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Scoutmaster delaying advancement....right course of action?


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#1 Carbenez

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:33 AM

Greetings...I'm sure this has been discussed before but I want to gather informed opinions before taking action.  I'm especially sensitive because the Scout Master is a friend and a good guy... he is new this year, following a SM that was fantastic and loved by all. Long story short...my son completed his requirements for Life Scout almost 3 months ago, and has asked 8 troop meetings in a row to get his Board of Review. Each time, he gets "next meeting" as an answer. He loves Scouts and is very driven to obtain Eagle Scout - but is becoming seriously disillusioned.  13 year old kids just don't understand it when they feel an adult in a power position is neglecting their responsibilities.

 

Last night at the troop meeting, my son was told a new directive - "Call me to make an appointment."  I don't want to be the guy that shows up with the highlighted Guide to Advancement, but this is getting ridiculous.  

 

Any words of wisdom? I don't want to create conflict with the Scoutmaster OR come off as a helicopter parent, but I feel at this point he is way out of line.

 

Thank you for any and all help.


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#2 RememberSchiff

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 07:02 AM

Welcome to Scouter.com

 

Is the old SM available? How many Assistant Scoutmasters are there in your troop?


Edited by RememberSchiff, 18 May 2017 - 07:06 AM.

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#3 NJCubScouter

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 07:22 AM

You say this is about a board of review. Has your son had a Scoutmaster Conference for Life yet?
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#4 Back Pack

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 07:30 AM

So have the Scout call or email the the SM a week or so in advance. Problem solved.
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#5 Stosh

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:00 AM

If this new SM is truly a friend, maybe it's time for a cup of coffee. New guys need help, not hassles. Welcome to the forum.
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#6 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:01 AM

Don't know the full situation. So I do not know if the SM has reasons or not. What I do know is that because BORs need 3-5 committee members, they need advance notice.

 

I know in some troop's I've been in, you needed to ask for a BOR 1-2 weeks in advance so they could get enough people. In rare instances, specifically EBORs, it could take up 6 weeks between the request and the actual EBOR!

 

Other troops have the BORs scheduled for a specific meeting night each month. That's how my sons' troop is.

 

Since it is the Scout's advancement and  therefore the Scout's repsonibility, he needs to follow the directions his SM gave him. And if he's going for Life, he should be able to handle thievery himself.

 

Good luck to your son.


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#7 fred johnson

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:05 AM

My approach is scouts solve scout sized stuff and adults solve adult sized issues.  Usually scouts can deal with way more than you think they can, but some things are not fair for them to resolve.  In the later category, I'd put ...

  • Resolving disorganization among the adult unit leaders
  • Resolving non-supportive scout leaders

But you should always not assume those are the reasons ...   Maybe your son needs to speak up and emphasize his request for a BOR.  Maybe it's somehow just not being realized.  Did he actually explicitly ask the the scoutmaster for a rank BOR ?  Was his request clearly acknowledged ?

 

In our troop, the scout's responsibility is to request the BOR.  Once it's requested, it's 100% the adult leaders responsibility to make it happen.  No call me later to schedule it.  No "next troop meeting".  Once it's requested, it's the adult leaders job to make it happen.

 

So with that ....

 

Step zero ... Make sure scoutmaster conference is done and signed off.  If not, request it.  

 

Step 1 ... Talk with your son and explain that even adults don't always get things right.  That sometimes life gets the better of people.  Ask him to be understanding and kind.  This is a life lesson that will serve him well.

 

Step 2 ... Have your son call as requested.  Hopefully it ends here by the review happening and his earning rank.  

 

Step 3 ... If he has trouble or if it's scheduled and then doesn't happen, then you step in to talk with the committee chair to ask what's happening.  Politely.  Friendly.  Very sensitive to the situation.  Just explain that he's been asking for many weeks and then called as asked.   See if there is a reason your son keeps getting blown off.  I'd also explain that your son fulfilled his duty by requesting it (multiple times) and that you expect the adult leaders now own the job to make it happen.


