Scoutmaster Musings - Letter or Spirit?


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Scoutmaster Musings

Letter or Spirit?
Eagle Scout Suspended for having a tiny pocketknife in his car parked on school property.

Cub Scout Suspended for eating lunch with his pocketknife-fork-spoon.

Zero-tolerance policies are all the rage. The problem with "zero" is that there is no leeway and no way to use the brain God gave you with which to think. Policies set up with absolutes often cause a mess.

These two scouts didn't follow the rules and they both understand that. But, one minute of talking to the 'offenders' and any sane person could tell there was no danger to others posed here - anyway, no more than from the pencils, pens, backpack straps, belt chains, hair picks, rulers, compasses, protractors, ... and the infinite other potential weapons that exist at school and in everyday life.

The spirit of safety policies are, of course, to keep people safe. When those in authority drift from the spirit to the letter of the written policy, they tarnish their reputation and lose respect.

It happens in scouting too. Scouts are good at figuring out ways around troop policies and game rules. We just had a good discussion about electronics use at troop activities. It ranged from "zero-tolerance" to "whatever". Once the discussion clarified what our goals in limiting electronics were, it became much easier to define how scouts are expected to act with these tools rather than banning them.

We're fortunate. In the Scout Law and Oath, we have pretty much all the behavioral expectations set for everyone to understand and accept. Not much more is really needed besides that.

Scout On


Posted: 16:22 10-13-2009 451
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Comments:
 Nov 11, 2009 - Mark Fisher
Iam fairly new to Scouting - i year as a Wolf dad and currently a Bear dad - so I'm still learning too.
The biggest issue I have with the cubscout bringing his utility knife to school has more to do with his parents. I have no doubt the youngster had no ill will or intentions, yet as parents we should be on top of this. Back in my years of scholl, any punk or bully would only be glad to steal your pocket knife. I myself would have proudly showed off my scout utility knife had I had one. Unfortuneatly, we know that proudly showing off can very easily turn into: "WHOOPS! somebody got accidentally cut!"
I feel the parenst should have instilled a sense of be proud of what you have done/ what you have earned, what you own, but also be aware .
Again, I'm still new at this, and may be totally over reating.
As far as the scholls handeling of it...well, this is the same entity that expells for mouthwash, yet can't can't afford teachers for all the million dollar football stadiums and full complimet of coaching staff.

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