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ScoutMom22

Blue card refusal?

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ScoutMom22,

 

I respect your son not wanting to leave his current troop because of his friends, etc..

 

But what do you think is going to be the troop environment for your son when you pull off this show at the committee meeting?

 

I'm just saying...............................................

 

sst3rd

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Responding to Tahawk. This is somewhat hypothetical as I am not a SM or this particular SM.

 

1. Everyday and twice as much on Sunday.

 

2. Not as much these days. The dark forces of parental or peer pressure are growing stronger.

 

3. So the end justifies the means? The scout did not have a signed card, the 18 yr MBC proceeded anyway. Two wrongs make a right and that's okay. If I was SM, I would have a conference with the scout about what it means to be Trustworthy. What happens the next time when an activity that he is interested requires SM approval, will he do another end around?

But as the rules have changed (eroded the traditional MB process), I see no point requiring a SM to sign the blue card. If the scout wants advice then ask, if not fine. He's got an automatic green light no matter what.

 

4. The collateral damage is that scouters leave the BSA. Adults are harder to recruit if they know their judgment is not trusted and their decisions are not supported.

 

My $0.02

 

First, the rules require the discussion as a prerequisite, not the signed card. That is clear by the specific provision for pre-card work to be counted towards earning the badge.

 

The Scout should have had the discussion. We have one side of the story of why that did not happen.

 

The SM has said he would have (tried to) block the Scout from earning the badge even if the discussion took place, though it is very clear that the SM has no right to do so. The SM wants to create his own, personal advancement system outside the ambit of the rules he is honor-bound to uphold. So the discussion would have been an entirely futile act.

 

As between the kid and the adult, who committed the greater offense?

 

Trustworthy goes both ways. A Scoutmaster who shows the boys that the rules are to be ignored because he knows better (because the ends justify the means) may set an example that is somewhat outside the values and goals of Scouting. If he can't change, subtraction is addition.

 

Do we assume that the MBC was incompetent due to his age? I don't. I've seen 16-year-olds who knew more about the topic than some MBCs This was a registered MBC. Without more, he is presumed competent.

 

If reasonable, mature people are involved, there ought to be a way out that does not damage the Scout or the patrols. People do, however, get defensive. "Feedback is a gift" is only a nice theory.

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ScoutMom22' date=' I respect your son not wanting to leave his current troop because of his friends, etc.. But what do you think is going to be the troop environment for your son when you pull off this show at the committee meeting? I'm just saying............................................... sst3rd[/quote'] I agree and that is one of my major concerns with this. The ultimate reason why we are choosing to take this to the committee and push the issue is a moral one. All we are asking the SM and the Committee to do is to follow BSA policy. What would happen if we just left and not pushed the issue? - The same thing that has been happening to other scouts in this troop. (Several have left in the 12 months since we have joined because of issues similar - denials for Scoutmaster conferences, denials for boards of review, denials of ranks. The scouts and parents are getting very frustrated...) I have seen the troop numbers drop from about 35 active scouts when we joined to about 20 active scouts currently. My son has said that if it gets to that point where they ask him to leave because he had asked them to follow the BSA rules, then he will consider going to another troop. But he doesn't just want to turn his back and not fight for his right to receive a merit badge that he rightfully earned. In my opinion, I think that if the SM were to have called him back and talked to the boys about their concerns, they may have chosen a different MB. But he didn't, for whatever reason. And then when asked to provide the blue card, the SM had already decided to refuse them the card no matter what, instead of taking the opportunity to sit down with them at that point and counsel them about what they learned or of any difficulties that presented themselves by doing the MB. If his real issue was the fact that he feels older boys should be the only ones who earn the badge, then he could have maybe asked them if they thought the MB would have been easier if they were a little older/taller/stronger?

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My son has said that he doesn't want to leave the troop because a lot of friends have been made there but we are afraid that there may be a possibility for retaliation in the future (such as withholding ranks' date=' etc. *[u']which they have done in the past to other scouts[/u] who have questioned his "ruling")

 

I agree and that is one of my major concerns with this. The ultimate reason why we are choosing to take this to the committee and push the issue is a moral one. All we are asking the SM and the Committee to do is to follow BSA policy. What would happen if we just left and not pushed the issue? - The same thing that has been happening to other scouts in this troop. (Several have left in the 12 months since we have joined because of issues similar - denials for Scoutmaster conferences' date=' denials for boards of review, denials of ranks. [/b']The scouts and parents are getting very frustrated...) I have seen the troop numbers drop from about 35 active scouts when we joined to about 20 active scouts currently.

 

If you have the guide to advancement, you understand that the Scoutmaster is wrong there too. The problem for scouting with a Scoutmaster who believes "my way or the highway" is that scouts take the highway. Advancement is one of the methods of scouting... take that away or make it more difficult then the program becomes a little less like scouting.

