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Its Me

What is the Point of a BOR?

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From OGE link on BOR

 

The board of review is how the troop committee (or the Eagle Scout board of review) tracks the progress of a Scout to determine his understanding of the ideals of Scouting and how he applies them in daily life in the troop. If the board of review is for rank advancement, the board will satisfy itself that the Scout has done what he was supposed to do for that rank and will review with the Scout the requirements for the next rank.

 

The board of review is also a way of reviewing the troop's progress. This review is not and should not be an examination or retest of skills learned. Rather, it is an attempt to determine the Scout's attitude and his acceptance of Scouting's ideals, both in the troop and outside of it. The board should get a sense of the importance that the Scout attributes to Scouting in his home life, at school, and in the troop. It also shows how the Scout perceives the troop and its adult leaders.

 

This in a Nut Shell is the embodiment of a BOR. So the BOR is to measure how well the scout applies his scout teachings to his daily life. First, the measuring stick is fuzzy because the BOR can't retest off the documented material from which the boy was actually taught. Instead the BOR must feel the edges. Internet questions are posed as the practical approach. Download some or make up questions. Just don't ask one from the scout handbook.

 

As I accept this practice of psychological evaluation of the scout's character warts and all, there is still another gap here. If the BOR is also measuring the Troop's Health, where is the feed back to Scoutmasters? There is no form, policy or structure to go back and inform the scoutmaster where the candidate and in essence the program needs improvement.

 

IMHO, the BOR has been crippled by decades of good intentions, and policy tweaking.

 

 

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The committee who is the Scoutmaster's boss is getting the feedback from the scouts as to the scout's perception of the troop. If something is troubling to the committee they then call the SM on the carpet to advise him on what changes they want made. It may help to consider the SM as chief operating officer and the committee chair as CEO with the rest of the committee being the board of directors.The SM has his own chance for direct feedback from the scout with the SM conference.

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" I will add that a boy having to be questioned by three adult strangers is a lot more traumatic then practicing skills to prove their knowledge of skills learned, which is a lot more practical to the real world. "

 

In my small troop, the active adults have to fill a number of roles. Only one guy is an ASM, and the others are "committee members" even though they do the ASM job at times on outings and field trips. And they staff the BOR's in our troop. We occassionally have a visiting parent do one, and at summer camp one year we had some scouters from a troop out of state, who shared our campsite, sit on one. But there are always familiar faces on the BOR, and they, sorry to say, push the envelope on "retesting". They know the boys, and have seen them in action.

 

I think the thing about BOR's that we accomplish is the association with adults. As scoutmaster, they are real familiar with me, perhaps overly so. Talking to the other adults is good for them. I don't see a lot of trauma there.

 

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It does seem like the emphasis here is being sure the scout knows his skills and people want to be sure those skills are learned and want to verify that in the BOR. But that's not the way the program is supposed to be run. Alright, you may say smartypants, how is the program supposed to be run? I'll try to explain.

 

Once a scout skill is learned, it becomes part of the scout. Every campout there is an opportunity for the scout to tie a square knot, a sheet bend, two half hitches and a taut line hitch (for example). Not because there is a patrol competition, but because those knots are required in camp set up. Now, with modern tents the knots are not as prevalent as they once were, but having guy lines are still required and if the PLC thinks about it, they can come up with situations that would require the use of knots, and lashings as well. It was once explained to me that the reason the BOR doesnt retest is because the board members know that the scout knows his skills because he couldnt be a member of the troop and not know them as he constantly uses them.

 

If you have a troop with poor scout skills, is the better answer to have the BOR test the scouts or to have a program where the scout skills are used to the point that each scout fully knows them?

 

THe idea of the BOR is the review the program. If the scout says, hey I don't know my knots but Bobby signed me off on them because he likes my sister, then you have two issues. The scout who doesnt know his knots and Bobby's ethics. If the scout's skills come into question, then the troops method of teaching and reinforcing those skills also have to come into question. We spend a lot of time talking about scouts who don't know their skills, but little on the best methods of teaching and retaining those skills

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1) The function of the BOR is to keep the program adult-run. The Board of Review dates back to the period of our history before the BSA accepted the validity of Baden-Powell's Patrol System. In B-P's Patrol System, the Court of Honor (the Patrol Leaders in council) maintains the quality of the Troop's program, which is why B-P called it the "Court of Honor".

 

2) Retesting is a cornerstone of Baden-Powell's program, both before and after an Award is earned! To meet B-P's standards, an Eagle Scout would be required to prove his proficiency in all of his badges on a regular basis or surrender his Eagle badge.

