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Are Board of Reviews rubber stamps?

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I've been told that the BOR's are basically a rubber stamp and that the scoutmaster has already determined if the scout can advance during the scoutmaster conference. Is there policy in place that contradicts this? I've sat in a few BOR's and there's this one kid that I would have liked to not advance because he had a rude comment in both boards that I sat in on. And, my husband recently sat in two boards that the scout still had an old advancment patch, for example, they were going for 2nd class, but still had the scout patch on. What are your thoughts?

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BORs don't really determine if scout advances or not in the typical "awarding" mentality. They are checking all requirements were completed, encouraging advancement and reviewing how the troop did with the scout so that the troop can improve the program. If all BOR members don't agree the scout completed the requirements, they are to identify in writing the specific requirements the scout failed to meet and what needs to be done to complete those requirements.


SMCs don't really determine if a scout advances at a SMC. The SMC requirement is to have a SMC. There is no requirement to PASS an SMC.


With that being said, many scoutmaters reserve signing off on the scout spirit requirement to themselves and will only do that during the SMC. But even that is a conversation with the scout mostly reviewing himself with guided conversation from the SM.




And now the large debate starts.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

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Welcome to the forums! Fred is correct, a Board Of Review is exactly that, a review to make sure that requirements are completed and to get some insight into "quality control", ie, how the troop is doing. If the requirements are completed, he should be signed off on his BOR. HOWEVER, what you said about the "rude comment" got my attention. What exactly was the comment? Was it something "rude" enough that the members could "suspend" the board (not "fail" the scout) until such time as Scout Spirit shows improvement? (If the comment truly merits such action.) Our District Advancement Chairman told me of a case where he suspended an Eagle Board for a similar situation. Of course, the Scoutmaster should be informed of what happened. In our troop, the SM "presents" the candidate to the board, indicating that he/she believes the candidate is ready to the best of his/her knowledge. Same with the old rank patch, a friendly chat with the SM is probably a good idea.

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BOR's have a limited purpose, but I would not go so far as to call them a "rubber stamp." If the issue is "rude comments", I think it depends on what the comment is. If a Scout said something like "Some of our camping trips (rude verb deleted)", I would probably thank the boy for his candor in addressing flaws in the program but would counsel him on ways of more constructively expressing his opinions. He wouldn't "not pass" just for that. If on the other hand, the same rude verb was applied to Scoutmaster Jones, that would be a different story. Of course, I am just making up examples here because you have not been specific. Whether a statement by a Scout in a BOR "crosses the line" is probably going to be determined by the "know it when I see it (or hear it)" test.


Here is what the Guide to Advancement says about a Scout's "attitude" in a BOR:


"A positive attitude is most important, and that a young man accepts Scoutings ideals and sets and meets good standards in his life." Guide to Advancement 2011,


It does not specifically say that the lack of a "positive attitude" as expressed during the BOR is sufficient reason to defer advancement, but I suppose if the comment was "rude enough" (and especially if the same Scout had done the same thing at an earlier BOR and, having been counseled against doing so again, did it again) the BOR could legitimately withhold the advancement for that reason. But if the boy asks for another BOR and acts appropriately, I think that resolves the issue.


As for being one rank badge behind on the uniform (such as wearing the Scout badge at a Second Class BOR), I think it is worth reading the section on uniforming in the Guide to Advancement. I wish it said something slightly different than what it says, but here is what it says: Wearing the Uniformor Neat in Appearance


It is preferred a Scout be in full field uniform for any

board of review. He should wear as much of it as he

owns, and it should be as correct as possible, with the

badges worn properly. It may be the uniform as the

members of his troop, team, crew, or ship wear it.

If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical for

whatever reason, the candidate should be clean and

neat in his appearance and dressed appropriately,

according to his means, for the milestone marked by

the occasion. Regardless of unit expectations or rules,

boards of review may not reject candidates dressed to

this description; neither may they require the purchase

of uniforming, or clothing such as coats and ties.


