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Everything posted by Hunt

  1. It seems to me that a big element in kids not doing things on their own much any more is a perception that they are in greater danger from external forces. I think this perception is probably even greater in urban or suburban areas (and it's rampant here in the DC area, after the sniper incidents). I say "perception," because I'm not convinced the danger is really any greater than it was 30 years ago--we just hear more about the rare incidents that do happen. So even if you can satisfy yourself that a group of young teens can be trusted to act safetly on their own, how do you convince their parents that they will be safe from other people? I can't imagine any parents around here allowing boys younger than 15 or 16 to go on a campout without adults--but it's not because they don't trust the boys.
  2. Hunt

    Uniform Police?

    Although you can never please everybody, you can please more people if you offer more options. Of course, you have to be motivated to do so, and it's hard to motivate a seller who has no competitors. Here, it seems to me that BSA is missing an opportunity to sell more pants to adults, and to promote more complete uniforming.
  3. Here's a related question--what if the long-term summer camp is in pre-pitched tents on platforms? Although the wording of the requirement is a bit vague, it seems to me that this wouldn't count, although some leaders in my son's troop think it does.
  4. At the lasertag place my son has visited, they go to great pains to avoid any language suggesting weaponry--ie, they always refer to the "handset" and they don't talk about "shooting." See http://www.shadowlandadventures.com/equip_advent.htm. I note that the effective beams aren't really lasers, but are infrared. So one could quibble--but it seems pretty clear that BSA wants to ban this as a troop activity. But I'm unclear exactly why BSA wants to ban this. Is it because of safety issues inherent in the activity itself? This makes sense for paintball, maybe, but lasertag is probably less dangerous than football, and certainly less dangerous than kayaking. Or is it a broader safety issue--ie, pointing any kind of weapon at others promotes unsafe behaviors? I don't really buy this, but it's arguable. Or is it that the powers that be just don't think that pointing weapons at each other is consistent with the values of Scouting? I can accept this too, but if this is the reason, it should be stated clearly and not couched in terms of safety.
  5. Bob, it's clear to everyone that the National Council of the BSA has declared that local option isn't available. But it's not your view that it's somehow impossible or inconceivable that the National Council could change its position on this, is it? Or that the declarations of the National Council are somehow above question or criticism? Also, I think it's unkind to suggest that anybody who doesn't agree with the National Council's view on this should quit Scouting--if most of us quit every organization that we disagreed with on anything, we'd be pretty lonely. All that being said, I agree with you that while the rules are what they are, a CO can't just ignore them. I support the steps BSA has taken in defending its policy--I just think the policy is questionable. (Note: the policy I question is the gay-leader policy; I agree with the non-atheist policy. Doesn't UUA have problems with both?)
  6. I hear you, but let me give a more specific example. One of the requirements of the swimming MB is to bring up an object from the bottom of the pool. I know my son can do this, no problem--but he told me that at camp the counselor didn't actually require them to bring up an object, although they did touch the bottom. I'm sure the counselor was able to recognize which kids could do this, but maybe because it was a lake didn't make them actually do it. I'm not going to complain to the camp, or tell my son not to accept the badge--but I did ask him to bring up an object from the bottom of the pool, which he did, handily. Again, I'm not his scout leader, I'm his dad--I'm concerned about his personal sense of honor, not whether technically we have to accept the MB counselor's decision. I think it's a fine line to walk, and it seems to me I should back off more and more as he gets older.
  7. I've read threads in which people complain that some leaders add requirements (like retesting all MB requirements), and others in which there are complaints that leaders sign off requirements that haven't been adequately completed. I think both of these are valid complaints. What I've been thinking about, however, is how to deal with this as a parent. When my son started Scouts, we made a pact that he wouldn't accept "sleazing" through any of his advancement or merit badge requirements--that he wouldn't accept these unless he felt he had really satisfied the achievements. My part in this pact is to help keep him honest. He's just finished his first year, and it's worked well. There have been a few occasions in which I think the SM would have allowed some "sleazing," but my son did the full requirement. I was proud. But now I'm facing the issue of how much I personally should be involved in "keeping him honest," and for how long. For example, he returned from camp, and reported that he had earned his swimming MB. I don't doubt his truthfullness at all, but I don't think he's that strong a swimmer. I've said, "I know you've earned the badge, but I'd still like you to show me you can swim x yards with a strong stroke, etc." I'd appreciate any thoughts on how to handle this going forward.(This message has been edited by Hunt)
  8. New Yorkers are not rude--they just express their manners and kindness differently. Thus, if a lady drops her handkercheif in my home town, someone might say, "Excuse me, ma'am, but I believe you may have dropped something." In New York, somebody might say, "Hey, lady! Watch yourself--you're droppin' your stuff!" Same sentiment--different expression.
  9. Here's my suggestion: write a letter to the camp director about what a great job the den chief did. Send a copy to the den chief's scoutmaster if you know who that is. That will have more longterm lasting value than any $5 gift certificate.
  10. This can get complicated, and it's dealt with very inconsistently. My 11-year-old son has asthma and nut allergy, so he needs an Albuterol rescue inhaler (which he self-administers when he needs it) and an Epipen, which thus far he's never had to use, although he knows how. At Heritage, he was required to keep the meds on his person at all times--at a church camp in Maryland, it was an issue whether he would be allowed to keep them on his person, or would have to give them to the nurse (he kept them). I can see a lot of sense in having regular timed medications given out by the nurse at a central location--problems are less likely that way. But rescue meds can't be handled that way.
