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Dissapointed Election Results

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Well it has been a couple of months since the OA elections, and the individuals who were inducted at the troop campout this last weekend. As ASM I was not privy to whom was elected into the OA and only found out the inductees when they were inducted. Out of 10 candidates for the OA, only 4 were elected by the troop, and after seeing who the troop voted for I was quite surprised at the results, if not disappointed.

Two out of the four scouts I could not fathom why the scouts voted for them. Both shirk responsibility at campouts, one incessantly complains about the food and will whine incessantly when his father is present, the second displays signs of being a bully, but both are popular. The other two scouts are quiet, cooperate and generally good natured individuals, albeit being popular.

Looking at the scouts who were on the election ballot, two have been on the ballet for a couple of years, and I have heard rumor that they have given up any attempts to get elected into the OA, and have stated that they just dont care. One scout who was a patrol leader at the time had lead his patrol to earn the National Honor Patrol award, the only one earned on over a year in the troop (the troop is quite healthy, 60 scouts, 6 ASMs, a full committee, and 5 patrols). This same scout planned and conducted some of the best troop meetings we have had in some time, put in numerous service hours (to include helping at Cub Day Camp last summer) and has ensured his patrol had patrol activities at least once a month, but alas is not one of the in crowd nor very popular within the troop overall.

Given that the last few years of OA elections have been one or two scouts elected in, the Scoutmaster has given several talks to the boys running up the elections expounding on what to look for when electing a member into the OA. I did overhear a scout saying during the elections that he was going to vote for so-in-so because he was cool.

I have been a member of the OA since I was 15, so thats over 30 years now and have always believed in it purpose and function and the honor that scouts bestow upon their fellow scouts when elected, but these results now have shaken my beliefs and have lead me to believe that despite the rhetoric the OA election team puts forth (in person in and in the video) in vain, and the elections will be nothing much more that a popularity contest amongst the scouts.

Or has this been a failure on the adult leaderships part?


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There are a number of possibilities.


For starters, youth see things differently than adults.


It could be the ballot. I've seen three different types of ballots and they get different results, especially if there are a lot of candidates.


Ballots that require the scouts to write out their selections tend to be the smallest with the most well known being selected. I'm guessing that is your method.


Ballots that list the scouts in some set order tend to favor the scouts on the top of the list. I've not idea why this is the case.


We started making randomized ballots. This seems to work well, although the election team hates them, as they are much harder to count. Typically, about half get elected and with a good correlation to my predictions.

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Being a Chapter Adviser, I'm familiar with the election process.....Lord knows I've been to plenty of them. As someone else noted, boys see things different than adults. We held an election this year at a troop where two boys the adults expected to get elected did not. These boys were 17 year old Eagle Scouts. The boys who were elected were less "desireable". The SM called me and wanted to know if they could have a re-do as they didn't like the results. My answer, NO. Unless you can show where the election team didn't expalin the process in an understandable way or that the system was gamed in some way, the results are the results regardless of whether adults like them or not. Our teams went thru a training process this year, use the OA election videos, followed up by their own verbal presentation and a question and answer period before ballots are passed out. The team always has a trained adult along to run interference if adult troop leaders want to give the team any difficulty. The elction was fair and square. What I explained ot this SM was that I don't know his troop or it's dynamics, but that boys see and experience things that adults don't. While his two 17 year old Eagle Scouts might be the pride of the troop in the adult's eyes, how did they treat the other scouts when adults weren't around? Did they come to campouts? Did they provide leadership? Were they friendly, kind and courteous to the younger boys or were they jerks who didn't want ot be bothered with little kids? The other thing I pointed out was that he as SM is the gate keeper to the ballot. Regardless of technically meeting the minimum requirements for OA, he and he alone determines their Scout Spirit and whether they belong on the ballot. My other question to him was if we did come do a re-do and he removed the boys who were elected and his two Eagles still didn't get elected, then what? His final solution was to come back a couple of months later and say that he was new, he was overwhelmed, he didn't read our detailed email explaining the process and he had come to realize that only one of the boys elected was actually eligible at the time of the election. He asked that I remove the other four who were elected. Since I assume he was being trustworthy, I did as he asked. His two Eagles still didn't get in, but four of his boys who were elected by their peers were denied.


