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diogenes

No OA rep = Not allowed to attend chapter meetings?

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Sorry if this has been posted elsewhere that I couldn't find:

 

From an email I received last night from the Chapter Chief:

 

"Question: Does your Boy Scout Troop have a Order of the Arrow Representative? Is he registered on our website? IF NOT, your troop is not eligible for unit elections and your Arrowmen cannot participate in chapter activities. Go online and register your OA Rep. today."

 

I can understand the part about elections, but banning arrowmen from chapter activities because the troop doesn't have a Rep? Am I missing something, or just being less than cheerful? I can understand the chapter trying to grow and get people involved, and I doubt there is any malice intended with this rule, but I'm trying to find out if this is OA policy or a local decision so I know to whom I should address my concern over the probably unseen side effect.

 

The reason for my question: inactive/partially functioning troops. The longer version of our story is below, but the essence is that there are several troops I am helping to rebuild which will probably be blocked from participation because the only OA member(s) in the troops (if any) are older scouts who are extremely busy with school/sports. A whole crop of younger members are waiting, qualified, and eager to be elected and participate, but if the troop has an (inactive) OA member on the roster somewhere, they're stuck. Units without any OA members can have an election team come out so they're ok, but what of the troops who are recovering from a downturn?

 

 

 

Our personal story:

 

I spent the past year reviving an LDS troop that existed mostly on paper for the previous few years (plenty of other threads for that, just stating what is so people know). We had to lean on the lodge advisor to get an election team to come out to our troop for the first time in our existence, even though we had scheduled an election team with the (previous) chapter chief 3 months ahead. We had 5 scouts meet the camping requirements for nomination (mainly through personal effort, such as one attending Philmont training with his father), 4 were elected, and 3 attended Ordeal. The troop committee nominated me for membership as I was the only adult who could meet the requirements (based on experience with my previous unit before I moved for my job).

 

I listed myself as the temporary OA rep in my Scoutmaster capacity until we could get a youth member to accept the responsibility. Of the 3 members we have in the troop, one is a senior preparing to graduate, one is heavily involved in sports, and the third is busy with the family business. The third is the most available of this batch to take on being OA rep, but that is only comparitively speaking. However, we have a crop of younger scouts who now have the camping experience in order to qualify, and they have the time and motivation to participate when they become members.

 

The troop we revitalized is just now starting to get steady on its feet. Going to summer camp last year was a major accomplishment. Getting some members into OA is a first ever for this unit, at least so far as anyone is aware for it's almost 20 year history.

 

I was recently moved up to overseeing all of Scouting for my LDS stake. We have 10 congregations; from these 10 we have 4 troops being revived (the one I revived is the flagship for the others), 2 in the process of being started, and 4 trying to figure out if/how they should follow church policy regarding Scouting. I was replaced as SM for this troop so I could focus on my calling to get things to work with all of the units.

 

In many ways I am spearheading the effort for getting LDS units in our council to participate outside of our own activities. I am the only active LDS member in our lodge from what little I've been able to see. If we can get an election team out to my old troop (I'm still listed as a committee member because we're very short on trained/experienced leaders), we'll have a 2nd adult LDS member to go with our current 3 boys and potential 5 others, and from there we can help the other units be ready next year for when they have boys meet the requirements.

 

So again, long story short: We are in the process of trying to increase our involvement in OA and council activities from virtually nothing to pulling our weight. But the way I read this rule (policy), unless we can browbeat one of our 3 OA members into taking on the Rep job, we're stymied. Am I missing something?

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Diogenes,

 

There is no such policy. Ask this Chapter Chief to provide a copy of this approved policy. Any member of the OA can, and should want to, attend Chapter meetings as well as any Chapter activities. He's just trying to force Troops to supply OA Representatives. In theory, that's nice, but it's not going to happen. Again, have this Chapter Chief show you a copy of this policy. And I can't imagine a Chapter Advisor supporting this policy. It just doesn't make any sense.

 

sst3rd

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Do not confront the Chapter Chief directly - remember, he is a youth member of the BSA.

 

Instead, forward that e-mail on to the Chapter Advisor and the Lodge Advisor and ask one of them to provide you with the offical BSA Order of the Arrow Policy on elections and youth participation in chapter activities that backs up what the Chapter Chief has sent. Let them deal with the wayward Chapter Chief. If they back the Chapter Chief up, then send it on to the Scout Executive - and send a copy to National.

