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ASM59

Active or Kicked-Out???

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I mentioned contradictions... Well, last night I was at one of our Scout's Eagle BOR (He made it). Our District Advancement Chair said that she disagrees with the Council Advancement Chair. She said that Scoutmasters should be able to make the determination whether or not a scout has shown "Scout Spirit" based on participation in Troop meetings and outings, as well as attitude while at meetings and outings.

 

We, the adults of our Troop, are really struggling with this issue. We all believe in the Scouting Program, and want the rank of Eagle to really mean something. We have several Star & Life Scouts who will soon be considering completing their Eagle requirements. We also have a few Life Scouts that have been inactive for a long time and are making noises like they want to finish their Eagle requirements.

 

In fairness to all Scouts, we would like to come up with some type of standard so they know where the limit is, but I understand we cannot do that. We cannot quantify what is required to be active, so some feel that it's OK to use a more subjective approach and say a Scout is not showing Scout Spirit based on his participation. But there again, we are forbidden to define what enough participation is, leaving it up to a subjective interpretation by whoever happens to be the Scoutmaster at the time.

 

So, here we are again with contradictions. This time the contradictions are not in the published material, but in the interpretations of the printed material by our District and Council Advancement Chair Persons.

 

ASM59

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Oh the conundrums and conflicts ... thats why our salaries are so high (big grin).

There is not getting around that scout spirit is subjective. I am sure there are cases where low participation is due to the need to work for family financial reasons, a struggling student completing homework, or volunteering with the red cross or other humanitarian organization. There are other cases where low participation is due to a lad who has chosen other extra curricular activities over scouting, and never was active (real active, not "rostered" active) for a 6 month period. We get to sort that out, and make our best judgement call. Make your call based on scouting values. Some will vent, but you will be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you stood for what was right. I can't and won't comment on which is the right call for the specific cases you have before you - you know the situation better

 

good luck

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Ask the boy if he considers himself "active" and what he has done to

remain "active".

 

 

I like Fscouter's advice here (pasted, above). When a boy asks for a sign-off where "active" participation is included, I think this is a pretty fair question. Most boys (if not their parents) are likely to recognize when they're really fudging it and it puts the responsibility back on them to either explain where they've been, or else get themselves involved again. Besides, it is better to address this when the boy is seeking sign offs, rather than when they're at the BOR stage.

 

That's not to say we, as adults, should abdicate, particularly if a boy is in a POR and not performing/not showing up. We can hardly challenge a scout's performance/activity in a POR if we don't help him along the way when we see areas where he needs to improve. But I do like the notion of putting the question back to a boy whose activity level in the troop has been non-existent or borderline. It gives him an opportunity to explain extenuating circumstances. Or in the absence of such circumstances, if he is hard-pressed to answer such a question, he is also more likely to be open to a constructive conversation about his involvement.

 

Lisa'bob

 

 

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I think I'm in the same mindset as FSouter on this one.

In Sea Scouting we do have a set 75% participation requirement for some advancement.

When we started the Ship we were only going to meet twice a month. The idea being that we would have one planning meeting and one activity a month.Going with that a Scout could go AWOL?? for 3 months and still be in good standing. Of course I'm unsure what would happen to the Sea Scouts who remain on the charter and go to college??

Anyway we soon found out that only meeting twice a month wasn't going to get us where we wanted to be, so we now meet weekly. We also on top of the weekly meekly meetings have fund raising events, good turns and training's. I haven't counted but I think we will end up having about 60 meetings a month. So a Scout could miss 15 meetings and still be in good standing. (About 3 months!!)

When we chartered, we went for the 18 month charter. I was trying to save money. Many of the Boy Scouts who joined transfered into the ship for only $1.00 thus saving the following years recharter fee.

Before we held our election of Petty Officers I handed out job descriptions and went over what the job was about and how much time it might take. Going back to the the Scout Oath and Law I explained what loyal and trustworthy was all about. While I fell short of saying "If you don't have the time or think that you can't do the job -Don't run" I think the message got across.

While I'm not in the job of turning members away and I would love to see the Ship grow. I have sat down with some people who were thinking of joining and asked them if they think that they really have the time to take on being an active Sea Scout?