 

Good luck to you and your son.

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In spirit at least, here's the right answer, despite Schiff's missing the change where BSA turned a Scoutmaster's signature on a blue card to meaningless scribbling:

 

What should I do?

Encourage your son to learn from this and continue. You should step back and watch. This is scouting, boys learn from their mistakes and move forward. He will earn Lifesaving MB the right way.

 

1. The scout talks to his Scoutmaster first and seeks his/her approval to start work on a MB. Sometimes I do not return calls/email if I am traveling on business, particularly if the issue is better discussed in detail at the next scout meeting. For the scout, if a call/email is not returned, call/email again or seek a face-to-face meeting.

2. Approval is not automatic. A SM may reject the idea and deny a card but he/she will state the reasons. For Lifesaving, I think scouts need more upper body strength and maturity than the average 11 yr old. If your SM have been given the opportunity, he/she would likely have directed your scout to other scout activities or merit badges.

3. The 18yr MBC was wrong in allowing your son to take the class without a SM signed blue card.

4. This was the SM's call, the Troop Committee supports the SM decision not approves it. I think you misunderstood or were misinformed of their involvement.

 

Usually troops have a new parent meeting early on where advancement and a myriad of other program specifics are explained so everyone is on the same page.

 

Hopefully lessons learned for the next merit badge.

 

My $0.02,

 

Personally, if I were the SM in this case, I would let your son move forward with the badge. He did the work so I'm not going to hold him up on a technicality. When I give the card, we will have a talk about why I fell the way I do about advancement. That is, I believe it is my job to help the Scouts I serve get the most out of their years in Scouting. Part of that is looking at the long term -- the whole 7 years he is going to be a Boy Scout, not just the opportunity he has this weekend.

 

I do believe your SM is correct in that there are a number of MBs which are better for Scouts to take at an older age -- Lifesaving is one, Personal Management, Personal Fitness, Family Life are others. There is a real difference in outlook toward these topics at 16 or 17 versus 11 or 12. I don't think you have to wait and do all of them at 16 y.o., but a Scout should experience some of them from a more mature perspective. And I don't particularly care which you do later, just some of them. But that doesn't mean I have hard-and-fast, "you must be 14" rules either. I'm smarter, more persuasive and been around too long to need draconian rules.

 

Seems to me the Scoutmaster is overwhelmed. Maybe his job has changed. Maybe there is something going on in his personal life. Maybe he's burned out and needs help -- or a replacement.

 

As a parent, you have an opportunity to teach your son a number of different lessons.

 

A Scout is Trustworthy. He needs to know what the rules are and follow them. He should also expect others to follow them, too. OBTW, that should include some introspection regarding the fact that your son chose to go ahead with the class without first getting the blue card.

 

A Scout is Kind. He should look at this from the Scoutmaster's point of view. I was a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor for years and can tell you there is some validity to his point. But your son isn't too young to what job/personal circumstances the SM may be under. Empathy is good lesson at any age.

 

A Scout is Brave. He should stand up for himself. When he and others are being treated unfairly and contrary to the rules, he should be the one to stand up for what is right.

 

A Scout is Helpful -- this one he gets to learn by watching your example. Are you going to go the Scout Lawyer route with lots of volunteer time spent on meetings, emails and appeals to council, or are you going to the troop and ask, "how can I help?"

 

Lots of lessons here. Which will your son learn?

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Here we go again, SM is always right especially when he's wrong.

 

Listen to Tahawk, his response is correct and right.

 

The only question here is whether or not the issue is a deal-breaker for the scout. He has a SM and Committee who are willfully ignorant and he's not going to endear himself to them by doing their jobs for them, and he's going to have to deal with them for 6 more years.

 

If I were your son, I might find particular satisfaction in pretending your SM isn't as dead wrong as he is, and letting the MB counselor give me the MB in two years or whatever. He knows your son already met the requirements and just has a dope SM.

 

 

Now that he's earned Lifesaving MB, have him look into the National Outdoor Awards badge for Aquatics; it's a lot of work and well worth it. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...wards/NOA.aspx

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denials for Scoutmaster conferences' date=' denials for boards of review, denials of ranks.)[/quote']

 

 

Sounds like this Troop needs a visit from the District Advancement Chair and a Commissioner, there is a much bigger issue here than refusing to give a blue card, the entire advancement system is broken. How active of a role does the Chartered Organization play in the troop? I would suggest having the Chartered Organization Representative attend when the District Advancement Chair meets with the troop, he is position to tell the troop what they HAVE to do.

 

 

While I assume you have been pouring over the GTA, I will give you a few more quotes from it.

