Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
ScoutMom22

Blue card refusal?

Recommended Posts

As noted above' date=' 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.[/quote']

 

This didn't happen in the OP, whether you point to the scout for doing an end around or the SM for not responding fast enough over Christmas vacation. Apparently others have had issues so just drop a requirement that is being ignored.

 

Or make it optional, after all the same was done for ranks some years ago. A scout can work on any rank requirement out of order without discussing with SM. For example, a scout can work on FC cooking requirement before he had passed SC cooking. All a SM can do is :rolleyes: .

 

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..

 

And that would be what...just talk. No authority to "do the right thing", in delivering on the promise.

 

So Tommy Scout asks SM for a MB card. He plans to work on yet another merit badge with his Uncle Miltie, Aunt Bee, Mr. Easy, or Mrs. Alldone. The SM says he has already earn 3 from that MBC why not try another person (Adult association method). No thanks I will stick what works for me. Hrrrumph. Against his/her better judgment, the SM is required to sign the card. Hands are tied.

 

So Tommy Scout asks SM for a MB card. He plans to work on several/all Eagle MB's with his Dad. Against his/her better judgment, the SM is required to sign the card. Hands are tied.

 

Back in the day, my SM asked about my grades before issuing a card. And yes he said NO a couple of times. I guess that would be considered child abuse now.

 

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.

 

Around here the District Advancement Chair is often unfilled. Perhaps because they have no real authority to fix problems?

 

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?

BINGO. The SM is the one person who sees the whole picture - the SCOUT, the TROOP, the PROGRAM, and COUNCIL/NATIONAL. TRAIN him/her and TRUST his/her judgment. If not, go with my proposal.

 

If the SM's reasons are sound (not just this is the way I have always done it) but the scout/family still disagree, find another troop. Got a SM who cannot explain his/her reasons, give the Unit Commissioner authority to talk and REMOVE that person if necessary, just like the old days.

 

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

You are right, but they were in the OP.

 

Another $0.01

 

P.S. The Merit Badge Program was already broken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So Tommy Scout asks SM for a MB card. He plans to work on yet another merit badge with his Uncle Miltie, Aunt Bee, Mr. Easy, or Mrs. Alldone. The SM says he has already earn 3 from that MBC why not try another person (Adult association method). No thanks I will stick what works for me. Hrrrumph. Against his/her better judgment, the SM is required to sign the card. Hands are tied.

So Tommy Scout asks SM for a MB card. He plans to work on several/all Eagle MB's with his Dad. Against his/her better judgment, the SM is required to sign the card. Hands are tied.

Back in the day, my SM asked about my grades before issuing a card. And yes he said NO a couple of times. I guess that would be considered child abuse now.

There is a difference between mentoring/guiding a Scout through the advancement program of the BSA and forcing/controlling a Scout to take a specific path.

 

There are rules. BSA writes them. And BSA allows a Scout to earn all their MBs with the same councilor (assuming that person is registered as a councilor for all the badges they're signing-off on). And that person can even be the Scouts mom or dad. It is 100% "legal." You (and I) may not like that, but it's the way it is. BSA does discourage it, but they do not outlaw or forbid it.

 

So, if Tommy Scout comes to you and wants to earn a 10th merit badge with his Uncle Miltie (assuming Miltie is a registered MBC for the badges), Tommy has the right to do that. The SM can't say "no, you have to use a different councilor." But his hands aren't totally tied; he doesn't have to just sit there any accept Tommy's choice without a fight. When Tommy Scout comes for that 'blue card,' you can talk with him -- encourage him to try working someone else; find out why he always goes to Uncle Miltie and no one else; recommend some new and more exciting councilors and different MB opportunities; go encourage a buddy or two from his patrol to try to get Tommy to work with them on a MB together with someone else; maybe even go talk with his parents and/or Uncle Miltie about the benefits of having Tommy work with someone else on a badge or two.

 

But, yes, ultimately it's the Scout's decision. It is "legal" for him to earn all his merit badges from "Uncle Miltie" or "MBC daddy," and a Scoutmaster can't make a new rule that says a Scout can't. If you think these rules are wrong, then work to have them changed; don't just create your own rules (a Scout is obedient).

 

As a Scoutmaster, if a Scout came to me and asked for a MB card, I may ask him about his grades (just as your SM did). If he's flunking all of his classes, and I feel that he'd be over-extending himself and neglecting his schoolwork in favor of taking on a 6th or 7th merit badge, I may tell him to slow down and focus on school first. We'd talk about ways to balance Scouts and school and whatever else he may have going on in his life; maybe I'd help him get back on the right track. Hopefully I could persuade him and get him to 'buy-in' on the idea. But ultimately, the decision is the Scouts. Hey, at least I had the opportunity as his SM to conference with him and discuss ways to fix the problem. Simply withholding a 'blue card' because he had D's and F's wouldn't have solved the problem (heck, it may have made it worse). And not having the opportunity to check-in with the Scout before he took on badge #7 would have been a missed opportunity.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

 

Well written. "I believe" BSA has always meant it to be this way, but BSA had gave scoutmasters some latitude. "I believe" BSA updates removed any such discretion are triggered by scoutmasters having an inch and taking a mile. I've seen things such as "you already have four merit badges in progress. Finish one before I give you another." ... "You're too young." ... "I want you to learn ### first."

