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BoR Tests ... Boy Balks

board of review testing scout skills

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#1 qwazse

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 10:22 PM

So, tonight's crew meeting got derailed.

 

One of my venturers had a suspended Life BoR at his troop last week because, when tested, he couldn't tie a bowline, didn't have complete documentation of his service hours or a good explanation of what he did in his PoR. So they basically told him to come back better organized and demonstrate his skills by tying that one knot.

 

Well he came back this week. The ASM asked him if he was ready. He calmly said, "Yes." Then went to meet with the board. I went off to prepare the crew meeting. A whipstich later, the scout comes into our meeting saying "They failed me again!"

 

Well, actually, he told the committee that they went beyond the bounds of the board by testing scouts, and said he would not tie a knot because it was not relevant to this rank or to the purposes of the board. Then one of the committee told the boy he was immature, and would never be an Eagle scout. (I suspect the guy did not mean to be that harsh, but he is an Eagle and a little high-minded.)

 

The boy said he doesn't want to earn Eagle in the troop anymore. I told him he could advance in my unit, but I wouldn't bother our board with a Life scout who can't demonstrate the skills. He said, "I would do any of those requirements for you. I just don't respect those adults anymore."

 

What a mess.


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#2 Stosh

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 11:38 PM

Unfortunately, the boy is correct and if standing up for what is right is "immature" then one needs to consider calling the kettle black.  I totally agree with the boy and if his book is checked off, he's done with the requirements.  Now if that means he needs to progress through rank in a different troop or crew, so be it.  To me it shows a certain amount of grit to stand one's ground.

 

On the other hand, it might not be the most tactful way of approaching the subject, but that's another story. 

 

I have pushed a few buttons of the boys over the years and those that stand toe to to with me and call me out on it, rank pretty high on my respect chart.

 

I guess I wouldn't identify it as having any respect for the adults on the Board, but there's a thin veil of bullying going on with this board.  Instead of congratulating him on achieving the Life rank, they are taking a passive aggressive stance to block it with a retest of a Second Class (2g) requirement?  It's time for those board members to show a bit more maturity.


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#3 David CO

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 12:31 AM

In school, when a kid fails a class, we don't have the student repeat the class with the same teacher.  The kid is put into a different classroom with a different teacher.

 

Likewise, if a boy bombs out at a BoR, we arrange to have a different group of people sit in when the BoR reconvenes.

 

I understand that BSA discourages this, replacing the members of a BoR, but it is not absolutely against the rules.


Edited by David CO, 13 December 2016 - 01:01 AM.

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#4 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 07:27 AM

The boy is right. The BOR is not a last chance to fix Troop quality control problems. One might counsel the lad to re-learn his knots and keep better track of his records now that he is a Life Scout and expected to show competence and leadership. And then you follow up with him afterward or assign him a project teaching knots to the younger guys.


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#5 Eagledad

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 08:39 AM

On the other hand, it might not be the most tactful way of approaching the subject, but that's another story. 

 

 

In my way of thinking this is the whole story. The scout came in BOR hostel, angry and seeking revenge. Worse, he planned it out and ambushed the board. No where in the Oath and Law does it say that a scout is only friendly, courteous and kind when he chooses or when he is in a good mood. Character defines itself in difficult situations, not the best. How much more significant would the scout's approach had been if he had taken and shown the BSA documents that support him to the board. The scout failed because he lost his dignity and integrity with the board members. Even if they are wrong, the scout could have approached them as an adult and carried a mature discussion.

 

My bride of 36 years is a CPA and I am astonished to how she deals with very difficult clients each day. She disarms them with kindness and respect. She listens quietly while they have their say, then she talks with them with a smile. She speaks in a tone that makes them feel safe to just relax. These are the skills we need to teach our youth so that they can make a positive difference in other peoples life simply by have a civil discussion. 

 

The scout isn't ready for the Eagle because he lacks maturity to act scout like when his pride is challenged. It's just me and I'm not proposing anything to qwazse because he is one of the finest leaders on this forum, but I personally would ask the scout to reconsider how to reapproach the members of board to discuss his unlike scout attitude in trying to make his point. 

 

It seems that getting in someones face to make a point is the acceptable means of presenting one's opinion today. We don't teach courtesy and manners as the standard method of dialogue. Teaching scouts the values of the Oath and Law aren't easy, but they are noble.

