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Kid and Dad are a handful
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David Irvin
(kybrent) - F

Locale: Central Kentucky
Litigious Dad and kid on 12/04/2008 17:58:17 MST Print View

I think the advice listed above is excellent. Checking with your council and Philmont is a great idea. I think your troop committee could make the decision. I offer my advice from the perspective as a lawyer and as an ASM. First, it is admirable that the BSA and councils promote accommodating disabled scouts. This is a good policy. Sometimes scouting can turn around a kid with a bad home life, and scout leaders who can make a difference in a kid's life are to be commended. However, a kid that persistently misbehaves and makes no effort to follow the rules is a different matter. This creates a safety issue for the other scouts and and the "handful" kid himself. Adult volunteers are more likely to be successfully sued for an injury to a scout than for making a hard decision denying a kid the privilege of attending a high adventure trip because of behavior or fitness issues--if reasonable leaders would have known it was unsafe. That would be a jury issue. However, as a legal matter, I don't see what grounds the Dad could assert to claim his son had a "right" to go on your trip. I can't offer specific legal advice and laws vary in different states but the BSA is a volunteer organization--not a business. If the scout and his lawyer Dad are unwilling to comply with the troop committee's decision, I'd politely invite him to join another troop.

Chris Lowe
(TNChris) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Too much work for a volunteer position on 12/04/2008 20:19:54 MST Print View

It is unfortunate that this sort of thing comes up when you are just trying to have fun with some kids and teach them to enjoy the outdoors. I would have to agree with the above in that I would find it hard to believe you are legally obligated to take this little brat anywhere. His dad is clearly using his status to attempt to intimidate you, but he wouldn't waste him time attempting to sue your scout troop over not allowing his son to attend a trip. Even if he does, you shouldn't have any problem showing that he has exhibited bad behavior on previous trips and you saw him as a liability. The time to get sued is when you take the ill-behaved kid with super-lawyer a-hole dad on a trip and he gets hurt. That's when he starts suing folks.

Two things:

1. If he decides to sue you, he will be suing BSA (not you) and they can find better lawyers than he is

2. Have you ever heard of someone suing a company that leads mountaineering expeditions for deciding to leave them behind or not allowing them to continue on the trip they paid for when it is decided they have become a liability? NO. And they don't even get their money back.

Give the dad his money back and tell him if his son can prove to the troop on shorter trips that he is capable of getting along with everyone then he will be allowed to go next time.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Volunteers = Volunteers on 12/06/2008 11:56:40 MST Print View

Our troop has been through this three times that I can remember. My understanding is that volunteers are volunteers, and are not required to catheterize kids, wipe their butts or put up with their crap, bullying or disruption (or that from their parents) regardless of the organization. (:->) Rumor has it California may have rules to the contrary.

1) One parent repetitively told us if we didn't advance her kid, that she would pull him out.... Haven't seen her in a couple of years. It's not about not wanting to help, it's about helping the most you can.

2) We had an uber ADHD kid at summer camp who was also vocally abusive. The second year we asked one of the (totally pain in the a$$) parents to come provide oversight. The parent came, found it was too much trouble, suggested one of the older kids (who paid to come work on merit badges) could take care of his kid, then the parent left for the Casino for the last 3 days… The next year, the parent was required to be there the whole time, but declined, noting we should be willing to take care of his kid on our vacation.

3) The last one was last year at Philmont. We asked parents what we needed to know about their kids before going, noting really revealing. One of the 17 yr old kids was ADHD, psychotic and Aspersers. Not a bad kid when he took his meds. He quit taking the meds, got violent, complaining about everything, refused to p00p (at least for a few days… then biophysics took over in the middle of the trail to Beaubien:) making it a very ‘memorable trip’ for all. We took a satphone, and called his parents who went to Hawaii for 2 weeks. They swore he was taking his meds, so we should spend more time with him, spend half an hour each morning on what the schedule was for the day, then intermediate discussions through the day. Turns out the kid hid his meds. As a result for 2009, we’ve had an attorney come up with a document that basically lays out what our rules are: We want everyone to have the incredible experience that Philmont can be, and not have to deal with parents looking for a “Baby Sitter of America”. If the adults decide he's not cutting it, he's coming back on your nickel, no questions asked. I don't mean to sound callous, but you have to make a choice: Do you want to do the most good for the most or babysit for a kid who may need help, but their parents need more?

I can’t help the most kids if I’m having to deal with one who probably shouldn’t be there. If you’re not comfortable with a particular trekker, then I would have no problem not taking responsibility for them.

Edited by eaglemb on 12/06/2008 13:59:53 MST.

