Scoutmaster Musings - Code of Conduct

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Scoutmaster Musings

Code of Conduct
I was asked today: Is a 'code of conduct' for Cub Scouts like there is for Boy Scouts or does each Pack create its own?

Just like the Boy Scouts have the Scout Oath and Law as their 'code of conduct', the Cub Scouts have the Law of the Pack and the Cub Scout Promise. Those are the only codes needed to describe how scouts act.

There are many techniques that den leaders have employed to help manage the bahavior of scouts. A common one is the 'Den Candle' which burns as long as the den is behaving. When the candle is burned up, the den gets a prize of some kind. These can be useful for promoting expected behavior, but they don't define that behavior.

Scouts know how they should act, but that does not mean they will always act that way. While a Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos den leader, I was fortunate to have very few behavioral problems. I believe that was because I was blessed with an exceptionally great den of scouts and because they did not have time to get in trouble. I had more activities planned for a meeting than we could possibly do and then had a couple extra games 'just in case' that we never got to. I tried to never have the scouts sitting still for more than 10 minutes - longer than that feels too much like school.

I found that the best way to alter behavior was to simply ask which part of the Law of the Pack the scout was practicing - was it following Akela, helping the Pack go, or giving goodwill? Occasionally, a more in-depth discussion of better ways to practice was necessary was required. The couple of times that didn't work, calling a parent, explaining the situation, and handing the phone to the scout solved the problem.

Sometimes troops or packs write down some guidelines which help define a process, such as how the trailer gets packed or how to air out and store tents. These are useful and unique to that unit. When we start writing down 'behavioral' restrictions, then we've crossed a line that will cause nothing but grief.

Codes of conduct will stifle creativity and foster the need to push against the restrictions and find loopholes and uncharted territory. We'll soon hear, "But, the code of conduct didn't say I COULDN'T do it!" and then we'll have to add that to the list. If we just stick to the Law and Oath, the scouts have a well-defined set of guidelines and room to play.

Scout On
Posted: 0:12 09-12-2007 200
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