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Eagle309

Untrustworthy Scout

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Just came back from summer camp. Several of the boys worked on the Swimming Merit Badge. It was reported to me by more than one boy that a particular Scout managed to sneak into the shower and drench his clothes and was able to get credit for the clothes inflation requirement while he never did it. (The class was large and I can see it being possible to slip one by on the instructor.)

 

I questioned the boy and he will not admit any decitfulness. Based on his tone of voice and what the other boys said (three came and told me this all separtely), I believe he is lying and did not do the work although I cannot prove it.

 

Unfortunately, since I have a signed blue card back, I cannot deny him the merit badge. I am very concerned about the message this will send to the boys who actually did the work honestly. Any repremands I can think of still will not change the fact that he cheated his way into a merit badge.

 

Any creative ideas on how to deal with this?

 

 

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A few things

 

You say the group was large and you can see the counselor missing this scout not doing the exercise. I would alert the Camp Director that this happened and that the class size is too large. I beleive there is something in the Advancement Policies and Procedure book about summer camp merit badges. Instruction may be done in a group, but testing is not a group activity, thats number one.

 

You say you questioned the boy after being told separately that the boy did not do the exercise by three other boys. One tactic is to tell the three that you talked to the suspect and he denies it and since you didnt see the act, or non-act there is little you can do and see if the three can exert any peer pressure on the youth.

 

Then again, you could schedule a troop swim and have all the boys who passed swimming merit badge at camp demonstrate how to inflate clothes.

 

How is the accused otherwise? When told of his mis deeds, were you surprised? Not shocked? What about the other boys, what is their history?

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What OGE said about notifying the camp.

 

Have you processed the blue card yet? Do you have any swimming MB counselors in your unit that would be able to re-check the requirement to see if it has been completed? It should be pretty easy to tell if he can did it. Have there been any other problems with this Scout?

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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There's a rather puzzling element to this. This is NOT a hard requirement and takes virtually no time. Why cheat? It's almost simpler just to do the requirement. Something is missing here.

 

Why would the boy cheat? Was he under some time pressure and being forced to wait a long time to get his turn? I remember many, many years ago when I was a Scout at summer camp, I failed Rowing merit badge because there were so many Scouts taking the badge that we never had a chance to practice some of the skills and then when the time came to do the rescues, it was "Hurry up, hurry up, we've got lots of people who have to do this."

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As frustrating as it feels, I tend to agree with OGE on this. I have confronted a similar thing a couple of times in the distant past. In addition to the example it sets for the other boys, it is also a terrible thing for a boy to successfully 'get away' with something like this. In a case where I know with absolute certainty that one of the requirements was not completed, I merely let the boy know that I know and after the deceptions are removed, we discuss what it all means for life in general. Sometimes they continue on as a scam artist, sometimes they change for the better. But either way they know they didn't really earn the badge, and the way they live with that is also an important thing.

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Maybe ask the boy to teach this skill to some other scouts, or to demonstrate it for a group of parents. (Because I've met a lot of parents who do not believe that it is possible to inflate clothing and float, until they see it done.) If he has done it, he'll be able to again. If not, he'll probably get a deer-in-the-headlights look and you may get some different information from him.

 

If the blue card is signed then it is signed. You as SM can't take that back, especially since you were not there. I think pack's approach there is about the best you can do under the circumstances.

 

As for the camp - if they missed whether this boy was in the water and doing this requirement, would they have missed him drowning? That worries me. Aquatics classes should never be too big for the supervisors to keep an accurate head count.

 

 

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Foot-in-mouth disease here...In my previous post, I had no intention of leaving the impression that my frustration was with my agreement with OGE. Thanks, OGE for pointing that out. My frustration was intended to be aimed at the situation described by Eagle309. I'll try to be more careful in the future, sorry OGE.

 

I also agree with Lisabob's comment about safety and numbers. Seems like, assuming this boy really did slip one past the instructor, the instructor might have too many boys to watch at the same time.

