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A question of Eagle Palms

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We've been having a touchy problem in our troop this past year. For the first time, we had an Eagle scout stay in the troop long enough to be eligible for palms. The problem is not so much with the scout as with his mother.


Within 3 months of his Eagle BOR, this scout was reminded he'd need a SM conference and BOR to be able to acquire any palms. (He was also reminded at the Eagle BOR, but sometimes these details get forgotten in all the excitement.) He was subsequently reminded on and off throughout the following months by several committee members, myself included, as well as the SM and SAs. Last July he participated in a BOR for a palm with less than 3 months before his 18th birthday. He was informed that insufficient time existed for him to meet the 3-month participation requirement for the next palm. He seemed accepting, thanked us and left. Now, he did have enough merit badges earned for at least 2 more palms, as well as a nearly year's worth of excellent leadership and a fine scout spirit since becoming Eagle. The Board would have loved to give him all the palms he qualified for, but he just didn't pursue them in a timely fashion.


Mama had a FIT when she found out there would be only one Palm. She, personally and through her son, harassed the SM and Advancement chair until a special BOR was convened to review the situation. The Board met with Scout, but the decision was the same - not enough participation time in since the previous Palm BOR whether you counted weeks or days. She appealed our decision to Council, and Council upheld us. She appealed to National. National granted Scout an extension (?), at least that's what I've been told. Tomorrow is the committee meeting, and I'll actually be able to read the letter for myself.


Beside the initial problem of insufficient participation time, the Board balked at the hint of dishonesty approving another Palm would have involved. Now I hear she insists her son get both Palms that he's "earned". Committee members spoke about the message such fudging would send the others scouts in the troop. Advancement Chair has done her level best to explain the whys and wherefores to her, but this young man's mother doesn't seem to understand and has also managed to alienate most every adult working with the troop since last July. I really don't see how such a letter from National will persuade the Board to approve another Palm (let alone both!) as things currently stand. I wonder how many times we'll have to jump through the same hoops before this gets resolved?

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This has al the makings of a really dynamic conversation. Rumor, recognition, a nice kid, an angry mom...Well let's see where this takes us.


First thing I would do is take the following elements and trow them out, forget them, pretend they were never said.

National granted Scout an extension (?), at least that's what I've been told.

Now I hear she insists her son get both Palms that he's "earned".

I wonder how many times we'll have to jump through the same hoops before this gets resolved?


This is all hear-say and speculation and you need to stay away from this if you hope to make fair and reasonable decisions.


OK now to the part you probably won't like. Although your description is sketchy if what I think has happened then there is a good chance that the scout should recieve an additional palm or more. Let me ask a few questions and then I will clarify.


1) How many months were there between his Eagle Board and his 18th birthday?


2) How was his attendance.


3) Was the scout expected to initiate the Scoutmaster conferences?


4) Was the scout expected to request or schedule the board of reviews.



After I see this information I will be able to understand and to explain things better.



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Many years ago I made the mistake of not allowing a young man to receive Eagle palms after the 18th birthday. Approx 7 years later I found out from National that a young man could receive Eagle Palms after his 18th birthday if all the requirements for those Merit Badges had been earned before his 18th birthday. He must have stayed active in the Scout Troop and showed Scout Spirit. So we went and applied for 3 more palms with the waiting period between each of the palms for this young man. Each palm was received and awarded to that young man. I believe that the rules have not changed since then but I could be wrong.

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Here's the current requirements for an Eagle Palm, bear in mind that all requirements must be met before the Scout's 18th birthday (under normal circumstances).


Eagle Palm Requirements

Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 3 months after becoming an Eagle Scout or after award of last Palm.

Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life.

Make a satisfactory effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability.

Earn five additional merit badges beyond those required for Eagle or last palm.

*Merit badges earned any time since becoming a Boy Scout may be used to meet this requirement.

Take Part in a Scoutmaster conference.



The big sticking point is that a Scout has to show the motivation to do something. If he just sits around like a bump on a log, he shouldn't get the palms. Even if he had 36 merit badges at 13 and his Eagle at 14, if he doesn't ask for the SM conference until one month before his 18th birthday, all he's going to get is one palm.


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If National has decided to overrule the local BOR, then it is settled and everyone can go home and choke down their pride.


But if it is not, then further action should take place. I would recommend a District Advancement person come in and review the proceedings.


If the young man is 18 then he should be speaking for himself. His Mother may want to back him up but he is now considered an adult. Since reminders were not put into writing, the committee and everyone involved should be interviewed.


