Jump to content

Recommended Posts

so it was a gorgeous weekend and a beautiful campsite, and I got to spend an afternoon hiking with my boy. Evening comes, dinner is prepared and served, and the inevitable campfire. Adult leaders have their own campfire some 20 yards away from the boys campfire. SM and ASM start telling jokes and stories... homophobic and racist. I get up and go for a walk... come back, and now they're bragging about how much ammunition they've got stored (some 25,000 rounds). That goes on for a bit, then it's back to the Michael Jackson/Obama jokes. Seven adult leaders... at least three of us are uncomfortable with the conversation, but the other 3-4 have been leaders forever, and we're all the 'new' guys.


My boy likes he troop, it's the only one in town...


I'm pretty liberal in a conservative area, so I'm aware that I have to make allowances, but still... this was pretty extreme.


Can a liberal BE involved in scouts these days?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 45
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Well, let's hope so!


If you go to the Issues and Politics forum I think you'll find there are plenty of liberal Scouters. But I don't think the issue is whether or not there is room for a liberal in Scouting. Racism and homophobia are not conservative, they are wrong.


There is NOT room in Scouting for racism and homophobia. Sounds like you and the other "new" leaders need to get together, talk about what you've just experienced, and get a plan. That plan may include starting a new troop, confronting these "forever" leaders (tactfully, of course) about their unacceptable behavior, or going to the Chartered Organization/DE about this, etc.



Link to post
Share on other sites

kcs-hiker - are you from my town?


Speaking as another "liberal" in a very conservative small southern town, yes, you can still be a leader. You may find out to your surprise that there are a lot of other like-minded (but silent) folks such as yourself. The reason I put liberal in quotes is because that is how I've been labeled here. Some of the things I've been accused of believing are, quite frankly, unbelievable.


A long time ago I encountered that same kind of behavior among some adults on campouts. Not being a shy retiring type, I just spoke up and asked if that's the kind of conversation and language they'd like to hear from their scouts. Didn't make me very popular at times, but it did change the conversation. I am fortunate now that I have a great bunch of adults in the Troop. Yes, mostly conservative, but they conduct themselves the same way I expect from the boys. Anyone can share their opinion or views of things, in fact it's encouraged to have spirited debate and conversations about a lot of topics in our Troop. However, the conversation is cut off and a few appropriate words from me if someone becomes disrespectful of another's views, makes outlandish claims or statements simply to be hurtful, or if the conversation becomes merely a shouting match.


I've been criticized in the past by a couple of parents for allowing the boys to discuss religion, politics, whatever. That criticism has always come from the very conservative folks that don't want their boy exposed to anything other than their views on things. I'm sure they'd be very willing to let their son participate in a discussion of religion or politics on a campout as long as it mirrored their own religious or political views.


I'm sorry your weekend was spoiled by those folks and it's really too bad you don't have any other options for a troop to join. Hopefully, if you and the other sensitive ASMs speak up, change the topic, the others will follow. Wouldn't necessarily hold my breath on that though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can a liberal BE involved in scouts these days?


If you read this forum, you must know they are well represented here. That said, if you live in a conservative area, you must deal with what you find there, but that doesn't mean you can't raise the issue. I wouldn't get into the ammunition thing, :) but those other kinds of comments are objectionable and have no place in Scouting. I suggest you find a non-confrontational way of raising it with the committee or Chartered Organization.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also stockpiling ammunition and purchasing guns. Not for any particular reason, other than the stated intentions of the current administration to tax and/or further restrict the purchase of those items. My sons and I enjoy target shooting as a sport. Heck, I'd be stockpiling gasoline, too, if I could. A Scout is Thrifty.

Link to post
Share on other sites

kcs_hiker -


Thanks for posting. Sorry to hear about the difficulties around the camp fire by idiots. I wouldn't necessarily label their behavior as conservative, but more unScoutlike and just plain rude.


I think we have all come across adult leaders who present a special challenge, whether it be not doing what they've been asked to do, sitting around the campfire 'till the wee hours talking and laughing so loud no one can sleep, and then, as in your case, those who's words go far outside the Scout Law.


Before we go on any outing, after all the cars and trailer are packed up, the SPL asks the Scouts and adult leaders to fall in. They are then reminded, in no uncertain terms, that all going on this activity are bound by the Scout Law.


This means that anyone can challenge anyone else does something outside the Law. In the case of telling homophobic or racist stories, a quick comment letting them know that it falls outside the Scout Law and is therefore not allowed is all it should take.


This way, you are not challenging them, or who they are, or their conservatism, or their humor, or anything else linked to their vaguely perceived identity, but simply pointing out that that particular comment is not allowed by the Scout Law.


Of course, I understand that it'd not as simple as that. I know what it's like to be a new leader in a Troop of old guys and the paralyzing culture can go with it.


