We all like to brag about the great things that Boy Scouting can provide our boys and young men. I firmly believe that it is one of the best organizations in which a boy can be a member. However, it is not always and easy time for an adult leader.
Like any other club or organization, people do not always agree on things. Conflicts can arise. Shouting matches occur. And once in a while, there may even be a fight. As adult leaders in Scouting, we need to be referees, stop the arguments before they go too far, and in extreme cases, break up a fight.
I will never forget the first time I had to break up a physical conflict between two Scouts. It was in the early eighties. I was a twenty year old assistant scoutmaster at the time. Two older boys started argueing aboout something during a troop meeting held at a local school gym. It soon escaladed into more then shouting.
As their arms began to swing, I went into action. Before I realized what I was doing, I had grabbed both boys by the front of their shirts and was holding them up against the wall. I held them for a few moments until they cooled off. I looked up at them and told them to to stop it. Then I let them go.
Oh yeah, you read that correctly. I looked up at them. Both of them were taller then me. I think either one of them could have taken me down if he would have wanted to. I just acted, without thinking about my own safety, you might say. They needed to be stopped, so I stopped them.
I think I surprised the boys more then I scared them. I know I surprised myself. But no one was hurt and the conflict was now over. As we went back to our troop meeting, we keep a close eye on those two boys.
There have been several conflicts during the last 26 years. Luckily, they have been few and far between. And they never became something more then we could handle.
One of the best things we can do as adult leaders is to teach the boys how to handle disagreements and how to solve conflicts. The best way we can do this is by being a good example for the Scouts to follow. After all, how can we expect the boys to listen to us if we cannot control ourselves?