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Hawkwin

SM Conference for higher ranks ONLY on campouts?

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My son was told this tonight - that the unit only holds higher rank (Star and above) Conferences on camp outs. I can find no grounds or precedent in the GtoA that supports such a rule (please let me know if I missed it). To me, this seems like a general denial of the SM Conference.

Requiring such be done at a campout effectively adds a requirement for the rank.

Quote

Unit leaders do not have the authority to deny a Scout a
conference that is necessary for him to meet the
requirements for his rank.

...

Quote

Boards of Review Must Be Granted When
Requirements Are Met
A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity. When he
believes he has completed all the requirements for a rank,
including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review
must be granted.

If I am missing something or you think I am wrong in this conclusion, please let me know. Otherwise, I feel like to may need to call the SM and have a polite conversation. Note, the troop holds BORs at normal meetings weekly and since the SM Conference can be delegated to ASMs, the requirement that they only be done at campouts seems arbitrary and without merit.

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Personally I prefer talking about scouting and life while sitting round a campfire rather than in the corner of a noisy room while a troop meeting is going on.

That said, I have never seen or  heard of such a rule.

I do like to take longer with the older scouts, as their problems and decisions are more complex than an eleven year old.  Sometimes a meeting at Dunkin' Doughnuts on Saturday morning is a good solution.  But campouts only?  Unless the scout in question never goes on them anymore, and the SM is using this ploy to force him to attend at least one, I just don't get it.

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I have never heard of this rule either.  I will conduct a SM Conference anytime as long as the Scout has his Class A and Handbook.  I have done them on campouts, Troop Meetings, Hikes.  I have even in a pinch called the Committee together to come to my house to complete the SM Conference and BOR on the same night.  In this day and age, if a Scout takes the time to complete the requirements, then by god, I will do whatever needs to be done to get the SM Conference done.  The fastest way to lose a scout is to drag your feet getting them ranked up.  Seems like an SM needs a reminder of the G2A and you can't change or add requirements.  Get that Scout Ranked Up!!!

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Adding a requirement? Please don’t mention that in your polite chat.

Unit policies on conferences and BORs don’t surprise me anymore. Until I got active on forums, I thought everybody did them like us; Any time any day. But I was put in my place several times. I was even scolded on this forum for awarding my Webelos their activity pins at every den meeting. Every unit seems to have their own policies that work for them. 

So, while I agree you need to have a chat, I wouldn’t use the “everyone else does it different” cliche, because everyone else does do it different...from everyone else.

Instead, approach the SM with your understanding of the BSA policy followed with your interpretation of the reasoning for policy instructions. Don’t start by putting your SM on the defensive because I, lol, silly me, I mean some SMs don’t handle hostile conversations well without sometime to consider the presented points. 

Considering some of the policies from other scouters on this forum, your SM isn’t that far off the track. And I’m sure he is thinking the same way. So, you need to present your interpretations pretty convincingly and warmly. Then move because this is not a hill to die on. 

I recommend supporting your interpretations with as much published documentation as you can do that your points aren’t just your theories. But instead  long time traditional reasoning that has been in scouting for many generations. Then allow him to time to consider your points. Who knows, the policy might change after a few weeks , or even a few days. 

Barry

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A question and some general observations.

Was any reason(s) given for the policy change?

SM Conference is not just about rank. So if the young man, who is First Class or Star, is having an issue that has nothing to do with rank, then he must attend a camp out to discuss it? I am guessing the reply would be "no, this is only for rank advancement," which would be literally adding a camping element to the requirement.

Second, the SM Conference can be held prior to other requirements being complete. It is a common misunderstood and misapplied requirement that SM Conference is the last thing before BoR.  If the rule is going to be that a FC or Star Scout can only do them on camp outs, then I would urge the young many to request the the conference on the first outing after attaining FC or Star.

To paraphrase Eagledad, be tactful, putting the SM On the defensive is never a wise path.

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So they are adding something to the rank requirements?  I think a clarifying email to the SM and CC asking him the origins of that since you just happened to be reading the guide to advancement and didn't interpret it this way.  

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Doing this would also result in assigning a monetary value to the SM conferences if the troop works like ours.  Every campout has a fee that's paid by any scouts attending.  Of course we all want scouts camping but a scout would have to pay the fee and attend the campout to have the conference.  Maybe the scout doesn't want to go on a specific campout or cannot afford the extra expense ($25 minimum for us) so a conference would be delayed one or more months until the scout attended?  It seems like this rule has been made for no reason other than to force older scouts to attend campouts that they may or may not have attended otherwise.

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This policy is going to cause trouble in your troop, if not with your son than with some other scout.

