Pranks at camp? (Boys or Girls)

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Registered: 04-02-2003
Pranks at camp? (Boys or Girls)
Mon, 06-12-2006 - 8:39am

Please share your thoughts on the subject.

I have run into folks that think it is terrible, and those who think it is a rite of passage.

Assuming that the camp is closed to the public and the appropriate safety rules are followed, how do you feel about them?

What is ok, in your opinion, if you feel they are acceptable behavior?

If you do not approve, how do you think pranksters should be handled?

How do you define a prank? Is it different than a joke?


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Registered: 10-06-2010
Mon, 06-12-2006 - 11:07pm

Pranks, no matter how they start out, usually end up hurting someone in some way.



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Registered: 04-02-2003
Wed, 06-14-2006 - 9:36am

I think the problem comes from the fact that pranks escalate too easily.

Whoever does them is trying to outdo someone, or their own reputation.

Of course, there was a problem. And I don't want to go into details because it was over the line, regardless of how anyone feels about it. And, I don't want to malign anyone, because it grew very quickly.

I have never liked what the group in question DOES as a prank. I think they go over the top. For that reason alone, I think it should have been stopped years ago.

For example, it is one thing to stand outside a lodge at 6am, blowing whistles and another to do it for an hour at 1am. It is one thing to jump out from be

I told the adults the first night that I didn't approve but wouldn't do anything to stop them and when there was a problem I wished I had.

The rational was 'when we were pranked, we were told it was part of camp and now we are just giving out what we got' From the 14 year olds, I understand their mindset - I want to correct it, but I get it. From the adults??? They should know better.

But, is this covered in G2SS or SafetyWise?

To me, there are almost societial rules that govern this. If you are going to do something, you need to know your audience. For example, my hubby had to come to camp and he brought the pinata from our son's birthday party. When I left camp to buy supplies, I found a 3 foot toucan driving my car. The next day, when we left, my Scout found a 3 foot toucan in their seat. That is a prank, but it was fine. It was only funny. Not scary, not distructive, and left no mess behind. And, he knew how I'd react.

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Registered: 10-06-2010
Wed, 06-14-2006 - 10:30pm

I don't know about SafteyWise, I do not have a copy handy.

As for BSA's Guide to Safe Scouting, here is what it says (the bold type is from G2SS & indicates a BSA rule -

"Hazing prohibited.
Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity."

"All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law. Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout's membership in the unit."

"Adult leaders of Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and interceding when necessary. Parents of youth members who misbehave should be informed and asked for assistance in dealing with it."

Pranks, especially the kind that are of the type you describe, can easily be considered hazing.


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Registered: 04-02-2003
Wed, 06-21-2006 - 10:10am

So, are there any good alternatives to this 'urge?'

I am talking about a multi-level camp, so maybe a squirt gun battle between areas? We have had 'staff verses camper' contests like capture the flag, and volleyball. Tournaments between groups / teams?

As far as jokes go, I personally like the squirt gun pointed at the window / tent roof. Sounds like rain, but it isn't.

What really bugged me was after we heard a lecture about 'we are playing a game (theme) but we aren't keeping score because we are all winners in Scouting' and everyone received the same prize, but then we talked about out-doing other groups in the 'prank game' Isn't that having a winner?

And, why can't we compete? First team who is ready to eat, gets in line first. What is the harm? Everyone will get the food, won't they? Last team up leads the song after lunch. Is that really a booby-prize?

I wonder if competing would help dull the edge of one-up-man-ship or intensify it?

And Bonnie - you are one of the most well-informed and insightful Scouting people I know.

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Fri, 06-23-2006 - 12:48am

Awww Gee!


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Registered: 04-02-2003
Tue, 06-27-2006 - 12:15pm

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit.

This was the GIRLS.

And, when I first went a few years ago and commented that I was surprised it was going on, I was told I should be used to it because of Boy Scouts and they were floored to learn it was prohibitted.

And, the mom who complained the most this year, was involved in some of the pranking I remember best.

I talked to DeeDee and explained why we don't want her to engage in that behavior and felt that pranking was inappropriate.

We talked about 'teasing' your friends, and pranks against others.

We have a running donut joke with a Brownie leader. Teasing would be a box of donuts on her sleeping bag. A prank would be dumping the donuts in the bag.

She seemed to understand what I meant. Now, if the lesson 'took' she'll remember it.

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Registered: 10-06-2010
Tue, 06-27-2006 - 9:38pm

You know, I was going to say that this was probably the boys, then I thought about it & realized that girls can be equally nuts!


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Registered: 04-02-2003
Fri, 06-30-2006 - 10:24am

All year, we fought with the idea that some girls said thoughtless things that were mean. And, I honestly think they don't know how their comments make people feel. And, some act like it shouldn't matter if it hurts your feelings, because it is true....

