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SpencerCheatham

Eagle or not?

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I think da fundamental difference in philosophy is that some folks for all practical purposes view "the requirements" as the goal.

 

And who might those "folks" be? Not me. Not anybody who has commented in this thread, I suspect, and a number of them have agreed that this Scout earned Eagle. Others have agreed with you, even before your first post in this thread. There isn't a clear philosophical schism here, although you and I clearly have different philosophies on a lot of things, and I like mine a lot better.

 

So their response is to want discretion removed as much as possible, and want "the requirements" interpreted in da strictest, easiest, most legalese sense.

 

"Legalese"? This from the guy who quoted national rules and regulations regarding interpretation of advancement requirements, and twisted that into a defense of adding to the requirements? Beavah, ask not for whom the legalese tolls...

 

And there's that word "strict", no I don't think that describes my "philosophy" the way you are using it. I want the requirements to actually be passed, and sometimes they aren't, and sometimes the Scout is allowed to just go through the motions and forgets the skill the next day. I want something more than that, and that becomes a matter of legitimate interpretation. Saying that a Scout needs to be "active" for 18 months, or 24 or 36, instead of 6, is not a matter of legitimate interpretation. (Assuming he does what is needed to remain on the roster.)

 

So long as the paperwork is complete, the requirements are complete, the advancement is complete, nothing can be done, the boy has "earned" advancement, and we have succeeded.

 

We haven't necessarily succeeded. If the requirements have been completed, I do think the boy is better off than he had been before, and maybe he has actually achieved some character, fitness and citizenship by doing the requirement. But anyway, what's your alternative? Allowing every SM to decide on additional requirements that the boys in their troop need to meet? I know this word is somewhat out of style these days, but is that "fair"? This is supposed to be one program, with one set of advancement requirements.

 

A smart lad in such a system should pursue the fastest route to a signature.

 

Well, let's take a troop I know about as an example, and currently I only really know about one. I'd say we interpret the requirements in the way that you don't like, that is, the requirements are the requirements. What I see in our troop is that most of the boys are there because they like to go camping and hiking. When they join, most of them seem to be barely aware that there even is an advancement program. Consciousness of the advancement process and what "signatures" they are supposed to be getting sinks in gradually. In the meantime, what are they doing? Having fun, learning skills, meeting challenges, learning how to deal with other people, participating in group decision-making at the patrol and then the troop level, taking part in service projects, etc. Is that bad? Along the way, they are building character, fitness and citizenship -- those goals you seem to think some of us have lost sight of. I haven't known any boy who was "just" there for advancement. Sure, there have been a few who have moved along pretty quickly, First Class in less than a year, Life by 13 (although I think our youngest Eagle in the past 10 years has been 15.) But they are also the ones who actually take the initiative, they read the handbook, see what they need to learn, learn it, do it and pass it. I also find that these are the ones who do not quickly forget what they have learned, partly because they soon reach a level where they are teaching younger Scouts. They also seem to be the most "engaged" with Scouting and what it has to offer. A few of them are going to Philmont this summer, which I would say is a "character-building experience" that is not required for any rank.

 

For the rest of us, the goals really are character and citizenship and skills development, eh?

 

All of us, I'd say. The advancement program is a means to an end. All of those things are included, some mostly explicitly (like skills development), some mostly implicitly (like character.)

 

So us folks in da second group are more comfortable with a non-legalistic interpretation of "the requirements", because in the end we feel that skills and character and citizenship are not a matter of law.

 

See above, Mr. Non-Legalistic. Plus, you are drawing a distinction that does not exist. Every Scout is held to some standard, or if you will, rule, or law, however you wish to phrase it. It may be the "law" that if you pass the requirements, as written, you get the recognition prescribed for those accomplishments. Or it may be the "law" that in addition to the requirements, if you move to a new troop you need to pass the active requirement again, and maybe you actually need to be active for four and a half years instead of six months. Why? Because the adults in a particular troop say so? That doesn't seem reasonable to me. If National wants to change the requirements, fine, then everybody is held to the same standard. At least in theory -- as I said earlier, sometimes a Scout gets signed off for something when he shouldn't be. Nobody is defending that. That makes the goals difficult if not impossible to attain. But that is not what this thread is about.

 

Those two philosophies aren't compatible, eh? Folks will never agree.

 

I'd say it's more of a continuum.

