Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Eagle94-A1

Youth Signing Off on Advancement: Pro and Con

Recommended Posts

In our troop I believe any Scout who is Star or above can sign off on any T-2-1 requirements except for those that are specifically designated for an adult.  (That would include the First Class requirement to discuss with an adult your rights and obligations as a citizen.)  I am not sure whether First Class scouts can sign for lower ranks but I am pretty sure it doesn't go below that, even for patrol leaders.  

 

Generally all requirements for Star and above are signed off by the adults.

 

At some BOR's it has been clear that for some requirements, one Scout signed off for another without an adequate demonstration that the requirement has been passed.  We do not penalize the rank candidate for this.  We have, sometimes, spoken with the SM and SPL about the subject of making sure Scouts who are signing off requirements actually make sure the requirements have been passed.  I think I once suggested changing the rules so that a more limited group of older Scouts could sign off on requirements, but as far as I know that did not go anywhere.

 

Having Scouts sign off on requirements is how it should be done, but there needs to be "quality control."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tenderfoot PL, Eagle scout working on palms

Just out of idle curiosity, have you ever had a patrol with a Tenderfoot PL and an Eagle Scout who was a member?

 

It seems incongruous to me. We tend to have Eagles and almost-Eagles forming their own patrols when there is the opportunity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears to me Eagle94 that you are constantly fighting brush fires while ignoring the source of the ambers. I'm a big picture person, so bare with me. Scouts in most troops are responsible for signing off advancement because that action is part of giving scouts practice in making choices with consequences or outcomes that effects the lives of others.

 

The mission of the BSA is to develop boys into men who make moral and ethical decisions. The Scout Oath commands the scout to do his best in the duty of helping other people at all times. The Troop boy run program is purposely designed to encourage scouts to make choices and decisions that usually have consequences with other people. Making those choices gives them practice to measure how their choice are affected by the Scout Law. It's right there in both the Vision and Mission Statements.

 

In this case, the scout is accepting responsibility for another scout's level of skill. It appears to be a small thing, but it can have big negative consequences if the troop overall starts to decline in scouts skills. The skills of the troop as a whole is a reflection of choices made by scouts.

 

If adults continue to make these decisions for the scouts, they will never have opportunities to learn from their decisions and fail in the mission of developing ethical and moral decision makers. As you know, signing off advancement is a small action of a boy run program, but it is indicative of the adults willingness to encourage the scouts to grow toward the BSA Mission. As I said before, the skills that boys develop in the scouting program are only limited by the fears of adults. The adults, not the scouts have to learn how to not let their fears get in the way. I teach that a lot.

 

You may very well have to discuss each individual argument to find a compromise, but if you don't start off with the BSA Ideals for the Scouts, the adults are just going to stand on their own ideals. The Ideals of the BSA Mission and Vision trump each of their ideals. Their pride may very well argue against you, but you stand on the principles of the BSA. They are being selfish, you are representing the program as it was intended 110 years ago.

 

I hope that makes sense. You will of course have to think of this in your own words. All I'm saying is start with the big picture.

 

Barry

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just out of idle curiosity, have you ever had a patrol with a Tenderfoot PL and an Eagle Scout who was a member?

 

It seems incongruous to me. We tend to have Eagles and almost-Eagles forming their own patrols when there is the opportunity.

 

I have to answer yes and no.  I have had an Eagle Scout as my TG for two years.  I had no SPL at that time, so the NSP PL signed off on his TG palms.  We didn't have many "older boys" at that time, we were in the process of rebuilding the troop from 5 boys to 28 boys so it took a while for the group to get near to a Venture patrol option.

Edited by Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm, a First Class PL can't sign off on a Star or Life Scout?  What's with that?  Did he show up for the service hours?  Did he show the MB blue cards? Where those he was taking care of feel he did a good job for POR?  I would think it would be easier to sign off on Star and Life than for S->FC with having to check with every little training detail. 

 

My PL responsibility does not stop when the boys reach FC.  A PL is responsible for making sure the Eagle Scout member of his patrol has the opportunity to work on palms.

 

No, the adults do not need to take over and run the patrol method once the boys reach First Class.

I'm glad what you are doing works for you. We are well within the program with what we are doing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad what you are doing works for you. We are well within the program with what we are doing.

 

One is well within the program if the SM is the only one who can sign off in the books, too.  We all do what we think is best.

 

The continuum is rather broad in this area.  It is one of the easiest to address, however, when one wants to visibly promote the patrol method. 

 

And seriously, the only time I have had negative feedback is when the PL takes the responsibility too well.  :)  I have to re-emphasize  taking care of people and holding them back are two different issues that need to be balanced out.  Just another lesson in leadership development.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Troops allowing a Tenderfoot sign off an Eagle's leadership requirement is about as likely as stosh listening to a Tiger Den Leader lecture him on patrol method. 

