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Scoutmaster denies 17 year old Life Scout Eagle

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I really like Beavah's comparison to licensing a textbook.  I wish I had thought of it.

 

Just read the charter agreement.  "One or more" does not mean each and every.  "Consistent with" does not mean in strict adherence to.

 

I have sat in many meetings with BSA where we have discussed the charter agreement.  I know what it means.

 

The charter is an agreement between BSA and the Chartered Organizations.  The parents and volunteers are not parties to this agreement.  I would suggest that parents and volunteers leave it to BSA and the Chartered Organizations to work it out themselves.

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Oh I do so try to read, oh sharp-toothed one.

 

Noting again our mutual lack of first-hand knowledge, here is what I  read about the facts of the situation.

 

"The SM replied to my son’s e-mail four days later and he told my son in his very brief e-mail that he would need to complete a double digit number of additional nights of camping this year in order for him to be eligible for Eagle within the troop."

 

"That was the first time, since September 2015, that the SM had ever made any mention to my son whatsoever that he needed to complete additional nights of camping."

 

"Again, my son had already completed his six months of active participation, long before the new camping-participation-scout spirit requirement was put in place. Yet, the SM and the troop committee are applying this after the fact."

 

"The troop committee imposed new, and more demanding, scout spirit/active participation requirements, however, my son had already completed his camping trips and six months of active participation, many months prior to the new requirements being put in place."

 

"His announcement to my older son just a few days ago that he was adamantly refusing to sign anything or grant a SM conference, marked the first time in the past year that he had made any mention of the additional nights of camping."

 

 

I also read the following from B.S.A. regarding the requirements for Eagle Scout:

 

"EAGLE SCOUT REQUIREMENTS

 

1. Be active in your troop, team, crew, or ship for a period of at least six months after you have achieved the rank of Life Scout."

.

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/eagle.aspx(2016)

 

I believe the requirement does not state when "after you have achieved the rank of Life Scout" the six months of active membership must be achieved or that it must be continuous.  B.S.A. seems to read the requirement as I do because the Guide to Advancement states:

 

"Time counted as "active" need not be consecutive. A boy may piece together any times he has been active and still qualify."

 

Boy Scouts of America, Guide to Advancement (2015) 4.3.3.1 (3) at p. 25

 

I also seem to read:

 

"If, for the time period required, a Scout or qualifying Venturer or Sea Scout meets those aspects of his unit’s pre-established expectations that refer to a level of activity, then he is considered active and the requirement is met."

 

Boy Scouts of America, Guide to Advancement (2015) (3) at p. 25 [emphasis added]

 

So on the facts presented,  the candidate here has met the then-established expectations for six months active membership.  If we imagine different facts, the result may change - or not, as will be discussed below.

 

I also read that the rules provide that neither the Scoutmaster nor any other individual decides if the Candidate has met the active membership requirement

 

"The concepts of “reasonable†and “within reason†will help unit leadership and boards of review gauge the fairness of expectations for considering whether a Scout is “active†or has fulfilled positions of responsibility. A unit is allowed, of course, to establish expectations acceptable to its chartered organization and unit committee. But for advancement purposes, Scouts must not be held to those which are so demanding as to be impractical for today’s youth (and families) to achieve. In doing so, the board members must use common sense and must take into account that youth should be allowed to balance their lives with positive activities outside of Scouting." 

 

Boy Scouts of America, Guide to Advancement (2015) at p. 24 [emphasis added]

 

Additionally, the Guide to Advancement provides at some length that the Council Eagle Board of Review may excuse failure to comply with a troop's pre-established expectations for activity

 

"A Scout in this case is still considered "active" if a board of review can agree that Scouting values have already taken hold and have been exhibited. This might be evidenced, for example, in how he lives his life and relates to others in his community, at school, in his religious life, or in Scouting. It is also acceptable to consider and "count" positive activities outside Scouting when they, too, contribute to his growth in character, citizenship, or personal fitness. Remember: It is not so much about what a Scout has done. It is about what he is able to do and how he has grown.

