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Posts posted by dScouter15

  1. Overall it looks like a step in the right direction, though with a couple technical errors (are these forms the final versions? Or still in draft form?) Personally I would have liked to have seen a higher standard for number of short-term camping trips, PLC meetings, and more emphasis on youth leader training (just looking at the Troop-level requirements), but this definitely seems like a big improvement over previous "quality unit" programs.

  2. Twocubdad - not necessarily disagreeing with anything you're saying, but its important to remember that the majority of peanut allergies are NOT as sensitive as the semi tongue-in-cheek situation you mentioned. Peanut allergies are fairly common, and thousands and families, schools, day care centers, youth groups and Scouting units all find ways to operate their program in a safe way for all participants. I think its a bit premature to talk about the possibility of the Scout troop declining to take on a scout, unless the troop leadership and the parents cannot come to a reasonable agreement on how to handle the situation. Its one thing to err on the side of caution, and perhaps be "over-prepared" for emergencies, but its another thing to "swat a fly with a cannonball," so to speak.(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  3. You will need to talk to the parents to determine how severe his allergy is, and how careful you have to be about his proximity to peanut products. We had a scout in our troop with a severe nut allergy, and clearly he could not eat any foods containing nuts, but there wasn't a problem with storing peanut butter with the troop staples, or other scouts eating peanut products near him. But, as others have pointed out, the severity of allergies can vary greatly, hence the importance of conferencing with the scout and his parents to determine how to best ensure that scout's safety. In my experience, usually kids with these conditions, and their parents, are very well educated about their needs, and usually willing to discuss the specifics of how to keep themselves safe.


    Also, these kids typically have been prescribed EpiPens. Some kids choose not to carry them all the time, depending on the severity of their allergy. I would recommend strongly suggesting that the scout keep his EpiPen on him whenever he is camping with the troop, especially if your camping activities take you beyond the reaches of a fast EMS response.


    And, as far as EpiPens go, ensure that, at a minimum, your adult leaders know how to use one. I would also recommend instructing all of the scouts in your troop on an EpiPen's use, if that's something your comfortable with. Depending on the capabilities of the scout with the peanut allergy, this may be something that he could teach his peers, maybe with some additional input from his parents, or another experienced speaker. Training EpiPens, which are the same thing as real EpiPens, except without the needle and the medication, are available. Consider checking with this scout's family, your local EMS agency, hospital emergency department, or community college or hospital EMS training programs to borrow one. EpiPens are very easy to use, but you have to make sure you use it right the first time, as you usually won't have a second shot at it, which could be tragic.


    Also, don't hesitate to use an EpiPen at the first indication of trouble. Talk to the scout and his family about the specific procedure to follow, but generally, the procedure is to either verify that the scout has administered his EpiPen, or assist him in using it, at the first sign of wheezing or difficulty breathing. The EpiPen should be used as another person is calling 911 for an ambulance. It is essential to use the EpiPen early, especially in kids with a history of severe reactions, so don't be shy about using it when you have to.


    Personally, I would disagree with the suggestion about trying to procure additional EpiPens or other forms of Epinephrine for storage in troop or patrol first aid kits. I'd be concerned about long-term storage of that medication, in terms of temperature/humidity and access control, as well as the medication being used incorrectly by untrained persons. In my experience, I've found that encouraging (read: "mandating") the scout to carry his EpiPen on him, and ensuring that several people in the troop are trained to assist him in using it, is more than adequate to ensure the scout's safety, and eliminates most of the potential problems associated with the troop trying to maintain their own stocking of dangerous drugs.(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  4. Beavah - sure, but wouldn't it maybe be more worthwhile to also examine how and why that policy or general practice came to exist?


    As I've posted previously, my own opinion is that medication therapy is overused today, and that I'm skeptical benefits of medication vs. non-medication. However, in my opinion, the root of the problem is NOT that a bunch of doctors have suddenly become more eager to use their rx pad. Like anything else, doctors are responding to a need that developed. For me, it would be more worthwhile to discuss how and why that need (real or perceived) developed.


