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Alabama Scouter

How we reply, and to whom?

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Well, in our council-run scout shop, the manager has assembled a uniform on a hanger with all the patches in their proper place. The parent can refer to it as they are shopping...all they have to know is unit number, den number or patrol name. Just as in any store, the goal is to keep the customers happy, not to remind them how ignorant they are.

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Meaning missed in the response to the "Perfect SM:"


Nothing in the imperfect parent's "unhinged parental rant" is intended to convey that he believes the Patrol Method is "trying to isolate Scouts... impose SM's judgement etc." The point is that he wonders if the "Perfect SM" tends toward such an interpretation.


In the hypothetical dialogue, he'd just gotten curt commands from the SM that telegraphed a presumption that either the son lacks independence and self reliance or the parent is remiss in their duty to push that (or both). Maybe there's a reason the parent is handling the uniform and patches for the son. Maybe the son has responsibilities and independent activities the SM doesn't know about. It's a good idea for the scout to research patch placement and sew the patches himself and it's a good idea for the SM to suggest it to the parent. Patrol Method is good; monomania, less so.

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Some Scouters make disdainful and condescending remarks about parents. Not supportive enough? They're "Drop-off" parents. Very supportive, interested, and involved in what their sons do? They're "Helicopter" parents.


Scouters couch many complaints about parents as defense of the Patrol Method. Patrol Method is great, but monomaniacal adherence to just about anything can be detrimental to other values. And an insecure or dictatorial SM can use Patrol Method as disingenuous rationale for shutting out all that doesn't conform to his judgment or submit to his control.


Real monomaniacal extremists are rare, but people have tendencies. The extreme lampoon of the Helicopter Scouter insists that the only "real" scouting is the pure scouting or yore, back when scouts were scouts and they only saw their mommies and daddies during their 30 days annual home leave from their normal schedule of learning teamwork and leadership out in the woods with peers who are all boys, all close to them in age... which we know is the only natural and effective environment in which to learn because that's what the Spartans or the Cherokees, or somebody did - and that's how we do it in the real world.


At the other extreme are the Namby Pamby Scouters. These people want to "modernize" scouting as a therapeutic program more relevant to the vital mission of building junior's self esteem... mommy will sign off junior's rank requirements and get his Eagle all squared away for him vie e-mail to the SM without discomfiting junior by interrupting the regime of video games and cupcakes that soothes his tantrums.


Namby Pambists are derisive toward the Helicopter Scouter phobia about what Namby Pambism will do to scouting. But all Namby Pambists should recognize that even Scouters with pronounced Helicopter Scouter tendencies do valuable service to their communities. And for some scouts and their families, Helicopter Scouters' troops may be just right.


There are plenty of families happy to go far in making the kinds of compromises that Beavah advised earlier in this thread when he admonished thusly: "Yep, it's your responsibility to raise your family, eh? But if yeh want anyone else to help with that, whether it's da school teacher or coach or SM, then yeh have to conform your family behaviors and expectations to what they're offering, not vice versa. Yeh accept the stuff that doesn't work for yeh as part of the cost for the other benefits yeh receive."


Plenty of families do conform readily. But some families are less inclined to "conform family behaviors," especially value driven ones, in order to receive "benefits." Among the values that make them this way are self reliance, independence, and a confidence in their own judgment that makes them resistant to peer pressure. And plenty put their money where their values are; they homeschool, and they cooperate with families in their churches and communities to help each other. They value the upbringing and education they think is appropriate for their children more than they do the "benefit" of having the government provide it for free if they'll just conform to expectations that go against their beliefs and values.


