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Improperly dealing with troubled scout?

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I'll ditto Brent as I had the same experience as him. After 6 months with a troop that turned out to be much less than what we bargained for and who wanted absolutely no input form the "new folks", we left and started a new troop. Since that new troop was five or six 11 year old boys with no older boys to serve as an example, it only lasted a year. We went to a different troop with a good boy led program and have been there for the last 5 years.

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You can't fix this Troop. No matter how much you think you need to be there to fix it, or that you can fix it, or that the Troop is fixable, you can't fix this Troop. Not unless you are a member of the Chartering Organization, have the trust of the Institutional Head, and become the Chartered Organization Representative. If you aren't any of these things, then You Can't Fix This Troop.


Your son has already told you he does not want to stay. Scouts vote with their feet, and his feet are pointed out the door. Do you really want to prevent him from finding the Troop that fits for him because you think you can fix a Troop when you can't? Let me say it again: YOU CAN'T FIX THIS TROOP.


So what you need to do is move on - find a Troop that is a better fit for your son. Find a Troop that may be a better fit for the other lads in the Troop. Keep those contacts and once you find that Troop, and with the knowledge of your new Troop's leadership, invite the boys from the other Troop to visit and check you out. No pressure - just let them see what another Troop can do. If the old Troop squawks, ignore them. No matter what - ignore them. Don't engage in a discussion, just walk away. If the DE squawks, ignore him/her. Don't engage in a discussion, just walk away.


It's also been answered that the Scoutmaster can't take away rank after it's been earned. What the heck does he think this is, the Army? Once you find that new Troop, that is the first boy I would be recruiting into the new unit. And as you're leaving this Troop let this lad's parents know that the Scoutmaster has absolutely no authority to take away their son's ranks for any reason. Put the notion into their minds that they need to leave this Troop if they want their son to have a good experience with Scouting.


Beavah, you acknowledge that the SM can't take away ranks, yet you also state that he can "in the eyes of the parents and the boys". Tell us please how the Scout can continue to advance? Does he have to complete the requirements for the rank that has been "revoked" all over again? Does he have to follow some requirement made up by the Scoutmaster in order to earn the rank back? Does he have to stop working on the next advancement until the Scoutmaster makes some random determination that the Scout has passed enough time in limbo? Just curious as to how you think that would work.

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It works however da scout, his scoutmaster, and his parents want it to work, eh? It shows a fellow who doesn't understand that da BSA advancement program is designed for positive reinforcement, not negative, and is using it improperly. Also shows a fellow who cares enough about da behavior of the kids to impose some consequences when it is poor. Revoking status or privileges is one of those things adults do to teach children on occasion. He could instead just suspend da scout from activities and create the same delay in advancement, eh? Instead he wants to keep working with the boy and give the lad a chance to make good with some hard work.


It's poor advancement practice, eh? I don't care for it. But it shows a responsible and caring fellow who is trying, albeit ham-handedly. Better than the poster, IMHO, who wants to excuse the boy's behavior because he didn't speak out as an adult and for some reason thinks he could have "saved" da situation.


If some SM came to me and said he'd "revoked" a rank for behavior and didn't know how to handle it from there, I'd suggest that the lad needs to repeat a SM conference and a Board of Review to restore his rank and his honor. So in that way, it just becomes a sign of stuff that should be happening anyways.



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Beavah - your statement


"It works however da scout, his scoutmaster, and his parents want it to work, eh? It shows a fellow who doesn't understand that da BSA advancement program is designed for positive reinforcement, not negative, and is using it improperly."


Has me confused. You seem to be backing the SM in his actions.. But, revoking a rank is what I call negative reinforcement.. So did you just say somewhere in there the SM is improperly using negative reinforcement, or somehow that the scout did, so somehow the SM is instilling in the boy as sense of how BSA uses positive reinforcement rather then negative by revoking a rank..?? (Scratching my head here).

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Yah, sorry for being too opaque, moose. I was trying to answer Calico.


I don't think revoking a rank is a good choice. I don't care for it, I don't think it's da right way to use the program in ordinary circumstances, because advancement is meant to be a positive reinforcement thing. I wouldn't recommend it to a SM.


