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Cell Phones at Summer Camp

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15 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

Best source of information on nature, weather, cooking, skits, songs = the "device."  "

One might hope...

Unfortunately, "the device" is also the best source of MIS-information. We've all heard about the proliferation of "fake news" sites on the web, and bad information in every realm of human knowledge is equally easy to find online. Few adults know how to judge the quality of information they consume and increasingly, being able to judge information quality is a vital life skill that kids need to be taught in school, just like they need to know how to manage their finances, find a job, navigate the world around them, etc.

You're right about good info being available "on the device", but separating the good from the bad is often EXTREMELY difficult to do.

Fortunately, BSA has often done the heavy lifting for us.  For scouting programs, the "best source of information" is often in the BSA Scout Handbook, the BSA Field Book, and the many merit badge pamphlets.  When you use the BSA books, you also don't run into problems like inappropriate advertising, privacy violations, click tracking, etc.

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57 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

One might hope...

Unfortunately, "the device" is also the best source of MIS-information. We've all heard about the proliferation of "fake news" sites on the web, and bad information in every realm of human knowledge is equally easy to find online. Few adults know how to judge the quality of information they consume and increasingly, being able to judge information quality is a vital life skill that kids need to be taught in school, just like they need to know how to manage their finances, find a job, navigate the world around them, etc.

You're right about good info being available "on the device", but separating the good from the bad is often EXTREMELY difficult to do.

Fortunately, BSA has often done the heavy lifting for us.  For scouting programs, the "best source of information" is often in the BSA Scout Handbook, the BSA Field Book, and the many merit badge pamphlets.  When you use the BSA books, you also don't run into problems like inappropriate advertising, privacy violations, click tracking, etc.

And they need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.  THAT is a part of our objective, not, for example, botanical expertise.  BSA literature should be subjected to the same standard as other sources: "Is it true?"  For 25 years after the Virginia State Health Department almost shut down the 85 Jamboree for dangerous and illegal dish-washing practices, BSA failed to correct the Handbook's unhealthy instruction to  (uselessly) put the chlorine in the hot first rinse - then after a few years of correct information, briefly went back to the wrong.  Once the BSA cautioned in a publication not to drink water when thirsty, but to "suck on a pebble."  Many more examples are out there if one cares to look.  We are, none of us, perfect.

 

Sure it's hard.  If it were easy anyone could do it.

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The whole question of cell phone use at camp is kind of tricky.  You unquestionably have scouts (and parents) who are firmly tethered to their electronics. You have lots of parents who want to helicopter their kids and will invent excuses around "safety" or "connectivity" or who knows what else.

There's good uses for cell phones (I do like to encourage scouts to take lots of photos!)  But sadly, there are more than a few scouts who will be unable to apply enough discipline to use the devices appropriately. Allow them and you need to figure out how to make sure they're not being used to text their friends back home all night, play Fortnight all night, and prowl inappropriate content whether you or their parents think they won't.

Total electronics bans are hard to enforce and there are some people who will insist on arguing against them no matter how much sense they make.  A more practical approach is probably to allow them en route to/from camp, but then collect them and allow their use only for those activities in which they are required. Scouts have lived without constant communication with mommy for generations. They lived and are better off for the opportunity to be independent.

Good luck though, it's a "no win" situation with some parents.

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2 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

And they need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.  ...

And it can be done. I have a colleague whose sole objective is to develop a health literacy program for students in predominately minority schools. It's not just a list of current "best practices", but where to find get sound information and critical reviews. I suggested Son #2 consider a service project with her where he went over basic first aid from the BSHB, and challenge the class to compare it to other sources. He found the concept a little daunting. But it would have been a good fit had he taken it on.

It all boils down to how much you, the unit leader, can stand. Boys using devices wrongly will require your immediate attention. Locked up, it's less on you, but they never learn to use them rightly.

I am a very strong proponent of caring adults being friends with youth via social media. I believe BSA, motivated by fears of litigation, got it very very wrong. We are their role models for device use -- even if we aren't their paragons of innovation. In our absence, innovative predators will get very close to our kids.

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Phones are tools.  My experience watching other troops that enforce "no phones" is that scouts hide or lie.  Worse, scouts learn that being a leader is about "enforcement", not about setting an example and being-in-front.  

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The State of Ohio can take possession of the motor vehicle they catch you driving without liability insurance  and/or without  a license only because the Legislature passed an act expressly authorizing such otherwise criminal seizures of private property. What is your authority in your state to seize a "device" because a kid broke YOUR rule (your "wrongly")  by texting a buddy?  Likely, zero, zip.,nada. No authorizing statute for you.  (And, no, you are not "in loco parentis."  You have no parental rights.)

