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mashmaster

Did I do or not do the right th

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Just got back from Webelos winter camp and there was an incident that occurred that has my questioning my non-action. What do you think I should have done?

 

We were in a camp that is in a place that has been hit by a major fire before so they have special fire rules because of fire sensitivity. Anyway....

 

The camp director asked the parents if there was a registered scouter that would be willing to be the fire warden for the fire at the campsite. My son looked at me and asked me to do it. So I volunteered. I went to a fellow scouter that I knew to see if he would help me since it was wet and starting the fire might require two people. He said "another fire?" what about the people that already have a fire going on. Um ok, I mentioned it to the camp staff and they were perplexed and had no idea that was happening so they came with me to check it out. Thankfully they were doing everything proper for the fire "water, shovel, cleared fire ring ..." so everything cool. Camp director was peeved that they did it without asking permission or checking out the campground rules so I was asked to hang around there fire since others would be coming.anyway. No worries, we sat around and talked about scouting and units, bla bla bla. Everything seemed fine. My son wanted to turn in so I said good bye and thank you, as I was walking by their table on the way to our tent, the leader there scurried to cover and move an ice chest which I caught out of the corner of my eye. It looked to be a cooler filled with wine bottles....

 

My dilemma is that I didn't do anything. I just continued on. Assuming that I must have not seen what I thought I saw. It was late and cold, boys all around. Did I do the right thing? or should I have said something? I feel awful that I didn't do anything. Maybe I was wrong?

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First, you didn't do anything wrong. What you may have seen would have been a violation of BSA rules but it wasn't the kind of thing that was in and of itself so wrong or unsafe that you HAD to take action.

 

But yes you could have done better. My experience is that the no alcohol on scout outings is violated more at the Cub level than at the Boy Scout level. I suspect this as much out of ignorance as anything else. When I was a Cub leader I always explicitly told everyone ahead of time about the no alcohol rule in order to head things off at the pass.

 

In your case you could have stopped and just asked casually if what you thought you saw was indeed what it looked like. And if it was a quick word that assumed their ignorance, telling them about the BSA rules, would have been appropriate and probably not too badly received. I think the key to these interactions is to be a provider of information rather than an enforcer of rules. If you get an argument then that changes things, but usually just having said something is enough.

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You could say something to them. If you knew the campmaster well, you could have confided in him. Ultimately though, what you did was ok. It's not a safety issue for the kids. Eagle kinda said what I think.

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No, I think you failed to do the right thing. All too often I see these "Peter Pan" dads in scout uniforms who flagrantly violate BSA policies.

 

I sometimes hike a half mile or more to have a cigarette so the boys don't see me, but having come to the realization all the boys know I smoke, I'm giving that up on camp outs. Are these guys such alcoholics they cannot make it through a weekend without a drink?

 

Where does it stop? If a little wine, in violation of BSA policies is alright, can I then ignore other policies and carry my handgun concealed (I have a permit)?

What about states where weed is now legal? Is it ok to hike out and twist up a doobie, as long as the boys don't see you?

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Mash,

 

Tough call as I know there may, stress MAY, be negative repurcussion on you. BUT I think you needed to go up the chain and tell yur suspicions.

 

First time I had an incident like this was in the UK where some some Dutch Scouters were lighting up marijuana cigarettes. Told the "camp warden" (what they call the rangers over there), and it was handled appropriately and without any repucussions on my part. Apprently it's a common situation since the Dutch forget that marijuana is illegal outside of Holland at the time.

 

But the second time was dealing with summer camp staff and alcohol. I became persona non grata at camp after reporting the incident. Luckily I lived 20 minutes away from camp, so I essentially commuted to my camp staff position the rest of the summer. What really ticked me off was that I got no support from my immediate boss on the matter. Would I do it again, even knowing the repurcussions, ABSOLUTELY!

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I sometimes hike a half mile or more to have a cigarette so the boys don't see me, but having come to the realization all the boys know I smoke, I'm giving that up on camp outs. Are these guys such alcoholics they cannot make it through a weekend without a drink?

I think that there are functioning alcoholics that drink everyday. They might not get stumbling drunk. But 2 or 3 drinks everyday. They would be both physically and mentally adicted. So I could see them having issues camping.

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Hey, Mashmaster. Don't beat yourself up over it. No one is perfect but the fact that you are worried about it shows that you care. Next time you see something like this you'll be prepared to make the call.

 

LeCastor

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Agree with LeCastor, don't beat yourself up, but follow your conscious.

 

I've met functional alcoholics, but you got to be 110% on your toes when you got responsibilites for youth. Heck I remember working day camp after I had surgery, and I wouldn't take my prescription pain killers because they were narcotics and may affect me. Took 4 advil instead.

 

 

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One of the most important things about Scouting is this idea of "reflection" on our actions and how we might improve. Nobody is going to handle every situation as they would if they had known beforehand what was going to happen. That you care about, and are thinking about, whether and how you could have handled this better tells me your heart's in the right place and you're the kind of Adult Leader Scouts will benefit from having around.

 

This would make a spectacular Scoutmaster Minute.

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Don't worry Mash,

 

It's all fine and good until a stumbling drunk kid sits down at your crew's campfire! :(

 

Before that happens, next time (and it might be years before you'll deal with the same issue again) run it up the chain of command.

 

It's natural to assume that the other unit is managing their own house wisely and will keep to themselves. I've seen enough situations where it's just better to act swiftly and get everyone to tow the line.

 

Because this behavior is sufficiently rare, it's also easy to be blindsided -- as my co-leader was when our "campfire incident" happened. She let the kid's leader escort him back to his camp. I would have insisted he be taken to the medic's station, informed the camp director, and try to confirm that there was nobody passed out in the woods with alcohol toxicity. As it was, I took notes and forwarded the details to the director

 

It doesn't sound like your situation was anywhere near that calamitous. But parents can be naive, a cooler is not a locker, boys see more than most of us realize, and nights can be very long. We all could use protection from our own stupidity from time to time. ;)

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I wouldn't dwell on it or beat yourself up over it. Especially if you're not 100% certain you saw what you "saw"... perhaps it was just bottles of sparkling apple or grape juice ;)

 

I had an assistant leader who overheard clanking glass and bottles opening and though he was about to "bust" a group of Venturers drinking beer in their tent at summer camp. It turned out it they just had a 6-pack of glass-bottled cream sodas. Boy, was his face red.

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I would ask to clarify what I saw and say that is not allowed due to BSA Rules and reported it to the Camp Director and let him deal with it.

A Scout is Brave.

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Thanks everyone. I do think that I would handle it differently next time. Probably call their cubmaster to the side and tell him what I thought I saw. If it was then, suggest that we walk together to put it in the trunk of his car while reminding him of the BSA guidelines. Hopefully I'll be more prepared for next time.

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Regardless of whether it was wine or something innocuous, glass bottles and camping do not mix. I don't know of a campsite we use that allows glass containers.

 

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