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Passing the blame buck

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Took some of my Webelos to our fall camporee trhis past weekend and we had a blast. This year, the districts allowed WEbelos to attend with the council's blessing.


So as camporees and other camping events go, there was a leaders meeting held after the campfire ceremony to air out any issues, problems and complaints.


And while most wree your normal run of trhe mills issues that almost every camp expoeriences...there was one that .....well, I cannot believe the guy brout it up.


When it was his turn to air his grievances, this particular SM stands up and says that there needed to be a more formal dismissale from evening colors.


As it turns out, Colors was held after announcements and before the walk to the waterfront campfire ceremony.


Anyways, the Sm says that ther should have been a better dismissal system in place because his boys from his troop ended up just walking away, getting seperated and all mixed up in the (sorta) ampitheatre seating at the campfire ceremony. He then tells how his boys were walkning and jumping from bleacher ( well, bencesh really) to bleacher and bumped into a few people and knocked one adult over. He then said people got mad and there was even an arguement...so what was the Camporee staff gonna do to prevent this next time.


I think all 30 something other leaders in the room couldn't believe what this SM was asking .


I mean, REally?


How can you not see that this was an internall issue of the troop and nothing to do with the camp, the camporee or the bcamporee staff.


This year, they allowed Webelos to attend, and even though they are younger and not experienced in the ways of troop or patrol function, I can say that - from what I saw, evey Webelos scout acted more mature than the way this SM said his troop acted.


So this got me thinking:


Is this a common thing among Boy Scouts?


Now, I do not want to imply that Cubs are different, but at least in Cubs, we have a more direct adult contact andf control.


I guess it comes down to this: While we do expect Cubs to act their best, we don't blame the camp or camp staff when they don't. We just break out our "Or Else" stares and maybe snap a finger at them.

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Let me see if I understand the chronology and situation, from your description.

Everyone gathers in the outdoor amphitheater. They have some last announcements, then the camporee staff "retreats/retrieves" the colors, and dismiss the camp to the waterfront for the evening campfire. The SM in question tells his story of his Scouts jumping down the benches to go to the campfire, thus bumping into other people and not staying in a Troop group, but "getting seperated" from each other. He then asks how the camporee staff can help prevent these problems ? Is that right?


I think if I was the camporee staff hearing this (quietly and respectfully) I would have responded "thank you for your story, we are sorry for your troubles. We are certainly open to any suggestions as to how we could have done things better to prevent your boys from hurting the man they bumped into? Please speak to me when we break this meeting."


I do see how it might appear the SM could have had better control over his Scouts, but , yeah, maybe they could have asked folks to exit the area one row at a time, having OA perhaps, guide the exiting. I wonder if his were the only Scouts being eager to get in front of the line, or show off by jumping the benches. Doesn't excuse the behavior, but I wasn't there to see it. A small talk about "courteous" and "kind" perhaps. I guess this venting "roses and thorns" session was held after the campfire, so this next idea might not be possible, but maybe a impromptu skit at the campfire about line butting? Or polite behavior toward adults or other Scouts?


How did the Camp Staff respond?

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We were at "Eagle Field" where the flagpole was set up ( Big pioneer pole for event). WE did colors, then had basic announcements. Then we were dismissed and hiked about 300 yards to the lakefront ampitheatre ( kinda) campfire area.


The troop in questions just left the colors ceremony and got all seperated and pretty much did a "every man for themself" thing at the ampitheatre area. Once the SM got to the campfire area, he called his troop, who - instead of walking down the aisles and rows of seating and benches - just started hopping from bench to bench and jumping over benches. They knocked over another adult who may or may not have been a leader, possibly just a parent.


Naturally, the person knocked over wasn't happy about it. Words were said.


Somehow, the SM thinks it's all the camp, camporee , and camporee staff's fault. He did not see where any part of it was a troop problem, and he did not take any blame or responcibility for what happened.....even though nobody else from any of the attending troops or packs had this kind of problem.


Seriously, his boys were out of control and did not stick together as a troop or patrol (if that was trhe case).

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But, your suggestion for leaving the campfire ceremony was what they did.


The campfire ceremony was lead by the OA and afterward they asked everybody to leave by rows under the scout sign ( quietly)


Thing was, after the ceremony was over and we were at the leaders meeting where the SM of that troop brought it up...you could almost hear a pin drop after the SM put the blame on the camporree staff.


The director was ...shocked to say the least and was speachless. Pretty much the other leaders comments sid it all: You need to control your boys!


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Every campfire I've ever been to with more than a hundred or so folks which dismisses after dark always looks like a Chinese fire drill. It is really difficult to keep a troop together under those conditions.


Two words: Buddy System


At national jamboree, with 100,000 people in the arena and a four-mile hike to our campsite, our guys did just fine getting themselves and their mates back to camp.


"Pretty much the other leaders comments sid it all: You need to control your boys!"


Sounds to me that was handled the way it needed to be.

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I want to say it's not just a BS issue (not controlling your boys, and then blaming others).


