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griffsmom

Leadership requirement for Eagle Palms

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One of the requirements for earning Eagle Palms is that the scout "make a satisfactory effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability." Does anyone have any BSA resources that explain what is meant by this phrase and what kind of actions will fulfill this requirement? Do those actions have to be pre-approved by the SM before the scout can begin them in order to fufill the requirement? Any light you can shed on this is appreciated!

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Couldn't find anything official in a quick search.

We've always considered the usual: hold a position of responsibility or organize a service project with the boys in the troop.

But, at this level boys are branching out. So, service in a youth group or community organization may count, as might attending a youth leadership training course.

Obviously, demonstrating leadership would include talking to one's scoutmaster about how one would like to fulfill this requirement for one's next Palm.

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It can mean anything one wants it to mean.  I really don't think one can formalize it into any set definition.  I think the line is wide enough to know that any scout that once reaching the rank of Eagle and commences to sit back and do nothing will not fulfill any leadership consideration for this requirement.  If, however, they stay active, help out, mentor and guide others, pitches in and roles up his sleeves on the heavy lifting, really doesn't need any SM approval to meet the requirement.  It kinda "goes without saying" kind of thing.

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You should learn to view ambiguity or even gaping holes in BSA policy and requirements as an opportunity to fill in the blanks to your own best advantage.  There are many, many opportunities.

 

In our troop, if you are an Eagle Scout you are 17 years old (or rapidly approaching it) and a junior or senior in high school.  You have had ample opportunities to develop and demonstrate leadership over the previous six years or so.  You've both talked the talk and walked the walk.  As such, if you show up regularly, help with the program and set a good example, I would say you've met the leadership requirements for a palm.

 

That could change for Scouts not similarly situated.

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One of the requirements for earning Eagle Palms is that the scout "make a satisfactory effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability." Does anyone have any BSA resources that explain what is meant by this phrase and what kind of actions will fulfill this requirement? Do those actions have to be pre-approved by the SM before the scout can begin them in order to fufill the requirement? Any light you can shed on this is appreciated!

 

I would think a discussion with the SM would answer this question.

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They should be pre-approved by the SM because the BOR will review the scout's performance as well and there could be some conflict if everyone is not on the same page. Ask me how I know. 

 

Barry

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I agree with the previous thoughts...by this time, the scout has a record of leadership in the troop, and he's still sticking with the program.  He's also busy getting good grades and prepping to go to college or the next stage in life, whatever it might be.  So he may not be there as often as he was in the past.   As Twocubdad said, use the ambiguity to the benefit of all concerned.

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Thanks to all for your comments.

 

I didn't initially provide the details because I wanted to find out if there is an objective, hard and fast rule on this (perhaps I should have known better), but the gamut of your comments illustrates the problem quite well. A 17-year-old scout who earned his eagle rank a few months ago has the sufficient number of merit badges and time being active with the troop for a Bronze Palm. He contacted the troop's SMC/BOR coordinator to schedule an SMC with our scoutmaster. When she requested a date from the SM, he told the scout that they had never met to discuss the leadership activity that he had accomplished or whether such activity would even qualify. He then told the scout that they would need to meet discuss this before they could proceed on anything in regards to an SMC.

 

I did a quick search and couldn't find anything in the Guide to Advancement, Eagle application materials, or online that explains what is envisioned by this requirement. I even looked at our troop's Policies and Procedures document, and there is nothing in there that describes or explains what is meant or expected for this Palm requirement or indicates that whatever activity is used to meet it must be pre-approved by the SM.

 

I have to come to know this scout as he has progressed through scouting, and he is a great kid. He has significant learning challenges and had to work extremely hard (much harder than those scouts for whom learning comes more easily) to earn his Eagle rank. After he achieved that goal, he didn't drop out of the troop but stayed on to go on summer Sierra backpacking trips and assist with our troop's 50-mile bike ride for the cycling MB. He is also the troop's ASPL of camping equipment.

 

As I'm sure you can imagine, his mom is upset, and I can understand where she's coming from. Palms are not ranks; they are awards for MBs earned beyond the minimum number required, in conjunction with tenure and leadership requirements. I see them as an incentive to retain older scouts who might otherwise disengage from the troop once they earned their Eagle rank. I fall on the side of interpreting the requirement more loosely, especially given its ambiguous language and the fact that the scout just completed an Eagle project. The language says "satisfactory effort" not completed project or position of responsibility, and seriously, do we really want to require another project out of the kid for a non-rank award? I think that would work to discourage scouts from continuing to participate with their troops after they had earned their Eagle. Our SM, however, apparently interprets it more strictly. Mom has a call into our District advancement chair to see if he can clarify the confusion. I'm very interested in what he will have to say and will be sure to share it with you.

 

Barry--Given my SM's perspective, I'd be interested to hear your story.

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Griffsmom, thanks for the additional insights, and I agree with your perspectives.

 

Sounds like the SM views the palms as another rank or hoop to jump through.  I haven't seen this dynamic except in recent years.   In the past, if the scout was still a member in good standing, and had the right number of MBs, the palm was awarded.

