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


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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

From what I read so far ... the scout is not in question.  The SM/CC is questioning the camp program.   And I'm assuming ...  you are not overly inserting yourself and that the SM/CC is not also correcting your being involved too much.  

#1   Using this understanding, I assert ...   GTA 7.0.4.7 is about clearly failed situations.   GTA 7.0.4.7 is not about differences of opinion where people don't think the camp staff are doing it right.  ...  Of course, I absolutely prefer scouts and camp staff work to draw while sitting in the dark and watching the sky.   There is a special experience gained by doing that.  ...  But, it would be very arrogant to say I'll send my scout to your camp but not value the camp MB judgement.  

This battle between adults that know better and scout camps trying to provide meaningful experiences has been going on for decades and will continue to go on.  IMHO, it's just not the purpose of GTA 7.0.4.7.  

I'd really also ask.   Will your troop second-guess every MB done by the camp?  Will the troop audit and pre-judge the MBs before sending the camp?  If your troop doesn't respect the camp MB program, then the troop is doing the scouts a real dis-service sending the scouts there.  It's really hypocritical to use a scout camp but not respect their MB program.  If it's not good, go somewhere else.  If it's your best option, show it some respect.  

Even further, what is being served ?   Focus on the specific scout as we don't fight larger battles using specific scouts.  I really question what we are teaching the scout by not awarding the MB.  Of course we can argue about teaching some higher level value of doing it right.  But then again, we're also teaching resentment and not trusting those who we respect.

#2  So ... if the troop really wants to go this way ... please tell me that the SM sat down with the scout to have a nice, extended conversation.  Like a unit leader conference.  SM sharing their thoughts.   Scout sharing their thoughts.  ... first SM works with those involved (camp staff, MB counselor, etc) ...  "After such a consultation, the unit leader, in a positive environment similar to that of a unit leader conference, discusses with the Scout the circumstances under which a merit badge in question was approved."

Did the SM sit down with the scout and have a heart-to-heart about the MB?  If that's not done, the troop is not using GTA 7.0.4.7 and is going rogue.

#3 ... Most importantly ... how does the scout feel about this?  Adults often gear up for battles that are just not that important to the scout.  If your scout is willing to re-do the requirement, then maybe that is a good choice.  There are lessons there about picking battles and placating those in power.  ... OR ... maybe the scout is just willing to ditch the MB.  

I know some of my scouts would have just said screw it.  The MB would not be awarded the scout never looks back.  It becomes a grievance only to be brought up in slight snide ways.  

Edited by fred8033
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@fred8033 #1 My involvement in this was to actually facilitate the information gathering when this past Tuesday I was told that the CC reached out to someone but never got a response. The camp used Group.me for information sharing during camp with a separate channel for each week. It was still active, so I reached out to ask the questions and got aresponses. And then I provided the screengrabs of the conversations. That's the extent of it.

However, this is not the only advancement-related issue I've been noticing with the troop (the others are not related to summer camp) and it is effecting multiple scouts, so I am planning to get more involved to advocate on behalf of all of the scouts. The other things are less egregious but still a sign that something is wrong. Like putting in a Completed merit badge as a partial because not all the individual requirements were listed as complete in the requirements section (okay, that's just as bad), or not updating scoutbook in a timely manner when something has been earned, then doing all of the data entry for the entire quarter the week before the court of honor, and missing something getting entered. In one case it was a rank advancement that was 2.5 months earlier. Our troop does the mother's pin thing, and that scout was not recognized for the rank and there was no mother's pin ordered to give to the mother. Frankly it was an embarrassing moment, and I would have expected the delayed record entry to be fixed. And since all of this involves our CC pulling double duty as CC, there's also been a history of not signing the scoutbook at the board of review. There are patterns in failing to carry out responsibilities.

#2 Nope. All she got was an email from the CC telling her to redo the requirement. No communication of any kind from the SM in all of this. Also, that sit down with the SM is supposed to happen only in the even that MB actually could not have been completed. Clearly it was. So it should not have even gotten to this point.

#3 She's ambivalent. She doesn't care enough about the subject to redo the requirement, but she does feel that she has been wronged. We have our court of honor tomorrow. When she received the new badges, those earned from camp and 2 others, she said she will leave a gap on her sash where this one would have gone as a silent sign of protest.

