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  • ODD Scout

    I had a tough week at camp with one 13 yr old scout. He refused to work on any badges, whether alone or in groups and always found an excuse for why he couldn't get to a MB class or hook up with the other kids. Plus he refused to shower and change his clothes during the week. More critical, he started stockpiling knives from the camp store, and a few boys told me he was waiving them around and threatened to stab them during the night. After this happened I called his dad, who came and picked him up. The dad told me the boy had been diagnosed with ODD - Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and they were trying to get him some treatment over the summer. He said he'd been having problems in school as well and was repeating the 7th grade.

    We've all had boys that were hard to handle, but has anyone ever had a boy with this particular behavior problem? How did you handle him? I felt bad that the boy had to leave camp, but feel that it was the right thing to do to protect the other scouts.

  • #2
    Hmm, except for the knives, sounds like a few of our scouts :> I just got done with a search on ODD - thought you were pulling our legs but as seems to happen to me too often, I was wrong. I think that you were put between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Keeping all of the scouts safe is always an important consideration. We always seem to have a few of the boys who don't "advance" during camp or change clothes or shower, but still have a lot of fun. I see nothing wrong with that, although I explain to them that they are responsible for thier actions and will bear the consequences. I would rather see these boys at a scout camp and staying involved with the troop than not. I always try to remember that it is not all about advancement.

    As for the knife purchases, our council camp has a requirement that the boy must show his toten' chip to purchase one. Take the chip away, let the camp trading post know it is gone, hold the knives until the parents come, and that may be that. I wish you luck as it appears this boy needs scouts more than scouts needs him.


    • #3
      You were right to call the Dad...only I think I would have done it sooner. I sympathize with parents who have mentally ill children, but for them to place them in a Scout troop without informing the leadership as to their disability is unfair both to the Scout and the leader. A Scoutmaster deserves a chance to decide if he wants to take on that responsibility...we are not trained psychologists! I thank God that I had two normal, healthy sons, whose only flaws were an occasional dose of too much self esteem and laziness when it came to making Eagle!


      • #4

        I know where you are coming from. We have a new scout who is ODD. I had never heard of it before. He went to summer camp a few weeks back and did fairly well. He is currently getting psychiatric counseling and is on medication. He really only gave the SM problems a time or two while at camp. However, I (ASM) came down on Friday night to help drive the boys back on Saturday morning. The camp is 5 hours away from home. This boy's parents and brother came for family night on Friday. He wanted to go back to the motel with his parents and return to camp the next morning to ride back with the guys. The SM was willing, but the boy's mom said no. When it was time for showers and bed, the boy wandered thru camp aimlessly and started sobbing. I sent my son (SPL) over to check on him. He started yelling and screamed a scream that would have waked the dead. He started beating on a bench with his fists and picked up sticks and started beating trees with them. I called my son away and tried to deal with him. I took a tough approach and told him that his actions were unacceptable and couldn't be tolerated. He got rather smart with me and kept repeating that he was going to hell for being a bad person. One of our committee members (ex-policeman) had been there all week and came out of his tent to deal with him. He spent over an hour sitting on the bench talking to the boy before he got him calmed down and into bed. Our SM was away from camp because he was assisting with the OA call out. Next morning, the boy was OK again. The SM knew the boy was ODD, but had failed to share that info with me. I'm usually a fairly informed person, but I had never heard of ODD. The boy is a little odd (no pun intended), but seems to be a pretty good kid until he gets stressed or tired. My concern is him beating on another scout or hurting himself. While I understand that parents with "problem" children want them to live as normal of a life as possible and be able to participate in kid activities, I don't think it is out of line to require a parent to accompany the boy on outings if he proves too hard to handle.


        • #5
          It is tough to send a boy home! Never makes one feel as though he is doing the boy any good. It is the right thing to do to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the others. Send em home!

          Never heard of ODD. Sounds terrible! The Scoutleaders should have been informed about his condition. It is unfair to the boys and leaders not having this information. It should appear at least on his medical. If not, the parents need some counceling.

          Don't feel bad, you done good!

          Knotty Fox


          • #6
            We had a problem last year at summer camp where a 15/16 yo scout was causing problems, leading an entire patrol astray, etc. The leaders at camp put the entire patrol plus this boy (not from that patrol) on notice, monitored their movements more closely etc. At dinner (in a dining hall) this scout made a statement about us treating him like (explitive) babies. This was said while sitting right next to scouts and a leader from another troop and only about 2 seats away from me. I immediately told him to go outside and we'd be calling his parents. Long story short - when I spoke to the parents, they informed me that this scout was Bi-Polar and that the severe restrictions the leaders had imposed were "the absolutely wrong" way to handle him. FINE TIME TO TELL US!!! There was NO information on his medical form indicating an issue. He WAS on meds and our parent who happens to be a nurse and handles medical issues for the troop had asked if the medication was for seizures (which it is also used for) and was simply told "no".

            The parents did drive up to pick up this scout (a 10+ hour drive) and supported us in our decision to send him home but come on, folks... the leaders at camp NEED TO KNOW about issues like this!


            • #7
              I agree, it is extremely unacceptable, & dangerous, for parents not to inform unit leaders of any serious medical condition their son might have.

              My niece has ODD. It can be a nasty thing, hard on both the child & those around them. It usually goes hand-in-hand with other problems like ADHD, OCD (obsessive compulsive), Tourettes Syndrome, learning disabilites & depression. It can be helped with medication & therapy.


              • #8
                I never heard of ODD either! I do believe that the parents should have told you beforehand so you would have been informed. Maybe if you knew, things would have turned out differently.

