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#1 MattR

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 09:52 AM

I read the thread about the 17 year old life scout that is having troubles with his SM over scout spirit and while I think in this case the SM is handling things the wrong way, I know exactly what the SM was thinking. He's breaking rules to improve his troop and I do that as well.

 

Succinctly put, most scouts are unwilling to push themselves out of their comfort zone. When that push comes from from other scouts the program works great. Unfortunately, sometimes there are not enough other scouts to give that push and an adult needs to create it. That's when I break rules stipulated by the BSA.

 

Believe it or not, teenagers can be lazy and that has ramifications in a program that encourages scouts to make their own decisions. If they don't know a skill and only have to pass it once to get a check mark then they are unlikely to want to practice that skill. So those are off the calendar, the one that we are not supposed to interfere with. This wouldn't be an issue in a troop that already has first aid woven into the culture of the troop, but that's not very many troops.

 

Then there's the scout spirit rule. The typical scout takes 4 to 5 years to go from First Class to Eagle. So in those 48 to 60 months he only has to show up, help out, and essentially live the Oath and Law for a year and 4 months. For me, any scout that's wearing a First Class or above patch is expected to help out. The Scout Oath and Law are not just about getting requirements signed off.

 

So I break rules. These are mainly the rules that relate to getting scouts to do what they know they should do but are just too lazy to do. I will reject the scout's calendar if there are no outdoor skills being practiced. I encourage them to make it fun, but they have to do it. Every scout will have to show that he knows the scout skills of all the ranks up through the one he is seeking before I will do a SMC with him. If he doesn't know them then he gets to spend as much time as needed with an ASM until he does know them. If a scout is wearing a Star or Life patch then he's expected to help out. Period. And that includes going on some campouts. If he doesn't like the campouts or is bored then I encourage him to fix that problem. I understand disappearing for a year, sports and band and all that, but being active 48 out of 60 months is a lot different than 16 out of 60.

 

I'm sure these rules came from a small number of people that abused a situation and so now we all are restricted. Kind of like the GTSS and squirt guns. A bit of common sense is all that's needed but rather than encourage that the boy scouts create rules. I do my best to ensure a scout has a path towards success before I break a rule. If a scout, that's been gone for two years comes up to me with barely enough time to do an Eagle project and wants to get Eagle, I'll work with him. I won't prevent a scout getting eagle at a young age but that's a small number of scouts. I give the PLC as much say as I can in picking the calendar. But in the end, there is a minimum standard and as the saying goes, you can lead a scout to water but you can't make him drink.

 

With all that said I don't have to break the rules that often and I really don't enjoy it. The scouts know they have to learn the skills so the whole retesting thing is not an issue. The scouts know they need to have skills and challenges built into the events and enjoy the challenge of making them fun. I've also found out that if I screw around and have fun with the scouts 10 times as much as I have to tell them they're doing something wrong, then they respect my view. I've had a lot of scouts thank me for kicking them in the butt.

 

I'd rather not break rules. My ideal troop is where all I have to do is answer questions, ask a few, and enjoy the outdoors. I'm getting closer but I know I'll never get there. I'm sure others don't like what I do and I'm fine with that. I have talked to a lot of other SMs in my district and I'm not that far off from what they do.


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#2 Sentinel947

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 10:54 AM

My comments are in red. I think you're reading into that other thread more than you should be. 

 

I read the thread about the 17 year old life scout that is having troubles with his SM over scout spirit and while I think in this case the SM is handling things the wrong way, I know exactly what the SM was thinking. He's breaking rules to improve his troop and I do that as well.

 

Succinctly put, most scouts are unwilling to push themselves out of their comfort zone. When that push comes from from other scouts the program works great. Unfortunately, sometimes there are not enough other scouts to give that push and an adult needs to create it. That's when I break rules stipulated by the BSA. 

 

Can't we give them a push without "breaking the rules?" As long as you don't add to requirements, you aren't breaking a rule. I push my scouts constantly to take on new challenges, that's what the program is about. Two of my favorite stories I like to tell about my conversations and encouragement with two 14 year old scouts that were in need of a good challenge. Both have now served as SPL's and are close to finishing their Eagles. I didn't need to force them to be active with the threat of withholding rank advancement.  (Good thing too, since I'm not the SM.) 

The SM in that other thread is ambushing his Scout at the end of the process. @MattR, I know you aren't doing that. 