 

There is much to be improved in the current merit badge process, but the scoutmaster signature on the blue card is not one of them.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the MBC is not doing his or her job, only the "unit leader" can file the formal complaint. That, not a veto over the Scout doing MB work, is the tool to correct the problems that you imply. I have filed such complaints. After investigation, 4 of 5 MBCs were decertified for eliminating or adding requirements. (No 5 quit in a huff, and she was reportedly the biggest offender. See, MBCs also think they can ignore the rules in the name of doing "the right thing..")

 

I agreed that the discussion was not held as required. So have the discussion. The issue for the SM in the OP seems to be controlling the Scout's MB work, not the counseling that he is supposed to be doing.

 

The District Advancement Chair acts on delegated authority from Council. Absent a Counsel Advancement Committee, the Council President is responsible. (Tends to speed up filling vacancies when it lands on Mr. President's lap.)

 

The SM, being human, tends to see what he or she expects and wants to see. It's the same self-blinding that rationalizes "the boys are not mature enough to elect their leaders or to lead."

 

We are empowered not by ourselves or any superhuman abilities but by BSA with the express understanding that we follow BSA's rules.

 

Unit commissioners have never had the authority to remove a SM. And I was a "Neighborhood Commissioner," so I doubt that the Way Back Machine goes further back for you than it does for me. Arthur Shuck was my first "Chief" and had six more years to run. How about you?

 

The Committee was involved in attempting to run the MB program in the OP because, like the SM, they didn't understand the program or elected to ignore the rules.

 

I agree that much is wrong with the program. Writing to National, are you?

 

In the meanwhile, the troop with which I work has abandoned last year's "mill," and we are going to a camp known for requiring that MBs actually be earned. If I could get the SM to lose his firm belief that "Scouting is all about boys becoming Eagles," even more could be done. We might stop patronizing "Merit Badge Day." But he too believes that he knows better - even best.

 

That's the basic danger with folks who know better than the rules. For every SM breaking the rules to good effect, I can show you several breaking them to bad effect - like the 80% in my councils who appoint all the PLs and SPLs and give all the orders. You think the MB program is broken? That's a mote in Scouting's eye compared to the death-by-inches of the Patrol Method

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the MBC is not doing his or her job, only the "unit leader" can file the formal complaint. That, not a veto over the Scout doing MB work, is the tool to correct the problems that you imply. I have filed such complaints. After investigation, 4 of 5 MBCs were decertified for eliminating or adding requirements. (No 5 quit in a huff, and she was reportedly the biggest offender. See, MBCs also think they can ignore the rules in the name of doing "the right thing..")

Your luck has been better.

 

I agreed that the discussion was not held as required. So have the discussion. The issue for the SM in the OP seems to be controlling the Scout's MB work, not the counseling that he is supposed to be doing.

Have not heard the SM's side. I agree there should be a SM conference.

 

The District Advancement Chair acts on delegated authority from Council. Absent a Counsel Advancement Committee, the Council President is responsible. (Tends to speed up filling vacancies when it lands on Mr. President's lap.)

 

The SM, being human, tends to see what he or she expects and wants to see. It's the same self-blinding that rationalizes "the boys are not mature enough to elect their leaders or to lead."

When we get a District Advancement Chair, I will ask him about that.

 

We are empowered not by ourselves or any superhuman abilities but by BSA with the express understanding that we follow BSA's rules.

In this matter, SM's are not trusted by the BSA so they are not empowered. If the BSA wants it that way, let's drop the signature as it implies approval which may not be the case or should a SM sign and add "Discussed. Approval should not be implied"?

Unit commissioners have never had the authority to remove a SM. And I was a "Neighborhood Commissioner," so I doubt that the Way Back Machine goes further back for you than it does for me. Arthur Shuck was my first "Chief" and had six more years to run. How about you?

