scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: Re: Scout Spirit and Advancement
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blkeagle@USSCOUTS.ORG
Sat Apr 24 1993 - 18:43:04 CDT
I'm glad you found our list and that you've posted a question to all of us!
You wrote and asked us:
>My son (age 14) was held back two (2) months on advancement because of Scout
>Spirit. My initial reaction is that this is not right. My son has the
>typical issues of being embarrassed to be a scout and being in the last year
>of Middle School he has that usual I'm the top of the heap attitude.
>However, he has done nothing in my opinion to warrant being held back from
>advancement based solely on Scout Spirit. He does not lie, cheat, or steal.
>In other words, his behavior is no worse or better than other boys of 14 in
>our troop. He has no discipline problems at school and none at home - other
>than the usual asking three times to mow the lawn or clean his room. He
>attends all meetings and wears his Class A uniform appropriately.
Those are all great things, Kimberly, and you have a son which other parents
I'm sure can equally be as proud of. But Scout Spirit goes beyond wearing
the uniform and attending meetings. How is he outdoors? How about in his
Whenever a parent has an issue with that requirement, the first person I go
to speak with is the Scout himself. There's some leading questions I would
ask him. The most important is "During your Scoutmaster's Conference, what
did you and your Scoutmaster talk about with regard to Scout Spirit?"
Usually, I get a blank stare, and then some "um, well, we talked about
it..." and then I follow it up by asking additional questions: "How has
your behavior been during Scout meetings? During campouts and outdoor
activities? I know that Scouting sometimes forces you to take sides...do
you find yourself on the sidelines or are you in there helping to make the
decisions in your Patrol? Scouting takes a little more time and energy than
most other activities...how have you've applied yourself toward your next rank?"
The answers to those leading questions, Kimberly, gives me a better idea of
what *exactly went on* between the Scout and others in his Troop.
Sometimes I get "We didn't have a Scoutmaster's Conference because the
Scoutmaster says I can't get passed off on Scout Spirit...I don't know why..."
Then, I follow it up with the obious: "Why didn't you ask him" (or her)?
Again, as with the first leading question, I receive some "umm, ah, well, I
don't know..." followed by a summary of a specific instance in which he was
not "all there" with regard to the ideas of Scouting.
NO, (speaking for myself now, but with some confidence speaking for the vast
majority of Scoutmasters out there), we don't ask for "perfection." We'll
never get it. There does NOT exist out there the "perfect Scout", just like
there'll never be a "perfect Scouter," "perfect friend," nor "perfect"
anything else. However, the Scoutmaster SHOULD be applying a ruler to each
Scout's character in "signing off" this requirement....and it doesn't HAVE
to just deal with "how many meetings did he attend and whether or not he
wears the uniform each month".
I would first sit down and talk with him, Kimberly. Ask him those same
questions I've asked above and get "his take" on what HE feels is his "Scout
DON'T ASK HIM "You have Scout spirit? You want to be there every week? Do
you like Scouts?" Every Scout I know will answer the same way "YEAH! I want
to be there...I like it..." But narrow it down to "Do you like the way the
Troop is run? Can you do a better job if you were in charge? How much help
do you give to the Patrol Leader of your Patrol? How much time do you spend
before you start on a task? Do you understand the idea of "following the
leader" before "becoming the leader"? You'll get some DIFFERENT and very
The Scouting "standard" is the Scout Oath and Law and the *daily
application* of those principles. If your son, Kimberly, is doing his best
to apply those principles every day, then it's perhaps time for you to talk
with his Scoutmaster and get "his or her take" on why they didn't "check
off" the Scout Spirit portion of the rank requirement.
Remember, you see him as your son, the one you raised and the person you
feel that you know...your Scoutmaster sees him as one of several boys in his
or her Troop, and is trying to ascertain using that "ruler" whether or not
he is a Scout of good character to advance. That "ruler" is the Scouting
ideals and your son's application of those ideals.
Hope this all helps out, Kimberly....and thanks for asking!!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
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