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eagle90

SM CONFERENCE

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I have a scout coming over for a SM Conference soon.  It is regarding some things he got into at Summer Camp.  Nothing serious, but just boys-will-be-boys mischief.  Like using insect repellent as a fire starter, harassing some of the first year scouts, etc.  Dad wants him to confess and learn something.  I give the scout credit for being willing to do this to do this.  What kind of questions and comments should I discuss with the scout?  I don't want to punish him, but rather turn this into a positive.  Thanks for your help!

 

Dale

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@@eagle90, sounds like you have the right attitude.

 

I think it would be helpful to go over the Outdoor Code with him. Ask him what he can do better to live up to that code at the next camp. Think of positive things. Like, identify natural fire starters or master matchless fires.

 

Then, talk about what he can do to master points #6 and #8 of the scout law. Not merely curbing a mean spirit, but being the cheerleader of first-year scouts.

 

Use your judgment. You are within your rights and responsibilities if you want to see him demonstrate this aspect of scout spirit on the next activity before you recommend him to his board of review. On the other hand, if you've seen him perform better since being reprimanded, you may want to positively reinforce that by confirming that his recent behavior proves to you that he's doing his best on his honor.

 

Finally, if he doesn't have a position of responsibility already, have him consider which one he'd like to fill, but tell him to not bother asking the SPL to appoint him unless he's willing be a little more responsible than he was at camp. Every PoR requires scout-like behavior. In my book, the day the behavior goes sour, is the day the position terminates.

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First of all, I'd thank him for showing up on his own. Tell him that's hard to do. Ignore the fact that dad made him. Set's the tone that he's not in serious trouble.

 

Next, I'd review the scout law. After that I'd ask him what went against the scout law. If he brings everything up then it's all good. Maybe I'd ask him if there's anything he needs to fix. If he has no idea then I'd remind him. The idea is just to start a discussion. I try not to be the bad guy. Get him to reflect. If I get to that point then he learns on his own.

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I generally agree with the above two replies. Ask him what he thinks he did wrong, and why, and how he can improve. The boy will likely be harsher on himself at this point than you would ever need to be. Be positive about his coming forward about all this, and taking this step.

 

What you should not do is threaten punishment, withhold any advancement, or otherwise be a disciplinarian. Its a chance for him to realize his mistakes, to figure out what he can do better next time and improve.

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:)  Yep, this is normal.  Just don't panic.  Your #1 job is to listen, #2 is to ask questions and #3 refrain from any judgmental comments.  

 

SM: Hi, Johnny, what's up ?

Johnny: My dad said I should talk to you about what happened at summer camp.

SM: Okay, what happened ?

Johnny: I got into trouble a couple of times and I want to apologize.

SM: Okay, apologize for what ?

Johnny: I did .....

SM: Why did you choose that choice ?

Johnny: It sounded like fun at the time.

SM: So, how did that work out for you ?

Johnny: Not good, I got into trouble.

SM: So will you be making better choices next time ?

Johnny: Yes.

 

That conversation, of course, is idealized, but the idea behind anything you do is to simply ask and listen, his attention will be focused on the event (not him) and what choices he made that need correcting.  He keeps ownership of the problem and you only facilitate an adult level understanding of consequences.  I find that trying to justify his error by quoting the Scout Law and where he failed is kinda fruitless because he already know that.  Rehashing what he knows is not as important than learning what he will be doing in the future.

 

Harassing the younger boys is bullying and not tolerated in my units.  I might not draw that into the conversation, but I would dovetail good choices make good leaders.  

 

SM: How many of the younger scouts that you hassled are going to be interested in following you as a leader in the troop ?

Johnny: None

SM: Okay, how many will follow if you protected them from such things?

Johnny: (silence but thinking)

 

I just find that my boys retain ownership of learning through questions rather than lectures.  Lectures get tuned out, questions need to be answered.

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A successful discussion with a scout in regard to behavior is successful when the scout shows that he knows the difference from his displayed behavior and your desired behavior. Once a scout knows the difference, then the burden of making the right choice is on him. Your goal isn't getting the scout to admit his mistake so that he satisfies you to get out of the conference, your goal is to get him self motivated to make better choices in the same situation when nobody is watching. That is a very difficult task.

 

Each scoutmaster has their own style to achieving the goal and it requires practice and patience until you find that style. But in general, asking the kinds of questions that gets the scout thinking and reflecting why the choice of the behavior is right or wrong.  

 

A lot of Scoutmasters don't like to use the Scout Law and Oath to balance a Scout's behavior because they believe it's not reflective of the real world. I am just the opposite, I believe the Oath and Law can be applied for measured in some way with all decisions in the real world because they are selfless outward actions. So I like to use the Oath and Law for scouts to measure their choices. In general, most undesirable behavior is self-serving. My goal is to get the scout to reflect to me the risk of his decision for harming those around him, AND how a different choice takes away that risk because he is considering them first. 

 

It's hard for someone to break bad habits, but if we start to consider the harm to those around first, then we have a reason to consider making a better choice. Once you have a scout thinking in that level of maturity, he makes choices by how it affects others, not by what he can get away with for himself when the adults aren't around.

 

So I guess in the big picture, it's not so much the confession of doing wrong that is the primary goal (although it helps), but planting the seed of considering the risk of the decision to those around him. You know, Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave clean and reverent.

 

You can also approach some subjects from your youth side. The insect repellant fire starter is really cool in how it works. Most all of us have done something simular. And its' even taught as a useful tool in some dire situations. So I wouldn't approach it as a bad thing, but something that requires maturity to use and demonstrate correctly and safely. Fire and lightning are my to big fears for scouts. So we spent a lot of time on each to satisfy the scoutmaster (me). But we also had instances of hairspray being played with at patrol camp fires. The PLC handled it, but when the SPL asked for suggestions, I suggested they visit the fire ward at a hospital. That didn't happen, but they did bring in a nurse from the hospital. I just wanted the scouts to learn the risk of their behavior and habits of fire safety.

