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"Much Ado About Nothing"

OK, it's a reach but it's not often I get to refer to my very favorite Shakespeare play of all time. But the title is apt.

We're wringing our hands over something that we all know is a set of rules so idiotic that most of us are going to ignore them. We ARE, in their place, going to apply our own individual judgment and knowledge of the individual boy's abilities. And that is a far more reasonable approach that can't be put into a set of rules or guidelines in any kind of objective manner.

So...enough already! We all know what's really going to happen. BSA covered their butts. So let's just smile, shrug, and then go on with what we're going to do anyway.

This kind of thing just marginalizes our masters at HQ even more than at present. And we don't want that do we?

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Yah, packsaddle, that's true for unit activities and service projects, eh?


Da problem is all of us who deal with Eagle projects, which require approval from the district/council. Even more important, under da new rules the district/council only approves the proposal, but the final plan where all this stuff shows up doesn't need to get completed until further along, where it can hit a boy at an EBOR.


Around these parts, I'd guess the large majority of Eagle projects have boys usin' one or more of the prohibited items, eh?


As we see all the time from da forums, various official-types at districts and councils aren't always the best at goin' with common sense and da flow of things for the benefit of kids, when they are caught between doin' that and somethin' they perceive as a RULE from on high.


So the impact of this is that it will double the paperwork for Eagle Scouts, at least, possibly eliminate lots of potential projects that the boys really care about, and undoubtedly affect a whole bunch of Eagle candidates across the country very negatively as they run into officialdom at the initial or final project review.


Stuff that impacts kids that way is not "nothing" in my book, eh? It's worth a bit of Ado. ;)




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Beavah, point taken and I agree. My application of the title of that play was pointed more toward whether or not we allow them to use certain tools. I agree that the paperwork burden is an important issue.

So, does anyone think a boy would be turned down at an EBOR if he had used a prohibited tool during his (otherwise successful) Eagle project?

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Help me understand why a youth planning and executing a service project can't be expected to recruit qualified adults to do hazardous work?




PS: My son recruited me into Scouting. Went something like "..Hey Dad, this old guy came to school today and told us we could shoot BB Guns and Bows and Arrows...we have to go up and check it out tonight.."

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If this tool list ONLY applies to Eagle projects, then we'll end up with Eagle projects where ONLY adults can work them. This is supposed to be a YOUTH organization, not an organization where youth have to go recruit adults from outside the organization to work their projects.


This is supposed to be youth leadership opportunities, and community service, and to exclude the youth from using SIMPLE tools on these projects is absurd.


If this tool list applies to youth in all activities, then scouts doing all those hundreds of thousands of hours of community service hours for our country will stop.


As I said before, there is nothing inherent in the physical or mental abilities between a 13 year old and 14 year old scout that will magically make using a wheelbarrow or pulling a 4 wheeled wagon all of a sudden safer.


Will you address any of the questions asking for the reason why a boy scout cannot use a wheelbarrow, when wolf scouts age approximately 7 are using wheelbarrows?? It is illogical!

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Help me understand why a youth planning and executing a service project can't be expected to recruit qualified adults to do hazardous work?


I think we all agree that a youth can indeed recruit adults to do hazardous work.


That's not really the question here. The question is whether these sheets have a reasonable definition of "hazardous work." They do not.


It is patently ridiculous to prohibit wheelbarrows and wagons by anyone. It's absurd to say that 15 year olds can't use an electric leaf blower. It's just bizarre to say that 13 year-olds can't use an electric screwdriver or a dremel tool. We have adults supervising activities - I understand that not every Scout in every situation can use every single tool - but leaders can use their judgment.


These rules are going to be openly ignored, as packsaddle suggests. They might be used by wacky Eagle boards to harass Eagle applicants, as Beavah suggests (although with the new workbook, it's going to be harder and I don't see an Eagle getting turned down for using a wheelbarrow.)


Rules like this just cause people to stop caring about the rules. This form is truly flabbergasting (and that's a word that you simply don't get to use much these days.)

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1) Thank you for posting and clarifying. I know a lot of folks, including myself, do not like these rules and want to know why they are being implemented. If this posts sounds angry, harsh, etc. That is not how it is intended. This post is meant to be a discussion.


