Stan Hodge (STANH@MAIL.TDOC.TEXAS.GOV)
Wed, 31 May 1995 11:21:58 -0600
Well, I've opened a bucket of worms. I am grateful for your many
thoughtful and flameless comments. I have read each very carefully.
Marked many with my highlighter, and saved them all. Each makes a
very valuable contribution to the discussion.
I have been around scouting now in one leadership capacity or another
for over 18 years. I have seen the problem repeatedly. It comes as
some small comfort to note that I am not alone -- indeed even the
proponents of the system admitted having experienced some problems.
My problem with the system is not who is elected or when, but why and
what is the SYSTEM doing to create a problem in the boys' lives. I do not
mean to criticize the OA itself or what it does for those who are elected,
but what the SYSTEM does to those who are not.
First, IMHO the OA needs to decide if it is an "honor organization" or a
"service organization." If it is an honor organization then the election
process certainly needs to be changed. Think about it -- mathematically,
all eligibles COULD be elected with the current system. Where is the
honor in that? If this was limited to one per year, or a percent of total
registered youth, the honor would be more obvious, and non-election
would not be the stigma that it is when you are "elected" (by virtue of
non-election) as the least qualified, or in the bottom 25 percent or
If it is a service organization, the service commitment should be stressed
well before the election and boys be given the opportunity to withdraw
their names. In my district I have never seen more than six boys and one
adult at any meeting in the past year -- four of these from my troop and
two from another (usual attendance was somewhat lower) -- we elect
(my guess) at least twice that many each year. Where are they? If they
are not committed to the service, they should not be elected.
It seems obvious (again, IMHO) that, if the problem is to be solved, the
OA must 1) reexamine their purposes and election procedures and 2)
steps must be taken to help both boys and leaders better understand the
organization and the commitments that accompanies membership even if
that broader understanding comes at the sacrifice of some of the
mystique of the order.
Again, I appreciated your comments to my first note; looking forward to
your thoughts on this.
Committee Member, Troop 100
Tejas District, Capital Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City