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Attendance Expectations for Scouts BSA

You might notice that the descriptions for positions of responsibility which our troop uses have attendance expectations on them Some people have asked me how we enforce these. Well, we do not. These are not demands or requirements in our troop. Instead we use them to indicate to the youth what sort of time requirements are typical for the position and if they will really be able to fulfill the responsibilities with all of the other things they have going on in their lives.

Also, some positions are more integral to campouts while other positions mostly require the Scout to be at meetings. So we always tell the Scout that if they don’t enjoy camping, they probably shouldn’t apply for a position which has an expectation that they will attend 80% of campouts. So, in a nutshell, the attendance expectations provide a concrete way for the Scouts BSA to determine which position might be a good fit for them.

Also, note we only have these attendance expectations for our leadership positions. I know some troops have definitions of what “active” means for rank advancement purposes. And the new 2011 Guide to Advancement states that one of the requirements for “active” is

The Scout meets the unit’s reasonable expectations; or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained. If, for the time period required, a Scout or qualifying Venturer or Sea Scout meets those aspects of his unit’s pre-established expectations that refer to a level of activity, then he is considered active and the requirement is met. Time counted as “active” need not be consecutive. A boy may piece together any times he has been active and still qualify.

But the guide also provides an alternative:

If a young man has fallen below his unit’s activity oriented expectations, then it must be due to other positive endeavors— in or out of Scouting—or to noteworthy circumstances that have prevented a higher level of participation (see below). In this case a Scout is considered “active” if a board of review can agree that Scouting values have already taken hold and been exhibited. This might be evidenced, for example, in how he lives his life and relates to others in his community, at school, in his religious life, or in Scouting. It is also acceptable to consider and “count” positive activities outside Scouting when they, too, contribute to his growth in character, citizenship, or personal fitness. Remember; it is not so much about what a Scout has done. It is about what he is able to do and how he has grown.

(Please read the complete section on Active Participation in the Guide to Advancement. I am only giving snippets here.)

You could remove a Scout from his leadership position if he is not participating enough to fulfill his duties. Fortunately, we have not had to do this in our troop. Usually a little nudge from the SPL or Scoutmaster reminding them that the troop needs its youth leaders to participate in order for the troop to run is enough to bring them back.

All in all, it seems to me that our job as adults in Scouting is to help the youth find a way to succeed. It is difficult to do that if we get into a situation where we are “catching” them doing something wrong or even “firing” them. That doesn’t mean we should alter the requirements. Instead we need to act as advisors to them. Help your Scouts look at the situation and come up with possible solutions. If there is a problem, what can be done to remedy it? Then the Scout can choose a solution from the possibilities. But make sure that the Scout knows you are on his or her side and you want to help, not hinder.


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