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Scoutmaster denies 17 year old Life Scout Eagle

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Once the Troop signed off "Active in the Troop for Six months while Life Scout" they closed that avenue. 

 

 

Why would yeh think that, @@Sentinel947?

 

Our business is helpin' kids learn and grow, eh?  That doesn't stop when we wave a pencil around.

 

A Scoutmaster may have signed off on "Scout Spirit".   Then between that signoff and his BOR the lad might get caught bullying a younger scout with his fists, or he might get arrested for stealin' from a local shop.

 

Do yeh think that the BOR must give him a rank and the troop must throw him a party because there happens to be a signature on a line?

 

Of course not!

 

The lad might also have had "Earn 21 Merit Badges" signed off 2 years ago, eh?   Even though he's got that signoff, da BSA added Cooking MB as required.  The signoff didn"t "close that avenue."  Da expectations changed, and now the lad has to live up to the Cooking MB expectation in order to earn Eagle, even though he already has the signoff.

 

Advancement is just a method, eh?  It's not an entitlement, it's not an exercise in da bureaucracy of signatures and paperwork.   It's a tool we use to teach.

 

 

"All advancement procedures must be administered under conditions that harmonize with the aims and purposes of the Boy Scouts of America." - Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America

 

If we aren't usin' advancement to teach well, we're doin' it wrong.

 

Beavah

Edited by Beavah

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Yah, @@Stosh, I reckon it just depends whether yeh view Boy Scout ranks as entitlements or not, eh? 

 

If gettin' a Boy Scout rank is an entitlement, then if yeh don't get what's comin' to yeh you might be "screwed over".

 

I don't see BSA ranks as entitlements, and I don't think we're playin' this Scoutin' game to teach kids to feel entitled to the time and effort and recognition of others.

 

Just my humble opinion.

 

I think we are bein' trustworthy when we follow the "cardinal rule" of advancement and make sure we're usin' advancement to educate kids.   I think we build confidence in kids and parents when badges represent what a lad is able to do, rather than bein' an award for what he has done.  I think we're followin' da rules when we we interpret advancement in the way that best advances da Aims of Scouting to promote character, fitness and citizenship.

 

Not entitlement.

 

I agree with @@Krampus though, eh?  Most units don't really track attendance or have policies on participation.  Those only come up either when some lad/family tries to take advantage and other folks get upset by that, or when a unit has gotten very lax and some better-trained folks are tryin' to put the house back in order.   For the rest of da time, this stuff just sorta cruises along.  Perhaps with a SM sayin' "Hey, Joe, we've all been missin' you lately.  I'd love to sign yeh off for Scout Spirit, sure.  I might have some time to do that on the next campout, eh?  Will I see yeh there? :)

 

Gee, my definition of "active" in my troops has been: you pay your registration, you're active for another year.

 

Yeh can choose to have a definition like that, eh?  Nobody's goin' to stop you, if yeh have some families who want that sort of thing.    I'm not sure what you're teachin' though.  Is an active student a lad who just registers for class, but never shows up?   Is a good employee a fellow who signs a contract but doesn't come to work? Is an active member is someone who signs da church register, but doesn't come to Sunday services or contribute in any other way?  Is that definition consistent with da values of your CO?

 

I prefer da BSA's definition:

 

A youth member is a youth under 18 years of age who, with the approval of a parent or guardian, becomes a member of a unit; obligates himself to regularly attend the meetings; fulfills a member’s obligation to the unit; subscribes to the Scout Oath; and participates in appropriate program [sic] based on the current guidelines of the Boy Scouts of America.  - Rules & Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America

 

Beavah

@@Beavah, I really find it hard to follow your logic.

 

You talk about ranks and entitlements, but that TOTALLY misses the point that this Scout did the work required of him and now adults are asking him to re-do something as a condition of signing off on requirements. 

 

It is not an entitlement to get something for doing the required work. The process of the Scout getting that badge -- and therefore achieving what he's capable of, as you point out -- is part of the process the SMs and other adults should help this Scout with WHILE he is working toward rank. It is NOT something you do AFTER the fact.

