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Scoutmaster denies 17 year old Life Scout Eagle

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Something is rotten in Denmark. The SM and CC can now expect to be put under the microscope. Good!!! They are being unscouting and deserve to be [put under such scrutiny.

 

I've said it a 1,000 times, UCs are useless. Never met one that did anything beyond ask me for my JTE paperwork and when they could do their FOS presentation. Want, want, want. Hope he is unvolunteered from that position.

 

You son learned a valuable lesson, while trust is a great thing you cannot trust everyone...even people who claim they are working for your best interests. He will get Eagle and a good life lesson in the process.

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Wow, what a messed up situation.  OP, I really hope that after some time to let emotions settle that you reconsider your last two sentences.  Scouting can't be all things to all people all of the time, and there are definitely times where I strongly disagree with some policy or action of the BSA, the Council, or even my unit.  However, I know that there is a lot of value in our program overall, and the good far outweighs the bad.

 

I volunteer as a Roundtable Commissioner, and not to defend what happened with the Unit Commissioner, but the sad truth is that in many Councils, there is a distinct shortage of Unit Commissioners.  I never really understood the problem until I became a member of the Commissioner staff and went through the basic training.  In that class, they show the District org chart (see page 13 here).  When you figure in the need for District Chair, District Commissioner, their Assistants, Roundtable Commissioners and Assistants, Unit Commissioners (one for every 3 units), Committee Chairs for Training, Camping, Service, Recognition, Membership, Finance, and all of the Committee Members for those subcommittees... in our District, the largest in our Council, essentially the need is for (on average) one District level volunteer per unit.  In a smaller District, the need would be greater, because the standing committees need to be filled, but the pool of units to supply volunteers is less.

 

I ask everyone reading this - how many District volunteers does your unit supply?  If the answer is less than one, that is the problem.  Just like an unhealthy unit who can't get enough leaders to fill all of the required committee and leadership positions, when there aren't enough District volunteers they are likely to take any warm body to fill a seat, rather than select the best prospects.  You also end up with volunteers filling more than one District role.

 

I'm not going to excuse what happened, but I wanted to offer up this explanation and challenge everyone reading this to step up and volunteer at the District level (because most of you could make such a difference with your experience and knowledge).  Unit Commissioner is an especially difficult role.  You're a mediator, an 'expert' on all things Scouting, a Scouting unit 'health officer', and many other things rolled into one job description.  Ultimately the UC doesn't have any authority over a unit, all they can do is try to influence a unit.  Sadly, not all UCs are expert negotiators and mediators, and it doesn't surprise me that a UC would struggle with a situation like this.  The art of Influencing without Authority takes training and practice, and many UCs have yet to master this (they spend far more time trying to fix failing units than they do mediating unit conflicts).

 

To the OP, I apologize for what happened, I know if I was a Scout, I wouldn't want to be in a conversation like that with my Scoutmaster.  Being an Eagle Scout has nothing to do with how many nights you've been camping, so from that perspective I understand your position.  To some degree I can also understand the position of the Scoutmaster and the CC, they are trying to uphold the integrity of the Eagle rank and legacy.  As an Eagle, I can understand their intention, but as an Eagle and Scouter I think their approach is wrong.  Being an Eagle isn't even about putting 'Scouting first.'  The whole point of Eagle is to take boys and make them into leaders.  By the time a boy has finished the Eagle requirements, it really is time for him to 'leave the nest' and apply what he has learned outside of the Scouting program.  We want Eagles to be leaders in the world, not just leaders in Scouting.  If they also decide to stay active in our units and in Scouting, that's a bonus to us, but not what being an Eagle is all about.