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I don't buy the "once it is signed" bit. If you know that the either the counselor or the Scout committed a deceittful act then the card is invalid.

 

What if there was a counselor who, if you gave him $50, would sign off on a merit badge with no work being done? Would you accept those cards once the fraud came to light? Not I.

 

The same is true for rank advancement. Mr. Smit signed off of Johnny's tent building requirement even though Johnny wasn't there. Do we accept that? Nope.

 

 

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Yah, gotta agree with GW here.

 

I just don't get adults who treat kids' programs as some sort of exercise in da scams of contract law. Makes me wonder if their kids get what they want most of the time by filin' a bogus complaint and then holding out in "settlement negotiations" until the parent gives in.

 

Scouting, like parenting, ain't about signatures. It's about character and doin' what's right.

 

For the boy's sake as much as anything it's necessary to "get to the bottom of it" and bring a resolution. Otherwise either his troop mates will spend years thinkin' he's a liar and a cheat (all the way to Eagle...), or his troop mates will learn from him that it's best to lie and cheat. Neither is a good outcome.

 

Neil, I think you're right, it's a darn easy requirement. But us old folks sometimes forget it's a scary requirement. Unlike swimmin' a certain distance, it's somethin' they haven't done before.

 

Of course at this point the requirement isn't the issue, it's the honesty. I will say I like Lisabob's idea ;).

 

B

 

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If you can find a copy of the book BE PREPARED, by Cochran, read it. He deals early on with some boys, Eagles, he inherits from a previous leader. He very soon is suspicious of some of their "skills". Good perspective on this particular issue.

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It would seem that there is more than enough fault to go around.

The camp is at fault for allowing the class to be unmanageable.

The Counselor is at fault for not keeping track of all the Scouts.

The other Scouts reporting? I have to wonder why?

I agree with NeilLup in that I'd want to know or find out why a Lad would take the time to cheat? Is he just trying to pull a fast one? Or is there a problem meeting the requirement?

I don't like anyone pulling a fast one on me!! It upsets me.

I would hate to take a Scout out on the water thinking he was a good swimmer and then if something went wrong, I found out he wasn't. -Of course I'd have done the swim check first.

What happens next is the big question?

I would want to meet with the Counselor and try and find out what really did happen, I might ask someone from the camp to be there, someone being th Program Director or the Camp Director. If the Counselor was a youth member? I would want to explain the implications of passing a Scout for this MB,if he hasn't met the requirements. I'd want to impress on the Camp that I had placed my trust in them and I now feel that they had let me down and placed me in this terrible predicament.

Hopefully they will learn from the mistakes that were made?

Next I would deal with the Scout.

If he continues to claim that he did meet the requirement? I have no choice but to take his word. He is a Scout, but you can bet I would let him know that I would be more upset with him for telling me bare-faced lies than for cheating on a MB.

Over the coming weeks I would go out of my way to talk the PLC into planning a few events that required doing the requirement that he might have missed.

This situation does offer you a great opportunity to take on ethics in a big way. Hopefully even if the Lad never owns up to having cheated he will see that not only was cheating wrong, but it could also lead to him being placed in a dangerous situation later on. Learning that his actions can and does have consequences, might be a far better lesson than anything else?

Eamonn.

 

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A number of good suggestions were posted. Like Beavah, I like Lisa Bob's solution (needs to be a youth leadership decision though). However, I don't think the boy should be forced to do the demonstration unless you have a high degree of confidence that he cheated. The only way you can figure that out is to talk to the boy and talk to his accusers, and try to figure out who you believe.

 

What I'm mostly concerned about is how the boy was able to get out of the aquatics area and into the showers. Either he never made it in the water and the physical environment of that summer camp permitted him to cheat or the camp staff is not following the Safe Swim Defense policy (i.e., buddy tags/boards/checks, etc.).(This message has been edited by MarkS)

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This would be an excellent topic for a Scout Master's minute, that lasted about 30 with lots of participation from the boys. You may not be able to "legally" do anything about one Scout, but you could make a real impact on the rest of the troop.

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