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fleetfootedfox

BOR: How flexible are the rules?

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Since becoming a scouter about 6 years ago, I have often come across areas where people pick and choose which rules they want to follow. The latest has to do with board of review. Our troop bylaws say an older boy can sit on a BOR for tenderfoot through 1st class. I read on one of these forums that is an old way of doing things that changed years ago. I looked it up in the latest Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures and confirmed it says, "For Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Palms, the review is conducted by members of the troop committee."

 

I know there are rules and there are guidelines, but this doesn't seem like just a guideline to me. So, it seems to me that our bylaws contract the BSA policy and I suggested removing the offending provision from our bylaws. However, I have run up against opposition from the old guard.

 

One of our "old-timers" who has been around the troop since at least 1998 listed all sorts of reasons why he thought it was a good idea to have youth sit on a BOR. To me, this seems besides the point. If I run a stop sign and get caught, I cannot argue to the judge all the reasons I think it's a good idea to be able to run a stop sign when you want to.

 

I know nobody is going to arrest us for not following a BSA policy, but aren't we supposed to anyway? Also, I would not fault anybody for not knowing this rule, but now that we do, shouldn't we follow it?

 

Another person suggested that we could invent a new youth position on the troop committee that is a non-voting youth representative position. That boy could then serve on a BOR. That is a very creative way of getting around the rule. However, I was amazed that somebody would want to create a loop-hole instead of simply following the rule. Anyway, I can't imagine a kid wanting to attend our troop committee meetings. They are often long and boring even for us adults.

 

So, what do you think? Is this a rule or a guideline? Are we free to ignore it? Should I just let it drop?

 

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In BPs original model, boys decided when other boys would advance. I suppose that was taken out of BSA because they feared that boys would be mean to other boys.

 

I know of more than a few adults who interpret "troop committee" to mean "any parent."

 

"Another person suggested that we could invent a new youth position on the troop committee that is a non-voting youth representative position. That boy could then serve on a BOR."

 

Can't do that either because to be on the troop committee you have to be registered at a committee member and you must be 21 to do that.

 

I'd like to see a BOR change somewhat from the rubber stamp "what did you like" interview to a "do you actually know what you are supposed to know" interview. Of course as long as parents run the committees and the ASM are worried about advancment, nothing will happen to slow down the race for Eagle.

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I "break/bend" the POR rules in two areas, so my opinion isn't worth much but I think it speaks a little to your situation.

 

1) I have all my Scout rank boys do a BOR. Of course there isn't one required so the boys know this is a freebie and doesn't count. However, it gives the boys a chance to sit down in a BOR setting and walk through what would be expected. It goes a long way to aleviate the anxiety the boys often have when sitting opposite an intimidating panel of adults.

 

2) Then I have the boys' PL go with them and give them some moral support, for the Scout, TF and maybe SC if necessary. They don't feel so overwhelmed and intimidated by the adults that way. I think maybe your old tradition of having a boy on the BOR was to maybe help the boys in this way. However, I see it more helpful to sit with the boy on the non-member side of the panel as being a bit more supportive and comforting. It's kinda like having a "big brother" help pave the way.

 

As a SM I am not part of the BOR's, but my PL's give me an AAR of the situation after the review so I know what the boy experienced and maybe how he felt about it from a 3rd party observer.

 

By the way, in my former troop, ASM's, parents and committee members all mixed together to do BOR's. The only one not on a BOR panel was the boy's parent and the SM.

 

Stosh(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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How flexible are rules? Rules arn't flexible they are rules. People are flexible about how they choose to follow rules.

 

The rule of thumb in a civil society is the less ethical the individual the more flexible they are with other peoples rules.

 

In the case of youth sitting on bards of review....that is a clear violation of the BSA advancement policies.

 

 

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Rules are open to interpretation, but a Scout sitting on another Scout's BOR, while not a bad idea, is a direct violation of the rules.

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Yah, Scouter760, good question, eh?

 

Let's stop a minute and ask who your Chartered Organization is, eh? And then what your position is in the unit? And what your community is like?

 

Yeh see, what you are describin' is a conflict in goals/values. You seem to have a separate goal of rules-followin'. That can be a fine thing, provided you remember that BSA program rules are not at all da same thing as public laws like runnin' stopsigns. What you're hearin' other folks in your unit tell you is that there are other goals and values in play, eh? Those people you dis on a bit as "old timers" might have goals of participatory youth leadership, for example.