    To use a metaphor, consider a city with an arsonist on the loose, who has been torching so many buildings that the fire department is having a hard time keeping up. In this discussion, its like we're demonizing the fire department for having a response time that's a couple minutes too long, while ignoring the fact that the police department isn't prioritizing catching the arsonist, or that the buildings weren't built to adequate fire resistant standards to begin with. Sure, the fire department has an obligation to perform at high standard, but if the root of the problem was identified and solved, the fire department wouldn't be stretched so thin.


    Not a perfect analogy, but I hope it helps clarify my point. In my opinion, the medical community may not be collectively be making the best choices all of the time in regards to psychiatric/psychological care for today's youth, but if the root of the problem were identified and addressed, maybe the doctors would not be so pressured to come up with a solution to a problem that isn't necessary theirs to begin with.



  5. Scoutfish, in your post here: http://www.scouter.com/forums/viewThread.asp?threadID=287814&p=2#id_288175 , you said "there are great Dr's out there. But there are many more that are not!" So you did in fact argue that a majority of doctors are not up to par. This was the position that I found to be problematic, and I'm relieved that its not actually what you're arguing.


    So now that we're clear on where everyone stands on that issue, I guess I don't know what it has to do with the original question, which involves the benefits vs. disadvantages of psychiatric/psychologic care for children. If doctors receiving kickbacks from pharma companies is only affected a minority of medication prescriptions (some of which may actually be beneficial, regardless of the doctors' motivations), what are the actual factors affecting this issue?

  6. Wow - first off, my sincere condolences for the loss sustained by the man's family, his Scouting family, and all those who love and care for him. Second off, my extreme respect and admiration for the way you and your pack handled that situation. Many of your cub scouts might not fully understand what happened, and all its implications. But, maybe some of them now know a little better about what its like to have known a real life hero. And, in another few years, some of them might realize how fortunate they were to have wise adult mentors and role models guide them through this kind of experience.

  7. Scoutfish - If its true that there are "many more" poor doctors than great doctors, I would think it would be fairly easy to support some of your claims with factual evidence. "Read the papers"? "Watch the news"? In the past year, how many doctors have been exposed in the news for taking kick backs, being accused of malpractice, etc. Whatever number you come up with, what percentage of the approximately 853,000 physicians in the country does it work out to? My hypothesis is that the proportion of "bad apples" to good physicians will be comparable, if not better, than a similar study of other professions - teachers, ministers, bus drivers, police officers, whatever. Please prove me wrong.


    Vol_scouter - great points and a great perspective.


    Beavah - when you started this thread you reckoned you'd learn something - what do you think thus far?

  8. There's a lot of accusations being made that apparently *can* be supported by evidence, but, on this forum anyway, have not been. Can anyone draw a correlation between "medical quackery" and incorrect medications prescribed? How are we all so certain that doctors are to blame, rather than ignorant parents, lazy parents, or the influences of a hyper-medicated society? Any substance for the accusation that the "bad" doctors greatly outnumber the "good" doctors?


    I admit that my role in the health care arena is not particularly comparable to that of a doctor, but, from my own experience, I can see how some good doctors might be pressured into prescribing a medication against their better judgement. And it might not have anything to do with a "big pharma" conspiracy. Consider a grade school aged child with some attention span issues and some hyper behavior. For the sake of argument, let's stipulate that his school's budget cuts have eliminated gym classes and shortened recess periods. Maybe this kid's diet isn't the best, relying a lot of junk food and fast food, due to its convenience or low cost. His teachers begin complaining about the kid's unsatisfactory performance in his classes, and his rambunctious behavior. Mom and Dad know that a lot of kids his age have this "ADHD" thing, and take little Johnny to see his doctor to talk about it. Doctor says that maybe Jonny does have some attention span issues, and a lot of extra energy. Doctor says that maybe we should try improving his diet, increasing his daily physical activity, maybe even toughening up on the discipline and consequences for bad behavior. Mom and Dad say OK, and over the next couple months they make an effort to follow Doctor's advice. But, things eventually start to fall through the cracks. Dad's working two jobs, and Mom's working part time, and both are busy ferrying Johnny's older brother and sister to their scouting events, track practice and swim team events. So, Johnny's eventually back to packing his own lunch without supervision, and the high-sugar foods make their way back into his lunch box. Maybe Johnny's involved with cub scouts, but weekly den meetings don't provide much physical activity. His parents try to limit the video games, but Johnny doesn't have many friends who live close by that he could play outside with, so that's out the window. So Johnny's behavior doesn't really improve, and Mom and Dad go back to the doctor in another month or two saying they've tried EVERYTHING, and Johnny's still having issues. In this case, based on the information made available to the doctor, is he wrong for trying to help a kid by using recognized medication therapy for a diagnosed condition? Is he wrong for giving a prescription for, say, Vyvanse, regardless of whether or not it actually helps Johnny?


