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Eagle scout candidate, might not deserve it

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Hi All, what if you have a boy that's life scout. The boy made life scout before you became scoutmaster. This boy clearly doesn't know anything leading up to life, right down to can't tie a clove hitch, probably can't tie a square knot either, yes it's this bad. AND this boy is looking at Eagle and starting slightly to get a project together... He has 21 merit badges, and the other requirements completed for Eagle.. again most of which were received before you became scoutmaster of the troop...


To add things and make it worse... he's not living up to the scout law in his daily life, but worse no even during the troop outings/meetings. He'll do as asked, but only if told to do something directly.. where all the other boys would do chores and the like without being told directly to do it...


so here's the issue that I'm facing.... This boy will probably complete his project before he turns 18 and maybe get his paperwork and everything in before he turns 18, as he has a couple years to finish his project and get the paperwork turned in. So, under my watch as Scoutmaster he'll complete the requirements that I have to sign off on....

SMC is really the only thing that I have right now, no matter how much I'm a stickler for his Eagle project workbook and paperwork, I know he'll complete it eventually and correctly.

Would you quiz this scout on past rank requirements ad only sign off on the SMC if he passes? What will he face during the ECoH? Will THEY quiz him on past rank requirements and fail him if he doesn't know the selection they choose?


How would you guys handle this type of thing? I hear some troops have a "pre-board" of review, where the SPL and other boy leaders quiz the candidate on past rank requirements before he's allowed to have a SMC... I feel that's adding to the requirements so I dont' do a pre-board of review...


what do you guys think?



Mike B


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ONe of the little-used tools in the SM's pocket is the BOR and SMC which can be done at any time, not just for rank advancement. If the scout has "a couple of years" until he's 18, you need to start counseling him now as to what YOUR expectations are for the "Scout Spirit" and POR requirements. You cannot retest on past requirements...what's done is done, and you have to assume he did do the requirement if it's been signed off by your predecessor.

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This has been discussed AT LENGTH previously here, and over many a cuppa and adult beverage out in the hinterlands.

Bottomline is: You, as SM, may not question previously passed requirements, unless you can somehow (?) prove outright fraud (forged signatures?). Re-Testing past requirements is not an option. However...

No reason why you can't ask the Scout to help teach the knots (frinstance) to other young Scouts, prove his leadership by his tenure in his POR, and counsel him in his Scout Spirit with informal SM conferences prior to the "official" SMC.

He is in a Patrol, yes? Have all the Patrols participate in Patrol competitions in Scoutcraft stuff. Ask him to help do Uniform inspections. Lead hikes. Compass & map following.

Put him in the position his lofty status should entail.


If he is in it for the patch , rather than the accomplishment, that is what he will get , ultimately.


SM Minutes are inspired by less, I find. Look up

"The Guy in the Glass" by Dale Wimbrow. http://www.theguyintheglass.com/gig.htm



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If the eagle board is done correctly they may expect him to be able to recite the scout oath/law, but the board is not about retesting on tenderfoot - First Class skills. They will ask about the project and expect him to be able to describe the planning in detail for the pre-approval board, and talk about it's follow-through.. They will want the scout to talk in general about his scouting experience (things like describe best/worst merit badge or best/worst scouting event) and then discuss his plans for his future in a way that shows a well rounded individual who is becoming wise and mature due in part to his scouting background.


There are boards that may not follow the recommended method, but this is how they are suppose to go.


Unfortunately once signed off, you can not hold him back for what he doesn't know, or the charactor building he should have gotten, but did not.. And the Eagle project the way the changed it will give you no help they just watered it down to the point that a webeloes cub could do a project that is acceptable. No time limits, only need to lead two people.. The board can deny based on the project not showing enough depth or leadership, but there are absolutely no guides on what that means, just what they can not base it on. Supposibly there is suppose to be more responsibility on the troop itself to assure quality, but nothing guides that statement either.


