So far we have determined that needless Eagle Scout problems can be caused when a Scoutmaster seeks to impose his ideal vision of an Eagle Scout on the advancement process. In addition we have discovered Baden Powell founded Scouting on the idea that it would offer Scouts a way to challenge themselves towards achievement on an individual basis rather than against an ideal standard.
As a rule of thumb if there is no numerical metric applied to a requirement it is improper and against policy to create one.
So how in the world can a Scoutmaster evaluate Scouts fairly? If Scouts challenged themselves against an internalized standard then it is our task to learn how each Scout evaluates their individual performance. That’s why we have Scoutmaster’s conferences rather than Scoutmaster reviews. Conferring is an exchange of information, a discussion, a series of questions designed to establish a common understanding.
During conferences for ranks that require leadership tenure I ask plenty of questions about the Scouts experience with the leadership position:
- What was your most and least successful moment as a leader?
- What would you change about the way you did the job?
- How do you evaluate your performance, did you fulfill this requirement?
If I have an issue with the Scout’s performance and I haven’t discussed this with him before the Scoutmaster’s conference I consider that I am not doing my job. If I have had an ongoing discussion and the Scout hasn’t made any effort to address the issue we’ll discuss it further and try to find out what the real problem is.
Responsible Scoutmasters have an ongoing dialog with their Scouts that is marked by encouragement rather than fault finding. They address and resolve concerns and don’t let become major problems.
Adolescence can be one long infuriating power struggle. Our work demands that we try to understand the process and not react out of anger. We especially do not want to turn a Scoutmaster’s conference into a passive-aggressive, sanctimonious exercise of supposed power.
Scout aged boys do a lot of things they shouldn’t and don’t do a lot of things they should. Our role is to work with them, not against them, to recognize achievement and effort and downplay failure. We accomplish this by helping our Scouts develop personal goals, overcome difficulty, deal with disappointment and meet the challenges they define for themselves.