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#8 qwazse

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:29 AM

@Carbenez, Welcome to the forums!

From your post, it's not clear if this problem should fall on your SM or your committee chair (CC).

 

If your son needs a SM conference (SMC) for Life rank, I can understand why a new SM might be having trouble blocking out time for that in a meeting. He's basically playing catch-up with every scout, and those conferences in particular can be lengthy. The SM probably realized that constantly telling your son "next meeting" wasn't working.

 

Once they've had their last SMC for any rank, our life scouts are often responsible for going directly to the CC and asking for a board of review. It goes something like this:

 

SM "Well, scout, looks like you've grown a lot while earning that rank, let's consider this conference complete, I'll sign here, and you may go over to Mr. CC there and request a board of review at the committee's earliest possible convenience."

 

We really try to encourage the scout to contact the committee chair or advancement chairperson directly. They are usually pretty nimble and can assemble a group of three members for a BoR. Because of this, we don't consider it the SM's responsibility to line up each scout's BoR.


Edited by qwazse, 18 May 2017 - 08:29 AM.

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#9 fred johnson

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:39 AM

We really try to encourage the scout to contact the committee chair or advancement chairperson directly. They are usually pretty nimble and can assemble a group of three members for a BoR. Because of this, we don't consider it the SM's responsibility to line up each scout's BoR.

 

My ideal is the scoutmaster at the end of his SMC walks the scout to the CC and says this young man needs a BOR.  Then, it's the CC's job (or equiv person) to make it happen.  Now it's not always the ideal as the SMC isn't always the last step or one of many other reasons.  But that's my ideal.


Edited by fred johnson, 18 May 2017 - 08:40 AM.

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#10 NJCubScouter

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:02 AM

Carbenez, I agree with Fred Johnson's Steps 0 through 3.  If the SM wants a call, your son can give him a call, even though "by the book" that should not be necessary (more on that below.)  Hopefully that will get the job done.  If not, I would then follow Stosh's advice (did I say that?) and sit down with the SM over a cup of coffee or other suitable beverage and figure out what the problem is.  If its a matter of the guy being overwhelmed with the new job, and you are not already a registered leader, perhaps you want to volunteer to become one and help him out.  I am not suggesting a quid pro quo here, but maybe there is some mutual benefit possible here.

 

I am guessing that when you refer to "a highlighted copy of the Guide to Advancement", you mean the sentence in the section on BOR's that says "Scoutmasters... do not have the authority to expect a boy to request or organize one, or to "defer" him, or (other stuff not applicable here)"   So technically a Scout does not have to "request" a BOR from the Scoutmaster, but in practice there does need to be a discussion of SCHEDULING the BOR after the SMC is signed off (or other final requirement, if the SMC is not the last one, but in our troop the SMC is always the final requirement to be signed off, and nobody has ever challenged that.)  I am the Advancement Chair in our troop and I do the scheduling of BOR's.  Before I can schedule a BOR, SOMEONE needs to tell me that the Scout is ready for a BOR.  Sometimes the SM tells me, sometimes the SM sends the Scout to tell me, and if I am not there, they will tell the former Advancement Chair who is now the CC.  One or both of us is present at virtually every troop meeting, and if not, my email address is posted in our equipment room. (The BOR will be scheduled for either the next troop meeting or the one after that, though we have been known to do the BOR on the same night as the SMC if enough committee members are hanging around and the Scout wants to do it right then.  Or the Scout, SM and I can have a conversation at a meeting in which we schedule both the SMC and the BOR for the following meeting.)  

 

My point is, the SM doesn't necessarily even need to talk to me to get a BOR set up, because the Scout can deal with me directly.  If, in your troop, the SM becomes a "bottleneck" to the scheduling of a BOR, that's not supposed to happen and maybe you do need to show up with your highlighted GTA, after you try a cup of coffee first.


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#11 Col. Flagg

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:19 AM

It is the troop committee's job -- and specifically the advancement chair -- to grant a BOR as soon as the SMC for rank is complete. The Scout does NOT have to request one. The SM has NO say on when it happens, that's up to the TC Chair or the Advancement Chair to schedule, HOWEVER, the GTA says it should happen as soon as possible.

