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Normal or Time to Find a New Troop?

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I agree with Beavah. But the troop does sound unusually chaotic. You might assist at home by helping son be organized.


At our house our son copies all blue cards before he hands them to anyone (even adults lose stuff).  He also copies the rank pages periodically (in case that handbook gets lost).  Periodically we throw those copies out.


Do have your son fill out the camping and service logs in the back of his book.  Plus find another place (composition note book?) to track all scouting meeting and events: date, activity, miles, what scout did (cooked desert etc...), guest speaker etc.  This is also a great place to keep notes (plant identification or campout menus).    As my scout is 5 years in, some of those details would have been helpful.  Notebook would be a good place also to put a few photos of fun scouting adventures with his buds, just tape them in -- nothing fancy.


Our former scoutmaster did this on Sunday nights with his son:  You can help your son by sitting with him an hour a week and reading the handbook or practicing something in the handbook.  Latter you can assist with the merit badges in the same way.  Many boys will not read the book.  Let him direct what to work on.  Think mentor, not teacher.  

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Each incident, on its own, may not be that unusual as @@Beavah says.  Taken together, it indicates that the troop is adult-run and run poorly at that.


As others have said, scouts should be signing off on Scout through First Class advancement.  In some Troops, adults take it over because it is being done poorly by the scouts.  That isn't the solution.  The solution is to teach the scouts how to do it correctly.


The confusion on Blue Cards indicates that the ASM your son talked though doesn't understand the advancement process.


The failure of get the awards at Courts of Honor, reflects that the Advancement Chair isn't doing his or her job.


My advice, is to volunteer to take over as the Advancement Chair for the Troop.  As I tell my son, the best practice when someone comes to you with a problem is to give them the power to solve it.  As Advancement Chair, you can master the rules for advancement.  The BSA Guide to Advancement is available as a free download.  Then you can teach the SM and ASM the right way things should be done.  Maybe even start by having a scout go to an older scout and an ASM for sign off on the rank requirements.  Have them demonstrate the skills to the older scout with the ASM watching.  Set up times for Patrol Leaders to ask if anything needs to be signed off (at beginning of patrol meetings?).  That can lead to having the older scouts do it by themselves in a year or so.  Set up a meeting for new Scouts and parents and work with one of the older scouts to explain advancement to the boys (with their parents in the back).  

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Amen , ditto and agree to all the above.   This is "Mr. Smith's Troop", not a "Boy Scout Troop".


The Adult Leaders need the official training.  They need copies of the Guide To Advancement.  They need to allow their Scouts to attend the local Council  " National  Advanced Youth Leadership Experience."  (NAYLE)   Or... your son could attend, any Scout can.  Look for it on your local Council website.    

The Scout that comes back from the NAYLE will never be satisfied with such a Troop / Patrol dynamic as you describe. 


Montain Man does sound like the First Year Scout sessions many summer camps have.  The camp may /may not sign off on it.   In Scouts, the standard is once a requirement is passed, the Scout should not be tested again.  This does not mean he should not be given opportunity to PRACTICE his skill or knowledge.  Patrol Knot competition, First Aid drills,   compass/map games, nothing wrong with those.  If the camp passed out certificates attesting to the idea that the Scout had THIS class and THIS training, I think a period of demonstration/practice might be a good idea.  Every Scout loves the chance to chop wood in an Axe Yard in somebody's back yard (Totin' Chip?), or do pioneering stuff at a Troop meeting (Camp Gizmo?  Rope and Poles?)


Merit Badges?   Must be  registered with the Council as a Merit Badge Counselor.  If the Counselor's name is not properly recorded with Council, this can lead to problems years later. See  Eagle requirements.  Save those Blue card tabs!  Save ANY signed Scout card, these are the proof that the rank/class/requirement has been taken/passed. This is true for anything Scouty, from Tenderfoot thru Woodbadge (adult thing). 

You are within your rights to go to the Council Registrar and inquire about their records re your Scout.  If things aren't up to date correct (be reasonable, months may pass without entries), then go to your Charter Organization Representative or Institution Head (These are the folks that sign the charter that sponsors the unit)  and have a conversation about your experience with your unit leaders.  They (the COR and IH )  may not even be aware of their responsibilities , may not even be aware the (church/temple/foundation/VFW/etc.) sponsors a Scout Unit.


