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Issue 546 – October 10, 2017

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Hi Andy,

My son is now a Life Scout and he’s just completed his service project for Eagle, including the “Project Report” section, with signatures, of his ESSP Workbook. As a volunteer for our council (not at the unit or district level) I’ve heard through the “grapevine” that our home district’s advancement committee, which conducts all boards of review for Eagles, expects to see all three parts of the Workbook completed: The Project Proposal, Project Plan, and Project Report.

I’ve read through the entire Workbook plus Topic—The Eagle Scout Service Project—of the GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT (2017 Edition) on my own and found the following information in these two resources:

“The Project Plan form is a tool for your use. No one approves it… Your project plan can also be important in showing your Eagle Scout board of review that you have planned and developed your project as required.”

“Eagle Scout projects must be evaluated primarily on impact…reviewers must not require more planning and development than necessary to execute the project. These elements must not overshadow the project itself, as long as the effort was well led, and resulted in an otherwise worthy outcome acceptable to the beneficiary.”

“While the use of the workbook is required, this does not mean that every line or even every form must be completed…Scouts should fully complete the proposal and (the) project report, and be strongly encouraged to complete the project plan. However, (completing the project plan) may…just not be necessary for establishing that (requirement 5) was met.”

Although my hands-on involvement was minimal (I had minimal involvement with the project itself—my son was in charge and did a great job by himself!), I was often a sounding-board for my son, and so I have a pretty fair knowledge of what his project was all about, who his beneficiary was (our family church), and what other aspects looked like.

Because this project was on an extremely tight time-line based on the beneficiary’s schedule and deadline, for my son to have laid out an entire work plan would have ultimately caused the project completion date to occur after the deadline—which just couldn’t be allowed to happen. Moreover, although some “building” was involved, the beneficiary was supplying all materials, tools, and personal safety gear; moreover, no power tools were needed at all. Consequently, my son and his helpers showed up on back-to-back Saturday mornings and knocked out the project without a hitch or hiccup.

But now, on learning that our district’s sort of “Eagle board of review subcommittee” has actually dinged past Scouts if the project plan isn’t completed “to their satisfaction.” While they’ve never “failed” a Scout, or so I’m told, they’ve apparently made any number of Scouts feel personally inadequate when they take these Scouts to task for not completing a form or section that’s—as I read the BSA’s words—optional (yes, “strongly encouraged,” but ultimately not mandatory).

If this group of Scouters is actually doing this, isn’t this in the taboo category of “adding to a requirement”? (Name & Council Withheld)

You bet it is! By demanding that Scouts do something that isn’t required of them, these people are definitely in violation of the BSA’s most fundamental principle of Scout advancement.

I can only hope that any council advancement chairs reading this will check out each of their districts, to be sure this sort of unfair (and unauthorized) practice—if it exists anywhere—will be instantly stopped.

But the larger question here is what to do…and my suggestion is save your son first and foremost before you decide that this issue may be a hill you’re willing to die on (figure of speech only).

For your son, I’d suggest to him that in the very first fillable block in the Project Plan section, he simply add—in his own words—that one sentence you just wrote, about the beneficiary’s deadline and willingness to provide all materials, etc. That’s step one.

Step two is based on the BSA’s allowance for your son’s Scoutmaster to attend the board of review (which your district advancement committee can’t refuse, even under the guise of “that’s not how we do things here”). Have a sit-down with his Scoutmaster, describe to him what you’ve just told me, and ask him to be in attendance as an observer. This way, if there’s any sign of misconduct by the reviewers, he can immediately speak to the chair and ask for a “time out” in which this nonsense can be stopped—at least for your son. Under these circumstances, I can’t see how any right-thinking, Scout-supporting Scoutmaster would refuse, or any chair of a board of review wouldn’t step up and cut this nonsense out, on the spot.

Finally, decide whether or not you want to make this a “crusade” for the sake of all future Eagle Scouts in your district—and maybe beyond. If you do, I suggest you might want to start with your district’s staff advisor to this committee, or with the council’s advancement chair and staff advisor.

Thanks for being willing to do the right research and to write about a significant but unfortunately not completely unique situation!
Hi Andy,

I’ve just come across this statement by the BSA: “Effective for the 2018 BSA summer camps season, any adult accompanying a Boy Scout troop to a residence camp or other Scouting activity lasting 72 hours or more must be registered as a leader, including completion of a CBC and YPT, even if they are a parent of a youth on the trip. Please note: Although YPT is strongly encouraged for adults attending any overnight activity, at this time the requirement applies only to individual adults staying three or more nights at a resident camp.”

So what is a leader? Do committee members meet the definition of “leader,” even though they may have no direct contact with Scouts except at summer camp? (We had a minor issue with some adults not behaving in a Scout-like manner last year at camp, and I’m thinking of requiring all summer camp-attending adults to get a little more familiar with the Boy Scout program. Some of it was dads trying to do too much for their sons, plus a bit of un-adult-like behavior. Not always a bad thing, but we have to remember that the Scouts’ eyes are always on us.) Do you see a problem with requiring adults to take some additional training to get better oriented with the program? (Jeff Giacomi, SM, Orange County Council, CA)

The statement you’ve highlighted is perfectly clear: ANY ADULT must be registered as a BSA adult volunteer and must have taken the specified training required if he or she is to be accompanying Scouts at a residence camp or other outdoor activity that lasts 72 hours (3 days) or more.

The required YPT (Youth Protection Training) and the required CBC (Criminal Background Check) both will take place when the adult volunteer registers as such with the BSA. “Position-specific training” isn’t required in order to accompany Scouts at the resident camp or a campout extending to 72 hours (3 days) or more.

That said, Scoutmaster/ASM position-specific training for all adults spending extended time providing oversight for a troop of Scouts is always a good idea, because, along with solid information on how a troop is organized and supposed to be run, it will provide insights on how adults are to conduct themselves (as well as what sorts of stuff to not do) with boys of Scout age. So I’d say the more you can do to encourage additional training—even if it’s an “orientation session” that you, as Scoutmaster run prior to longer-term trips and summer camp—will go a long way toward everyone enjoying the maximum positive experience possible!

Happy Scouting!


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Just to me at: Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous, if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)

[No. 546 – 10/10/2017 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2017]


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

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