And no one can agree to the seizure  by contract without official approval of the state court with jurisdiction over minors .  Not the minor who is conclusively incompetent to enter into a contract without court approval in, IIRC, all states.  And no, not even the parents  who have no authority to contract on behalf of their children without court approval,  in all states IIRC.  Sure, in  99/100, one hopes, no criminal charge will be filed.  When  hope fails (hope being a questionable basis for assuming risk)  and 100 rolls up, the cops will reluctantly take you to jail. NOT a nice place, jail.  Unpleasant people; bad odors; loss of liberty. The sentence will probably be insignificant, unless it's not.   You will probably get out with out posting cash or surety bond.  The attorney's fees probably will be noticeable. The criminal record?  Your future in Scouting?  Media coverage (They are desperate, love bad stuff about Scout leaders, and "If it bleeds, it leads.")?

Ohio Revised Code § 2913.02. [fairly typical]

"No person, with purposes to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or otherwise exert control over property or services in any of the following ways:

  • Without the consent of the owner, or the person authorized to give consent [by the court if the owner is a minor]..
  • Beyond the scope of consent authorized by the owner or person authorized to give consent.
  • By deception.
  • By threat.
  • By intimidation.

Notice that wholesome motives or ignorance of the law is not a defense.  "But" I'm a Scoutmaster and he broke my rule" is not worth the breath.

So, if the "device" or "devices" are typical (looking at Amazon),  there is, sorta', good news in  Ohio: Theft of property valued under $1,000 is "only" a First Degree Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 unforgettable days in jail and a fine of up to only  $1000.

But if the Ohio family really went all out, and the "device" or "devices" have a value of $1,000 - $7,000 (only $300 in Florida last time I looked) then - Why, Ted, tell the Scouter what's behind Door Number Two in Ohio:  "If the value of the property or services stolen is at least $1,000 but less than $7,000, then a violation of this law is theft, a fifth degree felony."  You face from six months to one year in jail or prison and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.

And your homeowner's policy will not cover any liability from the follow-up civil action by the rapacious family because even if it has "off premises" coverage. ll.  Liability for intentional wrongdoing is not insurable by law in all states, IIRC .  The jury might be sympathetic when computing their verdict after the judge directs them that there is civil liability as a matter of law. Or not.   Your lawyer will want to be paid. 

The parents can waive any right to sue in consideration of the troop agreeing that Jr. can come on the outing or to some other activity.  But they can still sue on behalf of the child as "next friend" of the child - or get a court-appointed guardian ad litem, a partner at Gouge, Tear, and Rip, LLC,  to bring a civil action.

And if the little dear physically resists your theft? Get in a tussle,  AKA "battery"?  Not a great option.  BSA would not approve. "Prohibited act." 

Just let them keep it , and send them home -  if it's such a big deal to you.  And why is it a big deal in 2019"  BSA does not discourage "devices"in Scouting, as you have probably noticed.

I mean, surely no one would sue McDonald's after spilling their Micky D's hot coffee on their own lap.  No.  Surely not.  Never.  The jury would laugh them out of court.  It would NEVER  award them $3,000,000  1992 Dollars in punitive damages. Right!  

Remember, Murphy was an optimist.  If it could  never go wrong, it still - on occasion - will go wrong.  

 

 

 

 

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40 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

What is your authority in your state to seize a "device" because a kid broke YOUR rule

I'll switch to a Girl Scout camp example.  The camp my daughter attended gave parents an information packet explaining the camp rules and policies.  (And if you did not like them, you did not need to attend that camp.)  The camp clearly told families that

Quote

The following items are not allowed at camp and should be left at home: cell phones and other electronic devices, candy, gum, food, alcohol, illegal drugs, weapons, pets and animals.  If found at camp, they will be confiscated.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting topic

A point that always seems to be made is that phones are "tools".  Yes that is true, but the GTSS has a whole bunch of tools that cannot be used.  There are also arguments made that that the guidelines are too broad, etc etc, do not take into account all things.  The bottom line is that the tool matrix in GTSS is bases on maturity and expectations of maturity.  Are all Scouts mature enough to handle phone correctly?  Not sure.  So the tool comment is entertaining as there are lots and lots of tools not allowed.  

While not all are listed I doubt that many units would allow Scouts to bring generators, compressors, and nail guns to build stuff at camp.  Yet those are in fact tools.

