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"You seem to not have any written rules"

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our troop we have a "troop guidebook and reference" which acts as both by-laws and a parents handbook. It contains a code of conduct, explaining what behavior is acceptable, and what isn't. For example it says that foul language is not acceptable, and that if you use it you will be warned by a leader to stop.


A Scout is Clean. When a boy joins in order to complete his Scout Badge requirements he must understand the meaning of each point of the Law. How do you instruct hinm about the meaning of Clean? Do the scouts after their first meeting not understand the behavior expected of each scout?


"It also says that if you have/use any illegal substances (drugs, alchohol, fireworks) your parents will be required to pick you up immediatly. This is to prevent any confusion over what behavior is acceptable, and what isn't.


"The Guidebook also discusses our policies on scout accounts (many given to individual scouts after fundraisers) including how to retrieve money from them, as this info is not contained in any BSA publication." You don't really believe that there is a single boy in Scouting who thinks that drinking alcohol or fireworks are acceptable or will be overlooked?


Does the troop not teach fire safety early on to every scout? A scout using fireworks is a danger to himself and others...send him home.


That's because you created it. The BSA cannot be expected to have rules for something you created that isn't a needed part of the program. The BSA does not recommend you set up those accounts. See page 162 of the Scoutmaster Handbook.


"So, I see troop by-laws as being a way of clarifing BSA policies in a way that ALL troop members will have them avalible to them. How else is a scout supposed to know that if they drink they will be sent home? You can't expect every scout to take Scoutmaster fundimentals, can you?


The BSA program teaches leaders to send the scout home, or seek medical attention is the scout requires it. A boy drinking alcohol is not being Trustworthy, Obedient, or Clean...send him home.


If you follow the program the scout takes part in a drug and alcohol information program within the firt 12 months.


Teach values and skills not rules.


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"And if you don't make a blanket rule, how do you (either the SM or the SPL) answer the question of a Scout who asks you if he can bring [a Gameboy]?"


We are there to help boys make decisions for themselves. Giving him the "answer" from the troop rule book does not help him make decisions.

Trying guiding him.


We have a full schedule of activities planned. Will you have time to play with it?

Will the other boys pester you to play it too?

Is there room in your pack?

Do you really want to carry it 10 miles?

Will it need extra batteries?

Is there a chance it may get damaged or be lost?

Are you willing to accept the risks?


Once the boy has evaluated all the possibilities, HE can make a decision.


Guiding and teaching is more difficult than quoting from the rule book. But remember why we are here, and the answer becomes clear.

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Can we at least have a rule saying what the troop neckerchief is? BSA tells us the unit gets to choose, right?


I think it's great to teach boys why it's a good idea not to bring GameBoys on a campout. Maybe they will all absorb the reasons, and they will all stop bringing it. But are you really saying that the PLC can't make a collective decision on something like this?


Also, I don't understand the difference between teaching the boys what is expected (i.e., on how foul language isn't "clean") and writing it down on a piece of paper. In a troop that uses this "teaching" method, what actually happens when an adult leader hears a Scout using foul language? Will the adult leader warn him to stop, or not?

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Can't you make it a choice without having to make it a rule? My son chooses to wear a neckerchief, no one had to make a rule, they just made an appealing neckerchief.


"Also, I don't understand the difference between teaching the boys what is expected (i.e., on how foul language isn't "clean") and writing it down on a piece of paper."


The point is it's already written down in the Boy Scout Handbook page 53.


Why not just use the Boy Scout handbook?(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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"Also, I don't understand the difference between teaching the boys what is expected (i.e., on how foul language isn't "clean") and writing it down on a piece of paper."


If you teach it, then writing it down serves no purpose. I believe troops write rules so they don't have to teach. The answer simply becomes "Because that's the rule". Nothing is learned.


What a leader does when hearing foul language from a Scout has nothing to do with what a troop rule book says. Would you respond differently if there was no written rule?


Why would the PLC feel they need to write a rule? What problem are they trying to solve, and will writing a rule solve the problem?

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If I interpereted your statements correctly you said that any scout violating the scout oath and law should be sent home. So if a scout uses the "f word" once (not clean) you will send him home? You would treat this the same way as a scout bringing alchohol on a campout? I know I wouldn't.


Also, just because it is in the training manual doesn't mean everyone will know it. Parents of scouts (who are often not at the meetings to be trained) should have some way of finding out about the expectations that the troop has, as well.

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I don't like a lot of rules. I work at a university so I deal with bureaucracy every day. I don't want a lot of bureaucracy weighing down our troop's program.


I wrote something about troop by-laws in regard to discipline several years ago. Rather than repeat it, I'll offer you this link...




I think the Scout Oath and Scout Law are great sources of guidance, for Scouts and leaders alike.


The Scout Handbook is a remarkable book filled with valuable information for Scouts. Much of what they need to know is there.


Other things they need to know they will discover in time as they continue through the Scouting program. Scouting is about guided discovery.


I prefer guided discovery to by-laws or a book of rules to memorize.