I've asked for ideas here - I asked the SUM - I asked parents and leader. And they all said it is a problem, but allowed this to take place.

The camp wasn't council-run, so I don't know how much the site staff is aware of the activities.

And, it does start out harmless and fun. When it is 6pm, and still 95° and there is a group of girls carrying water bottles, and they get squirted by a bunch of brownies hiding behind a tree, it is funny. And they were squirted too, so it seems fair. (I hate that word)

It started there a few years ago, but it is out of hand.

The worse I have ever seen at boy scouts was the year that the director had an inflated alien in front of her tent, and it was run up the flagpole. Found items have been put up trees too, but the oppertunities presented themselves. In other words, the sweatshirt they left at the pool may be hanging from the dining hall doorway or on a tree limb, but the owner can claim it.

I read an (education related) article today that claimed that when you said 'all boys/girls are like that' and plan accordingly, you are shortchanging the individual. Saying that girls are mean, and say hurtful things, so you have to learn to hear it changes your expection of girls who are NOT like that and encourages acceptance from a child who would not do so otherwise.

So what do I do? I can tell DeeDee and prepare her, but in real life, it may not be enough. They came up to me at camp and said the Cadettes were hiding and would jump out and silly-string the Brownies as they walked back to camp. Does that mean I should drive her to avoid the problem? I can say no, and I can take it to the director, but what if it isn't stopped, what if it is ok in their eyes? Do I single my daughter out and have her teased for not participating or for spoiling the fun...

I thought about sending a letter to the SUM, but do I say that my daughter won't go if it isn't expressly forbidden? Do I want her to be there if it isn't allowed? Will she be teased? I want her to go without me and not need me to be that layer between her and her peers.

I'm tired, and I'm buying trouble I wouldn't take for free.

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Registered: 10-06-2010
Fri, 06-30-2006 - 8:19pm

Oh Wow!


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Registered: 04-02-2003
Sat, 07-01-2006 - 11:51am


I asked the SUM to allow me to stay someplace other than where my daughter was and volunteered to help anywhere except taking direct responsibilty for DeeDee's group, Brownies. Our reasoning was that we wanted DeeDee to be more independent and gas costs to stinking much to drive up twice...

I am not a leader (I'm a Committee Member so I don't get invited to Service Unit Meetings), but I am registered and have outdoor leader training, so I was a 'campfire person'. I was to sleep with the Cadettes and the SUM.

The adult who was in charge of the Brownies came up and told me that she was walking the girls into a trap, and asked if it was ok. It was implied the SUM approved. And, the Cadettes were already on their way to hide, so it was already in motion.

The SUM has set 'rules' in the past. Brownies are not allowed to prank anyone because they can't leave the lodge. Pranks are not done in the buildings due to the mess. And, you earn the right to dish it out by taking it. No, that isn't in writing, but in discussions, it was made clear over the years.

Silly string wasn't so bad, except no one cleaned it up. It is fact that it could have been bad. DeeDee said it hit her face - what if it was her eye? It sounds innocent, but... The following night, the Juniors came up to the Cadettes around the fire and sprayed them - guess who cleaned it up the next morning. If you guess 'campfire person when she cleaned the fire circle', you'd be right. I did ask the SUM if the Cadettes could help pick it up and I was told to just scuff it with my foot and it would disappear. Really? Where does that polymer go?

That wasn't the prank that went bad. They also 'kidnap' girls. They take Juniors from their area and parade them through the Brownies' lodge. This year, they didn't tell anyone they were doing it, they just took the girls. Adults drove and said they didn't know it was going to be that big. HELLO! Why did you let them in the car? And, you knew they were going to do it and didn't give the leaders a heads up?

And, when the Junior adults complained, apologies were offered and niceities said, but afterward, the opinion was they should be able to take it, after all, when the Cadettes were Juniors they took it.

So, I can't complain to the leaders, they start it. I can't complain to the SUM, she condons it. I can't complain at a council level because I am blacklisted.

So, my choices are to tell DeeDee she can't go with her friends, change troops so I'm in a different Service unit, take my own stinkin' tent and keep her to myself (and make her a target) or send out big letters of complaint that go over heads.

To make it more complicated, the SUM's son is in my son's troop. Yippee Skippee. And, while she is nice enough as a person, she is babying him. All I can think is that if we did that to her son she'd say he had to change troops. Heck, they won't send him to camp because a boy is mean in the troop. Their loss, the mean kid isn't going. I didn't tell them - I figured she'd need to find another excuse then. She also has told me that I'm too involved in my kids life and in the troop and that no one likes that I try to take control of a group...

And, the thing was, everytime she needed help, she asked me. Why? Because I would do the boring work, the behind the scenes work, the things that make girls and parents mad (like saying no) because the others who volunteered only want to do fun stuff.