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Can a Scoutmaster pick & choose advancement requirements?

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My son's scoutmaster wants to try the so-called troop method, eliminating the patrol method in the process. Advancement requirements for Star, Life & Eagle stipulate that the candidate be active in his troop AND patrol for a certain period of time, 4 or 6 months. When I asked him about this requirement, he replied and I quote " what do you want me to do cross out patrol before I sign it". Can a Scoutmaster do this?

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Per the Advancement Committee Guidebook states clearly (sorry I don't have it on me so I can't quote exactly the current issue) that only the national office has the authority to change a requirement.


Regardless of your son's SM's intentions, he is leading your son down the wrong path. I would consider visiting other units and see how they operate. I don't know how much more blunt I can be and still be polite.(This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)

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I have been looking for it, haven't found it yet...but I have read in an official BSA publication that Scoutmasters re by no means allowed to omit any requirements. Even a scout with a disability must complete all requirements to the best of their abilities, then if they can not complete a task they are to submit it in writing and the council will decide further actions.


I'd say have a talk with the SM, if you can find it in writing (I'll look for it more) show it to him.

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No, of course a scoutmaster cannot do this. And it is just as much an issue for tenderfoot-2nd class-1st class ranks, where scouts are required to do all sorts of activities within their patrols (specific to the patrol, not the whole troop).


You know that this SM is making things up as he goes along. Don't second-guess yourself on this. You're correct, he is not. The question is really only what you will do with this information.



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Yah, lets' take a step back here, eh?


The issue here doesn't sound like it's got much to do with advancement. It's a continuation of E-Mtns previous thread. Da issue is a SM who doesn't understand and is a bit afraid of patrol method and youth leadership.


That's not unusual, eh?


I reckon in my experience that most relatively new adult unit leaders are afraid of patrol method and youth leadership. They're still tryin' to learn the ropes and figure out this Boy Scouting thing themselves, eh? The good ones want to take ownership of things and "make things run right" for the boys, and they want to lead themselves in order to do what's best. In that way, they're at least good role models of leadership.


Takes a while for 'em to start to figure out that yeh get better results for kids if yeh step back a bit and let the lads lead and make mistakes and learn the ropes and figure out this Boy Scouting thing. Encourage them to take ownership and be good role models. So after a year or two of more adult-run troop method, they start to move back to youth-run patrol method.


Of course some never make da switch, eh? Sometimes because they're too fearful that the youth can't do it. Sometimes because their vision of Scouting is all about the unit and not the boys - they want the unit to look sharp, they want da troop to "be successful" - they don't get 'round to thinking about how to help each boy learn and grow and be successful. Like da mediocre youth coaches out there, eh? They focus on their win-loss record or Eagle count, not on the kids.


Can't say from afar which you're facing, E-Mtns. Could be a new fellow who will become a good scouter, given some patience and time to learn and grow. Could be one of those fellows whose vision is stuck on the wrong thing.


I do know that either way, yeh won't accomplish much by tryin' to argue these petty points with the man. Better off being friendly, encouraging training, giving him da URL to these forums or to some other scouting lists, encouraging him to visit the other strong troops and SMs in your district who run real patrol-method, youth-led programs and see what's really possible.


Don't argue with the fellow. Be Loyal, and Kind, and Courteous, and Helpful. Give him the space and the resources to help him grow and expand his vision.




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Yeah, what Beav said.


If your best case is based on advancement, I'd say you're splitting some rather fine hairs. If a boy participates in the activities and meetings of the unit -- however the unit conducts those meetings -- he's met that requirement. (And to the rest of you, no, let's not even go there.)


Now if the Scoutmaster blows off the requirement to serve in a position of responsibility because the troop only has a senior patrol leader, then I think you have a legitimate complaint.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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This is all a bit of a tangent, but I see this as reflecting the validity of the organization and structure of our troops and patrols. Accepting this concept may be key to appreciating that it works, and has in the BSA for 100 years, and in other environments for 200 or more years before that. I hate to use military comparisons, as people mistake the analogy as a statement of para-military association, which is not correct. However, Baden Powell was an army officer, and structurally there are some organizational comparisons which are difficult to argue. Allow me to quote from about.com regarding the US Army:


The basic building block of all Army organizations is the individual soldier.