    Or what about the kid with a mild case of OCD? He obviously is going to have a tough time being successful in a school environment. Whatever baseline difficulty he's facing as a result of his disorder is only going to be exacerbated when he gets to the age where bullying becomes more common. Maybe Mom and Dad's crappy insurance policy limits the amount of counselling and therapy the kid is eligible for, so the pediatrician decides to give some Zoloft a shot, hoping that it might improve things a little. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't - either way, should we blame the doctor? If so, what would a more appropriate course of action be?


    Now, I personally don't believe that medication therapy is the best choice in a lot of cases. But, I would caution that, first, its important to make sure that we are vilifying the right people, and doctors aren't necessary the only group deserving of our scorn. Also, sometimes medications, for all of the horrible side effects, actually are the lesser evil of all of the other options. If anyone is interested in this type of thing, I'd encourage you to check out this site: http://www.crazymeds.us/ -- its a rather politically incorrect, but accurate (IMHO) look at mental illness and medication treatment.(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  9. Very interesting thread, with a lot of interesting points. For what its worth, let me present a couple purely anecdotal cases:


    When I was in the fourth grade, I wasn't what you'd call a model student. I rarely did my homework, didn't always pay attention in class, and kept my desk and locker a mess, so I usually couldn't even find the homework I never did. I did well enough on tests, and ultimately got A's and B's on my report card, and I didn't have any behavioral problems, but just wasn't really interested in a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities of a 4th grade student. So, my parents got me diagnosed with ADD, and hooked up with some Ritalin. I started taking the ritalin, and the couple months I was on it were not at all fun. As others have pointed out, Ritalin is a type of amphetamine, and has pharmacological cousins used recreationally as "speed." So, the side effects from the Ritalin I experienced were similar to what are experienced by your average speed fiend. It killed my appetite, so I hardly ate anything at school, which made more tired and irritable. My mouth was constantly dry, and I just generally felt on edge and uncomfortable. And, my school performance didn't really change - I still hated doing homework and was still very disorganized. On top of that, I was now mildly mentally altered, which made working through those problems that much more complicated. Fortunately, my parents recognized that Ritalin was not the answer, and stopped it after a few months. After a couple more years of growth, maturity and development (which Scouting played a huge role in), I worked out a lot of the issues with disorganization and prioritization that affected me in grade school.


    Fast forward a few years, to when I was in college. I began experiencing bouts of depression in high school, and by the time I was in college it was starting to get more severe. I saw a general practitioner, a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a counselor. And received a prescription for an antidepressant. Actually I rotated through a couple of antidepressants. The first made my nauseous, and the second made it so I couldn't stay awake for more than 3 hours a day. The third, initially put my blood pressure at a dangerously high level, made me jumpy and made it difficult for me to speak. Eventually those side effects passed, and I stuck with that med for about a year. And it didn't really have any effect on my depression. Eventually I just stopped renewing the prescription, had a couple weeks of rough withdrawal, and got on with my life.


