Jump to content

Could SM authorize PLC to sign off on "Scout spirit" rank requirements?


Recommended Posts

In his 1954 book on the Court of Honour (i.e., the patrol leaders' council), John Thurman wrote (with my emphasis in bold):

Quote

The Court of Honour can fulfill a tremendous function in the regard to the award of Badges, which are the reward for effort and achievement. The examiner for a badge can deal only with the Scout vis-a-vis the conditions of the particular badge. In other words, the examiner is concerned to know that the Scout can, for instance, signal accurately at the approved rate. He decides that the Scout can fulfill the requirements of the test or that he cannot do so: what the examiner cannot know is what sort of Scout the fellow is. Does the boy taking the badge pull his weight in the Patrol, is he a credit to the Troop, is he making a real effort or is he just concerned with his own personal progress? The Court of Honour, as the guardian of the honour of the Troop and as the body which deals with rewards, should be allowed to say whether or not a particular boy should enter for a badge. In my old Troop no boy ever entered for a badge unless and until the Court of Honour approved. They were concerned as to whether he tried to live up to the Scout Promise and supported his Patrol, etc. If, through your leadership as Scoutmaster, you can get the Court of Honour to accept this function and with your guidance put it into practice you will find a tremendous strengthening of the whole spirit of your Troop.

It goes without saying that the BSA's advancement method is quite different from B-P's traditional Scouting. Even so, perhaps an American Scoutmaster who desired to emulate this concept in their troop could, consistent with Guide to Advancement topic 4.2.1.2, authorize the patrol leaders' council (as a body) to sign off on the "Scout spirit" rank requirements (i.e., Tenderfoot requirement 9, Second Class requirement 10, First Class requirement 11, Star requirement 2, Life requirement 2, and Eagle requirement 2). Is there any BSA policy that would prevent this? If not, would you all consider it a good idea?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Edited by George
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • George changed the title to Could SM authorize PLC to sign off on "Scout spirit" rank requirements?
  • Replies 35
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

4.2.1.2 The Scout Is Tested The unit leader authorizes those who may test and pass the Scout on rank requirements. They might include the patrol leader, the senior patrol leader, the unit leader, an a

And not just with skills.  The PL Council, or Green Bar Council was the go to for both youth advancement on basic skills for the lower ranks, but also were the judges and juries for most issues of dis

Our Scouts signed off everything up through first class except for the adult required signatures. The only issue that ever popped up was the scouts for some reason didn't put dates. That caused some i

Policy?  No.  It's just very, very different than how almost all other troops work.  It will raise dozens of questions that can escalate. 

#1  Make sure you don't call it a Court of Honor or a Board of Review (BOR).  ...   Scouts still need to sit in front of a BOR comprised of three to six adults that confirms requirements are met.  ... Your troop is just creating a PLC meeting agenda item where they review scout spirit.  ...

#2  All scouts don't sit in the PLCs; just the SPL, PLs and a few others.  So the scouts needing advancement won't be there for the PLCs.  So, how do you handle that?  Is it just a list of scouts that need scout spirit signed off?  An agenda item to be voted on?

#3  Troops should not put time-delay-like-hoops in front of the scout.  It should be as easy as the scout asking the SM to sign off on scout spirit.  Now if SM is not there, I can understand days or a week delay until the scout and SM are in the same place.  ...  Anything that causes a month plus delay (such as a non-PLC scout attending a PLC) is strongly against the spirit of advancement and the explicit rules  ... but you could have impromptu PLCs at each and ever troop meeting / activity / event.  ... Scout could walk up to SPL and ask SPL to sign.  SPL grabs a few PLs and has the discussion then and there.  Ideally, immediately signing off on scout spirit.

#4  Scout spirit exists as a catch all for the SM to address issues and as a discussion framework for the SM conference.  If the PLC signs off, then the SM can't block / delay / use that requirement as a focus point for discussion and improvement.   No testing completed requirements.  Essentially, the SM will lose their catch-all flexibility to address concerns.  ...   Example, scout has a requirement to have a SM conference; not to "pass" the conference.  Any discussion can be used.  And the discussion having happened is completing the requirement to have a SMC. 

#5  The 1954 reference is way, way out of date; 70 years out of date.  
       * Court of Honor is a award ceremony; not a test.  The correct term now is a Board of Review.  
       * Boards of review is different now.
                * an administrative review that the requirements are completed (not re-evaluating completed requirements)
                * a discussion about the scout's experience.  Goal is to get feedback for troop and encourage the scout; NOT judge the scout.
                * a celebration also.  Wow.  Look how far you got.  Nice work. Congratulations. 
                * not a pass/fail.  Though BORs can refuse (should be extremely rarely) to advance a scout, don't expect BSA support. 
                * In my 15 plus years, it only happened once or twice with hundreds of scouts.
                * PLC does NOT sit in BORs. 
 