This whole bad situation is a case of adults inserting themselves into the process improperly, so there isn't any point in even dragging the scout into it. As for 7.0.4.7, none of the scouts came home from the camp with merit badges they didn't sign up for, and the CC was the one who handled the registrations. And there were definitely incompletes for those that could not be completed.  As a MBC I am personally working with scouts in our troop who received incompletes at summer camp either by design (Cooking, Camping) or due to other circumstances that caused camp events to be cancelled and thus requirements not to be completed  (Communication).

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54 minutes ago, nolesrule said:

#3 She's ambivalent. She doesn't care enough about the subject to redo the requirement, but she does feel that she has been wronged. 

That's my biggest fear.  It starts to break the scout's commitment to scouting.

The scout showed up.  The scout did as instructed.  The scout fulfilled their end.  Now they don't get what was promised.  It breaks the scout's commitment and kills their excitement.  

The specific badge just does not matter that much.  The path to get the badge does though.

IMHO, it's got to be pretty extreme for troops to say no.  A scout or family knowing they did something wrong.  A paperwork error the scout agrees with.  This though is a MBC doing as planned and the scout fulfilling that.

IMHO, in cases like these, the blue card is signed validly and it's a done badge.  

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

IMHO, in cases like these, the blue card is signed validly and it's a done badge.  

Agreed. It doesn’t mean there isn’t additional follow-up that the adults need to do to correct any issues going forward. These issues, though, aren’t to be corrected on the back of a Scout. 
 

Again, Scouts aren’t punished for the failings of of adults. 

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3 hours ago, nolesrule said:

 

…. #3 She's ambivalent. She doesn't care enough about the subject to redo the requirement, but she does feel that she has been wronged. We have our court of honor tomorrow. When she received the new badges, those earned from camp and 2 others, she said she will leave a gap on her sash where this one would have gone as a silent sign of protest.

That’s an okay protest. But I think she can do better. Here’s what I would do  … 

  • Get some dark blue fabric and stitch into a “star chart” medallion.
  • Sew/paint  the local horizon around the edges, as if laying down looking up.
  • Get some phosphorescent thread and sew images of the moon as observed unaided on four days in the same week.
  • Sew this temporary insignia on the back of the sash as a memento of her scouting experience this year.

Obviously, this is a suggestion that would have suited my talents at the time. She could whittle/3D print a neckerchief slide of her observations, stamp a leatherwork belt buckle, etc …

The only way to protest being denied an award is to demonstrate having done the requirement as written and then refuse to complete the partial.

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The summer camp's Program Director has taken it upon herself to get this matter resolved, so I am stepping back.

I appreciate everyone's input and feedback here, even in the cases where I disagreed with some of the reasoning.

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One of @fred8033's challenges stuck out to me ...

On 9/18/2022 at 11:48 PM, fred8033 said:

... I'd really also ask.   Will your troop second-guess every MB done by the camp?  Will the troop audit and pre-judge the MBs before sending the camp?  If your troop doesn't respect the camp MB program, then the troop is doing the scouts a real dis-service sending the scouts there.  It's really hypocritical to use a scout camp but not respect their MB program.  If it's not good, go somewhere else.  If it's your best option, show it some respect.  ...

Obviously, policing how every staff certifies MB's is a fool's errand. However, on the last day of camp a couple of years ago, I was reviewing a scout's camping log and realized that he hadn't sorted out which nights were under canvas and which were not. He needed a couple more weekends to earn the badge. So, I went back to the program hall and returned the "completed" blue card and requested a partial. This is no trivial task for a staff who is trying to close out the week because they wanted to make sure it was logged correctly in their system  But, they were happy to do that. The scout understood the problem and was happy to come home with a partial. (It was 2020, they were happy to be camping at all!) The parent was happy when I explained the situation.

Technically, a blue card had been issued because of a series of adult/staff errors (not the least of which includes training boys to read requirements for themselves or training the camp staff to interpret camping logs). But, none of those "adult errors" could obviate one simple fact: the scout had yet to complete the requirement. Well-meaning leaders punished the scout by not giving his camping log the attention that it deserved. I awarded him with the opportunity to rest easy under canvas or stars for a few more nights.

Fred's posing a false dichotomy between hewing to a literal interpretation of requirements and respecting the vicissitudes of managing camp for hundreds of scouts. Based on my experience, there is no such dichotomy. I would say that

  1. It is disrespectful to turn a blind eye when camp MBC's replace requirements for the sake of claiming that their students completed the badge. That implies that we think they are somehow second-tier counselors. Most camps want to know that this happens. Most staff want to be thorough counselors. And, most camps want constructive feedback from SMs and other adults. Letting them know a valid partial is better than a sketchy blue card gives them the freedom to make trustworthy reports.
  2. It is disrespectful to fault adults' for poor procedure, then ignore the truth underlying their actions. It's easy to proceed efficiently and gloss over truth. It's hard when you realize that you have to draw the line, and no matter where you draw it, someone will be slighted.
  3. It is disrespectful to scouts to let them think that they can take someone else's observations as their own. That someone else may one day be an authoritarian leader who, showing that the moon has fallen in a mill pond, arranges a special military operation to save it.

