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Botched Call Out at Summer Camp


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#1 signman

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 12:15 PM

I really want to know opinions on how you think this situation should have been handled. The troop held the OA election at camp this summer and my son did not make it by one vote. Sad, but fair enough that is how the program works. The boy is a good scout but a very small geek and likes to talk about geeky stuff in a geeky way so he is never going to win any popularity contests. I was elected by the committee. No adult attending camp is OA and the SM and ASM are fresh out of IOLS. The only other Adult AO in the troop is the former SM and he is only involved in going on HA with the older boys. All the other eligible scouts are OA but not have gone for Brotherhood, they just like the sashes. The election went off without a hitch. As leaders we attended all the OA camp meetings for instructions and asked lots of questions but were given very little because it is all a "secret" and other leaders would not talk to us about it because we didn't have pocket flaps. We were told just have your troop on the parade ground at a certain time and we will handle it from there. Per instructions the leaders kept the results of the election a secret. Citation forms were filled out and turned into the camp office on time. At the parade field this college age scout gives this whole inspirational very high energy speech about how great the OA is, it made him the man he is today, it is a life changing experience, yada, yada, yada. You get the picture. After being called out where this very scary looking indian slams his chest, points his finger right in your face and yells "YOU!!! Have been Chosen!!!" a Scout is immediately taken to back to the campsite to gather their bedroll and report to the Council Ring for the Pre Ordeal. So come the end of the call out I am standing there and was not called out so I start looking for my son and cant find him. Not looking good. So approach the first adult with a sash and tell him something is wrong and he leads me to the Lodge Adviser. I explain that I was not called out, I cannot find my son and I fear he was called out by mistake. The Lodge Adviser asks my son's name and instructs one of his minions to go to the Council Ring and call out my son's name in front of his peers, make him take the Walk of Shame in front of a hundred or so of his fellow scouts, remove him and send him back to his campsite carrying his bedroll and groundcloth. I am to go get my bedroll and report to the Council Ring. As you can imagine by the time I arrived at our campsite I was greeted with a extremely upset Scout in tears, who had enough of the program and wanted to leave Scouts. He started as a Tiger and I have been a leader since. As non OA leaders we had no idea how the ceremony worked, I have IOLS and it was never discussed. Per instructions we kept the results of the election secret. We turned in the Citation forms and money to the Camp office. As we later find out the OA Scouts in our troop saw three names on the ballot and were given three slips of paper to hand to the election winners. So they thought all three scouts won the election, it wasn't a last name confusion thing. They never asked who the name weres and we certainly were not going to tell them unless instructed to. Thoughts? Did the Lodge Adviser handle this appropriately?
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#2 Stosh

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 01:16 PM

Lodge activities are only as good as the people leading them. Stosh lesson for leadership: "Take care of your boys." Please explain to me even one small iota of leadership from this lodge. Please explain to me even one small iota of "Helpful", "Courteous", or "Kind" in this situation. If this situation had been my son and I, the evening would have been spent with him and I spending the night at the campfire splitting a bowl of popcorn and talking about how life works instead of heading off for some OA thingy. We are known by the company we keep. Stosh
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#3 st0ut717

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 01:19 PM

I cant say if they handled it correctly or not. maybe the best they could do with a bad situation. I would say something about how you perceive the election: My son has been in scouting since tigers AOL. Made first class after 14 calender months in the troop. First year at camp he earned 3 eagle required and wilderness survival. Second year (July 2014) he took wilderness survival because he thought it was a blast and didnt care he was only going to earn 3 merit badges out of a possible 6. So here we are a small 12 yo with some maturity issues. also a geek dungeons and dragons player. But he works hard at scouts always takes care of other scouts. will lend a cliff bar to a fellow scout if he has one and the other scout is hungry. I was like you OA will never happen or him at least not now. too immature too small too geeky not with the IN crowd. I was taking BSA guard at the time so during the elections I was in the water. I have no idea whats going on at camp. I get back to camp and the other adults are smiling at me like we got a secret but due to BSA guard all i can really do is eat and goto bed. Turns out he was elected i was shocked and surprised and a very proud dad. He did his ordeal in August. Funny thing is whenever i project my limitations onto him, to protect him and make sure he isnt setup for failure he tends to smash right through them without even trying. Dont underestimate the boys they'll surprise you
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#4 st0ut717

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 01:21 PM

And I concor with stosh on his points as well
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#5 signman

