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Scoutmaster denies 17 year old Life Scout Eagle


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#1 SSF

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 12:19 PM

Thank you again to everyone for providing great insights and advice into my situation with my younger son, from my previous post.

 

Sadly, I guess that it’s true that, when it rains it pours, because my older son is now facing a far more urgent situation with regard to his own advancement towards Eagle.

 

My older son is 17, an honor student and highly involved with sports throughout the year. He has been consistently active as a Boy Scout since crossing over as a Webelo in the 5th grade.

 

He has successfully completed his project and the final write-up in the workbook. He has completed all merit badges, with the exception of one required badge for which he has one remaining partial that he will have completed very soon. My son has been a Life Scout for more than two years and he has been on several camping trips in that time, including one long term camping excursion. He attends troop meetings regularly. He has held two acceptable PORs as a Life Scout and performed both admirably.

 

While he has been on the several camping trips, including the one week long camping excursion, his Scoutmaster feels that he has not been “active enough” and indicated that he needs to complete a complete an impractical and unrealistic additional number of camping trips in order to earn his scout spirit to be eligible for Eagle. Both the scoutmaster and the troop committee chair, have both adamantly refused to sign my son’s completed Eagle project workbook, his Eagle application and the SM has stated that he refuses to grant a SM conference until these additional nights of camping are completed.

 

At this stage of his life, and with the timing involved, it is not realistically possible for him to complete these additional nights of camping.

 

The troop committee imposed new, and more demanding, scout spirit/active participation requirements, however, my son had already completed his camping trips and six months of active participation, many months prior to the new requirements being put in place.

 

My older son has been very proactive in moving the Eagle Application and Workbook process forward and he and I have long suspected that the scoutmaster was intentionally delaying this process.

 

His announcement to my older son just a few days ago that he was adamantly refusing to sign anything or grant a SM conference, marked the first time in the past year that he had made any mention of the additional nights of camping.

 

If I were to share all of the details and specifics around this situation, this post would be the equivalent of a short novel, however, to give you the condensed version, it’s clear from the SM’s comments and the indifferent way in which he’s been working with my son (or rather not working with him) that he is doing his best to see that my son does not earn this rank that he has rightfully completed. I suspect that I know his reasons for this.

 

The SM and the troop committee are very much in cahoots and the majority of the troop committee, or at least it’s loudest members, are all supporting the scoutmaster.

 

I reported this to Council a few days ago and they are now investigating.

 

I also hope to enlist the support of some other parents. There are a very small number who I believe have also had concerns. The majority of parents, however, just seem to do as their told essentially.

 

Any additional advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


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#2 Stosh

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 12:23 PM

The council investigation is all that is necessary at this point.  Make sure the scout finishes the MB and everything else other than the SMC and EBOR.  Those can be challenged and the investigation by the council indicates that that process has begun.


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#3 CalicoPenn

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 12:37 PM

Get that last Merit Badge completed and make sure the Council starts the BOR under disputed circumstances process. 


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#4 Krampus

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 01:14 PM

 

I reported this to Council a few days ago and they are now investigating.

 

 

@CalicoPenn and @Stosh are right, the Council will step in a fix.

 

As we discussed in another thread, in the Guide to Advancement there's a section (4.2.3.1) the BSA strictly defines what "active participation" means. There are essentially three criteria and a fourth (which they call the "alternative to the third test"). A Scfout must be:

  1. Registered.
  2. In good standing (i.e., not on probation at any recognized level).
  3. Scout meets the "unit’s reasonable expectations; or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained". This means two things. First, the unit must have a PRE-ESTABLISHED level of what they define as "active participation". Some units have this in their bylaws or other documents; usually it is 50% or so of certain activities. This must be communicated to the Scout and must be established BEFORE the unit can invoke it. Second, if the Scout falls below any established unit threshold, he can explain it by participation in other activities (school, sports, band, clubs, NHS, religious orgs, community service, etc.).
  4. The alternative to the third test is this: "If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity oriented expectations, then it must be due to other positive endeavors—in or out of Scouting—or due to noteworthy circumstances that have prevented a higher level of participation. A Scout in this case is still considered “active” if a board of review can agree that Scouting values have already taken hold and have been exhibited."

As long as Council is involved you should be in good shape...assuming they follow their own rules AND there is nothing hidden here that we cannot see.

 

Good luck. Sorry to hear the adults are being such, well, you know. :o

 

I am sure @fred johnson has a few thoughts on this issue. We've discussed this before.


Edited by Krampus, 12 April 2016 - 01:15 PM.