Kara Stevens
(kstevens) - F
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 12/06/2008 18:29:38 MST Print View

I used to be a Philmont Ranger. I was there for four summers and from the sounds of this great forum, things haven't changed too much. I work closely with teens still and am active in the outdoors. You have a definite challenge with this kid. Here's the bottom line: will he ever present a danger to anyone's safety, including his own? I know its not good press, but there have been a few deaths over the last number of decades at Philmont. Not many, and due to various reasons.

Wild animals, being lost, weather, medical issues, dehydration - alone each is a pain or a slight difficulty for the crew. Together these things present great danger to participants. Philmont, Rangers, and the Backcountry Staff are all VERY serious about safety. If he has to have things his way, then he presents a danger. There are far too many situations in the outdoors - even in the "luxury" of Philmont - where everyone HAS to be able to be part of the team. If he doesn't get his way, will he walk off? There are just too many ways he can exert power and control over the entire crew and get his way. If the other guys are having a bad time due to him, then he wins. Can you imagine an entire search and rescue happening due to him? That's quite the power trip for a teen like that. It will most definitely put a crimp in the trip for the entire crew.

Seriously, the adults need to group together and approach the father together. The ONLY way he can be responsible for his son's behavior is if he is along on the trek. Then again, does dad just enable the son? Maybe you don't want either one.

So here's the other side: If you think the kid might actually grow from this experience, not give everyone a hugely horrible time, then the other kids will benefit by learning tolerance, he will mature, and a good time can be had by all.

Overall though, Philmont is by far NOT Disney Land. Not everyone comes out of there with smiles. Many go home dissappointed due to various reasons. Far more go home having had the most incredible time ever - and all of the great times center around very hard work and being part of a team. The best trips happen with the best planning and solid people on the trek. You have to ask yourself what you want to accomplish from this trip. I know the rest of the boys have worked hard for the money to go, have put in countless hours in planning and training, and are really looking forward to the trip.

Good luck with this one. Not fun and not easy.

Edited by kstevens on 12/06/2008 18:49:04 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Volunteers = Volunteers on 12/06/2008 18:33:01 MST Print View

> One parent repetitively told us if we didn't advance her kid, that she would pull him out....

I seem to get the impression from much of this that the kid is NOT the source of the problem - rather it is the parent who has created the problem, often by being a lousy parent.
If so, poor kid.


Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Volunteers = Volunteers on 12/06/2008 20:15:52 MST Print View

You're right Roger, except for example # 2 above, I can't think of a specific incident where the kid was a root problem.

Actually, the kid you reference was one of the best behaved kids I've ever met, and he needed the program more than most kids, in part (IMHO) because of his mom.

I've been with this troop for 10 years and seen 100+ kids go through. 95% of the kids were great, and watching them grow up is clearly worth the time investment. 90% of the parents same thing. Unfortunately, some parents want it their way but are not willing to help. About 2% are willing to be a 'hole' about it. As Roger notes, it's not the kids.

After being threatened with ADA, "going to Council" legal action et al, we've taken a 'don't let the door hit you in the a$$' for past and future 2%'ers, including providing those parents with a list of other troops in the area.

It's a great program, and am very proud to have been associated with it. The kids make it memorable and totally worthwhile. The 2% make me thankful for the 90%, but unfortunately, the kids of the 2% are the ones that lose out.

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Another couple of ideas/thoughts on 02/26/2009 14:27:09 MST Print View

As Scouter and a father of a boy with Aspergers I see more than one side to this problem. It can be hard to tell the difference between a spoiled brat and a kid with a real developmental disorder. Not every parent will disclose that their kid has a problem. That doesn't obligate a scout leader to diagnose a kid or to put up with bad behavior, but I hope we will think before assuming things about a kid.

I would suggest a couple of things as possible solutions.

If you hope to salvage the situation, you could require the Dad to come along on a shakedown hike. You'll get to see if the kid behaves better when Dad is around and if there is any point to trying to take Dad to Philmont. The Dad will also get a first-hand taste of what you are preparing for and why the Crew has to be cohesive.

If your gut is telling you to pull the plug, don't make the decision all by yourself. If it is the right decision, make the decision as a group with the SM, ASMs, and Troop Committee in agreement. Then present the decision as a group to the Dad.

Now, going into the future, take a fresh look at your Troop's Code of Conduct. Your committee may want to add language regarding high adventure/long range outings where the threat of sending a kid home isn't viable. It's OK to set a higher bar for these events for safety management reasons. If the boys don't get along on a routine outing, the added physical and mental stress of a high adventure outing will make it worse not better, and they must depend on each other to be safe.

