Long Cruise: difficult decision

On Monday, August 18th, everyone arrived at Henderson’s Wharf Marina by noon as planned, and all were aboard der PeLiKan soon after. Present were 6 scouts from my ship and one–whom I had never met–from another group. The 19-year-old wants to wrap up his Able advancement requirements, and a long cruise was the last item he needed to check off his list. I thought that would be incentive for him to show as a model to whom my younger scouts could look up. Unfortunately, the young man’s behavior during this cruise was not in line with his credentials and the recommendations that his father forwarded to me in advance. His expectations and mine soon clashed.This created a problem for every member of the cruise, and, after repeated warnings did not affect the young man’s behavior, I had to make a very difficult decision: whether to let him stay on and let things continue, or dismiss him from our company.

I felt very uncomfortable with the decision, as I always like to give a kid the benefit of the doubt, and I thought that this cruise was certainly important to this young man. However, as the hours ticked on and his behavior even worsened–he was late returning from shore, late reporting to duty station, was inattentive and even disappeared during meetings, questioned adult authority, and offered not a single apology, only excuses.

I kept asking for input from some of my top consultants, and they kept saying “dismiss him,” though one–a hard-nosed ex-military who leads a youth group of his own–used more colorful wording.

Finally, on day 3, it appeared there was no option but to dismiss the 19-year-old, as his disregard for the Behavioral Contract–and for his fellow Sea Scouts and their leaders–was having an increasingly negative effect on the entire group, and I had to give my scouts’ best interest highest priority.

About half a day after the guest scout departed our company, my scouts began to find their grove while they worked to clean der PeLiKan at the waterline, as a team. By the end of the cruise, all of us were having a lot of fun while we learned and worked together. As I saw the scouts relax and become happier, I knew I had made the right decision.

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