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 01:46 PM

Thanks Stosh and st0ut717, that means a lot to me. And any father that would have gone off and left his son after that would not be worthy of the title of "Dad". Because of Ordeal night we had plenty of adults staying in camp that night so we took off and drove 20 miles to the nearest town with food and had greasy burgers and big tall milkshakes. We came back, but I wasn't sure that was going to happen when we left. Not trying to be deceitful with a rolling disclosure, but the story does continue past this night but I want reactions from fellow scouters that I respect. I have learned to keep my mouth shut about the situation. Any Scouter I have discussed it with has surprised me "Yes that is unfortunate, but but bottom line he was not elected. period." When I explain it to any non scouter parent they are shocked and mortified anyone would do this to a child.
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#6 qwazse

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 02:11 PM

Every boy is as different as are the troops they are in. Same for every lodge.

But I would lay 1st blame on your troop's O/A members. They took responsibility for a task, and failed to execute it perfectly. Now, just 'cause they messed up doesn't mean they're bad scouts. If their election means anything, they are just good scouts who didn't read instructions. (Not being used to a seasoned SM breathing down their necks may have been a contributing factor.) So, the SM should ask them to make it up to your son by offering a special camp-out. Maybe one to suit his geeky game proclivities.

If I were lodge chief (and I never was, so this is me just pretending I'd be that mature of a teen), and I heard that something like this happened, I would call the boy or meet him at his troop meeting. Then I'd let him know that I was very sorry that about the fiasco, let him know that scouting is fun, O/A is worth the effort, and he should put himself up for election next year and every year afterword until elected. And, leave him my phone #, and ask him to call me when he makes Star!

I would definitely let the lodge advisor know what a mess this was. And I would ask him to relay it to the chief. Even if an SM is not in O/A, he needs to be accorded ample respect to aid the lodge in properly delivering candidates. That includes carefully explaining how the call-out will be administered. There are no secrets in scouting, so the SM has a right to understand what's going on.

P.S. - st0, I total get the tired and mildly hypothermic guard student experience. You know what's awesome? It has to be re-upped in two years!
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#7 signman

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 02:43 PM

Q, "instructions"???? What instructions? No one ever gave them instructions to read. Took responsibility for a task??? No one assigned them any responsibility. They had nothing to do with the election other than to vote. The Campsite Counselor conducted the election. The only instruction he gave them was to elect their "Best Scouts", that is it. I was there. The vast majority of these Scouts were elected last year, two the year before. As I said, they are Dashers. There may have been some brief instructions given at the parade field. The SM and "one scout"(no rank or POR was specified) were called up for a brief discussion and handed some white slips of paper. Everyone was under strict orders of silence at that point and through the ceremony. There would have been no opportunity for that "one scout" to relay instructions to anyone. To the best of my knowledge the only way they knew what to do was from talk amongst themselves as how the call out occurs. I sure didn't know. I think the Lodge Adviser knows what a mess this is. After all it was his decision on how to clean it up. This isn't some dinky rural lodge out in the Texas desert, this is big boy. No offense jp. :)
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#8 qwazse

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 04:15 PM

... This isn't some dinky rural lodge out in the Texas desert, this is big boy. No offense jp. :)


Bigger the lodge, bigger the gaffs. :(

I misunderstood, I thought since your SM was a novice, someone handed your troop's arrormen slips with names of who was to be called out.

It doesn't matter what the Advisor knows. What matters is if and how he communicated it to the chief. Good chiefs care about how the lodge is run. They show up at roundtable and ask adults for feedback. They nurture youth. They personally talk to parents eye-to-eye and welcome them in to observe ceremonies and even planning sessions. (You might have missed my emphasis: There are no secrets in scouting.) They care about every new scout be they in lodge or out -- and sometimes every venturer (lodge/chapter chief's sisters show up on their first backpacking trips with the best gear)!

But sometimes, when a gaff happens, some adults are dismissive or don't realize half the problem it is. And, they try to shelter the youth leadership from it. Or maybe the advisor told the lodge officers about the situation and nobody took responsibility to handle it. We just don't know.

What I'm saying, is if you or the SM haven't heard personally from a young arrowman, somebody is not doing their job.

