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mattman578

Singing? For Your Stuff (Edited By Packsaddle)

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I was totally impressed when, at a meeting of all the civilian lab personnel, the general ordered the colonel to drop and "give him 10" right in front of the entire auditorium...because the colonel didn't answer a question quickly enough. I can tell you that after watching that I memorized all those answers forthwith (but never was asked for them, sigh).

I guess this IS one difference between scouting and the military.

So...how about when I sing to everyone. Is that hazing?

 

No, that would be torture and prohibited under Article III of the Geneva Convention. ;)

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I attended the "feast" at my old council's NYLT a couple years ago, and the entire troop and staff ended up singling for "lost" items.  I was told that all started in 2008 when the uber-popular ASPL-Program started singling and dancing with those who had "lost" things.  The next year, he was SPL, and it has gone on since. 

 

When I staffed Summer Camp in 1957,59, and 61, owners of lost items were invited to "sing with the staff" at lunch.  The prospective  camper participants were interviewed in advance by the camp SPL to be sure they were OK with it.  We had 600-800 kinds a week for eight weeks and three -- out of hundreds -  opted out.

 

Adequate rules are in the Law.  

 

If it violates the Law by being unkind - as I have witnessed, it should not be done.  

 

If the Scouts are happy singling for a lost item - as I have witnessed, it does not violate the law.

 

Or we can have more zero tolerance rules on the theory that someone not present knows -just KNOWS - in advance that a given thing just has to be done badly.  

 

Guidance, on the other hand, may help.

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If the Scouts are happy singling for a lost item - as I have witnessed, it does not violate the law.

 

Or we can have more zero tolerance rules on the theory that someone not present knows -just KNOWS - in advance that a given thing just has to be done badly.  

 

Guidance, on the other hand, may help.

 

Do not ever justify boorish abuse by saying the victim agreed.

 

It's not about the first victim.  It's about breaking the chain of victims.  That first victim will want to understand and justify their experience by repeating it.  Maybe to a greater degree.  Maybe differently.  Maybe on someone who does not submit.  Maybe on someone who can't survive it.  

 

A great example is Florida A&M.  The dead student submitted to the hazing because he really wanted to be a full member of the band.  He knew he'd be beaten before it happened.  He agreed and submitted to improve his standing.  Peer pressure.   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/01/us/florida-am-band-member-is-convicted-in-hazing-death.html?_r=0

 

Singing may not seem similar, but it is.  It's about changing behavior using humiliation.  Sadly, I've seen it happen and I've seen the ugliest part ... the victim then starting watching for others to make the same mistake so they could repeat what happened to them.  The victim became the abuser ... and a mean one at that.  IMHO, that's what happens when you humiliate someone.  

 

I joined a fraternity.  Some of the pledges were sad because the anti-hazing rules were kicked in and they would not have their naked butts beaten with paddles.  They wanted bragging rights ... for having been beaten. 

Edited by fred johnson
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So I guess we can't have patrol competitions anymore because some patrol has to come in last place, and that's embarrassing. A year ago my SPL couldn't start a fire in the fire competition. He said that was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to him as a scout. He went home and practiced how to build a fire. He's quite good at it now. The other night we had a knot tying competition and the older scouts (all star and above) were judges. I told them ahead of time if they didn't know the knots I'd embarrass them in front of the troop. Then I asked them if they needed any help with any of the knots. They took me up on it and we reviewed the bowline and sheet bend. Not only did they review the knots they did a great job with the younger scouts. Yes, embarrassment is a form of pain, but for anyone that thinks there is no pain used in learning, look at grades. Everyone knows who gets A's and who gets F's. It used to be that C was average. Well, we can't have average anymore because that would be embarrassing. And we wonder where, as many of you call it, "pencil whipped" Eagle scouts come from.

 

Someone asked if the dancing in my troop actually helps. It does. Scouts will notice when they're missing something and they'll start asking around for it. And they'll get help finding it. Someone else asked if I'd dance for lost stuff at work. I'd be all over it as it would be a great way to bring some levity. Besides, I've done it before so it's not a big deal. My wife and I have a running joke about who has most recently lost reading glasses. How can you not laugh at it. I've danced for a couple of things in my troop and the scouts absolutely love it. I've also seen some scouts come out of their shell when they find out that dancing isn't nearly as hard as it looks. I hate to say this but it's a lot easier to be forced to dance for 5 seconds in front of a bunch of other boys then at the school gym where there are girls watching. Talk about embarrassment.

