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The more I learn about BSA and the more I hear and see how different troops run, the more amazed I am. There is a program that has been well researched and is constantly being refined and reviewed. There are lots of resources from BSA to help everyone along the way. Everyone wants to talk about not having unit option on some issues but how many units are alike? How many really follow the BSA program and how many blatantly go against BSA rules?


Here are some things Ive read on this or other internet forums, things Ive seen first hand, things Ive heard second hand and even things I have been taught at the district level.



Ive been doing this for umpteen-dozen years, I know what Im doing.

We have attendance requirements, we can do that.

My rank gives me the right to tell that Tenderfoot to clean the latrine.

Drop and give me 10 push ups.

Well, in the military we.

This is close enough to the uniform, its not that important.

MY troop can change the requirements if we want.

Lets MAKE the boys go to this event because it is real easy to get Eagle required badges there.

Look how many Eagles we had this year (never mind our retention rate is the pits).

All boys drop out by the time they are 15, better get them to Eagle quick!

Once they make Eagle they quit coming to meetings and there is nothing we can do about that.

The boys should make Eagle within 3 years if they just show up for stuff.

Its the parents fault if the boys drop out. (especially those divorced parents)

Retention rate of 50% is okay.

Its not MY fault if the boy doesnt like scouting.

If you dont like the way MY troop is run, then find another or start your own.

The boys put up the adults tents and cook for the adults.

Its okay for Webelos to show up for that Camporee and compete in the competitions; they dont need to be with a troop.

We follow the rules, except..(fill in the blank) but its okay. No one has complained.

Adults yelling at boys MOVE. MOVE. MOVE. What are you, a bunch of girls? You sissies!

Threatening boys with pushups or latrine duty is a good way to get them to behave and to show leadership.

You mean we should really have a patrol flag?

A boy with the Arrow of Light award on his uniform BETTER know how to tie 6 different knots when he joins Boy Scouts.

Humiliation in front of your peers makes a man out of you.

Hes been shown how to tie that knot before, now he can sit over there with the book until he gets it right. I am NOT showing him again and neither is anyone else.

From a boy Im the troop instructor, that means I dont have to do anything myself, I instruct others on how to do it. The scoutmaster told me so.




And just to be fair, here are parents comments Ive heard:


Im supposed to let my son go off for the weekend without me?????

Hes not old enough to use a knife.

What if he forgets something?

What if it rains?

They have to cook for themselves? Eleven year olds cant do that.

Why did my boy come home dirty from the campout?

I dont want the boys out of my eyesight.

Boys cant be expected to cook and clean up for themselves.

That boy is not old enough to be a patrol leader.

Why is that boy a patrol leader? He doesnt have any experience.

Youre picking on my son.

Why dont those other boys behave better?



Now, if someone would be so kind as to help me down off this soapbox, I would greatly appreciate it. :)



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::extending hand up to sctmom::




First I would would like to thank the lovely and gracious sctmom for opening this thread, I had a similar idea but she has started it off so very well.


As you give your thoughts, I would like to know how many scouters here do not have a son (or daughter) in the pack, troop, or crew in which you are invovled. In my area almost all of the scouters on the unit level have children in the units. I would like to know how common it is to be a scouter without a youth in the program.

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We have a Committee of 24 members. Of these, 3 of us do not have, nor have we had scouts in the Troop. 6 members had scouts previously in the troop and are still active even though their sons are now over 18. In addition, we also have 6 former scouts who are now in college and are active when their time permits.