If the scouts in your troop -- especially the arrrowman who handled the paperwork -- are not working to encourage your son., somebody is not doing their job.
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#9 sst3rd

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 04:36 PM

Signman, There are national rules and protocols. I guess every Lodge may choose to use them or not, or some combination. Having an adult OA member in the Troop certainly allows the knowledge of these elections and call-outs used in your council. With this knowledge, problems can be addressed in a pro-active manner. Scouts need to have a positive experience in "their" troop. How did your son accidentally get called-out? Wow, it's now behind you. Become knowledable about these processes for the future, and make sure the election and call-out programs are a positive experience for your troop. Many years ago, and as a young non-OA Scoutmaster, I promoted the OA and requested our first election. A father-son Election Team showed up and worked with me and the Scouts through our election. All went well until the adult adviser started acting uppity and wouldn't give me the election results (because I was a non-member). I reminded him that I was the Scoutmaster and expected a transparent process. He again refused to show me the results. I asked for this rule in "writing." Obviously, he couldn't produce anything. I dismissed both of them from our meeting and declared (privately to this election team) the OA Election voided. He said "I couldn't do that", and I said "I just did." As I escorted both of them out the door, he started backpedaling. All went well after that. Knowledge is power. Know what is supposed to be happening in the OA, and guide your Troop through them. As far as I've seen over the many years, our lodge as had appropriate elections, call-outs, and ceremonies. No secrets were ever found. Let's please do right by our Scouts. It's hard to un-ring a bell. Signman, if the OA needs to be removed from your Troop until things are straightened out, do it. sst3rd
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#10 SM bob

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 06:01 PM

The OA has its own ceremonies that remain clouded in mystery. It's that mystery that makes it special. It sounds like your son is a first or second year scout. Maybe his fellow scouts did not think he is worthy or could complete the ordeal. Not everyone is elected and that hurts kids feelings. Scouting is about learning to deal with real world problems and challenges. Feeling rejected is something he will have to deal with in his life, better now than later. How does your troop deal with scouts that are not elected for leadership positions? If I was at camp I would not have pulled him out of the campfire ring. I would have asked the SM and ASM to go to the campsite and explain to the scout and OA member that a problem happened along and in a way that did not crush the scouts ego. As SM I would have walked the scout over to the commissary shack and ordered three ice cream's. Than have a nice talk about perseverance and how life throws challenges at you.
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#11 skeptic

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 08:16 PM

Well, I have stayed quiet, but since a number have weighed in now, I will ask my crazy question. If I understand it correctly, adults are not elected. They are to be nominated by the troop committee and approved by the lodge. So, if that is the case, how could this have even occurred? As far as this situation is concerned, it appears to have been badly mishandled, but once it occurred, I would hope the unit and OA lodge would work on a fair solution. If the scout was eligible but simply not properly elected, but then called out, I personally would hope they would simply let it ride, then investigate. But embarrassing the scout was not the best action, even though it was not likely the intent.
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#12 JoeBob

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 09:11 AM

If the scout was eligible but simply not properly elected, but then called out, I personally would hope they would simply let it ride, then investigate. But embarrassing the scout was not the best action, even though it was not likely the intent.


skeptic is right.
Tapped out the wrong boy? Congratulations! You have an extra lodge member. If he is not up to 'honor camping' standards, he'll drop out.

Sounds like the Lodge Adviser didn't get puffed up enough at breakfast and took it out on an 'unworthy' scout. Unlike skeptic, I think it might have been intentional.

Signman, for the old school Order of the Arrow, I apologize. What happened was awful for your son. I'm surprised that you are still in scouting.

If you care enough to report this up the chain, these decision makers need to be reamed and removed.
Of course you may prefer to just leave it alone and let them continue to rot in their 'We're so special!" misconception.
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#13 Stosh

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 09:45 AM

Campfire and popcorn? Burgers and malts? :) whatever it takes. I just hope that the AAR with your boy included the caveat of learning from other people's mistakes. When your boy gets into situations like this he'll handle it with a sense of empathy and sensitivity no other leader can provide. It's a tough lesson to learn, but an important one. Stosh
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#14 CalicoPenn

