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Camping MB and long-term camp

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While I am sorry that some think my being subjective in making what I deem occasional fair, reasonable decisions about my own troop's activities, I realized on review that I was being a bit adverse by suggesting some were unable to make decisions.  I apologize.

 

 In almost forty years as SM I probably have one or two boys who needed that decision about summer camps.  And they were very active but had issues within their families that made things much harder for them most weekends.  Again, I made that decision in fairness, not in favoritism.  But, because I made it in a couple of special situations, it was extended to all; again a matter of fairness from my perspective.  The first scout worked in his family business on weekends and it took a lot to get him freed up, even for summer camp.  Yet he surely deserved some flexibility.  One other, years later, had younger siblings and a single mom that counted on his help most weekends while she worked.  One of those scouts is still in contact with me and has visited once; and he is now in his forties.

 

Part of being a leader, in my view, is being reasonable and flexible when the need arises, but only in rare instances and for good reason.  Life is never black and white.  Neither is Scouting.  If, by occasionally "finding" a fair and rational solution to a difficult problem I am a poor leader, then I can live with it.  

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BSA allows SOME flexibility in things, but only where allowed. When you start picking and choosing what you want to apply and what you want to ignore it becomes a slippery slope.

 

I prefer to follow the letter of the law. Sometimes the law isn't fair, but when applied to everyone equally and uniformally then at least there's equality.

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I just hope the end of the slippery slope isn't at the evaluation of the scout's qualifictions for Eagle.

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We have a scout who doesn't like the outdoors and his mom worries about him getting dirty.  He also has allergies.  I guess we could make an exception for him.  IT would only be fair.  Maybe he could set up a tent in his basement and sleep there.  It says "under the sky" or "in a tent you have pitched" -- so if he pitches the tent inside that works.  I guess it needs to be a campout, so one of his scout buddies can stay with him.  If we give him credit, we would have to give his buddy credit.  But what about the other guys?  That wouldn't be fair to them.  We could allow everyone to set up tents in our CO's multipurpose room.  The grubmaster can fulfill his T-1st cooking requirements by ordering pizza and picking up donuts in the morning.  We could even get one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Indoor-Campfire-Artificial-Flame-Halloween/dp/B00166RUVO 

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We have a scout who doesn't like the outdoors and his mom worries about him getting dirty.  He also has allergies.  I guess we could make an exception for him.  IT would only be fair.  Maybe he could set up a tent in his basement and sleep there.  It says "under the sky" or "in a tent you have pitched" -- so if he pitches the tent inside that works.  I guess it needs to be a campout, so one of his scout buddies can stay with him.  If we give him credit, we would have to give his buddy credit.  But what about the other guys?  That wouldn't be fair to them.  We could allow everyone to set up tents in our CO's multipurpose room.  The grubmaster can fulfill his T-1st cooking requirements by ordering pizza and picking up donuts in the morning.  We could even get one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Indoor-Campfire-Artificial-Flame-Halloween/dp/B00166RUVO 

 

Exactly!!!

 

Why not make accommodations for the non-swimmer? Let him swim in the shallow end to earn the swimming MB?

 

Eagle is supposed to be an ACHIEVEMENT, not something we go around BSA policy to accommodate non-disabled scouts.

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Isn't that going to hurt their self-esteem?

 

A scout is supposed to be Friendly and Kind.  We need to be handing out Eagle Rank like Halloween candy.  It makes everyone feel special.....and once everyone is special...... well.  :)

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Good point. I usually think of shelters as Adirondacks or other such pre-built shelters.

 

Survival and snow shelters count.

So, if the boys arrive on site Friday AM and build an Adirondack, and sleep in it for the reminder of the weekend, they've racked up 2 camping nights? What if they add a fourth wall and door the second night? Does only the first one count?

 

Why are adults counting camping nights anyway? Here's what I expect from counselors:

- The boy should read the requirement on his own.

- The boy would then list the campouts he's been on and the number of nights he would like to count from each. Maybe he gets help from the troop scribe, who might have event attendance accurately tracked ... More or less.

- He would show the list to his counselor, who would then ask about any questionable ones, have the boy review the requirement, and determine together how many (if any) of the nights would fairly meet the requirements.

- They would then tally the nights that the boy can say fairly met the requirements. Then the lay out a plan for the other events he'd need to participate in to accomplish the remaining for the requirement.

