As a Venturing leader, I don't often deal with advancement issues. I'd like to get my boys to work more on their Venturing awards, but that's ultimately their choice.
Most of my advancement issues go something like this. I'll have a young man who, around his 17th birthday, decides he needs to get serious and finish off his Eagle before he turns 18. He then comes to me for help.
They always wait until the last minute, despite my efforts to encourage and persuade them to do it earlier.
In every case so far, these young men haven't done a thing with their Boy Scout advancement in three years. They earn their Star or Life by 14 and then just stagnate. (Interpret: chronic lack of leadership in our ward's Varsity program.)
I had another one to deal with just this week. A young man came to me (after I gave him a summary of his advancement) saying he was finished with his Life and needed a Scoutmaster conference and board of review. We sat down and looked through his handbook (frankly, I was amazed he knew where it was). The first thing I noticed was that his mother had signed off on three of the requirements (see Guide to Advancement, 220.127.116.11 p. 19). This wasn't too big a deal, since he had actually done those requirements so I signed them then.
Then we got looking at merit badges. We've had some issues in our district as we've moved to Internet advancement. It seems like not everything got transferred over during the switch. Nearly every boy I sit down with has a record of merit badges earned that don't show up on the advancement report. This hasn't been a problem; as long as they have the record I can get it fixed easily. Well, this boy had some just like all the others.
I got the dates from his book (he didn't bring the cards, but assured me he had them) had a scoutmaster conference and then spoke with our committee to schedule a board of review. When I got around to recording his merit badges something hit me that I should have picked up on before. The date for one of his merit badges was during the time I was his leader.
What that means is if he did, in fact, finish that merit badge, he never brought the blue card back to me so I could record it (I know, it should be taken to the advancement chair on the committee. Too bad we don't have one.)
I went to the boy's house as soon as I had a chance and spoke with him and his mother about it. Apparently, he had two cards (not the blue cards, the recognition cards) that were blank--he didn't know what merit badges they were supposed to go to. He felt like he had done that one so he wrote a date down in his book.
We visited for a bit about the proper procedures for merit badges, and told him that without any documentation he would have to do the merit badge again. Even if he really did do it before. I just wish someone had explained this sort of thing to this boy and his mother earlier. It would have saved us all a few headaches now.
I know full well all the things that go wrong with Scouting in my ward. I get really frustrated that we can't get a committee together to help. I get especially frustrated that our Varsity leaders haven't done anything. I am constantly struggling with how our Scoutmaster runs his program.
I have tried to let others do their jobs, but I have stepped in occasionally with responsibilities outside of my own when I thought it was necessary to help the boys. Perhaps I've done too much. I sometimes wish I could jump in and take care of it all--not for my sake, but for the boys who deserve better.
That's not to say that I am the best leader out there--I'm not. I have my own set of problems. But I can say this: I have tried. I have tried to get all the training available. I haven't missed roundtable in three years. I have read the manuals and handbooks and have tried to follow procedures. I have tried to run the program I was asked to do. I have tried to help the boys with the things they want to work on, and the activities they want to do. I have tried to encourage and persuade other leaders to do the same. I just wish they would. Not for me, but for the boys.