Mid 60's. Our Neighborhood Commissioner did. Did Councils empower differently? Maybe. He did unit full inspections and was a major presence at camporees. He graded each scout right down to the dime and hankerchief in their pocket, then it was the SM's turn and we wondered if our SM remembered to hide his Winston's. The NC reviewed membership and advancement records, each active scout had one double side sheet in the SM's notebook - simple. This didn't take long, nor did reviewing the program calendar (we went month by month). Most of his time was spent reviewing the troop bank ledger and checkbook. At the time, some units had some discrepancies and committeemen were removed. Quick and quiet - 'Thank you, we need someone else now.' Our council and the NC had zero tolerance for booze, another unit SM had a problem there and he was dismissed. Again quick and quiet. He spoke with SPL and ASPL, also asked Quartermaster for equipment list not to check inventory himself but to see if the QM was on top of it. NC was a WW2 vet and could turn from Friendly to stern with a snap of his finger.

 

Back then, National had at least some of the common sense rules in place that some SM's want now.

- Work on ranks in order, one at a time and tenure in rank required

- Had to be FC to work on merit badges

- No immediate recognition, you waited until COH

 

Anyway his inspections were usually once a year. If the troop did well it received a flag ribbon in Feb, if not follow-up inspections were held. Sorry to ramble, Council did have quality control back then, scouting was more visible in the community. Our appearance in public and our public reputation were taken seriously. Scouts wore their uniforms as they walked to meetings (it was okay then). Downtown business windows were decorated by scouts for Feb Scout Week. Some wore their uniforms to junior high and on a dare, to high school.

 

Sorry for the memory lane rambling.

 

The Committee was involved in attempting to run the MB program in the OP because, like the SM, they didn't understand the program or elected to ignore the rules.

 

I agree that much is wrong with the program. Writing to National, are you?

Well we have not heard from the OP SM and TC so that may not be true. Yes I have written Irving over the years, so far no response. Well maybe I influenced a change allowing scouts to help other organizations (in particular Salvation Army) raise money.

 

In the meanwhile, the troop with which I work was abandoned last year's "mill," and we are going to a camp known for requiring that MBs actually be earned. If I could get the SM to lose his firm belief that "Scouting is all about boys becoming Eagles," even more could be done. We might stop patronizing "Merit Badge Day." But he too believes that he knows better - even best.

 

That's the basic danger with folks who know better than the rules. For every SM breaking the rules to good effect, I can show you several breaking them to bad effect - like the 80% in my councils who appoint all the PLs and SPLs and give all the orders. You think the MB program is broken? That's a mote in Scouting's eye compared to the death-by-inches of the Patrol Method

 

I have felt that pain and did not win. This SM draws his political strength from his local Union of Wannabee Eagle Families. I contend that we scouters cannot fix any problems such as these with a troop, we can only move to another troop. Where's a good NC to enforce a quality troop program when you need one?

 

Agreed. But for every dumb SM-made rule, I can find an even dumber National rule.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've gone off track a bit here into discussing philosophy of Scouting rather than this specific incident, which is fine.

What we must remember is that Scouting is a movement, it is not static, the program changes, things are updated, things are changed for better and for worse and sometimes changed back. But like any movement, the vision is set somewhere, and it is our job to work toward that vision, not our own.

And with that said, I will be "that guy" at this point and point out what Baden-Powell had to say about Scouters who think they know better:

"Where a man cannot conscientiously take the line required, his one manly course is to put it straight to his Commissioner or to Headquarters, and if we cannot meet his views, then to leave the work. He goes into it in the first place with his eyes open, and it is scarcely fair if afterwards, because he finds the details do not suit him, he complains that it is the fault of the Executive."

-Aids to Scoutmastership, p 7

 

I can tell you why I follow the policies, and that is because I had a SM who knew better, and I was not ever going to be an Eagle Scout (I didn't care one whit) but I decided toward the end to at least make it one more rank, and finish up a handful of partials. However, my genius SM decided that the partials were invalid because they were over 6 mos old, and I had to start again. With that news a few months before my 18th birthday, I didn't bother. I took his word for it since I trusted him. I didn't actually find out he was wrong until a decade later.

I'm sure he had the most golden logic in the world in his own mind, and it doesn't matter one bit because he was dead wrong, he is a liar, he abused my trust, and he can still go to the Devil.

 

SMs have a job, it is to run the program, not to write it. And if they have a problem with the program, they can take it up with Irvingâ€â€the "manly course"â€â€not take it out on Scouts.

 

There are rules. BSA writes them. And BSA allows a Scout to earn all their MBs with the same councilor (assuming that person is registered as a councilor for all the badges they're signing-off on). And that person can even be the Scouts mom or dad. It is 100% "legal." You (and I) may not like that, but it's the way it is. BSA does discourage it, but they do not outlaw or forbid it.

 

So, if Tommy Scout comes to you and wants to earn a 10th merit badge with his Uncle Miltie (assuming Miltie is a registered MBC for the badges), Tommy has the right to do that. The SM can't say "no, you have to use a different councilor." But his hands aren't totally tied; he doesn't have to just sit there any accept Tommy's choice without a fight. When Tommy Scout comes for that 'blue card,' you can talk with him -- encourage him to try working someone else; find out why he always goes to Uncle Miltie and no one else; recommend some new and more exciting councilors and different MB opportunities; go encourage a buddy or two from his patrol to try to get Tommy to work with them on a MB together with someone else; maybe even go talk with his parents and/or Uncle Miltie about the benefits of having Tommy work with someone else on a badge or two.

