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What should they call us?

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Andrew, what I think you (and all of us) can learn from this thread is that there IS no "prevailing method." And when I say "learn," I mean it, because if I had been asked to guess at the beginning it would have been that in the Scouting context, the use of Mr. (etc.) by youth to refer to adults was nearly universal. Apparently that is not the case. Every person and group has their own "culture," I guess. My personal feeling is that nobody should be offended by being addressed in a MORE formal way, and then if you want to be called by your first name, "correct" the person and that should be it. In a one on one conversation that would be it. However, I have an issue with it when a "group" is present. If one leader has the boys refer to him by first name (including "Mr. Joe") then the boys have a right to be confused when another leader insists on being called Mr. Smith.


As I think I said before, the uncertainty for me comes in when a very young adult is addressing someone older. When I turned 18, the adults in the troop were still "Mr." to me, and I was not in for very long at that stage so I never had to deal with when Mr. Smith becomes Bob. In college and law school, it was pretty clear, professors and deans were Professor and Dean, until they said otherwise, which some of them did. In the legal profession the protocol is pretty clear, in court and in any setting that is being transcribed, formal titles are used. When I am calling another attorney on the phone for the first time I generally do use Mr./Ms. etc. and 99.9 percent of the time I will get back "Call me Charlie" or whatever, but at least the person has been shown respect and can decide for themselves what they want me to call them.


And then there is the one person who calls me Dr. Lastname, ONLY around other people (we are fellow school board members), and basically as a joke. Technically it is correct because my "law degree" is a Juris Doctor but it is not customary (at least where I am) for attorneys to use "Dr." It is so non-customary as to be somewhat misleading to go by "Dr." if you do not also have a Ph.D., M.D. or something else that would connote a "real" Dr.


But I digress...

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The prevailing message I'm getting is that the Over 35 crowd with a few exeptions prefer The formal title and the rest goe with a less formal title for your own reasons whether it is to remove barriers or to make yourselves more accesable to the scouts, or even because you think of Mr. lastname as your father.


AS some one brought up what do we call the scouts and those scouts that are now in the 18-21 range of ASM?


I call the boys by name in personal conversations and most times Mr. Youngscout when I am refering to them to a group. The Problem arises if you have two billys and one of the Billys has a brother Joe. what the then ? Mr. Billy Lastname, Young Mr. Lastname,Billy Lastname all of these go against at least one posters preferance.

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I just noticed this:


Respect should neither be dependent upon age, nor its symbolic expression distributed based on it. At least not among the fellowship of scouting, that is.


If the implication is that everybody (youths and adults) should be on the same "basis" (first or last names), obviously this is something I neither practice nor have seen others around me practice. Respect goes both ways, but how it is expressed and "symbolized" does not. The "fellowship of Scouting" recognizes different roles for adults and youth, as does most of our society. Maybe I am old fashioned, but being able to call someone by their first name is something to be earned. I'm not talking about a formal process; in the troop in which I am a committee member, it is automatic that leaders call each other by their first names when not in front of the boys, but that is because "we" (it was long before I got there) decided that fellow leaders are on that "basis."


By the way, I have been able to compare the two "schools of thought" in a similar context, that is, school. In the public schools in my area, teachers are Mr./Mrs./Ms. to the students. However, one of my daughters has been to several schools that are (to be vague) better suited to her special needs, and in one of these schools, EVERYBODY called each other by their first name. Meaning, the students called all the teachers, counselors and principal by their first names. I didn't like it. I didn't think it contributed to the orderly running of the school, in a place where the nature of the students automatically created a challenge to "order." (I can say that because my darling daughter was one of the challengers.) In her next school, it was back to Mr./Mrs./Ms. (except there was one guy who was a bit of a 60s-70s throwback, who the students called by just his last name with no honorific) and since the school was "owned" (though not directly run) by an order of nuns, sometimes a "Sister" or two would be on the premises as well. I really thought the place ran better. Was the slightly more formal language a factor? I'd say, probably yes.

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NJ, I agree with you on the confusion angle. That's where I was heading with the "How do your children address you" question posed to the parents who are on a first-name basis with Scouts.


I understand that some Scouters want to accord the boys the privilege of addressing them by their first names, but then I wondered how well that could work if you're the parent of boys in the troop. In other words, if I let little 12 yr old Johnny (not related to me) call me Fred, do I allow my 15 yr old son do it as well? If not, why?