 

I personally think the latter is more consistent with the long-time scoutin' program and the Rules, which define the purpose of Advancement (education), the standards for advancement (proficiency), the proper way to interpret guidebooks and requirements (must harmonize with the Aims), and the definition of active (commits himself to regular participation).

 

Those goals are built into the requirements and the procedures for determining who has passed them. As for the definition of active, it appears that this boy was active by any standard... in another troop, for at least six months. That's the requirement. Maybe it should be more, but it isn't. You don't get to add more months or years because you think it will build more character.

 

SpencerCheatham's unit did meet with the lad well nigh a year in advance, explain that he hadn't yet met and wasn't meeting their active and Scout Spirit requirements, and spelled out clearly what the expectations were.

 

I'm not sure Spencer specifically said anything that's in the middle part of that sentence. And you can focus on the "well nigh a year" (which means less than a year) if you want. As I have said (and Spencer agrees) there was a failure of communication (on both sides, but the troop was one of the sides) for more than three years. And it sounds like the troop's primary response, when the Scout was already 17, was to try to add more and specific requirements for Eagle. Would it have been so hard, when the boy was 14-ish and had been in the troop for six months, for someone to say "Hey Johnny, I notice you haven't been going camping with the troop. Oh, you have choir practice and school newspaper (I made those up) that take up a lot of your time? Well, let's see if we can look at your schedule and find some time for you to go on some outings with the troop. By the way, since you're so interested in writing, maybe your patrol could use a new Scribe. Oh and by the way, I think Bobby is going for the Music merit badge, since you are so interested in music maybe you would like to work on it with him." And like that. Is that so unreasonable? There is no indication that anything like that took place early in the boy's time in the troop. Instead there was "little or no contact" or words to that effect -- until somebody noticed that he's been 17 for awhile and had never been camping with the troop, and suddenly there was an emergency. That is a failure on the troop's part.

 

From where I sit, they met all of the unit expectations detailed in the current Guide to Advancement.

 

Only if you ignore the fact that he had already met the "active" requirement in his old troop.

 

Da real point though is "Who cares?" Who cares what the council or national office does? They're a big corporation, with monetary and other incentives to pass out awards, eh? They'll do whatever they do. The CO shouldn't care, it should act accordin' to its own mission. The unit scouters shouldn't care, they should act accordin' to their own conscience and understandin' of the CO's mission.

 

The CO didn't set the advancement requirements, national did. You don't get to ignore them and establish your own. As for who cares, well I guess I care, up to a point. Do I want to enforce an interpretation of the requirements at a BOR when I know that council is going to award the rank anyway, and put the boy through a whole process for nothing? If I feel strongly that the boy has not met the requirements, maybe I will take that action regardless of what I think council or national might do. That wouldn't be the case in this situation, though.

 

And now, after all that, I am really done with this subject, so say what you want, Mr. Non-Legalese.

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Beavah did not mean Who cares if anything is done right, or if the program is run right, or if the boy advances right..

 

What he meant was, if you in good concious can not sign the papers as SM because you don't know the boy well enough to sign off on him, then be true to yourself.. Don't short change your principles..

 

The SM signature is expected, but not required. So the boy can go to the board without the signatures.. The lack of signatures will prompt questions, but if the board is satisfied that the boy met the requirements and sign off on it. Then it is them who signed off on him. Why should the SM care.

 

The SM should not be hell bent on keeping the scout from getting Eagle, he shouldn't make it his life's mission to destroy the kids chances.. If the kid gets it that is great.. But, at the same time the SM should still be able to look at himself in the mirror.. And also be able to walk into his troop without the boys whispering behind his back about how he signed off on some strange kid who had showed up about 4 times in the last year, and never was really a member of the troop...

 

Your right, if the boy did the work, then he should get the award.. The district or Council or National will give it to him if he deserves it. But those signing the paper as to the boys accomplishments, should be people who can atest to that..

 

So really the SM is caring about his own integrity and the health of the attitude in his troop over the Eagle Rank.. But, he should be fine with the boy getting the Eagle rank without his signature.. He shouldn't care if he does.. Might be even nice if he sincerly wishes him luck at his Eagle board.

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Yah, hmmmm.... I reckon moosetracker read me exactly right, eh? The council and national are goin' to do what they do. They're responsible for their own choices. The Scoutmaster is only responsible for his choice, and his duty to the mission of the Chartered Organization. He should do he feels is best for his personal integrity and his unit. SpencerCheatham very clearly has stated that in his opinion and that of his unit leadership, the lad didn't meet the active or Scout Spirit requirements. So quite properly, SpencerCheatham and his troop committee should not sign off that they believed the lad met the requirements.

