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addressing PDA by scouters in uniform ?


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#1 DeanRx

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:00 AM

Ok, so putting this in Program, because I frankly don't know what other topic to post it in... We have two adult leaders in our unit male and female (both single - well we think the one has a divorce pending / finalized, not sure but he his no longer with his wife)... that have begun a dating relationship. The beginning of said relationship resulted in both leaders (one was the SM at the time and the other ASM) being asked to take a leadership hiatus by the CO and COR, because the soon to be ex-SM's wife stormed into committee meeting with accusations of adultery (CO is a church). Upon return, they were both reinstated as ASM's. They now attend unit functions as a couple, both in uniform. Scouts, fellow scouters, and many parents have grown VERY uncomfortable with their PDA (public displays of affection). This includes hugging, kissing, shoulder rubs, little games of "tickle" on the ribs... one leaning into the other, etc... It is not a full make-out session, but much more than a quick peck on the cheek type kiss. Several toungue-in-cheek type comments and sexual inuendos between them have been overheard by scouts and scouters. While I could care less about their blossoming rommance, it puts the unit in an awkward position to have these two carrying on at unit functions and campouts, in plain view of the youth and fellow scouters. It went as far as last weekend, they shared a tent on a Troop overnighter and as far as anyone knows, they are NOT married. That is in direct violation of G2SS camping guidelines. My two quesitons for the forum: 1) I know its in bad taste and should not be done, but do you know of ANY published guideline / rule that states a scouter should not engage in PDA while in uniform? Can you quote me the reference? 2) Myself and a few other adult leaders and concerned parents are trying to formulate the best way to approach the "couple" and the COR to lay out how uncomfortable / inappropriate all this is and WHY it needs to stop. How would you go about doing it? Would you seek their resignation from Troop leadership at this point? (we have enough ASM's to cover the leadership roles). There is part of me that feels they have already betrayed the trust of the unit and lost the respect of scouts and scouters alike with the 1st intervention of the COR and CO, that they should just be thanked for their service and shown the door. On the other hand, if they could just knock it off with the PDA and be professional when in uniform, I don't have a problem with them staying on. Neither have youth in the Troop as both their sons have Eagled and aged out of BSA, so its not like asking them to depart is going to drive a kid away from scouting. As a newly minted ASM, I'm really struggling with how to approach this issue. Thanks in advance for your feedback.
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#2 ParkMan

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:35 AM

My .02... As an ASM, I think you should have a private discussion with the SM & CC. Ask them to set some guidelines for contact in front of the boys. This doesn't need to by anything formal, but instead a few choice statements from the SM and/or CC to say - "This is a youth organization. Adults should act professionally in front of the scouts." Once that is done, the SM and/or CC needs to give them the opportunity to conform. If then they do not, then the SM/CC has a decision to make. Other than a friendly comment in private, I don't think you should be assembling a group of other leaders to talk to these two ASMs. That's the responsibility of the SM or CC. If a group feels a need to do something, then have them each individually approach the SM/CC so that they recognize how widespread the concern is.
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#3 BDPT00

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 12:40 PM

Sharing a tent is way over the top. They need to take a break in either demonstrating their sexuality or in Scouting. The two don't mix. Inappropiate behavior needs to be addressed and corrected. I don't think it would be simple, but nothing will change if something isn't said. BDPT00
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#4 BSA24

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 01:33 PM

The troop doesn't exist to sooth the feelings of adults. It is for the youth. Ask the youth if it bothers them. Call a PLC and bring it up. Ask the youth if they care. If they shrug it off, then shut up about it and get over it. It's their troop, not yours. If you do this, you need to conduct yourself carefully. Standing up and ranting that the youth should do something about it is way out of line. Just ask them if they have noticed, and if they care. That's it. It's their decision, not your passion that needs to be sold to them.(This message has been edited by bsa24)
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#5 koolaidman

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 01:54 PM

I agree with ParkMan and BDPT00 and BSA24's first sentence. I would not bring it before the youth. Scouters need to lead by example and shouldn't need to ask the youth if it's OK for an unmarried couple to share a tent. Definitely discuss with SM and CC.
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#6 Oak Tree

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:50 PM

I don't think I've ever seen anything directly on point here, and it would be hard to draw a definitive line between acceptable pecks on the cheek and the more uncomfortable full make-out session. I did find this guidance for females at summer camp, which seems like pretty good advice.

