Jump to content

What is the actual scope allowed in GTA 7.0.4.7 to dispute a MB completion


Recommended Posts

Let's say that someone in the unit questions the completion of a merit badge based on their own interpretation of a specific merit badge requirement. 7.0.4.7 states in the first paragraph....
 

Quote

From time to time, it may be discovered that merit badges could not actually have been earned. For example, a Scout who returns from summer camp or a merit badge fair with evidence for an extraordinary number of badges could raise concerns. If, after consulting with those involved in the merit badge program—such as an event coordinator, the camp director, or a merit badge counselor—it becomes plainly evident that a youth could not have actually and personally fulfilled requirements as written, then the limited recourse outlined below is available. It may result in a decision that some or all of the requirements for a badge could not have been fulfilled, and thus, that the badge was not actually earned.

Is it not the purpose of this paragraph to give the merit badge counselor the opportunity to rescind a completion in the event the merit badge really was not complete?

So what is supposed to happen if when consulting the MBC/org that administered the badge they affirm (or rather re-affirm)  that all of the requirements were completed as written? Can the unit decide to overrule the information provided in the consultation, withhold awarding the badge and require the scout to redo the requirement with another merit badge counselor?

Isn't the merit badge counselor the person who decides that a merit badge requirement has been met? Is deciding it could not have been completed despite the affirmation from the counselor that it was completed simply the unit "interjecting another set of standards over those of a merit badge counselor" (which is forbidden by 7.0.4.7)?

This is not a hypothetical situation, but an actual case that is occurring in our unit with a summer camp merit badge.

The scout involved in this is one of my two children in the troop and I am going to put that out here now, so you can all skip over the whole conflict of interest thing. I have 10 years experience as a Unit Commissioner and 3+ years as an ASM in this troop I have always used what I learned from my past UC experience to help ensure our leaders deliver our program to the scouts as it is intended. So let's not use this to get sidetracked. I'm interested in proper procedure. There have been other mis-handlings of advancement and I have advocated for the scouts in all cases. I had considered those other ones innocent mistakes, but now I'm not so sure.

When I noticed the scout was being issued a partial despite the Advancement data saying the badge was complete, I asked our CC/AC why (yes, the CC is doubling as Advancement Coordinator despite other registered committee members that have offered to take on the role.... red flag), and was told it was because they felt a requirement could not have been completed and they reached out to the council but hadn't gotten any information. As I was trip leader for summer camp, I had the necessary contact information for the people who could answer the questions, and I reached out to them where they re-affirmed that all requirements were in fact completed, including the one that was being questioned. I sent a copy of this conversation to the SM and CC/AC, and assumed that was the end of it.

I've been trip leader for summer camp to this camp two years in a row. The camp staff has always made every effort to have correct advancement report data, and always corrects it when there is a problem. They don't just hand out merit badges. I have no reason to believe they are not telling the truth and that the merit badge was in fact completed.

Two days later, an email was sent by the CC to the scout telling them they had to redo the merit badge requirement and would provide a new counselor. The scout was never even asked about the requirement or how it was done at camp.

When I asked our SM about it, I was brusquely told to take it up with the District Advancement Chair who he said gave them advice on how to deal with it. The abrupt communication was rather uncharacteristic of the SM, who is usually friendly and willing to listen. Whatever the DAC told them, it seems to me the advice contradicted the GTA in this matter. I did shoot the DAC an email with copies of the conversation with the camp on Friday morning and I have not heard back.

I want to focus on this first part of 7.0.4.7 in particular, where the unit is just ignoring the consultation step entirely and doing their own thing, but I am also deeply concerned with how 7.0.4.7 was invoked and then not actually followed assuming they were even able to proceed past that first paragraph, such as the lack of any involvement by the unit leader, nor the fact that the completion report for this merit badge was acquired by the unit 10 weeks before the communication to the scout (by the CC, not the unit leader, via email and not a conference) with no indication in that 10 weeks there was an actual issue under dispute until the merit badge was entered as a partial in scoutbook.

I don't believe this is one of those cases where leaving the troop would be helpful to any of the parties. It's a not quite 3 year old female troop, it's just finally starting to grow and I think we can all continue to work together to deliver a great program to the scouts.

Edited by nolesrule
added info
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • nolesrule changed the title to What is the actual scope allowed in GTA 7.0.4.7 to dispute a MB completion
  • Replies 51
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Jeeeeezzzzzzz....................I am not going to discuss my credentials or Scouting position.  I will say that in our district and Council the BEBEFIT OF THE DOUBT IS ALWAYS IN FAVOR OF THE SCOUT...

