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foot dragging - what to do about it - anything?

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In another thread, CNYscouter raised an all too common situation - a scout dragging his feet with those pesky items like Eagle projects and letters of recommendation. Letting the other thread continue the discussion of what the proper rules and regs are regarding delivery of letters of recommendation, I think the whole foot dragging thing and how best to deal with it is a worthy topic in itself.


CNYscouter's son's situation reminded me of a similar scout a number of years ago that was footdragging with a final MB or two. The troop advancement chair went out of her way to be available. She chased him down once or twice, as he was footdragging about going to see her for those final things.


While we would all like to see scouts get Eagle, how much assistance and what type of assistance do you feel is appropriate for foot draggers?

Encouraging talks and coaching? Certainly

Running interference? maybe, maybe not.

Chasing down a scout that has missed appointments without a making a courtesy phone call? I dont think so, though our advancement chair did.

Parsing council procedures to gain some extra days? I am not so sure - it reminds me of how the same people are consistently late by a consistent amount of time (whether it be church or scout meetings). By my thinking, it may just provide a few more days to procrastinate.


If there is footdragging, perhaps the award is not that meaningful to the scout; that experience and development that have occurred over the past years are satisfaction enough for him, and he is only going through the motions because it is expected of him by his leaders and/or parents.


Opinions?(This message has been edited by venividi)

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We had a scout this spring/summer who was close to Eagle and his 18th birthday. He needed a couple of badges and a project. I'm a counselor for the badges (citizenship in community and communication). He told me he wanted to work on the badges. I went out of my way for a few months in the spring to make sure he knew when I was available and how to reach me. He didn't do anything.


He chose to join the military. Had to get everything done before leaving for basic since he'd be 18 by the time he returned. Also had a new motivation since he'd get a bump in rank if he had Eagle in hand.


So with maybe two weeks to go, he came to me. Didn't have everything done, but we met a couple of times and signed off on almost everything. He was lucky that I wasn't working just then, so I was pretty flexible with my schedule, except (as I'd told him a bunch of times), I was leaving the state for two weeks just before his birthday. If he needed my signature on a couple remaining items, I'd bend over backward to arrange to meet him, so long as it was before I left town. I offered to help him contact another counselor in case he wasn't going to be done before I left. I explained that I'd call the other counselor and smooth the way for him, if he wanted me to.


He skipped out on our last meeting. I left the next day. He didn't answer my email or phone call inquiring whether he needed help contacting the other counselor. I still don't know, but I think he probably did not finish the badges.


I'm puzzled, to be honest. I really think this fellow was a neat kid; I like him. Did he just really not care? Did he get too busy with preparation for boot camp? Did he not want help? Did he think that, because I was holding him to the letter of the requirements (just like everyone else), I was somehow working against him? What happened with him?!


I was left thinking I'd gone too far in trying to help this young man, who wasn't bothered to show up or return messages. Maybe for the next foot dragger, I'll be less inclined to go out of my way to meet their last-minute needs.



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I see two different types of behavior coming into play in these situations.


There's foot-dragging, in which you likely have a Scout who's really not into "it" - whether we're talking about earning Eagle or Tenderfoot - and really doesn't care one way or the other. Perhaps his parents are pushing him, but he's not invested, even if he's come as far as Life. That Scout may just need a sit-down, come-to-deity-of-your-choice meeting, where you lay it out on the table. Maybe he does admit he doesn't care about earning the rank or the badge. At least then you know for sure.


Then there's procrastination, often practiced by young men who've never learned time management and key personal organization skills. They get intimidated by the stack of requirements and put the pamphlets or Handbook aside for later, because they've got plenty of time - a few years, perhaps. No problem, let's go play some video games.


By the time it gets to that critical point, they still haven't cracked the books, haven't examined the requirements to see how easy they are and how simple it will be to break them down into bite-sized, manageable chunks. And besides, they still have a couple months left, and it's just two badges and a project. And then it's two weeks, and then two days. And they still haven't cracked the books. And it's too late.


Those boys are the much harder case. They're not going to admit that they were caught in a vortex of their own making. Some will, though. (I'm speaking here as a former procrastinator who's now a compulsive list-maker and advance planner ...)


But in either case, chasing after them is wrong, IMHO. You can let them know you're available to talk, to counsel, to discuss - but it's their move. If they want it badly enough, they'll ask for help.

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When I do the Life to Eagle Seminar in the District I serve. I have the following slide:


Most people receive about 18 years advanced warning of the date on which they will turn 18. It is never an emergency or an unexpected event.


