(4 topics)Long - Advancement Process Added C
Thomas C. Stoddard (tom.stoddard@CNFD.PGH.WEC.COM)
Tue, 19 Nov 1996 10:33:23 -0500
We all enjoy the posts from Maj. Walton, and his most recent few have not
disappointed. I have been a lurker on the list lately, enjoying what everyone
has said, feeling all the responses to requests have been good, concise and
complete - that I did not have anything further to add. Mike's latest posts
have prompted a couple rejoinders, mostly in agreement with his observations;
and a sharing of experience.
The original question was regarding
>Inability of a Board to question weaknesses in passing merit badges,
>counselors. weak projects, weak leadership, poor spirit - anything behind
The advancement guidelines offer several gyrations as to the composition of the
Eagle Board of Review (held on district level, held at troop site, held with
troop committee with a district representative, held with all district
committee representatives, etc.) The one we have used, and I feel works best
(Your mileage may vary) is a board composed of equal numbers from the District
advancment committee and troop commitee (I ask for three from each, which then
fits the "three to six" standard noted in the guidelines). If the Committee is
to be vested with the responsibility of setting policy and direction for the
troop, they need to be regarded courteously and given responsibility in that
We will often take that time, District Committee to Troop Committee to counsel
with them, to consider the operation of the troop, answer questions and share
ideas we've seen work in other units, review procedure that should be followd,
etc. The Eagle Candidate is an ideal exhibit to launch from, he represents the
troop's "product" and though the decision on the candidate is independent,
*after the review*, and the candidate has stepped out of the room and the board
is polling its members to obtain approval (a unanimous vote being required for
approval), there is a moment there to *evaluate* (as Mike says) with the troop
committee that I find very effective.
I have not been shy to suggest, and have offered at various times, all of the
- "Though I can see no reason on paper or performance to deny this scout the
Eagle Award, I do want to let you know candidly as a troop committee that this
is a very weak application. Here are some ideas you can take back to the unit
to strengthen your process...."
- Another time, "It is obvious from the responses of this Eagle Candidate that
your troop is not using the patrol method, or is being run by all the adults.
Would you as a troop committee please take Bill (the scoutmaster) by the hand,
lead him to the back of the room and plant his fanny in a chair? This Eagle
Candidate is capable of running your troop, and is not being given a chance."
- "I realize there is nothing in the guidelines which prevent a parent from
being a merit badge counselor, but did you realize as I review blue cards
that fully 12 of this candidate's 21 merit badges were signed off by Mom, Dad
Aunt Betty? How do you feel about Adult Role Model as a method of scouting,
and what do you think your troop can do by way of policy or practice to
encourage that growth experience of a boy picking up the phone and going to
meet an adult with some expertise in the field?"
- "Did you hear what the scout said when I asked him about his merit badges?
As a troop committee, you need to be concerned when he says 'I got it just
because the counselor came to our troop meeting'. That raises red flags in
my mind that he's not being taken thoroughly through the requirements. Here,
let me give you a pamphlet (the BSA publication on Merit Badge Counseling) and
note this paragraph on "how many at a time?" Just because he's sitting in
troop meeting does not mean he has any proficiency in a merit badge. I'd
suggest you continue to have troop program on these topics, that's super.
But leave all "passing off" of requirements to an individual meeting with the
counselor at another place in the church, or in an individual appointment at
his home (with a buddy sitting across the way). Don't let your troop become
perceived as an 'Eagle Scout Factory'."
Many committee people are parents or parishoners who want to support scouting,
but all the training they see initially is "the way the troop has been
operating". We have had some real eye-openers as we've taken the moment, and it
really is just a few minutes there as we need to get back to the Eagle
Candidate, to explain some nuance, or standard, or what we are really looking
for in the Eagle Project. It has made a big difference. The counsel has
universally been well-recieved, and I delight in having the troop committee
members throughout the district call me and ask me questions on individual
cases (not the scoutmasters anymore!) as I see them going back to the unit with
these comments, and their desire to take hold and step up the troop's "product".
On the project, Mike suggests a contact with the benefitting organization to
evaluate its merit and execution. I second that idea. We have done this. By
suggesting to the troop committees that a letter or note of completion would be
sufficient for me, this has (over a couple of years) become a general practice.
And I just have them clip/staple it to their packet. One project a boy
performed was in benefit of a local "no-kill" animal shelter. The administrator
wrote such a cute completion letter in the voice of the animals. "Hi, I'm Sam,
and I'm a blood hound, and this is my pal, Max. He's siamese. And we wanted to
write to let you know how much we and all our friends appreciate the service of
Troop 85 and Eagle Scout candidate David Edwards........(with photos and a
'paw print' signature)" I'm a softy, I guess, but I still thrill to read it.
The "cooling down" period Mike suggests wherein we evaluate program and
achievements has a term in the training literature, we call it "Reflection." I
agree with Mike on its use, I wholeheartedly endorse it. And, yes, this
practice should be part of the board of review. (Again, with the members of the
committee present, it is valuable for them to hear their Eagle Scout candidates
when I ask questions like, "What experience in scouting did you have when you
felt, Awright!! I can do this, and really sensed you had your stuff together?