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Glad you asked.....I just outlined my situation on the Woodbadge thread so I won't repeat it all but as a new Scoutmaster I have to tell you that some people are "winging it" because, in my opinion, the basic training (scout leader specific training) doesn't cover many of the (what I call) practical aspects of the program. Lots of philosophy, game playing, team building (not all bad) but short on other things...like problems with parents, junior leader training techniques(found the books on my own later), retention issues, the rules you are talking about and a host of other issues that would have been useful to discuss. Rules are easy to follow when one knows what they are. It took me a whole day to figure out how to get a copy of the BSA Rules and Regulations (pub# 57-492) and the BSA Bylaws (pub# 57-491) and only because someone emailed me an answer "off-line". You can't get them on the BSA website. Not a single person on this website answered my question of how to get copies. I was told on a side bar that "they" (some of the paid professionals) don't want us volunteers to have copies...dangerous to know too much. That most likely is not absolutely true but it sure is the impression some have. My DE, however, has been very helpful in getting me a copy. My only question is why wasn't I handed a copy when I signed up? And why wasn't I told that BSA rules/regs/bylaws even existed during training? Now someone will sharpshoot this posting with things like "you don't need a bunch of rules...stick to the 8 methods...you were told all you need to know in training...follow the Scout oath and law, etc, etc... OUT OF TOUCH...most adults like to know the big picture (where the forset is) before we start whacking down trees....and most importantly in this litigation crazed society we have allowed to prosper I, for one, would like to know more than "think happy thoughts and follow the patrol method". Some troops and even districts do things because "that's the way we did it last year"....and you (newguy) are not allowed to express your opinion(especially if it's a rule/reg or bylaw or great new idea). If we want your opinion we'll give it to you. Things like that get me on my soapbox also...it's a character flaw of mine.

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I inherited my soapbox from my family...we all do it..lol.


Dan, you have a good point. Why not hand you a copy of the rules when you sign up? The Cub Scout Leader's book does a much better job of explaining the rules. Seems like the rules and regulations would be handed to every volunteer -- SM's, ASM's, and Committee Members. Also, the parents need to know the rules.


Not just in Scouting, but in so many things in life I see adults who want to do the minimum to get by. Have just enough of a program to say "we did it".


As OGE asked in another thread, why wouldn't you want to provide opportunities for every boy to get to First Class?


Shouldn't we be wondering why we have a 50% drop rate? Maybe it's not THEM, maybe it is US. Don't we want the boys to have fun and learn stuff? Don't we want that for all the youth who walk through the door?


Our troop has had quite a few new Eagles in the past year. Seventy percent of them have parents who are very active in the troop. I'm not saying these boys got special treatment, because I have seen no evidence of that. It might be a good argument for having parents involved. Yet, it makes me wonder about the majority of the boys whose parents aren't involved for various and sundry reasons. Who is watching out for them? The parents don't know how to "coach" them at home. I know that I need to remind my son before the troop meeting of what he needs to go ask the ASM. Do the other parents? I doubt it. I know what to remind my son to work on at home. I know I need to help him learn to tie that knot. How many of the parents think that will be taught in the meetings until he learns it?


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Our troop also has had a run of Eagles. When my son startd with the troop there were about 7 boys who started together, all were totally gung ho, as were their families. Of those 7 families 11 trained adult leaders emerged. As you may imagine, all 7 boys are Eagle or nearly so and most have served as SPL. It got to a point that the word was you had to have an ASM or committee member as a parent to be SPL. Of course not, but it seemed that way. Kids with invovled parents tend to do better than kids with apathetic parents (who knew?) Educators will tell you a kid with limited academic ability but a committed family will nearly always blow by the more intelligient student with a shambles of a home life.


Anyway, a general comment I have is how much I have learned over the past two year posting on this forum. How much deeper the Boy Scout program is than I ever imagined. I also have to comment that the quality of program is so diverse its scary. When I meet other adults and talk gets around to hobbies, I always say I am a scouter and made Eagle as a scout. Most of the men I meet always say they were in scouts, most dropped out before they made first class usually because the SM was such a pain, or we never did anything or I wanted to be a scout, but I played sports. It bothers me when I hear that from adults and I wonder how much different the reasons from the kids of scout age now will be, likely not much.



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I would like to know how common it is to be a scouter without a youth in the program.



