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Robinton

Scout Advancement - SM to BOR

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After reading Bob White's post about BOR & SM & Uniforms I had a couple of questions that someone might get some help with.

A new Scout joined our Troop in March. He went to summer camp and attended "1st Class Express". In July he wanted SM & BOR for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. I did not do the SM conference, another leader did and passed him. After the BOR rejected his First Class I asked why? The answer was he did not know anything about Scout Skills i.e. "What is a taught line hitch used for?" Answer...no idea."What is the first thing you do if you are the head cook for an upcoming campout?" Answer...Go to the local discount grocery store and buy the food. When asked about how many Scouts or how many meals, it didn't matter, just buy enough and if any is left over use it on the next campout.

In short, his book had been signed off because he "attended" 1st Class Express not because he understood. This has been addressed Troop wide!! I know SM Conf. and BOR is not to be a "retest" but when the boy has no clue... All Leaders and Scouts have been told the activity only gets signed off after it is known well enough to teach or at least be demonstrated.

A boy has a completed Merit Badge card and turns it in for his badge. Later, it is obvious the Scout has no idea what he did to get the badge(Mom or Dad was the Councilor). In one example, the boys did Weather in school. Since they passed, they did all the requirements and where signed off.It was never reviewed by the councilor just O.K.ed. Do I have authority to question Merit Badges? And if so, to what extent? Can a Merit Badge be started and sometimes completed before a Blue Card has been issued? Is this one of those grey areas that should be interperated by the Committee and added to Troop Policies?

I have asked several Scouters and have gotten mixed replies though all are close. With me the boy comes first but passing him seemes to be a great injustice. Recite or do by memory letter perfect? NO! I tell my Scouts Scouting is an open book test, and some still cannot tie 2 half hitches but are 1st Class Scouts.

 

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I want to talk about one of your points. If a scout has a blue card signed by a registered merit badge counselor for your council, while you may "question" it, you cannot refuse him the badge. In BSA'a eyes he has completed the requirements. You may say, what if an adult leader from my units didnt sign the blue card? That may work, but if the scout takes it to council, you will lose. I know from experience. Perhaps I should say our troop lost when we had this issue. Scout got the pioneering merit badge. I was impressed because I think its one of the hardest badges to get. I asked him about splicing and if he liked it, he didnt know what I was talking about. I asked him about making a rope, he said he watched the counselor. He has a badge, but he has no skills. This is where the Council has to be sure the merit badge counslers all adhere to the requirements. If its signed, its a badge.

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I have a bit of heartburn over the first class progression in our council and from what I have heard the problem is not just local. One of our local scoutmasters, for whom I have a great deal of respect, refused to send several boys before the board he felt were not ready. As scoutmaster, he refused to sign off the scoutmaster review and without that the board would not promote. He did this with several boys who went through our council's first class quest program after he (the Scoutmaster) visited the training area and became very disappointed in how training was (or more accurately, wasn't) being conducted. I agree that a BoR should not be a review or retest of everything a scout has done to make rank. I think it is the job of the scoutmaster not to send boys up for rank review if he is not 100 percent comfortable with a specific scout making the next rank.

 

In this case, the scoutmaster, his assistants, and the PLC retrained (and I use the prefix "re" loosely) the new scouts and made sure they knew what they should. Then they sent them to the board where they passed with flying colors.

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This topic has been addressed in other threads and in other forums, too. There is a big disparity between how one leader applies requirements and how another does. Plus, there is some outright "fudging" that goes way beyond a Scout simply forgetting after 8 months which way to twist the timber hitch and having to re-check the illustration in the handbook or pamphlet.

 

The bottom line as I see it is that the SM is ultimately responsible for the integrity of all this. A Scout has to get his blue card from his SM, right? If the SM has concerns about how a counselor will consider requirements "met", don't sign the blue card, and take the concerns to district/council leadership. Same thing with the "Cliff's Notes" First Class Trail events some of you have mentioned.

