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FScouter

Troop Policies

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Ozemu,

Just to clarify a point. the reason the few behaviour rules are reviewed every 6-months is because we do troop elections every 6 months so the PLC changes in membership. Since the establishment of the rules comes from the PLC each new group has the opportunity to reveiw and revise as they see fit. It has far less to do with moral training and more to do with leadership and citizenship training. Doesn't the current legislature have the power to reveiw and revise existing laws set by previous legislatures?

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Bob White -

You mentioned several resources I had not heard of before: the Ideal Year in Scouting, Budget video, and Youth Protection manual. That is part of the difficulty our committee and myself are having. We have already pulled policies out of eight different publications, and here are three more. The committee wants a handy reference document to guide them. That is what we are in the process of creating. Too often individuals spout rules and policies like they are gospel without really knowing for sure. It is not easy to find answers in BSA publications, and very often the discussion found there is couched in terms like is suggested successful troops do ..., it is important, or units should . . .. Why cant they just say must, shall, and required? Or optional?

 

Most of the issues I listed earlier in the thread are discussed in BSA publications. But the discussions are vague and fuzzy and some of us in the troop feel compelled to clarify them. For example, we want to know what training committee members must have. The Troop Committee Guidebook says The Barbecue video SHOULD be reviewed by all ... members of the troop committee. And 15 pages later ... committee members SHOULD REVIEW the ... Fast Start videos. That kind of wording makes training sound optional. Our by-laws will say All committee members must view The Barbeque video, must complete Fast Start training and must complete Youth Protection training within six months of being selected as a member of the committee.

 

And what about the dad that decides at the last minute to drive his own son to the campout? Some may not have a problem with that, but what about BSA? The dad is not on the tour permit, and who knows about his insurance or drivers license status. Will the boy wear a seatbelt? Should the Scoutmaster tell the dad that he may not transport his own son? What if he crashes into a tree on the way up to camp? And we find out his insurance has lapsed? As a leader, I dont want to deal with that kind of scenario. Thus, our by-laws will read All Scouts shall be transported to Scout activities using vehicles and drivers pre-approved by the committee, and listed on the tour permit. Sorry Dad, you may NOT drive your own son.

 

Thats why I feel our troop needs by-laws.

 

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Fscouter,

Huh? Are you sure you want to tell a parent (assuming that you know of know illegalities)that they cannot drive their own child to an event? The local tour permits are only for adults transporting children other then their own.

 

The Bar-b-que is not a required troop committee training. The requirements for Troop Committee members to be certified as trained and wear the Trained badge is, the 90-minute New Leader Essentials course followed by the 3-hour Troop Committee Challenge course. Fast Start, which has recently been revamped is available as a training tool but is not part of the new basic training curriculum.

 

This is my point precisely. Units are setting rules without first knowing the program. This is supposed to be as fun for the adults as the boys. The committees only task is to support the program decisions of the boys. If you are writing all these rules to make the program run smoother then you picked the wrong program. boy Scouts was never meant to run smooth. It is a training ground for boys to experiment with real leadership and part of that process is they need to make some mistakes.

The program has "policies" to cover three areas; Youth Protection/Safety, Advancement, and Uniforming. We have program methods that define the scouting program. Other than that the program is fairly loosely defined because it needs to be flexible for the boys to develop it as they learn to lead.

 

Your committee needs its flexibility to respond to the decisions of the current PLC. Some of the items on your list should be decided by the boys not the committee. Other points have already been decided by the BSA and is covered in job specific training.

 

Consider before you start writing rules that everyone attend training. Then at least you will have a common knowledge base to operate from.

 

 

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This is supposed to be as fun for the adults as the boys. The committee's only task is to support the program decisions of the boys. If you are writing all these rules to make the program run smoother then you picked the wrong program. Boy Scouts was never meant to run smooth. It is a training ground for boys to experiment with real leadership and part of that process is they need to make some mistakes.

