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Is the BSA regulating the fun out of Scouting?

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In the world of the Scout-haters, government-haters, rule-haters, nothing is fun unless there is an objection to it. "Fun" is lamenting and crying about how "they" took all the fun out of everything.

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Once my committee replaced me as SM in my former troop, I have had more opportunity to go out and have fun than at any time in the past 20 years. I camp more, I kayak more, I travel more, and I hadn't realized how much time was consumed by trying to convince boys and especially their parents to get out and have some fun.


I don't do tour permits, I don't have to wait for the boys to get their stuff together, I don't have to have any parent's permission slips signed, I don't need to register or sign up for anything, I don't need a medical form (although I get an annual check up anyway), I don't have any any problem with schedules, and if I want to do more kayaking on Sunday, I don't have to make a ton of phone calls saying I'm going to be 4 hours late getting home. I just say "Road Trip" and I'm out the door. Anyone that wants to go along, they're welcomed. Guys and gals both, bring your own equipment, and we'll see what is necessary as we head on down the road. Flash Mob at the trail head! Whereas when I was active in scouts, I would plan one maybe two outings a month, I now have plans for every weekend until the second weekend in October and I still have a week of vacation I haven't even planned for yet. Last year all my summer vacation was eaten up by summer camp and Jambo. This year a trip to Yellowstone with a stop in the Black Hills, a trip to the battlefields of Virginia and Washington DC and a trip to ???? Sea Kayaking on Lake Superior might work out, or... or... or.... :)


I had not really noticed how much logistics/"paperwork" hoops one had to jump through to get the boys out into the woods each time. Now that one is on the outside looking in, it's really quite an eye-opener.


Your mileage may vary,



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Rather, Id say is BSA being forced to regulate the fun out of Scouting? My answer, yes, but its not a matter of choice. How do we counter this, the same as always. Get on the page with your charter org, committee, and parents, and use your best judgment as a group. Read what BSA publishes carefully, the majority of it is Guidelines, not rules; the distinction is an important one.

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First, to Stosh:

Camping with Scouts (or any single group of people) isn't going to provide as many opportunities as camping alone or with varied people. Groups just don't do trips as efficiently or as easily as singles.



I do think some of the fun has been taken out, but I don't blame BSA. I blame the litigious society we live in. The regs are there because the potential for lawsuits exist. That said, IIRC, the Guide to Safe Scouting got a little shorter in the last edition. Maybe we've turned the corner on regulations taking the fun out of scouting.

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BSA is doing what the government is doing, regulating for stupidity. What we do is much more dangerous than if the boys were left at home playing video games.




I ask myself whether it is worth it or not on a fairly regular basis.


I am active in the outdoors with my family on my off weekend. It is infinitely easier to do it with your family.



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Maybe in the short-run, Scouting outdoors is more dangerous than video games, but in the long run, I don't think it is. Metabolic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) cause more deaths than outdoor accidents.

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I think the answer is yes, with varying degrees of choice.



Just in the past couple of months my council announced it is requiring activities more than an hour away from a hospital ER to have someone certified in Wilderness First Aid, quite a burdensome and expensive credential to obtain and maintain.


I'm about at the end of my Scouter years ---- If I were at the beginning I don't think I'd get involved. Just too burdensome for leaders to be worthwhile. And a lot more of the same is ahead, as far as I can see.


Perhaps that's going to be the favored method for restricting more adventurous outings --- just make them unreasonably burdensome for most units to do.

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I don't see it. There isn't anything the boys in my troop have wanted to do that was "no" due to BSA rules. If they want to do something that requires extra training, we'll go get it.


Is it easier to do these things outside of scouting? Of course it is. However, there are a lot of boys who would hardly see any sunlight if it weren't for scouts, but would sit inside on the video games or PC.


There were a lot of adults who did this for me when I was a scout, so I don't have any problem "paying forward" to the next generation of boys.

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For who?


The kids? Then no, I don't think most Scouts see much of the additional requirements.


