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MattR

Eagle and weed

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I am surprised at how permissive scouting is today.  It seems like nothing is out-of-bounds anymore. 

 

In some ways, scouting is stricter today than it was in the '70s.  

Edited by desertrat77

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BSA is certainly a lot more liability conscious.  I wouldn't call that strict.

Edited by David CO

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Stricter in rules, yes.   Some of that was definitely needed.

 

But there is also a stricter tone, if that is the right word, among volunteers.  Perhaps a better phrase is "less tolerant."

 

The trend is "the kid made a mistake, kick him out/don't let him make the next rank/he's no Eagle" etc.  

 

Or there is no mistake, just the appearance of something that doesn't match a particular scouter's beliefs.    Criticism, judgment follow.

 

An old squadron commander shared this with me regarding decision making, particularly when it came to punishment:   You have to balance the need of the military with the needs of the individual.   Err too much towards the individual, the military suffers.  Err too much towards the military, the individual suffers.

 

Youth are going to make mistakes.   They must have the room to recover, if possible. 

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It has become a common practice to use the word "mistake" to describe intentional misconduct.  I think a mistake is an inadvertent or unintentional act, not a deliberate and planned out crime.

 

Yes, boys make mistakes.  Lots of mistakes.  Clumsy mistakes.  Foolish mistakes.  Awkward mistakes.  We need to understand that and make allowances.

 

It is wrong for us to treat mistakes like they are crimes.  It is equally wrong for us to treat crimes like they are just mistakes.

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I am surprised at how permissive scouting is today. It seems like nothing is out-of-bounds anymore.

 

In some ways, scouting is stricter today than it was in the '70s.

 

@@David CO and @@desertrat77, can you each give a few examples of subjects on which Scouting has become too "permissive" or "stricter"?

 

When I think about this, one thing that jumps out at me is that Scouting (along with schools and other institutions that deal with youth) have become much "stricter" and less "permissive" about bullying of one Scout by another, than they were in the 1960s/70s.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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@@David CO and @@desertrat77, can you each give a few examples of subjects on which Scouting has become too "permissive" or "stricter"?

 

Certainly...as it relates to the discussion, the aforementioned Frank was a fairly common character in the senior scout ranks in the '70s.   Usually, Frank was an otherwise good scout, trainer, student, etc.

 

If all of the Franks of the '70s were kicked out of the BSA, there would have been quite a loss in the number of senior scouts.   Just my unscientific observation of having been a scout back then in three different councils.

 

As I recall the prevailing attitude, Frank kept his private affairs private, or at least discrete.   If Frank was caught, there may have been consequences.   But none on the order of the automatic/zero tolerance permanent legal record of today, or the stigma of wearing the letter "D" for dope head.

 

It was a reflection of the times, for good or ill.  

 

In a similar vein, if the BSA had somehow managed to bust all of the adult leaders back then who may have had a beer after taps, there would have been a gaping hole in the scouter ranks.    They didn't get drunk or obvious (except one time I recall), it was just the tradition of grown men having a beverage at the end of a trying day.

 

Fast forward to 2016.   Frank receives zero tolerance today.   And if a Scoutmaster Bob were caught having a wee dram of sippin' whiskey at the end of a long day at the camporee, it would be his last day in scouting, forever.

 

Do I advocate pot smoking and beer drinking during BSA events?   No.  

 

What I am pointing out is that even in the '70s, if folks were caught doing stuff like that, they'd have a good talking to, and stronger consequences depending on the circumstances.

 

Today?   No slack.   They are done and will never recover.   No extenuating circumstances.   Stigmatized permanently.

 

I'm all for the stricter rules about youth protection and bullying.   Long overdue.

Edited by desertrat77

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@@desertrat77, there was no zero tolerance policy from me, the county sheriff, my CO, or my CE. I talked to all of them and they all wanted to get this kid to see his mistake and own it. The problem was, as the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink. This kid was not interested. I suspect Frank was different, or maybe it was his parents.

 

My impression is that zero tolerance policies are being used less.

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I have to agree, Souting does seem way more restrictive and rigid nowadays.  Maybe it's just me.  I remember when I was a Scout it was pretty common to see the adults smoking.  If nature called you found a tree and took care of business. The adults usually brought a six-pack along for the camp fire at night.  There were usually a lot of "adult" language by the youth and the adults.  The kids weren't so strictly supervised like they are now.  And yes, there was almost always some weed or smuggled liquor going around.  It seems like we were more resilient and self sustaining back than.  Not to mention thicker skinned.  Nowadays it seems like most all of that is gone.  Now we have to watch what we say or do in fear of being sued.  It also seems like the scouts all need such close guidance and have their hands held to do anything today. 

