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dsteele

discipline for volunteer

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I'd like some input on a situation I need to deal with involving a volunteer.

 

At a recent roundtable (I was not present as I was in another district covering a roundtable for a DE who reports to me who was sick,) a volunteer stood up and said that the problems we had at our cub scout camp last year were due to the fact that it was run by women.

 

He went on to say that we're supposed to be teaching boys to become men and that the job shouldn't be done by women.

 

Several female leaders left the roundtable. Several good volunteers sent the Scout Executive and myself emails demanding the removal of the offending leader and I agree that something must be done.

 

My question to the forum is what would you do if you were me?

 

Here's some more information --

 

1. The chartered organization selects its own leaders. I have no authority to remove this dude just because he's a sexist jerk.

 

2. I checked the rules. I can't go beat the stuffing out of him. The "women" he was talking about are two of my district executives. Not only do I respect and admire them for being good professionals, I feel a personal "parental" kind of feeling toward all my DE's and it makes my blood boil to have them malingned in any way.

 

3. This guy is the cubmaster in a small one pack town and has over 100 active boys. That doesn't excuse his behavior or his comments, but must be considered in the solution. I don't want to hurt or risk hurting, the program for those boys in his pack.

 

So, dear friend, put I ask you to put yourself in my shoes for a moment and tell me what you would do.

 

You're the assistant scout executive and this one just landed on your desk . . .

 

DS

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1st I would look into the problems. Were they actually problems? Or were they only problems to this person? Where I would go from there depends on what I find out.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Thanks for the response.

 

I meant to address the camp problems, but forgot.

 

Each period at camp is evaluated by the adults. Each evaluation was read by the Scout Executive, myself, the council camping chairman and the district camping chairmen.

 

There were few problems at camp -- no more than usual -- and each person filling out the evaluation had a chance to be contacted personally. I called many within one week after their camp experience. The camping committee contacted the rest.

 

There really weren't many problems at camp other than complaints about bugs and heat. The fact that the camp director and program director are female has nothing to do with bugs or heat. The problems with the model rockets blowing up they fixed the next day. No one was injured but there's some rockets that we're pretty sure came down somewhere . . . :)

 

Keep the input coming. I'm listening . . .

 

DS

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Also forgot to add --

 

 

The guy in question never set foot in camp during the Cub Scout camping season. Never contacted myself or anyone else regarding camp problems. Never brought up anything specific other than his comment about females being unfit for camp leadership.

 

DS

 

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Interesting. What would I do? Nothing. From what you posted, there is nothing to do. The model rocket problem was fixed & if this guy never stepped foot in the camp then it sound like he belongs to the He-Man-Women-Haters-Club. I have found that people like this will usually hang themselves given enough rope & they usually don't need much rope.

 

If I did do anything, I would send a letter to the people who ran the camp and commend them for a job well done. In fact, I would fo this.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Thanks, Ed. They did do an outstanding job and have been congratulated for it. They also received raises, etc.

 

My only problem with doing nothing (other than the fact that I am as angry as any of the female volunteers who heard his comments,) is that some key volunteers have the expectation that "the council" will deal with this individual.

 

DS

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DS,

I see nothing to deal with other than a bigot & those fights are usually never won.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Well, well, well,

 

DS, I feel your pain, how do you manage people when you dont control them? I wish I had an answer, as well as every president since George Washington wishes he knew how to control those wacky legislators.

 

Its my take you are not as concerned about the Camp problems as much as the perception this guy got to vent his spleen on the dangers of a matriarchal society at a scouting function and if you do nothing, it will appear you (the District) agree and/or support the views expressed.

 

You cant remove him, but such a display needs to be answered. Here is a thought, and you can use the fact you werent there to your benefit. At the next roundtable, at the end, almost as an aside before closing, you can say you heard at the previous roundtable there had been critizism of the camp. You can go on to explain as you have here the process you went through of how complaints were handled. Then, if possible have the two camp directors there and you stand with them and say something along the lines of how much respect you have for these leaders. how much you appreciate their skills and abilities, and if anyone has any problems about the camp, these leaders are the people to talk to, or to you and that you know with such talent on your team, any problem can be fixed.

 

If the two camp people cant be there, do the same speech. At no time mention she, her, the ladies, etc. Speak in terms of leaders, adults, competent, etc. You have two goals here, to let the Cubmaster know you stand behind your leaders, and to let the other members of the roundtable know you are sticking up for your leaders, not because they are female, but because they are good.