I don't have a lot of rules. I really don't like rules that much. I try to respond to situations in a way that conforms to the ideals of Scouting as related through the Oath and Law.


I try my best to instill that same notion within my Scouts. In their lives they will encounter things not covered in any rulebook. They need to learn to use their own internal source of right and wrong to guide themselves toward the best decisions and conduct.


That's part of developing character and fitness and citizenship. They learn to recognize what's right and do it, not because it's a rule, but because that's they way they've chosen to live their lives.


I think that's what Scouting is all about.



Cliff Golden

Scoutmaster Troop 33

DeKalb, Illinois

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Baden Powell was very careful when he wrote the Scout Law not to make it a list of "Do Not's" He crafted the list of things that a Lad could do.

Everything is positive. A Scout is ....

I have some where what BP said about the Scout Law and why he wrote it the way he did. When I find it I will post it!!

I think it is a shame that we have something that can, does and has worked for nearly 100 years in so many countries can be overlooked or not followed by well meaning rule writers.

I of course am in agreement with KoreaScouter,FScouter, and Bob White.


We as leaders are charged with the health, safety and welfare of the Lads placed in our care. So while we set the example of living the Scout Oath and Law and hopefully making Scouting ideals the cornerstone of the program we deliver to our youth members. However we do have to deal with matters of liability and in some instances the law of the State or the Land.

As for the paper work? It does seem the more we try to simplify it the more there is.


One problem with a book of rules is that if they are to be of any use they must be followed to the letter. If they are not followed why bother having them?

Take bad language. While we more than lightly agree that the F word is top of the list and is bad. What about Bloody? In England this is used as a mild swear word. I get upset when people use the Lords name i the wrong way. My Mother when she was upset with me would use "Holy Mother Of God" or "Jesus, Mary and Joesph" She said this when she was upset or mad is this swearing? Or was this a prayer? A friend of mine used to use the four letter S word a lot, she stopped and replaced it with the word Sugar. So when something went wrong she would say "Oh Sugar!!" The intent and the meaning was the same as when she said the other word.

I have been known to turn the air blue when I'm upset. Let's say I hit my thumb with a hammer, I might let loose with the F word several times. Is the rule how many times you say the word?

I have had young Scouts who thought it was cool to use bad language. I have taken a Lad like this to one side and explained that this is un-Scout-like behaviour and shows a lack of respect for those around him. I have had Scouts that are upset maybe they have done the thumb and the hammer thing? In these cases I tend to deal with the thumb and overlook the bad language. Something I couldn't do if the rule book was to be followed to the letter.

A few weeks back SemperParatus posted a song which was based on a song from Les Miserables.I have the CD in my car, my son thought it was strange that I had a song that went:

I used to dream

That I would meet a prince

But God Almighty,

Have you seen what's happened since?

`Master of the house?'

Isn't worth me spit!

`Comforter, philosopher'

- and lifelong **** !

Cunning little brain

Regular Voltaire

Thinks he's quite a lover

But there's not much there

What a cruel trick of nature

Landed me with such a louse

God knows how I've lasted

Living with this bastard in the house.

Les Miserables has been seen by tens of thousands of people and I have yet to hear of too many being upset by this bad language.

My point is that without the rule book we can deal with each individual as an individual and each situation on its merits.

The music thing was very interesting. OJ (My Son) and yours truly had a long conversation about his music and my music. At that time he was into a lot of rap, which I didn't like and didn't understand and still don't!! I was upset about the bad language, which was two faced of me. I do own, listen and like some songs that do include bad language. I then said that I didn't like the way his music put down women and was disrespectful of policemen and the law, in fact it seemed to put down everything. I had in the past found some of this stuff on his laptop and using my parental power!! Deleted it.

Our conversation went a long way in allowing him to make the ethical and moral choice. My deleting it without his permission didn't do much but upset him and build barriers between us. I love him way too much to want anything to come between us. I still don't like rap, but he is into Country and Western now!! I keep hearing that "She loves my tractor" The Black Eyed Peas were a lot better.



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I never said I don't counsel scouts. I said that the the Oath and Law are the rules we use to teach the expected behavior. I also pointed out that the unit leader's job is to deliver the program. The BSA says that if a scout's behavior is a danger to himself or others OR if his behavior interferes with the delivery of the program...send him home.


So a scout who uses inapropriate language, regardless of what letter it begins with, will find an adult leader by his side for a discussion of the intricacies of the english language. If he chooses to continue to interrupt the program with his vulgarity guess where he is headed...back home.


That being said I have only sent three scouts home in almost 30 years (two went at the same time). Why? Because at the first troop meeting a Scout attends after he joins we go over the meaning of the Oath and Law and we make sure they are clearly understood, and we explain what the consequences are when you choose to not behave like a scout.


The Scout Handbook is the Scout's rule book of scouting. Why not just teach him what is in the handbook.


Its funny that leaders who don't want to follow the rules of the BSA, and criticize those who do as being "bookish" want to write their own rules so that the have something to tell them exactly what to do in circumstances already covered in the BSA resources that they don't want to use.

