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Joe MacDoaks

Letter to absent Scout

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I have a Scout in my Troop that is a Life Scout. He is about to turn 17. I have not seen this Scout at a Scout function in about a year. I have talked to this Scout on the phone and asked him to comeback to meetings and he has said he would but I still have not seen him. I occasionally see his parents and they tell me he wants to work on his Eagle Project, I have not seen a proposal for a project yet. Parents assure me that son wants to earn Eagle. I want to send this scout and his parents a letter telling them that Scout will not be retained on the roster if he doesn't start participating in scouts now. My CC is friends with the family and doesn't want me to send the letter. He says he will talk to the Scouts father. In the letter I have drafted I request a meeting with the Scout and his parents so that we can work everything out. This boy only needs four merit badges and his Eagle project to meet requirements for Eagle. He was an SPL after he made Life.

 

Should I send the letter with out CC concurrence? I have tried to lay the facts out in my letter. I don't feel that I have any other way to get through to this Scout.

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If he has been MIA for a year, how does he stay on the charter? Does he mail in his dues/registration fees?

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Joe,

 

Greetings!

 

IMHO, the Scoutmaster is ultimately responsible for the troop and assist the PLC to deliver an advancement program to the troop. The Troop Committee Chairman is responsible for guiding the Committee, which supports the Scoutmaster is providing a program resources, funding and transportation.

 

It seems that you have seen and talked with the Scout and also his parents.

 

Sending a letter would be establishing a documented requirement and setting an example of desired behavior, as a follow up to your previous discussions.

 

The first Eagle Scout requirement, Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 6 months as a Life Scout. Has the Scout satisfied this requirement and been signed off as being active?

 

I concur, I would be happy to have a Life Scout participate (or somewhat participate) in the troop over the year before he makes Eagle. It is the Star and Life Scouts that normally run the troop and that is the rank that the younger Scouts look up to. The Life Scouts are the shining example of what an 11 y/o Scout wants to be. Most Tenderfoot Scouts like the Scoutmaster and leadership, but they really idolize the cool 16-17 year old Scouts.

 

If you are absolutely sure that you want to send a letter of this type, it does not shut the Scout down from making Eagle. It would only mean that this Scout would not be given a "free ride" or an "Eagle Mill" ticket punched by your troop.

 

The Life Scout can always apply for membership with another troop, and then meet the requirement of "Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 6 months as a Life Scout".

 

If your troop is the only troop in a rural community. Being removed from your troops charter listing does not stop him. He may apply to the District Executive to become a Lone Scout and still apply for Eagle Scout. He can still accomplish the goal of attaining Eagle Scout, though he would have to answer to a DE and Council Advancement Committee why he cannot actively participate in your troop.

 

Good Luck and hopefully both you and the Scout will make the best decisions!

 

Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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Are mom and dad the ones who want to earn Eagle or does their son?

 

I would not have the coffee chat with mom & dad. This boy is old enough to make his own decisions. It is not our job as adult leaders to hold these boys hands as they go through Scouting. Our job is to make all the advancement opportunities they will need available. Our job is to help teach them to make moral and ethical decisions. It's the Scout's job to take advantage of this.

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From what you wrote, I am supposing that he met the activity requirements and POR requirements (he was SPL after becoming a Life Scout).

 

I think I would request a sit-down meeting with the scout and his parent(s). I would lay out at that meeting what you have written here. I would also ask the boy point blank whether there is a reason for his absence. Is the program no longer to his liking? Is he too busy with other activities and scouting is no longer a high priority? Does he have a job that conflicts, etc.? I'd stress that you will not respect him less for moving on in his life if that's what he has chosen, but that if he does intend to work on his Eagle with the troop, then you need to see him being part of the troop again. And I'd do all of this in front of his parents so that 8 or 9 months from now, there are no ugly surprises. Also so that, if he really isn't that interested and it is a parent who is pushing him, you are giving him an out, right in front of them. He can opt to take that out then and there and another adult (you) will back him up.

 

I would follow that up with a friendly email to the scout (keep a copy in your records) expressing appreciation that he met with you, and reiterating what was discussed. I'd also make this, in plain language, a standing invitation to the boy to rejoin the troop at any time, whether his goal is to make Eagle or not. And that he will be welcome to submit an application as an adult scouter once he turns 18, again whether he ends his youth tenure as a Life scuot or an Eagle scout. Either way you look at it, both are impressive accomplishments and obviously this is a good kid (else he wuoldn't be a Life scout and former SPL of the troop, right?).

 

All of this is a little bit less formal than a letter and it gives you a chance to understand the dynamics driving this young man at this point in his life. The letter, to me, is kind of a "I'm wiping my hands of you" sort of move (or can be perceived that way) and I can see why your CC might not want you to do that.

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

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There doesn't seem to be much value in a letter unless you're preparing documentation to support a court case or such. Why not just call the kid up and have a chat? Invite him to the next campout. Ask the PL or SPL to invite him.

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"The real price of membership in this Troop will be unfailing regular attendance at its meetings, and steady progress in all the things that make a Scout Prepared. If the Troop Leaders put their own time into the activities of this Troop we shall certainly expect you to do your part with equal faithfulness."

