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[ISSUE 663 – 20TH YEAR OF HELPING SCOUTS, SCOUTERS, & PARENTS]
I’m hoping we’ll be getting back to real hiking and camping in 2021, so when this starts happening, here’s something I had to figure out along the way and wound up pretty successful.
There were times when the ASM or committee member, or—sometimes—non-registered parent chose to bail out at the last minute on being my “second” when our patrols were going hiking or camping. When this happened and I was faced with two crummy options—cancel the outing or go it alone without “two-deep leadership”—I bit the bullet and cancelled the event.
Of course the Scouts were upset. But so were a lot of the parents, because they’d already made plans of their own for the day or weekend.
This is when I’d tell the parents that the best way to keep this from happening is to get involve, themselves. They could sign on as an Assistant Scoutmaster, or troop committee member, or just add their name to a list of “available parents” that I kept with my Scoutmaster papers. I’d tell them that this doesn’t obligate them to go on each and every outing, but that they could choose maybe one or two outings that looked interesting to themselves and come along for a good time.
Sometimes this fell on deaf ears, but it worked often enough that we had at least an outing every month and never had the “missing second” problem again! (Harry Brand)
Yes, that’s a great way to turn an unfortunate situation inside-out! Just as we care for the youth we serve, we need to equally care for ourselves. The added bonus, of course, is that the more parents that are actually involved in supporting the Scouts, the better time their sons and daughters will have in Scouting!
I’m still a new Scoutmaster of a Scouts BSA troop for girls. Right now, I’m helping our troop’s advancement coordinator organize a board of review for our very first Scout to complete all the requirements for Eagle!
We’ve decided to invite her pastor, since she’s a member of the church that sponsors our troop, and also the principal of her high school. Also, I have a friend who’s been a Scoutmaster himself, for years—my two older sons became Eagles in his troop. I’d like to suggest his name, too, also because he’s the one who told me about you. But I don’t know if he’s allowed to be on a board of review, since he’s a Scoutmaster.
So that’s my question: Can a Scoutmaster of another troop be on a board of review? Thank you. (Raven Sherman, SM, Yosemite Area Council, CA)
Boards of review for all ranks except Eagle are typically—and correctly—composed of registered troop committee members. For the Eagle rank, the BSA’s definition for members of the review board states, in parts: “If conducted at the [troop] level, at least one district or council repre-sentative, who is not affiliated with the [troop] must serve as a member…There shall be no fewer than three and no more than six, all at least 21 years old…they must have an understanding of the rank and the purpose and importance of the review.” The BSA also states: [Scoutmasters] and assistants shall not serve on a board of review for a Scout in their own unit.”
So not only can this Scoutmaster friend sit on this Eagle board of review, but you have—intelligently—invited two non-Scouters who will be keenly interested in this young woman, her achievements, and her life-goals! In this regard, if she plays an intramural sport or is engaged in the school’s band or choral group, her coach and her music director can also be considered, along with perhaps one of the recommenders she listed on her rank application.
Congratulations to your troop and your first Eagle Scout!
We’ve had among our Scouts, one boy who had been pretty un-Scout-like—disrespectful to adults and leaders, and so forth—but who seemed to have settled down after a while. We’ve counseled him numerous times and by now thought he’d outgrown whatever issues he was having, until recently. This is a shame, because he’s super-smart and can probably show you any Scout skill at the drop of a hat, and he seemed pretty enthusiastic about completing the requirements to quickly earn his ranks. And until high school sports started taking up gobs of his weekend time, he was always first to sign up for any outing. But he’s also a classic “class clown’ to the distraction of anyone around him, and he doesn’t know when to turn it off. When we tell him to cool it, he still gets downright disrespectful to many of the adult leaders.
He’s now up for Star rank, and, as his Scoutmaster, I’ve been asked to give him a Scoutmaster conference. He’s completed all other requirements, so obviously I can’t say no. And I believe he can be a good Scout and has lots to offer. But on the other side, I don’t want to send the message that you can act like he does without consequences and then get rewarded.
So maybe I should grant the conference and get to know him better, learn what makes him tick, what his strengths and weaknesses are, and so on. Then I can figure out if there’s a leadership position that he’d be interested in, that I can let our next Senior Patrol Leader know (maybe giving him a real responsibility would help him, and he’d rise to the occasion and act accordingly). But maybe not; maybe holding back will tell him he’s got to straighten out first.
How have you dealt with challenging Scouts that might not cross the line, but pretty much like to dance right on it? (Joe Sefcik, Connecticut Rivers Council)
Scouts with this kind of energy can be an absolute delight…when aimed wisely!
Yes, of course you’ll conference with him, and you needn’t do this only once. You can conference with him—or any Scout—anytime you see the need and as often as need be! In short, Scoutmaster conferences aren’t just for rank advancement—they’re listed as a requirement to keep Scoutmasters talking to each individual Scout in the troop at least once between ranks!
You definitely want to get to know him better—especially his life outside of Scouting. Does his “class clown” antics get him in deep do-do at school, for instance? Does he have older brothers or sisters and this is the only way he can get attention at home, for instance? What does he like doing best? Is it theater? Music? Skits and song-leading? Sports? What?
Because frankly I don’t get this “un-Scout-like” stuff… It seems he’s being exactly BOY-like! And I don’t know what you mean by “disrespectful to adults” because he’s not supposed to be interacting with adults—he’s supposed to be interacting with his patrol members and his Patrol Leader.
Yes, the Scout Law says “A Scout IS…” But the Scout Oath says “I’LL DO BEST to “obey the Scout Law”—It doesn’t say “I’ll be perfect.”
Maybe once you can figure out where his interests lie, you can better channel his enthusiasm and energy. If he’s like a wild stallion, you don’t want to “break” him; you just want to get him going in the right direction. This is where true Scoutmastership can shine!
(BTW, since his upcoming board of review will be with committee members, it’s absolutely imperative that these people review without prejudice. They need to be constructive; not “disciplinary.” If any one of them sees this board of review as an opportunity to “put this boy in his place,” he or she doesn’t belong. This doesn’t mean “rubber-stamp” but it does mean that they need to understand teen-aged boys and what spins their wheels.)
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay positive!
I personally answer every message I receive. There’s no “writing staff”—just me. When writing, please include your name & council. If you’d rather be anonymous—if published—just tell me and I’ll honor that. Although these columns are copyrighted, you have my okay to quote or reproduce any column or part, so long as it’s attributed: “Ask Andy” by Andy McCommish.
[No. 663 – 1/26/2021 – Copyright © 2021 Andy McCommish]
He also loved serving in various responsibilities in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Bud and Nila taught their six children many life skills. To name ...