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BOR - Opinions please ...

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I need some unbiased opinions on this please. Sorry it is so long


My son recently sat for his BOR for his Star rank. On the way to the review he realized that he did not have his scout handbook. The scoutmaster (his dad) had previously told all of the boys that they should come to the meeting with their book and in uniform. So, our son was quite upset that hed forgotten his. He did have his own personal notebook where he keeps all of his records.


So, they get to the meeting and our son doesnt want to get out of the car; hes so upset. His dad tells him that he cant just not show because he forgot his book. That he needs to either tell the board he doesnt want to sit or go in, go through the process and leave the decision up to the board.


Finally, our son gets out of the car. He sees the AC outside and tells her that hes not sure hes going to sit because he forgot his book. She tells him, yes Im not sure youll pass without your book.


Some of the others boys went on with their time, our boy had his scoutmaster conference and decided that he would go ahead with everything since he had his notebook with him. His dad did a lot of coaching along the way (both as dad and scoutmaster). **Edited ... by coaching I mean he worked with him about being so upset)


So, he sits down, the board tells him, we may not be able to pass you because you dont have your book, but we'll have to discuss it. At this point, he has hope. In his words, I kept thinkin well, maybe if I do a really good job I can still make it. He tells them he failed to bring his book, should have, recognizes that he messed up. However he tells them he has his scout notebook where he has all of his MB blue cards, has papers signed by the agency he did his community svc with -- basically, though he doesn't have his book he can "show" that he'd met all of the requirements and that he was prepared. He shows everything to them - and then they proceed with the question portion. They then excuse him from the room.


When they call him back he's told that it was a hard decision because he'd done everything else very well, but they can't pass him through because he didn't bring his book. They also told him that would not set a good example for the other boys. Of course, the kid is devastated. Hes really beating himself up and is doubly upset because he really had done everything, served in a leadership role, etc., etc.


We totally disagree with the decision and if it were a scout other than our son my husband would have said something about it. In our positions (Im CC and CR) we feel our hands our tied with our son. Fortunately, my son has plenty of time to wait until the next board of review and although upset hes not dwelling on it.


So, initially we thought, okay, fine, if that is the standard then it should be applied to everyone. Another boy attended without his book, (tenderfoot) and he was passed through. But after carefully considering this we just strongly feel that the entire way this was handled AND failing him (which is how our son feels) for simply forgetting his book is not the way a BOR should be conducted.


Which brings me to the real questions, in your opinion was this mishandled? Are we spot on in our thinking?


If we are correct in our thinking, we recognize that also means weve failed the unit by failing to see that there were very clear guidelines in place and everyone had the same training prior to conducting a BOR. And know what we need to do now.


If were off base and he should have been failed for lack of another word, then well know that needs to be communicated clearly to everyone concerned.



Also, if this is NOTs just cause then what are typical reason a boy wouldnt be advanced?


Thank you for your time!

(This message has been edited by tntscoutmomma)

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The boy completed his requirements, the board failed in their duty to support the boy and the problems/challenges that faced him. It is obviously a case of an adult-led process that basically frustrates boys and encourages them to not just try and do their best, but to always succeed in meeting arbitrary expectations.


Does this troop have BOR's for those boys not advancing? Maybe they should be calling boys in randomly just to tell them they are failing to meet their obligations.


Ya can't fight city hall, but there's other cities out there who may be more fair in their support of their youth.



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The BOR is in's right to fail him due to his lacking his book. It is the final proof that all requirements have been signed off.


That being said, I believe a few of options that could have happened.


1. While waiting to go in for the BOR, someone else could have been called to bring the book in.


2. The BOR could delay their final decision until the book could be produced, thus not having to go through the entire process again.


3. The board should have let him know up front whether they would pass him or not with the absence of the Book.


I know that Scouting is meant to help teach a youth to "be prepared" but I think a little bit of common sense goes a long way.