2) here are a few questions


A) how is a "Wheel cart (1-, 2-, or 4-wheeled)" dangerous for someone under the age of 14? I have not only seen, but encouraged Cubs and their families to use carts for camping and other activities. My own son had used a collapsible 4 wheeled cart for carrying US flags to be used on graves. He's used it to transport fishing gear from the campsite to the lake. And he has been doing this since age 7.


I do not see how that's dangerous.


On a lighter note, I now have a reason to not get the broken wheel fixed since the cart is now technically 3 wheeled and not 4 wheeled, and hence OK by these guidelines.


B) Ok I'm going to simplify this a bit as I don't have the time to go point by point at this time.



A 10 year old Boy Scout who has just crossed over can use an axe as soon as he gets his totin chip, but a pick axe, which as the name implies is a type of axe, he can't use until 14? That doesn't make sense. Neither does the ban on posthole diggers, mattock, etc.


As for the lawn mowers, blowers, trimmers, edgers, etc., How are they dangerous? I started cutting grass and using those tools when I was nine. Heck as a fundraiser to raise money for Jambo and Canada trip, I had a bunch of lawns to cut over a 18 month period. And I was 14 - 15 years old at the time.


Curious, does your son cut the grass at home and at what age did he start? I ask because if he started before 16, then you have to see the idiocy of these rules.


As for the circular band saws, etc. why have I seen them in schools for use. And I think this may caus eproblems for some MBs.


Looking at some MBs I think Metal Work may have problems since Requirement 5A3 has scouts using mechanical saws to cut metal.


Painting MB may want to remove walls form objects to be painted since some do need extenders.


Wood Working may need requirement 3A revised since some schools do have power equipment for wood working projects. Heck I knew an Sm who not only had a fully supplied wood shop in the backyard, but his son had access to it whenever he wanted to do it. Don't know when he started, but he took me back there at age 13 or 14 (sorry my old age is getting to me) to show me some of the stuff he's been working on.


Also requirement 4 may need to specify HAND saw. Ditto requirements 6B and C may need to add the phrase 'using hand tools" or "non-powered tools."


And don't get me started on the pioneering projects over 5 feet. I was one ticked off Scout when that policy first came out in 1991 or there abouts as My troop had traditionally made a Bosun's Chair, i.e. a 15-20 foot pioneering tower on one end and a 25-30foot tower on the other end with wire rope connecting the two to create a ride. let's just say the only reason why my troop even attended the Scout Show that year was for one reason: to see William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt as he was at there that year. Otherwise we would not have showed up. In fact, we never went to another Scout Show again.


The problem with these blanket rules is that they do not take into account an individual's knowledge, skills, abilities, and in some cases, certifications. best example is the current Safety Afloat rules which now state


A person who has not been classified as a "swimmer" may ride as a passenger in a rowboat or motorboat with an adult swimmer, or in a canoe, raft, or sailboat with an adult who is trained as a lifeguard or a lifesaver by a recognized agency.


While that may seem perfectly reasonable, my problem is this: who would you rather have a non-swimmer ride with, an adult who barely passed the swim test, or a 15yo. certified Lifeguard? And Why can't ANY certified lifeguard take out a non swimmer?


And for Venturing I can make it even more interesting and absurd argument (classical sense of the word0. Who would you rather have a non-swimmer be with an 21+ year old who has passed a swim test, or the 18 year old youth (again talking Venturing so he is a youth according to BSA policy) who is a certified instructor?


An aside as this is a true story and emphasizes the ridiculousness of BSA policy at times. As everyone knows swim tests need to be done every year per SSD. One year I didn't go to camp, and therefor I had not taken the swim test.

So I was a "non-Swimmer," despite being a lifeguard instructor. Now at the time SA allowed certified lifeguards to take non-swimmers out boating. So when my troop went canoeing, I had to ride with the 16 yo Lifeguard I had certified the year before to stay in compliance of SA since I was a "non swimmer" according to BSA policy.


So can you explain how the restricted activities, and you can add Safety Afloat policy too if you do not mind, are considered dangerous by the BSA?(This message has been edited by Eagle92)

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Richard -- where you're going to get the argument is in the definition of "hazardous work." A wheelbarrwo? Post hole digger? Honestly? I suppose now Eagle candidates will have to add DOB to the sign in sheets and monitor the work to make sure no 13-y-o uses an banned garden cart.