 

The real issue here isn't whether singing or dancing is hazing, it's whether the other scouts understand Friendly, Courteous, and Kind. For the extroverted older scouts it's fair game to make fun of their style. I never see any scouts say anything but great things about how the younger scouts dance. I can see that malicious kids could use something like this to degrade someone, and maybe there are a lot of kids like that in troops that some of you have seen, but I don't see it in my troop. If I did I'd stop the dancing and we'd talk about the Scout Law right then. We've had our share of kids that think that just because the adults aren't around they can play Lord of the Flies, but that tends to stop quickly when the other scouts stop it, or bring it to me. From there we have a teachable moment.

 

While there's certainly a chance for abuse, I find the benefits worth it. I hear over and over again that kids join our troop because our scouts are the most welcoming of the local troops. I've never had an issue with retention on JTE. Of course, I also allow scouts to climb on rocks that are more than waist high. I also allow scouts to run in camp. Yes, some of them get hurt. But how many threads have we had about allowing kids to get hurt once in a while? Kids cut themselves with knives and come back. Kids get cold and come back. And yes, kids get embarrassed, but they still come back.

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I try very hard to instill respect between adults and adults, boys and boys and adults and boys.  I use their last names with title when I address them, I will salute the first time I see them an event, I don't use "signs up", etc.  My boys don't sing unless they are doing it on their own.  They lose something, that's there problem, work it out.  You left something lying around, someone put it "away"?   Better start asking around or it stays put away.

 

Joe Bob's scenario where the boys are talking in the front of the room and the adults are making too much noise?  One of the boys will go back to the adults and politely ask them to tone it down or take it outside the room because it is disruptive.  And if you don't think that shuts down adults in a heart beat, nothing does better.

 

Of course that doesn't mean that when the boys and I are joking around, the threat of doing push-ups or such does get bantered around.  Never carried out, but the threat is still there.  I had one boy at summer camp that had a "messy" tent (putting it mildly.)

 

I told him the maid service would be stopping  by and then turned to the other boys and loudly asked "Who wants to be the maid this morning?"  Needless to say, the boy got busy and the mess got cleaned up rather quickly.  :)

 

When I'm more serious, I just do "the Look."  that's enough to squelch any screwing around.

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MattR and Mozart: You are both conflating the issue of inflicting humiliation on people as punishment vs humiliation that comes from failure. They are not the same. 

In my opinion, there is a difference between embarrassment that is the natural result of a situation, and then there is intentionally inflicted humiliation. One is fine, the other is not, and it's pretty obvious where most things fall. 

I could create a ton of scenarios, but I think I'll pick some low hanging fruit here:

To use MattR's example of A's and F's in school. It would be as if the teacher made F students go up in front of the class, and forced them to talk about why they are stupid and couldn't pass the test. Would you allow a teacher to do that to your kid? It might toughen em up a little right? 

Also, while I'm throwing around Leadership Psychology stuff, (That's what I study in School), one reason corporal punishment and other types of punishment via harassment is a terrible leadership tool is that it creates a power struggle. Timid, meek people will submit to the punishment. Aggressive, opinionated people like me will ALWAYS resist. What does your SPL do when he tells a Scout to do push-ups, and they tell him to get lost. What happens when your Assistant Scoutmaster tells a Scout to sing for his scout book and he says "Nah you can keep it?" 

In my Troop, the Scouts do plenty of singing, joking, they have a good time. Our Scouts also run around, make mistakes, get hurt. The difference is again, between natural results from the consequences of trying things, and it being intentionally inflicted.

The key phrase here.. intentionally inflicted. Embarrassment is part of life, nobody can run a program involving human beings where it won't happen. Again, the difference is when a person or group in authority uses/abuses that authority to humiliate and demean others. 

As Fred pointed out, it being "optional" can often be false choice because of the peer pressure. The Robert Champion hazing case he cited was very tragic. Robert had two choices, give up on his dream of being in the band, or be hazed. In the case of our singing Scouts, there's either sing or be bullied for not being tough and doing what everybody else does. Again it's a false choice. 

