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Rooster7

Broken Rules and

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Bob,

I would want my son in a Troop that is lead by the boys, but not totally in their control.

 

I wasn't refering to the success of the Troop. I was referring to the "if something happens".

 

Got a question - You are cabin camping in December & decide to let the Scouts watch a video. They pick an "R" rated video. Would you let them watch it?

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

 

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As Scoutmaster the R rated would never have arrived at camp. The campout would have been planned at the Patrol Leaders Council. If videos were to be played the Senior patrol Leader would have asked for the titles of what was to be viewed, or guidelines would have been set by the PLC as to what could be brought. If R rated materials were involved I would ask the SPL if he thought that was appropriate. If I've done my job, as a trainer of leaders, I know what that answer will be and the problem would be resolved. It was solved not because I told them what to do, but because I asked them what would be the right thing to do I know they will make the right decision, because that is what the program taught them.

 

Bob

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Bob

I'm experienced in Cub Scouts new to Boy Scouts as a leader. This is a good what if question. What if the movie made it to the outing and what if the SPL said is was ok for the Scouts to view it. Would you step in or would you let the Scouts live by their decision. I realize that if we have done our jobs correctly then this wouldn't happen but what if? My Scouts are all 11 years old, we have a new Troop with no older boys.

 

Paul

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I really don't see how this could happen using the the Patrol Method I described. A lot of steps would have to fail for the tape to get there.

 

BUT, if it did show up, I would again ask the SPL if he thought this was appropriate and give him the opportunity to have the tape put away. If he said knew it was there, and he approved it, I would point out that the scouts are not old enough to veiw this material and that I expected better leadership from him than that. Only then would I take away the tape, because of my responsibility for the safety and welfare of the scouts.

 

By the way the scout who brought that tape would come to the next PLC to explain his decision making process!

 

No, the tape would not get shown, and up until the last moment when it has to be taken away I will give the boy leaders the opportunity to excercise the ethical decision making that we are trying to develop.

 

Bob

 

 

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Thanks Bob White

Your answer is exactly what I thought it would be. Bottom line is that we give the boys every chance to make the correct decision using our coaching and other skills to hopefully get them there. But in the end if all else fails we must step. ONLY IF ALL ELSE FAILS!

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BobWhite,

Excellent!

 

In my opinion, I don't feel the issue should have gotten past the PLC.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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This has been an interesting thread. The "what if" about the R rated video actually raises the idea that there are always situations that the book does not prepare you for. Ultimately in many situations judgment has to be applied.

 

In another thread Bob White gave me the impression that he believed the rules, policies, procedures, guidelines and whatever were always clear and not subject to interpretation. While I always want to know what the policies and ideals are, I do not expect them to always give me a clear answer. There are often multiple solutions to any problem that will yield a desirable result. Does there always have to be only one solution? Is that the message I am getting here?

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Eisely,

I feel you have misrepresented my earlier posts or at the least misunderstood them.

 

I did say that the Policies of the BSA are clear and I also agree they are rigid. That is why they are called policies. They are the unbendable rules. They cover Uniform, Safety, and Advancement. When a policy says "you can't" it means you can't., not 'you shouldn't' or 'well if you really have to. It means No.

 

The Methods of Scouting, the Ideals, tht Patrol Method, the Outdoor Program, the Advancement Program, Adult Association, Personal Growth, and Leadership Development, are the things that make scouting, Scouting. They are the elements of the game. They are how we do what we do. without these elements it is just doing things in a scout uniform. They are the common elements that make it a nationwide PROGRAM.

 

One poster asked "Why is it, every time an adult leader breaks a perceived BSA policy or rule (even "small" ones), the adult is portrayed as "poorly trained"

 

Gee I don't know, why is it when someone breaks a local law (even a small one) we call it a criminal act.

 

Because laws (despite what you may have heard) were not made to be broken. they were made to protect others and give continuity to a community. Also remeber that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

 

BSA policies are there to protect youth and adults from harm whether that be mental, physical or legal. They give continuity to the the scouting community. We have no more right to violate those policies than we do to break a law in our civic community.

