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Kid and Dad are a handful
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Sam Hosney
(SamHosney) - F
Kid and Dad are a handful on 11/27/2008 21:02:45 MST Print View

do any of you Scouters out there have any experience taking Scouts to Philmont that are 'a handful' to work with?

All the adults on our 2009 trek are trying to determine if we're willing to be responsible for a Scout who is by a nice description, is at least a handful, but more like his dad.

The Scout is not usually bad, but has a very short patience, quick temper, often a bully and has a history in our troop of disruption.

The adults going were not aware he was going until yesterday, and I'm not sure any of the 3 of us are that willing to deal with him for 2 weeks (trip out and back inclusive).

What are our options if we get there and he decides it's going to be his way? (a common event) Can we refuse to take him now? We don't have a lawyer in the troop, and can't really afford one.

He's already paid his money in full, his dad is an attorney and a major league A$$HOLE, and is telling us we have to take him and he will be responsible for him. He apparently is also a little / lot ADD / ADHD / ???

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 11/27/2008 21:51:16 MST Print View

Scouts: volunteer group. Rather hard to sue!

Anyhow, if you are stuck with the kid, run him off his legs! Who knows - away from Dad and having to meet your standards, he might be OK.


Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Just say no on 11/27/2008 21:59:07 MST Print View

How is dad going to "be responsible for him" if he's not there? (Or are you stuck with dad, too?)

I'm not a lawyer, so this isn't legal advice. Quite honestly, with 20/20 hindsight as a former Scoutmaster, I'd say stick to your guns, and if dad forces the issue, cancel the trip. Yes, it's sad that one kid can ruin it for everyone - but he's going to ruin it if he goes, too.

This is a "big" trip, that I assume costs a lot of money. It would be a shame to waste the time and money on a trip where there's a good chance that you won't be able to enjoy yourselves.

The worst dad can do is coerce the troop committee into firing you - and life's too short, with too many good hikes, to put up with this guy's crap. I once had a father who pulled that stunt on me; he backed down when I offered to let him have the job.

Stick to your guns.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Kid and Dad are a handful on 11/27/2008 22:31:48 MST Print View

Yes, you can refuse to take him before you go. Once the trip starts, you're stuck with him, and you are legally responsible for him.

Adult scouting is a volunteer leadership position. You are under NO legal obligation to take anyone anywhere. If the adults are not comfortable having him on the trip, try telling his Dad this and that the only way the kid goes is if Dad goes along to supervise him - think of it as bonding opportunity. If Dad refuses, just refund the kid's money and tell him he's out. If Dad complains, ask him to cite chapter and verse of the appropriate legal statute supporting his position.

I've had some experience doing this same thing with the Venture unit in the troop when my son was growing up. I organized and led 50 milers on the PCT every summer for several years.

Just in order to QUALIFY to go on the trip, everyone, child or adult - had to complete the 3-hike training plan AND have the correct gear. As the Venture ASM and the adult who was going to be legally responsible for the group on the trip, my definition of "qualified" was law. Don't like that? Don't go with us.

In 4 years, I never had a anyone lost, injured, or worse. One year I had to tell the Scoutmaster's son that he couldn't go because his demeanor and actions represented a potential safety hazard for the group. My predecessor had taken the boy on an earlier 50 miler on which this boy's indifference resulted in a severe case of hypothermia. He had not changed in the interim.

The night before we leave, everyone comes to my place for a full pack layout (minus food), Gear discrepancies are noted and the packs stay at my place. The morning of departure, all deficiencies had to be corrected or you didn't get in the vehicles.

One of the best lessons we as adults can teach these kids is personal responsibility. Setting limits and abiding by them is an acquired skill, and you learn this by watching. If the parents can't or won't provide it, we as volunteer leaders must. I too have had a Dad challenge my decisions, and he too backed down when faced with my offer to allow him to take over right then and there.

