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Is This acceptable Behaviour?

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  • Is This acceptable Behaviour?

    Is it ever OK for a Scoutmaster to tell a Scout, dismissively and with contempt in his voice, during a Scoutmaster Conference, that the boy is a Paper Scout, and that he, the Scoutmaster, will never allow his Troop to produce a Paper Eagle - basically telling the Scout - forget ever attaining rank while I'm Scoutmaster?

    Aren't "Paper Scout", and especially "Paper Eagle", considered by many in the Scouting community to be among the most offensive insults that can be uttered?

    Even if it were true of the Scout, should these words ever come out of a Scoutmaster's mouth? Is it psychologically abusive? Or is this OK to do?

    If it's not OK, what does the Scout / parent do, what might be done about it, by whom, and how hard and high up do they press for the issue to be corrected?
    Can / should a Scoutmaster be removed for such an interaction with a Scout?

    I have a strong opinion, but would first like to hear and consider what others might think.

    BoyLedMyEye

  • #2
    If it's true, yes the SM should let the boy know. It's always healthier to know that someone doesn't approve of the way you're going about things.

    How he lets the boy know is another thing. And good ASMs are always helping the SM improve on that front.

    How to parent when this happens to your boy? Well I would let the CC know that you were discouraged by what happened. CC can't change what he doesn't know about. I have encouraged my kids to tell the adult (usually coaches) that they did not like the previous conversation, and ask what needs to be done to improve things.

    In this case, if the boy feels that he is better than his SM's description of him, I would encourage him to throw down a challenge "Respectfully sir, your estimation of me falls short of my true measure. To prove it, I challenge you or a champion of your choosing to a knot tying contest." Or "I will arrange the next hike." Or, whatever scout skill the boy is strongest at.

    Should the scoutmaster be removed? I've often seen that do more harm than good.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BoyLedMyEye View Post
      Is it ever OK for a Scoutmaster to tell a Scout, dismissively and with contempt in his voice, during a Scoutmaster Conference, that the boy is a Paper Scout, and that he, the Scoutmaster, will never allow his Troop to produce a Paper Eagle - basically telling the Scout - forget ever attaining rank while I'm Scoutmaster?
      Aren't "Paper Scout", and especially "Paper Eagle", considered by many in the Scouting community to be among the most offensive insults that can be uttered?
      Even if it were true of the Scout, should these words ever come out of a Scoutmaster's mouth? Is it psychologically abusive? Or is this OK to do?
      If it's not OK, what does the Scout / parent do, what might be done about it, by whom, and how hard and high up do they press for the issue to be corrected?
      Can / should a Scoutmaster be removed for such an interaction with a Scout?
      I have a strong opinion, but would first like to hear and consider what others might think.
      BoyLedMyEye
      If the boy is a Paper Scout, then it's not an insult. I don't think the SM handled this the best (actually pretty miserably). It's not psychologically abuse if true. A better way for the SM to have handled it is to tell the boy that his outdoor skills need work, and that he needs to step it up a notch.

      I agree with Qwazse, the boy should try to prove the SM wrong. That is what I would suggest. IF this is the only problem the boy has had with the SM, then that should end it. If it's been an ongoing thing, I would perhaps suggest the scout find a troop that meets his needs better. I certainly don't think the SM should be removed, but I do agree that the CC should speak to him about it.

      Comment


      • #4
        How do you know what was said in a SM conference? Did you hear the exact words or read a transcript? Was the SM referring to your scout or another boy?

        Comment


        • #5
          There's a delicate balancing act between being truthful and being mean. What concerns me here is "basically telling the Scout - forget ever attaining rank while I'm Scoutmaster?" This is unauthorized. A scoutmaster cannot add or subtract requirements. As Scoutmasters our method to deal with lazy or low achieving scouts is to mentor and motivate them. To challenge them with new responsibilities. Not belittle them and block their progress through Scouting. I can't pass judgment on this Scoutmaster since I am not privy to both sides of the situation.

          Comment


          • #6
            I take "basically telling" to mean that the SM gave his opinion in a way that shut the boy out. The SM may actually have a path that this boy could take to advance, but didn't give any of that to the boy. That's a prime example of a one-sided conversation and we all need to learn to save those for when life and limb is truly on the line.

            Comment


            • #7
              Some scouters focus too much on rank and begin to think it's their job to protect the integrity of the meaning of the ranks. Then when they see a frustration that should be fixed or improved, it comes out the wrong way. Then, they end up frustrated with the scouts for not measuring up to some imaginary standard.

              Ultimately, the ranks and the advancement program means something different for each scout. Scouts are at different levels and capabilities. It's not about getting each scout to the same level. It's about using the advancement program to develop the character, independence and responsibility in each scout.

              Calling someone a paper eagle is completely inappropriate and not worthy of any scout leader.
              Last edited by fred johnson; 04-06-2014, 06:19 PM. Reason: I wrote poorly in my original post.

              Comment


              • #8
                Could the scoutmaster have been having an off day? If it seems to be a pattern (meaning more than one scout reports this kind of verbal confrontation - or this scout has several of these kinds of incidents) it could be scoutmaster is getting burned out and needs a break or that adult just doesn't like those scouts. If it's a like/dislike thing, maybe the scoutmaster has to take a step back and realize that he as scoutmaster doesn't have to like kids for them to advance - the kids need to hit the benchmarks set by BSA.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If the Scoutmaster looked the young man in the eye and said, YOU are a paper scout and will never earn eagle in my troop, then yes he is out of line.