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I don't want to belabor this too much, but while page 53 of the Handbook explains why a Scout should not use foul language, it doesn't say what the consequences will be if he does so at a Scouting event. I'm a bit skeptical of the approach that seems to say to a Scout, read everything in the Handbook and follow it--if you don't, then I, the adult leader, will decide if you have transgressed enough to send you home. I think there's still a rule there--if you persist in cussing, I'll send you home. If that's your standard practice, do you tell the Scouts when you are teaching them that it's your practice? And if so, how's it different from a rule? Will you also send him home from Scout Camp if he refuses to shower?

Furthermore, if there already is a rule against foul language, found on p. 53 of the Handbook, what earthly harm can there be in reiterating that in a troop guidebook that is given to the parents so they'll also have a clear understanding of what behavior is expected?

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Well said everybody. After the tenth time it was repeated, I began to see whirling patterns and fell over.


I dislike rap music too. Actually, I think that is the intention of the authors. I just wish one of them would sue any one of the others for copyright infringement. It is absolutely the same stuff to the same loud annoying beat done over and over, kind of like... hmmmm.


What about this, you're sitting up late at night and RONCO comes on with the best rap songs of the nineties! You are half awake and unable to find the shooter, so you listen dazed in kind of a trance/stupor for the next thirty minutes while they play these loud obnoxious songs with the same bass beat over and over; you find that you are unable to do anything about it. Near the end, you have one hand on the telephone receiver and one hand dialing and then you begin reaching for your credit card after the operator comes on the line. She says, "Thirty bucks please, plus handling and postage." You somehow abruptly come out of it, return to your senses, hang up the phone and discover that it really was just one long loud rap song with many different names. You have finally discovered the secret of rap! It is all the same and was done by one person and that was the reason nobody ever sued. With that knowledge, you feel lighter and more knowing. From that point on, you still hate the sound of it but you can't keep yourself from dancing when you do hear it. (*Life always has trade-offs)


OK, the commercial break is over.




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Hunt posted:

what earthly harm can there be in reiterating that in a troop guidebook that is given to the parents so they'll also have a clear understanding of what behavior is expected?

The behavior expectation is covered by the Scout Oath and Law.

One big problem with Rules is that they normally carry a consequence for not keeping them. This does not allow the Leader to do his job.

I have never ever and hope I never ever become the Rule Enforcer. I always seen my role as the guide. Sure there are times when a Lad might do something that is wrong.

A few years back we were camping in Ireland (The Troop was from England) A couple of Lads came back to camp and we found out that they had been shop lifting. The stores were unaware that they had been robbed.

Sending these Lads home was not a safe option and having parents pick them up wouldn't have worked.

We had the Lads who had done the shop lifting go back to the stores and return the stolen goods. We asked if the stores wanted to press charges. None did. The offenders were not allowed to join the rest of the Troop members on dat trips or use the canoes. Their parents were contacted and when we arrived back home in England the Troop Committee was informed. The Boys were given a very stern talking too and were asked to write to the stores with a letter of apology.

I thought they got off light, but my thoughts were my own. The Committee had dealt with the problem as they saw fit.

One Lad did quit Scouting a year or so later and became active in the Rastafarian religion, I'm not sure how religious he was but he did his fair share of Ganja !! Which if it really is the "wisdom weed" he is wise beyond his years. He would meet me on the street and we would talk, he was always a nice Lad.

The other Lad stayed in the Troop, went on into the Venture unit and is now a lawyer.



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"Let me ask Hunt, how often have you had to punish a scout?"


It's not the responsibility of adult leaders in Scouting to punish scouts. I assume you knew that--or was this a trick question? Sending a boy home for unacceptable behavior is not necessarily punishment, but it is a consequence. Some behavior is so dangerous, offensive, or contrary to the Scout Law that it justifies sending a boy home. Other behavior, while undesirable, doesn't rise to that level of seriousness. You can set guidelines in advance that explain what behavior is considered to be at that level of seriousness, or you can use adult discretion at the time of the offense. In my opinion, it is better for everyone if it is well understood that certain defined actions will cause a scout to be sent home. I recognize that there may be situations (Eamonn described one) in which you can't send them home right away.


To go back to the foul language example, Bob White wrote:

"So a scout who uses inapropriate language, regardless of what letter it begins with, will find an adult leader by his side for a discussion of the intricacies of the english language. If he chooses to continue to interrupt the program with his vulgarity guess where he is headed...back home."

Thus, if Bob is the adult leader in charge, repeated use of foul language will get you sent home. Also, Bob gets to decide whether the language is vulgar enough, and whether it's interrupting the program. I'm just not convinced that this kind of discretion is better than some clear rules and consequences. Of course, if all the Scouts know that Mr. White will send you home for repeated cussing, that's an unwritten rule or policy anyway.

Just to be clear: "Foul language is contrary to the Scout Law" and "Repeated use of foul language will get you sent home" are not the same rules. The Handbook includes the first, but not the second.

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