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Not meeting POR duties

We have a number of scouts that are not fulfilling their duties in their POR; in part because we are virtual and in part due to risks of in-person meetings. Our troop subcommittee on this issue has met and determined that duties must be met or at least attempted for their requisite period of time in order to fulfill the requirement for rank advancement. We are not seeing any creativity or attempts to fulfill POR duties. How is this handled in other troops? We have upset parents right now.

Example: Instructor who teaches a class off the cuff during a virtual troop meeting once in six months does not meet the requirement; outdoor ethics guide has not attended a hike because he cant risk covid and has taught one skill instruction in six months about tread lightly and the outdoor code has not met the requirement. Patrol leaders were not holding meetings but have attended PLC meetings. No contributions were given during PLC meetings. This does not meet the requirement.

Thank you in advance.

Well putting the adults to one side - What does your SPL say on the matter?

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@Mary_An - it seems to me personally that your unit is very much adult lead from every post you have made. I get that you want structure but really a sub-committee on POR… jeez.

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Can I assume the parents are upset because the scouts are being told now that they didn’t meet the unit’s PoR performance expectations?

Our unit has adult leaders assigned to mentor each of our youth PoRs, and the adult leader is expected to mentor the youth leader, including suggesting options if the youth leader is having trouble coming up with ideas of how to tackle a challenge or accomplish some responsibility. Generally, our mentors are expected to interact with the youth on a frequent basis, providing feedback on how things are going (e.g. mini scoutmaster conferences focused specifically on their PoR) and soliciting questions or logistical support requests. Scouts should know long before it’s time for a “final evaluation” that they aren’t meeting the expectations and what specifically they need to do in order to correct their course. A “perfect” performance is not the standard of care, nor is it the purpose of positions of responsibility. They are learning experiences intended to build on one another as a scout gains experience in the program. It sounds to me like whomever is supposed to be mentoring your youth leaders failed to mentor them effectively.

The Guide to Advancement is pretty clear on the standard for units which publish specific expectations for youth PoR performance:

4.2.3.4.3 Meeting Unit Expectations. If a unit has established expectations for positions of responsibility, and if, within reason (see the note under “Rank Requirements Overview,” 4.2.3.0), based on the Scout’s personal skill set, these expectations have been met, the Scout has fulfilled the requirement. When a Scout assumes a position, something related to the desired results must happen. It is a disservice to the Scout and to the unit to reward work that has not been done. Holding a position and doing nothing, producing no results, is unacceptable. Some degree of responsibility must be practiced, taken, or accepted.

The performance standard is in those last two sentences. There is additional guidance in the following section regarding what the standard of care is when published expectations are not established in advance:

4.2.3.4.4 Meeting the Requirement in the Absence of Unit Expectations. It is best when a Scout’s leaders provide position descriptions, and then direction, coaching, and support. Where this occurs and is done well, the young person will likely succeed. When this support, for whatever reason, is unavailable or otherwise not provided—or when there are no clearly established expectations—then an adult leader or the Scout, or both, should work out the responsibilities to fulfill. In doing so, neither the position’s purpose nor degree of difficulty may be altered significantly or diminished. Consult the current BSA literature published for leaders in Scouts BSA, Venturing, or Sea Scouts for guidelines on the responsibilities that might be fulfilled in the various positions of responsibility.

Under the above scenario, if it is left to the Scout to determine what should be done, and the Scout makes a reasonable effort to perform accordingly for the time specified, then the requirement is fulfilled. Even if the effort or results are not necessarily what the unit leader, members of a board of review, or others involved may want to see, the Scout must not be held to unestablished expectations. [Emphasis added]

The first sentence clearly establishes the intent that, even in the presence of pre-established expectation for PoR performance, there is an expectation of “direction, coaching and support” for the youth leaders by the unit’s adult leaders. It’s not clear from your description whether or not this was happening, but as I noted above, to the extent that it did occur, it doesn’t sound like it was adequate.

The last paragraph reiterates that the standard is for the scouts to make a reasonable effort to perform their duties, and that “Even if the effort or results are not necessarily what the [adults] involved may want to see, the Scout must not be held to unestablished expectations.” From the outside perspective, it appears that what you’re describing runs afoul of this provision. What, specifically, are the requirements that are not being met? Are they documented for the scouts in advance and reasonable? Are they reasonable under the current circumstances?