    Fast forward a few more years to the present. Right now I'm a paramedic, and have worked in a variety of settings - an ambulance, the hospital, a college campus, and a couple more. And, I regularly volunteer my services at scouting events. And Scouting events deserve a little more discussion. At one particular annual week-long training event, I've volunteered as the health/safety officer for the past 4 years. Our policy at this camp is to collect all scouts' medications and distribute them from the health lodge (and before this thread is hijacked, I can assure everyone that this practice is quite legal and quite safe, and any discussion of medication policies would be welcomed in a new thread). Anyway, each year I make a list of each scout with medications, and the name of the medications they take. Each year, the number of scouts (aged 13-17) on antidepressants, ADD/ADHD meds, mood stabilizers, etc, has increased significantly. In recent years, the number of scouts on these meds have grown to a point that its making medication distribution a logistical problem in relation to our camp's program.


    In the rest of the world, I work with a lot of mentally ill people. And, to put it bluntly, there are different kinds of crazy people. I've seen people who function well in the family and their job with the help medication completely fall apart when that medication is stopped. I've seen people with some underlying mental issues who are at least marginally functional in society completely fall apart when they are forced to take medications. I've seen attempted and successful suicides by people of all ages, regardless of whether they take antidepressants. I've seen Scouting-aged kids respond very well to psychiatric medications, and Scouting-aged kids on psychiatric medications who are just as badly behaved as ever.


    You can draw whatever conclusions or opinions you want from all this. Mine are that, like anything else in medicine, people are misdiagnosed, mistreated, and susceptible to more harm than good done by medical professionals, who ideally we should all be able to trust. And other people are correctly diagnosed, correctly treated, and able to overcome numerous problems with the help of medical professionals and medications.


    Other than the pshrinks, another population worth examining might be the Scouter-types with minimal first-hand or in-depth knowledge of a complicated issue, but try to shrug off those issues with over-simplified solution, coupled with an "I know best" attitude that diminishes the advice of those who actually do have some in depth knowledge and advice to offer.

  10. As far as the foil pack breakfast idea goes, one of our patrols came up with an idea that looked like it worked pretty good: start with some eggs, some biscuit dough, and a buffet of any other stuff you want (meats, cheese, veggies, salsa, whatever). Start by cutting the biscuit dough into small chunks. In your foil pack, put a handful of bits of biscuit dough on the bottom, and then crack and egg over the top of it. Then, layer on whatever veggies, meat, cheese, etc you want. Maybe sprinkle a couple teaspoon of milk or water on top to keep everything moist. After you securely wrap up the foil pack, give it a gentle shake to try to spread out the liquid a bit. Then cook over coals.


    I didn't personally sample this dish, but it sure looked like it turned out good for the patrol that made it. I think they served it with some salsa or hot sauce on the side, and it looked and smelled real good.


    I would imagine you could experiment with replacing the biscuit dough with some powdered pancake mix, but I'd think you'd probably want to pre-mix it with water/milk/eggs before putting it in the foil pack...(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  11. I would absolutely teach much of the variety of things. Though I might not phrase it as "making do" without a first aid kit/compass/etc. Instead, phrase as "another way to find direction" or "an alternate way to cook a meal," etc.


    As far as the whiskey issue - if your scout's find themselves in a survival situation in which they are without a compass, first aid kit, etc: what are the chances they will have a bottle of whiskey in their possession? So, is there really a need to include it in your skills instruction? I haven't seen the article, but maybe its something that can be replaced with rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, medicated wipes, or something else more likely to be in close proximity to a scout?

  12. "Any thoughts?" Not really... I guess I don't see the purported conflict, though I admit I don't fully understand some of the effects of having a congressional charter. Can someone maybe clear up some of my confusion:


    1) Is the BSA, as a private organization, bound in any way to keep its mission or program in line with any stipulations in its congressional charter? What consequences would there be for deviating?


    2) When's the last time its been updated? 1916?


    3) What effect, if any, does it have on "competing" or other scouting organizations in the USA. For instance, the GSUSA, or other boy or co-ed scouting programs?


    4) What effect, if any, would rescinding the congressional charter have on the BSA?

