What would you have done? (long)
Carol McFadden (mcfadden@RSO.RADSAFE.PITT.EDU)
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 14:52:32 EST5EDT
Bill Roswell's incident involving two boys in his troop brought me up
short, as it is remarkably similar to something I was involved in.
My situation was resolved, but I've always wondered if it could have
been handled in a better way, and so I'd like to solicit input from
you wise ones. I'm not going to give away the ending of the story
cause I'm curious to hear your ideas.
About the time I married my husband, the SM, one of the boys in our
troop (we'll call him Ralph) decided during a camping trip that Coleman
fuel would help his fire burn faster and persuaded a group to steal
some from the adult supplies and use it in a very unwise manner. All
boys involved were given appropriate punishment by the committee.
A year later, Ralph is the ringleader in pranks/vandalism at summer camp
resulting from his not having been elected to OA. All boys are sent home,
and at the committee disciplinary meeting his mother threatens a lawsuit
if her son is expelled from the troop. (Troop policy states that upon the
second major incident the boy is asked to leave.) The committee decides
that his punishment for this second infringement is not attending the high
adventure camp the next month, and the SM is in favor of this action because
he (and all the ASMs) believes that this boy *really* needs Scouting.
But she and Ralph are told specifically that his next infraction will
result in expulsion. Six months after Ralph was restricted from high adventure
camp, the mother asks the committee to suspend our son because three months
earlier he had engaged in a stupid prank. The committee agrees that the prank
was stupid, but that it was minor and our son had already been punished by us.
Six months after that the mother is asked by the chairman to stop spreading
dissension by going to other parents with rather nasty opinions about me
and my parentage. During this year, we were working with Ralph to help
him achieve his goal of election to OA which he reaches the following
Ralph has been a scout for about four years and has an avid interest
in camping and high adventure. However, when he expresses a wish for
responsibility and is given a job, he usually walks away from it.
He's been Patrol Leader for a while but does almost nothing with it.
He is sporadic about showing up for troop meetings, and does virtually
nothing at meetings even though he's asked to help the younger
scouts....although he has a small but loyal following among the boys.
He's got charisma and very good leadership qualities but doesn't seem to
want to use them.
During a COH, I overheard the boys say that Ralph had stolen two
items from a Scout shop during one of our trips and given the items
to other scouts. Upon consulting with the committee chairman and
ASMs, it is decided that the SM will look into the truthfulness of
the rumor by asking the SPL and ASPLs if they know of any shoplifting
taking place on the trip. Within 3 days our son is approached during
school by one of the supposed recipients and jokingly told that he
should be beaten up for squealing. Two evenings after that, Ralph
threatens our son with a beating, theft of his property, and harm to our
pets if the SM (my husband) doesn't stop the investigation. Our son
struggles with his conscience for 3 days and finally tells us of the threats.
These threats did not happen during a troop activity or on church
property. We immediately call the committee chairman, who voices
relief that Ralph can finally be thrown out of the troop. We of course
are concerned for our sons safety and notify him of our intention to file
a report with the school and the police. Keeping in mind that the chairman
has rarely been known to make a decision on his own and has a
reputation as a 'henpecked husband', and that Ralph will probably
deny any threats, and that Ralph's mother will undoubtedly go
ballistic when she hears of this, we inform him that we will not
be at the next evenings committee meeting but will turn the matter
over to the committee for resolution. There are also a few people on
the committee who are afraid of Ralph's mother because she has a
reputation for retaliation. We do, however, notify the committee
in writing that our family will not remain in the same troop with
Was turning the problem over to the committee the right thing to do?
Should we have involved our Unit Commissioner or our sponsoring
church at that point, or should we have gone to them earlier? Within
the principles and policies of Scouting, was there a better way to handle
Replies can be sent to the list if you think it's appropriate, or to
me personally. It's just been niggling at me that we may have chosen
the wrong solution, given the ultimate resolution of this situation.
ASM, T194 in Allison Park, PA
If the adult leadership loses sight of the program goals -
the transmission of values of duty, honor, integrity, and civic
and personal responsibility - the rest of the Troop's
operation is moot anyway. Bruce Major on Scouts-L
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City