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Hawkwin

SM Conference for higher ranks ONLY on campouts?

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12 hours ago, Buggie said:

I didn't get all the way through it because one of the things that struck me was the uniform requirements. BORs can't make such a requirement above what BSA requires. A scout shows up to the best of their ability. Some scouts can't afford the full uniform. We had a scout lose everything in a fire. While he did get a shirt provided as a gift that was the best he could do. And i know in my case we couldn't keep my son in anything long as kept growing out of everything. A shirt was the best we could do.

Thanks! Will add commentary to that point.

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10 hours ago, MattR said:

Rather, I'd suggest writing a document that just describes how things work. Don't call it policy. Explain how the scout or a parent can get things clarified. As long as the SM and committee treat all the scouts the same and there are no surprises then nobody will complain. My troop has been around for 20 years and we have few policies. We do have a document that describes how things are done.

To me it sounds like the real problem here is a lack of trust.

Great stuff! Thank you. We meet in a couple of weeks and I will paraphrase your points. I agree. As a parent I had not read this entire document prior to this event and I am sure none of the scouts are familiar with it.

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16 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

All Scouts must have a Totem Chip in order to carry or use pocket knives or other wood tools.

Is a Totem Chip a miniature totem pole?

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Not a huge fan of massive troop "rules".  Never had one, do not plan to have one.  Once you have written "guidelines" one will need to follow them and then you get boxed into a corner.  Sort of like the academic zero tolerance policies.  Huge difference when a kid goes camping with dad and accidentally leaves an axe in the car as compared to kid who brings a knife to school to settle a score.  One must look at intent and hopefully be able to judge and work with kids as individuals.

We have a large troop and literally have only one written policy, and that concerns cell phones and it was written this year.  Other than that, we try to follow the basic tenants of BSA policy.  I mean Good Lord there are two huge tomes, the GTA and GTSS which are both 100+ pages each.  If that is not enough for you, not sure an additional document will really help

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Wow, I couldn't get through it either.

I had to pause at the uniform instructions. I've said before that the two most discussed subjects in my adult leader training classes were "uniform" and "scout discipline". I understand "scout discipline" because adults are challenged with controlling behavior in a so called "boy run" program. BUT UNIFORM?

"Uniform policy is set by the Scout Handbook. Anything else must be approved by the PLC and SM." 

The uniform guidelines kind of represent the adult frame of mind in that they are making scouting too hard. Youth of the scouting age like to take the path of least resistance. Why would any kid want to endure the complexity of the scout program today when they could be playing video games?

Barry

 

 

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What works best for us is to get comfortable with the BSA source materials.  Have a question about advancement, check the guide to advancement.  Have a question about uniforming, check the Guide to Awards and Insignia.

This may seem obvious - but when we tend to bump into a problem, I find it's often because we haven't taken the step to really understand the official guidance on how to do things.  I think this topic is a great example of that.

Some documents we go to regularly are:

  • Guide to Advancement
  • Boy Scout Handbook
  • Boy Scout Requirements book
  • Guide to Safe Scouting
  • Guide to Awards and Insignia
  • Scoutmaster Handbook
  • Troop Leader Guidebook

 

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@Hawkwin your strategy, if anything like the one a former UC and SM tried, will get you all in protracted arguments and only lead to one more document which will be ignored in upcoming years. Proof is in their willingness to ignore the G2A.

What you need from everyone in leadership is a commitment to

  • live up to the promise of scouting as outlined in the BSHB,
  • heed the approach to advancement, uniforming, and the safe activities according to the various guides,
  • solicit advice of other scouters by attending roundtable and bringing up questions that you all have,
  • inviting the district advancement chair to your committee meeting to help you do better BoRs and SMCs.

That won't come in a policy document.

That certainly won't come by bullying the SPL and telling him if and when he should have uniform inspection. Basically, with all I know now, anybody who would hand me your laundry list would be told in no uncertain terms to never let it see the light of day.

So, simplify, simplify, simplify ...

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Worth saying that my impression was that @Hawkwin post was primarily copying the existing troop document and posting what changes he wanted to it. That is, he's not responsible for that mess, the troop is.

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34 minutes ago, malraux said:

Worth saying that my impression was that @Hawkwin post was primarily copying the existing troop document and posting what changes he wanted to it. That is, he's not responsible for that mess, the troop is.

Oh. Then maybe the job of this subcommittee is to find out which policies are/are not being followed, and which ones are. For example, maybe it was the boys who wanted monthly inspections to keep the adults from wasting meetings with excessive announcements. But, I suspect that actually they are saddled with a goal that's nearly impossible to meet.* This thing needs more strikethrough than insertion.

For example, under SMCs. Have: Our SM and assistants will arrange conferences with scouts promptly in accordance with the BSA Guide to Advancement.

Actually, I would not have it under "Advancement", it would be under a category "Delivering the promise of scouting."

Then there would be another category "Cashing in on the promise of scouting." It would have items like:

  • Scouts will appear in uniform as described in the Boy Scout Handbook when possible. When not possible, scouts will present themselves neatly dressed in apparel suitable for the activity according to Boy Scout Handbook, Field Book, and Guide to Safe Scouting.
  • The SPL may devote meeting time to uniform inspection using standards in the Boy Scout Handbook, BSA Uniform Inspection Sheet, and BSA Insignia Guide. The Librarian will ensure that inspection sheets and insignia guides are the are at the ready for the SPL, and may re-stock the library using troop funds as necessary.

And so on.

*Just my experience: when boys in their late teens find themselves in what they think are catch 22's, they will quit rather than doing the hard work of resolving the underlying issue.