When I joined most of the leaders had grown up in the Troop, and it they ran the Troop... the Scouts were just along for the ride. There was no PLC, no JLT, no Patrols, and the adults would get together over beers ever 4 to 6 months to plan future activities. But the real shocker for me was on my first camp out... minutes after the Scouts had been sent to their tents, the beer or bottle came out.


A year later, I naively accepted the position of Scoutmaster. A number of changes were made which made some of the existing adult leaders upset enough not to go on anymore camping trips (oh well!).


But I did not make any changes. I let the Scout Law and Guide to Safe Scouting make the changes. Acting like the new guy, I simply did Scouting as I had been trained to do. After a while the comments of "...we don't do it that way in our Troop..." have faded as new adult leaders have come on line.


Since then we have tripled out numbers, have a very active PLC, biannual JLT, and Scout run planning. Not to mention activities that fall well with in Scout Law. And we have much more fun!


So, yea, challenge these idiots! But first set the stage and let everyone know they are bound by the Law, then let it do the work!


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it that it always ends up political? Surely the divide between people in our society has only deepened with the change of administration, we will continue to draw lines in the sand. Us and Them is not really being helpful in our society (Level 3 conflict)


Just because there people are sitting around the campfire being jerks doesn't mean that because I'm liberal it concludes that these jerks must be conservatives. No, they're jerks, period. It has nothing to do with their political affiliation.


However, if my mindset always concludes into the arena of the politicalisms and not when one is talking about right or wrong then the problem will always exist.


Is there a place for liberals in Scouting? Yep. Is there a place for conservatives in Scouting? Yep. Is there a place for jerk liberals? Nope, Is there a place for jerk conservatives? Nope.


The opening thread should have been I was sitting around the campfire and the older leaders were being jerks. It has nothing to do with their political affiliations.


I "polite" company (i.e. before the PC years) people didn't talk about religion and politics because they naturally inflamed the conversation.


PCism is nothing more than an attempt to be able to talk about such things without inflaming the conversation as much. Sorry, but putting lipstick on a pig really doesn't change the situation all that much.


I'm a conservative and I've been known to leave campfires over the years when people were being jerks. I never thought of them as being liberal, just jerks.



Link to post
Share on other sites



I pretty much know my parents. I will steer conversations away from those getting too political. I will provide cover for the ones who certainly feel outnumbered or out gunned by loud mouths. I will even ask a person if they are ok talking about a subject. Attempting to give a clue to one who has none that they may be offending others around the fire.


I will attempt to diffuse the ones starting to launch into a diatribe about whats' wrong with America.


But these are adults and they have a right to express their opinions. They are doing it correctly, away from the scouts and only among other adults capable of assessing the facts and coming to their own conclusion.



I wish more liberals were involved in scouting. Its a great organization in my opinion it is basically party neutral.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course you can be involved! As for the campout--remember the good parts: the scenery, the hiking with your son...As for the adults' campfire--20 yds was not far enough away--voices carry. I am wondering why not one of the four new guys said anything. To keep silent gives tacit approval.

We can pass all the PC laws we want to silence people. That does not mean we've changed their hearts and minds. Lasting cultural change may need to be somewhat gradual. Many who were so set in their ways as to be ossified are still in shock from the last election.


"Why is it that it always ends up political? "

I believe this is plain ol human nature. Whenever you get a large group of adults together, you soon have either an orgy or an emotional political discussion.


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have some politically pretty conservative leaders in our troop. We do have one liberal who has a quiet confidence in his position and gets along very well with everyone. I can see how a liberal might feel outnumbered, though.


Still, the conversation that you relate would never happen in our troop. Or if a new guy started such a conversation, I'd quickly have a word with him.


I've had someone from my corporate diversity team me that she expected people in the southern U.S. to be intolerant. Well, thanks for stereotyping us all right there. I think that many people engage in inappropriate us-vs-them prejudices, a lot of them subconsciously. It's true of both liberals and conservatives.


It can take time to change the culture, but it will change. I'd start off with less confrontational statements. "You know, I worked with a lot of black people in my last job, and they weren't anything like what you're describing." or "My next door neighbor is/was black and he's a great guy, so it's just hard for me to see the humor in that last joke." or "I'm a teacher and we have black kids in class. It's hard to imagine repeating this in front of them. I can't see much point in directly insulting them."

Link to post
Share on other sites


Don't like the topics of conversation around the campfire? Getting up and walking away doesn't fix that. You could introduce your own topic of conversation and let someone else go take a walk. You might even be surprised at how your own topics will draw others in and the racist will shut up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear that. I'd say something. Just like I've been telling my boys when I talk about Leadership and Courage.... It isn't always easy. It isn't always popular. But the right thing is the right thing.


If things don't change....talk to the DE about starting another Troop. You said there is only one in town. The stuff you've listed might be reason why scouting isn't popular there.


And yes, there is a place in scouting for you. You could come to my pack anytime!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...