4.2.3.5: Unit leaders do not have the authority to deny a Scout a conference that is necessary for him to meet the requirements for his rank

 

8.0.0.2 A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity. When he believes he has completed all the requirements for a rank, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmastersâ€â€or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rankâ€â€for example, do not have authority to expect a boy to request or organize one, or to “defer†him, or to ask him to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one.

 

As for denying a rank, I assume this means all requirement are met including the board of review, this is not addressed in the GTA because once the board is complete, and recommended for advancement, the scout is now the next rank. If this is not how it works in your troop, you have some major hurdles to overcome and these people have not place in scouting.

 

If they do not get their act together, then your son, and his friends, should start looking for another troop.

 

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Well the good news is I am not a SM as I would not sign anything if I thought it was the wrong thing to do. I believe as adults we can say NO to children if that is our best judgment.

It is the job of the local council to approve (or deny) who is a qualified MB councilor for Scouts; it is not up to the judgment of an individual Scoutmaster to "approve" or "deny" who they think is "qualified" to be a MB councilor for a Scouts. If the individual is registered and approved by the council as a MBC, then they are a MBC. Period. End of discussion. A SM can't add extra requirements to the badge, and can't overrule the authority of a MBC.

 

A Scoutmaster doesn't have the right or the authority to accept some MBCs and not accept others based on his own personal opinions of how he thinks a specific merit badge should or shouldn't be taught. The BSA's merit badge program does not fall under the jurisdiction of a SM, and it is not up to a SM to decide who can or can't be a MBC; that's up to the council to decide and administer. Scoutmasters can give their guidance and recommendations to Scouts on which MBs to work on and which MBCs to work with (they can share there their two-cents and steer Scouts towards who and what they think would be best for them); but ultimately they can't veto or overrule the authority of, or the judgments made by, a registered MBC.

 

If a SM doesn't think a MBC is qualified or suspects they aren't following the rules or requirements, he should bring it up to the council to have the person removed as a MBC. But a Scoutmaster doesn't have the authority to override or undermine the authority of a registered MBC when it comes to how to teach a badge or who they can (or can't) work with. Scoutmasters don't control merit badge councilors and nor do they have the authority to decide what is acceptable or not for a specific merit badge (that's the MBC's job).

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It is the job of the local council to approve (or deny) who is a qualified MB councilor for Scouts; it is not up to the judgment of an individual Scoutmaster to "approve" or "deny" who they think is "qualified" to be a MB councilor for a Scouts. If the individual is registered and approved by the council as a MBC, then they are a MBC. Period. End of discussion. A SM can't add extra requirements to the badge, and can't overrule the authority of a MBC.

 

A Scoutmaster doesn't have the right or the authority to accept some MBCs and not accept others based on his own personal opinions of how he thinks a specific merit badge should or shouldn't be taught. The BSA's merit badge program does not fall under the jurisdiction of a SM, and it is not up to a SM to decide who can or can't be a MBC; that's up to the council to decide and administer. Scoutmasters can give their guidance and recommendations to Scouts on which MBs to work on and which MBCs to work with (they can share there their two-cents and steer Scouts towards who and what they think would be best for them); but ultimately they can't veto or overrule the authority of, or the judgments made by, a registered MBC.

 

If a SM doesn't think a MBC is qualified or suspects they aren't following the rules or requirements, he should bring it up to the council to have the person removed as a MBC. But a Scoutmaster doesn't have the authority to override or undermine the authority of a registered MBC when it comes to how to teach a badge or who they can (or can't) work with. Scoutmasters don't control merit badge councilors and nor do they have the authority to decide what is acceptable or not for a specific merit badge (that's the MBC's job).

 

If National does not trust the SM's judgment, then remove the SM from the process. Seems strange since National still unilaterally allows MBC's, camps, and MB colleges to make such decisions/restrictions. Read MB college and summer camp pamphlets and you will often see *footnotes, "MBC requires scout be FC", "Scout must be 13", "Scout must be at least 80lbs for shotgun..." Ok for them but not the SM, got it.

 

So take the SM completely out the process. Council is the sole gatekeeper (quality control) and maintains the MBC list. Scouts select a MBC from a Council list. MBC's can carry a deck of blank blue cards. Parents and scouts can send praise and complaints regarding MBC's and any Council MB programs to Council. Not the SM's or Troop Committee's problem other than awarding the badge.

 

Hmmm...

