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Signing off advancments

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The way I understand the Scouting System, a boy is supposed to bring his book to the adult leader for signing - the leader shouldn't have to go looking for the boys to sign the books off, Right? Our Committee Chair is trying to put the adult leaders at fault for the lack of advancment in the troop by saying that we haven't asked the boys for their books. Please help me clear this up. Am I just getting it wrong?

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It is the scout's responsibility to have his handbook signed off. But remember these are 11-12 year old kids we are talking about. And it is not easy for some young boys to approach adults and ask for their attention. So I'd say, I think it is also the responsibility of the adults to make themselves "accessible". A simple reminder announcement like "I'll be at the rear of the room at the end of the meeting if you have something you want me to see or sign off in your handbook" can work wonders to making the boys feel relaxed and confident to get these signatures.


For low ranks, we also allow a scout who is at least two ranks above the scout to review the candidate and initial his handbook (things like ability to tie knots,etc) which takes a lot of that pressure off the new scout. When they have those items initialed by their peers, they can then go with confidence to see the scoutmaster for a scoutmaster's review, etc.


Scoutmasters can also take the initiative to say, "let me see your handbook so we can look at what you have accomplished and what you need to work on." In my opinion, that's not chasing the kids around to get their books signed off, it's establishing a rapport and having an informal scoutmaster conference.

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Fear not, you are both right on.


Scouters (in my experience) should not "chase down" boys to sign off their books. But we should always make ourselves available to them. It is also important to ask the boys (especially the young ones) how they are doing, what are they working on, do they need any help, ect.


KL's announcement reminder is an excellent way of nudging boys forward.


In our troop we allow older scouts (Star, Life, Eagle) to initial other boys books who are working on Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, 1st Class but not Boy Scout. Boy Scout is handled exclusively by the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters. We want to be absolutely sure our new Scouts start out correctly without any confusion and to build a rapport with the Adult leadership.

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I agree with both responses, and those practices reflect what we do in our troop. There are two additional points to be made.


The boys need to also touch base with the advancement chair. We now have our records computerized using the "troopmaster" software package. When things are going well the advancement chair, who retains these electronic records, updates his files every meeting to capture those things that have been signed off. This provides the best possible backup for those boys who inevitably lose their books.


There are also situations where a boy is not advancing. There is nothing wrong with the scoutmaster initiating a scoutmaster conference with a boy to find out what is going on. The purpose of such a conference is not to sign off requirements but to detect problems and provide encouragement.


I concur that it is not the responsibility of the adult leaders to chase boys down just to sign books.

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So...who's troop is it, anyway???


Adults should not be in the business of chasing down the Scouts for advancement review or signing off in the books or even reminding them to bring the books. We're trying to instill a little responsibility, right? And who's troop is it???


Use you PLC. We do. And it works. Adults hardly ever have to make any reminders of these things. At PLC meetings, the Scoutmaster and the SPL go over these items every meeting. The SPL is given the responsibility of coordinating announcements and reminders like this with his ASPL's and the Patrol Leaders. It's their troop. Let them run with it. The older Scouts need to be good examples for the younger guys, and when the little guys see the older Scouts 'taking care of business' like this, it makes an impression...slowly for sure. But by the time these younger Scouts reach their 'maturity' within the troop structure, they hopefully will be able to remember these little maintenace issues, with counsel from the Scoutmaster. Make your adults available, for sure, for instruction, assistance, review, etc., etc. But let the Scouts do the rest.


Having the SPL and/or ASPL's making announcments like, "Our Scoutmaster, Mr. Smith, and our Advancement Chair, Mrs. Jones, will be available at the other end of the hall during tonights meeting for anyone who has a question or is in need of review for rank advancement", is a great thing. It's all part of Scouts learning to LEAD the troop.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Adults should not track down boys.


Our PLC makes a point of having at least one troop meeting per month where 1/2 of the meeing is spent on advancement. This also allows the advancement chair opportunity to review the books and update our Troopmaster Software database.


I would make a point of putting the boys on notice that it is their responsiblity to get with an assistant scoutmaster when they feel they are ready for signoff...


Last suggestion... when you finish an outing that you know can get some boys signed off on a particular requirement, make sure the PLC focuses on getting those boys to get their hard earned requirments signed off...

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