Re: Scoutmaster Distress
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET)
Wed, 22 Jul 1998 11:27:20 -0400
> Obviously, a bad move on my part.
> The Scoutmaster proceeded to chew me a new body opening
> because, I was keeping the Scouts from coming to their own
> Scoutmaster and by asking them not to disturb the Scoutmaster
> I was undermining authority and portraying the Scoutmaster as a
> bad Scoutmaster unable to do the Scoutmaster job, and portraying
> myself as the good Scoutmaster.
Personally, I don't think what you did was a bad move. I also think the
other SM over-reacted to the situation. In this situation, I would have
invited the other SM to go for a walk. I would have taken him to some place
away from the campsite (out of earshot of the anyone in the campsite). Once
there I would have calmly and rationally explained to him that I was only
trying to help him out and that I don't appreciate being accused of
"conspiring" with anyone to undermine someone else's authority.
The purpose of my conversation would be not only to clear the air between
myself and the other SM, but to try to figure out why the SM of another
troop would think someone is conspiring against him. Just from what you
described in your post, it's pretty clear to me that this other SM is a
"hands-on" kind of guy. My guess is that he also sees summer camp as an
opportunity to push a lot of advancement and fill every Scout's day with
what he considers productive activities.
> I did nothing but take care of my own Troop and keep my nose clean.
> I referred questions to their own SA's when they were asked to me.
> Then, a brand new body opening was drilled!
> I was being anti-social and cold shouldered!
> I apologized once again.
At this point I fear I would have "lost it." If I had been in your shoes I
think I would have gone ballistic on the other SM. While this wouldn't have
been very helpful to the situation, it would no doubt be my first reaction.
I would try to get to the bottom of the problem by talking to the other SM
about his concerns, but I wouldn't apologize. His previous conversation made
it quite clear he didn't want you "interfering" with his troop. Basically I
would tell the other SM that he should probably make up his mind. What does
he want me to do? This conversation wouldn't be as friendly as the first
because I personally don't have much patience with people who contradict
themselves like this.
> Over the course of the week, the Scouts and SA's became distressed
> with the pressure that the Scoutmaster was putting on them.
> They wanted to play. They had to work.
> They saw us having fun. They watched from the sideline.
Now we can see what the real problem is. The SM of the other troop has some
very firm ideas on what summer camp is all about. To him it is probably not
about having fun. This means he probably has some pretty firm ideas about
how to run a Scout troop, etc. My guess is that the real problem is not
between you and the SM, but between him and the rest of his troop.
Personal experience tells me that Scouts who get the chance to observe
another troop in action often discover that there are things about their own
troop that are not being done correctly. They may observe things being done
wrong in the other troop, but their perception will be on the differences
between the two troops. Perhaps several Scouts and more than one of the SAs
from the other troop have observed that your Scouts were having a whole lot
more fun (and were probably easier to handle). For adult leaders, this tends
to make you wonder if you're doing something wrong.
> Scouts and SA's from the other Troop became distressed with their
> Scoutmaster and one by one started coming to my tent to ask if they
> could transfer to my Troop.
> I said no. They should stay with their own Troop and work it out.
> They said they want to quit.
If the SA's are asking to transfer the situation may be worse than I
thought. Or it could be that they have never attended training and don't
know how to resolve the problem. My advise to the Scouts would be to try to
work the problem out with the SM. My advise to the SAs would be to talk to
the SM. Since the SM already shows signs of paranoia it would probably not
be wise to present a direct and united front. This calls for a little more
subtlety. My estimation is that the other troop is in serious trouble, but
it's not so serious that the problem can't be fixed.
For your part, Linda, it's probably best to remain quiet. This is something
the other troop has to work out for itself. I would make myself available as
a source of information (i.e. who do I talk to? where do you find...), but I
would also try to remain impartial and on the sidelines.
AJ Mako, firstname.lastname@example.org, Scoutmaster Troop 381
http://members.aol.com/Scouts381/ "Home of the Unofficial Boy Scout Desktop
Great Trail Council - Old Portage District - Akron, Ohio
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City