Re: SCOUTS-L Digest - 22 Apr 1998 to 23 Apr 1998
Scott W. Killen (SKILLEN@AutoTester.COM)
Fri, 24 Apr 1998 09:28:56 -0500
This letter is in response to the "In the News Again" article of
yesterday. I am the Assistant Scoutmaster that planned and directed
this activity. I just wish to point out how slanted this article was.
It was written almost completely from hearsay. None of the quotes
attributed to any of the principles of this article are taken in
context. It is certainly the case that we have no regrets over the
campout. On the contrary, it was a huge success. The boys learned a
lot and had fun.
Anyway here goes:
> DALLAS (AP) Boy Scout troop leaders are being roasted
>From the council, to the scoutmasters, to our sponsoring organization,
of the feedback has been positive.
> for arranging to let hatchet-wielding scouts catch, kill and dress
chickens for a camp dinner.
First, I don't know where the term "hatchets" comes from. We call them
hand-axes. Also we had three chopping blocks, three hand-axes and
close adult supervision at each station. At no time were the boys left
unsupervised with "hatchets".
> Leaders of Lake Highlands Troop 890 said they wanted to show scouts
> their meals got to the table.
This is true, but we had several other goals as well. First we wanted
them to gain an understanding of how food is processed. To most kids,
food just magically appears on the
table each night. We wanted them to gain an appreciation of were it
comes from. Second, we wanted them to establish a historical bond with
primitive man through their grandparents. Those who couldn't buy
processed food on a supermarket shelf. Third, we wanted an opportunity
to stress the importance of proper sanitation, cleanliness and thorough
cooking in food preparation. Fourth, we felt that the evisceration of
the chicken would reinforce those boring science books. Sure enough,
our guys recognized many of the anatomical parts and asked questions
about others. Finally, the guys also learned how to carve a bird.
Another skill that will come in handy later in life.
> So the troop, on a camping trip Saturday, was turned loose on a flock
> chickens from a processing plant.
This is true. The chickens were literally seconds from being
slaughtered for supermarket shelves when they were loaded onto our
trailer. They were not free range chickens.
> The scouts were shown how to kill, pluck, dress and prepare chickens
We had a one hour presentation beforehand that detailed the process of
plucking, eviscerating, quartering, preparing, cleaning-up a chicken.
> Ten to 15 of the 80 scouts declined to participate,
Actually I think it was more like 8 to 10 out of 80 or so. All boys
given the opportunity several times to not observe or participate. A
very few left. A few other boys adopted birds as pets. We anticipated
this. Those "pet" birds were not killed and in fact were donated to
the farmer on whose land we camped in front of the boys. They were
delighted to see their birds in a happy home.
> and two parents later complained.
To my knowledge we had one serious complaint. One parent (of 160 or so)
had a moral
conviction against the matter. Yet her husband and both her boys
participated in the activity.
The other complaint was more in line of seeking an explanation. How the
newspaper got this
story I don't know. I suspect it was such a topic of conversation in
schools and parent groups that
a reporter got wind of it. I know that even the objecting parent didn't
call the news.
> "It was obvious they were upset," Shepherd said. "In retrospect, we
> shouldn't have done it."
Baloney. My belief is that not one adult in our troop that helped
organize this activity
feels this way. This "quote" was taken out of context.
> "Scouting's position is that killing an animal isn't part of any BSA
> Rob Hoffman, a spokesman for Circle 10 Council of the Boy Scouts of
> America, which oversees scouting in 13 north Texas and Oklahoma
Again a quote I expect was taken out of context. BSA requires killing
and dressing two chickens for the poultry option of the Animal Science
merit badge and also killing and preparing fish for the fishing merit
> The idea came from the fathers of three troop members who fondly
> a similar trip during their scouting days.
This is true. Our boys have been saying that they are tired of doing
the same old things. We asked several adults in the troop what their
most memorable camping trip was as a boy and this topic came up. We
promised them a camping trip they would never forget and we delivered.
They never knew what was going to happen until we drove the trailer
with the chickens up. Prior to that it was the big mystery event. One
scout (the SPL) and only adults on an as-need-to-know basic knew what
the surprise was. We blew them away. It was one of the most heavily
attended camping trips this year. Every scout I talked to said it was a
Finally I would like to say, we planned this camping trip for 6 months.
We even anticipated news coverage. But we never anticipated news
coverage like this if everything went off without a hitch. We only
expected coverage if we had problems. But, we had no problems.
Everything worked like clockwork because of excellent planning. Of 80
boys we had two minor nicks with a filleting knife. The cleanup
process (Soap and water, chlorine and clear water rinses) was effective
in reducing the risk of salmonella as was placing the quartered
chickens immediately on ice and thorough cooking directly above an open
fire. Noone got sick.
In short, it really was an exceptional and memorable camping trip. No
Scott W. Killen
Asst. Scoutmaster Troop 890
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City