Re: Hazing or just fun?!
Peter Farnham (pfarnham@ASBMB.FASEB.ORG)
Wed, 20 Mar 1996 11:43:46 EST
Tim and All,
Tim, I was the poster of the original message you responded to; it
appeared on March 7 on Scouts-L, not on another list (no big deal,
just wanted the record to be accurate).
My own experiences with initiations and other practical jokes are
probably fairly typical of 40-something former scouts. I went on a
snipe hunt, and helped organize a couple for newbies in the troop
after I was "initiated". I also remember sending kids around to find
a smoke-shifter, tent stretcher, etc. I also agree that little if any
harm was done by these activities; they weren't carried too far, as
far as I remember.
Nevertheless, it is possible that some of the boys reacted negatively
to the tricks and I just wasn't aware of it. I know at least one boy
scout (not in my troop) who loves scouting, but gets so mad he starts
to tear up with rage if he is teased in any way. The fact is, there
are boys who just don't react well to even good-natured tricks,
pranks, etc. I would hate to be responsible for a boy leaving scouting
because of an unintended slight or negative experience based on
something as silly as looking around for a tent stretcher.
I think it's better to err on the side of conservatism in this,
especially with new scouts. After all, if you're a new kid, not even
out of fifth grade yet, and you come to a troop with a lot of kids you
don't know, and on your first camping trip some of the older boys play
a trick on you...this could have a serious impact on your scouting
experience, it seems to me. Of course, maybe it wouldn't--maybe even
in most cases it wouldn't. All boys are different, and some enjoy the
kidding. But you can't always tell. But in general, I think that
singling out a scout to pull a prank on him as some sort of initiation
or for reasons involving merely getting a laugh at his expense is
ill-advised at best.
Of course, needling of me, or jokes played on me by the scouts, I take
as a sign that they accept me and are comfortable with me as SM. It
might even be okay to reciprocate with a gentle prank or two, if you
know the scout involved well. For example, one troop I know has a
water fight at summer camp every year, and the SM and boys always end
up drenched after an afternoon of ambushing each other!
But in general, we should all walk softly in this area, it seems to
me. Scouting is different in a lot of subtle but important ways from
when we were kids. I wouldn't want to risk losing a boy to scouting
forever because of a few moments of "fun" at his expense.
SM, Troop 113
GW District, NCAC
That having been said,
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City