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  • Camping / Sleeping Arrangements / Safe Scouting

    Hi everyone...hope you can help me. I have a situation where I have a parent of a Webelos scout wants to bring his live-in girlfriend to an upcoming Webelos campout and the three of them sleep in the same tent. Safe scouting says "parent or guardian" must sleep in the tent with the scout....doesn't address others however. There have been some concerns brought to me who have heard about this. I have my own opinion, but am soliciting some advice from others that might have experienced this. They are all great people and don't ever believe anything would happen. Both the scouts parents have a good relationship and the girlfriend is accepted by the scout well. On the other hand, she isn't a legal guardian and are we risking our insurance or charter by allowing this with our knowledge. Any advice is welcome.

  • #2
    Nope...this isn't family camping. Also, Dad has a Girlfriend not a Step-Mother not a legal guardian. Besides, females sleep elsewhere in seperate campsites/areas. A Webelos Campout is for the Boys to experince Scouting on their own with their buddies and create a team building atmosphere. If Mom came along, then she would have to sleep elsewhere anyway.

    On a sidenote; I would require all non-registered adults take YPT and provide the certificate.


    • #3
      The only people who need to be on a Webelos campout are the Webs and their den leaders. Webs (Wolves and Bears too) are perfectly able to sleep in a tent on their own with some adults across the way.

      Quite honestly, I'm not going to be asking for the marital status of couples co-parenting kids. If Uncle Bob or Aunt Sue or Cousin Pat is the only one available to bring Cub Scout Johnny for the weekend, I'd smile, collect their YPT certificate and health form, then see if they preferred to supervise dinner prep, camp fire prep, or breakfast prep.


      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        I know some wolves, bears and webs that are not perfectly able to sleep in a tent on their own. Not unless they are told there is a bear in the area and they better keep quiet.

      • Nike
        Nike commented
        Editing a comment
        So maybe "sleep" isn't the right verb. How about "remain contained?"

    • #4
      Females can sleep in the same area as males.. Hueymungus is wrong on that, perhaps it's a policy of his pack/troop.. If you had only a mother as a legal guardian she is fine sleeping with her child, IN THE SAME AREA as the rest of the Webelos..

      But.. unmarried couples can not sleep in the same tent during any scouting event, period.. And - only legal guardians can sleep with a youth, period.. So you have two issues that would get you in trouble.. I know these are BSA rules, but I could not tell you were the rule is in writing. This is the closest I came..
      go down to the section titled "Leadership Requirements for Trips and Outings" look at # 8... Also look at # 11..

      #8 ,, Male and female leaders must have separate sleeping facilities. Married couples may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.

      #11,,When staying in tents, no youth will stay in the tent of an adult other than his or her parent or guardian.

      I have never heard the G2SS stating "parent or guardian MUST sleep in the tent with the scout.. just the one in #11.. So there is no problem with 2 or 3 scouts sleeping in one tent, but then unless they are all brothers, NO parents can sleep in the same tent, because although they are guardian to one of the boys, they are not guardian to all of the boys.. But even if the scout was in another tent with other scouts.. Still boyfriend/girlfriend could not tent together.. Yes it says leaders.. But even if neither are registered scouters, any adult on the campout is an adult leader.. This rule apply to anyone on the campout.. So father/son in one tent and girlfriend in a seprate tent.. Or scout in with other youth, but father/girlfriend still in individual tents themselves.. updated this, because I forgot to mention that if someone other then a parent/guardian comes on the trip to be a scouts adult representation.. That is fine, but they would not be able to sleep in the same tent.. So if an uncle came camping in place of the parents, he maybe is the temporary guardian for the weekend, but he is not legally the permanent guardian, so they tent separately.

      But the women can be in the same campsite, seriously their cooties will wash off.

      Thems the rules...
      Last edited by moosetracker; 09-25-2013, 05:32 AM.


      • Basementdweller
        Basementdweller commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow KDD your council is screwed up....

        I lovely wife wanted to camp with me I most certainly share a tent with her.......

      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        I have mentioned it on here before. I honestly laughed at Scouter who first told me about it. I like to call it the BSA No Marriage Rule. We can't have these kids seeing married people sleep in the same room together can we ?

      • NeverAnEagle
        NeverAnEagle commented
        Editing a comment
        Our Council does not allow parents to share sleeping quarters with Scouts. I worked as camp Staff one year and was told that my boys couldn't share the cabin I was assigned, they had to set up a tent next to the cabin so I could keep an eye on them.

    • #5
      Though not likely the situation in the original post,I'd like to point out that two people do not need to be married to be parents, guardians, or parent and guardian to the same child. Since BSA doesn't ask for information about all the adults in a scout's life or require proof of marriage, neither do I.

      A question for the rule sticklers, do you require step-parents to sleep in a separate tent from their spouse and their step-son?


