Re: Foreign Scouts & BSA
Norman J. MacLeod (gaelwolf@MARLIN.SSNET.COM)
Sat, 5 Aug 1995 17:47:14 EDT
Seems I offended you a tad with my post. However, please take another look.
I was posting on two levels. One was from the point of view of the Scout in
question. Say for instance a British Venture Scout who holds the Queen's
Scout Award comes to the USA and wishes to take part in the BSA programme.
How is he or she going to feel when told the two awards are not at least
equivalent? (As Ian mentions, I believe that, all in all, a Scout has to
accomplish a significantly higher level of achievement and demonstrate more
leadership skill in order to earn that Award than for an Eagle...)
Now, this may not, as I said, be the intent. However, the Venture Scout in
question is the one who is the receiver of the information - not you or I.
His or her attitude is going to be - if the BSA is willing to grant
equivalents up to the rank of Life, why not for the Eagle?
Personally, my preference would be that full award equivalents not be
automatically granted at all - for any rank. The policy says that all other
badges can be granted after a review of what the Scout has accomplished in
the home progress system. Does the Scout then gain a full appreciation for
the badge granted after the review? I wonder...
On the other hand, I wouldn't wish the Scout to repeat everything, either.
So, what I have done in the past was to sit down with a Scout's badge
requirements for the Scout Association (SA) he or she was coming to us from,
with our requirements alongside. Then we would do a one for one requirement
transfer. Where a requirement was fulfilled in the home SA, and matched or
exceeded what we require, then it would be signed for our advancement
system. Where there was a shortfall for our system, the Scout would make it
up. This way the Scout gets credit for work accomplished, but fully meets
our requirements prior to a badge being awarded in our system. Leadership
and service requirements that have already been met at home don't need to be
repeated (though we fully expect to receive the benefit of the Scout's
experience in another SA). This way, we are not facing the Scout with a
blank, "We don't care what you ahave done, you have not met the requiremnts
for X Award - it's policy and there's nothing that can be done to change it"
situation, which is possible under this BSA policy.
In this, as in many other things, there are ways to do things where the
Leaders and the Scouts involved can use the situation to help one another
grow a bit more. The "regulation and policy" approach allows little
"wiggle-room" in this instance. Being "set in concrete", you lose a
signicficant amount of interactibility between the Leaders and the Scout.
Common sense bows to rule from above. Is this a good thing? I would far
prefer to work this issue through with an individual Scout Award by Award,
explaining things as we go, than to try to determine where he or she fits by
a cold administrative procedure, wouldn't you? We get more out of the
process when we work together, eh?
The other aspect I was addressing was the way the policy comes across as
written. I wasn't taking Jim to task on that in any way - he was simply
quoting policy as handed down from Irving. I don't recall anyone in the BSA
in our area being asked for any input into this policy, perhaps soeone asked
some of the folks who read this List? It would have been far better if the
reasoning for the policy was included as part of the policy - why National
feels that the Eagle is so far separated from all other Awards that it
cannot be considered to have an equivalent in another Scout Association.
You might not feel as if it comes across this way, but then, you are not in
the position where you have an opportunity to look at the Eagle from the
point of view of a Scout or Leader in another country. To me, there is an
element of arrogance in the policy, intentional or not. Sorry, but that's
just how it hits me.
Now, I know that the Eagle is VERY important to many in the BSA, just as
the Chief Scout Award or Queen's Scout Award may be to those of us in other
Scout Associations. It just doesn't seem as if this is a point that the BSA
HQ folks took into consideration when they wrote the policy. Of course,
there is nothing that says they have to, but it would just be nice if they
Now, as to the issue of a Scout who is not comfortable having to work on BSA
citizenship badges, I would like to point out that that each Scout is a
unique person, and people have different comfort levels about things. Your
stepsons may not have had a problem earning the BSA badges. That may be due
to the way they were presented. We, on the other hand, are dealing with a
Canadian youngster whose experience was less than ideal. Apparently, his
status as a Canadian citizen temporarily residing in the USA was not
respected by the Troop leadership when it came to citizenship badge
The main thing here is that, although a foreign Scout may become a member of
a BSA unit, he or she still has citizenship rights and responsibilities to
the nation of citizenship. This is where the Leaders of the BSA unit have to
remember that there is more to their unit than a bunch of American kids,
with perhaps a few who have immigrated to the USA. You and I may be able to
work with the temporary residents who will not be staying for more than a
few years, but there would seem to be some Leaders to whom the difference
does not occur. The young lad in question was not respected in this regard,
and would have left Scouting altogether if he had not had an alternative to
You no doubt feel that the United States is the best nation in the world. So
would most Americans. However, those from other nations are also very proud
of their countries. Most of us respect this in one another. A few, however,
can have a slip of consideration from time to time that can make for
difficult situations. This is what appears to have occurred in the situation
with our new Scout...
Chris, I'm sorry you found it necessary to use sarcasm as a tool to get me
to understand why the BSA's policy should be as it is. I also apologise if
the way I wrote my post left too much open to question. Perhaps the problem
I have in putting my feelings into words on this subject is a combination of
me own experience in converting badgework from one advancement system to
another and our present situation with our own Scout who had problems with
citizenship badgework issues so recently with a BSA Troop. I am all for
visitors and temporary residents immersing themselves in the local culture.
After all, this is what I do whenever I am living somewhere away from home -
and why I have experience with so many different Scout Associations. In the
course of doing so, I have found that there are many ways to accomplish the
aims of Scouting, but that the differing methods are similar enough that we
can work together - when we choose to. That's why I tend to have a negative
reaction whenever a Scout Association issues a policy that makes working
together more difficult.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City