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1st court of honor

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our new troop (an all-girl troop) just had its first court of honor (coh). by far, this was probably the worst coh I have been tied to. the average amount of time a coh honor should last should be about an hour and a half or until the scouts get tired (at least enough time for one to enjoy themselves); about the same size as a usual scout meeting. I am an assistant scoutmaster (as) in this unit and I tried to find out from my scoutmaster (sm) what he had planned for the coh. he didn't want to tell me anything. once I clarified to him that I was willing to help prepare the coh (based upon my experiences--very positive experiences) and would love to assist in the logistical aspects of getting this done, he more or less told me to mind my own business and he could get all of the coh work done on his own.  never-mind the fact that he had cancelled the coh three times for misc. reasons. I was cool with that answer he gave me and moved on with my life. the night of the coh, the sm opened his 'welcome' address by saying that he was not staying any longer than 30 minutes and he was leaving. he only shook hands with 1/3 of the parents, couldn't say anything positive or memorable about individual scouts to either the scouts or their parents, to show the parents that they were equally involved in scouting and that we were happy to have their child with us. he did go around to a few tables and imply to the scouts and scout-leadership that we were not eating fast enough and he was ready to hand-out awards. when it came time to hand-out awards, he had mashed all of the merit badges and rank patches into these tiny zip-lock bags and given them out to the girls. one couldn't even tell what was being given to the girls or what was in the bag--until he read-out the awards' citations. when  he read out what each girl was being awarded with, he read it so fast and low-soft that we didn't even know much of what he said. halfway into the awards, he thought it might be a good idea to start actually shaking the girls' hands as they walked-up to receive their awards. at the end of the night, most of the female scouts and their parents were all pretty ticked-off at what had just happened. to make up for it, myself and another AS threw a party at a local ice cream shop, where we showed funny slide shows of the girls' past scouting experiences and talked to the parents and spoke positively about each individual scout and what they mean to the troop and to the leadership. needless to say, the sm was not invited--this was because the actual girl scouts had (namely the senior patrol leader and patrol leaders) requested we not let him know until after the fact, when pics of the event would probably be posted on social media.

 

is there a template for how COHs are supposed to be run and what all is supposed to be conducted and how? I didn't think a COH could get screwed-up, but apparently it can. was my sm correct afterall with the way he handled this? ANY insight would be greatly appreciated.    --rm

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Sounds a little like you want to be the SM. If the PLC has an issue with the CoH they need to work with the SM and set expectations. If the parents have an issue with the SM they need to join the committee and set expectation of the SM. This kind of drama has no place in scouting and an honest conversation should be all thats need to make changes.

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HiSounds like a new troop to me! Yes, there are things that could be improved but the real question is does the troop have any process for solving problems? It looks like the SM wanted to control everything and you would like to change how things are done. You also mentioned that the scouts are not happy. That's the most important observation. Here's another view: don't waste this problem by having the adults solve it. What do the scouts want? What do the scouts think went right and wrong?

Also, going behind the SM's back is not a long term solution.

The ASM's and the SM need to be on the same page. Hopefully that page is understanding what problems the scouts should solve (and guiding them to solve them) and emotionally staying away from those problems.

Good luck.

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Your description of the CoH does sound rather dreary- making an announcement that you're only going to be available for 30 minutes to the kids is a red flag to me.  But, I also don't know all the facts about the CoH.  Did this occur on normal meeting night in lieu of the regular meeting (that is the norm, and not to have it as a separate night- for an Eagle CoH maybe, but not for a troop CoH).  All advancement is technically awarded by the Troop Committee on behalf of the troop.   As the experience of that night wasn't stellar, I personally think you and this other ASM should have asked the TC to discuss it with the SM and look to have them find a better solution to conducting CoHs in the future.  You want the CoH to be a celebration of what has been accomplished by the Scouts, but you also want it to be an inspiration to encourage them to keep accomplishing.  We've had CoHs go 45 minutes, we've had them go 90 minutes.  It all depends how many awards there were to recognize.  If it is less than the 90 minutes, we don't plug in any other programming to the night, the night is just over.  There is no official "you must do this in order for it to be a CoH", but a google search will give you many, many ideas that you can turn into your troops' own.    

Edited by HashTagScouts

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4 hours ago, HashTagScouts said:

... All advancement is technically awarded by the Troop Committee on behalf of the troop.

A novel concept in my experience.  Source?

 


Please consider: "The general rule is that badges awarded by organizations other than the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may not be worn on an official uniform. This includes military medals and service ribbons."

 

A unit is not "the Boy Scouts of America."

Edited by TAHAWK

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The COH should be planned, developed, and executed by the Scouts.  They run it, depending on the unit, CM's, ASM's and SM may hand out ranks and merit badges.  Not sure what was covered under citations.  If there was / is a concern with the COH, the TLC (formerly known as Greenbar) should address

The separate ice cream social as a unit, that happened unbeknownst to the SM is a concern.  Actually sort of rude.  If there is a challenge with the SM and his actions (and he has been SM for what...6 months??) address with the COR and the committee, and the SM.  Don't start a troop within a troop.  It will not end well

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1 hour ago, TAHAWK said:

A novel concept in my experience.  Source?

