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Getting scouts to be quiet at night

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The problem with talking after lights out is that no matter how soft they talk, they will always be heared. Even in tents. I usually allow talking on the last night of a weeklong camp though, unless it i loud. The talking in cabins usually begins when a scout says they have to go to the latrine, or sum1 is shaking thier bad, etc. An adult in my troop has told me they have suffered and it is not their job to make them listen, it is mine. I asked him why he was there then.

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I have enjoyed these responses. It seems that for our troop, getting to sleep quickly correlates to how well fed they are and even better if fed later. I think good food goes a long way toward solving most problems. My biggest problem is the other leaders. Last outing the one with the sleep apnia machine was making Darth Vader sounds and the other one was sawing redwoods. Sheesh!

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Hmmmm, is the pot calling the kettle black? I'm sure you sleep like a little angel. LOL I've noticed our Cubmaster sets his tent up as far from my tent as possible. I'll let you guess which one of us is the noise maker.

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Ryan -


"An adult in my troop has told me they have suffered and it is not their job to make them listen, it is mine. I asked him why he was there then."


Hooray for that leader! In a truly boy-lead troop - it IS your job as the SPL to 'lead' the boys. the adults are there to drive you where you need to go, be mentors and advisors to you, provide the credit cards and checkbook signatures when needed - and give your parents peace of mind.


From your other posts, though, I know you have the difficult task of dealing with mostly younger boys, many of them ADHD and the rest plain excitable and disruptive as many first-year scouts are. they are used to CUBS - which IS adult lead - and I have seen from our own troop - THEY have a problem in changing patterns and accepting another boy leading them - or taking responsibility for themselves.


also - they are used to home - Mom and Dad enforce the rules there - so they automatically transfer to another adult that responsibility.


What you might do is sit down and talk to your adult leaders. Ask them to 'back' you more visibly. Have them make a 'show' in front of the younger boys that THEY defer to the PLC's leadership.


for example - even though the adults "know" the plans for the outing - have them refer all things to the appropriate boy leader. When someone wants to know 'what's for dinner? and Who's cooking?' the adult should say - "I dunno - ask PL Phil." When the kid asks the adult "is it OK if we go down to the beach?" the adult should respond, "Lets ask SPL Ryan what the plans are next" When someone says "Where's the dutch oven?" the boy quatermaster should answer - NOT the adult - (even if they know)


It will take a little while - habits are hard to break - and it's amazing to me how "stuck" even young people can get to their expectations! But eventually, they'll get the message (that the adults don't know anything, but YOU do! LOL!)


As for the quiet time - same thing. for starters - you might ask an adult to accompany you quietly - while YOU go around tent to tent and explain the rules. Their presence should lend authority - but the message is from YOU.


You have a very small group - but in a larger group - you can make the PATROL responsible for the trouble makers. Give the whole patrol a punishment if the troublemakers don't calm down, make the PL keep a thumb on his patrol. Believe me - peer pressure will work quickly on the few noisy ones! - they may threaten to duct tape their mouths shut next outing!


Come up with a reward or punishment for noise - the first quiet tent gets served breakfast first? the noisy tent has to be 'mules' and lug troop equipment back to the trailer in the morning? make clear rules and limits and STICK TO THEM. 1 warning, then a consequence.


One bit of advice though - don't make the punishments personal - like doing the adults' work - that puts the 'authority' back on the adults. also don't make them regular duties - like dishwashing or latrine cleaning- those are jobs that should be handled by duty roster. If you make those jobs punishments, then the boys that are assigned the duty through regular rotation, feel THEY are being punished for no reason. so chose a punishment that is OUTSIDE the normal camp duties.


good luck!


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"Hooray for that leader! In a truly boy-lead troop - it IS your job as the SPL to 'lead' the boys.


Actually it's not. It is the senior patrol leaders job to help Patrol Leaders to succeed, and to chair the troop meetings and the Patrol Leaders Council. Each Patrol Leader helps their patrol members to succeed, and coordinates the efforts and resources of the patrol.


It's the adult leaders job to train them and set a good example.