 

But, yes, ultimately it's the Scout's decision. It is "legal" for him to earn all his merit badges from "Uncle Miltie" or "MBC daddy," and a Scoutmaster can't make a new rule that says a Scout can't. If you think these rules are wrong, then work to have them changed; don't just create your own rules (a Scout is obedient).

 

This is incorrect.

A SM may set a limit on the number of badges earned from a single counselor as long as it applies to everyone. Councils can also set a limit. See your GtA, or the synopsis at Scouting Magazine http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/201...ge-counselors/

 

The latest GtA also provides a new avenueâ€â€which I think is extremely goodâ€â€to combat rubber-stamped MBs, which you can read about here under 7.0.4.7. "Limited Recourse for Unearned Merit Badges" http://www.scouting.org/Home/GuideTo...geProgram.aspx

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, yes, SMs don't need to go making up spur-of-the-moment rules. Parents also need to understand that just because "planning to ask forgiveness later instead of asking permission now" may be an efficient strategy many days, it will also backfire some days. This is one.

 

The boy decides to take a MB in one week, calls SM before the holiday, no answer, goes to course, learns stuff (that may save someone's life someday, huzzah), comes back to SM with the "you were too slow" excuse and expects a badge for it.

 

Hear's how I think this went down, really. ('Mom22, feel free to correct.) This course was offered to some older scouts. Mom got wind of it and said to these younger scouts "hey kids here's how we can fast-track your ascent to Star." SM doesn't isn't available, drops the call for 5 days, assumes that any scout who really wants to advance rank in the next week would have talked at the last meeting, whatever! Mom figures she can just assume she has/deserves the go-ahead. That's a lot easier than saying "well, lets just take the course for skills an not worry about patches. If you want to knock off a required MB, why don't we study the requirements for several of them, and you can practice doing them then start the clock once we have a blue card?" The SM and committee react like an old-boy's network.

 

This guy's unwritten rule really goads. But, here's the deal. I've been a look-out at aquatics areas. I've seen a 14-year old guard's immaturity get the better of him and the director come down on him like a hammer. Distraction yields danger. That's the mentality. I've said as much to SM's over the years. I'm sure other guards have said the same, hoping that sinks in. So along comes this 11 year-old jumping the gate wanting to be credited for something a patrol will count on when they set up an impromptu swimming hole. I can see why the SM is coming from.

 

So, Mom22, at your next family reunion, when everyone wants to take a dip in the pond, will you say "Okay, my son's got Lifesaving, everyone listen to him and we're good to go."? If so, then keep pressing for that patch. Otherwise, move on to support your boy for the next MB!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been a look-out at aquatics areas. I've seen a 14-year old guard's immaturity get the better of him and the director come down on him like a hammer. Distraction yields danger. That's the mentality. I've said as much to SM's over the years. I'm sure other guards have said the same, hoping that sinks in. So along comes this 11 year-old jumping the gate wanting to be credited for something a patrol will count on when they set up an impromptu swimming hole. I can see why the SM is coming from.

 

So, Mom22, at your next family reunion, when everyone wants to take a dip in the pond, will you say "Okay, my son's got Lifesaving, everyone listen to him and we're good to go."? If so, then keep pressing for that patch. Otherwise, move on to support your boy for the next MB!

Yes, being a lifeguard takes maturity, experience, and strong physical fitness... things that come with age and things that an 11-year-old probably doesn't possess. It isn't something you can just knock-out on a Saturday. But we're talking about Lifesaving merit badge here. According to the BSA: "the main purpose of the Lifesaving merit badge is to teach Scouts the basic knowledge of water rescue techniques"... not to mention to BSA policies that "any Boy Scout may earn a merit badge at any time" and "you are expected to meet the requirements as they are statedâ€â€no more." There is no reason an 11-year-old can't earn Lifesaving merit badge. And there's no reason a Scoutmaster should arbitrarily decide to add an additional requirement and insist a Scout be "older" or "more mature" in order to earn it.

 

Earning Lifesaving merit badge is not the same as earning BSA Lifeguard (or another lifeguard certification).

