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BW wrote:

"The easiest way to measue this activity in Boy Scouting is by the use of the Troop Leadership training program. Each scout recieves a job description card during the training,. By the end of the training he has had a personal conference with either the adult or an older scout who will be his coach and mentor. Together they determine 3 goals that the scout will accomplish while in office, and they document them on the back of the job description card. The Scout now has a written plan for completing this requirement and specific measuarable goals to meet to show that he has served actively in the unit. There is a reason that the BSa provides these tools in the program for you to use. The more you follow the program, the easier the program is to lead."

Where can one obtain these cards? I really like the idea, and would like to incorporate them into the troop PLC.


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  • 2 years later...

I discussed this with our district advancement chairman this weekend. Here are his thoughts:



Attached is a copy from page 20 of the 2010 Boy Scouts Requirements book. Every unit should have this book in their library. It is updated every year and is available in the Scout Shop late January or early February. This book is the "bible" if you will regarding Boy Scout Advancement policies. It trumps any other publication.


The definition of active as listed on the attached document was introduced about two years ago due to the issues you described in your e-mail. I was first introduced to this definition in 2005 at Philmont National Training Center. It has taken several years to get it published. National has pulled the 2010 and the 2009 printing of the Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures, thus you will not find this definition in those publications.


The bottom line is: The responsibility is on the unit leadership to engage the scout regarding his active participation. If the unit leadership does not engage the scout during his period of required tenure regarding his lack of performance for being active, the scout has met the requirement. Simply stated, if the scout never comes to a meeting or attends any scout activity during his required tenure and the unit leadership does not consult the scout regarding his lack of participation (active), the scout has met the requirement. The unit leadership should document the content of the conversation with the scout and document the agreement between the scout and the unit leadership for meeting the requirements for being active. The scout should receive a written copy of this agreement. This does not mean that a unit can establish an "active requirement" that states the scout must participate in a quantified number of meetings, campouts or other activities. His participation in these activities is reflected in his meeting requirements for his rank advancement.



I sent him the following message seeking further clarification:



Thanks for the reference. The particular page seems to apply more to the 1st requirement of "be active" for Star, Life, and Eagle. I'm looking for the "actively serve" in a position of responsibility.


Now, if you say we are to really to apply the definition of "active" on page 20 to the position of responsibility, is the following statement true:


If the Scout is registered in the position of responsibility for the required time period, then he has "actively served" in that position and fulfilled the requirement - regardless as to whether or not he performed any of the responsibilities of the position.



And here is his reply:



The answer is yes. [emphasis mine] The key to any of this is the unit leadership has the responsibility to communicate with the scout and properly guide the scout. If the unit leadership does not fulfill that responsibility, then the decision goes on favor of the scout. This communication must occur before the end of the required time in leadership, not after the four months or six months.



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BHunsaker's post is consistent with my understanding. It is up to the SM and the other people in leadership positions to mentor, define "actively serve," set goals and all those things. Then the SM monitors performance. If the youth is not performing then removal is the only real option under the current scheme as I understand it. If removal becomes necessary it needs to be done timely to avoid credit being recorded where credit is not intended. The SM is the "quality control" point on this rank advancement requirement. No one else in the troop is in a position to really do this systematically.


If removal is decided upon it needs to be done in as constructive a way as possible to avoid turning the boy off completely. One cannot act like Donald Trump and simply say "You're fired." Actually as I think about it even Trump gives his reasons for his decisions.(This message has been edited by eisely)(This message has been edited by eisely)

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In the unit I serve, the SM/ASM/SPL have taken to not only provide POR basic leadership training (ALL POR's), then assign an ASM to "mentor/counsel/chat" with the POR at least monthly. A "simple check box/comment/report" is made available to POR/SM/SPL for review/action (if needed).


Biggest issue so far: follow up & consistency.


Is it working: in some POR's I see marked improvement/change, in others it's not (follow up).


Is it better than what we were doing (no POR training/no mentoring)? Yes.

