Front Line Stuff
Edited by Robert Peterson
Encouraging Scouts Who Don't Pass Boards of Review
Scouter C.K. asks how best to inform a Scout (and his parents) that the boy wasn't fully prepared for a rank advancement board of review while still encouraging the youth so the setback won't cause him to quit Scouting.
First, a Scout should never fail a board of review. If the Scoutmaster does his job, especially at the Scoutmaster conference, the Scout should have no problems.
The board of review should be more like a pep rally for continuing in Scouting. Failure can be extremely humiliating to a Scout, and if it is not handled well, the Scout will quit. Hold a private meeting with the Scout and his parents and explain why you think the Scout is not ready. Keep it positive!
You can turn a board of review failure into a stepping-stone instead of a stumbling block by allowing the Scout to learn from the experience and be better prepared for the next review. A wise leader will use the moment to encourage, not discourage, the Scout into a new level of awareness of support and understanding.
The leader should help the Scout understand his needs, show him how to succeed, and praise positive performance.
Often failure to pass a board of review is not the fault of the Scout but of the review board. In my 36 years of Scouting experience, from Scoutmaster to district committee chairman, I have found that over-testing of the Scout was the cause of 99 percent of the failures to complete a rank.
A board of review should never be a test. It should be a review of the boy's Scouting career to the present. It is not the place to ask, "How do you tie a square knot?" but rather, "How are you doing with knot tying as a Second Class Scout?"
Boards of review should be conducted by the troop committee, chaired by the advancement chairman, and never include the Scoutmaster.
Let the Scout and his parents know which items were correctly answered and which items need work. Assign a senior Scout to coach the boy on areas where he is weak. Arrange for another board of review without delay as soon as his mentor says the Scout is ready to show his stuff.
These steps will make it clear to the Scout and his parents that you want him to passwithout compromising the standards expected of every Scout.
I use the Scoutmaster's conference as a guide both for the Scout and myself. We review his requirements for the next rank, including his strong and weak points.
The conference is the last thing before the board of review, so every requirement for the rank should be signed off in his handbook. We go over them together, and if I feel the Scout is not ready, I suggest that the board be postponed for a short time so he can better prepare himselfwith help from older Scouts.
I explain that it's easier in the Scoutmaster's conference to see if he's really ready, so that he won't be disappointed later by not passing the board. This way, I do not have to explain to parents why he failed the board.
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