 

Someone who has earned Lifesaving merit badge has to complete 15 requirements on the basics of lifesaving and water rescue. If the Scout did these things (explained what needed to be explained; and demonstrated the skilled required), he has earned the badge. Earning the merit badge does not give a Scout the authority (or even the implied ability) to be able to set-up an impromptu swimming hole on his own or serve as supervision and lifeguard when everyone at the family reunion wants to take a dip in the pond. He has a greater awareness and understanding of safety and water rescue for sure, but he is not an authority on the subject. The basics of Safe-Swim Defense and Safety Afloat (which are taught in the merit badge) tell a young Scout that he is not "qualified supervision" and that he isn't a certified lifeguard as a result of earning this badge (it's just an "introduction to" life saving). Just as someone who has earned Fire Safety merit badge isn't ready to start fighting fires or someone with First Aid merit badge isn't the equivalent of an EMT.

 

Someone who has earned BSA Lifeguard has to complete 26 requirements - including an age requirement, more intense physical fitness tests, proficiency on a written test, and they must complete supervised experience as a lifeguard (showing maturity and ability). They may be able to set up a safe swim area, and serve as a lifeguard when people take a dip in the lake (with other lookouts and safety measures in place). And this is something an 11-year-old can't simply earn by tagging along to a training session with some older guys.

 

But I see no reason for this Scoutmaster to limit who can earn Lifesaving merit badge.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... Yes' date=' being a lifeguard takes maturity, experience, and strong physical fitness... things that come with age and things that an 11-year-old probably doesn't possess. It isn't something you can just knock-out on a Saturday. But we're talking about Lifesaving merit badge here. ...[/quote']

 

And how many people outside of the scouter-verse understand that?

 

Take requirement 10: In deep water, show how to escape from a victim’s grasp on your wrist. Repeat for front and rear holds about the head and shoulders.

 

There is one question I ask all the boys who come back after the day they do their holds and escapes: "How big was your victim?" I rarely have free time, but when I do, I offer to go to the aquatics area and have them rescue me. Because, frankly, that requirement means oh-so-much horse-processed-hay if the kid can't snap to and deal with it on the worst day of his and any potential victim's life.

 

That's not an unreasonable interpretation of that one requirement. In guard training, I've seen a very small 16 year old girl handle a very large victim. It required patience, persistence, loss of a lot of air, (maybe some hair) on her part, and nail-biting on the part of those of us who had taken our turns or were waiting to do so. Nothing pretty about it. But at the end of the day, we all could vouch for that kid at any pool she wanted to guard.

 

But I see no reason for this Scoutmaster to limit who can earn Lifesaving merit badge.

 

Talk to an SM whose had to contend with a bunch of 12 year olds who were broken that they couldn't complete the badge. (Water cold, weights heavy, lake to cloudy, etc ...) After a year or two of mopping up tears, I could see where he would want to get ahead of the curve on the next round of cross-overs.

 

A young boy does deserve to make his case to the SM and change his mind. But, that also means that the he needs respect those times when the two of them just don't have the opportunity to talk about it. Understanding that a patch might not be forthcoming if that communication loop isn't closed on short notice.

 

Anyway the boy supposedly has the skills. Maybe there's a more fun way to resolve this instead of adults blathering on in Byzantine litigation. He should invite the SM (or a larger surrogate) to meet him at the aquatics area and practice being his victim. Make a day of it. Bring his patrol. Invite the counselor, and bring everyone up to speed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, being a lifeguard takes maturity, experience, and strong physical fitness... things that come with age and things that an 11-year-old probably doesn't possess. It isn't something you can just knock-out on a Saturday. But we're talking about Lifesaving merit badge here. According to the BSA: "the main purpose of the Lifesaving merit badge is to teach Scouts the basic knowledge of water rescue techniques"... not to mention to BSA policies that "any Boy Scout may earn a merit badge at any time" and "you are expected to meet the requirements as they are statedâ€â€no more." There is no reason an 11-year-old can't earn Lifesaving merit badge. And there's no reason a Scoutmaster should arbitrarily decide to add an additional requirement and insist a Scout be "older" or "more mature" in order to earn it.

 

Earning Lifesaving merit badge is not the same as earning BSA Lifeguard (or another lifeguard certification).

 

Someone who has earned Lifesaving merit badge has to complete 15 requirements on the basics of lifesaving and water rescue. If the Scout did these things (explained what needed to be explained; and demonstrated the skilled required), he has earned the badge. Earning the merit badge does not give a Scout the authority (or even the implied ability) to be able to set-up an impromptu swimming hole on his own or serve as supervision and lifeguard when everyone at the family reunion wants to take a dip in the pond. He has a greater awareness and understanding of safety and water rescue for sure, but he is not an authority on the subject. The basics of Safe-Swim Defense and Safety Afloat (which are taught in the merit badge) tell a young Scout that he is not "qualified supervision" and that he isn't a certified lifeguard as a result of earning this badge (it's just an "introduction to" life saving). Just as someone who has earned Fire Safety merit badge isn't ready to start fighting fires or someone with First Aid merit badge isn't the equivalent of an EMT.

