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Measuring "active in your troop or patrol" requirement

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A lot has been posted in a few different strings regarding the vagueness of the "Be active..." requirements for Star, Life and Eagle Ranks.


First we need to separate it from the Leadership requirement of "actively serve in a leadership role" They are separate and unrelated. You can fulfill one and not the other. So do not tie them together.


As far as active, there are some points I'd like to make and then some questions I would like to pose.


First read the requirement as printed in the hand book, in the case of the Star rank, "Be active in your troop and patrol for at least four months as a First Class Scout.


This is not about just making troop meetings and troop campouts. This is a combination of troop and patrol. If you are not using the Patrol Method then how can you measure this at all?


Secondly, If you knew someone who was raising triplets and was a Sunday school teacher, you might say they were very active. If you knew a single person who was a traveling sales representative and gone 5 days a week you might say they were active. A track coach, PE teacher, who was a Red Cross volunteer and in the Army reserves could seen as very busy. But, only if you understood their life outside of just one aspect of it. For instance, if I didn't understand that the Sunday School teacher was raising a large infant brood I might not appreciate how active they are in the church, considering how active they are outside.


Can you truly and fairly judge an individuals "activity" without understanding their entire situation?


Can the BSA accurately and fairly set an activity standard that reflected the lifestyles and characteristics of every scout?


Who best can set that measurement (hint: someone other than the SM)?


When should this measurement be set? (hint: The advancement program has a specific time for this)


Who should determine if the goal was met? (hint: not the scoutmaster)


I think after we discuss this the requirement will make much more sense to everyone.


Bob White


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Great topic Bob.

Here are some thoughts that were sent to me years ago. We rely on the SM, ASM, BoR interviews to assemble a "picture" of how busy a scout is. The SM and advancement chair try to work with a scout who may not be available during part of the year because of other involvements. These kids are busy nowadays and knowing their situation(s) only helps in setting them up for success.



For Star rank, you have to serve in a troop leadership position. Did you serve well and help out the troop,

or did you miss meetings, show up unprepared, not get things done, etc.?


Are you starting to show the kind of leadership a field rank scout should show? Do you help organize

other scouts to get things done at campouts (like put up dining flies, set up capture-the-flag, etc.)?


Do you watch out for other scouts and make sure they're doing OK - on the trail, in camp, etc.?


Can you be relied on to finish what you start?


Are you always ready to assist and be helpful when you see something that needs doing, or do you just

"hang out" with your buddies?



As a troop leader, do you actively take up leadership when you see something that needs doing?


Can you organize & coordinate other scouts of all ages (without yelling)?


Are you a major player in the "behind-the-scenes" work that makes the troop run - organizing equipment,

making camping arrangements, setting up activities for the PLC?


Are you a good, patient teacher and example to younger scouts?


Are you involved in your school or in the community as a volunteer?




Do you participate actively in all troop activities?


Do all the adults and scouts treat you almost as if you were another scoutmaster?


Are you involved in your school and community as a leader?



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I'm looking foward to following this thread...We have two boys working on eagle projects that I DO Not consider active in our troop between the two of them maybe attend 2 meetings a month have contributed zero to helping our new scouts, do not attend outings and do not wear the uniform correctly non scout pants with chains hanging from them for example (this has been addressed) despite what activity's are done outside the troop the requirment does clearly state be active with the patrol or troop. I wish it would clearly state attend __% of mtgs and or outings. Am I being too harsh?

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Excellent post! One question though. You posted

"Can you truly and fairly judge an individuals "activity" without understanding their entire situation?"


If a Scout is involved in sports, band & church group as well as Scouts he is very busy and something is going to suffer. Now if this Scout misses practices for his sports team, he probably won't play. Likewise for the band. So can we use the same criteria as part of defining "active"?


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10(This message has been edited by evmori)

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I suppose Boy Scouts could be just like band or a sports team Ed. But that would mean we might have to adopt the mindset that "our" activity alone is the center of the scouts universe with no room for any other thoughts and activities. That I do not think is the goal of the program. I suppose a troop could require stringent activity levels, but then only the hardest of hardcore boys would benefit from the program and the troop would probably never grow beyond 10-15 scouts. While those boys might have a wonderful experience, I shudder to think of all the boys who might have found something valuable if they only had a chance but were shut out due to capricious and arbitrary rules set out by a despotic Scoutmaster who has no regard for the BSA program.


