they join another troop, hand them a list of local troops and a copy of their son's record to bring to the other troop.

        As for the legalisms of the situation ...

        - SMC is not a pass / fail. They immediately can go to the BOR
        - Scout spirit requirement is the one to use.

        RECOMMENDATION - Communicate to the unit leaders that only the SM signs off on scout spirit. Maybe others leaders sign off on other requirements. But reserve the scout spirit requirement for the scoutmaster ... just for situations like this. Then, it's not up the board of review. A BOR makes sure requirements are complete. They are not there to sign off on incomplete requirements.

        RECOMMENDATION - Insulate your scoutmaster from parent headaches as much as possible. Scoutmaster deals with scouts. As CC, I try to deal with parents. I'm not always successful, but I hope I save him some headaches.


        • #19
          Has the lad actually met the requirements, including the Scoutmaster's Conference? Then you give him the BOR. The decision of the BOR must be unanimous. If he's denied rank advancement, you need to provide him with a written statement on why rank was denied, and what actions the Scout can take to pass a subsequent BOR. The denial should be tied in with a rank requirement though, the reason for denial can't just be because you don't like dad, or the Scout. If the BOR is denied, you'll be better off if you can tie it into something other than "Scout Spirit", just because Scout Spirit is the most subjective of all requirements - if you can show that he's not really met one of the other requirements - his leadership in POR wasn't up to standard for instance, you can be more specific about steps to take to improve in that area with a firm date for a new BOR (and not 6 months - it doesn't really give you license to make them do the entire POR process over again, but it's reasonable to give them 2 months to show marked improvement). Of course, a denial is appealable to the Council which is why I suggest using something more substantial than Scout Spirit.

          Regardless of the outcome of the BOR, you know it's time to cut this dad loose, which of course includes the son. As soon as the BOR ends, you should have the conversation with the Scout and his father that it's time for them to move on to another Troop and that you will transfer the lads records to the new Troop when they let you know where they landed. If they start to rant, I'd suggest to them that the Scout's rank advancement with your unit is ending here, that he will not reach Eagle because there will be no POR's available to him for the rest of his time in the Troop.

          This is important - if you have Scout Accounts, his Scout Account money does NOT get transfered with him - that is the Troops money, not his. If any of the money in that Scout Account was DIRECTLY deposited by the Scout, then he gets that portion, by check, immediately. Dad can grumble, moan, raise Cain about it all he wants, but the charitable rules of your State and the Federal Government is in your favor here - so don't let Dad bully you into giving up that money, or let Dad use the DE, DC, US, Council to try to bully you into giving up that money. If they come sniffing around, tell them to go pound sand, you're following IRS rules.

          Unfortunately, it doesn't help with the SM's ultimatum. The lad has had his conference - the BOR must be held - I think you need to take the SM out for a cup of hot cocoa and let him know that your hands are tied at this point and the BOR must happen, but, regardless of the outcome of the BOR, the lad and dad are being removed from the Troop's roster and told to find a new Troop. Either he understands and accepts that as part of the rules of the game we play, or he up and quits on you anyway, in which case, it's time for him to move on too.

          Of course, there is a way to prevent having to give a BOR in the first place, and that's to tell this Scout and his father right now that the Scout has been removed from the Unit's charter and since he's no longer a member of the Troop, you can't give him a BOR.


          • #20
            Ya know ... it took CalicoPenn's comments to trigger memories of earlier learning. I still agree that only the SM should sign off on scout spirit and best at a SMC. But, scout spirit is a poor requrirment to use as scout spirit is a requirement best evaluated by the scout himself thru discussion with the SM. Also, it is too subjective.


            • #21
              Perhaps the lesson learned for all of us is we need to divorce situations such as this from advancement.

              The attitude from the Scout and father should have been delt with on it's own merits and the "if you don't like the program here find another" talk held earlier.

              Or maybe later. If the Scoutmaster is willing, perhaps the better route now would be to let the BOR procede and evaluate the boy solely on the completion of the requirement. THEN have the lad/dad Come-to-Jesus meeting.

              You may be too far down this trail for this to be a practical suggestion, but maybe it goes in the Lessons Learned file.


              • #22
                "Also, it is too subjective."

                Read the advancement regs. It is mostly subjective and has always been thus. The whole objective is subjective and advancement is just one subjective means to that subjective end. That didn't bother BP, who famously said it should be about "effort," so why does it bother today?


                • #23
                  >>You may be too far down this trail for this to be a practical suggestion, but maybe it goes in the Lessons Learned file.


                  • #24
                    I'll add one more voice to the chorus of agreement here.

                    Technically, the SM can't refuse to sign the Scoutmaster conference requirement, but he can certainly refuse to sign the Scout Spirit requirement. I don't believe there is any appeal for this.

                    Or if someone has already signed that requirement, then the Scoutmaster can provide input to the BoR and they can deny him his rank until he better demonstrates Scout spirit.

                    But that's just the technicalities.

                    I talk to my CC all the time, too - I wouldn't want to be SM without having the CC on the same page. And certainly not overturning my decisions.

                    I would probably give the dad a choice before booting them, but in general I agree with Beavah's approach. Ask the dad what he hopes that his son will get out of the program. Ask if he's getting it. Indicate that the program is put on by volunteers who are choosing to run it in a certain fashion and that the SM is in charge of the program. Would he like to have his son stay in the program the way it is, or would he like to leave?

