Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone, first post. I'm currently ASPL and our troop has some problems I want to fix. Just going to collect ideas then bring them up to the SPL and Scoutmaster.

 

The first problem is swearing. Pretty much everybody in the troop swears, from the young kids to the adults. It is usually better monitored in public but at campsites the language filters seem to turn off.

 

The second problem involves parents on the camping trips. There used to be trips with more parents than scouts, so we restricted to one parent a kid. Some families don't seem to understand this policy and proceed to get mad when we tell them that we have to limit the amount of parents. We have a capable Scoutmaster with assistants, so a ton of parents is not necessary. We also have a kid that simply will not listen to anyone but their parents, and this is a major problem because the scout is always causing trouble.

 

Any suggestions/tips would be appreciated.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Waterplant my suggestions would be as follows:

  • Suggest to the PLC that your troop adopt a policy that only registered scoutmasters can go on trips/camp outs. This way only those parents who truly want to be involved in scouting the way it is supposed to be (boys leading boys with adults around for safety) will show up.
  • Suggest the PLC adopt a policy where boys are the leaders. Any communication to the troop comes through the youth  leaders using the Patrol Method. SM has an issue (not dealing with health or safety) and he gives that issue to the SPL to deal with. The SPL meets with the PLs and they (the PLs) address the issue.
  • For the cursing, the ONLY way for this to change is for the youth AND adult leaders to set the example. I would do the following:
    • Sit down with the PLC. If they agree that this is a big issue then as a group you need to address it.
    • PLs meet with their patrols and tell them cursing will no longer be tolerated. If someone curses they do KP or something. If it is persistent they miss a camp out. In our unit if you get brought in for disciplinary reasons you run the risk of missing our shooting sports camp out....no one wants to miss that.
    • The SPL and PLs should sit down with the SM (and only the SM, no ASMs) and the Troop Committee Chair. Let them know you guys are handling the scout cursing issue, but THEY need to corral the adults. Any adult caught cursing should be excused from attending ANY event. If it is habitual then the SM and TC Chair need to address that parent's involvement in scouting.

I hope this issue is not so bad you are losing scouts. If it is your valiant efforts to change things may not work if the problem is more institutional; meaning that it is so prevalent that no one really cares.

 

To get this change to take place you need the "buy in" from the youth AND adult leaders. If they don't agree or don't help enforce things (be setting a good example AND enforcing the punishments) then you won't get anywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Waterplant, first of all, welcome to the forums!

 

On the swearing issue, step 1 is that the adults, all of them, need to stop swearing, and certainly in front of the Scouts. There is no way the adults are going to be able to get the kids to stop doing it if the adults are doing it themselves. It's the Scoutmaster's job to get the other adults to stop swearing. Of course, if the SM is one of the adults who is swearing nonstop, you are going to have to decide whether you want to tell the Scoutmaster that HE needs to change his behavior. I would phrase it in terms of describing the overall problem in the troop, looking him in the eye and telling him that all the adults need to stop swearing. If he is part of the problem, he will know it. There are some Scoutmasters who would take this constructive advice in the way in which it is intended, and unfortunately there are some who would not. You know the man, none of us do, so you will have to decide whether this is feasible or not.

 

As far as parents on camping trips, it's kind of baffling that some troops have this problem while others (like the one in which I am a Troop Committee Member but "retired" from camping after my son turned 18) can barely scrape together the minimum number of leaders necessary to go on an outing. (Which in our troop is three.) But you have too much of a good thing. One parent per Scout is too many. I think what you need to do is to pull together some facts, such as, what do these "extra" parents do on the camping trips? Do they "get in the way" of the Scouts doing things for themselves? (I'm betting the answer is yes.) How exactly do they interfere? How would the Scouts be better off if they were not tripping over an adult every five minutes? What I am suggesting is that you prepare a "case" for why the troops (meaning the SCOUTS) would be better off with fewer adults on the trips, and present this to the Scoutmaster. (Probably you and the SPL should discuss this and then present it to the SM together.) The basis of this "case" is really that the camping trips are for the Scouts, with the adults being present to make sure nobody gets hurt, to help with the "program" for the outing if so requested by the boys, to fulfill the BSA's leadership requirements, etc. With at least one adult for every Scout, I don't see how the focus of the outings can be on the Scouts.

 

Hope that helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Youth caught swearing: Youth leader (or any scout) assigns 5 push-ups.  Then and there.

 

Adults swearing 10 push-ups 1st violation.  20 for the 2nd violation.  Prohibited from contact with youth if it doesn't stop.