My observations over that years is the more adults involved in a project, the less youth lead the project becomes. Even if you have a strong youth leading the effort, his job turns from leading the project to trying to negotiate leadership with the adults. I'm a contractor. I can tell you the most important guy on a framing or carpentry crew is the cut man (that is, the guy running the saw.) He's the control point. All decisions get run through him. "17 and an eighth. Are you sure?" An adult in that slot becomes the defacto leader.


Our council EP review committee has created a strong bias for construction project. (I've always guessed someone on the committee was in the lumber business.) Many of the projects with which I've been involved would be substantially reduced in scope without the use of power tools. Over the years we've developed what I believe is a very reasonable approach to power tool use. We encourage our Scouts with construction-oriented projects to plan for one "cut day" on which they get a small group of older scouts (generally meaning 14 and above) who work closely with myself and a one or two other experienced carpenter types. In our troop, these guys are long-time scouters who know how to step back and allow the boys to lead. With a scout-to-adult ratio or 2- or 3-to-1, we're able to let the Eagle make all the leadership decisions AND toach to boys to safely use the power equipment. "Put your right hand on the saw, put your left hand way over here...." I'd much rather do this than teach Whittlin' Chip to a bunch of new scouts.


Instead of this silly list of Don't, how about determining the best practices of the troops who are using tools safely and developing that into a program.


And I still want to hear an explaination on the carts. That just baffles me.



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Okay - why is this? Where do we mandate the type of service project being conducted? The review committee is biased? Okay that's another thread.


"...Our council EP review committee has created a strong bias for construction project. (I've always guessed someone on the committee was in the lumber business.)..."


Back to the project at hand. Some hypothetical illustrations and hopefully they will help expand the "I do not see how that's dangerous" box several are trapped in.


And why did Timmy select a re-roof of the church steeple?


Why does Johnny need the 24 foot ladder? To scrape the lead paint off the light poles in the playground before he paints them of course.


We want to clean gutters on the homes of the elderly in town as a fundraiser.


Don't know why he fell off the semi trailer moving stacks of those boxes (it was just with a hand cart). Falling off the wagon is for another day.


But we have those floating air pumps and hoses, it's not like they have to dive more than a few feet to do the work.


The scaffold will go to the ceiling so he can change the lights.


We didn't know the gas line was there.


Not sure why the roof collapsed on them.


What does asbestos look like?


How is Little Eagle doing? How did his finger get smashed? "They think the finger will stay on, but he wasn't operating - he was just loading it...."



So more questions: As to the calls for another training, videos, etc. so do we grow our own qualified construction personnel and make every service project a vocational training program?


Perhaps create a framework to vet qualified supervision for project oversight? SRC a new acronym for the service project counselor was born today on Scouter.com!


Mandate OSHA 10 or 30 hour style course?


Require written hazard communication programs (have you collected the MSDS that meets the new GHS for that oak plank?


A degree in industrial arts and teaching certificate required to be a counselor? As in schools.


Do you see development of said course as strategic to the mission of the organization? How would YOU scope that?

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Every bit of that can be resolved by reasonable people employing reasonable judgement during the project approval process.

If you want to avoid every possible risk that stupid people might place themselves in, get rid of the Eagle project.

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So Richard, is this just recommendations for Eagle Projects? Or will Pinewood Derbys now need to be built by parents, and is the Chuckwagon now a thing of the past (The klondike too if there is no snow, and they need to take the runners off and put wheels on)?


The items you mentioned were paired with surrounding environments.. The 2 wheeled carts are paired with "on a trailor".. So you outlawed the two wheeled cart, for everything, when 99% of the time it is used on flat land. Same with pairing a ladder with up against a narrow pole, with lead paint no less.. So the ladder is now outlawed for everything..


Again I state some online video training that is manditory for someone who is supervising and Eagle project would be a better method.


I agree also just outlaw the Eagle Project, or Service Projects.. Because someone might be using that age appropriate rake, near an sheer drop off cliff and fall off, Or the age appropriate shovel, and hit an underground power line.