 

 

Believe it or not, teenagers can be lazy and that has ramifications in a program that encourages scouts to make their own decisions. If they don't know a skill and only have to pass it once to get a check mark then they are unlikely to want to practice that skill. So those are off the calendar, the one that we are not supposed to interfere with. This wouldn't be an issue in a troop that already has first aid woven into the culture of the troop, but that's not very many troops.

 

Yes, anybody can be lazy. We can get scouts to learn their skills by helping the scouts build a program that requires them to use that skill. For example, our troop's tents guylines do not have cord locks on them. One must know how to tie a taut line hitch if they want to set up a tent... the SM DOES have a seat at the table to help the PLC create a good scouting program! 

 

Then there's the scout spirit rule. The typical scout takes 4 to 5 years to go from First Class to Eagle. So in those 48 to 60 months he only has to show up, help out, and essentially live the Oath and Law for a year and 4 months. For me, any scout that's wearing a First Class or above patch is expected to help out. The Scout Oath and Law are not just about getting requirements signed off. 

 

Can a Scout live the Oath and Law outside his troop? Isn't that the point of the program? IMO we shouldn't be conflating the "activity time" requirement with the "Scout Spirit One."  The Active requirement is a bare minimum. We should encourage and challenge our Scouts to do more than the bare minimum. If our troop programs are fun and challenging, 99% of the Scouts will do more than the minimum.

 

So I break rules. These are mainly the rules that relate to getting scouts to do what they know they should do but are just too lazy to do. I will reject the scout's calendar if there are no outdoor skills being practiced. I encourage them to make it fun, but they have to do it. Every scout will have to show that he knows the scout skills of all the ranks up through the one he is seeking before I will do a SMC with him. If he doesn't know them then he gets to spend as much time as needed with an ASM until he does know them. If a scout is wearing a Star or Life patch then he's expected to help out. Period. And that includes going on some campouts. If he doesn't like the campouts or is bored then I encourage him to fix that problem. I understand disappearing for a year, sports and band and all that, but being active 48 out of 60 months is a lot different than 16 out of 60. 

 

Again, we can create requirements that don't exist, or we can create personal relationships with the Scouts and their families and get more than the minimum out of them. There are more than one way to achieve the objective here. I can't force folks to follow the Guidance set out by the BSA, but I can forcefully make the case for it. 

 

I'm sure these rules came from a small number of people that abused a situation and so now we all are restricted. Kind of like the GTSS and squirt guns. A bit of common sense is all that's needed but rather than encourage that the boy scouts create rules. I do my best to ensure a scout has a path towards success before I break a rule. If a scout, that's been gone for two years comes up to me with barely enough time to do an Eagle project and wants to get Eagle, I'll work with him. I won't prevent a scout getting eagle at a young age but that's a small number of scouts. I give the PLC as much say as I can in picking the calendar. But in the end, there is a minimum standard and as the saying goes, you can lead a scout to water but you can't make him drink.

 

Correct, I agree here. In the end the bare minimum scout cheats himself, not me. 

 

With all that said I don't have to break the rules that often and I really don't enjoy it. The scouts know they have to learn the skills so the whole retesting thing is not an issue. The scouts know they need to have skills and challenges built into the events and enjoy the challenge of making them fun. I've also found out that if I screw around and have fun with the scouts 10 times as much as I have to tell them they're doing something wrong, then they respect my view. I've had a lot of scouts thank me for kicking them in the butt.

 

I'm not sure how much you are really breaking "the rules" unless you are retesting in an SMC or adding to the requirements. 

 

I'd rather not break rules. My ideal troop is where all I have to do is answer questions, ask a few, and enjoy the outdoors. I'm getting closer but I know I'll never get there. I'm sure others don't like what I do and I'm fine with that. I have talked to a lot of other SMs in my district and I'm not that far off from what they do. 

 

I think you are further off in your head than you are in reality. 

 

Long story short, we can follow the GTA without enabling slackers. There are proper leeway to do it. A lot of it comes from having a formal active policy, and enforcing that. The other half is extremely informal. Are we getting to know the parents and the kids? My unit doesn't even have an attendance policy and we have very few slacker Eagles come through. As for Scout Spirit, "Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life. " is the test of the requirement. 

 

That is there time inside AND outside the Troop. In the end our goals as an organization is for our Scouts to live the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. I know we as Troop leaders can accomplish this without creating our own requirements, while still not allowing our troops to become slacker city. 

