Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Re: ASM father signing off on rank advancement?
Re: ASM father signing off on rank advancement?
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 13:14:15 -0400
<George Davis wrote>
...However, to make it easier for the younger Scouts to get "signed
off", most of the older Scouts (i.e first class and above) have been
delegated to "sign off" for various advancement items... For example,
we have one Scout who handles the woods tools requirements. You do
not get a Tote'n Chip card (or second class woods tools sign off) in
our troop unless you get past him. And he expects the Scouts to be
PROFICIENT in use of the tools before he will sign off.
While I agree with what you are saying, one must be carefully sure
that the proper standard is applied. Proficiency is not the issue when
it comes to rank requirements. A Scout need not be proficient in a
skill to complete the requirements, but he must do his best. If you
require proficiency for one skill, you have to require proficiency in
all the other skills as well. That's a very difficult thing to do.
When it comes to Totin' Chip, I agree that proficiency is required
(even though the actual requirements don't require it). Totin' Chip
is, essentially, a license to use dangerous tools unsupervised. The
2nd Class requirements are not. In our troop, the demonstration
requirements for 2nd Class are only the first step of Totin' Chip.
[snipped stuff I wholeheartedly agree with]
The adults don't want to get wet, so they pitch in to get the fly up.
If you're lucky, the Scouts hold the poles. If the adults put their
hands in their pockets instead, the Scouts HAVE to learn how to put up
the fly. And they will.
True. However, in the "old days" when I was a Scout, the only reason
the Scoutmasters did the bulk of the work putting up the dinning fly
is because most of the Scouts were busy putting up the tents (1970's
variety 6-man Coleman Cabin tents - no knots required BTW). Out
dinning fly was HUGE and took most of the troop, working together, to
get the thing up.
The other thing is that it is not the SM's job to sign off on
advancement, or to teach the basic skills. His job is to train and
mentor the Junior Leaders so that they can run the troop. Part of
running the troop is seeing that the program provides advancement
opportunities for the Scouts. If the SM is spending too much time
doing basic skills, he has no time to do his real job. When that
happens, boy leadership doesn't work because the junior leaders don't
know how to run the troop, and the troop does not function the way it
should. While one or more SA's could be delegated to work skills with
the younger Scouts, this should be done with the goal of getting past
that point as soon as possible for most skills. Then the SA's can
assist the SM in his primary function, with for example, one SA
mentoring each PL in the running of his patrol.
While the SM doesn't have the job of actually signing off every
requirement or teaching every skill, he does have the responsibility
of determining WHO can. As you mentioned, in the beginning you had to
teach all of the skills and sign all the requirements because you
didn't have a crop of experienced Scouts to do it. That's how it is in
most troops. The problem is mostly one of interpretation. Everyone
interprets the SM's advancement responsibilities differently. In most
of the troops I've met, the responsibility for teaching the skills
falls on the shoulders of the junior leaders while the adult leaders
sign the books (sort of like a Quality Control check). The adults only
become involved when the Scout thinks he has learned the skill well
enough to be tested. I have my own feelings about this which are not
far from yours.
Back to your original question. I don't think that there is a BSA
policy prohibiting a SA or SM parent from signing off on his/her son's
advancement requirements. But I don't think it is a good idea either.
Unless you have a very small troop, there should be someone else who
can do the sign offs.
In the "old days" I had a small troop that ended up having several
problems with advancements done by parents. In fact, the one Scout in
seven years to earn his Eagle nearly didn't because several of his MBs
were signed off by his mother (this was before MBC were required to be
registered). In fact, most of his MBs were completed through school
work, hobbies, or things he wanted to try. The problem was, and I bore
a great deal of the blame, he filled out the cards on his own, took
them to his teachers or coaches or whomever he needed, and had them
sign. If they didn't, mom would sign. The Scout was highly motivated
and actually did a lot of the work involved, but you're never quite
sure who's interpretation of the requirements is being used.
So, as a result, I maintain firm control over who can and cannot sign
advancement requirements. I encourage my Scouts to work on learning
the skills at home with their parents if they want to, but parents
don't sign the books.
A lot of this comes from parents who were involved with their sons in
Cub Scouts. There's a lot of parental involvement in Cub Scout
advancement, and it's up to the SM to let parents know that the rules
are much different in Boy Scouting. The root purpose of advancement is
to give the Scout the self-confidence to challenge his abilities. As a
Cub Scout, that involves the parents and den leaders guiding the boy
through the skill. As a Boy Scout, that involves the Scout challenging
himself to do the best he can on his own. George's troop is an almost
perfect example. His experienced Scouts have the confidence in their
own abilities to pass on their knowledge to inexperienced Scouts. His
adult leaders have enough confidence in their experienced Scouts to
let them do it. As he mentioned, it hasn't always worked that way.
This, of course, is yet another example of how the standard is set by
the behavior and attitude of the adults.
A. J. Mako, email@example.com , Scoutmaster Troop 381
Home of the Unofficial Win95 Boy Scout Desktop Theme,
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"