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About Jeff1974

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  1. Jeff1974

    Cell Phones at Summer Camp

    Last year, as a new ASM, I inherited a prior Troop policy that allowed smart phones at camp. It was a real problem all week. Scouts watching movies of questionable content and language; Scouts huddled around the only available plug to charge their phones. It was equally disruptive for those scouts who didn't have or didn't bring their phones. After camp, and as the new SM, we instituted a new policy which banned phones in troop meetings and on campouts (except for drives of greater than 3 hours, after which they get locked away in the car). Our trips over the past year were much improved by the absence of the distraction. Interested to see the new policy in action in July.
  2. Jeff1974

    The liability of being a Boy Scout Leader

    As a Scoutmaster and an attorney practicing commercial litigation, these are risks I have considered. I too confirmed my umbrella liability covered the activity. In most negligence cases, the biggest issue is determining whether a defendant violated the standard of care (driving too fast for the conditions, running a soccer practice in dangerous weather conditions, maintaining property, etc.) There can be a lot of gray area in defining the standard of care for those examples. The standard of care is the care and attention a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances. Within the context of Scouting, however, I think a good case can be made the standard of care is far clearer: the BSA rules and guidelines. Ignorance, or disregard of those guidelines, whether it is YPT, ensuring trained leaders for specific trips (first aid, water-related activities) could be the basis for a negligence claim. I cannot say I give much thought to my potential liability while I am out on trips with our Troop. My primary focus is on providing a safe scouting environment for our Troop, which is a byproduct of understanding the guidelines, having trained adult leaders who are similarly committed to understanding and abiding by those rules and making sure Scouts are at least cognizant of those risks in advance. I feel an obligation to make sure that everyone on an outing, whether my son or those Scouts I am entrusted with on a trip, have the benefit of trained leaders who try to adhere to established policies and guidelines Fortunately, the guidelines and training support both safe scouting and the satisfaction of the standard of care we owe to all scouts and leaders. At the same time, we undertake activities that have risk, which cannot be completely eliminated. I find that strict adherence to the guidelines, even when it makes you a kill joy in the eyes of your troop, is a far preferable policy. I took over a Troop that was rather lax in many respects, particularly as to the older Troop members. Two weeks ago, I had to reason with an older Scout that his hammock, hung a good 6-8 feet off the ground, over a rather steep, rocky ravine, instead of the flat campsite available to him, might not be a good idea. As a parent, I intuitively have concerns that is not a good idea, but being able to refer to the BSA rules on a take it or leave it basis (either: lower the hammock, sleep in a tent or arrange for a lift home) helped diffuse the issue. Several of the posts above referenced dehydration, and far lesser instances of it than the tragic death of a Scout on a hike. Similar to posts above, this is a constant issue for our Troop, despite our warnings on every trip, and instructions to hydrate on breaks. Many of them do not get that their water intake needs to vary with their activity levels, and that they might need more water when outside for 2 days than they drink on an ordinary day involving a school bus, a day in an air conditioned school, and then home to sit in front of a video game for several hours.
  3. Good afternoon, I am trying to help our Second Class scouts complete First Class 4a , a one mile orienteering course. I have identified a few clubs that put on such programs, but there are some distance from us. Myself and another leader are discussing whether such a course could be laid out using a gps and compass, which the Scouts could then recreate. If anyone could point me to any resources on this subject, it would be much appreciated. Thank you.
  4. Almost immediately after becoming a scoutmaster a year ago, I started getting suggestions to do wood badge training. This was even before I had taken the introduction to outdoor leadership skills program, which is an actual requirement, and which I found to be very valuable. I have respectfully declined WB training to date but have had a few discussions with Council reps about the nature and purpose of the training. The responses I have received have not caused me to elevate this program as a priority, particularly in light of the time commitment on top of actual scouting time spent at weekly troop meetings, a monthly parent meeting and a monthly camp out or service project.
  5. Jeff1974

    Women and siblings on campouts

    We recently had 5 new scouts cross over. One included a single parent who asked if she could go on the first overnighter, and bring a younger sibling along. We welcomed her to join the trip, but explained the differences she should expect on the campout, in contrast to cub scouts. At the same time, we told her the younger sibling would not likely find the activities interesting, and that his presence might detract from the event, but would be more than welcome at our annual family campout. She agreed, and made other arrangements for the younger sibling. I see the bigger issue being new parents, whether a mother or a father, understanding they are not present to be a mom or dad to their own scout, but to give their children room and to allow them to function within the patrol/troop. That is an issue with some of our older scouts as well, who too often run to dad (ASM) to ask a question, instead of their PL or SPL before running to mom or dad troop leader. Communicating expectations at the onset goes along way.
  6. Jeff1974

    Girls in the BSA

    No intention on my part to rekindle an argument about the merits of girls in Scouts BSA. I find the numbers of initial signups very encouraging. As a Scoutmaster (with less than a year on the job) of my son's Troop, and the father of a 2d grader girl in Brownies/Girl Scouts, I am supportive of both Scouts BSA and the Girl Scouts. If the numbers are there to form a troop, and adequate parent volunteers exist, go for it and more power to you. What I find troubling is the continued pushing from our council on this issue. We are a small, but growing troop that is making the transition to a boy-led troop. The ranks of our parent volunteers are not deep. When myself and a few new ASMs stepped in, whether the troop should be folded into a neighboring troop was on the table. We elected to push forward and move towards a boy-led troop. Difficult, but rewarding, and working. Our small community also has a rather vibrant Girl Scout program, with a lot of overlap between scouting families. Our committee discussed the issue, and owing to a lack of capacity from parents, the absence of any expressed interest from girls in the community, and respect for the existing GS organization in town, elected not to actively recruit the formation of girl troop. If a quorum of girls comes forward with interest, with appropriate SM/ASM support, we would not turn them away from linking the Troop or sharing the parent committee between the Troops. We just are not actively recruiting girls to join Boy Scouts. I had a discussion with our district rep about the issue, only to have a council rep follow up. I have had to justify that decision on a repeated basis. The continued pushback is growing tiresome. I feel as if the agenda being pushed ignores there is no one size fits all answer for existing troops, the troop committees and the COs. Thanks for allowing me to vent.
  7. Jeff1974

    Dishonest scout

    Good afternoon, As a new Scoutmaster, many of my scoutmaster minutes have revolved around the Scout law. For a Scout is honest, I asked the Troop to provide their own working definitions, so as to delve a little beyond "a scout tells the truth," and then told a story of personal experience about how a dishonest individual lost trust, credibility and had a hard time keeping all of the false statements consistent. This allowed for a personal lesson to be offered, without casting aspersions at any Troop member, or for other members in the Troop to start thinking that one among them had engaged in that conduct. Best of luck!