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Beavah

Giving More Complete Answers

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Yah, yeh all seem to have had some fun conversations while I've been gone, eh? Still writin' from the field, but figured I'd chime in on the latest.

 

It's funny how this forum seems to attract one-time posters with gripes about their unit on a regular basis. Must be because it's easy to find.

 

I remember once a young lad asked me how to make nitrogen triiodide (a relatively easy to make contact explosive). Yah, I suppose I could have answered his question with a technical response from a book, eh? A bit of anhydrous ammonia, a bit of iodine... I'm just not sure I would have been doin' him any favors.

 

To my mind, the same thing applies when someone comes and asks how to axe their Scoutmaster. Dat's the scoutin' equivalent of goin' out and playin' with explosives. As often as not folks are gonna get hurt, program is gonna suffer, kids are goin' to be lost to scoutin' for sure and there's a good chance a whole unit will come apart. I just can't see where givin' a technical book response is helpful. Yeh need to sit down with people and talk about what da issues are and how things are set up in that unit. CO might be a strong church or institution, a supportive but disconnected group where da SM has all the social capital, or a disorganized PTO whose rotating presidency is currently sleepin' with a disgruntled ASM. The right answer, the one that serves kids and program the best, often ain't the correct answer given as the ideal in the guidebooks.

 

Same goes for youth discipline, eh? (Lisabob's other book answer thread). That's another one of those "playin' with explosives" things when it gets beyond the youth leaders and Scoutmaster. All kinds of potential for things to run off the rails. And there just ain't a single book answer which is helpful or even accurate. If a lad sets fire to a tent at camp, who handles the discipline? Well, golly, it might be law enforcement & the courts, it might be the Camp Director escortin' the lad to the gate, it might be the SM, it might be the lead adult for the unit who is present, it might be da SPL who confiscates the lighter and makes the lad report himself, it might be the boy's parent, it might be da CO, it might be the committee, it might be a subcommittee of the committee that's charged with those things. Not only is the book answer probably not the right answer, it probably isn't the correct answer either, eh?

 

Seems like if we want to live up to our Oath to help other people at all times, we have to take some time to listen and learn the need that is behind their questions, eh? And respond to that need.

 

Givin' someone a real answer requires more than 8th grade literacy and a manual, eh? It takes experience, judgment, and wisdom. I figure that's why, like NeilLup says, mature folks seek out others for answers and perspective. In their heart they know they need more than a one-line quote and contact with Authority. And that's why our fellow scouters (in person or in a forum like this one) are so valuable a resource, eh?

 

Beavah

 

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After a lot of conflict management, group dynamics and interpersonal counseling over the years I can assure the forum that by the time people come to the forum seeking information that will assist them in separating the _____ (CC, MC, SM, ASM, SPL, fill in the blank) from the unit, they are already at a point of conflict where it would be impossible to correct the situation anyway. No amount of forum advice is going to resolve the issues they are facing and contributions will only inflame one side or the other.

 

The obvious advice is to deal with the problems BEFORE they get to the point where someone has to put it on a forum to garner up more ammunition for their side to pursue the separations.

 

Stosh

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There was a ton of posts full of experience, wisdom, and helpful perspective, (along with some other posts too). I see no point in leaving out the BSA perspective.

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Stosh I couldn't agree more. Too often the replies are over simplified "go talk to your CC, COR...". Gee don't you think they would have tried the obvious if it were open to them.

 

When a five post user name comes up and they ask how do I change this in my unit, sending them to page 29 in the manual is of so little value that it will likely just frustrates them even more.

 

Most of the replies on these forms are really good. This forum is a great service to the scouting community.

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't know that you can say that sending someone to a BSA resource for an answer on the BSA program would have little or no value.

 

Especially if some folks here can write long and charming posts that have ano basis in fact to them. To place greater validity on the information based on the length of the post would be poor decision indeed.

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Sometimes I agree with you Beavah, that the "by the book" answer really is not useful, especially when someone comes seeking ADVICE.

 

As for the thread I started, and to which you refer, the reason I asked that question the way I did was because I didn't have a copy of the SM handbook or the SPL handbook available. I wanted to know specifically what those two books say about the disciplinary process and where to find hte info in those two books because we have an SPL and a SM who don't appear to know either, and they acknowledge that they need to know. I wanted to know whether it was appropriate to point them toward page 29 (or whichever page) in their respective books, without me having to drive 75 miles to and from the scout shop, buy the books, and pore over them for a few days to find some answers first.