My suggestion. The SM determines who is on the ballot based on Scout Spirit and you let the chips fall where they may when the counting is done. There is always next year. Keep in mind that even though a youth ages out at 18 in Scouts, he is still considered a youth until 21 in OA. If he stays registered with the troop as an adult after 18, he can still be on the ballot as long as he meets the other requirements.

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I've ssen some peculiar selections in our troop as well. For those who rely on the Scoutmaster as a screening process - that's kind of passing the buck.


IMO, the SM simply determines which boys are first class, have completed 15 days/nights of BSA camping in the last 2 year, and met the long term camping requirement.


If a Scout is elected, completes their ordeal and becomes a member and never does another OA activity again - that's a shame but no real harm done. If a Scout is "questionable" but gets elected, completes their ordeal and becomes an active member in the OA and really shows brotherhood, cheerful service, etc. because of the experience - hoorah and claim success. It is better to let one "slip" in that to exclude on who may benefit IMO.


My recommendation to SMs is to have preprinted ballots so the spelling of a Scout's name in not a hindrance (I've seen it happen).(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I disagree on relying on the SM to do the screening as "passing the buck". Doesn't he make the Scout Spirit judgement call on all the rank advancements? I had one dad in our troop state that OA should be like the school honor society, if you meet the requirements, you are automatically in. Of course, this was when his kid wasn't on the ballot.


The requirements are:


To be considered for nomination, a youth candidate (under 21 years of age) must meet the following requirements:


1. Must be under 21 years old at the time of election.


2. Hold at least the First Class Scout rank (this includes adult leaders over the age of 18 but under the age of 21; they must have earned First Class before their 18th birthday).


3. In the past two years, have completed fifteen days and nights of camping under the Boy Scouts of America. The fifteen days and nights of camping must include one long-term camp of six days and five nights, and the balance of the camping must be short-term camps.


4. Have these requirements certified by the Scoutmaster, and be given a general endorsement of the candidate's Scout Spirit by the Scoutmaster before the election is conducted.


5. To be elected, a youth candidate must receive half or more votes of the number of ballots turned in to the election team.


6. If elected, a candidate must complete the Ordeal within one year of his or her (in the case of adults) election.

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I agree with your bias towards letting election results fall where they may.


I have my doubts about rescinding election results after the election has been held, as you describe here. It seems to me that is likely to be humiliating to a boy who was elected, and then rescinded.


I think I'd favor your earlier bias towards sticking with the election results. If the Scoutmaster didn't read what he was signing ----tough.


But that's just my reaction. It sounds like you have a platefull trying to make elections work, and I prefer to commend you for your good faith efforts.


Something like this is on the other new thread where an adult leader who was selected was later rescinded after some difficulties having the selection recognized.


It sounds like being a Lodge Adviser is a tough business since you have a lot of egos on the line, with adult egos usually being the bigger problem and these seem rto be adult egos with which you have one shot contact with rather than an ongoing relationship.

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All elections are in some part popularity contests. If the adults get to pick, then the question becomes which Scouts are popular with the adults.


We had one particular case where the boy in question was a kid named Eddie Haskell. Some of the ASMs thought he was great. The kids, not so much. Out of six candidates, he was the only one not elected that year. He was the highest ranking Scout, and he was very active. The dad couldn't understand it. Some of the ASMs couldn't understand it, and were asking how we could change it so the adults determined the outcome. I knew exactly why he wasn't elected.


Let the boys vote. Tell them the criteria. Announce the results and again mention the criteria. They can choose to follow the criteria or not. That's always been the case.

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charmoc and Fellow Arrowmen,




Here are my opinion and thoughts...

As an adult Arrowmen, I've driven to elections and assisted the various Chiefs with elections.


I've also stood up, after the Scoutmaster endorsement and said something similar to "Remember the guys that taught you, your knots. Remember the guys that taught you how to cook. Remember the guys that help you with your advancement. Those are some really great guys, huh?"