I once went to summer camp where one of our guys finished his 500 word Environmental Science essay.  He was given a partial because his essay wasn't "good enough", so I stepped up to bat.  When the Ec

Based on your description, I am assuming the camp has been having photogrphs taken and then the scouts then make a sketch from the photographs? While I would not deny the scout, I would expect be

This section is not for requirement interpretation, but for those circumstances where it is plainly evident the scout could not have completed the requirements as written. Such as Astronomy merit badge signed off when the the night sky was unobserveable.  

This situation also highlights a common complaint I have of using these "camp reports" instead of blue cards, alienating scouts from the advancement process. 

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Interestingly the merit badge in this case is Astronomy. I am not going to post the specific requirement at issue nor what methods the camp employed to meet the requirement because then it might in fact turn into a debate about interpreting the requirement.

I'll also note that when doing research on this subject I found an old Bryan on Scouting post from 2018 which discussed employing creative methods  for differently abled people to be able to meet requirements as written. One of the examples included how a blind person was able to complete the observation requirements for Astronomy. The thing is the creative methods aren't just restricted to the differently abled.

But you have confirmed my understanding of the section in that is about ensuring the requirement was actually done and not how it was done. So if the MBC,  when asked, says that the scout did indeed do the requirement to their satisfaction, that should have been the end of it.


 

Edited by nolesrule
Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless the mB -counselor did in fact take liberties and the scout did not complete the requirements as written. Creative means is not license to modify/ignore the requirements.

I remember the article in which you reference. The mbc basically made a braille version of the sky for the scout to observe via touch. The scout did indeed observe in the night sky and identify the required constellations. 

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

Creative means is not license to modify/ignore the requirements.

Agreed.

  

12 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

The scout did indeed observe in the night sky and identify the required constellations. 

Right, but it demonstrates that you don't actually have to see the stars themselves in the sky to be able to meet the requirement. You essentially just have to point to something held above you outside at night (there's a note on that particular set of sub-requirements that basically says it must be done outside at night). But someone else's intepretation of that requirement might deem that scenario to not be completed as written but rather a circumvention.

This was not the requirement that was disputed as being impossible to complete. But a literal reading of the disputed requirement does not specify a direct visual observation of a celestial body is required, nor even that it needs to be done "in the sky" like the one in the braille example. The CC deemed it impossible nevertheless. Also, the plain language isn't entirely straightforward grammatically as it has a series of prepositional phrases in which it's impossible to say with any certainty what exactly they are modifying leaving it open to multiple interpretations.

Honestly a rewrite of that requirement is probably in order if you start arguing over grammar.

Edited by nolesrule
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, nolesrule said:

 

 Right, but it demonstrates that you don't actually have to see the stars themselves in the sky to be able to meet the requirement. You essentially just have to point to something held above you outside at night (there's a note on that particular set of sub-requirements that basically says it must be done outside at night). But someone else's intepretation of that requirement might deem that scenario to not be completed as written but rather a circumvention.

 

I would disagree that simply pointing to something held up is the same; that would indeed be a circumvention. In the scenario with the blind scout, the mbc recreated the night sky with a tactile means to observe it and the blind scout had to find the correct constellations by touch. One might argue this would be even more difficult for a sighted scout. Had the mbc just held up a tactile version of the constellation, that would not suffice. Just as if the mbc held up a printed paper with the constellation and a sighted scout pointed to it. In the example of the blind scout the term observe was creatively adjusted to accomodate the tactile observation skills of the blind scout. The requirement was completed as written. So no, not the same as just pointing to something held above you.

I understand you do not desire to litigate the specific requirement here, but it might help to have a third party weigh in on the specifics. In the end this is really the issue, since it appears the Unit Leader is supporting the need for the scout to complete the requirement agreeing with the Adv Chair (he/she has apparently deferred their authoity to the advancement chair that it could not have been completed as written). 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, DuctTape said:

In the scenario with the blind scout, the mbc recreated the night sky with a tactile means to observe it and the blind scout had to find the correct constellations by touch.

Sorry if I wasn't clear. My point was that in the case of a cloudy night for someone not visually impaired, one could hold up a tablet with a night sky map (without lines or labels) and do the identifications. It is, for all intents and purposes, the same steps.

