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Revisiting a "Citizenship In The Community" MB Question

This was discussed in the old format a few years ago but I didn’t really get a feeling of consensus and I wanted to revisit a requirement in “Citizenship in The Community”:

3a. Attend a meeting of your city, town, or county council or school board; OR attend a municipal, county, or state court session.

As MB Counselor, I’ve been considering teaching much of this as a Troop activity. Before I take this on I want to resolve that one item. There was a time when I would have ask the scouts that wanted to do this MB badge to attend a meeting on their own or schedule a field trip, but I’m not sure the logistics would work out and I want to see this project completed or not start it at all and put it on the scouts to do this MB on their own.

Since we live in a virtual world, I was wondering if people’s views has been affected with the virtual world we live in. I live in a world where things like “Gotomeeting” is fairly commonplace and was wondering how people feel about streaming or video playback. I realize as MB counselor it’s my call, by am am seeking feedback.


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There are cases were attending in person is not possible:

  • Scout has a medical condition that prevents them from attending, for example some Lone Scouts and Special Scouts
  • Scout is part of a troop at an overseas military base were the local community’s native language is not the same as the Scout’s native language.
  • Scout lives in an unincorporated area many miles from a city or town.

Having said that, attending a local government meeting can be an opportunity to improve community relations. For example, the troop can do a flag ceremony to open the community meeting.

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Based on my extensive experience using virtual meetings for work, they’re a poor, poor substitute for actually going to a meeting in person.

If I were counseling this MB, or another that required attending a meeting (such as Communications), I’d need a pretty solid explanation from the Scout about why they couldn’t go to a meeting in person.

In fact, from the Communication MB perspective, that’s a useful discussion point for requirement 1d - make a list of communication methods and discuss with your counselor an instance when that method might not be appropriate or effective.

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I agree with Steve. Virtual meetings are a tool and can be a powerful method, but there is nothing like being there in person. There is so much more that goes on in a meeting besides what can be captured in a camera and on a microphone, and that’s critical to understanding the process.

While I certainly think that there is a call for “exceptions” to this guideline (such as medical, etc. listed above); I would seek to avoid that for a typical scout.

This is one requirement for us being in a small town that is easyer to get done. We have done it both ways going us a group and for those who could not make it they attend a meeting when they can. Ironically tonight we are attending a coucil meeting for a service project we are starting ( painting a house city has approved project they are voting on the funds) for are next group of scouts working on this badge.

One issue that has come up for some youth in our community is that the timing of city council/commission meetings doesn’t necessarily work out for them to attend. For example, some are in the middle of the day while they are at school/at camp/etc, and can’t attend (or can’t get a ride from a parent, because the parents are at work). Our city council chambers are actually quite small, so that often attending “in-person” means standing outside the glass at the back of the room trying to hear and see what’s going on. The recorded/simulcast meetings are often more accessible for that reason, particularly when a contentious topic is on the agenda.

Based on these types of factors, I do not insist that the scouts attend in person. I understand the perspectives from those who think that “attend” means physical presence except in very special cases, but I don’t agree. I recommend that the scouts plan which meeting they want to “attend” by reviewing the meeting agenda, reviewing any proposed ordinances, and possibly even researching or discussing them with an adult before the meeting so that they get some context for what’s being discussed before they hear about it.

When I’m reviewing scouts’ “interaction” with the meeting, I’m looking for what they learned about differences of opinion, about how they are handled in both a formal sense and in a civil society sense, about how the business of government is carried out, and about how constituents’ input is provided and handled. All I’m “checking for” are the requirements (i.e. attendance and explanation of why they agree with one side over the other), but I’m working within that context to get them to deepen their understanding of the process and how they can make contributions to its success over time. I’ve actually had a couple of youth who, after reading the agenda, decided to not only attend the meeting in person, but also to submit public comments.

I agree that there are many opportunities for the scouts (individually or as a group) to interact with the city council or other community meetings (flag ceremonies, leading the pledge, etc). At the same time, that’s not specifically what’s being asked about here.


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