Re: Excess Scout Energy
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Sat, 30 Mar 1996 01:58:45 -0500
One of my favorite pictures is a Norman Rockwell painting of a
Scoutmaster standing behind a campfire tripod with slumbering scouts in
open front tents in the background. It was on the front of the first
Scoutmaster's Handbook I used. The picture speaks to the situation you
have raised. The Scoutmaster on a campout has to be alert to and
watchful of what his Scouts are up to and that often means some late
hours with not too much sleep. Your message suggests a reason for the
late night vigilence.
The Scout who wrote the to bulletin board, although engaging in hazing
which we cannot condone, is behaving ways that some of us did in our own
youth. The difference is that with age and experience we have learned
that this sort of behavior is destructive and may well result in some of
the younger boys leaving the program. BSA has taken a pretty strong
position in its Youth Protection Policies against hazing because of the
harm it causes.
In the past there have been a number of us on Scouts-L who have written
about youth experiences with hazing and a steadfast desire to make sure
it doesn't happen in units that we are involved with as Scouters. In
many cases it is because we know what it feels like to have been the victim.
There are some that would argue that this is just one of those rites of
passage and that boys will be boys. I can't accept this as a
justification. There are plenty of ways in which the Scouting program
can offer a postive set of experiences that also serve as rites of
passage without the harm or risk of injury. And whether we all agree or
not, the behavior described is against the rules BSA has set up.
In this case it sounds like the Scoutmaster tried to reverse the roles as
punishment, but succeeded only in perpetuating the "game" of pranks.
Having the victim act as perpetrator in activities similar to the hazing
validated the behavior he was trying to eradicate. And along the way he
may have himself violated YPP rules by allowing this conduct.
The lesson in this is that the leader needs to be vigilent and aware that
Scouts will sometimes try these sorts of pranks. When it occurs the
misconduct needs to be addressed. In some cases counseling will do, in
others the Scout(s) may have to be suspended. In no case should the
Scoutmaster reciprocate in the conduct either directly or by allowing a
Scout to do so.
We should also be aware that word of this sort of thing gets around.
Little Johnny goes home and mom wants to know why he's encrusted with
mud, so he explains the fun time he had. :-( Now mom is upset and
reactive. In my neighborhood we had such a situation and unfortunately
the mom was also the PTA President. Her reaction was to try to get the
PTA to dump a charter.
The example that Olan provided is one that should serve to alert us all
to be aware that sometimes Scouts with excess energy can and do engage in
unacceptable behavior as in the case of the lad posting to the BBS. I
would be interested in hearing how unit leaders act to reduce the chance
of similar conduct in their own units.
Speaking Only for Myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
a/k/a Professor Beaver (WB), ASTA #2566, OA Vigil Honor '71, Eagle
Scout '67, Serving as Deputy District Commissioner for Training,
G.W.Dist., Nat. Capital Area Council, BSA - firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City