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New Troop & OA Elections

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We are a new troop (Nov 07) and were not planning on conducting OA elections this year until we had two boys complete First Class in May and also met the camping requirements. We didn't know who to contact for OA elections so we ended up asking the summer camp OA rep to conduct the elections for us.


The OA rep showed the video and explained the process. Two boys abstained from voting. Voting was conducted by having the boys bow their heads, close their eyes, and raise/not raised their hands after each name. After voting only one of the two eligible Scouts was elected. Both boys are 12 y/o and competent in camping and Scoutcraft. One is slightly more obnoxious (gregarious?) than the other and he is the one not elected.


After getting home from summer camp, one of my Scouts mentioned he had asked one of the Scouts who abstained from voting why he did so. He replied that he didn't want to choose between the two candidates. This leads me to believe there might have been some confusion with other boys as well. If they felt they were choosing between the two candidates rather than validating each boy separately for OA membership, then the election results make more sense.


I wrote the camp OA rep to explain my concerns. Here is his response: "Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done this year. the election is complete and the other boy is already called out. The only thing we can do is try to make them understand better at next years election."


Is there really nothing that can be done at this point? It seems like a travesty of justice if one boy was passed over because of a simple misunderstanding by those voting.


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You might want to contact your OA Chapter or Lodge Chief, they speak with a bit more authority than the camp rep.


Hoever, you really need to ask if most of the Scouts misunderstood the rules of the election or was it just those two. If everyone else understood the election then if you hold a re-election, the impression might be that "recounts will be held until the right result is reached."

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Seems like we had a similar problem in Florida about four years ago.


When we are dealing with Scout and youth between 10.5 and 17 years old, most of them being on the younger side. I don't think we will ever fully resolved the "misunderstanding" of election procedures.


Most elections I have assisted with, I suspect there has been a misunderstanding, no matter how well procedures were explained. Some 15/16 year old Scouts believe the election is based on who is cool, not necessarily who is deserving. Some 11 year old Scouts believe there can only be one elected arrowman out of all the candidates, and only submit one single name.


The National OA Committee has made a few videos, as you mentioned, which fully explain the procedures. In the Guide for Officers and Advisors, the procedures are described very thoroughly.


Even after "by the book" election meetings, I have walked away from a few OA elections, disappointed with the outcome and scratching my head wondering "what happened?".


Regarding your recent T78 election, to myself, it sounds like the Summer Camp OA rep correctly conducted the OA election, and the Chapter and Lodge Chiefs and Advisors will accept the results as they stand. Specifically when the Scouts have viewed the video, the OA election team have correctly done their job.



"Is there really nothing that can be done at this point?"

My opinion. No, Nothing more can really be done.


If I were the Lodge Advisor, I would overturn election results if they were not conducted properly. But it appears that the procedures were followed correctly. You can certainly protest. But I doubt the Lodge Chief or Lodge Advisor would overturn the election results.



Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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A couple of thoughts.


1) Inclusion of the Scouts who abstained would only matter if the voting were exceedingly close. Under current OA procedures, Scouts who abstain are not included in the number needed to be elected.


Let's say that you have 14 Scouts at camp voting and 2 abstain. That leaves 12 voting. The number of votes needed to be elected is six.


Now let's say that the abstaining Scout decides to vote so there are 13 voting. The number of votes needed to be elected is now seven. The vote of the abstainer would make no difference at all.


So adding one abstainer to the voting group would make no difference in this case.


The only way that the having the abstainer vote would matter would be if:


a) there had been an odd number of voters initially

b) the non elected Scout had been only one vote short of being elected

c) the abstainer voted for him


Alternately, if the non-elected Scout had been one vote short and both abstainers voted for him.


Possible, but probably pretty unlikely.


I would note that these Scouts are 12 and will have many, many chances to be elected to the OA. You may be able to do much more to build citizenship, character and fitness in the non-elected Scout by counseling with him about why he was not elected and what he might do about it for next year. I say that as a person who was not elected to the OA until the third try.


2) I would also use extreme care in using terms like "travesty of justice." This is a kids program designed for fun and enjoyment for youth and improvement of citizenship, character and fitness. Encouraging kids to think that they got screwed is probably not a benefit. Use the situation to the boy's advantage.


