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OA Popularity Contest

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OA elections were held for our Troop last night. There were 6 candidates. Only 2 candidates received 50% of the votes. This was purely a popularity contest.


Our Troop is fractured. We have a group of older Scouts (9-11 boys) that are lazy and really look at Scouts as a 90 minute social gathering. Then there is a group (8-10 boys) that are really interested in the program. There's a couple of boys that aren't really in either group.


The SM hasn't addressed the "Lazy Bunch" since his son is part of this group. The CC has two boys in this unmotivated group. Because this has never been addressed the group actually grew by 2 Scouts this year. They were previously part of the motivated group but kind of lost their desire over the last year.


At the election the 2 new members of "Lazy Bunch" received a vote from everyone of the other scouts in the "Lazy Bunch." They weren't very quiet about their intent. Because of their numbers it meant the other candidates had to be listed on every other ballot to receive 50%. That didn't happen and 2-3 really good candidates for OA didn't get voted in.


If I had to rate the 6 candidates based on Living the Law, Promoting Camping, Leadership Qualities the two that were elected would probably have been 4 and 6 (6 being the lowest).


Is there anything that can be done to prevent popularity from being the deciding factor in these elections? Two of the Scouts that really wanted to join OA were visibly upset by the outcome. I doubt they looked at the math of the election but the odds of them getting in were heavily against them.

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It would seem you have a much bigger problem in the mix.


As far as preventing what happened...as mentioned in the other threads, it is up to the SM to certify that the Scouts are eligible, including living up to the Scout Oath and Law.


I truely believe that OA elections should be a popularity contest....all things being equal, I would hope that the most popular Scouts are the ones that embody the Scout Oath and Law and provide Cheerful Service to their fellow Scouts. But I realize that is not always the case.


Hopefully this event can be used as a learning opprotunity and that the group of "motivated" Scouts can make some positive change with the troop.


I was very skeptical when I became an Associate Chapter Adviser when I rejoined Scouting after College. I was away from 1997-2003, and in those few short years, the OA changed quite a bit in my eyes. But, just last year I was helping a Team do an election in a Troop. This Troop had 6 eligible Scouts and only elected 1. Before the election was closed (The election was held at Camp) I went up to one of the younger Scouts and asked if we was going to turn in his ballot. His reply was: "No sir, I've only been in the Troop a couple of months and I really don't know those boys really well. I don't want to vote if I can't tell who is who."


Young men will suprise you and I'm sure the group of "motivated" Scouts will soon figure it out and want to help push the Troop along.

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I had to re-read this post to figure out exactly what was being said here. As the rules stand now, if there are 6 candidates on the ballot, there isn't a reason why all 6 couldn't be elected if they are worthy.


I agree with eaglescout1996 that you have a much greater problem here, and you hit on it. Your troop is fractured. More specifically, you have a clique that acted in decidedly un-Scoutlike fashion in determining the outcome of the election. The election procedure itself is not at fault here.


Now the problem is, what to do about it. The advice that I would give here depends greatly upon your role in all of this. From your post it is unclear if you are a Scouter, a Scout or a parent, and what your relationship is with the Scouts who were not elected is. This information would greatly assist us in advising you.(This message has been edited by sherminator505)

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You will never be able to prevent OA elections from being a popularity contest. Unless everyone that is eligible is selected, it will be.

Having served as Chapter Advisor for 15 years, I have seen many elections. After many of them, the SM wished it could be done over. He or other leaders would see good canidates passed over for poor candidates. However, most relized that it was the yourhs' choice.

Have seen several where youth did not turn in a ballot because they had been in the troop a very short time and were not comfortable making a selection.

The most unusual election was one, several years ago, where there was a small unit. Only three youth at the meeting (but then only 6 in the unit at the time). There was one youth eligible so he would have to receive two votes to be selected. He only received one. Even the SM wondered about the vote. Afterwards, the eligible youth told the SM that he did not vote for himself as he felt he was not deserving of the honor. Apparently, there had been some type of problem with him in the unit.

He looked inside himself and found something wanting. Can't argue with that. Needless to say, his stock went up with the adults.

He was selected the next year and stayed in Scouts and OA until he went to college.

Trust the Scouts. Things will even out in the long run.


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Sounds like it's time for a new Scoutmaster!


Perhaps you'd be willing to serve as Scoutmaster or perhaps there someone who would make an effective Scoutmaster among the parents.


Identifying that new candidate, getting them trained and appointed as an Assistant Scoutmaster would be a good start. Offering an existing Scoutmaster and CC a quality replacement would likely be looked upon with favor.