      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        And with changing marriage laws state by state, and the issue of states recognizing marriages from other states, this gets real complicated. Moose knows there are rules but can't find them....I wonder why.

    • #6
      I would have a tent designated for Webelos only and let the kids all tent together. They are supposed to pitch a tent and sleep in it. Let the Webelos have their own tent and tell the adults it's part of outdoorsman.

      With your parent or guardian, take part in a Webelos den overnight campout or a family campout. Sleep in a tent that you have helped pitch.


      • #7
        Yah, comchair, welcome to da forums, eh!

        Yeh are raisin' one of those issues that falls in da grey zone in terms of modern life and families. Do yeh stick to the rules that envision an intact, two-parent family even though there's really no issue of youth safety, or do yeh act with understanding and compassion toward those whose lives aren't as perfect as some busybodies would prefer? Which is best for the scout? For all the scouts?

        I think yeh have to ask your Chartered Organization for its views, since you work for them and have a duty to represent their values on the matter. If your chartered organization is a church, they may feel that the man-with-girlfriend is not the sort of example they want in their youth program. Or it might be quite the opposite, and they feel that the role of their youth programs in da church is to bring families and kids together. The difference between man-with-girlfriend and man-with-fiancee might well be that ring in his pocket that's comin' along on the campout. Askin' your chartered organization and followin' their lead also helps disarm the busy-bodies yeh have in the pack.

        Anyway, be alert that this is a minefield. It's one of those things that gets adults to misbehave on both sides and leaves a lot of hurt feelings unless handled with compassion and firmness, and a touch of creativity.


        • #8
          Good luck. You're violating BSA rules with this one. If you are family camping, then non-leaders may attend. If you are Webelos Den Camping, then non-leaders shouldn't be there. Now with BSA eliminating the Scout Parent designation, it's a little more complicated.

          However, I would see if someone can draft you a temporary (48 hour guardianship agreement). Designate the girlfriend as a temporary guardian of the Scout (signed by BOTH parents) for the time and duration of the campout, limited to the proximity of the campsite. If the kid is rushed to the hospital, the girlfriend has no authority, but this will result in the Scout not being in the tent of a non-guardian. I would also collect an Adult Application from her, register her as a 91U Reserve Scouter, and require Youth Protection from her -- this is what we do for parents that for various reasons can't register as Adult Leaders.

          In terms of the non-married leaders tenting together, explain to them in person the policy, send a notice/reminder out to the Unit. It may be with a wink and a nod, but your responsibility is to the boy, NOT them. Your BSA obligations are to keep him from tenting with a non-guardian. In terms of the couple tenting together, the policy is no, they will break the policy, and there will be no consequences to it. If something goes wrong and bad things happen on the Camp Out, BSA will kick them out as SP / Reserve Scouter for violating the policy, but since you didn't break Youth Protection, you're likely safe.

          I mean, we normally assume that the parents that live together with the Scouts are married, but I've NEVER asked for a marriage certificate. For all I know they had a religious wedding (AKA a Church Wedding), but I've never asked for a marriage certificate.
          Last edited by acco40; 09-30-2013, 09:33 PM.


          • #9
            BSA is an organization based on - a scout is morally straight. In today's society, moral norms vary from one person to another, but as a scout leader, my moral compass always read, when in doubt, don't do it if one wishes to lead by example.

            The only time I had a parent accompany each Webelos boy on an outing was when I took them canoeing on a lake to get to a primitive campsite. It really was no different than each parent driving their boy to the activity, except it was a canoe instead of a car. Otherwise, all Webelos activities were sans parents, except for one parent to provide 2-deep.

            I find that the more one gets away from the program, the more considerations one has to try and make exceptions for.

            Have I taken my girlfriend on a scout outing? Yep. I was doing whitewater canoeing/kayaking and needed a seasoned watercraft expert on the trip with me. She was well qualified for that position and yes, she had her own tent.

            Last edited by jblake47; 09-25-2013, 09:16 AM.


            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              This is that fuzzy rule from GTSS that indicates, at least to me, that the BSA prefers parents or guardians with Webelos.

              "A Webelos Scout may participate in overnight den camping when supervised by an adult. In most cases, the Webelos Scout will be under the supervision of his parent or guardian. It is essential that each Webelos Scout be under the supervision of a parent-approved adult. Joint Webelos den/troop campouts including the parents of the Webelos Scouts are encouraged to strengthen ties between the pack and troop. Den leaders, pack leaders, and parents are expected to accompany the boys on approved trips."

          • #10
            Ya know folks.......While it is a rule........We have to admit it is a pretty stupid one at this point...... While I don't condone live in arrangements.......

            Lets look at this differently.

            Johnny has two live in dads.....They are not legally married.....The men can tent together, johnny and dad can tent together, but the family unit can't tent together but yet live in a household together..

            Better yet what if two men are married or the two moms are married.

