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Scout spirit defined

Our troop is updating our handbook and will be defining scout spirit. In handbooks of other troops, I have found that attendance in a certain percentage of troop activities to be included in the determination of scout spirit. Since BSA rank requirements already set out a certain number of activities a scout must attend for the rank, can including a percentage requirement be changing the rank requirements, which we are not to do? Second, how does your troop define scout spirit?

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Sounds to me like you are adding requirements. The only Handbook is the official BSA Handbook. As a Scoutmaster I define Scout Spirit as living the Scout Oath and Law, and during Scoutmaster Conferences Scouts explain to me how they feel they have done that.

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This may be of use here:

But I would agree that what you propose is sliding close to adding requirements that do not exist.

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For Star, Life, and Eagle, that would be redundant with the active participation requirement. And it doesn’t make sense to me to have different standards for T, 2C, 1C than Star, Life, Eagle.

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Scout spirit is already defined in the Scout Handbook and the BSA’s Guide to Advancement. In the Scout Handbook, it’s around page 15.

In the GTA:

4.2.3.1 Active Participation

versus

4.2.3.2 Demonstrate Scout Spirit

Evaluating Scout spirit will always be a judgment call, but through getting to know a Scout and by asking probing questions, we can get a feel for it. We can say, however, that we do not measure Scout spirit by counting meetings and outings attended. It is indicated, instead, by the way the Scout lives daily life.

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This comes up often, and I am not sure I understand why units feel the need to consider a participation requirement for scout spirit (setting aside the “adding to the rules” issue). As you have mentioned, the ranks all have individual time and participation requirements. I have always felt that scout spirit was self explanatory. Are you living and demonstrating the Scout Oath and Law? This is meant to foster a discussion on how the scout conducts themselves. This is not meant to be a barrier to advancement, but help with self reflection.

It is appropriate for a SM or BOR to ask the scout about their participation, or lack thereof. However this should only be to help the scout or the unit to improve, not deny advancement. If a unit is having a participating problem, you are not going to solve it by adding more rules.

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Units can establish “reasonable” expectations for attendance and participation:

4.2.3.0 Rank Requirements Overview

4.2.3.1 Active Participation

4.2.3.4 Positions of Responsibility

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It’s pretty clear that none of those requirements pertain to “Scout Spirit” though, but to the definitions of “active participation” that’s required for Star, Life, and Eagle…

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You’ve already gotten some pretty good, IMHO, responses regarding the pre-existing official definitions of Scout Spirit, and not adding to the requirements. All I’ll add is that I worry about trying to apply a concrete metric, even in part, to what is at the root of things a very intangible goal.

Scout spirit is most easily “measured” by watching what the scout does and listening to what he or she says. If you have a scout who is doing his or her best to live in accordance with the Scout Oath and Law, that scout is demonstrating scout spirit. It’s never about the perfection of the achievement, IMHO, but rather about the intentional working toward improvement of their character. We all make bad decisions from time to time. One of the ways that I try to understand my scouts and their respective journeys is to ask them during scoutmaster conferences about instances where they’ve had problems demonstrating scout spirit, and discuss with them how they recognized the issue, and what they think they might do differently looking back on the incident. Sometimes, to get the discussion going I share some of the (many) stories of my own stumbling blocks. For some of them it’s obvious that knowing other scouts/scouters need to actively “work” to stay on the straight and narrow (i.e. that it’s not simply an automatic process) helps them be more forgiving of (and learn more from) their own missteps, rather than just trying to put it behind them without examining it at all. The depth of probing gets deeper as the scouts get older, since the older scouts are closer to being legal adults who have a wider array of opportunities to impact others’ lives, but positively and negatively.

At the lower ranks, we have the “discuss four points of the scout law” requirements, and those make great jumping-off points for scout spirit discussions. I’ve seen those types of discussions really benefit scouts who weren’t “getting” the role of character development in Scouting. This is not to suggest that they have or had “bad” character, but rather that some of them weren’t quite seeing the relationship between what we (as scouts and individually) say we stand for, what we demonstrate that we stand for, and how those two things may not always be congruent with one another.

