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Change in Boy Scout joining requirements

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If we have discussed this before, I missed it, and I apologize for the repetition. Something like this had been discussed in the forum about a year ago, but I never saw that they actually put it into effect, or exactly what the change was.

 

A change in the Boy Scout joining requirements went into effect on May 15 of this year.

 

The old requirement was:

 

Meet age requirements: Be a boy who has completed the fifth grade, or is 11 years old, or has earned the Arrow of Light Award, but is under 18 years old.

 

The new requirement is:

 

Meet age requirements: Be a boy who has completed the fifth grade and be at least 10 years old, or be 11 years old, or have earned the Arrow of Light Award and be at least 10 years old, and be under 18 years old.

 

The change is that the two requirements that previously had no age "floor" -- that is, complete the fifth grade or earn Arrow of Light -- now have a minimum age of 10. I think this will make a difference in only a very few cases -- basically where someone has started school "early" or is otherwise considered to be at a grade level in school (or home school) that is a year (or maybe two) earlier than their "peers" in age. I have not worked out the Arrow of Light "timing" lately but I think the same thing applies: If a student somehow completes first grade at the age of 5, it is possible to earn the Arrow of Light at the age of 9 and join a troop at that time. Or at least, it was. That loophole has now been closed.

 

Now, if it were me, I might have considered making the absolute "floor" 10-and-a-half. I see boys joining my son's troop at right around 10-and-a-half and they really seem too young to me, but the program is set up so that they will benefit from it anyway. I think that (on average, of course there are some boys who are exceptions) every month below that in age potentially creates the risk that the boy will be so "lost" that they lose interest and quit. A few months can make a difference at that age.

 

But this is a positive development.

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Maybe a boy who has completed the 5th grade by age 10 is more mature and ready to advance compared to the "average" kid. Is he ready for scouts?

 

I was young for my grade having skipped 2nd grade. I always felt disadvantaged being the smallest kid in the group. I did not advance my own son when given the chance. He is one of the older boys for his grade with a January birthday.

 

Plus, developmentally, there are definite milestones that kids hit at certain ages. Behavior is an issue. Also, some kids cannot learn to tie a knot until they are about 11. They just don't have spatial relationship skills before then.

 

Although it affects very few kids, I think the age restriction is a good thing.

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To complete the thought started in the previous post:

 

Has anyone had any experience with 9-year-olds actually joining a troop under the old joining requirements? I seem to recall some discussion about boys joining "a year early" but after their 10th birthday, which would not be changed by the new requirement.

 

Has anyone seen the new requirement "in action"? In other words, has anyone been required to turn away a boy younger than 10 from a troop when he otherwise would have met the old joining requirements?

 

In the past when the issue of "age" has come up, my general feeling is, there is really no reason to push a boy into a Boy Scout troop just because some quirk allows him to do so when he is 9, or 10 and a few months. Unless there is some really exceptional circumstance, let the boy be his age. If the boy is in Webelos, "graduating" with his den is a positive experience, especially if all or most of the boys are going into the same troop. As my son could attest, being the only boy joining a troop in a particular time period is not the easiest thing in the world... and my son did join at the "normal" time, in March after he earned Arrow of Light and had his crossover at the Blue and Gold Dinner. In fact, my son could have joined a troop the previous October, when he turned 11, but we saw no reason to do so. It was better for him to "complete" the Cub Scout program and join the troop in the spring, when (even though there were no other new Scouts at the time) the troop was more "set up" to receive him.

 

 

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I have only seen a couple of instances where a 10YO boy joined. They worked out fine. I'd rather have that than have one come in at age 16 with the wrong expectations. I've seen a few of those.

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I have probably made this thread more complicated than it needed to be.

 

The change that has been made affects only boys who have not yet reached their 10th birthday, and in my second post, that is what I was mainly interested in, whether anyone has come across what I assume is the very rare case of a 9-year-old (or even 8-year-old??) Boy Scout, or under the new rule, a would-be Boy Scout of that age.

 

The issue of 10-year-old Boy Scouts is an entirely different story, and I sort of injected it here where it doesn't directly belong. Clearly large numbers of boys can and will continue to be able to join troops before their 11th birthday, especially those within 6 months of reaching age 11. Some of them are ready and some are not, but if they have at least been through the Webelos program, they are probably ready enough. But 9 years old? It is a rare event that needed to be made impossible, and now apparently it has been.