 

 

*I'm thinking the biggest argument for all these frivolous rules is because the adults want to retain control, especially in the later ranks*

 

No, not at all. It's not about control, it's about trusting boys to make mature decisions. If an adult hasn't experienced boys making mature decisions, they struggle to envision it and accept the idea until they experience it personally. It's a parents instinct to protect the child from suffering. So, inexperienced adults (parents) raise barriers of their fears. The barriers can be eased or removed by the adults simply by the action of teaching the scouts how to work around the cause of their fears. The adults feel better for guiding the scouts toward more maturity. But in reality, the  adults just basically fooled themselves into giving the scouts the freedom by simply by giving them a safe process. Most adults admit later that they were over reacting to their fear, but it takes the time for them to experience scouts making decisions to ease their fear enough to give the scouts more room to make choices.

 

That is what I meant by compromise Eagle94. You could create a class that teaches the basics of singing off requirements. Scouts who attend the class are signed off (LOL) to sign off other scouts advancement. You appear to be giving the scouts more maturity. In reality, you are creating some time for the adults to expeirience scouts making mature choices. Once you open that door, I promise time will open it up more. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our system works well, at least for us:

1. SM signs off on Star/Life/Eagle since half requirements (service hrs, MBs, leadership) are Troopmaster tracked or they s/b SM anyway like Scout Spirit.

2. PL (if 1st Class) can sign off for his patrol only T-2-1.  TGs and Sr Patrol can sign for anyone, except Sr Patrol can't sign off during Troop mtgs since they s/b running the Troop and working with Scout leadership.

3. Only SM can sign off on the 1st Class "invite a friend" requirement since that one was troublesome in the past.

4. Scouts can no longer "sign off" on requirements; we now call it "Certify As Completed".  (Yes, wordsmith'ing but the boys know they are accountable.)

5. Our PLCs are weekly and TGs are included along with PLs, Sr Patrol, and Troop Scribe.  A great opportunity post-PLC for SM or SPL to discuss this topic.

6. We heavily encourage a Scout to teach a skill to a younger Scout and then the younger Scout then demonstrates that skill to an older Scout who then signs off.  (Using the manta of "One does not truly learn a skill until that person teaches it to someone else.")

 

7. Lastly, we have a BOR sheet for every rank.  At the BOR the date and name of the Scout who signed off on the each requirement is noted.  A random set of T-2-1 skills are tested at the BOR but the sheet says clearly the one being actually tested is not the Scout having the BOR but the Scout who taught the skill.  If a Scout is weak in a requirement then the teaching Scout is spoken to and asked to work with that younger Scout to teach it properly in subsequent weeks after the BOR.  Both Scouts are told why this happens so when that young Scout is older and teaching requirements to others he already knows that if he puts his signature in a Scout Handbook he will then be held accountable.  It also is a second opportunity to recognize the Scout and teaches him even weaknesses can be improved upon.

 

Nothing is perfect but this system works well for the Scouts in our Troop.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are working on this one. We do have a pre-BOR worksheet that is needed to be gone over and signed by the PL before the BOR. It's a start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Eagle94-A1, to avoid whitewashing things ... I can envision each of your four issues being problematic in youth-sign-off-only troops. Helicopter moms will do what they do. Boys who tend to slip through the cracks will find a way to continue to do so.

 

That's not the point. If I discover one of these issues and go fix it because I'm always the guy checking books, the only result will be I will learn a dozen ways people rig the system. I'll probably then tell other adults my "you won't believe it" stories around a campfire once the boys are in bed. Nothing they didn't already know.

 

If a boy discovers these issues, he talks to his fellow scouts (and hopefully a caring and thoughtful adult) about it. We chalk it up to experience and move on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the years, I have found a few spin off dynamics occurring with the PL total sign-off system I use. 

 

1) Whenever there's a change in PL there seems to be a lot more discussion about his ability to actually function in the sign-off position.  Is he fair?, does he play favorites? will he really keep track of things?   Those kinds of discussions.  Picking scouts on popularity and Rock-Paper-Scissors is ancient history.  My new troop is just now beginning to figure that out.  One boy was selected as PL but another boy quietly functions as PL.  The boys are beginning to notice.

 

2) PL's insist Instructors actually can and do instruct, be available and know the requirements.  They (the PL's) who are consulted and given a consensus when a troop officer POR is evaluated.  Boys tend to function at a high level of proficiency when they are facing a Colosseum Thumbs UP/DOWN for advancement.  If Mr. SM notices Joey can't tie a taunt-line on his tent, this becomes and issue for the PL.  Why do you have boys in your patrol who don't know.....? 

 

3) PL's know that if the boy isn't actually learning and his signature is on the records, he's the one left holding the bag.  There's a lot more "review" of skills along the way and then there's the incentive to review by teaching the NSP boys when the Instructors can't be there for some reason.

 

4) Patrol Method is reinforced in that advancement is an in-house patrol activity.  The boys used to practice a bit before Camporee competition.  Joey does this for first aid, Johnny that.  Fire building? Assignments are made prior to the event and practiced.

 

5) Issues that become glaringly obvious with lack of skills, it becomes a teaching moment for the whole patrol.  Why is the whole troop learning knots just because the NSP doesn't know them?  Don't other patrols have other things they might be interested in doing?  It keeps the S->FC issues in the patrols and doesn't affect the troop.  Troop officers maybe, too, but not the whole troop.  Patrol remain autonomous. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are working on this one. We do have a pre-BOR worksheet that is needed to be gone over and signed by the PL before the BOR. It's a start.