@TAHAWK That is a interesting missive on taking things.  There are many many things that Scouts can legally have but I believe you would not allow on outings.  Air soft guns, automobiles if they are over 16, possibly compound bows.  Again to be clear, unit leaders are in fact ultimately responsible for the outing and the unit.  The leaders may "hold to keep secure" some items.  That does not make it theft, as you neglect to note intent

The phones as I noted are an interesting topic.  Yes they can be useful, and just as easily that can be a distraction or even a problem.  Online games, inappropriate content, and questionable contacts on social media are just some of the potential issues.  Not to mention the possibility to lose or damage the phones in the great outdoors.

Our unit's stance on phones has evolved.  12 - 15 years ago we had no real policy or guidelines.  As these devices moved from just phones to smart phones we had to change.  Our next stop on the journey was don't ask don't tell.  If we saw them we asked them to be put away.  Now we have arrived at the current guideline, no phones on outings.  You can have them in the cars going and coming, but leave them there for the outing.

That is our culture.  If a family does not like that, there are other units.  

Edited by Jameson76
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Treflienne said:

"I'll switch to a Girl Scout camp example.  The camp my daughter attended gave parents an information packet explaining the camp rules and policies.  (And if you did not like them, you did not need to attend that camp.)  The camp clearly told families that ... "

The camp  cannot change state criminal law. Neither can you or I.   The remedy is to send the offender home, not to steal his or her property.

 

 

 

Edited by TAHAWK

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28 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

not to steal his or her property.

What do you think the camp does with the confiscated phones?

Another Girl Scout camp,  same council, has the same phone policy but words it a little more gently

Quote

No cell phones will be permitted at camp.  If a camper brings a cell phone to camp, we will safely store the phone and return it directly to the parent at the end of the session.

 

28 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

The remedy is to send the offender home,

Which is more drastic?  Which is more trouble for the parents who are paying for a week at camp? Having the camper's phone spend a few days locked in the camp office?  Or requiring the parents to fetch a kid from camp, at short notice, and find alternative things for them to do the rest of that week?

 

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1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

Interesting topic

A point that always seems to be made is that phones are "tools".  Yes that is true, but the GTSS has a whole bunch of tools that cannot be used.  There are also arguments made that that the guidelines are too broad, etc etc, do not take into account all things.  The bottom line is that the tool matrix in GTSS is bases on maturity and expectations of maturity.  Are all Scouts mature enough to handle phone correctly?  Not sure.  So the tool comment is entertaining as there are lots and lots of tools not allowed.  

While not all are listed I doubt that many units would allow Scouts to bring generators, compressors, and nail guns to build stuff at camp.  Yet those are in fact tools.

@TAHAWK That is a interesting missive on taking things.  There are many many things that Scouts can legally have but I believe you would not allow on outings.  Air soft guns, automobiles if they are over 16, possibly compound bows.  Again to be clear, unit leaders are in fact ultimately responsible for the outing and the unit.  The leaders may "hold to keep secure" some items.  That does not make it theft, as you neglect to note intent

The phones as I noted are an interesting topic.  Yes they can be useful, and just as easily that can be a distraction or even a problem.  Online games, inappropriate content, and questionable contacts on social media are just some of the potential issues.  Not to mention the possibility to lose or damage the phones in the great outdoors.

Our unit's stance on phones has evolved.  12 - 15 years ago we had no real policy or guidelines.  As these devices moved from just phones to smart phones we had to change.  Our next stop on the journey was don't ask don't tell.  If we saw them we asked them to be put away.  Now we have arrived at the current guideline, no phones on outings.  You can have them in the cars going and coming, but leave them there for the outing.

That is our culture.  If a family does not like that, there are other units.  

A "device" is not barred, as such, by the GTSS, so you observation, seems rather irrelevant.   I am aware of the advice to seize devices "if" they may possibly have been used to take embarrassing photos. Your neck.  Better be real sure.  But that is not the case here.  Here the rule is "No devices in camp."

And I was giving general information on the legal implications of seizing the property of another to enforce such a rule.

In any event and in all states,  BSA cannot change the law of your state.  So when BSA  initially said under YPT  we were required by BSA to only report child abuse to the council exec I pointed out that I would not obey that rule as I was duty-bound to report such evidence to law enforcement or Child Protection Services and would obey the law.  I also suggested that they consider the PR implications of their rule when it became public. I was not thanked, but the YPT rules changed with stunning speed.

The "ultimate responsibility"  you posit also does not change state law.   Have all the rules you want, just understand the criminal behavior involved in stealing to enforce an idiosyncratic  rule. 

