Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Packed up and Went home - Laser pointers
Re: Packed up and Went home - Laser pointers
Tue, 23 Feb 1999 15:31:42 -0600
We use all sorts of devices and plan all sorts of activities in Scouting that
are inherently dangerous. Our task with reference to the devices is to decide
if (1) they have a place in Scouting, (2) they are safe in the hands of trained
Scouts, and (3) if they are tools for a "fun" purpose.
Personal, Patrol and Troop discipline is the foundation of Scouting safety,
whether it be swimming, boating, climbing, etc., etc. If you have a discipline
problem with any one activity or device, then you are likely to have a
discipline problem with other activities or devices. Without discipline,
virtually no device or Troop activity is safe. (Now, having said this, I am
suitably assured that my Troop's next campout will be a discipline disaster.)
If a device or activity is such that safety dictates very close adult
supervision, e.g. liquid fueled stoves, shotguns, motorboating, etc., we have
a Scout "policy" about adult control. If a device or activity is such that a
Scout can be trained to safely use or do these things on their own, we usually
have a training policy, e.g. pocketknives, axes, propane stoves, campfires,
hiking, swimming, etc. If a device or activity has no Scouting purpose, e.g.
handguns or paintball, we ban these things altogether.
A few months ago, laser pointers started showing up on my Troop's campouts and
at Troop meetings. Coincidentally, the local school district banned them on
school premises. The Scouts asked me if I was going to ban them in the Troop.
I advised I really didn't know and asked them for their opinions.
I asked them about safety. They assured me laser pointers are very safe as long
as they are not pointed at somebody (or even, some creature) even in jest. They
had some ideas on how we could use them in Scouts. I asked them to start making
a list of the ways they would use them and how I could be assured of their
safety. I've started my own list. We're going to talk about laser pointers at
our next PLC. I don't know that a decision is going to be made but we're
definitely going to talk about them.
To date, I have not had any experience with a laser pointer aimed at "someone."
Were this to occur, my reaction would be no different than if a pocketknife was
pointed at someone. I've never had a pocketknife pointed at someone either. I
pray I never do.
If a pocketknife were pointed at someone, would I penalize the entire group?
Probably not. When should a Scout definitely "tattle?" When his heart tells
him the Scout Law has been broken by someone such that the safety of any
individual could be jeopardized that instant or possibly in the future. For
those willing to argue the Oath and Law points of this thread, I think the
"tattle" issue for the group decision resulted in a "draw" between "obedient"
and "loyal." The other ten points clearly came down in favor of not
"tattling." The Scouts evidently trusted young Skywalker with the pointer and
refused to give in to the Empire. Sorry. I have to admire their pluck.
I think laser pointers are neat. My Scouts think they're neat. I'm pretty sure
we can make use of them in our Troop's program if I can verify their safety. As
long as they are safely used for a fun Scouting purpose, what's the problem? So
far, I haven't read anything about laser pointers on this list that would cause
me to ban them altogether from my Troop's program.
Should I allow Scouts to keep them in their possession? I'm not sure yet. As
long as they're used safely, how is a laser pointer different than a pocket
knife? An axe?
I've always found it interesting that leaders who have no confidence in their
own swing of a relatively light golf club (no practice, no muscle memory),
confidently place an axe or hatchet in the hands of a trained 11 year old.
Maybe we should have a special "totin chit" for laser pointers.
Dave Beaver (a "Bobwhite" running for cover)
Mud Dogs 54