Some scouters may demand conformity in their troops in areas in which such families do not wish to conform. These scouters may say "if they're so self-reliant and confident in their judgment and values, their family doesn't need our troop anyway." If they have their CO's support on that position, they are within their rights and can be comfortable with their decision. But that'd be interesting... a distaste for families that confidently act on their values of independence, and self reliance... the very values that some Scouters consider themselves so uniquely qualified to teach, that they can, without a trace of irony, condescend to make statements like:

"It's especially helpful to have an old parent or two get up and talk about how awkward they felt when the SM told them to have their son do it, or call his PL or whatever, but how surprised and proud they were when their son did do it, and how much it meant to his growth and self confidence. Parents need a bit of a fellow-parent-non-scouter support group to help with da transition." or: "Every SM should be conscious of da fact that new parents are like first-year boys, eh? They don't know anything yet."


Sure, there are parents who fit that description; they don't know because they don't read, or they don't care enough to judge, or lack confidence in their own judgment. They are accustomed and acquiescent to having someone else interpret things for them. Having troops available for these parents' sons is a good thing.


And if those troops don't want weird close knit families that do things and go places together (or, if we prefer more derogatory euphemisms we can call them people who refuse to "cut-the-apron strings" or Helicopter Parents)... if some troops don't want those sort of people, that's OK, and even better when they say so up front. If the SM or other scouters think parents will bring them more trouble than good... well, they should feel perfectly comfortable excluding them (and their sons) from their program. There are other troops, there are other boys. BSA policies leave room for judgment.


But we should be comfortable with a little lampoonery of Helicopter Scouterism to balance the disdainful and condescending blanket remarks about parents (helicopter or otherwise) that we can also find in the neighborhood.(This message has been edited by Callooh! Callay!)

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Howdy CC!


A few questions for you as I am trying to understand where you are coming from.


1) Were you ever a Boy Scout?


2) Are you currently, or ever have been, a registered leader with a unit, and if so what's the position?


I think Beavah gives an excellent way to handle things.


Now in regards to your comments about conforming to a troop, it's like anything in life you conform or go your separate way. Just as some choose to join one homeschool association over another, or a particular sports program over another, each troop is different, and has different expectations, SOPs, etc. All one needs to do is look around.


I'll give you an example. Just as the wife and I chose one homeschool association over another to reflect more of our values and teaching philosophies, I switched troops from one that my entire den went into b/c it was the Den Chief's, to one that met more of my needs and wants.

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Jeese oh man, just direct the parent to look inside the handbook covers. Any Scoutmaster gets this question at least twice a crossover.


If the SM gave a smarmy answer, pull up your big kid boots and pay attention at the next Troop meeting.


Next mountain we can build?

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Oh I enjoy CC's venting.


She is going to be an entertaining addition to the scouter.com bunch.



I was very entertained by her chip on her shoulder and sense of superiority.


I eagerly await the answer to Eagle92's questions

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The E-92 Question:

Where I'm coming from? I'm not.

What's posted in this thread are ideas and/or response to ideas. They come from having read comments in this forum denigrating parents, condescending to parents, discouraging parental participation, assuming parental MBCs are unqualified cheats, saying that parents are stunting childrens' growth etc.


Please don't let your kindness, courtesy, and helpfulness make you feel obliged to respond to me personally rather than to the ideas posted. Feel free to be thrifty with your energy, wasting none on me personally, as you address matters at hand (or not, as the spirit moves you).


Maybe the personal concern about me stems from the phenomenon of new posters coming to this forum with personal quandaries or difficulties that they sometimes approach obliquely. They seek validation, commiseration, or exegesis of guidelines and rules they lack the gumption to look up and judge for themselves. To better help them, one wishes to understand "where they're coming from." If this is the reason for requesting a thumbnail resume, rest easy. I'm too proud and vain to make such an approach even if I did have such a quandary. I'm not seeking advice on some problem I have with BSA or our unit. Our unit is not perfect, far from it. But we're improving it and boys are learning and happy. I'm happy with the SM and COR. All indications are that they are also happy with me.