 

I know there has been some debate in this topic, we are only hearing one side of the story, but frankly I've heard enough of this story to know that this unit is at least a bit off course.  I think their intentions are good, but if I had been sitting in on this meeting I think I would have steered the conversation to what being an Eagle means.  Is your son taking on leadership responsibilities outside of Scouting?  In School, Church, his job, etc?  I think I would have pushed for a compromise... something like this: 

 

"Mr. Unit Leader, I hear you saying that your unit wants to make sure that boys who earn Eagle rank deserve that rank, correct?  So you implemented requirements for unit participation.  Would you agree that being an Eagle means that you are a leader?  So you want to see boys exercising their leadership skills by active participation with your unit, through things such as Troop campouts, correct?  Would you agree that an Eagle should be a leader in all things that they do?  Great. 

 

Mr. Life Scout, you think that you have earned your Eagle by completing the requirements, correct?  Do you agree that being an Eagle means that you should be a leader in everything that you do?  Have you been really active in the Troop, attending campouts and helping mentor younger Scouts?  If you haven't been very active, why not?  Are you involved in other activities?  Tell me about how your exercise your Leadership in XYZ.  Wow, it sounds like you are really applying what you have learned in Scouting. 

 

Mr. Unit Leader, how can Mr. Life Scout exercise his leadership in XYZ if he is with your Unit on a campout instead of helping lead XYZ?  As an Eagle myself, it seems to me that Mr. Life Scout is doing exactly what you trained him to do, he is being a leader.  But you are questioning his leadership by insiting that he stop what he is doing to spend a few more nights camping.  Don't you think we should give him credit for his work outside of Scouting?  He was active when he first became Life, but now he has taken what he learned through Scouting and started applying it outside of Scouting, even before he has the Eagle badge on his shirt... that seems to me to be exactly what we want to see happen, so how can we work something out to make sure Mr. Life Scout can proudly wear that badge on his shirt, as well as in his heart?"

Edited by meyerc13
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I would think as UC it would be extremely difficult for a compromise when one party has staunchly entrenched their heels and has no intention of backing down.  We are at a level of conflict that is not resolvable.  Yes, compromise is great, but I'm not going to hold my breath on this situation.  I'd be seeking more productive alternatives for the Life Scout.

Edited by Stosh
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@@meyerc13, Nice speech. Wasted breath. The SM and CC are rules-oriented ... as long as they are making the rules. UC's are never perceived as welcome guests in this kind of conversation. The only things that might prevail upon them to change are:

 

1. Other SMs in the district telling them openly at a round-table that they are going off the rails (using language that @@Krampus suggests) and maybe no small number of them offering to accept the boy's transfer application, find him a counselor to wrap up that last MB, conference with him, and arrange his BoR.

2. The lad's patrol rallying around him to plan 10 overnights in this month tailored around his schedule and interests and friends. (Using brute force scout spirit that @@Beavah and I suggest.) Then he can come back to the SM with an "With all due respect, I now believe a conference and review is in order."

 

The DAC and CAC are basically implementing #1 on behalf of the scouters in the district and council, respectively. However, this SM and CC are unlikely to see it that way. They want a fiefdom, and any naysayers are just throwing missiles over the walls.

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I ask everyone reading this - how many District volunteers does your unit supply?  If the answer is less than one, that is the problem.  Just like an unhealthy unit who can't get enough leaders to fill all of the required committee and leadership positions, when there aren't enough District volunteers they are likely to take any warm body to fill a seat, rather than select the best prospects.  You also end up with volunteers filling more than one District role.

 

I'd ask the question a bit differently: How many of those district positions are truly needed? What roles to they play in supporting the needs of the units? Many times those positions seem to exist just because they always have. One look tells you that you could downsize most district positions to those key positions needed to support the units in the district.

 

In my own district we have plenty of UCs -- one for every two units. I only see mine when he wants to do FOS. I hear from him one other time during the year when he wants my JTE paperwork (which is submitted with recharter).

 

If we got rid of the awards banquets, needless dinners and other events created for back-slap happy district folks and REALLY focused on helping units in the district, you wouldn't need that many positions.

 

For the record, we provided 6-8 people every year for nearly 15 years prior to pulling our district support. Every single person said it was a total waste of their time. As a unit we still staff events for them (run totally by our unit). We just don't play the district game.

