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Long Time Scouter needs New Guidance

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Good day.


I have been Active in Scouts Since I was a tiger cub in 1987.

I transferred from three different packs/troops on my trail to Eagle in 1998. As a scout a discipline that I always contributed to Scouting was pushups.

I am now Assistant Scoutmaster and Assistant Den leader of a troop in Wichita, ks.

I took Leadership training three years ago, and pushups was still accepted. Some of our New parents went to the leadership training here recently summer 2004. And found out that pushups are considered as HAZING.

And after talking with the other adults in our current pack the adults believe that pushups are a great way for Leaders to redirect Children that are mis-behaving. And agreed to continue with them.

What other forms of discipline would be suggested?

Why are pushups considered HAZING?


My feelings are if the kids are doing pushups it also doubles as exercise and redirects their attention to scout activities.

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Welcome to our little electronic camp fire. I hope you brought you own chair, the ground can be hard.


Whether or not you consider pushups to be hazing is a matter of semantics. Clearly, however, making a Scout "drop and give me 20" is a form or physical punishment which is also prohibited by BSA (pages 4 and 5 of the Guide to Safe Scouting).


But just as important the policy is that making Scouts do pushups is a poor way of handling discipline. I know some units do and it is considered a light-hearted punishment. But there is the potential for abuse and sets a poor example for junior leaders. (If 20 is good, isn't 40 better? Or 100? Or maybe something even harder that pushups?) It also violates the principle that we "praise in public, criticize in private." It sets up boys to be humiliated in in front of their friend.


There are too many other constructive ways of dealing with problems.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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I thought at first that you must be joking.

If you are not joking I would suggest that until you attend training that you have nothing to do with any of the youth members in our program. Push ups and that sort of activity that is doled out as a punishment is clearly hazing and has never been allowed by the BSA.


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At the Den level, you can probably get better results by withholding snack. Have you ever tried a behavior candle? You light 3 candles at the beginning of a meeting. You tell the boys that if anyone is naughty/disruptive, a candle will be blown out. If all 3 candles get blown out, no one gets snack for that meeting. You would be suprised what peer pressure does!


At the troop level, we tell them that if we need to stop and wait for there cooperation, we won't have time to play the game that was planned for the night. One or two reminders, or games missed, and you get a different attitude.


Give these a try. You will be surprised how well they work!

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We've just started using the Scout law. When someone displays bad behavior, we stop them, have them stand up, say the scout law and tell us which law they broke. They've been told that this will continue until they change their behavior. We are trying to get them to think beofre they act. Because if they act, they will be having to think about it after the fact. We've also told them that if the behavior continues, they may be required to write a paragraph or two explaing the particular law they broke and why it was wrong to do what they did. If it continues beyond that point, they get to make a trip dowm the hall to the committee and explain why they are there and see how the committee wants to handle it. We just started using this approach this week and it made a big difference real fast after two boys had to do it.....one of them twice. The SM, myself and my fellow ASM set down and discussed how we wanted to get a handle on the disruptive behavior that seems to be a continuing problem and make sure that we are on the same page and use it consistently and evenly across the board. We'll see how it works out.

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While I as a rule go along with your way of thinking Beaver Guy. Sad to say I don't on this one. Having this little fellow have to stand up in front of the group and repeat the Scout Law is no different then having him stand up and sing "I'm a little teapot."

Scout Law or not. You have singled out this Lad and are going out of your way to cause him to be embarrassed. While the term Safe Haven is no longer in the training's. I still go with the idea that we go out of our way to ensure that we don't harm a Scout in body or in spirit. Of course there are some Lads that will just shrug this off and not make anything of it, still there are others that might take it to heart and become so upset that they decide never to come back. I'm not sure if we want to use the words of the Scout Oath and Law as a punishment.

Maybe instead of the SM and the ASM's meeting to discuss how to manage things it would be better if the PLC took a long hard look at it.

Of course the best way to deal with this sort of thing is not to have it happen in the first place. Maybe the Adults and the SPL need to step back and look at the meetings. Look at when the Scouts act up. Look at which Scouts act up. Maybe there is a pattern? Maybe things could be changed to prevent the disruptive behavior. Do the meetings have a flow to them? Is everything ready for the next activity? Does everyone know what their part of the meeting is are they prepared? Are the announcements going on to long. When the Scouts line up for something would it be a good idea not to have Tim and Tom standing next to each other.

I had a lot of luck with Scouts not misbehaving, when I explained the STAR to them.

STAR meaning:

S = Stop

T = Think

A = Act

R = Reflect.

