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gcnphkr

How would you handle this?

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This weekend was the district camporee. I was unable to attend.

 

One of the patrols did the following:

 

At morning assembly, had one scout hide in camp as he did not have his uniform for the inspection.

 

Skipped the afternoon games, to practice a flag retirement ceremony for the campfire. Instead of doing this they played, threw rocks and made a dutch oven dessert for that contest.

 

Their ASM was on camporee staff and arranged for them to get full points for the games they did not complete because they were working on the ceremony.

 

Laughed and talked during the flag retirement ceremony, when they cut the flag into its parts they just had the parts fall to the ground. In general, showed a lack of respect for the flag, seriousness regarding the ceremony and lack of preparedness.

 

Did not return with the troop on Sunday morning. Instead they stayed to help clean up at the camporee. Parents were not informed of this and did not know where their sons where or when they would return. While cell phone service is spotty where the camporee was held, there is service within a half mile.

 

For all of this they were awarded the prize for top patrol in the competition, first prize for the dutch oven dessert and the Spirit Award for the patrol best displaying Scout Spirit at the camporee.

 

This is a mixed age patrol with scouts that have ADD, Asperger's Syndrome and other developmental issues. The ASM places a lot of importance on the patrol winning because of their special needs and her ego as well.

 

Some of these things bother me more than others.

 

What, would you do? Which are the most important issues?

 

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Self Esteem does not come from "winning" it comes from earning. Rewarding anyone for something they did not earn sets them up for a harder failure later, disabilities or not...

 

You mention a number of the pboys in this patrol have developmental issues, is this the case with all the Patrols? If so then what makes this one different? If not, then why not seperate the boys so they can interact with "average" boys?

 

It sounds like the ASM in question may be the issue, why not switch the patrol they are assigned to?

 

 

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If I had to choose, I would put emphisis on the cheating to place first, and the disrepect of the Flag ceremony..

 

And alot of what you rattled off points to the cheating.. The morning uniform inspection (if no points, then scout spirit award would have been damaged).. Getting more time for the cookoff contest (may have helped, maybe not).. Definately the full points for games they did not attend is the biggest of the cheating.

 

The ASM who is an adult and allowed or was the main instigator of this activity, should be first to be brought to task, I could even discuss removing her from an ASM position.

 

The boys though also should be brought to task, I do not know how you go about awarding the deserving Unit (the one who got second place).. But I would look into it, although it might cause a bumping motion (2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 4th)

 

Definately a long talk about how you are winners if you do your best even if you don't win.. When you cheat you are automatically loosers.. This is definately not a victory to proudly announce at any upcomming court of honor.. I am not even sure they would deserve their camporee patch..

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Sounds like you got this second hand from your boys maybe? If so that's a shame that something like this clouded their weekend.

 

Not sure why hiding in camp would improve your score? First part of inspection is all boys present and accounted for. An absent boy scores zero (sometimes negative) points on inspection and drastically reduces the patrols average.

 

Anyway, if all the PL's present decided to give this patrol leeway in advance, then I'd say ok -- maybe for the sake of disability awareness. But our troop takes bad kids from time to time, and we don't expect any handouts from anybody. Poor scout spirit: dock 'em. I'd rather them come crying to us about that, than an entire camporee of boys look down on them because we somehow parlayed a free pass.

 

Obviously, get your facts straight as much as possible. Let your district activities chair know how much your boys are bothered about it. If your boys have control over your troop's schedule, they might not stop wanting to go to camporees.

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I received the information 2nd hand from other ASMs. That, and the parents that called me wondering when their sons would be back.

 

I doubt if the people that did the inspection asked if everyone was present, they generally don't.

 

I would be surprised it 25 or more patrol would have know to give their okay. One of the troop's patrols had half of their scouts practicing the OA Call Out. They just played the games as best they could. You make choices, sometimes that means you don't win.

 

The patrol wants to be together. They choose which patrol they are in. I would be very reluctant to break them up.

 

The ASM is likely the source for many of the issues.

 

We have a PLC and ASM meetings tonight. I'll learn more then. After that, I'll go to the next patrol meeting to talk with the scouts. Hopefully, I'll have a better idea of what to do at that point.

 

 

 

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Yah, jet526, what's your position in da troop? Why is this your concern?

