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Advancement and Overbearing Parents

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Merit badges are "out of your control" only if you believe the drivel coming out of the national "Advancement Team." If you know of a counselor who routinely pencil whips blue cards don't send your Scouts to them. (And that includes summer camp.) If a Scout presents you with a completed blue card for which you both know the Scout didn't do the work' date=' maybe you don't rip the card in half, but you do have a talk with the Scout about doing the right thing, about what Trustworthy means and about the joy and satisfaction of really achieving something and not accepting unearned awards? [/quote']

 

I wish this were true but it simply isn't. I get the merit badge counselor and mb college point. However, if you go to summer camp and watch a mb class which is horribly instructed where the scouts literally learn nothing, and the counselor signs off, then there is nothing the scoutmaster can do if the scout (or parents) want that badge. Sure, we can have a talk about honesty. But what 11 or 12 year old is going to understand that he spent 5 days with a guy talking about Dead Island instead of teachhing him forestry? He's going to know he attended the class, wanted to learn, read his book and learned very little. If the counselor signs off on the card we cannot deny him his badge. We cannot make him re-do the badge in whole or in part. We cannot test him on what he learned before we give him the badge. If he wants it he is entitled to if by BSA.

 

I have had conversations with kids about such things and mom and dad eventually step in and make Tommy's decision for him. While my own kid gave back a badge that he felt he did not earn (was awarded achery but had not qualified with a 170 or better), I would say most kids are not that respectful of the process. They will check the box and move on...sadly.

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Merit badges are "out of your control" only if you believe the drivel coming out of the national "Advancement Team." If you know of a counselor who routinely pencil whips blue cards don't send your Scouts to them. (And that includes summer camp.) If a Scout presents you with a completed blue card for which you both know the Scout didn't do the work' date=' maybe you don't rip the card in half, but you do have a talk with the Scout about doing the right thing, about what Trustworthy means and about the joy and satisfaction of really achieving something and not accepting unearned awards? [/quote']

 

I wish this were true but it simply isn't. I get the merit badge counselor and mb college point. However, if you go to summer camp and watch a mb class which is horribly instructed where the scouts literally learn nothing, and the counselor signs off, then there is nothing the scoutmaster can do if the scout (or parents) want that badge. Sure, we can have a talk about honesty. But what 11 or 12 year old is going to understand that he spent 5 days with a guy talking about Dead Island instead of teachhing him forestry? He's going to know he attended the class, wanted to learn, read his book and learned very little. If the counselor signs off on the card we cannot deny him his badge. We cannot make him re-do the badge in whole or in part. We cannot test him on what he learned before we give him the badge. If he wants it he is entitled to if by BSA.

 

I have had conversations with kids about such things and mom and dad eventually step in and make Tommy's decision for him. While my own kid gave back a badge that he felt he did not earn (was awarded achery but had not qualified with a 170 or better), I would say most kids are not that respectful of the process. They will check the box and move on...sadly.

Agree completely! You must have been so proud of your Scout for giving back the badge. I've had this happen twice (not my sons) and it is a heartwarming moment. One was a boy who seems to be growing out of being a serious troublemaker and gave back a summer camp award he had not completed, and the other was a Webelos in my Den who *tried* to give back an activity badge because he thought he had not finished it. We actually had to sit down and go over everything we had done to prove it to him. I wish more Scouts (and parents) had this attitude!

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We're a big troop with 60+ boys. Over the past few years I've eliminated many of the PORs which turned into do-nothing jobs like Historian and Librarian. Only very rarely do we have an official Instructor. But I've never had a Scout held up on a rank due to the lack of a POR. Granted, just because you make First Class today doesn't mean you get a POR tomorrow -- you usually need to wait for the election cycle to come around.

 

In fact, even with a big troop, we're more likely to have jobs go begging because boys already have the POR box checked. Last fall no one wanted to take Troop Scribe. So I did it. Took 15 minutes every week for me to call the roll. Bueller....Bueller...Bueller.... After the second week the senior guys realized I would do that the entire six month term and recruited a Scribe.

 

Veni's right. One of the things I find both remarkable and satisfying, is that merit really does pay off. It does take some time, but the boys really do take notice of the kids who jump in and help. Last week I had a conversation with my Troop Guide about getting him some help. I told him to talk to the SPL, but for him to recruit someone he want to work with. His best friend -- who is terribly unreliable and a big goof-off was standing there and immediately volunteered. The TG looked at me, then looked back at his friend and just said "no." As they walked away with the friend was basically begging for the job, but the TG stuck to his guns. Friends are friends and pals are pals, but people know where to look when work is to be done.

