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dfolson

How to address gaps in Eagle project

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I reread this thread and I have a slightly different view on this than before. The adults dropped the ball but I'm not sure the adults could ever get this right given the process. As Back Pack said, the process isn't very good.

 

Tell me if this right: The district can be given a vague plan and they have to decide whether it's a valid project. After that the unit leader and the beneficiary are the only ones that can say whether a project showed leadership. However, the beneficiary likely has no idea what a valid project is and signing off might be the path of least resistance. That leaves the unit leader as the final arbiter.

 

Do I have this right? I realize I should know this but we do things differently. I won't let a scout start his project until I've seen enough preparation to know that everyone knows what's going on.

 

Anyway, what this gets down to is whether or not the SM really has the authority to decide what's a valid eagle project. If he does then the BOR should not have any say in this. If he doesn't then there's a problem with the whole process. The district runs the eagle BOR and shouldn't wait until then to say anything. We have had this discussion before and late feedback on whether a scout is showing leadership is not good. The district should decide when the project is done whether it was done right. And yet, the district has little say on the front end.

 

In the case of this project, apparently there were "suggestions" from the district. What does this mean? If the district is given a vague project is it possible to make anything other than a suggestion? Honestly, why did the district sign off on a project that was nothing more than organizing labor for a turn key project? Or was it a case of the district saying this is a turn key project, that won't fly, and so we suggest you do one of X,Y, or Z. If so, did the SM ever see this, since he's the one that decides if the project was done right? Can the district require enough detail so X, Y, or Z get into the project description? Could they even require that the proposal be rewritten?

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I reread this thread and I have a slightly different view on this than before. The adults dropped the ball but I'm not sure the adults could ever get this right given the process. As Back Pack said, the process isn't very good.

 

We've been through this time and time again.  Like the US constitution, the process isn't very good except when compared with all the other processes.  ... Every process will fail when pushed beyond the limits.

 

IMHO, district reviewers could do a better up writing on the proposal and adding explicit words about expected leadership and planning.  

 

In addition though, that's what the whole project is about.  It's documented everywhere.  It's documented the scout can strike out on his own AT HIS OWN ADVANCEMENT RISK.  If the scoutmaster failed to know leaderhip is expected, bad on him.  If the district failed to communicate it, bad on them.  But I really find it hard to believe that between the SM, district review and the explicit words written in the Eagle workbook, the scout did not know that significant planning is expected.  It's documented everywhere.  

 

What does happen though is people continually try to find the least, the minimum and how to skirt by.  I've had mothers ask explicitly "what is the minimum to complete it?" 

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To be honest, I'd look at the rest of his scouting. If the reason he did such a lousy job was because he is just lazy and everyone cut him slack, then I wouldn't feel bad about rejecting it. If he's a good scout and the adults dropped the ball, then I'd just hold my nose and sign it. And then I'd get the adults together and figure out how to prevent this in the future.

 

If you decide to reject it then don't feel bad. If he appeals and gets eagle then good for him (or more likely his parents) at least your name isn't on it. You volunteer, you do your best, and that's it. Don't beat yourself up over this.

 

This is the best answer.  I've seen it done before.  A really weak Eagle project passes because of other leadership demonstrated by the scout.  Then the EBOR does discuss with the SM and others what happened and tries to improve the situation.  But the EBOR does have the option to say we need more or we need a new project.  

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The District only approves the proposal.  The Scout then plans, but the District doesn't see the plan until it gets to a BoR.  When the proposal was signed, the scout was advised - these are things to make sure you address in your plan to assure success.  All of which were ignored.  This is also the second such project the District has seen from the same beneficiary, so a discussion will be had with both the Troop leaders and the beneficiary.  When I spoke to the beneficiary about the amount of planning and development that was done by the scout he said - really very little as I hand led the scout all the way.  

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The District only approves the proposal.  The Scout then plans, but the District doesn't see the plan until it gets to a BoR.  When the proposal was signed, the scout was advised - these are things to make sure you address in your plan to assure success.  All of which were ignored.  This is also the second such project the District has seen from the same beneficiary, so a discussion will be had with both the Troop leaders and the beneficiary.  When I spoke to the beneficiary about the amount of planning and development that was done by the scout he said - really very little as I hand led the scout all the way.  

 

It sounds like the adults coaching this kid let him down. They are there to guide him and it sounds like that didn't happen.

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It sounds like the adults coaching this kid let him down. They are there to guide him and it sounds like that didn't happen.

The only way to know who let whom down is to hear from all parties.

 

Having never had an Eagle coach (and having done very little as a coach for son#2) I have no a priori reason to blame adults.

Edited by qwazse

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IMHO, district reviewers could do a better up writing on the proposal and adding explicit words about expected leadership and planning.  

 

In addition though, that's what the whole project is about.  It's documented everywhere.  It's documented the scout can strike out on his own AT HIS OWN ADVANCEMENT RISK.  If the scoutmaster failed to know leaderhip is expected, bad on him.  If the district failed to communicate it, bad on them.  But I really find it hard to believe that between the SM, district review and the explicit words written in the Eagle workbook, the scout did not know that significant planning is expected.  It's documented everywhere.  