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I was ok with all this until the part where they passed another boy. Apparently, not having his book wasnt the only criteria they failed him on. If it was, they shouldnt have entertained him at all in the BOR. It is not an unfair question to ask, and I stress ask so that it isnt perceived as being helicopterish. I hope your relationship with the AC will ensure that isnt what you are attempting.


Unfortunately, the bar does become higher for sons of Scouters. My son has definitely had a more difficult road than many of his peers, only because of the expectations. Ive never given him a SM conference, and as an ASM said once, he probably gets one driving home from each Scout meeting. I hope others arent unnecessarily holding your son to a higher standard because they know whatever is required will be met by him; that can be difficult for a kid to accept, feeling of futility.


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Yah, I think you have some work to do TnT, but it's not all with the committee members on the board, eh?


I think the real issues here are how you've set your troop up for the boys to think about advancement. Everybody talkin' about "passing" and "failing". A lad who is goin' for Star Scout who is terrified to get out of the car because he forgot his book?? Good heavens!


As a group you are puttin' entirely the wrong emphasis on the Advancement Method, from the CC and SM on down, eh? ;) It's not about passing and failing. It's about playing and scoring and being cheered on. A lad who is goin' to be Star Scout should be leapin' out of da car just for the fun of playin' the game.


You haven't failed the unit because of lack of clear guidelines and all that, eh? Your unit is failin' for too much adult guidelines and adult-driven judgment in what should be a youth pick-up sport. BOR's should be fun and friendly and happen whether or not advancement is on the line. Books should be a tool the boys choose to use, or not, to play the game.


You're right as a parent (and parents that are CC and SM, always a risky combination) to stay out of this when it comes to your son and the board. Yeh have to let that lie. But you've got work to do in fixin' how you look at advancement in your unit. I'd begin with the CC and SM. Read some of the old masters on scoutin'. Figure out when you're going to have SM conferences just for fun, without havin' anything to do with advancement. Same with BOR's.


No lad should ever be afraid to get out of a car. Every one should be racin' to get into a scout meeting before the car even comes to a stop. Like video games, eh? Yeh might not make it to the next level every time, but it's always fun to play.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Here is my $.02 worth. I am glad you are not going in with guns blazing. This is Scouting and the Scout needs to deal with HIS challenge. The standard, having a handbook for your BOR, has been made (hopefully by the boys and not adults), and he made a mistake. Use that as a learning experience. I personally reccomend another adult counsel him.


In reference to the Tenderfoot, was he going for his Tenderfoot or Second Class BOR? As stated elsewhere expectations do increase as you move along the program. That is a questionable call, depending upon the circumstances, although I am leaning towards also delaying passing.


The BOR could have done things a little differntly. While I would not have passed the young man, the standard is he needs his book, I would encourage him to come again the next week, with his book, and basically have the BOR review the book to verify and sign off.


If you do counsel your son, please tell him it's not the end of the world. I know a young man you was denied his EAGLE BOR becasue he could not do it before leaving for basic training with the Air Force Reserve. After boot camp, he shows up with everythign: handbook, project book, letters of recommendation, full uniform with medals and sash, EVERYTHING, ready for his EBOR. The Dist. Adv. Chair. reviews the application and notices that it was 3 months and a few days after his 18th birthday, and according to National he would have to appeal to them to have his board of review and explain the circumstances for why he should be allowed to have an EBOR. Instead of an EBOR they had a "chat" with him, covering everything that would have been discussed at his EBOR. When he sent in his appeal letter to national, he had several letters supporting the appeal from the committee that would have been his EBOR, unit leaders, and his USAFR commanding officer..

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I am not sure I understand how requiring the book to be present is not adding to the requirements, but that is not the real issue.