 

Mostly, most of da things sound like ordinary kid stuff being relayed by a group of whining complainer parents upset that their little darling's patrol didn't win because da "special needs" patrol got special consideration. I dismiss that kind of stuff as unworthy of my time almost automatically.

 

What's particularly incongruous to me is that despite all these awful, horrible things, the camporee staff agreed that they deserved the Scout Spirit award. The ASM was only one fellow on staff, eh? He might have been in their corner, but clearly quite a few other adults from da district and other troops thought these fellows were doing a good job.

 

So yah, the patrol worked as a group to make their awesome dutch oven dessert and while it was baking played and threw some rocks. Who cares, unless da rocks were aimed at someone? That's just kids enjoyin' the outdoors and each other's company. And to my mind, staying behind at the camporee to help clean up is da sort of thankless hard work that makes for true Scout Spirit. Should they have called? Perhaps, dependin' on their age, parent expectations and da like. But to my mind, that's a conversation between a parent and a child that needs to be had, eh? Better to have that conversation now over a camporee than later on out with da girlfriend after the prom. ;)

 

Could the boys have been better? Sure. Could the ASM have offered a bit of gentle correction over the uniform inspection or da flag ceremony? Sure, if he was aware of it instead of runnin' around helpin' other events. But most importantly, what did the complainers do? Did they speak up at the time? Did they approach the patrol and say "hey, that's not cool?"

 

Or did they just talk about the winning patrol behind their back after the fact?

 

Beavah

 

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Beavah,

 

I'm the SM, I guess that is why it is my concern.

 

I don't think that the other ASM's are whining because their "little darling's patrol didn't win". One's son is the ASPL and did not compete, the other's son is in the patrol where its members were practicing for the Call Out Ceremony. The ASMs where just letting me know how the event went. On other occasions something will happen at a campout that I am not aware of and when a parent then talks to me about it I am clueless.

 

How the Spirit Award is determined is a mystery. It certainly does not involve input from the unit leaders or the entire camporee staff. I have no idea if the ASM was involved in the judging or not.

 

Yes, skipping the games and throwing rocks while making a dutch oven dessert would not likely even get a "knock it off with the rocks" from me. However, I have a hard time seeing how giving points for activities they did not do would be acceptable.

 

The not calling of the parents was the ASM's responsibility. The parents I received calls from had young scouts that do not carry phones. I've no problem with the patrol sticking around to help clean up.

 

As for what the "complainers" did. When the realized that a scout had been left alone back at camp they sent two scouts back to get him. Latter they talked with the PL about the indecent. They did not inform the camporee commissioner, which they say was a mistake. When lunch was over and the other patrol left to play games, the ASMs went to find out why the one patrol was still hanging out in camp. It was at this time that their advisor started working with them on the flags.

 

No one was aware that the patrol was given points for games they did not do until they were awarded the prize for being the top patrol in the games. At that point people asked how they could win when they only did about half of the games. Evidently the top patrol received compasses and flashlights in addition to the usual ribbon. I don't know who the second place patrol was as it was from another troop.

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Latter they talked with the PL about the indecent.

 

The WHAT?!!. Don't yeh just love da newfangled autocorrect features that pick words like that? ;)

 

Sounds mostly like minor stuff. They rightly and properly earned da dutch oven cooking award and from what it seems the Spirit Award. Yeh don't really have any reliable information on da patrol competition stuff, just some complainers who weren't with the patrol who believe they might not have actually won or that they might have gotten points they didn't deserve. I've seen patrols skip events and still win handily just because of how well they did in the events they participated in.

 

So I wouldn't turn molehills into mountains. At most, I'd have an offhand conversation with the ASM in question and some offhand conversations with da other ASMs as well. The first to explore a bit about being honest and fair, the second to explore a bit about being loyal, kind, and courteous. To be honest, I feel the other ASMs are a bigger problem. That behind-the-back-of-a-fellow-leader stuff is just poison for a unit, even if they're 100% right on the facts. Yeh need your team of ASMs to work together and be on the same page.

 

Of course, if the lads really admit to not deserving some points they got and that would have changed the outcome, they should learn to come forward and speak up as well. That sort of honesty is an important lesson. I'm not sure I'd pursue it at this point, though, unless you're really sure of all your facts. Maybe just an oblique SM's minute tellin' a story about someone else who gave up their win because they didn't think they deserved it.

