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9 minutes ago, BAJ said:

It really has to start with thinking about the OA not as something that needs no explanation because “every scout should be honored to be elected” but something that we have to explain to them why they should want to be a part of.

This seems to be a common problem throughout the BSA - how to explain the fundamentals succinctly.

I hate to admit it but as SM it seemed to me that the primary purpose of the OA was to propagate the OA and get summer camp ready. If I were a better leader I might enjoy rebuilding my chapter to be a place to help scouts take useful skills back to their troops. I've just never seen it done this way.

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As I recall my days in OA, the Scoutmaster begins the process by developing a list of scouts who are qualified for election, based on rank, # of nights camped, and last but not least, "Scout Spirit". 

Let me preface my comments by saying that as a youth, I was a Brotherhood member of the OA, and in my senior year was simultaneously SPL of my troop and editor of the Lodge newsletter, so I know from

My problem with OA today is that the program drivers (adult sponsors) don't plan a program where the activities practice growth toward the honor of serving others and camping. As a scout in the 70's,

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2 minutes ago, scoutldr said:

The OA should provide opportunities for Leadership, Fellowship and Service.  That's the purpose, done right.

I'm somewhat of the opinion that the Ordeal process is a bad method of conveying that purpose. And having that being the starting event is going to lead to a lot of misunderstandings among the youth.

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On 4/30/2022 at 5:40 PM, SiouxRanger said:

 

So, to you OA oriented folks, I humbly suggest that Scoutmasters be allowed to ADD names of worthy scouts to the list of "elected" scouts.

 

I too have seen Eagle scouts in my troop that I thought would be a shoo-in, fail to be selected year after year. But as someone who has been the OA adult in many an election in other troops, I can see some potential problems with this.   

I'll never forget the sight of a red faced SM shouting in the face of the OA youths who had conducted the election that he had to do it over again after the SM talked to the troop, because the SM's son, the "best scout in the troop"  hadn't been elected.  I had watched the votes being counted and his son was nowhere close to the 50%  mark needed.  Perhaps he was one way in front of dad and another when with his peers.  Maybe some scouts didn't like the SM and were using the election as a way of telling him so. Or just parental blindness.  It wasn't my troop of course so I had no way of knowing.  What I did know was that nobody was going to scream undeservedly at "my" boys while I was around. Nor were we going to hold another election after he told the scouts how to vote "right".   I edged myself between them and he started in on me while the election crew beat a hasty retreat for the door.  

Admittedly, this was an extreme case.  One out of a hundred. But I believe it showcases some of the potential  pitfalls.

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10 minutes ago, Oldscout448 said:

I too have seen Eagle scouts in my troop that I thought would be a shoo-in, fail to be selected year after year. But as someone who has been the OA adult in many an election in other troops, I can see some potential problems with this.   

I'll never forget the sight of a red faced SM shouting in the face of the OA youth who had conducted the election that he had to do it over again after the SM talked to the troop, because the SM's son, the "best scout in the troop"  hadn't been elected.  I had watched the votes being counted and his son was nowhere close to the 50%  mark needed.  Perhaps he was one way in front of dad and another when with his peers.  Maybe some scouts didn't like the SM and were using the election as a way of telling him so. Or just parental blindness.  It wasn't my troop of course so I had no way of knowing.  What I did know was that we were not going to hold another election after he told the scouts how to vote "right".

Admittedly, this was an extreme case.  One out of a hundred. But I believe it showcases some of the potential  pitfalls.

Agreed.  It's a shame that went the way it did...

Another strange issue we just had...our lodge delayed our election due to team availability.  The only week they could come was the week following all of our crossovers.  So, we had 14 brand new Scouts there.

I thought they should not vote, as they had no idea about anything...

But, technically, they were on the roster, so were in the voting population.

I talked with the SPL before the election and made sure he would clearly tell all of our Scouts, if you do not know any of the candidates, please consider not submitting a vote.