It may be obvious the young man knew of the requirements in advance and did nothing. It may appear that people were trying to deny the young man his rightful awards by inaction or stealth. Try to set the record straight by taking notes on the related actions. Stay away from accusations and making people feel responsible for doing or not doing. This is not a court to rule on the action but a hearing of the actions only. Simply track the record and get it on paper.


There may be some actions that were not known causing confusion or delay. The record is never one sided and not always as simple as it seems.


I personally believe that if there is any question, then the judgment should go in favor of the Scout but that is just me.




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This is about as strange as another palm related happening I heard about. Apperently a BOR in my general area (I won't be specific to protect the innocent, and the guilty) approved palms for an Eagle based on the number of extra months he had since fulfilling the 6 month requirement for Eagle, rather than counting from when he actually earned Eagle. To make matters worse, they awarded multiple palms at the same time.


It would seem there is a need for at least a bit of clarification about palms to prevent these sorts of things from happening.

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Proud Eagle,


I respectfully disagree. The requirements for Eagle Palms appear to be the most clear of any in the book (see FOG's post). If these need further clarification, I'd worry about the ability of the person reading them.


What could be unclear? OK, maybe "Make a SATISFACTORY effort...".


But how many months after the Eagle award, or previous Palm is very clear.


In the original post, I'd be very happy to let the District or Council Advancement Committee handle this. He obviously earned one Palm. He was awarded it within 3 months of his 18th birthday, and with 3 months being the minimum time between Palms, he could not have earned a second, or third. It looks to me like you followed procedure. If the Council advancement folks want to create a new procedure, which allows less than three months, as long as they kept me up to date on the new rules, I say, have at it.


I suspect however, that if the facts as you lay them out are presented to the committee, this young man will have finished his career with one Palm. And for that, he should be proud, not upset. We've been fortunate enough to have 11 Eagles in my 8+ years with my Troop. None have earned a Palm. My youngest son has a chance (he's close enough to Eagle, early enough in his career, with enough extra MBs, to do it, but so have others, including my oldest son), but that's it.


Good luck and congratulations to both of you.



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To answer Bob White's questions:


1. There were nearly a full 12 months between the Eagle Board and his 18th birthday, during which scout served as a JASM.


2. Attendance was good, except for about 4 months during soccer season. Those were sporadic.


3. Scout was expected to request the SM conferences. This is true for all scouts at all levels in our troop, and he was reminded to do so on more than 3 occasions (3 by me - SM, Adv. and the SA who oversees our Eagle candidates also claim they all reminded him as well).


4. SM notifies the Board of upcoming reviews. This isn't really a biggie - all SM conferences are held on the 1st Monday of each month, with the BOR on the 2nd Monday - so Advancement knows by end of meeting that 1st Monday. In this case, it followed the plan exactly.


My final question was whiny, I do apologize. Obviously, there will be only one more circuit to go through.


Since I assist in keeping troop advancement records, and am trained, I am aware that the purpose of the Palms is to recognize/reward Eagles who remain active in Scouting. It is not another rank advancement, Eagle is the highest rank for Boy Scouts. The young man's mother seems to regard Palms as being higher and better than Eagle, and no-one has been able to convince her otherwise. This puzzles me, I admit.


The main sticking point is the first requirement for the Gold Palm. There were not a full 3 months after the Bronze Palm was awarded before he turned 18.


As you can tell by checking the time of submittal, the Committee meeting is over and it has been enlightening. If it would not inconvenience y'all overly, I'd still like your take on this before I share what happened tonight.


Thank you for all your input, past and future.

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It seems by your posts that the scout meets the first four of his 5 requirements for the Advancement. The entire question rests on his Scoutmasters Conferences and his Boards of Review.


I do not speak for the BSA only my experience as a Scoutmaster and a member of a National Appellate Board of Review.


The scout is required to meet the advancement requirements in the Scout Handbook. Nowhere does the BSA make the scout responsible for setting up the SM conference, or the board of review. In fact the Scoutmaster Training, Scoutmaster Handbook, Committee Training,Committee Guidebook and the Advancement Policies Policies and Procedures manual put that responsibility squarely on the adult leaders.


Unlike Merit Badges where the scout is specifically required to make the appointment to meet with the counselor, the BSA makes the Scoutmaster responsible for having a Scoutmaster Conference with a scout. These are to be informal conversations. There is nothing informal about a scout having to get the scoutmaster to schedule a set time for the conference. It is the Scoutmaster who should be involved in know the needs of each scout to take the scout aside and have the conference.


