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Foxman1

Fighting and Sibling Backup

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I have been the Scoutmaster of a troop in Georgia for 8 years and have attended 8 summer camps. I had an incident occur this past week at summer camp which has never occurred before that I would like to get opinions on. The incident involved two first year campers and his brother (an older scout who has been in the troop for at least 3 years) along with a couple of the older scouts' friends.

 

The two younger scouts were found fighting. I was away from the camp site using the phone to contact a mom about a problem (medication problem) when this incident occured and my other scout leader was with his son at the trading post right before classes started up again after lunch. Anyway, the two younger scouts fought over possession of binder twine which was given to one of them for sharing with the other for constructing a camp gadget by one of the First Year Camper instructors. Evidently when the fight started, the younger scout's brother held him back and since the leaders were away from the camp site, wanted to "handle it" on their own without telling me or involving me. It was my understanding that the boys were allowed to discuss their differences again to which both began fighting again. The troop has a policy about fighting and that it results in being sent home (both parties). I am concerned more about the fact that the younger scout's brother wanted to handle the problem by getting his friends to help him and that he did not try to find out what the argument was really about nor attempt in any way to assist the other younger scout. It was sort of like five against one. The other scouts restrained the two scouts but when the younger scout whose brother was holding him back got away from him, they encouraged the younger scout to stand his ground and punch the other younger scout. They all have said that the younger scout was defending himself against attack and that the other younger scout attached the brother. As I was not there, I can only speak to the scouts present as well as the other younger scout who says he did not start the fight but only defended himself. A classic case of he said - she said. I sent both younger scouts home for fighting but am concerned about what I should do about the older scouts and their part in this fiasco. I understand that a brother is going to side with his brother, right or wrong, and I can't really determine who or what incident really started the fight. I am concerned that the older scouts feel that no matter what, the brother was justified in hitting the other scout as he was defending himself but did not undertake any action to investigate the truth of the matter. Should I take any action against the older scouts and if so, what?

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I can't say I completely understand the tale, but it would seem that with four-or-five other Scouts witnessing the incident you should be able to get a better idea of what went down.

 

Generally, I wouldn't be too upset about the older boys trying to handle the situation on their own. That is part of what we teach them to do. A conversation may be in order regarding when they need to involve the adults. There is also the question of handling the immediate situation in the absence of adults vs. trying to cover it up afterwards.

 

As to the actions of the older brother, if after talking to the other boys it appears that he acted inappropriately, you'll need to deal with whatever the facts are. If he simply gave his brother preference, that's a leadership issue. He needs to understand that as a troop leader he needs to deal fairly with all the Scouts under his leadership. On the other hand, if he or the other older Scouts were encouraging the younger brother to hit the other Scout for what ever reason (retaliation, to "even the score," whatever) they all need to understand that that is unacceptable Scout behavior and a poor example of leadership.

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