For the adults? Yes. Seems like the bar keeps getting higher and higher. We've had an ASM who has been trying to get the proper certification as a climbing instructor to be able to take the troop climbing. Seems now (and I say "seems" because it's hard to get a straight answer) all his efforts will only allow us to use the climbing wall at camp. We have an annual canoe trip that's big hit with the Scouts. Seems now (again "seems") we're going to have to send someone to aquatics school to continue the trips.


I think we're becoming more and more like the Girl Scouts in this respect. Before the boys can use a pocket knife, the leaders will have to take pocket knife training. Before they can build a fire, someone will have to have campfire training.


Eventually that's going to trickle down to the boys. "Sorry guys, my Dutch oven certificate has expired. Ya like PopTarts dontcha?"

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Yah, I think Stosh has da right of it, eh? Yeh don't realize how bad it is until you're on the outside lookin' in.


Go spend some time with international scouting. No med forms, no permission slips, no tour permits, no G2SS, no runnin' about worrying over constant adult supervision. Patrols allowed to camp, Sea Scouts routinely take boats out on their own in open seas, troops set up towers and monkey bridges and zip lines without clearance from da Army Corps of engineers, kids take trains across international borders on their own to camp. They get along fine. Heck, in some countries every scout carries a sheath knife. ;)


BSA summer camps IMHO are da worst. Yeh won't find another camp in all the land that spends the entire first day handling paperwork and having kids march from venue to venue to be lectured on rules and procedures. I heard one lad at a camp I visited exclaim "only at BSA camp can you sign up for sailing and not be allowed on the water in a boat until the 3rd day." We also seem to be inspection-happy. Inspect durin' the week, inspect before yeh leave, hurry up and wait for da inspectors to inspect. In an average scout camp in the land a troop can't have a weekend campout that runs through Sunday afternoon or evening because da staff has to be there to hover and inspect.


Mostly, we do it to ourselves, eh? We voluntarily get all crazy and fearful about lawyers waiting in the bushes with subpoenas. We voluntarily restrict everyone anytime one person anywhere in the country does somethin' phenomenally stupid. We voluntarily whap people over da head with quotes of da rule du jour. It's like a group psychosis. And should anybody object or just choose not to voluntarily be a doofus, they're labeled "rogues", "rule-haters", "scout-haters", or huffily told they're not doin' "real" scouting. If they still don't knuckle under, they're threatened with fictional loss of insurance coverage or some such drivel. One need only look at threads here on Scouter.Com to see the pattern. :p


Most international scouters who have had contact with official BSA folks think we're arrogant looney-tunes here in da U.S. Lots of other camp folks think we have an odd and not particularly service-oriented approach. This stuff grew up slowly so it's a bit like a frog bein' boiled, eh? It's hard for us to see it from inside other than in slowly eroding prestige and membership numbers.


Da good news is there really aren't any lawyers hidin' in da bushes, eh? I happen to know they prefer country clubs with well stocked bars. ;) And nobody from Irving is really goin' to come inspect your unit program. Yeh can make use of other camp facilities or roll your own like da fellow in the other thread. In short, yeh can choose not to volunteer for all da mindless procedural stuff and restrictions, and instead just volunteer for scoutin'.


But it is gettin' harder.




(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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"We voluntarily get all crazy and fearful about lawyers waiting in the bushes with subpoenas."


This is a problem in every organized youth activity...not just Scouting. Baseball and football are replete with new requirements and restrictions...what equipment you must have, what equipment you can't use.


In youth baseball for example, there has been numerous equipment changes and restrictions from when I played. Catcher's helmets vs. Skull Caps, breakaway bases, weight and composition restrictions on bats, footwear restrictions, pitch limits. All in the name of player safety. Ok...I might not agree with some of them, but I'll deal and teach baseball anyway.


Depending on where you live today's world will not tolerate teaching a 12 year old how to field dress a deer, or become proficient with an M1 in an organized group, especially one that has made some really boneheaded decisions.


I see it that you have two choices...go with the flow and do what can be done...buck the system and get sued enough times that you go out of the business.

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Is the BSA regulating the fun out of Scouting?

Only if you let it happen.

Most of us are not really experts in all the stuff that Scouts do.