 

Link: http://www.scouting....at-bsa-camp.doc

 

In general, pubic displays of affection should occur on your nights off, not in camp. Remember, you are a role model for Scouts. Also, PDA breeds gossip [...] Everyone's focus should be on program, not relationships. But regardless of what the BSA says, your adult leadership should feel no qualms about approaching these people. That's what leaders have to do. Definitely get in sync with the CC and SM so that everyone agrees, and then someone just needs to tell them, "Hey, knock it off. Seriously. It's inappropriate."

 

You can up the ante as much as you'd like. Get more people, make it a more serious meeting. I would do the above informal statement, then if I saw one more PDA, I'd follow up with "Final warning. Needs to stop now, or we'll have to ask you to leave, permanently." If everyone is really fed up already though, I'd do the more serious thing - ask them individually to talk with a couple of leaders. Sit down in a room. Act serious. "A number of people have expressed how uncomfortable your actions are making them feel. It's inappropriate in a Scouting context. It needs to stop now. This is your only warning. Understood?"

 

As for them sleeping in a tent together, it sounds like no one in your unit is very comfortable approaching them and setting boundaries. Someone just needs to step up. I would definitely not involve the boys in this.


Edited by RememberSchiff, 12 April 2017 - 12:49 PM.
fixed link, readability from database migration

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#7 Basementdweller

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:51 PM

As a married fellow whose wife is also active in scouting..... I hold my wifes hand while we hike or while sitting around the campfire occasionally..... A good night or good bye kiss in front of the lads....no big deal in my book... Now my boys has no idea how a man and woman are supposed to act together.....There life is divorced man hating women, or dad is a womanizer..... Now your situation.....I believe that they should be removed from troop leadership....There is no reference to quote because there is no specific rule against adult romance.....The fact that adults are complaining is enough in my book. But for me common sense would dictate that they shouldn't be carrying on in front of the boys..... No boys in the troop.....there are gone...remember they serve at the discretion of the CO.
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#8 qwazse

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 03:17 PM

Look, if I can get yelled at for running off geocaching in the middle of a hike, they can get yelled at for inordinate affections. As far as rules that apply, Guide to Safe Scouting is very clear. They need a certificate of marriage to sleep together. It's that simple. Some of those boys will turn 18 find themselves engaged to a venturer. Same rules apply. There are plenty of outdoor clubs that will allow that sort of thing. They can shack up and not worry about the example to the boys or how they are representing their CO. I wouldn't throw them out just yet. But let them know that how they comport themselves is a violation of youth protection guidelines. You can be honest about the PDA being annoying, but don't confound that with the fact that if they don't take sleeping arrangements seriously they'll be asked to not come on any more outings.
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#9 Eamonn

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 04:33 PM

If what they are doing is inappropriate and is upsetting the normal flow? Then it needs to be addressed. The best person to do this would be the COR who I'd think would have the backing of the CO. What anyone thinks or doesn't think really doesn't matter. The final word is the CO's. All unit leaders serve at his pleasure. While allowing him to know what's going on is OK. Once is aware of the situation, the best thing for everyone is to leave it with him and then when he decides, it is what is going to happen. Some people might be happy and some might be unhappy. What they decide to do? Is their choice. While most of us are aware of what the G2SS has to say about married couples. The definition of what married is? Can vary from State to State. Here is PA there is no such thing in law as a "Common Law Wife or Husband". But even still there are couples who have lived together as husband and wife who are accepted as being as such. In fact we had a fellow who worked for the Council who lived with a Lady who was very active in Cub Scouting. He served for a few years as Camp Director and when his "Wife" wasn't working she spent time with him. I of course don't know what the sleeping arrangements were? But, being that they were very much a couple having bought a home together, raised each others kids together and the kids called them Mom and Dad. I'm guessing that they didn't sleep apart.
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#10 DeanRx