Andrewcanoe, I hope you didn't think my that question was aimed specifically aimed at you. You answered it the way I expected any parent would -- but that's due to my frame of reference. I've been surprised by some of the posts here so I thought I'd toss the question on the table to see what the responses were.


Adrianvs: Just curious, are you a parent of a boy in your troop?



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You asked a question of me so it is only polite that I respond:


"Glenn, do you extend the courtesy of title to the youth whom you serve?"


The only problem is I really don't understand the question. If you are asking me if I call the patrol leader, patrol leader Joe, then of course not. As that is not a standard prefix. If I misunderstood your question, please clarify.


By the way, if I ever meant one of those whiz kids who earn their medical degree by the age of 13, then yes, I would call them Dr. Smartypants (or whatever their last name is!).



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In our troop scouts address adults as Mr. or Mrs. No rules established, thats just the way it is. We have had a recent Scout reach his 18th birthday and is now an ASM. The scouts still address him by his first name.


What I've just realized though is I'm comfortable with scouts addressing me as Mr. I don't know when it happened. For many years Mr. Scoutingagain was my father, as far a I was concerned. Mr. to me seemed weird. Gosh, I think I'm growing up. How does one stop this.



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I believe you also summed it up pretty succinctly. I would offer that the majority of us (70%+ maybe?)that prefer to go by our first names do not have boys in the troop. This also ties in with AndrewCanoe's observation, that the first name only crowd is usually 35 and under.


12+ years from now, when, God willing, I have a son who will join, I probably will switch over to the Mr. G "title". Well, that would probably happen before he's in Scouts, but you get the point.


If fate allows it, and I'm still with the same troop at that time, well, maybe I'll just have to make a decision as to which new batch of Scouts will know me as Mr. G. I'll cross that bridge when I come it.


Maybe it's time to start another thread and discuss whether being on a first name basis with the boys leads to less respect being shown to leaders or does not matter.





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Maybe it's time to start another thread and discuss whether being on a first name basis with the boys leads to less respect being shown to leaders or does not matter.


I think a good point has been made that this is going to depend largely on whether the person is, to use an expression I don't really want to use, "older" or not. In other words, a person who has a son of Scouting age who is in the troop is probably a lot more likely to say, yes, it probably leads to less respect, and someone who has no children or (perhaps) only very young children might be more likely to say it does not matter. Of course even in the latter category, someone may have been brought up in a strict "respect for elders" environment and would still think it matters.


I guess you could start a poll, but given past experience, there would probably be an argument about how it was worded...


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I am not the parent of a youth in the troop. I fall into the young adult/former scout category as far as the trends go.



Sorry for the confusion. What I meant was whether you refer to the youth whom you serve as Mr. Smith (or Mr. Smartypants) as the case may be.


Perhaps I should clarify my position. I do not think that children should address adults by first name in every circumstance. In schools, the community, or faith group, and the like, I feel that proper titles should be given to adults. In fact, I think that within Cub scouts, where adults hold the leadership positions, it would be proper to continue this trend. It is the nature of the scouting model, however, that causes me to prefer familiar or equal titles (at least within one's own unit). It just depends upon the roles of the people in question.


I am not speaking from the perspective of the individual whom NJCubScouter described as "one guy who was a bit of a 60s-70s throwback, who the students called by just his last name with no honorific." In fact, I found it quite amusing to see NJ refuting my position "from the right." (Not that he was referring to me directly, of course.)


A 45 year old waiter should address a 16 year old customer as "sir." In this case, age is not the issue. I personally expect the same courtesy from civil servants, including police officers. This holds true regardless of age and even if the officer is given "custodial power" over the other person. Now, apply this to Scouting. Yes, adults have different roles and they are charged with "taking care" of the scouts and ensuring that everyone's safety is assured, but they are present to provide service. Now I am not proposing that the adults adopt a servile attitude towards the scouts or address them as "Sir" or "Mr. Smith." This may actually be a defensible position, although the pride of most adults would never allow it. I am only proposing that respect be given as equal members of the organization, at least among those who know each other.


