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NJ_Bald Eagle

Youth Leadership Accountabilty ?

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I can agree with that, especially that if a Scout chooses or is only able to advance so far that there is (and shouldn't be) any shame or dishonor in that.


But there are BSA requirements, in the TLT program, for instance, one could use without placing additional requirements on the Scout and if one had poor performance coming from a particular POR holder then why not document it with an ad hoc SM conference every month the performance doesn't get better and then remove the Scout before the six month period of office holding ends if the Scout refuses to improve?


It seems we have only two schools of thought going - either let it go or add requirements that National isn't going to back. Surely the middle path is better in this case?

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CalicoPenn writes:


The BSA has provided everyone, in various publications, what the performance metrics for a POR should be - use them - they've worked for generations.


It only seems like generations.


PORs are just cheap manager theory, they are not rooted in the traditions of Scouting.


What we now call a "Position of Responsibility" (POR) was the first wave of attack on the Patrol Method after the "Father of the BSA Patrol Method" (Green Bar Bill) retired in 1965.


Before then Patrol Leader or Senior Patrol Leader was a significant call to service without the thought of compensation or length of service, similar to the open-ended commitment rendered by adults who volunteer in the BSA.


This is what Baden-Powell called "Service for Others" or "Practical Christianity." Service is sacred in Traditional Scouting, given without thought for compensation as in the example of the "Unknown Scout" in 1909.


That was the "Spirit of Scouting."


PORs teach Scouts to put a price on their Service for Others, to count months of Service as commodities to be "gamed" or negotiated to their best advantage in the purchase of Advancement from adults.


(The same is true for the equally despicable practice of counting Service Project hours for advancement).


What we should hold "accountable" is the 1972 invention of Leadership Development: There are no bad junior managers, there are only bad theories of Scouting.



(This message has been edited by kudu)

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More reading, more learning, more questions....


Calico, I appreciate your strong opposition to having the SPL or ASPL be gatekeepers for Scoutmaster Conferences. I do recognize youth leaders can be biased, and popularity or lack thereof can also be a factor.


Our SM is active and around, but we often get a quite different perspective from our youth leaders who are peers with the guy in the POR, so that is why we are trying to get their input.


So let me ask this, have any of your scouts been relieved of their POR by the SM before the term of service is over and what were the repercussions? If the POR is a 6 month term, we must set expectations ahead of time, allow the scout 1-2 months to "settle in" so he can truly show he is doing his best, then evaluate after 3 months, perhaps follow up at 4 or 5, then 6? Can we add some more time onto the POR or am I missing the point completely? And with a troop having 15-20 POR, that's a lot of oversight!


Likewise, does anyone have a situation where their Troop's BOR denied a scout rank advancement after he completed his SM conference (Star, Life) because of the whole POR accountability thing or the scout did not serve actively (note I didn't call it leadership)?

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From my Point of View you have it exactly.

Others will not agree.


No, in my limited experience I have not yet had to remove a Scout from a POR due to failure to meet the expectations of the position. But I would if the situation warranted.

But we also talk about the requirements prior to each election and get the TLT training done ASAP after the elections.


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Some units, for example, have a strict percentage attendance requirement for being active and for leadership. In other cases, there may be a formal or informal age requirement for certain ranks. According to the National guidelines, that is not proper.


Yah, NeilLup, I think we have to be a bit careful, eh?


First, both da SM handbook and the SPL and PL handbooks specifically allow a troop to set age requirements for POR (and thereby for ranks).


I've never seen a troop set an "arbitrary" attendance requirement either, eh? Generally, attendance requirements get introduced by thoughtful, caring adults and youth leaders as a way of respondin' to a particular problem in their unit - usually that some boys and their families aren't taking their commitment seriously, and they feel da best way to teach 'em is to establish an objective standard. That makes sense, since objective attendance standards are something that every kid and family is familiar with from sports, school, band, theater, etc. It's good communication technique.