Unfortunately, we have one such leader in our Cub pack. I dread seeing the Bears attend anything. The parents and the leaders are pretty much...well, IMHO, useless.


His boys set a poor example this weekend, at our pack Pre-Cubaree campout--playing in the shooting range (our two camp sites were separated by the range); leaving the camp area without checking out with an adult and without a buddy, and using some inappropriate language/behaviors are some of the offenses from this weekend.


The DL did not take them on the A to Z hike on Saturday--he and the other parents sat at the picnic table on cell phones and filled out the sheets for the boys! The boys were running wild during this time. One boy left during late twilight (before lights out) and just told his dad he was "going with some boys"--ended up all the way across the campgrounds--and the parent was mad at my spouse and I for not knowing where his son was! The parents took up two picnic tables to eat at, and their boys one more--leaving our boys no where to sit but on the ground; then left their trash laying on the tables and benches! That's when my spouse had to firmly tell the boys to clean up (our boys had cleaned their meal mess up, and were heading out to do the A to Z hike)--and the boys did that, clean up their mess (but not their parents nor anything else).


This is not unusual behavior by them. During Pack meetings, they are rude (and the parents are just as bad) and refuse to listen. I have brought it to the CM's attention...but he thinks the guy is great and the "boys will be boys" mentality is prevalent. Amazingly enough, our 22 boys (yes, 22 in our pack) can listen to instructions, find a buddy if needed, and several brought back a small trash bag of trash from the A to Z hike, on their own.

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Perhaps there could have been a better dismisall, maybe there couldn't. Who knows, difficult for those of us not there to say. But for this SM to blame his scouts misbehaving on that is dreadful. It should have been those scouts he was hauling over the coals (do you understand that expression your side of the pond?) and not the camp organisers.


I had a small group misbehave at a large and frankly tediously dull camp fire last year. Could it have been run better? Yes. Did I pass the buk? No. All 3 were invited to apologise to the camp fire leader, all 3 were restricted to our site for the rest of the evening, all 3 got extra chores and the ring leader lost his PL stripes.

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Yah, I reckon folks are never more upset than when we are upset with ourselves, eh? And lots of times when we are upset with ourselves we direct our anger unproductively at other things - at the boys, at the camp, at our spouses. It's a normal, if regrettable, act of human nature. Yeh see it in scouting all da time. Perhaps was even a factor in da other thread with regard to vomit in porta-potties. When we're upset, it's easy to blame a little lad who was ill rather than ourselves for not providin' for the possibility a boy may be sick or not have experience with porta-johns.


So it's not surprising that a fellow who doesn't yet know how to lead/manage a big group of boys latches on to some external contributing factor like minor disorganization in seating arrangements as somethin' to blame. While it may be worth considerin' having assigned unit seating at the campfire so that da troops that arrive last aren't forced to be split up all over the place, we all know that's a secondary consideration here.


I think when confronted by this sorta thing, da wise commissioner-like thing to do is to sit with da fellow afterward for a bit. Begin by acknowledging the seatin' issue and promise to work on it, just because yeh have to get past his anger and defenses. Then yeh need to help him with da real problem, eh? How does he learn how to manage a group of boys? That's harder than it looks, and many adult comes to it with no experience at all. Give the fellow some resources. Invite him to come visit a well-managed troop to see an example of how it's done. Get him a good unit commissioner.


Yah, sure, da complaint is misdirected, but we're all wise enough to recognize it for what it is, eh? It's a plea for help from a fellow scouter.




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You guys'll have to forgive me, I guess I need new glasses. I've been puzzling over this thread thinking it was titled "Passing the lame duck". Headed out to the optometrist now.....

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Only a buck? When I have blame to pass, I usually make sure it's worth a 10-spot!


Yes this happens. Sometimes it is a round-about way of a leader asking for help managing his boys.


Best response: "So, can I count on your boys helping to usher for the Spring camporee? Now that they understand what can happen, they might be ideal to guide other boys away from the adverse situation, and as you can tell, we need all the help we can get!"

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From the OP, it sounds like this is an issue that the SM should have been handling, instead of trying to blame the camp structure. However, this does remind me of a poem called "A Poem About Responsibility" by Charles Osgood. Some of you may know it as "The story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody".


There was a most important job that needed to be done,

And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.

But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask

Is who exactly will it be who'll carry out the task?


Anybody could have told you that everybody knew

That this was something somebody would surely have to do.

Nobody was unwilling; anybody had the ability.

But nobody believed that it was their responsibility.


It seemed to be a job that anybody could have done,

If anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.

But since everybody recognised that anybody could,

Everybody took for granted that somebody would.


But nobody told anybody that we are aware of,

That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.

And nobody took it on himself to follow through,

And do what everybody thought that somebody would do.


When what everybody needed so did not get done at all,

Everybody was complaining that somebody dropped the ball.

Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,

And everybody looked around for somebody to blame.


Somebody should have done the job

And Everybody should have,

But in the end Nobody did

What Anybody could have.

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