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gblotter

Minimal Effort Eagle

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I have a 16 year-old Life Scout who was active in younger years but is now absent from Scouting activities.

His father has convinced him that Eagle Scout will look good on a college application. The boy openly admits that as his motivation and says it without shame. If he can’t finish Eagle before college applications are due next fall, then he will abandon the effort.

He is doing the bare minimum to satisfy each requirement. For example, he will come on one campout a year to demonstrate his activity in the troop. I’m uncomfortable with his whole approach. I’m not going to erect artificial hurdles for him to jump, but I’d like to see some quality in something - anything - he does.

This just feels wrong to me. Looking to learn from anyone with a similar experience.

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Posted (edited)

Well, that stinks. Has he held a Position of Responsibility? By held, I mean has he done something every week (month at least) for the good of the troop? If not, drop him from that position (I'm certain your SPL will agree).

With SM's approval, I gave this brief lecture to boys in upper ranks: We are not going to care about the patch on your sleeve. He who does the work, holds the position. Don't expect a sign-off from us unless you can tell us (or we clearly can tell ourselves) which of your actions lead to our troop being healthy. It cleared up a lot of unreasonable expectations ... unfortunately I think it might have scared off a scout who was great to have around but having some anxiety issues. So, I've been a little bit more cautions to not deliver those lines to the entire troop.

Of course maybe this kid knocked out his 6 months after he earned life two years ago

Start making sure that each campout has training requirements (e.g., backpacking trips need an instructional meeting and a shakedown meeting, camporees require strategic planning etc.)

Be very specific about how you want him to demonstrate how he knows EDGE.

Don't send him to his EBoR if he can't swim, can't tie every knot, stinks at land navigation, etc ... as far as you're concerned a scoutmaster conference is incomplete unless a Life scout - concept, not patch - is in the room with you. Can he dispute that? Yes? But, at least you can come out with your head held high. (And, he gets some law school practice. ;) )

But ...

Be optimistic. Maybe he's applied scouting in his youth group, school, relationships, or community. Ask him what he's been doing and if anything about the Oath and Law has made him a better participant in those activities. Help him think about those things as he writes his personal statement.

Be friendly. Tell him you want him around because he's a great guy. Express what good qualities in him you'd like your scouts to see on a regular basis. Point out to him that Life Scout looks good on applications too. That pride in your work will shine through most every admissions exam.

 

Edited by qwazse

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Be optimistic. Be friendly. Be prepared to have Council cut you off at the knees.

Sometimes the boy might need to shop another Troop.

I see this as well. 

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The Scout (and his father) have requested a meeting to discuss his POR requirement. We could definitely use a Troop Guide for our New Scout Patrol. I’d be satisfied if he showed up to help at their weekly meetings once a month. And teach them specific skills (not just be a warm body in the room). We’ll see how he responds to that idea.

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10 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

Be optimistic. Be friendly.

Yep - I’m trying, but it’s a struggle in this situation. He deserves a positive - not pessimistic - response from his Scoutmaster.

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This is the part I didn't like about being SM. And yet I got some wonderful memories from it (and some bad ones as well). I would have sat such a scout down and told him that he doesn't get my signature if the younger scouts don't look up to him. Actually, every scout got that speech at their life SM conference. That was my bottom line definition of being an Eagle. If the younger scouts don't look up to the Eagle scouts then there's no point in Eagle. That's my view, so everyone that disagrees, let's just agree to disagree.

So I'd talk to the scout about this and honestly ask him what Eagle means to him. If he says he's doing it because his dad thinks it's important then I would offer to talk to his dad so the scout didn't have to stress over this. I'd also talk to the scout about ways he could still have fun and develop that respect among the younger scouts. For one scout that meant being the PL. The scout was not happy with this but in the end he really came around. He loved working with the younger scouts. In college he took on all sorts of leadership positions and he credits it all to me making him do it for eagle. I still see him. He tells me how it was the kick in the pants he needed. This kid thinks the world of scouting, now. I also had one scout, well  his mom, take this to the supreme court council so her son could get eagle even though he couldn't care less about scouts, or anything it stood for. Turns out his dad is an eagle and never showed up to anything. I first met him at his son's eagle project and I had to repeatedly tell him to let his son handle it.

Of course, all this means I had to do some things that are not allowed. I used the scout spirit requirement. That's vague enough but not really. What it really says is a scout needs to be cheerful, helpful, and all that, for only six months. The rest of the time a kid can be a sullen teenager, and still get the title Eagle, for life. Again, this is my opinion and I have no desire to argue about it. I'm no longer SM so I can no longer abuse the system.

One job of the SM is to motivate scouts to do their best. That's not so easy. I just read a sermon from a very well known British rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and he talks about anger and when anger is good as well as bad. Anger is only good in the context of teaching someone, of letting them know when they've made a mistake. The example was when Moses broke the 10 commandments after seeing everyone dancing around the golden calf. His anger had a profound impact on everyone. Ideally I would be as influential as Moses and all I would have to do is tell a scout I was angry at how he was doing to motivate him, but to be honest, I ain't no Moses. For some scouts I could motivate them by telling them they disappointed me. But some could care less. The more self centered they are the harder it is to convince them to care. So I changed the meaning of the scout spirit requirement and held the scouts to a high standard.

@gblotter, you need to decide for yourself what you are going to do. All I can say is, whatever your decision, keep it consistent with everyone and let everyone know about it before hand.