                    But it sounds like it may be beyond that point, in which case you should just separate them from the troop.


                    • #25
                      Hmmm, how about council refusing an Eagle BOR after losing the paperwork 3 times, then refusing to give any sort of reasonable explanation as to their decision, then accusing the scout of lieing and never even doing the service project (despite article in paper and scouts and SM and town mgr, and lots of other people willing to say it was done) and then dragging their feet refusing BOR requests or any written reason and basically being a$holes until the scout turns 18 and then telling the scout he is SOL and tough luck.

                      sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread - just an old bitter wound that this thread reminded me of..

                      Oh and BTW, SM should have the conference but not sign off on requirements if he feels some were not met and the committee should support him. If the dad/scout want to find another troop wish them the best of luck.


                      • #26
                        Outdoors, in such a situation, it was up to the adults to do whatever was necessary - whatever.

                        If they failed to do so, it is on them as well as those whom you describe. All it takes for evil to triumph . . .


                        • #27
                          Outdoors -I would think with something like that, even after 18 the scout could go to the council for an appeal.. All that he needed to do to get his Eagle was done before his 18th birthday, and he would have other witnesses to back him up that it was the Adults who purposely sabatoged it.. I would also fire the BOR.. This was a District level EBOR? Because their is no Troop level EBOR unless that was an added thing to the new Eagle advancement. Before it was just SM & CC signature, plus benefactor.. Then off to the district level EBOR.


                          • #28
                            Good for the Scoutmaster. I know a Scoutmaster who would not recommend a Scout for Eagle and wrote a letter to the Eagle Review Board that the Scout had poor attendance, NO Scout Spirit and was only in Scouting to please his parents. Will have to see what the board decides.


                            • #29
                              Wow, two pages of comments, all with the same basic recommendation. That should tell you something!


                              • #30
                                All of this is so subjective I can't see a simple process for evaluating whether a scout deserves the next rank. In the OP, it looks, sounds, and quacks like a duck, so there it is. The discussion of who can sign off, must sign off, appeal process, etc is a set of objective rules applied to a subjective problem.

                                I don't follow the guidelines because I will work with a scout until he knows the material. Yes, it's incorrect procedure and yes, I'd rather be the good guy that the scout can open up to when he has a bigger problem rather than be the bad guy that says no. And I am trying my hardest to ensure that every scout knows the material before he comes to see me. But lets face it, having been poorly taught how to tie a splint for 10 minutes at summer camp one year isn't going to soak in and stay for the next 7 years. The EDGE process is iterative for the same reason I have to renew my CPR training every other year. If the board's job is to ensure the SM is doing his job, why not let the SM do his job and hold scouts accountable?

                                Example #1) a month or so ago I had a scout that didn't know shock from hypothermia. He didn't care. He was more interested in playing video games. He told me he didn't think he needed to know the material after the rank was completed. So I said no, go home, learn the material, and come back. Usually once is enough but I had to say this again. I know, this does not follow regulations, but I got his attention and he finally got serious and learned it. About 2 weeks after he completed his rank he most likely saved his sister's life and he credited it entirely with what he learned in scouts. The point is failure is not a bad thing. It depends on how you fail. Or in this case how the scoutmaster and the scout together treat failure. A lot of it has to do with our attitudes. If the scout trusts that I am looking out for his best interest and I want to see him reach the expectations then it's not failure so much as an opportunity to do a better job. If I can teach a boy that failure just means try try again then that's worth something.

                                Example #2) about 6 months ago a scout shows up after not being seen for about 6 months and says he wants he Eagle SMC. We talk for awhile and it's real clear that something is lacking. So I ask him why he wants to be an Eagle Scout and he says he doesn't care, his parents want him to get it, there's pressure from relatives, etc. So I tell him it's time to take control of your life and tell everyone you don't want it. I told him I'd back him up and start calling people right there to get them to back off. And besides, if he doesn't want it then I don't want to sign for it. That was a 2 hour discussion and we were thrown out of the building. I invited him to finish the conversation the next day and, after thinking about it, he said he did want Eagle. But he just didn't think too highly of it. He didn't really like leadership because he's seen too much abuse (he reads the papers, what can I say). He was not proud of his Eagle project. I said ok, but there's something missing. So I told him I'd sign off if he did one thing for me. I asked him to run scouting for food and I asked him to go big. We covered 3 times the area, included 2 packs, and also collected clothing and toiletries for the homeless. I made sure he was successful and it was wildly successful. We took the gear to the homeless shelter and they were so happy they almost cried. A few weeks later we had the SMC and the first thing I did was sign his application. Then we talked. Eventually I asked him about the whole process of agony I put him through and this is what he said. I hit him very hard by telling him I wouldn't sign his application at our first meeting. He was not happy with me but as soon as he realized I wasn't giving up on him he figured just go with it. When we dropped the gear off he saw the people that were going to use it and that, too, had a huge impact. He said he now appreciates what he has, what service is all about and that leadership can be a good thing. He also thanked me. He said he had lost the spark and I helped him find it again.

                                I'm not saying this is perfect or that others won't abuse this style, and I certainly won't say it's easy on me, but when we're dealing with something as fundamental and subjective as motivation, how can we expect a simple set of rules to work reliably? Scouts know what the minimum expectations are and that's what most shoot for. Having them do their best requires a big change. And my experience is that when you show them that their best is more than they thought possible, they learn something much more important than anything they got signed off on.