Troop and Patrol Reflections are a super way of letting the Scouts that act up know that what they are doing is not appreciated. Done correctly there is no finger pointing, no one is embarrassed and the message gets through. When you are able to leave this in the hands of your Patrol Leaders you can know that things are heading in the right direction. It won't happen over night you will need to start with Troop Reflections and then move on to Patrol Reflections under the supportive eye of an adult that understands how they work and knows that the best thing he can do is nothing unless someone is getting hurt. Hurt by being singled out.

If it is the same Lads doing the disrupting all the time, then the SM might want to have a word with them away from the ears of the rest of the troop, but of course following all the YP guidelines.


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I have been through been through all of the training from Fast start, new leader essentials, Leader specific, &Scout MAster Trainging during theh 1999, 2000, & 2001 Time frames. During those traing program we was instructed that as long as they we delivered in a fair fashion - Pushups was approved.


We currently don't have "Snack time" to take from the kids.

Also have you seen kids with fire that is only best done when outside.


We tried to implement the Three strike and your out policy. Where once they recieved 3 strikes they was banned from the next campout. thus creating not enough youth to go on a campout.


Between the other leaders in our troop which most of them are all past Eagles themselves from other troops all recognize pushups as a fair punishment. All of our leaders have been through all of the training. Just recently one of our leaders took a refresher course and was reemed by the trainer for even suggesting pushups.

Which was hard to believe.

His dad is the Scoutmaster in the troop, he himself is also a leader of the troop for 3-4 years now, and between me and him and the different troops we have been through. Pushup was a common punishment for mis-behaving.


That is probably what is wrong with the kids today, they don't recieve discipline at home or at scouts.


When pushups in our troop ar given it is in the amouints of 10-20 per time/instance. If the boy recieves pushups more than twice in the evening a call to his parents is usually instore.

We ask them to stay for the next meeting to control his/her son.

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Sounds like your problems run deeper than what kind of discipline to dole out. This troop scares me. I thought I had discipline problems... Seriously, this troop needs to do some serious reflection. Perhaps SM conferences with each lad. A parents meeting might also be in order.

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This troop has a history of being one of the largest in town for many years. With the occasional period of only 15-20 activ boys in the troop and 10-20 boys in the cub pack. We are well liked by the boys as far as our troop has the equipment to go caving, repelling. and all of the equipment for outpost camping and canoeing.


When we asked the boys (Since Scouts are suppose to be Boy lead) what kind of discipline actions they wanted to see, they came up with. Pushups for the first few instances and a suspension for 1 week away from scouts if the problem persisted along with the parental phone call to explain the situation.

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Are these pushups given to Boy Scouts (ages 11-18) or to Cub Scouts (ages 7-10)? Or both?


Not that it is ok for either age group. What happens when you call out a boy in front of all of his peers and, for whatever reason, he can't do 20 pushups? Or 10 pushups? What if he can't do even 2 pushups? Some boys are severly pushup challenged. This can be extremely humiliating to these young boys. Gee, what a recruiting line - Come to our Troop and be embarassed!


I don't care how many leaders you have who have reached their Eagle rank, what you are doing is against BSA policy and against Youth Protection Guidelines.


If you requested my Boy Scout aged son drop and give you 10 or 20, I would tell him to do the same thing I told him to do if he was made to sing for lost materials. Just say no!



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With regards to your troop size, that has nothing to do with how good a unit it is. I've seen troops of 100+ boys that were not boy-run. I've also seen some awesome troops of 6-8 boys that are truly run in the scout spirit.


When we asked the boys (Since Scouts are suppose to be Boy lead)..


(Hopping on my soapbox). Boy-lead does not mean we abdicate all responsibility as adults. The SPL is to run the troop under the guidance of the Scoutmaster. I don't have any publications in front of me to site verbatim, but that is the way it is supposed to work. Our PLC has wanted to do things against the G2SS (lazer tag, winter survival camping before they were ready, etc.). As the SM, I must advice them of these rules, since they are likely not to know or understand them. And, at times, I may have to overrule them. But it hopefully never comes to that. (Stepping down from the soapbox now).


I am curious about how others view the PLCs role in dealing with discipline. I've always felt that the PLC members should attempt to discipline "on the spot", and then escalate to the SPL or adults if necessary. But, I've never felt that the PLC should have a specific policy. What are your thoughts out there?

