Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Character Counts
Re: Character Counts
Thu, 18 Feb 1999 02:59:25 -0600
This is a really hard one to answer, Heath and Lee.
Really hard, for it involves three sets of "rules": those rules,
policies and beliefs of your chartered partner organization and
your unit; those of your Council; and the BSA's.
>Question: Should this automatically preclude him from leadership?
>If so, for how long? Does this mean that no leaders in Scouting
>have broken the law? What about OUI convictions and/or license
The BSA says that "only adults of high moral personal character"
may serve as registered Scouters. This determination is made on
several levels. At the unit level, the determination is made
through a face-to-face with the individual wanting to serve as a
BSA volunteer. This interview is done either by the Chartered
Organizational Represenative, the Committee Chair, the unit leader,
or any combination of those individuals. At this time, the
individual completes and signs a volunteer application.
The second determination is done at the local Council level. Many
Councils have more or less delegated this determination to the
Chartered Organization for unit Scouters (and is a main reason why
the BSA is pressuring local Councils to emphasize registration of
District and Council-level Scouters as unit volunteers first...it
reduces the risk of the Council) and the District Executive or
Council Scout Executive for District and Council Scouters. The
Chartered Organization is responsible for conducting whatever
background review or investigation it can afford or wish to
provide. The application is signed and forwarded to the Council for
final approval. The Council Scout Executive (or his or her
designee) signs the application after a cursury check is performed
at the Council level as well as with local law enforcement.
Generally, violations of law which are considered "misdomenors" (I
spelled it wrong, sorry) as well as those parking and vehicle
violations of less than $500 are not considered serious enough to
warrant denial of membership. Anything above this, would involve
an investigation of some sort involving everyone EXCEPT the person
investigated, for risk management reasoning. (And please don't
comment that your Council considered other crimes as
"removable"...every Council has their OWN sets of "guidelines" that
THEY will work under...I stated the above as GENERALITIES ONLY,
okay?? *smiling from ear to ear*). A good Council Scout Executive
will take EVERYTHING into consideration when approving or denying
Scouters' application...and we have a lot of good Council Scout
Executives out there!!
The final determination is done at the Regional office (the
"national copies" of all applications are sent to that Council's
serving Regional office, which encodes and stores the information
for electronic transmission to the National offices). There, the
Regional staff reviews all adult applications and during the
encoding process, compares the information to a listing (which
technically, they are NOT supposed to have, but they do have it
under a different form) of barred individuals (what the BSA calls
"undesirable individuals"). Once that application has been encoded
and verified, the local Council can present membership cards to the
unit for presentation to the individual.
(under Scoutnet 2000, or SN2K, the process will be much faster!)
Anywhere along those determinations...unit, local, Council and
National...that the person has been deemed not to "exhibit a high
degree of personal character," the BSA has the right not to allow
him or her to serve as a registered member.
Is this fair to someone that have made a mistake and want to do
good by that mistake?? No. But it's the only way that the BSA can
assure that only individuals of quality character become and retain
BSA members and adult leaders.
The questions that have to be raised to your Council Scout
Executive...because HE or SHE is the ONLY person that can make such
inquiries are the following:
*is this person an "undesirable" as defined by the BSA?
*is this person acceptable for membership by the Council?
(the Council Scout Executive will probably hemm and hamm about that
one...because it's really up to the chartered partner as to
acceptance...if the chartered partner organization accepts him, and
he's not listed as an "undesirable", then the Council will approve
him (and because he's not listed as an "undesirable", National will
approve the application too).
>Just a personal note... this issue has prompted "Character Counts"
>conversations with my 15 year old Scout son. He feels that
>character should be judged on their whole person, not just a
>particular incident and that we learn best from the mistakes we
Smart kid, Lee.
>References for official guidance would be of great assistance.
Unfortunately, the BSA's official guidance on how to handle that
situation are contained in two guides that the volunteer don't get
to hold onto. The BSA has a section in its Scout Executive Manual
on registration and denial of registration. There's also a
separate BSA publication called "Maintaining Standards of
Registration and Membership". Both publications clearly explain
how and what professionals should do in cases similar to yours.
Both publications are "restricted" to professional Scouters and key
volunteers at the Council or Regional levels.
Your Council Scout Executive, Lee and Heath, is the best person to
help you out with this.
One last point. I get a lot of posts from individuals whom are
removed from membership in the BSA due to disagreements or
professionals unconfortable with them being around. They can do
this, and it's legal. Every one asks me what can be done and I try
to explain the BSA's lenghty and sometimes one-sided appeals
process to them. Then, I always end every posting with the
I want to remind you of one important thing, and I've learned this
from personal experience and observation. The BSA registration
card and uniform are just outward expressions to identify Scouts
and Scouters. You do not need those things to become an effective
Scouter or Scout, and you do not need those things to do the things
expected of you as a Scout or Scouter. As long as you live the
Scouting ideals in your daily life; you make the Slogan more than
just the butt of jokes or something cute to say but a real part of
your being. As long as you make yourself Prepared for what life
has to give you and what you have to give to living...there's not a
Council, District or Unit that can take those things away from you.
While you may not be able to receive awards anymore; or to
officially wear the uniform of a Scout or Scouter; or to do
anything but witness Scouting's national activities....you are
STILL a Scout because you EXECUTE what Scouting is all about.
Volunteer for those tasks that you can do without being a bother or
endangerment to the program, its youth nor yourself. Strive to
work within the system as opposed to against it, even though it
"gave you a raw deal." My Grandmother had a saying - "what goes
around comes around." It's one of several corrallaries to the
Remember that the Unknown Scout wasn't wearing an official uniform,
and that he didn't carry a card identifying himself as a Boy Scout
when he met up with Boyce in England. And to this day, we don't
even know WHO that kid was, but what he did was inmeasurable.
And remember that many of our American heroes and heroines weren't
active Scouters prior to their acts of service or valor. They did
what they did because they remembered what they were taught and
what they tried to teach others...to "be prepared," to "be of
service to others always," and to "do their best" in whatever they
did for the good of their fellow citizens, their communities and
for their nation. And they did it with no other regard other than
in meeting the Obligation of the Scouting ideals and those of their
I hope all of this helps out!
(c) 1999 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") email@example.com
http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle Burnsville, MN 55306-7130 (612) 435-3068
privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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