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Hawkwin

SM Conference for higher ranks ONLY on campouts?

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You all need to lighten up. My SM never held personal growth conferences for upper ranks during meetings. We'd usually walk over to his house on a Saturday. He'd pull his advancement records out of his shoebox, and make sure his book and ours were synced.

I often help the SM conferences at meetings with scouts because there is simply too much going on that demands his attention. This policy allows your troop's SM to get good quality time with the boys. Embrace it. There's nothing that prevents a scout from having his SMC with an MB outstanding or maybe a week or two pending in his leadership position .

If the boy has exigent circumstances that prevent him from making it to wherever the troop is camping, the SM will flex. Otherwise, respect the man's time, and enjoy this unique opportunity that he is offering to your boys: an ideal setting to reflect on their scouting career .

Edited by qwazse
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2 minutes ago, qwazse said:

You all need to lighten up. My SM never held personal growth conferences for upper ranks during meetings. We'd usually walk over to his house on a Saturday. He'd pull his advancement records out of his shoebox, and make sure his book and ours were synced.

I often help the SM conferences at meetings with scouts because there is simply too much going on that demands his attention. This policy allows your troop's SM to get good quality time with the boys. Embrace it. There's nothing that prevents a scout from having his SMC with an MB outstanding or maybe a week or two pending in his leadership position .

If the boy has exigent circumstances that prevent him from making it to wherever the troop is camping, the SM will flex. Otherwise, respect the man's time, and enjoy this unique opportunity that he is offering to your boys: an ideal setting to reflect on their scouting career .

I don't see the need to "lighten up" on something that arbitrarily adds time time to advancement. It's not about any disrecpect of the SM's time. That's why the clause is there for ASMs to take conferences, when the SM can't do it. 

If an SM wants to hold conferences outside of meetings, make more of a thing of it, fine. But tying it to a specific event, one that could be at least a month (or in some units a few months) away, that's not right. 

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Sorry to disagree with you on this Q.

This SM is adding a hurdle. I am all for respecting people's time, and just as an aside I do NOT live in the same town as the Troop. I am 2 towns away, which adds some time to every appointment I make. In my mind, it is part of the servant leadership that I happily give to the Scouts in the Troop. It is much the same as your story about walking to the SM's house on a Saturday. If it works out that a Scout and I can sit in a campsite and have a chat, cool. But to insist that it can ONLY be done there is just wrong. This SM needs to ask his ASMs to help out if his schedule is that tight. 

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8 minutes ago, FireStone said:

I don't see the need to "lighten up" on something that arbitrarily adds time time to advancement. It's not about any disrecpect of the SM's time. That's why the clause is there for ASMs to take conferences, when the SM can't do it. 

If an SM wants to hold conferences outside of meetings, make more of a thing of it, fine. But tying it to a specific event, one that could be at least a month (or in some units a few months) away, that's not right. 

What is a reasonable amount of time before it's not adding time? Three weeks, two weeks, two days? There are a lot of troops that hold only one BOR night each month because the troop doesn't have the resources for more. Rarely does the forum get upset with that policy.

If the scouts' know the policies a head of time, they can manage their agendas and schedules. So, I have trouble with this adding requirements and time thing.

For me, the question is why. If the SM is forcing attendance because of the much bigger problem of program driving away scouts (and we really don't know that to be true), then the SM needs to shift the focus for the sake of all the scouts, not just the older scouts or scouts wanting a conference.

Barry

 

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I generally have to agree with @qwazse on this one.  I generally dislike the idea of SM conferences at meetings as it requires the scout be pulled out of patrol time or something else going on at the meeting.  In short it elevates the Advancement method over the Patrol method.  I regularly received pushback when trying to schedule before or after the meeting.  Campouts were a good time to hold them once the days activities were wound down.  I'd occassionally do them at the local donut shop on a Saturday morning as well.  My troop only did BoRs once a month (at the regularly scheduled committee meeting) so I'm not sure it's so different than that.

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3 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

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:

 

40 minutes ago, qwazse said:

If the boy has exigent circumstances that prevent him from making it to wherever the troop is camping, the SM will flex. 

I don't see anywhere in Hawkwin's posts that suggests that qwasze's supposition is correct - or incorrect.  But I also don't see anywhere in Hawkwin's posts that suggests that his son asked for an exception to be made based on his inability to attend the next two camping trips.  Hawkwin, has your son told the SM that he cannot attend a camping trip until November and that he requests that the conference be held sooner?  I think that is the crux of the matter.  If he asks for an exception and it is granted, I suppose this is still an "addition to the requirements," but the practical effect is minimal, if anything, so personally I wouldn't worry about it.  If the request is denied, then I think further discussions need to be had, because it really is not acceptable under BSA rules.  (I can imagine someone saying that the Scout should not have to ask for an "exception" to something that is not a valid "rule," which this is not, but I think that whenever possible, things like this should be resolved in a practical manner rather than people waving rulebooks at each other.  Sometimes that isn't possible, but it should always be given a try.)

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49 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

I generally have to agree with @qwazse on this one.  I generally dislike the idea of SM conferences at meetings as it requires the scout be pulled out of patrol time or something else going on at the meeting.  In short it elevates the Advancement method over the Patrol method.  I regularly received pushback when trying to schedule before or after the meeting.  Campouts were a good time to hold them once the days activities were wound down.  I'd occassionally do them at the local donut shop on a Saturday morning as well.  My troop only did BoRs once a month (at the regularly scheduled committee meeting) so I'm not sure it's so different than that.