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Yah, this was predictable, eh? :(

 

Litigation is an adversarial approach.  When yeh come in to a meetin' with that attitude, you've set yourself on a course to create adversity.  When you've chosen to create adversity with da Key 3 of the troop, I wouldn't really expect yeh to get anywhere with da troop.   They represent the opinion of the majority of the parents and probably the chartered partner, and their role is to stand up for those folks and what they feel is right.   They're the folks runnin' the program, and they'll continue to do what they feel is best for all the boys.  That shouldn't surprise anybody. 

 

People spend their volunteer time how they want, eh?  Yeh can't force 'em to do what you want.  Even if yeh are "right". :unsure:

 

So go and do what yeh feel is best for your boys.  Find a new troop for 'em for sure, as you've burned your bridges and all da ferry boats with your current troop.

 

Pursue Eagle Under Disputed Circumstances; you'll almost certainly prevail - if not at council, then at National.  Da BSA just wants these sorts of disputes to go away the easiest way possible.  Host your own Court of Honor and make it da grand show I'm sure yeh want for a deservin' lad.  

 

Maybe your son can add to his college essays how he litigated his Eagle award to avoid goin' campin' a few more times.  It's a tale that's sure to impress. 

 

Beavah

Edited by Beavah
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Litigation is an adversarial approach.  When yeh come in to a meetin' with that attitude, you've set yourself on a course to create adversity.  When you've chosen to create adversity with da Key 3 of the troop, I wouldn't really expect yeh to get anywhere with da troop.   They represent the opinion of the majority of the parents and probably the chartered partner, and their role is to stand up for those folks and what they feel is right.   They're the folks runnin' the program, and they'll continue to do what they feel is best for all the boys.  That shouldn't surprise anybody. 

 

Let's be clear about a few things, @Beavah:

  • The unit leaders created the adversarial atmosphere here, not the Scout or his family.
  • The unit leaders should be acting with the Scout's best interest at heart by communicating with him openly and early to avoid putting him in this situation.
  • The unit leaders WERE WRONG in more than just their application of the rules, requirements and policies.
  • The unit leaders were acting in an unscouting fashion which caused this escalation.
  • The unit leaders, as adults and trained leaders, should know better and hold themselves to a higher standard.

When adults who are unit leaders fail so miserably it is THEY, not the Scout, that forced this issue on to the course it took. The unit leaders could have been honest and pleasant during the meeting. They weren't. They acted the opposite of the Law and Oath. Nothing excuses that.

 

This unit gets what it deserves. I only hope that no other Scouts are put through such shenanigans.

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I'd ask the question a bit differently: How many of those district positions are truly needed?

Right!

 

I'm not sure when the idea came about that the district was some special organization that deserved care/feeding by the units, particularly with manpower.   But that notion is backwards.   Districts can be very lean and still support the units.

 

Unit commissioner:   I was one several times, five different councils/districts.   Due to military moves, and duty commitments, it gave me some flexibility that I sorely needed.  

 

Nonetheless, for whatever good I may have done as a UC, scouting would have been better served had I just signed on as a troop committee member or ASM.  

 

Now and again, the UC thing worked, and I was able to help the units "as advertised."     Once some of the scouters got to know me, they freely admitted how much they loathed UCs and district types in general (yes that's a strong word but others used stronger :) ).  And these weren't the straight-from-central-casting malcontents, but squared away leaders of thriving troops.  Other scouters never trusted me.   Such is life.

 

The UC concept is very grand on paper, but reality is usually a different story.

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Krampus, Stosh, Tahawk, Meyerc - many thanks for the words of support and Krampus thank you especially for the retort to Beavah. 

 

I also have the dilemma of what to do about my younger son. He has many friends in his current troop. 

 

Beavah, do keep up 'da' snarky comments, they speak volumes. To be clear though the people "burning the bridges" and "sinking the ferries" were the SM and the CC...not me, and definitely not my son.