There are assertions that what was done does not meet the requirement. Does your unit publish the performance expectations to each youth leader for the PoR that they take on in advance, or are they being assessed post facto on their performance without any “corrective” mentorship along the way? What you’re describing doesn’t appear to me to jive with your earlier description of not seeing “attempts to fulfill POR duties.” It looks like each of these cases describes a scout or scouts who have attempted to fulfill at least part of what would be their duties under normal circumstances (which definitely do not match a pandemic). Is it everything I’d like to see the youth in my unit achieve? No, and I would see it primarily as a failure by the adult leaders responsible for mentoring the youth in my unit to provide adequate guidance and support, barring pretty persuasive evidence to the contrary.

For example, If the PL I mentor wasn’t participating in PLC meetings, I would reach out to him and remind him that he needs to attend, and why it’s important that all of the PLs attend. If he can’t attend for some reason, he needs to contact his APL to attend on the patrol’s behalf so they have a voice on the PLC. If it’s a regular conflict, then what are his plans for working around that conflict so that he can ensure that the patrol leader responsibilities are fulfilled for his patrol?

The Guide to Advancement is clear that the intent on positions of responsibility is that they are subject to the same “reasonableness” test as other advancement requirements with regard to expectations of performance. Arguably, expecting a scout who has medical issues (e.g. risk of COVID) to do something which raises risks associated with those issues is not reasonable. This is particularly true given that it is most likely the parents who are imposing the limitation on the scout. It could be an entirely extrinsic constraint (e.g. a youth in my unit who lives with his infirm grandmother) or an intrinsic constraint (e.g. a youth who is immune-compromised).

Consider the following hypothetical: if an instructor ran a single scheduled instruction class on (for example) navigation once during a six month term because that was the number of times that the PLC specified they wanted it taught, would that fail to meet the requirements? In your case, was the PLC asking for more frequent instruction and the instructor declined to provide that, or is this a case of “it feels like this wasn’t enough to qualify” after the fact?

You mentioned PLs not holding patrol meetings. Are each of the patrol leaders being supported by at least two registered adult leaders over 21 who are available to attend the patrol meetings? That’s what they need in order to hold patrol meetings under the BSA’s Barriers to Abuse. Were the PLs being mentored regarding how to hold these meetings, and provided the logistical support (e.g. Zoom training/resources) they needed to hold the meetings? Many units aren’t meeting at all, some because they can’t work out the technology and others because they can’t figure out how to deliver content. If many adults can’t work it out, is it reasonable to expect the youth to work it out on their own?

All of that said, I’m a strong advocate for having clear, established performance standards and mentoring youth (both by adult leaders and more experienced youth) in how to meet those responsibilities. Knowing what the scope of expectations are, and what the performance standard will be for evaluation is important for everyone involved. At the same time, unqualified success is not a reasonable performance standard. How long would anyone survive in a professional position if the standard was perfect performance or you’re fired? Would anyone be willing to chance making mistakes or investing more effort in one thing over another at the risk of not meeting a particular quantitative goal?

Mentorship doesn’t only have to be adult-to-youth, either. At a recent PLC, our previous OE Guide offered some suggestions to our new OE Guide, who is both much younger and brand new to the position as of December. As the mentor for that PoR, I reached out to the current OE Guide to talk about what he thought of the suggestions, and what support he would need if he wanted to implement them. I did the same things with the previous OE Guide when he was in the position. Even when I personally don’t think what the PLC wants the OE Guide to do is a great idea, I offer comments but in the end I defer to them – unless it’s safety-related or factual error – and offer to assist the OE Guide in achieving the scope of work however he needs it.

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This ^^^::^^^;^^^^^^^^^;^

There is a section of the Guide to Advancement about this subject and it is contained in the Rank Requirements Overview section 4.2.3.0.
In the 2019 pdf it is on pages 23-27
Some Quotes:
A box just below 4.2.3.0 Rank Requirements Overview
“The concepts of “reasonable” and “within reason” will help unit leadership and boards of review
gauge the fairness of expectations for considering whether a Scout is “active” or has fulfilled
positions of responsibility. A unit is allowed, of course, to establish expectations acceptable to its
chartered organization and unit committee. But for advancement purposes, Scouts must not be held to
those which are so demanding as to be impractical for today’s youth (and families) to achieve.
Ultimately, a board of review shall decide what is reasonable and what is not. In doing so, the board
members must use common sense and must take into account that youth should be allowed to balance their lives with positive activities outside of Scouting.”
Summary of Active Participation (Section 4.2.3.1):

  1. The Scout is Register
  2. The Scout is in good standing
  3. The Scout meets the unit’s reasonable expectations; or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained.
    followed by a discussion of the three tests.
    “4.2.3.4 Positions of Responsibility”, the POR section also talks about “Active Participation” in 4.2.3.1.
    From top right of page 25 just before 4.2.3.4.4:
    “Regardless of a unit’s expectations or policy, if a unit takes time off, such as during the summer months, it must count that time toward service in a position of responsibility. (See “Active Participation,” 4.2.3.1.)”
    I think the key is for units to set reasonable expectations considering the scout’s abilities and make these expectations known to the scouts in a timely manner.

