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SteveMM

What would it take for you to decline to advance a Scout after BoR?

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Posted (edited)

My son and I were talking yesterday about his Eagle BoR, as he just got it scheduled for early next month.  We were looking at some resources together to try to give him an idea of what to expect.  As a member of the Troop Committee, I do a lot of the Boards of Review for his troop, and I said it would be a lot like the ones that he's done for every rank, except it would be longer and there would be more people in the room.  That led him to ask if I'd ever wanted to "fail" a Scout after a BoR.  I did almost do it once, and here's the story...

This was back when Scouts had to do a BoR for Eagle Palms.  I'd done a few of these, and they were always a really casual affair because, really, the kid was already an Eagle and had done a lot of them.  But, this one Scout made me wonder how the heck he got his Eagle in the first place.  As with every BoR, we asked the Scout to recite the Scout Oath and Law.  When he got to the Scout Law, he dropped one of the things that "a Scout is."  We laughed and figured he just had a brain fart, but asked him to do it again.  The next time, he forgot a totally different word.  Getting a little concerned, we asked him to do it AGAIN ... and he messed it up AGAIN.  The fourth time, he finally got it right.  Now, bear in mind that this was not a kid that had any kind of learning disability that we were aware of.  If this hadn't been for an Eagle Palm, I probably would have had a talk with the SM and suggested that the Scout bone up on the basics, then come back and do it again.

So, I ask you --- what would it take for you to "fail" a Scout after a BoR?

Edited by SteveMM

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In my view one always advances after a BoR.

If a board finds that the scout has not met the requirements for a rank, then the BoR is suspended until the scout rectifies the situation. The board gives the scout, in writing, where he/she falls short and what must be done to rectify the situation.

IMHO, I would like a board to suspend its review any time it finds that a scout hasn't fulfilled a requirement. If he could recite the law flawlessly, and with gusto, but as a practical matter refused to live by a point, that's a reason to suspend.

I would not like a board to suspend its review because someone forgot "A scout is". Any board that did so would have to convince me that the candidate actually did not believe that a decent scout would be any of those 12 points.

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Scouts do not fail BORs.  BORs are suspended and reconvened.  Only aging out stops a BOR after a missing requirement is found.

Reasons to suspend a BOR ?

  • Unsigned requirements.  A scout had everything signed off except the service hours.  It was never approved by anyone.  And in this case, the scout was short hours.  
  • Truly exceptional circumstances.   Being arrested.  Bringing drugs to scouting events.  

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18 minutes ago, qwazse said:

I would not like a board to suspend its review because someone forgot "A scout is". Any board that did so would have to convince me that the candidate actually did not believe that a decent scout would be any of those 12 points.

But, if a Scout can't remember all of the things "A Scout is" then how can he live by them?

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2 minutes ago, SteveMM said:

But, if a Scout can't remember all of the things "A Scout is" then how can he live by them?

That's different.  A scout is answerable to having the requirements reviewed and tested.  The signature in the book indicates it's been tested and judged worthy.  It's not the BORs place to re-evaluate or retest or rejudge if a scout met the requirement.  

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10 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

That's different.  A scout is answerable to having the requirements reviewed and tested.  The signature in the book indicates it's been tested and judged worthy.  It's not the BORs place to re-evaluate or retest or rejudge if a scout met the requirement.  

While I wouldn't ask a Scout to demonstrate how to tie knots during a BoR, the example I gave (knowing the Oath and Law) is a piece of core Scout knowledge.  It seems to me (and perhaps I'm dead wrong here) that while the BoR should not be testing a Scout, it can identify that a Scout hasn't actually learned basic things that they should know.  It would be the same to me as if you asked a First Class candidate where they camped and they said they didn't, even though the camping nights had been signed off.

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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, SteveMM said:

While I wouldn't ask a Scout to demonstrate how to tie knots during a BoR, the example I gave (knowing the Oath and Law) is a piece of core Scout knowledge.  It seems to me (and perhaps I'm dead wrong here) that while the BoR should not be testing a Scout, it can identify that a Scout hasn't actually learned basic things that they should know.  It would be the same to me as if you asked a First Class candidate where they camped and they said they didn't, even though the camping nights had been signed off.

Scouts get flustered all the time.  And, scout oath and law were requirements for a specific rank.  It's troop program that keeps the skills up and not the advancement program.  A good way for a troop to keep that skill current is to have the scouts say the oath and law before every meeting.  

Your example about camping nights seems slightly different.  The scout said he didn't, but it's signed off.  As such, the scout said he had not met the requirement.  

IMHO, you can ask the scout to recite oath and law at BOR, but you really can't suspend the BOR because he flobbed it.  

Edited by fred8033
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A BoR is not a re-test.  The committee's job is to evaluate and provide feedback to the SM if the youth are coming in prepared in a less than fully competent manner.  The question mark is then really about who has signed off on the kid, and why.  That is really the purpose of the BoR- to evaluate how the program is going, not the kid themself.  Your issue with that particular youth seems more of a conversation for your next committee meeting and ask the SM why the kids don't know the Law.

A BoR shouldn't be given until all the requirements are signed to begin with, so it should be ultra-rare that a BoR cannot be completed once it starts. 