The chainsaws and reasonable power saws rules of the past, as stated, the adults could be asked to run them. With the new ridiculous list you can now assign jobs by age.. So Scouts 14years & over could use the paintbrush & wagon. Scouts 16 to 17 could us the scary leaf blower.. I "think" the 18 & up was similar to the old list which was reasonable.. And while somethings on your age appropriate list are somewhat understandable, others are ridiculous.. I think the silly ones are the ones we like to pull up to the light and poke fun at..


They are the items that will prove the point of those who state that boy scouts is for sissies.. As we treat our boys in such a manner.


It may impact an Eagle project for one of those 13 yo eagles, and though less so any projects run by those under 16 if they can't use x amount of tools. If they are not age appropriate to use these tools, how can they be expected to provide LEADERSHIP to the age appropriate that can use those tools?



Packsaddle asked "So, does anyone think a boy would be turned down at an EBOR if he had used a prohibited tool during his (otherwise successful) Eagle project?"


Now for the power tools that make sense, our Eagle Board would prefer they follow the rules. But I know they will not deny the boy their Eagle due to a mistake made at during the work days.


I have known our Eagle Board to see a picture of a young scout using a hazardous tool (a power saw of some type).. They had the scout remove the picture and did the Shultz thing of "I see nothing, I know nothing.."... When the scout didn't pick up on the subtle hint and said something incriminating again.. The Board did something else silly in correcting the scout so they could play ignorant.. "I forgot what it was".. But this time the scout got it, laughed, and played along.. And the troop leader knew for next time to advise the Eagle scout a little better..

(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

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Ah, the basis of the Nanny State -- we must protect the ignorant masses from themselves.


Who the heck said anything about roofing a church steeple? We're talking about building park benches and picnic tables! And do you believe that these guidelines are sufficient to protect an 18+ Venture crew to work on a 150' steeple? You've banned half my troop from using garden carts to haul leaves from the church yard and your arguement is against roofing church steeples?So more questions:


As to the calls for another training, videos, etc. so do we grow our own qualified construction personnel and make every service project a vocational training program? Perhaps create a framework to vet qualified supervision for project oversight?"


Are you familiar with the BSA programs regarding shooting sports? Aquatics? Climbing/COPE? I would venture to guess that these sorts of service projects are just as integeral to the program as are the three I listed. (It wouldn't be that difficult to ask a handful of councils to track the numbers on building-oriented EPs or those which use the tools listed.)


I absolutely would LOVE to have a month-long program theme for the troop on safe usage of various tools and equipment. A one-page poster of standard safety reminders would be a great thing to have at a service project. (Sweet 16 of Service Project Safety?) How about an outline for the youth leader to use for his three-minute safety briefing?


And I have no problem with more in-depth training for the top-level adults responsible for the program. I bet most troops have more folks with experience in the construction trades than they do leaders with the requisite experience for climbing or aquatics. I know our unit has six dads with building and/or industrial experience which would be right in line with such a program. Heck, I've got two guys qualified to help develop and teach the program!


What would be wrong with a program modeled after shooting sports and aquatics? Same three levels -- a two or three day course designed for the top folks in the council running the program; a one-day supervisors' certification class, just like RSO training; and online "Work-On Safety" awarareness training for unit leaders.


But it sounds to me, especially from your last post, you would just as soon ban all such work from the program. Instead of killing it with a thousand cuts, go ahead and ban it. But first come up with a plan to replace the vast number of Eagle Projects that will eliminate and a plan to pay hire contractors to replace the thousands and thousands of hours of maintenance work performed by troops and Ordeal candidates at council camps.


Sorry, gotta go. The troop has a service project this afternoon to install mulch in the gardens at the church. Since the pitchforks and wheelbarrows are out, I guess we'll be carrying the mulch in styrofoam cups.


(And by the way Richard, I do appreciate your willingness to get involved in the debate here. An honest exchange of opinions can only benefit the program.)

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This just in: all trees at all Scout camps to be cut down to ground level so Scouts younger than 18 can't fall out of them.

All roofs to be removed from the cabins so no-one can be hurt by possibly falling off the roof.

Everyone going to the latrine must take a latrine-buddy with them for the purposes of enhanced safety.

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