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scoutmom757

Scoutmaster Conference - Is this the right way?

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My son has been in scouting since he was a tiger cub and I led his pack for 2 1/2 yrs. We moved so he's transferred troops (from the one he originally bridged to). He is still excited about scouting, but saying that we're not in Kansas anymore would be an understatement. We came from a troop with approximately 24 scouts to one that has doubled. from one that wore the shirt as their uniform (because of the socioeconomics of our area) to a full uniformed scout requirement.

 

Now don't get me wrong we are OK with these changes and others, but now that my son has had to request three scoutmaster conferences for his 1st class rank and been denied advancement for a third time I'm frustrated to say the least and also a bit confused with regard to the regulations surrounding a SMC.

 

1. 1st SMC with ASM - close to 30min. denied because he didn't know all of his knots

 

OK, he practices his knots

 

2. 2nd SMC with a different ASM from the 1st SMC - denied because he got the oath and law mixed up

 

BUT he knew his knots

 

3. 3rd SMC with yet another ASM - denied before it even started because he had white socks on.

 

He knew his knots and his law, EDGE and oath

 

OK, my understanding is that 1st class is an important rank for the troop and you really need to know your stuff, but should he be denied a SMC because of his socks? Is the SMC a pass/fail, I thought that was what BofR was? How can my son learn consistency if he never actually has the conference with the SM, but has the SMC with every ASM in the troop.

 

I feel as if this is deterring from the program and it's now almost a point where the 4th time around he'll get another ASM and get denied again for something that was already signed of on.

 

I hope someone with BSA knowledge can ease our frustrations, before mama bear is unleashed! As for my son, he's assertive and requests SMC conferences as soon as he's finished his requirements, he is not being forced by his parents to do these conferences, however we aren't part of the committee or the tightknit ASM circle of parents and boys, so I do feel like we are a part of the outer circle. I would really like to know how to best handle this situation without jeopardizing his future in the troop.

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Hi scoutmom757,

 

Welcome to the forums. Is your son looking for his scoutmaster conference or is he looking for requirements to be signed off?

In units where the SM or ASMs are signing off on requirements, what may look like a scoutmaster conference isn't really that.

 

Make sure you understand what your scout son is trying to do, then read the guide to advancement paying particular attention to pages 24-29: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf

 

If you are absolutely sure your son is getting a fail on the scoutmaster conference and not individual sign off items, it's time to find a new troop. It ain't worth the hassle.

 

Good luck!

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Run, Scoutmom, Run! There are so many things wrong. The SMC is NOT pass/fail. The requirements are to "take part in a SMC". It should not be a re-test of previously passed items. Nor should the BOR be a re-test. A complete uniform is NOT a requirement, so the socks should be a moot point. This seems like a bunch of stuffed shirted egotists getting off on harassing and holding back a deserving young boy. God only knows what other violations of policy are taking place. I would search out another troop quickly!

 

Dale

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Koolaidman, I thought some of the same things especially with the knots, oath, etc. but then with the socks? Since when did they put in a scout socks requirement?

 

Scoutmom757, it looks kinds strange at first, but before you unleash mamma bear on these guys, stop and think for a moment. Your boy is going for FC, Too many troops, especially the Eagle Mill types pencil whip the boys through and they really don't get the full value of the program and probably none of the leadership/maturity/character building that should occur. On the other hand these guys sound kinda tough. I would ask myself why? Pick on the new kid? or test his metal? :) These guys really don't know your boy very well and having come from a different troop, maybe that troop was the pencil whipping kind and they aren't going to accept that. So your boy needs to step up his game.

 

I don't know anything about your boy, but I do know that boys at that age are rather passive and timid and if he's going to grow out of his little boy pants he's going to need to play the game on the adult level.

 

So here's the plan.

 

1) Your boy needs focus on the game. Are all my ducks in order on the requirements at hand. Do I really know my stuff or was it kinda pencil whipped. They can't ding me if I really know my stuff.

 

2) Your boy needs to realize the limits of the game. They can't enforce a no-white socks rule for advancement. Okay get him a pair of socks, have him make sure his uniform is all there, all in place, buttons buttoned, and they aren't going to ding me for me not paying attention to detail.

 

3) Practice confidence. If your son knows his stuff, looks the part, then believe in himself and don't let a bunch of old foggies blow any smoke his way.

 

4) Learn the phrase: "With all due respect, Mr. ________ ..." If they toss some crap his way, this is his polite response to their game plan. "With all due respect, Mr. Smith, I couldn't find my scout socks this evening. My apologies for being out of uniform. I am having this SMC to advance in rank, not pass a uniform inspection. May we please continue or is this conference over?" Be sure to thank him for his time whether it was successful or not.