Edited by fred8033
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes! I think this could be a good tradition to add to your troop. Essentially the PLC would be granting their approval for each scout as they rank up through the Scout Spirit requirement. Anecdotally, this requirement is typically incorporated into the Scoutmaster conference in our troop. Do what works best for your scouts!

I agree with @fred8033 that time delay can be a concern. They shouldn't have to wait for each monthly PLC meeting to have a requirement signed. Have the SPL gather with some of ASPLs, Troop Guides, and PLs who are available if a scout requests it at a meeting, camping trip, or whenever. Are they up to this task?

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

From my old guy view, only as a feedback for the actual approval of the SM or his assigned adult proxy.  Part of the role of a SM is to mentor, and Scout Spirit is a primary element of that description.  Still, the older days, when the PLC actually did boards for the lower ranks, is a great loss to today's leadership training, at least in my view.  The take over by adults of the advancement board was one of the many changes that has catered to the concept that youth are not able to make sound judgements.  Again, just my view, though we see the results of NOT allowing young adults to actually become adults in society, now reflected in the dearth of able leadership.  Old guy venting.  

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am old school. I remember when Scouts could sit on BORs (1972-1989, but I know of some troops that did it later than 1989). I also remember being able to sign off on advancement, especially the First Aid Skill Award since teaching it was a requirement for First Aid MB, and hence First Class Rank.

So I do let select youth sign off until 1st Class.

In my experience the Youth tend to do a better job of this than adults.

 

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

And not just with skills.  The PL Council, or Green Bar Council was the go to for both youth advancement on basic skills for the lower ranks, but also were the judges and juries for most issues of discipline or unit functions.  Adults sat in to observe, and only if absolutely required would they use their adult power, and often even then it was taken to the committee if needed.  Peer pressure is a good thing, and the expectation that you are NOT performing skills properly, as monitored by the peer group, is very powerful.  And IF some type of disciplinary function was needed, it too was more likely to be accepted due to the peer issue, understanding that the adult leaders and committee still had the final say.  But that was rarely something that happened, and I saw more than one scout turn their attitudes around when confronted by the PLC.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Our Scouts signed off everything up through first class except for the adult required signatures. The only issue that ever popped up was the scouts for some reason didn't put dates. That caused some issues at first until we retrained them. And we did invite senior scouts in the BORs. I do miss the old days.

Barry

  • Upvote 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of you are describing precisely the sort of emphasis on the PLs and PLC that I also support. Authorizing PLs to sign off on S-T-2-1 skill requirements is straightforward enough, but I would like to go further. I realize that, under current policies, I can't permit the PLs to sign off on requirements that expressly reference the Scoutmaster or "other adult leader" or let the PLC take the place of the Scoutmaster conference or the board of review. But it seemed to me that the PLC could handle the "Scout spirit" requirements (and maybe also the "[b]e active in your troop" and "serve actively in your troop" Star, Life, and Eagle requirements, subject to the Guide to Advancement's requirements to have reasonable expectations in place on those issues).

Anyway, I appreciate all of the comments so far! Please keep them coming!

Edited by George
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, George said:

Most of you are describing precisely the sort of emphasis on the PLs and PLC that I also support. Authorizing PLs to sign off on S-T-2-1 skill requirements is straightforward enough, but I would like to go further. I realize that, under current policies, I can't permit the PLs to sign off on requirements that expressly reference the Scoutmaster or "other adult leader" or let the PLC take the place of the Scoutmaster conference or the board of review. But it seemed to me that the PLC could handle the "Scout spirit" requirements (and maybe also the "[b]e active in your troop" and "serve actively in your troop" Star, Life, and Eagle requirements, subject to the Guide to Advancement's requirements to have reasonable expectations in place on those issues).

Anyway, I appreciate all of the comments so far! Please keep them coming!

I could support the scout's signing off on scout spirit, active in your troop and serve actively.  Also, you can minimize BORs.  Just because it says three adult committee members doesn't mean it needs to be 30+ minutes.  It could be five minutes of three committee members.  ... The one I would strongly suggest never to dilute is the scoutmaster conference.  The scoutmaster needs to know the scouts and hear what they say.  Period.  

