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Uncooperative Scout

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  • #16
    Work with the parents to understand what is going on. If they don't want to work with you, fine. That ends the situation.

    Two keys though are that #1 scouting is a group activity and that #2 scouting is a volunteer activity (both youth and adults). You can only go so far "forcing" youth to include someone who doesn't want to function as a part of their group. It's one thing if they exclude someone who wants to be involved. It's another if the kid won't socialize with them.

    QUESTION - Have you lost other scouts because of him? Or, have others said they'd rather not go on events if they have to camp with him? Just curious. It happens.

    If you really really think you can help this youth, great!

    BUT, scouting is not for everyone and I'd really warn against naively taking the "If any kid needs scouting, it's this kid" attitude. It's true, but the damage to your troop and your troop's reputation can be pretty bad.


    • MomToEli
      MomToEli commented
      Editing a comment
      No, we haven't lost anyone, but I know everyone was really upset about it Saturday. They were trying very hard to do good and even the Webelos who went with us were pulling their weight.

  • #17


    Your description brings back memories. I was a new scoutmaster, and had a boy like this. Not only did he not try to get along, he would try and provoke the other boys in a passive-aggressive sort of way. Couple of examples: he would sit at a table with his patrol and place his arm on the table so that it would lie directly in front of another scout, until he was able to get a reaction. At clean up time after meals, he just disappeared without anyone seeing him leave. Despite repeated talks about buddy system, he would go off on his own. He was aware when others were keeping an eye on him, and when they weren't. Almost caused a "lost boy" drill at summer camp, because he noticed when I was distracted at a camp assembly, and chose that moment to slip off by himself. "But I had to go to the bathroom, Mr. veni!"

    Over time as I became better at the SM role and better understood the boys, I understood that he was manipulating to get the attention he wanted. It was obvious that he didn't like the whole experience of camping, and did not respect his patrol and troop mates enough to do his part.

    Something to be careful of is that other scouts will start to find scouting unpleasant because of a boy like this, and stop coming, because they don't know how to handle this situation. Don't wait until other boys start to leave.

    After several discussions with the family about the boy's interest in scouting, we recommended that they consider another troop, because he had alienated the other scouts to a degree that it did not look like it . It was a difficult conversation, because the Father was an Eagle scout, and was very active on the troop committee.

    Turned out that the boy didn't really like scouting, just the BSA advancement bling. He liked music, and when allowed to spend more time with singing groups, he was much happier. It was a much better fit for him. Have similar chats with the boy and his family about the boy's interests, and help transplant him into the type of environment where he can blossom.


    • #18
      MTE, you mention the father, and how he doesn't stand the son's shenanagins. Is scouting his idea, or the son's? Looks like control issues between the two.


      • #19
        Giving the scout a job is a good idea. I had a scout once like yours and when I thought nothing would work, I asked him to build us a Troop Web site. It changed him completely and he eagled three years later.



        • #20
          I just had a scout like that in my troop. For three years, if there was a problem, he was part of it. From not helping out, to teasing new scouts, to almost burning down a 150 year old historical site. I tried finding something he'd be interested in, I tried talking to him, and finally I decided he just wasn't interested in scouts. He'd bring friends with him and they'd join the troop, only to get into trouble with him and eventually drop out. At one point I asked the PLs what their biggest fear was and they said this kid. We roll played how to deal with him in a respectful manner. I'm not sure if they ever did any of this but the kid finally realized the scouts didn't like him much either. He transfered out of the troop into one less active. Apparently he's trying to get them to do some things we used to do but he wasn't interested in. Hopefully it will work out for him. I always told him he had great leadership potential, he just needed to put others before himself.


          • #21

            I think a SM conference with the lad and maybe dad is in order. Try to get to the root of why this happens with him on every outing / unit event and come to an agreement (that both you and scout and dad) can live with as how you are going to address the issue at hand.

