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Eamonn

"You seem to not have any written rules"

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In the other thread it was said:

You seem to not have any written rules.

Bob White, said:

There are two rules you need for a troop.

1. Adults will follow the program, policies, and procedures of the BSA.

2. Scouts will behave according the Oath and Law of the BSA program.

Bob did an outstanding job of saying what I wanted to say. In fact he did a better job than I would have done.

There is a difference between information and rules and bylaws.

The where and when of Troop meetings is not a rule or a bylaw.

My hope for the Lads that join Scouting is that we the adults will help the BSA in meeting the mission of the BSA:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

While Obedient is a Scout Law, we want people that will make choices, not just follow the bylaw.

Each and every Scout Law states that a Scout is. We as adults have to believe this and allow our scouts to be:

Trustworthy

Loyal

Helpful

Friendly

Courteous

Kind

Obedient

Cheerful

Thrifty

Brave

Clean

Reverent

They do this because they have on their honor said that they will.

The list is a comprehensive one, so comprehensive that I fail to see any situation that isn't covered.

Many people seem to make rules about uniform. Uniform is a method of Scouting and it should be a goal for each and every Troop. Having or owning a uniform is not a requirement for membership in the BSA.

I was asked "would you also start a business without a business plan?

As the owner of what in the end turned out to be a very successful business. I did have several business plans in order to get them I worked very closely with several professional people. My Accountant was a big help, my lawyer was wonderful, my local bank was a big help, the local Civic and Industrial Association were a big help, local purveyors were very useful, other people who owned businesses like the one I wanted to start were very helpful.

We are so lucky in Scouting that the BSA has done the leg work for us.

Eamonn.

 

 

 

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With all due respect, fellas, the remainder of Bob's post from the other thread makes it sound like all you have to do is open a book, and the world of Scouting will be a happy place. If it was only so. The Scout program provides most of what you need and is very good at what it does, but a critical piece is missing, and that's dedicated and creative leaders and parental support. It's the creative and wise implementation of the Scout program that makes it a success, not just adherence to the text. It's one thing to say "learn a square knot", it's something else to teach it in a creative and fun way that makes the Scouts WANT to learn it.

 

As far as whether the Scout Law is something that covers all occasions, I can think of one thing that might be a bit more all-encompassing, and that's the book "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" :-)

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Who said anything about "just adherence to the text"? What I said was be a leader who understands and follows the program. When you take the training and follow the lessons you learn how to show the need for the skill in order to create the desire for the skill. That is a part of the program.

 

Too many posters are overly concerned about being "in charge", they are ignoring the fact that theirjob is play a game with a purpose. I have never been around so many scouters before joining this forum, that talk more of uniforms, membership, snipe hunts, what the rules should be, etc, than they do about actually scouting.

 

The few rules that there are are very easy to fine and very specific. The program is about what boys can do not about what they can't do, shouldn't do, or what you won't let them do.

 

Forget the myriad of fabricated rules created by adults to make their lives easier rather than to make a Scout's life better.

 

Loving this scouting stuff is fine...knowing and following it is better.

 

BW

 

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I guess I am confused, which happens quite often. So what I am reading is follow the BSA rules to the letter. I totally agree with this statement. But I also read that in the grey areas, there really are no rules. So, uniforms for example although recommended are not required so the boys can wear whatever they would like, whenever they would like. Drinking alcohol, which is not tollerated by BSA (BSA rules do not spell out what a troop is to do with a boy caught drinking) can be a minor offense to one scout resulting in a "johnny don't do that again" to an expulsion to another boy depending on who's son he is. Another part of my bylaws deal with troop book keeping. An example, each scout has an individual account. If a scout chooses to quit, the money earned from fundraisers is kept by the troop. I am sure that at least one of you has had a parent who feels Johnny should be able to take the $35 cash with him when he quits because he earned it. Although I do respect everyone's input on this site I do disagree that a troop should not have bylaws. There are too many grey areas in scouting and the rules provided by BSA, heck just look at the conversations sparked by these on this forum. To fill in these grey areas, why not have rules in writing. No, you may not agree with mine, I may not agree with yours but they belong to your troop. Why not have them in writing as long as they do not conflict with BSA? BTW Eamonn, I truly do respect all you contribute, this is in no way meant to be a slam to you.

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Problems on this forum stemming from percieved "grey areas" are actually caused by leaders not knowing or understanding the program, its policies and procedures.