 

Someone who has earned BSA Lifeguard has to complete 26 requirements - including an age requirement, more intense physical fitness tests, proficiency on a written test, and they must complete supervised experience as a lifeguard (showing maturity and ability). They may be able to set up a safe swim area, and serve as a lifeguard when people take a dip in the lake (with other lookouts and safety measures in place). And this is something an 11-year-old can't simply earn by tagging along to a training session with some older guys.

 

But I see no reason for this Scoutmaster to limit who can earn Lifesaving merit badge.

 

I pretty much agree. Both of my sons got Lifesaving merit badge at their second summer camp--age 12 for both. My older boy got BSA lifeguard a few years later. Lifesaving does not equal lifeguard (as you said), and if BSA thought that it was necessary, they would have age limited Lifesaving MB.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was 11 when I earned my Lifesaving Merit Badge. It was my third merit badge, after swimming and pet care. It was shortly after I earned my Advanced Lifesaving certificate from the Red Cross. Have I mentioned before that during the summer, I spent more time in the water than I did sleeping? For my lifesaving courses, the guy I broke the hold of was the director of the pool - a 30 something pretty strong guy who held no quarter. For my lifesaving merit badge, I broke the hold of my Scoutmaster - a 30 something pretty strong guy. I wasn't an abnormally large 11 year old - I was just a slippery bugger in water and I was often more at home in water than I was on land at the time. So I don't see it beyond the realm of possibility that an 11 year old can earn the Lifesaving Merit Badge.

 

I'm not going to be quick to criticize mom and the Scout for not waiting for the SM to call first - Mom has already pointed out that it's not all that unusual that the SM would not communicate with the Scouts and that he would provide a blue card after Scouts have started and/or completed badges. As a Scoutmaster, I've done so myself from time to time - most Scoutmaster's I've worked with have due to circumstances. I wasn't about to let a Scout be delayed because my signature wasn't on a slip of paper when they had an opportunity come up to earn a merit badge.

 

I will continue to criticize the Scoutmaster for making up his own rules on when a Scout can earn a merit badge. The BSA is clear about this - a Scout can earn any merit badge they want at any time they want with no outside pre-requisites. If the merit badge itself has a pre-req (such as Lifesavings pre-req to have passed certain 2nd and 1st class requirements) then those are the only pre-reqs that need to be followed. If a Scoutmaster can't understand that they aren't a gate-keeper, that they aren't a barrier to advancement, then that Scoutmaster should be either re-trained or retired. The biggest problem the BSA has isn't gays, it isn't girls, it isn't athiests - it's Scoutmasters following their own rules because they think they know better than the BSA.

 

Unfortunately, the BSA fails the boys in this regard too by not maintaining quality control. They enable Scoutmasters like this one and allow him to get away with this nonsense because they refuse to have anything in place to correct it. The Commissioner's have been hobbled as an advice giving fleet of people with no real power to make changes. 60 years ago, a commissioner would have taken the complaint, had a meeting with the Scoutmaster and if the Scoutmaster refused to change, would let them know his services were no longer required, and found a replacement. Admittedly, that is a bit too extreme - but there is nothing except for "maintaining numbers" that would prevent the BSA from requiring Chartered Organizations from certifying each year that their unit is following policies with a real threat that the charter will be pulled if the Unit failed to follow policies, or failed to correct those not following policies.

 

To the original poster if you're still following - unless the committee changes it's mind, then there is little you can do except capitulate or find a new unit. The only way to effect change in this unit is to become the Chartered Organization Representative at which point you can "fire" the Scoutmaster and the Committee - but the reality is that unless you have the support of the majority of the parents in this, the only thing you would accomplish at that point is to hasten the demise of the unit. My advice? Run - run as far away from this unit as you can - find a new unit - and warn away the Webelos and Cubs in your former pack on how this Unit is failing the boys by failing to follow the most basic of advancement policies. If they're so willing to dismiss these policies, what prevents them from deciding more important policies - those found in the Guide to Saf Scouting - aren't really neccessary to follow too?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But to go back and address the original post and situation at hand:

 

The SM is refusing to give him a blue card for it under the reasons that he believes that no one younger than a third year scout should earn the MB.

That right there is the problem.

 

The Scoutmaster may believe that no one younger than a third year Scout should be able to earn the MB. He may think that an 11- or 12-year-old won't be successful at completing the badge. He may wish that Scouts with the badge will hold a particular set of skills and abilities.He may encourage, or even try to strongly persuade, a Scout to wait until they are older (more physically fit, stronger, more mature, etc). But ultimately he cannot mandate or force a Scout to wait until he is 14 or 15 to attempt or earn the badge; BSA states "any Boy Scout may earn a merit badge at any time."

