This is the fourteenth installment in a story that follows a new Scoutmaster, Chuck Grant, attempting to use the patrol method in a troop that has forgotten how.
I’ve based this work of fiction on the stories shared by readers and listeners, questions they have asked, and the advice I commonly share in reply. Scoutmasters can expect to encounter challenges and setbacks along the way.
I’ve tried to avoid being unreasonable optimistic, or overly pessimistic about the progress we can make when we stick to the basics.
As the Scouts got up from the table I turned to Jason’s father, “Have you met Bob’s mother Cheryl yet?”
“We talked on the phone,” he said.
“Cheryl, John?” I called, “do you have a minute?”
I introduced everyone as Cheryl and John joined us.
I explained what we had discussed with the Scouts, and how we had resolved the problem.
“What happens if he hits my son again?” Cheryl asked, “I don’t understand how you can all sit here and say it was okay for someone to hit my boy!”
“Nobody is saying that it was okay,” I replied, “just that we’ve better understood the causes behind what happened.”
“I’m pretty sure that Jason was getting upset, he waked away from what was upsetting him to try to calm down,” Dave explained, “Bob called him, and Jason didn’t respond so Bob tapped him on the shoulder, and Jason punched him.”
“We’ve had a difficult month,” Jason’s father said, “Jason has actually hit me and his mother,” he looked at Cheryl, “you can imagine how upsetting that was. We’ve learned what causes him to react that way, and all three of us are working through it.”
“Forgive me for saying so,” Cheryl said, “doesn’t that make your son dangerous to be around?”
“I honestly don’t think so, once we understood how he reacts to being touched when he’s upset we are able to work with him.” Jason’s father replied, “If anyone is a fault it’s mine for not mentioning this to you. Like I said this just started happening this past month or so.”
“Well,” I replied, “I think we’ve got things figured out now, I appreciate everyone’s help with this.”
“In light of what we have discussed,” John replied,” I think we can consider things resolved. Does that work for you Cheryl?”
”I am still worried Jason is dangerous,” she replied, ”and I am having second thoughts about my son being involved with him.”
“Talking to Bob a moment ago he didn’t seem to feel that Jason was dangerous.” I replied, “I think the two of them will get along fine. Bob’s a very understanding Scout, and Jason seems to like him.”
“He really had a wonderful time camping this weekend,” Jason’s father said, “he couldn’t stop talking about Bob, either; he really looks up to him.”
We continued to talk for a while. While I can’t say that Cheryl totally agreed with the way things were handled she was at least willing to see how things went from there on out.
I huddled with John, our committee chair, and Dave Katz, an assistant Scoutmaster afterwards.
“Well?” I asked, “how do you think that went?”
“I’m a little concerned about supervision,” John said, “I just think your idea of having them camp some distance away like you did last weekend isn’t going to work.”
“I don’t know as I agree, John,” Dave said, ” I don’t think we could have prevented this from happening if those two Scouts were standing right in front of us.”
“Jason’s mother was ready to call the police!” John said, “We can’t have that sort of thing, I don’t think you can be so cavalier about supervising Scouts.”
“Anne would have been as upset if our son came home with a bruise like Bob did,” I said, “but you heard what was said just a moment ago. Jason and his family are working through some challenges, Cheryl seems to understand that, and I think we reached a workable resolution.”
“Well, I want you to assure me that you’ll be supervising Scouts a lot more closely, we just can’t have things like this happening.” John said.
“I know it’s upsetting, John,” Dave said, “this isn’t a precedent-setting event. If you trust my judgment I’ll say again, we could have been standing right there and not been able to prevent this from happening.”
“Admittedly I wasn’t there, and I do trust your judgment,” John relied, “but the whole thing worries me.”
“I’d imagine that anyone working with boys this age will have things like this happen from time to time,” I said, “let me speak with the Scouts this evening, I have been giving some thought to this and I have a few things to say.”
I stood in front of the troop when it was time for my Scoutmaster’s minute later that evening.
“Before you head home tonight I want to thank you Scouts for being trustworthy this past weekend.” I began, “Does anyone recognize that word, trustworthy?”
Jason’s hand went up, “It’s in the Scout law!” he said.
“That’s right, it’s the first point of the Scout law, thanks Jason.” I continued, “If you’ll look around you at your fellow Scouts you are looking at people you can depend on to be trustworthy, friendly and kind. Every one of your fellow Scouts will encounter situations that challenge their promise to follow the Scout law. If you look a little wider at the adults in this room I think they’d agree with me that, no matter how old you get, we all encounter those sorts of challenges every day. Isn’t that right Mr Hudson?”
“You’re older than me, Chuck, so I’ll take your word for it!” George laughed.
“Thanks, Mr. Hudson,” I said when the laughter died down, “That’s right, even old guys like me are still working on being good Scouts, it never stops. The important thing, Scouts, is that we all keep the Scout law in our minds and hearts. When any of us come up short, we respond with kindness and friendship, that’s what Scouts do.”
I held up the Scout sign, “Let’s remind ourselves of what we are all aiming at, A scout is…”
We closed our meeting by reciting the Scout law.
Driving home that evening I wondered if other Scoutmasters have “normal” weeks.
If so I‘d like one sometime soon.
The story continues in the book!