 

As for whose duty it is to call, "never do for a boy something that he is capable of doing for himself." :) The PLC set the departure times, the boys opted to change, the boys should be responsible for calling if that is expected. They can borrow the ASM's cell phone or da camp phone if needed, and can even ask for directions on how to use a rotary phone if required. ;)

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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The Unit who hosted the camporee or the Activity Chair would know (or know who the unit was who hosted.).. But our camporees just get a plaque or trophy.. Getting compasses & flashlights that were individually passed out would be difficult getting them to cough them up.. Of the things I listed, sounds like that would probably be the hardest, and most complex to enforce..

 

But, sounds like it is not something only your troop knows. It is something that other troops questioned when the winning team was announced. That is unfortunate, as it ruins your reputation and there may not be any way to repair it except for fading memories of time.

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Sorry to disagree with you Beavah' but I do. You sound like those lovely parents who turn a blind eye to their childs mis-behaving ways regardless of how many people bring the story up with similar versions..

 

Jet has also indicated that knowing this ASMs personality.. The ASM places a lot of importance on the patrol winning because of their special needs and her ego as well.

 

 

If Jet felt there was a question about what he is hearing due to feeling the ASMs in question would never do that, the patrol in question would never do that, the people he is hearing the story from are prone to be complainers with their own agenda for their own child.. But, they are people who had not children involved, or planned not to place well due to abscences.

 

So if you are an ASM of a Troop, and you had no personal reason to be bitter.. Why would you come back to the troop to slander your winning patrol.. With a normal unit this would be something a who Troop would take pride in and rally around..

 

To just brush off such serious accusations of cheating, does not do these boys any favors, or the Troop as a whole.. To turn a blind eye to cheating sends the wrong message to the boys who cheated to do it again.. It also sends the wrong message to the other boys of the other patrols, that the scout law is just a bunch of words. It will send the message to the other ASMs who brought up the complaint, that you don't take them seriously and/or that the purpose of this unit is to "win at any cost".. They can either change their viewpoint, or yank their kid and go to a different troop.

 

If you do not address the situation as being serious, and let those involved know that it is serious, you do this whole unit a great injustice that could hurt them for years to come.

 

Just what you want, a whole troop that is raised by SM's & ASM's who turn a blind eye to anything thier scouts do wrong, and wave those who bring up the matter to you as whiners.. The kids of parents who do this, never grow up to have ethics, nor will this unit.

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It sounds like there's a huge number of failures and breakdowns in this situation, so like you said, you need to decide what's important and what's now.

 

In my opinion, some of the potential issues aren't really relevant, and might as well be ignored for the purpose of your response to this situation. The way points for the camporee were awarded really isn't your problem. Maybe it was unfair, but that decision was theoretically made by the district-level volunteers organizing the event, so let them deal with it. The fact that some of the scouts have developmental issues isn't really relevant. Presumably they have gone camping before and the troop should be familiar on working with their unique needs. I think even the disrespectful behavior isn't really the core issue here.

 

If I were an SM in this situation, I'd be most interested in how the youth and adult leaders that were present addressed these problems as they arose. It sounds like the leadership was considered by some to be sub-par - a scout hiding in camp, failure to communicate the whereabouts of the youth to their parents, and presumably lack of constructive discipline to address the behavioral issues suggest a breakdown of leadership by both the adult and youth leaders.

 

It sounds like a discussion is necessary between you and your ASMs, and you and your PLC, about leadership expectations on events where you are not present. I think that ideally the PLs and SPL should have stepped in to address the inappropriate and disrespectful behavior. The ASMs present should have backed them up, and maybe addressed the flag ceremony issue as well. Clearly the adult leadership needed to communicate with the Scouts' parents about their plans to stay and help with cleanup.

 

I'm not sure if I'm reading too much into your choice of words, but I noticed that you refered to the ASM an camporee staff as "Their ASM" - as in, the ASM assigned to the "troublemaker" patrol. I don't think its bad practice for a troop to have unofficial assignments of ASMs to each patrol, but it sounds like maybe everyone needs a refresher on the troop's chain of command - patrol members report to their PL, who reports to the SPL, who reports to the SM or his/her designee. While an ASM may unofficially be assigned to support a given patrol, that ASM needs to understand that the patrol is lead by the PL, SPL and SM, and that he or she should not try to insert him- or herself into the chain of command. I may be reading into this too much, but maybe that contributed to the communication issue regarding Scouts returning from the event - the ASM decided to keep "her" patrol around to help her, even though that shouldn't have been her decision to make. Maybe some of these ideas need re-enforcement, and maybe you should reevaluate which adults are assigned to assist which patrols.