Notice the word should, not must. The uniform should be worn, but the advancement cannot be deferred just for a lack of uniform. The correct rank badge should be worn, I think you can certainly ask the young man why the correct badge is absent and when he uses the "Mom didn't get around to it" line, remind him that it's his uniform and not Mom's, but ultimately you don't hold him back for that, either. I would say that about one-third of the boys in our troop are behind at least one rank at any given time. It's not the biggest thing in the world but it does baffle me a little; I seem to recall that when I made the next rank, I wanted that badge on there ASAP.

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They are rubber stamps, for the most part. That said, they are valuable, because the Scouts don't realize that they are rubber stamps. They also, from my observation, are good practice for Eagle BORs, which aren't rubber stamps. They are also useful, because they allow the committee a chance to learn about the Scouts feeling about the Troop and it's activities.

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Hello map909, welcome to the forums!


No, of course a Board of Review should not be a rubber stamp at any level. It's an important step in the advancement process: a Scout Learns, a Scout is Tested, a Scout is Reviewed. The review, just like the learning or the testing is not automatic.


Now, as a unit committee member yeh represent a Chartered Organization, eh? You are responsible for helping that Chartered Organization achieve its goals for boys in the program. If one of those goals is to help boys learn courtesy and comportment in addressing other people and adults, then I'd say of course the board should respond appropriately to a rude comment. It's your duty to do so.


What that response is just depends, eh? If the lad used a word like "sucks" that means "lousy" in youth vernacular but which some adults attribute (incorrectly) to be a sexual innuendo, then maybe yeh just inform the lad that he should be careful because that expression could be misinterpreted. If he called an ASM an a**hole, then maybe yeh defer the board of review for a month and let the SM work with the lad on verbal behavior. But no matter what, yeh use the opportunity to do your duty and create a "learning opportunity" for the boy.


As to the uniform, again, a bit depends on da goals of your chartered organization. I suppose a few chartered organizations might have a goal of teaching precision dressing, but I don't know any. NJCubscouter describes how most of us would handle that in the context of the BSA program.


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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In Scoutmaster Conference training and in Board of Review training modules, it talks about the rare instance where a scout should not be advanced. The "no surprises" rule is mentioned, (first time it rears its head), in that if a scout is going to not be advanced, he should have been told in advance that he was not going to advance, to give him time to work on what needs work (attitude, etc.)


So, based on the literature, the BOR is perfunctory, but not a rubber stamp. As stated, they serve a valuable purpose in the feedback loop of how the SM and ASM's are guiding the troop leadership.


If the OP though the scout was disrespectful, she could have voted no. Passing BOR's must be unanimous.


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The rank thing can be nitpicky. If the Scout has taken six months to get from T to 2C, then he should have his T patch on. But the early ranks are so easy for an active Scout that it's not uncommon for a boy to rocket up the ladder with little time in between. For me, 2C was a blur, because I jumped to FC so quickly.

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BORs should be generally pro forma if the unit leadership is doing its job. If a scout is turned down by a board of review for any reason, I would look to the adult leadership more than the scout.

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The most important thing is for the adult leadership in the Troop to be on the same page about expectations. That should be the goal of the adult organization in the Troop. The CC/COR need to consider that - getting everyone one the same page - a top priority. The members of the BOR should not - under any circumstances - use the BOR as a means of arguing with the SM about something. If the SM thinks the scout is ready for advancement, it should be rare as hens' teeth for the BOR to say no.


But it should also be rare as hen's teeth for the SM to say a scout is ready that the members of the BOR think isn't. "Rubber-stamping" suggests you're thinking the SM is on some other team. He's not. He's on your team, you work together. For that matter, the Scout is on your team too. Everybody should agree on what the objectives and standards are. If there is disagreement, that should be worked out and an acceptible solution agreed on.




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If a scout is turned down by a board of review for any reason, I would look to the adult leadership more than the scout.




Just curious.


I reckon we all have to be careful about our assumptions, eh? I agree completely with JMHawkins that adults in the program need to be on da same page.


Now, I may be just talkin' through my hat, but I think comments like eisley's assume that the SM is playin' a gatekeeper role with da SM conference or one of the other requirements, eh? And in many troops, that is how things work. In such cases, if the SM and BOR are on the same page then a BOR will affirm the SM's judgment. When that doesn't happen, it often is an adult problem.