Green Bar Bill in the 3rd Edition, SM Handbook

 

Bill Hillcourt included this in his recommendation to SM's starting a new Troop. I have included the above in our Visitor packet, and part of our New Member packet under Expectations of Members. If your Troop has similar expectations, the Scout in question, along with his parents and the CC, shouldn't be surprised when he is removed from the recharter.

 

You can read about some horror stories here of 17 year old Scouts wanting to earn their Eagle and running into all kinds of problems. I think a letter clearly documenting his lack of attendance, and clearly outlining the expectations if he wants to make Eagle, could head off some serious problems down the road. Based on what we have seen here in the forum, the issue will only get worse as the 18th birthday gets closer.

 

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Does the young man have a job that would interfere with troop meetings or outings? If so and if he has met the 6 months active and POR requirments, I'd cut him some slack. My son is a 16.5 year old Life Scout and former SPL. We've been footing the bill on his truck for the last half year because he had scheduled commitments as a JASM, an OA Chapter officer and ceremony team member, staffing Cub resident camp and staffing NYLT week after next. When he is finished with NYLT, he is expected to get a job and start making his truck loan and insurance payments. At that point, his scouting will be subject to his work scedule instead of the other way around. Isn't this part of what we are preparing young men for? I'm not in favor of 13 year old Eagles, but I understand how it becomes more difficult for them to be 100% active after their 16th birthday. We have roster of 60 boys and a good number of them are 16 and over with jobs. They are active as their jobs allow.

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threatening to drop him from the roster is not what I would call a good motivational letter. How well do you know this Scout? It seems as if some personal "face time" would be in order. Telephone calls are not always effective; you need to see the body language.

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We are small troop that has one big fundraiser a year that raises most of our money for the year. This Scout participated in this fundraiser last year and I haven't seen him at a Scout meeting since. I kept the scout on the roster since he worked at the fundraiser and since he had assured me that he would be coming back to meetings. I have invited him to campouts and other activities. I have called him and asked him to come to scouts, he said he would come to the next meeting and he didn't. I have talked to his parents and they have said he would be attending meetings and working on his Eagle project. He does work but, he works at a family business.

 

I do believe that the Scout is still kind of upset about not getting his Eagle with some of his older friends. I also think he liked our old Scoutmaster more than me. What I don't want to have happen is to have this kid come to me in nine months and have him expect to get his Eagle.

 

This scout has met all requirements for Eagle with the exception of earing 4 merit badges and his Eagle project. He was SPL for a year as a Life Scout. He has been a Life Scout for about three years. This Scout liked being SPL but he didn't want to run for another term. This Scout doesn't like taking direction from the scout picked as SPL after him. The scout asked me to make his JASM and I told him that with a small troop like ours I didn't really see the need for this position but, I would consider it once he made Eagle.

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From your last post, Joe, it would seem you are doing exactly what you are suppose to be doing. It sounds like it's the Scout who isn't availing himself of the opportunities you have presented. That's on him.

 

And remember, Eagle is earned, not gotten.

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Something else to ask yourself and the SCout is whether he wants to earn Eagle or not. Laying out in black and white how much time he has to get it done, will certainly have his parents attention and no onne can ever say they didn't know.

 

I would encourage the boy to come back regularly and just participate, but not make it all about Eagle unless that's what he wants. He should feel welcome if he chooses Life for Life.

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I concur that it sounds like the Scout isn't doing his due diligence and it IS up to him to do it but I have already found out that Scout to Parent communication isn't always based in the same reality as Scoutmaster to Scout communication.

 

That's why I said I'd have the coffee with the Parents at this point so they could understand where their son was with out the "I've got it under control" filter from the Scout who does not have it under control if he, in fact, wants to complete.

 

How the family handles it isn't up to me, whether the Scout finishes or not isn't up to me, but I don't think it's fair to have the parents be blind-sided when MR. I've Got It Under Control doesn't finish or waits long enough that he isn't able too.

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Maybe you owe him a bit of thanks for participating in your troop's fundraiser last year even though he wasn't active the entire rest of the year. He didn't have to do that much.

 

He might not feel as comfortable with you as the previous SM. Different personalities, etc. I know boys in my son's troop, which has had 3 SMs in his 5 years, have gone through this too. Well so what; part of life is learning to get along with different folks and scouting is good practice for that.

 

But really, call him up and ask for a friendly meeting. Not an invitation to go camping or attend a troop meeting where he can easily blow you off with a vague answer - a personal, face to face meeting.

 

Something along the lines of "Hi Joe, this is Mr. Scoutmaster. I know you turned 17 recently, happy birthday! Now that you are getting close to the end of your time as a boy scout, I would like to sit down with you (and your mom/dad) to hear what you'd like to do in scouting this year. Would next Tuesday at 7pm at ___ location be convenient for you? "

 

He might be kind of shocked, and also maybe a little impressed, that some adult is making an effort to hear from him what he wants. (instead of telling him what he needs to do)

 

When you have this meeting, he will either assert that he still wants to earn Eagle, or he'll say he's content to be Life for Life. In the former, that opens a door to talking about what he needs to accomplish. In the latter, you can let him know you still respect all that he has accomplished to date (you do, right?). And either way you can invite him again to attend some specific upcoming events. If he truly seems uninterested, you can also ask whether he even WANTS you to continue carrying him on the roster as a registered scout. Maybe he has no intention of being active again and would just as soon be dropped. You won't know if you don't ask.

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