Floyd Wrich
(woodstosea) - F
Kids and Dad are a handful on 03/28/2009 12:12:00 MDT Print View

If you have trouble with the boy on regular weekend camp outs and the other adult members of your Philmont crew would rather stay home then go with him you would be CRAZY and irresponsible towards all the rest of your crew to take him. You missed the point with both the "Father and his son, Implied with the threat to sue you is the attitude of screw you, were the ones who are the most important here. Don't you realize at this point the boy knows his Dad has threaten you! If you give in what will you do when (as I'm sure will happen)during the trek he tells you what he wants and that you better do it or his Dad will sue! The situation might be different if the Father acknowledged the problems you faced with his son and asked what he could do to help,and with the understanding that if the situation/behavior doesn't improve his son can't go. But that doesn't sound like what happened. The Philmont handbook states (paraphrase) if the boyscout has "behavior" problems prior to philmont those behaviors tend to become worse over the trek not better. Please don't get me wrong as a ASM I along with all the other adult leaders in our troop are willing to work with any boy who shows even the smallest desire to be a scout and participate with the troop. What we won't do is bend over and kiss you know what to appease any parent and/or boy. Once you have been threaten you have only two choices, give in or call his bluff, either way its time to show them the door. If you give in every scout will know and the troop will then become all about that one "scout" and his Dad. You and the other adults will have given up your authority. Which in the end is my guess of what they really want.
Please don't leave us hanging, let us know what the outcome is. Good Luck


(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
RE: "Kid and Dad are a handful" on 03/28/2009 13:22:22 MDT Print View

This is a pretty simple one. First, contact your Profesional Scouter assigned to your unit. Say you want a meeting with him and one of the Execs. Have them meet with you and the other leaders/parents for the trip.
If things aren't looking good have these things ready:

1. A list of other troops to try in the area.
2. A refund for Philmont.
3. A refund for his yearly dues. It's easier.
---Seperate checks with notes as to what they are for.

Philmont is a treat. He would be lucky to go. Why on Earth would you even concider taking this kid if you can't get him to chill out and listen. Volunteering is fun, challenging and one of the best things you can do for yourself and the kids. You can't let them get away with anything that doesn't follow the Scout Oath and Law, The older Scouts should be enforcing this and you should only have to worry about guiding the older Scouts in their leadership roles and decision making. If this isn't happening then this boy is to much to deal with. He has to respect his peers. They are his leadership.

Personally as soon as the dad said something about sueing I think the Council should know immediately and they can talk to him about his issues and concerns. They need to back you up. That is what the insurance is for. That is why they are your organization. If you do it right and follow the basic guidelines this shouldn't be such an issue.

Heck with this dad.

Luymes Ted

Locale: So Cal.
How I'd deal with it... on 03/29/2009 23:38:53 MDT Print View


I'm an attorney. I deal with difficult people all the time. If your leadership is not comfortable handling this scout at Philmont, you must sit down with the dad right away and tell him so. Politely explain why, refund their money, and leave. If dad threatens to sue, tell him to go ahead.

He won't sue because you've done nothing actionable. With any luck, they'll leave the troop and be a burden on someone else.


( - F
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 03/31/2009 15:32:18 MDT Print View

In our Troop, if a Scout does not live and show others his "Scout Spirit" he does not advance or go on outings. We are VERY up front about this.

Thomas Hood
(mustangpwr98) - F
my thoughts. on 04/01/2009 08:41:50 MDT Print View

Its a hard situation to be in for sure. i was an eagle and went to philmont in 2000. My troop kicked a kid out while i was in scouts because he caused nothing but trouble. They actually had the troop committee and chartering org write a letter that banned him from all activities except meetings and he kinda got the message and left.

Scouts is an organization that teaches kids life skills and how to be responsible adults. However it is not a behavior boot camp or an organization for kids that really should be with professional help.

My scoutmaster would not have probably been able to exist with today's pansy parents. You got out of line and he had no problem ripping your butt. There was a fight or something along those lines and he would get in the middle and drag both of you away by your shirt collars,,, how times have changed.

My recommendation would be to try to work the situation out, but by no means would I take him if he was that much trouble. You are adults giving your time to further the enjoyment of the scouts and to provide positive role models of what young men should grow up to be. Not babysitters.

Edited by mustangpwr98 on 04/01/2009 09:06:52 MDT.

Rich Bowman
(rbowman) - F

Locale: Houston
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 05/02/2009 11:31:18 MDT Print View

As an advisor, you primary function is to ensure the health and safety of everyone in your crew. Other than that, the boys run the show. If the behavior / attitude of this one boy will create a threat to the health and safety of your crew, you must act.