. . .

 

In considering the third test, it is appropriate for units to set reasonable expectations for attendance and participation. Then it is simple: Those who meet them are "active." But those who do not must be given the opportunity to qualify under the third-test alternative above. To do so, they must first offer an acceptable explanation. Certainly, there are medical, educational, family, and other issues that for practical purposes prevent higher levels of participation. These must be considered. Would the Scout have been more active if he could have been? If so, for purposes of advancement, he is deemed "active."

 

We must also recognize the many worthwhile opportunities beyond Scouting. Taking advantage of these opportunities and participating in them may be used to explain why unit participation falls short. Examples might include involvement in religious activities, school, sports, or clubs that also develop character, citizenship, or personal fitness. The additional learning and growth experiences these provide can reinforce the lessons of Scouting and also give young men the opportunity to put them into practice in a different setting.

 

It is reasonable to accept that competition for a Scout’s time will become intense, especially as he grows older and wants to take advantage of positive "outside" opportunities. This can make full-time dedication to his unit difficult to balance. A fair leader therefore, will seek ways to empower a young man to plan his growth opportunities both inside and outside Scouting, and consider them part of the overall positive life experience for which the Boy Scouts of America is a driving force.

 

A board of review can accept an explanation if it can be reasonably sure there have been sufficient influences in the Scout’s life that he is meeting our aims and can be awarded the rank regardless of his current or most recent level of activity in Scouting. The board members must satisfy themselves that he presents himself, and behaves, according to the expectations of the rank for which he is a candidate. Simply put: Is he the sort of person who, based on present behavior, will contribute to the Boy Scouts of America’s mission? Note that it may be more difficult, though not impossible, for a younger member to pass through the third-test alternative than for one more experienced in our lessons.

 

Id.

 

Guidance from B.S.A. continues:

 

These must be considered. Would the Scout have been more active if he could have been? If so, for purposes of advancement, he is deemed “active.†We must also recognize the many worthwhile opportunities beyond Scouting. Taking advantage of these opportunities and participating in them may be used to explain why unit participation falls short. Examples might include involvement in religious activities, school, sports, or clubs that also develop character, citizenship, or personal fitness. The additional learning and growth experiences these provide can reinforce the lessons of Scouting and also give young men the opportunity to put them into practice in a different setting. It is reasonable to accept that competition for a Scout’s time will become intense, especially as he grows older and wants to take advantage of positive “outside†opportunities. This can make full-time dedication to his unit difficult to balance. A fair leader therefore, will seek ways to empower a young man to plan his growth opportunities both inside and outside Scouting, and consider them part of the overall positive life experience for which the Boy Scouts of America is a driving force. A board of review can accept an explanation if it can be reasonably sure there have been sufficient influences in the Scout’s life that he is meeting our aims and can be awarded the rank regardless of his current or most recent level of activity in Scouting. The board members must satisfy themselves that he presents himself, and behaves, according to the expectations of the rank for which he is a candidate. Simply put: Is he the sort of person who, based on present behavior, will contribute to the Boy Scouts of America’s mission? Note that it may be more difficult, though not impossible, for a younger member to pass through the third-test alternative than for one more experienced in our lessons.

 

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/GuideToAdvancement/MechanicsofAdvancement/BoyandVarsity.aspx(2016)

 

 Now some have argued on this forum over the years that one should not be held to rigid compliance with B.S.A.'s  rules and policies even when they are clear.

 

It seems odd to both decry rigid adherence to B.S.A. rules in the course of  defending rigid adherence to unit rules that violate B.S.A. rules. 

 

But this is just how I read things.

Edited by TAHAWK
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I really like Beavah's comparison to licensing a textbook.  I wish I had thought of it.

 

Just read the charter agreement.  "One or more" does not mean each and every.  "Consistent with" does not mean in strict adherence to.

 

I have sat in many meetings with BSA where we have discussed the charter agreement.  I know what it means.

 

The charter is an agreement between BSA and the Chartered Organizations.  The parents and volunteers are not parties to this agreement.  I would suggest that parents and volunteers leave it to BSA and the Chartered Organizations to work it out themselves.