 

Barry


Edited by Eagledad, 13 December 2016 - 09:14 AM.

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"Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first, then the lesson."


#6 deanofmac

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 09:14 AM

The scout is in the right. The BOR is a progress check, nothing more. No retesting should be allowed at the BOR. The scout and the BOR members should reconcile with each other. After that, consider having the scout teach other scouts some knots and have the BOR members trained (after his BOR reconvenes and rank is approved, he has done the requirements). 


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#7 qwazse

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 09:23 AM

I guess the "mess" is more than just the boy.

 

His buddies (all from a smaller troop of older scouts who were absorbed by the large troop of younger scouts) have a few gripes. I suspect some sour grapes have been squeezed for a while.

 

The ASM is going to talk to the SM and CC.


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#8 T2Eagle

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 09:42 AM

Hmm, you're not supposed to retest skills at a BOR, and if you ask a kid to demonstrate a particular skill and he can't that's not a reason to suspend the BOR, that's a reason to look at the troop program and see why some skills are not being continuously utilized so that kids would still be able to demonstrate them.  Not sure what documentation of service hours they were looking for, the requirement is six hours approved by the SM; if the SM or his designee's signature is in the book that's documentation.  The POR can go either way, but again given the purpose of a BOR this is more likely an indicator about the troop program.

 

If I had a scout who did not get past the BOR on the first try I would be having a conversation with both the scout and the BOR members to make sure everyone's expectations were in line before trying again.

 

Maybe the scout could have been more tactful, I don't know, but being objectively right about the retesting, and having the gumption to make that argument to the board, makes me more sympathetic to him than to them.

 

ETA BSA really does its volunteers and scouts a disservice by not providing easily accessible training on the purposes, conduct of, and rules about a good BOR.  A half hour training module would do wonders to eliminate exactly this kind of misunderstanding.


Edited by T2Eagle, 13 December 2016 - 09:46 AM.

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#9 DadScouts

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 09:50 AM

Mess all around.  We require verification and PRE-approval of service hours, but that is all done ahead of time and if not recorded publicly for all to see in Troopmaster a Scout doesn't get the BOR.  Easier to clean up a mess before it happens.  No words on the knot tying, although our BORs wouldn't be shy about asking a Star to Life Scout how many knots he's taught other younger Scouts while mentoring them.

 

While the BOR/Troop is clearly in the wrong here the Scout could learn to handle himself better.  BOR members are in positions of authority here and respect to those with that power is rarely a bad idea.  Those in authority frequently abuse that authority, in the workplace and with law enforcement officers.  The advice to all in dealing with police who are abusing their power / are wrong is simple:  COMPLY and then complain.  Here these BOR members will abuse future Scouts.  How great it would have been for the Scout to COMPLY with their requests, acknowledge their authority, and then educate them at the end of the BOR the better way (BSA way) to conduct a BOR.  He would help himself, educate the BOR members, and save future Scouts from a similar fate if he went into that BOR with a different attitude and plan of action.  A great opportunity lost.  

 

In our country today, especially with politics, harm is being done by people talking AT people instead of TO people.  Furthermore, young folks seems to think that raising a stink is an effective strategy for change, which is rarely the case.  


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#10 qwazse

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 10:13 AM

... How much more significant would the scout's approach had been if he had taken and shown the BSA documents that support him to the board. The scout failed because he lost his dignity and integrity with the board members. Even if they are wrong, the scout could have approached them as an adult and carried a mature discussion. ...

I think this board has seen such documents. They are choosing to ignore them. But you are right. Boys don't read their handbooks well, let alone other BSA literature. I think he would have been better served letting the SM or ASM know his position on the matter, followed by providing the board the literature that he was reading, and letting them know in advance, then arranging a face-to-face respectfully describing why he thought it was for the good of the troop that he stands his ground.

 

All that communication takes time. The scout is facing some challenging mid-terms. So that gets in his way. But committing real time to address issues is probably the skill he'll need to acquire.


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#11 Eagledad

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 10:35 AM

I agree with you qwazse, even most adult leaders don't know of that documentation. My response was a reaction to the scout even having the knowledge of the boards responsibilities. Anyway, I have no trouble with the scout being proactive for meeting with the board without first discussing it with the SM, I respect being proactive with personal dealings and practices. My struggle is the scout's attitude to why he approached the board, which led to how he approached the board. Of course there is a level of respect that should be given for at least informing the SM of the boards' improper actions.