If the concern about "where I'm coming from" is that I haven't had enough experience with Helicopter Parents to comment on the topic... well my experience as a scouter is short and may always be so since I don't foresee continuing after my own are grown. That could change, but odds are that I'll be just as selfish then as I am now. So far, half the parents have made a positive impression on me. The parents who did not were not of the Helicopter bent, quite the opposite. In dealing with them, I frequently remind myself that misfortunes, mistakes, and sins weigh some folks down more than others, and that not all people are equally capable. Life is tough; and tougher if you're stupid... oops... that sounds like a comment denigrating parents... don't it? Ok, throw down the ad-hominem. "Hypocrite!" But my hypocrisy doesn't invalidate my point. What was my point anyway? How did we get off topic and start talking about me? We don't know me, and most of us are probably glad of it.


My experience may be short, but it's much enhanced by that sense of superiority that Basementdweller was keen enough to spot and kind enough to point out (I wasn't fishing for compliments, but thanks). I also like to flatter myself with the notion that even in fields to which I am a relative neophyte, I soon enough learn to discern between the 20 year veteran with 20 years of experience and the 20 year veteran with one year that he has experienced 20 times. But that's just what you'd expect from a (here I'll quote, paraphrase, and compile all the accolades I've already collected since my first post) "troll who makes vague admonishments, hit and run posts, can't be bothered to take the time to learn what it's all about, has a chip on his shoulder, a sense of superiority, makes assertions based on zero facts... and (I know jwestark did not direct this one specifically at my posts but I like this one...) who needs to pull up his big kid boots."


As to Beavah's overall excellence. I don't dispute it. If the Beavah behind the posts is anything like the Beavah in the posts, it's certain that he's an asset to his community. My point about the quoted remarks stands; they are condescending.


Regarding the issues you raise about conforming to a troop: "it's like anything in life you conform or go your separate way." I reckon you'd agree that you have overstated this. You don't just conform or go your separate way with regard to "anything in life." With many things, you buck conformity and follow your compass; and you don't go your separate way, you lead those who will follow and/or follow those who lead in the right direction. But as you say, with a troop or a sports program or the like, you do go your separate way, naturally. Fighting city hall can be reasonable; it's your city too. Fighting a troop's leadership? That'd be muleheaded. Unless you and yours are an active part of the CO, it's not your troop. There's another one down the street, and another, and a process for starting one if there isn't.


But we're off on tangents here - the topic is, um.... what was the topic agian?

Helicopter Scouters? No, maybe... oh yea... the plethora of scouter remarks denigrating and condescending to parents. That was the thing.


Anyway, I'll go see if I can get me a pair of them "big kid boots" that jtswestark mentioned. Hopefully they make wide. Man, I don't relish breaking in new boots. They got em at WalMart? So once we're wearing these big kid boots, discussions of Helicopter Scouterism are beneath our big kid dignity, right? How about Helicopter Parenting? Or maybe the Outdoor Purists vs. Just-The-Values-Thanks Scouting skirmish that flares up here every now and then. That topic has been beat seven ways from Sunday in these parts but remains fascinating (... well, ok, interesting at least).


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Oh CC don't kid yourself.......Just because you believe your superior......well.


I was not giving you a compliment.....merely stating you had a chip on your shoulder and a better than thou attitude.


I believe your posts are going to be very entertaining to read, short on substance and high on attitude.







(This message has been edited by Basementdweller)

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But we're off on tangents here - the topic is, um.... what was the topic agian? oh yea... the plethora of scouter remarks denigrating and condescending to parents.


Nah, actually the topic was how to handle various kinds of parent questions, eh? It was only your repeated posts that drove it somewhere different. :p


I'm sorry that yeh feel denigrated or condescended to. As with all communication, it's a two-person endeavor, the speaker and the listener. So often a listener puts so much of him/herself into the speaker's words that da speaker can't be heard.