 

If the boy forgot to include a campout, that's his problem. If he included one that some of us would not have, that's the counselor's problem. It's all part of teaching our youth to make ethical decisions.

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So, let us make up ridiculous possible scenarios so we can ridicule situations with which you have issue and have no real understanding.  In the two instances I noted, only one even needed the unusual credit.  And one never made it past Star anyway.  The other is now involved as a parent and an outstanding example of what most of us would like an Eagle to be.  I should note that the other troop leaders and parents are always consulted in these rare challenges.

 

To me, it is far better to work with a scout with unusual familial problems than to simply write them off because it is easier or not within the limits of our static judgemental parameters.  And, that is really part of what is wrong in society today.  There is nothing wrong with flexibility, as long as it is not the rule, rather than a rare exception.  

 

This is my final comment on this.  As I said, I can live with my decisions. 

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I think skeptic's approach is by far the best. Know the boy. Know the family. Work with them. Flexibility. It requires fair judgment on the part of the leader rather than servile (and thoughtless) adherence to the letter of the 'law'.

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So flexibility is okay if it violates BSA requirements or policy? Please. This is nothing more than an adult trying to step in and put his stamp on things rather than to follow what is written in plain English.

 

BSA is clear on the subject of what constitutes camping. If we cheat and allow two summer camps we are breaking the rules. Period! Once you put yourself in the role of picking and choosing which rules or requirements you will or won't follow you are guilty of being part of the problem.

 

Camp the days, outside, in a tent or shelter you built or put up, one one of these camp can be a long term camp. That's pretty clear.

 

Once you start ignoring the rules -- and showing others its okay to ignore the rule -- you create people who think the rules don't apply to them. You can try to disguise it as "helping" someone, but what you are doing is far from being helpful....at least to others that are doing it by the book.

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So Krampus, have you always done absolutely everything absolutely by the book? Yes? No?

 

As a matter of fact, you yourself advocated for flexibility on 5 October this year in regard to 'special needs' boys.

 

"Posted 05 October 2015 - 10:36 AM

@Exibar, Section 10.2.0.0 (Advancement Flexibility Allowed) in the GTA spells it out. Just like everything we do in Scouting we should have the boy strive to reach beyond his grasp. Our unit usually meets with the parents to determine how we are going to proceed for each rank. We set goals and boundaries, identify how we will evaluate the scout and move forward. We remain flexible."

 

Do you only apply this flexibility to the scouts whom in your judgement you feel like you need to apply it? Or to none of them?

Edited by vumbi

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 I have always given 2 days and nights for additional weeks at summer camp, as long as the scout is active regularly.  

 

 

Please note that I only credit scouts who are regularly active, which will include other camping, hikes, and consistent attendance in meetings and service and so on.  Like any of these things, it is really subjective. 

 

 

In almost forty years as SM I probably have one or two boys who needed that decision about summer camps.  And they were very active but had issues within their families that made things much harder for them most weekends.  Again, I made that decision in fairness, not in favoritism.  But, because I made it in a couple of special situations, it was extended to all; again a matter of fairness from my perspective. 

 

 

So, let us make up ridiculous possible scenarios so we can ridicule situations with which you have issue and have no real understanding.  In the two instances I noted, only one even needed the unusual credit.  And one never made it past Star anyway.  The other is now involved as a parent and an outstanding example of what most of us would like an Eagle to be.  I should note that the other troop leaders and parents are always consulted in these rare challenges.

 

To me, it is far better to work with a scout with unusual familial problems than to simply write them off because it is easier or not within the limits of our static judgemental parameters.  And, that is really part of what is wrong in society today.  There is nothing wrong with flexibility, as long as it is not the rule, rather than a rare exception.  

 

 

How does always giving 2 days credit for a subsequent long term camping experience become classified as a rare exception?  

 

You acknowledge that you changing the merit badge requirement in that you don't argue that your interpretation is correct... only that you think it is fair.

 

The GTA is unequivocal - "No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements." You are subtracting from the requirement "One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement." and replacing it with "two days of a second long term camping experience will count if you are active and I think if would be fair to bend the rule for you."

 

To me, it is far better to work with a scout with unusual familial problems than to simply write them off because it is easier or not within the limits of our static judgemental parameters.  And, that is really part of what is wrong in society today.  There is nothing wrong with flexibility, as long as it is not the rule, rather than a rare exception.  