 

What does happen though is people continually try to find the least, the minimum and how to skirt by.  I've had mothers ask explicitly "what is the minimum to complete it?" 

 

You do bring up a good point. The BOR is there to ensure the SM did his job. On the other hand, delaying bad news is always frowned upon. You can't wait until the Star BOR to tell a scout he was a lousy PL. So why should the Eagle BOR be different? I guess it's because the district is interested in setting the standard but why do they wait until the BOR to get involved?

 

This is just proof to me that the new eagle project process has some problems. It doesn't help this scout but I'm glad we tell the scouts that they need to prove they are prepared before we let them start the project.

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The only way to know who let whom down is to hear from all parties.

Having never had an Eagle coach (and having done very little as a coach for son#2) I have no a priori reason to blame adults.

Adults built the process. The GTA says the scouts gets a guide, or at least an SM that understands the process. The district let him down too. Plenty of adult blame to go around. Seems like folks have already made up their mind the kid didn't meet the requirement.

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So my real question is if the current process allows situations like this to happen, how do you avoid it?  Does the District have to check in with the SM and see how each project  is progressing?  Should the Eagle coaches check in with the district advancement teams?

 

Once the District approves the proposal, there is no check on the plan or the  execution until the BoR.

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Seriously, people?  The coach let the boy down?  The SM let the boy down?  The approvers let the boy down?  Plenty of  blame to pass around as to why the boy screwed up?  Who's project it is anyway?  If the scout is to show leadership, why is he following the directions of a coach, the SM and council approvers and any other adult for that matter?

 

It sounds like everyone is trying to justify hovering scouters and parents using everything from blame checking to GTA.

 

I always thought and have directed every one of my Eagles, that this is their project, their opportunity to prove they are Eagle material and if everything goes to hell in a basket, it's no one's fault but their own.  I don't pick their projects, I don't "proofread" their proposals, I am very little involved in their project other than to answer questions THEY HAVE FOR ME.  I don't coach, I don't direct, I don't suggest, I only answer questions the best I can when they have them.  They get a booklet to read and follow, other than that they have to prove they are 1) a leader and 2) worthy of being called an Eagle. 

 

Even then I seem to gather up "mentor" pins along the way and for the love of God, I don't know why.  The only thing I can imagine is this might be the first major effort on their part where there's no one there to teach, guide, direct, instruct and they have to do everything on their own using their own resources and any success is dependent solely on them.

 

Of course there is plenty of pre-learning going on with the process.  From TF on through LIFE, these boys have been planning, doing and leading activities and service projects all along.  The Eagle project is merely their way of telling the world they were paying attention.

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So my real question is if the current process allows situations like this to happen, how do you avoid it?  Does the District have to check in with the SM and see how each project  is progressing?  Should the Eagle coaches check in with the district advancement teams?

 

Once the District approves the proposal, there is no check on the plan or the  execution until the BoR.

The EBoR is the "check" that you're asking for.

There's this ongoing perception that every BoR should be completed the night that it is opened. Therefore, there's this constant build-up of literature and obligation of adults to avoid the positive experience of a BoR declaring that requirements have not been met.

You are hopefully going to hold hundreds of boards. If 99% of them approve their candidate, how is that a problem?

 

As a practical matter, our DAC occasionally has the floor at the boy-scout breakout session of round-table and gives us a general run-down of what types of applications have and have not been accepted. Getting the word out that you do reject applications from time to time is the best ounce of prevention that I can think of.

 

The only "structural" thing that I can think of to guarantee a scout an eventually successful BoR, if that's what he really wants, is to remove the age 18 deadline. (Sorry to those of you who are tired of my soap box.) Then reviewers can, without remorse, turn down a 17.9 year old, give him an adult application, and invite him to keep trying as an ASM until he gets it right. There will be no more farming out agency to adults, no more disputed circumstances, no more parents whining about how Little Johnny's career is ruined. If it really matters to him, let him get it done as Big John. I wonder how many thousands of these "rush under the wire" applications would ever even get submitted if nobody felt that deadline approaching.

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Well this is what happens when the kid has a bad coach. You can't hold it against the kid. He should have been coached better on his planning and execution. BSA adds to the problem only requiring the proposal signed off. If the beneficiary and SM are okay with the project then the BOR takes place. Ask him what he did. The GTA allows for boards to question scouts who obviously didn the work but may not have articulated the process or result. Trust the Scout and let him have is day. BOR must be granted.

The project is the "Eagle" Scout's responsibile, not the coach's.  

 

"Did not follow any of the District suggestions for changes.

Did not follow the directions of the city (to wait for 1 week after applying herbicide before planting - instead did entire project in 1 day)"

 

I believe that is the Scout's issue.  