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Yah, B, welcome to da forums, eh? Funny to see this particular old thread resurrected. Yeh can probably find a few dozen others on da same topic.


If I may be so bold, since this after all a discussion forum...


What do you think?


For da kids in your unit, or da kids in general, what do you think is the best way to teach 'em character and responsibility? To give 'em rank promotions for seat time? To fire them as an adult (and teach youth leaders to do da same thing)? To do da usual scouting thing and work with 'em until they get it, but not sign off until they get it?


Your DAC has a different role than most unit folks do, eh? His job is to try to present da national program materials accurately and help the units by making sure district record keeping and counselors and such are in place. But it's da job of the unit leaders to use the program materials to teach responsibility and character.


So what do you think?



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There are competing purposes to be served in dealing with this, and from my narrow perspective, the guidance from National is not as helpful as it should be.


First of all, credit for rank advancement should not be given for "seat time". Having said that, how one manages the process can get unduly complicated. Having an attendance metric could be a useful part of the ongoing evaluation, but we are prohibited from doing that.


I am not keen on removing youth from PORs casually, and adult leaders should seriously engage with the youth leaders to help them in their duties. However, if a youth simply is unable or unwilling to meet some minimum standards that are clearly and openly communicated, and the unit is being hurt, then the best choice may well be removal.


If the troop has a good training program and sends its youth to the available leadership training, and youth are screened before election, then these kinds of issues likely will not arise. Every boy deserves a chance to compete for the top leadership positions, but the SM also has an obligation to ensure that boys are elected who have at least a reasonable chance of succeeding. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to have the senior positions (SPL and ASPL) filled in a two step process where the boy expresses interest and meets with the SM who then approves the boy for the ballot. As far as I know, this would not be against any rules or policy of BSA. If I am wrong, please advise.


Continued monitoring and mentoring are essential, particularly for the senior positions. Having the senior youth leadership participate in monitoring and mentoring for all the appointive positions is a good idea for two reasons. It provides those senior youth with real experience in this important component of leadership, and it also relieves the SM somewhat from what can be very time consuming when one considers how many positions may be involved.


These are not "fail safe" ideas, but hopefully this would avoid major fiascos and help all the boys gain from their tours of duty in leadership positions.

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What do I think? You asked for it...


We are all guided, yet restricted, by the rules and policies set down by National. In one sense this is very good as you know what you will get, just like going to any McDonald's around the world and ordering a Big Mac. On the other hand, it is important to allow local troops to offer some differences as not all boys nor their communities are alike. It would be a very sad world if every restaurant only served McDonald's food.


The definition of "active" provided on page 20 of the 2010 Boy Scouts Requirements represents an absolute bare minimum that a boy must do to be active in his troop and patrol. With the further explicit statement that "units may not create their own definition of active; this is a national standard", we are now restricted to that minimum. This does nothing but lessen the value of the rank.


The youth we work with are not stupid. The easier it is to get an award, the less it will mean. My son's room has soccer trophies collecting dust. They mean nothing to him because everybody on the team got the trophy whether they showed up for one game or all. Every team in the league handed out trophies no matter whether they won every game they played or lost every game. The same thing happens with Boy Scout ranks. As the Scouts see others being advanced for doing nothing but the minimum, they determine it has little value. I don't see how you retain boys in a program that rewards minimum effort.


As for the position of responsibility, it is about teaching the Scout how to be responsible. Allowing him to "get away" with doing nothing is unacceptable.


Scouting is an education. Learning from mistakes and failures is part of the process. Let it happen.


If a Scout takes a position of responsibility, and no one mentors him, and then he comes up for a board of review and is denied because he didn't do anything -- it is OK - don't freak out. It will be an early lesson that life is not fair. From this experience, the Scout will learn that a) it is his responsibility to find out what the tasks are expected in any future job, b) it is his responsibility to perform those tasks to the best of his ability even without supervision, c) he should seek help, nay, demand support from others, and d) be able to report his accomplishments to a review board or his boss. These are invaluable life lessons which are denied to the Scout using the current policies.