Edited by wandering_bob on 11/27/2008 22:38:36 MST.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Handfuls on 11/27/2008 22:47:12 MST Print View

Another ASM and I told our scoutmaster that we wouldn't go on another trip if two kids who consistently caused problems went. He told the parents, they didn't go. You're in a bad place, so I don't really know what to tell you. It would probably do the kid a world of good to go, but it's not worth ruining it for everyone else.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 11/28/2008 00:16:11 MST Print View

I think Bob is on the right track.
I would also talk with Philmont and see how they handle this situation and how they handle a boys who needs to be sent home early (I know they have dealt with this kind of thing before).
I would also talk to your District and Council, asking for there advise and direction. They will be able to help you with the Dad- especially the council.
My idea would be to set your ground rules and then use your pre-hikes as a proving ground (make the hikes tough). If he can't handle them, then he's out. I would make this the same for everyone.
BTW, I don't remember anyone having ADD/ADHD when I was a kid (or maybe I was the ADD/ADHD kid?)

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Kids on 11/28/2008 10:14:54 MST Print View

I think we all had ADD/ADHD as kids, but it was called being a boy back then.

Good advice on calling the Council. We have also made parents sign a form saying they will come get their kids if they become unmanageable.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
re: Kids on 11/28/2008 19:19:09 MST Print View

I hope you never had this happen, but I've got to know:

It's all well and good that the parents signed a paper promising to come get their kid if he becomes unmanageable. But, what was your fall-back plan when you made the call, and the parent decided that you were over-reacting, that their kid had not become unmanageable, and that they weren't going to come get him?

Never had this happen at a Scout event, but had something similar happen at an after-Prom event my Rotary club put on. A girl showed up falling-down drunk. We called her parents to come take her home. Her dad came, talked to her a moment, and told us, "I've been in a lot worse shape than this; I'm not going to make her go home." We explained our next call would be to the police, since she was underage. Father and daughter got in his car and went home.

Edited by garkjr on 11/28/2008 22:40:22 MST.

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
kid and dad on 12/01/2008 08:46:55 MST Print View

as an ASM for our troop, and 3 time Philmont attendee, (we went this year), I think you have excellent advise in the posts above. Our group was so good, (they knew each other and from the same troop), I really got to enjoy the interaction of scouts this trip. Was great for all.

However, one of our sister contingent crews was on the same itinerary as us, and they had a bad trip, due to boy interaction issues. There is so much invested in a trip like this, IMO you need to avoid it at all costs. It can ruin the trip for all, not something you could even want. I would offer talking to council and see if you can simply say no thanks to taking the boy unless his father goes, or something like that. Linking attendence to his parent, given the parent won't attend, would solve the scouts going. Not sure that can happen, but I would pursue that course first. That would be my choice as attending advisor. Problem solved before it gets started. But I am not sure this is "legal", given the boy is a legitimate member and has paid his money. I would work on not having him attend, rather than hoping it would work out. Good luck.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Kid on 12/01/2008 09:42:49 MST Print View

Where I live, most parents still want their kids to behave, so the bluff works pretty well. And you're right, it's probably just a bluff.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Pre-Trip Hikes on 12/01/2008 16:20:18 MST Print View

I would hate to have a kid that is unmanageable on a trip like this. We all know boys will be boys and that's what is fun sometimes. But if a kid is going to stink up the trip for someone else it could make for a LONG 2 weeks. I would use the advice above.

Talk to the council first. If you feel he needs to stay on the trip do what others have suggested. Make strict rules for pre-trip hikes. Make them hard. Make the kids work together. Who knows, maybe the kid will respond well. You do have to be careful though with a seemingly litigious father. All boys must be judged by the same rules. What if one of the other boys that you like doesn't stack up?

We made it simple. We only took Eagle Scouts on our trip. They were older boys that we had made a lot of trips with. It was a joy. We just had to keep up.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Philmont on 12/02/2008 07:22:48 MST Print View


Philmont is so special that everything possible should be done to make it a positive experience for those lucky enough to go.

The training/shakedown hike ideas are good. If those do not go well, just inform the dad that his son will not be going this year.

It is not fair to the other boys to have their Philmont trek ruined.

