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Ok folks, my son has been in scouting for less than a year and we have no experience before that. So I need advise. The troop he is in has approximately 25 boys. Half of the boys are 14-16 year olds they have been in scouting together since Tigers. A few of the boys are really good kids; most are ok kids but I would say 80% of these older boys are totally embarrased to be seen in a scout uniform, they take every opportunity to take off the uniform they can, even during meetings we have to stop and tell them 3-4 times to button their shirt, or tuck it in or put it back on. They show up to functions without their uniform all the time. These kids are rude to the leaders as well as parents. They goof off are never prepared, consider campouts a time to run wild. I honestly think if given a choice almost everyone of them would quit but mom and dad want eagle scouts. I could go on and on about what they are like; they are not very nice to the younger scouts and it kills them to have to show someone how to do something. The leaders make excuses for them by saying they can't punish them because that is against scout rules. That kids now adays are teased for being in scouts and so they understand their behavior and why they don't wear the uniform properly or refuse to do anything where heaven forbid someone from their school actually sees them. and my favorite one...if they were too strict the boys would not want to be in scouts anymore. Their are some bright spots in the group, Their are some good boys trying and most of the parents are likeable and make an effort. So my question to you is> Is this normal troop behavior? What should I do?

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Question #1..Is this a Boy Led troop or an Adult led troop? It sounds like if the boys are unprepared, etc. that they are expecting the adults to do the work and hand everything to them without earning it.


Question #2..is the Leadership trained? It sounds to me like there is something wrong if boys are acting rude to the leaders and other adults and they are not being called on it. What part of the Scout law does that follow??


What should YOU do???...go to training yourself!! It'll at least give you more perspective on what SHOULD be happening within the troop and perhaps some ideas about what you can do to quietly affect change within the troop.


Good Luck!!


sue M.



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Thanks SueM,

Question #1 its suppose to be boy run, most of the older scouts all graduated last year and so we have very young leaders.

#2 the adults are trained and I really believe they do a good job except for not disciplining the boys, which they say they can't do.

#3 - I am in the process of getting the training, luckily the troop has no problem with women on campouts (thats another reason I like the troop) I go on quite a few of the campouts, in fact thats probably why I recognize just how rude the boys are is because I am around them so much. Unlike some parents whom you never see at anything.




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How I wish there were more parents like you! We have a similar situation in our troop with some of the older scouts. When the SM tries to hold boys to standards of good behavior he gets cries of "not fair" from some of the adult leaders! Thankfully he doesn't back down, but still, takes much abuse for his efforts.


Ideally, Scouts EARN advancement & respect in a troop by working with their fellow scouts & leaders, by showing leadership, and by exibiting good behavior/character. I hate the excuses made, and the fear of losing scouts if you make them behave. Everyone seems very concerned that the troublemakers aren't getting a fair shake. We had one scout who chose to leave rather than go with the program. I say "oh well". I know that's perhaps not a popular attitude, but not every young man will rise to the challenge.


I have seen adults ask leaders to dumb down the standard too many times. We had a boy join who smoked at his first three scout activities. Some of the adults thought this was no big deal. When he was told that he couldn't smoke, he left. It's sad that the adults don't instead encourage the boy/s to rise to the BSA standard. It's as if the adults have no confidence in the boy's ability to learn and change his behavior. How does dumbing things down help these scouts? And what about those scouts who do a good job? They are fully aware of the apathy of their adult leaders. They see their fellow scouts receiving awards/advancement they didn't earn. They see other boys ignore the rules or try to squirm around them. What does this say to them? Often the "good scout's" needs are overlooked because the squeaky wheel needs grease. I'm all for second and even third chances for a boy, but if the behavior is taking the entire group down it needs to be addressed, pronto.


You say there are a few bright spots in your troop. Great! Glad you recognize that! I'm glad to hear you are getting training and being involved on campouts! Both are steps in the right direction. I'd also advise you to read all the BSA literature you can get your hands on. I will tell you that being "armed" with the right information is really a good thing when you need it! Others here have advised me to be on the offence-be informed. It's not always popular when you stand up for doing things the right way, but it is worth it for the boys! Another thing I strongly encourage is that you support your SM and other leadership. They work hard for your son's troop! When the hard calls are made it's the SM who takes the heat. Stand along side of them and absorb some of that heat! Offer to help out where you can, ask what you can do. From time to time, tell the SM & ASMs you appreciate them, it does wonders for their morale! I've heard our SM tell how much this has meant to him. Heck, bake him cookies, buy him a tie at Christmas, rub his feet... OK, maybe not the latter.

You sound like the kind of parent I would relish in our troop. Hang in there, educate yourself & contribute to help make your son's scout experience a great one! Good Luck!


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Is this normal troop behavior? No.


Is it common enough to be recognizable? Yes.


Not all adults have the character, fortitude, and sense of humor to deal with teenage boys as a group in terms of setting expectations and discipline. For a lot of parents, dealing with one teenager is enough of a challenge, eh? So things tend toward laxity, or the opposite extreme of adult rulesmongering.


