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SagerScout

OA Advice Sought

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Our troop of 13 has exactly one OA member, who became an OA member when in another troop. He is active in the local lodge.

 

The scoutmaster's 3 sons, all Life Scouts of 16 and17, are not eligible for OA as not one has ever attended a long-term camp, and I don't know if they've totted up 15 days total camping - if so, barely. They have severe asthma and outdoor allergies. They've had alternate badges approved for Eagle. For practical purposes they are the senior leadership of the troop - the oldest is SPL, another is the JASM, and the troop really doesn't have a functioning PLC. Although my son is a PL, there has not been a PLC meeting since his election in January. Basically the SPL, his brothers, his dad the SM and his mom the COR make most of the decisions or the troop as a whole votes. Naturally, they really have no interest in promoting camping, except the short beach campouts that they are able to do, especially as the SM will not let his sons camp without him. Hence, no interest in promoting or arranging OA membership.

 

But here's the problem: We have two boys - one is mine - who would love to be tapped out. One is First Class, mine is a Star scout. They went to an out-of-council camp last year together (they were the only two from our troop to go). It was the fourth summer camp for my son and the first for the other boy. They are going again this year to our council camp. Both camp outside of Scouts - have to, since our troop doesn't camp much because of the SM's sons asthma. They both have participated in almost every service project and Eagle project the troop has done all year- including several car washes, workday at the nursing home (Eagle project), and honor guard at the Memorial day service - a miserable three hours standing in the sun, and they are both coming back for it this year again despite knowing how tedious it is. They wear their uniforms correctly. My son has volunteered as a den chief and wants to be a staffer at cub camp this summer. The two of them want to try backpacking with me and my young adult son pretty soon. I think they'd be great Arrowmen, both of them, and I think I would say that even if one off them weren't mine. But how can they be when they're supposed to be elected in this troop that doesn't even talk about it? And how would the troop know who the good campers are when they rarely camp together?

 

Anyway, I'll be at summer camp this year with these two and one other new scout from our troop. I really hate to sit through the call-out and watch these two deserving and motivated scouts be passed up one more time. Can someone advise me?

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Sager,

You need to talk to the OA advisor in your district to see what can be done. He/she should be able to help.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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The main purpose of the OA is to promote unit camping, although many have lost sight of that fact. Having elections should not be an option of the Unit leader. OA is an integral part of the program and, next to Eagle, is one of the highest honors a Scout can receive. In an ideal world, your Unit Commissioner and OA Chapter Chief should be seeking out those units who have not scheduled elections and making sure it gets done. The Troop should also have an OA Representative as a youth leadership position. Where is the unit committee in all of this?

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The unit commissioner would not be the best person to go to for unit elections, unles he or she is a member of the OA. Even then, UC's cannot hold unit elections. You should contact your local OA chapter/clan for your district to see if a ceremony team and/or OA troop/team representative could do unit elections. It is the responsiblity of the second-vice-chief in your chapter to hold unit elections with the approval of the chapter advisor and scoutmaster of each unit. Your troop needs to be aware that the OA is a honor camper's society and that the main function the OA is service to their units. We are a brotherhood of cheerful service and obligated to serve our units with the leadership and knowledge we learn through the order. The unit committee does not approve nor dis approve any unit elections. It is due solely on the desgression of the scoutmaster.

 

WWW,

 

Dale

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I agree with the advice to contact the district OA advisor. If there is no one acting in that capacity find out the name of the council (lodge) advisor. I also agree that holding an election should not be an option of the unit leader, although many do decide to neglect this part of the program.

 

One word of caution. Nights camping has to be accumulated in activities under the "auspices and standards of BSA." Camping with the family or with other youth groups does not count. Also, the camping has to be done in 24 months preceding the election. You cannot simply count everything a youth has ever done if they have been in scouts more than 24 months.

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All good advice. If the Chapter is active, there should be an Election Committee. Your OA Lodge and/or District may have a website by now, and you can get info off of that, or an E-mail address to send your request to. If not, call your Council. They should have the info to give you. Sounds like the Scoutmaster needs to be reminded of his OA responsibilities, but come to think of it, is HE an OA member? If not, maybe that's why he's not supporting it. If he meets the OA requirements, have the Troop Committee and ASM's work through the process to get him appointed (adults aren't elected). Maybe this could be done at the same time that your youth have their election.

