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ETD129-AW Chpt Adv

Parents attending OA Ceremonies

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There are very few years of my life that I have not been a member of Scouting, most of them my first 8 years. Scouting gave me a code that helped me understand what I was being told at Sunday School. In high school, it gave me a compass while so many were groping for who they were.

 

The Oath & Law were real to me and kept me out of trouble. I was told to "Run the Twelve", go through the twelve points of the law and see if what I was considering doing violated any one of the twelve; if it did, don't do it! Scouting gave me the tools to do and succeed and also to cope with failure. It gave me role models to admire and help me understand my relationship with my father.

 

It was a special moment for me when Secretary of the Navy, John Connelly pinned my Quarter Master Rank on my tunic. And then Scouting gave me the opportunity to pay back in a small way all the wonder and blessings Scouting brought to my life by being an adult leader.

 

Believe it or not, there really is a moment you can observe that occurs when a boy is trying to do something he was just taught and all of a sudden he gets it and that emotion flashes across his face. That is a deeply moving moment I love to see, it's part of a Scoutmaster's pay.

 

So please excuse my fervor in seeing this topic as having the potential to damage Scouting. The OA cannot exist without Scouting but Scouting can be fine without the OA. OA Advisors please do not make this a deciding point.

 

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I never expect discussions on the internet to change the firmly held opinions of people who are posting.

 

However, in this case the discussion I've seen has sensitized me to the possibility that OA adult leaders would be discouraging parents and guardians from observing OA activities, something I never would have considered before.

 

If I heard about someone doing that, I don't think I'd even discuss it with the person. There is really no point in bandying written words or policies with people who are inclined not to use them as a guide to their behavior.

 

This is a youth protection issue, and I now I would be inclined to file a written complaint with the Council Executive. That is really the person who decides what OA leaders should do and not do.

 

I would expect a Council Executive to investigate such a complaint and to resolve it reasonably. That might involve a warning to an OA adult leader on how the council expects OA activities to be run. I would expect an OA leader who received such a warning to conform to it in the future, which would resolve the matter.

 

So I don't expect this discussion to change many minds. But if those with concerns about the issue filed such complaints if the issue came to their attention, that WOULD resolve the issue, I would suppose.

 

So that sounds like the right thing to do to me.

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Have you ever had a parent attend summer camp with their brand new Scout son? Have you ever explained to the parent the role of the youth and adult leadership in the troop, and how the Scouts are to camp with their patrols, while the adults camp separately from them? Have you ever had to request or remind a parent that they need to give their son and his patrol some space - to let the Scout work with his patrol, and for the adults to stay away from them?

 

How is it that the above example is a perfectly valid way to educate and inform parents how our program works, and why we ask them to do certain things - but having a similar conversation about an OA ceremony is suddently a "Youth Protection" issue?

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KC9DDI,

 

Many years ago my troop wrote a "Troop Committe Guide & Parents Handbook" that is shared with parents of boys condidering joining our troop. As titled, it not only explains what parents might have concerns about, it goes on to explain why they should be involved and because it has the workings of the troop committee in it, they can see where they might fit in based upon their time and talents.

 

More importantly, soon after being given the book, we have later a follow-up meeting where philosophy of the troop is explained and there is an in depth Q&A session with SM and TCC together.

 

The book proved so successfulful, quite a few troops have adopted it. But is not just the book, the book helps share the philosophy of how our troop runs and WHY! We make sure parents understand that Scouting is a Life Science Education Program and yes, many of its methods are cumbersome; but thay are cumbersome to extract the maximum learning experience for an eleven to eighteen year old boy.

 

We explain to parents there is the regular way, the Army way and the Scout way. Ultimately, the Scouting way has returned far better results than the other two for eleven to eighteen year old boys for over 100 years.

 

To bring this explanation into focus, if our parents' book did not cover the question at hand and explain it, several opportunites were given for group meetings to explain whatever event or situation was coming so we did not have the problem of having to man the battlestations to restore calm and order. After being in the troop a few months, parents began to trust us because everything in the book was accurate and what ever was said was always true.

 

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KC9

 

I will accept that OA is a wonderful organization with great benefits for its members but I think the red flag warning folks are waving is for real.

 

A parent who is really concerned about his boy crossing over can come and observe at a Troop campout provided he just observes, does not interfere, and pitches in. So if he (or mom makes him) wants to give an initial comfort level the option, while not ideal, is there.

 

I think telling a parent, in this day and age, no you cannot observe would raise a reasonable red flag to a reasonable parent. There needs to be a better response or solution to solving this dilemma. I think the folks that say that BSA would let OA hang out to dry over some incidents are dead on. And if OA is such a great thing then that would be a shame.

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Tampa - That's not the concern (or at least not my concern). I'm NOT saying that we should tolerate prohibiting parents from observing OA ceremonies, or from having access to their children. If a parent demands to attend a ceremony, camp next to their child, whatever - we have to allow that.