 

As an aside, we had a lad like this once, who came from a neighboring council's troop, with signed book for POR and active. The troop he joined was very much like SpencerCheatham's, and wouldn't sign off under similar circumstances. When it was looked into it was discovered that in fact the boy had never met his former troop's expectations for POR or active either. He was venue shoppin' for Eagle, with some help from dad's pen in his book. :(

 

Now, let's take a brief look at NJCubScouter's arguments above. I reckon they're reasonably well thought out, despite the personal name-calling. Though I'm rather fond of Mr. Legalese ;)

 

I have no doubt that NJ's troop does a fine job teaching character in all the ways he describes. Having fun outdoors, doing service, going camping, working in patrols. He's a passionate fellow and a committed scouter, and boys absolutely will learn great lessons from Outdoors Method and all the other things he mentions.

 

This thread, though, is about Advancement Method, and how to use Advancement Method well. Like all 8 Methods, yeh see troops that do 'em well, and troops that do 'em OK, and troops that do 'em poorly. SpencerCheatham is askin' how to do a better job with Advancement Method in his troop, because he and the other adults in his program didn't like the outcome they experienced most recently. So we're tryin' to help him figure out what to do better.

 

I think Advancement Method works best when the recognition a lad receives through a patch lines up with the recognition he receives socially from peers and adults. Boys really crave that social recognition, eh? To be seen by their peers as being really good at something. To be recognized by adults they respect as being worthy of trust in some area.

 

Young boys, though, don't always know how to get there, eh? So Advancement Method lays out signposts and milestones for 'em. "These are the things yeh need to work on and struggle with and grow into in order to earn the respect of others." It's that respect which is key, eh? Not the patch or the party. And that respect yeh earn not by tickin' off "requirements", but by workin' the area and learnin' the habits and skills which merit respect, and which also along the way allow you to meet the requirements.

 

SpencerCheatham told us that the respect wasn't there. So for his unit, Advancement wasn't set up right, and wasn't working. That should be fixed if he wants to use Advancement Method well.

 

Is use of Advancement Method more of a continuum? Well, yah, sure. But from what I see from knowin' a lot more than one troop, there really are the makings of two distinct philosophical "camps" in the BSA at present, so that's a fair approximation. Those groups come out here on da forums. Yeh can tell one of 'em because they'll squalk "don't add to the requirements" more often than any other written statement in all of the advancement literature, and they never mention that "subtract" bit. Or all those inconvenient Rules & Regulations. ;)

 

Of course just like every Scoutmaster believes his troop is youth run, every scouter also believes that their approach to Advancement is the correct one, and is just a means to an end. But when yeh see many troops, yeh get a sense for where they really put their treasure, and it isn't always where they claim. Helpin' 'em see that is part of helpin' 'em get better, eh? That feedback is a gift.

 

Beavah (aka Mr. Legalese!)

 

 

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Beavah wrote: "SpencerCheatham's unit did meet with the lad well nigh a year in advance, explain that he hadn't yet met and wasn't meeting their active and Scout Spirit requirements, and spelled out clearly what the expectations were. They reinforced that several times. From where I sit, they met all of the unit expectations detailed in the current Guide to Advancement."

 

Yeah - well I sort of see that as three years too late. Here's the points that I see.

 

....

 

#1 The scout had a POR somewhere. I'm assuming it's with his previous troop. If the scout completed his POR, he's been "active". Otherwise, he don't credit his POR. I'd really enjoy being on the Eagle BOR and asking why a scout was credited with POR but not active. It would be very interesting. And I don't think the scout would be the one feeling the pressure.

 

Perhaps a good debate is do you accept completed requirements from a previous troop if they are not reflected in ScoutNET or some official source. IMHO, you do. But it really seems here that this is the issue. I know when we've had transfers we've called the previous troop SM to ask questions. Reasonable thing to do.

 

#2 It's not active in the last year. It's active for six months cumulatively since becoming a life scout. So we're talking about a FOUR YEAR SPAN where the scout paid dues, was on the roster and attended meetings. 30% of meetings, but meetings still.

