What’s in a name?

A couple weeks ago while at Camporee a group of Scout leaders and I had a discussion regarding discipline in their units.  I had mentioned that our three goals for Camporee this year were to 1. Have Fun, 2.  Drink lots of water, and 3.  Be Disciplined.

So the discussion lead to how we maintain discipline within our units.  Each and every unit does this a little different, some to my dismay, have no discipline policy or structure.
The subject of names and how they effect discipline came up, one school of thought is that youth should address adult leaders as Mr. or Mrs. Soinso..  The other school argues that being on a first name basis is the way to go.
I am of the latter.
While I agree that there is a certain sense of respect or at least formality, a clear division of age groups and roles in adopting a policy of “Mr. and Mrs.”  I also conclude that there can be respect and discipline with out being so formal.  I have seen it both ways.  
It comes down to what culture of discipline exists within the unit and how you get it there.
Respect is taught to young men by seeing respect.  If you expect to get respect and discipline then you should demonstrate those behaviors as a leader.
The classic “Do as I say and not as I do” philosophy is not good enough when you want real discipline and respect.  A Scout that fears you does not necessarily respect you.  I can assure you that a Scout that does not see disciplined action from his adult leaders will not be disciplined himself.  A Scout that consistently sees the “Do as I say” example will develop resentment and will not demonstrate discipline over all.
On the other hand, a Scout that consistently is fed with mutual respect and sees discipline in his adult leaders will emulate those behaviors.
So what’s in a name?
In my unit we call one another by our first names.  I am Jerry.  I call the Scouts by their first names and they address me with mine.  We, the boys and I, have mutual respect for one another.  They know that I respect them and they in turn respect me.
This leads to discipline.  I ask and receive from the Scouts a behavior that is disciplined.
I do not ask for military like, straight backed, white glove discipline.  I ask that the Scouts simply respect one another.  In doing so, they will act in a disciplined fashion.  They will not lie, cheat or steal.  They will not harass or embarrass their troop mates.  They will not act out in violence or hurt one another.  They will not interrupt or act inappropriately because they know that it reflects on one another and that leads to discipline.
So what’s in a name?
Mutual respect.
And that leads to discipline.
I am a firm believer that boys are boys.  12 year old boys need to be allowed to act like 12 year olds. Discipline is a concept that is better left to a simple philosophy, a short list of rules, and in our case guided by the Scout oath and law.  An understanding that when we do to each other as we would have done to us as individuals.  That is something we all understand.
When I ask of my troop to be disciplined.  That is all I ask.  And it works.
So what’s in a name?
Not much.. it is who we are, it is how we act, and it is what we are called.  And when I respect you for who you are, how you act, and the name which you have been given, I establish a comfortable environment in which we can respect one another and act in a disciplined fashion.
Lack of discipline comes with the consequence of a lack of respect.  And we all like to be respected.
So what’s in a name?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

One comment

  1. Good topic! We have a blend in our troop. The boys are expected to respect the wishes of the adult regarding names. That being said, and I’m a “Mr.”, I respond to them as “yes, sir”, “no, sir”, pleases and thank you’s. “A Scout is courteous goes a long way here.”I do make a big deal about an 18th birthday though. They may use my first name then officially, and they may decide to have the Scouts call them “Mr.”. Kind of amusing, and everyone gets the lesson in respect.


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