But yeh see all kinds of times when adults don't use da program the same way I would, eh? :). That doesn't make 'em bad people. Yeh can use da BSA materials in lots of different ways. Some troops put a much bigger emphasis on Rank and Advancement than I would, eh? Rank carries privileges in da troop, so revoking a rank might feel like the right way to teach a lesson of character, just like losing privileges for behavior. If the SM and da youth and the parents are on the same page, it can be exactly the sort of lesson about responsibility we want kids to learn. Not the way Calico would run a troop, or me, but it can be just fine.


Calico asked how it would play out, so I gave an answer. To restore his rank, the lad should do a SM conference and a BOR. Those things should be going on anyways, eh? But da added bit about rank will perhaps lend it a sense of seriousness for a boy who cares about rank, and would otherwise blow off another adult lecture.



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First of all I would like to clarify that my son is willing to leave if and only if the troop is presented with the option of running properly and will not or can't do that. He doesn't want to leave, he has made friends here, he has become invested in the troop; however, he does want to earn his Eagle, he doesn't want it given to him.


Second, I have only 10 months experience with "this" troop, yes. However if you add all of the active years of every adult leader, committee member, and parent together, they would have less than half of my active experience with BSA. I love BSA, being an Eagle is a huge part of who I am whether or not that is right. The current leadership acknowledges this, many of them have thanked me for becoming a part of the troop. Something I actively tried avoided at first, as I wanted my son to make his own decision about scouts, just as I did when I was a kid.


As for not using the program the way I would, this I can understand. My way, and the way I was taught isn't the only way, it's not even "the" right way. However, I'm not talking about over emphasizing one area, I'm talking about completely ignoring core aspects of scouting. Stating they use the Patrol method, to help with surveys, but acknowledging that they don't even know what it is, what it's for, or how to do it. When I said playing games, I didn't mean minor team building or skills building games, I am all for them, I believe in them whole heartedly, I meant they show up, start playing dodgeball and 1.5 hours later they go home. At the first meeting that I attended from start to finish, I found they were using the troop flag as well as the American flag to designate the side boundaries of their dodgeball game. It stopped immediately. After counting to 10, I sat them all down, and they listened to a very serious speech about what the flag means to me personally. When I approached the current SM and ASM about it, they sort of shrugged it off, because boys will be boys, besides was it really that big of a deal. I left that night determined to educate them, or leave.


I do have an additional question now. Quite a few of you have made it clear, that the CO can do what they want. Is there no quality control in BSA any more? It used to be, that if an entire troop of scouts who were quite apparently not worthy of their rank across the board kept advancing, the council would step in. I can't say it was common, as I was only witness to it once, and heard of it happening in a neighboring council again, years latter. If there isn't any kind of standard, then what does it mean to be an Eagle? Does it mean anything more than saying I received a participation award?(This message has been edited by JimFritzMI)(This message has been edited by JimFritzMI)

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Jim, some things to think about.


You seem to be judging the other adults in the Troop based on weather or not they were Scouts as a youth.


From what you have posted, it sounds like except for the last 10 months, most of your Scouting experience is as a youth in the program.


You comment that none of the leaders are fully trained. Are you? From your questions (and questions are never a bad thing) it does not seem so.


Going thru the Scout program as a youth, and being an Eagle Scout, does NOT automatically make you trained as an adult leader. Neither does it automatically make you a BETTER adult leader. Going thru the program as a youth is COMPLETELY different from running the program FOR the youth as an adult.


You also seem to have the idea that because you are an Eagle that this Troops leadership should listen to you, and do whatever you tell them without question. Because you are an Eagle and they are not. Personally, I find that attitude more than a bit arrogant, and condescending, and I bet they do to.


You said that the others leaders told you to back off because you told the boy that you "understood how he felt and understood why he wanted to punch the scout." You also stated that you felt that "it was exactly what the boy needed to hear at the time, especially since I did understand."


This tells me that you stepped into this with the mindset of a youth in the same circumstances, not as an adult leader trying to break up a bad situation.


It could also have been seen by this boy as you condoning his actions, and encouraging him to continue doing them. That is NOT a good thing.


You also state you feel the SM's punishment was inappropriate. While we all know rank cannot be taken away, membership CAN. This was an issue of physical violence. It was also, apparently, NOT the first one. You stated that - "I was the one to interdict in both instances." Both, means that there were at least 2 incidents of physical violence, that YOU are aware of, with this boy. If that Scout has been in the Troop longer than 10 months, there could very well be multiple more such incidents that you know nothing about.


Was the SM wrong? Yes.


Were you wrong? Yes.


