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How do you handle willful disobedience?

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Several things that have helped me:


1) Pick your battles. Teenage boys have a tendency to be annoying and they often want to see a reaction. I have found that it is much more effective to highlight and reward good behavior than to try and stamp out bad.


2) Youth led. The more the boys see that they are in charge, the less they find to rebel against. Boys crave automony, if that automony is linked to the success of the youth leaders, they will be more inclined to support "their" leaders.


3) Adventure. I make it very clear that I do not tolerate "willful" disobedience because Scouting is dangerous. I make it clear that it is simply not possible to take unruly Scouts on the kind of adventures that attract boys to Scouting.



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In response to Beavah,

I wasn't suggesting a lecture about the consequences, etc. at the time of the interruption/infraction. All of that was written out as background/explanation for the folks reading it here. What I would tell the Scouts in the example I described is simply "We don't leave until it gets done". It's during the travel time to the event/activity or at another time that I would explain to the Scouts the whys and wherefores about actions and consequences, or maybe do it on a one-on-one basis (keeping to the rules of Youth Protection, etc.) with the ones that complain.


The negative consequences I described *may* come from the Scouts' peers, the SPL or PL, depending on the circumstances and severity of the infraction.

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"Baby Boomer's = born between 1945 and 1965."

OK so I'm stuck right in the middle!

Kudu makes a good point.

Very often the Lad that is leading the group in the wrong direction is the natural born leader.

Finding ways to tap into his leadership skills not only gets a great leader but also shuts him the heck up.

Two birds with one stone.


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One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction (Baden-Powell, from the article "Are Our Boys Degenerating?" circa 1918).



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  • 2 weeks later...

Late reply is late.


@Beavah - Yeah, I agree that it's not a coincidence to have all of these things happen at once. I think the biggest reason for those incidences at that particular camp was because there was no programme. Ever since then, the PLC took things a lot more seriously and began planning things.


@Eamonn - The adults did not invent that terminology. Not surprisingly, the troublemakers used it as an expressive way to justify their behaviour. Kinda like labeling laziness as being "energetically handicapped."


@Kudu - We actually tried that with a couple of them. One was assigned a service project at summer camp because he kept complaining the SPL didn't know how to lead (this happened on Monday). It was a minor camp renovation. Since the boy isn't too well-liked in the first place, you can imagine his roster of volunteers ended up being 0. This dragged on and on Thursday the SM asked him about his progress. He muttered an unintelligible statement we think was "I'm working on it." On Friday (the deadline), he was the only Scout working until his dad picked up a tool and started helping. The SM didn't like the idea of an adult helping, but let it go to see what would happen. Turns out, other Scouts saw the dad had to work and they eventually pitched in so the dad didn't have to do anything. In all, the Scout isn't as disruptive or disrespectful toward leaders. We need to do this with four or five others and see where it goes.


@All - Thanks again for the insight!

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I think the Baby Boomers with connections stretched that upper limit to include the likes of me so they could look less outdated than they really were!


I might suggest that you see who on your committee might have a camp or a boat where your SM can get a weekend with just the adults.


If you got a tough group of kids, he probably could use some time to talk comfortably about 'em so that everyone is on the same page! Even if you don't have anything better than what you all are doing to offer in terms of advice, it might be worth it to get a good laugh out of your predicament!


Who knows? Another 6 years and that boy might be sitting around your adult campfire giving you his perspective!

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chaoman45 writes:


One was assigned a service project at summer camp because he kept complaining the SPL didn't know how to lead.


So, you say a boy had a hard time talking others boys into working on their vacation? :)


I define "Leadership" as the ability to organize Outdoor Adventure.


Try "assigning a project" that a subset of the Scouts actually want to do, like a day-long backwoods fishing trip where the adults will not be allowed within 50 feet of the Scouts, and see what happens.


Yours at 300 feet,




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Kudu - It was a service project that had to be done for a summer camp award. And we figured he should be given a shot at seeing what it was like to lead something since he complained. Fishing day might work outside of the required conservation project though.

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