  13. If I understand things correctly, the committee chair, chartered organization and council all share responsibility for approving unit-level leaders. I've always kind of assumed that background checks and checking of references were mainly the prerogative of the council, rather than the unit. While I'm sure you'd be within your rights to check a person's references, the information you gather might not be particularly helpful. For example, people who are effective in their day jobs, or who are popular with their friends, may not make good Scouters and role models. My suggestion on how to best handle these situations would be to welcome all new leaders, but not put them in any "mission critical" roles - give them small jobs and see how they do. When they're working around the kids, keep them well-supervised. After a few months, you should have a good idea of their strengths and weaknesses, and can opt to move them into more important positions.


    I'm personally not really a fan of turning away any willing leaders without SERIOUS cause - eg, severe youth protection violation, repeated displays of poor judgement or behavior, etc. I certainly would not base my decision to turn away a leader solely on references. I guess my bottom line is, trust, but verify.


    As far as the guy who stated that he's using illegal drugs... That's so outrageous I'd have to seriously question whether or not the individual made an error in filling out the form (misread the question or something). Maybe just double-check that somehow. (Or, maybe he was just under the influence of said drugs while filling out the form ;-) ).


    Edited: I noticed that you said that parents were asked to register regardless of whether they want to be leaders or not. In light of my advice above, I'd add that if you can recruit qualified leaders, even if it takes some persuasion, that's great. But, if a particular adult truly does not want to be a leader, and for some reason was led to fill out an app anyway, I'd encourage you to just drop the issue. Destroy the application, don't check references, don't contact the council, don't do anything, don't worry about it. You're only opening yourself up to a bunch of hassle if you pursue all of this for adults who never even want to be a leader in the first place.(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  14. We recently asked our scouts to make a short list of things they wouldn't have experienced had it not been for their involvement in Scouting. We intend to use some of their responses in our post-summer camp court of honor program. The answers ranged from silly to serious to profound to inside jokes to insightful to well, not insightful. Here were some of the better responses:


    Camped and hiked through 72 hours of non-stop rain

    Met my best friend

    Camped out in the snow

    Started a fire in a downpour

    Seen a moose

    Cooked in a Dutch oven

    Splashed down into a dunk tank

    Learned how to actually use a compass

    Seen the northern lights in the middle of the night

    Ridden on a dog sled

    Gone door to door selling popcorn

    Seen the view of a forest from the top of a mountain

    Camped in a tree house

    Made a shelter out of a trash bag and twine

    Found 458 uses for duct tape

    Built a computer

    Found waterproof boots that weren't

    Completed the mile swim

    Found out that tents aren't sound proof

    Camped on an army base

    Learned that my tent could withstand 70mph winds

    Learned that the troop dining fly could not

    Seen a woodpecker

    Made chocolate fudge in a ziploc bag

    Canoed 60 miles in four days

    Bake cookies on a camp stove

    Camped through all four seasons in one weekend

    Seen a bald eagle


    Feel free to add to this list from your own experiences, or survey the scouts in your troop.

  15. Now what's the problem with zero tolerance policies. I personally have zero tolerance for certain behaviors - fighting, bullying, hazing, use of addicting and dangerous illegal drugs by minors - I cannot think of a situation where I will tolerate any of these behaviors on a Scouting activity or function. All of the Scouts I work with are aware of this, and I will ensure that any of these behaviors that do occur are addressed. Rarely does my response to a situation involve sending a scout home or calling the police (though, for me anyway, both are options that are on the table for certain situations), but I always do intervene when behavior develops that I cannot tolerate.


    So, are zero tolerance policies the problem, or are over-the-top reactions to violations the problem?


    Signed, an unintelligent moron.


    (As a side note, could we maybe try to set the bar a little higher for the quality of the debate here? Only four pages into it and already accusations of "incompetence," "coward," "unintelligent," and "moron" have been made, with guest appearances by the KKK and neo-Nazis. Ad hominem attacks generally don't make very good arguments.)

  16. Beavah - I feel like I'm getting to a point where I'm repeating myself, so I guess this will be my last post on the topic.