Sentinel947 

 


Edited by Sentinel947, 20 April 2016 - 10:57 AM.

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#3 Krampus

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 11:14 AM

@MattR

 

We too expect the Scouts to know their core skills. We have the "participate in the discussion" by being able to demonstrate those skills. Like your math rules, once you learn to divide in 3rd Grade you cannot forget in 6th Grade. Same with the Scout-FC skills. We may ask a Scout to come back if they are not fully prepared, however, since we focus so much on knowing their skills during the Scout-FC trail, they usually know them cold.

 

What is happening in the other thread is you have adults denying a signature of a Scout who has shown he has completed the requirements. To draw an analogy using your own example above, it would be like you not signing off on a Scout's completed requirements because he didn't tie the Square Knot the way you liked it, NOT because he didn't complete the requirement. There's a HUGE difference there.

 

The first is insistence on completing the requirement. The second is completing the requirement YOUR WAY. The latter is all that is required. If he can tie the know why not sign his book?


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#4 Lurking...

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 02:43 PM

I bend, but try not to break.

 

I have my boys all teaching S2FC skills under the guise of "How do I know you know it until I see you teach it to someone else."  No, a scout doesn't need to teach anything but the Square Knot, but I am constantly having scouts teach me, other scouts, their parents, committee members, etc. how to teach any of these skills. 

 

Since I have been doing that, retention of the skills have really improved.  The scout never knows when he will be asked to help other people at all times by teaching them something.  :)  It's all part of the leadership training process that isn't written in any book anywhere.  Is it going above and beyond the requirement for advancement?  Yep, but the leadership benefit is something the boys quickly understand and never complain about.


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#5 Beavah

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 01:56 PM

Yah, in legal philosophy there's law (rules) and equity (fairness), eh?

 

Law (rules) has it's problems, yeh know.   It's really hard to write good laws or rules.  It's impossible to write laws or rules that work for all situations.   Not human laws anyways. :confused: We humans just aren't that smart, and when we try to specify all da permutations we create really long complicated laws that are unworkable.

 

So from Aristotle onward in just societies there's always been a notion of equity.    St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about it for Christendom, but I reckon Jesus had him beat by over a thousand years.   People don't serve the law; the law is there to serve people.   Because human law isn't perfect, each of us has an obligation to correct our application of da law to make sure the law (or rule) serves its just and desired end.   That's not breakin' the law so much as it is perfecting it.   For Aristotle it meant yeh should behave as though the lawmaker were really there.   So if yeh don't think da state legislature meant to expel a Boy Scout for havin' forgotten about an axe from his weekend campout in his car, yeh don't expel him.   Even if the law says you must.   St. Thomas went further and said it was a virtue and obligation to correct human law for justice's sake even if da lawgiver intended the law to be used exactly as worded.   Correctin' the application of the law is a virtue.  It shows respect for the law, by makin' the law respectable.

 

In our system, we put in all kinds of opportunities for correction of laws, eh?   A victim can choose not to press charges.  A prosecutor can decide not to prosecute.  A jury can ignore da law and vote "not guilty".  The Executive can commute da sentence or issue a pardon.   We even have equity actions that can be brought to court which allow a judge to issue injunctions to modify, suspend, or nullify da application of a regulation or law.

 

It's only in unjust or ineffective systems that folks follow laws or rules blindly without sometimes makin' corrections.

 

In Scoutin', we're just a kids' program, eh?   It's nowhere near civil or criminal law, and we shouldn't pretend it is.   Folks should just do what they need to in order to teach kids, while bein' mindful of da value of sharing some standards and practices with others who are also workin' with kids.   Sharin' standards and practices are good things in general, eh?   They make for community and better program.   Lots of times, though, yeh need to be mindful of such things and then do somethin' different.

 

So no harm, no foul @MattR (or @Stosh). You're doin' what we're here for, and that's teachin' kids.    If yeh play this Scoutin' game long enough you'll find sometimes that yesterday's rule-breaker becomes today's changed rule.   Most great scoutin' ideas come from da actual practice of great scouters who care about the kids more than they care about page 37 of Book #5.

 

Beavah


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#6 Eagledad

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 03:41 PM

@MattR
The first is insistence on completing the requirement. The second is completing the requirement YOUR WAY. The latter is all that is required. If he can tie the know why not sign his book?