 

There is also that pesky election cycle that can delay you as much as six months. That can add up to 18 months to advancement. In my book that is holding up advancement. I know it is just one of the methods, but a very important one to keep them motivated. Thus the appeal of a smaller troop vs a larger one with more opportunities for activities.

 

Sorry to be so cynical, but my kid has some issues and is a geeky loner so he is never going to win the popularity contests. I like our current troop and it has a solid core of parent involvement on the committe, but it does seem like a 14 and out troop. Though that does seem to be a rather universal problem. I was hoping for a more vertical social environment for him rather the relatively horizontal stratification of school.

 

He is very smart, just missing the gifted program by 1% so the book learning parts will not be a problem. His holdups will likely be some of the physical challenges. He can't roll up his bag small enough to fit in the sack, it is a challenge for me. Need to get a larger sack. We spent a lot of time and money over the past three years on swimming so that should be a cinch, he is way ahead of the NSP.

 

One aspect I need to come to grips with is that Scouts trains them for life where forces beyond your control impact you, whereas success at school and to a lesser degree sports are largely dependent on your own effort and ability.

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KDD, you're talking about a truly rare scout.

 

Bottom line (and this goes for adults too): the respect goes to the person who does their job. Last month we made it clear to the boys (most working on Star, Life, Eagle) that we don't care how long you've had a POR patch on your sleeve. If you've done no work, you haven't held the position. Period. Conversely, if you don't have a patch on your sleeve, but you've done 4-6 months of work making the troop run successfully we will make sure your POR is properly signed off, in spite of what bean-counting detractors say. We've instructed our committee, when the sit on BOR's to ask "What did you do as ?" So, start preparing for your BOR now by doing what needs to be done.

 

Don't know where the topic is, but at one point my CC got word that a MBC had misgivings about signing a blue card for a boy who was coming to Eagle "under the line". The CC called the boy telling him he was refusing to sign the eagle app. The boy calls me about appeals. (File under why-I-hate-cell-phones.)

I ask him the question "Did you complete the requirements?"

.... Silence ... then "No."

I reply "Well, then let's stop discussing one medal. You have lots to be proud of in your scouting career."

 

Get your key adults on the same page. Keep them there. It will work out.

With all due respect, out in the business world the respect does not go the person who does their job. It goes to the person who plays the political game the best. With proper adult guidance it seems Scouts takes some out that out of the equation, but still seems ripe for abuse.

 

All it takes is one person of influence who has a personality conflict or grudge against you to sink or stifle your career.

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Merit badges are "out of your control" only if you believe the drivel coming out of the national "Advancement Team." If you know of a counselor who routinely pencil whips blue cards don't send your Scouts to them. (And that includes summer camp.) If a Scout presents you with a completed blue card for which you both know the Scout didn't do the work' date=' maybe you don't rip the card in half, but you do have a talk with the Scout about doing the right thing, about what Trustworthy means and about the joy and satisfaction of really achieving something and not accepting unearned awards? [/quote']

 

I wish this were true but it simply isn't. I get the merit badge counselor and mb college point. However, if you go to summer camp and watch a mb class which is horribly instructed where the scouts literally learn nothing, and the counselor signs off, then there is nothing the scoutmaster can do if the scout (or parents) want that badge. Sure, we can have a talk about honesty. But what 11 or 12 year old is going to understand that he spent 5 days with a guy talking about Dead Island instead of teachhing him forestry? He's going to know he attended the class, wanted to learn, read his book and learned very little. If the counselor signs off on the card we cannot deny him his badge. We cannot make him re-do the badge in whole or in part. We cannot test him on what he learned before we give him the badge. If he wants it he is entitled to if by BSA.

 

I have had conversations with kids about such things and mom and dad eventually step in and make Tommy's decision for him. While my own kid gave back a badge that he felt he did not earn (was awarded achery but had not qualified with a 170 or better), I would say most kids are not that respectful of the process. They will check the box and move on...sadly.

Hope you bought him an ice cream and had a father son moment. Those don't come along that often.