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#5 NJCubScouter

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 03:16 PM

What Calico said. A "council investigation" is probably not enough, especially if your son turns 18 in the very near future. The Guide to Advancement has a specific procedure for requesting an Eagle BOR "Under Disputed Circumstances", and I am pretty sure the "disputed circumstances" include a unit leader and/or committee chair refusing to sign either the Eagle application or the project workbook. That seems to be exactly where your son is. He should finish that merit badge, get as many signatures in the project workbook as he can, and make the request to council.

Edited by NJCubScouter, 12 April 2016 - 03:16 PM.

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#6 SSScout

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 07:25 PM

As I read thru the above, I note the following:

1) Keep good records of who said what to whom, when.

2)  Scoutson has one merit badge to finish. Therefore, the Eagle Application can not be signed and then presented to Council in any event.  Finish the Merit Badge.

3)   Scoutson is within his rights to go to Council and request a review of his advancement record. Make sure everything is complete and in order there.  Council would do this when the EAp is submitted in any event.

4)  The National standards are as presented above.   Scoutson cannot be denied a Scoutmaster Conference, it sounds like he already had one if he knows that SM wants "more proof" of Scoutson's  exemplary Scout Spirit.   If SM declares that the absolute number of camping days/nights is indicative of Scout Spirit and nothing else to his mind will do, get "in writing" what that number is, and how it compares to the actual number.  As stated above, he cannot declare such a requirement unless it was declared to the Scout way before now, and this standard/requirement must be applied equally, fairly to all.   Is there any indication it has or has not?

5)  It sounds like we have not heard "the whole story" and it sounds like there may well be some underlying bias involved.  Proving such is very difficult.

6)  In all your dealings, encourage Scoutson to be , in all things,  polite, cheerful, honest and non-accusatory.  Stick to the facts. 

7)  If there are others who might share your feelings of unfair treatment, certainly discuss with them, but KEEP TO THE FACTS.  

8)  If there are other examples of Scoutson's Scout Spirit (adhering to the Scout Promise and Law,  demonstrating the Scout Motto and Slogan)  both in and outside of Scouting, such as  OA, Camporee events, Unit leadership, school activities, House of Worship activities, family duties and participation, other service to community, etc., be prepared (there's that phrase) to document these with dates and whatever.

9)  Make it easy for the people involved to Do The Right Thing.  Backing them into a corner and grabbing them by the scruff of the neck is the very last thing you want to do.  After you have all the facts in hand (Advancement record complete, Service Project complete and signed off by the accepting agency, camp nights numbers declared and done, other examples of Scout Spirit detailed, EAp otherwise all complete, ), then you might want to go to the Committee Chair, then the Charter Org Rep, and /or the Institution Head about your experience with the SM.   That is when you bring forth the National Standards and compare Scoutson's record to the treatment you have experienced with the SM.   Follow the chain of command.    

10)  If you have already complained to Council about your experience,("they are investigating") you have, in my opinion, jumped some steps.   After all is said and done, you can always appeal thru Council and thru National, but then you will have to document your experience as I have outlined above.  And you will most likely win the appeal, but at what cost?  Again, go slow and steady, and give them the chance to Do The Right Thing themselves.   It may take a Higher Up (COR?  IH?  DE? Council SE?) to convince SM and CCh  to do this, but it is "nicer" in the long run.

 

See you on the trail.


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#7 SSF

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 08:52 PM

Thank you to everyone for responding, I appreciate all of these answers and information very much.

 

Everything is just as I laid it out, complete transparency. There are no skeletons in the closet.


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#8 Stosh

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 05:22 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how many adults one comes across that think they know what they are doing and really haven't the foggiest idea that what they are doing is really bad for the boys.  Self deception seems to be running rampant in certain parts of the county and BSA is no exception.


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#9 Krampus

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 06:00 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how many adults one comes across that think they know what they are doing and really haven't the foggiest idea that what they are doing is really bad for the boys. Self deception seems to be running rampant in certain parts of the county and BSA is no exception.


I could maybe see if the scout wasn't as active AND the unit had warned him well in advance he was below their active threshold. But waiting until the scout wants his workbook signed? That's poor management, guidance and advice on the adult's part.

Edited by Krampus, 13 April 2016 - 06:00 AM.

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#10 Stosh

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 10:32 AM

I just think it might be more fair to the boys that if the adults are going to be making up rules that aren't part of the BSA protocol that they inform the boys BEFORE the stuff hits the fan.  I have had too many adults making up rules along the way that more often than not I find myself siding with the youth over the adults! 

 

Too many adults today treat the adolescent as an inferior and surprisingly it is unique to our culture.  In some places in the world an 18 year old is a middle aged man.  In our society, he's  still a kid until he moves out of his parents basement at age 40.


