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Sometimes No Hazing means no hazing

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Hazing allegations cost Tamaqua Scouts their charter

Youngsters hit each other with stick, says state Rep. Argall, who headed troop.


Staff and wire reports


A Tamaqua Boy Scout troop headed by state Rep. David Argall has lost its charter over an alleged hazing incident.


Troop 776 and Cub Scout Pack 776, headed by the Schuylkill County Republican, will no longer be affiliated with Boy Scouts of America as of May 31.


Scout leaders and parents say they were told the charter was revoked in part over an incident in June 2004 at the Hawk Mountain Camp in Summit Station, when some Scouts allegedly agreed to be hit in the leg with a stick in return for getting their names carved on it.


''There were some boys playing a game, and part of the game they came up with on their own involved hitting each other with a stick,'' Argall said. ''We understood that this is not 1960, this is not 1970, these things are taken a lot more seriously than in the past.''


The decision to revoke the charter was made by the Reading-based Hawk Mountain Council, which oversees Scouting programs in Berks and Schuylkill counties, said F. Darnall Daley Jr., a regional Scouting official.


He declined to say why the charter was revoked but said Tuesday: ''One of the things that Scouting has to be is a safe haven for kids. That's an absolute essential.'' Revoking a charter, he added, ''is a fairly rare event.''


Argall, who did not attend the 2004 camp, said troop leaders followed council's direction to provide counseling for the troops in an effort to keep the charter.


Leaders showed them videotapes and talked to them about preventing child abuse, Argall said. They stressed that violence is inappropriate.


''I thought we were making very good progress,'' Argall said.


But the troop, which is attached to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, learned on April 10 that the charter would not be renewed.


Argall said he hopes the council will either change its mind or at least charter a new troop in the community.


''We've been told there is no appeal, although we are trying to review our options,'' he said. ''An option the council has suggested is we can form a new unit at a different church.''


Argall said the troop is one of the largest in the area, with about 30 members and about 50 Cub Scouts in Pack 776. He said Scout leaders are urging parents and troops to stick with Scouting.


George Taylor, a liaison between Zion Church and Troop 776, said he believes the activity at the camp was ''horseplay'' misinterpreted and that Hawk Mountain Council overreacted.


''You lose your charter because one of your Scouts has been molested by one of the leaders, not because some people were waving a stick around at each other,'' Taylor said.


The 35-member Boy Scout troop had been affiliated with the Scouts for 46 years.


Christina Noecker, whose 12-year-old son, Sebastian, joined the Scouts in first grade, called the loss of the charter ''utterly devastating.''

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I can definitely see the horseplay angle on it, myself. I remember at my first Klondike Derby 11 years ago the boy who was appointed provisional patrol leader for the event rode the back of the sled and thrashed boys he didn't like with a broomhandle he referred to as his "leadership stick". Thankfully in that case the scoutmaster dealt with it swiftly and harshly once he learned what had been going on.

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Note that the article (which came out today) says the charter was revoked "in part" for the hazing incident, and that the Council declined to say why it was revoked. It may be more the CO's response to the incident than the incident itself that is involved here--or there may be other things entirely.

Edited to add: Yup. Another article indicates that several adult leaders were banned from Scouting over the incident, and the last straw for the Council was when they were allowed to attend Eagle Courts of Honor after being banned.

See: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16555499&BRD=2626&PAG=461&dept_id=532624&rfi=6(This message has been edited by Hunt)

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I can't count the number of times I was told as a kid, "Stop that or you'll put someone's eye out." If that were true, wouldn't there be a lot of one-eyed 50 year olds walking around today to serve as examples?


I agree, on its face, it sounds like overkill. And why 2 years after the fact?

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Banned from scouting for the incident? Wow. There is more to this than is reported. Were the adults the ones delivering the wacks with the stick? I can understand a stern warning and re-training of those leaders, but banning them from all activities? I would guess those leaders didn't respond well to the council's criticism and then the troop/CO continued to ignore the ban. Council used the ECOH as the documented reason. That's why it probably took two years, the council had had enough. But that is pure speculation on my part.

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Councils can have a very low threshold for banning someone over a child protection issue, and it can be extremely difficult to get reinstated even if the facts are on your side. I agree with this approach, but it can lead to injustice in some particular cases. I surmise that the adults were banned, the troop thought it was unfair, and continued to allow them to show up at troop events.

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There is something going on we don't know. Who complained? Why did this take so long? If this was only abuse & nothing else you would think the council would be more forthcoming.


Can the BSA ban an adult from attending or participating in a Eagle CoH? That seems like they would be stepping all over someones rights.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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