Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Packed up and Went home
Re: Packed up and Went home
Tue, 23 Feb 1999 08:48:08 -0500
Terry Humphries wrote:
>After we had setup camp, prepared and eaten supper several of the boys
>noticed the red dot of a laser pointer.
>I got the attention of all of the boys and proceeded to explain the dangers
>of these devices. While I was talking the dot started dancing around the cam
>site again! I then explained to the boys that part of my job as SM is to
>provide a safe experience for all involved and that I would have to
>confiscate the device until the end of the campout. I gave them 30 minutes
>to produce it. The 30 minutes passed and nothing was turned in, So I packed
>everyone up and returned to our Scout Hut. <snip>I believe that I did the
>right thing. Do you concur?
I know of no other time when kids will test the limits than in the 12-18
year old bracket, except maybe the ages 1-11 <grin>. I think you did the
right thing, Terry. As an adult you have the ultimate responsibility for
the safety of all of the boys in your troop. I am not just talking about
legalities, but how would you explain to me, a mom, that my son (or my
husband, the ASM) was permanently blinded by a device that you knew was
dangerous?? How would you sleep at night? The answer, of course, is that
you would always bear that burden and guilt, even if there were no legal
The boys learned a very important lesson, one that may save their lives
one day. Mr.Humphries means what he says. And Mr. Humphries cares enough
about ALL of the boys in the troop that he is willing to risk the anger of
his scouts and the wrath (that may be too strong a word) of the parents by
spoiling their weekend plans. And they also learned that the next time
that Mr. Humphries says "I really mean this", that he does mean that. Of
course, the boys won't tell you that it was a good learning experience, and
maybe the parents won't either, but you have to have control over the
ultimate safety of the troop.
Just remember one thing: it was not >you< that decided to bring the boys
home. It was the boys. You provided an alternative to going home, turn in
the laser pointer, which would be returned after the campout. >They<
decided that the safety of the group was secondary to the possession of a
toy/weapon. "But why punish the whole group because only one boy was being
unsafe?" Because as a troop you all take the responsibility for all of
your members. It is unfortunate that the other boys did not pressure the
pointer owner to give it up. The consequence was that they all suffered.
(Yeah, sure they didn't know who it was) Better that they all went home
than a child or SM be blinded. (By the way, that pointer can burn a hole
in someone's retina during the day, too.)
Last month an ASM here in Columbia was partially but permanently blinded
in one eye because of a laser pointer at a meeting. It could happen to
you, folks. Ban these 'toys', they have no use or function, and the side
effects are horrifying. Lawsuits, sure to follow this craze, will only
compensate the victims with money. Nothing will restore their lost sight.
Stand by your decision, Terry, it was one that took guts. And those boys
will appreciate it someday. I appreciate it now, as a parent who trusts my
son's SM to make the right decisions concerning his safety.
Yours in the Spirit of Scouting
Lorie McGraw <email@example.com>
Webelos Leader and more in Columbia, SC
Etowah Creek District, Indian Waters Council
All reports are in. Life is now officially unfair.