While it is not the motivation of most who insist upon titles, I have seen many adults who appear to enjoy being the "boss man" or "officer" among the "enlisted men" scouts. I find this attitude much more common and destructive than the ownership attitude expressed in the phrase "my troop." I am reminded that putting on the uniform is an expression of equality among all members. Perhaps some need to look at this as 'stepping down' from their normal position of honor in the community. In Cub Scouts, the youth are lead and directed by adults. They also happen to wear different uniforms. In Boy Scouting, the adults advise and assist the youth in leading themselves. If an adult wants to maintain a 'professional' relationship in doing this, then he should address the scouts with the same "Mr." that he expects to receive. Just pretend that the scouts are customers.


I am usually the uber-conservative in issues of culture and society. I don't see this as an exception. Before adults held the title of "Mr." and youth did not, it was the practice that both groups addressed each other with formality. British schools continued this trend after it had fallen out of favor in most other places. Before that, "Mr. (Master)" was a title that one earned, and not one given to any Joe who made it to adulthood. In that time, youth and adults of equal class addressed each other by given name. Within the organization of Boy Scouting, I consider youth and adults to be members of equal standing. You may disagree, but at least think about that the next time you remove the trappings of class and office and put on the tan and green uniform.

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Just a reminder that the "call people what they prefer to be called" principle also extends to *which* honorific you use . . .


This can be an issue with PhD's (who often prefer to avoid being "Dr." except in professional settings), but it's especially true for women who keep their birth names (for personal or professional reasons) after marriage. The wife of Bob Smith and mother of Bobby Smith may well be Mary Jones, and thus properly "Ms Jones" NOT "Mrs. Smith."


It may seem like a small thing but like a lot of small things, it's worth making the small bit of extra effort and getting it right.



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Just a quick introduction: I'm an Eagle Scout and former scouter who is chomping at the bit to get re-involved once I get a day job again.


That said, sometimes the protocol something that predates your own affiliation with a troop.


The last time I was involved with a troop was This is not to say that I still don't prefer to be called Mr. Musgrave. I'm only 30, but "I have a dream" that one day it will actually happen. about four years ago. At the time I was single. With no kids, the only ties I had to the unit I served was that I just loved to Scout! The norm for this troop seemed to be that adult volunteers were referred to by first name. At first I was a little put off by it, but eventually I got used to it. It's probably a generational thing (I was 26 at the time), but I never felt the slightest bit disrespected by any of the boys or their parents.


Protocol is great to have. I still can't bring myself to call my old Scoutmaster by his first name....even when he was serving as course director of the WB course I attended.


I may even get used to being called Mr. Musgrave eventually.


Good Old Eagle Too!


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Adrianvs, thanks for the response. If I had to, I would have guessed that you weren't a parent -- but that would have been based on my own experiences (i.e. frame of reference). The extra info and your subsequent response helped me to better see where you're coming from. I still prefer my way, but these are our preferences and opinions and I'm not judging them.


As NJ observed, it appears to be an "age thing", but if those who prefer to be on a first name basis are also Scouts who transitioned over to ASM then it's also an "experience thing". It seems natural that those young men would prefer to continue on a first-name basis with the boys in the troop. Then over time, as Gags mentioned, gradually switch over to "Mr." Or then again, maybe not.


Very interesting thread. Thanks to andrewcanoe and all who participated.

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Just a couple of thoughts.

Baden Powell wanted to be called B-P.

My sister Patricia a barriister who is in line to become a high court judge wants to be called Pattie. Even when she was called to the bar it was as Pattie.

Kings and Queens tend to go by a first name.

I have no idea what the last names of any of the Nuns at Holy Cross school were.

My brother is John at home we call him Sean, when he was about 15 he wanted people to call him John now only family call him Sean. We both call each other Mick. He is the only person who calls me Mick.

I did have a nickname in school which only the people that I was friends at school with still use.

I get upset when people call OJ Ollie.

I do answer to Ea.

My mother was Mary she was the oldest but everyone called her Babs.

Our Dogs have middle names but answer to their first names or the sound of the can opener.

While we were being coached to meet the Queen at the Queens Scout service at St Georges in Windsor we were told that if the Queen spoke to us we were to address her as mam like in jam. This works best if you have an English accent.

My Wife hates her middle name and never uses it.

I do tend to call the patients that I work with by Mr or Mrs when we meet then I tend to use Sir and Mam (As in jam) Even though they may have asked me to call them by their first name. However when we re-meet I call them by what they want to be called.

When I phone a Doctors office even if the Doc and I are close friends I always ask the office staff for Doctor Whathisname.

As I said just some thoughts.


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