By: Scott Robertson
Posted On: 2014-06-07
I recently came across a Scouter with an intersting problem that I thought I would share. Maybe you can gain some insight by what they are dealing with and some of the suggestions they received.
I was baffled by some events at scout camp this past week. Attending with my troop were two 16-year-old boys. They tented together and are generally good boys.
During the week, however, it seemed they may have been more intimate than what I've seen most boys be. They talked of snuggling, teased about holding hands, at one point had their arms around each other. I'm not used to seeing that.......
One afternoon I did see them in their tent, flap open, spooning in separate sleeping bags.
They both are at the same maturity level and age, etc. It clearly was not one boy preying on another in any way.
I'm not sure anything happened, they may have been being silly, who knows.
Neither of these boys will be camping with us in the future for non-scouting reasons.
Here is the response to it
Sometimes boys will play at that sort of humor or to be avant-garde. We've had a couple. It tends to be short-lived.
It wouldn't go so far as to be "spooning" in a tent with each other.
Two possibilities come to mind.
The first is that they are smart older kids who have been loosely following the BSA's membership policy debates, and they mutually decided to put on a show just to see what (if anything) would happen. Kids love to test the system.
The second is that the two young men are really experimenting, or have decided they are gay and are attracted to each other. That to my mind doesn't quite fit the behavior, because most kids that age aren't that "out", and if they were their peers would know about it already and (through them) so would you.
How you respond depends on your take on the situation and the boys, your knowledge of their families, and the position of your chartered organization. My inclination would be to talk to the boys and their families unless you thought it was just prankishness. Parents are our partners.
Here is another insightful response
Since they won't be camping with you in the future then to me it's not that big of an issue. If the non-scouting reasons change and they come back I'd just keep an eye on them to see if the behavior becomes even more obvious or disruptive.
A tactful suggestion to them might be that even though Scouting as a whole may be technically open to gay youth, (or as of January at any rate), many of their peers may not be as comfortable with the blatant displays of affection between boys and that may cause some to be uncomfortable, (to say the least). You might want to suggestion to them that they might be to just be a tad bit more discrete about it.
And while this behavior is not normal for non-gay boys, it's definitely not unique. At our camp this summer we had one camper wind up in another boy's bunk in the middle of the night because he was cold, (it did get quite cold for July). The other boy didn't care because he was cold also. With some of our immigrant kids we end up with 4 or 5 of them pushing all of their
bunks together to make one giant bed and and in the morning there will be 6 or 7 of them packed in there all sharing body heat, (which gives the health dept inspector fits, but what the heck).
I've also seen a few boys in the past who could be described as overly affectionate. Nothing ever came of it and so far as I know no adults or boys ever said anything to them about it.
I am going to leave it here but love to hear your thoughts at facebook.