 

5) When your son enters this room he presents himself to the ASM and stands at attention until invited to sit down. When he does sit down he sits only on the first 6" of the chair, he never sits back and/or slouches. He answers every question with as much information as he can muster requiring them to interrupt to go on to the next question. It majorly reduces the number of questions they can ask. I had an Eagle candidate do this in his EBOR and the board only asked him 4 questions. :)

 

If one focuses on these sorts of actions, most adults basically don't know how to react to them. They assume the boy to not know his stuff, and is able to be intimidated and flustered, but when the boy isn't, they are off guard and will draw the situation to a close earlier than they would have had they been able to continue their game.

 

Always remain polite!

 

My Eagle candidate that did it for his EBOR came into the room stood at attention and saluted. The board members didn't know what to do. Finally one said "Okay, you may be seated." He then introduced himself an shook hands with every board member before sitting down. Each one had to do a scramble to get to their feet to return the handshake. The first comment made by the chair was that Scouts only salute the flag." to which the boy responded, "Not according to the Boy Scout Handbook, Mr. _____" Opened his book and show them the page where it is proper to show respect to other scouts with a salute. This kid had that group on the ropes from the beginning and they never really recovered. Four months later this boy was the Eagle Scout speaker at the Golden Eagle Banquet for the council.

 

Maturity and confidence is not a bad thing.

 

Stosh

 

As SM for the boy I was able to sit in on the EBOR and even I was surprised at what this kid did. I would have been intimidated had I been on the Board! I was really, really glad I was just an observer.

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Or, you could teach your son how to respectfully disagree with these old farts.

 

He could request to talk to the SM. Or since he had his SMC's. He could request a BoR.

 

At the BoR, he can say what about this process he felt was unfair. Based on your description ...

1. Knots, well yeah his bad. Every 1st class scout should know his knots, but now that he does, he feels qualified to take his patrol hiking and camping.

2. He finds it hard to believe that misplacing the titles of two declarations betrays any unwillingness to live by those declarations.

3. Sock selection was added to the requirements, and he thinks any objective measure of scout spirit would have nothing to do with standard-issue socks. Furthermore, it undermines the SPL's leadership by denying him the privilege of organizing uniform inspection according to the BSA inspection sheet . In other words, it is highly unlikely that this level of critical spirit of uniforms is, well, uniform.

 

 

Now, Mama bear, with all due respect. This is your boy's journey, and just like in a sport with a bad referee at a game, a screaming parent just winds up ejected from the field, and their team given a penalty. (Can ya' tell I'm gearing up for announcing tonight?) If he doesn't want to be that confrontational, then ask him if he still wants to be considered a 1st class scout by the folks in this troop? If so, tell him it looks like the only way for him is through this problem (i.e. keep trying). Maybe ask for the 4th SMC with all 3 ASMs!

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According to the BSA's advancement track, a Scout learns, then he is tested. Next he is reviewed and then finally recognized. I trust my Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters to take care of the "testing" portion of this before signing off the requirements in the boy's handbook. By the time the Scout comes to me, the Scoutmaster, asking for a conference I know he's already learned and has been tested. The Scoutmaster conference shouldn't be a time for drilling the Scout to make sure he really learned his knots and first aid skills or to remember what he cooked and with whom he cooked it.

 

Rather, a Scoutmaster conference is a time when the Scoutmaster gets to know the Scout. Baden-Powell said that a Scoutmaster should interact with the boy on the individual level and not with the mass. What I try to do during the conference is focus on the Scout's experiences in Scouting--with the Troop, the Order of the Arrow, and where he plans to go in from that point forward. I never ask him to tie a knot. Often, I'll ask the Scout about his school and what he does when he's not Scouting.

 

Also, if he's tried three times to participate in a Scoutmaster conference--has done so twice and then been denied a third time--he should "raise the red flag" and ask the Scoutmaster, personally, to sit down with him. After all, the goal of the BSA is for every Scout to attain the rank of First Class. I believe the Scoutmaster, not an Assistant, would want to sit with this Scout and determine the quality of the boy's path so far...

 

 

 

 

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How does your son like the rest of the program this troop puts on? What I wouldn't like, as either a scout or leader, about this part of their program, makes me doubt I'd like the rest of their program very much. You and/or your son can try to bring some enlightenment to these folks by trying to show them where what they're doing is different from the program materials, but it sounds like they have a strong idea about just what scouts should be.

 

Look around, try another troop; you can find solid boy led programs that are active, develop good scout skills and more importantly good citizenship, without what looks to me like a lot of chicken-stuff.

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This sounds like the troop culture, so it's a Scoutmaster issue. What your son needs is a true Scoutmaster Conference where the SM has a heart to heart discussion about your sons experience, not a test of skills. He may not get that in this culture. So my suggestion is for him to request a BOR so he can explain his struggle there. But I think he is likely to get the "this is how we do it" answer. Honestly you have not described a bad troop, just one that has high expectations and accountability. It doesn't sound very boy run, but a troop like that may be rare in your area. I agree that your son needs to take a lead on this, but a parent also has a right to understand the program. You can be inquisitive without being a demanding helicopter parent. Yes, thinking about, I agree with others that your son needs to talk with SM. He could start by asking the SPL to help him. Barry

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LeCaster,

 

" I trust my Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters to take care of the "testing" portion of this before signing off the requirements in the boy's handbook."