 

#3 Standards for performance need to be established BEFORE, not after. Four years in the troop! Approaching him in his last year saying you expect more is moving the goal posts and denying credit for where credit is due. It's trying to slip a fast one by the scout. So if you notice a scout is not active enough, talk to him one or two months into the time frame. Using the GTA POR policies, I'd also ask him how much time he thinks he should receive as "active" and go with it. But at least going forward for the next four months expectations have been set.

 

#4 Standards are only standards if applied to everyone. By definition, a standard is not on a case by case basis. Yes per the GTA troops can establish their own reasonable standards for active. Write the standard down. Publish the standard. Communicate the standard at the start (or at the point of change). So unless every scout is being asked to organize and run a camp out and activity, then it's not really a "standard" by any sense of the word.

 

....

 

IMHO it comes down to that BSA has designed plenty of discretion points into the advancement program. There's about 280 of them.. Ten for the scout badge. Ten average for each of the six ranks. Ten average for the twenty one merit badges.

 

So we have a scout who's been deemed acceptable on all but one ... "active". It really makes me wonder. Could more have been done to engage the scout, sure. Could the scout have done more to be a strong member of the troop, sure.

 

Give credit where credit's due. He met BSA's expectations. If the SM and CC don't feel the scout met some unwritten definition of "active", that's their business. IMHO that says more about the troop and it's leadership than it does about the scout.

 

...

 

Just don't play a games with advancement. High expectations are great. I'm all for it. Don't sign off on requirements until they are done. But to "game" advancement after-the-fact is just mean and a bad example for our scouts.

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OP gave us these facts, and I have not heard him change them:

 

"A Life Scout joins a troop 4 years ago. As a Life scout with his previous troop he completed all of the necessary Eagle rank requirements except for 4 merit badges and his service project. Over the 4 years since joining the troop, he earned the merit badges and completed the service project."

 

Change the facts and you change the result.

 

 

If BSA changed the requirements to require actual leadership and actual active participation (No, not adding up a day here and there over four years.), you should get Eagles that are more likely to be better examples of what we are supposedly trying to turn out. Perhaps not 400% of the percentage we used to get, as we do today.

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I guess I'm the person who introduced "who cares" into this discussion and...

 

... I'm glad I did. I think it's provoked some important debate. Or course "who cares" isn't really the question I was asking. What I was really asking was "what do you care about?"

 

Do you care about the cloth sewn to the kid's pocket, or do you care about the experience and growth that patch theoretically represents? Just like all SMs think their troop is boy-run, all of use think we really care about the experience and the growth. And I do believe most of us honestly think that's the most important thing.

 

But being the flawed humans that we are, what we think we believe sometimes gets garbled in the process of turning thoughts into actions. The human brain is really good at fooling itself. So every once in a while taking a step back and considering our own reactions to a question is a good thing. Helps us realize if we really do believe what we think we believe. Sometimes, we don't. I know it happens to me.

 

The sign off pages in the Handbook, the Eagle applications, the patches, the Blue Cards, the Merit Badges, an Eagle pin dangling from a shirt pocket, those are at best very rough shadows of the real world. The real world is the experiences and growth a Scout has had. The patch on his pocket is nothing more than an oversimplification of that, a stick-figure drawing of a Michelangelo sculpture. Useful to note that you saw the sculpture, but not as important as seeing the scultpure itself.

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He did not attend 30%, he attended LESS then 30%.. Could be 29% could be 1% we don't know..

 

If someone asked you to be one of his recommendations for a job interview, and you had to decline, because you didn't know him well enough to give the recommendation.. (Not you thought he was a jerk, or unworthy, but just didn't know him well enough..)

 

Would you feel uncomfortable if he got the job without your recommendation?.. Or if someone else gave him the recommendation you could not?..

 

The boy did his POR and hopefully attended enough meetings to have done it well.. Who knows maybe he never showed up, and recieved a sign-off for his POR because no one removed him from the job. But, if the troop still exists then perhaps their SM would sign off..

 

If not, and the form goes in without a SM signature, the SM just says he couldn't sign off because he doesn't know the scout well enough to do so, and he did not at any time while registered to their troop meet the troops expectations for an active scout. But he may have in his other troop.

 

If the board determines the requirements were met and reward the boy his eagle.. Well the SM need not have to squirm about the conclusion.. Not signing does not state he thinks the boy is unworthy, not signing means he doesn't know the scout well enough to testify as to whether he is or is not worthy.