 

I think yeh have to listen to 'em. They are your fellow adults. In Scoutin', most of our program "rules" are only valid when they serve a purpose of advancin' the goals of the Chartered Organization. That's the only reason da BSA exists, eh? To assist Chartered Organizations (and, indirectly, parents) in achieving their goals.

 

So I think if da Troop Committee is tellin' you that their values and goals include havin' youth serve on BORs, you need to be very thoughtful about makin' waves. A perfectly OK response from them is to tell you to go find another troop, because you don't share their goals and are makin' headaches. And I reckon they're always goin' to be able to find work-arounds if they care about it enough, whether it's appointin' youth to da committee, or sittin' a youth as a fourth "unofficial" board of review member or whatnot.

 

Practically speakin', this ain't a hill to die on. Boy Scouting worked fine for a lot of years of youth serving as the Board of Review without any adults. Havin' one token youth BOR member is a small thing.

 

If your role in the unit is as an assistant unit leader or an MC, you've done your duty by bringin' it up. Now do your duty by abidin' by da Committee's decision. Let it slide and spend your time on more important issues.

 

The answer may be different, of course, if you're a UC. :)

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Interesting point of view. If the CO wants to break the rules, that's okay because, even though they agreed to abide by the rules, they are special.

 

It is issues like that this that makes me believe that BSA really needs regulators, referees, inspectors or someone with the power to say, "Hey, that ain't according to the rules stop it or else." Of course the "or else" would have to come swiftly and and stick.

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Didn't mean "old-timer" necessarily in a negative sense, but yeah, I agree sometimes you have to choose your battles, and this isn't one I'm planning to push right now. I don't want to be a thorn in anybody's side, but I figure this is a fairly safe place to rant about these kinds of problems.

 

Actually, our CO is not very involved. In our troop any registered leader gets to vote in the troop committee and be on a BOR kinda like the troop Stosh was talking about. When I first came into the troop they tried to tell me that ASM's were supposed to do the BOR, not committee members, which totally contradicted my training. As Gold Winger says, they interpret the rules instead of just following them.

 

I also agree with Gold Winger that even the CO should not be able to do whatever they want. There have to be some limits.

 

Bob White's point about ethics is interesting too. I've always felt you can tell a lot about a person's character by how trustworthy they are in small things.

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I also agree with Gold Winger that even the CO should not be able to do whatever they want. There have to be some limits.

 

Yeh have to remember, it's the CO's program, eh? They really can do whatever they want, because they're the owner, not the BSA. BSA is just a resource provider.

 

Kinda like a school and a textbook publisher. A textbook publisher might spend a lot of money, come up with a super-duper math curriculum, test it and find that it works great if it's followed. Even offer trainin' to teachers from schools that want to use it, and awards for levels of achievement of students and such, and even insurance for schools that use its curriculum because it's more risky than average.

 

A school might like that, and buy the curriculum from the textbook publisher. May or may not send its teachers to the trainin', may or may not use the awards system well.

 

The school is the responsibility of the principal/superintendent/school board, eh? Not the textbook publisher. That's as it should be, because da school has to be responsive and responsible to its constituents. They may choose not to use some pieces of the curriculum, or emphasize other parts, or add some of their own stuff. Maybe they feel their kids should get more business math, or do algebra earlier, or incorporate peer tutoring, because those things fit their goals, even though dat's not part of the textbook publisher's curriculum. It's their school, their kids and families, their responsibility.

 

All the textbook publisher can do is offer guidance on how it designed the program to work. And maybe, if a big enough customer wants an adaptation, to do that for 'em. Or, if da school is a complete mess, they can refuse to license the curriculum to them, because they don't want to ruin their curriculum's reputation.

 

If you're lookin' for a centralized authority model of Scoutin', that's not da BSA. GSUSA is closer, eh? Not really sure we want to follow their example, though. :p Scoutin' in the rest of the world is even less centralized than we are. So by and large, I reckon if you're lookin' for a more uniform, centralized youth experience Scouting is not da right choice for you. You should consider somethin' like the Civil Air Patrol or JROTC, both of which are excellent programs for youth.

 

So when yeh go off to BSA trainin', you're gettin' the word of the curriculum publisher on how it's designed. When yeh come back to your unit, you're workin' for the CO, and da COR is the principal and your employer, and the Committee is his staff. Yeh can advocate for doin' the curriculum as its designed, but they can say no.

