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11 hours ago, Scoutmomonly said:

I’m more concerned that the scoutmaster felt it acceptable to go through totes without scouts present. I don’t feel this models trustworthiness at all. 

The boys should trust their scoutmaster. They should consider him to be trustworthy. They should feel comfortable with him, and should not even hesitate in allowing him to inspect their gear. 

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David CO Sorry, I would have no problem with the boys presenting themselves for inspection. I have a problem with the fact that this was done behind their backs. 

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Inspecting gear with scouts present, able to correct deficiencies, and looking for cleanliness, compliance, and serviceability is totally acceptable and expected.  Done on a whim, in secret, or as a good idea is not what we want scouts to emulate.  This inspection is best done in privacy as easy as behind a vehicle with the parents at the pick up point.  They can take the prohibited stuff, have knowledge of what the scout has, and in semi-privacy, stash the polka dot drawers without having a public showing.       

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The idea of pack inspection should be standard protocol. Far too often the "present yourself to your leader..." requirement for tenderfoot is a one-and-done (as are too many of the requirements). Every activity, outing etc... should include this at the beginning. When we begin to look at advancement requirements as a method instead of the aim, we begin to provide a scouting experience which mitigates so many problems often experienced and described on the forum and elsewhere.

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44 minutes ago, Double Eagle said:

Inspecting gear with scouts present, able to correct deficiencies, and looking for cleanliness, compliance, and serviceability is totally acceptable and expected.  Done on a whim, in secret, or as a good idea is not what we want scouts to emulate.  This inspection is best done in privacy as easy as behind a vehicle with the parents at the pick up point.  They can take the prohibited stuff, have knowledge of what the scout has, and in semi-privacy, stash the polka dot drawers without having a public showing.       

This sounds like a very good way to handle this.  Have an inspection with the Scoutmaster & parents present prior to leaving for Summer Camp.

The notion of a Scoutmaster privately going through a Scout's belongings seems like is destroys the whole idea of what we're trying to achieve in Scouting. It seems to undermine the adult association, personal growth, and leadershi skills methods.  This should get escalated to the CC, Troop Committee, and COR.  In my humble opinion - it's time for someone to have a heart to heart with the Scoutmaster.

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12 hours ago, Scoutmomonly said:

The camp has never collected the meds. We have never been asked to bring a prescription or to turn them in. We note the meds on the health forms and kids are responsible for taking their meds. Now, I’m not saying I agree with that 100%, but that what it has been for the now five years we have been attending this camp.

I’m more concerned that the scoutmaster felt it acceptable to go through totes without scouts present. I don’t feel this models trustworthiness at all. He disagrees and basically said, “turn me in to council”. So, before I do, I was wondering the policy for searching a scouts belongings. 

Sorry, this is summer camp

@Scoutmomonly Not here to comment on the process used, but perhaps you should review the leaders guide for the camp or if you are onsite visit with the Camp Health Officer about the background on the medication policies.   The GTSS and the policies and guidance associated with the Annual Health and Medical Record and medication use are consistent.   They point out that in some cases an authority having jurisdiction over the camp may have prescriptive guidelines, rules, policies or procedures regarding medications.  In "most" cases, youth cannot store their own medications like they might the other 51 weeks of the year.   3rd sentence below as an example.   Standards and laws change or the compliance with them may have as well.  Sounds like the topic would make a great committee meeting post camp.      

B6B5699B-731C-4FF3-A991-C254E12824D0.png

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The joy of Scoutmastership. You take a bunch of other people's kids into the woods for the experience.  You are directly responsible for their well-being and safety.  There are hundreds of written pages of contradictory policy and procedures.  You know that if, God forbid, something goes wrong, your competence, character, and commitment to the kids will be publicly questioned and if it's bad enough you'll be named in the law suit.  But, if you take any action you believe required related to the kids well-being and safety, people come out of the woodwork because you violated the kids trust or hurt their feelings or some other nonsense.  I'm so happy not to be a SM any more.  