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The Scoutmaster's role in the Merit Badge process has always been one of mentorship. It's never been one of control. The reason the Scoutmaster signs blue cards has never been to control the process (at least officially - unfortunately, in practice there have always been Scoutmasters who never quite got the process and thought it was their place to control the process. Even more unfortunately, those folks shared their practices with other leaders and the madness spread like the tentacles of an octopus strangling a fish). The reason the SM signs the blue cards is so that they have a chance to chat with the Scout, encourage the Scout, and prepare the Scout for things he might not be aware of. For most of the life of the Merit Badge program, it was the Council or District that controlled the list (it was a huge mistake on the part of the BSA to start encouraging units to create their own MBC lists). The Scoutmaster would share the names on that list and through mentorship, could guide Scouts towards or away from counselors, without outright banning a Scout from using a particular MBC. Most Scouts will listen to their SM's suggestions, but always, the best SM's would make clear it was the Scout's choice and would strongly suggest that if they didn't like the counselor, that it was their choice and they should stick it out (unless the Scout was in danger).

 

Now it may seem inconsistent that MBCs, Scout Camps and District/Council run events might be able to have their own pre-reqs, but one needs to take into account other factors. A Scout Camp may require a Scout to weigh 80 lbs to use a shotgun and that's likely to come from requirements their insurance company imposes on them. Same for age limits - it's far more likely that the insurance company is driving those decisions. I'd personally be wary of an individual MBC creating their own age limit rules, but if they can show a good reason for it, it might make sense. But that is part of the program as well - the Scoutmaster is not a gatekeeper - and if a Scoutmaster thinks they need to be a gatekeeper, then perhaps that's the wrong role for them to be playing.

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National Council never gave the SM the right to render that "judgment," so it has no occasion to take it away.

 

The SM's role in the process was ably described by CalicoPenn. That role would extend to a SMC with the Scout if he crashes and burns trying to pass a MB he was not ready to take. Lesson learned? The path to success often goes through failure. And if he actually passed, he was right about being "ready" and the SM was wrong. Self-defining.

 

On the other hand, SMs who take it on themselves to elevate their individual preferences over clear BSA.policy and practice have occasion to reconsider why they agreed to be BSA-commissioned Scouters.

 

Not sure how BSA acts other than "unilaterally."

 

If you mean that MBC's and councils act unilaterally to change requirements, as in Merit badge Mills, that's wrong and BSA has a form for the SM to report such transgressions. Whether BSA will act is an open question. However, I'm old enough that I was told "Two wrongs don't make a right."

 

Issues of Trustworthiness and Honor aside, if every SM makes his or her own rules, I doubt that there is any logical reason to think that such behavior would improve the process. That you have confidence in yourself may be justified but is no evidence of how it would work as a general practice. The average SM serves for less than one year.

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Scoutmasters are mentors to scouts - merit badges or not, signature or not. A scout can ask advice or not.

 

So a proposal,

 

I see no need for a SM signature if he/she has no authority in the process.

 

For those who complain about SM's not performing or exceeding a responsibility, you get your wish. SM's are out of the loop.

 

For all others who are allowed by council/National to change requirements for "good reasons" or not, they are not affected.

 

Council is the sole gatekeeper (quality control) of the merit badge program. Prospective MBC's are vetted (really). Council maintains a current list of MBC's. Scouts select a MBC from a Council list.

 

MBC's can carry a deck of blank blue cards or maybe scouts buy a deck of 21 cards from scoutstuff.org at crossover. Ka-ching.

 

Parents and scouts can send praise and complaints regarding MBC's and any Council MB programs (summer camp, MB colleges) straight to Council. MB's are no longer the SM's or Troop Committee's problem other than awarding the badge.

 

I think I like it. :)

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As noted above, the requirement of a discussion between the Scout and the SM creates an opportunity for the SM to be what you described - a mentor. That is far from a trivial thing for a person who cares, as you clearly do.

 

There are other possibilities for which one might wish besides SMs assuming powers they do not have OR SMs being totally out of the process. One other behavior that I would desire would be SMs doing what they are supposed to do within the process..

 

I was not aware that the process was set up for the SM to be the one(s) to take care of MBC problems. In my councils, the District Advancement Chair, by delegated authority from Council, handles complaints about MBC's. The same is true of complaints about Merit Badge events and Summer Camp MB problems. I believe that is in accord with the Guide to Advancement, but I am willing to be instructed otherwise.

 

Formally, Council already has the responsibility of quality control over MBCs given that council is the sole authority to grant the status of Merit Badge Counselor or to terminate it. Having said that, should we not all be mindful of the integrity of the program, and not just SM's and "council"? "It's not my job" fits as poorly with "obey the Scout Law" as "I don't care what the rules are; I do it my way." We teach the Scouts at NYLT that part of having values is not to ignore serious wrongs. We teach all Scouts that rules are generally to be followed. Do we expect less of ourselves?

 

MB problems are not and have never been a Troop Committee problem.

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