Also what Charley said.

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In your example you listed several that did not meet the requirements.

It would be helpful if you listed your unit’s [edit] reasonable expectations.

@ChristopherSchuster - beyond that there are the requirements as written. There is the prohibition on adding to requirements.

I apologize and didn’t clarify properly.

“What are the unit’s reasonable expectations” is what I should have sent.

Thank you for noting my error.

@ChristopherSchuster - no problem… I am so guilty of the same. :slight_smile:

The day I get it right is the day my asteroid comes screaming in, the target a bullseye on my head.

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@ChristopherSchuster - oh snap here comes that asteroid called an ice storm my way :slight_smile:

Thank you for your explanation. Our subcommittee has determined that there is a lack of training and opportunity for our scouts. I agree it is a failure on the part of the leaders. I have not seen the mentorship you described occur in our troop.

I like the idea of assigning mentors; we have been working on a model where the scout that previously held the POR will guide the new scout assigned the POR. We have SPL election next month; the PLC did not schedule a training to occur after the election. There is another PLC meeting before the election to help the PLC understand the need for it.

Before COVID, we had patrol meetings as part of the time our troop met on a weekly basis. Once we went virtual, the patrol meetings during the troop meetings were stopped. Patrol meetings were to be separate. The patrol leader was to schedule the meeting and contact the scoutmaster. He would make sure we have two deep leadership. No patrol meetings occurred.

When our current SPL was elected, he created a discord channel for our troop members. The ability for the scouts to converse outside of troop meetings changed the atmosphere of our troop meetings. Then our scoutmaster and troop chair, due to health and job challenges, could not attend PLC meetings. They asked the the advancement chair and I to sit on the PLC meeting. We encouraged patrol meetings to be planned again. Now we have them during troop meetings again. We typically combine two patrols to get our two deep.

You have given me alot to digest. I may have questions further in the week.

I do not know; he had not been presented with the question before now. I honestly do not know if he would know what to do. I will let you know if he responds.

I am trying to decompress your statement.

Our subcommittees (the troop committee creates them as needed to tackle challenges that come up) are comprised of parents, adult leaders and scouts. Different people are on different subcommittees so no one is overwhelmed. The subcommittees then provide a report to the troop committee. Action is then taken by the committee if needed. We are able to involve more of our parents this way.

I recognize the troop is adult-led. A handful of us are trying to change the way the troop does things to give the troop back to the scouts. That’s why I post so much. There is a lot to understand and change. Learning from you all and learning how other troops run is helping me see what needs to change in our troop.

What about my question is indicative of the troop being scout-led? I see this issue as weighing on the scoutmaster and members of our BOR.

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@Mary_An -i had stated that your troop is adult led and not youth led. The committee is in too deep in the program side of things. How in the world did you all decide to have more sub committee assignments that the us government? Honestly I would run from your unit if I were a scout or parent.

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@Mary_An - your unit is adding to the requirements which is something you can NOT do. All I can say is wow.

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Requirement 5 for Star rank:

While a First Class Scout, serve actively in your troop for four
months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility (or carry out a Scoutmaster-approved leadership project to
help the troop)

You should know that the requirements for advancement are not written in the dark of night, not decided by one person and immediately published. They are written using very specific words, they are debated and refined by several people and agreed upon well before any change is enacted.

Requirements must be completed exactly as written - no one may change them in any way except the national council. You’ll find that referred to several times in the Guide to Advancement.

I suggest several unit leaders, including - and especially the Scoutmaster and Committee Chair (and advancement coordinator if your unit has one) - read this: https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/mechanics-of-advancement/boy-and-varsity#42343 paying attention to the highlighted portion that begins with “The concepts of “reasonable” and “within reason” will help unit leadership and boards of review…” https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/mechanics-of-advancement/boy-and-varsity#4230.

Then share this:
httpss://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/contents/ with the Key 3 and all direct contact leaders.

It’s important that everyone know and understand advancement.

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There is nothing in the requirements that says the Scout must serve the POR time as the last requirement. For example, a Scout, taking almost 3 years to complete Eagle could serve POR during the first 6 months after receiving Life rank, not participate at all for 2 years then complete an Eagle project and finish Eagle without ever serving another day as POR. Your troop is violating BSA policy by changing requirements. This is not permitted.

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Correct. A Scoutmaster conference can be completed before any other requirement. The only requirement is that the Board of Review occur last.

And even then a Scout can ask for one and it must be granted.

They won’t fare well, they are to be told beforehand if this but, nonetheless.

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