How is the rest of the troop? You might not be able to correct the poor program this scout got, but are the rest of the scouts in as poor a condition? Can you correct there program?

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oh no, I never though fraud at any time, heavens no! The previous scoutmaster is an honorable man by all means, and the scouts know I'd call them on it if they signed off someone else's name.


He is in a patrol, he's actually Patrol leader of that patrol. I tried to give him a couple tasks to do, like teaching how to lash two poles together... it's like watching a train wreck with him trying to teach something he clearly doesn't know how to do. I usually send a tenderfoot or a new cross over scout over to help him...


Certainly can't unring a bell... no matter how much I wish that I could... I honestly don't know how he made it this far... I do, refuse to give up hope and will not stop trying.... I'm just really afraid that his non-scout like attitude is going to rub off on the other scouts... although I'm very strong willed, and so is my SPL, we're keeping anything from spread for the time being...


thanks guys!

Mike b

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thanks Moose! so it sounds like an Eagle BOR isn't much different than a regular BOR, aside my leaders/committee members are the ones giving it.

His project meets my approval for an Eagle project, that's my scout's first step... when he's ready with his workbook, which he's not working on currently because in his words "..it's winter, I'm not doing any work on that during the winter its going to have to wait..." when he told me that, I just told him that "I'd like to see the completed workbook this year, but I'm not going to twist your arm to get it to me, you have to want to get it done." I left it at that....


The rest of my troop is doing very well, I took over about 1.5 years ago and the other boys are advancing and I'm doing my best to bring the troop into a full boy led troop... baby steps, but it's working... A couple of the older scouts are friends with this scout, and it's a struggle to keep them focused at times due to him.


Mike B

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Sorry Exibar, but it sounds to me like you simply do not like this young man very much, or like the fact that he does not do things the way that YOU want him to.


How is not being very proactive (only doing things when asked) not living up to the Scout Law?


Where does BSA require that the Eagle project paperwork be completed on the timetable of the SM?


Why is it wrong for him to be honest that he will not be working on his project paperwork over this Winter? Especially when you say he has a few YEARS before he turns 18!


If he can't do lashing, or tie certain knots, it is probably because once he learned them (a number of years ago) for a rank, he never had to use them again. His Troop did not give it's Scouts (or maybe just him) opportunities to use the skills that had been learned. When skills are not used they are lost. That is not the Scouts fault. It is also NOT a reason to withhold his Eagle rank.


I suggest, instead of looking for ways to hold this young man back, you praise him for his willingness to try to teach and help, even when he is struggling with the skill himself.


I suggest you help this Scout to improve by refreshing his dulled/lost skills.


I also suggest you take a good, hard, look at your Troop program, and make sure all of the Scouts have opportunities to keep the skills they learn fresh.



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The best way to learn is to teach. Make him an Instructor and have him teach a class on one of the Scout Skills for one meeting a month. Knots and lashings one month, first aid the next, etc. And if becomes a train wreck just sit back and watch the sparks fly, but don't bail him out. After a while he'll come prepared to teach by learning the skills before hand. You get someone to provide boy led instruction and he gets to earn the skills. A win-win situation!

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As Rocky the Squirrel would say, "And now for something completely different?"


Who says you may not question a Scout about prior requirements? What happens if you do?


Sit the young man down and explain to him that we have two problems. 1) that he has been short changed by the troop in his scouting career and had failed to properly teach him the skills basic to being a Scout. Second, that you are not comfortable kicking this can down the road without doing your best to give him the training he deserves OR in allowing him to proceed down the road toward Eagle without learning these basic skills.


Therefore, as the two of you work together planning his Eagle project, you will also be working on the basic skills he lacks. Then, whenever he wants to meet with you to review his Eagle project, you spend the first hour working on Scout skills before moving on the the project.


You're not retesting, you're not recending ranks (as if that were possible), you're doing your job as a Scoutmaster -- teaching.

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Well Scoutnut, you may have crossed posts with Exibar, but if the scout's POR is as PL you would expect him to do things without waiting to be told in order to lead his patrol.