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Why not just go on the site and register someone? If you have someone who wants to participate in OA, make them the OA rep. Am I missing something? Why would this be hard?

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I actualy had the same thought - just register someone - then I remembered - "A Scout is Trustworthy".

 

Then I further thought - "Best to nip this idea, even if well intentioned, in the bud now before it does permanent damage to the OA program in that chapter.".

 

I wouldn't be surprised if there were other Scouters in the district that received that e-mail last night that have already contacted the Chapter Advisor.

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Why not just register someone? That would be an easy answer, but doesn't solve the problem. For now, I am the one registered as the rep, with a note indicating that this was until we could get a youth to do it. I don't believe in empty POR patches, and the leaders that have taken the troop since I was moved up continue this policy. We're still trying to convince one of our 3 to step up (I'll brave the cold shoulder from my wife to take the boys if needed), but honestly our best hope for the troop is with the younger group coming up since they weren't burned by the past few years of non-function like these older boys were.

 

As far as other leaders, I don't know if anyone would say anything aside from the person I trained to run Scouting for my ward. He came in brand new to Scouting a bit over a year ago, and is not happy with all the messes we've run into in this council and the outside obstacles we've had to get through to get this troop on the path to functioning properly (a topic for a different thread). From what I've seen, the OA here is mostly the same few large units dominating (and to be fair, they've done most of the work) and the smaller/newer ones not involved. So the ones receiving the message in the first place are almost all well-established within the chapter, aside from the few troops like my old one (well, sorta current one still, I was placed on the committee to help out in a pinch) which are coming out of disfunction/dormancy and trying to get traction.

 

 

We're trying to get active and involved, but it's hard breaking the cycle with the established units. Probably sounds petty, but things like we have to ask them multiple times in order to get them to tell us the location of the meetings because they assume everyone knows where Troop X meets. We're doing what we can with the schedule conflicts and the "no Sundays" policy our church has but the guessing games and well-meaning but not entirely thought out ideas like this aren't helping.

 

Anywho, thanks for being a sounding board. I like to follow Crockett's advice and "Make sure you're right, then go right ahead" before I make a fuss about something.

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I second the suggestion to contact the chapter and lodge advisers, but don't ask them to show the national policy backing up the chapter chief's email. Simply ask why additional requirements are being added to the election of eligible scouts contrary to national policy.

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Since, as the philosopher said, "the work is done by whoever shows up", I imagine the OA Chief is trying to get more folks to "show up". Now, I will make the observations that:

1) as has been said before, I don't think there is such a BSA allowed policy. Would be counterproductive.

2) Since the OA is not a representational democracy, it can't be about decision making. In my Chapter, they are pleased when members show up and (see above philosophy comment) "do the work" or "make the decisions". (don't like the decision? Show up at the meetings!)

3) I seriously doubt if anyone would stand in the doorway (campgate?) and deny entrance to an OA gig to any OA member from a non-rep registered Troop. Plain dimb.

4) Someone could attend the next Chapter meeting and ask about this, AND contact the Chapter Adult Adviser.

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Good Lord NO, that isn't OA policy. I'm a Chapter Adviser and we have 21 troops in our district. Year before last we only had 9 troops that allowed us in to do elections. After much work, we got that up to 16 troops this last year. This year I hope to increase that number again. Telling troops you will not do an election is counter-productive. I'm trying to get troops to LET us come do an election. We have several troops that for whatever reason, simply do not want their boys involved. They are the tough nuts to crack, but we are working on it.

 

You hear a lot about sash and dash and Lodges withholding things like pocket flaps until an Arrowman participates in X number of events. An Arrowman's first responsibility is to his unit. If he is providing service to his unit and encouraging camping, summer camp and high adventure, he is doing his job. Would we like for him to darken the door of a Chapter meeting, help with elections, join the ceremony team, attend Lodge work days at camp, etc.? Heck yeah! But OA is like anything else, we compete for a boy's time and the extra program we provide is only going to appeal to a certain subset of boys. While I don't like that, it is the reality and I deal with it. I'd be cutting my Chapter and our Lodge's throat if I started making demands and withholding "perks" of the troops out there. That's just crazy.

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"Why not just go on the site and register someone? If you have someone who wants to participate in OA, make them the OA rep. Am I missing something? Why would this be hard?"