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:35 PM

The sleeping issue, I thought, was only an issue known to the other adults on the campout. The adult patrol sets up camp far enough away from the other patrols for it to not be an issue. However, mom of SPL spoke with me at the Troop meeting. Mentioned that her son and ASPL from campout were both discussing the sleeping arrangements - as both had noticed it at the campout. So, it IS a known issue to at least some of the older boys... I assume (maybe incorrectly) that if the older boys know about it - it either is a topic or will be a topic of discussion throughout the ranks very soon. Can't really keep these youth from talking about it as they all go to school together. Dean
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#11 CalicoPenn

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:13 PM

As an ASM, you don't approach them. As an ASM, you let the SM and the CC know that this is an issue and that the SPL and ASPL noticed and mentioned to parents the sleeping arrangements of this unmarried couple. As an ASM, you give the folks responsible for dealing with this (the SM and CC) the room to deal with this without complications from the sidelines. Only if they don't deal with it do you take the next step which is to let the COR know about the issue. If you are friends with the couple, then as a friend, you let them know that they should probably cool it.
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#12 BDPT00

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:10 PM

The kids wouldn't have brought it up if they didn't think it to be wrong. They happen to be right, and even in today's messed up society, this is not Morally Straight. Needs to be fixed, and should not have been allowed to happen in the first place. This is a one tent couple, and that tent needs to go camp somewhere else. BDPT00
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#13 desertrat77

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 12:27 AM

Basement, I think the examples of you and your wife are fine, normal expressions, and completely appropriate. On the other hand, Mr and Ms PDA need a reality check, and we don't need a checklist or a rule to do it. I'm in the military...and when I see a couple in uniform doin' the PDA thing, I simply walk up and quietly say "Excuse me, but the jr high prom is over...you are professionals, in uniform, let's conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner." Works like a charm. They know instantly they shouldn't have been doing that. To quote the old first sergeant "What you tolerate will happen."(This message has been edited by desertrat77)
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#14 qwazse

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:45 AM

My last post didn't take. But 'Rat put it better anyway. The boys are looking to you all for leadership. This isn't a grand tribunal thing, it's a CC or COR pointing out a series of improprieties and one YPT violation. You should expect a "We won't let it happen again." (Maybe even an apology to the SPL from the gentleman. After all, a troop is trying to model behavior for their boys. And being man enough to admit when you're out of line is a hallmark of maturity.) If that's not forthcoming, then only one of them should be welcome on the same outing.
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#15 Eamonn

