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Troop Policy??

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Since my comment started this thread I feel I must elaborate. The policy of having Eagle required merit badges done within the troop was a troop policy compromise, and is a fairly new (one year old) policy. It is not backed by National an so is not enforcible. Our SM felt that boys earning Eagle required badges at Merit Badge Colleges were not going to get the same quality of instruction and experience that they would get within the troop. Once a year in February our troop runs an "in home" Merit Badge College, if you will. The boys can select from a number of Eagle required and other badges and we have breakouts after the business meetings for a month to work on these badges. IMHO I think the boys get out what they put in, whether or not they earn it individually, in a large MB college or within the troop. At any rate the individual scout can always petition the SM to take the badge elsewhere and I have yet to see him say no.

 

I personally have no objections to having parents sign their own kids badges if they do the work at the same time with other scouts. I trust other parents integrity, I presume they trust mine.

 

My boy has earned badges in groups, at camp, at MB colleges and on his own with counselors (with the required friend, scout or relative). His individual experiences doing the whole badge or doing prereq.s for MB Colleges have been the most involved and the most work. I have not found doing the Eagle required badges within the troop has provided a "better" experience.

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Bob,

The reason I never signed off on my son's merit badges & won't let other leaders sign off their son's merit badges is simple. If something regarding a badge comes into question, I don't want the Scout being compromised because his dad signed off on the badge. I'm not explaining this real well am I?

 

OK. I work in a bank (this is a fact). When I use to underwrite credit applications, I never looked at one that was from a friend, acquiantance or family member. Why??? I didn't want to put myself in a position that might be questioned because I knew the person.

 

I hope this explains it.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

 

 

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Ed, I agree with you. It's not that I don't trust other scouts or the parents. I think the boy gains a lot more by working with the other adults. Also, I have more patience with someone else's child than my own. Because of human nature, there are times when I've been working with a group of boys that included my son and a personal fight started between me and him. That doesn't help anyone and distracts from the other boys.

 

This weekend camping, my son wanted me to go ask one of the other adults to sign off on something. He thought I could just tell them he had done it and they would sign. I refused. In this case, he was taking the easy way out. I have been his Webelos leader, and tried to be as fair as possible. I was probably harder on him at times than others, but he didn't learn the part about working with others.

 

I don't think of it so much as a hard and fast policy but a general agreement among the adults. The troop encourages the parents to work with the boy to learn the skills but not to sign off. That makes me feel better that someone else says "yes he can do this."

 

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Ed,

it's not that I don't understand your point of view. It's just that the BSA, who has the sole legitimate authority over all advancement rules and regulations, not says a parent can, its says the unit and individuals cannot say they can't.

 

It's a simple matter of who is empowered by the Boy Scouts of America to make that decision. In the case of Advancement only the BSA can decide. The decision is that parents, as long as they are qualified and registerd, can sign.

 

If you question the adult's qualifications you can ask the Council Advancement Committee to review the qualifications. Unless they remove the adult from being a registered merit Badge Counselor it is out of your hands.

 

Bob

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Bob,

I think you missed my point.

 

If a parent of a Scout signs off on a lot of merit badges this could come into question. It makes no difference if the parent is the most qualified person in the whole world. The question might come up about the Scout earning the badges his parent signed off or was he just "given" the badges. I don't want my Scouts to be in that position.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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Ed,

I understand your point completely. But a non- parent is just as capable as being too easy on the requirements as a parent. The odds do not change. In either case if the scout has met with a registered MB Counselor and the card has been signed, people can question all they want but they can't take back the Merit Badge.

 

Regardless of your personal feelings toward the topic or how well intentioned your actions, the fact remains that you do not have the authority to make that rule. If a scout brings in a Blue card signed by a qualified and registered MB counselor, even if they are a parent or other relative, you must accept it.

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Bob,

I know if a Scout brings my advancement chairman a signed blue card it must be accepted. I'm not disputing that fact. I am only trying to prevent any "gray area" stuff that might come up.

 

Got a question. If a Scout brings my advancement chairman a signed blue car & my advancement chairman ask the Scout some basic questions about the badge & the Scout is clueless, can he hold back the badge until the Scout demonstrates he actually earned the badge & wasn't just "given" the badge?

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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Ed,

 

NO.

 

Bob

 

PS

That's why it is necessary for for the Merit Badge counselors to be trained (sorry fo having to use that word again). If the District or Council recruits the counselor, then the District or Council is required to train them. If the unit recruits the counselor it is the units responsibility to train them. There is a Merit Badge Counselor Training syllabus available through the Council Service Center (they should provide it at no charge). It takes about 60-90 minutes as I recall.

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Ed and Bob, you are going back and forth about what is legal. I understand the reason for this discussion, but I think you may want to go beyond the pure legality under BSA rules. If a scout is clueless as to an item covered by the merit badge, I would think that this is a good opportunity to discuss, privately so as to not embarrass the scout, what it means to EARN a merit badge and remind the scout of the Scout Law, especially that a scout is trustworthy. Ultimately, if the scout resists and claims that he did complete the badge, and is just having a mental block, etc., the BSA rules do entitle him to the merit badge. If the scoutmaster has a good relationship with the scout, I think most scouts will acknowledge if they have shortcut the requirements and agree to correct the situation.

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This has come up before in this forum. Many leaders feel hamstrung because they know MB requirements weren't met or were liberally "interpreted" by counselors who weren't trained (nod to Bob White), were recruited locally in a "brother-in-law/dope deal" arrangement, or some other suboptimal arrangement. The basic problem is, I think, that we're collectively accustomed to "batting last"; that is, after all's said and done, we get the final vote. With the MB process, it's not that way. The unit leader (SM) vote is at the front end. If an MB counselor is "questionable", or the summer camp program for a particular badge or badges is unsat in the SM's opinion, his veto is up front by not signing the blue card (approval to begin working on the badge) under those circumstances.

 

I repeat, that's one area of the BSA program where our input seems bass-ackwards -- at the beginning instead of at the end. But, that's the way it is. I found this out the hard way once when I knew there was no way a particular MB requirement could have been met at this camp, because I was there as a unit leader. Frankly, I thought the Scouts would come home with a partial and we'd pick up the missing requirement in a troop activity later. Much to my surprise, I got handed a half-dozen completed blue cards after camp, and had to bite the bullet. I look a lot more closely now at blue card applications and counselors, especially at camp environments...

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I think the lesson in this is that, quality control needs to come first not last. Adults in positions of MB Counselors, Scoutmasters, Troop Advancement Chair, District and Council Advancement Committees and Camp Program Directors, need to know the advancement program's methods, requirements and rules. They also need to follow them so that the scouts don't lose out.

 

If we do not insure that the MB instruction and testing is correct, once the blue card is signed it's too late. All we can do then is work to improve or remove the counselor. It's easier to do things right to begin with.

Bob

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