Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

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Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby razor_strop » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:02 am

The GTA lays out the process if a SM refuses to hold a SMC for a Life Scout working towards Eagle, but are there any BSA policies regarding a SMC refusal at other ranks? Just to be clear, this has not occured--I'm just working through various "what if" scenarios. The GTA says that a Scout must be afforded a BOR if he requests one, so long as all rank requirements have been met, including the SMC. If a SM decided he didn't want a Scout to advance, can he simply refuse to hold an SMC and thus block the process at ranks other than Eagle?
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby kwildman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:34 am

A SM could refuse to do a SM conference but I would get the Troop Committee involved at that point. A scoutmaster should make himself available to have a conference at anytime with any scout. It should be noted that the requirement does not say "pass" a scout master conference. If the SM tells the scout he is not ready to advance he should be able to lay out a clear explanation of what requirements were not met. Additionally, these things should be communicated along the way so that there are no surprises to the scout when he thinks he is ready to advance. The SM should also be in touch with the Troop Committee and they can refuse to advance the scout if it is necessary. The SM should not be the only one in the advancement process ...that is why there is a troop committee and an advancement chair.

It should also be noted that scout master conferences should be periodically held for scouts that are not advancing as well to get them back on track. The online advancement forms has a place to list conferences that are held for non-advancing scouts.
No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way. - Lord Baden-Powell
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby Fred Johnson » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:30 pm

kwildman wrote:It should be noted that the requirement does not say "pass" a scout master conference. If the SM tells the scout he is not ready to advance he should be able to lay out a clear explanation of what requirements were not met.


Fully agree.

But there is the "NORMAL" and "EXCEPTIONAL" approaches. A normal healthy process has the SMC as the last step before a BOR and the SMC is a nice friendly conversation.

But the SMC does not have to be the last step. AND there are things you can do when a SM doesn't want a scout to advance but you think the scout is not being treated fairly. BUT you have to think about what you want to do.

As troop CC or troop BOR chairmen, at risk of breaking your own relationship with the SM, you can say that the scout talking with the SM and the SM saying he would not advance the scout is a conversation and that conversation can be considered a SMC. But now you have a larger issue that you've just pissed off your troop SM.

Also, the Boy Scout handbook has a place for initials to indicate the SMC is done. By habit, those initials are usually the scoutmasters. But it is not required. Anyone who "knows" the scout has met with the scoutmaster can sign. Even a short conversation, explaining why the SMC thinks you are missing requirements is a completed SMC. Heck, almost any convesation between a scout and his SM is a SMC, IMHO.
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby FrankJ » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:46 pm

The clear policy in GTA is you can't fail the SM conference & the SM cannot deny the SM conference. (At least to me)

In a well functioning troop the SM may feel that the scout is not ready for the BOR. It might be that all the requirements are not met or there is a specific behavioral issue that would relate to scout spirit. If this is properly explained to the scout, most scouts will not press the issue & demand a BOR. At least with the SMs in my troop, if the scout was to insist on a BOR in these circumstances, it is not likely to be successful, at least in terms of rank advancement.

If the SM is trying to hold a scout back for the wrong reasons, they should be retrained or replaced.
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby razor_strop » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:05 pm

Thanks for the input, folks! This is the part I was wondering about:

The clear policy in GTA is you can't fail the SM conference & the SM cannot deny the SM conference.
(Emphasis mine)

I saw in the GTA where the above bolded concept is specifically mentioned for Eagle, but didn't see it directly applied to the other ranks and was wondering if I was just missing it. Again, I haven't run into this, but wanted to better educate myself on the written/unwritten "rules" regarding advancement.

Thanks again!
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby RWSmith » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:32 pm

If a Scout demands a SMC and/or a BOR, he cannot be denied -- Period. This applies at any rank, incl. Palms!

(Yes; there are explicit procedures in the GTA pertaining to "issues" for the Eagle Scout rank; but, they almost exclusively address one or more adults (and, not the candidate) at the unit-, district-, or council-level, "acting a fool"... thus, causing National to get involved in crap the locals are "supposed" to know. [How's that for bluntness?])

However, just because a Scout gets a SMC/BOR, that does not mean the SM/MC has to quote, "sign it off". And, here's why....
    ....because there's more than one type of SMC/BOR! :idea:

    • Aside from the (obvious) 'Advancement' SMC/BOR...
    • A Scout can and should ask for a SMC to check his progress (especially, if he feels the SM ain't doing so),
    • A Scout may request a "mock" 'Advancement' SMC; the SM should oblige such requests.
    • A Scout may even request a "mock" 'Advancement' BOR; the SM should give this due consideration.
    • The SM should have multiple (mini-) 'Progress' SMCs with a Scout between ranks. (See addl. paras. below.)
    • The SM can (and should!) initiate a SMC for a Scout's 'lack of advancement', or for 'discipline'
    • And, should conditions warrant, the SM should initiate a BOR for a Scout's serious 'lack of advancement', or a serious 'discipline' issue.

I mean, come on... does a good SM really say, "Okay, kid... you're ready for your 2nd Class BOR; go to room 103; they're waiting for you there. Come back and see me when you're ready for 1st Class and we'll talk again, then."

Of course not! The SM who is doing his/her job properly will have several (well, at least multiple 'Mini'-SMCs... meh, maybe not the best word... let's say 'Progress' SMCs) along the way. Problem is... most SMs don't even know that they're actually doing SMCs all the time! (As far as I'm concerned, every time the SM has a one-on-one chat with a Scout and asks an open-ended question... then, a SMC has just occurred.)

See/download the following (at Scouting.Org > Training > Supplemental Training)...


See also: Post #p37841: 'SM Conferences' -and- Post #p37846: 'SM Conferences'
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby RWSmith » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:55 pm

P.S. This is not on the 'official' (public) Scouting.Org website, but... you can find (and even download) the following:


This is probably due to the fact that this particular training module has not yet been updated to reflect some minor revision in the new GTA... just guessing. So, keep that in mind.
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Re: Scoutmaster Conference Requirement

Postby razor_strop » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:45 am

Thanks RW. I know these types of questions seem tedious and nit-picky at times, but I really do appreciate everyone's knowledge sharing and patience.
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