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  • Alcohol

    Recently, my family and I attended a party celebrating a milestone for a scouting unit. It was held at a local catering hall. The boys in the troop and adult leadership wore uniforms; other guests dressed for an occasion. There was an open bar. I was surprised but admit that I had a drink since I wasn't driving. My adult children also had a drink; obviously, my minor children did not. The question came up at the party as many people were curious and most thought that no alcohol could be served at a function where scouts were in uniform. Is there such a rule and would it apply to a situation like this?

  • #2
    The key to the answer is whether or not this was a scouting event. If the troop organized it, someone probably goofed on this one. On the other hand, if it was a spontaneous gathering of several family members, some of whom happened to be wearing scout uniforms, it's open for discussion.


    • #3
      It was not a spontaneous gathering, it was apparently planned for quite some time and it was organized by the scouting unit. There were more than 50 people in attendance.

      Why do you say someone goofed and what might the repercussions be?


      • #4
        All of our district recognition dinners, Golden Eagle Dinner, and a number of other district/council events are served in an alcohol served setting. Scouters who wish to drink come without uniform so they think they aren't noticed. The only non-alcoholic event is the council recognition dinner because the Eagle scouts are recognized at that event. They wouldn't want their double standard to be so evident in front of the Eagle scouts.



        • #5
          /when you say district recognition dinners, do you mean adult only? I have no problem with alcohol at that type of function. This was a family event, though, with cub scout aged children in attendance as well. There was one adult leader in uniform, and many boys in uniform.


          • #6
            Scout policy notwithstanding, I think you will find that your council, CO, and other adults will not much care about this issue after the fact just as you and your adult children were unconcerned during the event. Then again if the CO dismissed adult scout leaders that would be fine with Schiff. Seemingly, the reality these days is that the most we can hope for is for all to drink responsibly, i.e., adults are not driving after consuming and adults are not spending scout funds on alcohol.

            My unit stopped attending events where alcohol was served - ball games and even CO events due to safety concerns.

            My $0.02
            Last edited by RememberSchiff; 03-03-2014, 07:15 AM. Reason: grammar


            • #7
              5scoutmom, There will probably be no repercussions since there were no bad consequences during or after that event. I am pasting in the words from the Guide to Safe Scouting: "It is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America that the use of alcoholic beverages and controlled substances is not permitted at encampments or activities on property owned and/or operated by the Boy Scouts of America, or at any activity involving participation of youth members."

              That last part (any activity involving participation of youth members) is the part that your unit violated, IMHO. My advice is to read the Guide to Safe Scouting. READ it, don't merely let the words pass by your eyes. There is much more in that document besides the policy on alcohol.


              • #8
                What happened was not only clearly a BSA policy violation, it was also very bad judgment. No drinking in the presence of youth period; if it's a scout gathering, it's a scout gathering. It makes no difference if a leader is in, or out, of uniform, he or she is still a scout leader. This is about safety and being the correct role model for all scouts.


                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Character is who you are when no one is looking.

                • Rick_in_CA
                  Rick_in_CA commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I agree with Old Eagle. It doesn't matter if you are in uniform or not, if it's a scout function and youth are participating then it's against BSA policy.

                  jblake: great phrase! I'm going to steal it!

              • #9
                I agree, if this was an "official" function of the BSA, council, district or unit, with youth participation, then alcohol was not allowed under the G2SS. Whether in uniform or not is irrelevant.


                • #10
                  Thank you all for your thoughts.

                  Packsaddle, I am familiar with the rules you mention and I have feasted my eyes on them. That is partly where my inquiry comes up. The unit involved is NOT my unit and I had no input into the planning of this event. My family left this unit a number of years ago because we didn't like how it was run but we attended this celebration to mark the time we had spent in it and to honor those who came before the current adult leadership. In my current unit, adults do not drink in front of scouts at any type of scouting related function and we emphasize that scouting and drinking do not mix. My husband's father died of alcoholism related illnesses and we are, therefore, incredibly diligent with our children and those we are responsible for in scouting about how we treat alcohol and drinking. I did have a drink at the function but only because there was an open bar; I would not have complained had there not been one. To that end, I was modeling responsible drinking for my own children but I told them that I was shocked that there was a bar at the event.

                  I will state that I did not see any adult uniformed leader drinking but I wasn't watching all the time and I wasn't sitting at the same table.

                  Someone at the party who was also upset about it told me that I should contact the DE but then I saw him at the party. I didn't see him drinking but he wasn't in uniform. Again, I wasn't paying that much attention to him.