 

 

Shouldn't this be: I trust my Patrol Leaders and Guide, under the supervision of my Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters, to take care of the "testing" portion of this before signing off the requirements in the boy's handbook.

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My PL's take care of signing off on their patrol member's advancement. It's their responsibility to see to it they get trained and given credit for it, both in the boy's book and with the ASM in charge of the TroopMaster records. It's all part of the "Take care of your boys" leadership process in our troop. This process is not under anyone else's "supervision". They know their responsibility and are expected to fulfill it. No adult has the responsibility of running around nagging boys to do the jobs they have taken on. The boys know that if the PL doesn't do his job, he can be replaced in a heartbeat. The PL knows it too. There have been a few times that a new PL will inform the ASM in charge of advancement that So-and-So is no longer the PL of Such-and-Such patrol and that he is. If the old PL doesn't get his 6 months in on it as a POR, it's now his problem and no one else's.

 

If one of my boys was experiencing the problems listed by scoutmom757 and his PL wasn't in my face about it, I'd be upset with the PL. It is obvious the lack of leadership in this troop where no one is taking care of anyone other than themselves and the adults may be abusing it.

 

If a Scout witnesses a situation that is wrong, he has the responsibility to step up and fix it. Where's the PL and SPL in this situation? Where does the boy go for help? I hope the young man learns the lesson of what a leaderless troop is and when he finds a troop that develops leadership in the boys, takes it to heart and helps boys like himself in their struggles.

 

Stosh

 

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Our unit requires class A uniforms for SMC's and BOR's. The practice is not unusual. That said, I recall such a conference about a year ago where the Scout was wearing an oversized uniform short with a Assistant Scoutmaster patch on it. Asking the Scouts to get a 100 on their uniform inspection before starting is a bit beyond what I would expect see.

 

IMHO, retesting is wrong. The guidance in the Scoutmaster Handbook for board of reviews specifically says there should be no retests. This Troop is skirting that guidance by doing the retesting during the Scoutmaster Conference, complying with the letter of the law, but not the spirit. That said, I know of other units in my area that do retest. It is simply the way they do things, and fighting it is pointless and will only engender hard feelings.

 

My suggestion: Troops come in many flavors. Jump on beascout.org and see if there is another Troop in your area. It might well be worth a visit.

 

 

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Old_Ox, yes (:o) that's exactly the way it should be! However, I inherited a Troop that was oriented toward adults teaching and testing the boys for Scout skills (T-2-1 ranks). In the past two years, I've been able to get the older boys to step in and do the teaching--Troop Guide, JASM, and Eagles who want to hang around but not have an official "position of responsibility". BUT, inertia is hard to overcome and some adults continue to insert themselves in the teaching process. Every little inch toward boys leading/teaching boys is a success in my opinion. I feel that I've been able to make great strides since taking over as Scoutmaster.

 

One positive is that some of the older Scouts who grew up with the adult-led-all-the-time have turned 18 and are away at college. These Scouts were my biggest roadblock when I took over three years ago. When I asked if they would like to take back their Troop and do some nitty gritty Scouting, they responded, no, this is how it's always done here and that's the way we'll keep it thanks you very much. But those days are behind me and brighter days are ahead.

 

I don't want to hijack this thread from the original post...SO, as I said in a previous post, the Scout seeking 1st Class Scoutmaster conference should ask to speak with the Scoutmaster and ask for a board of review. If he is rejected again then he should look for another Troop that isn't holding boys back. Advancement is only one method...It's not he be-all-end-all of Scouting.

 

LeCastor

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Meschen, sounds like your troop punishes and adds to the advancement requirements with the boys not having a uniform. I know that is a forbidden practice in the BSA program. Might want to revisit that. And yes, you are correct, the practice is not unusual, because those troops are not informed of BSA policy. This kind of thing happens with untrained leaders who follow troop tradition rather than BSA policy.

 

And when you say "class A uniforms", I'm assuming you mean the BSA uniform in it's entirety? Socks, pants, belt, shirt, etc?

 

And yes, finding a troop that does programming in accordance with BSA policy is a good idea.

 

Stosh

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You seem to be describing a troop where the Scouters are united in ignorance or deliberate non-compliance with the rules. That being the case, I join the suggestion that you look for another troop. Unfortunately, many troops are not Boy Scout troops, and this is knowingly tolerated by B.S.A. If you wish to do so, you might write your council and District Commissioner to calmly explain why your son left Troop 666 - a pattern of failure to comply with the Guide to Advancement.

 

The notion that a boy will have a good, much less successful, experience taking on a group of adults about their behavior is unrealistic. Even if the boy deals well with such an experience,, the chances that he will make any impression on a group of Scouters united in misconduct is extremely unlikely - at best.

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