Sentinel947 

Edited by Sentinel947

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Yes. BSA has considered it unacceptable for some time to use push ups/physical work as punishment. It really does not matter if the scouts voted for it and the troop approved. This practice should be discontinued immediately.

Ain't happening.

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You just KNOW that is must be "boorish" even if all the kids are having fun?

 

You just KNOW that the kids who were deliberately "losing" items so they won't be left out - every Scout in eight patrols and all the Staff --  were, nevertheless, "victims"?

 

You just know they were "humiliated" - even if they deny it and none of the dozens of Scouters present could see it - and were "cruelly" joining in with all the Scouts..(Yes.  "I'm a Little Tea Pot.")

 

Singing in public voluntarily is, ipso facto, a Bad Thing?

 

You know what is in our hearts better than we do?

 

Was  the fraternity experience not positive for you?. (I spoke for the affirmative at U.C.L.A. Student Senate on the topic "Resolved: fraternities, on balance, should be abolished."  My team won, but they kept frats.)

 

Because a thing may be bad does not make it bad.  It takes actual behavior to do that, and our job is about shaping that behavior.  If the singing is bad, shame on us.  If it is is prohibited, shame on whoever promulgates such a rule.

 

Next.  Eagle Scout expelled for having 2" pocket knife in survival kit locked in the glove box of his locket truck in northern Minnesota in winter.  

Edited by TAHAWK

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How is "taking care of one's buddy" or "taking care of one's patrol members" promoted by embarrassing them?  And then we wonder why no one is interested in listening to their leaders when those that they look to for leadership put them down?  It takes a long time for boys to develop leadership trust that people will follow and one incident like this to bring it all down.

 

Just ask yourself, "How does doing this make me a better person that people would want to lead them?"  

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How about this?  If it's such a good idea, first put the practice in use at the adult committee level?  

  • Arrive late for the committee meeting by ten minutes, do ten push ups.  
  • Don't have your committee report ready, you sing a song.  
  • New scout leaders on a camp out should be asked to go get ice from the camp ranger's ice machine.  

If it's an appropriate way to treat others, than prove it by treating your fellow leaders that way.  

 

If you don't have the guts to treat your fellow leaders this way, why would do it with someone entrusted to your care. 

Edited by fred johnson
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Actually, Fred, you're working against your own argument... I like all those. I'd add getting the newbies to find a shelf stretcher for the storage room. I especially like the singing part. Heck, I'd do that for no reason at all.  :)

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This is a very interesting discussion and I appreciate the views all around.

 

We don't have any singing or push-ups or anything in the Troop.  If we did that just for left-behind items at Troop Meetings, we'd never do anything but listen to boys sing to get their stuff back.  Last week a boy left his backpacking toilet paper (unused so far, happily) at the Troop Meeting.  His toilet paper.  There was no reason for him to even bring it to the Meeting.

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I agree, I'd be pretty peeved in that situation. I think I could keep harsh words to myself if it was a kid, if it was an adult. I'd probably let em know exactly what my thoughts were. 

 

People expect to get an animated response with many things in life.  Boy screw up, they expect the adults to scream and yell.  What they can't handle is cool, calm and reasonable, in-your-face kind of affront.  Scares the heck out of them.  They expect one thing gets something else and don't know what to do with it.  

 

I had one DE who left and went to another council.  When she came back to visit a year or so later, she visited Roundtable to see as many people as possible.  I was polite and asked how things were going.  She was totally surprised.  She said I was actually friendly and nice, rather easy to talk to, etc.  It would seem that when she was the DE she was terrified of me.  :)  It's how I keep my DE's on their toes.... 

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How is "taking care of one's buddy" or "taking care of one's patrol members" promoted by embarrassing them?  And then we wonder why no one is interested in listening to their leaders when those that they look to for leadership put them down?  It takes a long time for boys to develop leadership trust that people will follow and one incident like this to bring it all down.

 

Just ask yourself, "How does doing this make me a better person that people would want to lead them?"  

 

It would not be, as I have clearly said twice.

 

If it clearly is not, then it is not whether it suits the party line or not.

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