From the BSA publication Advancement Policies #33088,


If the board decides that the Scout is not ready to advance, the candidate should be informed and told what he has not done satisfactorily. Most Scouts accept responsibility for not completing the requirements properly. The members of the board of review should specify what must be done to rework the candidate's weaknesses and schedule another board of review for him. A follow-up letter must be sent to a Scout who is turned down for rank advancement, confirming the agreements reached on the actions necessary for advancement. Should the Scout disagree with the decision, the appeal procedures should be explained to him.


So, was a follow-up Board of Review scheduled? Has your son gotten the required letter? Was the appeal process explained to him?


Organizational Inertia is tough to change, but for all the gray areas we have in scouting and how varied people interpret rule, guidelines, etc, we should at least follow the policies that are written and verifiable.

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It seems to me a culture has been been established that exceeds the requirements for rank advancement. Since the BSA does not require a handbook to be present for a scout to pass a board of review then the unit has no authority to add it as a requirement. As the CC and CR you are in the best position to change this situation.


Why could you not approach it as "until this happened within your own family you really had not understood the effect this has on the Scouts or that this is in violation of the BSA policies." ?


That should open the door for the discussion and an opportunity to get the committee in line with the BSA advancement policies.


The Scoutmaster has the responsibility to know where the Scout is when he goes before the board, and should tell the board if the scouts has any remaining requirements.


The advancement chair also has a role in this. They should have accurate records of each scouts advancement and their completion of requirements available.


So to put all the burden on the boy's Hanbook being present is really unnecessary.




(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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The BOR SHOULD have said, "You have earned the rank, but we need to see your book for final confirmation. Come see any one of us with your book for the final sign off."


Our troop has done that, but made it a simple bit of showing evidence of having passed all of the requirements. It is never a big deal, just a reminder that the boy has a place in the book for sign-offs so that the BOR can see that he has finished. If a boy loses his book, he goes back to the people who saw him complete it and gets the places re-signed.

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I think Beavah made some wise comments.


You are the Owners Woman On the Ground in your role as COR. You can, legitimately say... we're going to have BOR and Advancement Training, people.


Of course, it applies to all the Scouters in your Troop ... including you, Ma'am.


Stop the talk about passing and failing. First of all, let your own son make his own calls about BOR. He admitted he was not ready enroute. Honor that. He went to your AC and said I'm not ready... they had two options: They could have honored that, and asked him for when he wanted to reschedule. Personally, I'd be jumping for joy that he had that kind of maturity. If I'd been your AC, I might have said "let's go talk"... and then ask him what he thought the worst would be? Then, I'd be saying "Given what you've shown, I don't think there will be a problem."


In executive session, with the other BOR members, my thoughts would be "Look, he's contrite about forgetting his book. He's hurting. We need to be his cheerleaders tonight," and then gotten on with it.


Advancement is but one of the Eight Methods. Keep it in perspective and balance :)

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When a Scout is terrified to get out of the car because he forgot his handbook, there is a LOT more wrong here than simply adding to the advancement requirements - which by the way, is what your Troop IS doing.


The requirements for each rank from Tenderfoot thru Eagle are CLEARLY spelled out by BSA in numerous pieces of BSA literature. No where is there a requirement to bring your Scout Handbook to the BOR.


I think ALL of your Troop leadership would benefit from the following two trainings -







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Thank you for all of the replies so far. It has certainly given us a lot to think about. And it really helps to see it from other perspectives. Though it is a bit confusing too when some say they would not advance him without his book and others say he shouldn't be pass/fail. Some say the book is there to prove he's met the requirements, but then some say requiring the book is adding to the requirements. Some say the BOR shouldn't be pass or fail, but I'm not sure how that "looks" practically speaking if the boy has met or NOT met the requirements. We do have a lot of learning to do!


Oh my! This is sure more involved than cub scouts!!


We are a relatively new troop and are finding that the more we know, the more we need to know and as we grow in number and the boys progress in rank it is bringing to light things we didn't even know should be considered. Our troop is much like a family so I know the intent was not to frustrate or upset. It's just another time that's made us think about the boys coming after him.