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I have to agree, Souting does seem way more restrictive and rigid nowadays.  Maybe it's just me.  I remember when I was a Scout it was pretty common to see the adults smoking.  If nature called you found a tree and took care of business. The adults usually brought a six-pack along for the camp fire at night.  There were usually a lot of "adult" language by the youth and the adults.  The kids weren't so strictly supervised like they are now.  And yes, there was almost always some weed or smuggled liquor going around.  It seems like we were more resilient and self sustaining back than.  Not to mention thicker skinned.  Nowadays it seems like most all of that is gone.  Now we have to watch what we say or do in fear of being sued.  It also seems like the scouts all need such close guidance and have their hands held to do anything today. 

Smoking was normal back in the day,  most of my adult leaders were never without a pack or two on a campout.  But weed or liquor was not allowed period.   One dad brought a bottle of Jack on a campout, my Sm was very clear " Last thing I need is a drunk scout, second to last thing I need is a drunk scouter!  The bottle goes or you do. "  

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Smoking was normal back in the day,  most of my adult leaders were never without a pack or two on a campout.  But weed or liquor was not allowed period.   One dad brought a bottle of Jack on a campout, my Sm was very clear " Last thing I need is a drunk scout, second to last thing I need is a drunk scouter!  The bottle goes or you do. "  

 

I agree, and most of the time if the adults found out about the weed or alcohol they'd put a stop to it, but it usually didn't result in any severe penalties.  They just chalked it up to boys being boys. 

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I think the treatment of pot-smoking "back in the day" (late 60s to mid 70s for me) depended on where you were and who was in charge.  The one time I caught wind of someone doing that (so to speak) they received harsh consequences.  I don't know exactly what, since it was not someone from my troop; it was a TLD camp (what is now called NYLT) and someone from another troop was caught smoking pot.  They were sent home, and I suspect they had to face the music in their home troop as well.

 

I don't actually know how it would be handled today since the subject has not come up.

 

As for alcohol use by leaders, back in the day, I think the reaction also varied from place to place and person to person.  I have also seen some violations of that policy while an adult, none of which were ever reported.  I think the problem with it now (aside from it being against the BSA rules) is that the consequences would be much more draconian than just being sent home from a camping trip.

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@@desertrat77, there was no zero tolerance policy from me, the county sheriff, my CO, or my CE. I talked to all of them and they all wanted to get this kid to see his mistake and own it. The problem was, as the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink. This kid was not interested. I suspect Frank was different, or maybe it was his parents.

 

My impression is that zero tolerance policies are being used less.

Matt, I understand.   It is indeed a whole new era.   It used to be "if you mess up, fess up" and while it didn't magically make all consequences go away, it certainly made them less severe.   Taking ownership is a big step.

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We have been very honest and upfront about our zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol.  All of our parents and scouts have known of our policy, and they have made an informed decision when they joined our unit.  

 

When I read some of the comments here, I have to wonder how many units have been as honest and upfront about their permissive attitudes as we have about our zero tolerance policy.

 

On scout night, did they tell parents that drug users are fairly common in the senior scout ranks?

 

Did they tell parents that there is always some weed or smuggled liquor going around?

 

You may feel that my units policies are draconian, but at least we have been honest about them.  We have allowed our parents and scouts to make an informed choice.

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Drug users are liars.  They lie to acquire their drugs.  They lie to hide and store their drugs.  They lie to secretly use their drugs.  The life of a drug user is a life of lies.

 

Drug use is entirely inconsistent with the values of scouting.

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@@David CO, I agree that drug use is inconsistent with the values of scouting -- physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.  I doubt any of us disagree with you on that.  However, the question is how do you react to finding drug use by a scout?  A zero tolerance policy (i.e. one infraction however minor and you are out of the unit for good) is great for the unit or sponsoring organization because it releives the unit of the problem and provides a seemingly clear conscience -- we did what the rules say we do and what we told you we would do.  But what about the scout?  I believe that every scout needs scouting for a different reason.  If staying in scouting gives the scout encouragement to truly live by the scout law, then I think that is our job as leaders to be helpful.  That doesn't mean condoning the activity or permitting the activity on campouts - but inviting the scout to participate is they are obedient and follow the rules.

 

@@MattR did the right thing balancing sticking by Scouting's principles and leaving the door open if the boy wanted to change.  Zero tolerance policies remove judgment and discretion and remove the chance for the boy to change course.

Edited by Hedgehog
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