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I've not seen this yet, but if true it is the second change in two years. I think this "floor," as NJ describes it, is a good idea. Last year they upped the basic starting age from 10.5 to 11 for boys who have not earned the AoL or completed 5th grade. I have more of a problem with that in that it creates a potential problem for packs like ours that cross their Webs over before the end of the school year.

 

We have a Scout in our troop who is well below his "normal" age, although I don't know if he was actually nine when he joined. If not, he hadn't been 10 very long. He moved here from out of the country and tested well above his age and therefore place in a higher grade.

 

Now, the boy is 12 1/2 and is a couple MBs and a project away from Eagle. (The kid is very bright so meeting the requirements hasn't been a problem for him.) I really don't know him well. He is fairly quiet and reserved. I don't know if that is simply his nature or if it relates to growing up in a different culture or both. I think a lot of people take his shyness for lack of leadership and maturity. Because of his age, he's not really been give any tough leadership roles. He was the "acting" PL for a big council camporee and did a good job leading a drill for his Emergency Preparedness MB a month or two ago.

 

But already I've heard a couple comments from leaders along the lines of "he's too young/immature to be an Eagle, what are we going to do with him?" Of course that's another thread we've covered thoroughly in the past.

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Twocubdad,

 

Now, the boy is 12 1/2 and is a couple MBs and a project away from Eagle.

 

Because of his age, he's not really been given any tough leadership roles. He was the "acting" PL for a big council camporee and did a good job leading a drill for his Emergency Preparedness MB a month or two ago.

 

But already I've heard a couple comments from leaders along the lines of "he's too young/immature to be an Eagle, what are we going to do with him?"

 

Given this description of the boy and his leaders, I am given to one of two possible responses:

 

1) Basically, I see a good kid thats about to earn Eagle. However, the leadership is unhappy with this idea. The leaders are gossiping about the kid and labeling him too immature for Eagle, yet your post seems to indicate otherwise. So whats missing from this story?

 

2) Or perhaps its the leaders? That is to say, if the kid is doing everything hes supposed to be doing (i.e., meeting the requirements and standards of behavior necessary to become an eagle), maybe theres something wrong with these leaders. Why are they stigmatizing a kid thats following the program?

 

I dont like stereotypes about age, even those linked to 10, 11, and 12 year olds. Ive seen kids act like evil monsters at 12 and angelic geniuses at 10. I suspect that most of the leaders involved in that discussion dont know this kid very well. Else, there seems to be something missing.

 

What are you going to do with him? Forget about his age and treat him like a sharp, shy eagle with respect and appreciation.

 

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My son earned his life rank three months after his 12th birthday. By age 12.5, he too was a couple merit badges and a project away from Eagle. Now, a few weeks before he turns 14, he is still a couple of merit badges and a project away from Eagle and that is fine with me!

 

I had a few boys join our troop (unofficially) at age 10. One joined in Feb. and his birthday was in Dec. so he had just turned 10. Maturity is not much of a problem with him. I do like the 10 year old floor. I'm curious, has the Cub Scout program changed any requirements? It was a grade based program and I'd hate to see a Webelos/AOL recipient denied joining a troop. They need to keep the two programs in sync.

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When Lifesaving was required for Eagle, I took it at age 13 at summer camp. The 16 year old counselor would not let us complete the requirements if you could not save him. Only one 16 year old saved that "jerk" and got the badge. When I finally got Lifesaving at age 15, I could save a life. I got Eagle at 16.

 

My son got his Eagle at 14 1/2 and deserved every badge. He refused First Aid MB at age 11 when he was given a signed Blue Card at a MBgiveaway when CPR wasn't even reviewed. He completed it properly the next year. (his 41st merit badge was Lifesaving at 15 and he goes for BSA Lifeguard next week). He was mature and ready to be Eagle.

 

There are 12 year olds in our troop who have "earned" Lifesaving MB. I wouldn't want them to be on duty when I was drowning. This is an example of "signed Blue Card creep".

 

Compare this thread to Goodkidsmom thread where a BOR denied rank advancement, not because the boy failed to complete the requirements, but because the boy is not assertive enough.

 

If the Scout completes the requirements, he deserves to advance regardless of age. As we have discussed before, the responsibility is on the shoulders of the MB counselors and others to be sure that the tasks are complete before signing off.

 

 

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My son was 10.5 years old (2/2001)when he crossed over to a Troop from Webelos(while in the 5th grade). He received his Eagle Scout award this last May(2004) while still just 13 and in the 8th grade. He earned all his merit badges and ranks through hard work, dedication and determination(and an occasional kick from his mother). Youth(Scouts) advance thru Scouting (and life) at different speeds and degrees. There is no true blueprint to follow.