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DS,

 

Perhaps you should wait until the next roundtable and in a polite manner explain that you heard he had concerns about the female leadership at summer camp. Ask him for specific problems and how they relate to the women being in leadership. Let him hang himself. If he is just a "Taliban" type who thinks women are property and should be totally submissive to men, he has no case as BSA allows and encourages female leadership. Without it, I doubt if Cubs would have lasted for long. If he can't site a valid reason as to how women are poor leaders, then all he is spouting is his own personal opinion and bias. He will show his own colors and will be respected accordingly. My guess is all of the women in attendance and 99% percent of the men in attendance will walk away thinking what a jerk this guy is. If he does not like the program, then perhaps he should find a different program. The way you approach the subject and support it with policy and the way he responds with his own personal opinions will sink him and make his argument invalid.

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I probably would not say anything directly to the individual. However I would have a red rose for every female scouter at the next Roundtable meeting and remind ALL the participants that women have been a part of scouting for almost 90-years and we are a better program for their participation.

 

Bob White

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I like Bob White's suggestion. However, I too feel that this cannot be left alone. Presumably you have some acquaintance with the other key leaders in the unit, the CC and CO rep. I would discuss the incident privately with them at first. They could be vital allies. The objective is not to remove, but to reform. A serious conversation with the cubmaster in which these other key volunteers participate should be sufficient. The offending cubmaster should be directly asked for specific complaints he may still have about camp. The results of the evaluations, not all the details, should be shared with him.

 

Bottom line, he needs to be encouraged to shape up and keep his mouth shut. As mother rabbit said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." (Maybe that is the wrong advice but I couldn't resist.) He needs to be encouraged to use the proper forums to express specific complaints that he thinks are important, but the female component is too critical to the overall success of the program to allow his conduct to continue.

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One further thought, any public comments about his comments will likely make matters only worse. Under the best of circumstances he may be motivated to make a public apology, but I don't see that as a necessary part of the exercise.

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Just to clarify, when I said I would do nothing I was speaking as if I were in dsteele's shoes as a professional. I agree the eisley that the individual needs to be reminded that his view is not consistent with the scouting program, but I think that should come from another volunteer. I think it's a good idea for district volunteers to insulate the local pro's from disputes in order for them to do their job most effectively.

 

What I can't figure out is how a cubmaster could say such a thing, with a pack over a hundred does he do it all with only male leadership? That would be a first.

 

Bob White

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Every social change that swept the nation, including this one (women in non-traditional roles), swept through the military first. When I first joined, all the women were in women-only units, and were a novelty by their numbers alone, if nothing else. That changed, but not without having to "drag along" a lot of Neanderthals who didn't want it to happen simply because it didn't fit their model of what the role of women should be. That kind of behavior is almost unheard of now.

 

Here's how it happened. First, the "view from the top". Senior leadership telling us often and at high volume that women's roles were changing and expanding, and it was good for America. Second, training and information in our media, at meetings, formations, etc., reinforced the leadership message. Third, the agency that put out the training and information also investigated gender-related incidents. Finally, a pattern of discriminatory behavior or comments is what we call a CLF -- a "career limiting factor". If you're a caveman, you will not be entrusted to lead and influence troops.

 

I see direct application of this to DS's issue, and it includes elements of what other posters have said. First, get the District/Council leadership out in front at Roundtables, Pow-wows, camporees, what have you, letting everybody know that women are here to stay and it ain't a bad thing -- if the DE wants my buy-in, he needs to buy-in first. Second, reinforce gender diversity in newsletters, district level training, awards, media coverage, etc -- hammers home the fact that it wasn't just an offhand comment; they're really serious about this. Third, jump right on allegations of behavior like what happened in DS's example -- let's 'em know that you'll walk the walk, not just talk the talk. And, it will also determine if this is a values issue with this guy, or just a "slip of the tongue" on a bad day. Finally, "select out" those who won't get with the program. Do we really want them influencing youngsters if their values don't sync up with ours as an organization?

 

Yes, we need dedicated volunteers, but not if they hold beliefs contrary to the organization's. That Pack has 100 Scouts now; imagine how it could grow with someone more enlightened at the helm (and it could be the current guy, if he can get "enlightened").

 

Ultimately, you can't change anyone's beliefs or attitudes -- only they can do that. You can, however, change their behavior under threat of sanction/removal. If continuing in Scouting is important enough for him, he'll get with the program.

 

KS

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Did anyone rise in defense of the two ladies? If not, I think some response is merited. I wouldn't go after Archie Bunker directly, but I would have someone address the quality of the camp program specifically and the desirability of having women in the program generally.

 

I'd have the highest ranking volunteer I could find do it -- you know the line, keep a volunteer between you and another volunteer. Your district chairman may be a good one. I know DC's don't normally attend Roundtable, but that may even add weight to his (or her!) giving the talk.

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