Scouting is a Safe Haven for adults, too
Ian N Ford FRSH (addvent@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Mon, 24 Aug 1998 14:56:30 +0100
Tim wrote that he felt that he had been " flamed " over an eartlier post.
I must confess that at times I have been disappointed by what appear to
me to be somewhat authoritarian and narrow-minded attitudes to what are
sometimes called " problem Scouts " ... but then one has to look at where
the authors are coming from. ( And this is not a flame at Tim but a
I find myself in a " support " role with two programs, as a trainer for
BSA here in England and as a Special Needs Adviser and ADC (Adult Training)
for my district in SE London. I am very much aware that our Leaders come
with very mixed skills ... some are good at practical skills, others are
person-centred facilitators, or administrators. They come with varying
commitments ... some can take the time to enter into training and maybe
train others, others can just about manage the " hour a week <g> " with
Some Leaders can find personal support within their leader team or the
chartered organisation, and difficulties with individuals can be shared
and discussed. Sometimes you will find an adult who " clicks " with
difficult members and can get through to them. But on the whole, Scouting
tend to be somewhat insular. We are an international movement, but we
want to defend " our " Pack or Troop territory. As Leaders it is
sometimes difficult to ask for help because we don't want to be seen to be
" unable to cope " - this is more so for adults who are successful in
their professional lives and who run generally success Scout units.
Then we as " trainers " or " commissioners " can at times be critical - I
know I can - and often unintentionally put people down. As somebody once said
" I cannot stand intolerant people ". It is sometimes difficult to offer
support and encouragement after being rebuffed or told " I don't want 'the
district ' sticking their noses into MY unit ... " (And sometimes
those units need more than a nose stuck in ... maybe a boot seems in
order at times.) And of course, the " support " staff are themselves
volunteers, often over-committed and over committee'd for that matter.
Several years ago I was at an " equal opportunities " seminar for senior
health service managers. The trainer made the point over lunch that maybe
<we> ought not to be there, because we and our line managers accepted that
we might have a problem. The problem for our organisation was the
managers who were in denial. It is the same with a lot of training ...
the wise man is he who first knows his own ignorance. Posts on so-called
inappropriate adult behaviour " show that many of the problems are not
caused by malice, but by possibly well-intentioned individuals who don't
even know what they don't know.
The more coping strategies we have in our repertoire the greater the
probability that we will be able to deal with a particular situation ...
whether a " problem Scout " or an emergency on the trail. Hopefully
discussion will help us to share with each other and gain new
perspectives and approaches.
Ian N. Ford DMS AIHE FRSH
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 08:40:40 +0000
From: Tim Hewitt <thewitt@FAIRCHILDSEMI.COM>
To: Multiple recipients of list SCOUTS-L <SCOUTS-L@TCUBVM.IS.TCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Remember Scouting is a Safe Haven...
I wanted to thank most of you for your thoughtful comments on this issue. I
won't thank those few of you who responded privately in a most un-Scoutlike
manner, but then there are those in every group.
I have not changed my opinion on this, but the discussion has been interesting nonetheless.
My opinion stands as it did at the start. If one boy puts the rest of the
troop and the program in jeopardy, than I will ask that he be removed from the
program if there is no way to bring him around. I was wittness to this again
last week at summer camp in another troop. The entire troop had their camp
experience ruined by one boy whom the Scoutmaster refused to deal with. Very
Some of you made arguments that I should put all my efforts into this one boy,
as without my special attention he may someday "grow up to be an axe murderer"
(fill in your favorite crime here). In this way, even if the 10 other boys
drop out of the program I will have done my civic duty. I don't buy it.
Many of you thought that my statement meant I would not work hard with the boy
and his parents to bring him around. That is simply not true. I'm sorry if it
sounded that way. In the case in point, the boys parents refuse to even attend
a Scoutmaster's Conference or to meet with any member of my committee to
discuss their boy's behavior problems. This is not part of the deal, I'm
sorry. If they won't work with me, I won't work with their son. He is noit
welcome at the meetings until his parents make the effort they need to make to
meet with me and discuss the problem.
Some of you thought that my position on this meant I would not work with
problem children but would only accept "perfect" kids. Go back and read all
that I have written if you believe this. This is nonsense. I simply stated
that there is a limit to how far I will go, and putting the entire program in
jeopardy for one child is that line for me.
I hope that all of you got something from this duscussion, even those who now
think that I am a total cad and should be removed from Scouting (one of you
wrote my DE and suggested that. He got a real kick out of it).
Tim Hewitt, Scoutmaster
Troop 350, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City