I struggle with this too, especially with Eagles. If we were to poll all the adults on this forum of their expectations for Eagle Scouts, no two would agree. Yet, I'm sure most here do agree that the scout, not us adults, are in control of their advancement. Yet, much as many of us brag about our scouts, we aren't very loyal respecting scouts in other troops.

As for scout skills, just what is so great about mastering knots in this bungee cord/Velcro culture? And a compass, I don't need no stinking compass as long as I have my Garmin.

The creators of the scouting program used the skill of their time because they were a required for safety and survival in the woods. I'm old enough to admit that mastery of knots wws easy because they were used a lot for the equipment of my time. Now a scout maintains his level of skills by "teaching"? Is that really what we want?

Skills are important for growth because mastering the actions for the skill give the scout mental and physical maturity. But I wonder if century old skills are holding back the program.

Barry
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#7 Krampus

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 07:27 AM

Most great scoutin' ideas come from da actual practice of great scouters who care about the kids more than they care about page 37 of Book #5.


Really? Name one rule broken often by scooters, which hurt the scouts, that's gone on to be a "changed rule"? If it's happened enough over the years one example shouldn't be hard to find.

I still find it astounding your pick the adult side over a scout who has completed what's been asked him and followed the rules. If it happened to you I'll bet your folksy wisdom wouldn't be so civil.
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#8 Lurking...

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 07:39 AM

I'm thinking that those scouts who are taught to break the rules by scouters are the people that make up a portion of the prison population in our country.

 

My brother worked in the Federal Bureau of Prison and was responsible for inmate transfers.  One day he got a guy ready to be transferred to another facility, everything this prisoner owned was in box that had just been inventoried.  Word came down the transfer vehicle wouldn't be able to make it, but would be there first thing in the morning.  My brother told him to take his box of things back to his cell, don't open it, and tomorrow morning bring it back down when he hears that the transfer van will be here.  The prisoner said, "No."  My brother was a bit surprised by that and asked him what he meant by it, after all the rules were pretty simple.  The man said with total sincerity, "If I could follow rules, I wouldn't be here in the first place."

 

In a society where we are all bound to civility by a consensus of Laws, then NO, the individual is not more important than the rules.  One doesn't break rules to accommodate the individual, we have enough self-esteem, entitlement narcissists out there filling our penal system the way it is without making more.


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#9 RememberSchiff

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 08:23 AM

Really? Name one rule broken often by scooters, which hurt the scouts, that's gone on to be a "changed rule"? If it's happened enough over the years one example shouldn't be hard to find.
 

Not hard at all. The weight/height chart on the often revised medical form over the past 10 years. Remember it started out as weight/height only and excluded hefty football-playing scouts from activities, not to mention scouters. Regularly ignored locally. A lot of negative feedback followed in this forum, that this was the wrong metric. A couple years later weight rules changed with BMI added...

 

Another common situation is when a rule/requirement is re-intrepreted, e.g., Emergency Preparedness MB requires that a scout have First Aid MB. To me that mean prerequisite, but word has come down that co-requisite was intended.

 

"A nod and a wink" is still alive and well when it comes to following BSA rules.


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#10 Lurking...

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 09:11 AM

OBEDIENT A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.   I guess if one is to be judged by the Oath and Law for Scout Spirit, "wink, wink, nod" is not a very good lesson for a Scouter to be teaching the boys nor following oneself.   Everyone thinks they are doing things for the right reasons, but history proves itself out time and time again, those right reasons are totally wrong.
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#11 TAHAWK

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 03:18 PM

"'A nod and a wink' is still alive and well when it comes to following BSA rules."

 

Wink, nod, adult-run troop method Scouting.   


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#12 Krampus

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 04:30 PM

Not hard at all. The weight/height chart on the often revised medical form over the past 10 years. Remember it started out as weight/height only and excluded hefty football-playing scouts from activities, not to mention scouters. Regularly ignored locally. A lot of negative feedback followed in this forum, that this was the wrong metric. A couple years later weight rules changed with BMI added...

 

Another common situation is when a rule/requirement is re-intrepreted, e.g., Emergency Preparedness MB requires that a scout have First Aid MB. To me that mean prerequisite, but word has come down that co-requisite was intended.

 

"A nod and a wink" is still alive and well when it comes to following BSA rules.

Let's face it, those are not rules so much as they are suggestions.

