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Now I feel guilty for trying to get 60 boy start doing "We will Rock You" by pounding on the tables. You got extra points at camp for showing scout spirit for that as well. It was a fun moment; though yeah my silverware and drink was bouncing around.


We had a few young boys run up and hug the camp director at announcements. It was silly and delayed things a bit. But hey it's camp not the army.

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Yeah, I had to look up doggerel too.




I was taught Scout Spirit is living by the Scout Oath and Law. So I've always been a bit surprised to learn parts of the Oath and Law can be read to include pounding on tables, blowing horns at 6am and the wearing of hula skirts and coconut bras.


Our troop demonstrates Scout Spirit by doing a really working hard and practicing for our turn at retiring the colors (compared to the troop whose Life and two First Class Scout needed help from the camp director to even fold the flag). Our Scouts are taught to stay after last session and help the counselors clean their areas. We participate in all the activities, competitions and programs. We volunteer to clean the ENTIRE dining hall after dinner every day (not just our own table). Our adults stay busy volunteering at various program ares for which they have an interest or expertise. We're the first troop to sign up for a full slate of duties cleaning the showers and assembly areas. We always do a troop conservation project and usually have pioneering project/gateway in our campsite.


And we never, ever win the spirit award. It always goes to one of the "look at me" troops banging the tables and wearing the coconut bras. And our Scouts take pride in that. They know something the staff (which votes on the spirit award) doesn't know -- the real meaning of Scout Spirit.


I'm with Callooh on this one. Campfires and while waiting for other troops to assemble is a good time for the yelling -- not while other people are trying to eat and have a conversation.


Fred started a concurrent thread in which he mentions having an adult table separate from the boys. I started to spin another thread, but this one seems like a good place to note that I disagree with his approach. I make a point NOT to sit with the other adults. I try to sit with a different group of boys every meal, but sit most often with the first and second year guys and particularly the ones who don't seem engaged or having fun. This is a great time to see how they're doing, what they're enjoying, the cool stuff they've seen and may want to do next year. Or school. Or sports. Or any other thing that comes up. You know, conversations.


Hard to do that with Table Number Four, Number Four, Number Four screaming in your ear.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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"....outcome of any attempt on your part to stop your troop from participating will be that everybody else views you as a bit of a stick in the mud."


"a stick in the mud?"

One notices a stick in the mud because it's not like the stuff around it... the mud.

Do sticks in mud throw pearls before swine?


"Your boys might obey, but they'll also probably resent it."

Well, this may sound boastful, but I reckon I could summon the strength to live under the crushing burden of this resentment. If one could continue to live happily under the shadow of this dreaded resentment, the example of cheerful perseverance might inspire boys to also reclaim the wreckage of their broken dreams of making cacophonous nuisances of themselves at dinner and redirect that drive to some other goal (hopefully not vengeance - you spose I should watch my back?).


But, as it happened. It wasn't me that first made a public issue of this matter. It was a boy, more than one actually, but one was/is particularly vociferous in his objections to the practice. I advised him more or less thusly: "yes, you're right, but you should forgive your fellow campers their noisy uncouthness, for they know not what they do.... well, OK, you're right, actually they know exactly what they're doing, but they've been given this bogus "it's scout spirit" excuse, and it's tradition, and they've got adults egging them on, and....whatever man, just forgive them anyway on general principle... it's healthy for you and kind to them.... and, by the way, you can't stop their behavior anyway.... so, just let it go."


But does he listen to me? Oh no. Of course not. He's too much like me to listen to me. He takes the issue to the camp SPL meeting when he's standing in as acting SPL. And he tells all the older, senior, real SPLs that their troops need to exercise more courtesy at meals and they need to quit the pounding and yelling . I wish I'd been there to see it. A camp staffer who was present gave me an eyewitness account; apparently the boy handled himself with aplomb and was unfazed when his complaints were rebuffed (as he must have known they would be)..... and it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective) - he had already made the same complaint last time he was at camp and got the same results - and this time he wasn't even taking every meal in the dining hall... only lunch; because prior to camp he had already successfully politicked a small clique of fellow kulaks and capitalist roaders to join him in cooking and eating breakfast and dinner at the campsite at their leisure.


So here, I'm just following his lead and bringing the issue up for Scouters to consider as he did for Scouts.


But hey.... in the chow hall... you do what you think is right and you reign in boys in your troop when you think appropriate.... I'm just asking you to consider what I've said and overlook any barbs with which I may have adorned the saying of it.


I'm not arguing for an atmosphere in which grumpy Scouters with acid dripping from their pit-bull growling tones tear into boys for having their hats on indoors (yea, I've seen that - it's odd because common sense tells me that that's a point of etiquette we could suspend in light of boys having hands full of trays and no place to put their hats anyway). We don't need drill sergeants standing around to enforce silence... but it sure would be nice to have a little decorum at mealtime and to save the most raucous cheers for other settings.