 

The styles of leadership vary, I am amused by one poster who argues against the validity of many of the methods of scouting, and then complains that he doesn't have enough scouts to do things according to the BSA program. HMMM doesn't use the program as written in the SM handbook and doesn't have enough scouts, well imagine that.

 

Within the scouting program are lots of opportunities for variation. I agree there are often multiple solutions to a problem. But when it comes to the few portions covered by scouting policies, you are either right or wrong. When you are wrong, children suffer the consequences. No volunteer has the right or the authority to do that. No one has yet to give a single example of an unclear Policy. There may be one out there, but its funny that no one has given an example yet.

Bob

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"The styles of leadership vary, I am amused by one poster who argues against the validity of many of the methods of scouting, and then complains that he doesn't have enough scouts to do things according to the BSA program. HMMM doesn't use the program as written in the SM handbook and doesn't have enough scouts, well imagine that. "

 

I'll assume that this was in reference to me. My statement was I have a small Troop & don't have the luxury of utilizing the all the positions of responsibility. I was completely unaware that ALL the positions of responsibility were required to run a Troop according to BSA guidelines.

 

I sincerely apologize.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

 

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C'mon y'all, we are ALL on the same team here. No need to get bent. Bob is just trying to help and doesn't mean to belittle or attack anyone.

 

Rooster does raise a good point. The "needs training" responses seem to be our catch all knee jerk response to many issues. The kicker is that almost every time it is the correct response. (at least in my view) Yes Rooster I do believe that a Scouter can put on a great scouting program without ever being trained and still be using scout methods. It's quite simple, read the scout handbook and put it into practice. Frankly there were a lot of scout troops organized by boys without adult help before the BSA was founded. How did they do it? They read the book.

 

As far as scouting becoming a "religion" of sorts. I think I'm gonna get in trouble for this. Yes, I am guilty of that at times. We all work very hard to uphold the high ideals of scouting but sometimes we go too far and take upon ourselves the mantle of judge, jury and exocutioner. Three positions I believe mankind is unqualified to hold and are best left to the Allmighty. I do believe in God and I do practice my faith but I find the Oath and Law to be much more succinct. Everything my faith teaches me and everything I have read of other faiths is RIGHT THERE. Maybe I shouldn't but I think of the Oath and Law first when I make decisions and my faith second. I feel and think that I am secure in doing so as I can find no discrepancies between the two. If I suddenly found the Oath and Law verbatim in the Bible I would think it belonged there.

 

Think about when we all became Scouters. Some of had experience as scouts and some didn't. I personally felt that I didn't need any training. I came up in a successful troop that my family was a major part of. I saw from both the youth and adult side what needed to be done (or so I thought) I even taught training courses as a youth to both scouts and scouters. What more did I need to know? Well I needed to know a lot more. I went for five years as an adult being untrained. When I took over as Scoutmaster I did a lot of research and found out that I was supposed to get trained. Well, wanting to be a good example I got trained. What kind of example is a Scoutmaster that won't satisfy the obligations of his position wether they be obvious or not? All right, no one take that personally cause it isn't.

 

Rooster the Reader's Digest condensed answer is in order:

Yes

Yes

A Boys Program but it compliments and strengthens religion and faith.

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It amazes me how arrogant many "rule nazis" can be. I have dealt with a few, and I see signs of such here. We need to realize that it is completely possible to disagree about the exact meaning of some rules. The idea is a solid program for the boys, not following the tablets sent down from high.

 

In many ways it reminds me of a religious dispute. Both areas have written "rules," but the interpretation and application of them involves much disputing, unfortunately.

 

Instead of assuming those who disagree are the lowest level of slime, realize that while we may disagree strongly, we are all here to make a good program for the boys. Some may stretch that, but it is a far more optimistic approach to things.

 

Brad

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By the way, the full title of this thread did not get posted for some reason (I probably goofed it up somehow) - It was suppose to be: Broken Rules and "Bad" Scouters

 

I agree with most of the statements made in this thread. However, I would like to comment on a couple of thoughts.

 

I remain curious as to why when references are given to basic scout manuals that show the correct scout method, we receive such hostile replies.

