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Hawkwin

SM Conference for higher ranks ONLY on campouts?

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5 hours ago, Chris1 said:

Adults that Run troops as their personal fiefdom do not like it when lowly peasants win. And they tend to lash out with whatever influenced they have.

This is all too common and widespread in scouting. I too have been through this myself. 

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Things, when decided by a committee, move at a glacial pace. Your expectation that you would get a reply via Email within four days is unrealistic. Unless it's my brothers wanting to identify a snake, I take at least a week to reply to any given letter. :happy:

From my perspective, this decision shouldn't involve the CC at all. The SM/ASMs should have a huddle and decide how to deliver the promise of scouting through the advancement method. The best the CC can do is run interference, encourage that huddle and support the leaders in whatever decision they make.

That said, the CC should have simply told you that he was gathering facts and putting it on the agenda for the next committee meeting.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

Things, when decided by a committee, move at a glacial pace. Your expectation that you would get a reply via Email within four days is unrealistic. Unless it's my brothers wanting to identify a snake, I take at least a week to reply to any given letter. :happy:

From my perspective, this decision shouldn't involve the CC at all. The SM/ASMs should have a huddle and decide how to deliver the promise of scouting through the advancement method. The best the CC can do is run interference, encourage that huddle and support the leaders in whatever decision they make.

That said, the CC should have simply told you that he was gathering facts and putting it on the agenda for the next committee meeting.

Well... That's one opinion. The Scoutmaster is in charge of the program, and the committee is in charge of the policy and the business end of troop operations. So in a case where there is a policy that does not conform to BSA advancement policy it is the place of the CC to act.

Personally I would never take a week to get back to someone on this type of topic, unless I was in a coma or at a camp with no signal. It may just be "I am looking in to this" or "I will talk to the SM on this matter"  but it will be something. So we just have different communication styles.  

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Four days is plenty to respond with:

"Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. I will put this topic on our agenda as new business for our next committee meeting on (date/time/location). As always parents are welcome and invited to attend our commitee meetings. I hope to see you there."

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16 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

Thanks, the dynamics of all this are so foreign to me. I expected that the SM served at the discretion of the committee. I've since learned (through a bit of research) that the COR appoints the SM so all this time I spent trying to get the CC on board has been somewhat wasted. I wonder if should have started this process with the COR Rep instead. The COR Rep was copied on the SMs reply.

 

I think it's a good thing that you included the Committee Chair, because the Troop Committee is in charge of making policy for the troop.  However, troop policy cannot conflict with BSA policy.  And the troop "belongs" to the Charter Organization, which can have its own policies that the troop has to follow.

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16 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

Here is how I started my reply to the SM:  ... If a Scout is unable to attend and wants it done at his convenience that is another story.  ...

I swear I've seen this repeatedly.  The volunteer adult leader has lost the perspective of being there to help the scout succeed.  They want to box the scout in to help the adult leader succeed with the adult's objective.  IMHO, it's off base and the wrong frame of mind.

Simply put ... if a scout asks, our role should be to help them succeed.  There is zero direct connection between camp outs and scoutmaster conferences.  There is no direct way it benefits the scout or helps the scout or enables the scout when scoutmaster conferences are only done on camp outs.  The only tenable result is that advancement is delayed and arbitrary additional obstacles are put in the scout's path by the adult volunteer.  Simply put, that's NOT our job.  It's the wrong frame of mind and it's a poor example to set for our scouts.  If an adult volunteer can't see that, then they should not be an adult volunteer.  

The frame of mind I try to take is to work as a volunteer such that the scout succeeds or fails because of themselves; ... not because of me.  If they need to meet or talk, I'll do anything I can to be flexible to make that happen.  They still have to call, to ask, to show up, to complete requirements and to drive their own advancement.  But it's their working against themselves and not to overcome an obstacle I've put in their path.  

...

But even though it's wrong, find a way to overcome this obstacle.  All through life your son will run into people like this.  He will need to deal with them.   In a way, it's part of developing character.  The adult's job is not to add unfair obstacles to trigger developing character.  But see if he can overcome.

 

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I've been gone this weekend and a lot has developed while I was gone. I am not going to comment further other than to state that the district is taking the issue seriously. I will not comment again until after the committee meeting tomorrow night.

I appreciate all the comments and i have my own opinions that may or may not be directly in line what others posted above - but for the benefit of my scout, I must continue to assume best intent even when occums razor would suggest otherwise.

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19 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

occums razor

Occam's razor ... I learned it long time ago, but I always wanted to be a Philosophy major ... but the major doesn't pay.  

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Yep. Glass half full; win but still lose result.

Where do good ideas go to die? Subcommittee.

Both sides shared their opinion and the SM eluded to being incorrect without admitting such and tried to tie being "active" to the SM conference and I replied that being active may be a requirement for advancement but it is not a requirement for the SMC. If there is an issue with activity, that is something for the BOR to resolve, not for the SM to require in advance of the SMC. I saw a lot of heads nod at that comment but the end result was it was referred to an adhoc subcommittee, for which I am now a member, to discuss and bring back to the committee at the next meeting.* It was also brought up by another committee member that if the SM is simply too busy to do them outside of campouts, that he should delegate. I grinned and nodded at that comment and saw others nod at that as well.

