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CarlosD

What can SM do for son's advancement?

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

I became our unit's SM back in March. I have two sons in our troop. I have not checked off any requirements for them, to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Do BSA guidelines prohibit the SM or other Adult Leader from checking off son's requirements for rank advancement or merit badges? Can the SM hold an SM conference with his/her son?

Thanks.

Edited by CarlosD

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From the Guide to Advancement:

Mechanics of Advancement in Scouts BSA
"Parents or guardians are involved at home encouraging, mentoring, and supporting, but they do not sign for rank advancement requirements unless they serve as registered leaders and have been designated by the unit leader to approve advancement or are Lone Scout friends and counselors (see “Lone Scouting,” 5.0.3.0)."
 

4.2.1.2 The Scout Is Tested
"The unit leader [Scoutmaster] authorizes those who may test and pass the Scout on rank requirements. They might include the patrol leader, the senior patrol leader, the unit leader, an assistant unit leader, or another Scout. Merit badge counselors teach and test Scouts on requirements for merit badges."


As the Scoutmaster, you may sign off on your son's advancements.  You might also decide that it would be better to authorize someone else to sign off instead.

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It is a tough call

In our troop for Scout - 1st Class the Scout has to get signed off by a Life or above Scout.  For SM conference an ASM does that.  Our informal process is that you would not do your son's SM Conference or if on the committee BOR

For our current SM his son just aged out this year.  As he worked through the ranks other leaders did the SM conferences and BOR's.  He was an SPL and for that period one of the other leaders in the troop was his guide during the time.  Good for the son to hear a different voice at times

There does not seem to be a formal rule in GTA, but common sense should prevail and the opportunity for the SM's son to interact with other adults.

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2 hours ago, CarlosD said:

Hi all,

I became our unit's SM back in March. I have two sons in our troop. I have not checked off any requirements for them, to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Do BSA guidelines prohibit the SM or other Adult Leader from checking off son's requirements for rank advancement or merit badges? Can the SM hold an SM conference with his/her son?

Thanks.

In our Troop, we don't have any rules prohibiting it.  I have two sons in the Troop and if anything, they get held to a higher standard by me as the Scoutmaster for that very reason also.  But, that being said "A Scout is Trustworthy".  I have signed off on several things in both of my sons handbooks.  I have also been their Merit Badge Counselor.  On Tuesday, I conducted my Sons Eagle Scoutmaster Conference.  Who else better to do it than me, I have been with him on his Scouting Adventure since he was a Tiger.  It lasted almost 45 minutes and we could have talked all night.  I did have another ASM sit in and he asked some questions as well.  All in all, it was a great experience.  If you have the chance, don't miss out on it.  Your sons will have worked hard and you will have been right by their side.

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Posted (edited)

The formal rule in the Guide to Advancement is what I posted above.  The Scoutmaster may (has the discretion to) sign off on his or her own son's / daughter's advancements.  Whether this is a good or wise thing to do is a separate question.  Some troops have policies against parents signing off on their own children.  Some troops are small and don't have as many options as larger troops.  There might also be cases where a parent is the only merit badge counselor for a particular merit badge.  Personally, I agree with @Jameson76 and think it's a good thing for Scouts to interact with other adults whenever possible.  @Ranman328 also makes some good points.  It's a judgement call.


Boards of review are different.  There is no discretion here:

8.0.0.3 Composition of the Board of Review
Unit leaders [Scoumasters] and assistants [Assistant Scoutmasters] shall not serve on a board of review for a Scout in their own unit. Parents, guardians, or relatives shall not serve on a board for their child. The candidate or the candidate’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or relative(s) shall have no part in selecting any board of review members.

Edited by Thunderbird
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As people said above ... You absolutely have the right to do it.  You should not be embarrassed to sign off for them.  They should not be penalized because you are the scoutmaster.  The main reasons to NOT do it ... 

  • Perception.  Avoid perception of favoritism or your son had it easier.  
  • Growth.  Your son will grow more by working with people other than their parent.  

So ... if you can have someone else work with your son, great.  BUT, don't penalize him.  If there is no one else and your son would be penalized, I'd sign off  

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10 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Your son will grow more by working with people other than their parent.

Agreed, Fred. I've seen it. This is one of the main reasons I try to avoid signing anything for my son.

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11 hours ago, fred8033 said:

So ... if you can have someone else work with your son, great.  BUT, don't penalize him.  If there is no one else and your son would be penalized, I'd sign off  

This is what I do as SM. My son is now a Life Scout and I do plan on doing his Scout Master Conference for Eagle although with one of my ASMs.