    Asking for acknowledgement of receipt of important information is NOT the same as a contract. If its the signature thing that's causing a problem, fine - send me an email or give me a phone call instead. I would just like to be reasonably certain that important information gets into the hands of a scout's parents. Also, like I said, its not a matter of "agreeing" to anything, as it is in a contract. There are some rules related to safety that are simply non-negotiable in my opinion, and if you violate those rules, there will be consequences. As a Scoutmaster, I really don't care whether you agree with those rules or not, I still expect you to adhere to them.


    In preparation for a high adventure trip, I really don't feel that its unusual to send out additional information on the health and safety needs specific to that event. In my mind, including a brief statement on drug use similar to what I suggested previously would not make for all kinds of suspicion on the part of parents. I think in most cases, the scouts and parents would say "OK, sounds reasonable," and not give it a second thought. In the possibility (and remember, its only a possibility at this point) that one scout is considering bringing some sort of illegal substances with him on this outing, a gentle but direct reminder that drug use is inappropriate and will be punished might be enough to trigger second thoughts. The idea is NOT that the SM will then have a "stack of papers to hide behind," but instead that he simply lets everyone know that he understands that its not uncommon to experiment with drugs at that age group, but reminds them that it is not appropriate at Scouting events, and that there will be consequences if necessary.


    As far as parents who wonder "what the heck is going on" - well, something MIGHT be going on. The scoutmaster mentioning that he is prepared to deal with such problems should they arise should not be a sign that the SM is in some way less than competent.


    And in my opinion, yes it is obvious that drugs should not be brought on a Scouting trip. But, there seems to be some concern that it may not be obvious to one young man. If it were me, I'd rather make a reasonable attempt at keeping the drugs off the trip in the first place. It it were me, I wouldn't think I had enough reason to directly confront the Scout on this issue, but I would still not feel comfortable completely ignoring the possibility. I feel that a blanket reminder to all participants and parents is an adequate way to address the situation prior to leaving for the trip, with the understanding the the I may need to intervene further if the situation continues to develop negatively.

  17. I guess we need to define "meaningless." As leaders, what are our goal and reasons for guiding scouts towards conducting a "Scout's Own" service?


    I don't think our goals are or should be identical to the goals of many organized religions. For example, I myself am Catholic, and can tell you that officially, attending a Scout's Own service doesn't "count" for my weekly obligation to attend Mass. However, that doesn't mean that I feel that attending or requiring a Scouts Own service is meaningless. To me, the goal in conducting Scout's Own services is not to substitute for the practices and rituals of one's own religion, but instead to offer a unique opportunity for praise, worship and reflection in the Scouting context.


    My advice would be to move away from thinking about it as a "interdenominational" service, and move towards embracing the 'Scout's Own" philosophy. That is, let your scouts take ownership of the worship service, and conduct it in a fashion that is meaningful to them. I've attended services that ranged from a just a few minutes of silent reflection, to informal discussions around a camp fire, to a "Scoutmaster Minute on Steroids," to one's that closely resemble Christian services.


    When you leave the decision up to Scouts, you'll likely see them develop a worship service similar to those in their own religions - just because that is what they are comfortable with and knowledgeable about. That may not be a problem if its what your Scouts are comfortable with, but I would advise reminding them that the goal is not to recreate their own church services, but instead develop a simple program in which all scouts can comfortably have experiences of reflection, and express praise, gratitude and intercessions to the Almighty.


    I too do not care for many of the "canned" services which strive to include any and all religious traditions - including those not represented by the Scouts in attendance. Like I said, the goal of these services should not be to try to include and validate each and every religious group, but instead give the scout's their own opportunity to connect with a higher power in a meaningful way for them.


    In this light, I think that Scout's Own services are quite meaningful, if conducted in the right mindset for the right reasons.



  18. I'd like to point out that sending out a memo reminding scouts of health and safety considerations in the context of a high adventure trip is NOT the same as a "behavioral contract." Asking for such a document to be signed is not an indication of a contractual agreement, but rather just a means to ensure that the communication has reached both the scout and his parent. Its the same reason we ask both the scout and a parent to sign a permission slip - to verify that the parent has read and understands the information conveyed through the scout. Seriously, how could this be a "contract" - there's nothing to agree to! The troop's rules, expectations and consequences are what they are regardless of whether a scout agrees with them or not.


