Bullied for following the guidelines

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Bullied for following the guidelines

Postby BigDaddy » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:16 am

I'm looking for advice.
As an advancement chair, I take my role rather seriously. I have read the advancement guidebook front-to-back many times, and have even contacted national for clarification on certain points, just to ensure that I am following all of the rules. However...it seems that my desire to do so has begun to ruffle the feathers of many members of my Troop, notably the adults.

According to the rules, if I have any concerns that badges were not earned properly, I am allowed to contact the people involved and investigate the problem. If it's chronic, there are forms to report same to our district council.

In the past two years, there have been instances where many badges have been "earned" under suspicious circumstances: earning 3 Eagle rank badges at one 7-hour MB fair; unregistered people signing off as counselors; camp directors signing as counselors when they did not run the MB program being signed; and others. Now, I understand the rule of "if it's earned, the boy gets the badge," regardless of the problems with the adults. I understand that. However, when the system is abused, and I question anything, I'm suddenly the bad guy of the troop.

this past week, it's happened again. I had a question that I looked into, and now I'm being demonized in emails from the parents of our troop to our SM and ASM/CC, and they're calling for a special 'election' to remove me from my position. The kicker: one of the parents complaining is on the advancement committee for our district!

I am tired of being called out as the bad guy, but at the same time I really enjoy volunteering my time in this position. I'm not a camper, I'm too busy to be an ASM or SM, so this is my way of giving back to the troop. I'm looking for advice before I'm hauled before another group of parents and told that I'm "just pure evil." (yes - that is an actual quote from a parent.)

thanks, in advance, for your help.
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Re: Bullied for following the guidelines

Postby VenturingL » Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:01 pm

Have you contacted & consulted your Unit Commissioner, District Executive, or District Director?
May or may not give you backing & support, but they should at least be made aware.
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Re: Bullied for following the guidelines

Postby ronin718 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:04 am

I'm very much a rules guy myself, so I can understand where you're coming from. You don't give a lot of details here, so it's hard to tell whether the problem lies with the troop or with you. However, if you've only been on the job for two years and you've already ruffled the feathers of the entire troop, you might want to look at your methods. Some things that jumped out at me:

- 3 Eagle badges at one MB event: Depending on the badges in question, this could be doable. If the scouts have pre-reqs that must be completed in advance, then it's simply a matter of reviewing that work, covering other materials, and done. My son went into many such events with multiple pages of pre-req completions. No foul here.

- Camp directors signing off blue cards: Happens all the time at camp. Typical scenario is Friday night review of incompletes, scout presents evidence of completion, camp counselor not available, director signs off.

Now keep in mind I'm speaking from several years experience here. I don't know how long you've been in your position or how long you've been involved with your unit. However, in looking over the GtA, I see nothing that states it is your job to question the completion of requirements. Your job is to ensure a plan for advancement for the troop as a whole is progressing. If you see boys who aren't advancing, that's where you should be raising flags. Other than that, yours is mostly an administrative support role, not rules enforcement. If you see blatant problems, you should be working with the SM and CC, not going to parents (assumption here based on parental messaging to SM/CC).

If you have more concerns, I would definitely contact your District Advancement folks. They can provide greater support and more direct answers. Your Unit Commissioner should be able to answer questions, and you can carry on a conversation there that provides greater details than what you would probably want to post here.

In the meantime, I'd start looking at my methods. Is the issue you're looking at a "dotted I or crossed T", or is it a major omission? Is it the same scout all the time (perception issue here)? Is this really your problem to address, or should it be handled by the SM/CC?
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Re: Bullied for following the guidelines

Postby Mrw » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:35 am

I have been advancement chair for our troop for somewhere in the area of 15 years.

In general, the things I have found I need to watch out for are centered more around some adults that think they can enforce "troop rules" that conflict with the spirit and letter of the actual advancement policies. And I often need to counsel new parents and some of the ASMs about why we should not be scheduling merit badge classes for the troop as a regular part of the program. Probably the best example is trying to slow down a motivated boy because they think he is going too fast through ranks.

It is common for summer camp stuff to get signed by a camp staff person who might not regularly counsel that badge. It is much more a logistics thing at the camp than a reflection on boys being given badges they did not earn.

As for the merit badge midways, in our area, it is easy enough for a boy to earn several badges that day, but only if he has done the bulk of the work before hand so that the midway is a final counselor meet. There are only a few that a boy can show up and earn without doing pre-reqs.

Take a step back and think about if you are worrying about things that materially affect the integrity of the program. If they are not, then let it go.
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Re: Bullied for following the guidelines

Postby FrankJ » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:19 am

+1 to that. On a lot of levels not just advancement.
Take a step back and think about if you are worrying about things that materially affect the integrity of the program. If they are not, then let it go.
Frank J.
Venturing Crew Adviser, Assistant Scout Master, Renegade Merit Badge Counselor
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I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.--Albert Einstein
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Re: Bullied for following the guidelines

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:51 pm

I don't really understand why a parent would be declaring you "just pure evil".

Especially if your issue is with merit badge counselors, and not the Scouts.

You stated you "understand the rule of "if it's earned, the boy gets the badge" , regardless of the problems with the adults". But do you really?

The only way a parent, much less all of the parents, would get in that big of a tizzy, would be if you are denying Scouts work/badges/advancement.

As others have stated - That is NOT your place.

Once a merit badge is signed off it is a done deal. The Scout gets credit for it. PERIOD. If there is an issue with a specific counselor, you report it to your Scoutmaster, and to the District Advancement Chair. It is the DISTRICT'S call as to if they keep the counselor, or not. You and your SM can decide if you want the Scouts to USE that particular counselor again. But the Scout is NOT penalized.

You need to have a calm, friendly, sit down talk with your Scoutmaster, and Committee Chair, about the issues you see, and how to go about correcting them - if needed. It seems this simple step has been omitted in your approach.
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