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We have a designated ASM that does all the SM's kids SM stuff. None of our ASM's sign off anything on their kid's advancement unless it's a really unusual MB.

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Don't 100% avoid working with your son.  It can be a very meaningful and grow your bond with him.  

As it applies to my sons ...   I think MBC is an analogous role.  For each of my sons, I've only mentored one Eagle MB.  For the non-Eagle MBs, I've done one or two further.  But then again, those extra MBs are more unique opportunities I don't think would be offered other ways.  Motor boating for example.  

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4 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Don't 100% avoid working with your son.  It can be a very meaningful and grow your bond with him.  

As it applies to my sons ...   I think MBC is an analogous role.  For each of my sons, I've only mentored one Eagle MB.  For the non-Eagle MBs, I've done one or two further.  But then again, those extra MBs are more unique opportunities I don't think would be offered other ways.  Motor boating for example.  

The only rules that are absolutely inappropriate are the absolute rules.

Every scout and scoutmaster is a bit different. There are unquestionably cases where the scoutmaster is BEST qualified to review requirements and do scoutmaster conferences, even if its for his own son.  There are other cases where a troop might have really good bench strength and the scout would benefit from working with an ASM rather than with his own dad. Neither approach should be an absolute "must" or an absolute "never".

With respect to merit badges, things are a little different because the Guide to Advancement specifically states that any MBC is allowed to sign off for any scout including his own son. In my opinion, any troop that establishes contrary policies is putting up roadblocks for scouts that are unfair and insupportable. There are some cases where an MBC absolutely should sign off for his own son --- like when the counselor is doing an activity or class for a group of scouts and his son is doing exactly the same thing at the same time as his peer (What possible benefit to anybody in scouting could be gleaned by telling the scout he is less deserving of the badge that he earned than his friends doing it with him?)

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

With respect to merit badges, things are a little different because the Guide to Advancement specifically states that any MBC is allowed to sign off for any scout including his own son. 

I think SM signing son's rank requirements is absolutely directly analogous to MBC singing MB requirements, both per situation and per GTA.  

The key point I may have missed saying ... I'm very glad I got to had the honor to work with my sons on a few MBs.  It was a very special and memorable time.  If I had done many MBs, then I think my son would have missed out on growth opportunities. 

IMHO, the best advancement is varied.  Some through troop.  Some elsewhere.  Some with parent.  Some with other adults.  Some with external MB fairs.  Some where the scout picks up the phone and calls the adult.  

Edited by fred8033

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When I was Scoutmaster I signed off on rank requirements and SM conferences for all three of my sons. Whenever somebody questioned whether I should do that or not, I said "find me somebody in our troop who knows more about Scouting, the patrol method and Scout skills than I do and I will be happy to have my sons meet with them." There wasn't anybody. My older son told me one of his friends once said that he is lucky to have his dad be the SM because its easy. My son replied "Yeah, well you don't have a SM conference in the car after every meeting or campout asking how things went, what went well, and how things that went bad could be fixed." All three sons also grew up with me taking them in the backyard to start a fire with a magnifying glass, "helping" me fix a cut rope by whipping or fusing the end, etc.

That said, the SM before me usually had his son meet with me and wouldn't sign his son's handbook. He was new to Scouting though and also realized his limitations.

 

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On 5/16/2019 at 5:16 PM, CarlosD said:

Hi all,

I became our unit's SM back in March. I have two sons in our troop. I have not checked off any requirements for them, to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Do BSA guidelines prohibit the SM or other Adult Leader from checking off son's requirements for rank advancement or merit badges? Can the SM hold an SM conference with his/her son?

Thanks.

The general rule in my boys' troop (I was one of the ASMs) is that parents didn't sign off anything unless they were the only people permitted to sign it, or it was a matter of troop records on the online system (number of outings, campouts, etc.).  By only person permitted to sign, I mean things like if we had one Environmental Science counselor, then he could sign off on his sons' advancement, etc.  Our SM's sons had their SM conferences with one of the ASMs.    

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Son #2 asked me to be his Eagle Project advisor. Aside from that, I didn't sign-off with Sons and Daughter because -- although I knew that I was best at many of the requirements -- I fondly go through my old book from time to time, and cherish those PL signatures. I wanted them to have that same sense of a panoply of leaders that I had as a scout.

So, my thinking:

  • If someone else is the better expert, send your son to him.
  • If he is almost as good, but you think you think that person deserves a significant role in your son's life, send your son to him.
  • If your son knows your the best at that requirement, and asks you to help him with it, dive in. As other's said, you wont regret it.
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