 


Please consider: "The general rule is that badges awarded by organizations other than the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may not be worn on an official uniform. This includes military medals and service ribbons."

 

A unit is not "the Boy Scouts of America."

The TC completes the BOR for rank, and records the date of the award as of that BOR.  TC also records MBs the same way.  And it is the unit committee chair that has the final signature to the Eagle application.  I have seen many units, including ours, that have the CC (or a designee from the TC) do the opening remarks to all CoHs, and then turn over to the SM (who in turn should turn over to the SPL, or another Scout that the SPL as appointed as master of ceremony for the evening).

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28 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

The COH should be planned, developed, and executed by the Scouts. 

This is the key.  This is a scout led function not an adult led function.  There are as many variations on how to do it as there are scouts. 

There are plenty of scripts available to be found online to get ideas from.   Most commonly for our troop a scout who is working on Communications Mb will do the heavy lifting in order to fulfill requirement 8).  "Plan a troop or crew court of honor, ...  Have the patrol leaders’ council approve it, then write the script and prepare the program. Serve as master of ceremonies."

For refreshments we sometimes but not always have something simple like cookies and bug juice.

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50 minutes ago, HashTagScouts said:

The TC completes the BOR for rank, and records the date of the award as of that BOR.  TC also records MBs the same way.  And it is the unit committee chair that has the final signature to the Eagle application.  I have seen many units, including ours, that have the CC (or a designee from the TC) do the opening remarks to all CoHs, and then turn over to the SM (who in turn should turn over to the SPL, or another Scout that the SPL as appointed as master of ceremony for the evening).

i believe that we have established that, according to B.S.A,  only  insignia  "awarded by"  BSA or may be worn o n the uniform.

All BSA insignia remain the property of the BSA.  We are merely custodians.

Those insignia include rank insignia.  E.g.:

odkOgS2.png

BXpc8y3.png

Famously, the council decides who serves as Board of Review for Eagle Scout.  In my case, it was the Council Executive Board.  in my current Council, it is selected by the Advancement Chair of the "service area"( We no longer have districts - somehow.  When we did, it was the District Advancement Chair.) and may, or might not, include a member of the unit's committee.  The Board of Review members  of such a Board need not be registered in BSA  Scouting. ("A board of review shall not occur until after the local council has verified the application. In the case of a board of review under disputed circumstances, the council must verify all the information that is not in dispute before the board of review is scheduled.")

Edited by TAHAWK

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I agree with the previous posters.  Let the Scouts (SPL and PLC) solve this and set expectations for the next court of honor (duration, refreshments before/after, potluck vs. cake vs. cookies & punch, photo slideshow or not (some do slideshows once a year)).  There is no one way to do them.  As @T2Eagle said, the SPL / PLC should identify a Scout who will be primarily responsible for planning the court of honor, etc. as part of Communication merit badge requirement #8.

Troop Program Resources (BSA website) has some suggestions, but there are lots of sample scripts available elsewhere online.  ScoutmasterCG also has some ideas / suggestions on courts of honor

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File this under not-a-hill-to-die-on.

If the PLC does a little after-action review and discusses what went well, what didn't go so well, and what we should do differently, you'll soon get a pattern that suits your community.

We don't eat until after awards have been dispersed. That's mainly because most of our CoHs are during a meeting time, so most families have had supper, and we only have light snacks afterwords.

Needless to say, the scouts move things along pretty quickly. When it comes to awards, the SPL asks the CC,. SM and ASMs to come forward and stand to the side. SPL asks a scout to come forward, announces his awards, ASPL gives a packet with anything they haven't already been given during troop meetings, and scouts go down the line shaking each leaders hand.

A little too rushed for my taste, but the scouts are happy, so we leave it as is.

Parents shaking the SM's hand? Not a consideration.

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2 minutes ago, qwazse said:

...

Needless to say, the scouts move things along pretty quickly. When it comes to awards, the SPL asks the CC,. SM and ASMs to come forward and stand to the side. SPL asks a scout to come forward, announces his awards, ASPL gives a packet with anything they haven't already been given during troop meetings, and scouts go down the line shaking each leaders hand.

...

That sounds like a fine basic plan, but when do you start letting ordinary rank-and-file scouts do the planning and running of the ceremony?

In our troop, we almost ALWAYS have several scouts working on Communication merit badge and they need to emcee a CoH for Communication MB requirement 8 (either that or plan and lead a campfire, which some scouts like to do).

I can only see having the SPL announcing names & awards if nobody in the troop needs an emcee role for Communication MB.

 

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Did I miss something? Of course letting the scout run the COH is the obvious solution, so, why didn't he do that in the first place? I believe the SM Handbook talks about how to run the COH, but I haven't seen one in a while. I don't remember the COH being in the SPL Handbook.

Barry

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There is a small section on courts of honor in the Troop Leader Guidebook (new name for Scoutmaster Handbook), but it is more of an overview.  I believe the COH is only mentioned in passing in the SPL Handbook as part of the Annual Planning Conference.  More details seem to be in the Communication merit badge pamphlet and at the BSA website Troop Program Resources: Troop Courts of Honor.

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