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 10:55 AM

There's something else going on here - it's October - presumably Summer Camp was July or maybe August - I would have thought that the problem would have died down by now which suggests that there are still some pretty raw feelings being felt by Scout-son and he's still taking about dropping out. Yes, the Lodge Advisor handled the issue horribly - a letter to the Scout Executive explaining what happened and how disappointed you are in how the Lodge Advisor handled the situation is worthwhile. I've had to deal with this exact same kind of mistake before - a first year Scout was mistakenly called out (fortunately, our Lodge did not do summer camp call-outs - we were big enough that each Chapter did their own at a camporee) I met (as the Lodge Vice Chief) with the lad, his Scoutmaster, his Father, the Chapter Chief and the Chapter Advisor in private and explained what had happened, apologized on behalf of the Lodge, and talked in more detail about the OA, the requirements to get in, and how we couldn't let him go on to the Ordeal but couldn't wait to see him become an arrowman when he met the requirements - the Scout understood and agreed that he wasn't ready yet but would be soon - two years later he was inducted and became active in the Chapter. That's how something like this should be handled, quietly, and apologetically. But I think you know all that already - so how can it be made right now? I'm sorry - it can't - the Lodge botched things up terribly - If Scout Son is still upset about it, then something is happening at the Troop level to keep the wound open - teasing perhaps? Flaunting by those that were meant to be called out? We all know Scouts can be completely different between how they act in front of adults and how they act in front of peers. If he's still upset about this, I'd probe a bit more with Scout Son and find out what else is going on.
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#15 signman

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 11:59 AM

Thanks guys. Your responses this morning brought tears to my eyes and have renewed my faith in Scouting. For awhile there I was starting to doubt myself. To the Moderators, I hope I am not breaking any serious rules here by posting anonymously, I still have fear of retribution from this very powerful and respected Lodge Adviser. Skeptic, you are probably right I was "nominated" by a vote of the Committee, but here adults still need to meet all the same requirements as the youth (except 1st Class obviously) and go through the same ceremonies. I don't really understand your question. Onto the rest of the story. After the Lodge Adviser dispatched his minion to do the dirty work he would not, he asked how old my son was and I responded 11. He said that is to young and he wasn't eligible for OA anyway and this was for the best because this was his first summer camp. I didn't know what to say as these statements show complete ignorance of the AOL and BS joining requirements. Yes my son is young and started Scouting as a Tiger in 1st grade. Not every state has a 5th birthday cutoff in July for Kindergarten. Some rights are still reserved for the States. My son earned his AOL and crossed over in April of 2013 at about 10.6, attended Summer Camp in 2013 and had about 16 short term camping nights (6 more than the required 10, plus 5 summer camp) he also earned 1st class in May 2014. I stated these facts and was met with silence. No appology for an asinine statement like "He wasn't eligible" based off age alone. Read the rules Mr. Lodge Adviser. Enough of that, but it started to set me off. The good news is while at the greasy spoon I received a phone call from the Camp Director. My ASM had gone to him after I left the property and explained what happened and the Troop members felt bad about it. (Yes, as stated here often, the boys know right from wrong better than the adults frequently) He apologized for what happened and had spoken with his Director and the Lodge Staff Adviser (All professional positions) and had a solution that the Troop supported. They would fill out a citation in the morning although he couldn't unring the bell we could complete our Pre-Ordeal at a later date. Citation forms were signed by all involved and the two of us came back a couple of weeks later for another Call Out and Pre-Ordeal. So the Professional Scouters stepped in and did the right thing. Remember this boy did NOTHING wrong here, this was not a case of some pushy parent and sneaky Scout trying to skirt the rules. He lost the election by one vote and while disappointing, that is life. However...... At this Council the election and Pre-Ordeal take place at Summer Camp and then the Ordeal takes place on a separate weekend in September, so we were Candidates not Members. I received a couple of things from the OA in the mail but my son did not. I tried contacting the Camp Director and Lodge Staff Adviser and find out "They are no longer with the Council". I contacted my UC a couple of weeks before Ordeal weekend and explained the situation as I wanted to make sure the commitment these professional scouters made to my son would be honored and we would not have any surprises when we showed up for Ordeal. My UC had heard about the situation and said the Lodge Adviser had been very upset that he had been overruled. He made some inquiries and assured me that everything was in order. I was told our Chapter Adviser was aware of the situation and was expecting us. At the Ordeal there were a lot of checks and balances to make sure nothing happened like over in the "Is election the only way in" thread. Multiple times there were Arrowmen with checklists making sure everyone there was supposed to be and was with the correct Clan. My son was never on any of the lists and we continually had to take the clipboard toting Arrowmen over to the Chapter Adviser to get an override. Is he really an Arrowman now? I don't know for sure, we shall see if further stumbling blocks are placed in his path. Will he go for Brotherhood? Absolutely, he has already started working on it. Will his fellow troop members? Doubtful, there was only one Brotherhood Candidate out of a group of 8 that came to Ordeal Weekend and he blew off his Brotherhood questioning but somehow got a second chance. He has a rather pushy mom. Yes, I have a concern about this Lodge Adviser. He is very well respected and I am sure has done a lot of good for the Lodge. Taking this issue up the chain would be very risky and we would likely be the only losers. I would much rather just move forward, I just hope he is truly the great scouter his rows of knots indicate and can do the same. The BSA is a great organization, but as we all know it is far from perfect. Calico, yes the feelings are a little raw still especially given the minor annoyances at Ordeal. But no we are not considering leaving, I am excited about the future opportunities. Now off to a rainy cub camping weekend!
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#16 signman