Our troop had a similiar issue several years ago and we learned the hard way that it's better to suck it up and deliver the bad news than it is to suffer a bad trek. We will not make that mistake again.

We shared '10 Rules of Expedition Behaviour' with our scouts this year. It is a humorous way to show what is necessary to work together as a group. It worked great. I'll e-mail it to you if you wish.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Kid and Dad are a Handful on 12/02/2008 16:59:45 MST Print View

This situation is a reason, why you need to set and enforce behavior standards on all hikes and outings. If you let the behavior problems slide on the short hikes and campouts you will have issues on longer trips. It might sound hardheaded, but I learned the hardway. 7 days in the wilderness with a behavior issue is unpleasent at best, and could be a safety hazard. The Scouts are suppose to live by the Scout Law and Oath. I try and get the Scouts to police themselves. It works even better when other Scouts remind the mis-behaving Scout that they are not living the 12 points points of the Scout Law.

At the same time Scouts need to be Scouts and have fun or they will not enjoy the outings.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
10 Rules on 12/02/2008 17:21:12 MST Print View

I'd like a copy of those rules please...

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
John, Can you post the 10 rules? on 12/02/2008 18:43:48 MST Print View

John, Can you post the 10 rules?

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
10 Rules For Expedition Behavior on 12/02/2008 18:51:37 MST Print View

Expedition Behavior
The Finer Points
Howard Tomb
A good expedition team is like a powerful, well-oiled, finely tuned marriage. Members cook meals together, carry burdens together and face challenges together.
A bad expedition, on the other hand, is an awkward, ugly, embarrassing thing characterized by bickering, filth, frustration and burned food.
Nearly all bad expeditions have one thing in common: poor expedition behavior (EB). This is true even if team members follow the stated rules, such as Don’t Step on the Rope, Kerosene and Food, No Soap in the River, No Raccoons in the Tent, Keep your Ice Axe Out of My Eye, etc.
Unfortunately, too many rules of expedition behavior remain unspoken. Some leaders seem to assume that their team members already have strong and generous characters like their own. But judging from a few of the campers we’ve encountered, more rules ought to be spelled out. Here are ten of them.

RULE #1 Get out of bed.
Suppose your tentmates get up early to fetch water and fire up the stove while you lie comatose in your sleeping bag. As they run an extensive equipment check, pack gear and fix your breakfast, they hear you start to snore. Last night you were their buddy; now they’re drawing up list of things about you that make them want to spit. They will devise cruel punishments for you. You have earned them. The team concept is now defunct. Had you gotten out of bed, nobody would have had to suffer.

RULE #2 Do not be cheerful before breakfast.
Some people wake up perky and happy as fluffy bunny rabbits. They put stress on those who wake up mean as rabid wolverines. Exhortations such as “Rise and shine, sugar!” and “Greet the dawn, pumkin!” have been known to provoke pungent words from rabid wolverine types. These curses, in turn, may offend fluffy bunny types. Indeed, they are issued with the sincere intent to offend. Thus, the day begins with flying fur and hurt feelings. The best early morning behavior is simple: Be quiet.

RULE #3 Do not complain.
About anything. Ever. It’s ten below zero, visibility is four inches and wind driven hailstones are embedding themselves in your face like shotgun pellets. Must you mention it? Do you think your friends haven’t noticed the weather? Make a suggestion. Tell a joke. Lead a prayer. Do NOT lodge a complaint! Your pack weighs 87 pounds and your cheap backpack straps are – surprise!, surprise!, - cutting into your flesh. Were you promised a personal sherpa? Did somebody cheat you out of a mule team? If you can’t carry your weight, get a motorhome.

RULE #4 Learn to cook at least one thing right.
One expedition trick is so old that it is no longer amusing: on the first cooking assignment, the clever cook prepares a dish that resembles, say, Burnt Socks in Toxic Waste Sauce. The cook hopes to be relieved permanently from cooking duties. This is the childish approach to a problem that’s been with us since people first started throwing dead lizards on the fire. Tricks are not a part of a team spirit. If you don’t like to cook, say so. Offer to wash dishes and prepare the one thing you do know how to cook. Even if it’s only tea. Remember that talented camp cooks sometimes get invited to join major expeditions in Nepal, all expenses paid.