 

Working with a scout is finding a way to get the 25 nights.  Have to work weekends (at age 11-13?), let's schedule a 4 day trip in the summer or on a school break or on a long weekend? Maybe the boy can come just on a Friday night to camp with the troop.  Teach them how to solve their problems, don't just break the rules because you think they deserve the merit badge.

 

So Krampus, have you always done absolutely everything absolutely by the book? Yes? No?

 

As a matter of fact, you yourself advocated for flexibility on 5 October this year in regard to 'special needs' boys.

 

"Posted 05 October 2015 - 10:36 AM

@Exibar, Section 10.2.0.0 (Advancement Flexibility Allowed) in the GTA spells it out. Just like everything we do in Scouting we should have the boy strive to reach beyond his grasp. Our unit usually meets with the parents to determine how we are going to proceed for each rank. We set goals and boundaries, identify how we will evaluate the scout and move forward. We remain flexible."

 

Do you only apply this flexibility to the scouts whom in your judgement you feel like you need to apply it? Or to none of them?

 

If you read Krampus's link you would have learned that the "book" provides exactly what he said:

 

"Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Venturers, or Sea Scouts who have disabilities may qualify for limited flexibility in advancement"  and "[A] Scout with a permanent physical or cognitive disability (or a disability expected to last more than two years or beyond the 18th birthday) who is unable to complete all the requirements for Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank may, with his parent or guardian, and also the unit leader or a member of the troop committee, submit a request to the council advancement committee to complete alternative requirements."

 
The rules provide when and how they can be flexible.  

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So, if the boys arrive on site Friday AM and build an Adirondack, and sleep in it for the reminder of the weekend, they've racked up 2 camping nights? What if they add a fourth wall and door the second night? Does only the first one count?

 

The just get one night, because the second night they slept in a shelter that was already built. :D

 

Interesting that Adirondacks don't count for Camping Merit Badge but do count for National Outdoor Award and Order of the Arrow eligibility because there is no "under the stars or in the outdoors requirements."  

Why are adults counting camping nights anyway? Here's what I expect from counselors:

- The boy should read the requirement on his own.

- The boy would then list the campouts he's been on and the number of nights he would like to count from each. Maybe he gets help from the troop scribe, who might have event attendance accurately tracked ... More or less.

- He would show the list to his counselor, who would then ask about any questionable ones, have the boy review the requirement, and determine together how many (if any) of the nights would fairly meet the requirements.

- They would then tally the nights that the boy can say fairly met the requirements. Then the lay out a plan for the other events he'd need to participate in to accomplish the remaining for the requirement.

 

In my case, I'm the MB counselor.  I actually did all the research on what counts so that I'd know what to accept and what I can't accept.  

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@@Hedgehog, I would have never guessed. ;)

 

So, how do you work with a boy on this one?

Obviously you know the boundaries! Plus, you clearly have boys who are going to try every outing imaginable. (Not to mention boys from other troops whose SM sent them your way.) How to convert every action into bling is the last thing on their mind (thank goodness)!

 

Furthermore, the only reason I bother with the GTA is to send adults on their merry way. I don't expect boys to wade through it or blogs. Etc .... The reqs, the pamphlet, and his counselor should be all he needs for any determination.

 

So, knowing there's guys like me who want the process to minimize pencil whipping and maximize reflection, what do you do? What might you do differently after hearing us blather on?

Edited by qwazse

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So Krampus, have you always done absolutely everything absolutely by the book? Yes? No?

 

As a matter of fact, you yourself advocated for flexibility on 5 October this year in regard to 'special needs' boys.

 

"Posted 05 October 2015 - 10:36 AM

@Exibar, Section 10.2.0.0 (Advancement Flexibility Allowed) in the GTA spells it out. Just like everything we do in Scouting we should have the boy strive to reach beyond his grasp. Our unit usually meets with the parents to determine how we are going to proceed for each rank. We set goals and boundaries, identify how we will evaluate the scout and move forward. We remain flexible."

 

Do you only apply this flexibility to the scouts whom in your judgement you feel like you need to apply it? Or to none of them?

 

 

I do believe flexibility for special needs scouts is a policy of the BSA and is addressed at a higher level than the local unit's interpretation of what's fair.

 

I had a 34 year old scout working on his Eagle Rank, all on the up and up and no interpretive flexibility on my part.

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