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Scout return after prolonged absence

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I have a 17 year old scout who would like to return after over 2 years absence. He left as a Life scout, short only 2 MBs and a project for his Eagle. His absence began following an incident with an asst. scoutmaster ~ neither one was completely right or wrong, but both the scout and his parents were quite upset about some judgemental remarks that were made. Subsequently, the scout's school life got very demanding and the two issues combined contributed to his prolonged absence. Some members of the committe are reluctant to welcome him back, their feelings being to allow his return after so long an absence to finish his eagle would dilute the award in the eyes of the other troop members who have maintained continous attendance and supported the troop program. I know basic philosophy is do what's best for the boy and I would hate to see his earlier work go to waste, but I also don't want to discourage our more dedicated members. Any info on policy or advice would be greatly appreciated, I'll need some good references to convince the committee & scoutmasters. Thank You

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Why would anybody resist the idea of a boy finishing his eagle? Has he met all other requirements as well? It seems to me that a boy returning to the fold is cause for celebration, not what comes across as spiteful resentment.

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Welcome him back with open arms. However, if he wants to earn Eagle, make sure he does all of the requirements faithfully. That is to say, he should be active, fullfill his leadership role (if still needed), complete the two badges as prescribed, and finish a project that meets the necessary critera (for Eagle). In short, my concern with any 17-year that comes back after a prolonged absence, is this - Is he coming back to do the minimum (or less than the minimum, which unfortunately I have seen) so he can put "Eagle" on his resume? - OR - Is he coming back to be a real member of the troop and truly earn his Eagle rank? Bottom Line: I say be friendly and receptive, but don't bend any requirements.

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Is there anything different between a scout comming back at 17 and finishing Eagle after a two year absence or having a 15 year old make Eagle and stop comming forever?


Make sure the requirements are done, just as they must be done for any scout, and welcome him back. If the troop cant see it clear to take him, help him find another troop he can transfer to.



Matt 18: 10-14

Luke 15: 11-32

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If the Scout has met all the requirements of Eagle, then he should be advanced. A Scout I worked with waited almost 3 years after he completed his project to finish the merit badges for Eagle. Scouts just sit out it in many cases. The average age of an Eagle is 17 years, 8 mos. This is because they often wait until the end.


In this case, the committee should look at the overall goal of the Scouting program and how if they deny the Scout his Eagle, are they fulfilling the purpose of the Scouting advancment program? One of things we are trying to teach the Scouts is how life works in a safe environment where they cannot get hurt by most of the consquences. A Scout who has met the requirements should be advanced to the Board of Review to allow them to make the final determination. The BOR should feret out any problems with the time delay.


Just my humble opinion.



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Not unless the committee and the scoutmasters are holding a grudge, it shouldn't even be an issue. Let's see the several points of the scout law should be examined:


- A Scout is Loyal.

A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation. At least this scout is still true to the scouting spirit by coming back and the Scouters should respect that.

- A Scout is Helpful.

A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward. The scouters should help this scout to achieve his goal and not to push him away.

- A Scout is Friendly.

A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own and so should the Scouters be as well!

- A Scout is Courteous.

A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along. The scouters should set this example by let bygones be bygones.

- A Scout is Kind.

A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing, especially a scouter to a former scout.

- A Scout is Cheerful.

A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy. Again the scouters should practice this and take him back with opened arms.

- A Scout is Thrifty.

A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property. The Scouters should help this scout to achieve his goals as an Eagle.


What could we as Scouters gained by prevent a boy from completing his Eagle dream? On the other hand, we as a nation and as fellow citizens can gain a lot from molding a young man into something that we all (as Scouters) believed in!


Not only the scouts should practice and live by the Scout Law, but the adult leaders and scouters as well!



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What if he was 14 or 15 years old and entering Scouts for the first time? Or, what if this was a boy who had been in Scouts but had to quit because of parent priorities (had to move because Dad is being transferred due to job or military obligations)?


There seems to be a desire to punish the boy on the part of some adults. This misses the point of using Scouting to help boys.


Welcome him back in. Also, do something about the other adults-- they still have some unresolved issues to work out. Otherwise, this boy may have more than the usual hurdles to overcome.

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Welcome him back.

Rooster, What does it matter whether he is back for the minimum requirements. The minimum is the ultimate. We can't add or take away from that. Remember that requirement number two is "Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life." How can we add to that? If he does less than that, he doesn't earn it.


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First, I agree that the boy should get the rank if he completes the requirements. I am not suggesting that his troop should make it more difficult for him than others. I am suggesting that they should not overlook shortfalls.


