The definition of chaos is, complete disorder and confusion. Synonyms are: confusion, pandemonium, havoc, turmoil, disruption. If this describes what you’re seeing we might be able to help.
Boys are not “just being boys” if what they are doing is unsafe, destructive and disrespectful. Sure, boys play hard and sometimes break things, but breaking stuff just to be breaking something – not cool! Chaos leads to turmoil, but a well-defined structured environment gives boys a safe place to “just be boys”, and this is great fun!!!
G.K. Chesterton said, “The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”
A common mistake that all of us as commanders make is to try and rein in the chaos and add structure to the environment by establishing rules for every situation and then enforcing those rules. This is a recipe for disaster and frustration. Boys can’t remember a long laundry list of rules, and trying to enforce this long list will just make you look like a drill sergeant. If you only take one thing away from this podcast it should be this. Rules without relationship breads rebellion, rules with relationship breads respect, so keep it simple and clear, and enforce these boundaries for the sake of these relationships.
Rule #1, Respect
Rule #2 Safety
Creating a simply yet clear set of rules will help your outpost thrive, but when you try and make a rule for every situation you are creating a bunch of “i gotcha ya” moments. Your setting the boys up for failure and anxiety.
The two rule system frees you from all of that. We have applied this to summer merit camps with 70 boys from outposts all over the state. In 12 hours we establish a self-governing environment where boys thrive and relationships grow. Think about it, if a boy is being disruptive in class what rule does that fall under? If a boy goes down to the swimming hole by himself what rule is that breaking? By quickly and calmly identifying their actions and helping them decide which rule their breaking they are quickly learning to govern themselves. Of course this works at every age level but is adjusted for age appropriate activities. What is a safe for and Expedition Ranger might not be for a Ranger Kid.
The key to success is consistency and total cooperation from all of your commanders. Also, you need to remove all other rules from your vocabulary. Instead, consistently remind and reinforce Rule #1 and Rule #2. Games and activities have directions not rules.
There are certainly consequences to breaking the two rules. Keep in mind that every correction needs to lead and end with love. You’re not there to just “catch them in the act”. You’re there to equip and empower. Consequences should be proportional to the inappropriate action. It’s a good idea to brainstorm with your commanders a list of scenarios that are likely to happen and how you will handle them.
Boys will be boys. They want and adventure rich life and will a little planning you can give this to them. You will be creating awesome memories and equipping and empowering them to be terrific servant leaders.