 

Imagine how ill-done you'd feel if you just did your taxes and filed for a refund, but now the IRS wants you to document every mile you've driven before you can get your refund. You can probably time your incredulity in nanoseconds, and yet somehow this Scout is supposed to swallow this injustice in the name of "what he's capable of"? Forgive me, but that's just bollocks!!

 

Your quote of what the BSA defines as "active" is incomplete as it omits the very definition of active outlined in the GTA.

 

Lastly, if you looked a bit further in the same document you'd find another quote that blows a hole in your support of the Scoutmaster denying this Scout his signature:

 

"...a Scouter must agree to: subscribe to the Scout Oath; fulfill the obligations of his or her position; and perform his or her duties in accordance with the Rules and Regulations, policies, and guidelines of the Boy Scouts of America" -- Page 8 BSA Rules and Regulations.

 

 

If you are going to use that document to hold the Scout to some ambiguous level of activity, the you HAVE TO hold the adults to the bolded parts of that same document...which requires them to follow not only the Rules and Regulations, but the Oath, Law AND all policies and guidelines!!!!

 

So, in short -- and using your own source -- if the SM and other adults are not using the GTA and applying it correctly, they are violating the very same document you intend to hold the Scout to.

 

Where is your sense of fairness?

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Why would yeh think that, @@Sentinel947?

 

Our business is helpin' kids learn and grow, eh?  That doesn't stop when we wave a pencil around.

 

A Scoutmaster may have signed off on "Scout Spirit".   Then between that signoff and his BOR the lad might get caught bullying a younger scout with his fists, or he might get arrested for stealin' from a local shop.

 

Do yeh think that the BOR must give him a rank and the troop must throw him a party because there happens to be a signature on a line?

 

Of course not!

 

Advancement is just a method, eh?  It's not an entitlement, it's not an exercise in da bureaucracy of signatures and paperwork.   It's a tool we use to teach.

 

 

"All advancement procedures must be administered under conditions that harmonize with the aims and purposes of the Boy Scouts of America." - Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America

 

If we aren't usin' advancement to teach well, we're doin' it wrong.

 

Beavah

 

I can't help but wonder if you are deliberately ignoring the case study we have from the OP. I understand your point, the program has a mission beyond advancement. I don't dispute that. I do dispute that we need to pull tricks like the SM in the OP to do it. 

 

We can have Scouts learn important life lessons and skills, and follow the requirements. That's what they are for!!!!! You said it yourself "It's a tool we use to teach." We have all the requirements we need to run the program. There is no reason to add extras except for whimsy. 

 

None of the folks in this discussion has said anything about rank advancement and "entitlement" except  yourself. 

 

Rank advancement is earned. It has requirements to earn the ranks. There are procedures to administer it. We should follow those procedures. @@Krampus has the citation from the same source you used earlier. But now it will go back to being "optional' I guess.  :huh:

 

Cooking Merit Badge is where the BSA CHANGED THE REQUIREMENTS. It's their program, they can do with it whatever the heck they want. Like add Cooking Merit Badge, or banning bubble ball. You indirectly made my point. From what I'm reading you are advocating is that an SM can say, "My scouts don't have to earn Cooking Merit Badge because I think it's useless." Or something ridiculous like "I see you've finished the Cooking Merit Badge Requirements, but to really prove it, you must cook 10 more meals before I'll sign the badge." Why? What lesson does this teach? 

 

Rank advancement is only one of eight methods. I'm completely aware of this. I teach new Scoutmasters. You are again setting up a strawman argument. That because some of us believe the rules should be followed we think advancement trumps all. This is not true. This topic began by focusing on a specific advancement related situation. I don't even think advancement is really the most important aspect of the program. I'd put Patrol Method, Personal Growth, and Adult Association before Advancement. But THIS TOPIC SPECIFICALLY is related to advancement, and not a whole lot else. While I don't have over 7,000 posts like you do, In my +1,300 posts I have spent a lot of time extolling the other methods of Scouting. 