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This all brings up another issue. To what level of mastery do we expect a scout to achieve at a skill before a t-1st requirement is signed off ? The Scoutcraft skills should be improved and honed as he gains experience. If we expect them to be an expert at them before they are signed off, I see the potential for the boys to really loose interest in both performing and teaching them down the road.

 

For instance some of these tents are really difficult to set up alone. The map and compass skills are important, but do we require a mastery such that working on the orienteering MB is just a refresher.

 

The swimming MB book is one that I am still fretting about. I am a certified Y instructor and RC lifeguard, so I understand the strokes, but taking that pamphlet literally, I don't see any boy under the age of 14 having the mastery to complete it. My boys have been on a year round Y swim team for two years and that book seems to expect a very advanced whip kick.

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KDD step back relax....It will happen when it does....Your scout is what 11????? Generally our boys don't get to take swimming till their third trip to summer camp???? So they are 13 or so.

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Merit badges are "out of your control" only if you believe the drivel coming out of the national "Advancement Team." If you know of a counselor who routinely pencil whips blue cards don't send your Scouts to them. (And that includes summer camp.) If a Scout presents you with a completed blue card for which you both know the Scout didn't do the work' date=' maybe you don't rip the card in half, but you do have a talk with the Scout about doing the right thing, about what Trustworthy means and about the joy and satisfaction of really achieving something and not accepting unearned awards? [/quote']

 

I wish this were true but it simply isn't. I get the merit badge counselor and mb college point. However, if you go to summer camp and watch a mb class which is horribly instructed where the scouts literally learn nothing, and the counselor signs off, then there is nothing the scoutmaster can do if the scout (or parents) want that badge. Sure, we can have a talk about honesty. But what 11 or 12 year old is going to understand that he spent 5 days with a guy talking about Dead Island instead of teachhing him forestry? He's going to know he attended the class, wanted to learn, read his book and learned very little. If the counselor signs off on the card we cannot deny him his badge. We cannot make him re-do the badge in whole or in part. We cannot test him on what he learned before we give him the badge. If he wants it he is entitled to if by BSA.

 

I have had conversations with kids about such things and mom and dad eventually step in and make Tommy's decision for him. While my own kid gave back a badge that he felt he did not earn (was awarded achery but had not qualified with a 170 or better), I would say most kids are not that respectful of the process. They will check the box and move on...sadly.

Well Krampus, next summer don't go to a merit badge summer camp....

 

take the troop some where else and do anything but farm merit badges.....

 

The parents will never buy it will they????

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KDD step back relax....It will happen when it does....Your scout is what 11????? Generally our boys don't get to take swimming till their third trip to summer camp???? So they are 13 or so.
No, 10 lol. Around here swimming is a 1st year recommendation. I am not really worried about it, more just trying to understand the level of expectations for requirements. This isn't Cubs. The boy can swim, he did 25 laps a few weeks ago, a mile is 36. He isn't taking lifesaving because that is just to much time in the water he may have trouble getting the brick up in 10 feet of water, he can do it 6 feet. He is only 60 lbs.

 

Why do your boys wait so long to take swimming? Is it an access and lesson issue outside of camp?

 

This boy wants to be eagle by 13 if not 12. I think 12 is seriously pushing it.

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I'm starting to seet a picture as you add description to your situation. While I may not have everything right, Here are some thoughts. May or may not apply. I hope that this comes across as a friendly discussion, because that is my intent.

I gather your son is a recent crossover in a new scout patrol. Your son is not one of the popular kids, hence you have a concern that your troop will not give your son (and others with similar personalities) a chance to fill a POR that is needed for advancement.

You would like to see your son get an Eagle by the time he is 14 (in one posting you state the 13 or 14 is not out of line, in another, the troop your son is in scouts typically leave when they are 14. Hence it is important to you that your son not waste potentially 18 months without holding a POR.

Your troop operates with age stratified patrols rather than mixed age patrols.

 

 

 

 

 

Responses and random thoughts in no particular order: Consider the ages and stages of boys.

A new scout gets a good feeling from the recognition of receiving an award whether or not he put in effort to earn it. When he is older, he will not value awards that are not challenging to earn. This may be a contributing factor to your unit being a 14 and out troop.

A new scout feels good about having a title of a POR, but does not understand the responsibilities, doesn't understand the effort required. I've seen and worked with them. They see a PL leader position as one where they get to tell other scouts what to do and they have to do it. If they have not observed and worked for an older boy in a POR, how can he possibly know what scouts are supposed to do in a POR? the written description and/or being told by an adult just arent as effective.