Do I agree with it personally? Nah. Especially when it's used as a line in da sand rather than a guideline, eh? I just think it's dead wrong and more than a bit unfair to many very capable scouters tryin' to do their best to label it as "arbitrary." Not every troop is in the same spot, eh? What might be necessary in one troop may not be in another. Especially troops that are tryin' to rebuild after a period of neglect - they usually need more clear, strong communication about (re-instituted) expectations.


I think if yeh aren't goin' to allow bein' irresponsible in a Position of Responsibility to have an advancement consequence, then yeh also need to offer a real alternative. Yeh say not to associate responsibility and character with advancement and do somethin' else. What else? I suppose a troop could chuck BSA advancement and develop their own. ;)


And if advancement isn't to be associated with demonstratin' responsibility and character, then what is the point?




NJ, I think includin' youth input on advancement is a fine thing for all da reasons you suggest. Up until the early 1990s that was part of da BSA program and it worked just fine with a bit of adult oversight.


For your other questions, I don't care for da notion of a BOR overridin' a SM on a POR decision. I think da SM is closest to the action, eh? If he signs, the BOR should take him at his word. Now, there are times when a SM may think it's a better lesson coming from the board rather than him. That's especially da case if the boy is the SM's son, eh? I tell troops to do a "wink and a nod" in such cases so the board and the SM are workin' as a team to mentor the lad.


None of da troops I'm currently familiar with and none of da crews have adopted a policy of adults removin' youth from their positions of responsibility as NAC has suggested. I haven't seen it, but I personally can't see it as bein' very helpful. As you say, yeh give the lad a couple months to get in the groove, then you start focusin' more closely. I doubt any unit would remove a kid before month 4 or 5 (and I reckon I'd consider 'em way too harsh if they did). Then what? As soon as yeh give him a second chance in a different job, he still earns the rank. Does he not get a second chance? Do yeh ban him from Positions of Responsibility for a year?


Makes no sense to me. Feels like a top-down policy designed to make life easier for those who are supposed to be makin' life easier for da units. But perhaps NeilLup or someone else can offer a practical alternative.


So I reckon for da moment most troops that run strong programs are doin' what they always did. Settin' expectations for PORs and not signing if the lad hasn't yet met those expectations.




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Here is my understanding and application of the methods orf the program.


We would start leadership training right away with the scouts so that by the time they were elected or selected to a position they had an idea of how to lead. Withing 30 Days they recieved formal training in their riole and given the tools and resources to succeed including being given an experienced ytouth ofr adult coach/mentor who was therir to guide thenm at the beginning and be available to them as needed.


If the scout was not getting the job done even after being trained and coached then they were given the choice to either show the needed improvement, choose to resign and not recieve any credit for the time in office, or they could choose to continue as things were and risk not being passed by the BOR and not getting credit for the time in office.


We have had patrols fire their patrol leader , but they picked them, and it is their patrol. But we only allowed that to happen when the patrol leader was severely neglegent in their duties. And in those few cases the scout was usually happy top be relieved of the responsibility.



Yes we have had BoRs not advance scouts for not completing that requirement. It was never appealled, because the scout knew they were right.

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>>Let me just say that this is "wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong..." Any Scout, at any time, can ask the Scoutmaster (directly) for a Scoutmaster Conference - for rank, or any other purpose. A Scout Troop is not a corporate office, where the "lower ranks" have to go through a chain of command to speak with the "guy at the top" (which, BTW, in a Scout Troop isn't an adult - it's the SPL).

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Preach it.


The Scouts can often be harder on each other than we are! True.

But, they are almost always just as, if not more, fair than we are.


And when they're not, is a reason why we have Adult Association.

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I guess I just don't see what all the hassle is about this issue. The requirements spell it out with sufficient leeway to make it happen for the boy.


If he's elected to a POR and doesn't do the job, get him out of there and assign him to a POR that he can do the job on. If that doesn't work out have the SM assign him a leadership project that the SM knows he will be successful at and be done with it. If this process takes 6 months, so be it. During that time he was actively processing his leadership skills finding out what he is capable of doing and what he might need work on for the next rank. A sensitive SM will be able to assess what's best for the boy and the ultimate judge of the advancement will be the SM anyway. If the SM knows the boy and knows this is going to be a problem for him, he should seek some alternative options so the boy has a reasonable chance of suceeding.


