Re: Board of Review Guidelines
(no name) ((no email))
Sat, 1 Jun 1996 21:55:45 -0500
Mike Mille asked about Boards of Review:
> I was wondering if some of you could give me some insight as to what a
>Board of Review is supposed to entail. I'm having a problem with the way
>my troop seems to be holding them. I think they tend to be too easy and
>there is no real regard as to whether the boy completed the requirements.
> I'll tell you where I'm coming from. When I attained my ranks it was
>before the new guidelines came into effect. This was before ~1990 (give or
>take a year). This was when the PLC could give boards of reviews up to
I personally feel that we took a lot from our Patrol Leaders' Councils (PLC)
when we moved those Boards of Review back to the Troop Committee.
However, it was done because a lot of Boards of Review were being
conducted without the adult advisement that should have been there, with
non-members of the PLC (since the Troop can "determine" who was going
to serve as members, we had situations whereby the Scribe, Instructors,
and Junior Assistant Scoutmasters and other non-leader members of the
PLC were "substitute members"), and with "friends and those we know
"did it" "passing"", and those others sent back and back and back until
they grew tired of the process and gave up Scouting altogether.
I think, however, by having the Troop Committee Chair and perhaps the
Advancement member of the Committee to serve as "advisors" to the
Patrol Leaders, the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and the Senior Patrol
Leader, (and in Troops with Venture Crews, the Crew Chief), the
"members of the Patrol Leaders' Council".
> During these boards if a scout came to them unprepared and didn't
>satisfy the board the he knew the requirements, he was rejected and told
>to come back. Those boards made sure the scout knew his material.
That's a truism that I wrote to the Program Group about when they
announced the Troop Operations Plan. Our Scouts tend to be "harder"
on each other than adults will be, mostly because they are familiar with
"ways to slide" around a Board appearance and they are more familiar
with just what is expected of them at each level. The BSA responded to
this by revamping the old Scoutmaster Basic course to the present
Scoutmaster Fundamentals and encouraging Committeemembers to take
the training. In this way, the adults would be somewhat familiar with
what the process entails and some information about the ranks.
In practice, this part of the Scoutmaster Fundamentals courses get
"lip service" and not much of the advancement process nor how
Scouts learn and are evaluated on those skills is taught "due to the
time constaints" of conducting the courses.
>The boards were also cummulative to make sure the scout was still
>skills he had learned in the previous ranks.
> Now it seems that scouting has taken a different approach and the
>now do the boards. The questions that are asked are more of feedback as to how
>the troop is doing rather than if the scout actually know his stuff. This
>I don't agree.
But that's the purpose of the Board of Review, then as now, Mike. The only
difference is that today, we don't have Scouts to show us two half-hitches.
Instead, we ask him how he would use the two half-hitches and how he learned
how to tie them. Today, instead of having a Scout to show us on a map where
the Scout hut is and to plot an asmuth of 133 degrees south from the buiding,
we instead ask him how he would use map and compass skills to find and get
to the community center from the Scout hut and why he feels that it's an
important skill to know.
The point is that today, we are asking our Committees to find out how our
Scouts are using the skills they have learned, whether or not they enjoy their
Scouting experience, and why they should apply those skills into their daily
lives, and not just "Scouting". I think this is a much better approach because
in the past, we taught Scouts how to "pass the test" by drill and rote. Nothing
wrong with drill and rote...that's how we learned our numbers, letters and
states and their capitols, for examples. However, we have learned from our
educators that students haven't really LEARNED what the letter "A" is,
just an association between a character with two sloping sides and a "bridge"
connecting the two, and something called a "A".
In Scouting, we have done and continue to do a great job in teaching our
Scouts how to tie two half hitches. However, we don't let them apply this
knowledge when we go camping, and let them attach their tent flies to the
stake with a wide variety of knots. Likewise, we show them how to use
a map and a compass to take a bearing, but when they are given directions
to a location, they cannot associate the streets in their minds with the
locations on the map. One of the frequent critizisms of military trainees is
the fact that they can recognize terrain features (a hill, a depression, a
valley) on the map but cannot readily recognize those same features in
person standing in or within those same landmarks. Also, Mike, some of
our Scouting skills are not being applied to what Scouts do in their
communities. For instance, we are not asking Scouts to explain how to
get to city hall or the county courthouse or the local food or feed store.