I understand this, but it's not like a scout has that many advancements that pull him away from patrol time. There have been some meetings where we've had to say there wouldn't be time that week so it can be postponed a week. Now if we're right up against a CoH, we'll do everything we possibly can to complete it in time. If the scout did his part, I do NOT want adults being the holdup for him receiving the advancement that he earned.

We all have different schedules, but for us, it's a lot easier finding time on meeting night than a Saturday morning.

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

What is a reasonable amount of time before it's not adding time? Three weeks, two weeks, two days? There are a lot of troops that hold only one BOR night each month because the troop doesn't have the resources for more. Rarely does the forum get upset with that policy.

If the scouts' know the policies a head of time, they can manage their agendas and schedules. So, I have trouble with this adding requirements and time thing...

Weeks, preferably. A month is even reasonable. I was referring specifically to the "must be done on a camping trip" requirement when I mentioned adding time, which if adhered to could add months, sometimes several months, to a Scout's advancement path. As is the case in the original poster's son's predicament, not being able to get a conference until November under this policy. 

What if said Scout gets sick the week of that November trip? Now it's December at best, if the Troop camps every month. If they don't, January? February? See where I'm going with this? 

If there is flexibility in this policy, I'm ok with it. But it sounds like there isn't. SM conferences must be done on camping trips in this particular unit. That's too restrictive. In theory it might sound ok, but in practice it will cause a lot of problems. 

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I would be fine if he said he prefered campouts but would be happy to schedule them with a scout if that isn't feasible.  By requiring it at a campout, it is an artificial barrier of an adult making more rules.

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2 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

I generally have to agree with @qwazse on this one.  I generally dislike the idea of SM conferences at meetings as it requires the scout be pulled out of patrol time or something else going on at the meeting.  In short it elevates the Advancement method over the Patrol method.  ...

I partially agree.  I agree that I prefer NOT during the meetings as it takes away from the meetings.  But flexibility is the key.  We can state preferences, but it's only a preference.

 

 

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2 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

 Hawkwin, has your son told the SM that he cannot attend a camping trip until November and that he requests that the conference be held sooner? 

Not yet. I try to stay out of what should otherwise be 1 v 1 conversations. I learned of this after the meeting was done and even I didn't know how to respond until I had some time to think about it and research it further.

Additionally, while I think it a good idea to raise this specific issue for him, I still think there is the larger issue or the unnecessary hurdle that may impact other scouts.

That being stated, I know how to eat an elephant so I will likely ask my scout to email him tonight (and copy me) and see what can be done this week or the next.

 

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23 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

Not yet. I try to stay out of what should otherwise be 1 v 1 conversations. I learned of this after the meeting was done and even I didn't know how to respond until I had some time to think about it and research it further.

Additionally, while I think it a good idea to raise this specific issue for him, I still think there is the larger issue or the unnecessary hurdle that may impact other scouts.

That being stated, I know how to eat an elephant so I will likely ask my scout to email him tonight (and copy me) and see what can be done this week or the next.

 

It doesn't hurt to ask, and I hope the SM can flex on this. But the reality is that we tend to do that kind of flexing for 17.4 year old Star scouts and not 13 year old First Class scouts. (That said, we wouldn't ask the scout whose conference got deferred to wait an entire month.)

However, if this were my son, I'd ask his patrol to plan a camp-out on the one Friday or Saturday night that he's free. If the SM or I can't chaperon, he could invite two other scouters to camp at a distance. (FWIW, this is a standing offer that I personally put on the table to the patrols in my troop.) Invite the SM to drop by for dinner, dessert, or breakfast and the SMC.

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An important question, at least for me, is why? Why should older scouts do their conferences at campouts? Here are my guesses as to why.

1) There isn't enough time during meetings and the conferences are messing things up. SM is busy, older scouts aren't doing their job, .... This sounds plausible. It was frustrating for me that right before courts of honor a bunch of older scouts just completely bailed on their responsibility. If this is the case there are solutions.

2)  The older scouts don't participate very much and this is a way to get them to do that. This is a bit cynical. It does add requirements and this one sounds wrong. That said, I did have a participation requirement that came from the fact that if you're in a patrol you're expected to help out and participate. Patrols are teams and teams require teamwork. This came from scouts always getting pushed to the back burner because every other activity does have rather severe participation requirements. I never found a good answer and I think this is a good thing to talk about.

Anyway, trying to understand things from the SM's viewpoint might help this process.

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I too would be dismayed by such a policy. If not explicitly adding a requirement, it certainly places an arbitrary barrier in the way of executing a timely SMC. I also agree with others that the 'why' of this policy is important to determine before tackling any effort at change.

Good luck.

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

An important question, at least for me, is why? Why should older scouts do their conferences at campouts? Here are my guesses as to why.

1) There isn't enough time during meetings and the conferences are messing things up. SM is busy, older scouts aren't doing their job, .... This sounds plausible. It was frustrating for me that right before courts of honor a bunch of older scouts just completely bailed on their responsibility. If this is the case there are solutions.

2)  The older scouts don't participate very much and this is a way to get them to do that. This is a bit cynical. It does add requirements and this one sounds wrong. That said, I did have a participation requirement that came from the fact that if you're in a patrol you're expected to help out and participate. Patrols are teams and teams require teamwork. This came from scouts always getting pushed to the back burner because every other activity does have rather severe participation requirements. I never found a good answer and I think this is a good thing to talk about. 

Anyway, trying to understand things from the SM's viewpoint might help this process.

3) The conferences on campouts seem to be less rushed, more relaxed, and more reflective.

The SM may simply want each boy to get the best upper-rank conference possible, and his experience has led him to realize that this policy promises the ideal personal growth discussions.

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