Committee Tools to Improve Behavior

Running a troop committee can be difficult at times. The purpose of the committee is to support the leaders and scouts. Unfortunately just about everyone has different ideas about what that means. By figuring out the framework for decisions before they become a fight, a lot of work, emotion, and bad blood can be avoided.

There are three groups of people who need reminders about how to behave, from time to time: 1) Scouts, 2) Adults, and 3) Guests. Most people from young to old will make reasonably sound decisions, however, we humans are not so good at making good decisions when we are tired, frustrated, or feeling particularly competitive. These are three situations that come up in Scouting a lot. When tempers get heated or bullying breaks out or a meal is ruined after a long day, behavior decisions can deteriorate. Troop Committee policy needs to deal with at least three aspects of behavior for everyone:
  1. The standard for behavior
  2. The consequences for bad behavior
  3. Who has authority to enforce standards and consequences
Fortunately for all of us, Scouting provides three standards that can be used for behavior: The Scout Oath, the Scout Law, and the Outdoor Code. Committees that adopt these three aspects of scouting as their behavior standards make a clear statement of what is expected from everyone, including adults and guests. Once everyone knows the standard, it is time to make the consequences clear.

Behavior consequences are the result of failing to follow the behavior standard. In general, there should be a lot of room for applying consequences and nothing should be considered a necessary consequence. All situations are different and all the people involved are different so the consequences need to be considered carefully by those with authority to implement them, which leads us to the third aspect.

Who has authority to enforce behavior standards and apply consequences in your unit? If you are not sure, there is room for improvement. Generally, senior scouts and any trained adult should be considered an authority. By empowering trained leaders as representatives of the behavior standard they know that they can take serious action when it is needed, and use softer approaches when those are warranted. 

Here is an example motion to consider:
MOTION: I move that the Guide to Safe Scouting, Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Outdoor Code be adopted as the standards of behavior for all scouts, adults, and guests at troop activities. The consequences for poor behavior may include coaching, a Scoutmaster Conference, removal from an activity, and other scout-appropriate consequences. Though the entire troop community is expected to contribute to making the troop a safe place for everyone, the authority and responsibility to address poor safety and poor behavior is given to the Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and all Registered Adults. Parents and guardians are expected to accept (though not necessarily agree with) the decisions of those in authority with regard to maintaining safety and behavior standards and to support troop leaders as needed in this regard.

I am sure many of you reading this have similar (or very different) policies for behavior. Please take a minute to dig them up and add them to the comments section so that we can have a hearty discussion on this topic.


No comments: