gregory bromen (gbromen@D.UMN.EDU)
Sat, 5 Oct 1996 18:15:08 -0500
On Fri, 4 Oct 1996, Ned Jacklin wrote:
> Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 12:33:57 CST
> From: Ned Jacklin <LASNJ@CCMAIL.CECO.COM>
> Subject: Advancement Advice
> We're looking for the collective wisdom.................
> We have an ASM and his very ambitious son in our Troop. ASM is going
> through a divorce, living many miles away, and doesn't see his son
> much except at Scout functions.
> Son is a real bookworm, having Earned Star in 20 months at the age of
> 12 plus a few months. The majority of his requirements and many of
> his merit badges have been signed off by his Dad. We trust them that
> they are really doing the work, but we're really stressing that the
> son needs the learning (maturing) experience of calling other
> counselors to make appointments to work on merit badges. We're also
> trying to avoid any appearance of impropriety in the eyes of others.
Absolutely. Seeking out a councilor other than Dad is in my opinion part
of the process of getting a merit badge. Sometimes, just to make sure
that there is no favoritism, Dads are tougher on their own kids. However,
all too often they essentially just give their kids the badge. There is
no way to avoid the appearance of impropriety if a dad councils his son.
It is unfair to say that improprieties did occur here, but it is
perfectly fair and realistic to suspect that they MIGHT have, just as you
always do when a parent signs something off.
> We had an understanding in our Troop even before this father and son
> joined that dads would not sign off sons on advancement requirements
> or merit badges. This ASM dad is really pushing the issue that he
> should sign off his son or our "official" Citizenship counselor should
> just sign him off because Dad said son has done all the work.
It look like somebody was asleep at the wheel when the son advanced so
quickly using his dad as a councilor. But that is in the past. As for
now, the "official" councilor should not sign off until he feels the
requirements have been met. A parent's word alone does not suffice.
> Now that I'm Advancement Chairman and ASM (as of last night) the
> decision seems to rest with me, although the new SM and CC are also
> really concerned with this whole thing. At summer camp, this Dad and
> son had little contact with the rest of the Troop; dad was ASM for son
> and not for any of the other boys.
If they only see each other at scout gatherings this behaviour is
understandable, if not quite appropriate. Not knowing the situation I am
not about to condemn a man for spending all his timw with his son if that
is the only opportunity they have to spend time together. If they do,
however, have the opportunity to go on their own trips (besides scout
trips) I would encourage the dad to do so in order to spend more time
with the group on troop events. This might not be possible, however. We
have no way of knowing that. You might.
> Help? One of the other ASMs has my Advancement Guidelines book,
> so I haven't been able to look up the rules on dads and sons working
> together. This is not entirely a "rulebook" situation, either. None
> of the rest of us have been divorced, so we really haven't "walked a
> mile in his moccasins." We're trying to be understanding without
> compromising, or appearing to compromise, the integrity of the
This is really the part I want to address. I have walked a mile in his
sons moccasins. My parents were divorced when I was in kindergarten. When
I became a scout, however, this gave me no special advancement
privileges. I still had to find my own councilors. This is VERY much a
I get the feeling that this boy and his dad are going through some rough
times and that members of the troop are letting them slide because of
some sympathy they gave towards the situation. Scouting can be a great
support mechanism in rough times and you should do all you can to help
these people, but changing advancement requirements are not called for here.
These are my opinions. I am sure that some might disagree.
> Ned Jacklin, former SM, now ASM and AC
> Troop 469
> Morris IL USA
Eagle Scout, ASM
Duluth, MN USA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City