Drinking Policy on International Trips?
Tom Turba x6774 (turba@UNIRSVL.RSVL.UNISYS.COM)
Sun, 2 Jul 1995 16:15:03 CDT
As most people on this list know, there is a policy of no drinking with Boy
Scouts in the U.S. This apparently does not seem to be the case in the rest
of the world; although, I have only seen a small sampling.
I first became aware of this difference some years ago while on a Scouting
trip to Costa Rica. It was over the new-year's holiday. One of the local
Scout leaders was hosting a new-year's party at his house. We were out
getting food and other supplies for the event when he asked me "How much beer
should we buy for your Scouts?" I told him that he didn't need to buy any
and explained to him the police we had on drinking in Scouting in the U.S.
He bought more soda instead. He also told me that there was not such a
restriction in Costa Rica, that they did not have the same drinking laws as
we do, and that many of the Costa Rican Scouts would probably be drinking
beer at the party. Which it turns out, they were.
I attended the Pan American Jamboree, which was held in Bolivia this last
December / January. It again was over the new-year's holiday. The policy
there for drinking at new-year's parties was that it was officially
sanctioned as long as it was confined to your campsite. Needless to say, the
U.S. group had no trouble abiding by the rules. We had not brought anything
with us anyway. Groups from many other countries did, and celebrated the New
Year as they would do in their homeland. Wine was also served at several
official functions during the Jamboree.
When I was in England in April I visited Gilwell Park. Steve, the warden,
showed me around. One of the things he pointed out was the bar. I have
heard from many people that have attended World Jamborees that there is
always a "pub tent" for leaders. I have also seen Scouts from other
countries being served beer and wine with meals at a Scout camp.
The question I have is:
"What should be the rules regarding drinking for U.S. Scouts and Scouters
while on Scouting trips in other countries where the rules and customs are
The reason I ask this question is that we have an active international
program in my council and this question has come up several times. In the
past, we have left it in the hands of the leadership for each trip to decide
what rules they wish to enforce.
The range of possible rules is quite large and ranges from "Zero tolerance"
to "When in Rome do as the Romans do."
I would like your opinion and insight, especially from people that have lead
trips to other countries. Please indicate this in your message if you have.
Before dashing off a reply to this message, however, I would like you to
consider the following real situations, all occurring in other countries,
that I and/or other Scout leaders here have had to consider.
You and everyone else in this situation are out of uniform; you are in a
restaurant for dinner; one of your Scouts is at another table with a group of
local scouts; the youth is of legal drinking age in this country; one or more
of the other youth at his table have ordered wine or beer with their dinner;
the Scout would like to have a beer with is dinner; his mother (who is not a
leader on the trip, but having a parallel trip with her daughter) is sitting
at a separate table and says that it is ok for her son to have a beer.
Should he be allowed to have a drink?
You are in uniform at an adult Scouting ceremony; no youth are present; wine
is being served; one of the local leaders brings over a glass of wine; you
shared lunch and wine with this Scout leader earlier at his home; he hands
you the wine and offers a toast to "Scouting friendship around the world."
Should you be allowed to drink?
It is New Year's Eve; a Scout is with his host family; he is of legal
drinking age in the country; it is just about midnight; he is offered a glass
of Champaign to toast the new year; If he wants to, should he be allowed to
accept it and drink a toast to the new year?
You are in uniform on a plane over Europe, returning from an international
Scouting conference; no Scouting youth are around you; you are offered
complimentary wine with dinner; If you want to, should you be allowed to
There are other situations I could describe, but I think you see the point.
Things are not always black and white and simple rules may not always work.
Please note that my question only relates to drinking rules for U.S. Scouts
and Scouters on trips outside the U.S. It is not meant to open the subject
of drinking at Scouting events held in the U.S.
I should also add that never have I seen Scouts or Scout leaders from another
country behave in an un-Scout-like manner when they were drinking at a Scout
International Scouters: I am also interested in knowing what rules exist in
other parts of the world regarding drinking on Scout related events.
Yours in Scouting
Thomas N. Turba
Indianhead Council, BSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City