 

The bottom line is it's not up to a Scoutmaster to decide who can or can't attempt a merit badge, nor is it his job (or even within his authority) to approve or deny what "counts" for the requirements of the badge. It is the role of the registered, qualified and certified merit badge councilor to verify and approve if a Scout has completed the requirements. If the Scout worked with a qualified councilor, and that councilor says he completed the requirements, then he has completed the requirements. End of discussion. A Scoutmaster or troop committee can't veto or overturn the signature of a MB councilor.

 

​The purpose of the Unit Leader signature on a "blue card" is to keep the Scoutmaster in the loop and to allow the Scoutmaster to conference with the Scout. The Scout here kept the SM in the loop with his phone call (it's a shame the Scoutmaster didn't call back to offer his recommendations on the matter) but the Scoutmaster refusing to sign is not an option (he can give his opinion and recommendations, but he can't withhold the card).

 

The signature from the unit leader on the 'blue card' states: "I have discussed this merit badge with this Scout and recommended at least one merit badge counselor." It does not say "I authorize this Scout to start work on this merit badge" or "I certify that this Scout is qualified to earn this merit badge" or even "I feel that this Scout is ready to earn this merit badge"... it simply says we "discussed" it.

 

It doesn't matter if the Scoutmaster, or the troop committee, doesn't think the Scout should have been able to complete the requirements of the badge. Because, guess what? He was able to complete them! The signature from the certified councilor on the blue card proves it. Give the Scout the merit badge! He earned it.

 

What should I do?
I would reach out to the district or council's advancement chair or committee. Tell them that the Scout completed the merit badge and was signed off by a registered MB councilor, but the troop is refusing to accept it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your luck has been better.

 

Not lately. MB Colleges have great support. As if the villagers and farm folk cheer on Dr. Frankenstein as opposed to storming the castle with pitchforks and torches.

 

When we get a District Advancement Chair, I will ask him about that.

 

He or she would only act on delegated authority from the Council. No reason to wait.

 

In this matter, SM's are not trusted by the BSA so they are not empowered. If the BSA wants it that way, let's drop the signature as it implies approval which may not be the case or should a SM sign and add "Discussed. Approval should not be implied"?

 

BSA has a long-standing institutional distrust of volunteers from the time of Darth Vader. Still, the SM is the most powerful volunteer in practice. All manner of one-of-a-kind programs run on for years. Troop n161 had a continental dinner, with wine, for Scouts who turned 14 - until it appeared in a feature in American Heritage. Just try being an SA trying to get boy leadership in a firmly adult-method troop. You know.

 

I have felt that pain and did not win. This SM draws his political strength from his local Union of Wannabee Eagle Families. I contend that we scouters cannot fix any problems such as these with a troop, we can only move to another troop. Where's a good NC to enforce a quality troop program when you need one?

 

Where I am now. But in three years there has been progress. Now it's adults interfering. Before, there was nothing to interfere with.

 

We got away from the MB mill when I copied the SM on the statement from Corporate that said MB's not earned by individual testing do not count for any purpose. He saw this as a threat to our Eagle factory and away we went. First, find the button. Then push.

 

Less than 25% of the units in my two councils have Unit Commissioners on paper.

 

Agreed. But for every dumb SM-made rule, I can find an even dumber National rule.

 

As Lord Salisbury said about carpet bombing of German civilians, "We do not have to take the Devil as our model."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was 11 when I earned my Lifesaving Merit Badge. It was my third merit badge' date=' after swimming and pet care. It was shortly after I earned my Advanced Lifesaving certificate from the Red Cross. Have I mentioned before that during the summer, I spent more time in the water than I did sleeping? For my lifesaving courses, the guy I broke the hold of was the director of the pool - a 30 something pretty strong guy who held no quarter. For my lifesaving merit badge, I broke the hold of my Scoutmaster - a 30 something pretty strong guy. I wasn't an abnormally large 11 year old - I was just a slippery bugger in water and I was often more at home in water than I was on land at the time. So I don't see it beyond the realm of possibility that an 11 year old can earn the Lifesaving Merit Badge.[/quote']

 

CP, not disagreeing on this. What I am suggesting is that an SM's experience may be clouded with dozen's of 11 y.o.'s who quit the MB ... never to take it up again in subsequent years. So, in his mind, taking a chance on one rising star is not worth losing a half-dozen potential lifesavers in the long run.

 

 

To the original poster if you're still following - unless the committee changes it's mind' date=' then there is little you can do except capitulate or find a new unit. The only way to effect change in this unit is to become the Chartered Organization Representative at which point you can "fire" the Scoutmaster and the Committee - but the reality is that unless you have the support of the majority of the parents in this, the only thing you would accomplish at that point is to hasten the demise of the unit. My advice? Run - run as far away from this unit as you can - find a new unit - and warn away the Webelos and Cubs in your former pack on how this Unit is failing the boys by failing to follow the most basic of advancement policies. If they're so willing to dismiss these policies, what prevents them from deciding more important policies - those found in the Guide to Saf Scouting - aren't really neccessary to follow too?[/quote']

 

Oh, the drama!