In my situation, even though the scout and parent are still happily engaged in our troop, I keep asking myself, "Can we do better?" We have a dozen very ambitious 1st year scouts (and a few who are in it for kicks), and everyone is trying to do right by them and set the proper tone. But I know that, with regard to the many moving parts of advancement, we are going to trip up somewhere. I'm just hoping that when we do, parents will be patient with us and expect the best from their scouts.

☀️FYI, a beautiful new moon lingered overhead until mid-morning today! 🌘 If only I could add the urban grape arbor that framed it!

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I do agree with all of that @qwazse. A good camp merit badge program will want to know if they made mistakes in issuing a merit badge completion and will take the opportunity to get feedback and also make the corrections.. Merit badge counselors should never be signing off on requirements that cannot be personally verified.

We had a case where someone took E-prep at camp and the First Aid merit badge requirement was signed off even though I knew they hadn't earned it. I said something and they fixed it. It would not have issued a completion anyway because there were other requirements that could not be done at camp, but getting the specific requirements correct in the records for an incomplete merit badge is also important.

All that said, this thread did end up being a debate about requirement interpretation, when what I was trying to ask was about following procedures specifically written for these scenarios, regardless of a requirement in question. It's black and white for things that are objective, like a thunderstorm closing the waterfront on the last day of camp  or someone marking camping days complete without ever seeing a  signed camping log or marking a requirement that a merit badge must be earned for another MB's requirements without proof of it.

But overall I have some concerns in how things are being handled on the advancement side in our growing troop beyond this particular issue and I think it's due to the CC trying to do too much resulting in procedural errors and records omissions to the point others have to speak up about it regularly. Some of the major committee responsibilities need to be offloaded to other members of the committee (we have 5 committee members, the CC, Treasurer and 3 others who have no assigned functional responsibilities). I've suggested it before, but only small tasks have been handed off, as if the CC is reluctant to relinquish control. This incident gave me the opportunity to have a friendly chat with our COR about my concerns and the need to start delegating tasks.
 

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As far as procedures for the scenario. The GTA is intenionally vague about a specific process but provides descriptors to help a unit leader navigate how to be respectful to the other adults and scouts  while ensuring the mB requirements were actually completed as written. The gta is not written in a step by step, must do list, process, but invokes the scout law through discussion. IMO, this is the way it should be; less legalistic, more scoutlike.

 

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14 hours ago, DuctTape said:

As far as procedures for the scenario. The GTA is intenionally vague about a specific process but provides descriptors to help a unit leader navigate how to be respectful to the other adults and scouts  while ensuring the mB requirements were actually completed as written. The gta is not written in a step by step, must do list, process, but invokes the scout law through discussion. IMO, this is the way it should be; less legalistic, more scoutlike.

 

I wouldn't say it's vague. While there is room for ways to handle it, there are definitely procedures to follow.  The language used in the wording does not imply an optionality ("should"). It describes how things will happen. And certainly the the scout law should be followed.

There will be a consultation with the MBC/camp/MB event. That consultation determines if the scout really did it or not. It gives the person who signed off on the MB the opportunity to correct a mistake if one has been made, on the assumption that they are trustworthy and sometimes make mistakes. If you as a unit leader think it was impossible, part of that discussion should be to ask how it was done. Should a decision be made without having all the information?* No.

If from the consultation it's determined there was an error issuing a completion, the unit leader will have a discussion with the scout to vet out the situation further and explain how things will be handled to finish the merit badge.

Lastly, this should be handled in a timely fashion and if the scout or their parents think it's wrong, then they can request a meeting with the troop committee for further discussion.

There are a lot of words in the section, mostly discussing what the section is not for, but when you strip it down that's really all it says. If one is to follow the scout law, and everyone involved should be doing so, the unit needs to assume the MBC/camp is trustworthy and that if a mistake was made they will step up to correct it.  Timeliness and open communication are also a key. None of this should ever be coming out of left field.

------
* Seeing as I was the facilitator between the unit and the camp staff in this conversation, I know for a fact the unit did not wait to get the answer to the question of how it was done, so they proceeded purely on speculation and the assumption the camp lied. If the unit wanted me not involved due to the scout being my child, I would have requested from the staff and then provided to the unit direct contact information and then stepped out. I was just trying to be helpful.

