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SMT224

What would you have done...?

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Just got back from a Troop camping trip, and all in all, it was a good trip.

 

However, it didn't start out so good...

 

We pulled into a State Park we've camped at several times before, and this time reserved the one youth group site that has a pavilion. We arrived around 9:30 pm - it's a 2 hour drive for us.

 

To our dismay, there was already a Troop in our site! There were tents everywhere, a fire blazing, and the tables under the pavilion were covered with gear and and cooking equipment. I walked up to a couple of Scouters and a let them know we have reserved this site. They said they didn't know much about it, someone else had done all the reservations and just told them to set up here. I finally found the Scoutmaster, and he feigned ignorance, and said he thought this was where they were supposed to camp. When I ask him which site they had reserved, he told me, and it was clearly not the one they were in. Then he said they had 30 Scouts set up, and were expecting other 30 that night. He made it clear they were not going anywhere.

 

We went back to our vehicles, and had a quick adult leader conference. We decided to not to fight it, and set up in the site they were supposed to be in. It was a nice big site, and we'd camped there before, but no pavilion. But since rain wasn't in the forecast, we decided not to worry about it. A number of our Scouts were upset, and talked about a night time revenge raid. We used this as a opportunity to talk about our Troop taking the high road, and how just because someone wrongs you, revenge just makes you the one doing wrong. Everyone calmed down, and we set up camp and went to bed.

 

And, like I said, we had a good camp out, did some advancement, played with fire, and did a lot of cooking. But no one forgot that our site had been stolen from us, and everyone seemed to want to do something to rectify the situation. I don't think we'll ever forget that Troop number. I fully intend to call the Ranger Station in the morning and let them know what happened, so if any damage was done, or if the site was left trashed, our Troop won't be blamed.

 

The incident left us with a bad taste. As we drove back this morning, I wondered if I'd be feeling any better if I'd demanded they move. Would we have had a better time if we'd cleared them out and settled in the pavilion site?

 

What would you have done?

 

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If I had the site reserved, and the other SM let me know he wasn't moving - instead of asking if something could be worked out - I would have had the Ranger there in a NY minute to hopefully settle the dispute in my favor.

 

We had a similar situation on one of our Council reservations. We had the Cub BB range reserved for a District Webelos Woods. Another Pack wanted to use it as well, and wanted us to share. We needed it all day. The leaders from that Pack started talking about using metal spinners and other non-legal targets (could cause BB bounce backs). I called the Ranger, who I happen to know, and he said to send those leaders to him - he wasn't going to let them in, no matter what we said. They hadn't turned in the paperwork, and we shouldn't have to put up with their lack of planning. Sounded like they needed to get their leaders trained, as well.

 

Start with nice. If they respond in kind, we might be able to negotiate. If not, pull rank.

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Yah, I've had this happen a bunch of times.

 

Lots of folks get sites confused. Especially if they come in at or after dark, eh?

 

If it's da first time it's happened with that group, I reckon yeh do what you did. You treat 'em the way you'd want to be treated if you had made the same mistake. Yeh just roll with it as your good deed for the weekend.

 

Now, I do think they should have offered to move, eh? That would have been da honorable thing for them to do, rather than playin' pass-the-buck and ignorant. Check their reservation, realize you were right, and at least made the offer. Treatin' you the way they'd expect to be treated if da situation was reversed, and just bein' honorable.

 

But you're not responsible for their choices, eh? You're responsible only for your own. So yeh do the right thing toward brother scouts, and let 'em have the site and the benefit of your example.

 

Beavah

 

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I would have had the SPL with me doing the check-in and site selection. After meeting the other troop, he and I would have discussed our options. If he made the decision to settle for the other site rather than enforce our reservation, then there's nothing to worry about, no revenge, no wrongs done, no bad taste - the troop decided.

If I made that decision without him, then the troop doesn't have ownership of the decision and may feel wronged.

 

Your story makes me wonder what the talk was like at that other site after you moved on. Did they feel like they got away with something? What did their scouts learn? Were their scouts part of the decision?

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I can't help but think that their leaders knew exactly what they were doing.

 

Our Council has a camp on a large recreational lake. Troops have had these types of disputes there for years. Someone's Woodbadge project was to mark each campsite. I saw this, made a map and submitted it to our council to use for units to reserve specific sites. This is a large primitive camping area. All good, but we'd go down every August (two hours for us)and there would still be a troop in our site. I'd ask them to move after showing and comparing paperwork (most did not have a reservation or permit). There are two sites that have small pavilions, and we wanted the use of our reserved site with pavilion.

 

Our troop is around 20 strong, and most troops we've encountered were small as well. I'd stand there until they'd move. I've long since grown tired of making the effort to follow the rules and still get pushed around.

 

Works for us.

 

sst3rd

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Given the time of your arrival, I think you handled it well, at least for that night. Had my unit been set up in your campsite by accident, I would have been extremely apologetic and suggested swapping campsites in the morning.

 

Since that Scoutmaster didn't make that offer, I think you handled the situation extremely well with your Troop. Revenge is often on the minds of youth (if not the adults) but talking about the situation with the boys probably taught them one of life's lessons and hopefully the lesson sticks with them for a long time.

 

Thankfully, the weather was good and the pavillion wasn't as necessary as it would have been on a rainy weekend.

 

Congrats on handling things appropriately, at least in my opinion.

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I appreciate the comments...

 

One thing I see I left out of my original posting is that we had 12 Scouts and 3 Adults vs their 30 Scouts, (growing to 60 as the night wore on) and alot of adults... I counted 20 vehicles the next morning.

