Re: OA elections...long
Jon Dixon (dixonj@COLORADO.EDU)
Mon, 10 Aug 1998 00:28:12 -0400
Kent Wilkins wrote:
> The best solution would be to skip elections altogether and admit ALL the
> boys that meet the requirements. Its totally ludicrous to expect kids of
> that age (and most adults) to elect peers to an "Honorary" organization
> without basing their vote on popularity. We all know..even if we wont
> admit it....that the elections are a farce, and only the popular kids get
Well I'm glad you have taken on the task of informing us of what it is
we all know. However, you unfortunately are completely off base in what
I have probably been involved in close to 50 OA elections (since I was
on the OA election team, and the Chapter chair for elections for one
year, as a youth), and the only ones I have seen that have approached
being farces are ones where the adults felt it necessary to meddle to
try to control the outcome. I have repeatedly seen scouts do a
consistent job of making the right choice in these elections; oftentimes
when I expected them to do otherwise. If this isn't happening in your
own troop, then perhaps a review of how scouting spirit and fair play is
being taught is in order.
I would like to make one side point about popularity and the OA. While
it is true that the OA elections are not to simply be popularity
contests, there is a need to include popularity to some extent. A scout
is to be friendly -- if he has no friends in the troop then he has
failed to fulfil this. If he has not built up a good reputation among
the younger scouts by being helpful to them, or by being brave when
standing up for them, then is he really showing exemplary scout spirit?
With the current election regulations, all that he needs is for at least
half the troop to think he is a good enough scout to be willing to vote
for him -- there is no longer even any element of competition about it.
> Next year..instead of
> watching the ceremony and the fire...take a good look in the faces of the
> kids that are left sitting there at the end.....if you can honestly say
> that what you see in their eyes doesnt bother you....then you are a cold
> hearted person indeed.
Yes, being passed over can be painful. But perhaps you should take a
look around the campfire during a camporee and see the painful looks in
the eyes of those who come in second, or who fail to even place in any
events. And how many times in sports events, like the Olympics, do we
see the pain and tears of those who have given it their all but still
fall short? Do we then scrap rewarding those who achieve because it can
be painful to those who fail?
I say that instead we use this as an opportunity to help the scouts
grow. As scouters, we should recognize that certain boys will be hurt
by being passed over. The SM should take time to sit down with each of
these boys and talk the situation over. Help the boys develop those
areas in which they are weak, so that the next year they have a better
chance. Remember, it only becomes failure when you fail to learn, grow,
and try again.
> We set requirements for merit badges..and ranks... and all other honors
> in scouting that by fullfilling them earns the boy that recognition. Why
> cant we do the same for the OA???? if the boy is living by the scout
> oath and law...he IS AN HONORED CAMPER.....and an honored everything
So how do you certify that the boy is living by these principles? Do
you set up standards on how many times they can misbehave in different
ways? Or a point system to reward them each time they do something
Realistically, the only way that it could be done is just automatically
take everyone that the SM says is worthy (so you completely cut out any
participation of the boys in the process). Given the behavior I've seen
from adults, the politicing that often goes on in troops about whether
to promote a boy based on who his parents are, I would prefer to keep it
mainly in the hands of the boys. For all their faults, I think they
probably still do better than most of the adults would.
Certainly the current system is not perfect; however, until I see a
better suggestion I think we should stick with it.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City