Scout pushing to make Life before 17.5 years old finishes last mb for the rank, needs the SM conference, but is scheduled to take SATs during next campout, misses deadline --- trouble ensues.  

Polite conversation with SM about why this is being done, explain it poses problem, try to get compromise.

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9 hours ago, HelpfulTracks said:

Was any reason(s) given for the policy change?

To the best of my knowledge, it is SOP, not new.

9 hours ago, HelpfulTracks said:

SM Conference is not just about rank. So if the young man, who is First Class or Star, is having an issue that has nothing to do with rank, then he must attend a camp out to discuss it? I am guessing the reply would be "no, this is only for rank advancement," which would be literally adding a camping element to the requirement.

Second, the SM Conference can be held prior to other requirements being complete. It is a common misunderstood and misapplied requirement that SM Conference is the last thing before BoR.  If the rule is going to be that a FC or Star Scout can only do them on camp outs, then I would urge the young many to request the the conference on the first outing after attaining FC or Star.

Yes, that was one of my take aways as well, make it the first requirement completed of any new rank.

As it stands, my son will miss the September and October campout so his next opportunity to even have a SMC would be in November. :blink:

9 hours ago, HelpfulTracks said:

To paraphrase Eagledad, be tactful, putting the SM On the defensive is never a wise path.

Agreed. Seek first to understand.

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Good grief, don't make life more difficult than necessary.  If a scout earns a rank, you want him to be recognized at the next CoH.  Don't intentionally do things that could possibly delay it.

I agree that communicating to the SM that this is wrong is the challenge.  I can only say that if we were doing something wrong and a scout politely brought it up to me, I'd treat the scout with respect, investigate the issue and openly acknowledge my error.

I have no problems telling the scouts that I'm imperfect. I struggle with some knots and I'll ask the ones who are good at it to show me.  I'll tell them there are some skills I don't know well, so let's learn them together.

So, I'd say to respectfully bring it to the SM's attention that BSA does not have this requirement and it would be good to have conferences at meetings.

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This sounds like someone way back had a cute idea that got formalized for no good reason.

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Since our SPL runs the Troop meetings, I always have time to meet with Scouts before, during or after every meeting. I am also more than happy to go to their home or have them come to mine whenever is mutually convenient. My job is to make sure that Scouts who want to advance, have every opportunity to do so, without adding a single roadblock to the process. 

In my opinion, this Scoutmaster is adding hoops to jump through. Is attendance at camping trips an issue Troop-wide? If so, the answer is to figure out why, not force attendance by tying advancement to it.

 

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Posted (edited)

This does seem an additional hoop that needs to be jumped through

While the SM conference can be done at any time, as practice we have made that the last requirement before the BOR.  This gives the ASM / SM an opportunity to review the book, make sure everything is signed off, etc.

Our unit the ASM's perform the Scout / TFoot, and 2nd class SM conference.  The SM does the 1st - Star - Life - Eagle.  That being said if there is a scout requesting a SM conference and SM is not at an outing the SM will designate a unit leader to handle that so as not to hold up the process.  For these we do work to get the Scouts to schedule them prior to meetings, outings, sort of the whole plan ahead thing.  May not always work, but try move down that road

Saturday evenings at campouts there are scouts circling looking for SM conferences and BOR's.  

Edited by Jameson76

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So hypothetically, what happens when a Scout misses their Eagle deadline by a couple of weeks or months and then in looking back through the records it is noted that a SM conference was delayed for some time because of this unusual unit policy? Seems like a position I wouldn't want to put myself in as a leader to possibly have had a hand in that. 

Scouts are responsible for their own timeline and keeping track of the calendar for advancement, making sure they give themselves adequate time to advance. Arbitrarily throwing in an unofficial policy that will delay advancement is not something any unit should be doing. 

I know every unit is unique and everyone does things a little differently. But units go too far when it is something like this that can mess with everything that comes after, possibly adding several months to the timeline and potentially costing a Scout their intended rank. 

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28 minutes ago, AVTech said:

Since our SPL runs the Troop meetings, I always have time to meet with Scouts before, during or after every meeting. I am also more than happy to go to their home or have them come to mine whenever is mutually convenient. My job is to make sure that Scouts who want to advance, have every opportunity to do so, without adding a single roadblock to the process. 

In my opinion, this Scoutmaster is adding hoops to jump through. Is attendance at camping trips an issue Troop-wide? If so, the answer is to figure out why, not force attendance by tying advancement to it.

 

Exactly.

But, typically the fix is not so easy. I've said here several times on this forum that the older scout program is the troops primary indicator of the health of the whole program. If the older scouts aren't coming, the whole program needs some adjusting. 

Barry

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