 

So size was a factor in our decision making... as well as their level of set up. It was clear they had been there for several hours.

 

As far as official intervention... the Rangers at this place are now M-F 8-5 due to State budget cuts. So any official would have been the county Sheriff, who would not have been too pleased to have to drive several miles of very unimproved dirt road so late at night. And would the outcome have been any different? I could imagine waiting an hours for a tired-looking Sheriff to ask me why I wanted them to move when there was a perfectly fine site we could set up into just down the road. We just decided that route was not worth it.

 

I think what would have made me feel a whole lot better if they had just been honest and said they took the site because they had such a large group and had hope no one else had reserved it or showed up. If they had apologized and then even invited us over for a cracker barrel or s'mores or the like I think the outcome would have been better for both camps.

 

A couple years ago we arrived at a site in the pouring rain and found another Troop just unloading. We were each about 20 Scouts and 4 adults, and when we called them on it and showed them where their actual site was they didn't hesitate - they loaded their stuff back in their trailer and moved. We were in our reserved site five minutes later.

 

So we now have two examples of what can happen when someone takes the wrong site... fodder for a SM minute! In the meantime, I am very careful that I get our Troop in the correct site!

 

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SMT224,

 

 

Had it happen almost like you explained once about 15 years ago. At a state park, another group which was not a Scout troop, took the only group spot (which we had reserved and paid for). They showed up that day, paid, and took the only group spot on that state camping reservation. The state park ranger refused to move them.

 

My troop ended up camping in about 15 individual camping spots on the state park, there was room for 2 vehicles, 2 tents with 2 tables and an elevated charcoal grill installed, putting about 40 of us staggered about 1/2 mile down the road. We filed a complaint with the state park board (which probably found its way to the circular file) we never received a positive or negative response.

 

 

Now on another occasion. We didn't loose the camping spot on this story, but had an extremely disappointing campout.

 

The state park that we normally host a district camporee spot is about 30-40 minutes from the closest police station and not on the routine patrol. The few access roads had recently become a popular spot for "drifting". Literally 30-40 feet on the other side of the hedges and treeline from where the entire camporee was trying to sleep. At 1:00 a.m., the drifters (about 30 cars) would skid and slide for about 20 minutes then race to another location, and return each hour. For 20 minutes at a time, loud music, the smell of burning rubber and exhaust smoke, to accompany the even louder sound of squealing tires on asphalt.

 

The police knew they couldn't catch them, it was in a rural area, and with the vague city and state laws and outside of a residential area the "drifters" were not committing a crime, and drifters (remember about 30 cars) would probably not be caught if one or two patrol cars attempted to come out with sirens blaring.

 

The location was great, the weather was perfect, the night was starry skied; but the entire camporee did not get any sleep on that campout.

 

What would (I liked) to have done...

 

I can't state that on this forum. lol

 

Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

 

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That night I would have done exactly what you did.

 

Based on what you said I would bet that this troop and scoutmaster habitually bully and plead ignorance about these matter. Likely they sent an advance group out there specifically to procure this site as they did not have the proper reservations. Hence the split arrival times.

 

I would immediately file a complaint with their Council and District executives. Any other group such as a church youth group or other organized group would be furious over this. Another group may have even called the Sheriff.

 

This troop makes good responsible troops look bad. This troop owes your troop an apology and needs to be taught that their methods and camping practices are completely inappropriate.

 

 

 

 

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I believe you handled the situation very well. Someone suggested notifying the park authoritities. I concur with that so that #1 You will not be blamed for anything they did, and #2 try to get a refund if the campsite costs were different.

 

I also would notify the local council as I believe this is an issue for them per the LTP. they did not act in a scoutlike way and that can have some serious repercussions for everyone. What if a non-scout group reserved the campsite because they had an activity that they needed the space and pavillion? Would definately leacve a bitter taste in that group's mouth towards BSA.

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Odd, out here the camp ground host would have posted the reserved sites and met the campers to help them get to the correct site. If it had been me, and the other SM had taken the attitude that this guy did, I'd have been like BA and had the host there to have them move. If they had been nice, apologized, offered to move first thing in the morning and to help our unit move (or otherwise did something to say, "Thanks for not making us move in the middle of the night") then I might have let them stay.

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The only time something like this happened to us that I can remember, we clearly had the reservation for the site and the other party had the site. But it was the park people who screwed up, not the other party. There was only one group site so at first the rangers said we had to split up all over the place. I noted the need for adult supervision, the rangers took one look and one listen at the boys, and then came up with a good alternative. No hard feelings. In the end it worked out better for us.

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I would hope if I was the leader in the wrong site, I would have told the truth.

It seems that if I were him that I'd made a big mistake.

I would have admitted this and as nicely as I could have asked if it was OK with you if we could stay where we were that night offering to move the next day.

If you had said that we could stay and not have to move. You would be my new hero.

I hope I would have found a nice way of repaying you.

Maybe an invite to our campfire, at which I would have again admitted my mistake and publicly thanked you and the Troop for being so kind and understanding. (Failing that a round of ice cream or a couple of pizzas might have been in order?)

I would hope if I were you I would have done what you did.

When the Scouts came to me with their plans to go get the other Troop. I hope that my BSA halo would be really shining as I gave my little chat about living the Scout Law and what Scout spirit is all about.

Be sure to take notes so when you meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates you can remind him!

Eamonn.

 

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This is why when we are using a group sit elike this we try and get one adult to go as an advance party a few hours ahead of the troop. You send him with the paperwork, a comfy chair, some snacks and a good book, and smetimes with a big stick to beat of the interlopers

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