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We had a scout much like yours that even though he didn't have an official title of responsibility, he worked very hard in the background working with the troop in general. I would say he acted more like an ASM, which is they type of responsibility I encourage on all our older more experienced scouts perform, no matter their rank. This scout was working on his second palm. I gave him a good review and sent him on to the BOR thinking it was a no-brainer. However, the BOR happen to have some Eagles in it who felt that leadership should be more up front and obvious.

 

Being the SM, I observed the scouts more and with a different objective in mind that most of the other adults. I don't think the other adults are doing it wrong because I do guide them in their responsibilties. But I just think Scoutmasters are around the program more often and have more intent on the vision of the program. That is my experience anyway. 

 

The BOR took a break and came to talk to me. I explained what I had observed and they didn't feel like it was enough to earn the award. He is an Eagle after all. We debated over it for probably and hour, but it was clear they were not going to sign off this scout. So I learned a lesson to communicate with the BOR better so as not to have surprises in the future. I had hoped the scout would take on a couple more responsibilities to earn the two more palms that was in his plan. But the experience soured him and he aged out without earning any more palms. I became a better SM as a result of the experience.

 

I am a little surprised with your SM's response, but we are all different in how we guide the scouts toward the vision, whatever that may be. That is why I say it is best for the SM to relay his expectations so that everyone is on the same page.

 

Barry

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He is also the troop's ASPL of camping equipment.

Well, wait.

 

Was he an ASPL for at least three months after the date of his EBOR but before his 18th birthday? And did he do at least a "satisfactory" job? If so, it seems to me he passed the leadership requirement, regardless of whether he spoke with the SM beforehand or not. ASPL is not just a position of responsibility, it is also a leadership position. (Although "ASPL of camping equipment" sounds like "title inflation" for Quartermaster.)

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Thanks to all for your comments.

 

I didn't initially provide the details because I wanted to find out if there is an objective, hard and fast rule on this (perhaps I should have known better), but the gamut of your comments illustrates the problem quite well. A 17-year-old scout who earned his eagle rank a few months ago has the sufficient number of merit badges and time being active with the troop for a Bronze Palm. He contacted the troop's SMC/BOR coordinator to schedule an SMC with our scoutmaster. When she requested a date from the SM, he told the scout that they had never met to discuss the leadership activity that he had accomplished or whether such activity would even qualify. He then told the scout that they would need to meet discuss this before they could proceed on anything in regards to an SMC.

  

The requirement says simply, "Make a satisfactory effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability". As an SM to me this means:

  • Be able to articulate how leadership ability was developed over the three month period.
  • Discuss how the scout was able to demonstrate leadership over the three month period.
  • Have been visible during those three months so your leadership is obvious. 

I don't see anywhere where it says that you have to have this approved before an SMC. If you are going to have a meeting with the SM to discuss what he did for leadership why can't that be done in his SMC? To me there's no reason that this discussion could not be part of the SMC.

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@desertrat77: I agree that the SM is viewing a palm award as being on the same level of a rank advancement. He may be right, but I can't find anything that supports his perspective. of course, I can't really find anything that supports mine either.

 

@Eagledad: Thanks for sharing your experience. It's interesting that it was the BOR panel that was unwilling to signoff on him. Overall, our SM is a good guy and means well, but he is an engineer and sees the world in black and white. My profession requires me to look for shades of grey. Despite these differences, he and I get along well. If I had to guess, I think he is strictly construing the requirement because of a possible perception that if he didn't, it would somehow "dilute" the achievement of the award. Again, that's just a guess, but I feel pretty confident that I'm in the ballpark. 

 

@NJCubScouter: I agree with you. Perhaps our SM forgot that when he shot off the email to the scout. In fact, the scout was ASPL during the time that qualified for the Palm and was active in that position, given all of our summer outings. (It does sound like title inflation, but there actually is a practical reason why we diversified the position. We are a high adventure troop with about 100 scouts. We had to split the ASPL-Quartermaster position into two: one for camping and one for backpacking; otherwise, if one scout had responsibility over both, he (read: his parent) would be run ragged driving out to the troop trailer and troop storage unit (not anywhere near each other) to get equipment for scouts going on outings.)

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@Krampus: That's how I see it too. I'm one of those that believes strongly in applying the requirements as they are written--not adding anything or taking anything away.

 

I think our troop sometimes suffers from an ego problem: "we're a high caliber troop and we hold our scouts to a higher standard." It's not uncommon for me to share my opposing opinions when leadership has wanted to implement something for our scouts that isn't required by National, e.g., a scout who earned Eagle rank had to attend two ECOHs before he could schedule his own ECOH. (It was a thinly disguised attempt to increase attendance at ECOHs.) I am hopeful that our District advancement chair will come back with an opinion that is the same of yours and this scout can have his SMC and BOR.

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I'm truly surprised and as well as disappointed to hear that earning a palm has turned into a big red tape exercise.   For a BOR to disapprove a palm?   Until now, I hadn't heard of such a thing.

 

Eagles that stick with the program after attaining the rank are darn good scouts anyway, and as previously mentioned, usually working in some capacity, be it ASPL/QM, or JASM or pseudo ASM.   By this point, in my opinion, the Eagle is meeting the leadership requirement, or has enough banked goodwill from the past.  

 

Turning the palm process into a goat rope sounds like a power play by adults, and a good way to disappoint or push away an Eagle.

 

At the end of the day, they earned Eagle.   No palms or 10, it doesn't matter.   The palms are gravy.

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