I did want to clear up one misconception though. He was not terrified to get out of the car - he simply was embarrassed that he forgot the book and he was more worried about how that would be perceived by his peers than the adults present. He was trying to avoid what he thought would be teasing from them. The boys that were there and award of what was going on were very supportive though!


Thank you for the links to training. And I like Bob White's suggested wording for discussing this & will probably start with something like that. I don't want to "fix" it for my son, that's done & we would do more damage for him if we intervened -- as someone pointed out, it is HIS challenge. And he has no idea how this has weighed on my mind. I didn't want to approach the subject with the committee without having a fresh perspective from others not "emotionally" invested. And when it is brought up it won't be in relation to my son.


Fortunately we are a close unit and I know the adults involved will be more than willing to invest in the training and look at how we do things - I just needed to make sure we (my husband and I) were not completely crazy in our thinking.


My boy is resilient and has already moved on, gearing up to give a speech for SPL elections!


Thanks to you all and if there are other opinions I'd love to hear the feedback. I'm off now to check out the training links.



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On the question about the plan of action and letter, and being told about the appeals process -- NO to all of those. However, I'm not sure they are really aware that should be done (though our unit commissioner was there present) -- see, it's obvious we need more training!!


I'm just glad it was our boy -- we can work through this, there are a boy or two whose mothers would be very vocal and very upset!

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Yah, TnT, let me try to sort through some of that confusion for yeh.


It is the role of the Board of Review to make sure the requirements have been learned and completed. One way of doin' that is to check signatures in the boy's book, eh? So it's not wrong to have a good conversation with the boy and then tell him he did a nice job on his board and he'll get his badge as soon as he shows you his book next week. It's also not wrong to have da AC vouch for his merit badges and the SM to vouch for his other requirements in person, and give him his badge that night without his book. The board should accept any reasonable evidence that the boy has done his part in meetin' all the requirements.


What you do want is everybody to be on the same page. I think it would have been a fine thing had the adults listened to your son's request and rescheduled. But if the SM worked hard to talk him into proceeding, there needed to be an understandin' of that by the board members. A SM in such a case might meet with the board first for a minute to clue them in, eh? That's also a good habit to get into for lads with other issues - a quick meeting with the board to let them know this boy is shy and will need encouragement, this boy has ADHD and might fidget a lot, etc.


As to the last bit, scoutin' isn't school. Yeh don't get to the test and then pass or fail because the test happens at a certain time for everybody. Scoutin' is like learning to ride a bicycle. Anyone who really tries eventually succeeds. Some early, some late, some after extra effort. But as a parent, you would never, ever talk about how your boy had "failed" to ride a bike, eh? You and every other adult would just be encouraging him, and he himself would recognize that he hadn't mastered it yet. And he'd keep tryin' and havin' fun until he did master it!


That's what Scoutin' should be. I think all the obsession with adult stuff like parsing requirements and filing written statements and opportunities to appeal as though we were some judicial proceeding sets the wrong tone. We're a kids' game, where it's fun to learn and grow and get to the next level.




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I have had the joy of serving two troops at this point with two sons - one whose BORs are too relaxed and the second whose BORs are wound just a tad tight (IMO, in both cases, obviously). Both troops did, however, require the scout to bring his book as a hard and fast rule.


I like the idea of whoever chaired the BOR saying to the scout, "you know, you should have brought your book, bring it to me to sign off and we'll be good to go. But remember, it is your responsibility to bring your book as the official record." Get the idea across with a minimum of pain and anguish. Especially since he had other documentation. Good grief, how prepared can you get? Maybe I missed something, but I hope your troop isn't planning on convening another BOR?


Edited part follows: From the tone of your initial post, it sounds like your troop only convenes BORs at specified times? Most of the troops I'm familiar with will do a BOR at the drop of a hat, based on enough adults/qualified scouts at a location at a given time for the scout to ask.


Vicki(This message has been edited by Vicki)

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