Yes, a Scoutmaster can remove a Scout from a POR. I am loath to do so. Mostly, it is because hope springs eternal in my world. I'm always saying to myself "give the boy one more month and he'll catch on." Four or six months is not a long time. And removing a kid from a position of responsibility is far more public than letting him complete the time and then having the conversation with him in private. Some Scouts do step down of their own volition when they figure out the job is more than they expected. Others will want to keep trying and you better believe I encourage that attitude.


As for the board of review, there appears to be no possibility of a Scout failing. If it is to be nothing but an interview without consequence, then let's get rid of having the BOR members vote.


Call me an old curmudgeon, but I think they had it right 25 years ago. From my council's "Advancement Policies and Procedures" manual from 1984:



Section X - Active Service - A Crucial Requirement


"In establishing this requirement, the Boy Scouts of America intend that all youth in this program be participating members, contributive by his presence and involvement. A valid advancement in [the council] is, therefore, one in which the Scout demonstrates in progressively increasing quantity and quality, attendance, appearance, and attitude, which clearly indicates his involvement in the program; actively assimilating the training by others in the acquired skills and other constructive talents. The demonstration must be evident over the required period of months set out for the rank sought. Periods of inactivity, for whatever cause, cannot be considered as part of the required period of activity."



Be careful what you ask for :-)


Now, if you will excuse me, I'm off to McDonald's for that Big Mac.


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Yah, that's about where I'm at, B.


I think what da advancement folks are doin' is undermining the way the scouting program works.


Adults in scouting don't "remove" boys. We work with 'em. But just because we're working with 'em doesn't mean that they're going to "get it" right away. Some lads already know how to swim. Others it takes many months or years to meet that requirement for Second or First Class. Either way, yeh don't "fire" the lad, nor do yeh sign off until they can swim the distance.


That's the way PORs should be as well. Yah, sure, there are reasons to "fire" an SPL... like if he vandalizes the camp or some other behavioral issue. But aside from that, yeh work with him. At the same time, the adult workin' with him doesn't guarantee that he has the motivation to work himself, and it takes some kids longer to learn responsibility than others. So yeh work with him, but yeh don't give him credit for being responsible until he's learned that lesson. Same as for a bowline.


Da notion that an adult should undermine patrol method and youth leadership by rushing to "fire" youth-elected or youth-appointed scouts just to block inappropriate advancement I find a bit bizarre. Sometimes folks at da national office are just office people, eh? Well meaning and hard working folks, but they look for office solutions, not scouting solutions.


Yah, I know they get sick of appeals because whether a boy has shown responsibility is a subjective call, and Irving is obsessed with pseudo-objective evaluations. :p Yeh can always point to some scouter somewhere who's gone a bit overboard in his or her expectations. But da current convoluted scheme of promotion based on seat time with a requirement to "fire" a scout in a given period is just a bizarre departure from da way the Scouting program is supposed to work, and has worked for 100 years.




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I said this a couple years ago, I say it again today:


Be careful of what you ask for. You just might get it.


We, the mass of volunteers in the field, asked for a definition. We got it. Now, we have to live with it.


To me, the leadership positions in the Troop are perhaps the vital responsibility of the Scoutmaster. He has help, from his ASMs and certain Committee folk, but development of these youth is his charge in life.


When does guidance, support, and mentoring for a POR begin? My answer is well before the youth is given the patch. There should be a SM conference, where Mr SM and the youth discuss the job. There should be time to think for the youth: IMNSHO, during that time Mr SM needs to call Mom and Dad: If they are not onboard, the youth is being set up for failure! Yes, I have seen it happen.


Once the youth is selected for the position, the adult has to be "not too far away" while the youth finds his feet in the job. Keep the youth accountable to his position. An attaboy after he does something good (be generous, but slowly raise the bar), a sage comment when he needs a teaching moment, a hard question when he's Missing In Action.


