Last night, I talked with one of my transfer scouts…his younger brother crossed last month, and he decided to join him in our troop. He came to the meeting wearing his old neckerchief and numbers. I jokingly made a comment to him, and he said “uh, yea, well, I don’t know if I am staying or not”…so I took him off to the side to have an impromptu SMC with him to find out what he meant.
I started off the conversation stating that I was kidding, but that he wasn’t. “Is there something wrong with the troop or your patrol?” He said that they goof a lot and don’t seem to take it seriously. I asked him if there would be anything that he would do to make that any different, like be a leader in the troop, or something like that. He said “no”
I pressed a bit further, to find out what he didn’t like, and that was about it. I stated that we will have some fun, but it’s all new to him. I encouraged him to give us a shot before dismissing us. He agreed. We talked about his rank, and how he needed to go back to his old troop for the Court of Honor to get his rank. I asked if he passed his BoR, he said that he did, and I said “then you are a First Class Scout now.” He looked at me funny, but excited.
“Really? I was told that I am not First Class until the CoH”
I looked at him and said, “nah, once you pass the BoR, you move up in rank. You don’t have to wait until the CoH. We recognize it right away and get you the rank for the next week. We will talk about it at the next CoH, but rank is immediate…recognition comes two-fold, once at the meeting, again at the Court of Honor.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
I was seeing a pattern here on why he wasn’t diggin’ his old troop.
“So…if you don’t want to be a leader, what are your goals? What do you want to accomplish in Scouting? Eagle? Order of the Arrow?”
“Oh, I can’t be in the Order of the Arrow. I’m too young”
Hmmmm, OK…what kind of hooey is this Scout getting fed? I looked at him and said, “How many nights of camping do you have? You must have the 15 nights already. If so, with your First Class rank, you are eligible to be in the OA on the next ballot, which will be in March for our troop. Is that a goal of yours?” He didn’t really have an answer because he didn’t know if I was full of it or not.
“How many Merit Badges do you have?”
“5” and he listed them for me. Then he said that he is working on the Citizenship in the Community, but only has until April to finish it. I looked at him funny and said, “why, do you turn 18 in April?”
He looked at me funny, and said “no, I started working on that one last year, and we only have a year to finish it or we have to start over.”
Wow…I had only read about this online, never experienced it. But there it was…someone not delivering the promise. I quickly started to think about things…where would this Scout get this information? It had to be from his old troop. But I didn’t want to believe it.
Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve…my CC was there, and he’s an MBC for the Cit in Comm MB. The Scout told me that he only needed to complete a couple more things, but that he was really busy and didn’t know if he could complete them in time or not.
I looked at him and said “you have until you are 18 years old to complete that MB, or any MB for that matter. You can work on any MB at anytime, and as many as you want at one time. Now, if you start a bunch of them, and don’t finish them for years, I will ask you about them, but there are no time limits on Merit Badges.
“Really? Are you sure?” he asked. I confirmed my answers and then asked him if he had the blue card so that I could take a look at it. I mentioned that if he didn’t have it on him, bring it next week, and we will see what he can do to complete the MB. He looked at me and said that he didn’t have a blue card. I asked if he knew what it was, to which he said “yes, but I don’t think that I ever got one.”
“Not even for summer camp?” I asked
“Oh yea…forgot about that. I didn’t really do anything with it, though. I signed up for what I wanted and I think that I handed it to the counselor. Then I got my badge at the next Court of Honor.”
I called the CC over, and we talked to the Scout about it. We then went over the uncompleted requirements and Bob said that it sounds like he has it completed. I went to my bag, got out a Blue Card, signed it and handed it over to the Scout. I said that if he wanted to finish it on his time, go ahead.
It was shortly after this that it seemed as if there was a bit burden lifted off this Scout. I can’t say whether this will change his mind (I hope that he sticks with us), but I know that I helped arm him with knowledge that should he decide to go back to his old troop, he can go in with a bit of a different perspective.