Da thing of it is, that's not necessarily the program. A SM conference is just a talk, and yeh have to participate not pass. Really the only review mechanism is the BOR. So it's quite possible that in a different program the SM can be a friend and mentor at a conference, and a BOR can say "no, not yet" with the SM's full agreement. Then the SM and the boy's PL work with him some more. In such a role, the BOR is a service to the PL and the SM.



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Da thing of it is, that's not necessarily the program. A SM conference is just a talk, and yeh have to participate not pass. Really the only review mechanism is the BOR. So it's quite possible that in a different program the SM can be a friend and mentor at a conference, and a BOR can say "no, not yet" with the SM's full agreement.


Yep, which is why I was careful to say "If the SM thinks the scout is ready for advancement..." The BOR really should know what the SM thinks of the scout's preparation.


Of course, if everything is signed off in the book, but the adult leadership doesn't think the Scout is ready to advance, that says something too.

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I was redoing our Board of Review training we do in our district a year ago or so, and did some research on some examples of when a BOR can deny advancement keeping in mind the process and policies in the, at the time new, Guide to Advancement.


Here is what I came up with:


Requirement not signed off by someone authorized by SM

A requirement was skipped

The list of merit badges earned for rank does not match requirement (not enough Eagle badges earned)

Scoutmaster signs Scout off as active for 6 months but Scout was only active for 5 months (SM can't read calendar)

A very serious incident that would cause the Scout Spirit requirement to not be met (stealing, drug taking, etc.)

Scout did not complete a requirement even though it was signed off.


The presentation is here:





(This message has been edited by bnelon44)

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bnelon44 ... I agree on your criteria. The million dollar one is "Scout did not complete a requirement even though it was signed off."


IMHO, that would have to be very significant and focusing on the absolute of complete and not on the subjective analysis of the quality of the completion.

It ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS reflects a mistake by the SM or by the person authorized by the SM to sign off on the requirement.

Not of the type of "we don't think he learned it well enough." The person who was authorized to review and test the scout already blessed the achievement. You don't undo the completed requirements anymore than you undo ranks. GTA Not a Retest or "Examination" makes it pretty clear that's not the job of the BOR.

It would need to be more absolute such as


he wasn't there

he didn't do it.

ASM signed in the wrong spot.

Scout was never reviewed and tested. (such as in a group setting and the scout gone during the review and testing.)


Maybe it was signed based on bad info from the scout. "Yeah I participated in a flag ceremony at XXXX camp" and neither the scout or the leader realizing it was important that he was a cub scout then and not yet a boy scout.



Example: First class rank - Valid signature for "securing the ingredients" for a patrol camp out meal for first class rank. "secure the ingredients" means going shopping or raiding parents cabinets or harvesting from troop extras. Anything that supplies the patrol.


Pass - He secured the ingredeints and it was a great meal.

Pass - He secured most of the ingredients, but forgot some.

Pass - He secured the ingredients, but they were poptarts, cool aid, peanut butter and donuts.

Pass - He did not go on the camp out, but he did secure the ingredients and provide them to the scouts who did go.

Fail - He never secured the ingredients at all, whether assigned to or not.



Example: Second class rank - Valid signature for "Show what to do for "hurry" cases of stopped breathing, serious bleeding, and ingested poisoning".


Pass - He can explain in detail everything about it.

Pass - He can't explain the best, but he was there and was tested and passed by an SM authorized signer.

Fail - Someone mistakenly signed off on it thinking they were signing something else.

Fail - He wasn't there even though the authorized signer thought he was there.

Fail - He was never originally tested on the skills and the authorized signer thought he had been tested.



If there is something I'd use as discretionary / subjective it's this from the GTA "A positive attitude is most important, and that a young man accepts Scouting's ideals and sets and meets good standards in his life." ... But this would reflect a more delicate discussion that may or may not result in a pass. But it would need to be pretty significant for me to fail him. More than just a rude or insensitive remark.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

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