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    • I have to wonder though.  As adults we tend to worry about things like political discussions.  But, perhaps it's good for Scouts to share their political views with one another and learn that within a group of friends one some can wear Hope t-shirts and some MAGA hats.  Isn't learning to work together as a patrol despite whatever their political views are an aspect of the patrol method?
    • 3 of my 4 kids experience abnormal levels of anxiety. Anxiety is its own beast and is not the same thing as "separation anxiety" which should resolve itself within 24 hours or so of arriving at camp. You know your son better than anybody. Do NOT be afraid to attend camp with him this first time if that's what he needs. If you feel he really just needs the push, don't be afraid to do that either. But don't push him if you think it's just something you "should" do. Push him if, in your experience, you find those pushes actually help him grow. If you have found in the past that those pushes make him feel more anxious, it's probably better to just go ahead and go, so he sees it isn't so scary. Next year he'll be more familiar with the location, and with the other kids, and possibly even the staff.  If you go to camp, perhaps volunteer to do something that will keep you busy, but still available if your son needs you. Maybe help in the kitchen, or supervise a merit badge station, or whatever. If your son's anxiety is too high he can hang out and help you with your task; and if he's feeling OK he can go around camp with his patrol and have fun. 
    • I have a similar situation with Interfaith worship services. I have a strong sense of my own religious beliefs. If there is a group prayer or response that espouses something that isn't compatible with my religion, I'll sit quietly and pray prayers from my religion. I'd think a similar thing would work fine for the pledge. Unless you call attention to it, few are likely to notice. 
    • My husband routinely gets into the trap of letting his allergies get out of control and developing sinus infections as a result, leasing to fevers. So the cause may be slightly indirect, but allergies can still be the primary cause of something that can lead to a fever.  I have a slightly different take on the potential solution, having gone through several years with my kids in an entire Troop full of allergies. Not specifically the camp fire allergies, but the need to adapt the way kids camp due to the medical needs of the members. In our case, we had one whole patrol give up on the idea of cooking as a patrol. Yes, it meant they lost out on certain valuable leadership skills and weren't as practiced at one of the things they had to do for Campboree, but with two Celiac kids in the troop, two different dairy allergic kids, one allergic to beef, and I forget what all else, we put all those kids in the same patrol and they all cooked for themselves on personal backpacking stoves.  It also reminds me of the time one of the kids in my son's Webelos den decided he was determined he was going to earn EVERY PIN - but was completely phobic of water and couldn't swim at all. The entire den rallied around him and worked over several sessions with gentle guidance from the adults as to how not to make it worse to help the one kid get over his fear so he could learn to swim well enough earn his swimming pin. After several gentle acclimation efforts, we rented out a small swimming pool for a "swimming pin" activity so nobody but the den and leaders would be there and they all cheered him on while he ran through the requirements (and everyone else breezed through them too). It wasn't necessary for this kid to earn this one last pin, but it was this Scout's goal and his friends supported him in it. In my book this was one of the most successful examples of the values we are trying to teach in Scouts.  What I'm getting at is that it's entirely possible to camp without a campfire at all. Perhaps your PLC can be tasked with the job of "how do we support this Scout in getting at least his 11 nights of camping without making himself sick?" That could look like a number of different things, which might be "no camp fire at all" or "choose a camping spot that can be further away from the fire pit" or something else entirely, and it should be up to the boys to figure out how to make it happen - but it should happen.  As a side note, if you haven't taken your son to an allergist, I would recommend that. If you've already done that, you're ahead of me.  
    • This is a great discussion! My take on the MAGA hat and the Hope t-shirts is that neither one should ever be combined with a Scout uniform. That is at least against the spirit, if not the letter (maybe that too) of the uniform guidelines combined with the general guidelines that Uniformed Scouts should not participate in political/partisan activities.  As long as it was not causing disruption in the unit, I would probably not say anything about either if the kids were wearing such things as part of a non-uniformed, non-public activity such as a backpacking trip. If it were causing disruption in the unit, I'd have a discussion with the PLC to come up with a solution (or if in cubs, address it in the parent committee).  I would encourage my Scouts to participate in whatever political processes they felt strongly about... outside of uniform and without leveraging their status as Scouts in the process.  As for the boy who took a knee... I don't see protesting racism as a partisan issue, but rather a civil one. I am not sure I have an opinion on whether it was "appropriate" or not given all the circumstances, but I wouldn't flat out call it inappropriate and definitely not disrespectful. Peaceful, civil protest - and I wouldn't even call this civil disobedience since no laws were broken - feel to me more patriotic and brave than disobedient.  I personally have had issues with the flag and pledge of allegiance for quasi-religious and other reasons since long before Kaepernick took a knee at a NFL game. Within our own Scouting unit, our kids knew my reasons for not participating. At summer camp, I generally found the flag ceremony to always coincide with my need to visit the ladies' room. My issues are personal and faith-based, (Matthew 5:34) and were never intended to be a public protest or anything I wanted to have attention called to or attempt to recruit others to follow suit. I didn't even instruct my own offspring to follow my lead; I explained my reasons and let them choose for themselves. I haven't decided exactly what to do going forward as I take a more visible leadership position in Scouting than I've had in the past. It was one thing to sit in the back of the room as a random committee member and merit badge counselor, and another as an ASM or other prominent leadership role. I think it's something I'm going to have to discuss with the rest of the Troop Committee and see what we figure out. 
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