Jump to content

So, What would you do? or have done?

Recommended Posts

Last night at our troop's meeting it was a first years patrol turn to provide a color guard for the opening and closing. One of the scouts was very reluctant to carry a flag, but the PL pressed the scout into duty. While I watched it, I thought of all that has been said about charactor building, safe haven, etc some even by me. The scout performed admirably, but whether or not he has been emotionally scared, I dont know and I am a big one to worry about emotionally scaring a boy. Yet, since to participate in a flag ceremony is an advancement requirement, even the most shy scout has to fulfill the requirement. The communication merit badge has a public speaking requirement, no matter the the degree of shyness, the requirement must be met. Now the question comes to where does harrasment start and charactor building stop.


To me, the Slont's example of how to get scouts to clean latrines is easy. The troop/patrol posts a duty roster, job responsibilites rotate in a fair and logical order and when it becomes time for you to clean the latrines you clean them. You clean them because its your turn and as part of the community comprising that camp, you do your share of the work. Same thing for cooking, washing, water duty, etc. Everyone works because its a community and cooperation is required (and part of citizenship training)


Now, to add to the degree of diffuculty. You are on a campout, its past lights out, that "one" tent wont settle down. After 15 minutes you bark "hey you guys settle down" from your tent. This works for a few minutes but soon they are at it again. Maybe next time you have to get out of your tent at do the "dressing down of the tent" bit where you speak firmly to the tent. That again works for a little while but nothing lasts. Finally after a few hours, things are quiet, not because a scout is obedient as much as a scout is tired.


The next morning you confront the residents of the tent. Each boys voice was clearly and distinctly heard during the night. Now, making noise after lights out is a rule infraction, but not like stealing or destroying property, but I think its a greater transgression than whispering to your buddy while the sign is up.


You could say, make the tentmates clean the latrine, but is that any different than making them sing for lost items? You can say well, losing an item is something that happens and is not the same. Then again, maybe getting the "giggles" is something that happens and cant be helped, especially when a bunch of good friends get together and its something that just happens. So, what do you do?


I was thinking since they were making so much noise at night, maybe they should seranade the troop at lunch time (after eating of course), but boy oh boy, if I suggest that, I know what's comming.


So, how would you handle this in your troop ?


One more thought, I have been blessed with a normal talking voice, but I can incease the bass rather quickly and almost rattle windows. Sometimes a quick "hey" stops horseplay half way across camp before it gets out of hand. Then, I am thinking, could my exclamation be taken as harrasment? My father was a DI in the marines, so getting "yelled" at was part of my childhood and I got used to it, but if a scout is from a soft-spoken home, could it be termed terrorizing?


I realize I am all over the map here, but I was thinking about this post at the meeting last night and thought of these things. I still dont think singing for lost items is a good idea, but I would like to see examples of behavior that occured and the "corrective action" that was applied(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

Link to post
Share on other sites

That ability to say "hey" with authority is something all women wish for. Do matter how low I make my voice sounds, it just doesn't have the same effect.


My first thought is that like Rooster talked about in other threads, you have to consider the boy. Most kids aren't going to go nuts just because you raise your voice to him. If you have that rare, unfortunate child that has suffered some horrible tragedy to the point he is terrified of noises or has some severe mental problem. The one that might curl up in the fetal position if yelled at, then you don't yell at him.


I guess it all boils down knowing the kids you are dealing with and recognizing what will work and what will not. Making a kid do something silly, when he is the one who WANTS to be the clown, is not very affective.


Some parents got upset at our SM and ASM a few months ago because there was some yelling at a campout. Well, I think we all yell at our kids. Considering the circumstances, the ASM did a fine job. He didn't degrade the kids, call them names, or cuss at them. He just got LOUD as he explained the rules for the upteenth time. Volume and extreme measures are often needed to get attention.


Often the best way to get a kid's attention is to do or say the "unexpected". Someone said I was mean because I told the Cubs during a bike ride "put your helmet on right, because I don't want to scrape your brains up off the road." Mean? I don't think so. Graphic -- yes. But they put the helmet on right and giggled. Then I threatened to take a bike away during the parade if the kid didn't quit fooling around and causing problems.


I'm more against blanket rules that never takes into consideration the exception. If you do as Rooster says and know your scouts, and adjust accordingly, then all is well.


Link to post
Share on other sites


Like you I have been think quite a bit about hazing, punishment ect. I don't really see a problem with singing but do realize that it (like almost all activities) can get out of hand.


I would have done exactly what you did and allow the PL to get the boy to participate. I think he would be better off.


What is hazing? Is it making someone do something that will embarass them? If so then making the boy participate in the flag ceremony would be hazing. Remember that embarassment is personal, what embarasses me might not you. By "forcing" that young boy to particpate in the ceremony did you help him overcome some of his shyness? I think so.


I agree with sctmom. Blanket rules generally do not work. Exceptions would include safty issues. It is tough to follow the law exactly when even the Black and White rules aren't Black and White.