 

If a Scout does something like what you referenced, he should be suspended from his unit. He wouldn't be eligible for advancement. Or going on the Scoutmaster's assigned extra camping trips. How does extra camping trips prove Scout spirit if the Scout beat up somebody or stole from the local store??? Here is your mechanism to deal with that situation. The Scout would be removed from the Troop between the signing of the Scout Spirit Requirement and his BOR. His reinstatement would based on whatever standards the Troop Committee and SM decide on his reinstatement. That's not adding to the requirements, that's abiding by membership standards. 

 

The Scout in the OP did not beat up somebody. He didn't steal. Again, would you remedy that situation by telling him to go camping more? I doubt it. 

 

Sentinel947

Edited by Sentinel947
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I recommend you check his record...even though I thought I was on top of my son's there still were a few things that needed help from the Troop to clear up. 

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We also both know that da "cardinal rule" of BSA advancement is NOT "don't add to the requirements." 

Very true.  We know exactly what the rule is because BSA publishes it in the Guide to advancement, and it is:

 

 "Policy on Unauthorized Changes to Advancement Program

 

No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. There are limited exceptions relating only to youth members with special needs. For details see section 10, “Advancement for Members With Special Needs.â€

 

Boy Scouts of America, Guide to Advancement (2015) at p. 2.

 

At least since 1965, Merit Badge Counselors have known this rule as "Add nothing.  Subtract nothing."

 

So as a Beaver, you can make all the changes you want.  As a Scouter you may make no changes -zip - zero- nada.

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I think BSA has a zero-tolerance policy on making changes to the requirements.

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I think BSA has a zero-tolerance policy on making changes to the requirements.

Perhaps a policy but not a practice.  If it were the practice lot's of council execs would be fired and/or lots camps would be closed.  Some many dozens of execs ignore the policy 'cuase lots of unearned MBs handed out is perceived as the path to lots of campers in camp, and rules be damned.

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But THIS TOPIC SPECIFICALLY is related to advancement, and not a whole lot else.

 

 

Nah.  If yeh think that, then yeh aren't usin' the Advancement Method the way the BSA intends, eh?  The Methods are all related to each other.  More important, da Methods are all applied to da goals of teachin' character, fitness, and citizenship, eh?   All those other things yeh learned (or teach) in trainin', they all go together, eh?  That's how da Scoutin' program works.

 

So my question to you is how yeh think a parent should respond to his or her lad's teacher/coach/referee/scoutmaster when that other adult in the boy's life makes a judgment call, eh?   Especially when that judgment call is "Hey, Joe, we haven't seen yeh around in quite a while.  I'm not comfortable signin' off for you to receive our highest award for Scouting when I really haven't seen yeh out Scouting at all lately, and yeh haven't met our troop's participation requirements."

 

Remember, it was da BSA that changed da "rules" and allowed troops to set participation requirements, exactly like da BSA changed da rules and added Cooking MB. 

 

What's your response to the parent who asks that question?   It's not da Scoutmaster askin' how to handle a piece of advancement paperwork, eh?  We'd answer differently if it was the SM askin' questions.  It's a parent venting and askin' how to best help their son.

 

Goin' on a few campouts to meet da troop's participation expectations to my mind is trivial.  It's fun.  It's Helpful.  It shows Loyalty and commitment to da Patrol and Troop, eh?  It's consistent with what we want to teach.

 

Yellin' at da referee ain't.  Even if we think da ref is makin' a bad call, a parent stormin' onto da field and hollerin' at da ref is poor sportsmanship.  A kid playin' rulebook lawyer I personally think is poor citizenship too, eh?  Teaches da wrong thing about laws and lawyers :p

 

Beavah

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@@Beavah, I really find it hard to follow your logic.

 

 

Yah, well, I reckon I'm not always that clear, eh?

 

I think our first duty is to higher principles, eh?  God and Country in da Oath and such.

 

Our duty in Scoutin' is to our Chartered Organization if we're unit Scouters, and to da CO's mission for youth.

 

Our duty as council or national scouters is to da Mission and Aims of the BSA.