I have a boy right now that is lining up outside speakers for the patrols/troop for the drug program and citizenship requirements. The boy has difficulty focusing, but has struggled along with this, making the calls, organizing the calendar and pushing himself beyond what he normally does. When the speakers come, he will stand up and introduce them and then his advancement will be complete. It may be a very small step for most of us adults, but it is a big step for this boy on his first POR requirement.


This is one reason why I don't always back the election process. Many times the boys are elected for all the wrong reasons and it normally doesn't work out well for anyone in the long run. If one notices the carpool driver has fallen asleep at the wheel, someone might want to poke him long before they get to the ditch. If the SM is ultimately responsible for signing off the requirement, he can design the situation so the boy has a chance to suceed.



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I'm a little slow... I'm 51 and EagleSon is 19.


I know a lot of families who are more than a little bit faster... 50 is not an unreasonable age for a 3d generation.


I know some families who are a lot faster. Now, I happen to think 40 is pushing the envelope for a 3d generation, but I know families where the 3d generation happens at 36.


40 years is a valid time period for someone to say "it's been around for generations."





On the subject of youth elections: They have their own value. Look at some of the folk we grownups have put in positions of high responsibility since 1991. Federal, State, local... we've chosen some real pieces of work?


Why not teach the youth that electing the wrong person has consequences? The Grand Game was designed to be a laboratory for adult life. Let them fail by making a sub-par choice. The youth will learn from it.




I happen to agree with Beavah. The National Advancement Committee took the path of least resistance to solving their problem. I suspect some of Beavah's day job peers were giving advice based on previous results.


When we're dealt lemons by National, at least this time we can make lemonade. If we (unit serving Scouters in particular) resolve to train, to coach, to cheerlead, to encourage, to motivate, and sadly, on occasion, to remove... we'll get these young people through their warrant office time with some experience, some wisdom, and some improvement for our Troops as a whole.


The trick is: We have to have standards, be consistent, and start when the youth is thinking about a Troop office... not after he has the badge, and certainly not 4 months after the time block is complete.

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John-in-KC writes:


Why not teach the youth that electing the wrong person has consequences?


My guess is that 100% of this thread's readers have the same question, John!


I wish I had the talent to invent a phrase that makes the "consequence" equation obvious.


Until then, simply put, you can not teach youth that "electing the wrong person has consequences" unless you remove the element of "managed risk" so they don't face any REAL consequences.


Before PORs were invented the BSA's definition of a "Real Patrol" was one that held Patrol Meetings separately from the Troop to plan Patrol Hikes separately from the Troop. Patrol Leaders used the hikes to sign off on advancement for the Patrol's younger members and to train for Patrol Overnights.


These activities are still allowed by the Guide to Safe Scouting but we no longer train Patrol Leaders how to do it, not even for the controlled-risk environment of Troop campouts on BSA property.


So far as I can tell, all leadership experts use the "Troop Method" because Baden-Powell's standard of 300 feet between Patrols (or even 50 feet) can not be accomplished with manager skills.


John-in-KC writes:


The Grand Game was designed to be a laboratory for adult life.


I agree.


If by "Grand Game" you mean the indoor television game show. "21st century" Patrols are indeed little laboratories. That is why we no longer use the BSA's definition of a "Real Patrol."


Manager skills do not teach a Patrol Leader how to run a "Real Patrol," but they will indeed be useful in their adult life. Just like any business administration course.


John-in-KC writes:


Let them fail by making a sub-par choice. The youth will learn from it.


This is why these threads are so popular with trained leaders. Everybody gets to make adult noises that convey deep wisdom about "Leadership Accountability" so long as everyone agrees that the "21st century" Patrol Method requires Patrols to camp close together. That way there is no real downside to making a "sub-par choice."


John-in-KC writes:


40 years is a valid time period for someone to say "it's been around for generations."


