Re: Eagle BOR Failure? (long)
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@NYC.PIPELINE.COM)
Sun, 22 Sep 1996 16:23:01 GMT
I read you post, quoted below, and several things about it bother me. Let
me see if I can put my finger on them.
First of all, you and I almost always agree on our advancement attitude (I
think) so we may really not be as far apart now as it seems. I agree,
fully, that these situations should be the exception, rather than the rule,
and very rare exceptions, indeed. In 20+ years of advancement work I can
only think of three Eagle BORs with which I have been involved which were
not initially successful, although several others were tough. My guess
would be that the total is somewhere between 200-300. Only one was
appealed beyond the troop level and the district/council awarded the Eagle.
(Here the unit refused to hold the BOR which led to the district/council
However, in spite of the rarity, the question was asked about what the
consequences would be if it happened. The consequences, plain and simple,
are that if a Scout who is already 18 fails his board he only has two
choices - appeal or not be Eagle. There is no time for corrective action.
I believe that this was the point of the original thread.
Now, as to your comments about potential causes for the failure, you seem
to be saying that if a Scout finds himself in this situation it is ALWAYS
the fault of one or more adults. That is just not the case. Scouts,
particularly potential Eagle Scouts should, and must be made to, take some
responsibility for their advancement. Thus, should he wait until two
months before his 18th birthday to start personal management mb and THEN
realize that he can no longer make Eagle, I don't see that as ANY adult's
fault. He should have read his book. We shouldn't have to lead an Eagle
Scout by the nose to every page of his handbook and show him what he needs
to do. Would I feel bad? Absolutely. Would I feel RESPONSIBLE?
Absolutely not. Sometimes, even if we hold their hand, they just don't get
it done either. However, in those cases, we usually don't get to a Board.
As to your comment about Scout Spirit and Leadership, I agree with you, in
general, that if it gets to national the Eagle will be awarded. However,
that suggests two things. First, I don't think that the local BOR should
even think about that during the Board. It is their job to do what THEY
think is right, and I would never vote yes where I didn't feel the Scout
deserved the rank just because I felt that my decision would be overturned.
Instead I would be prepared to support my decision to the best of my
ability KNOWING what types of things national would or would not accept. I
would, however, inform the board that, should the Scout appeal, there was a
good likelihood of being overturned.
The second thing suggested by your comments is that we should try to make
sure that the decision is not appealed. Of course, the Scout needs to be
informed of his appeal rights, but, if the board is cogent in explaining
the reasons for the decision, including citing things that the Scout agreed
to but failed to do, it is likely that he will realize that HE is
responsible for the situation he is in and not appeal. This goes back to
my prime goal in advancement - training and education. Making sure that
everyone is on the same page, all the time. This SHOULD prevent these
situations, but we don't live in Utopia so there will be times where it
will just not happen.
I think you comments about the project are off base. If by your comment
about it being based upon the project "report" then I might agree with you.
However, if you mean that the project cannot be reason for failure, I
disagree completely. One of the things that I tell EVERY Life Scout when I
approve his project is that the approval is ONLY an approval of the concept
and plan, and that the ultimate decision concerning successful completion
of the project will be made by the BOR. To quote the Project Workbook:
"Although the project was approved by your unit leader . . . before it was
begun, the EAGLE SCOUT BOARD OF REVIEW must approve the manner in which it
was carried out. . . ." I see failure to properly complete the project as
one of the areas where a BOR is most likely NOT to get overturned on
I also agree with you that it would be much better for the SM, at the SM
conference, to counsel with the candidate and indicate that he is not yet
ready for a BOR and that he needs to do X to be ready. But, by definition,
we are talking about young men who have CHOSEN to wait for the last minute.
Sometimes the SM doesn't have that luxury, due to the clock. If he
chooses not to allow a board, and thus deny the Eagle at that level, that
decision, as well, is subject to appeal. A unit CAN hold an Eagle BOR
without the SM's signature, although I would hope the BOR would seriously
consider why the signature was withheld. If the unit committee chose not
to hold the board the decision can be appealed to the district advancement
committee. That was the situation in the one appeal I had. We interviewed
the SM, held the BOR, and awarded the Eagle.
The bottom line is that we ALL need to work our butts off to prevent this
type of situation from happening. But, sometimes, no matter what we try to
do to help these young men, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable
situation being discussed here. We need to know what we should do at our
level, and what the options are afterwards.
I wish we were in a situation where I would be able to stop preaching the
need for cooperation and unity amongst the parties because that situation
would already exist in EVERY situation, but that just isn't going to
happen. All we can do is to keep plugging away and working at it.
Sorry for the length of this post.
Bruce E. Cobern
On Sep 21, 1996 15:15:01, 'Amick Robert <amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU>' wrote:
>The issue of Scouts at or near age 18 "failing" an Eagle Board of Review
>brings up some points which may need closer examination:
>1. If the Scout is being failed for not completing "firm" requirements
>such as merit badges, there is some question as to who really is
>accountable for that..(i.e., the Scoutmaster's Conference should be the
>"filter" which ensures that this does not occur prior to the candidates
>2. If the Scout is being failed for subjective criteria such as "Scout
>Spirit" or "Leadership," this is very controversial ground, and if
>appealed at the Council
>or National level, will very likely be reversed. Again, this should never
>be an issue going into a Board of Review if the Scout has been properly
>counseled and checked prior to the BOR.
>3. If a failure is based on the Eagle Scout Project report, and if it
>is properly signed off and approved prior to the BOR, it is inappropriate
>for a BOR to retroactively disapprove a project report. If the BOR is
>dissatisfied with the results, they should take that up with the counselor
>who signed off on the report, but not use the issue as grounds to fail a
>Scout. Again, if the report is the basis for a failure, it will likely be
>reversed on appeal at the Council or National level.
>4. The ill will and frustration experienced by any Scout who fails a BOR
>for reasons cited above is unconscionable and will likely be a source of
>bitter memories for the Eagle Scout candidate who is forced to go through
>an appellate process without justification. Negative reinforcement never
>works as well as positive guidance, particularly in Scouting. In guided
>discovery, the objective is to help someone benefit from their mistakes by
>learning from them, and then pursuing creative alternatives; and of most
>importance, without allowing them to "fall off the cliff" in the process.
>It is imperative that the Scoutmaster, Troop Advancement Committee
>and Eagle Scout Project Counselor not ever allow a Scout to get into a
>position where they are likely to irretrievably fail a BOR. The "i's"
>need to be dotted and the "t's" crossed well in advance of a BOR, and if
>they are not, then the responsible adult(s) should make sure that it
>gets "fixed" before hand. To do otherwise is a serious disservice to the
>Scout and even worse, a failure of the adults charged with those vital
>There have been similar situations where younger Scouts
>seeking lower ranks failed a Board of review because they were not
>adequately prepared and reviewed by the Scoutmaster's conference.
>Fortunately these situations are the exception rather than the rule,
>but those Scouts should not ever have been placed in a position to
>fail, and the effect was so traumatic that some actually left in tears and
>others even quit Scouting.
>Is it not better for the Scoutmaster to tell the
>Scout, "I don't think you are ready for a BOR, but let's work on some
>things so you can be well prepared." This may be a disappointment for the
>Scout, but it is far less damaging than failing the BOR.
>5. The Eagle BOR should be a very special time for
>the new Eagle to "fly" and celebrate his long trail to Eagle by sharing
>his ideas, his enthusiasm for Scouting and for life; and by having members
>of the BOR share in his jubilance and what should be one of the most
>important milestones in his entire life.
>Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City