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Jenn

Required Worksheets?

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I'm new to the forum and looking for some advice!  I've been a Cub Scout committee chairperson for 5 years, and my oldest son just crossed over to a local Boy Scout Troop.  Before choosing a troop, I had a long discussion with the SM regarding some special needs my son has.  I specifically asked if the troop imposed any additional requirements on the scouts.  (Another very popular troop in our area has some extra "skills tests" and other requirements).  SM assured me that they require exactly what is in the book, no more, no less.

Tonight, at our first meeting, the parents were handed a folder which contained worksheets for the boys to fill out prior to every rank advancement.  We were told that these (very outdated) worksheets were a requirement for each rank.  Due to a variety of learning disabilities, my son will not be able to adequately complete these worksheets.  But, more importantly, I don't believe he should have to because I specifically asked if the troop had any additional requirements.

Also, the SM seems to think the a Board of Review is required for Scout rank, but when I look at the Guide to Advancement it clearly states BOR is for Tenderfoot through Eagle.  

Would appreciate any advice on the best way to address these issues with the new troop.  I don't want to come off as overbearing!  

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@Jenn, welcome to scouter.com.

Two phrases that all volunteers should know from the start:

No thanks. or simply NO.

Where is that written?

My $0.02

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I can understand your concern.  With our Troop we also give each youth a folder that stays at our meeting location that includes a sheet will the rank requirements that the scout is working on.  Each scout is responsible for keeping a record of each requirement that he has completed.  Yes this record can be recorded inside the youth scout handbook but the reality is that youth lose there handbook all the time.  We do have a special needs youth in our troop an we make sure that his worksheets are updated since he also is not able to complete the worksheets.  I do not see the worksheets as being additional requirements for each rank advancement as long as the worksheets only include the requirements as listed and no additional requirements.  If the requirement is completed at our scout meeting it is recorded during the meeting.  If it was completed during a camping trip/activity it is recorded at our next   troop meeting.

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Thanks for the feedback.  I should clarify that the worksheets are not for checking off requirements.  The boys actually use the Scout handbook for signing off on requirements.  The worksheets are  reflection questions like:

"I will continue to show scout spirit by" (fill in the blank).

"What did you learn from the Drug, Alcohol or Tobacco program?"  (several lines for answer)

"Which requirements for this rank did you like best and why?"  (several lines for answer)

I have no problem with the SM discussing these types of things with the boys at the Scoutmaster's Conference.  But requiring them to write out their answers to these types of questions seems like an additional (and in my opinion) unnecessary requirement.

 

 

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Nothing more and nothing less

We use the Boy Scout Handbook.  Pretty much has all the requirements list in a handy chart in the back.  Once they are all signed off, SM conference and BOR

The troop does recommend using the MB workbooks as that helps the Boy Scouts keep organized

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IMHO, You should work with the SM on this. Maybe audio-record Jennson giving the answers to the questions.

Is the SM improvising? Yes. Should he flex? Yes. Should you toss the baby out with the bathwater? Depends on the baby.

BTW @Jenn, welcome to the forums!

Edited by qwazse
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Thanks for the advice.  I appreciate it.

I will talk to the SM about my concerns.  I just don't want to come across as "difficult" right off the bat. 

:)

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I’m sorry but why is he asking the questions on paper if he should’ve asked them to the scout directly? 

Shouldn’t a scout talk about the Drug, Tobacco, etc. program that he did while sitting with the person signing it off? Doesn’t that mean once he gets the requirement signed off, he is just repeating what he told a leader a while ago?

Im not sure what kind of disability your son has, but would it be possible for him to fill the worksheets in while he does the requirement? If someone says “explain”, he can explain it in person and can have help writing it down at that time, instead of days or months later.

 

AND, why is he asking questions on paper that should be asked during a BOR/SM conference???

 

 

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My son has dyslexia/dysgraphia so writing out the answers to these questions would be a challenge for him and this requirement would discourage him from advancing.   I'm sure I could work with the SM to make an accommodation for him.  But I actually don't think they should be requiring these worksheets for any of the boys.  If Scouts want to complete them to prepare for the SM conference, I have no problem with that.  But making this an additional requirement really bothers me- especially because I asked specifically if they imposed any additional requirements before deciding to join this troop.

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22 minutes ago, Jenn said:

My son has dyslexia/dysgraphia so writing out the answers to these questions would be a challenge for him and this requirement would discourage him from advancing.  

And some boys, even without dyslexia/dysgraphia, will decide that the goal is not worthwhile if too much writing is required.   I've seen this in non-scout settings.

24 minutes ago, Jenn said:

But making this an additional requirement really bothers me- especially because I asked specifically if they imposed any additional requirements before deciding to join this troop. 