IMHO the best way to determine if he will present a threat is to observe him during pre-trek hikes and shakedown trips. (You should have several of these.) If he can handle these outings, fine. If not, then sit down with him and his dad and explain what happened, that his actions are not acceptable, and give them a refund.

The sooner you have this discussion, the better. I've seen boys change their attitude and improve their behavior as a result of one of these discussions - and be able to go on a trek as a result. On the other hand, I've had boys realize that they were not mentally or physically ready for Philmont after a challenging shakedown trip and bow out gracefully.

Remember, even "good" boys can be a handlful when they are tired/hungry/sore - in other words about day 4-5.

Good Luck,

'01 617H2, '05 702J '08 628O

rhonda rouyer
(rrouyer) - F

Locale: deep south
philmont behavior on 04/26/2010 23:30:21 MDT Print View

As a former Scouter who took two crews to Philmont, I just want to add to all the good advice ,that going to Philmont is a PRIVILEGE not a right! If this child is one who can ruin the experience for the crew then you need to "man up" and tell dad that the son can't attend until behavior changes. Or...he only comes if Dad attends and takes full responsibilty for the child, get it in writing.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Kid and Dad are a handful on 04/27/2010 00:24:31 MDT Print View

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.

I'd be interested in two things:

1) Precisely why does the dad think you have to take his son?

2) Precisely how does the dad propose to be responsible for his son? It does not seem to me that he can effectively do so remotely. He certainly hasn't in the past.

If the dad does threaten you, I'd be tempted to refuse the kid based on that alone -- otherwise it looks as if you are giving in to his threat. (Emotional reaction and potentially unfair to the kid, I know, but that's the way I feel about it.)

Be careful what you ask for .... Do you want the dad to come on the trip? Is he qualified to do so? You state that he is "a major league A$$HOLE". Do you really want to insist that someone like that come on your trip? How will your trip go if he agrees?


Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
Sent home from Europe trip on 04/30/2010 16:31:01 MDT Print View

We had a kid, the scoutmasters son, who was known for being a handful, or knucklehead as I have sometimes heard it called. Our troop went to the BSA hiking hostel in Konderstag Austria. I was not on the trip, or in the troop at that time, but I heard he and some other boys were egging each other on to more and more unruly behavior, and at some point streaked through a cave on a public hiking trail, or something like that. They took movies of each other doing it, so the evidence was there.

One kid of the bad boys was sent home - from Europe, at his Dad's expense. I don't know the mechanics of how that was accomplished, but I bet the Dad was very angry.

Several people have mentioned their troops requirements for high adventure trip participation, like 3 shakedown trips. I would really like to see those policies, as I am supposed to formulate our troops policies. If you have them, send to Thanks!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Sent home from Europe trip on 04/30/2010 19:49:49 MDT Print View

"Dad was very angry."

Hopefully angry at his kid and not the scouts -- that is, for the kid's own sake.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Removing a crew member on 07/13/2010 08:12:59 MDT Print View

I removed a Scout from our 50 MIler crew after a shakedown. His mom was pretty angry, but he didn't go on the trek.

We consider emotional maturity and teamwork a safety issue. Adults have final say on safety issues, and it is a single-veto system, no voting.

In this case, the Scout didn't bring a sleeping pad, didn't prepare for his crew responsibility, resisted doing crew chores, continually pushed back on the crew leader's decisions (like the hike leader rotation), ignored safety signs, and intentionally left food behind because he didn't want to carry it.

Sounds like small stuff until the Scout does that with bear or lightning protocol. We decided he was a safety risk for the crew. Maybe he would be ready next year.

The Philmont Advisor Guide has a very good section on this, well worth your $10:

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Hooray for Walter on 07/25/2010 10:03:01 MDT Print View

it takes some fortitude to 'do the right thing' for the overall crew, particularly when parents get into the fray.

Hope the 50 went better than expected.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Removing a crew member on 07/25/2010 15:46:05 MDT Print View

> In this case, the Scout didn't bring a sleeping pad, didn't prepare for his
> crew responsibility, resisted doing crew chores, continually pushed back
> on the crew leader's decisions (like the hike leader rotation), ignored
> safety signs, and intentionally left food behind because he didn't want to carry it.
> Sounds like small stuff

Definitely NOT 'small stuff' at all. Right decision.

It may be he was subconsciously looking for adult discipline (leadership) which he was not getting at home. It might be interesting to see how he behaves on a local trip in the future?