If the SPL is a solid, mature citizen, some (up to most) of this can be powered down to him and his ASPL(s).


It takes work to teach the youth members. Period! As Beavah said, removing them from responsibilities is the last resort, and should be the answer well under 5% of the time.


My thoughts

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Yep, keep those adults handy. It's the best way yet to make sure the boys follow along.


Sorry, I'm all for leadership, not follower-ship.


When my boys ask me questions (on their time table and as their needs dictate) I answer them and even make suggestions as to what they might want to consider in their deliberations on the matter.


My boys "actively serve" and the final "test" is going to be their Board of Review! TEST? You can't re-test!!!!! Nope, but my BOR's are the boys' BOR's not some adult's commissioning board or approving body by which my boys are evaluated. My boys are trained up to go into a BOR with an agenda and brag about their accomplishments. What if they haven't done anything worth bragging about? They're in trouble.


I had two Eagle candidates going before EBOR's on the same night. One boy did not take my suggestions and came in, did the requisite hoops the EBOR expected and then sat and answered questions. 14 questions were posed to him of which some of them he was prepared for and some he wasn't. He struggled and often times seem a bit uncomfortable if not embarrassed.


The other boy came in, took charge of the EBOR, laid out his agenda and preceded to tell the Board all the great things he had done to get to this point in his life. The Board managed to squeak in 3 questions which he handled quickly and got back on his agenda for them. In this case, it was the Board that seemed a bit uncomfortable and embarrassed.


Both candidates received their Eagle.


As I mentioned before boys in my troop do not wear POR patches on their shirts unless they have proven themselves with a consistent track record.


One boy wears CA, been doing it now at every event for almost 18 months.

One boy wears JASM, Eagle scout who has proven he can handle any position in the troop effectively.


Last Monday, my "popcorn chairman" gave a report on the Show-and-Sell project from the weekend and presented the schedule of future events coming up soon. He also warned them that the cubs were already in the neighborhoods beating them to the punch on sales. Popcorn Chairman is not a troop POR but ours is 13 years old (FC).


A second boy asked if he could do the summer camp organization for the troop like he did last year. It involves registering, collecting money, and signing up MB's, etc. Summer Camp Coordinator is not a troop POR, but ours is 14 years old (Star). He had so much fun doing it last year he wanted to do it again this year.


A third boy (TFoot) had asked the CM of the support Pack if he could be a DC. He had a meeting with the CM at the troop meeting last Monday night. He came prepared with his trained certificate ready to go. CM had a Wolf den in mind for him. The CM asked him how long he expected to serve and the boy said 12 months because that was necessary for the National DC Award. The CM was hoping for at least 9 months to getting the den through the school year. The CM knew that POR's are only required for 4-6 months and was worried about having the DC leave in the middle of the year. It was suggested to the TFoot that traditionally POR's were for 6 months, but the CM might expect more. The Tfoot told me he didn't need a POR for advancement and that the 12 month expectation for NDCA took precedent anyway.


For all those who are aghast about a Tenderfoot serving as Den Chief, the boy approached me about the possibility and I was kind of dragging my feet about it (typical adult reaction). He said he took the training on-line, showed me his certificate and informed me he knew more about Cub Scouts (He's AOL) than Boy Scouts at the present time and felt he could do a better job for the Cubs than for the troop because of that. He said that a year from now when he has FC, he will be in a better position to take on a troop leadership position.


Leadership means doing (serving) more than just following directions. Do this and do that, then you will be a leader. Nope! Get out front and lead, then you'll be a leader.


Does it work? Sure! My new ASM, who just Eagled, having spent one week in summer camp as a boy in the troop and one week of summer camp as my ASM, received a job application from the camp director for employment next summer (same boy that "took charge" of his Eagle BOR). We aren't talking CIT here, but actual staff. Not bad for a young man who does his resume every day and doesn't need it on paper to be considered for future opportunities. Opportunities come looking for him.


When it comes to training up new leaders amongst our young people, it's get in, get out, and then get out of the way.




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