 

A Scout is clean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BadWolf's post, in comparison to mine, reminds me of something, which should be mentioned since you are new to the forum. Sometimes I think something like this should be posted at the "door" of the forum so new members, and especially youth members, see it before they even post.

 

You are going to get a variety of advice from the members of this forum. Some advice is going to be inconsistent with other advice. (Example from the first two posts, my suggestion on the approach to the "swearing" issue is different from BadWolf's, though the intended result is the same.) Some of the advice, I suspect, is going to be stated more "pointedly" than others. Some may focus more on the "patrol method" than others. But you have to realize that everybody (hopefully) is going to be trying to help you get to the same result: A troop where nobody swears and your campsites are not inundated by parents. It is going to be the approach to achieving this result that is different from post to post. As you read further in the forums, you will find discussions where the intended end result isn't even necessarily the same from post to post, but even there, each person (almost always) is giving advice based on their experience and opinions about what works and what doesn't work, in the best interest of the Scouts.

 

Please do not be deterred or confused by any of this. Also please remember that (except in very rare instances) NONE of us know the people you are dealing with, their personalities, what kinds of events may have shaped the way your troop is now, etc. etc. Only you know that. You need to take the advice you get in this forum and look at it in the light of what you see and know from your own troop, and decide what is right for the Scouts who you serve as a leader, including yourself.

 

I hope that helps, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum.

 

On swearing - my suggestion is a Swear Jar.  If the SPL or a PL catches anyone swearing (including each other), that person needs to drop money in the jar.  That includes any adults they hear swearing as well.  My suggested fines are youth pay 50 cents, adults pay $1.  Only the SPL or a PL can impose the fine - and they must have heard it - no imposing the fine if someone comes up and says "Bobby swore".  Adults cannot impose the fine, and the Scouts can't impose the fine.  Funds get donated to the CO (why reward them with a pizza party or ice cream stop?) or the local food bank.  Anyone, youth or adult, who refuses to pay the fine(s) sits the next event out.

 

Camping trips - at this point it's time to draw the line in the sand - these are not family camping trips - you only need as many adults as you need drivers.  If you need 4 cars to transport Scouts - that's how many adults can go on the trip.  The SM and ASM's get first dibs - always.  Only Scouts and Leaders (and non-leader drivers) are welcome on the camping trips.  No discussion - no "committee vote" - this is a non-negotiable.  Once or twice a year, invite the parents/families out for a campfire but make it a close in campout because after the cobbler is served, they go home.  Any parent that is adamant that they be allowed to go takes the training and puts on the ASM patch and is expected to pull their own weight as a member of the staff, including attending weekly Troop meetings.  Talk to the Committee Chair - let him/her know that you expect their full support - any wavering and all of you - emphasis ALL - will walk away and just be parents.

 

BTW - at these campouts - the ONLY people giving directions to the Scouts are the SPL and the PL.  Adults do NOT give direction to the Scouts.  If a Scout comes up asking questions, they first words out of any adults mouth at that point should be "Have you talked to your Patrol Leader (SPL)"?  If a Scout won't listen to the PL (provided of course that the PL isn't out of line) or the SPL, he has a little conference with the Scoutmaster.  If he still won't listen, he goes home.  Period.  No discussion.  You are volunteers - and your Scouts want to have a good time while learning (even if they aren't aware they are learning).  If this Scout is ruining the experience for the rest, he's the one that needs to be sent home until he's ready to be part of the group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello everyone, first post. I'm currently ASPL and our troop has some problems I want to fix. Just going to collect ideas then bring them up to the SPL and Scoutmaster.

 

The first problem is swearing. Pretty much everybody in the troop swears, from the young kids to the adults. It is usually better monitored in public but at campsites the language filters seem to turn off.

 

The second problem involves parents on the camping trips. There used to be trips with more parents than scouts, so we restricted to one parent a kid. Some families don't seem to understand this policy and proceed to get mad when we tell them that we have to limit the amount of parents. We have a capable Scoutmaster with assistants, so a ton of parents is not necessary. We also have a kid that simply will not listen to anyone but their parents, and this is a major problem because the scout is always causing trouble.

 

Any suggestions/tips would be appreciated.

 

First of all @@Waterplant, welcome to the forums.  You will get a lot of comments off of this issue I'm sure because a lot of it has to do with how a lot of troops run their program.

 

First of all, I'll work backwards starting with the most important issue first. You have an adult-led program.  It would appear that they run everything and the one boy knows it and caters to it because he's one of the good-old-boys adults.  This is why he feels he doesn't need to listen to anything the other boys are doing.  