 

That can be annoyin' sometimes, especially if your unit is runnin' off the rails a bit. In the bigger picture, though, it's the difference between bein' a small organization with a lot of liability exposure, and bein' a big organization with reasonable liability exposure. Just look at da rules, prohibitions, and limitations in GSUSA to get what I'm talkin' about. :)

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I see what Beavah is saying about his textbook example. The issue as I see it, is because there may be many different way to use the textbook and other teaching methods, just having a 4.0 GPA will not get you in most Post Secondary Educational Institutions, they also require either ACT's or SAT's, why? because an A is not an A is not an A. Medical School graduates face the same issue, just because you have a MD degree doesnt mean much, you have to pass the licensure test, same with Accountants. A CPA is valued because the public has an expectation of what a CPA can do.

 

Now, I thought the reason why Eagle was highly regarded because the public has an expectation of what that means. If we have "too much" and thats open to discussion, interpretation of the rules, then the Eagle is not a National Honor, its something that some work hard at and others not so much. Like Degrees they start to need context. I graduated from Harvard Law School is better than Bob's Law School and Motorcycle Shop. Not that there is anythng wrong with motorcycles.

 

if we want Eagles to be regarded as they have nationwide, dont the standards have to stay the same?

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I think we have been down this path before?

Only the last time we might have used the word "Tweak".

 

One big danger of allowing too many "Tweaks" or too much flexibility is that we run the risk of getting so far from where we wanted to be that we forget where that was in the first place.

 

It has been a sore point with me that over the years I have done my best to follow the training syllabuses that the BSA has put out, had a lot of really nice Scouter's attend, giving up their time and parting with their hard earned cash attend these trainings. Most have said that they have enjoyed the training's and learned a lot. But once they return to their unit they are met with the old "We don't do it that way!"

I of course repeat to myself the old "You can bring a horse to water..."

How flexible are the rules?

At the end of the day in the real world, a lot depends on who you ask.

Ask the BSA.

I'll bet that the answer is that there is no such thing as flexibility.

I'm not sure who the BSA is? But "They" are the people who spend a lot of time writing the Scout Handbook along with the other BSA publications.

You can imagine for them to say "Hey don't take any notice of this stuff" would come off sounding a little silly and they might think that hey were wasting their time.

Ask the guy who is not doing things by the book because he feels that his way is better and I'll bet that he will say that it's just a guideline and his way is a lot better.

This doesn't make this guy a bad guy.

Most of the tweaks I have run into have been made with the best intentions in the world.

Some people tweak because they think these tweaks are in the interest of the BSA. Some people feel that by adding stuff or by taking away stuff the organization will somehow be better.

Some tweaks are made because someone feels that this is in the best interest of the Boys.

I have met a lot of adult Scouter's and a lot of Scouts, I really haven't met that many Chartering Organizations. Most of the CO's in the area where I am have been around for a while. Over the past 25 years I suppose I have only had dealings with about 20 or 30.

I can put my hand on my heart and say that not one of these has ever come up to me and said that they felt the need to change the program that the BSA has outlined in the publications that it puts out. (Truth is most have no idea) They tend to rely on the adults in the unit to deliver the program.

For example; once the SM announces that Scout uniform pants are no longer required in the Troop, no one questions it.

Sadly in the area I'm in many COR's are just names on paper and are a very rare bird that only comes out when something is very seriously wrong.

 

So where does this leave us?

Some people will say that if we don't follow the rules to the letter we are going to you know where in a hand bag and these rule breakers need to be shown the door post haste.

Others will say it's no big deal and at the end of the day it's for the boys.

My hope is that we would all try to do our best to follow the rules.

We do need to pick our battles.

If a change to the way the unit has done BOR's for a very long time is is going to result in world war 3? It just isn't the time to make the change.

Maybe keeping it on the back burner until a better time pops up is the way to go.

I really don't see anyone rushing down from Texas to point the finger or the Unit committee being asked to resign on mass.

Doing the right thing is always the best way to go.

Just sometimes it can take a while.

Eamonn.

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Beavah says:

 

"Yeh have to remember, it's the CO's program, eh? They really can do whatever they want, because they're the owner, not the BSA. BSA is just a resource provider. "

 

This is not true. Through the annual recharter agreement, the CO is allowed to use the BSA program. If they stray too far from the program, then I'd assume a Council wouldn't sign on the dotted line next year unless the CO gets back closer to the program.

 

In addition, there are District/Council-level mechanisms in place to ensure that a CO doesn't just "do whatever they want". An EBOR is a good example. UC's are another.

 

Clearly, a CO has alot of latitude within the guidelines/rules/suggestions/documents/etc. that BSA puts out to tailor the program to the audience, but at the end of the day, it's the BSA program that the CO has agreed to use.