 

8.0.0.2 Boards of Review Must Be Granted When Requirements Are Met. A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity. When he believes he has completed all the requirements for a rank, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmasters—or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rank—for example, do not have authority to expect a boy to request or organize one, or to “defer” him, or to ask him to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one. In a case where there is concern the Scout has not fulfilled the requirements for a rank as written, it is appropriate to advise the young man that he might not pass the board and to make suggestions about what he might do to improve his chances for success. It is, however, the Scout’s decision to go ahead with a board of review or not.


Edited by Col. Flagg, 18 May 2017 - 10:19 AM.

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#12 NJCubScouter

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:43 AM

It is the troop committee's job -- and specifically the advancement chair -- to grant a BOR as soon as the SMC for rank is complete. The Scout does NOT have to request one. The SM has NO say on when it happens, that's up to the TC Chair or the Advancement Chair to schedule, HOWEVER, the GTA says it should happen as soon as possible.

 

8.0.0.2 Boards of Review Must Be Granted When Requirements Are Met. A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity. When he believes he has completed all the requirements for a rank, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmasters—or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rank—for example, do not have authority to expect a boy to request or organize one, or to “defer” him, or to ask him to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one. In a case where there is concern the Scout has not fulfilled the requirements for a rank as written, it is appropriate to advise the young man that he might not pass the board and to make suggestions about what he might do to improve his chances for success. It is, however, the Scout’s decision to go ahead with a board of review or not.

 

Right, I just think the part about the Scout not having to request one can be misinterpreted.  First of all it says the SCOUTMASTER cannot expect the Scout to request one.  SOMEONE needs to approach me (as Advancement Chair) to schedule the thing, and at some point the Scout needs to be brought into the conversation to schedule it.  It doesn't do anybody any good if I decide the BOR is going to be next week but the Scout knows he is going to miss the meeting because his parents want him to do something else that night, or whatever.  He can have the BOR when he wants, as long as enough adults are available, and there almost always are.  Sometimes the Scout will come to me and say, very politely, Mr. T., may I please have a Board of Review for First Class"?  Am I supposed to say, "You shouldn't be requesting one, we should just be discussing scheduling?"  I am not going to do that.  My response is always, "Yes, when would you like to do it?" and we go on from there.


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#13 Col. Flagg

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:53 AM

Right, I just think the part about the Scout not having to request one can be misinterpreted.  First of all it says the SCOUTMASTER cannot expect the Scout to request one.  SOMEONE needs to approach me (as Advancement Chair) to schedule the thing, and at some point the Scout needs to be brought into the conversation to schedule it. 

 

My read of this is as follows:

  • Scout requests an SMC from SM.
  • Scout completes SMC.
  • SM must contact the TC or Advancement Chair and 1) inform them of the Scout having completed the SMC, and 2) request that they schedule the BOR in a timely manner.
  • Either the TC or Advancement Chair contact the Scout to schedule his BOR.

That seems to follow the verbiage in the GTA. This is what we do. We do encourage the Scout to manage this process by contacting these folks to request a BOR, but we do NOT require him to do so AND we hold our BORs once a month so they know when they are. If a Scout is under age pressure we can do BORs for them any time.


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#14 perdidochas

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:12 AM

Greetings...I'm sure this has been discussed before but I want to gather informed opinions before taking action.  I'm especially sensitive because the Scout Master is a friend and a good guy... he is new this year, following a SM that was fantastic and loved by all. Long story short...my son completed his requirements for Life Scout almost 3 months ago, and has asked 8 troop meetings in a row to get his Board of Review. Each time, he gets "next meeting" as an answer. He loves Scouts and is very driven to obtain Eagle Scout - but is becoming seriously disillusioned.  13 year old kids just don't understand it when they feel an adult in a power position is neglecting their responsibilities.