 

Distance is important.  The boys need to agree to separate themselves from the adults physically.  At troop meetings, the adults sit in the back of the room, out of the way and they do so quietly.  This is the BOY Scouts, and they need to be working the program, not the adults.  Once the adults realize they have relegated to a lesser important position many of the hanger-ons will become bored and find more adult things to be doing.

 

Enlist the help of the SM to assist you in making this transition.  Make sure you have clear cut patrols that operate independently as well.  If adults want to hover over everything the boys are doing, they will have to split up.  A little divide and conquer kind of thing.

 

So once distance is established and the boys agree with it the swearing can be dealt with among the boys and if the adults are far enough away one doesn't need to listen to that either.

 

Distance is your friend.  :)

 

Once these "boundaries" are established, a lot of what you are finding a problem will go away or at least go far enough away that it won't be necessary to deal with it.

 

So, what happens if the adults don't agree with it?  Well, then you will know immediately that you are never going to solve any of these problems because the adults are running the show and have no intention of making any changes.  It's time to move to another  troop at that point.

 

However, if SM and even a few of the boys sign on to change then the process can begin.  Separate the boys who want to run their own show from the boys that don't.  Those that do, follow the distancing as described above.  Once the boy-led part of the program becomes a better option for the boys, they will naturally migrate over to boy-led.  

 

So, just for discussion sake, most of the boys think this is a good idea.  The SM agrees to give it a try.  The first campout with the new set up, patrols break off and independently do their own programs.  The one or two boys who didn't sign on to the new change can stay with the adults.  The problems for the patrols putting up with them goes away when they go away.  Once these few reallize it isn't much fun being a lone scout in the troop, they will either join up with their buddies or stay lonely.  It's there choice.

 

By the way.  Be adamant about the distance thing.  Make sure the adults will be TOTALLY separated from the patrols.  The patrols will cook only for the patrols and the boys will camp/tent separately as well.  

 

When adults (other than the SM ally) ask why this is being done, lay it out there honestly.  Some of the boys feel the bad language to be a problem and they don't want to be around it anymore, kinda like smoking.  A lot of people do it, but we prefer they go somewhere else to do it.

 

Sounds like some of the others are putting down some good ideas as well, but if it was me, I'd start with the boy-led, patrol-method setup with distancing the boys from the adults as the major hurdle to tackle first.  A lot of the other issues will simply go away once that's done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an ASM in our troop, we had an issue about swearing (and using abbreviations for cuss words on social media):

 

We circled up and I explained the problem I made it clear that

  • I considered it a privelage to have them as friends, and one of the things that freinds do is help each other get better.
  • If they swore (verbally or in writing or song), they could expect a "Don't cuss." comment from me. That's it. No swear jar, no push-ups, just me interrupting their speach. Any time I caught it, I would say (or type) so.
  • I encourged them to do the same thing to one another ... a scout is friendly ... a scout is brave.
  • I confessed that I have the problem sometimes too, and I would be glad if they told me a "Don't cuss." If I needed it.

It helped diminish things. Not quite to zero, but enough that everyone's language was a little less intimidating and a little more friendly.

Nowadays, our boys are older, and I just say "Language!" to the same effect. They know I don't mean them ill will, so it's okay. But a short yet complete scentence calmly delivered for starters helps everyone know that we're not putting anyone down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know of a leader who 'lost it' in a flood of swearing. He was summarily dismissed.

Edited by packsaddle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to the adult "hangers-on", @@Stosh is not joking about physical distance. At meetings, I usually take it upon myself to engage the adults in conversation.... Drawing them away from the boys. It also, allows me to instruct parents about the patrol method, and what we expect from the boys in terms of hiking and camping independently.

 

To establish that distance in the field, you and your SPL will have to prepare a little before campouts. Get a map of the area. If you're in a big field (we're talking 200 yards square big), plan out sites on the four corners for each patrol and adults in the middle. If you're in wooded terrain or in a valley, you might need sites to be a little closer. Or you might need to set up on alternate sides of a windy trail 40 paces apart. Sort those details out with your SM. Regardless, you want to have on paper where each patrol and the adults will be assigned before you ever leave on your trip. Each group gets their copy of the map, before anybody gets in the car.

 

During the weekend, you and the SPL will have to do a few rounds of walking all that distance to check in on your patrols, then report back to the adults. On the outside chance one of your patrols is misbehaving, you may have to relocate them closer to the adults. But in all likelihood, you'll just need to gather them for morning and evening flags and such.

 

After a few trips like this, you'll either shake those adults or they'll have so much fun together, they'll shake you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I want to be a member of this Troop. 

Patrol leaders and SPLs are superfluous, great, simplifies the chain of command so things get done quicker.

