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Is this a situation to "mind our own business"?


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#1 SummerFun

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 12:55 PM

Our sons LOVE scouting. They seek out events and adventures on our own, which has resulted in some amazing memories. At several of our region's merit badge opportunities there is a scout from another troop. He is very soft spoken, calm and on the autism spectrum. He walks around when scouts should sit, leaves the area for good portions of the events / lessons, doesn't bring/do any of the prerequisite work and does not participate with anything hands on. At the end of every event his mom tells the merit badge counselor to "just sign the card because it is XXXX's goal to earn all of the merit badge". My boys are confused about what is 'right'. They have already seen a good handful of troop mates earn eagle because their parents did everything, which doesn't sit well with them. Yet, they have compassion for a fellow scout with extra needs.

 

What is appropriate in this situation? My boys think that offering this other scout help would be the best action - but the scouter's mom says it doesn't really matter. She even told us that he can't float / swim yet was able to earn his swimming merit badge. Scuba and kayaking are on his list for this coming summer...

 

Is this a lesson in minding their own business (per their troop leader)?


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#2 fred johnson

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 01:05 PM

It really is.  
 
You could have a conversation with your sons about how they could help others.  About how they could focus on their own progress.  About how they could enjoy the program they are in.  About how the other scout's path is different and what may appear as easy awards may be equally difficult for him.  About how your sons may choose to feel bad for the other scout as he isn't getting a real scouting experience given how much his mother is stepping in.  
 
Ultimately, we'll always feel bad or slighted if we measure ourselves against others.  Look for the fun and adventure.  Ignore the rest. 

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#3 Ankylus

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 01:52 PM

(1) Scouts know when they have earned something and when they haven't. This includes scouts on the autism spectrum. This scout's mother is not doing him any favors by hollowing out his achievements and depriving him of the opportunity to genuinely earn something.

 

(2) If the scout has a disability that needs to be accommodated, that is one thing. You do not indicate that this one does. So what the scout's mother is doing is wrong.

 

(3) You should be proud of your sons, for they are showing true compassion. No scout is more proud of an achievement than a scout that has overcome more than your average challenge. Our scouts on the autism spectrum are always the proudest, and it is always a great thing to see.

 

(4) All that having been said, you are not in a real position to do anything about this. From what I understand, the scout is not in your troop, and you are not in a position of authority at these activities. You can make a big fuss, but you wouldn't fix the problem and would only make the scout's problems worse by emphasizing how things are being given him.

 

(5) This is an excellent opportunity to teach your sons about misplaced or misguided compassion, how well intentioned people are really cheating this scout, and how life is not necessarily fair (on several levels).


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#4 4CouncilsScouter

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 04:20 PM

We had a similar situation in our district: a mother was attempting to pass her son as completing his Webelos rank, Arrow of Light, and several additional Cub Scout adventures. Her pack's committee chair kept retracting her advancement reports due to the mother's desire to pass her son through the program without doing the requirements. Eventually, it got raised to the district-level when the mother made a big-enough of a stink about it. The district advancement committee reviewed statements from the mother, pack leadership, and parents. When the district decided against the mother, she raised all kinds of havoc in the council. She threatened to report our district volunteers to the Scout executive, National, and everyone in between. The district executive eventually ended up moving the mother and her son into Lone Scouting to "better fit their approach and needs in Scouting". For better or worse, they found solace in Lone Scouting. Now, this type of action would require your district to step in.

 

In my opinion, I think there is a case to be made with your district's advancement committee or your council's disability and special needs committee (if present). I would suggest a friendly letter to either one mentioning your concerns that a Scout isn't receiving the most out of Scouting and is potentially detracting from other's ability to participate effectively, or whatever is appropriate for your situation. Usually, these types of parents don't end up helping, as they eventually shortchange their own kids and, unfortunately, those around them.

 

I'd also recommend looking at the following documents and seeing if they might offer any official guidance:


Edited by 4CouncilsScouter, 22 August 2017 - 04:26 PM.

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#5 SummerFun

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 05:42 PM

Thank you for all your thoughts. We will read them again tonight with our sons.

 

The scout is not in our troop but attend the same school as our sons. Also, I know that putting the mom "on the spot" by someone in my (non) position would only create the possibility of that scout dropping out. This is truly a lesson in critical thinking and citizenship in the community. We really did think that there were more perspectives than our immediate conclusions... for that we are thankful to this board.


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#6 4CouncilsScouter

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:19 PM

@SummerFun

 

I forgot to mention this in my previous post. Each district has a team of volunteers known as unit commissioners led by a district commissioner. They are responsible for helping troops, packs, crews, teams, posts, and ships work through any Scouting problems. Either your unit's commissioner or your district commissioner could be a great resource as well!


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#7 SummerFun

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 09:04 PM

@SummerFun

 

I forgot to mention this in my previous post. Each district has a team of volunteers known as unit commissioners led by a district commissioner. They are responsible for helping troops, packs, crews, teams, posts, and ships work through any Scouting problems. Either your unit's commissioner or your district commissioner could be a great resource as well!

Thank you.

 

After discussing this issue tonight and reading your replies, our boys have decided that a constructive approach is best. They don't want to single out this family but maybe work towards changing our local standards so situations like this don't continue. We've agreed to 'ponder' the issue for a week then family-meet next Tuesday to brainstorm how we might be helpful at either a local or council level.

 

Thoughts on what scouts can do will be very welcome.

Best wishes!


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#8 DuctTape

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 04:58 AM

Each district is also responsible for certifying the mb counselors. If counselors are signing blue cards for any scout without completing the requirements as written, that is a concern to be brought to the attention of the district. In line with your "strengthening local standards" idea, a suggestion to the district could be for them to remind the mb counselors of their expectations and possibly require training.

Our scouts recently returned from camp with signed blue cards for camping mb. one of our parents knew his son has not completed the 20 nights (he just joined), and now the question of what other requirements were just "signed off". I have suggested our SM contact the council and camp regarding this to ensure all scouts get the opportunity of scouting as promised and not just get handed mbs.
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#9 scoutldr

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 07:01 AM

There is a procedure for adapting requirement to Scouts with special needs and it needs to be followed.  It requires District/Council approval.  Not a matter of Mom calling the shots.  Similar to an IEP in school.  

 

Now, as a former Aquatics instructor, safety needs to be first and foremost.  I would NEVER accept a Scout in a SCUBA or any other aquatic course of instruction who cannot float/swim at least at the "Swimmer" level.  This is a serious safety and liability issue and must not be allowed.  I am sympathetic to special needs and spent many summer teaching such scouts how to swim.  But my primary responsibility was to send them home alive.


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#10 gumbymaster

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 12:31 PM

When adapting the requirements, that applies to the Rank, not to Merit Badges; and @scoutldr is right the District/Council Committee must approve the changes.

 

If a scout has a disability that prevents them from, say, camping overnight; the committee can approve alternate requirements for Tenderfoot through first class and can approve an alternative merit badge to replace earning the camping merit badge.  They cannot change the requirements of the camping merit badge for the boy.

 

A (trained) merit badge counselor should know that these are the rules, and work with the parent to either spend the extra necessary time that the scout can complete the requirements (as written), or point the family to the district or council resources to identify the alternative merit badge(s) that they can complete the requirements as written.  A counselor should not be just signing the card because the parents are making a stink, and they are not empowered to change the requirements, even if that's what would work for the scout.  A counselor who does not follow the rules can be reported to the district/council advancement committee or merit badge coordinator and be de-certified as a counselor.


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