 

Last night at the troop meeting, my son was told a new directive - "Call me to make an appointment."  I don't want to be the guy that shows up with the highlighted Guide to Advancement, but this is getting ridiculous.  

 

Any words of wisdom? I don't want to create conflict with the Scoutmaster OR come off as a helicopter parent, but I feel at this point he is way out of line.

 

Thank you for any and all help.

First, the SM is not in charge of the BORs. You need to talk to the Advancement Chair or the Committee Chair. The BORs are a committee responsibility. The SM has nothing to do with it.  Now, the SMC is supposed to be done before the BOR, so maybe that's what you are talking about.  If it's been two months, you need to talk to the Committee Chair about it.  


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#15 perdidochas

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:24 AM

My ideal is the scoutmaster at the end of his SMC walks the scout to the CC and says this young man needs a BOR.  Then, it's the CC's job (or equiv person) to make it happen.  Now it's not always the ideal as the SMC isn't always the last step or one of many other reasons.  But that's my ideal.

That is the way it should be, although, in our case, the SM walks the scout to the AC (advancement person), who sets up the BOR committee.  


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#16 NJCubScouter

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:29 AM

 We do encourage the Scout to manage this process by contacting these folks to request a BOR, but we do NOT require him to do so AND we hold our BORs once a month so they know when they are.

 

Well, that last part is where the difference is.  We hold BOR's when a Scout needs one. That means we could have them several weeks in a row, or go a couple of months without having one.  But the "on demand" method involves a tradeoff:  More communication is required because every BOR is specifically scheduled.  Our way works for us.


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#17 NJCubScouter

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:40 AM

That is the way it should be, although, in our case, the SM walks the scout to the AC (advancement person), who sets up the BOR committee.  

 

Either is correct, though in our case going to the CC would only result in the CC speaking to the AC (me) which brings an unnecessary person into the loop.  The Scout does not need to talk to the CC, they talk to me.  (Most of the time I will then talk to the CC, not because he is the CC, but because he is a committee member I am asking to join me on the BOR.)


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#18 SSF

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:46 AM

Lots of great advice has been shared here.

 

I too think that it's important not to rush to judgment against the new SM and to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, the fact that he has delayed this for as long as he has, does raise a serious red flag, in my humble opinion.

 

I hope that your son can resolve this on his own, however, if the SM delays further, then I think that a conversation between you and he, or perhaps the Committee Chair, is in order. 

 

Obviously scouts interacting with adults is an integral part of the BSA program, but I also believe that if proper advancement procedures aren't being adhered to or if scouts are being intentionally delayed or misled, then that's another matter altogether where I believe that a parent does needs to get involved. And at that point it's not a matter of being a helicopter parent.


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#19 Stosh

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:08 PM

I would think the SMC would cover the scouts "next step" on how to set up his BOR.  I usually have the advancement report from the AC so that person knows the scout is close to finishing up that rank.  It is his responsibility to talk with the CC or AC to schedule a time.  I can't be involved with the BOR and let the scout know that and they always seem to get things done in a timely manner.  I don't just do a SMC and drop it.  I tell them what the next step is.


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


#20 NJCubScouter

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:42 PM

I would think the SMC would cover the scouts "next step" on how to set up his BOR.  I usually have the advancement report from the AC so that person knows the scout is close to finishing up that rank.  It is his responsibility to talk with the CC or AC to schedule a time.  I can't be involved with the BOR and let the scout know that and they always seem to get things done in a timely manner.  I don't just do a SMC and drop it.  I tell them what the next step is.

 

I think it's worth remembering that in the specific case being discussed in this thread we are talking about a Scout who is going for Life, so he has had 4 or 5 SMC's and 4 BOR's already, and that is only counting the ones required for advancement.  We are apparently also talking about a new SM.  We don't know what the SM's background is, but it is possible that the Scout has more experience with the Boy Scout advancement process than the SM does.  At the very least, this Scout managed to get from an SMC to a BOR multiple times under the former SM, and whatever that process was no longer seems to be working under the SM.  That is of course assuming that there are no other relevant facts other than what is in the original post.


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