We had an appropriate (in my eyes) outcome, but many of the new Scouts simply voted for everyone on the ballot because they wanted to be viewed as friendly, supportive, and "one of the team"

It could have gone really badly, and I'm glad we didn't have to deal with that case...

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29 minutes ago, Oldscout448 said:

 

I'll never forget the sight of a red faced SM shouting in the face of the OA youths who had conducted the election that he had to do it over again after the SM talked to the troop, because the SM's son, the "best scout in the troop"  hadn't been elected... What I did know was that nobody was going to scream undeservedly at "my" boys while I was around. Nor were we going to hold another election after he told the scouts how to vote "right".   I edged myself between them and he started in on me while the election crew beat a hasty retreat for the door. 

I had one of those, but in reverse. SM wanted a name removed after he approved the Scout for election, and he got in. He  was pressuring the  election team, and when I intervened tried pressuring me. When I refused to cave,  he started yelling at me.  That is when I decided to leave , and he followed me into the parking lot and cursed me out. AND NOW I REMEMBER, he was the one who the following year told his troop h ow to vote so everyone could get in ( this was when there were election limits).

 

18 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Another strange issue we just had...our lodge delayed our election due to team availability.  The only week they could come was the week following all of our crossovers.  So, we had 14 brand new Scouts there.

I thought they should not vote, as they had no idea about anything...

But, technically, they were on the roster, so were in the voting population.

I talked with the SPL before the election and made sure he would clearly tell all of our Scouts, if you do not know any of the candidates, please consider not submitting a vote.

We had an appropriate (in my eyes) outcome, but many of the new Scouts simply voted for everyone on the ballot because they wanted to be viewed as friendly, supportive, and "one of the team"

It could have gone really badly, and I'm glad we didn't have to deal with that case...

Glad yours went well. That happened in my troop in the 1980s, back when there were election limits, and it did not end well at all. The Den Chief of that group was the only one who had enough ballots to get elected. Irony is he told all the old Scouts he was not interested in OA and not to vote for him. No one realized until the election team stated that the new Scouts could vote, even if this as their first meeting.

Regarding why the OA is what it is today, I blame it on a variety of factors. Biggest thing was back in the day, it was truly an honor society. There were election limits or ratios that only allowed so many folks to get elected. So the best of the best would get in, and it may take 2, 3 or even 4 election cycles before getting in. When they got rid of the election ratios, allowing everyone to get in, a lot of folks predicted the decline of the OA.

Another factor is the rise of  'One and Done" that is the current standard of advancement. Once upon a time, Scouts had to "Master the skills" to advance. Then the "Badge represents what the Scout can do, not what he was done." Today it is "...more about the learning experience than it is about the specific skills learned."

A third factor in some places is summer camp. Some camps have weak staff, lousy program, and major challenges. Back in the day, your best and brightest, usually your OA members, were your summer camp staffers, and you gave back to camp.

I am a Vigil, I have fought the decline of the OA tooth and nail the best I could for as long as I could. But Scouting overall is in decline, especially in my neck of the woods. I need to pick my battles and focusing on my sons, and my troop, is priority #1.

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1 hour ago, Oldscout448 said:

I too have seen Eagle scouts in my troop that I thought would be a shoo-in, fail to be selected year after year. But as someone who has been the OA adult in many an election in other troops, I can see some potential problems with this.   

I'll never forget the sight of a red faced SM shouting in the face of the OA youths who had conducted the election that he had to do it over again after the SM talked to the troop, because the SM's son, the "best scout in the troop"  hadn't been elected.  I had watched the votes being counted and his son was nowhere close to the 50%  mark needed.  Perhaps he was one way in front of dad and another when with his peers.  Maybe some scouts didn't like the SM and were using the election as a way of telling him so. Or just parental blindness.  It wasn't my troop of course so I had no way of knowing.  What I did know was that nobody was going to scream undeservedly at "my" boys while I was around. Nor were we going to hold another election after he told the scouts how to vote "right".   I edged myself between them and he started in on me while the election crew beat a hasty retreat for the door.  