 

(NB: I actually do plan to buy the books for my own reference sometime soon but I haven't had time to get myself to the scout shop during business hours in the last couple of weeks. And I'm neither an SM nor an SPL, so I didn't already own them.)

 

Sometimes, the "book" answer really is what is sought and what is needed. However I think it would be useful for people to carefully read what the poster is asking for. Many who come here want opinions, or interpretations, not page references. While some of us might be best equipped to provide the page refs, it might be helpful to acknowledge that those references aren't always the be-all and end-all of the story. On the other hand, opinion/interpretation answers are also great but could sometimes be clearer that the answer given is not a BSA policy statement.

 

 

 

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Often times it is obvious that some that post on the forum are merely having someone else do their research for them. This is fine, but like LisaBob says, it's an expediency thing and that's ok. However, sometimes people look at the printed material and when it is poorly written or has double interpretations, it makes it kinda difficult to understand. This then is the time to either seek clarity from the sources or poll forums to see what's being done in the various units to handle such situations.

 

Then of course there are those issues that simply don't have an answer and getting feed-back from fellow scouters is a good thing. It might be somewhat helpful if the person asking the original question what may be the motive so the posts can be focused and thus the answers focused, i.e. "The SM is a twit and we want to dump him." At least one knows where they stand. :^)

 

And then of course how does one put the wisdom of one's experiences in a book that everyone can read? Those answers are good as well. There are some answers one can get at the reference desk of the public library and then there are some answers one can get over a cup of coffee with the elderly gentleman/lady next door. Both are valid.

 

Stosh

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Sometimes someones practical experience is what is needed instead of chapter & verse from a manual.

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I appreciate it more when posts are answered with practical answers, what the respondent actually did in a similar case or what they may do based on their experiences. I think when someone is asking a question that they know that a Council/District Scouter can help with the situation. I know I have done that in the past. But in reading posts with situations that I am interested in how they can be handled reading answers like read this or read that is frustrating. Speaking for myself the information in those manuals, handbooks, pamphlets, typically explains a general program, outline or intent but doesn't provide the information that can help a person deal with the situation or help with the issue they have. If someone is going reference the BSA program at least include practical information with it. I would hope those who do reference have that experience and would like to share it. Possibly sharing success as well as mistakes to avoid.

 

Another thing that is frustrating is reading a post that I have an interest in and then it gets hijacked. As far as reading those posts I try to ignore those answers but what is unfortunate is that subsequent substantive answers typically stop. The forum is a great resource for information, as mentioned, but like other posts/blogs on the internet have also provided a vehicle for those who I think would be generally ignored or do not have the interpersonal skills to contribute in any other way other then postings. It would be interesting to be a bug on the wall of their troops, work, etc to see how effective they are in their real world endeavors. Those that perpetually do that really indicate to me a lack of maturity and respect for what is trying to be accomplished by others.

 

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There's a saying written by WEB Griffin, author of the Brotherhood of War series. It's attributed to a 3 star general during the Korean War: "Regulations and Policy are for the guidance of a commander. I command this Corps, which is a horse of an entirely different hue than administering it to the satisfaction of some administrative chair warmer back in the Pentagon."

 

I had two great professional mentors as I moved up the food chain in the Army. Both knew the books fore and aft. We'd play "stump the chump" with each other visiting each others house regularly. We left that behind when we walked in the door. "Knowledge is power... but only when it's shared" was the mantra of both of them. From them I learned... it's not just the head knowledge, not just the heart love, but head and heart together which makes the best people.

 

There are many here whom I thank for sharing that combination of head and heart: Barry, Beavah, and Lisa, emb (he's at PTC right now), Crew 21 Adv, Gonzo, Gunny, OGE, E, and Narraticong all come to mind, among many others.

