Jump to content

Code of Conduct - Your Unit Experience

Recommended Posts

This may be an old topic but...We have had some drama in our unit which has resulted in the Troop Committee demanding that the SM refresh and institute a Code of Conduct. The old CoC was developed by the Scouts four years ago. The idea was that the newly elected SM Corps take this project on at their next PLC. Instead the old CoC was edited by the SM and ASMs and introduced in a special joint parent/scout meeting. Cutting to the chase; this has resulted in several families feeling that the unit is straying from the Patrol Method and thinking of leaving along with some very vocal dissent by the older Scouts.


The whole issue has gotten way out of proportion and could result in a unit schism. Here are my discussion points. 1) Does your unit have a CoC? 2) If you do, how was it developed? 3) What incidents caused your unit to develop a CoC? 4) Does a CoC help or hinder how a SM deals with the boys.



Link to post
Share on other sites


Aren't the Scout Oath and the Scout Law the codes of conduct for the scouts and the leaders in the troop?


What behavior problems have you had that are not addressed by the points of the Scout Oath and Law.


My first impression would be that you do not need another code of conduct. What you need is a program that teaches the values of Scouting.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, mmhardy, there must be some backstory here, eh? :)


Probably whatever energy remains unresolved because of the backstory is what has got the adults all atwitter. Behavioral issues need to be resolved firmly, and publicly enough that the community remains confident in its leaders.


Generally speakin', calls for codes of conduct / more rules / "policy" and such happen when leadership has failed in some way. Sometimes it's by not being firm enough or transparent enough in addressing an issue. You'll find some adults who don't have the gumption to face a tough issue without ducking behind a piece of paper with a policy on it. Less often, it's by being too firm or a bit arbitrary, and folks want some sort of policy to rein in a leader who they feel isn't being fair.


Either way, it's a leadership problem, not a code of conduct problem.


In scouting, we use Adult Association, eh? There's nothin' in our methods that says we should behave like institutions and have lads sign contracts, read da policy handbook, or any of that, eh? That's adult drivel that doesn't really teach boys a thing.


For us, it's da Pirate's Code, aye?! Parlez? :cool: Stuff that boys can get into. Scout Oath and Law, learned through Adult Association.


Leave da codes and policies for when yeh have to do like your wife and run an institution, not a scouting program.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Great feedback....thanks and keep it coming.


Yes there is a story behind it. However what I want feedback on is the proposed "fix". I did a Google search and there are plently of examples of units with Codes of Conduct as part of their bylaws. Is there any unit out there with a CoC in place who wishes to chime in on its development and use?

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a code of conduct. It is pretty useless in my view. When things do go wrong it tends not to get followed anyway most of the time, except as an after-thought.


On one hand, it hampers the SM from using his good judgment and dealing expeditiously with a situation (gotta read the CoC first, which is at this point some 30 or 40 pages long). On the other hand, when it is used, it is often in response to specific situations or selectively enforced, which leaves things open to fairness critiques.


The only thing the CoC appears to be much good for is to prolong committee meetings and, as Beavah said, to give some adults paper to hide behind instead of truly addressing the problem.


When we joined the unit several years ago, I was of a different opinion, thinking that the well-developed CoC was a sign of a highly organized, efficient, and thoughtful group. As it turns out, the CoC is, just as Beavah said, a lot of "adult drivel" that distracts from real, honest use of the adult association method.


Just my two cents.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd use the Oath & Law as the basis for your code of conduct. I would have the consequences for not living to the Oath & Law as the guts of your code of conduct.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

A blessed Christmas to all

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a code of conduct. The unit recites it before every meeting and it is discussed with individual scouts at every BOR. Occassionally we have scheduled BORs with individual scouts to discuss the CoC outside of the advancement process. Sometimes with have discussed the CoC with a scout in the presence of his parents. These generally have been rare though.

Our CoC consists of 12 basic points and an Oath.


The CoC and Oath were developed nearly 100 years ago. Our unit merely follows the guidelines set forth by the originators of the CoC an Oath.



Link to post
Share on other sites

"I did a Google search and there are plently of examples of units with Codes of Conduct as part of their bylaws"


hmmmmm, perhaps the problem that is being experienced in the unit mmhardy comes not from the confusion regarding a code of conduct, but from the fact that the unit leadership is searching the internet to try and learn the scouting program rather than using the handbooks of the Scouting program to learn the scouting program?


You say you found several units with a code of conduct other than the Scout Oath and Law. Did you not also find several units that did not have a separate code of conduct. What leads you to believe the former to be right rather than the latter?


