Re: Drinking, Drugs and Girls, Part 2
Gary Piper (GRPiper@MSN.COM)
Fri, 16 May 1997 22:16:57 UT
I have been a scoutmaster for 10 years now. I have had 3 incidents like this
in my troop.
The first I handled wrong. I put the scout on three month suspension and
required a Scoutmaster conference at the end of the three month. The boy came
back at the end of the time but refused to bring his parent to meet with me.
I should have held at scoutmaster conference with the parent when I realized I
had a problem.
The second incident I had was a boy who was refusing to behave and refused to
acknowledge he had done anything wrong. I had completed a scoutmaster
conference and signed his book for scout spirit two weeks before the serious
problems occurred. The boy had not completed his star board of review. At an
outing he total and completely refused to accept any direction from adults.
He told me there was nothing I could do because he had Scout Spirit signed
off. I cancelled his board of review until after another scoutmaster
conference. I did not understand how this young man could be the best scout in
the troop for weeks and then be my worst nightmare. Learning from my first
experience I called a scoutmaster conference with the scout, his mom, and some
of my assistants. It was at this meeting that I found out that the boy was
severely ADD and had been bring medicine to all campout that I did know about.
The parents were afraid I would throw him out of scouting if I found out. The
parent told use that on most weekend outing she did not give the boy his
medicine and that may be the problem. I went to a seminar on ADD and learned
a little about it. We never had any problems with this boy after that. I
learned that the second the boy started misbehaving to ask him why he was
behaving that way and he would think about what he was doing and stop. He was
a model scout, earned his LIFE rank and almost Eagle. He ran for SPL lost and
died from a self inflicted gun shoot wound the next morning. I think I went
out of my way to do all I could and can not find anything else as a
scoutmaster I could have done. IT STILL HURTS 4 YEARS LATER. Make sure you
know any problems like ADD and learn how to handle them. I had no idea ADD
existed before this and how bad it can be on boys. I found out later that
this boy was tormented by his peers in school and all activities except
scouts. He had move from school to school trying to escape his problems.
Scouting was the only place he felt like he fit in. There were no signs that
he would do this.
Problem three - We had a boy that was a lot like your scout. He appeared to
be going down the wontabee gang member road. We had meeting and discussions
with the scout and parents. The parents did not know what to do and welcomed
any help we could give them. We tried. The scout went to a camp-o-ree. I
was not there. Sunday morning I got a call from my assistant in charge, a
high school football coach. He wonted me to come out and assist in a problem.
The scout had stolen a starter jacket from a boy in another troop. Every one
knows he did it, but could not prove it or find the jacket. The boys mother
came out and searched her sons stuff and it was not there. After confronting
the boy with mom present he finally took his coat off and showed us that he
had the starter jacket on under his own coat. We scheduled a scoutmaster
conference for the next evening and the mom agreed that she and the boys
father would be there. At 4 AM I got a call from the coach. He had been up
all night with his son. He told me that he would not be able to control
himself and may hurt the boy if he came to the meeting. I questioned him and
found out that the boy in question had a large sheath knife and was assaulting
other scouts with it, threatening to kill them by holding it to there neck.
Boy did I have a problem. I wend to a friend of mine, a social worker who
deals with young boys in trouble. I call many other adult leaders over the
phone. I decided that the boy was a safety threat to the other scouts and we
could not keep him. I felt like I had just given up on a young man that was
obviously reaching for help. The boy and the parent came to my house 30
minutes early. My committee chairman and assistance were not there yet. I
was on the spot. I told the parents about the knife and assaults, I told
them that I had advised the other family involved to press criminal charges,
and that I had talked to 5 other scouts that were terrify when they witnessed
this. I told the parents that they need professional help with this boy and
as a scoutmaster I had to think of all the other scouts, their son was no
longer welcome in my troop. They asked what he could do to earn his way back.
Thanks to some good console I said I was not qualified to determine when he
was no longer a threat to other boy and could never let him back.
The boy who shot himself really had a major impact on my life. I think I have
learned to deal with it, you never forget. Three of my best leaders quit
shortly after that because of the hurt. One was a retired Army special force
solder who had seen many death and taken lives in Korea and Vietnam. He was
asked to speak at the funeral because the boy viewed him as a grand father.
He later told me that he never hurt so bad at the lose of someone as this
incident. He did not think he could hand another. He quit scout out of fear
that he would be hurt again. Last night he came to a scout meeting for the
first time in 4 years.
All the boys who were involved in the knife incident quit scouting with in 6
month. They were afraid to go on another outing. I tried my best to keep
them but it was no use.
Why do I stay? There have been hundreds of boys go through the scouting
program in my troop. It is that look in a young mans face when he
accomplishes something he did not think he could do. It only takes one of
these a month to keep me going.
