There’s a lot of misinformation flying around in our world today. Entire websites such as Snopes and Politifact are dedicated to determining the credibility of news reports, claims and rumors that are put forth online and in the media every day.
Of course, Scouting is not without its misinformation and urban legends, and it’s up to us to know what’s true and what’s bunk.
With that in mind, here’s a quick “true or false” quiz on matters of advancement, and specifically on the board of review process. Answers follow the questions.
True or false?
- A purpose of a board of review is to make sure the work has been learned and completed.
- If a Scout’s uniform is not complete in accordance with the Guide to Insignia and Uniforming, he should be informed of the discrepancies and told that his board will be rescheduled when they are corrected.
- A Scout failing a board of review should work with his Scoutmaster, who will track the tasks assigned by the board so that the re-Board (second board of review) can be scheduled as soon as possible.
- The board should use its judgment as to how well a Scout knows the Scout Oath, Law, slogan, motto and outdoor code and whether his answers are sufficient for advancement.
- The parents of a Scout may not attend his board of review under any circumstances.
- If a Scout is more than 10 minutes late, the board of review is cancelled at the discretion of the board and will be rescheduled.
Now, for a visit to “Debunction Junction”:
- MOSTLY FALSE. It’s not up to the board of review to determine whether the work has been learned and completed. This is evidenced by the signatures in his book. There may be a rare instance when an item isn’t signed, and it missed the Scoutmaster’s notice during his conference (it has happened with us). A question to the Scout about why the item wasn’t signed off is appropriate, and if the Scout can respond to the board’s satisfaction (“I did it at the March campout – I helped cook lunch and Tommy and I made grilled cheese sandwiches” should be sufficient, for instance), then the board should be able to overlook the missing signature with only the advice to get it initialed as soon as possible. However, in another sense, through careful questioning the board can determine how well the Scouts are learning their skills and completing the requirements, and in so doing, can evaluate how the troop is doing overall in that area. (Guide to Advancement, section 126.96.36.199)
- FALSE. Though important to Scouting, uniforms or special clothing cannot be required, and a board of review cannot be denied solely for reasons of improper clothing. A Scout should wear his uniform, as much of it as he owns, with all insignia correctly displayed, and if he’s not in uniform, the board is certainly free to ask why not. (188.8.131.52)
- FALSE. Generally, a Scout only has one board of review. If, during his board, deficiencies are found, the board is usually suspended while those deficiencies are corrected, and reconvened at a later date. If the Scout does not agree to this, the board can be terminated and the Scout is free to appeal the decision, but a second board of review is not held. (184.108.40.206)
- FALSE. It’s certainly appropriate for the board to ask the candidate to recite the Oath, Law, or outdoor code, but the requirement to know these things has already been fulfilled. Most Scouts can do so without much difficulty, and the board can use them as a springboard for discussion about how the Scout lives them in his daily life. This falls under the “not a retest” qualification. (220.127.116.11)
- MOSTLY TRUE. A Scout’s parents, guardians or relatives should not be in attendance in any capacity, whether as observers, participants or as the unit leader. However, if after being informed of the reasons for this (parents’ presence can change the discussion dynamics), the parents insist on being present, they may attend as silent observers in keeping with the broad Scouting practice of all activities being open to observation by parents. And parents may certainly attend in support of a special-needs Scout, such as acting as an interpreter for one who has difficulty communicating verbally. (18.104.22.168)
- MOSTLY FALSE. A Scout must not be rejected for a board of review for reasons unrelated to advancement, such as being tardy or forgetting his Scout handbook. These are valid points for discussion, however, and provide a growth opportunity for the Scout. We should not throw unnecessary barriers in their way. If a Scout’s tardiness interferes with the logistics of holding successive boards of review, his board can be deferred while Scouts who were on time are reviewed. (22.214.171.124)
These six situations, incidentally, were taken from one particular council advancement committee’s board of review guidelines published a few years ago. While BSA’s policies have not changed in these areas, the Guide to Advancement has restated them in much clearer language. It points out the need for us to perhaps question these practices that we’ve been doing all along – especially those that don’t seem quite right – and, when necessary, change the way we do things so that we are doing them right.
Image from politifact.com