  11. I don't know if this is off-topic, but I wanted to comment on the story about banning knives for all Scouts for two outings because the guilty party didn't admit carving on the cabin. I question this kind of collective punishment (which I see a lot in the schools) because I think it sends the message that you're going to get punished no matter how good you are. The kids who are constantly causing trouble don't seem bothered by it, so I don't think it really works in creating peer pressure, either. I know whenever this happens to my kids, their complaint is with the injustice of the group punishment more than with the kid who caused it.
  12. I would like to echo the point that you cannot currently go into the Statue of Liberty, including the museum. All you can do is walk around the outside. I'm not sure it's worth the wait at present. I would also suggest a lot of walking, unless someone can't. Take a subway to lower Manhattan, and walk all the way up through the Wall Street Area, Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, up to midtown.
  13. I have recently signed up to be a merit badge counselor, and I have a question about timing. Specifically, when the requirements call for an activity that has to take place over a period of time, does it all have to be done after the blue card is first signed, or can it include activities done before? What if the activities were done before the boy was a scout? For example, Music includes "Serve for 6 months as a member of a school, church, Scout unit, or other local musical organization; or perform as a soloist in public six times." If the boy shows me he was in the school band the previous year, is that OK? What if it was before he joined the troop? Similarly, for camping, do all 20 nights have to be done after the card is signed, or do you count all the eligible campouts since the boy became a scout? (If it's the former, I guess every boy should get a blue card for Camping on day 1.) I apppreciate any help on this. I apologize if I've just missed an obvious answer.
  14. Now that we have more of the facts, it's easier to distinguish this case from that of an "avowed" homosexual. For this woman, her sin is in the past, and she has expressed remorse. For an avowed homosexual, especially one who continues in the behavior, this is not the case. In a case like this, you really have to leave it to local option, because somebody has to make a judgment about the person's character and the sincerity of their repentance. So even though I tend to think the gay leader issue should be local option too, I can see how this case is different, and easier.
  15. "A Leader who supports a lifestyle of alcohol use or smoking (even if they themselves do not participate) can and should be removed from the program." Are you saying that the editor of Wine Spectator, or an employee of Phillip Morris should be removed from the program? Or do you just mean that they can't support these activities for underage Boy Scouts?
  16. It's my understanding that BSA changed its rules to allow, for example, female scoutmasters. Isn't that correct? Whether it is or not, my point is that somebody has to decide what these policies will be. How do they do it? It has to be by the consensus of some group of people, living or dead--and it appears that it can change--how is that supposed to occur? I understant that BSA isn't a democracy, but what is it, exactly? And I don't really understand the argument about somebody injecting the issue of sexuality into scouting by being openly gay. I'm openly heterosexual--my wife appears at scouting events for all to see--and yet I don't think I'm injecting sexuality into scouting. The bottom line here is that a lot of people (me included, incidentally) think homosexuality is morally wrong, and a lot of people don't think so. Right now, BSA takes one side of this issue, and thinks it's important enough to prevent individual units from choosing which position to take. Why? If it's based on a religious doctrine, whose? My personal view of homosexual behavior is that it's a form of sexual sin, not much different (or worse) than heterosexual sex out of wedlock, adultery, etc., and I don't generally ostracize people for their private sins. I'm sure we have scout leaders who do all of those things, but don't talk about them in front of the boys. My reaction thus would be about the same if I learned that the scoutmaster was living with a man or a woman to whom he was not married--I don't think I would necessarily pull my son from the troop (although it might have led me not have him join that troop in the first place).
  17. I've been reading these forums for a long time--finally signed up. My son is a first year Boy Scout, and he was in Cubs and Webelos before that. I was a den leader for the Webelos, despite a woeful lack of true scouting skills. It seems to me that there are some points in this gay-leaders issue that people are talking past, or around. Let's assume that we agree that BSA is a private organization and has the right to set its own membership requirements. The real question is under what circumstances should the organization change those requirements? BSA certainly has changed since I was a kid--it has women leaders now, for example. How did that happen? Surely it happened because society's views about female roles changed--and the BSA responded to those changes. Because BSA isn't a church, its position on moral issues like this isn't written in stone--it reflects the moral views of somebody--whose? The members? The leaders? Its founders? What's the proper mechanism for saying (when and if it becomes true), "Hey, most people, including most members of BSA, no longer see gay leadership as a big deal, as long as they keep sex out of the program, and it's time for BSA to reconsider its national policy." Bob White seems to suggest that just saying this is grounds to revoke your membership--but that can't be right, can it? Another point I'd like to make is that I don't agree with the idea that you should quit BSA if you don't agree with their position on this (or any other)issue. If I had to quit every organization I disagreed with on some issue, I wouldn't be in any. The real question is whether this is a core issue for you. BSA's policy--especially in practice--is quite different from a bald policy prohibiting, say, minorities from belonging. And it also seems to me that Chartering Organizations are likely to retain the ability to preclude openly gay leaders (just as LDS units can preclude female leaders), and many will. So people would be able to choose units based on what their policy on this is. As a result, I can't see what the overwhelming reason for the national policy is. I would distinguish this from the religious requirement. Dropping that would change what scouting is, in a way that allowing gay leaders wouldn't. (And pursuing that topic for a second, I think it's inevitable that eventually all public chartering organizations will have to drop their units--probably the issue will be solved by finding a new, private chartering organization but continuing to meet in the public facility under the same terms as other groups that want to use it.)
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