Re: Drinking Policy on International Trips?
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Mon, 3 Jul 1995 11:13:16 CDT
Tom Turba x6774 <turba@UNIRSVL.RSVL.UNISYS.COM> writes:
>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.
[deletion for space only]
>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
As a former International Representative in two local Councils, this
question has come up several times. I've lived in Germany where beer
is served to youth as young as 10 or 9 years of age, and where at
International Scouting events, the consumption of beer was not only
allowed, but promoted. It's hard to tell Scouts attending INTERCAMP
(the European Jamboree) or EuroCamp that "Work, play and interact with
the other Scouts, but YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED to drink".
Good thing, to help us out, there's some BSA policy and of course,
good old common sense.
The BSA has a simple policy, which applies to both Scouts and Scouters
attending BSA events as well as those events representing the BSA
(which every international event, put on by the unit or by the
International Division, is). The policy is "no drinking by Scouts or
Scouters in or out of uniform during BSA events."
(reference: The Guide to Safe Scouting)
>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.
You shouldn't do that....there could be some serious legalities
>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?
No. He is still there as a official representative of the BSA and
your local Council, in or out of uniform. This is the same as having
him to smoke out of uniform.
>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?
Practically, no. Realistically speaking, yes, but I'd wouldn't drink
to "Scouting friendship". If you are going to drink, drink away from
Scouts and HAVE NO CONNECTION BETWEEN SCOUTING AND DRINKING while
there. Drinking in the USA, as it is in other countries, is a social
activity and should not be connected with the BSA.
We've talked here about two years back about the idea of drinking at
the Council Dinner or other Council-level events. It's a stupid
thing, and it tells many Scouters that although we are supposed to
live up to the Scout Oath and Law, we can throw those same principles
out the window when WE want to, because "we're the adults".
>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?
Is he in our country or their country? In our country, no. In the
other country, yes, if he has obtained his family's permission to do so.
Otherwise, if the child gets ill or (and this HAS happened) dies as a
result of drinking, the host family CAN be liable.
Note here that he is with a host family, and NOT participating in a
Scouting event or activity. This is different from the response in
>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
NEVER. Anytime you are representing the BSA, in or out of uniform,
you should never drink. Yeah, yeah, you are NOT an "official
delegate". No matter...to the person sitting three seats over from
you, seeing you take that drink in your hand, you ARE from the BSA
(that's what that strip says and that's what you proudly say after
dinner), and that's all they need to see.
That's also what they will say to others!
>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.
"No" ALWAYS works, Tom. "I'm sorry, but as a member of the BSA, we're
not allowed to drink during Scouting events" also works well..wordy,
but it does work. The problem is that we Americans don't always want
to SAY those words, the short version or the longer version.
I've turned down lots of beers and wines during various Scouting
events in Europe, and while it personally didn't bother me, it does
bother some Scouters that don't understand the connection between
their registration and appropriate behavior during those events.
>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
I have. In 1986, they had to close the "InterCamp Scouters' Club"
twice due to Scouts or Scouters from other countries getting drunk.
In 1987, the Scouters' Club was moved from the grounds of the camp
facility to a local bierhallen.
It's kinda embarrassing, as a member of the world Scouting community,
to see drunk Scouters being carried back to their camping areas by
their peers or trying to weave back in the dark to their campsite and
running into Scouts or (gasp!) visitors!
(former International Representative, Bluegrass Council)
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
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