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nwscouttrainer

Conflict amoung the scouts

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How are personality conflicts and fighting among scouts within a troop handled?

 

My son's troop has two distinct groups within it who cannot stand each other and are unable to discuss anything without an argument breaking out which rapidly disolves into trading insults and other verbal attacks. So far the arguments have remained verbal, but there have been times when it looked like it could turn physical. The boys involved range from ages 12 to 13, and orignally came to the troop from two different packs.

 

The SPL is, himself, only 15 and has a hard time maintaining order during meetings whenever the two factions decide to go at it.

 

My son, who is not a part of either faction, finds the whole situation very distressing, especially since all activities come to a halt as these boys square off against each other.

 

What action, if any, should the adult leaders be taking with regard to the conflict that arises at eavery meeting/outing?

Should they leave the boys alone to work it out, or do they actively intervene to keep the peace?

 

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Even though you will get a lot of answers it is really impossible to give advice without much more back round information. The fact that; these are not new scouts, they came from Cub Scouts and there fore are not new to the concepts of Scouting; that you use the plural in speaking of argumentS, but there have been timeS, especially since all activitieS come to a halt as these boys square off against each other, makes me wonder. How long has this troop been in existence? Has the SPL had the benefit of learning from the example presented by former SPLs? What level of training for the job has the SPL had? Is this a boy led troop or an adult led troop? Though your son is not a part of either faction he his a part of his patrol, how many others in either patrol are not parts of these factions? What experience and training does the SM, ASMs have? Hard to say what to do until we know what our options are within this unit.

LH

 

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Boys need to learn how to deal with conflict in a positive way, but lacking experience they usually do not know how.

I have intervened when the youth leaders were overwhelmed by the situation, sometimes by talking to individuals one at a time in regard to their purpose in life, and sometimes I have provided a lecture to the entire troop regarding the relationship between their actions today and future world peace. It takes time, but eventually they figure out that the lectures get shorter as their behavior gets better.

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Yah, nws... what's your role in da troop? Are yeh looking for ideas as a SM?

 

I think we need more background. What are they fightin' about? "Tastes Great" vs. "Less Filling"? :)

 

How are the patrols set up?

 

B

 

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Should they leave it to the boys? Well, if it's been going on as long as you suggest (about a year and a half?), then clearly that hasn't worked.

 

As for what they could do...I think I'll take the easy way out and suggest that it does indeed depend on the specifics. The question about patrols is a good one. One solution would be to have the boys in mixed patrols and have lots of patrol competitions.

 

I think I'd probably step into a bang-up argument and calm things down, but that's just a short-term solution. Is there a ring-leader on either side? Could the SM (or ASM) talk with them about how to fix the problem? What type of solution would the boys suggest? Do they even see it as a problem?

 

Just some brainstorming...

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Hi All

 

Once during summer camp a few years ago, four of our new scouts were so excited about their adventure that they were keeping the rest of the camp awake. The SPL tried several times to quiet them down, but they were anxious for what they saw coming in the next few days and couldnt hold back the tone. Looking for a way to let the camp sleep without throwing water on the scouts excitement, I ask the scout to join me on a midnight hike in the middle of the beautiful Colorado evening.

 

The camp is rather large, which gave us plenty of time to stop and look at the stars, trees and mountain shadows drawn by the moon light. While we had a few nice discussions along the way, the hike also gave everyone some quiet time that I was hoping would create a little thirst for sleep. Eventually the appropriate spot came to where I could stop and ask with a smile This is becoming a long night for a few of us, what parts of the Scout Law and Scout Oath did we mess up on this evening.

 

It appears there is a whole lot of messing up of the Scout Law and Oath going on here and wisdom is needed. Maybe these scouts need a change of environment that will give them some quiet time to allow the wisdom to seep into the cracks. It is time for the SM to step in.

 

I love this scouting stuff.

 

Barry

 

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Actually, this is kinda simple.