What I meant by the "minimum", is an attitude of "I'm not here to help anyone else, but me". If he's truly earning the rank, he should be active in his troop. He should not be some kid who shows up and works with the adults on the side to achieve Eagle. He should be a member of the troop.


In my sons' troop, we have seen about 12 to 15 boys become Eagle over the last three years. At least three of these boys, left the troop for extended periods of time to enjoy other pursuits (sports, friends, girls, cars, etc.) - i.e. the usual kind of things boys in high school pursue. I do not fault them for that. However, when they returned to "earn" their Eagle rank, their efforts seemed dishonorable and deficit. That is to say - how the other boys related to them, whether or not they helped anyone else, whether or not the troop was successful, how well they completed their assignments (badge requirements, taught skills, etc.), whether or not they completed service work, etc. - NONE of that seemed to matter to them. They wanted to do the absolute minimal effort, whatever a leader or merit badge counselor would accept (not the minimum requirement, but even less if that's what they could get away with). Unfortunately, some leaders and counselors, knowing that a boy is under a time constraint, tolerate this kind of thing and will still sign a boy off on a requirement (even if it was less then satisfactory). I have seen this numerous times. Most boys in my troop earn their rank. However, I'd venture to say that about 10 to 20 percent get by with doing less than they should. Very often its because they waited until the last six months to earn Eagle and the said people cut them "slack". I realize that the root of this problem is with the adults - the leaders and counselors that "take pity" on these boys. However, these boys take full advantage of the situation. They are not nave. So, as I previously stated - Be friendly and receptive, but don't bend any requirements for latecomers.

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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I tend to lean in your direction on this issue. The one addition I would make is that the scout needs to have a scoutmasters conference specifically about his returning to active service. (Having read your posts for while, I know this would happen anyway, but it should be mentioned) He needs to know that he is welcome and the troop is glad to have him. He also needs to know what is expected of him in the way of fulfilling all remaining requirements and what is required of him in the way of being an ACTIVE member of the troop. If he is willing to commit to being a full fledged member of the troop again then I see no problems. If, as I too have seen in the past, he just wants to put in the absolute minimum effort necessary and has little or no regard for the other members of the troop or the program then perhaps another troop (where there is no history) would be a better choice.

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Amazing! We have almost the same situation in our Troop, with one possible exception. The Scout in question has no handbook, records, individual history report, MB blue cards, etc. here with him --either he didn't think there would be Scouting opportunities here or thought he was done for good when they moved here.


We've tried contacting the former troop/district by e-mail, and finally wrote a letter to get his records. Since he's close to six months out from his 18th birthday, we decided it would be best to hedge our bets and appoint him to a leadership position to get the six months' leadership, have linked him up with MB counselors for the ones he knows he still needs, and he knows he needs to put a project on the fast track.


I can understand how, from the outside looking in, a troop committee could be perceived as "reluctant" to get on board in such a situation. After all, a Life Scout doesn't earn his Eagle on his own -- it takes the active support and genuine commitment of the Troop and the Committee to help him make it happen. I think that after an extended absence, committee questions concerning the Scout's motivation and his level of commitment are appropriate. When it's crunch time, which it is if you're a 17-year old Life Scout, that motivation and commitment must be most intense from the Scout himself. Jnowinski, perhaps the Scout in your situation needs to communicate these "intangibles" more clearly to the unit leaders.


At any rate, our troop and committee stands ready to support our Life Scout who has chosen to do this as a "100-yard dash" rather than a "marathon", and has told him and his family exactly what he needs to do between now and next summer. Ultimately, we're presenting the opportunities, it's up to him to take advantage of them. We, too, will not cut any corners, and incidentally, have two other Life Scouts who are both engrossed in their projects and close to finishing their requirements. They haven't complained about this, and knowing those two, they never would. The way we're dealing with it is to stick to the requirements and ensure that all candidates complete them in accordance with BSA policy...what else can you do?


For what it's worth, we're not interested in why he was inactive -- doesn't matter as far as I'm concerned. He's back now, and if he meets the requirements, we're having an Eagle COH sometime this summer...



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One of the requirements for Eagle (and Star and Life) is to "Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life."


If the boy in question follows what Rooster decribes as minimal effort, he should not pass the Scout Spirit requirement.


By all means, welcome him back.

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Hi KoreaScouter:


I am sure you are aware that you have an option to file an extension on behalf of your Eagle candidate, if the boy's original unit/district is slow to respond to your request for his records. I believe you have to show that the circumstances are beyond the candidate's control.


On a side note, just for my curiosity, what are the projects your Eagle Scout candidates perform in your community overseas? I started Scouting on Okinawa, and I don't remember any of the boys in my troop achieving the Eagle Scout distinction, so I don't know what type of projects they would do.


Keep on Scoutin' ora

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