Common sense works well in most instances.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If they were told repeatedly to settle and would not after lights out could you have given them a task to perform? Prepare something for the next day's activities? Then the next morning when they are tired from not sleeping as long as was available, reinforce the importance of following the lights out rule of quiet behavior? Not in a demeaning way, but in a way designed to show that actions have consequences and not directed directly at the boys that comitted the infraction but in general.


As far as the part of where does encouragement end and harassment begin, I think if the boy knew that it was his patrol's turn to do the flag ceremony and he was told in advance that he would be taking part, he should be expected to do it. Just explain that every boy has taken part at one time or another and that while it may be hard at first, it will become easier with practice. It, like so much of scouting is a learning and growing experience that he will appreciate later.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Our scouts respond well to extra duties or loss of privilege. Perhaps being the in the cleanup position for 2 meals instead of one the next day would work. Or if there is a "fun" part of the campout - ie. Canoe trip, ball game, free time, etc. those scouts involved have to forfeit that activity and instead maybe gather wood for the evening's campfire, do a camp project,etc. Seems to work well for us.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Some interesting scenerios. My personal thoughts..The scout doesn't have to carry the flag to participate in a flag ceremony and complete the requirement. What I see happening in most cases is the Scout managing the ceremony says "who wants to carry a flag?" then he has to select from all the volunteers. that is a better leadership approach tnan "you do this and you do that." I fthe boy understands that he needs to participate to advance and chooses not to participate, then that is his choice. We provide opportunity for scouts to advance, we don't make them do it.


Once I had a patrol stay up way too late. I woke the SPL and had him go wake the PL and get them back to bed. When the noise started again I woke the SPL and had him wake the PL and talk to them again. On the third trip I had the SPL Wake the SPL and stand in front of the boys and start writing there names on a list. When one of the scouts asked what was going on the PL explained that if they were not quiet and back in their tents in two minutes that Mr. White was going to call their parents at home, wake them up and have them come and get their kids. If they couldn't act like scouts then they couldn't camp with scouts. The problem ended immediately. If it hadn't I was perfectly willing to make the phoine calls. After all I was awake, the boys were awake, why shouldn't the parents be awake?


Because they stayed up so late they all overslept. By the time they got up the rest of the patrols had left for the main activity and the rowdy patrol members were left sitting in camp without anything to do until the troop returned.


I agree with cleaning the latrine on a regular rotation. Sanitation is an important part of personal health and should not be used as punishment to be avoided.


Unless someone is in immediate danger, I don't holler. When I do, it is as an alarm not as a reprimand. That is not the leadership style I choose to model. If I have to reprimand a scout it is done away from the other scouts (in the presence of another adult).


Bob White





Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the reaction of the other boys and adults has a lot to do with how a boy ultimately will remember the occasion. We had a new scout take part in the flag ceremony and his job was to fold the flag... well he had forgotten how to do it and had to be helped. Embarrasing? To the boy, yes, but not as much if everyone had been laughing and pointing fingers. Afterward he helped refold the flag to make sure he could do it. Too often boys revel in someone else's ignorance and rub it in their face and "forget" they have been made a fool before and how it made them feel. Most boys I know either bury their true emotions so they won't look like a fool and stew about it later in silence and make plans to get them back, or they wear their emotions on their sleeve and react with tears and anger from the embarrasment. The ones that can take a joke without getting upset or burying their resentment are the rare ones. They are the ones who are mature enough to understand it was all in fun and it wasn't a personal attack, something most 10-11 year olds do not posess. It continually amazes me at the differing rates of maturity of boys the same age.

I have 3 boys and the most amazing thing that I have learned (even though I have 3 brothers) is how sensitive they are to how people react to them. I always thought girls were more emotional but not any more.. I think that boys self-esteem is more difficult to preserve and build up due to the pressure to "be a man" and the fact that most of them do tend to keep their feelings to themselves so avoid looking like a fool in fromt of the older boys because they so much want to be accepted and fit in. I think sometimes a shy insecure boy needs to be "pushed" to participate. A flag ceremony is a good place to do this because no scout would ever disrupt the ceremony to make fun of someone. Just be sure to slather him in praise and ask if it went the way he expected.I was pretty shy and self conscious as a child and still battle it as an adult. I wish more people would have gently pushed and encouraged me to take a chance on new things because I have spent too much time sitting in the back of the room and not trying new things for fear of embarrasment that would probably not have come.

I know my views are not all PC but they are based on my personal experiences. Every boy should be treated as an individual even when in a group because they are boys and not men. There is plenty of time to toughen up when they get to high school.


I do like the idea of a group of tent mates missing out on an activity if they disrupt the camp. The same technique is used in schools.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I should have clarified my original message. My troop uses cleaning the latrine as a punishment. If there is anyone who clearly violates troop rules, they will be assigned the latrine duty. Everyone in the rest of the troop knows who will be doing latrine. Would this be considered hazing?


This is where my original question comes in. When does discipline stop and hazing begin?

Link to post
Share on other sites


Great scenarios! Actually mindbenders!


Common sense must prevail. Is making Scouts clean a latrine for staying up & making noise past curfew wrong? No wronger than telling them you are going to call their parents if they don't get quiet. Are these punishments? Yes.


