One More Jamboree Thread - Need Advice

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One More Jamboree Thread - Need Advice

Postby halo » Tue Nov 08, 2005 10:08 pm

Early last month I heard about an issue that occurred during my son's tour after the Jamboree. Needless to say I was extremely angry when I first found out. It has taken me a while to even talk about the issue with friends without blowing up.

It came to my attention that my son was left alone for at least a couple of hours, if not more, in a bus by himself in New York. Apparently he fell asleep and his buddies tried to wake him up when it was time to leave the bus. They walked out of the bus not realizing he sat back down and went to asleep again. No one noticed he was not with the group until they returned to the bus and found him still asleep. Now, my son says the driver was there, but 1) I didn't expect the driver to babysit my son, and 2) I don't know the bus driver and I'm not sure they did either. How did this happen without one leader realizing he was gone? Let alone his 3 buddies or anyone else in his troop. This is just beyond amazing to me that absolutely no one figured this out. It makes me wonder what else happened on this trip that no one else knows about.

In addition, the leader who relayed this information to me, thought it was funny. I was dumbfounded when he was sharing the story with me laughing the whole time. What type of leadership, with so-called youth protection training, thinks it's funny that a 13-year old boy was left alone in Manhattan? What if he had woke up and tried to find the group? How did anyone know that he didn't wander off somewhere? what's even worse is that I had spoken with some of you about my son's history of being left behind by groups - ie day cares, schools, etc. leaving him at a park, zoo, etc. because he went to the restroom. I was assured that nothing like that would ever happen. You would think someone would be keeping an eye out just because he does have that history. At least we were prepared and sent him with a list of emergency phone numbers for relatives on the east coast for him to call just in case. Luckily, he didn't have to use those.

Needless to say I'm shocked and dumbfounded. I really don't know what to say about this. I do know there is no way that I'll ever let my son attend another scouting event with any of these leaders and I will discourage anyone else from doing so. I probably shouldn't be too shocked because I believe this entire event was shoddily ran from the beginning (as I'm sure you are aware here), starting with the lack of planning and preparation at the council level, and as shown at the national level as evidenced by the events that occurred at the Jamboree.

So I finally addressed the situation via email with the Scout executive, his scoutmaster, and a couple others in charge. I have heard absolutely nothing from anyone. Not even an apology. So what do I do now? Do I confront them in person? Do I address with National (who I really don't think will give a flying fig)? I can't seem to let this go.

Am I over-reacting? I know he's safe and it's water under the bridge, but I feel someone has to let people know that these leaders are completely untruthworthy. But then, I'm also scared that this will reflect on my son when he applies for his Eagle next year. I don't know what do, but I feel something needs to be done. Any ideas on what to do from here?
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Postby Eamonn » Wed Nov 09, 2005 12:29 am

I think you are right to be upset.
I'm wondering what ever happened to the Buddy System?
I don't think the problem is that National doesn't care, it's just that they don't know the actors involved and they expect things to be managed at the local level. Thats why they spent time training pros.
From what you say there is plenty of blame to go around! The SM of the Jamboree Troop, should have known where the Scouts were. Likewise the SPL and the PL and it would seem that your son should accept some of the blame as well.
I'm not sure what action I would take if I were your Council Jamboree Chairman, but if I wanted to voice my feelings that is where I would start.
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Postby halo » Wed Nov 09, 2005 1:15 am

Yes, my son knows how I feel about his role in this. That's why he never told me about it. And he was the PL, too. The Council Jamboree Chairman is the one who told me about it. He was cracking jokes to my son "nice to see you awake" - that's how I found out, he figured I already knew. I was so shocked when he told me, I just went along with it. The more I think about it, the more I get mad. If my husband finds out, he'll blow a gasket.
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Postby ASM-142 » Wed Nov 09, 2005 8:48 am

If this is real issue with you you should confront them in person and not via email. If at that point you do not get the response you need you can bring it up to National.
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Postby Scouting179 » Wed Nov 09, 2005 8:54 am

Personally, I'd like to know more details before I say you are or are not overreacting in general. But I will say they should have done a body count every hour or so and at every major point of the trip. Missing a kid for 3 hours and not knowing it--I'd be upset at that part too.

Blaming National for those events at the Jambo is blaming something they can't control. That's like blaming a 4-star General in DC for something a Lieutenant does in Iraq.
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Postby wagionvigil » Wed Nov 09, 2005 11:55 am

Questions for your son?
1. Did his friends try to get him to go?
2.Did he tell them leave me alone I just will stay here and sleep?
3. Did his friends not wake him on purpose?
Sometimes there is more to the story when dealing with youth then meets the eye.
My son is a sound sleeper. I have actually operated power tols like a weed wacker in his tent when we were at camp and not wake him. WE have aslo been places when he just chose to stay in the bus or car etc. on his own. He is 26 now and still you could tear a house down around him and nothing would happen.
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Postby halo » Thu Nov 17, 2005 12:25 pm

Yes, they came back for him, woke him up, he started to walk off the bus behind them, but sat back down and went back to sleep. No one noticed.

I've tried twice now to speak with someone at council regarding this incident. I keep getting sent to voice mail with no returned call.
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Postby RWSmith » Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:21 am


This was a serious mistake, to be sure; but, more importantly, I'm glad no harm came from it. A fact we often fail to recognize (be it from a mother's perspective, or a SM's perspective), is that Scouting is not without risks. I'll say that again, Scouting is not without risks. Two weeks in the backcountry of New Mexico is a not walk in the park. Driving halfway across the country to get there is probably worse. Accidentally becoming separated from the group is also a risk. On any Scouting trip, TDL is an absolute requirement; but, so is the Buddy System. TDL is the adult's responsibility; but, the Buddy System is your sons'.

We can all agree that what happened to your son should not have happened. But, with all due respect, I would encourage you to go to your son and explain to him that he was (and always will be) just as much responsible, if not more so, for looking out for himself. Think of the value of that lesson. You'll find good Troops and bad Troops, good leaders and bad leaders in every Council. Same goes for jobs, companies, supervisors, military officers and presidents, too. I just can't help but think that this would be a good oportunity to turn some lemons into some lemonade.

And don't worry so much about the poor leadership in your Council. For one, they are much farther outside your sphere of influence than you are to your son. And for another, bad leaders move around, come and go; good leaders are literally worshiped.

I have no doubt that, from an adult's perspective, your son's Jamboree experience was a mess, from the word 'go'. But, I'd bet his perspective is much different, far better than ours. Check the news clippings for the '77 NSJ and you'll find that some very misfortunate things happened; but, I would not trade my Jamboree experience, as witnessed through my eyes, as a teenager for that of an adult--not ever.
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Postby hops_scout » Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:09 am

I'd have to agree to that as well. The overall picture may look gloom, and look like a lot of things went wrong. I'm talking about the 2005 Jamboree. Yes, there were problems, but you know what-- I'll betcha you're not going to find a boy that didn't have fun! Whether it was patch-trading, Army Action Center, the Action Centers (rappelling :D , BMX, pioneering, etc), or the other things. They had a good time. I can tell you that I sure did. I've never been that far away, by myself, from home and especially not for that long. But I loved every minute of it. Wagion can tell ya that our staff definitely had fun each and every day. While it was in the subcamp or if it was on the tower. (Especially the last day :lol: )

I'd also have to agree that the first person I would turn to (and have done as an SPL) the specific boy that was left behind. They need to keep up or communicate the problem. And why was he sleeping during the day anyway?!?!?! :shock:
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