This topic contains 16 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Paul 4 months, 3 weeks ago.
Doing some research …
Learned on a recent camp out that our BOY Scouts are not permitted to bring/consume s’mores on their campouts. When I inquired as to the reason I received a mixed bag of answers, including:
“Not Healthy” … (keep in mind the boys are eating processed summer sausage, cheese spread out of cans/tubs and icing covered donuts and cinnamon rolls at these same campouts)
“It’s been a rule since CUB Scouts” … (okay, these are BOY Scouts age 11 through 18)
“Too Messy and It Gets Out of Control … (so we can’t use water to clean up, and we’d prefer to ban an item as a “control” measure instead of teach some etiquette?)
Would love to hear some other opinions about this. Clearly this is not a “BSA Policy” … but rather a “Troop Policy”. It’s the most ridiculous one I’ve come across yet. As far as I can tell … any prior incidents with s’mores materials occurred long before any of the current Scouts entered into this Troop.
Just guessing, but it sounds like a vestige of an incident in the distant past in which s’more making got out of hand on a campout, resulting in a ban — which found its way to today as a troop “policy.” That is easy to imagine; even carefully controlled s’more making with kids results in marshmallows burning on the ends of sticks and falling on the ground in white globs of goo, which someone then steps in, and which will attract animals if not properly cleaned up.
So if anything, I see it as a Leave No Trace issue. A “No S’mores” policy seems like overkill, but I wouldn’t call it ridiculous — s’mores aren’t necessary on campouts, there are plenty of other dessert options (dutch oven cobbler) and not having them avoids a potential mess. In a way, it is like discouraging big campfires on campouts, as LNT principles suggest. Teaching youth to think about things and do them a better way — even when contrary to campout “traditions,” can sometimes be an uphill battle. But it should not be an unthinking one: The troop should know why it doesn’t allow s’mores, and a discussion about that could lead to lifting the ban.
Whatever the basis, getting the powers that be to drop something that is considered a troop policy will take diplomacy, a good reason to consider allowing s’mores (given the known downsides), and a solid plan for how to implement s’more making so that the adults don’t regret making the change.
You don’t say what your position in the troop is. If you are relatively new to the troop, what you don’t want to do is get a reputation as a malcontent or as “the s’mores lady.”
A s’mores ban is not a sign of a boy-led Troop.
File this in the “You Gotta be Kidding Me” drawer. No s’mores? I’d love to know the reason why not. I think Dan might be on to something – something happened way back when and the ban just became part of troop lore.
Today’s “Bryan on Scouting” blog talks about the new Build an Adventure marketing campaign, and includes a link to various supporting media such as flyers and bookmarks. For the Boy Scout program, one of the central images is of Scouts on a climbing wall, with a list of adventure- and Scouting-related phrases on one side of the image.
One of them is “Roast marshmallows.”
And the “Scouting Construction Zone” PSA video shows, you guessed it, Cub Scouts around a campfire roasting marshmallows.
Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate the additional insight. I’m in my 5th year as a parent member of this troop (to answer an earlier question), and my husband is a committee member.
Last night yet another BSA process was muddied, as our Troop Patrols voted in new PL’s … but the Scoutmaster denied one patrol the right to vote for their PL, and appointed the new PL for that patrol (these are 14-15 year olds). Why? Because the new PL, who has held other positions but abandoned them, has never been voted in because patrol members don’t feel confident he can/will do the job. The newly appointed PL will not be able to attend any PLC meetings, as he has band on those nights. The patrol in question is absolutely up in arms that their right to vote for a new PL was denied, and that this has turned into another “adult” mandated process.
As a youth leader I find this a serious issue if an adult leader switched the elected scout with another. You should talk with the adult leader and state what he did is going against the patrol method. I know the scoutmaster wants everyone to have a turn, but if the patrol votes on a different scout they usually have a good reason. Tell the scouts if the PL is not doing his job. You can most likely recall him. I would read up on this first.
As a SM it would have to be a really compelling reason to make that change. Hopefully the SM is really looking out for the whole patrol and perhaps private conversations have occurred for him to base this action upon. I’ve only been a SM for 3 years but often things are not as they seem to parents sitting on the outside!! You may need to seek another troop that is more boy led, keep in mind troops are usually very different in how they implement the Scouting program. However following your smore’s comment…I’d start shopping.
There’s a lot of hating on marshmallows going on here. Keep in mind it could be the chocolate … Or even the graham crackers that pushed this troop over the regulatory edge!
To test this, plan a camp snack involving roasting something unique (dried apricots, maybe?) or no roasting at all: Nutella in Nilla Wafers. Help your boy work those creative juices. See what other treats you can get written into your troop’s banned list!
I am the Scoutmaster of a Troop of 32 Scouts. We have had numerous food safety issues with certain food items, and cleanliness issues with others, since our troop was formed 2 years ago. After a number of interventions by ASMs and the SM, the scouts – patrols – have exhibited a lack of understanding of simple food safety rules – with hamburgers in particular. After a number of tries to discourage the patrols from selecting hamburgers, and the most recent camping trip representing the last straw, I have banned hamburgers. It’s about safety, a Scouter’s #1 job.
Our Equipment Manager (ASM) has intervened on numerous occasions to teach the patrols how to cook pancakes without gumming up the stoves, to no avail. So I have also banned pancakes.
Is it “boy-led?” No, but they had every opportunity to alter the course and plenty of warnings. There are a number of things they should learn how to cook instead of staying in the rut of pancakes and hamburgers every single outing anyway.
Instead of banning hamburgers, how about teaching them proper food handling and safety…….. Not that difficult!
Or even better yet, how about an adult Supervise the cooking or how about the SM or ASM’s teach the SPL or Patrol Leaders to teach the other scouts……..
For Boy Scouts this seems like such a non-issue. If your troop is boy run then let it be boy run. However, I was actually instructed at a Baloo training event that S’mores are a “No No” for Cub Scouts. Their reasoning was cubs & siblings running around with flaming balls of sugar on a stick is an invitation for an injury.
That is an opinion of the instructor. Under the Health and Safety section it does not say that. In fact M in C-A-M-P-I-N-G is for Marshmallows/Fire safety (Pg. 47 of the BALOO Manual)
“Spark Watchers should be designated…” This means adults (2 deep atleast) should be at the fire and controlling what is going on.
Sounds like lack of adult supervision. Where are adults when all of this is going on? Each patrol should have an assigned ASM working with them. Sounds like the problems that are occurring could become opportunities for teaching. Banning something is usually taking the easy way out. Reinstating S’mores could be done by setting some simple limits. Making cobblers can be just as messy as S’mores.
On its surface, it sounds silly. That being said, we/you need to TRUST THE JUDGEMENT OF THE SCOUTMASTER because he sees the boys in action more than anyone else.
Something happened that he made this “stupid” rule a necessity and while his answer seems lame (like “unhealthy” for all the reasons you noted), he may be opting for a very polite way of NOT telling you that your kid is a SLOB and acts so IRRESPONSIBLY that he doesn’t eat marshmallows but rather lights them on fire… smears marshmallow goo all over the logs we sit on around the fire… leaves marshmallow piles all over the ground around the fire ring.. and wipes his hands clean on the tent canopies.
AFTER SOME TIME… it may be appropriate to revisit the topic as a “learning opportunity” to test the maturity and development of the Scouts. Talk to him about it and ask for reconsideration of this TIMELESS tradition, and offer to go on the camping trip to “coach” the boys on proper S’Mores consumption 🙂
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