 

However, SP and others have equated the act of having a CONVERSATION with the parents on why we would PREFER them not to attend OA ceremonies with a "youth protection violation."

 

What I am asking is, why is it OK to discourage parents from participating in certain activities with their children (patrol camping), but not OK for other activities (OA ceremonies)?

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I haven't read all the many posts in this discussion as the conclusion is obvious in my opinion. G2SS explicitly documents the answer.

 

The "no secret organizations" and "All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders" are direct quotes from the G2SS in a chapter titled "Youth Protection and Adult Leadership".

 

You can't get any more basic then that.

 

.................

 

Summer camp versus OA - The difference is where. Most parents learn about the separation while on their first few camp outs with the troop. And it's a good idea to have the discussion with parents about giving their kids space. But if a parent asks, they have the right to observe.

 

Yes, try to minimize their visibility and impact on the OA activities and ceremonies, but parents have the right. BSA explicitly documents that under "youth protection".

 

 

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Yes, parents can and do --often with disastrous results--visit during summer camp. They are allowed.

 

As the recent FAMU band incident bears out it is really, really hard to root out hazing so anything that smacks of secrecy and people's kids is gonna be suspect. Right or wrong that is the way the wind is blowing.

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That's still not the point... I have never disputed a parent's right to observe any part of the Scouting program, or have access to their child at any time on a Scouting event.

 

My question pertains to the act of having a CONVERSATION with a parent, REQUESTING that they not exercise that right for a specific activity, because we feel that the program will be stronger, and the youth will have a better experience, if the parent does not observe or attend.

 

My question is - why is that conversation acceptable, or even encouraged, in certain settings (eg, while camping with the troop); when that EXACT SAME conversation is considered a Youth Protection violation when it comes to the OA?

 

I'm not debating what's in the G2SS, or anything else - yes, parents absolutely have a right to observe any and all Scouting functions. What I can't figure out is how a having a conversation with a parent, explaining our goals, methods and preferences, is such a terrible idea.

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I never discourage any parental involvement. If they want to camp, they camp. If they want to go to summer camp, they go. No questions asked.

 

The boys set up their tents where they want. If a parent sees the adults on the left and boys on the right, and sets up on the right, that is his deal. It hasn't happened yet.

 

"REQUESTING that they not exercise that right for a specific activity"

 

So, you go to a parent and tell them that while they are allowed, you would prefer them not to attend. Sounds kind of like intimidation. or more so, like we don't want you here. Thjere is a big difference between explaining the process and advising the parent to sit in the back and not disrupt, as opposed to asking them not to show up.

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I never discourage any parental involvement. If they want to camp, they camp. If they want to go to summer camp, they go. No questions asked.

 

The boys set up their tents where they want. If a parent sees the adults on the left and boys on the right, and sets up on the right, that is his deal. It hasn't happened yet.

 

"REQUESTING that they not exercise that right for a specific activity"

 

So, you go to a parent and tell them that while they are allowed, you would prefer them not to attend. Sounds kind of like intimidation. or more so, like we don't want you here. Thjere is a big difference between explaining the process and advising the parent to sit in the back and not disrupt, as opposed to asking them not to show up.

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I never discourage any parental involvement. If they want to camp, they camp. If they want to go to summer camp, they go. No questions asked.

 

The boys set up their tents where they want. If a parent sees the adults on the left and boys on the right, and sets up on the right, that is his deal. It hasn't happened yet.

 

"REQUESTING that they not exercise that right for a specific activity"

 

So, you go to a parent and tell them that while they are allowed, you would prefer them not to attend. Sounds kind of like intimidation. or more so, like we don't want you here. Thjere is a big difference between explaining the process and advising the parent to sit in the back and not disrupt, as opposed to asking them not to show up.

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KC9DDI,

 

It is never acceptable to ask a parent to back-off if they are wanting to exercise their parental rights. If they are wanting to exercise a personal choice that is not allowed by BSA rules, they may not do so.

 

 

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Explaining the ideas and goals and child/parent separation is fine. I do it all the time. Asking parents not to exercise the right is a grey area. I wouldn't do it. But in all cases, it should be clearly communicated that parents have the right to observe. And then if a parent requests it, the parent must be allowed to observe.

 

...

 

KC9DDI wrote: "If a parent demands to attend a ceremony, camp next to their child, whatever - we have to allow that. "

 

I differ with the "next to their child". Parents don't have that right. They have the right to observe. IMHO, that means OA/unit leaders can insist on some amount of separation to allow the program work it's goals. Maybe that means observing OA ceremonies 25 or 50 feet behind the OA member observers. Or parents camp out the other side of the camp site. Or parents hang in the background during the teaching of skills.

 

But ... if parents can't be satisfied as separated observers and the OA/unit leaders can't live with the parent interaction, then the parents and the child need to move on.

 

To be honest, this has never come up in our realm. Most parents and leaders seem to get it.

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