"Come up with a reward or punishment for noise"


I think Laura is half right here. I really like the reward idea. Reward only good behavior. But leave punishment to parents and the troop committee. There are better ways to change scouts than punishment.


This weekend we had a campout. Two of the scouts had difficulty in both telling time and adjusting their volume control. In the wee wee hours of the morning I headed for the latrine more in hopes of being seen by our noise makers than for personal comfort.

They saw me and said hi, I motioned the two over and whispered that the camp had an "all's quiet" rule until 7 AM. I explained that their noise could get us thrown out for not being obedient and courteous. I asked if for the sake of the troop I should ask them to be quiet, or send them home, and that I would let them choose.


When I got back from the latrine if they were back in bed and quiet I would assume they chose to stay. They were in bed.


The next morning I saw them walking by for water and invited them to join the adults for a moment. We talked about what happened the night and asked them if they understood what they had done wrong. They apologized and assured us that it would not happen again. We shared some cantalope with them and they walked away feeling good about the interaction and having learned a lesson.


No punishment. Communication, explaination, reflection, reinforcement.


It's the scouting way.


Bob White

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There was no threat. There was a calm dicussion of the values of the scout law. An explaination of the what could happen to the troop and a choice they could make. Some leaders would have had them go on a hike, or run laps around the camp, or do extra kitchen duties. I gave them the opportunity to behave as scouts at a scout event or go home. No hollering, no stunts, punishment was left to the parents and scouting left to those who live by the Oath and Law.


I leave it to the readers of the thread to decide which method they feel is more scout-like.


Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I'm honestly not trying to pick a fight with you or pick nits either. I appreciate your posts and agree with you the majority of time. But I think the difference in your approach is too subtle to see much difference. You can say, "hey guys, you have a choice of either being quite and not disturbing the sleepers or running the risk of getting up and going on a hike.....your choice". Or you can say, "hey guys, you have a choice of either being quite and not disturbing the sleepers or running the risk of being sent home....your choice". Either way, they have been given a choice of eith being quiet or suffering the consequences. For most scouts I know, being sent home IS punishment. By not being quiet, they made the choice of being sent home just like they made the choice of doing the night hike.

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Here is where I see the difference, and by the way in 25 years I have only sent three or four scouts home.


Itis not the responsibility of the SM or the ASMs or of the junior leadership to punish kids. Look in any BSA resource you choose thats not what we train for. Why waste time and energy making up unrelated stunts or punishmets that often just interfere with delivering the scouting program to the other scouts.


The BSA makes parents responsible for punishing their own children. If a scout decides he needs punishment then my job is to get him in close proximity to his parents so that they can do their job and I can do mine. The best way to do that is to bring the parents to the boy.


I volunteer my time to share scouting with boys willing to behave according to the Oath and Law. When a scout misbehaves we discuss what the oath and law say. We discuss the positive and negative ramifications of the behaviour and why the values of scouting are important. We come to an agreement that scouting activities are for scouts, and what makes you a scout is not your rank, or your skill at knots, or first aid. What makes you a scout is your character. So show me by your character that you are a scout or you cannot stay at a scout event. A boy who follows the oath and law can come to any event he wants but If you violate the oath or law I don't care what your rank is, how many merit badges you have or what office you hold. You get a chance to make a decision to either go to your parents for whatever punishment they choose to administer, or to act like a scout and stay. I'm there to work with scouts.


Bob White

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ryon, it is a problem everywhere. We let out boys have lights out at midnight (this is everynight). By that, we mean everyone in their tents and lanterns off. They can stay up in their tents, play cards, talk, etc as long as they aren't disturbing anyone else. If they do then we put an end to it. Our other rule is that EVERYONE must be up for morning flag and happy. If they aren't then the next night at camp (if it is Sunday morning that would be the next campout Friday night).


Seems to work pretty well.

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  • 4 weeks later...



Let the boys talk for a little play cards or something but when the time comes tell everyone they need to settle down be in there tents and if you hear any noise the scout will have to leave the camp...

works with us



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