And how is stealing as an example?  "Association with Adults – Scouts learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to the Scouts, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives."

Only took it away temporarily?  Only took the car to joy "ride"?  Read the definition of "Theft above.  Let's review: "No person, with purposes to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or otherwise exert control over property or services in any of the following ways: Without the consent of the owner, or the person authorized to give consent [by the court if the owner is a minor]..."    Nothing about only taking it for awhile being OK,  so the "hold to secure" argument is legally incompetent (ditto for, "I was only joy-riding.")

The adult's lawyer may argue to the jury that the minor consented.  And if he testifies that he was intimidated, the adult really needs a kid who is pretty big and mature-looking.  Otherwise, you may be found to have deprived him of control over his device by "threat" or "intimidation" - also "Theft."

The relevant "intent" (mens rea) is the intent ("purpose") to deprive the owner or lawful custodian of "control over [the] property."  I forget a lot at my age.  Here, I forgot nothing and neglected nothing.  Want to argue our hypothetical adult did  NOT have the statutory requisite intent when he took the kid's device?  He was just clumsy? Again, thinking you are right is not a defense.

This is the law.  You cannot steal without risk of punishment  just because you disagree with hundreds of years of law and feel righteous  I am not sure if there are other countries where one could go and safely play the feudal lord in Scouting, with power of high and low justice.  

"Culture" can also be readily trumped by law, even where government cares little, one is  never totally free of risk. Many steal and get away with it. for years (See "politician.")  Then Mary Rose Oakar stole a piddling few $thousand more in postal stamps, got caught, and her sixteen-year career in Congress was over.

Hike your own hike.  

 

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6 hours ago, Treflienne said:

I'll switch to a Girl Scout camp example.  The camp my daughter attended gave parents an information packet explaining the camp rules and policies.  (And if you did not like them, you did not need to attend that camp.)  The camp clearly told families that

 

38 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

What do you think the camp does with the confiscated phones?

Another Girl Scout camp,  same council, has the same phone policy but words it a little more gently

 

Which is more drastic?  Which is more trouble for the parents who are paying for a week at camp? Having the camper's phone spend a few days locked in the camp office?  Or requiring the parents to fetch a kid from camp, at short notice, and find alternative things for them to do the rest of that week?

 

 

And people intentionally eat Puffer Fish and Polk Weed. Your point, please? ("Officer, everyone was speeding."  😉)

It would likely go well in sentencing if the stolen property were returned.  Judges like that.

Less drastic is to teach the kid to behave appropriately under the circumstances.  He needs to develop that life skill.  In pertinent part, it's why you're there.

Failing that, you might ask him to put it away so he is playing by the same rules as everyone else.  Wood Badge: ""Managing Conflict"

You could sternly telling him to put it away, supported by the leaders (Scouts), although years have taught me telling is a poor second to convincing.

I don't think it's a drastic situation, the rule-proponents do.  Since it's drastic according to them and he just won't obey your rule, sending him home seems trivial.  He's probably lost to Scouting at that point anyway.

Or you can steal his device.  He will remember that.

 

 

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I'm pretty sure that when a minor Scout is attending a Scouting event, he and his parents have effectively enetered into an agreement to allow the Scout Leader to provide reasonsable oversight for the duration of the event.

If the leader or camp had a published policy, then this is easy.  By publishing the policy ahead of time and sharing it was families, the act of the parents sending the child to the camp allows the Scout camp or leader to enforce the policy.  If the leader or camp does not have a published policy, then it's probably a little murkier.  But, to have a leader who is providing supervision to the youth confiscate the phone and then turn it over to the Scout or parent at the end of the event seems a reasonable "good faith" activity.  I'm sure there's some legal text that justifies this, but the theory seems sound.  Now, if you do something like take away the phone and prevent the Scout from contacting his parents, then I think that's an issue.

All that said - I think you let the Scouts have their phones.  In 2019 they are a fact of life and young adults need to learn to use them at appropriate times. 

 

 

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An Ohio camp or scouter could argue that by bringing an unauthorized device to camp, and more importantly, refusing to secure the device or have authorized leaders secure it for them, the scout is robbing the camp/troop of its wholesome environment. That environment has value. The camp/troop markets it. So, criminal charges could be brought against the scout for theft of property by undermining market value. :ph34r:

It cuts both ways ... the temporary securing of a device in exchange for access to camp/unit property ... that's commerce, not theft.

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Ok, we can't confiscate private property.  We CAN call the parents and tell them to come get either the phone or their kid for violation of camp policy, which they agreed to when registering for camp.

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