 

For the most part, I hope that my posts have not been hostile. However, on occasion, I have been frustrated with a given interpretation of a BSA manual where the wording was not so clear-cut. I submit, that frequently the BSA manuals use ambiguous terms such as "shouldn't" verses the more definitive "can't". "Can't" is a rule. "Shouldn't" is a recommendation. Scouters (on this board and elsewhere) have made declarations about BSA policy and/or rules that have not always been backed by the appropriate wording. This is why I used the phrase "perceived BSA policy" in my first post. In short, the policy or rule is not always straightforward. Furthermore, there seems to be a disproportional amount of condemnation for some "broken rules", especially since there very often seems to be some room for interpretation.

 

Some seem to subscribe to the "Maximum Critic Theorem" -

 

The degree of one's BSA expertise, faithfulness to Scouting, and devotion to boys, is directly related to one's ability and frequency to quote manuals and strew criticism at other Scouters, especially when said Scouters do not rightly interpret the manual (read: have the same opinion as you do).

 

That was not meant for anyone in particularbut if it hits a nerve, maybe it did for a reason.

 

I would have to ask why do you think it is okay to break a small rule?

 

I don't think that it is necessarily okay to break a small rule. But sometimes it happens. I don't condone jaywalking, yet nearly everyone I know (even the ones who strongly support our laws), including myself, has been done it. Does it make it right? No. Does it mean these people are horrible citizens (less worthy than others)? I say, no. So, when I see a Scouter directing a bunch of boys in camp (as opposed to encouraging the SPL or his designate), I don't necessarily think he's a horrible Scouter. No matter how much the program works, we can't possible know everything about someone's circumstance to stand in judgment of them.

 

Having said all of the above, I do believe in BSA policies and rules. I just don't think that every time one is broken that we need to sweat or shed blood about it. I think there should be more perspective, and a little less judgment.

 

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I think all you guys are right, at least to a degree. Also, I firmly believe that with an organization this big and far-flung, operated by a bunch of unpaid volunteers where the rubber meets the road (at the unit level), AND where training is optional, AND where so much of the guidance is suggestions rather than requirements, AND where most unit-level Scouters have never seen the BSA policy manual, BSA by-laws, etc., but only allusions to it or excerpts in pubs like the insignia guide or the GTSS, what we have is a natural consequence. And, BSA must be okay with it or they would change something (like getting the no-kidding BSA by-laws, rules, and policy manual into unit Scouters' hands, making training mandatory, etc).

 

Meanwhile, this is what we have: very little black and white, and lots of shades of grey. The real problem in my opinion is that there is so much wiggle room that some Scouters, even well-meaning ones, assume there's wiggle room in everything. Before you know it, tour permits, MB counselor registration, two-deep, and other requirements become "optional" too.

 

It's easy to judge other leaders based on our standards and "reality". That's a minefield, because no two troops are identical. That SM who's doing more "hands-on" than you are may have a new SPL, or may have just taken over the troop from a SM who was more hands-on than he, but needs time to get the leaders to lead with confidence. That's just one example -- there's a million of them out there.

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The distinction between policies and suggestions is sound, but it is not always obvious. Let me give an example where I deliberately broke a major rule, and I feel totally justified.

 

The first time I ever did "snow camping" was in Sam't army many years ago in Germany. By the time I was an adult scouter and did my first true snow camp with youth, I took equipment issues largely for granted. I was not the adult in charge of this outing several years ago, and we all learned a lot. Fortunately everybody survived.

 

We had gotten to our camp site late in the day. The snow was covered with a layer of ice and it was difficult to get our tents up. The two other adults were so focused on getting the adult food ready they were oblivious to what was going on. Many boys did not get their tents up at all and had no dinner. The boys were sleeping five or six to a tent, with tents designed for two to three people. It was well below freezing with gusts up to 20 mph. I had made my own tent available to scouts and was using a borrowed two man tent that I managed to get up and planned to use by myself. By the time all the scouts were down and as comfortable as they could get and I returned to my own tent, there was one boy, not my own son, who had no place to sleep. I allowed this boy to share my tent. A major no no. If at that time either he or I had slept with no tent there would have been major frost bite or possibly worse. Was I wrong in breaking this rule? I don't think so.

 

This is why I say that judgment is still always necessary.

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