Homepage Forums General Scouting Searching an entire group of scouts’ belonging at campout

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    • #218403
      Mary A Servantes

      I am struggling with something that occurred at last month’s campout – I did take part in it believing that all proper channels had been notified and this was a “last resort” situation. Background – we have a Scout that took a vape device to summer camp. His mother notified the SM that the item was missing because she believed that the Scout took it with him to Summer Camp. The SM spoke to the Scout and it was turned in. End of story.

      Fast forward almost a year later. An adult that was on that campout thought they smelled “something fruity” on the same Scout and reported it to the NEW SM. The past history was given to the new SM. The new SM decided that he would institute a full search of all Scouts at the campout – persons and tents. At no time was the Scout spoken to.

      I took part in the search as a part of a two-person team that did a cursory search of the Troop for Girls belongings. I said yes when they asked if I was in agreement. I thought that the COR and the CC had been consulted. It was a horrible experience and I did not even do the searching on the person they thought “had something”. Tried to make light of it. I have been in the Older program for 5 years and we have never done anything like this. No contraband was found.

      I, looking for some relief of guilt, justification, or something, asked the COR if he was made aware of the search prior to the occurrence because I wanted to really understand why we did it instead of the SM just speaking to the Scout (this did not happen). I found out that he was not consulted prior to the search. He did justify based on the item could be a danger to others…(a vape could be a danger to others??).

      I found the 4th Amendment and how it applies to minors in schools. Parents that were not at campout were not notified that this occurred (still to this day). I called the mom of the Scout that was targeted and asked if she was made aware and she told me she was not.

      I find these actions WAY outside the line. No one saw a Scout with a dangerous item. The Scout was not behaving differently. The Scout that was “under suspicion” was allowed to go shoot Shotguns AFTER the report – the argument that “there could have been THC oil in a vape” holds no water here.

      My problems are: These minors now think that it is ok for adults to search their stuff for no reason (they were never given a reason) AND they were not told they could say “NO, call my parents”. I didn’t know I could do that personally.

      The SM and Adult Leaders believe that this is permissible behavior based on their experiences in the ARMY. With adults. What happened to speaking to the kid? Calling parents?

      I am trying to convince the SM that this was the wrong thing to do, but no dice. He does not understand where I am coming from. A few other leaders were uncomfortable and didn’t say anything at the time. I do not want this to happen again. I think it is wrong. I’d like to solve this without a formal incident report to Council.

      To anticipate questions: Scout did not behave differently to indicate drugs. SM did not consult the other KEY 3 who were not on the campout. New Leaders and Parents were polled as to whether this would happen. All said yes or abstained.

      I am sick about not standing up for what I believe is right. I have gone to the SM since then and he doesn’t believe there was any wrongdoing. I know that the parents of Scouts at the campout were not notified of the search. What do I do???

    • #219445


      The 4th Amendment – I hate to tell you this, but your argument does not apply in Scouting. Our rights exist between YOU and the GOVERNMENT, not between you and other citizens, your employer, your church, or even in a private organization. While you may not like the “style” of leadership of the new Scoutmaster, trying to cite the Constitution only makes you look silly because you obviously don’t seem to understand where our rights apply and where they do not. Just as your boss can fire you for using your “1st Amendment right” to call his wife fat and his kids ugly… so too can adult chaperones for a private group of minors conduct a search for contraband. What happens in “schools” (institutions of the State, and therefore an extension of government) is NOT the same as what can/does happen in a Scout troop. Your argument is tragically flawed.

      You keep referring to “proper channels”, but what are these “proper channels” and WHERE are these “proper channels” explained and spelled out, thus certifying them as “proper”? YOUR IDEA of how you would handle this is clearly not the same as the Scoutmaster’s idea of how to handle this, but where do you gain the moral advantage to say your way was “right” and his was “wrong”?

      Mind you, we’re talking about a search of ITEMS, no one was being strip searched, no body cavity search, or having blood/urine samples taken against their will. The SM was told there was a reason to suspect an ILLEGAL device had been used, that an ILLEGAL device was at camp/tent, that there was a history of such an illegal device, and possession and use of such device(s) is also a blatant violation of BSA policy. (yes, “illegal” because children under 18 cannot possess vapes or tobacco by law)

      Can we argue that the SM’s METHODS could have been better? Yes. If it were me, I would have gathered the entire troop, given them the opportunity to hand in the vape device, and then announced that they have reason to believe it is there and each scout will be permitted to watch as 2 or more adults conduct a search of everyone’s property. That’s how I would prefer to do it, but that’s not a “rule”, but more of common courtesy while trying to resolve a problem.

      Whether anything was found or not is irrelevant. At the time of the search, there was a valid suspicion that an illegal device existed, and that’s what he acted on.

      What you should do? Let’s start with stop complaining and not making things so dramatic you escalate them into matters of Constitutional Law for the Supreme Court to decide. Support your SM, give positive feedback on how you would have preferred it would have been handled, stop being confrontational but be more of a partner who simply would have handled things differently.

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