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Witnessing Poor Behavior From Scouts From Another Troop

Just seeking other opinions and points of view here.

Last night I took my son to a merit badge clinic at a local municipal building. He was the only scout from his troop, but there were about 35 other scouts in attendance, all of them in groups of 5-15. All of those groups had at least one adult/leader in the room except one group of 12 boys.

Of those 12 boys, 7 of them worked hard, listened carefully, and were essentially model students. The other 5 boys from that troop were incredibly disrespectful and rude. The were playing on their phones, throwing things, stealing papers from one another, knocking stuff off of each other’s desks, laughing, and talking very loudly (a lot of it very rude and disrespectful comments and a lot of it off topic talking over the instructor). I can’t say how their behavior impacted everyone, but my son was distracted and feels like he missed some of the information - now, he get’s his merit badge anyway, but is the badge the point or the knowledge you gained to earn it the point?

Several times the counselor stopped to ask them to quiet down. Several times the other leaders in the room addressed their behavior. Those adults were ignored, and the bad behavior continued all the way to the end of the session.

My initial thought was to contact that troop (they were in Class A, so I know what troop they were from) and respectfully inform them of the questionable behaviors… but I didn’t know how other leaders would react to some dad/leader calling them out on their scouts’ behaviors/lack of leader in the room, so I decided to hold off and see what the folks in this forum thought about this situation.

Then, when I Googled the troop to find contact info, I found that the troop/charter organization is a religious group very different from my own culture. The religious group this troop belongs to is often persecuted and marginalized, so I was suddenly even more wary to email their leaders, because I don’t want anyone to feel these kids are being singled out for their religion, but I just wanted to give a friendly head’s up that some of their kids’ behaviors were not representing their troop very well.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or advice you share.

Personally, as a unit leader (assistant unit leader?), I would want to know that my scouts were acting out (or behaving well, for that matter). I tend to have a bit of rhinoceros hide, though, so I’m not likely to assume you’re complaining about my scouts because of < insert protected status here >.

If I were going to make contact with the unit leadership in your position, I would probably open with something along the lines of “I was at a recent merit badge clinic, and I saw several of your scouts there. Most of them were model scouts: on task and respectful. However, I wanted to let you know that several of them were less than model students…” and give the leader any information you might have caught about the scouts (names, patrol patches, etc) that might help the unit leader identify the scouts for a more specific discussion. Nothing brings down unit cohesion like everybody getting berated for the behavior of a small subset of the other scouts, so I find it best if I can get the group that was involved together and discuss what was going on, and what will change for next time.


You absolutely should reach out and let the leaders know. You are not calling them out because of their affiliations, that is not scout behavior and may continue if it’s not known. Be positive in your feedback. (“respectfully inform them of the questionable behaviors” and stick with that. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your position is.)
Personally, I would sit with the scouts during the event and remind the scouts that their behavior is not scoutlike. Maybe next time you could try that. As most of us know, asking doesn’t always do the trick.


As a scoutmaster for a group that is not all that warmly welcomed into the hallows of BSA (a Girls’ troop) I want to know if my scouts are misbehaving. The girls all know that they don’t get to be just as good as the boys but have to out perform the boys at every level including behavior. They know that such expectations are not fair but they are in place nonetheless.

I’ve got one that has some significant behavioral issues. We are working closely with her parents but she has regular melt downs. I can’t fix her problems per se but certainly can’t address them if i don’t know that there are issues.

BUT… I don’t speak for all scoutmasters.


Wait… Did the group of 12 not have an adult leader present at all? Or was an adult leader present and ignoring the behavior?

Most Council and District events require units to provide appropriate YPT-registered supervision to avoid exactly this type of situation (both the poor behavior of the youth, and the dilemma of having leaders from other units having to handle discipline for the youth).


Blockquote Personally, I would sit with the scouts during the event and remind the scouts that their behavior is not scoutlike. Maybe next time you could try that. As most of us know, asking doesn’t always do the trick.