 

Da rules, laws, policies, guidelines, historical practices, local adaptations and all da rest serve those various purposes, eh?  They don't serve themselves.  So it's never OK to apply a rule or practice or whatnot in a way that harms da Aims, Goals, and Principles, eh?   We should never teach boys that da rules are what counts most, because it leads to disrespect for da rules, eh?  Rules that don't serve higher purposes aren't worthy of respect.

 

That's the BSA's position, eh?  Da BSA wants us to teach character, fitness, and citizenship. The Rules & Regulations say explicitly that all da other rules, policies, guidelines, support materials and whatnot must be applied in ways that harmonize with those Aims.   Education is our mission, and education is da only cardinal rule of BSA Advancement.

 

So da question in each case is how we apply or interpret da various program guides so as to help this particular boy and group of boys develop character, fitness, and citizenship if we're council or national scouters, or how we apply da BSA program to help this particular boy and group of boys to develop in da ways our CO wants if we're unit scouters.  I don't reckon it's ever OK to say "I was just followin' da rules" if our interpretation of da rules is narrow, and crabbed, and contrary to da goals, eh?  It teaches disrespect for da rules.

 

In this case we've got a fairly normal helicopter parent complaint, eh?  Da question isn't "what rule can we quote and how many bad names can we call da Scoutmaster?".  Da question is "what is the best way to be helpful, and to support da growth of this particular boy and da other boys in this program? 

 

I gently submit to yeh that in 99 cases out of 100, da best thing to tell the parent is to think about da lessons of sportsmanship and courtesy and respect they want their son to learn, and how much time they really think it's right to demand from a man or woman who are givin' their time for free.   Good scouters and trainers and commissioners don't pour fuel and oxygen on da flames of unit conflicts, eh?   We pour water.   We know that unit conflicts can harm da Scoutin' program for a lot of boys, so we don't wind folks up and send 'em off to fight to da finish about interpretations of kids' program guides.  Instead we get people calmed down and reflective and thinkin' about da Aims we share.

 

That's how we serve Scoutin' best.

 

For da rest, when it's just friends around da campfire we can discuss da merits of NSP vs traditional patrols, or full uniforms vs. pride in scoutin' identity the way it's done internationally.  We can argue to our heart's content about whether a lad with a First Aid MB should actually be able to do first aid, or whether da badge means he sat through a Saturday mornin' class and ticked off just da requirements, no more, in one-and-done group style.  Those are good discussions, eh?  If we're honest about it, there are lots of different ways of approachin' such things successfully.  Just because da troop in da next town over doesn't do it our way doesn't mean that they're doin' it wrong.

 

Beavah

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Yah, well, I reckon I'm not always that clear, eh?

 

 

[snip a whole lot of stuff off topic]

 

I gently submit to yeh that in 99 cases out of 100, da best thing to tell the parent is to think about da lessons of sportsmanship and courtesy and respect they want their son to learn, and how much time they really think it's right to demand from a man or woman who are givin' their time for free.   Good scouters and trainers and commissioners don't pour fuel and oxygen on da flames of unit conflicts, eh?   We pour water.   We know that unit conflicts can harm da Scoutin' program for a lot of boys, so we don't wind folks up and send 'em off to fight to da finish about interpretations of kids' program guides.  Instead we get people calmed down and reflective and thinkin' about da Aims we share.

 

That's how we serve Scoutin' best.

I really don't what to say. Let's stay on topic of this OP.

  1. You have a Scout who as completed his requirements.
  2. You have adults not following the requirements or processes.
  3. You have adults adding requirements in one place in order to sign off on requirements in another.
  4. You have a Scout who is trying to follow the process and rules, but you have adults changing the rules.
  5. You have a Scout how turns 18 soon and is looking for resolution to his problem because the adults are being unreasonable.

It's not about character. If it was one might ask about the character of the adults changing the rules.

 

Its' not about trust. If it was one might ask about the trustworthiness of the adults who don't communicate their thoughts or intentions.

 

It's not about loyalty. If it was one might question the loyalty of the adults who are not supporting a young man who has invested a great deal in their program already.

 

The irony of you continuing to banter about what the program is about and what we are trying to achieve as adults, flies in the face of what these adults are trying to do. You don't build the character of a young man about to make Eagle by eroding his trust in you and sabotaging his hard work.