A couple of these have been Boy Scouts who I know really well and like a lot, some are outstanding Scouts, but they have so much on their plate already. So far I have yet to say you can't join, I don't think I ever will. I have asked them to go and think about it.

One came back and said that after thinking about it I was maybe right. One joined the Ship but after a little while found that he did have too much on his plate. He is a super nice Lad, I really do like him, but he is active in his troop, the OA, his church, the swim team and his school grades need work. He does know that he is welcome back. I'm really happy that he worked this out before he reached overload or burn out.

I in no way subscribe to the idea of being chartered and having the patch fulfills the requirements of a POR. The POR does require the Scout to do something. That something needs to be discussed and agreed upon before he takes on the job. Goals need to be set and agreed upon. Sure things can change and just like a Wood Badge ticket goals can be changed. Maybe in some cases things can be worked out in order that the Scout can still perform the duties of his office without being at all the meetings.

At the end of the day the Scout has got to show that he has done his best.

Is it his fault that the rehearsals for the School play fall at the same time as the Troop meetings? I think not. Is it his fault that he want to stay home and play video games and not attend the meetings? I think so.

We deal with each and every Scout on an individual basis.

This is one reason why blanket Troop rules just don't work.

Eamonn.

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ASM59,

 

Keep in mind there may be a method to the madness of the Council Advancement Chair. There are times when getting different answers from different people is caused by the job they hold and the responsibilities it covers.

 

The council advancement chair was not looking at this from the perspective of unit level action, I think. I would say he was looking at it from the standpoint of council level actions, such as Eagle BOR. If some uncertainty about an Eagle candidate being active came up at the BOR, it would probably be settled by checking their membership status. After all, at that point the SM has already signed off on Scout spirit.

 

The District Advancement Chair, I think was trying to answer the question in a way that would actually be applicable at the unit level.

 

Use good judgment in these things. Set out clearly, up front, what you expect of your Scouts and your youth leaders. Hold them to those expectations. I don't think anyone would fault you for that, even if they disagree with you.

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Proud Eagle replied:

"Use good judgment in these things. Set out clearly, up front, what you expect of your Scouts and your youth leaders. Hold them to those expectations. I don't think anyone would fault you for that, even if they disagree with you."

 

This is basically what started this whole discussion. My Power Point presentation that I was going to use to help our Scouts and their parents understand what is expected stated that the PLC and Troop has set guidelines for what is expected to meet these requirements. This statement is exactly what has come under critisism from the Council Advancement Chair. He has stated emphatically that the Troop cannot set such expectations.

 

By the way, I do like FScouter said. It makes sense that if they are not attending, they cannot fulfill the requirements of their POR.

 

Thanks for the posts.

 

ASM59

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ASM59

If I was going to make a presentation on attendance to the parents, I think I wouldn't try and explain a policy that at best is hard to understand and in fact may not exist.

When I try and get the point across, I don't use any of the BSA material.

I tend to drive home the point that you only ever get out of life what you put in and the same is true with a Troop (or in my case a Ship)

I have over the time I have been involved in Scouting had Scouts who live and breathe Scouting, who never miss anything and I swear go to bed with a copy of Boy's Life under their pillow. I have seen Scouts who are great Scouts, but to them being a Scout is just another activity. Some Scouts will at times be at one end of the scale and then the other.

At this time OJ is still a member of his Troop, he has done all the required time needed in a POR and only has his project to do to complete his Eagle rank. He holds the rank of JASM but the troop doesn't ask or require him to do anything, so he has got out of the habit of going!! He does look in every now and then and does attend the odd camp out, but at nearly 17 1/2. The Troop isn't doing anything for him. Sadly I'm finding this a lot with the Boy Scouts who are joining the Ship.

Eamonn.

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Eamonn,

 

I agree with your comments, now. I cannot explain a policy that doesn't exist. I cannot explain a policy that has multiple interpretations. I cannot assign a quantifiable amount to the term "active" so that everyone understands what is expected to meet that requirement within our Troop. So why should I even try to explain this to our parents?

