Front Line Stuff
Edited by Robert Peterson
Dealing With an Unfriendly Scout
A Scout is not welcomed in troop activities because the other boys say he is not friendly, reports a Scoutmaster. Readers offer ideas, including reminding Scouts to use the Scout Oath and Law in their relationships with other troop members.
I suggest the troop hold a team-building camp-out. Assign each Scout to tent with a boy he does not know well. Ask each Scout to find out something special and positive about his tentmate and tell the whole troop about it the next day. This way the troop will begin to know the outsider a little better.
To improve the chances of success, the Scoutmaster might pair the outsider with the most popular Scout or the senior patrol leader. He might also help this pair in the "getting-to-know-you" session. And he might try to find out something the outsider is good at and plan team-building exercises that favor his skills.
Each Scout pledges to "help other people at all times." A Scout is loyal (to other Scouts also), helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful. Sometimes these ideals are not easy to live up to, but "on our honor" we have pledged to do it. It helps us grow into better people.
Ask the Scouts who are doing the "shunning" how they would feel if they were left out.
The shunned Scout may not be friendly because of the way he feels he is being treated. A friendly smile and being asked to join in some activity may be what that Scout needs to feel welcome.
It's common for adolescent boys to form tight-knit cliques. Often there are other dynamics at work, too. Perhaps the new boy has some "history" with the older boys from school or other community events.
The point is to impress on everyone (youth and adults) the importance of practicing the Scout Oath and Scout Law at all troop functions.
To accomplish this, our Scouts formulated a troop policy that espouses Scouting's ideals, defines expectations, and identifies consequences for unacceptable behaviors. The troop committee approved the document, which was signed by all Scouts and their parents.
When possible, the boys themselves police the situation, referring problems to adults only when necessary.
Since implementing the policy, we have experienced renewed enthusiasm for the troop and have seen boys grow in their maturity and acceptance of others.
On camp-outs, encourage the senior patrol leader to pair the excluded boy with other boys for specific tasks. It's amazing how working together can foster understanding and cooperation. Also, limit the free time during which any problems can get worse.
It isn't easy to be the new boy in the troop, especially if you're shy. Maybe the boy just needs someone to approach him first. He may have been teased about something and is hesitant to open up to strangers.
Talk with your senior patrol leader, junior assistant Scoutmaster, an Eagle Scout, or other member of the troop the boys look up to, to see how they can help bring the boy out of his shell and become a bit friendlier.
Committee Chairman D.R.
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