SagerScout, I know I've seen your name around abit, but I couldn't tell from this post if you are a registered/trained Scout leader and in the OA. Could the SM be a bit threaten by you pushing this? Yes, the Scouts deserve to have regular annual OA elections, but proceed appropriately. Sounds like you have a couple of good candidates. Keep us posted.

 

sst3rd

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The lack of OA elections seems to be a symptom, not the disease. You troop's real problem is the lack of an outdoors program and that it is run by a patriarchy, not the PLC.

 

The path of least resistance may be to work through your son and his patrol. Get them camping as a patrol. After they go out a time or two, the other patrols will want to follow suit.

 

The other, more direct route would be to have a conversation with the SM that you think the troop needs to camp more and, considering the situation with his sons, you are willing to headup the campouts if he is unable to. He may resist the idea, because he doesn't want his own sons to be left out. But nothing says you have to tackle K9 your first trip out. Start off with something easy and local where his boys can day trip if they need to.

 

Either way, once you get a campout or two under your belt, the natural progression will be for the boys to decide where they want to camp next and make all the plan. From that planning, you have the beginnings of a PLC.

 

I realize this is somewhat of a passive-aggressive approach, but creating a conflict the SM and his family will likely create more problems than it solves.

 

This deals only with the camping issue. Ultimately you want to try and get the troop back to true Scouting methods with an operating PLC, properly functioning committee, trained leaders, etc.

 

(P.S. -- just saw your other thread about rehabbing the troop generally. That's the direction you need to take.)(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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"The lack of OA elections seems to be a symptom, not the disease. You troop's real problem is the lack of an outdoors program and that it is run by a patriarchy, not the PLC."

 

Thanks...along with comments about this troop in another thread, THAT's why I suggested a Unit Commissioner ... if you have one who actually does what they are supposed to be doing. There's more wrong with this troop than the lack of OA elections.

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Thanks, everyone. For the general information pile, yes, I'm both a registered ASM and a trained leader. I'm also a volunteer in the GS program, and a volunteer trainer for the girl scouts. The SM is trained, and a great guy whose feelings I would never want to hurt - but he's of a personality that rejects information received that does not fit his world view.

 

I found out today that we've had 4 boys drop out. Wonder why? So we're down to 9.

 

My son's patrol is only 4 boys - one of them is one of the scoutmaster's 3 sons- but I'd be tickled to see them go camp together, and am perfectly OK with helping make it so. There is, however, a shortage of other parents to come along, although my husband would be willing.

 

On balance, the nice thing about this troop is that it does provide a place for some boys who are NOT super-jock kids, and who DO have genuine health issues. My own son is in this category too - asthma and anxiety. While in the welcoming and comfortable lap of this troop he has made great strides - GREAT strides, I can't say it loud enough - in his ability to cope, which is why I'm not too anxious to remove him or us. For instance, last summer he had an humiliating anxiety-driven lockup in a canoe in a scout canoe race, and after a quick briefing on his anxiety problems the boys were all totally supportive, no teasing about it at all. Pretty hard to find that level of acceptance anywhere, and the irony of it is that I think that the acceptance is what has improved him so much. It hasn't happened since. (The unmerciful harassment he experienced in public school over similar types of problems had him ready for the insane asylum.)

 

But to return to the down side, the troop has only had two overnight camping opportunities since December - one in January, and they didn't stay over because the SM's wife (the COR and CC) fell and broke a bone in her wrist (we were out of state and couldn't attend), and then the local camporee. The SM camped with us but his sons weren't well and went home to sleep, which I considered reasonable. But, well, gee, overall, that's not much camping, is it? My girl scouts go further and do more, and they are considerably younger than the average in this troop.

 

I think I will try the subtle approach and try to get my son onboard as a true boy leader of his patrol, and see what we can work out. Stand by for reports.

 

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If you can't get the Troop to a long-term camp, look into the possibility of sending individual scouts as "Provisional campers". THis is when a scout attends as a guest of another troop...every year we have one attend with us and it is always a positive experience (win-win!). Reasons can run the gamut from just wanting another week at camp to get more merit badges to family calendar conflicts.

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We are already taking the only 3 boys who want to go to camp. The other 6 will not go because of one or more of the following: they heard it is hot, the latrines are dirty, their parents can not go because of work, there might be bugs, they might have asthma problems (which objection does apply to my own son, but we don't consider it a reason to stay home, just a reason to pack drugs), and mom has never heard anything good about camp.

 

There's little reason to go for merit badges as the troop provides optional merit badge classes with very generous counselors on a weekly basis.

