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Dozy

Conflict of Interest

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This thread ended badly, yet it seemed throughout that all but one person agreed on what BSA gives as direction as well as the interpretation of the BSA literature. Thinking that maybe I was misreading something, I hit ignore user for the one person who was not agreeing, and sure enough, there is a lot of good advice that is consistently stated throughout this tread. It's too bad there isn't a way to pull all the advice / how-tos and simply put them into one easily accessible post or form on this site (or is there a way to do that?). I have found this thread to be very thought-provoking, and as it was hashed out, I as a troop committee member did get a better perspective on my role as committee member. Thanks folks for helping me out, even though I didn't post the original questions or those posed throughout!(This message has been edited by bbng)

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Quick synopsis - the Scoutmaster is in charge of the advancement program. The Scout is in charge of his own advancement (and behind every Eagle Scout is at least one pushy parent! ;-)

 

The BSA does have some conflict of interest rules in effect - no parents or guardians of the Scout may sit on his BOR (including the Scoutmaster as a silent observer).

 

I have a question for evmori or other SA or SMs who serve as troop advancement chair. Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters are not allowed to serve on BORs yet the advancement chair traditionally chairs the BORs (not required any committee member may chair a BOR and any non-relative/guardian may chair an Eagle BOR). Do you as advancement chair and Scoutmaster never sit on BORs? If you do sit on a BOR, how does the BOR perform the "checks and balances" function of maintaining feedback from the boys on the SM and SAs if you, as an SA sit on that board?

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I chair all the BOR's in my Troop. Our SM never sits on a BOR. Exactly what "checks & balances" do you speak of?

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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One of the purposes of the BOR is to see what type of experience the Scout is having in his patrol and troop. Because the SM and SAs usually have direct contact with the boys much more than committee members, a BOR is an excellent opportunity for a Scout to share their feelings on the above and they are more apt to share them with the SM and SAs not present expecially if they have feedback on the conduct of the SM or SAs.

 

Ed, it is my understanding that if you are registered as an Assistant Scoutmaster (SA), you should not sit on BORs.

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Our little troop has been trying for the past year and a half to follow the rules. But, as is probably the case with many small troops, we don't quite hit the mark.

 

On several other sections of this forum, I've seen folks get into rather heated debate on the rights and wrongs of running a Scout Troop. Others with perhaps cooler heads have suggested that if a Troop is trying their best to deliver the program as BSA intended, let's all offer our support and encouragement.

 

So, as far as conflict of interest goes, I guess our Troop is guilty as charged. Yes, as SM, I have initialled my son's handbook. I have not, however, done his SM conferences. But, after his 1st Class SM Conferece, he told me the ASM only asked if he'd done everything in his book. Didn't ask for explanations or demonstrations. Just signed off because the Scout in question was my son. So, in this instance, I feel I could and would have done a much better job at the SM conference.

 

I do not sit on BORs. My husband (the only really active ASM in our Troop) tries to avoid sitting on BORs as well, but our Committee has been in transition that past year and sometimes we can only get two people to show up to do a BOR. They are former ASMs from our Troop that stepped down a couple of years ago when their sons becamse inactive. They really only help out a few times a year to do BORs.

 

Finally, about merit badges. This is where our troop really has a LONG way to go. There has never been in our troop's existence a merit badge list. SM and ASMs always signed off on all merit badges. Fixing this problem is on the list of things to work on next year, but I know it's going to be the most difficult. Our district doesn't even have a merit badge counselor list. I can barely get adults/parents to volunteer to help our troop out once a month or even just a couple of times a year on an outing. How am I going to get them to agree to be a merit badge counselor?

 

Oh well, as I said, that's one of the items on a long list of things to work on.

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gwd - a troop needs at least three committee members to sit on a BOR. It doesn't need any SAs. So if you husband sits in on BORs, why not register him as a CM and not SA? Simple solution and then you do things "by the book."

 

Also this works too - how many boys do you have in your troop? When one of them is up for advancement and you tell the boy and his parents that you would love to help him advance but that you can't pull together three committee members the volunteer rate is guaranteed to go up - trust me.

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"But, after his 1st Class SM Conferece, he told me the ASM only asked if he'd done everything in his book. Didn't ask for explanations or demonstrations. Just signed off because the Scout in question was my son. So, in this instance, I feel I could and would have done a much better job at the SM conference."

 

Why would you ask for explanations or demonstrations at a Scoutmaster Conference? A SMC, like a BOR, is not a retest of requirements already signed off.

 

The purpose of a Scoutmaster Conference is to simply talk to the scout & to encourage him to talk to you. The SM should use the SMC to get to know the scout better, to find out how he feels he is doing in the Troop, if he is fitting in, or having any problems. He should talk to him about how he is living up to the Oath & Law in his everyday life. The SM should discuss the scouts plans for advancement.

 

Check out this supplemental training module for Scoutmaster Conference Training at BSA National's website -

 

http://www.scouting.org/boyscouts/supplemental/18-629/index.html

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We are a small Troop. My only involvement with the Scouts is during BOR's. I'm registered as an ASM at my own choice. I know of nothing that states the Advancement Chair must be a committee member or an ASM can't be a member of the TC.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Dozy,

Our troop has gone through some of the same issues in the past couple of years. My suggestion to you is to get your hands on copies of the BSA publications that tell how the troop is set up & how a committee operates.

