Purposes of Board of Review
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Sat, 24 Aug 1996 22:35:59 -0400
> The book also says an objective of the Board is "to make sure that the Scout
> has done what he was supposed to do for the rank". Everyone please note that
> "Scout" is used; it does not say that the result is used to evaluate the
> troop, counselor, council, summer camp, or program - that is an
> interpretation which, although valid, is only partial.
The Troop Committee Guidebook says:
"The review has three purposes:
1. To make sure that the work has been learned and completed.
2. To find out what kind of experience the boy is having in his patrol
3. To encourage the Scout to progress further.
The board of review is not a time to retest the Scout, but to determine
the Scout's attitude and his acceptance of Scouting ideals. It is also
important to review those Scouts who are not advancing. The guidance and
care shown could motivate these Scouts to further achievement."
While you may believe that the only way to determine whether a Scout has
learned and completed the work is to test skills regardless of how you
label it, this is clearly not the intent of what a Board of Review is all
about. And you will note that the purposes do include references to
"Patrol" and "Troop."
Now how can you be assured that a Scout really knows his stuff, if you
can't retest at a BOR? What that means is a lot more work on the part of
leaders. It means that we have to really coach the PLC to teach the
skills properly in the first place and trust that when a Scout is signed
off, he has really completed the skill. If not, then the adults who are
watching, need to do some on the spot counseling right then and there
with the Scout who signed off, not the one one who did his best.
Afterward the Scout can be counseled to give it another shot to improve
or involved in games, teaching and other opportunities to relearn and
sharpen the skill painlessly. Finally, the Scoutmaster at the SM
Conference should be the final check to review skill achievement. The
BOR members are there to see that the Scout has met with the SM, that the
requirements are signed off and to ask general open ended questions that
will help them learn what the Scout has done and where he is headed. They
also will learn about where the Troop can improve. Finally they should be
encouraging the youth the progress further.
If the only way they can be sure that a Scout has completed a requirement
is to retest they are making it clear that the Troop's leadership is a
failure and not to be trusted. Likewise, they are imposing new retest
requirements that are beyond those authorized by BSA. And while many
boys will make it through and even learn from retesting, that doesn't
necessarily make it right.
Finally, we need to remember that the goals of Scouting (BSA) are
threefold - citizenship, character, and fitness. The advancement program
is a method of achieving these goals and not an end in itself. That is
why the BOR is focused more on how the boy is doing, what his plans are,
how he is applying lessons from Scouting in life. A BOR is supposed to
be looking at the big picture regarding the Scout's development.
A personal concern that I have is when Scouter's persist in using their
own methods despite fairly clear guidance from BSA on what is expected.
I don't mean to direct this at you personally, but in the past I've
witnessed unit where leaders went beyond reasonable and turned BORs into
tribunals that became so frightening that Scouts were afraid to attend,
got sick in order to avoid, or just quit. We have a standard developed
that promotes the purposes of Scouting and limits the role of BORs and
hence the opportunity for misuse. Remember that Scouting is a game with
a purpose. :-) From a slightly younger Eagle ('67):
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
Dep.Dist.Commissioner-Training, G.W.Dist., NCAC, BSA (Virginia)
U. S. Scouting Service Project FTP Site Administrator (PC Area)
ftp1 or ftp2.scouter.com/usscouts E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City