 

Barry


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"Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first, then the lesson."


#12 DuctTape

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 11:10 AM

I recall one of purposes of a BOR, back when it was members of the community was to help the boy also learn how to interview well so that this practice would prepare them for job interviews. Instead of thinking of this as "retesting" or "provide documentation", it is the chance for the boy to learn to sell himself based on what he has done and learned. If he isn't prepared for the interview, he won't get the job. BOR's should, as the boy progreeses through the ranks, expect more from the boy. If not, then we are back to checking boxes. None of the requirements should ever be just checking boxes, imo.
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#13 MattR

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 11:15 AM

The scout is just as high minded as the board. They aren't asking him to do anything out of the ordinary. Know a knot, handle some paperwork, describe what he did. At the same time, telling a scout he'll never get Eagle is being a bit closed minded. He's a kid. Of course there's a mess.

 

Whether or not the board will improve is of no interest, but the scout could learn from this. It sounds like the scout respects qwazse. Qwazse could talk to him. Just a guess but I'd say the scout got defensive when the board got pushy. That's the mess. Since the scout said he'd do those things for qwazse it sounds like he thinks he should know how to do those things. So the real issue is how to deal with people that you disagree with.


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#14 NJCubScouter

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 12:34 PM

I agree with those who say the Scout could have handled this a lot better, including by dealing with the "re-testing" issue between the first and second BOR's, not by waiting until the second BOR and challenging the board's authority as to how the BOR's are conducted (even though he was correct.)  As someone else(s) has said, discussing this with the SM or an ASM after the first BOR would have been the way to go.

 

On the other hand, he would not be the first teenager who made some mistakes along the way while learning to deal with people.  I like MattR's suggestion that this be turned into a learning experience - maybe for both the Scout and the Board members.

 

The one thing that I think is inexcusable on the one board member's part is the statement that the Scout would "never make Eagle."  Not that he wasn't ready, but that he would NEVER make Eagle.  (At a BOR for Life, not Eagle.)  One board member has no authority to decide that, in fact the entire board has no authority to say "never", since there is a route to obtain a BOR at the council level as well as the potential of an appeal to National.  (Which this Scout probably knows, since he seems to have some familiarity with the Guide to Advancement.)

 

Perhaps quazse, in addition to speaking with the Scout, could "mediate" with the board member and get everybody to back down a little.


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#15 gumbymaster

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 12:51 PM

It has been discussed on this board many times over the years.

 

Can the board ask the scout to demonstrate a knot ... yes

Can the board fail him ONLY because of his inability to do so ... no.

 

The board can ask, because they can then use that (or similar requests) as a feedback loop to test the effectiveness of the unit's program.

 

Can the board suspend (not fail) a board of review if the Scouts records (either from the scout or the troop) are in disorder ... yes.

Can the board demand proof of the service hours performed ... not if that requirement has already been signed off in the book.

 

I wasn't there, so other than @qwazse, we really do not know if the Scout went into the board of review to demonstrate to them that they were in the wrong, but lets say he did ... then at this point HOW he does it is everything.  It is very difficult for a child to stand up to a room of adults and tell them they were wrong ... this is being brave.  It is very difficult for adults to accept that this young whippersnapper is telling them whats what.  If the board became defensive, as would be a natural inclination, then it is understandable that the scout might respond in a less than scout like way.

 

Can the board fail the Scout because they did respond in a non scout-like way ... yes ... but ... if they were the ones to cause the situation to escalate, it would be disingenuous for them to do so out of hand.

 

I could see how the situation could go either way, and either side could be right.  Hopefully, the Scout will be counseled, and also come to understand how it could go either way.  Likewise, the BOR members need to reread and understand the BOR section of the guide to advancement before they should be allowed to sit on another board.


Edited by gumbymaster, 13 December 2016 - 12:54 PM.

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#16 Oldscout448

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 01:02 PM

Mess all around.  We require verification and PRE-approval of service hours, but that is all done ahead of time and if not recorded publicly for all to see in Troopmaster a Scout doesn't get the BOR.  Easier to clean up a mess before it happens.  No words on the knot tying, although our BORs wouldn't be shy about asking a Star to Life Scout how many knots he's taught other younger Scouts while mentoring them.

