Thoughts on Scout Discipline

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As we prepare to go to summer camp and the joys of summer high adventure, now is a good time to reflect on discipline in scouting. Discipline in scouting is easy: we don’t do it.

Is that so?

Well, let me be clearer. offers this definition:

  1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
  2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill;training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
  3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
  4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
  5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and ordermaintained by training and control:

Scouting clearly seeks to create a “disciplined” scout, in accordance with definitions 1, 2, 4, or 5. In these you can have the “discipline of scouting” as the rules and expectations of scouting.

Scouting does not do definition number 3. In this definition you get the sense of discipline as punishment. We don’t do punishment.

When you are faced with a scout who does not wish to comply with your unit’s expectations, what do you do?

I would recommend starting with an overview article by Clarke Green at With this quick overview, you can then dig into his larger analysis of expectation management and disciplines.

Discipline or punishment is handled by the parents. For other questions, Clarke clarifies many questions.