 

I'm going to stop my part of this discussion. You either don't get it or are so far away from how I would want my boys represented by adults that I can only say I am glad your mindset does not exist in my unit.

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If the OP is accurate, there is no issue of judgment.  Instead, the issue raised is what to do about a commissioned Scouter changing the rules to suit himself.  There is no reason that the answer has to involve discourtesy or disregard of the feelings of the Scouter.

 

The issue also extends to other Scouts in the unit.  Will they also be subjected to the alleged arbitrary treatment that is contrary to the rules, regulations and policies on Advancement?  The Scouts too are entitled to respect and courtesy.

 

Change the facts - have an existing policy on being "active" that the Board of Review determines the Scout has arguably failed to meet - and you change the result.  Were those the facts, I have no problem with the concept of judgment, without a lot more facts.   Although I question whether a policy of the SM being "comfortable" is an acceptable policy any more than "I know it when I see it."  satisfied anyone other than Justice Black.

 

Obviously, parents can be other than rationale and fair when it comes to their kids.  In forty-six years in the program, I have experienced more than one parent who had gone off the deep end in a desire to "help" their son.  

 

Those experiences do not make it inevitable that the parents are always in the wrong when it comes to challenging the treatment of their Scouts. I have personally heard an SM proclaim that no Scout who was not a Baptist would ever Eagle in "his" troop.  I have dealt with an SM who made up his own advancement requirements for T-F (First he didn't agree with changes from B.S.A. and then, while he was at it, he made up drastically different requirements based on how "it should be. "Tracking." for example, was back for Second Class and Morse Code for First Class.).  One Sm would not "pass" a Scout for First Class unless he could safely fell a tree.  Then there was the SM giving alcoholic beverages to Scouts who had reached 14 years of age. (That behavior made it to American Heritage. in a very favorable article about the troop)   And more.

 

Our duty as commissioned Scouters is to provide the B.S.A. program according to B.S.A. rules, regulations, and policies.   When the CO  agrees to be a CO, it agrees to "Conduct the Scouting program consistent with BSA rules, regulations, and policies."  Thus, the CO's mission is not relevant to solving the issue raised in the OP.  If the CO determines that the SM is not following the BSA rules, regulations, and policies, it is contractually bound to correct that situation.   

 

The Scouting values involved according to the OP's statements include "Obedient."  Do we teach in the Citizenship badges that one should regularly disobey laws that one does not "respect."  While I dislike the current explanation, I like anarchy even less.  Use wiggle room? Sure.  Unequivocally violate the rules?   No.

 

Is there evidence that the SM counseled the Scout that he was at risk of failing to qualify for Eagle due to failing to be "active" until the point in time indicated in the OP?  If not, he was he loyal to the Scout, friendly to the Scout, kind to the Scout?

 

Surely, rules should be interpreted in view of higher values.  In this case, the authoritative interpretation is by B.S.A. 

 

 It ill behooves Scouters to preach the Law and ignore it when it suits them.  

 

 

 

 
  1. The Scout must be registered.
  2. The Scout must be in good standing, meaning he hasn’t been dismissed for disciplinary reasons or deemed unfit to be a Scout by the council.
  3. One of these (1) or (2):
    1. The Scout must meet the unit’s reasonable expectations for activity.
      OR
    2. If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity-oriented expectations, then it must be because of other positive endeavors— in or out of Scouting—or to
      noteworthy circumstances that have prevented a higher level of participation. In this case a Scout is considered “active†if a board of review can agree that Scouting values have already taken hold and 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.

So a Scout who is active at his church or other positive uses of his time could qualify for an exception. The goal, as the Guide to Advancement explains, is for the board members to “satisfy themselves that [the Scout] 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?â€

[emphasis added]

 

See, Guide to Advancement, 4.3.2.1

 

Note who exercises the judgement

 

Either the Scout passed the requirements or he did not, the SMs "comfort" notwithstanding.

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My son and I had a meeting with the SM, CC and Unit Commissioner.