  • Upvote 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

I could support the scout's signing off on scout spirit, active in your troop and serve actively.  Also, you can minimize BORs.  Just because it says three adult committee members doesn't mean it needs to be 30+ minutes.  It could be five minutes of three committee members.  ... The one I would strongly suggest never to dilute is the scoutmaster conference.  The scoutmaster needs to know the scouts and hear what they say.  Period.  

I agree with Fred and the others. My only additions would be:

1. Start slow, give the PLC authority for signing off on one of those non-skill based requirements, and perhaps only for tenderfoot rank. Then build from there. 

2.  the SM should meet with the PLC before implementation to generate protocols, establish norms and expectations.

3. (initially) after every sign-off the SM discuss the process, etc... with the PLC to ensure protocols etc are being met and adhered to. This can diminish in regularity after the SM is confident in the PLC with their new authority.

As an aside---

4. SM conferences should occur regularly with scouts not just "as the final requirement". I would say the SM should conference with each scout at least every 4 months (that might not even be enough). The SM conference is a major aspect of the Adult Association Method within the troop. These conferences can be invaluable for the youth development and for the SM to understand the perspectives of each scout re: troop, patrol, and their individual life. Imagine if one looks at SM conferences also as a way for the SM to improve. Powerful!

Edited by DuctTape
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

All well said DuctTape.

From our experience of letting scouts do sign-off. I think you can do all the ranks up to first class. Honestly, it's not a hard process for the scouts. But, we limited it to first-class scouts to ensure they, theoretically, knew the skills and had the maturity to take it seriously. The Scoutmaster will be the quality controller because they look at the Scout's book during the SM Conference.

We held a class every six months after the elections to train the new First-Class scouts on the proper procedure for testing (verifying the skill) and signing off.

They take it as an honor. I remember a friend of one of our scouts switched from another troop to ours because he was so impressed with the scouts doing the sign-offs. Very few of our scouts even knew that our troop was rare with scouts doing it. 

And I agree with multiple Scoutmaster conferences. I believe the SM should know everything about the scout when he does the rank advancement conference just from his many discussions with the scout. And, the chat doesn't have to be official, I know of one scout who was shocked when I asked for his book to sign it off. He thought it was just another one of our how's-it-going chats. 

Barry

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Our troop had older scouts sign off on skill requirements up through 1st class.  As SM I kept scout spirit for myself or an ASM.  I used the older scouts skills signoff as a teaching, mentoring, quality control opportunity.  If I thought a younger scout maybe didn’t have the command of a skill I hoped for I could have a chat with the older scout who signed off to see what his perspective was.

I don’t have a particular objective to the PLC acting as a body, but they already have work to accomplish as a group, and I prefer to see advancement be a more organic process that mostly comes from the normal interaction of the scouts.  A young scout who pulls an older scout aside to sign off on a test, or an older scout who points out “now that you know how to do it I can sign it off for you” is a happier moment for me than a formal meeting.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2024 at 7:15 PM, Eagledad said:

The Scoutmaster will be the quality controller because they look at the Scout's book during the SM Conference.

Just a note ... The SM would be the quality controller for the overall process used by the unit, but the specific facts for an individual scout. 

For an individual scout, the SM would only see the completed advancement records during the SMC.  SMC is not pass / fail.  Just acknowledgement the SMC happened.  So, all requirements are signed.  It would be inappropriate for a SM to block a specific scout or for the SM to say a signature is invalid.  Perhaps, the BOR could inject and say a requirement was not really completed; i.e. a PLC signature is invalid.  But, it's not the place of a SM during SMC to quality control an individual scout.  

Edited by fred8033
Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Just a note ... The SM would be the quality controller for the overall process used by the unit, but the specific facts for an individual scout. 

For an individual scout, the SM would only see the completed advancement records during the SMC.  SMC is not pass / fail.  Just acknowledgement the SMC happened.  So, all requirements are signed.  It would be inappropriate for a SM to block a specific scout or for the SM to say a signature is invalid.  Perhaps, the BOR could inject and say a requirement was not really completed; i.e. a PLC signature is invalid.  But, it's not the place of a SM during SMC to quality control an individual scout.  

Well, yes and no. If I knew of a particular skill or behavior that really wasn't up to a minimally acceptable level, I would ask the scout if after our discussion they felt ready for the BOR. I didn't even wait for the answer, I signed their book and let them make the decision of how they would proceed. The book was signed, so they could do whatever they wanted. They knew I would accept whatever decision without a show of disappointment. But they also knew I wouldn't have said anything if there wasn't a reason.

Integrity doesn't take root unless a person chooses to change.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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...