 

There is no "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle" free-ride in Traditional Scouting.

 

Kudu

 

 

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Yah, I reckon BOR's were a good idea that got all muddled up by adults.

 

One thing that happens a lot in troops is Cub Scout Creep. Parents crossin' over bring the Cub Scouting age-based-awards / do your best approach to Boy Scouting advancement. That gets reinforced by misunderstandings of New Scout Patrol / First Class Emphasis. And there is a natural tendency to not want to "punish" young Bobby by not givin' him an award because he was sick on the last three campouts where the boys did firebuilding.

 

So what happens is that Step 1 of Advancement Method - "A Scout Learns" - gets shorted. The boy gets signed off before he really has learned. It shouldn't take a lot of repetition to maintain a skill, as OGE proposes. A campout or two a year. CPR, Lifesaving, First Aid certification gets renewed only once every 1-3 years, eh? Youth Protection, SSD, Safety Afloat the same. Heck, I haven't built a fire in years (da kids in da troops and crews always have it done before I visit), but I could go out and build one in the rain tomorrow, eh? It takes many years (and old age!) to forget a skill you've truly learned.

 

But if the scout didn't really learn, that's when he won't remember the skill a few months later. And that does reflect on da troops program.

 

Problem is, if a BOR isn't permitted to ask any skills-based questions, then the committee may never know. They may never find out that their troop's use of Advancement Method is poor. They'll also never know if their SM or an ASM is doing something like teaching outdated First Aid or poor LNT ethics ( both are pretty frequent), because they never ask da questions that are needed to identify those problems in da program.

 

Most troops don't have very good feedback to the SM from a BOR, and most kids won't share honest impressions with strangers about their attitudes, ideals, and perceptions. Especially not in da 10-15 minutes a BOR is supposed to take.

 

And Eagledad's observation on how it's become completely divorced from youth leadership is also well taken.

 

I reckon Its Me has a point, eh? The thing in a lot of cases now serves little real purpose, if folks try to implement it as written.

 

Pity. I like servin' on BORs :p

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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" And there is a natural tendency to not want to "punish" young Bobby by not givin' him an award because he was sick on the last three campouts where the boys did firebuilding."

 

If a boy was really motivated to advance, he'd say, "I missed the firebuilding stuff so I need to work hard to catch up." Unfortunately, his parents probably tell him, "Don't worry. It's not that important. Worry about soccer."

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It's Me, uz2bnowl, and some others completely miss the boat on how a bor purpose and how it functions.

 

To think that a bor is a rubber stamp and has not ability postpone an advancement that has bnot been earned is incorrect.

 

While it is true the board cannot retest it can aske how a requirement was completed an if it was not done according to the BSA requirement the board has the authority to postpone the advancement until the requirement is met correctly.

 

As an example there is a requirement that the scout is to to use lashings to build a useful camp gadget. When asked what he built and what lashings were used the scout said he din't really know what the lashings were but he built a pack rack that collapsed about an hour after he put his pack on it.

 

Well the bor has every authority to require the scout to do the requirement correctly. A rack that falls down is not usefull, and he was supposed to use lashing that he had learned to build it. If he doesn't know what lashings he used then he obviously did not learn them.

 

If he was told to spend two nights but says he went home sick the second evening and did not spend the night, then he did not complete the requirement, and the board has the responsibility to have the scout complete the requirement as stated in the HAndbook.

 

Training, Training, Training.

 

We have a lot of people leading a program that they have not taken the time to learn.

 

If you are on the committee and the scouts that come before the board are lacking the basic skills of scouting, then you need to be having a serious talk with the Scoutmaster about how the skills are taught and practiced, and who is doing the testing and signing the books. This is a program problem not just an advancement problem and the SM is respponsible for BOTH!

 

 

 

 

 

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>>>>>>We have a lot of people leading a program that they have not taken the time to learn.

 

If you are on the committee and the scouts that come before the board are lacking the basic skills of scouting, then you need to be having a serious talk with the Scoutmaster about how the skills are taught and practiced, and who is doing the testing and signing the books. This is a program problem not just an advancement problem and the SM is respponsible for BOTH!

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When I was a Scout back in the late 70s / early 80s I did not have a BOR until I went up for Eagle. I was worried that my Troop had skipped a step so I found my old Handbook. Nope - Just a Scoutmaster's Conference required for rank advancement for Tenderfoot through Life. At some point the BOR was added for every rank. Why? Did we stop trusting the Scoutmaster?