 

While I agree that BSA wants troops to be "boy run" and boys should learn from their mistakes, I believe this is a misapplication of the philosophy. Yes, boys run the troop. They pick and plan their outings. They pick their leaders. Their leaders lead, etc. However, I do not believe that BSA intended for the "boy run" philosophy to be applied to all aspects of the troop, including policies such as training for leaders. Least we forget, they are boys and we are adults. It is one thing to take this philosophy and apply it to a bunch of boys in the woods or on an outing. It is quite another issue to apply this philosophy to the adult infrastructure of a troop. By Bob White's reasoning, the boys should be dictating policy to committee members. I don't buy it. From my reading, FScouter has the right idea.

 

A couple of other thoughts while we are on the subject -

 

I believe there is flexibility in BSA policy by design. For certain issues, BSA is very clear and there is no flexibility. On others, I am confident that words such as "should" were chosen purposefully. I have made numerous phone calls to my council and to Irving, Texas concerning policies with this kind of wording. In every case, I was instructed that BSA had an opinion, but ultimately left it up to the discretion of that particular troop. In other words, for many issues - "should" does not mean it is required, but it also doesn't mean a troop can't make it a requirement. There appears to be two exceptions to this - One, BSA requirements for rank and badge advancement are not subject to interpretation by individual troops. Two, policies denoted in bold in the Guide to Safe Scouting, by definition, are absolutes.

 

"Boy Run" is not meant to be a mantra that is mindlessly followed. Common sense should prevail. Learning by mistakes is valid as long as common sense is applied. For example: The SPL decides 3 AM is good time for lights out. Common sense tells us (boys and adults) the following -

 

1) No one will get up in time for planned events.

2) Everyone will be tired for the entire day.

3) Everyone will suffer, even the boys who tried to go to bed at a decent hour.

 

Perhaps, in many troops, a Scoutmaster will accept this as "boy run" and permit the troop to have their fun and learn from their mistake. To me, this is not what BSA (or Baden-Powell) meant by "boy run". At some point in time, an adult has to decide he is an adult and he's not going to allow common sense to be flushed down the toilet. Some "mistakes" should be prevented and not just ones that involve safety. Here's another example - Do you allow a Scout, who's cooking food for his entire patrol (and not taking advice), to ruin dinner for eight boys so he (the one Scout) can learn a lesson? How do you justify that to the seven other boys?

 

I love Scoutsbut lets be real. They are boys. We are adults. They will act like boys about 50 to 100 percent of the time. Sometimes (not usually, but occasionally) we have to act like adults and step inwhen common sense tells us to do so.

 

OkayI'm done. Both of these issues are pet peeves of mine. Just my opinion

 

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I agree with Rooster7 that many BSA policies are intentionally fuzzy. And that the purpose of that fuzziness is to allow flexibility for the unit to interpret the policies, using common sense. And as jmcquillan pointed out, to follow the spirit of the Scout Promise and Scout Law. I believe our unit has an obligation to write by-laws. For if we do not, then individual leaders, committee members, and parents will interpret BSA policy to suit their own dispositions. And those interpretation will sometimes differ, leading to conflicts in the unit. It is because of these conflicts that as a unit we need to all get on the same page. By-laws will do that for us.

 

Our committee feels it prudent to REQUIRE that all our Scouts use transportation approved by the committee and covered under our tour permit. There is nothing in any BSA publication Im aware of that exempts any Scout from this, regardless of what Dad wants to do. I completely respect Bob Whites interpretation of that policy, and he will probably never have a problem. But our committee prefers a more stringent interpretation.

 

Even that bold lettering in the Guide to Safe Scouting can be fuzzy. One would think that the BSA two-deep leadership rule would be above question. The policy, in bold lettering says Two registered adult leaders, are required for all trips or outings. Then in the very next sentence, also in bold lettering, it says There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when no adult leadership is required. I would hate to be in a unit where adults start deciding that they have instances where only one leader is needed, or no leader is needed!

 

Weve taken lots of trainings. Between the individuals working on these by-laws, weve completed at least ten different trainings including Woodbadge. One of our committee members is the district training chair. As Bob White pointed out, training and knowledge of the program should come before by-laws.

