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Hawkwin

SM Conference for higher ranks ONLY on campouts?

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1 hour ago, Thunderbird said:

@Hawkwin  Some more thoughts:  your troop's policies are very long and detailed, and some of the policies are out of date already (for example: the BSA registration fee is now $33 per person).  Instead of having detailed policies like this, it would probably be better to just refer to the source documents (Guide to Safe Scouting, Boy Scout Handbook, Guide to Advancement, Guide to Awards and Insignia, uniform inspection sheets (currently more up to date than the 2015 Guide to Awards and Insignia), etc.)  This way, the troop's policies don't have to be edited every time something changes.  In addition, the longer something like this is (troop policies), the less likely people will read it.

Good luck!

Great catch on the fee. We are of like minds on this. Why have a redundant document that would necessarily need to be updated every single time a half dozen or more other documents change.

Great feedback.

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1 hour ago, gblotter said:

 I don't remember you mentioning the size of your troop. We have a smaller troop of 30 Scouts which makes flexible scheduling easier. I know of several mega troops (130+ Scouts) in our area. I have no doubt they run high-quality Scouting programs, but I can't imagine operating in that kind of environment. So much personal attention would be lost, and you end up with subcommittees generating long, legalistic policy documents like the one you describe. Different strokes for different folks, but I'd be finding a new - and possibly smaller - troop (as I've said before).

I love that quote. What a contrast to the SM for @Hawkwin

High double digits. My guess is between 70-80 currently. Our Scoutlander page lists 87 but I doubt all of them are active.

And I appreciate your advice on finding a smaller troop. Certainly it would lead to a very different experience - but I think there is a lesson here for my scout in that demonstrating my willingness to fix things vs simply taking the easier, and perhaps more pleasant solution, he might learn that strife and struggle are often necessary components of growth and success and even perhaps that there is value in even in struggle that ultimately results in failure. Moving to another troop will always be an option that can be explored in the future but for now, we have not exhausted our options or our efforts to make what we currently have better.

Feels like an allegory for all of BSA.

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7 hours ago, gblotter said:

This is basically how our troop operates. I conduct the SMC and then signal the CC to schedule the BOR as soon possible. The SMC and BOR will frequently happen back-to-back on the same day, and they always happen withing a week of the Scout making the request. Our troop holds a COH three times a year. We set and publicize a cutoff date before each COH. It has proven to be an effective incentive for the boys to finish off lingering rank requirements and partial merit badges. We automatically assume that a few SMCs and BORs will be held on the cutoff day for that reason.

@Hawkwin I don't remember you mentioning the size of your troop. We have a smaller troop of 30 Scouts which makes flexible scheduling easier. I know of several mega troops (130+ Scouts) in our area. I have no doubt they run high-quality Scouting programs, but I can't imagine operating in that kind of environment. So much personal attention would be lost, and you end up with subcommittees generating long, legalistic policy documents like the one you describe. Different strokes for different folks, but I'd be finding a new - and possibly smaller - troop (as I've said before).

 

I love that quote. What a contrast to the SM for @Hawkwin

For what it's worth.

Our troop is currently at 85 scouts. We have no bylaws and very few process documents.  Really all that we do that is different is that our adults team is more structured than a smaller troop.  For example - we have a leader who just schedules boards of review.  He knows which boys are probably going to need one each week and can work with the parents to have enough representation.  We don't have shenanigans at our BOR because the leader who organizes them knows his stuff.  We don't have problems getting a board together because our adults know they'll be needed.  We have enough boards that we adults get lots of experience.  Similarly, we have an Life to Eagle Advisor.  He knows every Scout from Star on well.  He can talk with them about applications, projects, Eagle boards, etc.  I like it because it gives up the opportunity to really focus on "going deep" in the different roles.  Adults wear fewer hats which also leads to less burned out adults too. 

I'll grant that one downside to our size is that the Scoutmaster himself is less available to each Scout.

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9 hours ago, gblotter said:

This is basically how our troop operates. I conduct the SMC and then signal the CC to schedule the BOR as soon possible. The SMC and BOR will frequently happen back-to-back on the same day, and they always happen withing a week of the Scout making the request. Our troop holds a COH three times a year. We set and publicize a cutoff date before each COH. It has proven to be an effective incentive for the boys to finish off lingering rank requirements and partial merit badges. We automatically assume that a few SMCs and BORs will be held on the cutoff day for that reason.

@Hawkwin I don't remember you mentioning the size of your troop. We have a smaller troop of 30 Scouts which makes flexible scheduling easier. I know of several mega troops (130+ Scouts) in our area. I have no doubt they run high-quality Scouting programs, but I can't imagine operating in that kind of environment. So much personal attention would be lost, and you end up with subcommittees generating long, legalistic policy documents like the one you describe. Different strokes for different folks, but I'd be finding a new - and possibly smaller - troop (as I've said before).

