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Adult Leadership and Eagle Scout Service Projects

I am a new Scoutmaster just starting with the girls on February 1. Throughout the last few months, I have been getting the hang of how Youth Protection and following the rules well plays out in real life. Obviously I want to keep the girls safe, but sometimes the specifics are cumbersome and every once in a while, I get stumped with a new “what if…”

A Scout from our linked Troop had his Eagle Scout Project this week. My son was out of town on a Crew trip and couldn’t attend, so I asked if I could come and bring a couple of my daughters who are Scouts. It worked out great.

However, in the process, I began to have questions. It was the second day of the project and only one additional Scout from the boy troop showed up besides the Life Scout running the project and his dad. The dad happens to be a registered leader. With me there, we met Youth Protection guidelines. Had I not come, would they have had to cancel the work day or ask the other Scout either not to attend or to have his parent stay? They would not have been in violation of no one-on-one, but there would not have been another registered adult leader. What if his dad was not registered, then what do they do?

What is a Life Scout to do if there are not enough registered leaders to attend?

It made me realize I hadn’t considered this question when my son did his project. My husband and I are both registered leaders, but what if we weren’t, do you tell Scouts they can’t serve without a parent? Many in our boys troop treat Eagle Scout Service Projects as drop-off events.

I know the Scoutmaster is not able to attend every Eagle Scout Service Project and it is the Scouts responsibility to plan it. I do not remember seeing anything in the project plan asking, “how will you ensure there are two registered adults leaders at all times and one will be female if Scouts from a girl troop are present?”

Since this is really up to the Scout, not the adults, is it not subject to this rule?

I’m sorry for the long post, I wanted to make sure I fully explained my question. I tried doing a search on this and couldn’t find anything specific to Eagle Scout Projects. I appreciate any insight you have for me. Trying to wrap my brain around this prior to having Life Scouts in my Troop to help walk through this process.

As of October 1, 2018, ALL scouting events, including Eagle Scout projects and meetings with Merit Badge Counselors (MBC) require 2 registered leaders, over the age of 21 to be present. The only exception is when a Scout meets with a MBC, the Scout’s parent may serve as the 2nd adult, however, if 2 Scouts attend the meeting (I assume this means non-siblings) then the 2nd adult must be a registered leader over the age of 21.

If there are not 2 registered leaders over the age of 21 present, the project must be postponed. If there is a single female Scout present then there must also be 1 registered female leader over the age of 21.

Chances are the BSA has not gotten around to updating the Eagle Scout documents after the change in 2 deep leadership requirements.

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Gone are the days when 17 year-old me could grab supplies at the hardware store, get the keys to the hall, meet a couple of buddies there, and bang out our service project.

Well, a youth can still do that … just as their own activity.

Scouting happens. With or without the BSA.

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Planning for leadership should be part of the Life Scout’s process. While I would feel bad should the work day have to be canceled, the scout has a responsibility to ensure two deep leadership will be met.

I think it helps to train the youth on YPT rules. I am not ready to show my troop the clip talking about abuse causing every health problem in the world. (One might be that kid.) But I do teach my scouts and expect them to help ensure we comply with the rules.

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This is what has dawned on me this week. I think it was just a surprise to me because there was no mention of it in the process as my son was planning his project. Again, this may have simply been because there was no need with my husband and I both being present and available - it was automatically going to be met. I like the idea that this would be something that the Scouts are already thinking about anyway. Making this part of the PLC’s planning process for all events. I had compartmentalized adult leadership into Scoutmaster’s responsibility, but the girls can certainly be thinking about it as well.

I appreciate the insights. Fortunately the moms of all of our most active Scouts are registered leaders in some capacity, that will help.

We give our scouts a very short discussion of YPT – essentially what they should expect from the adult leaders… Registered leaders, two deep leadership and no one-on-one contact are pretty much it. That way, they have some understanding that we’re not being difficult for the fun of it when we tell them something has to be canceled or rescheduled if there aren’t enough adults available.

With that said, we’ve also made a big push this year to get more parents YPT-certified and registered as leaders so that this isn’t a major barrier to planning troop activities.

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While not prohibited by YPT, best practices recommend two family members should not be only registered leaders over the age of 21 at a Scouting event.