 

This sounds close to my system except the boy signs and review the book, not a worksheet.  There's enough paperwork without having that added to it.  :)

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In our Troop the SM signs off on Star, Life and Scout. This is just verification of something that was done, not teaching and testing a new skill. Those requirements lead to a nice discussion. What did you teach for this requirement. What did you find interesting about each merit badge? What did you learn about leadership in your POR? Why add another step when the same discussion is part of the SM conference?

 

I don't like the idea of testing the teacher by testing the scout at the BoR. TRUST them. Ultimately, the boys learn to be proficient at the skill. After 3 years my son knows his knots and lashings inside and out because he has had to use them and teach them so frequently. If the program is built right they master the skills by using them.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In our Troop the SM signs off on Star, Life and Scout. This is just verification of something that was done, not teaching and testing a new skill. Those requirements lead to a nice discussion. What did you teach for this requirement. What did you find interesting about each merit badge? What did you learn about leadership in your POR? Why add another step when the same discussion is part of the SM conference?

 

I don't like the idea of testing the teacher by testing the scout at the BoR. TRUST them. Ultimately, the boys learn to be proficient at the skill. After 3 years my son knows his knots and lashings inside and out because he has had to use them and teach them so frequently. If the program is built right they master the skills by using them.

 

The training, testing and continued review of scoutcraft skills is the responsibility of the PL. It's up to him to make sure his boys are prepared!  While he can't guarantee learning, he surely can provide the appropriate opportunity to learn. 

 

In no way would a BOR be responsible for testing the boy to see how well the PL is doing, but if it were to come up in a SMC that the boy had no idea what a square knot was, this could be an issue that needed to be addressed prior to the BOR and the first place to check would be the boy's book to see who signed off.  (could be multiple PL's)  There has to be some accountability for knowing the skills.  If a PL signed off, why does the boy not know his stuff?  There's nothing worse than taking over as SM of a troop and finding out the Life scouts in the troop don't know how to start a fire when asked.  Seriously?  How many lessons did they have on that?  How many Camporees did they attend where that was a competition?  how many times was the boy asked to start a cook fire for the Grubmaster? and here he is on the verge of getting his Eagle and he can't do a simple survival skill of starting a fire.

 

Since implementing a PL sign-off with responsibility, I'm finding that by the boy gets to FC he really knows his stuff.   Just this past week as I mentioned someplace, one of my boys noticed that when I tied down the camp trailer after summer camp, I tied all double half-hitches.  It was the boy that was acting as if he was the PL but wasn't selected to the position.  There's a scout that's going to be great at what he does for the troop and his boys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

That is what I meant by compromise Eagle94. You could create a class that teaches the basics of singing off requirements. Scouts who attend the class are signed off (LOL) to sign off other scouts advancement. You appear to be giving the scouts more maturity. In reality, you are creating some time for the adults to expeirience scouts making mature choices. Once you open that door, I promise time will open it up more. 

 

If it was just a class, I would have no problem with it. But the adult faction wants a skills check off weekend before even considering anything else. Maybe I'm old school, but I'm a firm believe that the badge represents what the Scouts can do, not what they have done. If they have the badge they should have the skills to no only do it, but teach it. While some Scouts admit they could use some advance warning to prepare for teaching, I don't think  being told "we need to check your skills before you can sign off" makes the Scouts feel like you trust them.

 

Now I came up with a way to test or review skills, whatever you want to call it, but make it fun and not so obvious that some adults do not trust them. I suggested having a "Scout Olympics" using interpatrol competitions (something we are NOT doing to my chagrin) A) review the skills B) let the SPL and PLs discover who the best Scouts are for particular skills, C) Develop patrol esprit de corps which is severely lacking, and D) Have fun. One member of the adult faction wouldn't even talk to me. Thankfully we are on speaking basis once again.

 

If a boy discovers these issues, he talks to his fellow scouts (and hopefully a caring and thoughtful adult) about it. We chalk it up to experience and move on.

 

In the first case above, the Scouts wanted to hold him accountable, but he passed his BOR before it was caught, I bet the Scouts would have caught it before the BOR.

 

@@Beavah

 

I know it's a gradual process. Troop has been working on it since for at least 3 years, and was doing well until about 1.5 years ago. For a variety of reasons, we took one giant step backwards, to the point where it's worse than when my joined the troop. When oldest joined the troop on this scale http://scoutmastercg.com/ladder-of-youth-leadership-infographic/ the troop was a 5 and moving towards 4. Now we are a definate 7, with an occasional spike to 6. 

 

What's so hard is that the troop I grew up in would be a definite 1.

 

Now I realize every troop is different. I been involved in troops that were not 1s. I've helped troops that were not 1s transition up the scale. But I've noticed that whenever you have changes in adult leadership, or lack thereof, troops slip down.  Especially when you have a bunch of Cub leaders who have to unlearn.

 

Ok back to the topic. What are some arguments you guys have heard against youth signing off, and what were your counter arguments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×