In many similar threads I have listed many famous Americans who were atheletes and Eagle Scouts, Bill Bradley and Hank Aaron amoung them. I hate to think the reason there arent more recent examples because sports and scouts have decided its one or the other.


The Ancient Greek culture had an image of true manliness, it was thought of an athelete, physically strong and also a poet. One who understood the geometry of the arc of the javelin as he threw it. One who could play a musical intrument as well as he could wrestle. As gifted in the arts as he was interested in politics.


Its interesting as much as we admire the ancient civilizations, we make it nearly impossible for kids to become what has become characterized as a "renaissamce man"



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Keep going!

We have some very diverse opinions here, but lets stay on topic. Let's just discuss the Requirement for "be active in your troop and patrol". You raise good points jbroganjr but I don't see their relevance to this topic. Most of your post deals with either the "actively serve in a leadership position" or on questions best left to the Board of Review or Scoutmaster Conference. (I would have real difficulty allowing 2 1/2 of your three Eagle questions at a board or in a SMC.)


The activity requirement is a separate issue that we are addressing.


So how do find a measurement of activity? Who sets it? Who decides if it was met? When is all this accomplished?


Bob White



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Let me pose another question.


"If a Scout is involved in sports, band & church group as well as Scouts he is very busy and something is going to suffer."


Really? Who?


The scout who is participating in activities that give him a variety of experiences and growth?


The Scouting Movement that makes boys promise to stay physically fit and rewards participation in organized sports, recoginize a duty to God, and has troop offices and advancement based on musicianship?


The church for having an active member that belives a person should be reverent?


The band or sports team that has a member of good character and an understanding of sportsmanship and teamwork?


Where exactly is the suffering?


Perhaps the Scoutmaster, who looks more at attendance than at the the evidence of scouting in action beyond the limits of the troop meeting.

If where the scout is on troop meeting night is more important to the adult leader than WHO the scout is in everyday life, perhaps a little suffering is a good.


Bob White

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Yes, but if we allow scouts to skate through (which in my opinion is what most do when they are in sports) what are we teaching them about scouts. To me it is telling them that scouts can be placed on the back burner, and picked up any old time when they are ready. I would really like to know how other scouts who are at almost every event and outing feel about these scouts that only show up when it fits their schedule (I have heard some comments from a few scouts, while on campouts). Maybe scouts should be more like sports, where either you are in all the way or not at all. My vision is some what clouded in that I hold BSA on a higher level than sports. Watching sports these days for young boys, I do not see that it teaches them anything, but win at all cost and this is your life for the next X number of months.


so you ask who suffers, the scouts who are trying to lead a troop with, boys(notice I did not say scouts) that only show up when it fits their schedule.


But I guess it really does not matter, as dsteele said in another post, its really up to the unit/council anyway.

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SomeTHING not someONE. A youth that is involved in many activities PLUS school is very busy. While there is nothing wrong with that, one of the activities or school will not get the attention necessary and therefore suffer.


I understand attendance isn't the measure of a Scout. Committment to the Scouting program is. A Scout who puts his patrol/troop on the back burner doesn't have that committment.


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Dan, I unserstand what you are saying. Remember, those scouts for whom Scouting is their number one priority will advance faster than those dont have scouts as their number one priority. My son, for whom scouting was his priority made Eagle at 16 and will be receiving his second bronze palm just as he turns 18. We have another scout in the troop who will be turning 18 this month and will/should pass his Eagle Board of Review this month as well. He wont be getting any palms. Then again he was Quartermaster of the Band equipment for his high school.


I dont think anyone here has espoused "lightening" the requirements for anyone. If a scout is active in sports, then he is active in sports, it will take that much longer for him to get in his 20 nights of camping in a tent for the camping merit badge. It will take him longer to get his hikes or cycling trips in or swimmimng in for those merit badges. If a scout is in a position of responsibility and does not perfrom satisfactory, take him out of the position before his term is up. It is the Scoutmaster's job to be sure each scout knows what is expected of him and to guide him to successful completion. If it cant be done due to outside activities, then the scoutmaster should relieve the scout of the responsibility until such time as the scout can do a good job.


While I dont mind having scouts with other interests, I do mind scouts who dont do their jobs. If the scout wants to embrace a full and active life, I applaud it, I also want his scouting done with the same spirit he gives other activities.