Was there ever a time when you were ready to just chuck it all in and leave the
troop, why? In what ways did you feel you were looking for something from
scouting which your troop had a difficulty in delivering? If you could change
something about your troop or your scouting experience, what would it be?")
>After almost 25 years we will
>have a Lone Scout Eagle candidate in the near future;
Last week we held a board of review for a Lone Scout. My first one as well.
It was only partially such a condition. He was in a troop, left for Pakistan
with Father's work assignment for awhile. Then the last year has been back in a
troop. It was a super Board of Review. His father had served as a scoutmaster
before, and had been trained, so he did right well, I feel, in making sure this
scout got the most of the experience. The boy related how his father would find
some Pakistani in the field, explain what they were looking for, and would
he/she allow the son to come work with him on these "projects" (merit badge
requirements). Then, when affirmend that the work was completed, Dad would just
sign the card. It was a great process, doing the best they could as registered
under the Lone Scout provision, but attempting to do things the "scouting way."
The cultural benefits that scout acquired were an added bonus to the scouting.
As to the question, No, don't do a thing differently. Give him a Board of
Review which causes him to reflect on his scouting experience, gleen what life
affirming moments he enjoyed, consider the responsibility of living up to the
expectations for Eagle Scouts, congratulate him on his achievement, adding the
sidebar expresssion of respect for his perseverence in doing it on his own.
The original post:
>Our troop has four boys that will be working towards their Eagle within the
>next 12 to 18 months. At our last committee meeting, we discussed the
>responsibility the committee has to the eagle candidate regarding the
>completion of his project. We understand the need of the committee, troop
> leaders and boys to assist the candidate with the project's completion but
>we are not sure if financial support is necessary.
My answer is easy. The troop committee should assist as little as possible. Let
the boy lead out. When he needs help, let him ask for it. But, don't give him
the help right away. Properly ask him what resources he has available. What
efforts has he already made to find resolution to the issue. When it comes to
safety issues, adults to handle chainsaws, drive equipment, etc. Okay, well we
will find someone qualified and able to help out with that. But a fundamental
premise from Baden Powell is to allow the boys to do what they are capable of
doing. I'm not saying to let the scout twist in the wind, but I am saying to
allow him to show his stuff (leadership) and to retain as much ownership and
pride in his project as can be achieved. A little counselling is a whole lot
more supportive, given the bigger picture of the miracle scouting is to
accomplish in the life of the boy, than a boost of assistance over some road
bump in his path.
So far as fundraising, Yes, the eagle project should not be directed to fund
raising. Raising money connected with the eagle project was termed
"questionable", but I would offer this correction. It specifically states in
the Life to Eagle Packet (pg.2) that if any funds are needed for the project
that the raising of these monies would be approved. My personal experience is
that the money is the reason for rejection of over half of the eagle service
projects which are rejected by our district advancement committee. A skill of
leadership is Planning. And it is wholly appropriate, I feel, to ask, "Who's
paying for all this lumber?" before approving the project. That is a
consideration of planning I would think an Eagle Scout should be thinking of,
along with safety, and feasibility. It's a resource he needs to develop. If a
scout presented a plan to raise a certain amount of money (which adhered to
scouting's fundraising standards), to then pay for materials to be used in this
way in such and such a project, I would feel very favorably disposed to that.
If the project is sponsored by the benefitting organization (church or school
commits to pay for material) that's okay too, so have the scout say so in his
packet proposal. If he can get the material donated (the more common mode),
even better still.
The original post:
"Our unit got the new requirements for QU with our rechartering packet,
and were surprised to find out that we will now be required to recharter
with more boys than before in order to qualify for the QU award. Does
anyone know who's lousy idea it is to make that one of the required
I personally think it's a great idea. The troop which does not take an active
position toward recruiting will tend to stagnate and eventually will die on
the vine. Can a troop really become too large? I don't think so, if run with
the patrol method and with functioning committee (as large as needful). The
study conducted for and cited by the BSA confirms that there is a minimum
number, in fact (about 21 boys, I recall) at which scouting really takes off
so far as being effective (delivering the promise). There are not many units
within my eyesight here that have that many boys. I feel it's always a good
idea, even as an Ideal to "do a good turn daily" to do the good turn of
offering scouting to the children in our community. The real limitation to
the size of the troop would be the scoutmaster and the time he/she had
available to conduct all the scoutmaster conferences. At such time the
scoutmaster was "full", well, then we go down the road, find another sponsor
(chartered organization) and break off into a second troop, with another
scoutmaster. So long as there are boys not in scouting who could benefit from
the experience, I don't ever feel a troop is too large.
As to this criterion being a discriminator for the Quality Unit award: If a
unit is offering a "quality" program, so that it is producing "quality" scouts,
then indeed, there should be no problem in attracting neighbors who are
interested to join. Having the friend or neighbor come in with one of your
boys and say he'd like to be part of it all, well, that is the best kind of
affirmation that the unit is truly of "quality" character.
Monroeville, Pennsylvania 15146
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City