Does this Troop need improving? Most definitely. However, that will not happen by grabbing them by the throat, shaking them, and insisting they make the changes that you tell them to.


Back off a bit, and scale back on the I'm a better Scouter than you attitude.


Take the adult training for your position.


Take the SM out for a cuppa and discuss the problem with rank. Look at the Guide to Safe Scouting for some ideas on what the Troop can do about discipline for this boy. Talk to the SM about them.



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I think I would have flipped Scoutnuts points upside down, and said.. From what I have on your perspective of the Troop it definately needs fixing. Using flags for boundries?? I picture them lieing flat on the ground flags and all, even if they left them upright it would be wrong.

Also you (and your expierence) do have something to offer this troop (not that they will listen.)


But.. you can't use your expierence to overpower them. You will just get resentment, and they will do everything in their power to do things just to iritate you.

Also I would imagine that if you hold training high, you at least were trained at the cub scout level, and may have started if not finished training at the Boy Scout level, but if not please do so.


Questions like you asked, are NOT covered in your typical training unless you as a participant bring them up. They like to stay with the positive and how your troop should be running. And not with the negative of look for these trouble signs and raise the red flag if you see them. So you asking your questions does not show you are untrained. It is just not something we know about you yet.


I have never seen them stop boys from advancing over poor leadership. I have seen them try to offer help to improve leadership, but council's offer to help is usually unwanted as much as new-to-the-troops offers.. Now what I have seen is a scoutmaster disbarred from being in the BSA organization, but this takes more then mismanagement, this took not treating the boys fairly (if the SM uses the tactic of removal of ranks alot and you notice it is with a certain set of boys, but never others. Or if the SM forms a subset group of his elite scouts and goes on outings with just them.) AND this behavior took not one parents complaint, not two parents complaints but at leaste 3 parents to complain at different times over the course of about 1 1/2 to 2 year time period.


If it involves YPT problems they will be right on it.


Therefore.. My take on it is.. Anything but YPT problems, you would have to do an awful lot wrong, before any action is taken.


And the answer is "YES" it has tarnished the image of what it means to have the Eagle rank. So have other things like not being open to homosexuals or athiests. Those who have turned against BSA for their stance, will not put any meaning to the Eagle rank on a college app or job app. Likewise those who hired Eagle rank people who do not have good ethics, or are not self motivated. Will not consider it an asset again.


I still see the rank of Eagle as having meaning to alot of people, but it has been tarnished.


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Quite a few of you have made it clear, that the CO can do what they want. Is there no quality control in BSA any more? It used to be, that if an entire troop of scouts who were quite apparently not worthy of their rank across the board kept advancing, the council would step in.


Yah, this is a good sign that your scouting experience is far from current, eh? Though I'm really not sure that what you describe was ever da case, and I reckon I've been an adult in scouting longer than you've been alive. :). Certainly, there is no provision or desire for councils to be examining da rank quality in units. Quite da opposite, the BSA most frequently supports appeals against units that have your notion of quality. Yeh can find a few hundred threads on this topic here at scouter.com. :)


Yeh say your son likes it, has friends, but is parroting your line about quality because of course he wants his dad's approval. I think yeh either need to back off ands let your son be a scout in this program or decide it's not doing it for you as a parent and look for something else... And then back off and give your boy some space. I fear, however, that yeh won't be able to find a troop that can live up to the glowing memory yeh have from your youth; in fact, I'd lay dollars to donuts that if yeh could go back in time your old troop and its leadership wouldn't live up to your glowing memory.


Anyway, follow ScoutNut's advice, eh?



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I would have to agree with Beavah's last post. Councils do not like to get involved with unit problems unless the kids are being put in harms way. Usually if someone comes to a DE complaining the usual response is either, "let me help you find another troop", or if the DE finds out that a number of the parents and scouts are upset the answer might be, "have you thought about the idea of forming a new troop?" Bottom line, in the councils viewpoint a troubled unit is the ideal situation for the DE to start a new unit.

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I agree with BadenP.


But all I can say for the tone of Beavah & Scoutnut as they convey their sentiments, is this is the exact attitude you will deal with if you try to guide the troop into what you view is what a troop should be.


You started off this thread by being concerned with a young scout's rank being revoked, to which Beavah stated as long as it is the SM decision then he must have a good reason and he will most definatly use it for a good teaching tool, you are wrong to bud in.