RULE #5 Either A) Shampoo, or B) Do not remove your hat for any reason.
After a week or so on the trail, without shampooing, hair forms angry little clumps and wads. These leave the person beneath looking like an escapee from a mental ward. Such and appearance could shake a team’s confidence in your judgment. If you can’t shampoo, pull a wool hat down over your ears and leave it there, night and day, for the entire expedition.

RULE #6 Do not ask if anybody’s seen your stuff.
Experienced adventures have systems for organizing their gear. They very rarely leave it strewn around camp or lying back on the trail. One of the worst things you can do is ask your teammate if they’ve seen the tent poles you thought you packed 20 miles ago. Even in the unlikely event you get home alive, you will not be invited on the next trip. Should you ever leave the tent poles 20 miles away, do not ask if anybody’s seem them. Simply announce, with a good-natured chuckle, that you are about to set off in the dark on a 40 mile hike to retrieve them, and that you are sorry. It’s unprofessional to lose your spoon or your toothbrush. If something like that happens, don’t mention it to anyone.

RULE #7 Never ask where you are.
If you want to know where you are, look at the map. Try to figure it out yourself. If you’re still confused, feel free to discuss the identity of landmarks around you and how they correspond to the cartography. If you A) suspect that a mistake has been made; and B) have experience in interpreting topographical maps, and C) are certain that your group leader is wrong, speak up. Otherwise, follow the group like a sheep.

RULE #8 Always carry more than your fair share.
When the trip is over, would you rather be remembered as a rock or a sissy? Keep in mind that a pound or two of extra weight in your pack won’t make your back hurt any more than it already does. In any given group of flatlanders, somebody is bound to bicker about your weight. When an argument begins, take the extra weight yourself. Then shake your head and gaze with pity upon the slothful one. This is the mature response to childish behavior.

RULE # 9 Do not get sunburned.
Sunburn is not only painful and unattractive, it’s also an obvious sign of inexperience. Most green horns wait too long before applying sunscreen. Once you’ve burned on an expedition, you may not have a chance to get out of the sun. Then the burn gets burned, skin peels away, blisters sprout on the already swollen lips. Anyway, you get the idea. Wear zinc oxide. You can see exactly where and how thickly it’s applied and it gives you just about 100% protection. It does get on your sunglasses, all over your clothes and in your mouth. But that’s OK. Unlike sunshine, zinc oxide is non-toxic.

RULE #10 Do not get killed.
Suppose you make the summit of K2 solo and carrying the complete works of Hemingway in hardcover. Pretty macho, huh? Suppose now that you take a vertical detour down a crevasse and never make it back to camp. Would you still qualify as a hero? And would it matter? Nobody’s going to run any fingers through your new chest hair. The worst thing to have on your outdoor resume is the list of the possible locations of your body.

All expedition behavior really flows from this one principle: Think of your team, the beautiful machine, first. You are merely a cog in that machine. If you have something to prove, forget about joining an expedition. Your team will never have more than one member.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 12/03/2008 13:18:49 MST Print View

Sam, I have some thoughts and experiences for you. Can you please send me your email in a PM?

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: 10 Rules For Expedition Behavior on 12/04/2008 10:32:48 MST Print View

Thanks for sharing John! That's brilliant and absolutely right-on!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 10 Rules For Expedition Behavior on 12/04/2008 13:54:56 MST Print View

> RULE #5 Either A) Shampoo, or B) Do not remove your hat for any reason.
> After a week or so on the trail, without shampooing, hair forms angry little clumps and wads.

I must say this one seems a little out of place compared with the others! Could I suggest at least option C) Carry and use a comb each day?


Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
A comb??? on 12/04/2008 16:47:17 MST Print View


A comb????

(note my self portrait)