If scouts grumble that others who dont show up advance at the same rate that one who do show up, its not the absentee's fault, its the troops advancement system that should be reviewed. If a Senior Patrol Leader or other such leader is never around, doesnt communicate with the troop and gets credit for rank, I would grumble as well, not at the scout but at the system that rewards such behavior.


There is nothing wrong with a scout with multiple interests, but there is also nothing wrong for holding a scout to the requirements.


Now, to get to Bob White's original idea, to me "active" means when the scout receives an assignment, anywhere from being SPL to planning a patrol's menu to doing the evening dishes, it gets done to the satisfaction of all involved. If someone takes on a responsibility and does not complete it, he cant say I was at practice, or I had a game. As wise Master Yoda says "...there is no try, only do or do not..."


If you promise to do something or are assigned, a scout may be counted on to do it. If he doesnt, I dont care how many meetings he attends or campouts he goes on, he is not an active scout!(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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Ed, has hit on something that keeps coming to my mind. Commitment. I'm constantly trying to wrap my brain around the idea I keep hearing in these threads of Scouting not pressing the Scout like other activities do. While I agree with it in principal, I have a hard time with it in practicality. Understand, I'm still involved in Cub Scouts, but I see the same thing there. Scouting is approached by many Scouts and Scouters as a casual activity. We hope that we deliver the program well enough to help the boy to choose to commit to scouting. But at the same time, all of his other activities demand his commitment. He has to make a choice, either do that activity or don't. Face it, a teenage boy in sports isn't in little league anymore where there are options of playing on a competitive team or a recreational team. He is most likely playing for his school and had to try out. He had to be good enough just to make the team. If he drops in and out of practice and games like he does in scouts, he will either be sitting on the bench or kicked off of the team. He has to be commited to the team to participate. While some think that sports teaches boys little else other than winning at any cost, I disagree. Playing on a team (especially at a competitive level) teaches a boy teamwork, discipline, sportsmanship, commitment, strategy, following rules and accepting authority, leadership, developing their mind and body, personal goal setting, etc. A team has a boy far more hours per week than a unit does at one hour a week. Where is he being influenced more and learning more? My son learned from t-ball forward that he was to wear his uniform to identify with his team and that anytime he wore it he was representing the team to everyone who saw him in it. Your hat was on your head and turned the right direction, your shirt was buttoned and tucked in, you had your belt on and your cleats tied. Your uniform was always clean before a game. The boys learned the rules, accepted them and followed them. If you showed up not fully uniformed, you sit on the bench and only got to bat (league rules). I come to den and pack meetings and see the sloppiest kids in the world because even though we are a uniformed movement, it is optional. I don't see the boys learning powerful lessons that they are applying to their lives because they see den meetings as a time to hang with their buddies....and at one hour per week, it is hard to impart a lot to them. I don't want this to sound like I'm bashing scouting, I'm not, I think it is a great program......if it can be delivered to a commited group of kids. I know it goes against the philosophy of Scouting to make the demands that school and sports does. But, as long as scouting is treated as a come and go, drop in and out activity, it will come in at last place for many boys and families. Unlike school and sports, they have an option to participate in scouts. Unless we make the program compelling enough to entice their commitment, they will participate in the activities that demand their attention. With this philosophy, measuring activity is a moving target.

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I think the choices Scouts have to make regarding their level of activity in all of their interests is one of the benefits of Scouting, not a negative. If we've taught a Scout well, he knows how to make the choices he should about where he should be when. Have we helped him realize that when he makes a commitment, he should live up to it? If so, then he WILL be at baseball practice when he might rather be camping. He WILL be at band camp when he'd rather be playing baseball, and he WILL be at the campout if he has a responsiblity to be there, even if it means missing a practice. The trick for these active guys is to make sure their level of commitment equals their ability to commit. I've mentioned before that we have a number of atheletes and band members in our Troop, and many who now work. As much as possible, they plan each schedule around everything else, taking into account the level of commitment they made to each. During sports seasons, we are told that Pete and Bill won't be at many meetings and events. Scouts know not to elect them to Positions of Responsiblity during those times, and PLs know not to assign them anything on the duty roster. When the season is over, these guys are the first to volunteer for tough jobs, the first to sign up for the campout, and ready and willing to do whetever is assigned on the duty roster.