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Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#11 Krampus

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 11:16 AM

I just think it might be more fair to the boys that if the adults are going to be making up rules that aren't part of the BSA protocol that they inform the boys BEFORE the stuff hits the fan.  I have had too many adults making up rules along the way that more often than not I find myself siding with the youth over the adults! 

 

Too many adults today treat the adolescent as an inferior and surprisingly it is unique to our culture.  In some places in the world an 18 year old is a middle aged man.  In our society, he's  still a kid until he moves out of his parents basement at age 40.

 

That's entirely it, @Stosh.

 

Our unit does this quarterly. We run a report that covers attendance at meetings, service projects and camping. Anyone not meeting our well-established and (monthly) communicated "active" policy, they get an email for an SMC to discuss their level of activity. When we first started this program we have many 14-16 year olds that fell in to that bucket. Within one year we ended up sending out maybe 5 of these notes a year. It has been three years since we have had to send a single one.

 

We have a Scout now who is close. Parents divorcing, he's withdrawn from everything. Working on his Eagle. Turns 18 next year. Has he been around the last 18 months for the 50%? Nope, not even close. Did we sign his workbook? You bet! We also had a talk about how, when things go pear-shaped in life, you need to find that inner courage to persevere. He agreed...then broke down and said that Scouts reminded him of his dad and how absent he was now in his life.

 

After all three of us (two adults, one Scout) dried our eyes, we signed his paperwork and wished him luck on his BOR. Best Eagle ever? Hardly. But I don't regret for a minute signing his stuff and moving him along. Maybe, just maybe, what we as adults did for him may help make him a decent father one day.


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#12 Stosh

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 11:43 AM

Okay, here's where my heresy shines.  Every rule out there has a purpose, but sometimes that purpose does more to hurt than to heal.  Yes, I break rules so that people heal.  I break rules to create opportunity for growth and development, and when it comes to breaking rules, I don't do it fairly across the board.  Every scout is different.  Every scout is unique.  Every scout has different abilities. Every scout has different passions and needs.  How does one make one rule that works for everyone!

 

In a larger troop like yours @Krampus, I can see where some rules are necessary to maintain some sort of order.  I guess I'm a bit more lucky in that I can custom fit my "helping other people at all times" by making adjustments to actually help rather than hinder the opportunities for the boys.

 

I showed up early for my scout meeting last night.  A boy who hadn't been coming for the past few weeks showed up early and went over to the piano and started to play (we meet in a church).  He has serious family and emotional problems but when he started to play I just didn't have the heart to tell him to stop.  There wasn't any need, he knew his way around a piano, played great, and I was really enjoying it.... until my ASM came in and told him that the scouts are not to be messing with other things in the room.  After the meeting my ASM and I had a talk.  I think I might get a serenade or two in the future.  A scout who simply pounds on the keyboard because he wants to make as much noise as possible is not going to get the same reaction as the scout that sits down and starts playing "The Entertainer" from memory because he loves music.

 

It's just another way one goes about taking care of his people.  From your story, you obviously know what I mean.


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Stosh

 

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#13 JasonG172

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 11:52 AM

I have a certain youth that was active early on and got busy with sports/band and is now doing his Eagle Project.  I have seen him on 1 campout in the last 2 years and I have seen him at a handful of meeting the last year.  I am really hoping NOT to be asked to be on his EBOR!


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#14 Sentinel947

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 12:39 PM

I have a certain youth that was active early on and got busy with sports/band and is now doing his Eagle Project.  I have seen him on 1 campout in the last 2 years and I have seen him at a handful of meeting the last year.  I am really hoping NOT to be asked to be on his EBOR!

If the troop doesn't make an expectations on attendance, then there's nothing to be afraid of for his EBOR.


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#15 CalicoPenn

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 12:53 PM

@Jason.  Ask Andy has this great list of what a Scout has to get through to become an Eagle Scout that I wish I can find.  It talks about the number of nights he's gone camping, the leadership positions he takes, the service projects he's done, the requirements he's had to do from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout.

 

Scouts to get busy with other things as they get older.  Sports and Band suck up time.  Wait until they start to work!  If this Scout has met all the other requirements and is working on his project, and you know he's been busy with sports and band, then I would hope that would be taken into consideration.  Given your announced bias against this Scout, I hope you do the honorable and Scout-like thing and decline if you are asked to be on his BOR.


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#16 Stosh

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 01:54 PM

I have a certain youth that was active early on and got busy with sports/band and is now doing his Eagle Project.  I have seen him on 1 campout in the last 2 years and I have seen him at a handful of meeting the last year.  I am really hoping NOT to be asked to be on his EBOR!