 

 

3 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I understand you do not desire to litigate the specific requirement here, but it might help to have a third party weigh in on the specifics. In the end this is really the issue, since it appears the Unit Leader is supporting the need for the scout to complete the requirement agreeing with the Adv Chair (he/she has apparently deferred their authoity to the advancement chair that it could not have been completed as written). 

Okay. Here's the requirement;

Sketch the phase and position of the Moon, at the
same hour and place, for four nights within a one
week period. Include landmarks on the horizon such
as hills, trees, and buildings. Explain the changes
you observe.

So here's the question at hand. Does this require actually looking at the moon in the sky on 4 different nights in a one week period? or can some other means be used to get the visual data for the sketch as long as it includes the same hour and place from 4 different nights in a one week period and includes objects on the horizon. If you tell me there is only one way to parse that without involving an advanced degree in Lingusitics then I will defer to your expertise and inform the camp they've been doing it wrong for several years, although quite frankly I am friends with a PhD in Linguistics, so I may have to ask her for her opinion on the matter.

Link to post
Share on other sites

7.0.4.7 was written into the GTA because of the number of National Advancement complaints from Summer Camps.  Scouts coming back from camp in one instance with 20 MBs in a week.   These MBs included requirements that could only be done away from camp and/or had time limit requirements.   The scout pencil whipped a number of worksheets and the 16 year old "counselor"   accepted what was scribbled in the blocks as completed work.   Since the "If the MBC signed the blue card it was done without any question.   Unfortunately the approved MBC (area director)  relied on the "instructor" checking the scout off.

 

Another example was when weather precluded the water or climbing badge completion and they were "close enough" and got it signed off.

 

This parargraph should be used cautiously.

 

JMHO.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Based on your description, I am assuming the camp has been having photogrphs taken and then the scouts then make a sketch from the photographs?

While I would not deny the scout, I would expect better from the camp and the mbc. It is apparent they are trying to do things as quickly as they can without the primary focus  to the scout's growth.  IMO, the camp is denying the scout a real opportunity to go out and watch the moon while making a sketch of it. The purpose is more than a sketch of the phases. It is to provide the scout a real opportunity to engage in astronomy. The reason for a sketch is because it takes time; the scout is not just making a quick observation but having a worthwhile experience. Now if I was the mbc and a scout came to me and said, it is raining tonight, what if I went out and took a photo of the moon and then did my sketch for this night while in my tent. I would say , "sure, sounds good." And then counsel the scout, "when explaining the changes perhaps include what you were unable to witness from the the still photograph compared to sketching the moon live. I look forward to seeing your sketches and hearing about your observations. Oh, and remember to have your buddy with you. Have fun!"

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@DuctTapeyour response is fair, and so are how you would handle the discussion. I'm not the counselor here, but I would handle things in the same manner.

Essentially the CC/AC declared the requirement impossible on the basis of the moonrise time and knowledge of the camp's layout and the rules of camp regarding when scouts are required to remain in the campsite at night due to curfew.

The point here is they did not take into account even the possibility of other means that meet the wording of the requirements. Is using imagery okay? The camp thinks so. I asked around in other places and it seems it's not an unusual practice given what can be done at camps. Would it be better to do it with a direct observation? I think so. But better isn't what ultimately is the determining factor, is it?

Edited by nolesrule
Clarity
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, nolesrule said:

…. Would it be better to do it with a direct observation? I think so. But better isn't what ultimately is the determining factor, is it?

Let me push back, @nolesrule. “Better” is the determining factor.

The very word “scouting” is synonymous with “observing and reporting.” Your scout should not take anyone else’s word for it when completing her observations.

Who knows what she would have noted had she not relied on some programmer of a night sky app to collect the data?

It sounds like the camp deprived her of that better opportunity. The SM is defending her right to go scouting. Not only her right … by bringing it up at the district level, he/she is making clear to the camp, the district (and, thanks to you, all of us) that he/she expects better.

And, yes it is very easy for folks like you and I to grow complacent and expect less. We owe debts of gratitude to the SMs and ACs who remind us to expect more.

Edited by qwazse
Link to post
Share on other sites

@qwazseI see your point, but I disagree with it. The requirements are  the requirements. Asking someone to do better than the minimum is fine. Denying someone credit for something they did that meets the requirements even though there is a better way is not fine and is ultimately a disservice to all involved. Why set the minimum as the minimum of that's not really the minimum? It's changing the rules of the game, and this is supposed to be a game, right? It's moving the goal posts, and that is a bad thing, not a good thing.