If they are used to working with kids who write easily and like writing,  they might not even be realizing that this would be viewed by some kids as an onerous extra requirement.   You can educate them here.

25 minutes ago, Jenn said:

 I'm sure I could work with the SM to make an accommodation for him.  But I actually don't think they should be requiring these worksheets for any of the boys. 

I've talked with school-teachers about somewhat similar issues in the past.   Sometimes a special agreement was reached for just my child.  At least once, because I raised the issue,  the policy was changed for all three classrooms in that grade --- not becuase I ask for that, but because my conversation with the teacher helped the teacher realize that there was a problem.

So I would recommend:   educate as to why this is a problem.   only ask for an accomodation for your son.   If they fix it for everyone, great.   If not, you have at least set precedent and can tell (privately) the parents of other struggling boys about this precedent so that they too can ask.

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3 hours ago, ValleyBoy said:

I can understand your concern.  With our Troop we also give each youth a folder that stays at our meeting location that includes a sheet will the rank requirements that the scout is working on.  Each scout is responsible for keeping a record of each requirement that he has completed.  Yes this record can be recorded inside the youth scout handbook but the reality is that youth lose there handbook all the time.  We do have a special needs youth in our troop an we make sure that his worksheets are updated since he also is not able to complete the worksheets.  I do not see the worksheets as being additional requirements for each rank advancement as long as the worksheets only include the requirements as listed and no additional requirements.  If the requirement is completed at our scout meeting it is recorded during the meeting.  If it was completed during a camping trip/activity it is recorded at our next   troop meeting.

The official BSA standard is keeping it in the Scout Handbook. You guys are just adding to the requirements. 

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2 hours ago, perdidochas said:

The official BSA standard is keeping it in the Scout Handbook. You guys are just adding to the requirements. 

We except both.  The question is what do you do if the youth loses there scout Handbook.

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I believe that the troop started using the worksheets in the past as a tool to help the scouts to prepare for the requirements that say "Discuss" or "Describe" or "Talk about".  If you view these sheets as a tool then it makes sense.  But of course, after the original visionary Scouter has retired from his role in the troop, behind him comes adult volunteers who were not privy to the reasoning behind the use of the worksheets as tools, and saw them as the fulfillment of requirements themselves.  I think the attitude on the part of the adult Scouters is supposed to be "how can we help the scouts fulfill the requirements? What tools  can we use?"  But when it comes right down to it, the scout passes the requirement when he discusses or describes or he talks about the subject.  If the requirement says to "Demonstrate", then he passes when he demonstrates.   If he has to "Write a plan" then he has some sort of writing to do.  

A reading of the publication "Guide to Advancement" is helpful here, as this has the BSA's take on all things Advancement.  I have not checked lately, but the Guide has said in the past that although the worksheets are helpful, they are not required and are totally voluntary.

And there are alternate requirements in the Guide that scouts like your son may find better suited to their situations.  Explore those.  

Use of worksheets, especially for work on Merit Badges, can be incredibly useful.  But I have seen them used very badly.  The people who first put them together were hoping to do a service to scouts and Scouters, but anything taken out of its context can be misused to do a disservice to the scouts.

 

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If he does not make accommodations, you may have to involve your district and/or council special needs advisor(s) or advancement committee. This should be a last option and I would keep trying to talk to the SM.

On a side note, I understand how some adults can not realize that a child with a disability is not like the rest of the population. I’m in a vocational high school for the medical field and we recently visited a hospital / long time care that only take cares of special needs children (mostly with cerebral palsy). I learned how they are completely different and even interpret their environment in a different way. I wish you the best of luck. 

I would say the only thing you can do before involving your council/district (if the SM keeps saying no), is to educate him on disabilities.

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I think there's a bunch of steps that can happen here before you start calling district and council folks.  

As has already been shared - talk with the Scoutmaster.  There's about a 95% chance that's all it will take.  The conversation is simply one of "my son's going to have a hard time advancing if he has to write out these worksheets."  Just about every Scoutmaster I know would say "well, then let's find another way".

If the Scoutmaster doesn't work out, then you call the Committee Chair.  The Scoutmaster serves as the discretion of the Committee.  The chair of the Committee has a lot of sway as a result.

If that doesn't work, then you call the Chartered Organization Rep.  You explain how their Scout program is making it hard on your special needs son to advance.

At that point, if I couldn't find a way to make it work, I'd do one of two things.
1) act as transcriber and write out the forms.
2) call the troop down the street and ask when their meeting is.  If after all that, you couldn't get it sorted out, then I wonder what kind of troop this really is.

 

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