In my area it is rare. I used to get funny/suspicious looks when Scouters found out I was actually an adult vounteer and not a youth. In the troop I have been with for the last 8 years I have been the only one until this year when two of our Eagles turned 18.


I just want to teach the Scout Oath and Law and provide a better Scouting experience than I had and I think I had a fantastic Scouting experience. Thanks Dad.


I've heard most of those and was occasionaly guilty of one of two but we learn, correct and go forward.

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I'm with you. The kids who seem to do the best have parents who "get it"...meaning involved with their kid. Sadly there are some good boys who get no attention at home. Dad seems to ignore them...would rather play golf. Mom has to get her aerobic workout in. (Have a high handicap, stay fat and raise your kid is my motto) They never come to any Scout stuff. My concern is that we will lose these guys when they get older unless we have a program that is so "cool" they can't refuse it. I am bound and determined to have such a program.

Bob White tells me there isn't much in the BSA Rules/bylaws that are useful. I have been kinda frustrated in my journey as a Scoutmaster but will admit that my situation is probably odd(go to "Is Woodbadge over as we know it" thread to read). I do however hold to my believe that the initial training I received could be tweaked a bit.

Advancement...I have read a lot about advancement on this site and some people treat it like a bad word. Not only do I agree with OGE...Why would you not want to provide the opportunity fo every boy to make First Class?...but I'll hang it out further...Why would you not want to provide the opportunity(this being the operative word) for every boy to achieve Eagle? Advancement is one of the 7 methods of Scouting. All of our Eagles credit someone with "pushing" them when the going got tough. If you have ever done anything really hard it is sometimes helpful to be "pushed". Eagle is attainable by all boys willing to stick with the program. Do you know why Eagle is such a big deal on some college applications and things like ROTC scholarships? Because it's a "gut check". The boy had the perserverance to set a long term goal and follow it to completion. That's much of what getting through college is...not brains, just "gutting it out". Kinda like the 5 mile hike for 2nd Class we did this weekend. Put one foot in front of the other for about three hours and you'll accomplish the task.

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I am a Scouter with no youth in the program. I'm single and when I became Cubmaster a number of years ago, the pack ran a background check on me.


As far as your comments, sctmom: being in a rural council, I have heard all these statements and more, especially concerning the council itself. As a Commissioner, I spend a lot of time debunking and correcting these attitudes among the Scouters I meet in my travels.


I agree that Eagles are good, but losing boys and especially older boys in a warning sign for a unit.


Scouting is about character development, citizenship training, physical and mental growth. The program should always be applied in the Pack or Troop, or it is not Scouting.


Training can help, but as you pointed out, some traininers add to the material with their own interpations of the BSA program.


We who are willing to follow the program, must be willing to evangelize (tell it to all) the Scouters and parents who don't follow the program.

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Great post sctmom

My head hurts from hitting it against a wall. I've learned quite a bit from reading and participating in these forums (much thanks to Bob White). I look at the Boy Scout program as a recipe and myself as a novice cook. If I follow the recipe I will most likely end up with a good product. If I start to change the recipe I will most likely end up with an inferior product. I know that our SM is tired of hearing me quote from the various resources but I've told him that it's not his program he is only the delivery man.


Dan I would like to know if you found anything of value in the rules and regs or bylaws.

Last night after our meeting I had a long conversation with my 11 year old. He has been acting different during the last several Scout activities. I asked him last night over an ice cream cone what was bothering him and after a fair amount of conversation he said that I was spending more time helping the other boys than I was him. He is right I do spend more time before, during and after meetings with the other boys. I told him that I was an ASM for every boy and not just him. I also explained that most of the boys parents are not involved in Scouting and that they don't get the attention at home that he does and that I want every boy to reach Eagle not just him. I think he understood but I know it's tough. I will not willingly leave any boy behind.



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I know that our SM is tired of hearing me quote from the various resources but I've told him that it's not his program he is only the delivery man.