 

Before the next Troop meeting, the SM should have a conversation with the SPL & ASPL & convey to them that he would like them to address this problem & have them do it at the next Troop meeting. He should tell them he would deal with this by telling both groups if the current behavior continues, they will all be suspended from the Troop for 30 days. After the 30 days they will have to come with their parents & let the SPL & ASPL why they feel their suspension should be lifted. I'd bet the problem ends without anymore incidents.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I'm with Ed on this one. They haven't grown out of it on their own, so it's time to experience consequences for their actions.

 

I'd give the committee a heads up after the inevitable happens, since they're likely to field some phone calls from parents who help enable this type of behavior.

 

Please note I said -after- the suspensions. It's my opinion that the SPL and SM don't need to ask for permission since the bad behavior is directly impacting an activity in progress.

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"It appears there is a whole lot of messing up of the Scout Law and Oath going on here and wisdom is needed. "

 

"... they will all be suspended from the Troop for 30 days."

 

It's always easier to slap on the cuffs than it is to fix the problem. The boys haven't fixed it on their own. When things get off track like this its time for the SM to do a few Scoutmaster conferences. Suspension should be a last resort option involving the SM, the boy, and parents, with concurrence of the committee. Boys have no business suspending other boys.

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Again I say that without the background info we are talking about personal images and not actual circumstances. If this is a small troop say 20 boys and there are 2 patrols a suspension has just put the entire troop program on hold for a month and possibly ended the troop if these boys dont repent as asked. Once you suspend them you cant back down when they return or your credibility is shot. Have the adults actual trained the youth leadership in how to effectively do their jobs? Seems to me they have not, the SPL does not seem to have been in control in the first place. Did the previous SPL have the same problem? If he did then the adult leadership needs to regroup before laying this at the feet of the SPL/ASPL/PLC. Reportedly this conduct is present at every meeting and outing. Having allowed this to persist going straight to suspension would IMO demonstrate an inability on the part of the adults to teach leadership.

LH

 

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Thanks for your replies...here is the background detail on the troop and the patrols.

 

The troop is actually one of the oldest troops in our council - operating since 1914. It has a reputation for being one of the best troops in the district, with several leaders being key players for the district and the council. The SM, ASM, Committee Chair, several committee members are all trained...even Woodbadge trained and, in fact, have served as Woodbadge staff the last few years. The average age of these leaders ranges from 50 to 83.

 

There are some newer leaders, who have entered the troop in the last year or two when their sons crossed over who are trained as far as being Cub Scout leaders, but have never taken either SM/ASM specific, nor Troop Committee Challenge. Because of the older, experienced leaders, they are taking a passive role in the troop at this time.

 

In the past, the troop has averaged around 25 or 30 boys. In the last few years, most of those scouts have aged out of the program or have shifted over into venturing. That, coupled with the failure by the troop to actively go after new boys in recent years, very few new boys have crossed over to replace the ones who have left. As a result, the troop now has only about 9 active boys with 2 or 3 others who show up from time to time.

 

The troop now has only two patrols, one with the 12 yr old sixth graders who all crossed over last March, and the second with the 13 year old seventh graders who crossed over two years ago. There are 4 boys in each patrol. The SPL is the oldest at 15 and SPL more out of necessity than desire because of his age. He has not gone to NYL Training.

 

The actual conflict is occurring within the 6th grade patrol, with two of the boys ganging up against a third boy in the patrol who is usually backed by one or two members of the 7th grade patrol. The other member of the 6th grade patrol tries not to get involved as do the other 7th graders.

 

The arguments can be over anything...if one boy expresses an interest in a football team, one of the rivals will jump in with comments about how bad the team is and off it goes. What is so disturbing is the intensity with which the arguments escalate until boys are standing nose to nose with the disagreement shifting from the original topic to personal insults aimed at each other. It got so bad at the last troop meeting that one boy began to insult the parentage of the other without even caring that the father of the other boy who is one of the newer leaders in the troop was standing within ear shot!