A first-year parent really is as clueless about boy scouting as a first year scout, eh? That's not condescending or denigrating, that's just a statement about level of knowledge of a particular topic. It only becomes condescending if the person feels they're an expert on everything, or that they always know more than people who are younger or some other ego need. But those are characteristics of the listener, eh?


On da other hand, sometimes da communication fault lies with the speaker. It can be hard for a listener to try to read around somethin' like being called a "monomaniacal extremist" ;). Fact is I suppose that all youth program volunteers must be monomaniacal extremists just because the parent doin' the speaking only sees them in one context, doin' one thing. Trying to offer a general program for a group, not a private program for a family. Private programs / private lessons are usually available, eh? They'll just cost yeh a lot more - usually in dollars, sometimes in quality.


As for da rest, we teach citizenship in the BSA, not independence. If yeh really want independence yeh can go live in a survivalist cabin off in da woods somewhere I suppose. When you're a citizen, yeh make sacrifices for the group because you get benefits from the group. Yeh pay taxes, and receive help from da fire department if yeh need it. Yeh contribute in alms or volunteer time to the community, knowin' that in turn you'll live in a place where others will help you in your time of need. Yeh conform your behavior to the expectations of the group in order to gain the benefits of being in a group.


Nuthin' wrong with your family doin' its own thing, eh? Also nuthin' wrong with being independent and self-reliant in some or many things. But the two go together, eh? If yeh want to be independent, yeh have to be self reliant. If yeh get sick or your house is on fire, take care of yourself. Don't expect the community to provide its resources to bail you out. If yeh want a program that caters to your personal needs, pay for private outdoors and leadership opportunities for your kid, don't expect the community to provide its scouting fundraisers and resources and volunteers for your use. That's just askin' for welfare, eh? It ain't independence.


On the other hand, if yeh want your kids to learn about citizenship, about sacrificing for each other and takin' care of the group before themselves, then the BSA is a fine organization. We teach preparedness and teamwork, not self-reliance. Trustworthiness and Loyalty to the group, not independence. There is no solo hiking or climbing in Scouting. It's done with a patrol, eh? ;)




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To get back to the original topic thread...


I do not think 1st year parents should be offended with the idea they have stuff to learn. It would be the same if your kid started band, football, or robotics club. (To say nothing about church congregations) All groups have norms and cultures and strive to pass those along. You can go against those norms (I do frequently and we home school)but be willing to pay the price.


The last two years I maintain a Troop email group for New Scout Patrol parents to help them with the cubs to scouts transition. Really a supplemental bunch of info to the regular troop news. Experienced Scouters and parents expect everyone to know everything. I find about 1/3rd of the parents really appreciate it, a few asked to be dropped (usually folks with an older scout already) and most never say anything. I just know when I first joined over as an ex-Webelos leader there were many things I was clueless about --mostly because less and less Dads (especially those under 35) were Boy Scouts.


By the time the New Scout Patrol is absorbed in the regular patrols I dissolve the list and they are on their own. I feel is just being "helpful".


To get back to the original post, a busy parent could view the SM's comments as a bit snarky. I would have called the boy and parent over, showed him where it was in the book (once), reminded him that he should always check his book 1st, and explained how the "chain of command" worked to help him do things on his own and give the adults and parents a break. We forget there is a LOT of information for new families to absorb.

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And keeping the thread on topic....


I agree with Tampa Turtle, no parent new to scouting should be offended by the idea they have things to learn. On the contrary, they should assume they have things to learn, and they should take action to remedy their ignorance. Scouting.org is easy to find. And they'll probably be taking their son to the scout store... while he's buying the Boy Scout Handbook they may notice the SM Handbook nearby - why not pick that up too and read both? Both are written in an accessible and simple style. Of course, some parents don't get any further than scouting.org, others no further than the BS handbook, and it's probably a minority that read the SM Handbook. People are busy and many are unaccustomed to absorbing new information that isn't presented as entertainment.


I also agree with Tampa Turtle, that a busy parent might find the SM' comment snarky.