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Way back when... Scout had to earn the ranks in order. Earn and be awarded TF, then SC, then FC. And there were time limits between , as I remember, one had to wait three monthe between TF to SC, and three months to FC. AND THEN Scout could work on /earn MBs. I think a case can be made for some of our troubles having started with the idea that Scout can fulfill ANY requirement as soon as he can. Hence my comment about the FAMB being equivalent to the FA requirements for TF,SC,and FC, automatically. In one fell swoop, the boy has fulfilled parts of TF,SC,FC,Star, (and by implication, remember, it is all cumulative) Life and Eagle.

If the skill is learned, the knowledge attained, it is checked off for ever and ever, amen. It cannot be questioned again.

If the Scout Leaders encourage the EFFICIENT passing of rank requirements, heck, no reason a Scout can't "earn" Eagle by age 14, easy, even without his wanting to. If the Troop sets as a GOAL rank advancement, it will happen. If the Troop sets as a goal SCOUTING (see any number of other threads), the advancement will happen, whether you want it to or not.

So maybe the answer (what was the question again?) is the Troop does "games with a purpose": the games being camping, hiking, living out in nature (even for a mere weekend) , the purpose in this case being the retaining of the skills. Knots, lashings, first aid, cooking, fire building and safety, alot of these things are also cumulative and need cooperative activity among/between the Patrols. And along the way, the boy learns about setting goals , working cooperatively, the value of loyalty and being trustworthy.

 

M'lord Beavah, what say you , the title of that spun thread I should begin?

(This message has been edited by SSScout)

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Yep, fred8033 describes da approach of the opposite "camp" quite well, eh? :) It's all about "the requirements," and all the responsibility belongs on the adults. That's been the approach of the Irving folks for the past decade or so, until the most recent volunteer effort clipped their wings a bit with the G2A. I'm with da other group, eh? I prefer it bein' all about the Aims, and followin' the intent of the Rules & Regulations that are supposed to guide da organization.

 

Rather than numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 I'd look to what the CO and adult leadership were tryin' to accomplish and teach all the boys in their troop, not just the boy in question. Our role in the BSA is to help units and chartered organizations achieve their goals. SpencerCheatham was describin' that they'd failed, so I was tryin' to help him in understandin' how to use Advancement Method better to achieve his goals for youth. To my mind it's OK if those don't happen to be fred8033's goals or those of fred8033's chartered organization.

 

If you're SpencerCheatham or me or a traditional scouter, then when I counsel Canoeing MB I take boys canoeing. We paddle lakes, we paddle rivers, we try different types of canoes. In the end, the boys learn how to canoe. Learning how to canoe, they will of course meet the Canoeing MB requirements, but the focus wasn't on "the requirements." The focus was on the fun and pleasure of buildin' canoeing skills. The Aims. That's not movin' the goalposts, that is the goal. By contrast, if you're in the other group, the focus of Canoeing MB is to work on da requirements of Canoeing MB. Often times in order, in a class, with a worksheet.

 

In the first case, when you're done you've got the makings of a new life skill, and a card and patch as an outward sign of that inward growth. In the second, when you're done and have all the signatures, odds are yeh probably don't really know how to canoe, eh? Because knowin' how to canoe involves not just being able to do individual skills, but to know when to do individual skills, and how hard, and how to exercise judgment and all the rest. There's no real personal growth in character or judgment from a worksheet or blue card or other sort of focus on "the requirements". The personal growth - our real aim - comes from learnin' how to canoe.

 

That's why we have the Rules & Regulations telling us that proficiency in canoeing and other skills is required for Boy Scout Advancement, and that the policy of the BSA is that a lad should get the full benefit of the personal attention and mentoring of a counselor, not da worksheet from a classroom lecture.

 

Same with all the other requirements. It's not holdin' office or gettin' a signature for holdin' office that leads to growth. It's engagin' deeply with a POR and strugglin' and improvin' and meeting commitments. It's not being registered that leads to character. It's viewin' being registered as a commitment to others, eh? A commitment that takes effort and time to fulfill even when you'd rather do somethin' else. That's what leads to character. That's again why da Rules and Regulations define active as a personal obligation of the scout to regular participation.