AND NO POUNDING TABLES! - that means YOU, Mr. "We Will Rock You!" Now get down and give me 20 pushups while singing "I'm a Little Teapot" and sing like you mean it.... make us all believe that you really are a little teapot! Move it!


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Ah, my other dining hall pet peeve -- using assault, battery and misdemeanor larceny to teach courtesy to our Scouts.


Unlike many troops, we have a troop hat which is considered part of our uniform. So when we arrive for dinner in Class As, all our Scouts are wearing hats. This generally increases the likelihood a few of our guys will forget and wear them inside the dining hall. Or even if you remove your hat what's the first thing you do with your hat when you need to free your hands -- you put the hat back on.


So after a few instances of getting sideways with the dining hall staff over various levels of assaults committed against my Scouts, I got proactive and would politely let them know hats are part of our uniform and that if any of our boys forget and have their hats on in the building that I would consider it a personal favor if they would please politely remind them to remove them. And if the response is anything but a quick apology and compliance that they please let me know ASAP.


Lo and behold, after a couple years of this we got a new dining hall steward -- a really nice young fellow -- who at orientation reminds the Scouts to please be courteous and remove their hat when entering the dinning hall. He even suggests that they convenienly tuck the bill inside the back of their belt to keep from setting them down and forgetting them. AND he asks that if anyone sees someone else with a hat on they remember that A Scout is Kind and Courteous and for them to simply remind the other fellow to remove his hat.


(Deep, satisfied sigh.)

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The epiphany for me...


I remember that, as a Scout, we sang really well, and our skits were always funny. Even the old, tired skits that we saw millions of times, there was always some twist that kept it fresh.


Fast forward to a couple of years ago, when I returned to the program as a Scouter. We're at a camporee, with bunches of troops -- couldn't stand the shout-singing and the old, tired skits that I've seen millions of times before were annoying more than anything else.


Then I looked over and noticed a Scoutmaster who I'd met a few months before (when we were troop-shopping, so to speak). He'd been an SM for over 15 years, and here he was, standing at the rear of the crowd, watching all of the dopey skits, laughing at the dopey jokes. I know that for every skit I'd seen a million times, he's probably seen it two millions times. Shout-singing? He was right there, too.


It was at that moment that I realized the problem was me. It was my attitude that needed fixing.



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Obviously there are pros and cons on this subject and we'll discuss it ad nauseum. However, for those that want that kind of excitement at dinner time, they can choose summer camps with mess halls. For those that prefer the back-to-nature kind of experience where loud noises, bright colors and trash are considered pollution, go with the camps where patrol cooking in the campsites are the norm.


For me personally, when I go "back to nature" I avoid the loud, noisy environments which I experience every day and go with the more relaxed quietude of being in the woods where I can hear the birds, the steams and the wind in the trees. To each his own.


There's a time and place for everything, the choices we make should reflect the kind of time and place one prefers.


Sometimes I like the din of the crowd at a Packer/Viking football game and then there are times I like to soak a worm in a slow moving stream while munching on a PBJ sandwich.


I guess when all is said and done, when I'm in a back-to-nature mood, I don't really want to be interrupted with raucous noise for the sake of raucous noise. I really do prefer sitting around a cook fire chatting with the boys about their MB classes and camp experience at patrol-level meal times. But then no one cheers on the boys at camporee competitions more than I do when those times roll around.



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I know it's worth a separate thread ... and has been debated here before ... but the hats-in-hall order has become incredibly tiresome. Adults or staffers who insist, however politely, that hats be removed reveal a fundamental ignorance about Scouting and the world in general.


To wit: Not everyone shows respect by doffing their caps. Some faiths and cultures, in fact, show respect for their higher power by WEARING headgear. By requiring no hats indoors, you place a demand on observant Jews, just to name one group, that they violate their beliefs. That is intolerant and unScoutlike, even though it is done because of ignorance.


Also intolerant is the standard request to "bow your head and pray" at the grace. Not everyone bows their heads! Far better to simply say "Prepare yourselves for prayer."


Thus endeth the rant.

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To show true respect it must come from the heart. Demanding someone to remove a hat to show respect is not appropriate. As Shortridge states, maybe stopping to put a hat ON might be a better example of respect if that is the personal belief of that person.


For me, I remove my hat before entering a building. I never eat with a hat on whether in indoors or outdoors. But that's my situation. Not everyone follows those principles, nor do I expect them to. I see myself as a tolerant person that is offended by zero-tolerance policies, because more often than not it paints people into corners that they can't gracefully exit out of. If that happens, just put on the dunce cap and sit quietly.


Maybe it's time for camp staff to show a bit of respect to the scouts that pay to come to their facilities for summer fun.


And to add a bit of fuel to the fire, is it hazing if they don't remove their hats and have to be embarrassed in front of their friends? Kinda of a thin line running through this discussion.



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