OK, point taken.


My thought was a working "Real Patrol" is still in the living memory of some volunteers. For us the dumbing down of the Patrol Method to accommodate adult manager skills is still first generation stuff.


What I object to in CalicoPenn's "the performance metrics for a POR ... they've worked for generations" is the implication that these "performance metrics" are rooted in the origins of Scouting rather than in its sharp decline.


PORs were invented by the same people who invented the "urban emphasis" system of Skill Awards and Merit Badges to allow the urban demographic a path to Eagle Scout without a single camping trip. The idea is that you don't need to go camping to learn Character, Fitness, and Citizenship.


Likewise, you do not need to camp in a "Real Patrol" to learn "leadership skills":


"In general, Patrol Leader training should concentrate on leadership skills rather than on Scoutcraft skills. The Patrol will not rise and fall on the Patrol Leader's ability to cook, follow a map, or do first aid, but it very definitely depends on his leadership skill (Scoutmaster's Handbook [1972], page 155).


For eight long years boys who had never been camping could learn these "leadership skills" and advance to Eagle Scout.


That explains a lot.


In a perfect world, CalicoPenn would write:


"The BSA performance metrics for a POR - use them - they were designed for a generation of Eagle Scouts who never went camping" :)




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After reading some of what has been posted, I'm left wondering what I'm not doing right?

I have never ever had to deal with parents who seem as ready to call in anyone because their kid wasn't advancing.


While I agree that knowing what is expected before you take on any position is vital. I also can see that in a new unit a written job description could be a nice tool.

But maybe I'm just lazy? I have tended to allow history and tradition replace this.

Most of all I know the Scouts in the unit I serve.

Many of them I have known for a very long time.

I know what makes them tick, I'm aware of their strengths and their weaknesses.(Just as they know mine.)

I care about them and want them to be successful. I train them for success.

I don't need a formal SM Conference to tell anyone "Well done" or "Great job". Nor do I need one to give "The Look" or have a word in someones ear who is messing up.

In the Ship and in Troops I have led, we use and have used Reflections to assess, what worked, what didn't work and at times the fact that someone has let the side down sticks out like a sore thumb. The person or people responsible are aware of their successes or failures and we work toward making any needed changes in how we go about doing things.

To be honest I'm willing to not take very much notice about what National or anyone else has to say about what constitutes being active or serving actively.

Life isn't that hard.

As I see it a Lad who has made an oath to do his best to keep the Scout Law is going to keep his word he is going to do what he said he was going to do.

My role is helping him do it.

I'm willing to use every thing I have learned about leadership to give him what he needs, I'll use all of these skills to set a good example and provide the resources and tools needed to do the job.

The expectations I have are set for each individual not some standard that is laid down in black and white.

The Scouts, the other adults and the committee know that it would be a cold day in you know where, if I allowed someone to advance just because they had worn a path for six months and had not done their best to do what they said they were going to do.

Very often a Scout will start off doing the work that a position entails because he wants to please me, but in time and over time he starts to understand that this isn't about pleasing me. It has more to do with his honor and him wanting to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.

At some place along the line ethics do come into play. The "I have to do this or Eamonn will be upset" is replaced with the "I have to do this because I said that I'd do it" starts up.

Each and every Scout is different. I have know Scouts who without blinking a eyelid are able to take on and manage just about any position, while others struggle with getting anything done.

Life is a lot easier with the Scouts who just seem able to jump right in, but it is far more rewarding to work with the Scout who struggles and ends up getting what needs to be done, done.


This talk about:

" trying to implement criteria/standards to assure scouts are aware of their leadership roles and what is expected of them." And

"make certain that scouts have accomplished their leadership requirements before scheduling them for scoutmaster conferences. We need to make sure these scouts have made meaningful contributions before they are signed off.

While it might read very well is to my mind a bunch of twaddle.

I'm happy to work with one Scout at a time.

I'm happy to reinforce good work with a pat on the back and provide slackers with a friendly kick in the pants.

This isn't rocket science. I'm not the HR department for IBM.