About half of your post talks about uniforming. Dat's a symptom and not a cause. I wouldn't start with worryin' about that. Teenagers and clothes is a battle that you sometimes have to lose so as to win the important things. Da issue is the negative behaviors, and da lack of positive behaviors.


What can you do? Bring it to adults' attention gently and firmly, so it "gets kicked up a notch" in their brains. Get training. Come on trips. Recruit other adults (parents and non-parents) who also recognize the problems and who have the "character,fortitude, and sense of humor" to be adult leaders. Encourage and support and provide "special opportunities" to the "bright light" youth, so that kids see honor has its rewards.


Reality is, though, until you get a SM/ASM group who cares enough about da kids to offer some structure and discipline, this isn't goin' to change. Kids always test the limits; it's their way of askin' the adults if they really care about them.

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Is that you Rosalee? If not whatpart of KS are you in?


Discipline is not against Scout rules. Certain types of punishment are. A troop does not have to put up with mis-behaving, disrespectful boys.


This sounds just like the troop our boys just crossed over to at the moment it is vey poorly organized and the older boys act the same or don't show up. We are hoping things improve with parents such as yourself.


As I stated in another thread my boy is a bit disapointed in how things are going and said he might ant to look at another troop even though this one is sponsored by our church and the boys that crossed over have mostly all been together since Tigers.


CC(This message has been edited by campcrafter)

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Discipline? As in doing latrine duty or push-ups? I would agree with your leaders in avoiding that kind of discipline. That being said, we have high expectations of behavior in our troop. The only way a boy wouldn't know what is expected would be if he were brain dead. Hmmm, come to think of it.....nevermind, that wouldn't be polite. When a boy won't do his job or is disrespectful, he gets an immediate Scoutmaster conference where a discussion of the Oath and Law is discussed.


When our SM took over about 5 years ago (before my time), the troop had a Venture Patrol. These were boys who thought they were special and that they had arrived. They didn't want to mess with the little kids, didn't wnat o participate in much of anything, didn't want positions of responsibility, etc. They were slugs. The younger boys thought they were cool and imitated them. It was hurting the troop. The SM turned it around. Did he get resistance from the older boys and some of their parents? You bet. Did he present his vision of what a boy-led troop should be and stand his ground to get there. You bet. He spelled out what was expected of them, provided the trainign they needed and held them accountable. Those that were willing to change stayed. Those that were not willing to change left. He never ran anyone off or asked anyone to leave. He simply changed the troop into what it should be and that was different than what a few bad apples wanted. Younger boys parents saw what was going on, liked it and jumped on the band wagon.


Instead of discipline, use the Oath and Law. It leaves little wiggle room for excuses and gives them an example of fairly black and white attitude and behavior expectations.

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The uniform issue is a somewhat common issue.


What has to happen is that the BOY-RUN troop leadership needs to be read the riot act and be properly trained. Have the SM observe/supervise while the SPL reads the riot act to the scouts the next time it happens (uniform, rudeness, etc).




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These comments are right on target. My troop had its problems when we first came into it a number of years ago, very much like KSscoutmom's. Today it's a vibrant troop that I would hold up against just about any other.


What changed?


1. The troop brought back a former SM who understood the program. He worked with the PLC and reestablished a sense of value and the importance of applying the Oath and Law.


2. Enough parents were "on board" with the need for change that the message got through to the boys via multiple channels.


Even after that, we still had a couple of boys who were disrespectful (of their peers, of adults, even of their own parents). SM conferences were ineffective, but we did not kick them out. Instead we presented the boys (all of them, since there were only about 10-12 at the time) with a challenge. We said, "You've got a problem with behavior and respect. What can you do to fix it?" Over the course of two weeks, the BOYS came up with a list of specific behaviors that were considered unacceptable, ranging from swearing to being disruptive, to lying, and fighting. Then they came up with a sequence of escalating consequences. These always started with things that the boys could impose themselves, only eventually rising to the level where an adult had to be brought in. Of course, the overriding message was that conduct is expected to comply with the principles espoused in the Oath and Law. But those boys who had trouble with interpretation could see their own shortcoming identified in black and white.


The boys then took the "behavior policy" to the Troop Committee, who endorsed it wholeheartdely. A key factor was to have EVERY BOY AND HIS PARENTS read and sign the policy, sort of like a contract that is kept on file. We have all new scouts and parents sign it, too. The effect is that it puts every boy on the same level of expectation.


The result: the 2 boys who were the bane of the troop chose other paths, because the other boys wouldn't abide their behavior. Only 2 or 3 times have the boys had to "resort" to invoking consequences, and then it was only at the the very mildest level.


Only once did an adult have to get involved, and that was only after the boys did exactly what they should have done (it was a case of a scout signing off on his own advancement requirements by forging another scout's signature, then denying that he'd done it, but that's another story).


OK - this is a lot of words. But in my opinion, we often get caught up in the boy-run aspect of scouting and forget that it is also ADULT GUIDED. Without guidance from strong adults, the result can be anarchy.


Hang in there. You can make more of a difference than you know.

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