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 06:08 AM

This thread got my little gray cells working. While not trying to in any way hijack the thread. I know that I'm guilty of expecting other people to behave in a way that I find acceptable. - Live and behave to Eamonn's standards. Eamonn's standards are of course all based on the idea that Eamonn is right. There are of course some areas, some things that I don't push for or am willing to ignore. Most of the time saying or at least thinking that whatever that might be is up to the person. While I'm happy to toddle off to church most weeks and I think that it's the right thing to do. I'd never dream of looking down on people who don't go to church. Some things are bigger than others. Back when I was actively involved with units, I made a big deal of having everyone sit down and eat together at the same time. I thought this was important and this has been something that I did as a kid and my family does at home. I expect other people to have good manners. I really don't think that this is asking to much of anyone. I tend, without thinking about it to just expect that everyone will live by the golden rule. The hard thing is when I meet and try to understand others who don't think that the rule applies to them and don't live up to Eamonn's standards. Working in a jail, I meet a lot of people who seem to think that the rules just don't apply to them. While it's easy to just think that these guys are just no good for nothing and are just a waste of time. Trying to understand why they think and act like they do is something that I have a hard time with. Of course many of these guys are just down right greedy. They want what they want and they want it now! Some are of course just plain nasty. Still there are some who never really were given the opportunity and were never given any real role model that they could follow. This does not by any means mean that what they did is not their fault. They are guilty for the crimes they committed. But when it comes down to Eamonn's standards I wonder if it's fair that I have the same expectations from them as I do from my son? My kid was raised with Eamonn's standards. He didn't come from a one parent family where his mother was fighting her own demons, he wasn't allowed to run the run the streets, get in gangs or sell drugs. I know this all seems a long way from two people who seem unable to keep their paws off each other. But, I'm thinking more about how we (Me!) React to others who do stuff that fails to meet the standards that we set. While many of us might agree that what this pair are doing is a bad example. I kinda think that at the end of the day they are not doing anyone any real harm. No one is being hurt and then it all comes down to the expectations and the standards that each of us sets. Ea.
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#16 DeanRx

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 12:30 PM

Ea. I would tend to agree with you. However, When the behavoir is in direct violation of BSA policy (i.e. coed sleeping in a tent and they are not married) - to NOT act is to ENDORSE the action. When two adults in the unit have the majority of everyone else (other adults and scouts alike) concerned with thier behavoir instead of concentrating on program, then its an issue. Finally, I don't give two bits for WHY they are acting the way they do. Its an interesting mental exercise, but I'm not involved in scouts to try and help THEM figure out why they do what they do. Not my fault if mommy and daddy didn't love them enough as a child, or they didn't have the same opportunities as a kid that our scouts are given. My job as a scouter is to provide good program to the youth we serve, so hopefully in one more generation - none of these youth will be carrying on in a scout unit as these two are today. Dean
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#17 Eagledad

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 01:24 PM

>>But when it comes down to Eamonn's standards I wonder if it's fair that I have the same expectations from them as I do from my son?
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#18 Eamonn

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 01:35 PM

This bit about not being married is a little hard for me to swallow. HWMBO and I have been married for 30 years. Just before we tied the knot she suggested that we live together for a while. I wasn't having any of it. Looking back, I now think that maybe I was more worried about what others would think and that people might maybe gossip, than I was worried about anything else. My younger sister who is eleven years younger than me lived with the guy she is now married to for over ten years. They had two kids who were both born before the ceremony. Both kids are fine and as far as I can tell they have a good strong marriage. If we believe what we hear in the media, it seems more and more people are opting not to get married. So while this is something that I wouldn't do I think placing any kind of a barrier or in the way of people who want to volunteer on the basis of them not having a marriage certificate is wrong. Maybe because I've been married for a while, I don't feel the need to smooch with HWMBO as much as maybe I once did? I wonder if this pair were married, would the way they are conducting themselves be OK? Ea.
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#19 FScouter

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 03:24 PM

The certificate doesn't mean anything. Arguably, the marriage itself doesn't mean much either. Rather it is the commitment behind the marriage and the certificate that means everything. Too often today we see folks running off and frolicking around and having sex and doing whatever feels good at the moment. And after awhile dumping the momentary object of their affections and moving on to some other exiting creature that happens along. There is incredible pain and hurt and damage that occurs from this. Witness the jilted wife who stormed into the committee meeting with accusations of adultery. Who's to say what's going on in the heads of these two? Are they committed to the well-being of each other, or just playing around for the time being? In 5 or 10 years you will know, married or not. Right now, today, what evidence is there of a loving and caring, and healthy relationship, beyond the cutesy stuff? Marriage isn't everything, but it does show that there is some sort of commitment to each other beyond a little romp. So, whatever it is, our boys are observing and learning how it is that adults behave. Make it a good lesson.
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#20 DeanRx

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:53 PM

Honestly the behavoir would be inappropriate even if they were married.
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