 

For instance. A scout drinking alcohol is a danger to himself and others. The BSA says he goes home. The scout and his parents meet with the troop committee to determine his future in the unit. (Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training)

 

Uniform regulations say that the unit or its leaders do not have the authority to alter the BSA uniform. How, and if, a scout wears his uniform will depend on the skill of the leader to implement this "Method" the same as any other method of scouting. (Uniform Insignia Guide, Scoutmaster Leader Specific training)

 

Personal accounts are an artificial product manufactured by units and not by the BSA. Do not expect the BSA to have policies for something that is not a part of the program. The BSA does support a finance plan in which the per person cost of scouting is determined in advance and the funds raised go to offset those established costs. That way a scout can earn his own way without the scout or the parents seeing it as their money. (the Scoutmaster Handbook)

 

So you see the grey areas are not in the program so much as in an individual's knowledge of the program. The vast majority of situations on this board happen from either not knowing, or not following, a program that is well documented and provides ample training and assitance in delivering.

 

Don't get me wrong I don't think a scout leader is going to know everything they need to be a quality leader in a month. But it certainly is learnable in 6 months. And you have a lifetime to practice and improve. But my goodness, look at the number of leaders with years in the program who do not even know the basics, never took training, never even read the Scout Handbook except for the requirements pages. Forget about grey areas there are leaders on this forum and others living in black holes of scouting and refuse to change regardless of what evidence they are shown that they are in conflict with the BSA program.

 

The only thing they have in common with scouters like Eamonn, FScouter, OGE, and others who understand the program is that they almost dress the same.

 

 

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We have written rules; the Scout Oath and Law. They're written everywhere, and the great thing about our rules is that every Scout repeats the whole set of them, every week at the opening of our Troop meetings. So, I know they know them...

 

I would submit that every situation can be addressed in one of the three parts of the Oath, or one of the 12 points of the Law.

 

Like BW said, BSA policies and the GTSS do in fact tell us what we need to do if a lad is caught with alcohol. That's an easy one. There will probably be situations that are not specifically addressed in anything in writing by BSA. That's what we're there for. Trying to make rules that cover everything is merely a way that people can hide behind a piece of paper and avoid accountability and standing up and saying "this is the right thing to do, because it's the right thing to do". Plus, it's a fool's errand, because you'll expend energy you should invest in program delivery trying to write the perfect set of rules.

 

I don't get hung up over Scout accounts either. Our committee, in their meetings, decides how fund raiser proceeds are apportioned to the Scouts. That's their thing; I don't let it affect how I do my job as SM...mainly because it has nothing to do with it.

 

I think the advocates of rules and bylaws who think they make things easier for them are actually making their lives more complicated. I've always found that the easiest thing is to stick to the program, keep it simple, use the tools you're given, and try to have fun.

 

KS

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Bob,

>Who said anything about "just adherence to the text"?

Well, I said that, Bob, in reference to your comments in the other thread where you said twice that leaders should "read the Handbook". I took your post in it's context to mean that it's your belief that everything you need to know to handle every program situation in Scouting is covered in the Handbook and the training. I think that that's expecting an awful lot from both. I know that you relish in taking a phrase out of the context of a post and proceeding to attack that, and then proceeding to denigrate anyone who tries to improve on the basic concepts as creating a "Rube Goldberg" invention. Also, you say that anyone who doesn't agree with something in Scouting "can't manage a real program" and is just hiding in the "smoke" by attacking some other issue.

 

So, let me state, again, what I tried to say before. I think that the success of the program is not defined by just following what's in "the Handbook" and the associated training. The Handbook tells you, mostly, what the Scout has to do to gain advancement; the training is only as good as the trainer. What makes the program a success is the imaginative implementation of the program in a way that makes it interesting for the Scouts. There are plenty of resources to assist in this, and it's up to the leaders, and the Scouts, to decide which resources fit the makeup of their Troop. That has nothing to do with making up your own rules or anything like that. It's all about implementation. I think that if a leader who is confused, as you say, just follows the Handbook, and that is all they ever do, then that program is probably going to fail. I hope that that's not what you meant. Reading the Handbook and going to training is no more going to make a successful leader than reading the Rules of the Road and going to driver training is going to make a good driver. Does it provide a good foundation? Sure, if you take the time to read the material and you have a quality trainer. Beyond that, it's looking at the unique situation you're in. Some cars have specific handling needs that you have to take into account; some troops have a Scout makeup that requires a particular approach to the program to have it be successful. That doesn't mean wholesale changes. You don't change the basic mechanics of turning a car, but you may adjust the way you turn a particular model to account for it's handling. You don't change the basic Scouting program, but you may adjust how you present it to meet the needs of your particular troop. That's where the best leaders make their mark. Not by just reading the book, but by figuring out how best to present it to their troop, through their junior leaders.

 

>The few rules that there are are very easy to fine and very specific. The program is about >what boys can do not about what they can't do, shouldn't do, or what you won't let them do.