Exibar, do you always blindside him with asking for him to teach a skill or does he know what is expected for him to teach at a before hand from the PLC meeting, or a discussion that happens before the troop meeting event..


Make sure you give him the time to practice at home to refresh a skill. Now if you forewarn him and he takes no self pride in being prepared, then you can kind of shake your head at his lack or motivation..


We joined BS just around the time that training was trying to retrain troops that a BOR was NOT to retest, but to be more a warm/fuzzy experience. One of the arguements from the SM's wanting to retest was they wanted to prepare them for the Eagle BOR, and the response from the trainers, was that the warm/fuzzy BOR's were preparing them for the Eagle BOR, because that is what Eagle BOR's were like..


He should be able to talk about his Eagle project confidently, and about himself.. My husband & son sit on the Eagle board, they have scouts who stand out and scouts they wince over their pain & discomfort, but normally the Board is passed unless the Scout decides this is the time to declare themselves a athiest, or a homosexual, or they change the Eagle project that was approved by the Board to be something else that does not meet an acceptable completion of the project as was stated by the workbook.. (ex. one scout was doing something that was suppose to be published in paper to the public, he changed it to a website that was not accessible to the public.. He was denied until the project was in someway accessable to the public. (a benefit to the community)..

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WOW, I am not envious of your situation.


I would have a talk with him about expectations, how, yes he was signed off on the skill, but more importantly he needs to know it as the badge represents what he is able to do, not what he has done. I'd tell him that he needs to practice basic scoutcraft because as a PL, he is expected to be able to not only do them, but teach them. And tell him that he needs to talk to the SPL about what skills he needs to teach in the next few months.


Also if there are problems with the POR, talk to him about it NOW. Tell him what your expectations are, tell him how you are placing the responsibility on him because you know he can do it.


More later

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Yah, Exibar, it's not about advancement, eh?


Yeh have 7 other methods and several years to help this boy grow into the man yeh want him to be. Sit with the lad and get him to admit out loud what's obvious to everybody, and make a plan with him to work on it. First learning and demonstrating the basic skills he's supposed to know, then (and only then) teaching others those skills, and then working his way up from basic teaching back to real leadership. Lots of good, hard, scoutmasterly mentoring and outdoor challenge. Work with the boy, not the badge.


Now, one thing I would consider is the appropriateness of the PL position, eh? A PL in many ways is a sort of mini-adult, with responsibilities to watch out for and care for his guys. If the lad really doesn't have any skills or pro-active scout spirit, then PL isn't the job for him right now. Not fair to him, not fair to the other boys.


I think by what you're saying that if yeh go after this lost sheep, he'll come around. That should be your focus, not advancement.


Of course, if yeh find that the lad or his family aren't up for that - that they feel they're entitled to an award if he sits like a lump and muddles through some paperwork, or he's committed to an "unscoutlike attitude" - then there's always the door. Again the issue isn't advancement, it's whether this is the right place for him given that he's not willing to buy into the program.




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Ideally Scout skills are largely learned in the course of the Scouting program, and on camping trips in particular.


What is your outdoor program like?


As a Patrol Leader, he needs to be able to use and teach Scout skills. If he doesn't know them now (not especially unusual) he should be learning, practicing and teaching those skills on every outing until he has mastered them himself.


He may need some coaching and teaching himself. I'd see that he gets it. The purpose is not to put him in a situation so that he will fail, but to put him in a situation so he is motivated to learn.

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If he is not performing his duties as PL to your expectations, tell him that.


Work WITH him to complete his POR satisfactorily.


There is nothing from BSA that states he MUST hold the position of PL, no matter what.


If he can not fulfill the responsibilities of the position, and working with him does not help, that does not mean that he has crappy Scout Spirit and should be banned from the rank of Eagle.


It means that the SM should take him out of the position of PL, and work WITH the Scout to find a POR that is a good fit for his skills.



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