It’s one of the reasons I always tell scouts they don’t need to wait until they’re “finished with everything else” to talk to me or one of the other adult leaders. If they’re up against a problem they’re not sure how to address (scouting-related or not), or just feeling like their approach isn’t bearing fruit, I want them to come to us and get advice, even if the advice is “I really think you ought to talk to your parents/pastor/school counselor about this, too.” Isn’t that one of the major purposes of adult association? < /soapbox>

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This looks like a page for training. What training is this from? Thank you.

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@Mary_AnnDalton - I actually do not know for certain, but it came up in a search on your topic.

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May I use the first four sentences of your reply in my handbook? The purpose of our troop handbook is to put in one place for our scouting families an explanation of how we conduct the scouting program and the needs we have to make it successful.

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Certainly. If you think it’s helpful to the scouts, feel free.

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It looks like it’s from the BSA’s Roundtable Support page.

Scouts BSA Roundtables - Roundtable Topics - Demonstrate Scout Spirit

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@JenniferOlinger - thanks… I just gave it a quick read and thought it applicable.

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That’s awesome, @JenniferOlinger. I didn’t even realize that resource collection was there. This is one of the reasons I love this discussion board…

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This is just my opinion, but I would refer your Scouts and parents to the definition that is in the Scout Handbook and the applicable section in the Guide to Advancement. The pic below is from the Scout Handbook on page 15 in the section called “Adventure Ahead”.

In your troop’s handbook, you could say something like “Scout spirit as defined by the Scout Handbook (page 15) and the BSA’s Guide to Advancement (section 4.2.3.2 Demonstrate Scout Spirit).”

If your troop wants to have minimum expectations for attendance and participation for the “active” and POR requirements, then they would need to be “reasonable”, as described by the Guide to Advancement (references in my post #7 above).

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I believe trying to redefine it detracts from our mission to teach values and ethics. In trying to define it we detract from the ideals that should define us. We have the Scout Law, Oath, Motto, and Slogan. None of us completely live up to them, but we should be reaching for them.

If a scout isn’t demonstrating Scout Spirit then one of the leaders should be having a conference about that issue. If a conference doesn’t affect some change, then a conference involving parents should be held. As soon as the scout starts showing improvement that should be praised.

In short, no scout should ever find it a surprise if the Scoutmaster doesn’t believe the requirement is being met.

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Scout Spirit appears to have been traditionally defined in the Scout handbook. For example:

Scout Spirit 1964

Boy Scout Handbook* - A handbook of training for citizenship through Scouting, 6th ed., January 1964 printing,

SCOUT SPIRIT (1964, p. 35, “Tenderfoot Tests”)

Learning about the ideals of Scouting

  1. Recite the Scout Oath (or Promise) and explain its meaning.
  2. Repeat the twelve points of the Scout Law, Scout motto (“Be prepared”), and the Scout slogan (“Do a good turn daily”) and explain the meaning of each of them in your own words.

When you have passed the tests in Tenderfoot Scout teamwork, Scoutcraft, and Scout spirit before your Scoutmaster, he receives your application and registers you as a Boy Scout. You take Scout Oath (or Promise) at a ceremony in front of your patrol and troop and are then entitled to wear the Tenderfoot badge and the official uniform of the Boy Scouts of America.

SCOUT SPIRIT (1964, p. 105, 2nd class Scout tests)

While a Tenderfoot Scout satisfy your Scout leaders that you do your best, in your everyday life, to -

  1. Live up to the Scout Oath or Promise, the Scout Law the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan.
  2. Do your share in helping in your home, your school, your church or synagogue, and your community.
  3. Take care of things that belong to you and maintain a personal savings plan.
  4. Respect the property of others and help conserve your country’s natural resources.
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