            Second, I think giving him something to be in charge of is a good thing. However, do NOT make it a mission critical element of the outing (i.e. food, campsite, etc...) if he fails to reach expectations, that will further alienate him from his peers (you state he already feels that everyone comes down on him). Maybe have him be the MC and program director for the campfire on the next campout? Its mostly organization of skits / songs and if it bombsm no harm no foul, right?

            Finally, when you (or anyone other youth leader) needs to give him directions - use the BACK BRIEF method. This is a tried and true method I learned in ROTC and it works with scouts, adults, and everyone from privates to genreals in the Army. You give the instruction / tell them what needs to be done. Then ASK them to repeat back to you what you just told them, in their own words. You will get a very fast understanding of how well he comprehends what is being said, not that he just heard what he was told... If the instruction is, "You are on KP for lunch and KP needs to be finished NLT 1pm, so we can leave the camp area for the swiming pool." Then when he back-briefs, "I'm in charge of KP for lunch." You can ask, "And what time does it have to be done, so we can move out to the swiming pool?"

            He might just be registering PART of what he is told and hangs back because he does not want to look foolish for not knowing what is going on, because he knows he's been told and should know it!

            The back-brief method is very effective and I encourage ALL my youth leaders to use it when giving instructions to their fellow scouts. It really does help in improving overall communication in the youth ranks and avoids many misunderstandings and the ball being dropped, so to speak.

            Good luck,



            • #22
              Here is a Question

              What exactly is momtoeli's role in the troop and how many adults are along?

              I am blessed and cursed by the fact I have low parental involvement. If she is just a tag along parent then the boys shouldn't listen to her.....


              • #23

                Some good advice (except for the Riot Act). I see several issues:
                (1) Kid seems like classic ADD and probably some other issues like poor Executive Functioning (Organization). That can probably be solved with the pairing with an older mentor. I would have the SPL delegate some guys for that. I would have them rotate so they are not burdened. Gotta get him over the pull up requirement. Find something he is good at (must be SOMETHING) and have him do it.
                (2) Bear in mind that a lot of boys with dissablities act like they are a year or two younger in maturity. May also have coordination problems as well.

                (3) You must talk to the parents and have them talk to you about the boy. You are on the same team and want what is best for him BUT you have responsbilities for the rest of the boys as well. They gotta come clean if he has a history/diagnosis. Explain if he needs a lot of extra oversight than one of the parents needs to step up and help out more with the Troop: ASM, Committee, fundraising.

                To me the parent meeting is the first crucial decison point. You need to know what is going on. If they are in denial, or are just figuring out . If they want you to commit than they need to commit. If they want to work things out I would make the effort, if they don't it is not your responsiblity.

                I am a parent of special needs boys and unless you have been there is a mountain of issues everywhere that you have to deal with. So a good parent, however exhausted, should try to be clear with you which increases a good outcome. For example for a while I had to attend every high adventure type activity or long trip "just in case" my son acted out. Almost never needed to be there but it helped the leaders. My son has now matured and I no longer need to be along but he had to prove it.

                I have been frustrated by parents who, because of privacy, never level with you. Every year when the parents hand over the medications for summer camp I look at the drugs with certain boys and think "that explains a lot". I wish they had leveled with me.

                (4) Boy may just hate camping and scouts. That is the second decision point. I think it can be great for a boy like this and is worth the effort BUT if he has something else he is passionate about (Hockey, LEGO Laque, whatever) than he should do that. Any boy has a right to dislike an activity. My folks made me play baseball and I detested it. I quit as soon as they let me--which was several years. I really wanted to joing scouts.

                (5) Make sure there is no bullying going on. I have seen that explain this behavior on one occasion. But I do not see that here.

                It seems like every year at summer camp we have a young boy with issues that takes up a huge amount of time. Half the time the kid drops out. The other half they hang in, stay behind for 2 years or so, and eventually make fine scouts. That is the payoff in that you know you made a big difference.