We instead, ask them to explain how to get to their homes or the Scout
meeting place. We teach "plant and wildlife identification" only at campouts
and rarely do we go into town and have Scouts to identify plants found
in town or wildlife found within the county. This could be easily done
by going to a farm or forest area within the county or city limits.
> I think the board should be the last road block in determining if the scout
>has really fulfilled the requirements. I find scouts now just tend to learn
>the stuff for the Scoutmaster's Conference
Huh? Learn the stuff for the Scoutmasters' Conference? Nope, that's NOT
what the Scoutmasters' Conference is for!!!
The Scoutmaster's Conference is not a "review period" before the Board
of Review!! It's a period of *personal growth agreement* between the
Scoutmaster and the Scout. The Scoutmaster talks with the Scout about
his growth and development within the Troop and his or her expectations
from the Scout as they progress in rank. It is a unique and different
conference for EACH AND EVERY Scout and should not be a
"assembly line meeting", whereby "Okay. You're "going for" Star.
Here's what you have to do to get Life". Instead, this should be a give-and
take between adult and youth, between man or woman and boy, between Scout
and his Scoutmaster.
>and then forget it all as soon as they leave the conference. Maybe I'm old
>fashioened, but I think I learned a lot more the other way then I would have
>learned this way.
Scouts today, however, are much different than we were as Scouts. They
not only want to know how it's done but why it's done and how come
we can't do it any old way.
I visited a Troop meeting in Albany, Georgia, several years back. The
Scoutmaster took the Troop out to a road cut three miles out of town
and stood at the top of the 40 or so foot road cut while his Scouts stood
at the bottom of the cut. He had a store mainquim weighted with lead
to about the weight of a young Scout (about 90 pounds). One of his
Junior Assistant Scoutmasters whispered to me "Watch this, Mr. Walton.
This is really neat!"
The Scoutmaster introduced "Manny" to the Scouts below and explained
that this evening, they would learn to tie the sheetbend and the bowline.
He found a strong tree branch, draped a 20 foot rope over it, and showed
the Scouts that it would not reach the ground. Their task was to learn how
to tie these two knots, and use those knots to get "Manny" rescued.
He had two new Scouts to tie "just any knots" to the rope to "get
it started". They did their best to tie a series of what they thought were
really tight knots to the ropes, and then to tie knots to "Manny".
They then lowered the dummy, and as the JASM nudged me, the
knots undid themselves and "Manny" was hung before he fell to the
rocks below in front of the assembled Scouts. The Scoutmaster had
the Scouts to come down, to the jeers of the rest of the Scouts.
He placed his hands on the shoulders of the new Scouts and
told them that "they had nothing to be ashamed of. You just didn't
know how to tie the knots correctly. Someone's life will depend
someday on what you have learned here. The only test you will get
is the one you will pass or fail in life. What we teach you here is
of little importance...what you take from here, is what you will
>From that point onward, there were intense learning and tieing
and retying and every Scout-- including the two new Scouts--
knew what a bowline is for, how to tie one, and most importantly,
how to teach SOMEONE ELSE how to tie one.
During the Board of Review, the question was not "how to tie
a bowline", but rather "why would you use one" and "can you
explain to me, if I pulled out a rope, how to tie a bowline around
Those are the "things they take" from our Scouting program and
use in their daily lives, which is what Boards of Review are all
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle) (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services of Kentucky (502.826.7046) __)_
174 Chapelwood Drive, Henderson, Kentucky 42420-5036 | ** |]
(H) 502.827.9201 (F) 502.826.7046 (W) 888.284.4848 (yea!) coffee?
"Geoworks & Leaders' Online--because EVERY PC can open doors!!!"
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City