Yet if you ask if Council monitors the quality of the units, he states "Quite da opposite, the BSA most frequently supports appeals against units that have your notion of quality".. So now for some reason your ideas of quality are some rigid idealism of perfection or you will not get the rank. Because you are trying to come into something and change it. Doesn't matter how bad it is, it is their troop, you shouldn't change it on them.


So which ever stance you take and which ever arguement you make, know this. In their eyes you are wrong.. This is the attitude you will get if you try go into the committee with a list of changes. Some parents will be on your side, and support you. But if that is not the SM, ASM's or COR, you don't have a chance.


They will resent your experience due to having the Eagle rank, just as ScoutNut does. They will resent the fact that you are a newbie trying to change everything. Parent support or not, you will not get appreciation or coopereation from those who count.


Is this all the troops ...NO... So don't feel all is hopeless and why bother having your son involved. But this is the case with most bad troops, and with most troops with a deep history of being good. The ones with which are stuggling to achieve excellence are more open minded to advice from everyone, yours may not be the advice taken, but they listen to all. Those with a history of being good, will listen to your advice if you truely appreciate their program as is, but over time come up with one or two minor changes, then a few more a little bit down the road.. But start off liking their program for what it is. The bad ones, are just never going to be good, unless there is a total shakeup of those at the top level. SM, CC, COR, or if they have alot of scouts vote with their feet and walk, and they figure out they need to change or they wont have anyone in their program.


Again as to knowing all the ins and outs of the power of the CO, and what Council will step into correct. Unless you have a CO that is involved, or if you have issues and see what council will not step in to correct.. Or you bring up the topic while sitting around the campfire and discussing it. You will not get this from training, the most the CO & COR is discussed is in Specifics when they bring up the organizational chart and their they are at the top.. Do they go into the fact they are the ones who run the show more then the district people.. The topic of CO & COR is less then a minute in Specifics.


We did not learn the true power of the CO & COR until the end of our 2nd troop, when we asked a DE how we could get the SM & ASM to take the training. He told us to talk to the COR, and we asked why since all they do is sign the charter once a year. And this was after taking Specific twice & Outdoor leaders once. Then we got into a troop with an active COR and loved the change an active "Good" COR has to the unit.


Sadly our original COR passed away, the troop (and pack) were without for a few years and this showed in the quality of the program. Our new CO was in the pack & troop, and expierienced the power of the old COR. Yet she came out of the COR training totally awed at the power she now possessed.


People on this forum are always being educated about the power of the COR, from newbies to SM's to Committee Chairs.. It doesn't matter how long you are exposed to Scouting, the power of the COR can elude anyone for quite some time if their CO and COR are not actively engaged in the unit. I know the Scoutnut & Beavah have both been on threads where this education has floored the person who posted.


So point to this comment as a sign you are not trained, to me just shows it doesn't matter to Scoutnut & Beavah what you say or do, you are wrong.

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Those with a history of being good, will listen to your advice if you truely appreciate their program as is, but over time come up with one or two minor changes, then a few more a little bit down the road.


Yah, just wanted to echo this very important comment of moose's, eh?


Often times when new parents want to "change" things, my advice is that they aren't allowed to make suggestions to improve the "bad" until they can identify, name, and praise all of the things that are "good" about a troop. Yeh build on strengths, not on weaknesses. Yeh garner support from others by first recognizing the contributions and dedication of others, and the good that they are doing now.


Start there. Ask your son to name all the good things about his troop. You make your own list. Teach your son to always start by identifying the things that are best about people and institutions, not the worst.




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1) Am "I" trained? Yes I have gone through the training several times. The first time was "a little over" 20 years ago, after turning 18 I didn't want to leave scouting. I served as an ASM for 6 years, and always kept my training up to date. I wouldn't even want to think about counting all of the round tables, or the countless lessons I've learned from the many other scouters I have had the privilege of knowing. Most recently I have gone through all of the training classes again, when I was asked to be an ASM on the charter. Yes, all of the training classes even though the outdoor training doesn't have to be renewed, I felt after 14 years some things might have changed, which indeed they have.


2) Have I only been involved as a scout? No, I've had 11 years as an active scouter before my son joined this troop. Of which 6 years were very active, I was at that time both an ASM and worked at 2 different BSA summer camps through 5 seasons.


