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Not signing off on Eagle

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What would it take for you as a SM to refuse to sign off on Scout Spirit and/or the Scoutmaster's Conference for Eagle?

At what point do you decide that a Scout is not going to be an Eagle in your troop?

Would you not sign off because of a lack of attendance? How about a Scout found forging a Merit Badge card?

I'd like to hear from anyone who has actually refused to sign off on Eagle.

Disclaimer: I am not in this position, this is just a topic for discussion.

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We had a boy who forged MB cards and bribed summer camp MBCs to sign off on cards for which he had never done the class (or the work). This was about three years ago when he was Life rank and the troop ASPL. Additionally, the boy had major attitude issues, did not acquit himself well in his role as ASPL (but was not coached and was not removed), and (in my view) should never have made Life until these issues were addressed more adequately than they were. He did fulfill all of the tangible requirements for Eagle though - POR, MBs, project, time in rank.


That boy recently passed his Eagle BOR, despite not being active in the troop (has attended events on rare occasions, and meetings on extremely rare occasions - like, I can count them on one hand) for the last two + years and thus, having shown no evidence of changes in his attitude. He has remained registered and went to Philmont with the council contingent last year. It is entirely possible that he grew up a lot in those two years and is a totally different young man now, than he was when he last was active with the troop. But if I were SM, I'd have expected to see evidence of this before signing his scout spirit requirement for Eagle. It isn't that I would want a strict attendance standard for advancement, but when he was last involved, his behavior was unsatisfactory, and so in order to change my view, I'd need to see him in action again for a little while.


However, I am not the SM and it wasn't my call.


We have two more boys, brothers, who are Life scouts approaching Eagle. Both have consistently had behavior and attitude problems. Again, I don't think either should be Life scouts, but they are. In my view, one of them ought to be asked to leave the troop, but it is unlikely to happen. I don't think either are ready to have the SM sign off on their scout spirit requirements. Doing so diminishes the respect and trust that other boys have in the adults and in the program.


At this point, they haven't got the sign-off but I expect it will happen sometime this year. While I won't agree when it does happen, on the other hand, the current SM inherited these kids as Life scouts and it is also a challenge to change the troop's standards and expectations so late in the process. I understand the difficulties there. And again, I'm not the SM so it is easy for me to make an arm chair call.







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I'm just starting out with this issue (been a Scoutmaster for only a month, although I've been de facto running the troop for 2 1/2 years). My approach is to make very clear what a Position of Responsibility is and what "active" is, to the point of saying "As a Quartermaster, your responsibilities are this, this, and this" and outlining exactly how often these duties need to be done. That way the expectations are clear, as well as how to fufill them. If they are not fufilled, then no signature. The same situation applies to "being active".


I'm not sure what it would take to refuse to sign off on Scout Spirit, that one takes some more thought...



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Being a Cubber and not Scouter, I may not know all the rules in BOY Scouts, but I think any Scout not showing, living and demomstrating Scout Spirit could and shouild be refused sign off.


Now, I know there is no set defined "scout Spirit" standard, but some things are pretty obvious:


Constant fighting, lack of attendance during your tenure in a POR, not following pack rules, and things of that nature.



Any scout caught forging... I would think tempoary suspenion or even a meeting about wether he is worthy of whatever his current ranks is: IE: 1st class might be only 2nd class material because I'd think nobody could even try to argue that forgery is anywhere near living with the spirit of scouting..


I am using a whitling chip card as an example here: Every minor safety infraction get 1 corner cut off your card. If all 4 corners are cut, you lose your card and right to carry your knife. A major safety violationand you lose the card at once. You then have tostart over and earn and prove that you can carry that card again.


Again, I'm no Scout, but I thought the purpose was the inner growth, maturity and moral guidance of these boys. I thought scouting was the journey, not the destination.


Those who lie, cheat, and steal their way to Eagle are only colecting a title. They are just checking off an acomplishment on their way to a resume or reference down the road.


And as I am in Cubbing, and not BOY Scouting - I may be wrong.... but isn't EARNING your Eagle about doing just that...Earning it?

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I have refrained from signing off on a letter of recommendation on an eagle candidate until he fulfilled sufficiently the expectations I had in order for him to receive a letter of recommendation from me. The boy had "fulfilled" all the requirements by doing everything spelled out. The Council added to it that a letter of recommendation from the SM go in with the application. The boy was an excellent student 4.0 GPA, excelled in doing what he was told but showed no leadership and refused to anything more than what was minimumly required. When asked if I would heartily recommend him I said no.


Others on the forum said it was going above and beyond the requirements, I agree. Yet it was a Council expectation, nonetheless. After 6 months of an attitude reevaluation on the part of the scout, he is now a JASM with a totally different approach in how he does things. Last week I signed off on the letter of recommendation and am looking forward to presenting him with his Eagle. Was it worth the hassle? Yep. Would I do it again? Yep. When I pin the Eagle on these boys, I'm going to be 100% satisfied he has made the effort to stand heads above the rest of the crowd.


