Adult Leadership or Adult Hangout?

My boys are in a fairly new Troop. My youngest just crossed over and will be attending his first campout without me. It turns out that 9 adults will also be going. 4 of those volunteers are new parents not registered with the BSA. Is this allowed? 9 adults for 19 Scouts? I brought it to the SM’s attention and he seems to be ok with this but I feel uncomfortable that this might turn into an adult hangout. (Most adults are friends on the outside)

Thanks for the question. I think the answer is … “it depends”.

Youth protection rules require that

All adults accompanying a Scouting unit who are present at the activity for 72 total hours or more must be registered as leaders. The 72 hours need not be consecutive.

Youth Protection and Adult Leadership

A weekend campout will normally be less than 72 hours, so it is possible for parents who are not registered to come along.

This can be a great way to get more adults involved in the program. As long as the adults don’t interfere with the program or the youth leadership, then I don’t see an issue with it. They can stay on the periphery, observe, and help where needed.

Problems can arise if they start trying to insert themselves into activities without understanding the program. Another possibility is not adhering to the health and safety rules. For example, if alcohol is brought or they don’t follow youth protection protocol.

I think if the Scoutmaster is comfortable with the situation and feels he or she can appropriately direct the adults so the program can go on, then it is not a problem.

Readers, what do you think? Add your comments below.

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One response to “Adult Leadership or Adult Hangout?”

  1. Cat Avatar

    My 2 cents:

    Scouting provides an ‘pre-packaged’ ideal adult structure to guide each Troop. If undertaken properly, leaders don’t get burned out, and the organizational load can include many parents. A unit family campout is the best way to get adults involved. For official scout activity campouts, trained leaders are best.

    I have seen parents at camp – male and female – who have not had Adult Leader Training and don’t understand YPT, EDGE method, proper behavioral correction, when to step back so the scouts can learn to become leaders, etc. Often, the parents do too much for the scouts.

    One unit had an adult leader, who even with training, came solely as a vacation for himself, was unwilling to commit to a schedule to ensure 2-deep leadership as needed, disrupted camp schedules, did not share the campsite responsibilities, etc. His presence set a bad example for the scouts and created discord amongst the leaders.

    Another unit had a Committee Chair who insisted on attending all camps, despite needing to work. The leader’s solution was to set up a shelter office with a ‘do not disturb’ sign posted on the flap. The Comm Chair said being there was imperative because as a Type A personality, the leader’s presence would ensure no problems could occur. The leader was not only overstepping the Comm Chair role, but insinuating that the Scoutmaster,, were incompetant. Camp is for the scouts to grow confidence, build THEIR skillset in a unique way in the great outdoors. As Baden-Powell put it, “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.” (So long as we parents give them the space to do so!)

    Finally, I highly suggest Woodbadge for all adults who wish to be involved in scouting. Participants re-learn how to let go of themselves to have fun again, while learning leadership philosophies that work in units, camps and boardrooms.

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