@Scoutmomonly, do you ask for your son's permission before you enter his bedroom?

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Double Eagle said:

Referring back to the original posting topic, it was about whether going through a tote without the owner's presence is acceptable.  To be blunt...no.  I wonder how that leader would react if scouts went through his gear while he was away. ...

Since I roll sides and doors of my tent for ventilation (or, on clear nights, completely forgo roof and walls), my gear is right there. Boys can use it in my absence. They know full well that I expect knives to returned sharpened; fishing reel unknotted; diggers, clean; TP dry and in the zip-lock; coffee, unsquandered; and the cell phone log better not have any international calls on it. Tell me what you did with it when I get back. (Actually, if you're forgetful, I have a notebook and pencil in in my kit; write down what you used. Return the pencil sharpened.)

  • Does this mean a scout may cross a line? (E.g., drinking from my pour-only canteen?) Yes. Is it a problem between anyone besides me, the other direct contact leaders, and the scouts? No. I tell the scout that I didn't like how he left things and move on.
  • Is a scout crossing a line if he sees something in my gear that he thinks should not be there? No. He tells me what bothers him. I explain my thinking, and we discuss if there's a better way to deal with that piece of gear.
  • From when I was a scout, I learned that good SMs and advisors eat a lot of humble pie, frequently and often. The whole "take what you dish out" takes time to master.
  • So, yes. It does cut both ways.

One side of BSA's Sweet Sixteen of Safety is qualified supervision. The other is discipline. Now, I might not necessarily have the same indicators of discipline as some other leaders. But, I can certainly respect an SM wanting to maintain whatever level of discipline he thinks his boys need so that they can aspire to a vision of the pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with your mates.

As SM's mature (soften?) most learn to communicate better with scouts and parents. But parents do need to be patient with that SM. We're all maturing. Some of us more slowly than others. :)

Edited by qwazse
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Most scoutmasters wouldn't let themselves get into this situation. That's because they would be "Trained" leaders who know about youth leadership and the patrol method and the importance of open, honest, communication in any leadership role.

"Contraband" should be defined only based on established policies of the camp, the established policies of the troop, and solutions to problems discussed and agreed upon by the SPL-led PLC.  If scoutmasters see an issue that is not an imminent life and death situation, they should raise the issue with the SPL (explaining any valid rationale for the issue, --- like health or policy violations, etc.)  and suggest he consult with his PLC to find a suitable solution. 

When the boys solve their own problems, the scoutmaster doesn't run the risk of appearing untrustworthy or disrespecting any individual scout. It also means that parents don't have any justification for their knee-jerk reactions to situations they never witnessed themselves and only heard about 2nd or 30th hand from their scout...

 

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3 hours ago, David CO said:

Not only should it be allowed, it should be required. It is called an inspection. It used to be a routine matter for Boy Scouts to present themselves, and their gear, for inspection, before leaving for camp. It should be a unit policy, and all scouts and parents should be aware of it.

That's different.  That expected inspection has to do with being prepared and having the right gear for the right situation.  That inspection is not to prevent violations of scout oath and law.

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43 minutes ago, qwazse said:

As SM's mature (soften?) most learn to communicate better with scouts and parents. But parents do need to be patient with that SM. We're all maturing. Some of us more slowly than others. :)

I agree with this. Patience is something I appreciated from our families as I learned my roles as secretary, advancement coordinator and finally, Committee Chair. However, I stepped down as committee chair because this particular scoutmaster (and a few of his assistants) “know everything” about scout policy. As a middle school teacher, I tried to share developmental perspectives, but they dismiss me and feedback is unwelcome. I’m disappointed in his performance and attitude that came out AFTER the committee selected him. My son will have his Eagle by the end of this summer, so I stepped away. Half the involved families like this guy’s methods and half do not. The rest don’t get involved and express no opinions. 

If I felt he was trying to grow as a leader, I wouldn’t be here and considering a report to council. I hate to be that parent that takes the issues this far without attempting to resolve them. Sadly, this is a man stuck in his ways who lacks humility. 