 

I think that that's the first time I've ever seen or heard anyone say that Scouting only has a "few rules". :-) We have whole sessions in our Council just on filling out forms and the rules that go along with them. Scouting has lots of rules, and for many good reasons, including safety and liability. And, the G2SS has lots of things that Scouts can't and shouldn't do.

 

I'm all for friendly discourse, Bob. I've had several discussions with Eamonn, and others, where we have disagreed, and he's managed to make his very good points while remaining courteous and in context. I respect him for this. Bob, you and I, if you take a look at our posts in full context, agree on many things. It's unfortunate, I think, that you have displayed a desire to not only make your points, but also to attack the people who disagree with you on what I feel like is a more personal level. That really does take all the fun out of these discussions.

 

 

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Prairie Scouter,

I am not the topic of the thread, do not try to make me the topic. I have not made a personal attack at you and I expect the same in return. A third of your post is simply your opinion of me and frankly I do not see what that has to do with this or any other topic on scouting. Stick to the topic please.

 

Would you say that a driver who never learns the traffic laws, doesn't know the contents of Rules of the Road, and never takes a driving class would be as good a driver as one who does?

 

Do you think a driver who makes his own rules as he goes along is a good driver?

 

Because that is what we are discussing here. What you need to know to drive the car is in the Rules of the Road and taught in Drivers ed. All the driver has to do is learn them and practice them. They are not asked or expected to change the rules.

 

Unless you intend to do every activity in the G2SS you have no need to know every rule. You just need to know the rules for the activity you are doing. There are only 4 areas of scouting that are controlled by BSA policies. And almost all come down to the same thing...do what it tells you in the scout handbook.

 

You raise a good point. If you get into someone else's car "you adjust" to how it steers, you don't go tinkering with someone els's car without permission.

 

When you become a scout leader "you" adjust to the scouting program.

 

As far as the number of forms you have to do. If you are the Scoutmaster or assistant and you are following the program, then you have ZERO forms to fill out and about four that you have to sign.

 

Out of curiosity Priarie Scouter, how many forms do you fill out?

 

 

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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OK folks, quick and to the point, we are not going down the road that seems to be traveled all too frequently. I ask for inflammatory comments to be stricken from posts in the future and yes I will decide what is inflammatory

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Bob,

Well, it may not have been "two-thirds", but you're right, and I'm sorry for carrying on about it.

 

To continue.....

>>Would you say that a driver who never learns the traffic laws, doesn't know the contents >>of Rules of the Road, and never takes a driving class would be as good a driver as one who >>does?

Possibly with a great deal of experience and guidance, but highly unlikely.

 

Do you think a driver who makes his own rules as he goes along is a good driver?

No

 

>>Because that is what we are discussing here. What you need to know to drive the car is in >>the Rules of the Road and taught in Drivers ed. All the driver has to do is learn them and >>practice them. They are not asked or expected to change the rules.

I'll agree to the extent that the things you note will teach a person to drive. However, that doesn't make them a good driver, which is where I was headed with my comments.

 

>>Unless you intend to do every activity in the G2SS you have no need to know every rule. >>You just need to know the rules for the activity you are doing. There are only 4 areas of >>scouting that are controlled by BSA policies. And almost all come down to the same >>thing...do what it tells you in the scout handbook.

I think we actually agree on this. You are right that you only need to know the rules that you have a need to know. I was commenting in the bigger picture that there are plenty of rules, and agree that in the reality of everyday scouting, you probably only have to deal with a small subset of them.

 

>>You raise a good point. If you get into someone else's car "you adjust" to how it steers, >>you don't go tinkering with someone els's car without permission.

 

>>When you become a scout leader "you" adjust to the scouting program.

From a personal perspective, that's definitely true, Bob. I was trying to make the point that while the program is what it is, you might change the presentment of the program a bit to meet the temperment of a particular group of Scouts. That doesn't change the content, and I wasn't suggesting that. Let's take the cooking requirements for Tenderfoot. Some Scouts might have no experience cooking, and for them, it's perfectly suitable to stick with the basics. But for Scouts that have some experience, it might be more fun to meet the requirement while doing some sort of "cooking contest" or something to get the work done but challenge them a bit while adding some fun.

 

>>As far as the number of forms you have to do. If you are the Scoutmaster or assistant and >>you are following the program, then you have ZERO forms to fill out and about four that >>you have to sign.

 

Out of curiosity Priarie Scouter, how many forms do you fill out?