                  Now, If he let the young man work his way through the program, He failed to meet expectations as a patrol leader, despite having been trained and mentored, If he was not active in the program.

                  I have a scout that has yet to build a fire, he cannot tie a square knot when asked, He is currently failing as PL and is being recalled by his patrol tonight.

                  What am I supposed to do with him?

                  He was a patrol leader for 3 months, a dictator and bossy lad, he is being removed by his patrol for his effort tonight.

                  A couple of lad had came to the SPL complaining and he asked me for advice what to do.........Well a bit of research, they can recall him just like we do in our goverment. So a recall election this week and next week a new election.

                  Yes there will be drama, hurt feelings. But Big pants could have been dealt with old school and got his butt thrashed behind the CO.

                  I am planning on asking the lad for a moment of his time after he is removed by the patrol membership. SMC

                  So, what happened tonight?
                  Why do you think it happened?
                  Why do you think the patrol reacted the way they did?
                  How do you think you may have been a better leader?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sometimes we leaders forget that we are dealing with young men. We like to treat them as adults but we have to be careful when talking with them. That be said, maybe this leader has been talking to the scout and trying to get him to correct some issue. Maybe the scout asked for a scoutmaster conference even thou the sm told him he wasn't ready. I have been accused of saying things I have never said. Sometimes scouts hear want they want and not what was actually said. Whenever giving bad news, correcting scout behavior, or giving announcements I have one of my asm's with me. It has saved me a lot of drama.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I tend to try and assume the OP is giving the most accurate account of the situations the bring here to the forum, but I am having trouble with this one. Not saying it didn't happen, but typically SM Conferences have some degree of privacy even when they are done near groups of people. And there are so many ways the phrase Paper Eagle could be used and taken out of context. This thread has so many broad implications that I don't even know where to start. Hmm.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I ranted more than a bit.

                        So a scoutmaster tells a boy he will never be an eagle in his troop because he lacks the skills


                        So the OP is looking to educate/extract revenge or some other agenda.


                        I am currently dealing with a Cub parent who has called the council office, the CC and even the minister trying to get me removed because his son isn't advancing and I run a horrible program....

                        It is so horrible that it has grown from 12 to 40 boys in two years.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A lot of what happens between a SM and scout depends on the scout, his state of mind, and what he's up to at the moment.

                          While I didn't call a scout a Paper Scout, I did call one boy a slug. He was a bully, he was the reason why the troop was failing, his father was the SM and needed to step down. I took over and started reorganizing the troop. The boy resented me being his SM over his father and refused to do any thing to help out. We had a couple of situations where he didn't even try stepping up. I called him a slug and he walked out of the meeting. His dad was present at the meeting. The next week the boy was back doing the same thing. I did it again and out he went. The third time he confronted me and said he didn't appreciate the name calling. I asked him what as slug was and he said it was a stupid, slimy insect. No, I said, it is shortened word for sluggard, someone who's too lazy to look the word up in the dictionary.

                          From that point on, the lights went on. He got Eagle, the correct way, was the scout speaker at the Golden Eagle banquet for the council and after school trained to be a SM, took Woodbadge, went on to the Air Force and within 6 months of graduating basic training was crew chief.

                          What could have been a really bad situation turned out very well and I wear his Eagle mentor pin with pride.

                          While I wouldn't recommend that as an option for an inexperienced SM, I have worked with youth for 40+ years and have a sense about what motivates them at any given moment. It's not something one learns in a book.

                          The process can backfire just as easily with the scout that refuses to step up and relies on mom and dad to fight his fights for him. I have had that happen to me as well. When everyone else is stepping up and doing some great things, and little Johnny is getting left behind in the dust, his only recourse is mom and dad. There are those who truly are Paper/Parlor Scouts and nothing is going to budge them.

                          Stosh

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Basementdweller View Post
                            I ranted more than a bit.
                            So a scoutmaster tells a boy he will never be an eagle in his troop because he lacks the skills
                            So the OP is looking to educate/extract revenge or some other agenda.
                            I am currently dealing with a Cub parent who has called the council office, the CC and even the minister trying to get me removed because his son isn't advancing and I run a horrible program....
                            It is so horrible that it has grown from 12 to 40 boys in two years.
                            Funny how things like that work.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              "So the OP is looking to educate/extract revenge or some other agenda. "

                              Nope. Simply seeking various opinions. As a leader, I would never utter such an expression to a Scout, any Scout, even if it were well deserved, and was wondering if it was common practice in other regions, and considered acceptable.

                              Will keep considering your view points and I thank you for them.

                              Scout is not misinterpreting what he heard.
                              Can tell you with certainty the Scout in question does high quality work, inside and outside of Scouting, the quality of which is well known in the larger community.
                              He has always gravitated toward the academic aspect of Scouting (Merit Badges etc) due to chronic and well documented physical and medical challenges, issues well known to the Scoutmaster for many years, but the minor accommodations for which were greatly irritating to him. So the comment of being called a Paper Scout was particularly devastating to this Scout. No, Scout did not seek waivers, he struggled through until he could meet the physical requirements, some taking him a very long time, but which he finally achieved.

                              Please keep the conversation going.
                              Last edited by BoyLedMyEye; 04-07-2014, 08:45 PM.

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