Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: Re: Long Boards of Review
Re: Long Boards of Review
Steven G. Tyler
Sat, 3 Oct 1998 13:21:24 -0400
Chuck May wrote:
> Does anyone have any advice to offer on how to deal with a Troop whose
> average BOR length, for all ranks, is over one hour per boy?
> The Troop Committee apparently feels that Scout skills are severely lacking
> throughout the Troop (no argument there - IMHO the skills problem is because
> they do not do the kinds of activities which require boys to use the skills
> they are learning, and that's an issue of SM direction and program
> planning), and that they must therefore test every skill in detail.
> The committee also apparently feels that the wisdom and information
> contained in the Troop Committee Guidebook and the Advancement Guidelines is
> only advisory, so steering them to those documents is probably not an
Unfortunately, I don't think there is much you can do directly to curb
this type of abuse (and yes, I *do* view this as abuse!). The unit
belongs to the CO, and short of removing the charter, there's little
that can be done to sanction the unit committee, which is presumably
running the program as the CO sees fit.
Instead, a somewhat more oblique approach may be called for. [As an
initial aside, you several times refer to "apparently" in regard to the
committee's position -- you *must* open a dialog with the paties
involved, and test your assumptions, though here I will assume your
suppositions are correct!]
As you point out, the perceived failure (lack of Scout skills) is one of
the *program*, not necessarily the individual Scouts. Grilling (and
presumably retesting and rejecting) the individual Scouts at the BOR is
about the most inefficient method possible to address the problem.
It sounds like there may be a lack of communication between the
committee and the SM corps. I'd discuss this with the committee, first
getting their view of the source of the problem. If they say the Scouts
just don't know the skills, the next question is "why?" If they say it
is all the Scouts' fault, I'd ask whether the problem is limited to just
a few Scouts, or is widespread.
If the perceived problem is just a few Scouts, I'd focus on what is
happening at the levels where these issues are *supposed* to be
addressed -- primarily the initial sign-off on the requirements, and to
some extent the SM conference. I think even the most rigorous
"retesters" would concede that it would be better to address the
problems at those levels, rather than taking the committee's time at the
BOR. Unfortunately, some BOR's view their mission as primarily quality
control on the *Scouts*, rather than on the unit's program. Frankly, I'd
rather bluntly ask the "quality-controllers" whether they're satisfied
to continue to grill all (and presumably reject some of) the Scouts,
rather than arranging for them to be "ready" for the BOR and thus not
*need* to be grilled and rejected.
If the perceived problem is found with most of the Scouts, or if the
committee is aware that the issue is really with the unit's program, it
should be an easier sell to focus the committee on correcting the
program problem -- What has the committee done to correct the underlying
problem? Has it had discussions with the SM? Reviewed the requirement
check-off process? Reviewed the skill-building and -renewal process?
The bottom line is that, rather than insisting on treating the BSA rules
as absolute, it may be more effective for you to concede (at least for
the purposes of discussion) to treat them as advisory, then investigate
and acknowledge the factors that the committee sees as justifying their
departure from the rules, and help the committee to work their way back
to the wisdom behind the rules.
Usually, the "rigorous retesters" have a Horatio at the bridge view of
themselves as the last, best hope of having a quality Scouting program.
They need to be lead to the view that if any significant percentage of
the Scouts are "failing" their BOR's, the problem is with the *program*
rather than the *Scouts*.
Thus, if the committee has not taken corrective action *WITH THE
SM/ASM'S* to upgrade the program, it is primarily the *committee*, and
not just the Scouts and SM/ASM's, which has failed. In a sense, they
need to see that if they are not following the rules, *they* have failed
just as much or more so than the unprepared Scout at one of their
arduous BOR's. Once they see that, the path to effective corrective
action is open.
YIS, Steve on Cattail Creek <Steven G. Tyler>, Severna Park, MD, USA
"The Computer Counselor," Technology Consulting for the Law Office
Advancement Chair and de facto Webmaster, Troop 339,
Baltimore Area Council, BSA (http://members.aol.com/troop339/)