 

My son is going to try to set up his patrol for a mid-week campout somewhere nearby (mid-week so that the park won't be too crowded. ) We'll see how it goes.

 

Julia

 

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When you fell you have tried all the options that would have you staying in the same troop. Could moving to a new troop be a posibility ?

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If you or others in your troop are eligable for the Order of the Arrow, you must contact your Chapter Unit Election team. Then it will be up to the other youth in your troop to elect those they think our worthy of this honor. The Order of the Arrow is Scouting's National Honor Society, it is the only organization in which non-members elect new members. I hope this helps, I am a vigil member of my Lodge.

 

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The other 6 will not go (to camp) because of one or more of the following:

 

they heard it is hot,

yeah? so don't they have a lake or a pool? Besides, isn't it hot EVERYWHERE in Texas in the summer???

 

the latrines are dirty,

Well, yeah - but how much time do you plan to spend in the latrines, anyway? (at least they're not MOMS and don't have to SIT in 'em! LOL)

 

their parents can not go because of work,

My best vacation time is with my son at camp - where else can you get a good health spa for that kind of Money? i probably loose at least 10 lbs there every year!

 

there might be bugs,

i dunno about you - but we've got bigger bugs at home, and no campfires, we can't see the stars close into the city, or the wildlife that goes along with those bugs and critters

 

they might have asthma problems

We have allergies - that's what drugs are for. Are you gonna stop living because of a fixable health problem? you can have asthma at home, too!

 

and mom has never heard anything good about camp.

boy could I tell HER stories! A kid has not lived until they've gone on a snipe hunt, stayed up all night to watch a meteor shower, passed his swim test, told ghost stories by the fire, Shot an arrow or a perfect rifle target, burned his own dinner, conquered homesickness, dumped a canoe, and had a million other adventures you find only at summer camp. If a boy goes home from camp with his bag overstuffed with "crafts" he made, brown as a nut (from dirt and suntan)full of skeeter bites and so tired he sleeps for 24 hours - it was a great experience for him!

 

There's little reason to go for merit badges as the troop provides optional merit badge classes with very generous counselors on a weekly basis.

maybe they do - but what about Archery and shooting? and the waterfront badges? those are kinda tough to do in meetings. Wilderness survival? Pioneering? orienteering? the nature badges? they lend themselves to an outdoor setting. I can't help but think the boys are missing out on the meaning behind these badges if they hardly ever camp?

 

your TROOP should encourage participation in summer camp whether particular members are into it or not. It should be offered and available to EVERY scout. If you don't have enough boys to make up a unit at camp one your own you could see if you could pal up with another troop and have you boys attend with them as a separate camp patrol. If they have a good time, and talk about it, they may convince others from the troop to try it.

 

Aside from OA - the Camping Badge is required for Eagle - needing 20 nights of camping - how are these boys supposed to have a chance at that if they only camp twice a year and never go to summer camp? (and I assume some have never gone camping?) and cabin camping doesn't count, either!

 

 

I think you are on the right track in trying to get patrol outings started, especially if you do them nearby, so the boys with true illnesses can come for the day - if not at night. Hook them little by little - but then, plan something really cool for nights - so they'll WANT to stay and feel they're missing out if they don't. A big bonfire. Get up at 3 am for a star hike. Go fishing at the crack of dawn and watch a sunrise. Eat breakfast in the canoes on the water. have them make their own shelters out of tarps and lashings to sleep in. stuff like that.

 

good luck on getting them charged up!

 

 

 

 

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"they might have asthma problems

We have allergies - that's what drugs are for. Are you gonna stop living because of a fixable health problem? you can have asthma at home, too!"

 

I just want you to know that asthma is not an allergy problem. It is a reactive airway disease, also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmanary Disease (COPD). As a serious asthmatic, I find that statement to be very rude. I understand that a Scout is to be prepared and to make sure they have their medications, but also remember that a Scout is to be courteous, helpful, and kind. Asmthma however, is not a fixable problem: there is no known cure. It is idiopathic, where the medications help relieve acute bronchial spasms temporaily. Regardless of my condition, I am in the OA (Lodge and Section EMT Advisor) and that hasn't stopped my function as a Scout leader. It may have limited my outdoor activities and please understand that just because a Scout may limit their activities doesn't make them a lesser Scout.

 

As an adult leader, I would certainly hope that you would follow all points of the Scout Law and not continue to make comments as these.

 

Perhaps this was not your intention, but please reconsider your statements in the future.

 

YIS,

 

Dale

 

ps. Oh and by the way... asthma is a "true illness"

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