According to the BSA you may not add to nor take away from the requirements when it comes to advancing a Scout. That would include merit badge work, rank advancement and other skills that require the Scout to show, demonstrate, explain, or discuss. There are provisions for Scouts with disabilities and other handicaps that hinder the Scouts ability to perform a task or requirement. So what?
Well, as always this kind of discussion always seems to pop up and because I seem to seek these discussions out I fell into yet another one the other day with my Dad, a long time Scouter and current Eagle Scout mentor for our Troop. The discussion was about standards.
I am a believer in Tasks, Conditions, and Standards. Let me give you an example.
A Scout is working on his totin chip. There is a discussion about using a knife, bow saw and ax and then the Scout is led to the ax yard. The task is safely use the ax, the standard is to demonstrate that the Scout can handle the ax, split wood, and name the parts of the ax. The conditions are simply that the Scout is in the ax yard with an ax and he properly executes the standard.
Now if the Scout says that he can do it and the leader chooses to accept that then the standard has not been met. If a short cut is allowed, then the task has not been completed.
The totin chip is not the best example, but it does illustrate the concept of task, conditions, and standards. When we add to requirements or worst yet, take away from them, we do not allow the Scout to succeed within the guidelines of the BSA.
Here is my main issue with the lack of maintaining the BSA standard. NOT Adding to or taking way from requirements. My issue is that when we get in the habit of short cutting the standard we render the program invalid.
Here is what I mean. Scout A earns the Eagle Award. He completes all of the requirements with out short cutting, he demonstrates good leadership and through discussion in his Scoutmaster conference has proven that he lives the Scout Oath and Law. He had a project that was worth while and required him to be an effective leader. In short, he earned the award.
Scout B on the other hand, made a choice not to lead in the troop. He did complete all of the requirements, but by and large did just enough to finish. His project was good, but he really didn’t have to lead much. He was not around the Troop much, and it was hard to determine whether or not he is living the Scout Oath and Law in his daily life. The Scoutmaster conference left lots of questions regarding leadership and Scout spirit. But because he did complete the requirements, he gets to be an Eagle Scout, right? Task, Conditions, Standards. The standard is something that needs to be looked at. What do the requirements say and did the Scouts do his best. Far to many Scouts are just getting by, yep, even in my Troop. So are we doing the program a service? What about the Scout? Yeah, he gets the badge, but is he demonstrating what it means to be an Eagle Scout? How does the public view him and how does that reflect on Scouting? I know of many people that are Eagle Scouts and most of them still today are what I would consider a person that lives the values, has the skills, and demonstrates the character of a Scout. Others though I wonder how they ever got the badge. I fear that if we blow it and not maintain the standard we will set a new standard that is not in keeping with the BSA and it’s program. I think it is worth a look at our program and how we apply the task, condition, and standard in our unit. I think it is time that all units do the same so we can maintain the standards set years ago that lead our Scouts to being men of character.
Worth a look…
Let me know what you think.
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