Tim Goncharoff (tgonchar@CATS.UCSC.EDU)
Thu, 20 Feb 1997 10:17:13 -0800
Marc raises some good points about adults who seem to be in Scouting for
themselves. I must pause here to acknowledge the many fine men and women
who are honestly devoting their time to help young people. God bless you
all. But Marc's right. I have met countless adults who find frustration
in other areas of their lives but believe that in Scouting, they can be
important. Unfortunately, my experience differs from Marc's in that I
have seen it at least as often at the troop level as higher up. I have
run into numerous petty tyrants who think of the troop as their own
little kingdom, who delight in their power over little boys, who would
die rather than let the boys run THEIR troop, and who love to delegate
tasks to the same adults they refuse to accord any respect. I suppose
you find these types in many situations. Unfortunately, I think we have
unwittingly created an organization that attracts and rewards them. I
weep for the many boys and families who have left Scouting in disgust
over these people and their abuses.
The procedures we have in place for dealing with problems like this are
weak. All it takes is one abusive Scoutmaster with a Chartered
Organization Rep in his pocket. I have seen them harrass boys and parents
who complain right out of Scouting, fire Committee Chairs who stand up to
them, and tell bald-faced lies to anyone at the council level who gets
wind of a complaint. There are some banana republics out there that are
missing out on some fine dictators.
Ok, I've vented, now what do we do about it?
Our screening procedures are a joke. I've never known an adult leader to
be rejected. I've never known the listed references to be checked.
Sure, we are chronically short of adults who are willing to donate their
time, and it's a little scary to think of making it even harder to
recruit. But once someone has filled out the adult leader registration
form, they've shown their committment. Why not make a few calls to check
those references, ask for letters of reference instead of just a name,
why not a conference with a few key people to stress the aims and goals
of Scouting and the sacred trust these fortunate few are taking on.
After approval, why not regular proficiency exams? We do it now for
teachers and even tenured professors. This would be a chance to get an
unbiased professional opinion on the quality of our leaders. Consistent
low ratings would give a troop all the reason it needs to make a change.
Obviously, I have some strong feelings on this issue. I've been through
some ugly situations. Thanks for your indulgence, and please share your
Santa Cruz, CA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City