The advancement process in Scouting
John F. Pilger (JPILGER@NESS.SCOTTLAN.EDU)
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 10:28:14 EST
This is my first contribution to the List. I have been lurking
for only a short time.
First a brief introduction: I am an Eagle Scout, father of
three boys, former Cub Scout Den Leader, and now Cub Master. My
middle son is a Cub, the youngest a "terrible two", and my oldest is now in
Boy Scouts. Observing how his troop and many other troops in the
area seem to function regarding advancement has caused me some
concern. The recent discussion in SCOUTS-L on advancement in Scouting
(see comment below) prompted me to pose my question to the group.
<Beginning of comment received yesterday>
Motivating the scouts to work on MBs outside of the troop meeting can
be difficult, but it can be done much the same as scouts can be
taught to come to meetings on time, meet for trips on time, etc.
When I was Troop 16 SM, at first MB classes seemed to last for ever.
Scouts never brought in assignments and expected to do everything in
the troop meetings or that the classes would last until they had
It didn't take long to figure out that if we set a schedule for the
length of the MB class which was reasonable and stuck to it, the
scouts learned to get assignments finished on time or they would have
to work out the make up time with the counselor at his/her
At first, they complained, but eventually they learned. Certainly
not every scout earned each badge, but that's life. Nowhere does it
say attending meetings and classes is sufficient to pass.
<End of forwarded comment>
The situation described by the individual who sent this comment
mirrors my frustration and what I have observed locally. My question to the
discussion group is this, to what extent are we helping boys in Scouting become
self-motivated and self-reliant adults when we provide for them the information
and setting for them to accomplish most of their merit badge requirements and
many of the other necessities for rank advancement?
It seems to me that instilling these traits in young adults is very important
and missing from the advancement process as I have observed it (in my very
small sample). To complete merit badge requirements today a Scout
seems to have to do little more than show up for the merit badge classes,
do a little studying, and complete a few "homework" assignments. I am
concerned that this will not produce as many self-reliant young men
(the leaders of tomorrow) as when Scouts had to do more on our own to
"earn" merit badges and advance. Personally, I think it takes some of the shine
off of the Eagle badge when I know that some of the boys who receive it did
so by having little more than good attendance at meetings and merit
I am sure that this subject will touch a nerve with many of you and I
expect to be rebuked by some. Please do not interpret this
observation as complete dissatisfaction with the organization. If my
extrapolation from local observations to the national scene is incorrect, then
I accept the criticism and will be pleased to know that I am wrong. If, however
this is a national trend, then I think the process ought to be evaluated.
I have always believed that it is not the position (rank) that brings
honor to the individual, but it is the duty of the individual to
bring honor to the position. It is my sincere hope that the boys now in
Scouting will bring honor to the organization as they become the
leaders of tomorrow.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City