Discipline and By-Laws

Cliff Golden wrote on Scouts-L

I think the ideal we want to achieve is each Scout being responsible for his own behavior. They act in accordance with what they believe is right.

We don't have by-laws our my troop. I prefer it that way.

We use the Scout Oath and Law as our model of behavior. Ideals are one of the methods of Scouting.

If a Scout betrays those ideals in a significant way, then it is time for a Scoutmaster's Conference. That is the way I deal with major problems. I don't use a formula approach to dealing with those types of situations because I have found that each boy is unique as is each situation also unique.

I try very hard to be fair in my dealings with each and every Scout in my troop. I have a solemn obligation to be fair.

Too often I have found that rules and regulations tend to be too general in relation to situations and their inflexibility might not always be appropriate.

I also feel it is somewhat irresponsible for me to point to a piece of paper and say, "Well, the by-laws say I must react in this way." Suddenly it's not my responsibility, it is the by-laws that require this to happen.

I think what we want is for boys to understand that they are responsible for what they do. With that in mind I become responsible for how I react to that Scout and that situation. I do what I believe is fair and just based on my conscience and feeling of responsiblity, not based on what a set of by-laws tells me to do.

I am a unit leader. I am responsible for what happens within my unit. Things happen because I make them happen, or because I allow them to happen, positive or negative.

Every problem that occurs presents a learning experience and an opportunity for growth. I believe the Scoutmaster Conference is an appropriate tool or medium for managing/implementing that opportunity based on the merits of the situation, the intricate nature of the relationship between the Scoutmaster and Scout, and the individual traits of the Scout in question.

Parents and Scouts will have to put more trust in me and my abilities to deal with problems than they do in a piece of paper. If they lack that level of trust in me, then either they or I am in the wrong troop.

Those are just my thoughts.

I realize many other people hold opposite views.


Cliff Golden
Scoutmaster Troop 33
DeKalb, Illinois


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