And I agree with the logical segue that suggested a discussion of Helicopter Scouter tendencies that might lead a scouter to make such comments. And I agree with the posts that further explored some of the tensions that can feed Helicopter Scouterism.


In Beavah's post there appears to be a reference to someone having been called a "monomaniacal extremist." For clarification, no one was personally being called a monomaniacal extremist; that title was referring to the ideal Helicopter Scouter, an abstract construct. The only personal references I can recall making in this forum so far, are referring to Beavah to the effect that to judge by his posts, he is "an asset to his community" and addressing Afscouter directly in another thread to tell him that from his posts I get the impression he is a "good man and a great father." Other than those two, the only personal characterizations I've been party to are the characterizations that regular posters here have made concerning my personal characteristics... they have lauded me as a troll and praised my "better than thou attitude," the chip on my shoulder, and my "posts which are short on substance on long on attitude." - although I guess technically that last one isn't referring to me personally but rather to these posts.


Beavah's post is right on topic in reiterating the assertion that A first-year parent really is as clueless about boy scouting as a first year scout, eh? It still seems like a condescending statement to me (even if it were always true - you can be right and still be condescending - just look at my previous posts in this thread) but maybe I've got different parents in mind than does Beavah in that statement. I'll admit that I have met parents that will probably always be clueless about many things. But they are not my yardstick.


Beavah tells us We teach preparedness and teamwork, not self-reliance. An experienced and deservedly respected (to judge by the forum archives anyway) has opined to the contrary. One Beavah has observed that "Self-reliance of the sort that scoutin' tries to teach tends to be an afterthought. I'm sure self-reliance isn't only brought up when it comes to educating parents like those that post notes seem to be more involved in negative ways, and have more of their egos invested in vicariously livin' their sons' lives. Might be partly because parents in our demographic are havin' fewer kids these days, so they have more time and energy to pour into each one. Self-reliance of the sort that scoutin' tries to teach tends to be an afterthought to some folks.


Beavah also tells us we teach citizenship in the BSA, not independence Maybe I'm confused because in my political philosophy, citizenship includes important areas of independence. But the statement is also puzzling because some reasonable and well intentioned scouters have consistently advocated teaching independence as an important part of scouting. Beavah among them... with comments like these from previous posts:

The goal is to turn over camp tasks and hikes to the kids first. Let 'em be successful and grow in their independence.

Do a strong job of teachin' planning and independence running simple, small projects and outings at age 13, so they can handle a smaller Eagle project as a 14-year-old.

Yes, of course you should not sign off. Because yeh want the lad to actually learn and be independent, able to be a full member of a patrol that can operate without you being around. So if the lad hasn't achieved that yet, yeh have to keep helping him and encouragin' him until he does.

Kudu's young friend Marijus was willin' to push him, and pull his fellow scouts to develop independence in climbing skills, eh? I think that's what all lads really crave. Not climbing amusement rides or tourist whitewater raft trips. Really becoming accomplished at those things.

I wonder if such independence shouldn't be our goal in all of scoutin'. Might be worth it for some troops to give it a whirl, anyway.

That's why in my experience da real youth led troops have higher expectations for proficiency. Yeh need it for da youth to be independent.

The leap between pack and troop is a big one and some boys aren't really ready for the independence, the responsibility

One is that lots of times packs/dens aren't that great about teachin' skills/independence.

I've occasionally done things like, after approving a boy, mentioned offhandedly that "gee, we usually see a bit more hours/youth independence in service projects from other troops. Are you folks happy with the level of expectation you've set?

If we don't give 'em chances to solo and develop a sense of independence, confidence, and judgment in relatively safe places like the woods, they are gonna be sheep to the slaughter in the dangerous places like schools, towns

I think da most common place T-2-1 fails to prepare lads for independence is in NSP/First Class Emphasis programs.

