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  • Scoutmaster + alcohol at camp

    Brand new to this forum but didn't know where else to go.

    I am a Troop Committee member and after the Troop's return from summer camp, a special meeting was called to discuss an "incident" that happened at summer camp. One night (mid-week) the SM got up and announced he was quitting. What he said and how he said it was a shock to all, especially the boys. The adults talked to him the next day and he ended up apologizing to the boys and everyone else that next night. However, there was and still is a lot of confusion about the event.

    The adult leaders and parents present at camp were at the Cmte meeting to share what happened (all but one who had a work conflict). Cmte members were told SM has personal & work issues, stress with being SM, etc. SM has asked for leave of absence, and based on what was related to Cmte members about what happened, we agreed it would be best thing, with ASM taking over for a few months and then another review.

    I later find out from leader who was present at camp but not at meeting that alcohol was involved. Apparently SM took alcohol to camp in a metal water container and had been drinking most of the day. He was drunk when he had the meltdown in front of the kids.

    The question I have is what to do with this knowledge? I know there is a NO alcohol policy that applies to Scouts and especially the adult leaders. I don't think he should be SM, as it showed a lack of character and leadership. I think the Cmte may have made another decision if they'd had ALL the facts. The leader who wasn't present at the meeting thought that the other adults were going to share all the pertinent information. I am disappointed in those that were at camp that they didn't share the complete story.

    Is this something that Council needs to know about?

  • #2
    Assuming the facts are as stated, this person has no business in the Scouting program in my opinion. I would definitely inform your local Scout Executive that it is possible the alcohol was involved.


    • #3
      I'm thinking it might be a good time for the SM to "step down for personal reasons" so he can get his ducks in a row as you have indicated. This will allow him to not have to disclose any totally damaging consequences and after a period of personal rehab could possibly come back in an ASM role to see how things work out. Poor choices on his part, but no real damage done so some time to work things through would be a good thing. He may fare better in the ASM position in that a lot of the stress is on someone else's plate.

      This is something your COR needs to be in on and they may have some concerns that go beyond what the committee is doing. If the COR isn't particularly concerned about how the committee is handling it, then keep doing what your doing but keep him in the loop. If the COR is concerned, he may pull the plug on this guy anyway and then the whole thing simply goes away. If you have an American Legion CO, they might cut this guy a bit of slack whereas a church CO might not. It's their unit, their decision.



      • #4
        I guess what you want is for the troop to forget the review. My experience with troubled adults is that their problem doesn't typically improve in a short time. You got the hard part done, the SM voluntarily left. You just need to shut the door. If it were me, I would call a meeting with only the CC and COR and ask them how they are going to tell the SM that it is over. I arranged this same kind of meeting for an abusive ASM. Don't make it an option. This is the best thing for everyone and I'm pretty sure the SM will be relieved. Barry


        • #5
          Thanks for comments so far....

          Unit is chartered by a church. Problem is made bigger by the fact that the CC is the SM's wife (awkward situation), and the COR was one of the adults up there (a pastor who didn't feel the need to disclose the alcohol). The CC was present at the meeting, but turned it over to the COR to run. He shaped the whole thing like we should support SM, help him work through personal issues, and give him something to look forward to. I agree that the SM needs to resign for personal reasons, but how to do that when adults up there and wife say he should be able to come back when he gets his life in order.

          If he were to come back and at a future outing was drinking again, and if someone gets hurt....then this whole things blows up on us.


          • #6
            Who you IH and COR want as SM is up to them. Who is allowed on Council Property remains a BSA member is a SE issue. I like Stosh's approach, but his problems are not going to be solved quickly. I will posit any Scouter that insists he is the SM and nothing else or takes his ball and goes home is probably not a good candidate for the job. Remember the committee members to not have a "vote". I would try try to convince the Pastor to keep the parents informed of the situation. They have a right to "vote" with their feet if they are not comfortable with the SM. Check out the "Eagle and Weed" thread for some perspectives on the parents right to know what is going on.


            • #7
              We had a troop do this exact same thing. The only difference was the SM wanted to stay, so the committee let him. Council did it for them when the SM got caught offering a scout a beer at summer camp. This SM had caused all sorts of other problems for the troop as well, but they didn't want to be confrontational. Your SM is out and I would be surprised he steps back in. But my own personal experience is that most folks will let things escalate pretty far simply because they don't want to be bad guys. If and when the time comes, you will have to be the bad guy. I don't think the time will come, but if it does, be ready. Barry


              • #8
                Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
                But my own personal experience is that most folks will let things escalate pretty far simply because they don't want to be bad guys. If and when the time comes, you will have to be the bad guy. I don't think the time will come, but if it does, be ready. Barry
                Yep. Be ready to be labeled the villain for daring to stand up for the right thing next to a drunk SM.


                • #9
                  Do it however you need to but show the SM the door. It will be the best thing for everyone. Be the bad guy if necessary. I've performed similar service before (calling the cops on drunk friends who would not give up their car keys).. Better to lose a friend than to lose a life.
                  In this case there are so many reasons to get him out as SM, any of them should be sufficient.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Smitti View Post
                    ... If he were to come back and at a future outing was drinking again, and if someone gets hurt....then this whole things blows up on us.
                    And, if you all wind up replacing him with someone else incompetent, you could have a different set of problems, and folks will be criticizing your rush to judgement. You all are between a rock and a hard place.