 

My issue with "small" changes (such as the one this thread concerns) is that these "small" changes can eventually become "big" changes. If we allow one boy to be on a BOR, why not really make the program boy run and have the whole BOR be made up of boys? When the CO (and Scouters) signed up with BSA, they sign up for the BSA program (warts and all). For things that are clearly not open to interpretation, such as this case, I don't see the wiggle room that you see for the CO.

 

 

 

 

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Well said Alfansome. The only latitude the CO has is that which is allowed them by the BSA. They cannot alter BSA policy except in the specific areas where the BSA grants them that flexibility. Even the COs, in their annual charter renewal, sign an agreement that says they will abide by the BSA policies.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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The issue as I see it, is because there may be many different way to use the textbook and other teaching methods, just having a 4.0 GPA will not get you in most Post Secondary Educational Institutions, they also require either ACT's or SAT's, why? because an A is not an A is not an A.

 

Yah, and I reckon if we're bein' honest with ourselves, an Eagle is not an Eagle is not an Eagle, eh? ;)

 

As Kudu is wont to point out ad nauseum, one BSA Eagle can be a 12-year-old who has never worn a backpack. Another can be a 17-year-old who has backpacked on three continents, can discuss in detail da current financial markets mess from his Personal Management and Citizenship badges, and led the effort to build a new nursing home in his town. Yah, yah, we can claim that these things are differences between boys and not programs, eh? But every council I've ever looked at you can see big differences in things like Eagle Project service hours by unit. Some units average 250+ hours per project, some less than 50. Those are unit differences.

 

I know people get all in a lather about such things, but I reckon those differences are OK. Fact is, as OGE points out, we can't really point to any organization that successfully maintains identical program and standards across a wide area. Schools don't. Colleges don't. Businesses don't, at least not when they're dealin' with humans instead of hamburgers. And where we do try to set one uniform standard, by necessity we set it at the next-to-least common denominator. A few fail, but all da rest succeed. Lots of attorneys who pass the bar shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a real case, eh?

 

BSA has done it right. We've offered a program that allows for adaptation and adoption and variance. That way we've got a program that can be used a lot of different places, and accepted by a lot of different people. And we don't have to be responsible for it. ;) Look at GSUSA for a contrast, eh? One set of values that turn off a lot of people. They are responsible for it, so da level of restrictions on unit activities is 10 times what da BSAs are. Result over the years has been real competition from groups like Campfire and now Heritage, and only bein' able to hold the attention of cub-scout aged girls. We've done a lot better.

 

This is not true. Through the annual recharter agreement, the CO is allowed to use the BSA program. If they stray too far from the program, then I'd assume a Council wouldn't sign on the dotted line next year unless the CO gets back closer to the program.

 

Yeh might assume, but you'd be wrong AlFansome. Droppin' a charter can't be done at the council level. Has to go up to National. And it's very, very rare. About as rare as a curriculum publisher refusin' to sell their program to a school. It happens, but only when things are really nuts. Nobody's goin' to lose their charter over a lad sittin' on a Board of Review. Nor are they goin' to lose their charter even if they do somethin' major like not allow any boys over age 13 to stay in their troop. Nor does a UC have any authority over a unit, beyond the authority freely given by the unit if he or she is a good friend and mentor. Heck, these days da UC was probably recruited from the unit, like as not.

 

The point is, parents and youth don't sign up for the BSA program. They sign up for a particular CO's program. BSA feels so strongly about this that we encourage transitioning webelos to visit several different troops so they find one that's a good fit. We know that da programs are not the same, eh? By bein' not the same, we can find spots for a lot more diverse set of consumers. And when CO's license the BSA materials, they do so to run their own program and fulfill their own mission and goals. Not to make a generic scout troop, but to make a unique scout troop.

 

Yah, it's a partnership. Two parties workin' in good faith with at least some common, shared interests. But da CO is the Senior Partner with controlling interest. COs ultimately govern the BSA, da BSA doesn't govern the COs. And da CO owns the unit.

 

All this is just jawbonin' among old furry and feathered critters, though, eh? Fact is, it's just a children's program, and nobody sweats the small stuff like this. Not worth any time when we could be campin' together.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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"It's just a childrens program".

 

What difference does that make exactly Beavah? Are you saying that you reserve your ethics for adult programs only?

 

The ability to behave ethically and funtion within the rules of the program should not be based on the age of who benefits from the program.

 

If you can ignore some rules because we work with grade school through college age young people then I guess if you worked for a nursery you could ignore all the rules, I mean its not as if the babies would know right from wrong, so why should the adult have to worry about it right?

 

To think that poor personal ethics can be excused because it is a children's program is indefensible.

 

 

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