What troubles me a lot more is that the election procedures call for written ballots. I REALLY don't like the idea of put your head down and raise hands. That screams for kids to peek to find out who "hates me." That procedure did violate National guidelines although probably not sufficiently to do anything about it.

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I have been an advisor to an election team as well as hosted them in my unit. Once the SM signs the election form, he "certifies" the election and it's a done deal. I, too, have had SMs shake their heads in amazement...but it's not their call. For the record, I have never seen anything other than a written ballot. In recent years, we ask the SM to have them pre-printed with all eligible candidates' names on them. We go to great lengths to explain that it is not a competition...ALL can be elected if deemed worthy. Or NONE can be elected.

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The idea of having a vote by hands made me wince - that's absolutely incorrect. The summer camp OA rep should have known better.


The Guide to Inductions (2007 edition) clearly states: "The votes are taken by written secret ballot."


The lodge elections chairman might have some insight. I'd go up the ladder - start with him to get info about procedures, policies and training, then go to his supervising vice-chief, then the lodge chief if you haven't gotten satisfaction.


That said, not all lodges pay close attention to the summer camp rep position. I did that gig for three years - and the first two I was self-appointed because the lodge didn't bother to name anyone. But I darn sure knew how to read the elections procedures.

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EagleSon's Scoutmaster annually had a simple talk with each year group of boys. Talked about the values of the Order: Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service.


Told them to make an honest call. Also told them if they didn't think they knew Scouts well enough to vote, to abstain as the vote began.


Boys did a pretty good job of sorting out who didn't deserve Candidacy.

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John-in-KC wrote EagleSon's Scoutmaster annually had a simple talk with each year group of boys. Talked about the values of the Order: Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service.


I wish the elections would select for that.



My son has given up on OA as it has just become a popularity contest and a method to hurt others.  In troops around here those boys that cheerfully server others are the last ones to be voted to OA. Those that double dip or over estimate their service hours and do the bare minimum are the popular ones voted to OA.  Most of the time the parents cannot get them to ordeal because the boys dont want to do more work (service).  These boys get reelected the next year with similar results.  Meanwhile the boys that do service work with a smile and always have many more hours than needed to advance to the next rank are not voted to the OA. The others use not being elected as a type of punishment to those that do the work. This includes teasing that they did not get in. I told my son to not worry about OA and to concentrate on what makes him feel as if he matters service to others that do appreciate what he does.

OA in our area is dying, most likely due to that type of members that they have now. These just wanted the bragging rights. Once they have them, why do more work.


I now think if ever my son did get voted to OA he would turn it down. Why spend time on something that is smoke and mirrors of service when you can spend your time on real service.  My son learned a long time ago the true meaning of service, it is not what you get for it but the warm fuzzies within you and the smiles on the faces of those you help. How many of you have to restrict the amount of volunteer work your son does? We do, as he loves to  help others.

Sorry for the long rant but it hurts when a kid is taunted for doing what the scouting oath says to do. Mine is not the only one I have seen this happen to, I see it all over.

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My son bought into the OA hoopla, it being a club of honor campers, he went through the ordeal and was impressed by the ceremony of it. The came the next few weekends where it was obvious the members intent was to do as little work as possible and make fun of those who actually did work. Didnt take either of us long to figure out it was a total waste of time. When asked by the Lodge Advisor why I stopped comming, I told him what I thought, he said he disagreed with my assesment. Many more boys have done the ordeal and then after one or two weekends stop going because they get teased for actually working.


Ah yes, the tradition continues...

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I can only say that I am very sorry others have had bad experiences with their OA lodges. Mine has been very different - yes, there are some politics involved (if there's more than one human being, there's politics!) but overall, a bunch of really hardworking, cheerful guys.


The two troops with which I've been associated have taken the election very seriously and only once have I seen a candidate elected that shouldn't have been - strictly because the first years thought he was really cool and we had a big first year class at camp that year.


That said, written secret ballots are the norm. When the election process has been explained, we've explicitly stated that "all or none can be elected" and "you can vote for as many as you think exemplify the qualities...".


I've never seen a video...



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