 

Most troops don't do the legalistic thing of establishing percentage participation requirements and all the rest. In fact that's somethin' that most of us have always discouraged. Instead, they have social expectations established by their youth leaders. The youth leaders and adults of a troop only retreat to the percentage nonsense when they feel they've really been taken advantage of by someone. Even then I think that's a bad idea. Far better to have the youth and adult leaders sit down with the lad in question and explain the expectations. That's what SM conferences and BORs are for. "We like what you've done in terms of your MB work, but yeh still haven't met our expectations for being active in your patrol and the troop" is a fine mentoring conversation for a BOR to have with a lad in a troop.

 

That to my mind is what SpencerCheatham's troop did. The standards were in place before, which is why all of the adults (and I expect youth) in his troop realized they weren't being met in this case. Those standards were accepted and personally adhered to by the other active scouts in the troop. Yeh don't have to have a Troop Policy Book of 50+ pages enumerating attendance percentages and allowable exceptions, and in fact yeh shouldn't. Yeh just have to have a common sense of character and commitment that's consistent.

 

Now I will say that one of da biggest sources of contention in Scouting is when youth and parents from one "camp" transfer or join a troop of the other "camp". So I think the ideal thing is to have a very explicit version of that conversation up front with the youth and parents, before yeh accept an application. That may or may not have happened in this case; it was before SpencerCheatham's time.

 

Beavah

 

 

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Beavah - Hmmmm.... I have alot of respect for ya, but now your just blowing hot air. Your mis-framing this debate into two camps. Requirements focus versus quality of scout focus. That's not the case. And it has never been the case.

 

It's not two camps at all. It's about multiple topics.

 

- How do you deliver a good program?

- How do you set expectations?

- What do you do when you get a scout from another troop?

- What do you do when a troop messes up?

- What do you do when you don't think a scout deserves advancement?

 

I think we're in pretty strong agreement on several, but we're clearly differing on others. I think we agree on how to deliver a good program and accepting a scout from another troop.

 

....

 

How do you set expectations? - IMHO, expectations are either enforcable and not enforcable. We need both types. But to make an enfoceable active participation rule, you make it measurable, write it down, establish it at the start, communicate it and make it consistent with BSA publications.

 

Beavah: "Yeh just have to have a common sense of character and commitment that's consistent."

 

Yeah I don't buy that at all. It scares me. That's how we damage people and create grudes ... usually when leaders change or people disagree. Ya just can't enforce intangibles.

 

GTA page 21 says "Units are free to establish additional expecations on uniforming, supplies for outings, payment of dues, parental involvement, etc, but these and any other standards extraneous to a level of activity shall not be considered in evaluating this requirement." (requirement being active participation).

 

GTA also says "his unit's pre-established expectations that refer to a level of activity". So units need pre-established expecations. IMHO, they are not pre-established if they are not written down.

 

So if the scout is not meeting your unit expectations for behavior, supplies, dues, parental involvement, etc, then you can ask him to change or leave the troop ... because he's not meeting your unit expecations. But you really can't say he's not fulfilling BSA's active participation requirement.

 

To target active participation, you pretty much have to establish percentages (i.e. ... LEVELS ...) of troop meetings, camp outs, activities, volunteer service, etc. And ya write it down at the start. Not three years into the scout's membership. And ya definitely don't say "well we just don't feel you are active enough". And it's just not right to say "we just don't feel you are committed enough". Did the scout do his POR? Then he's committed enough.

 

...

 

What do you do when a troop messes up? Depends. But for advancement, a completed requirement stays completed. We're not talking about forged signatures. We're talking about a BSA leader after-the-fact wanting more. At that point, the requirement is done.

 

So a scout sat in the troop for four years. In the 4th year ... because he wants to earn eagle ... now you want to tell him he's not active enough? Come on. A dis-service has been done to this scout for the last three years! Whether or not he's going for Eagle, you should be letting him know pretty quick that he's not meeting troop expectations. And ya do it really quick because he only needs six months (or four for earlier ranks). But in his forth year? Too late. He completed the requirement with his POR. He completed the requirement again with his first six months in the troop. And again with his next six months. And again with his next six months. And again with his next six months. etc etc.

 

Heck if it was swearing, you'd talk to him. You wouldn't go thru three years of swearing only to learn he's going for Eagle and then talk to him about his swearing being incompatible with advancement.

 

This is about when troops mess up and don't deliver the scouting promise. A weak program. In-appropriate signed offs. Not establishing unit expecation. Not communicating expecations until the 4th year.

 

When the troop messes up, ya don't blame the scout. You fix the program and move on.

 

...

 

What do you do when you don't think a scout deserves advancement?