 

Sadly, for you, it is up to the EBOR to determine whether or not the requirement was met and if he didn't then he didn't.  (Yes, the EBOR can look towards other ways the Scout demonstrated leadership if the project is a weak one.)   

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So my real question is if the current process allows situations like this to happen, how do you avoid it?  Does the District have to check in with the SM and see how each project  is progressing?  Should the Eagle coaches check in with the district advancement teams?

 

Once the District approves the proposal, there is no check on the plan or the  execution until the BoR.

Current process had a potential flaw exactly how you described.  (Old process had a flaw in that some Scouts were spending tons of hours pre-approval on plans that never were approved.)  For our Troop I approve all proposals for our TC Chair.  I tell each Scout, with parent there, there is a flaw in that their plan and the requirement itself is formally approved at their EBOR and they can deny the requirement.  

 

The way to avoid this is to have their Final Plan informally reviewed and unofficially approved before construction by an ad hoc committee that the Scout picks and convenes.  This process is STRONGLY recommended but officially optional.  The Scout would select a recent Eagle who had a good project and 2-3 adults with project management experience.  Names are given to the Scout but up to him on who to ask.  Recommended that the Scout have this meeting no less than 10 days before construction so if they recommend changes/improvements the Scout has time to incorporate into his plan.  

 

So far 100% of Scouts who had their Final Plans reviewed have sailed through their EBORs.  Both Scouts who decided not to utilize this optional benefit have had issues at their EBORs - most likely since both Scouts (and their parents) were cutting corners every step of the way.

 

BTW, please no comments on "adding to the requirements" because we are not requiring anything, only recommending it for their benefit and to avoid exactly the problem raised here.  

 

I do ask every Scout after their project is done if their taking the time to have their Final Plan reviewed was a waste of time or not.  Half said the comments they got actually saved them time and hassle completing their project.  Half said they didn't save time but the time spent reviewing their Final Plan made for a better project.  Not a single Scout has said it was a waste of time.  

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Waiting a week for the herbicide is no issue, perhaps the use of said herbicide was targeted on unwanted plants only instead of broadcast spread, so replanting right away did not effect the new plants.  Or that roundup was used, but roundup resistant plants were planted immediately after so there was also no effect.  Or the scout showed up, and as you said the city provided all the stuff, so the scout did was the city provided, an on their schedule. Or the city changed their mind when the scout asked them about doing this project on two weekends instead of one. You do not know these details until you review, and if the city signed off, it is likely that the replacement plants didn't die due to the herbicide.

 

I really don't care that this is a turn key project where the scout did very little to plan.

We have things like blood drives all the time, where a scout CAN'T do anything except advertise, recruit volunteers and maybe provide snacks and thank you's, and on the day coordinate people signing in and standing in lines to do whatever the Blood Bank requires.

 

In lots of city projects, the city requires use of specific tools they know are safe, requires specific use of plants that they have purchased, likely at bulk huge discount, or paint or whatever other supplies the city often REQUIRES the scout use exactly what the city wants them to use and provides it and then shows up to make sure the plants are put exactly where the city wants them. 

 

So the scout's leadership is shown in the advertising of the project, recruiting enough scouts to do the work, and then hopefully leading the scouts on what to do when thru the project itself. But everyone knows that adults OFTEN jump in to try to tell the scouts what to do and how to do it.  If they were mixing and pouring cement and the adults were showing how to mix cement, you would not question that the scout who doesn't know how to mix cement should be showing how to do it, the scout would be expected to defer to the specialist.  The scout then has to coordinate only the scout side, which scouts help with this part and which help with this part and who does what at clean up time.  And feed and water his scout helpers and make sure safety is followed. 

 

There are sooooo many ways the scout could have shown leadership.  And even though there is a Eagle project workbook, being able to write clearly to explain everything you did to show that leadership is NOT part of the whole process.  A discussion for the scout ahead of time can make it clear to him that on paper his leadership on the project doesn't shine thru, so when he shows for his EBOR perhaps he should be prepared to talk about that specifically and discuss how he overcame adult pushiness if it was happiness, or if he couldn't overcome adult pushiness (cause that has happened and doesn't reflect on the scout as much as it does on the adult)

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The project is the "Eagle" Scout's responsibile, not the coach's.  

 

"Did not follow any of the District suggestions for changes.

Did not follow the directions of the city (to wait for 1 week after applying herbicide before planting - instead did entire project in 1 day)"

 

I believe that is the Scout's issue.  

 

Sadly, for you, it is up to the EBOR to determine whether or not the requirement was met and if he didn't then he didn't.  (Yes, the EBOR can look towards other ways the Scout demonstrated leadership if the project is a weak one.)

 

How didn't he meet it? Remember you must point out on the GTA how he didn't meet the requirement. That malarkey about waiting to apply the herbicide is a mistake. Not grounds for failing him. Show me an Eagle project that's gone off EXACTLY as planned. I'll bet you if I rolled up my sleeves I could find a problem with nearly all projects. The point is he has to have violated something severe to not get credit. How does one measure the amount of planning and leadership?

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