The bottom line is that all scoutmasters must take immediate action when one
of there scout crosses the line. The scoutmaster conference is a wonderful
starting point. If you are not sure if the problem warrants a conference,
Remember, scouting is a different experience for each boy. You can not set
rules for how you as scoutmaster will handle problems. As soon as you think
all the potential problem areas are covered the boys will find a way to prove
you wrong. Set your standards of conduct you expect. When a boy violates
them call a scoutmaster conference, with parents to determine your path. Seek
console from other scouters and professionals, if you are not sure.
Colorado Springs, Co
From: Scouts-L Youth Group List On Behalf Of LINDA K CLOSSEN
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 1997 7:59 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list SCOUTS-L
Subject: Drinking, Drugs and Girls, Part 2
First off, thanks to all of you who took the time to give me advice
in regard to this problem of mine. To refresh your memory, I have a
Scout who is drinking, smoking, drugging and indulging in women at 13.
I needed advice about how to handle the situation. After weighing
all of your suggestions, and words of wisdom this is what I did.
I spoke with the leadership of the Troop, both adults and Scouts to
see what they knew. After collecting the information, I wrote a
letter to the Scout and his parents requesting a formal Scoutmaster
Conference and Board of Review. His mom called after receiving the
letter and told me she had spoken to her son and that he admitted to
doing everything, but showed no remorse for his actions.
Last night was the night. The Scout and his mom showed up 20 minutes
late and he had an attitude when he walked in the door. I asked all
of my Assistant Scoutmasters to be in attendance. Two of the four
were able to be there. (One sick, one death in the family)
I started the meeting by explaining that this was an official
Scoutmasters Conference. I assured him that we were not there to
roast him, but to get to the bottom of a severe problem. Then I asked
the following questions.
Why did you want to be a Scout?
Do you want to continue as a Scout?
Why or why not?
Do you want to continue as a Scout in this Troop?
Why or why not?
What is the Scout Law?
What does it mean to you?
What is the Scout Oath?
What does it mean to you?
Do you understand the meaning of "Living the Scout Oath and Law in
your every day life?"
Explain it to me. What does it mean?
Do you feel that you personally live the Scout Oath and Law in your
Did you understand the Troop 135 Code of Conduct when you read it?
Did you understand the Troop 135 Code of Conduct when you signed it?
Did anyone force you to sign it?
Did you sign it of your own free will?
I would like to read you the 6th point of the Code of Conduct.
(No alcohol, chewing tobacco, smoking tobacco, smoking of any
substance, inhalants or illegal drugs allowed at anytime. Possession
of any of these items will constitute immediate discharge from Troop.
Do you understand the meaning of the 6th point of the Code of Conduct?
Explain what you think it means.
Do you understand the part that says "No alcohol, chewing tobacco,
smoking tobacco, smoking of any substance, inhalants or illegal drugs
allowed at anytime"?
What do you think that anytime means?
Do you understand the part that says, "Possession of any of these
items will constitute immediate discharge from Troop."
What does that mean?
Do you understand the part that says, "....No exceptions"?
What does it mean?
Do you believe that you have lived up to this point of the Scout Law?
What do you think should happen now?
95% of the time, the answer was "I don't know" or "Yes, I
As a committee, we had decided before hand that we would give this
boy the opportunity to change his life and remain a member of the
Troop if that was his choice. We all agreed that everyone deserves a
When he was asked why he felt the need to indulge in these past-times,
he said that when someone asked him to do it, he just did.
When given the opportunity to comment, one Assistant Scoutmaster made
it clear that as the Scouts neighbor, he had some serious conflicts
with having his own son hang around with the Scout in question and
The second Scoutmaster commented that if the Scout in question
decided to return to the Troop, and if she found out that the habits
continued, she would have no second thoughts about immediately
calling the police.
As the Scoutmaster, I commented that I as a responsible adult, would
like to help him in any way I could, but had no second thoughts about
calling in the authorities if a second occurance was evident in or
out of Scouting.
Mom said very little throughout the whole meeting. She turned pale,
and rocked back and forth.
In conclusion of the meeting, I spoke to the Scout about his Scouting
record and that I felt he had been a good Scout up until the time he
made these bad decisions.
I told him that he was the only one who could make the choice of how
his life would go on from this moment on. I asked him to contact me
before the next meeting on the 20th and give me his answer.
I shook his hand and he left.
About three seconds later, my Venture Crew Chief came in and was
quite upset. He wanted to know what happened in the meeting because
the Scout flew through the outside doors ripping off his Scout
uniform as though he was the "Incredible Hulk". Holy Moley!!
So, I make no apologies or excuses for my actions. I worked from our
Troop Code of Conduct, the Scoutmaster Handbook, and the Ethics in
Action training booklet. I take full responsibility for the meeting
and every word I said.
Let the review of my actions begin......
Yours in Scouting,
Scoutmaster, Linda K. Clossen
Gerald R. Ford Council
Grand Rapids, Michigan
...I used to be sane...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City