What best practices? Do you have stats of predation rates to back it up? My gut is tempted to agree with you, but it could be that problems with leaders from one family aren’t any more likely. They just make better newsreel.

Statement from my council. I don’t think they are saying there are any different rates. I view it similar to wanting to avoid a perceived conflict of interest. There may not be an actual conflict, but you want to avoid even the perception. Since in many states, spouses can’t be forced to testify against each other, the protection of having a 2nd adult could be perceived as less with spouses than with unrelated adults.

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Well, I wasn’t thinking only spouses, but siblings and parents with older children are “family members” (and the ones more likely to have time to devote to setting up a hammock where Life scouts may be leading projects).

Like I said to the scout who noticed that I had a lot of kin in WV, “Son, everyone’s kin in WV.”

Just got an email from our Council about a former volunteer arrested for child pornography. A very timely reminder of how important these rules are, even if cumbersome at times. When there is no perceived problem it feels like it is tying our hands and slowing down the program, but in light of the very real danger, ALL precautions are worthwhile to protect the youth.

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This could be one of those “unintended consequences” that the BSA is frequently generating by revising procedures without thinking it all the way through. For example, there is an explicit statement in the YPT FAQs regarding sleepovers:

Q. Does this mean my son cannot have a sleepover if I am the only adult present?

A. Yes, if any of the children other than your own child is a Scout, we strongly encourage all adults to use the Barriers to Abuse in and out of Scouting.

Now, since my wife is an adult leader (MBC), the “best practices” recommended by @edavignon’s council, if implemented in mine, would mean that our son couldn’t have a sleepover with any of his friends, even though we technically meet both the no one-on-one contact and 2-deep leadership regulations. Pretty soon, I feel like I’m going to be required to purchase a BSA regulation ankle bracelet as part of my official uniform. [/sarcasm]

I will note that this “sleepover rule” doesn’t appear in any of the other training I have seen on YPT, although I haven’t seen the in-person training run recently. That said, are we as leaders expected to know through “information diffusion” that there are YPT FAQ’s out there that we are expected to comply with, or should the BSA be sending notification that these are official policy and adding them to the G2SS?

@Qwazse:

Like I said to the scout who noticed that I had a lot of kin in WV, “Son, everyone’s kin in WV.”

I about fell out of my chair when I saw that. I say the same thing to folks about growing up in Louisiana.

Part of the problem is that the professionals are isolated from the effects of the rules they come up with. So nobody there would think to update the Eagle Project Workbook to mention the YPT rules. And they don’t realize that essentially they want some leaders to sacrifice their kids for the program.

@CharleyHamilton: Is your son’s sleepover a Scouting event? If not, at some point we need to put a ring fence. If my sons (both scouts) want to have their buddy (who also happens to be a scout) over to our house for a pool party and sleepover, is it a BSA aquatic event? No. Period end of statement. Now, if they advertise a party with a fluer at the troop meeting, then I’d likely invite other parents and abide by YPT.

Hi, @MarilynNowalk,

I don’t disagree with your position. I’m just pointing out that the BSA position is that we as leaders are supposed to be observing YPT rules for both scouting and non-scouting events that involve scouts.

Q. The Barriers to Abuse states “One-on-one contact between adult leaders and youth members is prohibited both inside and outside of Scouting.” What does ‘inside and outside of Scouting’ mean?

A. The BSA has adopted its youth protection policies for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies primarily protect youth members; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders. All parents and caregivers should understand that our leaders are to abide by these safeguards. Registered leaders must follow these guidelines with all Scouting youth outside of Scouting activities. There are careers that may require one-on-one contact with youth, however aside from those roles, volunteers must abide by the youth protection policies of the BSA even outside of Scouting activities.

This policy is in place to prevent abuse in and out of Scouting. Adults should never be alone with youth who are not their children.
[Emphasis added]

I’m not advocating for the position that we should be avoiding one-on-one contact with youth not-our-children under all circumstances, as I think it’s ill-considered. There are too many practical situations where it’s a reasonable situtation (driving your kid’s friend home, picking up/dropping off your babysitter, etc). I support the goal of protecting the scouts, but this BSA position reads less like protecting the scouts and more like protecting the organization, IMHO.

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