The BSA has rules in place to prevent abuse. However, these rules must be interpreted using common sense. The situation and the Scout should dictate the course of action.


Common Sense

Common Sense


Ed Mori


Troop 1

Link to post
Share on other sites

OGE, when there is too much noise at night after an agreed 'quiet' time I do a bit of a walk around and listen in a bit. I then make a comment about the conversation in the tent, from about 6 inches from the side of the tent in a whisper. The Scouts are usually so stunned by the voice from outside that they shut up straight away.


They then expect me to walk away - but I don't and quite happily chip in when they next incriminate themselves. They fall asleep while waiting for me to go. A few short conversations in the harsh light of the next day seem to be fully understood.


No punishements - just a bit of straight talking. (and a lot of patience - 1-45am before I got away from one tent and 4-45am for some firm direction for going to bed on the last regional camp-they woke me up!)


Sorry about the eavesdropping but if they are silly enough to forget the thickness of tent walls then their comments are public property.

Link to post
Share on other sites



Oz I do that do! Scouting IS universal.

I especially love the "OHMAGAWD!" and the awkward silence that ensues when you say something.


Honestly I don't care if they ever sleep but they had better not disturb the other campers. But one takes care of the other. If they are quiet then very soon they will be asleep and the objective is complete.


I have to say though that the noisy tent problem is a rare thing for us.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Folks

Have been without a computer for a while (Moved) but now I am back up and running.

Very interesting thread.

My views

1. Making a boy participate in front of his Troop is no big deal these are the guys he needs to feel comfortable with, and I believe its builds self-esteem and may lead to a boy breaking away from his natural shyness.


2. What to do with unruly boys, well depends on the time and place. If it is at night when its lights out I remind them that I get at up 5:30 AM no matter what time I fall asleep (old military habit) and so will they if they are not quiet and yes I have been known to wake up one or two.


well thats my 2 cents






Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been a while, but it happened again last night at our meeting. We've already implemented a commonsense plan, but please give me your thoughts. Our Scouts were playing basketball outside (not in uniform). The time came to start the formal meeting and change into uniforms. The Scouts tend to place their "play" clothes on a shelf in their Patrol areas until the end of the meeting. During the meeting, a wallet was taken from a pair of pants. Not much money, but the Scout's new driving permit was in there. The Scout didn't notice until he got home. He called me (SM) to please check the Scout building the next morning and call him when he got home from school. I did. No wallet. He called me, and I met with him and his Dad at the meeting place. Checked again. No wallet. Reviewed the meeting and came up with possibilities. Dad said to chock it up to experience. They went home. I called our CC, and we decided I would call each Patrol member and simply state that this Scout lost his wallet and someone may have mistakenly picked it up with their clothes on the way out the door. Please check, and if you find it, no harm done. Call me and I will pick up and return to Scout. I made all of the calls. No response. What, if anything, is there to do next? The meeting area is one big room. Lots of action happening all of the time. The PLC will review this at the next meeting. Thanks....... Anderson

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well there is always the possibility that the wallet never made it to the meeting at all. I would not assume that there is a thief in your midst just yet. I have left many things in my pockets that have fallen out unnoticed when I took them off. Has anything else of value dissapeared at a meeting?


Plus if this meeting was last night perhaps the person (if any) who accidentally picked up the wallet doesn't realize they have it yet.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have encountered both situations, one very recently.


For the Scout who was nervous about participating in the flag ceremony (he mentioned it to the SPL when he was asked to do it), we had an Instructor assigned to each of the new Scouts (not just the Scout that was nervous) and the Instructors walked with and gave quiet advice to the new Scouts about what to do when. It helped the nervous Scout and set a good example for the older Scouts.


We almost got kicked out of Dorchester CA about 4-5 years ago because of noisy Scouts at night. At the time, we had a big tent that slept (er, I mean HOUSED) 12 Scouts. No matter what we did, they would not quiet down.


We replaced that and the 2 other larger tents with 2-man and 3-man (but used by 2 larger people) tests. Best thing we ever did. Since then I only have to go around once and remind the few noisy Scouts that if I can hear them they are talking too loudly. As someone else said, quiet Scouts go to sleep quicker.


The "threat", if there is one, is that anyone that makes me get out of bed to tell them to quiet down risks having their parent called on the spot and having them come pick them up. The PLC decided on that as our Troop's consequence to disruptive behavior. For the past 4 years, I've had no problems with noise at night, other than adults snoring too loudly. I must admit, I'm still a little surprised at how quickly they get quiet.


As for the latrine duty, the PLC decided that, even though latrine duty is always a regular duty roster item, on-the-spot latrine cleaning was called for for any adult or Scout who swore (this consequence was reserved for swearing, and the logic was that if you had a potty mouth, you should become more familiar with the potty). Since they decided that, we have only had to dish that out a handful of times (over 3 years now).


We do NOT use the term "punishment" in our Troop Code of Conduct. Everything is a "consequence", because everything we do has consequences, anyway.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...