 

Sure you can act as if the only recourse if for adults to argue semantics in high halls. Gun or run. Advance by litigation. Retaliate by gossip. That'll build the boy's self-respect for sure. :(

 

But, I am suggesting that instead of casting aspersions toward The Man, start cutting the BS out of the BSA. You've got this boy with new-found lifesaving skills. THAT'S A GOOD THING. He's a PL. THAT'S A GOOD THING. He can do something that no blethering at committee meetings or to district/council scouters could ever do. He can have fun with the skills he just earned. He can throw down the gauntlet by making his patrol the "junior water rescue patrol of troop ___." He has options that, if leveraged, will help him get over an adult's prejudices.

 

If it's only about the patch, then my suggestion of a couple a water rescue pool parties is adding to the requirements. Sorry about that. You can decide that it's more important to thumb through rule books ... if you really believe that's what makes a better troop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So here is an update as to the happenings of this merit badge dilemma.......We presented our issue to the Troop Committee at the Committee Meeting. (May I say that this was the largest turnout for a committee meeting in quite a long time according to members that have been in the troop longer than my son has been.)

The Advancement Chair argued on the side of the Scoutmaster but when it was noticed that she was reading out of an old GTA, and she was also picking and choosing lines out of said GTA and reading them like they were one continuous statement, she didn't have much to say after that. I read strictly from the GTA and refuted every single one of their reasons that they had given to try and deny the blue card. The Committee Chair claimed to have spoken to someone from Council and supposedly they backed the Scoutmaster's decision, but that was quickly proven to be a lie as well, when I was able to show proof from the "Bryan on Scouting" article, and the person's name to which I had spoke to at council, and also read 7.0.0.3 AGAIN.

After everything was said and done, (they FORCED the MBC to show his rubric from the merit badge session) they all agreed that they boys earned the MB.

At the next Troop Meeting, the SM was told he had to give the blue cards to the boys because they had earned them and to also give them a counseling session. At that time the SM sat down to talk to my son. Not once did he take the opportunity during that "counseling session" to be a mentor to him and ask about his merit badge experience or explain any concerns that he had with an 11 year old doing this MB. Instead he scolded and berated him for doing the merit badge, then in turn said that the whole fiasco was also the MBC's fault because he continued to do the MB without the blue card. Mind you- my son has earned 10 merit badges in his 1 year of being a Boy Scout. How many blue cards has he asked for BEFORE doing the MB? 10!!!!!!!! How many blue cards was he actually given when asking for those 10 cards? 1!!! (And that was because he pointed out that the metropark where he was taking his patrol to do the Bird Study merit badge explicitly stated that they were required to bring the blue card with them.) He had personally asked for every single blue card at a troop meeting, well before the MB day.

How about the MBC who did the lifesaving merit badge? He did the MB without the blue card, because in all his years of being a Scout, 99% of his merit badges that he earned did not have a blue card until after the fact as well, despite having asked for them in advance also. A few other scouts in the troop have the exact same answer as well.

 

The kicker is, in the troop meeting after the so called "counseling session", a few boys in the troop asked for blue cards to take with them to a Sustainability MB class at a local Science Institute a few weeks from now. Were they given a counseling session? NOPE. They were all just simply handed a blue card and the SM walked away from them.

 

In response to Qwazse's flippant assumption about how you think the MB really went down? The course was not being offered to any older scouts. The MBC happens to be helping out the Cub Scout Pack in which my son is a Den Chief. They were talking about merit badges and the topic of the lifesaving merit badge was brought up since the MBC is also a lifeguard. My son wanted to try it so he asked a buddy to join him, and the rest of the story is in my previous posts. The whole goal of the day was just to work on the merit badge. If it wasn't finished, then they had a goal to work toward at a later time, (days-weeks-months?) down the road. ~~ I did not push my son to take the merit badge- It was his own decision. He is also fully aware that just because he earned the lifesaving MB, it does not qualify him to be a lifeguard. Just as in any MB, it has taught him skills he may use in the future, but no MB makes someone an expert on the subject. It opens their eyes to a whole new area if they choose to take the path that starts with the MB.

 

I don't expect anyone (scout or otherwise) to receive anything that they didn't earn- but if they earn it, they deserve recognition. And just a little FYI, I have several years of scouting experience under my belt so I am NOT "THAT" mom which only sees the # of patches on her son's sash. As den leader, advancement chair, Cubmaster, MBC, troop Committee Member, and currently working my Wood Badge ticket, I know the value of proper training, leadership, and adhering to BSA policy.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×