                  After reading these responses, I think that I am not going to do anything other than make sure that my own scout functions, to which the other unit will be invited because we share a CO and some overlapping members, are properly run. We are planning a party for an upcoming unit anniversary and are going to hold it at our CO (a religious facility) which will doubly ensure that no alcohol is served.

                  I guess I was just surprised and wondered if there had been any changes in the rules that I was unaware of.


                  • #11
                    If it was an "open bar", to me that indicates that the organizers of the event paid for the drinks.
                    Was this an "official" Scout celebration? or a privately organized (SM retirement party done by his family?) sort of thing. If the former, I would feel the necessity of politely, diplomatically , reminding the organizing party of the above named policy. Uniformed Scout youth were in attendance, and , it seems, were expected. If it was the latter case, perhaps it was only poor taste and not a violation with "prior intent"; but still, if it LOOKS like a Scout event and people ACT like it's a Scout event and folks come to it EXPECTING it to be a Scout event, then it IS a Scout event and should have been treated as such.


                    • #12
                      SSScout -

                      The organizers didn't pay for the drinks. The attendees paid for the open bar and tickets cost a great deal of money. There was a discounted price for current unit members, everyone else paid much more. It cost me close to $400 to bring part of my family to this party. There was no choice given as to whether you wanted to pay extra for an open bar as is done at my company holiday party (I would have declined). It was a scout event honoring the unit, not any individual members. It was billed as a celebration of the unit, there was a glossy magazine with the history of the unit and advertisements. People were expecting a scout event.

                      I guess I just find it hypocritical.


                      • SSScout
                        SSScout commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Okay, Cash Bar and Open Bar are two different things in my dictionary, but never mind that. It was billed as a "Scout" event, Scout youth were in attendance and by good sense, BSA policy and public decorum, the event should have been non-alcoholic.
                        At our Quaker Meeting, we receive many requests to use our Meeting House and Community House for private parties (retirement parties, weddings, receptions, etc.) and when they hear our policy of no alcohol AT ALL, the askers often back off, no matter how picturesque or inepensive it might be. Too bad, so sad.

                    • #13
                      This is wrong on so many levels... If this happened in my unit, I would complain loudly. There may be no repercussions this time, but it would never be allowed to happen again. A clear violation of G2SS, and common sense would tell you that it sends the wrong message to the Scouts.


                      • #14
                        I agree it is poor form, however - it goes on probably more than you would think. I have attended district and council dinners (adult award / pat me on the back / see my nifty kilt I made to go with my adult scouter wanna-be 3rd world general uniform). Several had scouts (both Eagles and non) in attendance as color guard and buffet servers / busboy type taks. They have had a cash bar at some / others have been 'dry' (non-alcohol) events. Additionally, our council has at least one to two Scouts night at the Padres games.... they serve alcohol at the stadium. Some of the scouters have a beer, others do not. While I think it was ppor form, I don;t see a huge issue with it (even if it was a 'scout function') because presumably every scout there was under the direction / care of his own parent / guardian. Same as at the baseball game. I don;t condone it, but I don't see a big deal about it. The big deal comes in when you have a scouter that is responsible for scouts under his / her care and they choose to consume alcohol. I agree its best to leave the booze alone anytime there is youth around, but you going to a dinner with your family and having a drink is no different than doing so when you go out to a regular restaraunt, IMHO. Beer at summer camp, adults drinking on a unit campout an then driving kids home, I see as a much bigger deal. Its poor form, but in the gray area of G2SS. heck, maybe they should have it for the FOS presentations.... it would make them more bearable, and likely increase the donations Dean


                        • desertrat77
                          desertrat77 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Dean, good thoughts and I really got a kick out of your FOS suggestion! A beverage would be helpful!
                          Last edited by desertrat77; 03-08-2014, 08:07 PM.

                      • #15
                        Bad form under the guises of Scouting.... probably.
                        But I think a lot depends on contexts...... Kids are around it......We're Catholic and drink at almost all church functions! I think for us if it's a kid focus thing, booze is left out..... but I'm imagining an evening social thing as described.... my guess is that the kids didn't notice.

                        I've seen something new....actually twice now. Kid of a similar thing. I think actually looks worse. Once at our recent University of Scouting a leader form another unit, and again on a pack overnighter with one of our leaders. I think it's called "Vaping" or some such thing...... it's a little pipe/cigarette thing hanging on a neck lanyard, and they are puffing away on this thing like a cigarette. I just found it in bad form, and almost said something to the leaders both times.... but in both cases youth weren't present.
                        I know there's a rule about tobacco, but this aint tobacco!