 

@JasonG172  Have you given this scout an opportunity to hear your concerns and why you would not want to be on his EBOR?  I would think it would fit nicely into one's taking care of their boys to give him a heads up..  Kinda goes hand in hand with being trustworthy too.  Does one have the Scout's back?  I guess if I too wouldn't want to be around at the last minute when someone drops a bomb on this kid and I knew, or at least suspected, I could have done something earlier to help him out.  i.e. A Scout is Helpful. 


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Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#17 Beavah

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 02:30 PM

Hiya SSF!

 

Yah, lots of adult drama there, eh?

 

I've got a question for yeh.   What is it that you want for your son as a parent?

 

Lots of times as parents we get a little too involved in da trees and drama of our teenagers, eh?   Yeh can usually tell you've hit that point when yeh start talkin' about bein' able to write small novels about their current dust-up with their teacher/coach/scoutmaster.

 

Take a step back and look at the forest and what your real goals for the lad are.  Is your goal really an Eagle award?  Or is your goal the life lessons that come from Scouting and working and doing things in Scouting?

 

So first, I'd say "Let your son handle his own problems".  He's almost an adult and I assume next year he's goin' to have to deal with meeting the requirements of college and da demands of persnickety professors all on his own, eh?  Or maybe he's goin' off to military service or to a job where the same will be true.   Let Scouting be what it was designed to be - good practice for the world.   Without mom or dad gettin' caught up in da drama.  Sometimes we all have to deal with a difficult boss.

 

Second, pause for a moment and consider whether the SM and the committee and the other adult leaders (and perhaps some of the youth leaders, and...) don't have a bit of a point.   If a fellow in your job got a big award even though he'd really not been around very much at all, and both management and coworkers felt he really wasn't committed, how would that make yeh feel?  

 

Third, where do yeh stand on the sort of character you're tryin' to develop in your son?   Do yeh want him to lawyer his way through things by quibblin' with the letter of the law, or do yeh want other things from him?    No disrespect for lawyers, of course, since I happen to be partial to 'em myself.

 

I can't say anything about da merits or lack of merits of your son's Eagle application from afar.   I can say that as parents how we choose to allow our kids to deal with setbacks and the example we set in terms of bein' calm, and respectful of folks who've given their time and treasure to our kids as volunteers - that example means a lot.   Those are the things that teach real lessons that support our kids for a lifetime. 

 

Beavah

 


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#18 fred johnson

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 03:01 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how many adults one comes across that think they know what they are doing and really haven't the foggiest idea that what they are doing is really bad for the boys.  Self deception seems to be running rampant in certain parts of the county and BSA is no exception.

 

Sadly true.  

 

It never surprises me the number of adults turn something that should be celebrated and cheered and work to turn it into a failure and work to create a bad experience for the scout.  IMHO, just want is the scout supposed to learn from these actions at the last minute.  If there are higher expectations, they are to be raised during every one of the previous ranks (scout, tenderfoot, 2nd class, first class, star and life).  You do NOT use Eagle as a barrier to a higher standard.  You have that standard throughout the scout's career or you don't.

 

Councils can get lost in paperwork.   Continue that path.  Make sure you are talking with the council advancement director.   ... BUT ...

 

Contact your district.  Contact the district advancement chair.  Get his help.  

 

You want as many people on your side.

 

You want to keep this moving forward.   Do not let this slip or wait as time is your enemy.


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#19 JasonG172

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 03:09 PM

@JasonG172  Have you given this scout an opportunity to hear your concerns and why you would not want to be on his EBOR?

 

His Dad is the ASM - When he is done he's done and I wont see them again.  Move along.  

 

If asked I will obviously say "sorry I already have plans"

 

Current position in the Troop - Committee Chairman

 

And also my son goes to a different troop, not the one I am a Committee Chairman for.  Simply because of the poor leadership.


Edited by JasonG172, 13 April 2016 - 03:19 PM.

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#20 fred johnson

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 03:15 PM

Lots of times as parents we get a little too involved in da trees and drama of our teenagers, eh?   Yeh can usually tell you've hit that point when yeh start talkin' about bein' able to write small novels about their current dust-up with their teacher/coach/scoutmaster.

 

Beavah has good advice that should be used throughout the scout's career.  But at critical times and when there is a clear imbalance of power ... at those times it is appropriate for a parent to step in.  Opinions will differ.  You may run into others that think you are inserting yourself too much. 
 

IMHO, this is clearly one of the times to step in and turn an  unfair situation into a fair fight.


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