 

Bob White, I would really value your comments and input. Would you be willing to review a draft?

 

 

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Good exchange of opinion. I think we are really working to the core of the issue here. For instance. There is nothing vague about the bold print policies in the Guide to Safe Scouting. The example raised by fscouter is right in line with what I'm saying "get training first". The Guide tells you you need two deep adult leadership in troop activities with some exceptions such as patrol activities where no adult leadership is required. Fscouter, the guide is very exact, you either need two adults or no adults!

 

Here is how the patrol method has worked since the beginning of the program. A troop is not divided into patrols..patrols come together to form a troop. The Patrol is the basic element of scouts. Patrols are boy lead, as such if you read page-20 of the Official Boy Scout Handbook it says "with the permission of your Scoutmaster and your parent or guardian, your patrol may go on its own to camp, hike, and conduct special projects". "On its own" means without adults. This does not mean multiple patrols can go, for when patrols gather that is a troop and the BSA says that a minimum of two adults must accompany a troop. "Train them, Trust them, Let them lead" Lord Robert Stephenson Baden-Powell.

 

Lets look at Adult committees making "policies". On page 13 of the Troop Committee Guide. There ia a specific list of the 12 duties of a troop committee. None of the responsibilities require any written policies other than those few which are already covered by the BSA in either policy or program recommendations.

 

Should boys dictate rules to adults (yes, actually they can in some cases, remember it's thier program, the PLC makes the decisions that the control the troop and patrol). The scoutmasters #1 job is to train junior leaders, if you feel your scouts cannot lead you need to look at what is being done to teach them. "if the learner hasn't learned, then the teacher hasn't taught".

 

Should the committee dictate rules to the boys, not beyond the scope of their responsibilities as outlined in the Troop Committee Guide and explained during New Leader Essentials and The Troop Committee Challenge. Get trained first!

 

Would I let a troop stay up until 3 A.M. it depends. The PLC would have to submit a program plan. What will they be doing? How will it benifit others? What Aims of scouting would be met through their activity? (I think they would have trouble defending a 3 a.m. decision, but they would learn from the experience of decision making.

 

Hey, it's a free country, micro-manage all you want if that's your kick. But keep in mind that is not the Scouting program and there is difference between Scouting and doing things in a scout uniform.

 

Post bullets of your final policy plan, we would all like to see your choices. I hope after you attend training you realize what a tiny list it would be.

 

Bob

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I think it's still called Scouting, just not Scouting according to "Bob". (Sorry, that's my one shot for the day) There's a difference between micro-managing and setting boundries. By your philosophy, the boys need not justify their actions to you. And...What if they felt their actions were defendable, but you didn't? Are you suppose to pretend that they know better - because it's 'boy run'? Again, I'm not saying step in and stop them every time you see something wrong, but sometimes common sense does scream out for an adult.

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Not wanting to be oversensitive, but I think I have the right to defend the "scouting according to Bob " comment. everything I have said is from the resources of the BSA. I have given book and page references as part of my discussion. I see few others doing so. Everything I've presented is the official program, which is available to any volunteer through a variety of official sources. As I say it's not scouting just because you wear a scout uniform. Scouting is the implementation of the methods of scouting to achieve the aims of scouting.

 

Secondly, let's not forget that a major way we gained our common sense was from the errors we mad as we grew. If you do not allow the scouts to make their own decisions and learn from them you delay the learning process.

 

According to the scouting program (not scouting by Bob) the time to step in is when someone could be injured or if a law of the community or scouting would be violated. Otherwise teach them good decision making BUT don't make decisions for them.

 

That is scouting!

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Bob - re: six monthly reviews. I keep forgetting that you blokes have P/L's for short periods. Seems fair enough your way. Still prefer not to write policies though regardless of whether it is a moral, leadership or interpersonal relationship lesson to be learned.

 

This has been an interesting thread. Some good stuff here everybody.

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