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, the boys in these patrols came from two different packs, and the division is occuring along the former pack lines, for the most part. I cannot speak to the behavior of the boys who came from one of the packs when they were Cubs, but can tell you that the two that came from my son's pack were always competative in nature, but not as overtly aggressive as this and were never allowed to behave this way when they were at the pack level since it did not conform to the pack's code of conduct. It simply wasn't tolerated by the leaders there.

 

I have expressed my concern to the SM and Committee Chair about the conflict, but have seen nothing done to address it or reduce it. My son, who is not directly involved in the fighting, is asking to quit the troop because he feels that too muich time is wasted on arguing and not enough time on troop activities. I can't say that I disagree with him.

 

Hopefully this additional information helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I can hear my father answering this question:

 

"Back in my day, we whould have tied them all together around a tree until we were convinced that they could get along for good."

 

Or -

 

"What those guys need is a swift kick in the arse."

 

Or even -

 

"Well fellow Scouters, why don't we adults take a hike and find out how this got resolved when we get back."

 

Now I'm not going to say these are great solutions, and certainly are inappropriate for today's world. But in the few cases we've had situations like this in our Troop, I kind of wish it were my dad who was the Scoutmaster.

 

Ignoring those options, I think the choice depends on the end results you want to get. If you want the behavior to end, I like Ed's method. If you want the boys to figure out how to make it end, I like Barry's concept.

 

Good luck to you!

 

Mark

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Well as I read nwscouttrainer's last post I'm left with the realization that Ed's method leaves one patrol at best and Barry's method invovles action by adults who don't seem to be interested in that invovlement anymore.

 mk9750 writes >>I think the choice depends on the end results you want to get<< Who exactly is the "you" in this sentence. I'm not posing this question to mk9750 directly because we all do this at times when we answer or comment. The "you" statement is not directed at nwscouttrainer because nwscouttrainer is not in a position to implement corrective measures directly. If the "you" is meant to identify the adult leadeship then we must ask does this adult leadership have ANY end result in mind? To my eyes these adults don't seem to accept what the end result of their actions is or will become.

 LH

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The arguments can be over anything...if one boy expresses an interest in a football team, one of the rivals will jump in with comments about how bad the team is and off it goes. What is so disturbing is the intensity with which the arguments escalate until boys are standing nose to nose with the disagreement shifting from the original topic to personal insults aimed at each other. It got so bad at the last troop meeting that one boy began to insult the parentage of the other

 

Yah, this sounds like Merlyn and Ed, eh? :)

 

Kidding aside, this just seems like kid stuff but without adequate adult guidance.

 

And probably a troop needing a more active program to wear them all out and give 'em something different to talk about. At least instead of football teams it could be S'mores vs. Dutch oven apple crisp :mad::)

 

Problem is, NWS, this is the SM's game, eh? You've done what you can do by alertin' him to your and your son's concern. Maybe on the side you can encourage some of da younger leaders to start steppin' up and runnin' activities, since the old crew seems ready to retire.

 

Beavah

 

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LongHaul,

 

Man, what an interesting perspective!

 

You've made me try to establish in my mind who I meant by you. In hindsight, I guess I propably didn't have a specific person im mind. As I think about it now, I guess I meant the adult leadership trying to meet the Aims of Scouting. But you are right, I threw that out there without much thought as to who I meant.

 

If I can take another crack at it, I'd like to stick with my original comment, but add that if current leadership has no clue about the real Aims of Scouting, or no interest in meeting them, then they need to be re-educated or replaced.

 

Details are are too sketchy for me to say this about nw's adult leadership, but some of the backround that he or she (I'm sorry, I couldn't pick up on which) describes for them sound very similiar to a number of very prominent leaders in our District. Older, been there forever it seems, 9 or more knots above the pocket, always with an "expert" opinion to throw out. But they often seem to miss the point of the program, to me. It seems more important to them to be seen as the perfect leader than to mentor the Scouts to whom they owe service. I struggle mightily biting my tongue sometimes. I'd like to assume it is ignorance. I'm afraid it is not. If there is a similiarity between the folks in my District and the leaders in nw's Troop, in my opinion, the future is unlikely to see the Scouts in your Troop getting the program to which they are entitled.

 

Mark

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