What would you have done? (long)
Mark Ritter (ritterme@STNY.LRUN.COM)
Sat, 22 Aug 1998 11:51:56 -0400
Answers, in my opinion:
> Was turning the problem over to the committee the right thing to do?
Yes, I think so. (However, if you have a strong PLC...see below.)
> Should we have involved our Unit Commissioner or our sponsoring
> church at that point, or should we have gone to them earlier?
Unit Commissioner - depends. In my own experience (five units in three
districts in two councils), the unit commissioner has never been more
than a name on a piece of paper. But I understand that in some
districts / councils it's a very different story. You might have gotten
some excellent guidance from your own UC. You probably should have at
least INFORMED your UC, DE, or CE the first time Ralph's mother
Church - Isn't this automatic? (Ideally your COR is an active member of
both your troop committee and your sponsoring organization.) If not,
you probably should have informed your COR and IH the first time Ralph's
mother mentioned lawsuit.
> Within the principles and policies of Scouting, was there
> a better way to handle this situation?
All three troops that I've been associated with were strongly youth run.
Infrequent problems of a minor nature were handled by one-on-one
counseling by the PL, the SPL, an ASM, or the SM. In those days, there
was a tenure requirement for each rank. The only penalty for these
minor violations was loss of "time in rank" towards advancement to the
next rank. More frequent or serious problems were handled by the PLC,
with penalties including: loss of time in rank, removal from office, or
suspension. There was no explicit provision for expulsion as a
penalty. However, any scout who was behind on his dues at charter
renewal time would have been dropped from the roster, and I doubt if any
scout on a lengthy suspension would have paid his dues.
While we had a few instances of loss of time in rank, I only recall one
removal from office (for setting a bad example to other scouts ...
although there were a few recalls from office for failure to do the job
- i.e. the office holder effectively resigned the office due to his own
inactivity and the vacancy was filled by special election), and two
suspensions (one for 1 month; and one for 3 months, however the scout
suffered withdrawal symptoms after about 6 weeks and appealed to the PLC
for re-instatement ... which was granted).
Decisions of the PLC could be appealed to the troop committee (no
surprise) but I don't recall this ever happening. And of course, for
safety reasons, the SM or other adult in charge of any activity could
issue an immediate "7 day suspension", i.e. send a scout home from the
current activity - which I also don't recall ever happening.
This system worked well for all three troops I worked with over an 18
year period, and I suspect it would work well for the Sea Scouts I've
worked with for the past 15 years (if we ever had need to invoke it, ...
we've used some one-on-one counseling of course, and we've had a few
recalls from office due to inactivity of the officeholder, but that's
all ... we're fortunate to have always had a good crew, and haven't yet
instated a written disciplinary procedure). I know several scout
leaders whose troops currently follow esentially the same procedure.
Adequate guidance from the SM and right of appeal to the committee is
essential to make this work. You can't let it degenerate into a
"kangaroo court" and "popularity contest". Peer pressure is usually
considered in a negative context. But it *can* be put to positive use.
Often a boy will "get the message" from his peers when it "goes in one
ear and out the other" from the adults.
Mark Ritter - RitterME@stny.lrun.com - Committee Member
Sea Scout Ship 90 - The S.S.S. North Star - New Milford PA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City