Admittedly, this was an extreme case.  One out of a hundred. But I believe it showcases some of the potential  pitfalls.

Dad is shouting at the scouts about how to vote and the son doesn't get the votes needed. I suspect this is a case of the acorn not falling far from the tree. When I asked scouts why someone didn't get in the common response was "that scout is a very different person when no adults are around." Just a hunch but maybe the son also yells at the other scouts.

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2 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Agreed.  It's a shame that went the way it did...

Another strange issue we just had...our lodge delayed our election due to team availability.  The only week they could come was the week following all of our crossovers.  So, we had 14 brand new Scouts there.

I thought they should not vote, as they had no idea about anything...

But, technically, they were on the roster, so were in the voting population.

I talked with the SPL before the election and made sure he would clearly tell all of our Scouts, if you do not know any of the candidates, please consider not submitting a vote.

We had an appropriate (in my eyes) outcome, but many of the new Scouts simply voted for everyone on the ballot because they wanted to be viewed as friendly, supportive, and "one of the team"

It could have gone really badly, and I'm glad we didn't have to deal with that case...

We had a large group crossover and they only voted for who they knew. Unfortunately, their troop guide was on the quieter side and they only remembered the name of the SPL. The poor troop guide was pretty deflated. 

I still think a nomination process that doesn't rely on 50% is better because 50% is kind of arbitrary. Get three nominations from your peers in an OA election in order to be put forward.   

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6 minutes ago, yknot said:

I still think a nomination process that doesn't rely on 50% is better because 50% is kind of arbitrary. Get three nominations from your peers in an OA election in order to be put forward.   

Well, it used to be you could only vote for 50% of those eligible. So, this is a huge change from where we have been. 

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On 4/30/2022 at 9:17 PM, InquisitiveScouter said:

Agreed, never after the fact...  in order to be on the ballot, the SM must approve each candidate...says so in the eligibility criteria, third bullet:

https://oa-bsa.org/about/membership

At the time of their election, youth must be under the age of 21, and hold one of the following ranks corresponding to the type unit in which they are being considered for election: Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery rank, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster, Crew Advisor or Sea Scout Skipper, be elected by the youth members of their unit.

emphasis added

In our unit at least the SM didn't weigh in. The only person on our committe who would nix a scout who wanted to join OA would be the advancement chair if they didn't have the correct camping nights or requirements. Too many parents were lawyers or had ones on retainer. Some great scouts went through our units but a lot were also waved through. 

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2 minutes ago, mrjohns2 said:

Well, it used to be you could only vote for 50% of those eligible. So, this is a huge change from where we have been. 

The world used to place a higher value on people who did the right thing when no one was looking. Today, scouts are still doing the right things, but the advancement process seems to most reward those who make sure that everyone is looking. I think this would be a way to make sure the kids who aren't always the most popular but are good scouts still have a shot. 

 

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On 4/30/2022 at 8:05 PM, InquisitiveScouter said:

Having been a member of the OA for a long, long time, and having seen how sausage is made, I understand where @SiouxRanger and @yknot are coming from...

I have, in the past, not approved some Scouts to stand for selection. (This is a SM prerogative.)   They took it pretty hard, but they were the ones with a trend of questionable behavior and sporadic (at best) participation.  They did not change behavior, but the message was clear.

I also think we should change the verbiage from "election" to "selection."  It is not an election.  An "election" implies multiple candidates and only one wins.

The OA selection ballot should list candidate names with YES or NOT YET boxes next to each one.  Check one. 

To be selected, you have to get 50% of the votes cast.

I have ruthlessly strict standards for licensed professionals (adults) in the performance of their professional duties.

But for children, finding their way in life? Finding their personality, their sense of who they are?  No.  I have seen many young scouts mature over their years in Scouting. They changed dramatically.

And that is what the movement is all about.

There is a concept in politics that a buffoon, once elected to office will "step up" and realize the significance and responsibilities of their elected position and serve as an enlightened individual.