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I'd be tempted to approach it from the other side.  I'd tell him that Eagle means a lot to people because it means a lot to people.  If you are chasing Eagle to fill out an application, then it probably doesn't mean much to you as an accomplishment in and of itself.  I'd suggest to him to chase accomplishments that mean something to him.  If this one doesn't, then he will be wasting his time and energy to earn something that is an empty accomplishment.  

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, MattR said:

you need to decide for yourself what you are going to do. All I can say is, whatever your decision, keep it consistent with everyone and let everyone know about it before hand.

Yes - consistency is on my mind. I remind myself that I can't/shouldn't set a special hurdle for him that I do not impose on everyone else in the troop.

I know this boy has had some past struggles in his personal life. His dad views Eagle as a way to lift the kid's self-esteem and instill a sense of accomplishment. However, if the boy is not doing quality work, his court of honor will be more of a shrug than a high-five.

Edited by gblotter
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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, MattR said:

One job of the SM is to motivate scouts to do their best. That's not so easy. I just read a sermon from a very well known British rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and he talks about anger and when anger is good as well as bad. Anger is only good in the context of teaching someone, of letting them know when they've made a mistake. The example was when Moses broke the 10 commandments after seeing everyone dancing around the golden calf. His anger had a profound impact on everyone. Ideally I would be as influential as Moses and all I would have to do is tell a scout I was angry at how he was doing to motivate him, but to be honest, I ain't no Moses. For some scouts I could motivate them by telling them they disappointed me. But some could care less. The more self centered they are the harder it is to convince them to care. So I changed the meaning of the scout spirit requirement and held the scouts to a high standard.

This is quite good. I believe God's reflections of anger in the whole First Testament are examples of using anger specifically for teaching. However, I also found that disappointment was my best tool for showing a scout how I felt about his performance. Maybe because body language is honest and sincere, but I rarely had to add words for impact. It worked well in our troop because we discouraged yelling (raised voices) as a form of motivating action. I'm not sure if this style of reflecting to scouts requires practice and maturity, but I had to grow into it.

 

34 minutes ago, MattR said:

 

@gblotter, you need to decide for yourself what you are going to do. All I can say is, whatever your decision, keep it consistent with everyone and let everyone know about it before hand.

Again well said. We each have a different style for influencing scouts. Consistency is very powerful because the scouts will quickly learn your leadership style and count on it. MattR says to let everyone know before hand, but I found that when leadership actions are consistent, reputation and integrity will eventually lead the way. Words rarely trump consistent actions.

For outsiders looking in, the leadership and role modeling style of the dominant leader (usually the SM) will become the obvious character of the whole troop. So put humility on the top of your list of practicing traits, because nobody gets it right the first time.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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I have the same problem as you.

Same exact thing, rarely come to meeting always has “homework” (he lives ACROSS the street.)

Hasnt gone camping for months, and never even wanted to be in scouting, it’s all his mother. I’m not upset he got rejected at the post-plan. He didn’t have his fundraising form filled out/signed. 

He has never been SPL  or any other major role(refused to be it). 

My SM told him straight up at his scout master conference that has to get more involved and actually do his job as a guide.

I wish you luck trying.

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Ok, so how is this scenario? 

1- Be active in your troop[2] for at least six months as a Life Scout.

4- While a Life Scout, serve actively in your troop[2] for six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility:

  • Boy Scout troop. Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, webmaster, or outdoor ethics guide.[3]

 

Scout fast tracks to Life by 13 1/2. Becomes the librarian with minimal responsibilities. at 14 he stops showing up. He is asked to come back and is not interested. At 17.9 he shows up with a stack of blue cards signed by actual MB counselors. He asks to present an Eagle Project to the board and finish his Eagle rank. 

 

He was active 6 months as a Life Scout. He served for 6 months in a position of leadership. Is he an Eagle scout?

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6 minutes ago, krikkitbot said:

Ok, so how is this scenario? 

1- Be active in your troop[2] for at least six months as a Life Scout.

4- While a Life Scout, serve actively in your troop[2] for six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility:

  • Boy Scout troop. Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, webmaster, or outdoor ethics guide.[3]

 

Scout fast tracks to Life by 13 1/2. Becomes the librarian with minimal responsibilities. at 14 he stops showing up. He is asked to come back and is not interested. At 17.9 he shows up with a stack of blue cards signed by actual MB counselors. He asks to present an Eagle Project to the board and finish his Eagle rank. 

 

He was active 6 months as a Life Scout. He served for 6 months in a position of leadership. Is he an Eagle scout?

Yes.  As much as anyone else.  You might not like his path, but yes he is and he has every right to use the rank name.

 

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1 minute ago, fred johnson said:

Yes.  As much as anyone else.  You might not like his path, but yes he is and he has every right to use the rank name.

 

I guess my question would be, if he shows up 3 years after disappearing and asking for project approval, SM conference and EBOR, do you approve it?

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If he did the work, yes.  The requirements for Eagle are really not that huge.  A gung-ho kid can knock them out if desired fairly quick.  

The key is we mentor youth through our interactions and guidance.  But as for rank, that is a standard defined by BSA that is fairly clear.  If the scout has done the project as approved in the proposal, it gets signed.  If he has the other rank items complete, then can has earned a right to complete his Eagle rank.  It might be worth a good discussion on what happened.  Beyond that, it's his advancement, not ours.  

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We have about one of these per year.  They were active 5th - 8th, attained Life rank, were active for those 6 months, then High School comes along.  They come back in during 11th grade and try to wrap it up.  

It may be the minimum, but that is all that is required.  I really like the Eagles and older scouts that are active for the full time available, but then I like many things I cannot always have

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