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Yeah, Beav, I go along with Moose. Sure, jet's getting his info second hand, but we're getting it third. And he has the benefit of not only having a face-to-face conversation with the folks on the ground, but has an on-going relationship with them. Consequently, if jet's smelling a rat, I'm willing to go with his reading of the situation.

 

Jet, you've already alluded to the real problem. Seems to me you have the wrong ASM working with this patrol. Perhaps a mom of one of the boys, hmmmm? Unless this is a special need patrol and this lady has special skills which the patrol needs, maybe reshuffling ASM assignments is needed. If nothing else, the ASM needs a bit of reeducation regarding her decision to hold the boys over to help with clean up while leaving the parents hanging. Depending on how late they were, it may or may not be a big deal. Our troop rule is if we're more than 30 minutes late, we start calling to let folks know.

 

You do, however, need to separate the sins of the fathers from the sins of the sons. The ASM changing plans and returning late is not an issue with the boys and I wouldn't bring it up with them.

 

But I do like the idea of having a meeting with the boys. This may not be Watergate or Enron, but it is a teaching moment. The lessons to be learned are subtle. If I'm understanding you correctly, they got credit for games in which they did not participate inorder to practice a flag ceremony (which I assume was one of the factors in the sprit award) and managed to parlay that into yet another benefit of having extra time for the dessert competition. There are a lot of ways to look at that and many folks who see nothing wrong with it. Somehow you need to get them to empathize with the other patrols who strictly followed the rules. The parable of the Prodigal Son comes to mind. (And be sure to use the whole parable - too many folks end the story with the party.)

 

You know these boys, their maturity level and what they are accustomed to. You'll have to craft a message which will hit home with them. If their expectation is to receive special treatment and/or having their mom/ASM out front clearing the path of sticks and pebbles, you may need to reset those expectations.

 

In the process, you may beaccused of making a mountain out of a molehill. RIGHT! and thanks for noticing. I prefer to learn from the molehills rather than waiting for the mountains. Would it be preferable to wait until the boys are throwing rocks at someone's car? Or until they're caught "enhancing their competitive advantage" on an exam?(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Each of the 6 patrols has an ASM assigned to coach the patrol leader. Okay, two patrols (NSP and Venture) have JASMs and not adults. It is a common enough structure that it is on page 16 of the Scoutmaster Handbook. This particular ASM is more hands-on than I like. She would say they need the added involvement.

 

It may be that the ASMs need to be changed, although they are initially chosen by the patrol. I try to get them to chose an adult without a son in the patrol, but it doesn't always work that way. This is one of those patrols. I'm fairly certain that the ideas of doing the flag retirement, the dessert and staying to help clean up were all hers.

 

I do not consider this a "troublemaker" patrol nor would the SPL. They can be generally relied on to be where they need to be and do what they need to do.

 

There are a number of lessons. Winning is good, having honor is better; the value of loyalty, courtesy counts, proper decorum, etc. (Funny thing, the PLC has discussed playing Simon Says using drill instructions. But that is another thread entirely.)

 

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jet

 

First of all this is the kind of issue that you should be able to handle fairly easily within your unit without getting third hand advice here. You are the SM so act like one, if your ASM screwed up talk to her, tell her what she did wrong and why, then reverse the actions she took. Next explain to the boys exactly what they did wrong, and why you did what you did, case closed.

 

IMO, your ASM sounds like she needs some more training, especially on how to deal with boys during an outing, or maybe you need another more competent ASM to fill in for you when you are absent.

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BadenP.

 

I feel secure in my ability to handle the situation. I posted it for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to make sure I was not over or under reacting to various aspects. That is something that is difficult to do from within an organization. Between writing things out and reading your responses I think I have a good handle on it, not much different than when I started. Second, it was a bit more interesting than most of our usual complaining about how National is trying to ruin scouting, the BSA's inability to make an affordable and practical uniform in the USA, what the heck to DEs and UCs do anyway, and of course what is wrong with Woodbadge.

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