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3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

What works best for us is to get comfortable with the BSA source materials. ...

I fully agree with that.  My experience is troop specific rules are not read, not followed and are just a boat anchor.  BSA has plenty to of guidance and it's best to not compete with all that is already written.  

At most, I'd recommend a short one page white paper.  Dues and when to be paid?  Standard troop meeting schedule?  Web site?  Email?  Troop accounts?  More about the specific HOWs.  Not an additional set of rules.

From my experience, troop specific rules just age and add confusion.  Better to invest learning BSA docs the best you can.  

Edited by fred johnson
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13 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

I fully agree with that.  My experience is troop specific rules are not read, not followed and are just a boat anchor.  BSA has plenty to of guidance and it's best to not compete with all that is already written.  

At most, I'd recommend a short one page white paper.  Dues and when to be paid?  Standard troop meeting schedule?  Web site?  Email?  Troop accounts?  More about the specific HOWs.  Not an additional set of rules.

Many troops do this with a new parents guide. 

Our troop does a required adult leader training course twice a year after each SPL election which identified  the official BSA documents used to guide the troop policies and program. We also scheduled an advancement training class once a year originally intended specifically for MB Counselors, which most of the active adults attend.

But, even with all that training, 80% of adults don't pay much attention until they have a specific need because that kind information makes for a good sleeping pill. Which is why the burden of knowing and understanding BSA policies lays so heavily on the SM and CC.

Barry

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We have a new parents guide - but to be honest, it's not terribly useful.  Many parents, and most leaders, simply don't bother to read it.

Two things we've done that seem to help:

1) We've worked to create strong "chairs" for the different areas of troop life.  i.e.: advancement chair, activities chair, treasurer, fundraising chair, membership chair, etc.   These are the people we turn to for interpretation of the BSA rules.  For example, it gives the advancement chair a reason to become an "expert" on the guide to advancement.  

2) we hold a new parents meeting each spring.  At that meeting, the chair for that area walks through the basic procedures we follow in the troop.  It's more of a discussion on "here's what we do".  It helps to create continuity in the program to have to explain what we do to a new group of parents each year.  It also helps that these folks have to field questions each year from new parents.

 

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46 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

We have a new parents guide - but to be honest, it's not terribly useful.  Many parents, and most leaders, simply don't bother to read it.

Really! 

We created the parents guide because we got so many calls about troop meeting times, campouts, annual dues, summer camps and other common questions. But maybe Web Sites are the go-to guides for that information now.

46 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

1) We've worked to create strong "chairs" for the different areas of troop life.  i.e.: advancement chair, activities chair, treasurer, fundraising chair, membership chair, etc.   These are the people we turn to for interpretation of the BSA rules.  For example, it gives the advancement chair a reason to become an "expert" on the guide to advancement.  

2) we hold a new parents meeting each spring.  At that meeting, the chair for that area walks through the basic procedures we follow in the troop.  It's more of a discussion on "here's what we do".  It helps to create continuity in the program to have to explain what we do to a new group of parents each year.  It also helps that these folks have to field questions each year from new parents.

 

A word of warning from our experience with troop strong "chairs" in a boy run troop. Their natural adult efficiency will tend to push more bureaucracy into the program than a boy run program requires, which tends to take away the scouts practice of initiating the actions and contacts for their needs in the patrol method program. We countered the problem by recruiting a scout to assist each position. Except for the treasure, the older scouts enjoyed the roles as well as the adults enjoying assisting the scouts. Watch out for the advancement chair in the Spring, they have some pretty cleaver ideas toward streamlining the Summer Camp MB signup process.:huh:

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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4 hours ago, malraux said:

Worth saying that my impression was that @Hawkwin post was primarily copying the existing troop document and posting what changes he wanted to it. That is, he's not responsible for that mess, the troop is.

Correct. The existing document is not my creation. I was simply trying to get changes to the color-coded sections. I am open to any recommendations to simply or scrap the entire thing.

3 hours ago, qwazse said:

Oh. Then maybe the job of this subcommittee is to find out which policies are/are not being followed, and which ones are. For example, maybe it was the boys who wanted monthly inspections to keep the adults from wasting meetings with excessive announcements. But, I suspect that actually they are saddled with a goal that's nearly impossible to meet.* This thing needs more strikethrough than insertion.

For example, under SMCs. Have: Our SM and assistants will arrange conferences with scouts promptly in accordance with the BSA Guide to Advancement.

Actually, I would not have it under "Advancement", it would be under a category "Delivering the promise of scouting."

Then there would be another category "Cashing in on the promise of scouting." It would have items like:

  • Scouts will appear in uniform as described in the Boy Scout Handbook when possible. When not possible, scouts will present themselves neatly dressed in apparel suitable for the activity according to Boy Scout Handbook, Field Book, and Guide to Safe Scouting.
  • The SPL may devote meeting time to uniform inspection using standards in the Boy Scout Handbook, BSA Uniform Inspection Sheet, and BSA Insignia Guide. The Librarian will ensure that inspection sheets and insignia guides are the are at the ready for the SPL, and may re-stock the library using troop funds as necessary.

And so on.

*Just my experience: when boys in their late teens find themselves in what they think are catch 22's, they will quit rather than doing the hard work of resolving the underlying issue.

Great stuff! Keep it coming!

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Would anyone be willing to share the text of their troop policy? Instead of spending time trying amend our bureaucracy, it would be easier to simply toss it and start over. Since the new SM is on my subcommittee, I see this as a good opportunity to guide them in a better direction.

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