Advocacy for COs is very appropriate since they are often ignored - treated like part of the background scenery.  Unfortunately, many COs are happy with that role.  How many COR's attend council meetings?

 

Your argument that "consistent" can mean "not in adherence to"  was that of the unit that admitted Gays prior to B.S.A's policy change:  letting them in was consistent with Scouting - kind, friendly, friendly etc..  I again suggest that the extent to which B.S.A. enforces its rules is situational.  The extent of "wiggle room" allowed varies.  That is hardly an uncommon situation when it comes to rules.

 

That reality has been the basis of the practical advice given in this thread.  

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We have a very strict rule.  Only non-scuffing soled shoes may be worn in our gym.  I am an absolute tyrant when it comes to this rule.

 

Sure, I can be rigid about some things and lax about others.  I don't think it is at all odd that a Chartered Organization would be focused more on its own rules.  

 

But it's not just about rules, it's also about priorities.  

 

My practical advice to a scout, parent, or volunteer leader would be to find out what priorities the CO has for its unit, and try to accommodate it.  

Edited by David CO

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We have a very strict rule.  Only non-scuffing soled shoes may be worn in our gym.  I am an absolute tyrant when it comes to this rule.

 

Sure, I can be rigid about some things and lax about others.

 

I don't think it is at all odd that a Chartered Organization would be focused more on its own rules.

 

I'm encouraging our CO to insert an additional rank of "Hedgehog" between life and Eagle. Small furry friendly mammals are under represented in the BSA ranks. We have wolves, bears and Eagles. The requirements are an additional 10 nights of camping, a 50 mile backpacking trek, the Wilderness Survival merit badge plus a boating merit badge and a shooting merit badge.

 

If they do, could or should a scout challenge the CO's ability to do that?

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It's always good to have rules because when push comes to shove, the rules can be relied on as more important than people.  After all, in a court of law it doesn't make any difference what people think or feel, it's what's in the fine print of the contract that counts.  Anything beyond that is agenda manipulation and political spin.

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It's always good to have rules because when push comes to shove, the rules can be relied on as more important than people.  After all, in a court of law it doesn't make any difference what people think or feel, it's what's in the fine print of the contract that counts.  Anything beyond that is agenda manipulation and political spin.

 

I totally disagree with you about that, Stosh.

 

Nobody has any legal obligation to provide a scouting program for boys.  If Chartered Organizations didn't choose to provide a scouting program, out of the goodness of their hearts, it wouldn't exist.  It is an act of pure kindness.

 

I think scouts, parents, and volunteer leaders should consider this before they lawyer up and create a nuisance for the CO.

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I really like Beavah's comparison to licensing a textbook.  I wish I had thought of it.

 

Just read the charter agreement.  "One or more" does not mean each and every.  "Consistent with" does not mean in strict adherence to.

 

I have sat in many meetings with BSA where we have discussed the charter agreement.  I know what it means.

 

The charter is an agreement between BSA and the Chartered Organizations.  The parents and volunteers are not parties to this agreement.  I would suggest that parents and volunteers leave it to BSA and the Chartered Organizations to work it out themselves.

 

 

However, "consistent with" doesn't mean "contrary to."  If a SM and CC are violating the rules to advancement, there is no way they are consistent with BSA Policy.  If the CO knows of that violation and permits it, then they are not following the conditions of their charter.  We're not talking about asking the scouts to take care of the CO's property, we're talking about going against very clear BSA rules.

 

Maybe a scout's advancement by the rules isn't important to you.  It is to me. Every scout should have to follow the same set of rules and criteria to attain a merit badge or rank.  It frustrates me to no end when SMs or MBCs change the rules to make them more or less difficult.  I don't agree with a lot of the requirements for merit badges, but I don't ignore them or add my own.  Yes, I teach additional material but the boys aren't required to do anymore than the merit badge requires.  I also think earning Eagls is WAY TOO EASY.  However, I'm not going to put up roadblocks to kids because I think I know better than the BSA.  

