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dedkad

What to do about an over-involved adult leader

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My son and I have visited the troop he will be joining about 4 times now. Each time, I have noticed that there is one adult, I think he is the chaplain, who spends way too much time up in front. He doesn't just do a prayer, he calls up kids to do the Scout Oath and makes them do push-ups if they don't get it right. He corrects boys' behavior constantly (no talking, no slouching, no eating, etc.), by making them do more push-ups, and he always has a comment about something that someone is saying. The other night one boy decided it would be good to practice a fire drill. The boy was explaining how he thought the fire drill should go, how they exit, where to meet, and so on, and the chaplain kept interrupting him to ask questions about how this or that is going to work and can you please provide more detail. It's like he wanted to make sure it was all done perfect the first time, without letting the boys just try it and make a mistake and learn from it.

 

I finally said something to the SM that night, asking him if he thought the chaplain was spending a little too much time running the show. The SM said he has noticed it and said it seems to have gotten worse over the past month. However, being that BS is supposed to be boy-led, the SM has been reluctant to say anything because none of the boys have approached him to complain about it. This troop is a young troop, so my bet is that most of the boys just don't know any better. They are used to being told what to do by adults. Plus, I think they think the whole push-up thing is kind of funny. So as a new parent coming in to the troop, should I try to do something about this situation and, if so, what? I already mentioned something to my son about it, trying to put a bug in his ear, hoping that maybe a little grassroots effort with the boys might prompt them to say something to the SM. I know a few other parents in the troop, and I would be comfortable at least asking their opinion on this. Should I say something to these other parents, so maybe they can talk to their sons too, or would I just end up being the most-hated parent who is sticking my nose where it doesn't belong?

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However' date=' being that BS is supposed to be boy-led, the SM has been reluctant to say anything because none of the boys have approached him to complain about it.[/quote']

 

Isn't that taking "boy-led" to an extreme? Should the boys be able to "lead" themselves right out of the leadership?

 

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That SM is being weak. Chaplains have very specific duties. What you described is beyond the scope. Physical punishment like push ups are never a part of the program. If I was the Scoutmaster, I'd politely ask this chaplain to back off. The Scoutmaster needs to explain to any interfering adult how the program is supposed to work.

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I would definitely re-think this Troop for my son.

 

The SM is allowing this guy to interfere with the boy's program.

 

Worst of all he is allowing inappropriate "punishment" for things that do NOT call for punishment of any kind.

 

And, the SM is defending his behavior by stating it is OK with the boys!

 

Young boys, unaccustomed to stepping up, will be intimidated by this adult, and his behavior. They might feel that they can not speak up because he is an adult in a position of authority. They might be afraid of what else this man might do.

 

I know I am.

 

These boys are being bullied, and the SM is standing there allowing it.

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As an "unofficial chaplain", this is completely the opposite of how I exercise that role. I touch base with the chaplain's aide and discuss how he would like to perform his duties. Would he like me to pick a scripture for him and the boys to read? Is he comfortable leading prayers? Or, would he like to just be the guy who goes around and selects volunteers for each part of the religious activity? What does he think are the religious obligations of a scout during troop activities? I would not ban push-ups outright, but ask him to pay attention to any boys who are intimidated by that sort of thing, and ask him to think through what is best for the troop.

 

This is where a unit commissioner comes in handy. He has no "skin in the game", and over several coffees can often talk guys down from what ever high horse they've chosen to ride. Lacking a UC, this falls to the COR or CC and some are better than others about helping adults "make adjustments." (I know, because many CC's have tried to get me to make adjustments and it's been a rough road for them! ;) )

 

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No, ban push-ups outright. That's a line not to be crossed.

 

Is the guy an actual registered leader (ASM, MC)? Tell him to get registered, and get trained, before trying to interact with the boys again. That will probably scare him off.

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There is almost everything wrong with what you describe. If there is not a compelling reason for your son to join this troop look around for another. If your son joins this troop and you care a lot about his scouting experience be ready and willing to wade in to this issue and get it fixed. It won't be easy and it could get unpleasant.

 

I am hard pressed to think of a good reason to tell scouts not to "slouch".

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My son does not plan on joining another troop. We've visited others, and every troop in town has some kind of issue, none are perfect. Unlike some of the other troops, this issue seems like one that can be resolved. I'm just looking for ideas on how best to handle it.

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My son does not plan on joining another troop. We've visited others, and every troop in town has some kind of issue, none are perfect. Unlike some of the other troops, this issue seems like one that can be resolved. I'm just looking for ideas on how best to handle it.
Talk to the CC. He needs to reign in his volunteer. The SM or an ASM also needs to step in when this man is interfering with the Scouts.

 

If you can't get the SM or the CC to handle it, start feeling out other parents.

 

As an ASM, I'd never tolerate that kind of ridiculous power tripping by an adult. Your sons troop shouldn't either.

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Did you laugh at the SM when he said that? It would have been difficult not to. The Chaplain is problem #2. Problem #1 is the SM is a coward and is allowing the chaplain to bully the boys. 100% guarantee that if a Scout does complain about the Chaplain, he'll find another excuse to do nothing. And it's a 90% likelihood someone has and he has ignored/blown off/justified his continuing inaction.

 

As a prospective/new parent, you are in a precarious situation. Your complaints can be written off easily as "the new helicopter dad" whining. But in the fable it was a child who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes. I would start by making it known your son will not be subjected to any physical punishment by the troop for any reason. Neither will he be called out in front of the other Scouts because his father insists the troop follow youth protection guidelines. Violation of either will result in a formal complaint to the Scout Executive.

 

It only takes a spark. I guarantee there are other Scouts/parents who feel the same way you do.

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Or, you could go the direct route:

 

"Mr. Chaplain, sir, my son did not sign up to be preached at every week. How 'bout this coming meeting you and I get a coffee and let's let the boys take charge? I have a few ideas I'd like to float by you."

 

I usually need about five people telling me the same thing before I change my behavior. So, hopefully someone else has brought this up, and you'll be the bean that tips the kettle.

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So I talked to a friend whose son Eagled with the troop my son will be joining. She said her son and his friends do not like this leader, and it's part of the reason they don't attend the meetings. She said this guy has only been with the troop for 3 years. Might have been involved previously, but just 3 years on this latest go-around. Knowing these details makes me definitely want to talk to the CC about this problem. My son officially joins the troop in 2 weeks. I'll be talking to the CC shortly thereafter. I think I'll take the Boy Scout leader training online before then so I can be armed with knowledge on how things are actually supposed to be run.

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