                The stockpiling of knives purchased at the camp store is unerving. Didn't anyone there question him as to why he was purchasing all of these knives? Also, didn't anything think to try & locate you as the SM to let you know of this?

                You had to ask the scout to leave for the safety of the other boys, that was the correct thing to do in my eyes. Hopefully the boy will get the proper treatment that he needs (I would assume counseling & medication) & will, for lack of better terminology, act more normal the next time & won't be a threat to himself & others.



                • #9
                  I never heard of this before? So I Googled it. Wonderful thing Google!

                  I really don't want anyone to take this the wrong way but it seems to me like this disorder is more a parenting issue than a medical issue. From what I read, the therapy results are inconclusive & so are the medical results.

                  Please don't take this post the wrong way. I'm just trying to understand the difference between ODD and a defiant child.

                  Ed Mori
                  Troop 1
                  1 Peter 4:10


                  • #10
                    Probably nothing, Ed. Fifty years ago, things like obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction, ADHD, tobacco use, weren't considered medical issues, either. They were weaknesses of character. ADHD was cured by a good paddling from the Prinicipal. Mental illness used to be caused by evil spirits (or masturbation, according to B-P). Bi-polar was just "moody". Now it's a "chemical imbalance". There is a fine, blurry line between normal variations in human physiology and bona fide illness.

                    Fifty years from now, being addicted to Scouting will probably have a DSM IV code and be treatable with medication and attendance at "Scouters Anonymous" (to recognize the things we cannot change!). We can only hope.


                    • #11
                      "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio!"

                      Gee guys, just because you don't understand or have never heard of it before doesn't mean it cant happen.

                      And yeah, years ago ADD was "cured" by a paddling by a principal, usually followed by dropping out of school a life of crime and voila, I told you that kid was no good. 50 years ago spousal abuse was a matter between husband and wife, Jim Crow laws in the south were honored and sexual abuse wasnt talked about, and dyslexics were just people who didnt concentrate hard enough, doesnt mean they didnt exist or that the ways they were handled were right.

                      If you ever see a full blown ODD tantrum, you will recognize it as not just a defiant child, although you will get defiant adults who struggle to accept reality(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)


                      • #12
                        Gotta agree with OGE. Thank goodness we continue to research and learn! 100 years ago, people were dying of what is considered today a simple illness that can be treated with a shot. Some of the finest people I know of upstanding character have fought the battle with Alcohol and won! They are not of weak character. Just because I don't understand something does not mean that a good old fashion country butt whoppin is the cure! I have a scout whith chrones desiese. What in the world is that I asked. I soon learned and continue to learn more about this devistating desiese. Should a scout have a defeciency it is our duty as leaders to better understand it.

                        Knotty Fox


                        • #13
                          My daughter has ODD. Also ADHD, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and is bi-polar. These are things you cannot *fix*. You can get help with meds and a good counsellor. However, a bad counsellor can set you back years.

                          One thing that helps my daughter stay on task and not get upset is to keep a routine. By letting her know what is going on and what is expected of her, she can move from one activity to another without too much upset.

                          What you describe sounds like a boy who is newly diagnosed and not yet into a therapy/med regimen that works yet. Sending him home was really the only safe thing you could do.


                          • #14

                            I too have had similar weeks at summer camp, where a Scout exhibits behavior that baffles my ability to understand. I may not have had the specific joy of dealing with a Scout battling with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. But the general scenario feels familiar to me and I expect to many others. One aspect of this disorder that many of our Scouts may battle with is a learning disability. Learning disabilities tend to be quiet and often linger right in front of us but just below our ability to recognize them. Until recognized they appear as something difficult to understand. We volunteers need guidance and understanding to recognize these conditions so we can help our Scouts succeed.

                            The beginning of your story describes behavior that brought back memories of being a Scoutmaster and just getting frustrated beyond the limits of my patience. Certain boys were just not in sync with the others, they seemed always out of step, sometimes defiant, a little odd maybe, but mostly looked at as just "different". My frustration would grow when I could not help these boys and their behavior would make it more and more difficult for them to fit effectively into the troop and their patrol. They would try but some how it just did not work for them. They often seemed on the outside looking in. In a troop of 25 or 30 Scouts one or maybe two would come to mind that often fit being "different."

                            Then I found one page, yes one specific page in a Boy Scout publication that really helped me understand. The "Scouting and the Learning Disabled: A Manual for Scouting Leaders", #3065 has a page that contains a Checklist for Scouting Leaders. (I hesitate to give a page number because my edition was published in 1987 and I'm not even sure that page is still in the newest edition.) This page helped me understand. It did not give me the ability to diagnose or treat Scouts with learning disabilities, just an understanding. Diagnosing and treating Scouts was not my job as Scoutmaster. Understanding my Scouts and finding new ways to help them grow was my job. The understanding help my frustrations dissipate and allowed my to focus on what my Scouts needed.

                            I photocopied that page and handed it out to all my Scouting friends. I handed it out at Roundtable, during training sessions, district committee meetings and well everywhere I could. Almost to a person everyone I handed the page, gave a positive reply after they read the page. In fact you could watch the light bulbs switch on as they read through the list of behaviors commonly associated with learning disabilities. All of a sudden they saw those Scouts that were on the outside looking in differently. They now understood things about these "different" Scouts that changed their perception of them. A lot of water has passed under my Scouting bridge since those days. I think it is time to make some more photocopies of the page and . . .

                            Yours Truly in Scouting,
                            Rick Pushies
                            Los Padres Council


                            • #15
                              >>It did not give me the ability to diagnose or treat Scouts with learning disabilities, just an understanding. Diagnosing and treating Scouts was not my job as Scoutmaster. Understanding my Scouts and finding new ways to help them grow was my job.