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Joe MacDoaks

Acceptable Community Service

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I have an individual in my troop that wants to count service he performs at Church as his community service for rank advancement. The individual acts as a Cantor, Altar Boy, and helps a Sunday School teacher with her preschool class. None of this service is required. Other boys that go to this individuals Church don't think this is fair but they don't perform these activities either.

 

I am inclined to accept it since it is not required. What do you think?

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Required? Other than required for advancement where does it say that th project must be "required." Required by whom? God? A guy with a gun? The troop? The church?

 

The requirement (BSA's) says "community service project." A project has goal, a beginning, a middle and an end. Does being an altar boy or Cantor fit that? Does Helping a teacher teach fit that requirement?

 

Others may disagree but I would call that service but not "projects."

 

Painting the Sunday school would be a project in my mind.

 

Ultimately, it is up to you.

 

 

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a topic that resently came up in our troop is whether doing service projects at our local bsa camp can count for rank advancment.

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Gold Winger,

 

I can agree that that Cantor and Altar boy may not be appropriate but helping with a Sunday school class for a whole year does seem to fit the bill. It has a begining a middle and an end. The individual isn't required to plan the project only participate. It is a long term commitment, a whole school year. It is a project to teach a group of kids about God. The Scout has to act as a role model. He is doing this because he wants to. Since this has an end I can agree with it being a project. I don't see this as being any different than helping with a bike safety rodeo.

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I would say the helping with Sunday school fits the bill. So would doing a service project at a Scout camp. An Eagle project can't be done at or for the BSA, but service projects for all other ranks can.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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As a youth, I earned the Lutheran religious award, the "Pro Deo et Patria". I recall it required service hours approved by the Pastor (in the hundreds!), such as acolyte, cutting grass, whatever. Not sure what the current requirements are, but perhaps that would be a better use of the boy's service time to his church. But, as someone above said, it's the SM's call.

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Everything I've read, from BSA Requirements #33215 to Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures #33088 gives tremendous discretion and deference to the Scoutmaster on the subject of service hours.

 

If the young man is getting the concept of an ethic "to help other people at all times", then whatever he's probably doing is worth buying into.

 

I'm a little hard pressed to buy into an acolyte, particularly in protestant tradition churches. Light the candles, sit down; at the end of service, extinguish the candles. It does give him a front-row seat for his worship notes for parish confirmation ;)

 

I'd be more inclined to buy into either cantor or youth choir. Both of those have commitments to rehearsal as well as the worship service.

 

Who ever said service hours had to be "bricks and mortar", or "had to benefit the troop?"

 

BTW, here are the requirements from #33215, as quoted on the BSA website:

 

2d Class: Participate in an approved (minimum of one hour) service project.

 

Star: While a First Class Scout, take part in service projects totaling at least six hours of work. These projects must be approved by your Scoutmaster.

 

Life: While a Star Scout, take part in service projects totaling at least six hours of work. These projects must be approved by your Scoutmaster.

 

To my reading, at 2C, Star, and Life, the Scout is not responsible for project design, coordination, or resourcing. He shows up and does what he's told to do. The service activity can have a very broad horizon or a very narrow horizon.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Whether it's teaching Sunday School, acolyting in protestant churches, altar boy in Catholic churches, painting a room, ushering, assisting with communion, doing readings during worship all count the same. The boy is expected to show up, do his job and do it right. If we are going to judge the difficulty into doing that job, then 2 minutes of reading a lesson doesn't count as much as for the for the fact that the boy had to stay for 1 hour to do that, same for the ushers and acolytes. It may take only one minute to light the candles and 1 minute to extinguish them, the reader does is two minutes near the front of the service and then can leave, the acolyte has to stay for the whole service. If his Sunday School class makes tray decorations for the nursing home residents at Christmas time, does that count as a service project? If he is teaching the class and the kids make the decorations does he get credit for it? Etc. etc. etc.

 

Every time we start picking this stuff apart we get into trouble. Maybe this is why BSA gives a wide latitude to such activities.

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Evmori posted, "An Eagle project can't be done at or for the BSA, but service projects for all other ranks can."

 

Ed, can you please cite where this is written as BSA policy?

 

My troop's policy is that no service project can be done at or for the benefit of the BSA. How could you call it "community" service if it is not done for the community? There are many examples of suggested service projects given in the Scoutmaster's Handbook, none of which list the BSA a benefactor.

 

As for helping a Sunday School teacher with her preschool class, that may be a "good turn" but does not qualify as a service project.

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That's too easy, Avid...