 

At one point we had a renegade ASM in our troop who was stirring up all kinds of problems and wanted to challenge the SM position at the yearly planning/recharter meeting. The CC prepared a short statement explaining to the committee the basic structure of the unit. It shut the ASM & a few others right down. They were even registering folks as CM at the last minute thinking they could sway the "vote". There was no vote. The SM wasn't leaving, the CC wasn't leaving, and more importantly the IH/CO didn't want then to leave! All but a few committee members wanted these men to stay also.

 

Bottom line is this...

The CC and SM, as well as all other adult leaders HAVE TO be approved by your CO. The committee have no say in "electing" the SM or CC. They may make recommendations but do not make that call. Those positions are decided by the CO. In our case the IH/CO has a very good relationship with both the SM & our CC. Disgrundled adults who want to cause division for the sake of entertainment are told to knock it off. It isn't tolerated. If they have a conflict with the SM, CC, or other adult leaders and cannot resolve it, they are told it would be best to try another troop that shares the same vision of scouting that they do.

 

The CO/IH chose our SM to oversee the scouting program as part of his organization's youth program (in this case a church). The CM are there to support the man/woman the CO chooses. The committee is always welcome to advise or make recommendations, but they do not have the authority to make arbitray rules within the group.

 

I heard an old time scouter say that the only rules we should have are the ones already in place by BSA. I agree. And on the subject of parents, SM or otherwise, signing off advancements-there is no rule against this. I do agree that it is good for scouts to have interaction with adults other than his family members. With that said, I think it's ironic to think parents trust a SM or ASM to take their sons camping every month, but do not find the same men trustworthy enough to work on advancements with their own son. Yeah, I've seen the adults who let their kids slide too...it's gonna happen.

 

Dozy, if you have a good SM, support him or her. Encourage the SM to take charge and deliver the program to the scouts to the best of his/her ability. Also encourage your CC to take charge of committee meetings and not allow CM to run amuck. Someone needs to rein them in, and this is the CC job. This advice was given to me when I first started reading these boards and I only wish I had known it sooner! Our Troop lost several great leaders because they were worn down from the constant criticism of a few CM who were allowed to dictate to the group. Don't let this happen to your unit. So, some CM don't like the way things are done. So, they pick up their toys and go home. Oh well. The unit will be stronger without the constant bickering.

 

The CO/IH trusted the running of the program to the men they chose to put in charge. BSA intentionally set the program up this way. The unit signs an agreement with the CO that they will uphold the values of the CO. Even if the majority of CM disagree with the way the program is being run, they are not in a position to dictate/mirco-manage etc. to the SM or CC. The CM can complain to the CO, they can ask the SM/CC to resign...but they have no actual authority in the situation. They can however make the SM/CC/ASM life a living hell IF allowed to. Don't allow that. These men SM,CC,ASM are volunteers! And really good leaders are hard to come by!

 

Your troop operates AT THE PLEASURE of the charter organization. Your committee needs educated on this point.

This is a subject close to home-PM if you'd like to talk further. Good luck to you Dozy!

 

I know this is long already but I wanted to end with a quote...

From Abraham Lincoln "Those who have a heart to help, have a right to critisize."

firecrafter

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Acco, we have 11 Scouts registered, 8 of which are currently active. We also have had a few more adults sign up with our new Scouts, but they have not yet been to training and are very unsure of actually doing anything. Our District and Council trainings are coming up soon so hopefully these new folks will get trained and then get busy.

 

Ah, ScoutNut, thank you for the gentle chastisement! I do not, in fact, retest Scouts during SM Conferences for rank advancement. I do, however, take opportunities to spot check those things signed off by our Patrol Leaders or other youth leadership. Allowing the youth leadership to sign off on requirements is a new concept in our troop and one that is progressing well, but I do feel I need to keep tabs on it. In the past, our youth leaders have never been given any real responsibility in the Troop, so this is very new to them. These spot-checking SM moments happen on campouts or just by observing activities going on at troop meetings.

 

To clarify my previous post a bit further, when my son came out of his conference and told me the ASM only asked if he'd done everything signed in his book, I was distressed that he was not asked how things are going, what his plans are for next rank, or to talk about campouts or other things he did while working toward his rank. His SM Conference lasted less than 5 minutes.

 

Let me add that the ASM had been the first SM for our troop. He moved away for a few years, then came back as an ASM about a month after I took over as SM. Being brand new to the job of SM and not having been to training yet, I was thrilled to have and learn from his experience.

 

It wasn't until I'd been to training and spent some time researching things for myself (and reading posts from all you knowledgeable forum members) that I found out that most of the SMs I know in our District were not necessarily doing things "by the book."

 

Retesting at SM Conference - always. Retesting at BOR - almost always.

 

As I and a few other new leaders in our Troop learned more and began to question some of his methods, he decided to leave the Troop. Not really the way I had hoped things would turn out.

 

So, in many ways we are trying to do it right in our Troop. In many areas, we are still doing it "wrong" but working toward improving.

 

A very slow process, but we will get there eventually.

 

 

 

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