            Make it mom and live in male friend or two moms or biomom and biodad who are not married...... Lots of combinations here.

            My rule is if they are a family unit....They live together under the same roof, cohabitant or share a house they can tent together......

            But you get my point.......

            So you're going to tell a boy who wants to bring his family he can't because his living situation isn't moral or wrong in you opinion......

            think about it....

            I don't have to like they way other folks live, I don't have to condone it. but what is best for the boy.
            Last edited by acco40; 09-30-2013, 09:35 PM.


            • perdidochas
              perdidochas commented
              Editing a comment
              I pretty much agree. When I was a cub leader, I had a scout who lived with his grandma. His uncle, a gay man, I later met his partner, would carry him on the campouts and tent with him. I figured that if the grandma trusted him, that was good enough for me. I feel family can make that kind of choice. It wasn't my business to interfere.

          • #11
            Comchair, are either of the adults in question leaders in the Webelos den or Cub Scout pack? Are there going to be other "families" there, with tenting by family rather than the Webelos sharing tents among themselves, so that this becomes more of a "family camping trip"? I am not saying the answers to these necessarily answer the question, though they do suggest some possibilities depending on how the rules are interpreted. Nevertheless, I think the INTENT of rule #8 (quoted by Moosetracker) is not to have unmarried adults of opposite gender tenting together under any circumstances, even though that is not exactly what it says. (It says "leader" but I think it means "adult", whether a "leader" or not.) And let me ask you this, can't someone just lend "girlfriend" a small tent she can use by herself? It could be put up right next to Dad-and-son's tent. Isn't that a reasonable compromise?


            • #12
              It is a hard dance to dance today. In this situation I'm all for the what's best for the scout and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. BUT ... you also need to respect that scouting unit is "owned" by the charter organization and is a branch of that organization and reflects the values of that organization. Some charter organizations want to keep things at arms length. Others may want it differently. IMHO, it is hard to show an example that contradicts what your charter org teaches.

              As for the original posters comment ... live-in girl friend? Ya know ... Is it two month live-in girl friend or ten year live-in girl friend? Do people pretty much accept them as married?

              We had a pack leader who brought his two month girl friend on the camp out. She came and camped. No one made an issue of it. But in our troop it would have been different as many kids are home schooled and / or from evangelical churches. It would have been an issue with their parents. No pun but Holy Hell would have been raised from the example set.


              Be creative. If you think it won't be an issue, fine. But if it will be an issue, then re-design the event or find a work around or talk to them nicely.


              • #13
                Playing it safe and just saying no seems to be the prudent thing to do here.


                • #14
                  Wow.. Lot's of advice on "Why I would break the rules.." All sound and reasonable, and if your group is basically all liberal thinking just fine and dandy.. I understand also where you are coming from with the changing times, and you not wanting to seem like some old fuddy-duddy..

                  But the OP stated that people in his group have come to him with concerns.. It's fine to ask you CO their preference, but basically your CO can add more rules to the BSA rules, but can't decide to not follow BSA rules.. So, this is like the homosexual your group makes a scout leader.. It is fine, until someone who is not OK with the situation turns you with a complaint about it to council.. Before you do it, you should be sure everyone in the group is in agreement, and there is no one "voicing concerns"..

                  Also could become an unwanted slippery slope when you say fine to this unmarried couple for the reason that they kind of seem married by all living together anyway.. Then a year later have a father who is going through a mid-life crisis and changing sex-partners on a weekly basis wanting to bring their girlfriend of the week along with him..

                  Do what you want, follow the rules, don't follow the rules.. But, make sure you think things through when you decide not to follow the rules.


                  • moosetracker
                    moosetracker commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Don't be condescending.. Of course you don't require all parents to produce their papers as proof.. You take a group that looks and acts as a family unit as just that.. But, if you KNOW they are not married due to them just talking to you in normal conversation, and you know that many in your unit know the situation.. Or if you assume they are married, then are informed by others in your unit they are not.. You act accordingly.

                  • sasha
                    sasha commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I'm not being condescending. I'm simply pointing it that it is an impossible rule to follow with any sort of consistency as it is written and as you and other posters have indicated it should be followed.

                  • moosetracker
                    moosetracker commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sorry that you have a troop or pack who have members that never communicate with each other, so you don't know who is married, who is dating, who is engaged to be married, who is getting a divorce.. If the scout someone brings every week is their son, or is an uncle that is very into scouting while the child's parents are not or whatever.. Usually those type of things I find out usually with the very first discussion, or as I see them week to week, and their life changes..

                    I can see one quiet family group keeping to themselves and be surprised in finding that what you assumed over the past year they were enrolled wasn't quite correct.. But, I would see that as an oddity and not the norm..

                • #15
                  We had one family....aunts uncles cousins and sibs camp I. one tent ...kinda reminded me of a clown car with everyone piling out in the morning. They had 10 in a 12 man tent.