I'm just a volunteer doing my best to help Scouts grow and find the joy that comes from them doing their best.




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Kudu wrote:


"PORs were invented by the same people who invented the "urban emphasis" system of Skill Awards and Merit Badges to allow the urban demographic a path to Eagle Scout without a single camping trip. The idea is that you don't need to go camping to learn Character, Fitness, and Citizenship."


Oh, horsehockey.


My Scouting was done on the 7th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (that means 1968-74 for those in Rio Linda). My brother was older enough to use the 6th Edition (1961-66). I still have mine. The jobs I held in my Troop, either by election or Warrant, include:

- Patrol Leader

- Scribe

- Instructor

- Senior Patrol Leader


All of those counted, even then.


Yes, the buzzword POR is part of the 70s, as were skill awards.


Wanna know something else? Two of the Citizenships were on my Eagle Required MB list.

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John-in-KC writes:


Oh, horsehockey.


My Scouting was done on the 7th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (that means 1968-74


The Patrol Method was introduced to the BSA in the 1920s by James West and "Green Bar Bill" (GBB). Before GBB's retirement in 1965, there were no specific PORs required for advancement. The object of the Patrol Method was to have the best leaders serve as PLs and for them to select their SPL, so these positions were tied up longer without the pressure of regular "Troop" elections.


Star requirements referred only to being "active in meetings, outdoor activities, and service projects," Life referred to accepting "responsibilities" in those activities, and Eagle merely to working actively as a "leader" in them. Specific leadership positions were not subject to advancement-driven Scouts taking them from more dedicated leaders just for the sake of a short six month requirement.


The specification of specific leadership positions after GBB's retirement converted them from freely given Service to Others without thought for compensation (similar to that of the adult roles in Scouting), to something to be bartered away for advancement. This cheapened the spirit of service, and put pressure on higher turnover resulting in six month elections.


John-in-KC writes:


Yes, the buzzword POR is part of the 70s, as were skill awards.


They are both part of the same deliberate move away from outdoor skills. PORs became a destructive force when Patrol Leader Training...


(Learning how to run


Patrol Meetings,

Patrol Hikes,

Patrol Overnights, and

Patrol-based Advancement)


...was destroyed in 1972 to make way for Junior Leader Training that taught the "Nine (9) Leadership Skills" including:


Getting and Giving Information,

Setting the Example,

Representing the Group,

Managing Learning,



All in the context of dumbing leadership down to the level of non-camping Eagle Scouts. This is why Patrols camp so close together now. Creating "opportunities to learn from failure" has replaced specific training in how to run a "Real Patrol."


Reality Check: Can anyone understand why replacing the nuts and bolts of how to run Patrol Meetings, Hikes, Overnights, and Advancement with how to "manage learning" would lead to less Patrol Meetings, Hikes, Overnights, and Patrol-based Advancement?


Or did everyone drink the Kool-Aid?


John-in-KC writes:


Wanna know something else? Two of the Citizenships were on my Eagle Required MB list.


What is your point? Schoolwork Merit Badges have always been a major difference between BSA Scouting and Baden-Powell's Scouting.


"Give a boy a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a boy to be a 'manager of learning' and he will starve to death"




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I have personally told two boys, "in good faith to all the other boys in scouting ,if I sit on your board of review I can tell you that you will not get voted to pass that board because I have not seen you Scribe (or ASPL) at all."


Me: What have you done as the Scribe?


Scout: I helped Mr. Rodgers with the sign ups in September. And a couple of other things(it's now August)


Me: about how many hours did that take you?


Scout "6 hours"


About now he sees the light. Both good kids. Both are "jocks" more than they are Scouts.


Nobody had ever done that before in our unit. SM agrees they should have heard it from him long ago , but did not see enough of both boys to bring it up.


In the 80's there was a poster of a Drill Instructor that said, "If you were accused of being a Marine, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"


I asked both boys the same question and they agreed there was little evidence to support their POR completion.


I like what Kudu says. If we had stronger boys they would have peer led these boys long before I said something.

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