Re: Troop 18 Affair
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Mon, 7 Nov 1994 23:47:32 CST
Ian Ford <ianford@DIRCON.CO.UK> writes:
(I have placed your comments in a order that makes sense for me to
respond to. Please don't think that I've taken your comments out of
context, but I wanted to respond to the core comments first and then
the "sidebar stuff" next.
>rec.scouting has deteriorated to a discussion of internal BSA politics
>about atheists, gays and whatever. This list is degenerating also. Please
>folks, try to limit your posting to stuff which is informative and helpful.
I don't feel that this list has deteriorated at all, Ian. I do feel
that we've grown very large in a short period of time, and that not
everyone that comes to this list comes here because of its charter: to
assist and serve as a forum whereby youth leaders can come and talk
issues, problems and solutions with others in similar programs.
The recent "Troop 18 Affair" IS, at least in my eyes, very informative
and helpful. You would not believe the number of inquiries I get
about the Eagle Scout process! This issue is a VERY HOT topic of
discussion in BSA circles, partly because everyone wants to try to
interpret the established BSA policies the way that they want them to
fit...and NOT the way that policies were written.
This is a rather large subset of what many BSA Scouters write here and
to individuals on the list personally about: the apparent rise of
"written rules and regulations" but not the implementation or sticking
to those rules and regulations as written. Many of the volunteers
here and around the nation don't even KNOW what the "rules" are.
Imagine trying to teach someone how to play Football (US: Soccer)
without stating any of the rules. The game would get played, somehow,
but the way that it would be played would be vastly different from the
way its SUPPOSED to be played.
>More to the point, what good was served by distributing these messages to
>thousands of computers throughout the world at the cost of hundreds of
The same bit of good it was served by sending around the world
statements that "Beavers Build Better Woodbadgers!" or other Wood
Badge statements; the same bit of good that is served by sending
around the world the words to the Quartermaster Song or the ideas
recently asked for for Wide Games. There are many here that could
tell you and me that "I don't care anything about Wood Badge! Stop
sending that crap!" There are others that will state the same for the
games and the songs that we post here, as well as the information
about trading fairs and badge swapping (trading).
As a open "roundtable meeting", Scouts-L was (and still is, I believe)
designed as ONE PLACE whereby each person, volunteer or professional,
BSA member or not, from the USA or from one of the other many
countries can say their piece of mind and ask for responses. Some of
the responses won't be what they wanted to hear or read. Others may
well be exactly what they were wanting to know. I would hope that
each person here reads ALL of the comments that they choose to and USE
those comments to make an informed decision about the issue, problem
or idea, and then IMPLEMENT it in their communities or units.
As I wrote in the intro letter to Scouts-L, this list is NOT the "end
to be all" in ANY case whatsoever. But to those that feel that "the
system isn't working well" (and in this case, it DEFININATELY wasn't
working the way it should or could), this is the ONLY recourse that
many Scouters have. Not all Scouters have been fortunate as some of
us are to know national or regional professionals or volunteers (or
both) in our countries; not all Scouters have the vast indepth
knowledge and abilities to research items as some here has been known
to do for ALL of us; not all Scouters even have the courage to stand
and even ASK questions to this list, fearful that "big brother" will
somehow mark them and "report back" that they've asked a question "out
of quene" or "out of the chain of command" (whichever applies
Therefore, I felt that not only did Paul could post here with his
situation, asking for help...that he SHOULD post here, so that others
that have similar problems with their Districts and with the Eagle
Scout process can "watch and learn" from his experience and to MAKE
THE PROCESS BETTER.
[ I would like to inform all of us here on this list that the Program
Group IS working on a better set of guidelines in face of this
situation and the facts that this has not come up once before, but
more than 80 times in the past four years. Look for newer and better
guidelines to come forth in the spring to your local Councils! Thanks
This is not the first time that this list or electronic communications
has resulted in policy changes to the BSA's program (or to the program
of Scouts Canada). And it won't be the last. It all starts with a
volunteer asking for help, and it starts here on *this list*, I'm proud
So, all of the electrons and the "expense" of sending this and the
other 50 messages a day to Scouts-L is, in my opinion, WELL worth it!
Even IF I cannot read it all in one sitting each day!
>From what I can see there is no great issue of policy that affects BSA
>nationally, far less those of us in the rest of the world.