 

This is my main concern. At that point, you do fall back to the BSA requirements. When two people disagree, you fall back to the original agreement. That agreement is the BSA rank requirements. Nothing more. Nothing less. If we are to be honorable leaders, then we honor the requirements as published.

 

...

 

IMHO, a key principle is scouts control their own advancement. Not the adults. That's why there is explicit criteria laid out in 280 approximate requirements. You complete those and you earn advancement.

 

 

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Sigh. I know I said I'd stay out of this. But I'm only going to deal with the last two paragraphs of Beavah's post.

 

Beavah, I really think you are making up new facts in order to support your arguments.

 

That to my mind is what SpencerCheatham's troop did. The standards were in place before, which is why all of the adults (and I expect youth) in his troop realized they weren't being met in this case.

 

Where exactly in any of Spencer's posts does it say, or even imply that? I do not recall a single word about establishing or announcing any "standards." The only thing Spencer says about the Scout's first 3+ years in the troop (other than his absence at outings and at least 70 percent of troop meetings) is: "We did let this scout down in the sense that we were not in contact with him until the last year." He's right. They let the Scout down. And the Scout let them down, and himself, and his fellow Scouts. So as Spencer has said, the troop learns from this, hopefully someone will now have a discussion with the Scout from which he can also learn, and hopefully it won't happen again. (In fact, it would not be out of line to let the BOR know that while the Scout passed the requirements for Eagle, he chose not to go on any outings for four years and missed 70 percent of the requirements. Let him explain that, if the BOR so chooses. That would, hopefully, be a productive and educational experience for the Scout.)

 

Those standards were accepted and personally adhered to by the other active scouts in the troop.

 

Again, no evidence of that, although even if were true, I don't think it's dispositive, as those lawyer-folks say.

 

Yeh just have to have a common sense of character and commitment that's consistent.

 

Ah, consistent. I like consistent. But all we know about consistency in this case is that the troop leadership consistently failed to "connect" with this Scout until he was already 17 and had been in the troop more than three years.

 

Now I will say that one of da biggest sources of contention in Scouting is when youth and parents from one "camp" transfer or join a troop of the other "camp".

 

As I have said before, and I agree with fred8033, I don't think these two "camps" really exist. Certainly there are different philosophies, but nowhere near as simple as two "camps."

 

So I think the ideal thing is to have a very explicit version of that conversation up front with the youth and parents, before yeh accept an application.

 

I have said before that there should have been, essentially, a Scoutmaster Conference (not for advancement purposes) once it appeared that there was a participation problem, say within the first six months. But you're correct, the troop's reasonable expectations for participation should be explained up front. In our troop I think that happens most of the time anyway, but it's probably not done as consistently (there's that word again) as it should be. In particular, "transfers" are sort of hit-and-miss, but there really should be a non-advancement SMC when someone transfers into the troop, and this should be one of the topics.

 

That may or may not have happened in this case; it was before SpencerCheatham's time.

 

I would say Spencer's posts are less than crystal-clear about what he knows and doesn't know about the Scout's first two years in the troop. There's certainly no evidence that it happened, and the "no contact" comment suggests that it did not. But actually, if it did happen, then it seems to me that it's even worse that the troop then dropped the ball for the next three years.

 

 

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Wow. Talk about getting wrapped around the axel! I've read and heard about enough of these situations that we took action with our Troop to hopefully never end up in this boat.

 

Beavah quoted our standard, taken from GBB: The real price of membership in this Troop will be unfailing regular attendance at its meetings and outings, and steady progress in all the things that make a Scout "Prepared." If we put our own time into the activities of this Troop, we shall certainly expect you to do your part with equal faithfulness. At Troop 494, Scouting is a way of life, not just an activity.

 

When the new G2A came out, we created a definition of Active (or maybe I should say Inactive). If a Scout misses 4 consecutive meetings/activities/outings with no notification to his PL or the SM, he will be considered Inactive. Inactive Scouts will not be assigned to a Patrol. To regain Active status, he will need to meet with the SM to discuss the circumstances that lead to him becoming Inactive, and what he is going to do to prevent that from happening in the future.

 

If a Scout has a long-term conflict (sports season) with Troop activities, he needs to notify his PL, the SPL and SM. The Scout will not be able to hold a POR during his absence.

 

I'm not big on making policy, but I'd rather do that than deal with the circumstances many Troops are facing. The Scout in the OP would have either been participating in our program, or he would have been left off our Troop roster at recharter.