 

I love that quote. What a contrast to the SM for @Hawkwin

Yea, our Troop is only 25 Scouts so it does make it a little easier.  We have an internal award for our Scouts called the Scout of the Quarter.  We give points for coming to meetings, campouts, fundraisers, merit badges, rank, leadership, etc.  We post the running tally so Scouts see where they stand in the running.  We always have one or two scouts that wait until the last minute to get their rank in but we get them through like you.

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15 hours ago, ParkMan said:

For what it's worth.

Our troop is currently at 85 scouts. We have no bylaws and very few process documents.  Really all that we do that is different is that our adults team is more structured than a smaller troop.  For example - we have a leader who just schedules boards of review.  He knows which boys are probably going to need one each week and can work with the parents to have enough representation.  We don't have shenanigans at our BOR because the leader who organizes them knows his stuff.  We don't have problems getting a board together because our adults know they'll be needed.  We have enough boards that we adults get lots of experience.  Similarly, we have an Life to Eagle Advisor.  He knows every Scout from Star on well.  He can talk with them about applications, projects, Eagle boards, etc.  I like it because it gives up the opportunity to really focus on "going deep" in the different roles.  Adults wear fewer hats which also leads to less burned out adults too. 

I'll grant that one downside to our size is that the Scoutmaster himself is less available to each Scout.

I like that idea. I might add that to the recommendation.

I learned at a recent sporting event that another scout parent has the same complaint as I. The SM made the parent drive four hours (two hours each way) to take their scout on a Friday night to a camp out so that the scout can get their SMC done in time for the BOR/COH. The scout completed the SMC and then turned around and went home immediately after. The scout had sport tourneys all weekend so was not available to attend the camp out. I could see the pain on the face of the parents as they shared their story with me. No one should have to jump through such hoops for a SMC.

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16 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

I like that idea. I might add that to the recommendation.

I learned at a recent sporting event that another scout parent has the same complaint as I. The SM made the parent drive four hours (two hours each way) to take their scout on a Friday night to a camp out so that the scout can get their SMC done in time for the BOR/COH. The scout completed the SMC and then turned around and went home immediately after. The scout had sport tourneys all weekend so was not available to attend the camp out. I could see the pain on the face of the parents as they shared their story with me. No one should have to jump through such hoops for a SMC.

So the Scout attended 30-ish minutes of the campout due to the Scoutmaster's SMC policy for higher ranks.  SMH.

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Long overdue update.

The committee meeting was interesting. Felt like my own board of review (or military promotion board in reality - felt like I was trying to make Sergeant again). It was me, surrounded by all the members of the committee while they all argued against me. I won't elaborate further other than to say it was a less than pleasant experience - with no real result. The only concession I was given, almost as an after thought, was that I was offered the opportunity to recraft the rules and send them to the incoming SM for his consideration next year. I gladly accepted the opportunity as at least it was better than nothing.

I shared the experience with my son and told him that they are going to want to see him more often at weekend campouts, that scouting must come first for a while and that regardless of our perception of the rules, if he wants to get promoted, he will have do what they want. Such is life.

Tonight, about an hour before the meeting, he tells me that he would just rather quit.

 

I told him that the respectful thing to do would be to still go to the meeting in full uniform and tell them in person. He agreed. I asked him why now, and he said that it wasn't fun. The meetings are always boring with the scouts sitting in chairs being talked at by adults. He also didn't want to have to sacrifice soccer tournaments in order to get promoted. I thought to myself, as well as remarked to him, that would have been great feedback to provide to the SM if only the SM would have been willing to do a SMC.

My son told the SM face to face that he was quitting and why. I did not witness it but my son's impression was that the SM really didn't care. Was told that he could come back if he ever changes his mind. I thought FOR SURE that the scouters would take this opportunity to talk to him in more detail - to have a conversation. I fully expected them to try (and succeed) at talking him out of it. Imagine my surprise when my scout walked out of the meeting five minutes after he went in.

 

We are going to visit another troop. I told him that he owes it to himself to at least determine if it is scouting or if it is the troop. Don't make a decision in a vacuum of information - and one that you might regret later as I did when I quit as a cub.

Sad day in our household. My son asked me if I was disappointed and I was honest with him - but I also said that he has to live his life that way he thinks is best. It isn't me being forced to go to boring meetings or being forced to chose between my love for soccer and my love for scouting so while I am disappointed in the decision, I am not disappointed in him for making it.

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How old is your son and what rank?  If he is old enough to do Venturing or Sea Scouts and First Class, he can work on his Eagle while being a member of those units.  My son was done with scouts and then found Sea Scouts and now loves it.