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 12:09 PM

Q, This is a bit off topic and not really a big concern of mine but if there are really no secrets in Scouting what is with all the passwords on the documents on the National OA site? What about all the wispering in the ear? Maybe we have different definitions of the work "secret". Not a very good secret I will admit given a modest amount of Google-fu. In our lodge, I am told parents are NOT allowed at any of the ceremonies. I personally witnessed this Lodge Adviser explain to a parent his job it to convince parents they should not attend ceremonies. I don't think a Chief inviting parents to ceremonies would be a wise career choice in this Lodge. Just because National says something doesn't always make it so.
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#17 qwazse

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 12:39 PM

Q, This is a bit off topic and not really a big concern of mine but if there are really no secrets in Scouting what is with all the passwords on the documents on the National OA site?


Most sites have a secure document area. Keep in mind that a lot of O/A stuff should be youth communications, and development work. So, it stands to reason it would be sheltered from non-members.

What about all the wispering in the ear? Maybe we have different definitions of the work "secret". Not a very good secret I will admit given a modest amount of Google-fu.


Oh, you mean the password that I can never remember? I think it roughly translates to "brotherly love". But like you said, there are resources that you could check to correct me on that one. But the point is for a boy to learn that the "big secret" that he's been working hard to attain is what he should aspire to do on a daily basis.

We've had boys ask in detail about the goings on of O/A. Our ASM who is most involved in the lodge had no problem sharing with them most details. But, reserving a little mystery isn't a problem. Most boys are content to know their buddies can look forward to meager rations, service, and silence for a day.

In our lodge, I am told parents are NOT allowed at any of the ceremonies. I personally witnessed this Lodge Adviser explain to a parent his job it to convince parents should not attend ceremonies.


Your lodge advisor is playing fast-and-loose with policy. There is something special about a boy moving out on his own into the world. So, the order is designed for boys to manage with minimum input from parents. We should assure Mom that she doesn't NEED to be there, but is welcome to observe and not make her presence a distraction. I've had parents come back grateful for being able to see one ceremony or another.

I don't think a Chief inviting parents to ceremonies would be a wise career choice in this Lodge. Just because National says something doesn't always make it so.


All politics is local. :(
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#18 duckfoot

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 12:43 PM

It's highly discouraged but a parent CAN witness any and all things that are Scout related, even OA ceremonies.
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#19 SSScout

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 09:45 PM

Welcome to the Forums, Signman. Keep the Scout Promise and Law ever before you and make sure EVERYONE knows what is going on. I have been there and done that in different BSA faragoes. I know that my "Trustworthiness" and "Courtesy" and "Loyalty" and "Friendliness" and "Cheerfulness" made things right, helped others learn from their mistakes and prevent the same problems coming up again. More than once, I have been told "don't worry, it will soon be forgotten" or "there is nothing that we can do" or "that's just the way it is, forget it and move on with your life". None of those ideas are right. Do not accept them. " Persistent" is the 14th point of the Scout Law (the 13th is "Hungry"). "'nil carborundum Scoutae""
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#20 SMMatthew

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:16 PM

The Lodge Adviser asks my son's name and instructs one of his minions to go to the Council Ring and call out my son's name in front of his peers, make him take the Walk of Shame in front of a hundred or so of his fellow scouts, remove him and send him back to his campsite carrying his bedroll and groundcloth.


Now according to many BSA publications and trainings, a Scout should never be penalized because of the mistakes of an adult. For example: if a 'blue card' for a merit badge is accidentally signed off on in error, it's signed off, you can't take the merit badge back after the fact because you realized he didn't actually complete one of the requirements. Even the application for Eagle Scout has a clause stating that "mistakes by adults" are legitimate grounds for an extension past a Scout's 18th birthday to complete requirements.

So if a Scout was accidentally called out in error, oh well, he was called out, let him in. I wouldn't penalize that Scout because some leader messed up. Maybe use it as an opportunity to tighten up the checks and balances to make sure it doesn't happen again in the future, but it's not worth penalizing that Scout because someone else goofed.
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