 

There are certain matters that should be left to the CO's judgment including who the leaders are, where and when the Troop is allowed to meet, how the troop is required to keep the space they meet in, etc.  A CO can even dictate that scouts can't camp on Saturdays or Sundays due to religious issues.  None of that is contrary to the BSA's rules.  However, when an SM does something that is contrary to the BSA's rules, it should go to the CC.  If the CC doesn't correct it, it should go to the COR.  If that doesn't work, try the IH.  At that point you have everyone in the CO saying we know the SM violated the rules and we don't care.  Then you go to District and Council or even National.  The problem only escalates is the CO doesn't do anything about it.

 

We have a great relationship with our CO.  I've dealt with the IH and other that work for the CO for years (as a ACM, CM and ASM).  Our COR is great. He's been in Scouting around 70 years -- unfortunately, he wasted the first five years of his life  :D.  He comes to COH's and B&Gs.  He trusts the leaders to find their successors and train them so that the troop continues.  I'd be mortified if a parent felt so upset that thay had to go to the COR or IH.

 

You talk about the kindness of the Chartered Organization.  I fully agree.  However, the SM and CC in this case need to remember the reason why they are there -- FOR THE BOYS. 

 

There really are just two simple questions here:  1) is the 17 year old entitled to earn Eagle or should additional conditions put into place after he fulfilled his POR requirement prevent him from attaining Eagle; and 2) are the SM and CC behaving in a scout-like manner -- friendly, helpful, courteous, kind and obedient?  If the boy is entitled to the award he has earned and the SM and CC are not being scout-like, I would do whatever I can to be helpful to the get the boy what he deserves - even if that means escalating to the CO and then to Council if the CO doesn't act.

 

It really comes down to everyone being trustworthy and obedient.  The BSA has a program, as leaders we have to implement it in the way it is supposed to be done.  We have to be trustworty and do what we promised to do.  Yes, there are areas where there isn't a lot of guidance, but where there is guidance we need to be obedient. 

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Why is anyone going to all the hassle of signing charter agreements when they mean absolutely nothing?   

 

They aren't agreeing on anything.

 

They don't always provide a meeting place.

 

They don't always pay their charter fee.

 

They don't always even try to run the program according to BSA policy.

 

It's kinda like buying a Burger King franchise and then selling Egg McMuffins and Big Macs.  See how long that lasts in the real world of honest people.

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I totally disagree with you about that, Stosh.

 

Nobody has any legal obligation to provide a scouting program for boys.  If Chartered Organizations didn't choose to provide a scouting program, out of the goodness of their hearts, it wouldn't exist.  It is an act of pure kindness.

 

I think scouts, parents, and volunteer leaders should consider this before they lawyer up and create a nuisance for the CO.

 

Relying on technicalities?

 

Signing up to be a CO for a unit as an "act of pure kindness" is not very honest because that is not what the CO says in writing or promises in writing.  Such attitudes are one reason why we have so many indifferent COs.  At recharter time, we have several COs in my oldest district who are reluctant to, or will not, sign the rechartering papers.  They see their role as providing space of meetings - period.  We are moving these units to community spaces and finding engaged COs.

 

To my knowledge, we have never lost membership due to lack of a CO in the thirty-five years that I have been active in this district  Lack of volunteers?  THAT is a serious matter.

 

Maybe it's obsolete slang, but does anyone recall "Don't do me no favors" ?

Edited by TAHAWK

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It’s clear from the SM’s comments and the indifferent way in which he’s been working with my son (or rather not working with him) that he is doing his best to see that my son does not earn this rank that he has rightfully completed. I suspect that I know his reasons for this.

 

 

SSF: Would you mind sharing what you think these reasons are?

 

What cinched it for me was the SM refusing to sign the final MB Blue Card.  There must be a hidden agenda.