I totally agree - in fact, I was initially seated next to my son, inbetween him and the kids that were misbehaving - but before the session had started - but the instructor asked all the adults to give up their seats, because there were quite a few more scouts than they had anticipated. I had to stand behind the back row - about 30 feet from my son.

This wasn’t a council or district event. It was a city police station that offered the program. The registration did not say an adult was required to stay with the scouts, but every other group had at least one adult with them.

When we left, we saw about 10-12 parents in a waiting area that looked as if they belonged to the kids from that group. I sincerely wish at least one of them would have come in the room instead of sitting in the lobby.

At least around our area, several units run merit badge events, and youth from various units come individually (i.e. not as a unit activity). The hosting unit provides two-deep leadership and enforces the various YPT rules.


Perhaps I over-generalized. I’ve seen that in the past, but more recently (say the last two years or so) it seems to be a common note to our council and district events are telling units to provide their own 2-deep leadership.

But 2 deep leadership does not mean 2 adults from each unit (+ female requirements if necessary). 2 Deep means 2 YPT trained leaders for the entire group. Each individual class room does not need 2 deep leadership as long as there is no 1 on 1 contact.

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I get what you’re saying. I didn’t take an inventory on the room at first, but as the behavior worsened, I was looking around to try and match each of the adults to the groups of scouts in the room. I was very surprised to find that that group didn’t have a leader with them at all. I suppose, on some level there was two-deep leadership, as there were 6 adult leaders and the merit badge counselor - but I found it a bit irresponsible of the troop that they didn’t have an adult that knew their boys and would better be suited to control them.


That’s the minimum requirement only, though.

You are right it is the minimum… but if bsa wanted 2 deep to mean 2 deep per unit they would specify so.


Yep, when I put my COR hat on, I make it clear that if we’re having a unit event/activity – and if this Troop has a dozen youth at the event, it’s a unit activity – there will be appropriate leadership from the unit, or the event won’t happen.

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What the BSA wants and what local Councils want aren’t necessarily the same thing. It’s entirely in every Council’s power to add to YPT requirements…

But apparently this council did not choose to add on.

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I’ve reached out to an SM before about behavioral issues (not this exact situation). I prefaced the observed behavior with something like, “I hesitate to even say anything, but I know I would want someone to tell me. I did many of the same things when I was a teenage boy and scout. This, in no way, makes me think any lessor of your troop.”


I like your approach. now if I am witnessing the behavior first hand I usually put it to the scout, “Would you prefer to alter your behavior to be more in line with scouting principles or would you prefer me to speak with your scoutmaster and the scoutmaster in charge of the event?”


Speaking as a unit leader: I would most definitely want to know right away from you so I can come in to the meeting and help supervise. Perhaps they need to be taken out of the room for a break (for any number of reasons, ranging from invisible special needs to just plain being naughty). If it’s possible, contact the event director and ask for help–“We need more adult supervision” is ALWAYS something to be ready for!

Speaking as an instructor: If you are ever in that situation as an instructor, have an activity to break into groups. Something that will guide the scouts to direct involvement and focus on a single activity and take their attention. Solve a puzzle, play a game, build a fire, dig a hole, gather firewood, stack these books up, stack these chairs up, fold up the tables, do 50 pushups… anything to break that pattern of misbehavior and focus them on something that interests them most of all.

Speaking as a parent: Tell my kid to knock it off and let me know as soon as you can.


The best MBC I ever saw was a fishing guy (and I use this technique now) - he told the Scouts up front, It is my job to talk and your job to be respectful and listen when I am talking. If you are talking I am going to be respectful of you in the same way.
He then started teaching. If a Scout started talking to a friend the MBC would just go quiet and stop teaching. After it happened a few times, he said if I have to be quiet much more I do not think you are going to have time to fish, don’t you want to fish???
Worked like a charm