Okay, I buy this. I understand that when we stray from the program that we are in affect breaking a promise. We should participate, and deliver the program, as BSA intended. I don't fault ScouterPaul or Bob White for such proclamations. They are simply staying true to their promise to BSA. Sure enough, this is honorable.


If I follow the recipe I will most likely end up with a good product. If I start to change the recipe I will most likely end up with an inferior product.


However, I think this is an overstatement. BSA has altered its program over the years. Does that mean the boys who were raised on the older version of the program suffered and are inferior products? If BSA alters the program in the future, does that mean the current products will be inferior to those boys? Let's remember that BSA is not a religion. It's a great program with honorable intentions. Yet, the decision makers in BSA are fallible. It's not unreasonable to believe that you have a better idea. It may not be honorable to incorporate it in the BSA program, but it doesn't necessarily mean you will be creating an "inferior product". I'm not suggesting that we divert from the program. I am saying, let's keep it in perspective. Otherwise, we might as well stop thinking for ourselves. And while BSA has a great recipe, there are areas in the program where they allow the leaders (adults and boys) "to season according to their taste".


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OOH OOH, I love seasoning


I admire good analogy


Anyway, maybe we can give examples of what is and isnt altering the program.


I believe a troop cannot have attendance requirements as a criteria for advancement, but may place an age limit (such as 14) for High Adventure Trips) or require performance proof(such as the first class swim test) for canoe trips


I also think it would be a good idea to require the adults to pass the first class swim test as well before they can go on a canoe trip.(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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On behalf of all us zealots who want to see the program followed... I have no problem with adding spice. Where I have a big problem is when you remove or alter main ingredients. When you don't allow patrol elections, train Junior leadres, Hold quarterly court of honors, lose 50% of new scouts, Make boys do stunts or exercises as punishments, change the uniform, treat the BSA as a junior military, alter advancement requirements, and have defended their actions with many of the lines in sctmom's original post. All things that individuals on this board have not only admitted to but to but have tried to persuade others to do.


A good cook will at least learn to prepare the original dish before experimenting with spices. However far to many leaders alter the program before they ever learn, or even try, to do it right.


Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Here are a few recipe changes:


"We don't need to have an annual planning conference because the boys don't have enough experience to know what they want to do. It's up to us (the leaders) to tell them"


"It's up to me (the SM) to appoint the boys to their leadership positions because the SPL (12 years old) is young"


"The Scoutmasters Handbook is only a guide it's up to me (SM) to determine what is best"


To me these are drastic changes in the recipe, not just adding a little spice. Doing things such as combining Patrols on outings if there are only a couple of boys from each patrol present makes sense. Nobody gets in a canoe if they haven't passed their swim test (unless they are riding with a BSA trained Lifeguard) this includes the adults as well as the Scouts.



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Actually OGE the spices you refer to are already part of the program and don't need to be added, just adhered to.


An example I would use is...Although a troop cannot set attendance requirements for advancement I know of no problem is settibg attendance requirements for participating in certain events. for instance if you are going to summer camp and have meetings to prepare for that, you can say that to attend camp you need to be at the meetings to make arrangements to get the info.


If I were a scout in a patrol I would not elect a PL who did not committ to being at 80% or more of troop and patrol activities.


I think a troop that did troop activities every other month and had patrols do activities on the in between months would have lots of spice. I woould even have recognitions for the patrol that the best attendance at their event, the most unique event, the highest adventure, the best plan, the best service project, etc.


I think a good spice is to have weekly door prizes. Any scout in a complete uniform can put his name in for a drawing. Or, have a bucket with slips of paper that each have a uniform piece written on it. you draw a slip and give a prize to any scout who is correctly wearing that piece.


Keep a wood burning tool handy , teach scouts how to use it. Give walking sticks to Boys as the earn first class and encourage tehem to record places and dates of campouts on the sticks.


Just some random thoughts.


Bob White

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