 

I don't know how much that worked, but when scouts asked me about it, I asked them how those people in the hospital got burned? Was there a scout around to help them make the right choice? We did allow our scouts to play with fire some, but they had to learn how to demonstrate it safely which forced them to learn everything about the propellant as well as how to demo it without risking those around them. They learned a lot, but had a lot of fun in that learning process. So use your youth side to get them to understand the fear and harm of their behavior and then ask them to show them how to do it safely. They will have fun doing it.

 

Those are just a couple things off the top of my head.

 

Barry

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We ban aerosol sunscreen and bug spray for their flame thrower potential at summer camp, actually tell Scouts they will be taken and not returned.  You could have a laptop available and show a couple photos of burns for first aid skill purposes.  Could ask him if he was alone or with others and how would he feel if someone else had life long burn scares from his antics.   

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Repeat the Scout Oath and Law. Discuss which parts he violated. Ask what he's going to do to OBVIOUSLY show that he's learned his lesson. Pick three ways he can demonstrate better behavior overall and to those he impacted.

 

Track his progress and meet at the end of the month to discuss.

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Repeat the Scout Oath and Law. Discuss which parts he violated. Ask what he's going to do to OBVIOUSLY show that he's learned his lesson. Pick three ways he can demonstrate better behavior overall and to those he impacted.

 

Track his progress and meet at the end of the month to discuss.

 

I think you know me well enough to know where I'm coming from.  No judgment, just some thoughts.  Looking at your solution where is the step where the scout internalizes it?  Maybe the only lesson he learned is 1) don't get caught next time. 2) if you do dad will have a few hoops to jump through again.  and 3) I'll have to think of things to do to convince the SM to let me off the hook.  (Ya gotta think like a kid on this one.  My Mrs. will attest to that.  She says I'm an expert on it.)

 

All those steps are outward demonstrations, kinda like checking off boxes of things to do to clear the air on this issue.  We all know that one of the boxes for TF is memorize the Scout Oath and Law.  It doesn't say LEARN it.  One can memorize it and yet not know or feel the understanding of the words.  It takes me a long time to work on that and every learning opportunity to do so I take.  What would you add to your comment that will help me understand how this helps (not forces) the boy to actually learn from his mistakes, other than jumping through Dad and SM hoops.

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I like Flagg's approach. It gets the SM and Scout talking and establishes real and measurable goals for the scout to follow. Otherwise it's just talk.

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Hmmm.... A Scout is Trustworthy.  This boy broke that trust.  It takes a long time to build trust but a split second to lose it.  How does one measure the trust building of a second chance?????

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Hmmm.... A Scout is Trustworthy.  This boy broke that trust.  It takes a long time to build trust but a split second to lose it.  How does one measure the trust building of a second chance?????

By the Scout demonstrating his friendship to the very scouts he harassed. By demonstrating during meetings and troop events he can be a friend to all, be the first up with his sign, by setting the example for behavior in an obvious and consistent fashion.

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By the Scout demonstrating his friendship to the very scouts he harassed. By demonstrating during meetings and troop events he can be a friend to all, be the first up with his sign, by setting the example for behavior in an obvious and consistent fashion.

 

And the point being..... how long is that going to take after he hassled the boys in the first place.  Yes, it can be done, but not only does he have to start over from scratch, the hill he has to climb is steeper.

 

I had a Life scout pull a fast one.  I told him if he ever wants an Eagle recommendation from he he had better prove it to me.  He was only 15 at the time so he had plenty of time to think about it.  He did, and he did.  If there ever was an exemplary scout he was it.  When I handed him my recommendation, I suggested next time taking the easier route and doing it right the first time.  He smiled and said that was his plan from now on.  :)

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And the point being..... how long is that going to take after he hassled the boys in the first place.  Yes, it can be done, but not only does he have to start over from scratch, the hill he has to climb is steeper.

 

I had a Life scout pull a fast one.  I told him if he ever wants an Eagle recommendation from he he had better prove it to me.  He was only 15 at the time so he had plenty of time to think about it.  He did, and he did.  If there ever was an exemplary scout he was it.  When I handed him my recommendation, I suggested next time taking the easier route and doing it right the first time.  He smiled and said that was his plan from now on.  :)

Who cares how long it takes? The point is that you talk to him, establish guidelines which are obvious and can be tracked. You set a time frame and monitor. There's no guess work about it. He's either showing improvement or not. I think Flagg said that in his post. This way the Scout, his parents the scoumaster and the other scouts can see his attempt at improvement. Don't care how long it takes. That's up to the scout. His problem he created so he's got to fix it. This way allows that process to be visible.

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I just don't expect any time frame, I don't spell out expectations, nor do I monitor.  Yes, there's guess work involved, but it's not mine, it's the scouts.  HE has to figure out what it is going to take to fix HIS problem.  If there is no attempt at improved choices, then the trust of his remorse disappears.  If it gets worse, then he will be invited to leave and find another troop more to his liking.  If there are clear cut expectations, fine.  It's just a matter of who is going to make them, me or the scout.  I put the expectations on the scout.  He created this situation, he can fix it.

 

During this recovery period, I do give the scouts the opportunity to make good choices and build his trust back up.  I don't put "old grudge" barriers in his progress.  Even if he did screw up, I'm not going to have him jump through hoops to prove his trust to me, I prefer he simply proves that he has learned from this incident.  Support and advice is always available for the asking.  I have to live the Oath and Law even if he doesn't. 

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