Edited by JoeBob
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Isn't it time for this thread to die? This SM is not working out for this scout. I agree with JoeBob, not signing the blue card is a good enough reason for me to leave. But that's it. Ever seen bad clergy? or a bad cop? or any of a number of other people we put on pedestals? Since when are SMs so wonderful that we've never had to deal with a bad one? Maybe he's stubborn and too proud and got himself boxed in and just wants to save face. He made a mistake. Maybe he is a jerk, but so what. Turn the other cheek. 14 pages of who knows what is only going to raise blood pressure. And if the scout is so traumatized by dealing with a bad apple then it's time he learns a lesson: Sometimes people that should be good crap on you and it's best not to hang onto grudges. Find him another SM that will look out for him. That will do him much more good then trying to fix the original SM. Move on and complete Eagle elsewhere.

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I am surprised the issue went on this long. When our past Scout Master attempted to hold up Lifers who were not meeting our (signed) participation policy the parents have all done a successful end run to Council and cut him off at the knees. In reality it can be a pretty low hurdle.

 

I also vote for move. Explain to the boy what Stockholm Syndrome is.

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Signing up to be a CO for a unit as an "act of pure kindness" is not very honest because that is not what the CO says in writing or promises in writing. 

 

 

Yah, hmmm... I don't understand this comment at all, @@TAHAWK.  Can yeh explain?

 

It sure seems to me that a CO startin' a scouting youth program is an act of pure kindness.   It's voluntarily takin' on expenses, responsibilities, and a significant liability exposure just to do somethin' good for kids.   In some cases, it's welcoming a controversial group into their facilities and that has caused many of 'em some grief da past few years.  :p  Seems like kindness to me.  We certainly aren't payin' 'em for da privilege.

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Matt, I agree that this thread has gone on too long and I also agree that there are “bad apples†who everyone, youth and adults alike, will encounter in life.

 

 

Counter to your point though about turning the other cheek, a bad cop who acts inappropriately needs to be held accountable. A bad clergy member who acts inappropriately needs to be held accountable and a bad SM, CC or scout leader who acts inappropriately, also needs to be held accountable; either by the CO or by some authority within the BSA.

 

 

There are things in life for which we can turn the other cheek, but this is not one of them. My son has worked long and hard towards earning Eagle, He has done everything right but his SM has decided to insert his own subjective criticisms to bar him from achieving this based on his own subjective whims of who is worthy of being an Eagle Scout. 

 

 

JoeBob, in short, there is a small handful of other 17 year old Life Scouts in the troop who have been on more camping trips than my son has, but who will most likely not make Eagle due to having not completed a project (or starting too late) or being too far behind on too many merit badge.

 

 

I believe that the SM resents the fact that my son has completed everything for Eagle without having gone on as many camping trips as those other scouts whom, I suspect, that the SM feels are "more worthy" of earning Eagle than my son solely because they've been on more camping trips; hence the reason we have the ten night camping requirement. That's what I meant by that.

 

 

Beavah, you've made some very harsh and unfair accusations. Please don't try to make me out to be the bad guy here. 

 

 

I can assure you that the issues the other parents have are issues of their own concern and these existed well before I ever had any discussions with them. Yes, I did specifically encourage the one family whose son has been misled and jerked around for more than a year over his Eagle proposal to report their concerns to the District Commissioner. They had only previously done so to the District Advancement Chair, which is how and why they also had a meeting with the SM, CC and UC. Believe me when I say that they are legitimately upset in their own right over the treatment that their son has received. 

 

 

It's clear to me that you put the well being of scouters ahead of the well being of the scouts. That's my opinion based on all of your comments and posts. I appreciate your feedback and input but don't think there's too much more for us to say beyond that at this point.

 

 

I realize this may be fodder for good debate and perhaps even a form of entertainment for some but it is ultimately my life and my sons' lives.

 

 

As an Eagle, I wanted my sons to have the same positive experience in scouting that I had and (while they've had many great experiences) at present their participation in scouting is anything but positive. As a family, we're just trying to get through this.

 

 

Many thanks for so many comments of support. I have gained value, very good ideas and perspective from the majority of posts, even some of those where I may not necessarily have fully agreed with the sentiments or feedback expressed.

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