Doesn't help my scout. His advancement is still delayed as the SM still has not replied but I am going to see this result as a glass half full result. I will now have direct input on not only this unwritten rule but also they vague and inaccurate rule the troop uses to define active participation (I learned a lot from the thread about what defines active). Even if the committee adopts my recommendation at the next meeting, it will still be late October or even November before a SMC is granted. Thankfully, the incoming SM will be on the adhoc committee so I will hopefully be able to influence him as well. I plan to draft a proposal over the weekend and proactively email it to the subcommittee members. The chair of the sub has not contacted us to schedule a meeting or discussion so perhaps I can expedite the process.

*In hindsight, I think I should have been a bit more forceful on this point. We have expert opinion that the troop policy is both wrong and that it isn't even a written policy - it is one the SM made up based on his incorrect interpretation of what defines active. I should have driven that point home, delicately, and then again requested my scout be granted a conference while the subcommittee discusses what the correct policy should be going forward.

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1 hour ago, Hawkwin said:

Yep. Glass half full; win but still lose result.

Where do good ideas go to die? Subcommittee. ...

Yep. To quote myself ...

On 9/14/2018 at 8:07 AM, qwazse said:

Things, when decided by a committee, move at a glacial pace. ..

At the outset, you said you were more concerned about other boys whose schedules may run afoul of this policy. So, run the marathon.

In general the faster path to resolution: SM and ASMs go to district roundtable and compare notes with other troops during the Boy Scout breakout session. I've seen the Great Seneca District of Laurel Highlands Council do this quite well. SM's can ask for a thumbs up/thumbs down regarding their policy from the other SM's.

As a crew advisor, I learned to get most of my advice from the council venturing committee. No offense to my crew committee, but they had never been venturers. I had one fella joke "You mean advisors have advisors?" If they're good advisors, they do!

Troop committees (by virtue of more familiarity with the program) are a little more capable to deal with these things, but they are more deliberative.

As far as your troop is concerned, the long term pay-off will be adults getting feedback from each advancing boy ASAP. If I were you that's how I'd pitch it.

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39 minutes ago, qwazse said:

 

As far as your troop is concerned, the long term pay-off will be adults getting feedback from each advancing boy ASAP. If I were you that's how I'd pitch it.

Can you elaborate on that? I don't think I understand what you are stating. Thank you.

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1 hour ago, Hawkwin said:

Can you elaborate on that? I don't think I understand what you are stating. Thank you.

IMHO the point of all of these personal growth conferences, especially at the upper ranks, are:

  • Increase the youth's comfort and skill talking eye-to-eye with adults.
  • Help the youth reflect on his scouting career and make plans going forward.
  • Help adults discover what is inspiring or discouraging a youth ... in hopes of finding ways to encourage or exhort him/her.
  • Help adults discover what the youth would like from their unit, but really never thought to ask.

I'm mainly thinking about the importance of that last item. Take your son for example, say he and his buddies and the lunch table have a bright idea for something to brighten the life of the troop, but it would require adult buy-in. It might be a great idea, adults might rally behind it if they hear of it, but in the business of running the troop and a bunch of other things on the PLC's agenda, each boy forgets to bring it up. That idea never gets past the lunch table.

However, one of the boys is likely up for an SMC or BoR. If those events get scheduled promptly and an adults asks "What could the troop to do next?" in that context where the youth has the floor and nobody's rushed, he might remember his buddies' bright idea, and it might resonate with a few volunteers -- possibly even the right volunteer -- to help the youth make it so. My guess is that artificial delays in personal growth conferences exponentially lowers the odds of a scout recalling a bright idea.

Or, think of it this way, lets say an average scout who ages out in your troop earns Eagle and a couple palms. That's 5 sets of upper rank conferences. But, if there are artificial delays in conferences, you might only get to touch base with the scout 4 times. This doesn't affect the troop's palm count anymore (thanks to insta-palms), but it does reduce the amount of formal adult association. Less feedback, more missed opportunities.

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43 minutes ago, qwazse said:

IMHO the point of all of these personal growth conferences, especially at the upper ranks, are:

  • Increase the youth's comfort and skill talking eye-to-eye with adults.
  • Help the youth reflect on his scouting career and make plans going forward.
  • Help adults discover what is inspiring or discouraging a youth ... in hopes of finding ways to encourage or exhort him/her.
  • Help adults discover what the youth would like from their unit, but really never thought to ask.

That's outstanding. I can't honestly say that the above is reflected in our troop's current SM conferences. I get the sense that they are more about preparation for the BOR than they are about the larger issue of the items you list (a committee member stated as much regarding his son passing his recent BOR). I will definitely inquire deeper on this issue when I have the discussion with the subcommittee. I get the distinct impression that the SMCs are currently used only as a "final check" on whether or not the scout is ready to pass the BOR and little else. I don't get the impression that these are being used to inform the scouters on the state and quality of the program, improve conversation skills, or increase participation as much as they are about whether or not the scout is following the program pushed down by the scouters. Consider my eyes open wider.

 

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