Re: Protection at camps
Ian N Ford FRSH (addvent@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Thu, 4 Jun 1998 09:03:11 +0100
On Wed, 3 Jun 1998, Drew Mrenna wrote:
> Hi gang.
> At our last Commissioner's Meeting one of our Unit Commissioners had a
> interesting question asked him from a Cub parent, which he brought to
> our meeting for an answer.
> The question was brought on with the current fatal shootings at schools.
> The question is "What is being doing to protect their child from
> violence (guns, knives, ....) from other scouts at
> district/council/national camps?"
BSA has policies for ensuring that firearms used for shooting sports are
secured, and that Scouts are taught safety procedures for using guns,
bows and arrows, axes and knives. BUT that does not account for parental
stupidity, like the Dad who sent his kid to Cub Scout residential camp with
a bayonette type survival knife.
Without getting into the gun control debate, adults need to accept that
their adult status means taking responsibility for protecting youngsters
against their own folly. My <personal> view is that a parent who leaves a
gun where a child can have access to it is equally as culpable as the kid
who pulls the trigger, if not more so.
I differentiate between offensive
weapons ( guns, catapults, hunting knives ) that boys are prohibited from
bringing to camp, and " weapons of opportunity " such as wood tools,
pioneering poles etc. that can be used to inflict injury. Parents need
to take responsibility for ensuring that their youngsters do not take any
of the " prohibited items " to camp. But the reality is that camp is full of
" weapons of opportunity " - axes, shovels, tent stakes, hammers, craft knives
.... The weapon is not the issue, it is the kid who is behind the tool which
has become a weapon.
As a former health service manager and social work practice teacher I
have been on the basic " dealing with aggression " training that
emphasises defusing situations before they get out of hand. Perhaps some
of that training needs to be available more widely to voluntere youth
workers, including Scouters.
I can recall one occasion when I was co-director of our district merit
badge lock-in, and the other director and I had to deal with a Scout who
had punched his Scoutmaster. It was obvious that this kid had some real
behavioural problems, but what had been the final trigger was the way the
SM handled a difficult situation. By all accounts the boy was very tense
and angry, and the SM reacted by becoming very tense and angry himself,
shouting at the kid. Rather than backing off the leader moved forward
into the kid's personal space, and got thumped. Of course the boy was in
the wrong, and he was subsequently expelled from the troop. But in one
sense the responsibility for the incident was also with the leader - a
very loud " type A " individual, one of the " I'm an adult so you do
what I say " school. Had he backed off and taken control of the situation
calmly the situation would possibly never have happened. But instead he
took the kid's " attitude " as a personal affront to his authority.
Fortunately no weapon was involved, but had there been a suitable object
to hand it is possible that the kid would have used it.
> After some discussion (the question was brought up at our district
> committee meeting also) it appeared that this was left up to the units
> to handle.
This only serves to emphasise the need for leadership who have had
training and who know the individual Scouts. As a Camp Commissioner I
see more " discipline problems " in troops where the adults in camp are
not the regular troop leadership, and don't " read " the boys' behaviour
and anticipate problems.
What happens in the case of Provisional troops ? I have been Provisional
SM for the past few years, and it can be " interesting " dealing with a
group of youngsters who are thrown together with unfamiliar youth and
adults for a week.
District Committee Member, Mayflower District, Transatlantic Council BSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City