If this is not acceptable, my CO has the right to get someone else in the SM position that will think differently. In this case I was backed by my CO, my CC, and the boy's parents. Will I be as lucky next time? I hope so.



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My post then was:


"Tenderfoot through Life requirement states: "Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life." The the Eagle requirement states: "Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in your daily life." My question is what's the difference between these two requirements?""


At that time I had two Eagle SMCs to do and was reviewing the requirements and noticed the difference in wording. Although I thought there was essentially no difference in the requirements I was wondering why they were worded differently. Both Scouts have since received their Eagle, both with high recommendations from their SM.


As I stated in my OP I am not in this position (having a Scout who I would refuse to sign off on for whatever reason).(This message has been edited by Eagle732)

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This is the part of your posts that I was referring to:


RE: Scout Spirit requirement

Posted: Tuesday, 12/1/2009: 4:32:37 PM


NJ, I didn't want to get into specifics. I do have a problem with a Life Scout who is working on his Eagle project. I never had a problem with him until he got caught cheating on his project and not following the district policies. Since that time I have had several discussions with him without success. I am about to level some severe disciplinary action over his last stunt. I figure I'll do him a favor and deal with him before the committee has a chance. They want to dismiss him from the troop.


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You may want to read BSA REQUIREMENTS #33015. There is a standard for Scout Spirit:


"Live the Scout Oath and Law in your everyday life."


That means 24/7 or 168/1 or every single day. All 12 points. All 3 promises in the Oath.


Yes, it's a high bar. It's meant to be.



As for me, it would be a tough call. I know one thing: If I had a case coming up where I felt I'd have a problem signing an Eagle app, I'd be on the phone to my Unit Commissioner, COR, and District Advancement Chairman in advance. Feedback is a gift, and I'd be asking for all the feedback I could get.




I think the difference between "Live" and "Demonstrate" is that 3d parties (the folks the Scout lists as his references) are usually asked to weigh in on his character in the Eagle process. Certainly that's the focus in my Council. The Scout has to live the Oath and Law in front of others such that they think he's an example to others.


My thoughts.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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What would it take for you as a SM to refuse to sign off on Scout Spirit and/or the Scoutmaster's Conference for Eagle?


I would never refuse to sign off on a SM Conference since this is a "participate in" requirement.

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Same thing witha scout. The Oath and Law may define exact words, but in life, things are not so black and white.


What I'm talking about with Scouts is the kid who shows up at scouts one nightm but goes and spray paints houses the next night. Maybe performs his POR perfectly, but then you find out how he snuck out of his bedroom window to go to a party that mom and dad said no to.


You're confusing Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah spirit with Scout Spirit. The entire concept of Scout Spirit is to set the Ideals Method and the Character Aim of Scouting into the young man, such that he embraces values good people honor and expect in adult society.


The items you cited to me are no-brainers: This hypothetical young man is not living the Scout Oath and Law in his daily life. OBEDIENT covers the civil law as well as parental leadership. It's not HELPFUL to tag a building. If he were my Scout, I'd have no problem inviting my UC, the DAC, and my COR to a friendly cup of coffee and thinking through how to deal with the young man.


As I said earlier, the Oath and the Law are things that work every hour of every day, period. We want them graven on kids hearts.


In the real world, I had, long ago, a young trooper who was STRAC ... I mean his uniform was flawless, his performance of duty was flawless, he was a good troop; right up to the day before we were to deploy to Fort Drum NY for a 6 week field problem. He found ways to keep himself from going. About six weeks after we returned, one day we had a battalion formation at lunchtime. Battalion Commander called him to the front of the formation, then he called Army CID agents to take him away. He'd been dealing. Moral of the story: Scum which tries to use performing a duty perfectly as their cover do break their cover, sooner or later.


Point is this: If you try to hide being a bad actor, it eventually fails.



ETA: Ed is right. Even at Eagle, the requirement for the conference is participate. That's not true of the Scoutmaster Signature on the Eagle Application, though: It specifically calls for UNIT APPROVAL, from a LEADER (and if the SM is delegating this signature, he has no right of complaint whatsoever) and the CC. These signatures happen before the app goes to Council for preliminary certification. The Scoutmaster has a vote in whether or not the Scout will advance to Eagle.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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"At what point do you decide that a Scout is not going to be an Eagle in your troop? "


When he turns 18 and has not completed the requirements. In many of the examples described above, a scout has not completed a requirement(i.e. scout spirit, POR) so his advancement has been deferred until he has satisfied the governing authority he has completed it.(ie. the SM) I would hope a good scouter would not decide a scout is not going to be an Eagle until he reaches the age of 18 without completing the requirements. Until then, we hope the scout can eventually fulfill those requirements within the alloted time, if that is his goal. As long as he is allowed the priviledge of being a scout, he should be afforded the opportunity to advance if he desires. But He must meet the requirements.



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I really hate these discussions


Active means he has registered and is current in his dues


Scout spirit means he has not been arrested for anything recently




Debate all you want above is the truth.


While National's definition is what you stated, that is not the definition of Scout Spirit. And if that is YOUR definition of Scout Spirit I suggest you re-read the Scout Oath & Law.

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