[The focus of BSA centers around the progress, skills and personal growth of the individual scout.]


A small group of soldiers organized to maneuver and fire is called a squad.

Squad - 9 to 10 soldiers. Typically commanded by a sergeant or staff sergeant, a squad or section is the smallest element in the Army structure, and its size is dependent on its function.

[this is very much like a PATROL of 6-8 scouts, which is led by a mid-level youth leader, not unlike an army sergeant; the PATROL acts in concert, cooking, cleaning, hiking, and exploring their world together.]


Platoon - 16 to 44 soldiers. A platoon is led by a lieutenant with an NCO as second in command, and consists of two to four squads or sections.

Company - 62 to 190 soldiers. Three to five platoons form a company, which is commanded by a captain with a first sergeant as the commander's principle NCO assistant. An artillery unit of equivalent size is called a battery, and a comparable armored or air cavalry unit is called a troop.

A company is typically the smallest Army element to be given a designation and affiliation with higher headquarters. This alphanumeric and branch designation causes an "element" to become a "unit."

[The platoon/company structure makes good comparison to a Boy Scout troop, which is the smallest registered and numbered unit in the Council. The leader of the troop is the SPLsimilar to a young officer with an NCO second (ASPL); the SPL coordinates (not runs) the actions of the Patrols (through the PLs). When you include the SM and ASMs (and committee), the company (platoon/company) reflects the Adult leadership of the Boy Scout troop]


This is not a flawless comparison, by any means, but the structure is remarkably similar. Army squads really are the little teams which do the dirty work (like patrols acting as a small group). The platoon or company, as a whole is too large an organization not to be broken into smaller, functional blocks, each with their own leaders. Baden-Powells British army of the late 19th century is obviously different from the modern US Army, but I believe that Boy Scouts organization within the troop probably closer resembles that historic military unit and structure. Remember, also, back in BPs day, young boys (early teens) often went into the army, and worked their way up based upon their leadership and skills.


Kudu presents an excellent comparison to a naval ship of the 18th and early 19th century, as is accurately depicted in the movie Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. He provides a great synopsis here for comparing the organization of gun crews to the patrols of a troop, each led by a young capable leader. Check out his site for details.

It works because it works. Don't try to make the wheel an oval so it looks sleeker. It won't roll better because of it.


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The answer is NO.


Everyone has great analogies, I especially like the whole squad, platoon, company, battalion, brigade, corps, (this can go on forever)...by the BS. Great comparison, but I would call the SPL a Junior Officer, with his staff, and his PL's as the NCO's. This is the second time I have seen mention of a so called 'troop method.' Is that the one where adults pick and choose what is convienent to follow? I assume that would be the boys being boys crowd, that is uniformed in boardshorts and flip flops.

Time to vote with your feet.

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Hmmm, if one is going to be using military analogies, one might be better served to use the one Baden Powell used. Scouts... an independent small group that went out separately from any other command and fulfilled a mission using it's own resources and training. If that be the case, it kinda blows the whole military structure because scouts didn't travel with the army, they were detached independent commands that were under "command" of a mission, not an officer.


I'm thinking B-P should of called them soldiers rather than scouts if he was thinking along those lines being promoted in today's program. 100 years ago, there was no PCisms and could easily have chosen that definition, but didn't.



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I now know why I'm so committed to doing the right thing for these boys, I was a forward scout in the US Army, 2/1 Cav, for four years and Honorably Discharged as an E-5 Sgt., and an Asst. Squad Leader. I have contacted my Council Commissioner about my issues and look forward to his advice. If I can stick it out I can't wait for Aprils Roundtable, in our calendar, leadership is the program feature we'll discuss.

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