Even an Assistant Scoutmaster could put some starch in the program by sharpening the competition between the Goof-Off Patrol and the Eagle Patrol and emphasizing Scout ideals during the program, notably doing your best.


I wouldn't imagine you'd need to have a palace revolution to get a new Scoutmaster if you have a good candidate who is willing to serve. That's not necessarily an easy task, though.





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OA elections are unpredictable. Some go exactly the way the adults expect and some go exactly the opposite. Boys see the troop in a different light that adults do.


Two examples.


We had a dad in our troop who was OA as a youth. He kept complaining to the SM because his son wasn't ever put on the ballot. This kid was a slug. Eve nat 17, he wouldn't go on a campout unless his dad was along. We struggled to keep him out of the adult area and in his patrol. The greatest leadership position he aspired to was Librarian and even then, his dad handled the library for him. Because this dad actually did a lot for the troop, the SM finally decided to put the kid on the ballot to shut the dad up knowing that he would never get elected. Lo and behold, he got elected. We still don't know why, because most of the boys in the troop saw him as a slug too.


We did an election for a troop this year where there were two 17 year old Eagle Scouts that the adults thought were shoo-in's for OA. When the votes were counted, neither were elected and the adults were hot and claimed that some younger trouble makers in the troop purposely voted against them and felt that these younger boys were undeserving of being elected. They wanted a new election. We refused. The election is the election and the results are the results. We don't do re-do's to appease the adults. The SM is the gate keeper beyond the minimum requirements and decides whether a boy goes o nthe ballot or not. If he felt the younger boys were not up to snuff, he shouldn't have put them on the ballot. I also explained to the SM that boys view the troop differently than the adults do. We might think that a 17 year old Eagle Scout is well deserving of election. But is he still active in the troop? Is he helpful and friendly to the younger boys? Is he a total jery to the younger boys when adults aren't around. My experience is that the boys are fairly honest in their voting when the process has been correctly explained by a trained election team.....which my teams are. They didn't like it, but they decided to live with it.


The best that an election team can do is learn their material and present it correctly. Then they need to have a Q&A session with the voters. We explain that it is not a popularity test and what they should be looking for in a candidate. We do explain that they can abstain from voting if they so choose and/or they are new to the troop and don't know the candidates well enough to make an informed decision. It is explained that no discussion, campaigning or vote trading can take place. Fill in your ballot and turn it in. Because some of the election team guys have wanted to wing it in the past, we have gone to using the election video created by National OA to present to the troops. This is followed by the two OA election team members using a cheat sheet to review some of the videos key points. Then they have the Q&A and pass out the ballots.


It is a two pronged approach. The SM needs to "certify" quality candidates and the election team needs to do a good job of presenting and following the procedures. That is your best bet for having good quality elections and results. But even then, the boys can totally surprise you.

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There is a problem in this Troop which is slowly being worked on. Our current SPL under the tutelage of his father (ASM and Eagle Scout) is finally turning our Troop into a true boy led program. I hope that we are able to keep the ball rolling when his term expires. The issues with the Leaders and their uninterested kids has yet be resolved or really taken seriously by the SM and CC. That issue hopefully will be dealt with in the next 60 days.


I am an ASM and a parent. I worked with 5 of the 6 boys since Tigers so I know them fairly well. One of them is my son. It really got to me when the one Scout crossed over to the other group. I spoke to his father (ASM) and I spoke to the Scout to no avail. The older Scouts take advantage of him but he doesn't see it. The Scout just wants to fit in with this new group and the father doesn't want to do anything to push the Scout out of Scouting.


I've spoken to upset Scouts (mine and others) after they didn't make SPL, ASPL or Patrol Leader. I know elections aren't perfect but it was easy to see how this one was going down. They didn't really make an effort to hide what they were doing. All elections are truly popularity contests but it's the influence that this one group was able to exercise over the process that has me concerned. There's always next year, hopefully without the issues.


Maybe the two that were elected will surprise me. Maybe if they get involved with OA their attitude in the Troop will improve. I would have really liked to see all of them make it but obviously some of the Scouts didn't vote for everyone. For now the boys will have to learn from the experience and go on. They have a goal to make Eagle and I doubt this little bump in the road will divert them off course.



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  • 4 weeks later...

This isnt an OA issue, this is a troop issue. Correcting the unit issue will correct issues with future elections. Coming head on at the SM and CC is not going to help; you might try motivating the older scouts directly, if any part of the program has sunk it this may be easier than you think. Id start by getting them to help with tasks the will make their value to the program obvious, and install self worth. Lazy or no, these scouts need you, and this program, turn them into an asset. What I suggest is the road less traveled, but it will be worth the effort.

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