 

While the BOR/Troop is clearly in the wrong here the Scout could learn to handle himself better.  BOR members are in positions of authority here and respect to those with that power is rarely a bad idea.  Those in authority frequently abuse that authority, in the workplace and with law enforcement officers.  The advice to all in dealing with police who are abusing their power / are wrong is simple:  COMPLY and then complain.  Here these BOR members will abuse future Scouts.  How great it would have been for the Scout to COMPLY with their requests, acknowledge their authority, and then educate them at the end of the BOR the better way (BSA way) to conduct a BOR.  He would help himself, educate the BOR members, and save future Scouts from a similar fate if he went into that BOR with a different attitude and plan of action.  A great opportunity lost.  

 

In our country today, especially with politics, harm is being done by people talking AT people instead of TO people.  Furthermore, young folks seems to think that raising a stink is an effective strategy for change, which is rarely the case.  

I  am forced to differ with you sir, " COMPLY and then complain"   seldom produces any  positive result.   At least with police.  Once you have knuckled under to their " authority" they have little or no interest in anything else you say or do.   A complaint to their commanders simply puts you on their troublemakers list and your life can and often does become very carefully watched by a number of officers all hunting for any infraction no matter how minor.   

 

Mind you I am not saying the BoR would act in such a fashion,  but the " you will never make Eagle" guy doesn't strike me as a humble or teachable fellow.  Again I wasn't there.

 

Hopefully this is a case of a young man reacting in a somewhat childish manner to a demand he sees (rightly) as  over the line.   Followed by a adult bristling at a challenge from a young pup,  and once a few deep breaths are taken by all,  this can still have a happy ending


Edited by Oldscout448, 13 December 2016 - 01:15 PM.

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#17 walk in the woods

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 02:28 PM

BOR members are in positions of authority here and respect to those with that power is rarely a bad idea.  

I have to disagree with this as well.  Authority is what authoritarians wield to control their subjects.  The Board has no authority here but rather the responsibility to challenge and coach the scout.  Teenage boys can be unpredictable; adults should anticipate.  

 

Based on Q's description it's not clear to me the scout presented his information in a disrespectful fashion to the board.  He may have but it's not presented as such.  The board members response is given as second-hand info (from the scout?) so it's not clear we can take a lot of meaning there either.  It would be interesting to sit with the scout and the board individually and separately to get the perspectives.


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#18 qwazse

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 03:00 PM

... Based on Q's description it's not clear to me the scout presented his information in a disrespectful fashion to the board.  He may have but it's not presented as such.  The board members response is given as second-hand info (from the scout?) so it's not clear we can take a lot of meaning there either.  It would be interesting to sit with the scout and the board individually and separately to get the perspectives.

That's correct. I (and the ASM) know only what the scout told us. So, I can only give you the message the boy heard ... not the one that any on the committee actually said. Basically we were sitting with the scout, his two buddies (one youth one young adult), his dad and his younger brother (who will soon cross-over into this troop). But, we were chatting with the committee members before hand, while we thought the boy was going to just jump through the hoops. We kinda knew their opinion. So, I have no reason to doubt they reacted the way the boy said they did.

 

A decade ago, I may have done the same. The ASM is going to do the follow-up. After the boys left, we did a mild re-hash of the core issues.

 

Myself, I've been trying "speak when spoken to." On the other hand, I'm wondering if I could have spoken a week earlier and asked the board to rescind their decision and approve with no further review. :o


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#19 blw2

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 03:05 PM

This whole thing brings a side question to my mind,.....

Can the board ask the scout to demonstrate a knot ... yes

Can the board fail him ONLY because of his inability to do so ... no.

In my thinking, gumbymaster is spot on.

 

But putting myself on that board (the first time around).

 

Let's say I'm the only member of that board that gets this concept

The scout can't tie the knot.  Other board members want to fail him, I do not.

what am I to do?

 

or

Let's say that two of us on a three member board think it this way.

What are we to do?

 

Can part of the board sign him off and push the paperwork without the consent of the rest of the board?

 

Guessing here, but what I think i'd do is go along on the follow-up board at a later date, based mostly on the fact of missing signoffs for the other stuff, but I might allow the other member's desire to retest the knot just to appease that person.  No reason the scout shouldn't be able to brush up on a knot, it would do him good after all.....

Then, if the scout reacted as described on the 2nd board, it might open up a new conversation about scout like behavior or whatever.....but that's another story.


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#20 David CO

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 03:08 PM

My understanding is that a BoR must be unanimous in order for the scout to advance.


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