Considering a particular scout-will that happen?

Who knows.

And who has sufficient foreknowledge to predict?

Scouts stick with Scouting when their friends are Scouts.

I lean toward any process which elects more Scouts to OA, and give them the opportunity to "step up" or fade away.

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1 hour ago, SiouxRanger said:

But for children, finding their way in life? Finding their personality, their sense of who they are?  No.  I have seen many young scouts mature over their years in Scouting. They changed dramatically.

And that is what the movement is all about.

One of my Scouts was the stereotypical ADHD child. We had to plead with his parents not to take him off his meds when we went to summer camp. A few years later, when one of our ASM's told me he was selected by the NYLT staff from his participant course as Honor Scout, I thought I was getting my chain pulled. He grew up into a very fine and thoughtful young man, and part of that was he was frequently challenged in Scouting and sports to step up and take responsibility, or "step up" as you put it. 

There's definitely a line of bad behavior from a Scout that might preclude them from opportunities like OA or NYLT, but like @SiouxRanger I tend to err on the side of giving them opportunities to grow. I forget the quote or who said it but it goes something like this: "Your best leaders are in the front of the group leading, or sitting in the back chunking wrenches into everything."  When those wrench throwers feel valued, are given a structure to operate in,  have clear but firm boundaries, and have objectives they understand and have passion for, they might achieve extraordinary things. 

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A different take.

To the original post:   I hope Scoutmasters come to experience that OA provides a means through which Scouts who have demonstrated skill in managing a Troop can experience managing larger projects and organizations with more-diverse personalities.  This is not the express purpose of OA, but OA friends who have been with Scouting for 50+ years uniformly point to their OA experience as the first time when they stepped out of their early lives to manage larger challenges.  I have always understood the cheerful service and Native American culture aspects of OA, but to me OA demonstrates value when Scouts put on a large event or organize a contingent to attend an above-council event at some distant location.  These are complicated challenges for a 14 or 15 year-old, and the ones who prevail become early-stage candidates to lead larger organizations achieving important objectives.  I don’t know many former lodge chiefs who became failures in their life endeavors.  I urge Scoutmasters to allow these elections – but only if there is reasonable assurance of compliance with YPT.

Adult advisors of OA organizations are a varied group. Some are successful former unit leaders and genuine leaders of their districts, councils, businesses or communities.  Unfortunately, others are people who have not been able to rise to a respected level of leadership among adults.  For these, OA adult roles can easily become an outlet to press less-than-successful leadership tactics and model questionable character traits to younger persons who are easily impressed.  In today’s vigilant environment, a unit leader who behaves in this manner is quickly identified and dealt with.    Because our unit does not influence selection of adults advising of OA youth, I made it my business as Scoutmaster to understand the character of adults advising our local OA before authorizing unit elections.  I’m happy I did so.  The first Eagle of our fledgling three-year-old Scouts BSA Troop was just elected Lodge Chief of our large metropolitan-scale Lodge.  I could not possibly provide her the challenge and coaching she is now ready for and continue to operate our 54-Scout Troop.  If I had prevented OA elections, I would have held her back from what will be a great chance for this Scout to learn and shine.  She is ready, and my role as a unit leader is not to hold her back -- it is to help develop the leadership capabilities of newer Scouts who view her as a model to follow. 

This is where I come down:  Personally evaluate the character of the adults involved in your local OA group.  If things check-out, allow the elections.  A more-challenging leadership opportunity should not be denied to your young adult members.  If you sense questionable behavior, take appropriate action to prevent harm to our young people.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello, some of you may now know me as the kid who really wants to join the OA. Well I am here to tell you guys that my journey has come to a sad end. I have tried all chances to join but none of them have turned out. My SM denied an election, surrounding troops wouldnt do dual enrollment, and even the lodge in the council neighboring has "ghosted' me. So I wish you all the best of luck with your journeys and you are truly all lucky to be involved in such a great organization and brotherhood.

- A friend in scouting, 

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