I am trying to improve decision making and responsibility, independence and skills and one way is through meals.

Anyway... the discussion of axes of tension around which Helicopter Scouterist dissatisfactions revolve has apparently not been interesting to many. Sorry. I thought it was relevant to the topic but it appears to have only elicited counter-observations of the mundane, complaints (perhaps justified) of being off topic, and unintended conflation of the abstract with the personal.

If I post again in an existing thread I'll try to put more consideration into topical relevance.

Back to the OP - the SM comment to parent were naughty and suggest some Helicopter Scouterist tendencies.

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Now there is three minutes I won't get back.


You have issues my friend........I cannot imagine the amount of time it took to research and craft that last post. I am guessing an hour or maybe three.


You did not search the archives for knowledge, but for daggers.......


Attacking one of the most respected and even tempered members of this forum. I value Beavah's opinions and views, sure there are not perfect but I find them to be an excellent guide.


Just makes a fellow shake his head.




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Attacking a forum member?

I presented ideas.

Forum member disagreed and countered with other ideas.

I readdressed with other ideas and examples from posts on the forum.


And oddly enough, we don't disagree about the value of some views expressed in Beavah posts.


You don't like satire? sarcasm? hyperbole? Make this the last Callooh! Callay! post you'll read. Or savor these posts while they last -as you note, it takes time to compose these and soon a schedule lull will be over and I'll be otherwise occupied.


Maybe you're serious about taking all this personally...

I attacked ideas, not persons.

Other than some erroneous conflation of the abstract and the personal, the only direct personal attacks have been from you directed my way - those cute comments about a sense of superiority, chip on shoulder, and having issues.


BTW - for the research - piece of cake and it doesn't take as long as you estimated - go the search page - and narrow your search by user name and search terms - select the terms right and you'll quickly generate a list of all posts that user has made that fit your search term parameters.


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LOL! Yah, OK, that was a hoot.


At da risk of being hit with da "condescending" comment again, can I inquire if yeh have teenagers, Callooh? My guess would be "not yet", because most of us are cured of that kind of pick-on-the-word argument by havin' our teens use it so often. :)


Of course, if yeh read carefully in all of that long litany of Beavah quotes you'll notice I'm usin' the word "independence" in the context of "growing up and becoming an adult." So yah, sure, in Scouting we want a lad to be "independent" in that he can tie his shoes for himself, or cook a healthy meal for himself and some friends, or navigate to a destination without gettin' lost. And he can do it without a parent or teacher or scouter hovering and giving hints and "looks" and instructions.


That's a different thing than being independent from a community, eh? In fact part of learning da sort of "growing up" independence we care about in scouting is teaching boys and girls how to be full, participating, contributing, respectful participants in different communities. To be dependent on your patrol to do their part in gettin' the job done, and to act in a way that they can depend on you. To be reliant on your patrol and have them able to rely on you. All of the Scout Oath and Law involve how we owe duty to others - to God, to Country, to each other, to our own development. It's all about being a part of a community, and givin' up some of our own notions in order to make the community stronger. The patrol leader at a PLC gives up some of what he wants to support the activities the other patrols are looking for, or what they need. Just as a family gives up some of its independence if it wants to participate as good citizens in the broader community, whether it be sports programs or school or scoutin'.


Of course, I reckon you knew all that, eh? ;)


Helicopter parenting of course isn't a scoutin' term. I think it was coined by college admissions officers, and picked up by most K-12 youth workers to describe a particular cultural phenomenon. So don't blame us scouters for da term. Remember, almost all of us are parents too. That's how and why we got into this scoutin' game. So when we use the term "Helicopter parenting" we're usin' it as fellow parents.


If yeh want to coin your own term to describe youth workers and volunteers who yeh feel are standoffish to involved parents I think yeh need to do better than "Helicopter Scouters/coaches/teachers", eh? Just doesn't capture da image yeh want, and besides, it's been taken. ;)




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