 

Greeneagle5

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Since this thread has morphed into one about young Eagles, I observe that we have not produced an Eagle younger than 17 (maybe one at 16) in the last 10 or so years. We have one boy who is poised to complete his requirements for Eagle this year at 14 but he's very unusual. Our unit is similar in this aspect to other units in the district and council. I can't explain the difference between these units and those consistently producing very young Eagles. But if a boy has completed the requirements then he should achieve the rank.

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Rooster -- what was mission from the story was that I really didn't want it to turn the thread into a debate about how old a boy should be before he can earn Eagle. Apparently, I wasn't too successful at that.

 

Your perception is correct that the leaders I hear grousing are complaining about the idea of a 12- or 13-year-old Eagle in general, nothing personally about this Scout. They are just using his shyness and "lack of maturity" to justify their preconceptions.

 

Acco -- nothing has changed with the Cub program. The potential problem is that with last year's move to make the base age requirement 11 instead of 10.5, there is the potential that a boy with a late birthday who doesn't earn the AoL will be left hanging until the end of the school year. In our pack/troop we cross the Webelos over in late Feb. That potentially could leave a boy with nowhere to go for several months.

 

Over the past couple years I've had several new Scouts join the pack as second year Webelos. I've told tham that if they really work at it they can earn their Arrow of Light by crossover in February, but that it's a big committment for them and their parents. On the other hand, they could look at their six months in Webelos as a time to learn about Scouting and to get ready for Boy Scouts in the spring. Now, with the rule change, I need to be careful and look at a boy's birthdate before offering that second option.

 

The problem isn't necessarily limited to new Scouts. Not everyboy earns his AoL. If they don't and their birthday is late in the school year, they could be left hanging until the end of school.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Sorry TwoCubDad.

 

Your first post hit a nerve. I have three sons. The first two earned Eagle at 16. The third earned his at 13. All three earned the badge. Each had difficult projects. Yet, I hear the occasional quip from some folks that implies that my last son had some how not earned his rank. It irks me. In many cases, its the parents of boys who have floundered at 1st and 2nd Class. I make no comment about these boys. Draw your own conclusions about their parents and their comments. I feel strongly - when a boy earns a rank, unless you can point to something definitive, no one should impugn his accomplishment.

 

So, to bring my post in line with your topic, I agree that there should be a minimum age for joining. Otherwise, we'd be mixing 4th and 5th graders (or younger) with high school boys. This trend will further diminish the idea of Scouts being cool. Let's face it...on average, high school boys don't want to hang with 4th graders. As it is, in most troops, there is a gap in ages that the boys have to reconcile. In my experience, most boys manage to cross that bridge and make things work. Yet, I do think we can push their limits. In short, Im worried that if there isnt a floor (i.e., minimum age for joining), the dynamics of the troop will be destroyed.

 

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Otherwise, we'd be mixing 4th and 5th graders (or younger) with high school boys.

 

Well, I think 5th grade and 4th grade (or more to the point, the ages corresponding to those grades) are two different issues. It is typical (at least around here) for boys who have earned Arrow of Light to cross over in February or March of their 5th grade year. Since Arrow of Light can be earned six months after completing 4th grade (last time I checked), theoretically that could push it up to November or December of the 5th grade year. So, eligibility to join a troop almost always occurs either during or at the end of 5th grade.

 

The difficulty occurs when a boy has "skipped" a grade or for whatever other reason is considered to be a grade ahead of where he normally would be for his age. I know this sometimes occurs with home schooling, in fact there is a boy in my son's troop who was able to join a year earlier than he would have otherwise because he is home-schooled and his parents considered him to have completed 5th grade when he would have been in 4th in a public (or private) school. (But he was 10 and a few months when he joined, so the new rule would not have affected him anyway.) So, while you would not actually have a 4th grader in a troop (unless he is already 11, which means he has been "left back" or started school a year late), you could have a boy in the troop who is the same age as most 4th graders because he is considered to be in 5th grade.

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I believe that we have a 9 yr old in our Troop from the old rules, having been homeschooled and tagging along as a sibling through Cubs(?) He seems like a good kid that's trying to do what's necessary, but struggles to keep up with the older boys that are now his 'peers'.

He's just not there yet... While I don't know how it will all work out and certainly wish him the best, it causes me to support this new joining requirement.

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