The Troop Advancement Chair is likewise charged with organizing "frequent" boards of review for the scouts, even if they are not advancing. They are to be convenient for the scout. If the Board is the second Monday and the scout has another obligation every second Monday then it is the committees responsibility to find a convenient time to meet with him. They are supposed to be supporting the scouts advancement not creating another challenge for him. These boards are as much for the committee to evaluate themselves and the units scouting program. They must have the scouts input to do that. They should be as anxious, or more anxious to speak with the scout as the scout is to speak with them. They should be scheduling with the scout and not the other way around.


If I was I on the appeals board I would say that the adults misunderstood their responsibility to the scout in supporting his activity and advancement in the troop. I would hold the SM and committee equally as responsible for the scout not receiving his conference and BORs in a timely fashion. Since the scout remained active, and had the needed MBs and showed good Scout Spirit throughout his tenure, I would have to vote for the scout to receive any Palms due him over the 12 month period had his Conferences and BORs been held on a timely basis. You should never find against the scout for adult errors.


Only doing certain things for the scouts at specific pre-scheduled times is robot-leadership. It does not recognize the uniqueness of the individual scout or his needs. The scouts are not there to meet the needs of the adults' schedules. It is supposed to be the other way around.




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Let me see if I understand this right. We expect the boy to plan meetings and outings, to plan and carry out service projects, to find and contact Merit Badge counselors but when it comes to asking for SM conferences and BOR an adult must do it for him. Am I missing something here? Is it wrong to expect the boy to say I need a SM conference or to call the advancement chair and say I am ready for a BOR?

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These are areas where the adults are supposed to be showing interest in the needs and growth of the scout.


We do expect and require the scouts to show the ability to arrange meetings, and sometimes we expect the same behaviour of the adult leaders. Seeing that a scout has his reviews in the form of the SM conference and the BOR are tasks the BSA program assigns to the adult leaders not to the scout.

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I appreciate your responses, thank you!


The letter from National said that an extension was granted until May so that the SM conferences and BORs could be conducted. Not quite mandating that the 2 Palms be granted, but close enough in my opinion.


Due to the mother's verbal abuse unilaterally alienating all adult leaders in our troop (included a District Advancement co-chair), our Advancement chair referred the matter to the other District co-chair. There was no way this Scout was going to get a fair BOR anymore - sad, I know, and I admit my own human failing here. It is now out of our hands, and I am relieved.


I still don't really understand how we have been at fault, though. Were SM, Advancement, Dist. Advancement, and MC's supposed to lead this lad by the hand to a Conference? The subsequent BOR is arranged by the SM. Scout was certainly reminded often enough to have met all the requirements without all this turmoil.

There was never any hint that he'd need us to work outside our established practices - something we've always done whenever it's been needed.


This has been a learning experience for us here. We truly did not believe we made the wrong decision. All of our Troop Committee has been trained, Adv. up to Wood Badge, with the exclusion of the CC. SM has Wood Badge, all the SA's have been trained. We're kind of proud of this. Obviously this must never have been specifically addressed during any of the training sessions in the past 20 years or so. The requirements were interpreted identically by all concerned (again, excluding the CC). I hope this is remedied by next fall's training.


BTW, Bob White, could you quote me chapter and verse in the Committee Guidebook and AP&P, please? I've read them several times cover to cover and most apparently missed this in both books. I'd like to read where I erred, and learn better in case there's ever a next time.


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I will be happy to do so, but I will need you to allow me some time as I have lent both of those resources to one of the training team members as he prepares for a Troop Committee Challenge course. I will respond ASAP. In the meantime please sight the source that lead so many of you to believe that the scout is responsible for scheduling his own SM conference and BOR.



Bob White

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I know that Bob White "will never see this" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) but I'd like some references, including page numbers.


I have the Scoutmaster Handbook and the Advancement Committee A&P here but I can't find anything that says that it is the responsibility of the SM to chase down Scouts for SM Conferences. There is mention in the Scout Handbook that after an SM Conf, the SM will schedule a BOR but that's all I can find. I'm also looking for this bit about BORs being at the convenience of the Scout but I can't find that either.

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It is interesting how references to the Scoutmaster Conference have changed over the years.


In the 1957 Handbook, an SM conference isn't even mentioned with respect to advancement. In that handbook, the PLC reviews the requirements and then the SM arranged for a BOR.


Ten years later, in the 1967 Handbook, it says, "meet with your Scoutmaster in a personal conference . ." There is no indication of who should initiate the contact but if the SM was to initiate it, I would expect it to say, "the SM will meet with you . . ."


In 1990, the Handbook says, "meet with your Scoutmaster . . ." To me this implies that the Scout should initiate the contact.


Unfortunately, I don't have my own copy of the current Handbook and I'm not going to wake my son up to find out where his copy is.


Okay, now I've provided references. I'm still waiting for Bobo Blanco (who "won't" read this) to provide references for his point of view.



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