    I think its a bit extreme to accuse leaders who would use such a measure as being "weak in character." I believe using the approach I suggested a few posts up (which is NOT a "behavioral contract") would indicate that a threat of unknown credibility and validity has appeared on the SM's radar, and that he is prepared to respond in an appropriate way should an actual issue develop. I don't see any downsides to this proposed solution.

  19. Yeah, I think calling it a game of chance or a raffle is a bit of a stretch. It was never intended to make a lot of money - we actually made a bit more than we anticipated. We only asked the scouts to donate their spare change, or maybe a couple dollars. I think a good chunk of the money actually came from some of the adults, particularly the parents of some of the "volunteer victims" who may have tried to influence the standings one way or another ;-) Point is, we never really intended for it to be a major fundraiser, but more of a fun way for the troop to raise a little bit of "petty cash".(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  20. eolesen - Glad to hear that things are settling down, and reasonable actions are being taken. It sounds like you're making the right decisions.


    Beavah - I agree that memos and contracts are "silly" and a bit wishy-washy. However, so are anonymous tips, which seems to be all we have to go off of in this situation. Fight silliness with silliness, if you will. As far as I understand it, the OP doesn't know for sure whether there is a problem he needs to confront, and I feel that a gentle way of communicating to both scouts and parents that the leadership is aware of and prepared to deal with any potential problems might be a good amount of deterrent. And, should an real problem actually develop, the SM has one more weapon in his arsenal to support whatever decisions he makes on how to deal with it. As far as "not having a clue how to handle it" -- its not really a SM's job to "handle" these problems. Its is job to make it known that certain behaviors will not be tolerated at troop functions, to set and enforce clear and reasonable consequences for these behaviors, and to refer certain issues to more appropriate authorities (parents, law enforcement, etc) for "handling."


    While involving law enforcement is always an option, I don't think that you'll get anywhere based off an anonymous tip. And you certainly won't get drug sniffing dogs dispatched to a troop meeting room in the hopes of finding a couple joints. I'm not basing this off any "pseudo-legal mumbo-jumbo," but instead off my experiences working with law enforcement officers and drug-abusing minors. The possibility (based off an anonymous tip) of a teenager smoking a couple joints on a back country trip probably isn't going to be very interesting to the police. While its up to you to decide the point at which you do involve the police (if at all), I would also encourage you to move away from the "other report it if he's dealing/supplying" train of thought. If you actually witness any illegal behavior - possession, use, intoxication, dealing, whatever - it's up to you to decide when or if to involve the cops. Trying to determine whether the scout is dealing or not brings you back into this undercover sleuthing that's inappropriate for an SM.


    Personally, I agree with the course that its sounds like you're taking - making it clear what kind of behaviors are acceptable, having consequences for violation, keeping a close eye on a POSSIBLE troublemaker, and having a plan for the chance that something actually develops - sounds like all you need.

  21. Thanks everyone for the insights. I agree that its not so much of a problem to be asking scouts to make a monetary donation, but I still feel that the situation as a whole was a bit off. I feel that passing the plate around created an atmosphere too much like a "real" church. I think many of the scouts did not really understand how much an appropriate donation would be, but knew that their parents put a couple bucks in the offering at church, and did the same. Maybe the chaplain should have given some more guidance - "please consider donating your loose change" or "if everyone contributes just $1" or something to that effect.


    While I don't really know how the prayer cards idea came to be at this camp, I still feel that they are not really something worth asking for donations for - especially given the amount of money which seems to have been collected.


    If the chaplain had said something to the effect of "A candy bar at the trading post costs $1. How about everyone think about buying one less candy bar this week, and instead donating $1 to help less fortunate scouts attend camp?" -- I would have no problem with that. But the whole situation just felt a bit weird, and I think that I will direct some of my concerns to the camp director.