 

It has been a difficult process to understand the process surrounding all this. I'm not even sure I fully understand all the implications of what I've learned. One thing I do know, is that we cannot set a standard for what Active means. Doing so, seems to be a clear violation of National's policy. According to the interpretation of our highest ranking Council personnel, we cannot even deny a rank advancement based on a lack of Scout Spirit, because we are not allowed to measure Scout Spirit by participation or lack thereof in the Scouting program. The feeling we get from our Council Advancement Chair makes it seem that we are only here to "rubber stamp" the advancement, and even if we don't, it can be appealed and will probably go through anyway. Nevertheless we do have to work within the system, I just hope that Eagle rank will still hold the same respected place and will not become irrelevant in the years to come.

 

This to will pass, and in a few weeks we'll be on our next outing having more fun than we probably deserve. I can't wait...

 

ASM59

 

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ASM59, don't let this get you down too much. One way to think about your district chair's view: yes, there is an appeal process and it is certainly important to know that it is there. On the other hand, the onus is on the scout to seek out an appeal if he thinks he has been improperly denied, not on you. You don't have to bend over backward to take a scout through the process if he has vanished from sight for a lengthy time, suddenly re-appears, and expects that advancement will be handed to him despite not really doing anything to earn it. You can't try to hide the information or anything, and it is possible that you'll be over-ruled by the appeal to council - but let that happen if or when it does and in the meantime, use your common sense approach.

 

By the way: if I understood Fscouter's and other people's advice properly on this forum, the issue of sign-offs is separate from the issue of BOR denials. If you can deal with a situation at the sign off stage, it won't get to a BOR where a denial might be the outcome, thus no need for an appeal, etc.. I like Eamonn's approach to the parents (and boys) that you only get out what you put in too. A lot of times you can circumvent parental problems without getting into policy details, by having a general understanding with them of what the unit's all about.

 

Lest anyone jump on this, I am not advocating ignoring rules and no, the troop probably should not have a "bright line" attendance policy for advancement which would clearly be a violation of BSA rules. But geez, common sense should certainly apply and I would be unwilling, myself, to sign off on a POR (for example) for a boy who simply has not been there to do it at all.

 

Have fun with the "real" scouting stuff and don't let too many of these hypotheticals get you bogged down

 

Lisa'bob

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I agree that it would be good to use common sense. The book uses the word 'active', not 'registered'. So there's a difference. I say it's up to the unit to decide what active means. Common sense would say that 'active' does have some meaning, and it's only fair to the boys to tell them ahead of time how you interpret the meaning.

 

The Webelos book says "Active means having good attendance, paying den dues, working on den projects." I find it hard to accept that the requirements are less once they move on to Boy Scouts. I think you should set it wherever you want to, but I would advocate for not having the bar too high, and I do like doing it on an individual basis.

 

Oak Tree

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ASM59,

 

Our troop does something a little different.....at least I assume it is different from what other troops do. At election time, we have a packet that goes out to each scout. It lists each POR and the "troops" qualifications for each position. Each scout also gets an "application" form. This application is where they apply for a position. They list their name, age, rank, current position, previous positions and rate their attendance of perfect, regular or intermittent. Then they list three positions they are interested in. For the first position, they have to explain why they want the job, how they will do the job and why they feel they are the best person for the job. The scout then sign a pledge that he has read the job descriptions and will carry out the duties to the best of his ability if selected. The parent also signs a pledge agreeing to the son's commitment and promises to support his training, troop meetings and troop activities attendance as required to fulfill his obligations and to provide encouragement at home. From the list of qualified applicants, the SM makes ballots for SPL, one of three ASPL's and PL's. Elections are held. The SPL selects two other ASPL's and the PL's select their APL's. The SPL and ASpl's use the list of applicants for other positions such as QM, Historian, Librarian, etc. to select those positions. All positions get one absence from meetings, outings and activities. While I'm sure some will look at this in disbelief, I can assure you from experience that this gives us a very dedicated boy leadership. Every boy and their parents walk into their POR knowing exactly what is expected in that POR and what the attendace requirements are. Occasionally, we do have a boy who does not fulfill his obligations. They have been replaced if it is chronic.

 

I do understand that your Council Advancement Chair claims to have national standards of what constitutes active. Until I see them in black and white as stated policy from a readily available BSA publication, I think we will stick with determining what active means within our unit.