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@nolesrule ... You will not get an exact procedure.  There is none.  Scouting is very much a social experiment where kind people with kind hearts work with each other.  We try not to apply rules or procedures against each other.  The idea is the SM should be talking with those involved and talking with the scout.  With thoughtfulness.  With a kind heart.  With consideration and a listening ear.  The idea is to build connection and teach a lesson.  

If I were SM, I should not fight a battle about an Astronomy MB earned at summer camp using scouting staff and a standard program offered to all troops.  It sounds more like a dispute between SM and camp programming.   If so, the scout should not be in the middle.

GTA 7.0.4.7 is titled "Limited recourse" as it's supposed to be rare and not used like this.  GTA 7.0.4.7 is for obvious errors that everyone agrees a mistake happened ... OR .. a liar liar pants on fire situation.  This is not your case.   Your case is a debate if the MBC (camp staff) correctly interpreted the requirement.   ...   GTA 7.0.4.7 is not to dispute a camp staff MB program.  

Edited by fred8033
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@nolesrule, lacking a reply from the leaders, we have to play devil’s advocate.

4 hours ago, nolesrule said:

It gives the person who signed off on the MB the opportunity to correct a mistake if one has been made, on the assumption that they are trustworthy and sometimes make mistakes. If you as a unit leader think it was impossible, part of that discussion should be to ask how it was done. Should a decision be made without having all the information?* …

* Seeing as I was the facilitator between the unit and the camp staff in this conversation, I know for a fact the unit did not wait to get the answer to the question of how it was done, so they proceeded purely on speculation and the assumption the camp lied. If the unit wanted me not involved due to the scout being my child, I would have requested from the staff and then provided to the unit direct contact information and then stepped out. I was just trying to be helpful.

You are arguing that they proceeded on speculation. They put the scout in the position of feeling rejected rather than supported. And based on your description I agree. A direct-contact leader should have conferred his/her scouts who took the badge and removed all doubt about how the program was delivered to those scouts. Then as a team they could have decided on the most rewarding way to make up for any deficit (timed perhaps around international observe the moon night) and relayed that plan to the CC. That approach provides for a much more robust learning experience. Your troop’s leaders missed an opportunity.

But …

Were your leaders wrong? Did or did not your scout complete the requirement as written? A couple of us have posted that we are quite clear that in order to “explain the changes you observe” one must scout the sky with ones own vision and by one’s own hand render images that can later be decoded to report to some conclusion regarding planetary motion. If your scout did that, then the troop’s actions resulted in her being wrongly denied a completed blue card. If she did not, then she rightly received a partial.

This happens more often than people recognize because the intersection between camp and the advancement method is complex. The current need to register MBCs and the urgency of youth protection makes completing partials a challenge. And, that ageist deadline for completion of rank advancement has made things worse over the decades. The GTA is very helpful, but it doesn’t cover every scenario perfectly. So, when scouters come to the right conclusion the wrong way, the best strategy, IMHO, is to encourage them to better prepare for a more helpful response going forward, and encourage the scout to rise to the standard exemplified in the handbook, fieldbook, and merit badge pamphlets.

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@qwazseI think you are making a fair and thoughtful point, and I don't know what we can do as program leaders about monitoring the specifics of the verbs in every requirement. We have to put some level of trust into those who counsel our scouts to do the right thing. But also as leaders when we do have questions we cannot shortcut the process and jump to conclusions. To undo something that has been affirmed as done, in some cases by multiple people, we have to be absolutely sure. To do otherwise is an implicit accusation of lying.

 

The more I've contemplated, this is just a symptom of a larger topic that needs to be addressed within the unit. The SM and CC are husband and wife. I don't think they are doing anything with any sort of malicious intent here, but I think they are starting to internalize ownership of the troop. The SM does not delegate program tasks to program people when things are overworked. And the CC does not delegate committee tasks to other members of the committee. Instead they tend to delegate the tasks between themselves with no external communication to  other leaders. These are good people and in general I like working with them. I'm not sure they realize they're even doing that. At one time we were a smaller troop and they had to take on a lot of things themselves. We're still small, but we have more hands to help than we've ever had, and it's time to take advantage of that.

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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..................................PERIOD....NUFF SAID........END OF CONVERSATIO ...............it's also understood that the Merit Badge Councilor is the subject matter expert and if that expert says its done, it's done.    My two cents🤔

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