Hazing (Natasia, must get Moose and Gofer)
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET)
Wed, 5 Aug 1998 14:52:03 -0400
Concerning kissing a giant dead moose in order to retrieve a hat worn in a
place hats are not allowed:
The camp I attended as a youth (and later as a staff member) had the same
tradition. Scouts were warned on Sunday evening that 1) Hats were not to be
worn in the dinning hall, 2) Scouts wearing hats in the dinning hall will be
asked at least once to remove the hat, and 3) Hats may be confiscated by
staff member or adult leaders. We were further told that confiscated hats
would be displayed on the moose's antlers. The only way we were told we
could retrieve a confiscated hat was to kiss the moose. While this may seem
to be hazing on the surface, let me explain why it isn't hazing:
* We were told the rules up front on the very first day. The staff explained
in very simple terms the rules of the game and what we could expect if we
broke the rules.
* The staff made kissing the moose an honor on most occasions. Scouts who
had birthdays during the week were allowed to kiss the moose. Anyone who
kissed the moose also got to sign their name to the list of Scouts who had
* No Scout was ever forced to kiss the moose against his will.
* Adult leaders could claim hats, lost articles of clothing, etc. from the
Program Director at any time.
* The Staff and adult leaders were encouraged to stop other Scouts from
making fun of Scouts who had kissed the moose, or hazing them in any way.
The staff was also told not to accept lost articles or hats from anyone
other than another staff member or an adult leader.
Kissing the moose at Manatoc was not hazing because of ALL of the points
above together, not any one in particular. For the record, these also
applied to licking the fish and hugging the goat.
I'm not saying that no Scout was ever reduced to tears or traumatized by
having to kiss the moose. What I'm saying is that it was not done to
humiliate the Scout. It was done as a game. I have seen Scouts traumatized
by moose kissing, but not because of anything the staff did. Usually, it was
the other Scouts in his troop or even one of his adult leaders.
As far as "Gofers" is concerned, the term has a very long tradition. Why do
we call them "Gofers"? Because their job is to "go fer this" and "go fer
that." The term doesn't fit the definition of hazing in any way since it
isn't used to humiliate the person. In my troop, as a Scout, being the Gofer
was an honor. It was a job that needed to be done. I must admit that the
term wasn't used much at Manatoc. The official name for the task was
"Waiter." The use of the term "Gofer" was mostly among the Scouts and
Scouters, and sometimes the staff, but it was never used officially (i.e. in
camp documents, or orientation talks).
Frankly, anyone who thinks that it is hazing to call someone the "Gofer" is
taking things too far. As was explained in the original post, the DE's
argument didn't stand up under even the most cursory examination. In my
opinion, this is simply a case of going too far. It may also be a case of
not knowing the history of the term's use in the camp.
AJ Mako, email@example.com, 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