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ETHICS


Man vs. Wild Balancing leadership development and survival training.


BY THEIR NATURE, ethical dilemmas involve situations in which two or more values conflict. When you make a decision to hold tightly to one value, you necessarily have to let go of another value — at least temporarily. That’s what makes ethical dilem- mas so difficult to solve. That’s also what makes them useful as discussion starters for Scouts who’re trying to figure out how to live according to the values that Scouting teaches. The dilemma described here will seem familiar to anyone who has led


an organization: How do you affirm the contributions of group members without letting those contribu- tions push the group in the wrong direction?


Note: Although this dilemma uses Boy Scouting terms, you can easily adapt it for Venturing. Substitute “crew president” and “crew officers’ meeting” for “senior patrol leader” and “patrol leaders’ council,” and talk about the Ranger Award’s wilderness survival requirements instead of the Wilderness Survival merit badge.


The Dilemma Tommy Pirelli is one of those Scouts the leaders of Troop 923 secretly wish would play baseball instead. At 13, he’s a classic kibitzer. He’s happy to offer his own strong (and usually negative) opinions about the decisions the patrol leaders’ council makes, but he’s not at all interested in being a leader. That attitude doesn’t change much


after he’s elected patrol leader of the Pedro Patrol. He skips the annual program-planning conference and barely contributes at a string of patrol leaders’ council meetings. Along the way, the Scoutmaster counsels Senior Patrol Leader Ben Malden to find opportunities to kindle even the smallest flame of Tommy’s involvement.


Ben gets his chance when planning


the troop’s annual wilderness survival weekend. Suddenly, Tommy comes to life, making suggestions straight out of TV’s “Man vs. Wild.” Rather than build shelters with downed branches, he proposes felling a few trees. Rather than eating trail meals, he suggests trapping some rabbits. Now, Ben is stuck. Does he shut


Tommy down or approve activities that run counter to Scouting’s outdoor ethics? Or is there a middle path?


For Discussion To simplify the discussion, set aside the issue of Tommy’s sudden inter- est in being a leader and focus on outdoor ethics. Explore these ques- tions with your Scouts or Venturers: Who or what defines Scouting’s outdoor ethics? Answers should include the Outdoor Code and the principles of Leave No Trace.


20 SCOUTING ¿  


THOMAS FUCHS


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