Lots of parents on the camping trips.  Very good, they can carry in the gear for the Scouts and set up the camp kitchen and sanitary facilities so they're "done right". Saves wear and tear on the poor Scouts.

Cooking for the Scouts might be a good thing, too. Give mom a sense of purpose, and the boys a chance for better meals. No need to learn about how to boil water if dad is there to do it.  Cocoa tastes the same, no matter who pours the cup, or does it?

Parents doing everything?  Very nice. More time for Scouts to play "I Doubt It"  and text their friends at home to complain about the dirt and bugs.

"My little darling" is close to hand for picture taking in his "so cute" Scout Tshirt and shorts.

 

Cursing?  Well, obviously the lack of a large descriptive vocabulary is a disability owing to the poor education in the person's past, and so must be "understood" and "allowed for".  Then too, if one's masculinity or self-esteem is in question, naturally one must defend it with appropriately strong language.  Helps to build esprit  de corps, being part of the team, groupthink, etc.  No mamby pambies in MY Troop.

 

No boy ever wants the challenge of being away from home. By himself.  Alone. Or with some buds, having fun without M & D to protect him. It's scary out there, in the woods (world).  M&D certainly didn't plan on using that bedroom for anything else, right? 

 

Yep, a good Troop for a boy to join and have fun in.   Who was this English fellow and what was he mumbling about, anyway?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Webelos III, part deux

 

Sometimes I wonder if parents really want their kids to grow up or just stay their lil' darlings forever, or at least until they are 45 and bored with living in the basement..

 

I have flat out told some of my parents, "If you don't want your son to grow up, don't send him to my troop because I'm going to do everything in my power to get him ready for this 18th birthday.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Waterplant, first of all welcome. Good for you for trying to improve your troop. You mention three problems, swearing, too many adults, and one scout that doesn't obey anyone but mom and dad.  

 

I see a bigger question. Who solves the problems in your troop, the scouts or the adults? Who deals with a scout that doesn't listen to anyone? Adults or scouts? One thing you should be doing in scouts is learning how to deal with problems like these and do it in a scout like manner. There should be a time to bring these problems up in the PLC and talk about them. Do you have that time? Does your PLC solve problems or do they just make a few plans and leave the problems up to the adults? Your asking about these problems on this forum implies you want to solve them, which is great, but also implies your plc has no experience or help in solving them, which might be the crux of the problem.

 

As for your specific problems, ask the PLC about the swearing. If some scouts agree with you then you have a place to start. A talk about Clean and a swear jar sounds good to me. For the scout that doesn't listen, my experience is that there are always a few scouts that have figured out that they can ignore all the other scouts because the scout leaders do not have the authority or are uncomfortable using it to deal with problem scouts. If the only thing you can do is plead with a scout to behave, and he's not interested in helping but is more interested in playing mind games, then he'll never behave. He's winning his game by ignoring you. The PLC needs some authority to deal with this scout and some training on the right way to do it. As for adults in camp, is the problem that there are adults in camp or that the adults are getting in the way of the scouts doing their thing? I would not have a problem with adults camping. I'd have a big problem with adults minding their own business. Making rules about how many adults can go camping will not solve the underlying issue of adults not allowing the scouts to run their own patrol. You're going to have to learn how to confront the adults on this one and I'd suggest getting help from the SM. He should be helping you pull back the adults.

 

Let us know how it's going and best of luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boy, you got some really good suggestions. Swearing is a problem because the adults don't see it as a problem. Like qwazse, there is no swearing in our troop because the the SM stops it every  time. But you have to approach it differently because of your adults. As was said by one of the wiser SMs here, if a couple other members of the PLC agree with you, then get the PLC to set some standards for the scouts. Once you do that, then ask the SM and CC to meet with the PLC and ask them to hold the adults accountable to the same policy. 

 

As for too many adults, distance is how our troop handles that. We don't set limits on who can attend campouts, but we put enough distance between scouts and parents that it is difficult for them to interfere. Again, the SM can help here by guiding the parents to observe at a distance. That may also help the scout problem you mentioned as well. He is using his parents to get what he wants over the PLC. Given enough distance, the scout and parents will have to make a choice for him to either grow up, or not.

 

Sounds like you have a pretty good troop. I don't have a feel for how your SM leads, but if he is willing to listen to a strong PLC and help you guys in your request to improve the program, you can lead in these changes. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to shake my head when I hear about adults cursing. I get the hammer-on-the-toe occasional slip, but this sounds much more prevalent. That's an adult leadership issue. Our SM would have booted us to the curb had it happened more than once, period.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×