 

 

That meeting was an absolute travesty and I regret that I even allowed my son to be placed into that kind of situation. 

 

 

The SM and CC bristled with animosity and hostility throughout the meeting and accused my son of "making excuses."  The SM said outright that if he wants to make Eagle in the troop, that he’ll “have to put scouting first†ahead of his other extracurriculars.

 

 

My son and I both cited that he had already completed his more than six months of active participation and that the troop could not retroactively apply a new requirement on active participation to a scout who has already fulfilled that requirement. The SM and CC didn't care and were insistent that since the troop committee approved the new camping requirement that they could apply it. Most surprisingly - the Unit Commissioner acted as an agent on the behalf of the SM and CC and he did not hold them accountable for not in any way to adhering to the GTA. 

 

 

Our hope was to achieve some kind of compromise but even that was not accepted.

 

 

The meeting became extremely heated and contentious and the SM and CC were just as contentious with my son as they were with me. When my son specified and outlined the GTA standards, the SM and CC both became especially defensive and angry. At one point the SM said - directly to my son - "I don't care if you bring in the President of the United States, the only way you're making Eagle in this troop is if you make ten (additional) nights of camping."

 

 

The Unit Commissioner said to my son (after he cited the GTA rules) "forget about the rules.†My son and I both got the impression that he was kind and was genuinely trying to help but that he was also deeply misguided.

 

 

The SM also took no accountability over the fact that he had misled my son over his completion of the one remaining requirement that he must complete to lock up his final Eagle required merit badge.

 

 

That meeting was by far the lowest moment that i have ever witnessed in scouting, by far. Nothing else even comes close. My son was literally bullied (psychologically and mentally) by his own SM and CC. 

 

 

I could not have been more proud of my son for the way that he stood up for himself, but he was extremely demoralized by this experience. No scout should ever be subjected to this.

 

 

That same night, I contacted the Council Advancement Chair. He was shocked by what he heard and looped in the District Commissioner and the District Advancement Chair.

 

 

My son and I then met with the Council Advancement Chair, District Commissioner and the District Advancement Chair the following week. The SM and CC were not involved with this meeting.

 

This meeting was very successful. What was especially nice was that the CAC took time to speak with my son and provide some very meaningful words of encouragement and support after what he had been subjected to by his SM and CC. Both the CAC and DAC affirmed that the UC had been remiss in not calling out the SM and the CC on their flagrant disregard of allowing the them to apply an active participation. 

 

The DC is looking into the conduct of the SM and CC and the DAC is working with my son on the process for applying for Eagle under disputed circumstances.

 

While that meeting was successful, it doesn't erase what he had been subjected to the week before.

 

I'm an Eagle myself, but getting my sons involved in scouting was a huge mistake. One that I’ll always regret deeply.

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While I sympathize, is judging a program that involves millions by the conduct of 2-3 people a lesson you want to teach your son?

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IMHO I don't think you or your son did anything wrong.  A Scout is Brave and your son held his own.  His situation may in fact either is going to make or break it for scouting. 

 

I put in 35+ years of scouting BECAUSE I had a lousy SM.    When my son became a Tiger Cub I came on board with a personal mission that I would never do to a scout what was done to me. 

 

Yes, I challenge my boys, but I also make sure that when all is said and done they have succeeded.  Even the boy I held back his Eagle for 6 months to earn my unnecessary recommendation to the Council.  How do I know this?  He was tearing up, when he hugged me and presented me with his Eagle mentor pin. 

 

If your son decides that Scouting is good in spite of his current situation he may indeed go on to be an caring and compassionate SM to hundreds of boys over the course of his lifetime.

 

As far as the Eagle, he put in more of an effort to earn it than just meeting the requirements, he persevered and has become a Real Eagle in the process.  Anything worth having involves a struggle, the harder the struggle, the greater the worth.  Don't worry, your son will be just fine.

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The litigious path is very hard emotionally. Being right does not always equate to feeling right.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.

Frankly if I were your son, I'd line up ten nights of camping with my buddies and their girlfriends and sisters ... Starting on my 18th birthday!

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