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I knew my post would get a rise out of someone. I'm sure what I'm about to explain won't matter to some folks, but it is why we do what we do. We are a new troop of ten 11 and 12 year olds. We have two boys gone most of the time for football season, so we have 6 to 8 boys at meetings on a regular basis. Three of these boys are brand new to scouting in the last couple of weeks and they are acting like model scouts. The core group that we started with are our sons who earned AOL in Cubs. We have four boys in particular (ex-Cubs) who provide 90% of our problems. We have workd with them since Cubs and they "know" how they are "supposed" to act. They are supposed to be the example for the new boys. They have had many many one on one private sessions regarding their behavior over the last several years and continue to be defiant and disruptive. Since we started out with 7 boys, we only had enough for one patrol. So our PLC consists of our PL (my son) and the APL who is one of the better problem boys. These boys are Tenderfoots and while they are doing their best, they have a long ways to go to develop the skill sets to handle boys with bad behavior. From our leaders discussion, we are pretty much in agreement that the bad behavior stems from several factors. One is simply that they are 11 and 12 years old. Another is that a couple of the boys are diagnosed as ADD. The other reasons are that some of them are allowed to act this way at home without consequences, they are trying to get attention, they are trying to be cool in front of their peers and in some instances they just like to frustrate the adults. We don't see using the oath and law as punishment, but reinforcement. As I said, we've had the one on ones for a long time with no success. They are not thinking before acting. So we make them think after acting. We make them reflect. If they are going to act badly in front of the group to provoke a response, they will explain to the group that they disrupted why it is wrong. A little fair humility is a good thing. When we do the one on one all they seem to hear is yada, yada, yada and then off they go to repeat their behavior. When they have to repeat the law and consider what they did in front of everyone, they have to stop and think about it. When they realize that this is going to keep happening, they decide to start thinking before hand and quit acting badly. When I stole a piece of bublegum from a store at 5 years old, all it took was for my dad to walk me back to the store and stand in front of the owner and apologize and pay for it to keep me from ever stealing again. We are trying to modify their behavior and the private counseling has gotten us nowhere. When they are held accountable for thier actions in front of the people they acted out to, it sends a message to everyone involved that it will not be tolerated and their will be consequences. I'm sure you won't agree with it and that others won't either, but that is how we think it can best be handled at this time. It will stop when we don't have to do it anymore, but that is up to the boys who behave badly. The committee and the parents are in agreement with the approach and know that we may be sending boys to them if they continue in the behavior.

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Singling one or two boys out to do an activity as a form of punishment is wrong. It doesn't matter if the activity is singing a song, standing in the corner, doing push-ups. It is not the way we do things. It is Hazing plain and simple.


I'm not sure that I understand the question.

Scouts in a troop have made a promise to do their best to keep the Scout Law.

The Troop is made up of Patrols.

The Patrols are teams who get the job done.

The Scoutmaster trains the Patrol Leaders how to be leaders. There are different styles of leadership. Some of which are unacceptable." Do this or I will beat the heck out of you!!" Is not acceptable. "Do this or I will have the Scoutmaster drag you up in front of the entire Troop to do push-ups. Is not acceptable."

Leadership is a skill that we believe can be taught. When there are problems in a patrol one of the first things we look at is the Leadership of the patrol. Under the heading of Leadership we look at a list of things.

If it seems that a member of the Patrol is not living up to the Scout Oath and Law. If it seems that he is having a problem with "Scout Spirit." That is when the Scoutmaster will step in and have a word. If the bad behavior continues, the Scoutmaster should pass this on to the Troop Committee. I don't see the role of the PL or the SPL being that of the Punisher. Within a patrol there is at times conflict, how the PL manages it or deals with it could be a sign of how good a job has been done in passing on the skill of leadership.


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The pushups are a bad idea, no matter whose idea it was or how long they've been used. The trainer who reamed your leader was correct.


But more significantly, I believe you have discipline and punishment confused. We instill discipline in Scouts by teaching them how to conduct themselves properly, thus making punishment unnecessary. Scouts don't get punished -- at least not by Scout leader or other Scouts. No where in the training or any of the leader manuals will you learn how to punish a Scout. Punishment is up to the parents. We can help a Scout correct his behavior, but punishment is the responsibility of the parent.


The day camp I help run has only one rule regarding behavior: If you want to be a Cub Scout and do the fun things Cub Scout do then you must behave like a Cub Scout. Misbehaving Scouts are sent to me. The first visit (usually) we sit down and talk about the Law of the Pack. The second time you go home. Period.


If counseling and all the other discipline tricks haven't worked, I'd hand the boy my cell phone and tell him to call his parents to come get him and to please wait by the door until they arrive.

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