3) Am I judging the leaders on their experience? No, I am not judging the leaders at all. I couldn't fault with someone for not knowing how to do something that was never shown to them. How does a scouter know to use the established fire pit, and not to make a new one, unless he has been taught this. I am judging the experience that the scout are receiving. I am forming this judgment based on my son's experiences, the experiences of some of the other scouts, and my own observations, and comments from a few of the parents. Try explaining to a parent why "we" say he knows how to do things that he says he has never even done.


4) I am sorry, if anyone got the impression that I didn't understand what was going on with this youth, I did and do. Also the first incident was not a physical one at all. My comments which weren't appreciated were not made at the time that incident happened. It was made after the fact when we were trying to bring the problem to a conclusion. I'm sorry if you don't understand that a scout or any child will never completely trust you if they don't feel that you understand them. This is a fact, that anyone dealing with children should understand. If you are incapable of empathizing with a person, especially a child they will not take your counsel seriously.


5) I have never stated or inferred that I am a better scouter. Only that "WE" should be doing things differently. The BSA way. The way that we are taught in the BSA training courses.


6) Yes, maybe my son would like his experience to be as great as the one I have told him stories about. However, the complaint, the one which started this all is that he has now on several occasions had rank advancement requirements signed off, and he knows he has not met the requirements or even come close. For example, "Demonstrate how to whip and fuse a rope", fusing was explained but not demonstrated, whipping wasn't even discussed, and he never even touched a rope. So how did demonstrate anything? He didn't. All of this has been confusing to him, and why I have become involved. He wants to "Be Prepared". Besides all of that he is quite confused at how doing this fits in with many of the points of the scout law.


7) I would love to talk with the SM and the ASM more, however they seem to be quite busy. In fact I took time off and went to summer camp with the troop this past July, specifically to try and do this. However, the SM was actually in camp only about a third of the week. When, I did get to talk with him, he said I should bring it up with the PLC, end of discussion. However, I know from experience that without the SM's support change is extremely hard to accomplish.


8) I thank everyone for their answers. I appreciate it, I really do. I think, I may have to move on. I certainly don't want my son or anyone else's son experiencing scouting this way. Maybe, this is one of the reasons why troops now have such a hard time retaining scouts. However, I am going to try and help this troop first. I just can't, in good conscience, walk away without at least trying. It would somehow feel like walking away from a drowning man, who was beyond my reach without even looking for a stick. I know you might say this isn't my problem, but then whose is it? I know I might not succeed, however, I'd rather try than just give up.


9) The treatment of atheist and homosexual scouts was brought up. On that matter all I can say is that when I started reading about their treatment by BSA it truly made me sick, then sad, then angry, and finally determined to help facilitate change. It's contrary to everything I was ever taught as a scout to be a bigot. It's contrary to what I believe it takes to be a scouter to be a bigot. I now wear a "Scouting for All" knot, right next to my Eagle knot, and will continue to do so until forced to take it off. I would like to add, that of everyone who has ever asked me about the knot, a few now wear them, a few more own them, and I have had a very nice informative conversation with all but one person who has asked me about the knot.


10) I would like to add, and I do this last so it will stay with you, that this troop has immense potential. I'm not just a concerned father with complaints, I'm a very involved (at 90% of the meetings, and only missed one event this year, etc...) ASM who is constantly signing the praises of this troop to anyone and everyone who will listen. I never bring up a needed change without starting off with the strong points. We may have had next to the lowest marks at everyone of the stations at the past Klondike, but you know what, we dominated the sled race. I mean "DOMINATED IT", second place was nearly 14 seconds behind us, and we were using a shoddy, ill made borrowed sled. One of the biggest reasons I feel I need to stay with the troop is that it is made up of a great bunch of boys. They want to do better. They want to be the best scouts they can be. Maybe not all of them, but most of them. That's what matters, to me at least, they want to be lead, they want to be taught. They want to be Eagle scouts.(This message has been edited by JimFritzMI)

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Beavah, the fact that I was not only talking about JimFritz current troop, but also about yours & Scoutnuts attitude, I had to add the comment that this attitude comes from both bad and good troops, because I know that is where you & SN attitudes are coming from, is the pride you have in the excellence of your units, so you do not like those who come in new & full of sweeping ideas. If I had just been addressing a bad troop it may have been a fact I could have overlooked, simply because my focus would not have been there at the time.


Jim you definately do have the scouting background to make a wise decision for the benifit of your son's scouting experience. So I will trust that you will do so.

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