 

Re: Skills testing. The Troop my son joined, and where I now serve as Scoutmaster, had a very strong testing culture for both the SMC and the BOR. I learned this when my son went up for Tenderfoot. He was afraid of the Scoutmaster, and his reaction to the BOR was a reflection of expecting a court martial event. He did not pass his first BOR, because he froze on the taut-line hitch. He was told to come back and show a member of the committee his mastery of that knot and THEN he would be awarded his Tenderfoot patch.

 

This is when I got involved in the Troop (and subsequently became the Scoutmaster). I am trying to eliminate the re-testing mentality, and I am still not in compliance with the proper BSA standards (I admit with chagrin but openness here - and it is feedback here that has helped me along that path). One promise I have made to the Committee is that I will focus on skills so that they do not have to. I am still convincing them.

 

Here is the funny thing about using the knots. We have minimal guy lines on our tents, so the need to tie a 2 half & tautline is not needed. Camp gadgets require that we BRING poles, because most of our campsites have no downed wood (and there are severe prescriptions against gathering it). We can only light cooking fires a few months out of the year at specific sites. Hammocks are not allowed at many campsites due to damage to trees, so no timberline hitches. This is all an interesting challenge when teaching the knots - convincing the Scouts how much they NEED to know this information. Then, that becomes the primary "Test" that a BOR wants to run, along with the 5 signs of a heart attack. I think the BORs focus on those specific bits of knowledge rather than Scout Spirit because knowledge can be easily defined, while morals and behavior become a focus for debate.

 

Do we need BORs? I personally think that they have a purpose, but that in some Troops they have become a barrier to advancement and a barrier to focusing on what Scouting is.

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First the good news. All you need to do in order to do things right is to stop doing them wrong. Luckily for you you know precisely what you are doing wrong AND you know what you should be doing instead, That knowledge alone gives you far greater ability to creat change than the leaders who are still oblivious to what they are doing and how it should be done.

 

Yes, there was a time when there were no boards of review. There was also a time when we taught you to put butter on burns. Those days are gone, lets move on and focus opn what the program IS not what it used to be.

 

You raise an excellent point. Technology is quickly doing away with the need for many basic knots. Bungee cords, velcro, slide locks and other such devices have replaced the need for knots in many camping applications.

 

So what to do? You need to create opportunities for scouts to use knots. Pack racks, clothes lines, wash stations, all make the knowledge of knots and lashes useful. Rappelling, boating, fishing, are just a few activities that you could be doing that require the knowledge of ropework.

 

Modify your equipment. If I had tents with plastic slide locks on the guy lines I would probably cut thenm off so that taughtline hitches had to be used.

 

Create a knot tying board where scouts can hold knot tying challenges for prizes or recognition.

 

Use the ability to tie knots as the selection process for favorite activities.

 

Get creative, that is what leaders do. Find ways to make the lessons meaningful.

 

I fully expect that within our lifetime the knot requirement in Boy Scouts will be altered, Just as I expect the use of a hand ax will be taken out. Technology changes our lives and scouting has always reflected those advances, but slowly.

 

 

ONE MORE POINT if I may

 

Beavah stated that the bor cannot ask any skill related question. That simply isn't true. That never was true. The board can sk anything require the scout to perform the requirement. You can't have him tie a tautline hitch but you can ask him what it is used for and what he uses it for.

 

You can't have him demonstrate CPR but you can ask him what he learned about identifying a heart attack and how he feels that knowledge will help him. You can't ask hime to go outside and identify 10 animals but you can talk to him about the animals he saw.

 

You can get a lot of useful information without asking the scout to perfornm the skill for you.

 

So to say that you cannot discuss the skills is absolutely incorrect, you can discuss any skill or requirement you want, you just cannot retest the scout by making him perform the requirement.

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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You can and you may ask him to tie a tautline hitch. But, the purpose of asking him to demonstrate that skill should be to evaluate the Scoutmaster's program. It should not be used as a pass/fail criteria for the Scout.

 

For those who don't agree with the above, consider this. Do you ask the Scout to recite the Scout Oath or Scout Law at a BOR? Well those are requirements. So, the same for knots, first aid, CPR or anything else. What is key is how the response to these questions is used.

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"Do you ask the Scout to recite the Scout Oath or Scout Law at a BOR?"

 

No actually, my committee advancement chair would have the board and the scout all stand and recite the Oath and Law to remind each other what they were really all about. I always thought was a very classy thing to do, rather than sit and make the scout perform for them.

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