Truly, you can lead a Scout to the Advancment trough, after that he is on his own


Doesnt mean I wont ask, beseech, besiege, call to, entreat, impetrate, implore, importune, invoke, nag, obsecrate, obtest, petition, plead, pray, press, requisition, solicit, sue, supplicate, urge, woo, worry and other wise annoy the scout about getting a project written up, planned or some other thing, but he has to do it

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"Most people receive about 18 years advanced warning of the date on which they will turn 18"


My wife tells parents the same thing when their little darlings can't attend the first day of school because of the lack of shots or a physical. "But she was at Grandma's the whole month of August!" or "I called the Dr last week and they can't see us until November"...waaa, waaaa.

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The first legacy my predecessor left me was a certain Eagle prospect -who did make it.


I will never again go through what I did to get him through. I was confused and at the time didn't want my failure to support him to be the reason he failed - I was wrong, I didn't support him I dang near carried him across.


Now, as soon as they cross the Life threshold I begin the preparations - by giving them their packet the number of days until they are 17years 364 days and and reminding them of the exact phrase listed above "YOUR lack of planning or preparation is NOT an emergency to ME." - I am also considering the T-shirt, or just getting it added across the shoulders of my current Troop T.

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I dont think there is much you can do.


My son made life in July 2007 and hes had his MBs done for Eagle almost a year now


I pretty much said nothing until his 17th Birthday last year.


He has said that he wants to go to college through ROTC.

All the recruiters have told being an Eagle Scout is a big plus to get a ROTC scholarship



Hes had offer to help with his Eagle project from a couple of teachers, his Crew Advisor, SM, Committee Chairs from both Troop and Crew, the troop Advancement person and even some of the District Advancement Committee.

He has spent the last 2 summers working at our council camp.

One of the staff is the DAC for another district in the council he didnt use that opportunity either.


Up until this point nothing I have tried has worked.


He received a scholarship to get SCUBDA certified we told him we would pay the rest if he got his Eagle done

Hes asked about going to Seabase for the OA SCUBA program told him sure get your Eagle done.


I really think my son got it into his head that he was going to be a last minute Eagle.


Last year about this time, an older Scout; his Crew advisors son, did the same thing.


He got his application into the council office hour before they closed on his 18th birthday.


I know my son looked up to this Scout and is just following.


I know over the last couple of weeks, on two different occasions, two younger Scout leaders (mid to late 20s) pulled him aside and talk with him.


Both had done the same thing as he did and neither made Eagle.


I dont know what was said to him but it seemed to light a fire.


I just hope he didnt wait too long.




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I believe it is up to the Scout to do the job.


I have been asked to help two Scouts along the way so far.


This is all I do and so far it is working. Sometimes they do not call as indicated in the last question but eventually they do.


At our first meeting I ask -

Do you want to be an Eagle Scout?

What do you have left to do?

Where do you want to start?


At subsequent encounters -

What have you done since we last spoke?

What do you have left to do?

What are going to do to get it done?

Is there anything I can do to help?

When should I expect to hear from you again?


This seems to work a lot better than many of the other threat, bribes and dragging techniques I have seen others use.

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1 year before a boy turns 18 I have a SM conference with him. I flat out ask him if he wishes me to kick him before he turns 18 or would he prefer to do it himself after he turns 18. I warn him that it's not my project, nor my Eagle, nor my job to keep him on task, and then visit with him about once a month on how he's progressing.



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Every Scoutmaster runs across these guys. For me, I try to find out WHY the scout is dragging his feet. That can make a big difference on how I may motivate, pressure, kick in the pants, his efforts.


Although we haven't had any of these types for several years, if a Scout is mostly absent from the Troop since earning Life and then suddenly reappears six months before his 18th birthday and announces he wants to make Eagle, I more than likely will not bend over backwards for him. Of course, there is always the likelihood that he's been absent because of family, school, sports, work, whatever. A lot depends on how much of an effort he's made to keep in touch with me - you know, stuff like simply answering an email or phone call from me.


Then we have the guys that have become most common in our Troop. The 17-year-old Life Scout who has been actively engaged with the Troop since day one. Or, the almost 16-year-old who has been a Life Scout for two years (my younger son).


I ask them, rather casually, every month what they are doing towards earning Eagle. Younger son's answer was, I'm having fun with the Troop Mom, I'll get around to it. Have to admit, that answer sometimes left me speechless.


Current Eagle-bound Scout is now 17 1/2, beginning planning stages of his project and has two merit badges to complete. He is a procrastinator by nature and always waits till the 11th hour to finish things. He does, however, produce marvelous results. A very busy fellow, juggling AP classes, college applications, marching band, serving as a Den Chief, family matters. Yeah, I am stepping up my efforts to prod him along.


Oh yeah, younger son? Earned his Eagle in June. Decided last winter that he wanted to be an Eagle Scout when he went to camp to work for the summer. His decision and his motivation.


In essence, what it comes down to for me is I will put in as much effort toward helping the Scout on his quest for Eagle as he has put in during the years along the way.

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