 

B-P said you don't have a Boy Scout Troop if you don't have the Patrol Method. Extend that to, how can a boy be a Scout if he isn't participating in the Patrol Method? Forget about advancement requirements - have some standards for your Troop! If all it takes to be a member of your Troop is paying dues and showing up very occassionally, then how can you really expect much more? Set a high bar and take pride in the boys when they exceed it!

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Brent - I'm okay with what your saying. For inactive, I'm hearing specific measurable critieria. For high standards, I'm hearing you don't re-register inactive scouts. I would not necessarily choose the same, but it seems consistent and within your troops rights to set such a policy.

 

...

 

#1 Your "active" definition seems reasonable. "... misses 4 consecutive meetings/activities/outings with notification ...." I would chose differently, but it seems reasonable, measurable and sounds like it is written down and communicated. Fine

 

I'm sure there will be still challenges such as if scouts don't sign up for activities and outings, do they need to give notice they are not going? Is it assumed everyone participates in everything? Or is notice only needed for an activity / outing only needed if you signed up saying you would go. Pretty much reduces it to four troop / plc meetings.

 

What if the scout says to the PL "I've got alot of homework tonight and can't make it." But the PL doesn't tell the SPL or records it elsewhere? Will there be an attendance form to be filled out by each PL and then reviewed by the SPL / SM? Is notice supposed to be email or other? I'm just saying that some scouts don't stand up for their rights as strongly as others do. It's hard to be equally fair to all.

 

What if the scout says to the PL "I've got alot of homework tonight and can't make it.". If he had not given notice for three meetings, now he just reset the consecutive unnotified absences active window. Scouts could stay active for years by only giving notice once every four troop meetigs and thus being deemed active for years without doing anything as a scout.

 

What if his parent is on the ball and drops an email to the SM saying the scout will be absent. It's notification. I can't see not accept the parent saying the scout will be gone or not use it for notice. The scout hasn't done anything, but will still be active. Yet another interesting point.

 

IMHO, you almost need to remove the notice part. It just teaches scouts to be good with excuses or getting others to cover for them. It removes the teeth from the policy. How about something such as scouts will be considered inactive after any month in which they do not participate in any scouting event: meeting, plc, activity or outing. Easy to administer. No tracking notices. No favoring those scouts who have a good communication channel and those who don't.

 

Again your rule is reasonable. I'm just being a devil's advocate.

 

...

 

#2 Membership. I do like how you apply the high standard. Right up front. To be a member of your troop scouts are expected to participate. If scouts don't, then you won't be recharter them. Again, I don't necessarily want to be in that troop. But I recognize your troop's right to define such membership expectations. And there are benefits.

 

Devil's advocate: So a scout becomes inactive for some reason (sports, school play, academics, church, job, etc) for say three months ... DURING THE RECHARTERING TIME. Really? I'm betting you will encounter adult leaders in your troop that will argue against unregistering specific scouts. It will be difficult to do it without creating hard feelings. Plus now to become active again, the scout needs to fill out a new application to join the troop. It would be interesting to see how that plays out. I'd bet some attend to avoid that reprecussion. Or give better notice. I'd bet others use it as an excuse to end their scouting careers.

 

But if you do recharter them, now they are pretty much determined to be "active". Heck per your own words, you wouldn't recharter inactive scouts. So rechartering is a troop statement of the scout being active.

 

Again, I prefer to leave the scouts on the roster if we think they like scouting and will participate in activities at the level they can. Have scouting be their safe haven. Scouts go through alot of stuff during their transition from 11 years old to 18 years old. Girls and jobs. Alcohol and drugs. Death, divorce and disease. It's nice to have scouting there for them ... both to grow while in the program ... and as a friendly safe haven to retreat into when problems occur ... and as something they can have as part of themselves that that stands for high values and high expectations. They might not be as involved as you want, but I've seen it helpful for the boy to identify himself as a scout. The boy makes better choices in life. This last reason itself has proven valuable in the past.

 

....

 

Anyway, your policies seem reasonable. Nice job. It's a good step forward. I don't think you will avoid all challenges. But at least it's published and communicated.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

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> I don't think you will avoid all challenges.

 

My personal view is that a program that attempts to avoid all challenges will be one of little value. And even then, you could get challenges from families that want a troop for their son that has high expectations, and the benefits that go with it.

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