 

http://www.nesa.org/trail/18-927E.pdf

(Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Notebook)

 

"Limitations

 

Routine labor (a job or service normally rendered) should not be considered. Work involving council property or other BSA activity is not permitted. The project also may not be performed for a business or an individual, be of a commercial nature, or be a fund-raiser. (Fund-raising is permitted only for securing materials or supplies needed to carry out your project.)"

 

For 2C, Star, and Life, see above. What's the adage??? "Neither add to nor take from." Do you see anything in the requirement which says a unit may not do service projects for itself or for BSA and have those count for rank advancement?

 

I will further check ACP&P at home tonight.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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The answer to the question of whether a service project counts if it benefits the BSA at SC, Star and Life is in the requirement.

 

The requirement simply says that one must "take part in service projects totaling at least (1 or 6 depending on rank) hours of work. These projects must be approved by your Scoutmaster."

 

Note that the requirement does not use the word Community nor does it include any restrictions as to whom can benefit as the Eagle project requirement does (which specifically states School, Church or Community).

 

The answer then is Yes - a service project done at a Boy Scout camp can be used for service project hours for the SC, Star and Life ranks. By the same token, service project hours can be met if the Scout works on another Scout's Eagle project. However, there is an important caveat and that is as long as the Scoutmaster approves. That's the second part of the requirement - and it gives the Scoutmaster a bit of discretion here. It doesn't add or subtract from the requirement is the Scoutmaster's preference is not to approve service projects that benefit a Boy Scout facility or helps with an Eagle project.

 

No matter what, though - the Troop should be providing plenty of opportunities for Scouts to earn service hours. Most Troops I know will build in at least one hour of service when they go camping at a state or county park. Cleaning up one's own campsite shouldn't be a service project but gathering everyone for a one hour clean sweep of the playground/picnic areas sure could. A lot of folks operating the state parks can probably come up with a 1 hour project for a group of Scouts right off the top of their head.

 

Joe - I've got really mixed feelings about your situation. On the one hand, being an altar boy, cantor and helping out at Sunday School really does provide a great service. On the other hand, I tend to view service projects for ranks to be above and beyond that which is already being volunteered. However, that's just a personal opinion. I would have more trouble with counting service hours for altar boy and cantor than for helping out in Sunday School regardless. (I think I would tell the lad I'll count the service hours for Sunday School for only one of the ranks). For the Altar Boy and Cantor jobs, I would have to sit down with the Scout and ask him why he took on those positions in his church. I expect that 9 out of 10 times the answer would be because he wanted to grow more spiritually. I'd then try to lead into a discussion of whether he felt that being rewarded with credit for BSA rank service hours (material gain) fit in with the notion of gaining spiritual growth, then let his answers guide my decision.

 

 

Calico

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Page 27 of ACP&P, left column, top 1/2 of the page covers 2C, Star, and Life service hours. No restrictions on service to BSA, policy encourages all forms of service... individual, small group, and large group.

 

Calico, for the very reason you'd be having a conference, I'd be doing cartwheels of joy: The young man has figured out that service to others matters. I'd be looking for an external reason to give the kid some recognition for going above and beyond.

 

EagleSon was in the youth choir from 2d grade to 9th grade. That was an hour a week of practice, all school year long, and singing at both services as often as not when the youth choir sang. BTW, we're talking true choir... we have a great director who taught the kids scales and sight reading early on. From my perspective, a young person giving that much work in church is probably giving it elsewhere, and I'll go to the matt to get him/her the recognition deserved.

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I really appreciate all of the responses that I have received. I have decided to accept the helping with Sunday School service and plan on telling the scout that the other service is more along the lines of his normal Christian duty. I see the Sunday school as a project, he wants to help other kids become more spiritual. I am baseing this on Altar Boy and Cantor not being a project but a normal duty that someone would provide.

 

This Scout is one of my better Scouts. He always comes to meetings and he rarely misses an activity. He has more Community sevice hours than you can shake a stick at. He is a great kid. He will probably be one of those 14 year old Eagles that so many people don't seem to like.

 

This scout is also a Den Chief and he also helps with our Distict WEBELOS lockin, he has taught the Geolgy pin for the last two years. I don't think he will be wanting for service hours.

 

Thanks for all of your help.

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Thanks John! Exactly what I was going to post.

 

Work at a Scout camp is for the Scouting community.

 

You might be correct about the Sunday school thing, Avid. That is your prerogative as the SM. Your approval is required.

 

Now here's the kicker - When is it required? Before or after the service project is completed?

 

This should be interesting!

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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Ed,

 

"With the approval of..."

 

Even that is discretionary in nature.

 

I would hope that a Scoutmaster makes one decision on how he'll do business (before or after) and then be consistent!

 

That make sense?

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