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I'm a little different, I think a BOR member should consider misquoting the Oath or Law as a red flag of the SMs program. After all they repeat it several times a month. But, this is a difficult example because I agree with fred that scouts often misquote, and completely forget, such things under stress. I do believe most experienced unit leaders can tell the difference between stress or incomplete scouting experience. 

I would pass this scout, and then meet with the SM.

Consistent Scout performance is indicative of the program and if the BOR observes a consistent flaw, the SM is responsible.

If the BOR feels the scout is personally responsible for flaws in the review, but meets all the requirements, then they can explain their concern to the scout and then sigh him off. And then meet with the SM later on. I had several such talks with BOR while I was SM. Sometimes the adults need to have a meeting of the minds for a common understanding. 

Barry

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Only one I recall suspending was a First Class one, we casually asked about his camping events, Scout sort of fumbled so we dissected that item, realized he had not in fact met that requirement, so we encouraged him to go on the outing coming up, get that wrapped up, and we would see him later.

For an EBOR the applicant has had a SM conference, the application has been approved by the unit, the application has been approved by the council, all the boxes have been checked.  Unless the applicant is way out of line, would not see suspending an EBOR.   If the board maybe spotted some signature not in place on the Eagle project packet or application, maybe, but that would likely be an oversight and not a planned attempt to deceive.

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In answer to the broad question, I would say that a troop level BOR should be suspended if there is doubt about the scout having fully completed the requirements, the BOR isn't the proper forum for other concerns like very recent misbehavior, the SM, CC and troop committee as a whole are the proper ways to hash those out.

As to properly reciting the Oath and Law, those are acts that scouts should be able to perform well early on in their scouting career.  A scout in their first year or so of scouting may need to put in a little more effort, or receive a little extra time and help to do that. But it's important to remember that memorization and recitation are not the same as knowledge, and an inability to memorize and/or recite is not indicative of a knowledge deficiency. 

There's a lot of research available about how the brain remembers things, and one of the more fascinating facets to me is how the brain rewards itself for habitual behavior, even unhelpful behavior.   Once you have memorized, or maybe more accurately imprinted on your brain, something inaccurately, correcting that is very very difficult.  It's the reason that once you've made a wrong turn on the way towards a place to which you regularly travel, the chances are you will make that same wrong turn even if you start off reminding yourself not to..  

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3 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

...the BOR isn't the proper forum for other concerns like very recent misbehavior, the SM, CC and troop committee as a whole are the proper ways to hash those out. ...

Agreed.  Misbehavior should be dealt with by SM / CC outside of BOR.  Such misbehavior may prevent the BOR from starting.  

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6 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Agreed.  Misbehavior should be dealt with by SM / CC outside of BOR.  Such misbehavior may prevent the BOR from starting.  

I just posted a query regarding BP's description of the Court of Honor regarding its use in disciplinary matters. 

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I find value in this section from the Guide to Advancement

Quote

8.0.1.1 Not a Retest or “Examination”

Though one reason for a board of review is to help ensure the Scout did what was supposed to have been done to meet the requirements, it shall become neither a retest or “examination,” nor a challenge of the Scout’s knowledge. In most cases it should, instead, be a celebration of accomplishment. Remember, it is more about the journey. A badge recognizes what a Scout has done toward achieving the primary goal of personal growth. See “Personal Growth Is the Primary Goal,” 2.0.0.3. It is thus more about the learning experience than it is about the specific skills learned. See also “Mechanics of Advancement in Scouts BSA,” 4.2.0.0.

A Scout must not be rejected at a board of review for reasons unrelated to advancement requirements. For example, the Scout must not be rejected for not bringing a Scouts BSA Handbook or being tardy for a board of review, but the reason for the tardiness may certainly be a topic for discussion.

My take is that a board of review is a discussion between adults & the Scout about what was done to earn the rank.  The board's job isn't to grill the scout and double check knowledge.  Instead, it's an opportunity to explore what the Scout did for the rank.  If in the context of that discussion, it becomes apparent that the requirement really wasn't done then the Board can decide to not approve the Scout.

If the Scout needed to know the Scout Law for that rank and never really learned it - then yes, you could fail the Scout.  But, making sure he still knew it would seem to be a "retest" to me. 

There is a related requirement for the Palm which is:

Quote

Since earning the Eagle Scout rank or your last Eagle Palm, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life.

If the Scout really seemed to not remember one point of the Scout Law, then I'd think it would trigger a discussion in the Board about what the Scout did to live that particular item in the Scout Law.  For example, if the Scout could not remember "helpful", I'd think it would be a good learning opportunity to discuss how the Scout demonstrated helpfulness in fulfilling the requirement.  If in that conversation it became clear that he wasn't a helpful person and had given it no thought - then it would be appropriate to "fail' the Scout.

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2 hours ago, SteveMM said:

But, if a Scout can't remember all of the things "A Scout is" then how can he live by them?

Depends on the Scout's reply.

If it was "Sorry for the omission, please let me try agian." --- that suggests to me that he is living by them.

If it was:

"Well, I don't think a scout really needs to do all of those things."

or it was:

"Correction, a cuttlefish is ..."

or any such variation ... --- that suggests that there's one or more that he'd rather not live by.

The Oath and Law are no mere shibboleths. If you advance the snake who says them masterfully, but you know he's refused to live up to them in his daily life, you're doing nobody any favors.

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