 

Oh...and since you mention my son's ECOH, he's made it clear that he no longer has any interest in having an ECOH. He did when he was younger, as all young scouts do, but right now he just wants to earn his Eagle and then put scouting behind him.

 

Scouting is supposed to be all about the scouts, but sometimes, and too often, it's all about the scouters.

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"Oh...and since you mention my son's ECOH, he's made it clear that he no longer has any interest in having an ECOH. He did when he was younger, as all young scouts do, but right now he just wants to earn his Eagle and then put scouting behind him.

 

Scouting is supposed to be all about the scouts, but sometimes, and too often, it's all about the scouters."

 

And this is why I run the program the way I do.  There is nothing so bad in a boy-led program that interfering adults can't make it worse!

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... I also have the dilemma of what to do about my younger son. He has many friends in his current troop. ...

 

Treat it as only one bridge burnt! Your younger son may approach the game completely different ... irrespective of any salt in old wounds. The troop's new participation policies may suit him perfectly.

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Scouting is supposed to be all about the scouts, but sometimes, and too often, it's all about the scouters.

 

Yeah so so true.  Scouting is supposed to be a simple program.  If adult leaders would just focus more on camping and supporting the scouts instead of focusing on setting up expectations and their own quality control program, it would be a much better program. 

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Yeah so so true.  Scouting is supposed to be a simple program.  If adult leaders would just focus more on camping and supporting the scouts instead of focusing on setting up expectations and their own quality control program, it would be a much better program. 

Yes, but your comment makes hypocrites of all of us. In another conversation today, scouters are putting down scouts who work for palms. Are those Eagles really the bad kind of scouts?

 

Another scout leader on this forum says Eagles should only be patrol leaders, and another doesn't like SPLs, another has never met a SM he didn't like, and another has never met a Scoutmaster he did like. As much as we think ourselves as the second coming Badon Powell, it's our inability to cage our egos that turns us into close minded adults and causes these problems. All of us suffer from ego-flu now and then, we can't seem to help it. If we are lucky, we have some bit of humility hiding somewhere in the dark places of our minds to help bail us out. But that's if we are lucky. God help us, because sometimes we think we are right.

 

If the SM of the OPs troop had to do it over again, hopefully he would choose differently. But his ego couldn't stop once he set his course and now this family will have to bypass the troop to feel they are being treated fairly.

 

I'm most disappointed in the op's troop CC. I believe that CCs should have the strength to stand up to Scoutmasters for balance. I remember once when such a CC told me that I needed a break from the scouts at summer camp because my crankiness was not going over well. As much as I don't believe Scoutmasters should be females because boys need male role models, I also believe the best CCs are women because they don't hid what needs to be said. We have had several female CCs and they were all very good. The males we have had were not.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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Yes, but your comment makes hypocrites of all of us. In another conversation today, scouters are putting down scouts who work for palms.

Meh...no, Barry. I think we were pointing out that palms didn't matter, character did. It wasn't about palms or Eagle or anything. In the end you are judged by your character. Let's not take things out of context.

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Meh...no, Barry. I think we were pointing out that palms didn't matter, character did. It wasn't about palms or Eagle or anything. In the end you are judged by your character. Let's not take things out of context.

OK, I accept that. But you classified all scouts working on palms as to not doing something worthy. You don't even have and idea why the op's son wants to earn Palms. You threw him under the bus of your opinion.  

 

What bothers me about comments like that is that it judges a scouts decision, whatever it is.  Same goes with how Eagles and SPL's are disrespected here if they aren't following personal opinions of scouters on this forum. "I believe in patrol method and the Eagles in my troop will.....". 

 

My point is that we all let our Egos hold back scouts in some ways or others. I certainly don't have a defense for this SM, but that some of us don't see ourselves in the mirror sometimes bothers me. 

 

It's me, I'm getting old and cranky. My apologies to all.

 

Barry

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