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  • Cruel?

    For the past 8 years, we have our May camping trip in a rugged forest area with significant hills & ravines and an excellent & very detailed topographic map. I arrive early on Friday and put out 10 to 20 orienteering markers positioned carefully and marked on the map. We spend Saturday morning hiking and doing map and compass exercises, then on Saturday afternoon we send the Scouts out in groups of 2 or 3 to find the orienteering markers. We find this to be an excellent way for Scouts to learn and retain map and compass skills. And have fun doing it. It's a challenge, and most really embrace it.

    One of the things we have done over the years is to give those Scouts who find all of the orienteering markers ice cream at the Troop meeting following this camping trip. On the particular trip we just came back from, all attending Scouts found all the markers, so everyone got ice cream.

    But actually, not everyone got ice cream. There were about 10 Scouts at the meeting last night who had not been on the camping trip, so they did not get ice cream. I was pulled aside by a Committee Member after the meeting who was very upset about the ice cream, and said that it was downright cruel that some Scouts got ice cream and others did not. "How do you think those other Scouts felt?" I was asked. None had looked upset or demoralized to me, so I reckoned they felt like they'd wished they'd gone and would likely go next year.

    This was not persuasive, and I was told to put a stop to it. "Unless everyone gets ice cream", I was told, "no one should get it." Seriously? The Scouts who found all the markers hiked about a 3 mile circuit with steep ravines and hills doing plenty of physical and mental work. In my mind, they deserved a reward! This year was an exception in that all attending the trip found all the markers. Usually some get tired or lazy or just quit... and they don't get ice cream!

    Is this cruelty to children??

    Or a reward for a job well done and motivation to do better next time?

    Should everyone be a winner even if they didn't do anything?

    Or should no one be a winner because some didn't do it?

  • #2
    I would have done ice cream at the campout, not at the meeting. Reward at the meeting for those who did it, and encourage those who didn't to go finish up so they can be rewarded.

    It's...unfair? those whose parents weren't able to take them or let them go for whatever reason.

    Talking about the campout, sure. Sharing photos or handing out belt loops, sure. There's a big difference between those and ice cream....I wouldn't want my son to feel left out like that, because mom or dad couldn't get off work to take him on the campout.


    • #3
      Cruel, no.... but I think you will have a better impact by handing out recognition at the Campout campfire or Sunday morning. could still be icecream or the like.

      More importantly, are you the SM? Did the CC/COR tell you to stop?


      • #4
        I dont think it cruel at all.... These are boy scouts, not cub scouts. Everyone does not need to be a winner. If it has been tradition to reward those scouts that complete the orienteering course with ice cream, then by all means they should get to enjoy it. If the ice cream reward is that important to some boys, maybe next time those boys who did not attend will.

        If those with the ice cream were flaunting it at those without, that could be a cause to stop and have a discussion.

        If this were Cub Scouts, I MIGHT agree with everyone getting ice cream or no one. But Boy Scout age boys, should be able to handle it.


        • #5
          I think the ideal thing would have been to do the ice cream on the campout (or the way home from the campout).

          That said, I don't see it as cruel.


          • #6
            This is the "We don't keep score" and "Everybody's a winner, there are no losers" mentality behind foisted on our children of today. These kids are in for a rude awakening in the real world where there ARE losers, and not everyone wins all the time. Cruel? Not at all.


            • #7
              ScouterDadOf2 summed it up perfectly. Not cruel and no cause for concern unless there is someone rubbing the other boys' noses in it.


              • #8
                No more so than schools that give pizza or ice cream parties to students meeting certain goals. Those who do not, mostly because they do not try, stay in class when the others are given their reward.

                Might consider doing something with those not involved while the others are in a separate area. Other than that, would not see a real problem.


                • #9
                  "Cruel" might be overkill, but it is kind of a waste of time for those boys who didn't find all the markers to attend that troop meeting so that they could sit there and watch somebody else eat ice cream.

                  Even so, the committee member could find a better way to express this sentiment. First, by not dealing with it as it is happening (too late, likely to cause a big scene no matter what your response had been). Second, by phrasing it as a friendly conversation instead of a toe-to-toe match up with one winner and one loser.

                  Had I been that committee member and been concerned, I might have sought you out some other time and said something like this: Hey, about that ice cream. What a great reward. But I notice that kids who didn't attend that campout or didn't find all the markers tend to skip the next troop meeting, too. And a few parents have mentioned that it is a little irritating to drive their kids all the way here for the meeting, when their kids are only observers at the meeting - especially near the end of the school year when everybody's evenings are so jam-packed with other events. I wonder if it could serve the same purpose and avoid these other hassles, if you did the ice cream at the last campfire night on the campout, instead? What do you think?


                  • #10
                    Cruel, no.

                    However, I agree that the reward would be better given when it has been earned - at the campout.

                    If you want to recognize them again at the meeting, how about something like a necker slide in an orienteering theme, a necker slide in an ice cream theme, a tree limb slice w/date/accomplishment burned/written in, etc.

                    BTW - Just curious, what exactly do you mean when you say they "got ice cream"? Is is a full blown out ice cream social sundae type of thing, or is it a frozen ice cream bar?


                    • #11
                      Will this person react the same way at your Court of Honor when some boys are rewarded with Orienteering merit badges and other are not?

                      Does the rest of the leadership support you? If so, my inclination would be to ignore it and chalk this person up as a wingnut.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

                        Yes, I'm the SM. It was a Committee Member, not CC or COR.
                        he ice cream (a "ChocoTaco", which is basically a frozen ice cream cone novelty-like item) was passed out to the Scouts as we watched the photos from the trip. I did not notice any Scouts who got the ice cream gloating. They ate, & everyone watched.

                        Passing out at the camping trip is an option. I'll have to see how ice cream could stay frozen from Friday to Sunday morning. I wonder if I'd get grief from someone for giving boys ice cream on Sunday morning?! But, as others have said, the reward could be something else and less melt-able than ice cream. I was trying to stick to a reward that could be eaten. But even so, it may well be likely be that those who did not complete the course and find all the markers would be left out. What then?

                        I think I'll bring the issue up at the PLC next week and see what they think. Then I'll discuss at the next Committee meeting with PLC input.


                        • #13
                          Well everyone gets a prize these days!

                          I agree that the Ice Cream should have been a more immediate reward--maybe on the way home.


                          • #14
                            Interesting question.

                            The Scoutmaster runs the youth program, not a Committee Member. Raising the issue at a Troop Committee Meeting might have been a good place to ask about it.

                            If the ice cream had excited envy and jealousy it could be a mistake. But it sounds like it was used and accepted as a means to reward Scout skills and participation. I see nothing wrong with that.

                            Another method might be to announce in advance that Scouts attending the hike and completing the map and compass work would receive an ice cream treat.

                            In principle what was done is no different than handing out a rank advancement or Merit Badge to someone who earned it.

                            Incidentally, it sounds like a fine outing!


                            • #15
                              Seattle -

                              Thanks for letting me clarify...

                              "Another method might be to announce in advance that Scouts attending the hike and completing the map and compass work would receive an ice cream treat."

                              Not only was it announced before the camping trip, but has become part of the Troop culture over the past 5 or 6 years... Scouts who get all the markers get a ChocoTaco. I apologize for not adding this to my original post. This is partly why I'm in shock from the CM comment. But then, as I thought about it, I did wonder if the Scouts think it's a good thing to do -- hence, I'll bring it up at PLC.

                              And thanks you, yes, it was a great trip this year - weather great, great participation, and for the first time ever, the older Scouts did night orienteering!