 

I prefer mixed age patrols for a number of reasons, including your desire for more vertical social environment.

 

Scouting is a great environment for helping a geeky loner come out of his shell and blossom. But not if he is forced into positions before he has built up some experience and is ready for them. Otherwise, it will be continued frustration and avoidance of duties.

For the first year, let him learn and become expert at several camping skills – lighting fires (perhaps with a flint and steel), compass/orienteering, cooking, etc. practice and practice and use them frequently for the next year. Then next year, he will be able to teach the new crop of scouts. Becoming the “expert†in their eyes. The guy that knows what to do, how to do it, and is always asking them if there is something that he can help them with. If he does that, he will be looked up to and respected by the new scouts; perhaps even elected to a POR by them, or appointed as a Troop guide by the SM or SPL. That will do much more to achieve the aims and keep him motivated than will a rank that he rushed through, and have signoff on skills that he soon forgets. He will have real pride in himself as he can help the younger scouts.

 

The liikely alternative is that he will learn a lesson that POR's are necessary evils for advancement, where the holders do things that the adults make them do. Becasue a typical scout is just not ready for a POR before they are 13 or 14. I have observed this many many times. Don't give so much weight to advancement as the prime motivating factor. As your son matures, he will be much more interested in achieving things that challenge him than in things that can be whipped out in 6 months.

 

good luck. You may not agree with me now, and tht's OK. But if we were to talk 8 or 10 years from now, with the benefit of hindsight, you will understand what I mean.

 

Welcome to the club!

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This all brings up another issue. To what level of mastery do we expect a scout to achieve at a skill before a t-1st requirement is signed off ? The Scoutcraft skills should be improved and honed as he gains experience. If we expect them to be an expert at them before they are signed off, I see the potential for the boys to really loose interest in both performing and teaching them down the road.

 

For instance some of these tents are really difficult to set up alone. The map and compass skills are important, but do we require a mastery such that working on the orienteering MB is just a refresher.

 

The swimming MB book is one that I am still fretting about. I am a certified Y instructor and RC lifeguard, so I understand the strokes, but taking that pamphlet literally, I don't see any boy under the age of 14 having the mastery to complete it. My boys have been on a year round Y swim team for two years and that book seems to expect a very advanced whip kick.

To what level of mastery do we expect a scout to achieve at a skill before a t-1st requirement is signed off ?

 

My view: think with the end in mind. What are you trying to accomplish. More importantly, what are the SM/CC/AC trying to accomplish?

 

Scouting is set up so that a boy learns skills so that he can teach them to others. Those others are the scouts that come after him over the next several years. How does one become a leader? One prerequisite is to be repected by the others as someone that knows what to do and how to do it. So the question that you have to answer is what level of proiciency is needed that they boy is comfortable continuing to do it, and could teach it to the next crop of scouts a year from now? That is when he will be recognized and respected by the other scouts. This requires not only learning, but continued usage. The sign off on skills is merely a formality somewhere in the middle. the exact spot isn't important. What is important is that the other scouts can look to him as the guy to go to when they have questions or need help. Sign off of requirements and advancement are ineffective otherwise.

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This all brings up another issue. To what level of mastery do we expect a scout to achieve at a skill before a t-1st requirement is signed off ? The Scoutcraft skills should be improved and honed as he gains experience. If we expect them to be an expert at them before they are signed off, I see the potential for the boys to really loose interest in both performing and teaching them down the road.

 

For instance some of these tents are really difficult to set up alone. The map and compass skills are important, but do we require a mastery such that working on the orienteering MB is just a refresher.

 

The swimming MB book is one that I am still fretting about. I am a certified Y instructor and RC lifeguard, so I understand the strokes, but taking that pamphlet literally, I don't see any boy under the age of 14 having the mastery to complete it. My boys have been on a year round Y swim team for two years and that book seems to expect a very advanced whip kick.

KDD, very simply: a first class scout is qualified to take his patrol hiking and camping. So, if a boy can tie a clove-hitch when asked, he gets that requirement. If he's comfortable enough to navigate his patrol through you're troops usual haunts, he gets that requirement. I know those tents seem unwieldy now, but he'll be snapping them up in no time. The other stuff (including positions of responsibility) will also come naturally.