Well, you're probably right that I don't personally fill out that many. (I am the SM) Maybe instead of forms I should be saying "paperwork". I was referring to the amount of forms that I end up "processing" in some way or another, ie, forms that go through my hands. We've got tour permits, medical forms, troop meeting organizers, permission forms, some internal forms for tracking outings, financial statements, outing forms from the outing location (park space requests, etc),etc. As you've said in other areas, at least some of this is "self inflicted", but I think most of it is really necessary to successfully organizing the troop. Our troop is fairly small, so we don't have all of the suggested positions filled at this time. I would love to have an "outings chair" to take care of a lot of this, but right now we don't. Our troop went through some hard times a few years ago, and the previous Scoutmaster spent several years working on rebuilding the troop; I've been continuing that work, and while we're getting better every year, we still have a ways to go.

 

(This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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"To fill in these grey areas, why not have rules in writing."

 

My personal experience has been that the gray areas really are not so gray at all. What used to appear gray has become more black and white. When you see a gray area, apply the situation to the 12 points of the Scout Law, the Scout Promise, the 8 methods of Boy Scouting, the 3 Aims, and the Mission.

 

The challenge to adult leaders is to identify inappropriate behaviors and craft solutions by applying the principles of the Scout Law, Promise, and Mission. Bylaws cannot help do that. The Boy Scout Handbook and the Scoutmaster Handbook do help. Look to those books for guidance, instead of a set of bylaws.

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I'm a bit perplexed by this idea that all a troop needs is the Oath and Law, and that it doesn't need any other "rules." It just seems to me that this is obviously not the case--but maybe it depends on how you define "rules."

 

Let's take a simple example:

 

Are Scouts allowed to bring GameBoys along on campouts?

 

Analysis: I think we are all aware that most Scout Camps feel it is necessary to state a rule on this (in fact, the camps have many rules beyond the Oath and Law). How should a troop deal with this question? Now, we may have discussions over whether the PLC should make this decision, or whether the adult leaders should do so (I think PLC), but this is certainly a reasonable determination for a troop to make, and to write down. If you don't write it down, but simply tell everybody they can't bring the GameBoy, it's still a rule. And if you don't make a blanket rule, how do you (either the SM or the SPL) answer the question of a Scout who asks you if he can bring it? You can make an interpretation of how the Scout Law would apply (maybe it's not courteous to bring your GameBoy), but what if the boy disagrees with your interpretation? If he has to obey, then you're back to a rule--and maybe an arbitrary one.

 

Let me make myself clear: I'm not saying that troop "rules" (or policies, or practices, or whatever you'd like to call it) should ever deviate from the BSA program--and far too many of them do. But there are decisions that have to be made on the unit level about a number of matters, and there's nothing wrong with writing those down.

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Here is my experience with GameBoys and other personal electronics. We teach Scouts how and what to pack. We limit Scouts for health and safety reasons to a pack that weighs no more than 25% of their body weight. If a scout chooses to carry some of that weight as a GameBoy instead of say... matches, then let's hope he knows how to start a fire with a Game Boy.

 

If we get caught in a heavy rain and his personal electronics do not like getting wet then he better hope he has water tight pockets because he chose to bring expensive electronics to a hostile environmemnt. If he wants to listen to music when he goes to bed thats fine as long as no one else can here it, what's the harm?

 

Any camper who leaves personal equipment sitting anywhere other than in his tent or in his pocket and loses it made a bad camping decision. Items rarely get stolen, more often thay are simply left out for others to borrow...sometimes for a very long time.

 

Don't make rules..teach good skills. Let the scouts learn from their decisions.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Back to the original question of having "bylaws", I think that they can be a good thing, so long as they are used properly. BobWhite is correct in that just about everything you need to know is in some BSA publication. However, it is not reasonable to expect every parent and scout to go out and buy, and read, every single thing that BSA has put out. In our troop we have a "troop guidebook and reference" which acts as both by-laws and a parents handbook. It contains a code of conduct, explaining what behavior is acceptable, and what isn't. For example it says that foul language is not acceptable, and that if you use it you will be warned by a leader to stop. It also says that if you have/use any illegal substances (drugs, alchohol, fireworks) your parents will be required to pick you up immediatly. This is to prevent any confusion over what behavior is acceptable, and what isn't.

 

The Guidebook also discusses our policies on scout accounts (many given to individual scouts after fundraisers) including how to retrieve money from them, as this info is not contained in any BSA publication.

 

So, I see troop by-laws as being a way of clarifing BSA policies in a way that ALL troop members will have them avalible to them. How else is a scout supposed to know that if they drink they will be sent home? You can't expect every scout to take Scoutmaster fundimentals, can you?

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and the world of Scouting will be a happy place and the world of Scouting will be a happy place. If it was only so.

 

So you are saying if I write a lot of rules the Scouting get better, happier. Why are you in scouting if you are not having fun with it and are happy?

I just do not get it!

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