Finding an expert isn't that hard.

Sometimes it costs a little more than we might like, but there isn't very much that a group of Scouts might like or want to do that can't be done.

Sure there are age appropriate activities, but we can use the age requirement as the carrot that keeps them coming back to do whatever that might be?

All too often we read a lot more into things or worse still allow misinformation to be our guide.

I care for and about the kids I lead.

Remembering to put a PFD on each time you go on deck, is at times a pain, but it sure beats ending up dead.

I'm willing to look at the risk and using my own common sense determine how big it is.

While it might be OK for a Webelos Scout to climb a tree, it might be just too much risk for a Tiger.

We have a few nits who seem to think that being a Boy Scout is the same thing as being a Navy Seal and we do need to save the kids we serve from nits like this.

I don't always follow all the rules.

I do everything I can to ensure the safety and well being of the kids in my charge.

I'm going to let the Scouts on a kayaking trip find a safe place for a quick swim, I'm going to post a Lifeguard to watch them. I'm not going to mark off the area and do all the stuff laid down in the SSDP.

I might ignore the fact that a pioneering tower is a little higher than maybe it should be, I'm not going to ignore if it's a lot higher.

I've been play at this Scouting thing for a good while.

The biggest danger and the most accidents I've had to deal with have to do with Scouts cooking. Nothing big, cuts, burns and that type of thing.

So far no one has said that we have to eat at local fast food restaurants.

Scouting isn't that hard, grab some kids who want to do something and are trained by someone who knows what they are doing and has some imagination along with maybe the ability to remember what is like to be a kid will have fun, can seek out and enjoy new activities and face new challenges.

We can all fly with the eagles if we just stop hanging around and listening to the turkeys.


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The BSA reglating the fun out of Scouting is rather a broad statement - what fun things are you being kept from doing?


If you're not able to go on a canoe trip or a climbing trip because you don't have the proper training, how is that the BSA regulating the fun out of Scouting as opposed to you not doing what is required to make sure you can do these fun things.


No offense intended but the vast majority of Scouters aren't experienced enough to take a group of 14 Scouts and Scouters on a weekend canoe trip down a river, let alone a week long trip in the Boundary Waters. That's why the emphasis on training. It may seem ridiculous to people with boatloads of experience, but the training isn't really geared to you anyway - it's geared to the guys who have dipped their toes in the water, found that this could be a cool thing for their Scouts, and gives them at least a modicum of the tools needed to be successful.


I know climbers that could climb rings around most BSA climbing instructors, but I'd still expect them to go through the Scouting training, so that they're familiar with what the BSA's expectations are and to make sure they can actually teach what it is they can do.


So tell me what regulations have taken the "fun" out of Scouting. As you're coming up with that list, think about whether the regulation is really coming from the Boy Scouts (I'm thinking some may say "can't build a campfire" which is more likely to be a directive from the fire department or forest service), whether the activity just requires more training, or whether the activity that is banned really takes away from the fun of Boy Scouts (ie laser tag - yeah, it's fun, but really, is it Scouting and isn't Capture the Flag a lot more challenging and fun because it's an outdoor activity?).


A side note to Beavah - I can tell you from experience (having worked at a 4H resident summer camp in Maine, the kind with cabins) that the BSA is not the only place that the first day is spent 'doing the paperwork". Our first day was taken up with greeting the campers, making sure the medical paperwork was in order, collecting medicines, getting the campers into their groups, getting them to their cabins, organizing the cabins (including refereeing squabbles over who gets the top bunks), heading down to the river front for swim tests, taking a tour of the camp so folks knew where everything was (from showers and bathrooms to the various activity buildings and making sure they knew the right path to take from the cabin area to the main lodge), to discussing the camp rules (in small groups). What games we did play (just before dinner) was designed to help people learn who their cabin mates and camp mates were. Seems to be a pretty common first day for most summer camps - even the long-term ones.

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The answer might be yes, but I don't blame BSA. I blame living in a country where anyone can sue anyone for whatever reason and, against all common sense, win.


Maybe if suing wasn't easy (or cheap) we wouldn't need all the rules and regulations.

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