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We are struggling with the same issues. We've had a couple of boys at the higher ranks (Star and Life) who could have been the subject of this conversation.

 

Our Scoutmaster has reserved for himself the right to be the sole signer for Scout Spirit. When issues like this come up, he verifies that a boy has had at least 4 or 6 months at his current rank. If he has, that one gets signed off. But if he has been AWOL, he has let his Troop and Patrol mates down. He also has either done a poor job prioritizing what is important to him, or he doesn't consider Scouting important. If it is the latter, and there was no explaination helping the SM understand the situation, he would not sign off on Scout Spirit. If the Scout had no good explaination, the SM would normally come to an agreement with the Scout that he must do A, B and C in order to demonstrate Scout Spirit, and when he does, to come see the SM again.

 

We've talked about this issue quite a bit in our Troop. We wish the wording was "Be active in your Troop and Patrol for a MINIMUM of 4 months (or 6 months). At least 1/2 this time should be immediately prior to the BOR" We believe (perhaps incorrectly) that the intent of the requirement is twofold: To provide time to complete the requiremetns to the best abilities of the Scout, and to encourage a sense of "team". Scouts who demonstrate teamwork and cooperation within the 4 month period and complete all of their other requirements should be able to advance in that time. If it takes longer for a Scout to exhibit such traits, then it should take longer to advance.

 

As has been discussed many, many times on these forums, this is one of those areas that the BSA seems to prefer an un-clear rule. This would not be hard to simplify. BSA could do so if they desired.

 

Mark

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I'm with Vivendi. Scouting is a program to help kids learn and grow, not some game of bizarre word-splitting adult legalism. What individual and group expectations make sense to help kids grow in character, fitness, and citizenship? Active=Registered would make even the most litigious trial attorney laugh.

 

Half the troops in our district define active as a % participation requirement. It's important that this be consistent, and applied to Star and Life, not left as a "surprise" for Eagle candidates. Troops that set high expectations tend to be self-enforcing. Kids want to be recognized by their peers and the adult leaders they care about. They want a "Troop XXX Eagle," and peer pressure will frown on any shortcuts.

 

We've had a few appeals within the district. The pattern has been that appeals tend to give the boy the benefit of the doubt... but only the benefit of the doubt. Units with good documentation and clear communication with the boy/family tend to have reasonable participation expectations upheld.

 

If your CAC is giving you grief, you should also be aware that you can ask your council registrar to switch any boy's status to "inactive" or "associate" membership. That should solve da problem with officious dodos.

 

I do think it's a bit weird to keep a boy on the roster who hasn't attended anything for 6 months or more. Drop him. When he wants to rejoin, require a SM conference and an application, and then think carefully about whether that will be a good thing. You don't have to accept the application if you feel the boy is just manipulating the system to "get" Eagle, rather than living the Oath and Law to "be" Eagle.

 

 

 

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Beavah

Help me out a little here.

You posted:

"When he wants to rejoin, require a SM conference and an application, and then think carefully about whether that will be a good thing. You don't have to accept the application if you feel the boy is just manipulating the system to "get" Eagle, rather than living the Oath and Law to "be" Eagle."

While I agree with meeting with the Lad and talking with him.

I'm a little confused about :"whether that will be a good thing."

My thinking has always been that we the adults are here to serve the youth members, so I'm puzzled about how having a Lad return can be a bad thing?

As for:

"You don't have to accept the application if you feel the boy is just manipulating the system to "get" Eagle, rather than living the Oath and Law to "be" Eagle."

I just don't think that I have the right to sit as judge and jury on the Lad's reasons for wanting to return.

I do know if we turn him away we are never going to meet the mission of the BSA.

Sure a Lad might return for all the wrong reasons, but isn't it our job to help him see that these are the wrong reasons and do our best to help him make ethical and moral choices?

Eamonn.

 

 

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I would never kick a kid out of my troop for not attending meeting. We have a boy right now that hasn't been to a meeting for at least 6 months. Well guess what Monday night he showed up.

I would prefer to keep them on the list than boot them out. You never know when they might decide they want to come back.

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