The EDGE of Discipline

Summer Camp went well in my opinion.  I always look at the scouting program as more process driven than  a result driven program, so success for me isn’t a perfect Summer Camp without issues.  I identify success as when we are doing better on day 7 than on day 1…  and we definitely had that.

When I took over as Scoutmaster, there was something called “Cheerful Service” that was administered in our troop by youth and adult leaders to scouts that messed up…  or annoyed someone… or for whatever reason.  Cheerful Service is when a scout must perform some kind of task to make up for messing up.  Cleaning the bathroom or sweeping the stairs are some of the examples of tasks given.  This didn’t go over well with me, as it seemed too arbitrary and easily abused.  It also seemed out of line with the program goals and methods.  So, I decreed to the leadership that I would no longer support this method of discipline, then put it to PLC, who voted it out.

Since then, there has been a definite void.  No one wanted to address the elephant in the room:  What to do with the boy that wasn’t acting “Scout – Like”.  My opinion was send them home.  If someone didn’t demonstrate the desire to be a constructive part of the program, remove them from the program until they wanted to return.  A lot of times the boys act out because they feel like Mom is forcing them to go.  My hope is by sending them home, this will discourage mom, who has to pick them up early, from forcing their boy to attend scout functions.  This program was not a rousing success, and it was mainly my fault…  I didn’t use EDGE.

I told the Youth Leaders to use this method if there was an issue.  I didn’t explain, clearly, why they should use this method, or what the desired results were.  I did not demonstrate how to do it.  I left it up to the Youth to police themselves, which is difficult to begin to do when there is little to no precedent and we are talking about peers and older scouts.  I didn’t work with them through the process over a period of time, to ensure that they understood their responsibilities.  I skipped straight to Enable and watched them fail.

So Summer Camp was a little crazy.  Scouts that didn’t want to be there were unabashed about their opinions.   Lazy boys set the example for the younger scouts and some of the older boys harassed the boys that annoyed them.  The youth leadership looked to me with bewilderment of what to do and I hung my head because I didn’t prepare them.  So we do what we do best, we are learning from our mistakes.  We re-boot and try again.  This time, we’ll use the EDGE method and make sure we set our leaders up for success.

Also, I spoke to the committee the other day after camp, and we agreed to send out a parent letter, to ensure that there were no surprises as we move forward.  I’ve attached it if you want to peruse: Parent Letter

For more on this subject, I found this excellent blog posting by Clarke Green: http://www.scoutmastercg.com/2012/06/discipline-and-accountability-in-scouting/

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