Star, Life and Eagle rank all require leadership tenure. For each rank the requirement states:
positions of responsibility ”
- He is registered in his unit (registration fees are current).
- He has not been dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons.
- He is engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (Scoutmaster
conference, informs the Scout of upcoming unit activities, through
personal contact, and so on).
This is not an interpretation, this is official BSA policy of what active means towards membership and, by extension, leadership. So not only are metrics a bad idea but they are prohibited by policy.
Does this mean that a Scout can be elected to a leadership position, do little else than wear a patch, not show up to any meetings or outings and still fulfill the leadership requirement? In a word yes.
Before you fire off a scathing comment consider this – if Scouts are active enough to be elected to a leadership position and then do nothing it is not the Scout who has failed, it is the Scoutmaster. If we engage the Scout on a regular basis through conferences, information and personal contact and cannot get them to participate then it is likely not the Scout’s fault but the way we present the program.
The Scout who shirks all responsibility, never shows up and then appears a month before his eighteenth birthday and wants to finish his Eagle may actually exist here and there but he is largely a straw man. That being said I’d accommodate this Scout without hesitation – he is at least showing some interest and he became a Life Scout somehow.
But what about the quality and integrity of the advancement program? We have to maintain standards don’t we? What needs the most maintenance is our clear conception of the success of the Scout realized in giving his own best effort.
Here is how I evaluate leadership at a Scoutmasters Conference. It takes a few simple questions.
“How have you fulfilled the leadership requirement for this rank?”
“How do you evaluate the job you did?”
“According to your own evaluation do you think I should sign off on your leadership requirement?”
During this exchange I can support or challenge the conclusions that the Scout reaches, encourage him to do better or congratulate him for a job well done. It is not within my power to withhold my signature if he has fulfilled the basic active requirements as interpreted above.
What if the Scout has done a really awful job? How can it be responsible or fair to him to sign off on a poor job? Discuss the positives and the negatives, work with the Scout to improve his performance, instill him with confidence and watch him grow.
How is this fair to the other Scouts? The Scouts choose their leaders, they get what they vote for good bad or indifferent. They have the power to change their leaders when enough of them want to.
Won’t they all just shirk their responsibilities when the realize that I’m going to sign off no matter what they do? Scouts aren’t that stupid and irresponsible, they want to excel, to do a good job of things.
Somehow Scoutmasters get into their head that they are the ones who control things, that they are guardians of quality and standards. I’ll reiterate that the Scoutmasters position is purposefully designed to be powerless in these matters. They cannot appoint or remove youth leaders, they cannot withhold their signature based on their personal evaluation of a Scout’s performance in a leadership role.
That being said Scoutmasters wield the tremendous power of their personal example, the ‘bully pulpit’ of encouragement, exhortation and mentoring.