You can call handing your pre-teen son over to a few adults Scout leaders, who you hardly know, a leap of faith, but I think it boils down strictly to trust. How much trust do you have in the adults that have taken on the task of caring for your son over his summer Scouting vacation?
We live in Naples, down in southwest Florida, a small coastal town that is better known as a retirement destination than a first class nursery for raising the most well-rounded and educated children of the world. We also have a ton of transients coming and going all year and every year. Coming, when they think that a sleepy town in the sun is romantic and cool and leaving when they realize we have a small incontinence called the “sunshine tax”, meaning the cost of living in the sunshine makes it hard to save money here.
We also have our fair share of churches, organizations, community leaders and sexual deviants. Some even well known community members and doctors. But one learns to live with certain distrust in others and we learn to take precautions.
When the decision came for our son to go to summer camp 2012 with his Naples “Troop 2001” we made sure that we had the same family rules we had in past Scouting trips. A major factor has always been using a cell phone for texting his parents once a day, which included a special code so we knew it was really him and not someone else pretending to be him.
When our son got on the bus, he was under impression that he was allowed to take his cell phone to text his father and mother and we were both under the impression that he could take his cell and that the Scout Master Randy Rosal knew and approved of him taking the cell, provided he was discreet about it.
Within a few days of his 2012 summer camp, my son tried texting us but had a poor signal and called over the Scout Master Randy Rosal and asked him what he should do. Randy blew him off and a few minutes later, another adult in the 2001 Troop David Summers, took his phone away from him, even after he objected to the confiscation. Obviously this devastated the boy because he knew he was obligated to stay in touch with his parents. Only Randy knew about the phone and it was Randy that my son confided in when he had no signal, knowing full well of the agreement between his parents and the Scout Master.
About a day later we got a text message from our son saying that he had to ‘beg’ David Summers to make one final text to us and that his phone was confiscated. We texted Randy Rosal asking him for a compromise, asking if he could personally update us daily on our son’s situation and if he agreed to that and he texted back that he did.
The next evening, we were expecting, but had not received any text from Randy and I called Adam Lean, Program Director at Camp Frank G. Lumpkin in northern Georgia, asking what was the situation with the Naples Troop and he volunteered to get my son on his phone and call me back within half an hour. Adam Lean, Program Director at Camp Frank G. Lumpkin, never called me back. I never got to speak to my son. About half an hour later my wife received a call from the same person who took my sons phone, David Summers, who was yelling on the phone asking my wife why ‘she did not trust her son’ and that he could not understand why this was even a concern. David Summers was at the summer camp with his son, but was confused why a parent who was not with their son, would want to know his condition. You have to ask yourself who really is confused and why. David’s idea was that he would inform us of his condition and that he is doing great, enjoying himself and we had nothing to worry about.
I asked my wife for the Troop’s literature regarding the “prohibition” of cell phones at Camp Frank G. Lumpkin and was horrified to read what Brian Guhl had written to parents and Scouts on this subject. By Brian Guhl, Assistant Scout Master for Troop 2001 in Naples Florida and the section regarding cell phones and electronics.
Summer Camp 2012, Last Minute Items
Troop 2001 Scouts & Parents.
Can your son bring his I-pod, I-touch, Gameboy or phone? Yes, yes, yes and NO!! Because this is a long trip your son will become anxious and squirrely. To alleviate his restlessness we find it acceptable that yourson does bring his electronic gadgets for entertainment purposes howeveronce at camp these gadgets MUST be handed over to the leaders. If you have, an I-touch with mobile capabilities these too MUST be handed over to the leaders.
Again, please speak to your son about trust, each year there is that one Scout who thinks he’s so clever but we always find him, don’t let your son be this years’ dishonest Scout. Also, every time we have confiscated a phone, the parents were aware their son’s brought it. PARENTS, this is NOT good parenting and I’ll also consider it a slap in my face and I shall return that same respect you gave to me.
After reading the above note, reading what appeared to be an implied threat by Guhl, his labeling my son as a “dishonest Scout”, not being allowed to speak to my child, having full knowledge that his cell phone was confiscated by David Summers, I packed up and left Naples at midnight, drove 10 hours straight to Camp Frank G. Lumpkin in northern Georgia, picked up my son and drove 10 hours back to Naples. When I got back home I had not slept for about 40 hours. My primary concern was for my child and having him back in an environment I felt was safe for him.
When they arrived at Camp Frank G. Lumpkin, Troop 2001 embarked on a 20-mile hike with loaded backpacks. Scouts of ages about 11+ walked in mountainous conditions for 2.5 days straight. About 25 scouts started out, one ended up in crutches and my son limped for 3 days after I picked him up. I consider the high percentage of injury on this outing a concern and irresponsible. Clearly there were issues and David did not mention them. But it gets worse.
How were the food portions at Camp Frank Lumpkin? Lets say when I picked him up he was hungry. There was apparently a shortage of food for the scouts without any possibility of hungry growing boys getting seconds.
These days we have the ability to communicate, to feel closer to friends and family far away, yet here we have Scout leaders, adults, condemning parents and Scouts for having communications with each other. Its as if the family unit has no value to these Scout leaders. That it’s a hindrance, something that should be despised, condemned, scorned and not nurtured or cherished.
The boy is not dishonest and is not a “dishonest Scout”, according to one adult. He was doing what he was asked to do by his parents and the Scout Master had okayed it, and we had taken his word as being the truth. Because adults, yes adults, could not admit to this agreement, this caused our boy to lose a valuable experience and his family almost $1000 in expenses.
Update: 3 August 2012 – After weeks had passed and not having heard back from Randy Rosal on a proposed meeting to iron things out and find a way to continue in the Naples 2001 troop, we assumed that there was too much water under the bridge and we decided to find another troop. Fortunately we can still choose what company we spend time with. For some reason David Summers called today to voice his objections in the family remaining with 2001. Kind of a moot point David when there is no communication.