After many of the elections, I walk out amazed. Just from my own experiences. I've seen quiet Scouts be elected, I've seen bullies be elected, I've seen laugh out loud funny and hilarious Scouts be elected, and I've seen the most irritating and obnoxious Scouts be elected. I've seen 1 out of 10 candidates be elected, and we had to run the balloting again since none of the 10 cleared 50 percent of the vote (allowed by the guide/manual). And then I've seen a few troops that would elect 10 for 10.


I was their age once, but I still don't have a clue what goes on in the mind of an 11 y/o.


I do believe, paper ballots with picture faces, and a positive Scoutmasters Minute do help the result become a more positive outcome.


I may wonder why the voting results ended the way they did every so often, but quickly dismiss it. After many confusing results, I've just grown to accept it.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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As one poster noted any and every election is to some degree a "popularity contest." Aside from a good election team and some discretion in terms of the Scoutmaster endorsing the ballot there is another factor.

How is the overall troop culture reflected in it's use of OA? Is it regarded by the troop as a honor, a calling for greater service, or just another piece of bling? Does the troop have special activities or meetings just for OA members? Not talking lodge or chapter stuff here, but things done within the troop. Does OA have a degree of mystique attached to it within the troop?

Just throwing out some things to think about. Especially as adult leaders we can do a lot to set the tone as to how membership in the order should be treated. Not just at election time but throughout the year.

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As a Scout, I was never elected to the OA by my troop. That was back in the 70s/80s. I was always disappointed, but rolled with it. Eventually I accepted an adult nomination (different discussion) and went through Ordeal.


Because I was not selected as a scout, I have worked hard to see that elections are run fairly. I make nomination forms with each eligible name on them. I also include on each ballot the instructions to choose as many candidates as you feel are deserving, and repeat that you can vote for more than one candidate.


The only scouts not selected were those who were not active with the troop at the time, who, for example, had not been to a campout in 5 or 6 months. I feel our elections have been very effective and well run.

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I just wanted to say thanks for all the input. I can say with confidence that the SM did his job and was following the prescribed policy. In fact he did not allow two scouts onto the ballot due to lack of camping time. As far as boys think defiantly than adults all I can say is yes and no. Some scouts can surprise you with their maturity in thinking and then again you sometimes wonder where the scout is coming from.

Im always of the opinion that we follow the policies as BSA/OA has outlined for us, but always trying to think outside the box in improving the troops program. I have come to the conclusion that the four scouts who were elected came from the larger patrols in the troop (up to 10 members) , the scouts who were not came from the smallest patrols (six or less members). We are a large troop and emphasize that the patrols do pretty much everything together as a patrol and minimize the combining of patrols as much as possible. So the larger patrols can easily elect scouts into the OA than can the smaller patrols due to sheer size and a greater affiliation with their own patrol members than scouts from other patrols.

Some ideas I have taken from this forum are; photographs next the scouts name, identify the number of camping days/nights each scout has done, identify the positions of responsibility held; and total number of service hours done. All would be represented on the ballot to give a better overall picture of each scout.


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SR540Beaver - think about the OA requirements that you stated again. Don't just list them but think about them. One is the Scout must be first class. What are the requirements for 1st Class? One of them is to Demonstrate scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life. Now, who is in charge of the advancement of a troop? I'll give you a hint, it's not the COR, CC or Advancement Chair.


So, for me as a Scoutmaster, I've already vouched for this kid's Scout Spirit by signing off on his first class rank. I put myself in a precarious position if I say the boy has enough Scout Spirit for 1st Class but not quite enough for OA! I realize that a boy may advance and then commit some grievous action and that yes, a SM may do a little "screening" if that was the case.


I highly value the Scouting program but I'm not one of those who feel Eagle Scouts need to he Christ like or that OA members are further evidence that the Scout may walk on water. Both of my boys are Eagle Scouts and Brotherhood members in the OA. Have they ever violated the Scout Oath and Law? Hell yes. I'm not saying we give them a pass but that as adults, we should set high expectations and help the boys try to achieve these expectations but don't get surprised if they may stumble along the path.




(This message has been edited by acco40)

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