 

Oh, and there is a difference in swimming for enjoyment, and swimming for races. Most MBCs have to actually "slow the racers down" so they can relax and perfect those strokes. Then they catch on fairly quickly. I suspect your boy will knock this one out with no problem.

 

Trust me, before you know it, he'll be borrowing the car to take his college buddies for weekends in the wild lands.

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We're a big troop with 60+ boys. Over the past few years I've eliminated many of the PORs which turned into do-nothing jobs like Historian and Librarian. Only very rarely do we have an official Instructor. But I've never had a Scout held up on a rank due to the lack of a POR. Granted, just because you make First Class today doesn't mean you get a POR tomorrow -- you usually need to wait for the election cycle to come around.

 

In fact, even with a big troop, we're more likely to have jobs go begging because boys already have the POR box checked. Last fall no one wanted to take Troop Scribe. So I did it. Took 15 minutes every week for me to call the roll. Bueller....Bueller...Bueller.... After the second week the senior guys realized I would do that the entire six month term and recruited a Scribe.

 

Veni's right. One of the things I find both remarkable and satisfying, is that merit really does pay off. It does take some time, but the boys really do take notice of the kids who jump in and help. Last week I had a conversation with my Troop Guide about getting him some help. I told him to talk to the SPL, but for him to recruit someone he want to work with. His best friend -- who is terribly unreliable and a big goof-off was standing there and immediately volunteered. The TG looked at me, then looked back at his friend and just said "no." As they walked away with the friend was basically begging for the job, but the TG stuck to his guns. Friends are friends and pals are pals, but people know where to look when work is to be done.

 

KDD, been there and got the scars. My son is ASD. We've had all the same years of swimming lessons. I bought all the same larger stuff sacks for sleeping bags and ground pads. Struggled with backpacking and canoeing because of physical strength and stamina, etc. FWIW, last summer he and I canoed with our crew through the BWCA and kicked butt. Not because we were stronger but because we practiced and were just better. He packs his own pack and those bigger stuff sacks are now in my camping gear closet. To be honest the social aspect of scouting hasn't been great for him. Too much bullying. But he's learned to be more self-reliant and to deal with the bullies. He's also learned to explain to folks that he's a problem eater because of his disability, not a picky eater and that there is a difference (IIRC that was from another thread you commented on). With any luck, he'll be an Eagle before we go to Jamboree this summer. He's signed up for Whitewater rafting, Dad is petrified :). There's nothing wrong with the Webmaster PoR or Librarian or Historian. Encourage him to ask for the POR when he eligible and ready. Support him in being the best Webmaster, Librarian or Historian possible if that's where he lands. The R is for responsibility. Not every scout is going to be the SPL nor do they need to be.

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> Do you deny a POR even if a Scout wants to perform one, but doesn't have that dynamic personality to get elected ?

 

Look at it from a different perspective. Scouts are not denied a POR, they earn the right to serve in one, and they don't get one until they have demonstrated that they are reliable.

POR's shouldn't be given out because a scout wants one. POR's exist because the troop has a job that needs to be done on a regular basis. A scout that has shown that he is reliable is very likely to get appointed by the SPL and approved by the SM (I hope that you are not having elections for any POR other than PL and SPL; the rest of the POR's are appointed positions).

 

A scout that is unreliable (doesn't follow through on other tasks as a member of a patrol, doesn't join in willingly or volunteer for camp chores, whines about his task on duty roster, misses a lot of campouts, not fulfilling the duties of his previous POR, etc.) should not be given a POR by the SPL, nor approved by the SM. That is the scout that needs a friendly chat with the SM about why he didn't get a POR that he wanted, about cheerfully doing chores, about demonstrating trustworthiness, about how the troop needs scout leaders that actively contribute to the troop in order for the troop to survive and be a fun place for other scouts, and things he can do over the next 6 months to earn the SPL and SM's trust that he can be counted on to actually serve in a POR instead of merely wearing a patch on a sleeve.

THAT is the kind of SM conference and experience that can help a scout grow.

 

There's always the special project assigned by the SM too.

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Just saw this thread and want to say that Twocub and Vividi are giving great wisdom on the subject.

 

Program expectations should be given to the families before their sons join. The SM bares the responsibility of teaching all troop adults how the program will implemented to the scouts and the vision the troop is striving to meet. There Shouldn't be any surprises, only explanations for further understanding.

 

Barry

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