There are many different defined Scout Leaders that are supposed to check up and help each other.  New folks such as yourself (was your Scout a Cub?)  may not be aware of the possibilities.   There is also something called "Round Table".  This is a local get together training for adult Scouters.  You might research the event on your local Council/District website.  Make some more friends, compare experiences, encourage proper behavior, learn something new, drink more coffee,  etc.


Depend, concentrate on the    Scout Promise and Scout Law.   Base all your activities vis a vis your Scout on those.  Set the example for him.  And, allow him the chance to plead his own case as much as he can.   Do not be lax in asking him "well,  what do YOU want to do?"  And do not be slow in asking around to other families.  You just may have some similar experiences to join with.  Strength in numbers and all that. 


Good luck to your Scout and you.     See you on the trail !

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I'm used to cub scouts, so I'm trying to get a consensus on whether my issues are typical in boy scouts or if I should talk to my son about finding a different troop. Talking to leadership has gotten me nowhere but frustrated, and yes, my family volunteers already to try and help or fix any issues we can, but we mostly get blown off and told this is how they do things.


1) No one explains how to do anything. If the scout asks, he's often given bad information that later makes the situation worse. For example, when he asked he was told his blue card didn't matter because the troop already had a record of it. We found out this was false after he lost the card.


2) Wouldn't sign off on rank requirements for 3 solid months, despite scout asking various leaders every week.


3) after participating in mountain man at camp, we were told he has to redo all of the rank requirements in front of an asm to prove he actually did it. But the authorized person in charge of that class already provided a list of requirements earned, and he was forced to take mountain man at camp. Camp was 2 months ago and he's still not gotten all of those signed off on yet because of the issue in #2.


4) Scoutmaster adds age restrictions to certain merit badges that he is not counseling himself.


5) Extremely difficult to schedule or keep scheduled Scoutmaster conferences because he's out, busy, or changes the meeting to an outdoor activity with less than 24 hours notice.


6) They don't keep records well, so if he attends something needed for advancement, it's not in the system, or if he's due an award, it's multiple courts of honor late. We've tried specifically to help here, but committee members over this do not want to allow it.


7) Changed his camp badge schedule without telling us, including that he'd now need extra money to buy a kit to work on a badge.



I find this is very controlling and unorganized, but can anyone tell me if this is normal troop activity that I should expect in any troop?


1.  Ask the SPL to explain these things. Your son needs to talk to the Advancement person about this situation.

2.  Ask the SPL (or other scouts) which adults are best about responding.  Also, ask the SPL to sign off on requirements.

3.  I wish we had done this.  Sometimes the youth running "Mountain Man" or other first year scout programs at summer camp sign off en masse, instead of actually testing each scout.  If your son learned these, it should be easy.

4. Improper, but common sense. There are some merit badges an 11 year old really isn't ready for.  Ask the SM for reasons behind this.

5.  The SPL should be planning meetings, not the SM.  Have your son keep on him.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

6.  Only way around that is to volunteer to do that yourself. I say this having been an Advancement chair for 3 years in the past.

7.  Sometimes this is needed--was it the troop or the camp? 

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Pretty much agree with the Stoshster on this one...  the only time I have more than just the "Unit Copy" piece of a blue card is after Summer Camp, and that's only because they tend to get wadded up in backpacks along with dirty socks, and then windup going through the wash.


If a Scout come up to me during a troop meeting and says, "Mr. Bob, I'm done with my Hiking merit badge - here's my blue card", I pop the perforation and hand back his copy immediately.

As a MB counselor, I do that as well.  For their sake, I have my copy. 

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SSScout, I think you mean NYLT, not NAYLE. NYLT is given at the council level. After completing NYLT a Scout may then take NAYLE, which is offered only at the BSA's national high adventure bases. Also, at least in our council, there are limitations on who can attend NYLT. There is an age requirement, a troop can send only a certain number of Scouts, and the SM's approval is required for any registration. Our troop decides which Scouts are going to go (between 1 and 4 per year) and picks up the cost.

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Thank you for all of the input.  I'm seeing a lot of the other side of the issues now, so some of them make a lot more sense. 


I believe our plan is to wait it out for one more CoH then move on if my scout isn't happy with how things are going at that point.  Like many of you said, it's more like "Mr. Smith's Scouts" instead of "Boy Scouts," and I don't want to discourage a highly motivated scout by keeping him in a troop that's a bad fit and makes him lose interest in scouting. 

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