 

What rules -- similar in weight and intention to the "add/subtract no requirements" rule -- have been ignored by scouters and then eventually changed?


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#13 TAHAWK

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 04:37 PM

To the contrary, the unwillingness of certain council execs to follow the rules has resulted in a change by BSA that  I never thought I'd see: a SM can now decide that a  signed Blue Card is meaningless if he determines that a Merit Badge could not have been actually earned.  

 

Next step: refusal to certify camps who do not have registered MB Counselors for each MB offered.

 

So the "business plan" of giving away MBs to fill summer camp is under serious attack- finally.


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#14 MattR

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 12:23 PM

I guess I must be going to jail, or been to jail, or at least all my scouts are going there because I do break rules:

 

I let scouts play with squirt guns and water balloons.

I let them climb on rocks more than waist high.

I let them run in camp.

They dance for lost items (old thread, look it up).

We play campfire games like cross sticks, going to spring camporee, and big blue moon, which are all really a form of hazing.

I test skills before I'll do a rank SMC.

I requiring a certain amount of outdoor challenges on the scout's calendar.

 

However, the biggest rule I break is that I expect every scout to help out at a level that reflects his ability and rank, no matter how long it takes to get to the next rank. Scout spirit can't be signed off before the SMC and it reflects the entire time a scout worked on the rank, not just 6 months. In other words, I'll tell a scout I won't sign his eagle app if he doesn't change his ways. Then we work on a way to get him there. All said and done I've had one scout over the years that refused to believe me and I did not sign his app. He was 16 so he had plenty of time to make it right. As far as I know the Council signed him off. All the other scouts grew.

 

The thing about all these rules is they were put in assuming the worst in the people that break them. Just like any tool, some common sense is required. I like the UK Scouting approach of fewer rules and more common sense. Maybe Americans don't have as much common sense as the British, but I'd like to believe we can handle this. Scouts climbing on rocks can be dangerous, but I explicitly tell the scouts at every campout that if I catch any of them screwing around on the rocks then it ends for everyone. I've never had a problem. Cross sticks can be abused just as much as everyone's fear over smoke shifters. I can also see how a SM can abuse sign off on scout spirit. The SM that adds rules at the very end, without enough time to make it work, is clearly abusing it. By breaking the exact same rule I've had a lot of luck with encouraging scouts to try new things. I've made mistakes that I've had to fix and I've had scouts thank me for giving them a push.

 

I'm not claiming I have it all figured out or that this is easy, I'm just saying I'm trying to do my best. The whole point of scouts is teaching youth how to make good choices when dealing with problems, and if we're limited in what problems we can give a scout to solve then we're limiting their growth.


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#15 Lurking...

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 02:53 PM

:)  I don't break rules where safety is concerned, but I do work around those that are anti-fun.


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#16 TAHAWK

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 02:59 PM

So far as I know, the Scout Spirit requirement is unrelated to time.  

 

"Be "active" is the requirement with the time limit.

 

I know of many SMs in this area who make up their own rank requirements  I doubt that one of them thinks he's doing wrong..


Edited by TAHAWK, 24 April 2016 - 03:01 PM.

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#17 DuctTape

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 04:38 PM

I think most rules and laws are a result of people not doing what they should be doing for the sake of safety or for ethical reasons. The larger group, bsa or society, then attempts to both qualify and quantify the desired behavior. As Beavah cotrectly points out, these laws and rules cannot be written to account for every detail in every circumstance, so more rules and laws are created. Also as pointed out the system has other checks and balances in an attempt to be equitable. The rules were not created to be followed for the rules sake, they were created because people weren't acting in an acceptable manner.
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#18 TAHAWK

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 06:13 PM

When baseball decided pitchers could throw overhand as well and underhanded, what unacceptable behavior was baseball trying to prevent ?

 

Would the rules have been passed if  Quisenberry  was around? 

 

(Are you related to DuckTape?)


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#19 Lurking...

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 06:23 PM

Some of the rules are also motivated by political correctness.  I really don't see much harm in squirt guns, laser tag and paintball,  but one is pointing a "gun" at another person. 


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#20 Beavah

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 08:18 AM

Some of the rules are also motivated by political correctness.  I really don't see much harm in squirt guns, laser tag and paintball,  but one is pointing a "gun" at another person. 

 

Nah, one is pointin' a toy at another person.    There's a difference, eh? :rolleyes:


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