                    The fella should have been escorted off of camp property. You have a right to be critical of the adult leadership for trying to keep it all "in house" as they seem to have done. (Unless they did discuss the situation with the Camp Director and he suggested letting the SM stay and "dry up." I find it odd that a CD would do that, but ...)

                    I think your next move is to have a personal word with the SM about what he should do, which may include:
                    • Fessing up in a letter to everyone that he done them wrong - and how.
                    • Trying to get better, get help, get a sponsor.
                    • Letting another leader take full reign for at least a year. He owes the boys at least one summer camp where they aren't looking over their shoulders for the other shoe to drop.
                    • Asking the COR to find another permanent SM after that. If a year from now, he's still the best guy for the job, you all will have to determine what conditions you may require to take him back.
                    Frankly, your CC might do her job better if hubby isn't the SM. Or she might decide that she shouldn't be scouting either.

                    I expect if your SE gets wind of this, he will ask some tough questions of you all. (Like "Why should we keep registered someone who brought contraband onto our properties?") Tough questions are not always bad, so you should encourage your COR to make a call to HQ and explain the bind your troop is in. Yes, we all understand "turn the other cheek" etc., but the boys also need to see this man "walk the line." And, like Pack says, some friends just need a different kind of love.


                    • #11
                      A few comments ...

                      #1 Avoid where two core leaders of a unit are husband and wife. It is just asking for trouble. Even if everything goes well, you have problems such as them having long discussions and making decisions without any of the other leaders involved. On the other end, you have situations like this where you effectively lose the leader or the leader's effectiveness because she is his wife.

                      #2 Call the scout exec or the district exec. Let them be the bad guy. They can probably keep you anonymous and just say there have been reports of the scoutmaster drinking in camp and his being intoxicated enough to tell all the scouts he was quitting.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by qwazse View Post
                        I expect if your SE gets wind of this, he will ask some tough questions of you all. (Like "Why should we keep registered someone who brought contraband onto our properties?").
                        Unlikely. Typically SE's encourage the unit to deal with it. They have enough problems and resist taking on more by getting involved in every units issues. And you would be surprised how often these kinds of problems occur. During my first year as a CM, our pack had to ask two Den leaders to quit because they were drinking during meetings and deal with one parent who got drunk during a council Cub science lock-in. To the parent's credit, he was so embarrassed that he checked into rehab that week. But my point is leaders with severe personal issues is pretty common, so the council pushes the unit to deal with them as best they can. They will observe and monitor if you request or if litigation becomes a risk. Barry
                        Last edited by Eagledad; 07-30-2014, 10:32 AM.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eagledad View Post
                          Unlikely. Typically SE's encourage the unit to deal with it.
                          Hmmmm.... Sad to hear. I've was hoping it was better handled than that. I know councils often push units to solve their own problems. I was thinking this was more though as it's a significant Guide to Safe Scouting violation.

                          In any event, the scoutmaster needs to move on from his role as scoutmaster.


                          • #14
                            I started to relate my own story, but I’m going to keep that to myself for now. Suffice to say that 1) my wife and I founded a Troop with me as SM and her as CC/COR, 2) it caused tremendous amounts of conflict in our family, 3) after almost resigning as SM, she ended up finding a CC and she’s now COR only.

                            And for the record, no drugs or alcohol were involved – just trying to make the point that I completely agree with Fred: having a husband and wife as part of the Key 3 is really a bad idea. If I knew then what I know now, I’d never have done it. It’s better with a 3rd, but still really stressful at times. It takes a lot of compartmentalization. Add to this the alcohol, and I predict getting him out as SM is the best thing you could do for him.
                            Last edited by dfscott; 07-31-2014, 10:33 AM. Reason: Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you.


                            • #15
                              Smitti: Try hard to allow (that is the word) the SM to resign on his own accord. The CO does not want to have to fire him, OR wait for a "review" period.
                              Folks with alky problems do one of four things: 1) Refuse to admit there is a problem (drinking in summer camp, much less during, is a problem) , 2) say there is a problem and "I' can deal with it" (rarely do they "deal with it"), 3) ignore friend and family warnings and pleadings to "get help", thus allowing others to "deal with it" (which can include getting fired, divorce, accidents and injuries, uncontrolled debt , estrangement from family and friends), 4) Admitting to themselves and their loved ones that there IS a problem, and getting professional and/or AA counseling. The fourth choice is, of course , the best.
                              It will take some careful, caring conversation. Point out the obvious and the events that happened. Do not white wash anything. Do not excuse anything.
                              In my pre-retirement job, our bus drivers were told up front, and often: If they have an addiction problem, they can come forward and we will work with them in good faith to help them save their life, their family and their job. If the addiction problem was "found out" rather than "volunteered", that was the end of the job. They were on their own.
                              Here, your SM has been "found out". Alcohol is a drug, and this is an addiction. He is not in control, the alcohol is. I would have to say, we will help you anyway we can, but, sorry, it will NOT be with you as a Scout Leader, at least until you have "dried out" for a good period.

                              Is there any Scoutson involved?