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

This sounds like a very good way to handle this.  Have an inspection with the Scoutmaster & parents present prior to leaving for Summer Camp.

The notion of a Scoutmaster privately going through a Scout's belongings seems like is destroys the whole idea of what we're trying to achieve in Scouting. It seems to undermine the adult association, personal growth, and leadershi skills methods.  This should get escalated to the CC, Troop Committee, and COR.  In my humble opinion - it's time for someone to have a heart to heart with the Scoutmaster. 

I disagree.  Just not a good idea.  Inspecting for "being prepared" is absolutely fine.  Presumptive inspections for contraband are bad.  

  • We work by trust and the scout oath and law.  We don't create us-versus them, gotcha situations.
  • If you don't trust the scouts, then don't take the scouts with you. 
  • Worse of all, you are "challenging" the many scouts.  It may deter some, others will look to get around ya.  

If scouts want to get stuff in, they will.   Super max prisons can't block contraband and they have fences, cells, shotguns and handcuffs.  If you really want to block contraband, may I suggest patting down the scouts; check all pockets (pants, coats, socks, etc); inspect all car cavities and also control where the scouts walk around so that inspected scouts can't receive contraband from to-be-inspected scouts or to-be-inspected cars.  

Instead of blocking contraband, work to develop trust so that the scouts will want to not lose your trust.

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Regarding medicines, many troops like the one I was in had a code of conduct that the scout signed that stated that meds were controlled on campouts through a designated camp medic parent.  Also stated phones not allowed on the campouts.  They sign and agree to it.  Very few 11 year olds do a good job on  their medicine.  Also, many camps require all medicine to go through the camp medic (even over the counter meds in states like Colorado).

Is it within the SM's ability to go through the bags?   yes.  He/she is responsible for keeping the scouts safe and ensuring they are following the troops code of conduct.  

Was he right to go through the bags?  maybe?   Safety is the top priority and honestly all the facts aren't out here for any of us including you to make the call on that .

Should he have done it differently?  Probably.  He could have easily waited until the scouts returned to base camp and had each scout present his gear for inspection to the troop leaders and been there while that happenned.

Is this a permanent stain for the SM?  NO!   The scouts will not focus on it and worry about it as long as the parents let it go.  Cut the SM some slack, he gives a ton of his personal time to all the boys, gives up his vacation to go to camp, and works with the scouts year round without fail.  

Can parents exasperate the problem?   YES!  I have had to deal with parents on issue where they poisoned the youth about the leaders and troop.   Even secretly breaking the code of conduct rules.  The other boys notice and came to me frustrated about why the other people get to do things differently or break the rules.   Discussions with parents normally work but we have had to restrict a couple parents from meetings/campouts where they could manage to operate within the guidelines.   It is a last resort and usually they move to a different troop and repeat the process until they quit.   It saddens me but that is what it comes down to.

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Just now, fred8033 said:

I disagree.  Just not a good idea.  Inspecting for "being prepared" is absolutely fine.  Presumptive inspections for contraband are bad.  

  • We work by trust and the scout oath and law.  We don't create us-versus them, gotcha situations.
  • If you don't trust the scouts, then don't take the scouts with you. 
  • Worse of all, you are "challenging" the many scouts.  It may deter some, others will look to get around ya.  

If scouts want to get stuff in, they will.   Super max prisons can't block contraband and they have fences, cells, shotguns and handcuffs.  If you really want to block contraband, may I suggest patting down the scouts; check all pockets (pants, coats, socks, etc); inspect all car cavities and also control where the scouts walk around so that inspected scouts can't receive contraband from to-be-inspected scouts or to-be-inspected cars.  

Instead of blocking contraband, work to develop trust so that the scouts will want to not lose your trust.

My thinking was that if you need to do inspections, do them in the open.  But - your point is well taken - an environment of constant inspections suggests a troop where the Scoutmaster doesn't trust the Scout.

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