  22. My troop recently returned from summer camp, and we had one experience that I had never encountered before, and I can't decide if I should be bothered by it or not. On the Sunday night at camp, the staff conducted an interfaith worship service which was attended by my entire troop. The service itself was OK, but I was a bit surprised, when, towards the end of the service, the adult chaplain addressed everyone and asked for monetary donations. He stated that the donations would go towards producing various "prayer cards" that were freely available to campers - laminated card stock the size of an index card that had a drawing of a camp scene and the camp's logo on one side, and a non-denominational prayer on the other. This in an of itself didn't bother me, until the chaplain proceeded to pass a collection basket around - just like during the offertory at church. By the time it got to me, there was a good amount of loose change, and also a more than a few $1 and $5 bills, with a couple $10s as well. Considering that there were a couple hundred kids or so present, they had to have netted a fair chunk of change by the time the baskets made it all the way around.


    So I think I have a few issues with this - first, I don't feel its reasonable to solicit donations in this setting from a group of scouts as young as 11 or 12. I don't think these scouts have a good idea of how much it would be appropriate to donate to such a cause - as evidenced by the fact that there were donations of several dollars made. Second, I don't think that the cause they were asking for donations for - little paper prayer cards - was appropriate. If the money had been going to the poor, to subsidize camperships, or even to refurbish the chapel, I'd have less of an issue with it. But, getting that much money to print paper cards that couldn't cost more than a few dollars for a couple hundred? Finally, I think that the setting - "passing the plate" was inappropriate, because it may have pressured scouts into making a donation. Frankly, I feel that each scout already paid close to $300 to attend camp, and that the camp should have been able to cover the chaplain's budget without asking scouts for donations.


    Now, I appreciate the importance of asking scouts to donate some of their own money for worthy causes, but I feel that this situation was just completely out of line. I'm considering writing to the council and the camp director expressing my unhappiness, but I have to wonder if I'm overreacting. Any thoughts or comments?

  23. A couple of our troop's scouts came to the PLC with this fundraising idea. I guess they picked it up from something their school did. Its a game where the stakes are a pie in the face for a few volunteers. Basically, some volunteers that agree to run the risk of getting a pie in the face are announced to the troop. A bucket is then created for each of the volunteers. The bucket has that person's name on it, and it used to collect monetary donations. The way that the monetary donations work is that each cent put in the bucket represents a "point". At the end of the contest, the idea is that the volunteers who accumulated the most points would get the pie in the face. The catch is that points can be either positive or negative - paper money counts as "positive" points, while coins count as "negative" points. So, for example, a dollar bill would be "+100 points" and a quarter would be "-25" points. So, if both a dollar and a quarter were put in a volunteer's bucket, that volunteer would have 75 points. Get it?


    So we got a total of 10 volunteers to be potential victims - the SPL and ASPL, 2 troop guides, either the PL or APL from each patrol, as well as the Scoutmaster. The PLC determined that the top 5 people with the most points would get the pies in the face. Donations were accepted at troop meetings over the course of a month. The scouts ended up putting their paper money in the buckets for those they wanted to pie - like the SM, SPL and their own patrol leader. They'd put coin money in the buckets for the other people to try to keep them out of the top 5. It made for some good jokes during the collections - like when the SM came in with a couple roles of quarters and made a big show of putting them into his own bucket, only to have his wife come up after him with a $50 bill!


    At the troop meeting that ended the competition, our CC was asked to handle counting the points and dollar amount each person received, and then be the "MC" for the delivering of the pies. It turned out that we raised just shy of $500, and the SM, SPL, one of the troop guides, and 2 PLs would be getting pied. Since we had five patrols, a representative from each patrol was picked to deliver each pie. A good time was had by all, and we got some funny pictures to include in our troop's slideshow at its annual end-of-year banquet. The money went to replacing some of our camp stoves and other camping equipment.


    Just wanted to share this one - its not a huge money maker, but its also not much of a time or financial investment itself - the only cost was a couple dollars for cream pies.

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