Perhaps. However, I can list a short list of more than twenty items
that volunteers are EXTREMELY concerned about to this list. I can bet
you a couple of Council patches that more than a QUARTER of them
affect Scouters (and remember my "working defination" of a Scouter) in
other countries OUTSIDE of the United States and NOT related to the
BSA. Other countries look to the United States and their two Scouting
programs for some sort of leadership...if they see that they are
fingerprinting volunteers, for instance, this could lead to a
worldwide registration process whereby ALL volunteers working with
youth will be photographed and fingerprinted. Imagine that.
What we talk about in the USA *don't have any impact in the rest of
>If you have a beef about some kid's advancement there <are> means to take
>it up other than going public with a whole sordid story which means
>little to anybody else, particularly to those who don't even know what a
>Board of Review is, far less care.
I had to go back to the three files which comprised the "Troop 18"
saga. There were 143 responses to Paul Miles' posting, of which 84
were from separate individuals (in other words, there were 59 postings
made from one or many of the 84 others). 84 people posted their
comments, questions, or reactions. This included nine from other
locations other than the USA (the majority being Canadians).
As Paul had to explain why he had to leave the list, there were
another series of 44 postings, 33 of which again from separate
individuals and many of them expressing either shock or offering
locations to re-connect to this list. Only four messages concerned
themselves with negative aspects of the topic at hand (one of them was
to me, stating that "I waited too long to make this posting...").
In order to give this balance, the "opposing viewpoint" was posted
today in four parts (Carey....I know that you posted from AOL. It
would work out better if you posted four text files, instead of
Geos-formated files....it would have worked better in the translation,
but WELCOME anyhow!). Imagine this list if we weren't allowed to view
ALL sides, just the sides that pleased us and supported our
Yes, there are means to take this situation forward, but Paul was NOT
confortable with two of them: the Board of Review, whereby the kid
gets evaluated on his relative worth as an Eagle Scout; and the local
Council's Scout Executive, a professional that should be as nonpartial
as possible....but because there may have been (as what happens in
LOTS of local Councils!) an "under the table deal" (as in "you give my
kid Eagle and I'll lead you to or give you $K of money or materials or
whatever!")...so he took it to the ONLY place where people will look
at the situation objectively and from as many angles as possible (and
believe me, with the expertise and on-the-ground experience here on
this list, that posting was examined every way possible before they
recommended a course of action!)
THAT, Ian, is what this list is all about. Speaking for myself ONLY,
I am sorry that this list is NOT about "good things in Scouting" or
other youth programs. On some days, it is. On many other days,
however, this is a forum whereby YOUTH LEADERS from anywhere, any
program, can sit around a virtual roundtable (or campfire), share
their concerns and problems and get a conforting shoulder. Or a kick
in the pants. Or told the places to look and the answers to their
Mostly, to be told by others that are "in the dirt up to here" that
their work, no matter what it is, no matter what program they belong
to, is appreciated and that the kids in their program appreciate their
>Already we have seen separate groups in Canada and Europe , as more and
>more of us get fed up with back-biting and bitching from some of the BSA
>people. If people <must> publish this sort of stuff at least set the mail
>distribution to USA rather than world.
The "back-biting" and "bitching" you speak of are American Scouters
doing what Americans do best of all...improve their condition in life.
We pride ourselves on this idea (I don't know where we got this idea
from...our chartering documents, perhaps?) that every person is
entitled to his or her thoughts and opinions, and that he or she can
express them in a manner that don't cause physical or mental harm to
another. That's Yanks for you! As someone stated here on this list
about violence on the television sets, "every set has a button or knob
that turns the thing off."
Likewise, each posting sent can be cut or deleted by executing a
command. There has been some folks that have even signed-off the list
until "the current topic dies down", only to sign back on because "I
missed all of you silly people..."
YES, the list is HEAVY on the issues that face BSA and GSUSA leaders.
But we DO listen to, try to understand, and answer questions and
concerns from OTHER nation's Scouters too. We don't shut them out no
more than we would appreciate you not shutting US out. While you may
not care about this particular topic, we could sure your experience
and help in many more that will be discussed here.
Creating "new lists" as they have been doing on Rec.Scouting is NOT
the answer here. Understanding and working with each other as
Scouters are SUPPOSED to do (setting the positive example for our
youth) is the answer here.
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, BlackEagle Services ___)_
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