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It is that time of year for the announcement of Top Scouts for units and councils.  When I was a newer scouter, I was impressed by them but as I had many more years as a scouter and learned more about the spirit of scouting, I am conflicted on the point of the awards.  Do you see value in it?  I am on the no side, the awards feel very political "always some leaders kid" and the rest of the kids courtesy clap and talk amongst themselves.

What are you thoughts on them?

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Honestly I have never heard of the naming of top Scouts for units and councils.  Must be a local thing

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8 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Honestly I have never heard of the naming of top Scouts for units and councils.  Must be a local thing

Possibly, it seems to be most troops, packs, and our district do it.  I don't do it for our Ship.

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Top scout for a pack seems incredibly problematic. At least for a troop, I could see the youth able to have a say.

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3 minutes ago, malraux said:

Top scout for a pack seems incredibly problematic. At least for a troop, I could see the youth able to have a say.

In my experience, the scouts have no say in the decision

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3 minutes ago, malraux said:

Top scout for a pack seems incredibly problematic. At least for a troop, I could see the youth able to have a say.

Politics is the issue.   You could have a scout who goes above and beyond and earns a lot of merit badges and goes on every campout but if the other youth don't like them they wont award it to them.   Troop elections are a popularity contest at times :(

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I guess it's a bit of a marketing gimmick to impress scouters like @mashmaster before they become all jaded. :p Fact is, we already have top scouts: they are called "1st Class." Period.

Which gave me an idea. It would be awesome if the SE personally wrote every scout who is awarded 1st Class within a month of them completing their board of review.

In return the SE could ask that scout for "one small favor." Perhaps to sign a thank-you card to a local FOS donor. The troop's UC could run point on this. Imagine the impact of a letter from council office like this:

"Dear Sir/Madame, My name is ___. I have been a scout for ___ years, and recently earned 1st Class Rank. I was recently informed by our council scout executive, Mr./Ms. ___, that you contributed to Friends of Scouting. I wanted to thank you for helping scouts like me get the most of what our BSA has to offer through ___ Council. Sincerely, ___"

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46 minutes ago, Jackdaws said:

Politics is the issue.   You could have a scout who goes above and beyond and earns a lot of merit badges and goes on every campout but if the other youth don't like them they wont award it to them.   Troop elections are a popularity contest at times :(

Quite right.  I'm always troubled when I see scouts elect a "popular" but incompetent scout over the kid who works hard, exemplifies scouting values, but is maybe not as loud, or rich, or well dressed, or gregarious...   Yep, it happens in troop elections pretty often....OA elections too.   

BTW:  BSA already has plenty of awards for the true "Top Scouts".  Youth who go "above and beyond" can earn things like Eagle palms, Hornaday awards, and Supernova medals.  Those kinds of non-required efforts really separate the "top" scouts from the "just getting by" crowd. So too do things like serving on an OA trail crew, taking on troop or lodge leadership positions after earning Eagle, etc.

I'm with you: a baubel for winning a popularity contest has dubious value.

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Oh come on. Personally I think calling these things popularity contest is silly. IF only the popular scouts get selected, then how can a troop even function. If it does happen, and I agree it sometimes does, then they are doing it wrong. But don't blame the process, blame how scouts perceive honor. Your troop, or district, or council is doing it wrong. And I think qwazse hints at the problem of how true scouts of honor don't get recognized, because the culture doesn't respect the First Class Rank as an honor. If your scouts only pick popular scouts for any status of honor, start looking at your culture to find what scouts respect and why.

Barry

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We don't have any "Top Scout" awards that I'm aware of in our council outside of NYLT, where one Scout and one patrol are named BP Scout at the end of the course. The youth staff selects the Scout and patrol they feel best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law. 

Otherwise, I've never seen anything like that in my Troop, District or Council. 

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50 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

... BTW:  BSA already has plenty of awards for the true "Top Scouts".  Youth who go "above and beyond" can earn things like Eagle palms, Hornaday awards, and Supernova medals.  Those kinds of non-required efforts really separate the "top" scouts from the "just getting by" crowd. So too do things like serving on an OA trail crew, taking on troop or lodge leadership positions after earning Eagle, etc.

I'm with you: a baubel for winning a popularity contest has dubious value.

Yeah, when I think of "Top Scout" I don't think of extra bling. I do not consider earning 1st Class Rank and living up to everything that is implied in that oval as "just getting by." We scouters really need to have that mentality. Sure, obtaining Star, Life, Eagle, or more should be in the cards for some scouts. But, if we treat 1st Class seriously, then we are showing the world a "finished product." From there we get the helpers of old ladies across the street, the builders, the rescuers, the honor guards, the public speakers, the (borrowing from another thread) truly epic scouts ... some of whom obtain further awards and recognition.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

I guess it's a bit of a marketing gimmick to impress scouters like @mashmaster before they become all jaded. :p Fact is, we already have top scouts: they are called "1st Class." Period.

Which gave me an idea. It would be awesome if the SE personally wrote every scout who is awarded 1st Class within a month of them completing their board of review.

In return the SE could ask that scout for "one small favor." Perhaps to sign a thank-you card to a local FOS donor. The troop's UC could run point on this. Imagine the impact of a letter from council office like this:

"Dear Sir/Madame, My name is ___. I have been a scout for ___ years, and recently earned 1st Class Rank. I was recently informed by our council scout executive, Mr./Ms. ___, that you contributed to Friends of Scouting. I wanted to thank you for helping scouts like me get the most of what our BSA has to offer through ___ Council. Sincerely, ___"

I LOVE this idea!   

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23 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Yeah, when I think of "Top Scout" I don't think of extra bling. I do not consider earning 1st Class Rank and living up to everything that is implied in that oval as "just getting by." We scouters really need to have that mentality. Sure, obtaining Star, Life, Eagle, or more should be in the cards for some scouts. But, if we treat 1st Class seriously, then we are showing the world a "finished product." From there we get the helpers of old ladies across the street, the builders, the rescuers, the honor guards, the public speakers, the (borrowing from another thread) truly epic scouts ... some of whom obtain further awards and recognition.

First Class as an end in itself is a worthy ideal...unfortunately, I think it's at odds with a modern scouting culture that has also stated that troops should help new scouts "get First Class within a year". 

Makes me pause.

Do we really want youth to exemplify the stated values of scouting and to reflect them throughout their development....or is the "faster is better" mentality where it's really at?

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1 minute ago, mrkstvns said:

First Class as an end in itself is a worthy ideal...unfortunately, I think it's at odds with a modern scouting culture that has also stated that troops should help new scouts "get First Class within a year". 

Makes me pause.

Do we really want youth to exemplify the stated values of scouting and to reflect them throughout their development....or is the "faster is better" mentality where it's really at?

In the current culture people only seem to highlight Eagle scouts, and ignore the rest.

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@mrkstvns, this "modern scouting culture" that you speak of ... what membership increases has it yielded?

Here's the mentality that is "where it's at.:"

First Class First Year is a lie. The skills therein are difficult to master.

I say it to everyone who'll listen. As a result, the boys in my troop have SMs who aim for skills, not bling, plus a committee who stand behind them.

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