Just another option for you.  I am not surprised the SM had that response and kudos to your son for being brave enough talk to him.

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The snarker in me would make the final act in that troop to ask the sm to sign off on the smc and completion of rank since he did meet with the sm. 

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13 hours ago, mashmaster said:

How old is your son and what rank?  If he is old enough to do Venturing or Sea Scouts and First Class, he can work on his Eagle while being a member of those units.  My son was done with scouts and then found Sea Scouts and now loves it.

Just another option for you.  I am not surprised the SM had that response and kudos to your son for being brave enough talk to him.

12, First Class.

I am hopeful we can find a home in the other Troop but if not, we might have to wait for Venturing age. No Sea Scouts in our area.

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13 hours ago, malraux said:

The snarker in me would make the final act in that troop to ask the sm to sign off on the smc and completion of rank since he did meet with the sm. 

Heh. I have the impression that the other troop we are considering will not present an issue with a signed off SM.

Edit: Oh trust me, I have been brimming with snark for two months over this issue (and it has occasionally spilled over) but I had to keep reminding myself that this is for my scout and anything I do that is NOT IN SERVICE to the aims and methods of what he is trying to accomplish simply benefits me and not him. If I had to grovel and look meek to placate egos, then so be it.

Edited by Hawkwin
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3 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

12, First Class.

I am hopeful we can find a home in the other Troop but if not, we might have to wait for Venturing age. No Sea Scouts in our area.

There are other troops out there, seek one that meets YOUR Scouts needs.  Troops are like musical groups,  while the vast majority seem to have 2 guitars, a bass, and a drummer, they can be vastly different and can appeal to a variety of specific tastes

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Just musing, not proposing any course of action. And maybe its been addressed in the preceding dozen+ pages.

What would the district or council reaction to such news be? That a troop essentially adding requirements is turning off boys to the extent that they are opting to quit entirely?

  1. Part of me (the cynical part) would assume that they probably don't care and would rather not ruffle leader feathers.
  2. But the optimistic side would hope that someone sees the problem for what it is.
  3. Then the cynical side pops up again and says, "Yeah, gotta keep those membership numbers up" and that would be the focus of addressing the issue, not the root problem.

I feel for ya. A lot of internal conflict I'm sure between supporting your son's decision and trying to do the right thing by him and many others.

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16 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

Tonight, about an hour before the meeting, he tells me that he would just rather quit.

I'm sad, but not surprised.  That's a common result of adult conflict.  It's very hard to get a troop to change it's ways.  What you said reflects a troop that wants the scout to support the troop instead of the troop supporting the scout.  It's as simple as that.

What you describe in your email ... scouts sitting and being talked at by adults ... committee meeting adult conflicts ... extra rules established to manipulate the scout into a specific troop's goals ... IMHO ... this is what is killing scouting.  

At this point, I'm becoming a scouting deconstructionist.  I'm really tired of seeing adults fight over how to run a perfect troop.  Enforce uniforming.  Produce flow charts of advancement.  Be snarky to their scouts about talking to their SPL and not expect bad behavior in return.  ... So, I'm a deconstructionist.  Throw away all the extra baggage on how to do things perfect.  Instead treat the troop as a collection of groups of friends that want to do things.  Maybe the older boys (patrol) want to camp and go skiing or hiking.  Maybe the younger ones want to go on a long bike ride.  Maybe another group wants to camp at a farm and help birthing calves.  

Through being active and doing things, we can teach skills and influence character.  As scouts step up, we continually step back.  As for the rest (advancement, uniform, meetings, etc), use it as you can.  But the core of scouting is being active and doing things.  And definitely get the adults out of the way.  

 

 

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5 hours ago, numbersnerd said:

Just musing, not proposing any course of action. And maybe its been addressed in the preceding dozen+ pages.

What would the district or council reaction to such news be? That a troop essentially adding requirements is turning off boys to the extent that they are opting to quit entirely?

  1. Part of me (the cynical part) would assume that they probably don't care and would rather not ruffle leader feathers.
  2. But the optimistic side would hope that someone sees the problem for what it is.
  3. Then the cynical side pops up again and says, "Yeah, gotta keep those membership numbers up" and that would be the focus of addressing the issue, not the root problem.

I feel for ya. A lot of internal conflict I'm sure between supporting your son's decision and trying to do the right thing by him and many others.

 

District is well aware and not happy about it but nothing they can easily do as I understand it. If the CO doesn't object, then the only recourse to my knowledge would be to pull the charter.

If we do find a home in the other troop, the most effective thing WE can do is for my son to be an outstanding Den Chief for the local packs and help recruit them to his new troop instead of letting them go to his old troop.

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