Consider reading the Boy Scout Handbook to find your answer. Page 47.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have bylaws that discuss discipline for behavior but don't get specific about what constitutes bad behavior. Unfortunately, I think our bylaws are still too specific in various ways and should be more flexible, but that's another topic.


I agree with those who are pointing to the scout oath and law. There is also the Outdoor Code. I think beyond these there should be no need for an additional code of conduct. You will notice that the scout law is about what a scout is striving to be whereas Codes of Conduct tend to be about "don't's". There are some very good reasons why B-P did not write the oath and law to be yet another set of "thou shalt not" rules.


Regarding the adults editing what the boys came up with vs. letting the troop be boy-run, I think if the boys respect authority they don't need the adults to give them such a written document. When they are on a camp-out and the SM tells them to do or not to do something, the boys should be obedient (as stated in the oath). If the SM and ASM's are feeling the need to add to the boys' CoC, it sounds to me like there must be a reason, which would probably be that they want to make sure the parents understand what they expect from the boys.


So, this documentation of rules is more about the parents, adult leaders, and chartered organization than it is about the boys. If I'm right in this, these things might be better put into a letter for the parents and the boys just need to know to follow their leaders and respect authority.


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree 100% with others on this post who have said that the Scout Law is the only Code of Conduct you will ever need.


Before every Troop activity - camping trips, service projects, summer camp, and others, we let the Scouts know that we are all bound by the Scout Law. Not just Scouts, but adults too.


To stray outside of that Law is to gain attention - first from the Patrol Leader, then Senior Patrol Leader, Scoutmaster, and eventually, the Committee. But these are just procedures - the law is the Law!


Link to post
Share on other sites

Code of Conduct in a Boy Scout Troop....before you start typing, or before you start copying and pasting from unknown internet sources....


Start with everyone in your troop, Scouts and Adults, knowing by memory, the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout Motto, Scout Slogan and the Outdoor Code. But don't stop there.


All adults associated with the troop need to read the Boy Scout Handbook from cover to cover, including, but not limited to, the Parent Guide that is inserted at the front of every handbook. ALL ADULTS NEED TO READ THIS, SEVERAL TIMES IF NECESSARY, UNTIL THEY UNDERSTAND IT.


Then all adults need to read, from cover to cover, the Troop Committee handbook, Scoutmasters handbook and the Guide to Safe Scouting. All adults need to go to the training sessions provided by their District and Council, including Fast Start, Basic Leader Training, Youth Protection, Troop Committee Challenge, Outdoor Training, Safe Swim Defense, and Safety Afloat. (If they are registered adults in Scouting they can do some of this training over the internet.)


Then go to the internet and check out the sites for Philmont, Northern Tier, Sea Base, and the National Jamboree. These sites provide information about Codes of Conduct for these national programs.


Here is a link to the Philmont website where they give information about Code of Conduct. Be sure to click on the policies and procedures link for more information.




When you make application to Philmont, Sea Base or the National Jamboree (for example), you are sent a packet of information that includes a Code of Conduct. Each participant needs to read and sign this Code of Conduct in order to participate in the program. Get copies of these nationally recognized Codes of Conduct and give a copy to each member of your committee and all your parents. Your eyes, and their eyers, will be opened.


No need to write your own Code of Conduct. It has already been written.



Now a word to those of you who keep repeating this age-old saying that a troop needs only the Scout Oath and Scout Law as their Code of Conduct. If this were actually true, then why does the national BSA program department (or whoever it is) type up, print up and distribute these Codes of Conduct sheets that must be signed by every participant in these National programs? Also, as indicated in the above link to Philmont, it is an expectation that each crew develop their own Code of Conduct, and then, just to be sure, Philmont sends out a Code of Conduct that every participant is expected to sign and return.


It is no wonder that new adults coming into the Scouting program, keep asking about Codes of Conduct.


National staff needs to wrap their brains around this question and get the solution out to all units, so each unit does not need to go through the difficult and often divisive process of writing their own Code of Conduct. Some units are split in pieces over this issue. And it is completely unnecessary.


Scouting Codes of Conduct are already written, but figuring out where to find them can be a challenge.


Yes, start with the Scout Oath and Law, but don't stop there, National BSA doesn't, they have written lots more Codes of Conduct.


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is because they are not scout units. The high adventure bases are not the regular scouting programs and do not have the program specific training and support materials already published and available to units that are unit program specific.


I would have thought that to be fairly obvious, but I guess not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...