 

The program materials we use are tools. Our head and our heart help us decide how to use them. As Lisa did, sometimes, asking for a textbook answer lays out a usable framework for problem solving or decisionmaking :)

 

Finally, the time we spend with friends and acquaintances matters. Whether it's a poster asking here, or a CC asking "Has anyone ever seen my unit commissioner?" in the field, taking time to talk with that person, determining the scope of a units' problems, goes a long way towards assessing the tools we'll bring to bear. Is this an adjustment to be done with a torque wrench, or is there a problem worthy of bringing in power tools? I've learned now to counsel stop, wait, let's go someplace and talk over tea/coffee/cocoa and see if we can decide if we're going after a mouse, a deer, or an elephant!

 

Good night, all :)

 

(RFE: bbcode)(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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As for the thread I started, and to which you refer, the reason I asked that question the way I did was because I didn't have a copy of the SM handbook or the SPL handbook available. I wanted to know specifically what those two books say about the disciplinary process and where to find hte info in those two books because we have an SPL and a SM who don't appear to know either, and they acknowledge that they need to know.

 

Yah, I understood what you were askin' for in that thread, Lisabob.

 

Da thing that caught my eye, though, was that none of the posters gave yeh what you were askin' for. Nobody responded with the information from the SM handbook or SPL Handbook, eh? One quoted G2SS (which is talkin' about behavior that affects safety, not general discipline), another gave his personal interpretation of what the "flow" should be.

 

And then yeh said they were helpful. Yeh can understand my confusion ;). I reckon what was helpful was BW takin' the time to interpret a summary or synthesis across materials and personal experience, eh? In short, doin' the one thing yeh asked him not to do.

 

I think if an SPL and a SM are havin' some issues with youth and discipline, yeh need to dig deeper, work with a CC and UC, and provide some really thoughtful assistance and support. Alternately, just stay out of it as a committee member, eh? Lots of learnin' happens by just workin' through things. Either way, that's how to be really helpful.

 

But if da issue is just that they don't have those book resources and they want them, I'd suggest as a committee member yeh drive the 75 miles and buy 'em each a copy so they have 'em (or save the gas and order 'em online). Committee's job is to provide support and resources. Isolated quotes aren't much help without understandin' 'em in context, eh? I think every SM and SPL should have a personal copy of their respective handbooks. That' ain't got anything to do with discipline, though, just good support. I'd encourage yeh to look at other resources for 'em, too, like Mark Ray's The Scoutmaster's Other Handbook which offers a lot of practical ideas and applications.

 

Beavah

 

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Beavah, thank you for your interpretation. I do intend to purchase the books, both for myself and for our troop because it annoys me no end when people don't follow basic procedure, create further problems that end up in the lap of others (like the committee) as a result of not following procedure, and then claim lack of info/access to the books as their explanation for the whole mess. I had, however, forgotten about the SM Other HB. Will probably offer that as a gift to our current SM.

 

And as for staying out of it - yeah, except for the small matter of our SM specifically asking me to provide input and offer direction to the relevant BSA source material!

 

While true that some people in that other thread didn't give me exactly what I asked for, BW actually did tell me where in the SPL and SM handbooks to direct folks and that was exactly what I was hoping for. What I hoped to avoid - and did - was a long, torturous thread where people accuse each other of not doing "real scouting" or other such nonsense based on personal opinions about the underlying disciplinary scenario, which I am also not interested in sharing online.

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I gave a source, from a book, as the title of the thread was ""by the book" who makes disciplinary decisions?"

 

Lisabob posted:

 

" am looking for a "book" answer (NOT A DEBATE over best practices - that's another thread) and I don't have the books in question. Hoping for a few folks here who do, to provide a quick answer."

 

In her second paragraph she asks "Is there anything in either the SM handbook or in the SPL's handbook about who makes disciplinary decisions?"

 

Not having a copy of either handbook, but wishing to provide, in Lisabob's own words "...a quick answer". I gave the quote from the Guide to Safe Scouting, which is online for Lisabob to read, and print. A quote which answered the specific question that was asked.

 

BobWhite gave references in BSA literature, which I think qualifies as a book.

 

Acco made a comment and Lisabob thanked us.

 

And now somehow this approach, providing a straight answer to a straight question is looked upon as not being the best practice.

 

I don't understand

 

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The stuff in BSA resources is the distilled wisdom of hundreds of units from all over the country. Certainly wisdom offered by individual posters on an internet forum has some value. What's not clear at all is why the collective wisdom provided by BSA is so frequently dismissed.

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