Sometimes, it seems that the Boy Scouts of America gets in the way of fulfilling their own aims.
Here’s an example, inspired by a post on Google Plus’s Scout Nation group, which featured a photo of rank advancement and merit badge insignia and cards ready for the Scouts to be awarded at the court of honor.
The thing that caught my attention was the fact that many of the rank insignia were probably earned weeks or months ago, and they’re just now being awarded. The BSA encourages that recognition should be immediate (or as immediate as possible), but requires that an advancement report be filed before the insignia can be purchased.
This isn’t a problem for those who might happen to live or work a few minutes from our council’s service center, but for many (especially in rural areas), the service center could be an hour or two’s drive. Expecting volunteers to travel to the service center to perform this task each time a Scout advances is asking a lot.
As the MyScouting online system improves and adds more functionality every month, how about a streamlined advancement recognition system? Something like this would be nice:
- The unit advancement coordinator files an advancement report using the online advancement system.
- The earned insignia is ordered through the same system (just put a check box next to the advancement earned)
- The unit’s deposit account or a credit card is charged, and the insignia are mailed the next day.
- They arrive in time to be awarded the following week at the troop or pack meeting.
- A function within the online advancement system allows a certificate card to be printed as well.
Another option would be to allow unit commissioners to receive advancement reports and dispense insignia, keeping a small supply for their units on consignment and replenishing it when they turn in the reports to the district executive at the monthly commissioner’s meeting.
Units could even be allowed to keep a couple patches on hand (like many did back when you could buy them without an advancement report) in order to award them when they’re earned, not weeks or months later.
The aim should be to remove barriers to immediate recognition, rather than making volunteers jump through so many hoops to make it possible.
Photo by Shannon Kastner