It seems to me the language is intentionally vague, so as to allow for these types of situations. Maybe it was to be able to accommodate differently abled. Maybe it was to manage bad weather situations or excessive light pollution  or timing issues. Or all of the above. I really don't know. I didn't write the requirements. If you want to make the requirement be the better option and only the better option, write it in such a way so there is no confusion that the better way is the only way it can be accomplished. There are plenty of examples of requirements that greatly narrow how you must accomplish a specific task even though there may be multiple ways.

And this one I could think of a pretty easy re-write to accomplish it.

But am dismayed at how you try to twist things around to make abuse of the provisions of the Guide to Advancement into a good thing. Your intentions are good, but that's not the program we are supposed to be delivering.

They went to the DAC to get advice on how to proceed prior to having all the information, just an assumption that the requirement could not be met. The advice should have been to follow the procedures of 7.0.4.7 in order, which starts with getting all the information needed before making a decision, and doing so in a timely manner. They chose not to follow them.

Trustworthy works both ways.

But I do appreciate that you took the time to provide feedback.

Edited by nolesrule
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, PACAN said:

7.0.4.7 was written into the GTA because of the number of National Advancement complaints from Summer Camps.  Scouts coming back from camp in one instance with 20 MBs in a week.   These MBs included requirements that could only be done away from camp and/or had time limit requirements.   The scout pencil whipped a number of worksheets and the 16 year old "counselor"   accepted what was scribbled in the blocks as completed work.   Since the "If the MBC signed the blue card it was done without any question.   Unfortunately the approved MBC (area director)  relied on the "instructor" checking the scout off.

 

Another example was when weather precluded the water or climbing badge completion and they were "close enough" and got it signed off.

 

This parargraph should be used cautiously.

 

JMHO.

She only came back from summer camp with completions in what was signed up for that was actually completed, as did all our scouts. Scouts returned with incompletes for those merit badges that were designated as not able to be completed at camp and also those that due to various circumstances were unable to be completed due to weather or other reasons. Our troop has gone to that camp 2 years in a row, and both my kids have gone an extra week each summer. The camp staff is extremely trustworthy in that regard and has solid lesson plans.

It's my understanding that this particular requirement has been carried out at the camp in this manner going back to at least 2019. Other scouts in our troop have taken this badge in previous years, including the SM and CC's own daughter when she was part of her first troop. So if it seems like I have a grind to gear, it's because I sense a double standard / conflict of interest.

Edited by nolesrule
spelling
Link to post
Share on other sites

@nolesrule, I can respect how this feels like your scout caught the hot potato. But, if indeed other scouts were shortchanged of actual scouting for three years because of misguided intentions of very nice camp staff, she’s the one that’s coming out ahead in this.

I wish her well in her observations of the moon (as soon as God grants her four clear nights/mornings in a week), and may it lead her to a lifetime of noting our sky’s wanderers!

Link to post
Share on other sites

@qwazseAgain, we'll have to disagree on the aspect of how a scout is getting short changed in scouting. I would contend that improperly executing the Methods is what shortchanges the scouts, because it is the Methods that instill the Aims and Ideals. The only thing this kind of situation teaches scouts is that they shouldn't trust adults.

My daughter doesn't need this merit badge for anything. She wears them on her sash in the order she earns them and has decided to leave the spot open on her sash if it never gets awarded.  She has already decided she will not redo a requirement she has already satisfactorily completed as a matter of personal integrity.

She is a Life Scout, is intelligent, independent (other than not being able to drive) and the kind of person you expect a scout to be. She is well regarded within our council by youth and adults alike. She was our troop's second SPL, and the first to do it the way it is meant to be. She is a regular on NYLT staff and also on our council SEALS course, which is kinda like an ILST that we offer to younger scouts (not to be confused with SEAL).  She'll be finishing up her Eagle project by the end of the year and only has the new Citizenship in Society merit badge left to earn, and has already scheduled that with a counselor for next month.

All in all I'm proud of her and the accomplishments she's already done and those yet to happen. Sadly I am disappointed in the way she has been treated in this matter. It was carried out in secrecy, the communication only happened once they got caught, the investigation was carried out and a determination rendered without actually having the proper information in hand while making bad assumptions and it wasn't communicated through the proper channels or in a timely manner as proscribed.

Since the DAC has so farchosen not to return my emails and I do not have a phone number (I was able to find the email address from a district newsletter), I have elected to get our District Commissioner involved to assist in conflict resolution, as this is not the only issue we've been having lately in regard to handling of advancements... there have been 8 incidents since the spring in which a scout has been wronged either by intentional action or by inattention to record keeping.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...