 

This gets really tricky at "time compressed" events such as summer camp or an MB roundup, where you can't be everywhere at once, you don't personally know all the counselors, and it may be very difficult to personally assess the quality of the instruction.

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We have had the same issue with our boys' advancements. The parents who are actively involved now, have been involved since Tiger Scouts.

 

Fortunately, our Boy Scout troop is small enough that we KNOW what Johnny has done or not done when he goes for his BOR. At that point we don't have an issue with retesting -or sending someone up who is not ready.

 

My son has probably suffered by this because, as on of his leaders, I will hold him to a higher standard, than some of the other leaders or parents in the troop.

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We have a rule in our troop about parents (registered adult leaders) signing off requirements for their sons. It ain't permitted. On one extreme we don't want the parent to fudge a requirement for their kid. On the other extreme, we don't want a parent to impose an unreasonably high standard.

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As a Scoutmaster, It was the agreement of the PLC that summercamp was a good place to learn be not acceptable to sign off a requirement(as far as Tenderfoot to First Class). We made sure all Scouts understood that they would be reviewed on the skills they learned at summer camp and only the approved unit members would test them and sign them off.

 

As far as merit badges, the adult leaders in the troop visited the merit badge sights frequently to make sure a scouting standard was maintained and things were not being signed when work was not done.

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Our troop historically sent the boys of all ages to summer camp to "work" (using this term VERY loosely)on merit badges. They didn't even try the Trail to First Class. Last summer we insisted that the younger scouts (and a couple older scouts who hadn't advanced at all) participate in the Trail (my son was one of the younger scouts).

 

Even though I was disappointed in the quality I will still support the new scouts going through this again since we're doing a much better job at the troop level. Clearly the camp program can only be supplemental at best.

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The troop my son is about to join and I will too as a Scouter in some capacity, has the rule of no parent signs off on their own son's requirements. What I like about this rule is that my son is forced to deal with other adults than myself. He gains a lot in the area of interpersonal skills when made to do that.

 

He has already looked at the requirements for Tenderfoot and said "I've already done that, why can't you sign off on it." My answer to him is that if he's already done it then it will be simple to do it again. I explain they aren't out to fail him, this isn't like getting testing in school, the troop really wants you to succeed, they will keep working with you until you learn it.

 

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How can you pass the cooking requirements at one of those "first class express" programs? You would still have to do the planning, buying, and cooking. Someone goofed signing that part off, at the least.

 

Brad

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Not only the cooking, but what about the 10 Troop/patrol activities.

In our Council the summer camp fast track only concetrates on the basics. Some scoutcraft, nature and swimming. They realize that the scouts can't become first class just by going to fast track at camp. Our boys know that we expect them at some time to demonstrate what they have learned up to first class. As for Merit badges you can ony check out the councelors,report them to your district and hope for the best. We also insist that a boy have a blue card before he talks to a councelor.

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OGE,

I agree with you completely about merit badges. But, when it comes to rank advancement, I feel it is up to the Scoutmaster during the SM Conference to determine if the Scout is ready for his BOR.

 

I will hold a SMC for any Scout who feels he is ready. The 1st thing I do (after they recite the Pledge, Oath & Law) is hand them a piece of rope & have them tie the knots they are required to know for rank. If they can't the SMC is finished. The Scout is advised to learn the required knots & come back when he is ready. I also tell the Scout I will work with him on his knot & any other requirement he needs help with. All my Scouts know this requirement BEFORE they ask for their SMC.

 

The person who "stood in" for the SM should not have let the Scout get past him. Just because a merit badge has been earned doesn't mean the necessary skills have been.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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According to what they taught in Scoutmasterhip Fundementals, you can't even do that much according to the rules. You can only verify what has been signed off.

 

However, I can see a place for it myself, especially after seeing my younger son practically forget everything he once knew. :)

 

(We are working on that as a family.)

 

Brad

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Thanks for the advise! I now know the direction I need to take, that being putting the Troop rules in writing. This will best be done at our next PLC meeting.

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