The more rules you have in the classroom, the more time you’ll spend enforcing them.Cookie Ohlson, teacher, Prospect Park Middle School, Pennsylvania
Scouters can be tempted to make troop rules, the kind of rules that end with Scouts looking for and exploiting flaws in the rule making like so many lawyers. It’s not too long before the tipping point is reached and we spend more time policing rules than pursuing our true mission.
Some years ago it was discovered that several Scouts had attended an Order of the Arrow work weekend at our camp without paying the fee for the weekend. This caused predictable righteous outrage and subsequent adoption of rules intended to prevent a recurrence.
From that weekend on registered attendees now had to wear a wristband indicating that they had paid their fees. This wristband had to be shown on entering the dining hall inconveniencing several hundred people. Instead of dealing with the very few instances of non-payment the entire group of ‘honor campers’ were treated like the inmates of a penal system and officials of the lodge as policemen.
“A Scout is to be trusted” is the first point of the original Scout law. The wording of this first, and perhaps most important, point is both an aspiration and a declaration; a Scout is to be trusted. A phalanx of rules intended to insure trustworthiness removes the initiative to actually be trustworthy.
Scouting is intended to develop an internal standard of self consciousness and self control, not to impose a set of rules. The work of developing this internal standard is uncertain and rife with pitfalls. Scouting requires a few rules but we had better be careful that we don’t rely too heavily on rule making.