 

I wouldn't be any harder than imposing the original rule the OP is commenting on. In both cases the question is, are you willing to make up new rules as you go along?

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Here's the way I read it -

 

We want a contact for each troop. If the troop isn't even willing to give us a contact, then they can't participate.

 

I mean, there are additional requirements that aren't written down. Maybe it's that you must return certain emails, or talk to someone on the phone, or something. I think the rule is a ham-handed one and there are friendlier ways to do it, and maybe it's somehow more complicated than I realize, but sometimes I'm just amazed at how eager people are to pick fights over little things.

 

What about this? The new OA Advisor decides the details on the next chapter meeting will be sent out via email to the OA Reps who are registered. No requirement that you register. Is that ok?

 

Sure, it's adding to the requirements. We add to the requirements all the time. We might require that the Scout finds a way to get to the meeting. Or that the Scout actually reads his email or finds some other way to access troop information. We might require that a Scout be able to tell time. Or open snail mail that comes to his house.

 

Maybe Scoutfish is right. I might need a break from the forum.

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People constantly make up rediculous rules for others to follow in order to make their own jobs easier. It is one of them.

 

A few more from the scrap of rules out district tried to implement:

 

-- Instead of distributing training cards at the completion of a course, training cards will be distributed at the following month's Roundtable meeting. Result: without the gold-standard record -- the training card -- and since the council records were maybe 10% accurate, we suffered through years of incomplete training records.

 

-- This from the days prior to merit badge counselors being required to complete full adult applications, to encourage troops to submit the names of merit badge counselors to the district, the advancement committee adopted a policy that Eagle applications would be required to include the names of all MBC and would be rejected if a counselor was not on the approved list. Result: the district advancement chairman narrowly escaped the meeting with his life.

 

-- From the council training committee: 100% of all leaders will be trained to position or their membership dropped. Result: About a month later the policy was amended to be a "goal". (I understand we're headed in this direction nationally, but this was about 10 years ago. No online training, no exemption for non-contact leaders, no ability to track training records....)

 

And it always seems these rules are made by folks with absolutely no authority to implement them.

 

Yeah, call the chapter or lodge advisor. Sounds like the Chapter Chief may be a little too far out ahead on this one.

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...

...

...thinking

...

...

...what would I really do if this happened?...

...

...

...hmmm

...

...

 

OK, Twocubdad has talked me off the ledge.

 

If I got this email, I think I'd just look at it bemusedly and think, "I'll go ahead and register my guy, but I bet he's going to get a lot of flak on this one."

 

I might even forward it on to the Chapter Advisor and say "Bill, did you know about this? I'll be curious to see the responses. Seems like it might be overkill. I wonder if he'll get the response he hoped for. (and yes, I did register my OA Rep). - Oak"

 

If someone from my troop showed up and they actually tried to turn him away because we weren't registered (a situation that I actually find pretty hard to imagine) then I would definitely become a bit more aggressive about reaching out to people.

 

Either way, I'd expect the policy to die out pretty quickly. I just wouldn't start out by burning up bridges and demanding policy documents, yada yada yada.

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diogenes:

Your Chapter Chief, with his penchant for creating a heavy-handed and totally bogus rule like this, will likely be working in your Council office someday. :)

 

Both he and his Chapter Advisor need to have a needle stuck into their power-trip balloons.

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diogenes,

 

Wow - many moons ago I was a youth member in your Chapter and served as a Lodge Officer. Although I no longer live in the area, I know your Lodge and Council are going through some tough times.

 

My guess is that your young Chapter Chief has just made a fumbling attempt to do what he was told - find a way to get troops to provide an OA Rep so they have a point of contact for communication with the Chapter and Lodge. More polite requests didn't get the desired result, so he tried something different, but this one isn't likely to get the desired results, either. I doubt the Lodge really wants to take action which will reduce membership and participation.

 

Getting assigned OA Reps probably isn't the problem. My guess is it's really a symptom of a struggling program which could use more goodwill from well-meaning volunteers to help steer along a more reasonable path.

 

Rather than assuming the young man is on a power trip (perhaps with his adult advisors at Chapter and Lodge levels), I think it would be more helpful to assume all are struggling to figure out how to effectively do their jobs to promote the OA.

 

Best wishes and say Hi to Camp Perry for me!

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