Is every boy like this? No way. But the ones who are almost always seem to make it to Eagle. The ones who aren't, well, I haven't seen one stay past his 16th birthday, and I've not seen one make it to Eagle yet. I suspect these young men either haven't learned how to prioritize and work their plan, or Scouting isn't important enough to them to sacrifice their other activities. If it is the first, then both the boy and we as mentors failed. But if it is the second, the boy should be congratulated, I think, for making a choice and living with the consequences of the choice.


We do this same thing in adult life. We want or need to work, we want a family, we want to have a few nice things, we want to play golf, or fish, or race cars. We prioritize all of these things, and sometimes somethings get squeezed out, or cut to a minimum. If we decide that playing golf is important enough, we may sacrifice some family time to do so. That doesn't mean we aren't committed to our family. It doesn't mean we aren't "active". It just means that for four hours a week, we aren't "perfectly" active. I don't think anyone could criticize a once a week golfer for being away from his family. I sure don't think we should criticize a Scout who has used the same thought process and allocated his time in order to take advantage of the oppurtunities he has to partake in a wide variety of interests.


I'll use one more analogy. If you are responsible for hiring, would you be more apt to hire someone who seems spread too thin, because he is active in Scouting, PTA, and a professional organization, or one who seems to do nothing with his spare time? I myself would lean toward the guy who has found a way to juggle all his interests. I'd bet that he's the guy who can manage multiple projects at the same time. I think the same is true with Scouting: Show me a boy who seems too busy to be "perfectly" active, and I'll show you a Scout likely to be a "perfect" Eagle.



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A good friend of mine pointed out that scouting is it for some kids...they just aren't going to make it on a sports team etc.

I think that to be active is to be active and to quantify that participation may be the bane of many a scoutmaster as each case will be different. We do not want to lose the future Hank Aarons of the world but neither do we want to lose the kids for whom "scouting is it" if we bend so far or at all for busy kids.

One interesting guideline mentioned in these threads is about how kids learn about teamwork and discipline with sports, the same applies for scouting and so busy kids will take longer. The Bane of this is how busy our younger kids are...and how it derails 1st class 1st year ideals. Yeah you can make 1st class in a year, but not when you are involved with everything else.


Be active for Star: - Be a Guide teach scout skills, help plan outings, be the asst to life and eagle scouts and the entire plc in implementing the program. Be active includes setting an example in dress, speach and action. Be there at outings


Life - ability to be a JASM, Instructor, guideetc. Ability to come up with and be active in planning the outings the PLC comes up with. plus everything in star. I.E. Life scouts in our troop also plan and execute fund raising projects like a spaghetti dinner.


Eagle - all of the above, serve as JASM, help recruit new scouts, coordinate and address problems between patrols, troop and adults. ASM in training essentially.

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"Watching sports these days for young boys, I do not see that it teaches them anything, but win at all cost and this is your life for the next X number of months."


Isn't this what some Scoutmasters do when they make the Eagle Scout Rank the purpose or goal for being a scout(as many do)?


"Yes, but if we allow scouts to skate through"


No one is saying skate, I am asking how do we measure this one requirement properly?


" I understand attendance isn't the measure of a Scout. Committment to the Scouting program is."


Really? Show me where that is written. Every thing I have learned says that a scout is measured by the way he lives the Oath and Law. Can't that be done without a specific level of activity? How does someone measure the degree of another persons committment.



Scouting is not and was not designed to operate in a vacuum of scouting. To want or expect or worse demand that a boy make scouting his only activity you do a great diservice to the boy and to the program.


Scouting is meant to be the seasoning that gives the flavor to the steak of life. It is what gives direction and structure to the other activities. You cannot make a meal of just the seasoning. Boys have a limited time to explore the world around them before they are reined in by the responsibilities of adulthood. I would never deter them from an opportunity to explor activities that add to their growth such as, sports, arts, travel, education, service. It is not the scouts responsibility to be at every scout event or do everything right. It is our responsibility as Scout leaders to make them WANT to be at every scout activity and to WANT to learn how to do things right.


I hope this thread is getting folks thinking about what "Be Active in your troop and patrol" means? How do we measure it? Who sets the limits? Who Measures it? When is it decided and measured?


Keep a goin'

Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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