This is an open letter to all Scouts Canada volunteers.
I have refrained from commenting on Facebook until tonight. The rants from these people I admire so much has just pushed me too far. I love these people for volunteering so much of their time and money to help youth like my children enjoy learning about the outdoors but enough is enough.
I have held back long enough. If I get kicked out of scouts for this then so be it, but someone has to say something and I might as well be the voice of common sense here. Stop laughing, I am serious. Damn I hate being serious. Seriously, I really do.
Recently, Scouts Canada has issued a new Code of Conduct. This is a document that all scouting volunteers need to sign each year in order to be volunteers. Is the document perfect? It was written by lawyers; of course it isn’t perfect. It is filled with lines that most common people would simply ignore because they are simply nuts.
The 2017 Code of Conduct
I have a problem with so much of this year’s document but the generalization stands out.
I will respectfully challenge behaviour or attitudes that I feel are inconsistent with Scouting values
How can a document this important be so subjective? I know adults that would “feel” that every second thing I do is inconsistent with scouting values. I think they are whiny self-righteous hypocrites who should be banned from social media and let me help youth enjoy their scouting adventure in the best way I know how. But I will keep working with them until they find a safe space.
I will ensure that I follow the two-Scouter rule and always have another Scouter present or copied when I am in contact with youth, whether in-person or online.
This is ludicrous. I walked out of an outhouse at a camp and a youth walked out of the door next to me at the same time. We walk back to the camp site together. We strike up a conversation. Scouts Canada policy allows for emergencies that would violate their two-Scouter policy, like if a scouter had to rush a youth to a hospital. Leaving an outhouse is clearly not an emergency.
Someone will suggest that I should have waited until the youth got out of eyesight and then I could start walking. I think another youth walking to the outhouse and seeing me just standing there looking up the hill at another youth walking away would be a much brighter red flag than seeing us on a path together for 2 minutes.
I will not ever behave in such a way that anyone could misinterpret my actions no matter how well-intended.
Once again I find myself wondering if the lawyer that wrote this drivel got his law degree as a prize in the bottom of a cereal box. What on earth do I have to do with the way another person “misinterprets” my actions? This is probably the second stupidest line in this document. It is clear insanity or utter ignorance in failing to proof-read a document.
Here is the line that has caused the biggest uproar on social media though…
I will immediately report any breaches of this code and Scouts Canada policy to Scouts Canada.
Really? Is that how you build trust and camaraderie among your team of 20,000 volunteers? Threaten them if they don’t rat out their fellow volunteers for all the infractions that they have no control over? Why not just ask them to do their best to stick to a set of guidelines and rules that make sense?
I have no intention of calling anyone because a scouter did something that I interpreted as inappropriate for scouting. I will ask that person if I misinterpreted their action like a normal adult. Scouts Canada is succeeding in alienated a percentage of their volunteers and they are absolutely trying to turn us into a group of whining, back-stabbing volunteers who are trained on how to bubble-wrap children.
I love this line as well…
I will not ever engage in inappropriate conduct or behavior with youth, including suggestive remarks threats, even in fun.
This isn’t even a sentence, which suggests that I might be right in assuming that this document wasn’t proof-read by a committee, but by someone’s pet. I am not even entirely sure what they meant to say but if they are implying that I could somehow “threaten” a youth in fun I seriously question their sincerity in writing this document.
The best line of course, will be saved for the end. First, let’s have a look at the old document. The Code of Conduct that we all signed last year was written before September of 2015 and it had a few questionable points as well…
The 2016 Code of Conduct
I will do risk and hazard reviews before, during and after all Scouting activities.
Are they kidding? There is not a single scouter in this country that can honestly say that they did this. We constantly watch out for our youths’ safety, but a hazard review? I am not even sure what that is. I don’t ever recall hearing those words before in my hundreds of hours of training.
If they are referring to Risk Assessments, we do those for specific activities, as instructed by Scouts Canada policies. I have never considered doing one before, during and after every activity. I can’t imagine anyone ever has.
I will always ask a youth member for permission before I touch them
While I know that they can’t possibly mean that I have to ask permission before I shake a youth’s hand, they clearly made me sign a document that made me promise to do just that. For the record, I have never asked for permission to touch a youth whether it was to shake a hand, give a high-five or grab their arm to keep them from falling down a hill.
Imagine the insanity of saying that you let the youth fall because you hadn’t finished asking for permission to grab them?
Why am I so disappointed now?
You think it is ludicrous to imagine that anyone has asked for permission to shake a hand. You also agree with me that no scouter has done a risk assessment for EVERY activity is scouts.
You agree, but you signed this document last year knowing full well that you could never adhere to the conditions that it put on you. As did I.
Somehow though, this year you feel the need to take up arms against the same group of legal monkeys that typed up both documents because for some reason you think they are out to get you and calling the police if you violate something in the Code of Conduct.
And therein lies the reason I call out you trolls on Facebook and Twitter as a bunch of hypocrites. You whine and complain and condemn the document this year and some are threatening to not sign it; yet you signed last year’s without reading it or while knowing you could not adhere to it.
I say to you, save your energy for the youth. Suck it up princess! Sign the stupid document and then do the same thing you did last year… work as hard as you can to adhere to the document you signed while displaying character, integrity and morals to our youth as you provide the best program you can for each of them.
The funniest thing that is never mentioned
The funniest thing in the new Code of Conduct is something that I have never seen discussed on any forums anywhere.
The old document clearly defined that it applied to everyone that Scouts Canada’s “Bylaws, Policies and Procedures” indicated when it was written…
This Code of Conduct applies to all Scouts Canada volunteers including youth in positions of responsibility (Activity Leaders, Scouters-in-Training and Youth Commissioners) and employees regardless of location.
It goes on to includes some parents…
This Code of Conduct also applies to parents and guardians who wish to participate in their child’s overnight Scouting activities and to resource people recruited to assist with a specific Scouting activity.
The funniest thing I read in the new Code of Conduct is that an 18-year-old no longer needs to sign it. I laughed so hard at what has to be a simple over-sight, but the fact remains, an 18-year old Rover or Venturer last year, was required to sign a Code of Conduct the day they turned 18.
Now they can wait until they turn 19, or until they are over 18…
This Code of Conduct applies to all adult members of Scouts Canada over the age of 18…
Clearly, if you are an adult that is only 18, you need not worry about signing the Code of Conduct.
If you haven’t caught the sarcasm yet, you might want to avoid my posts in the future, you are definitely NOT my target audience as I tend to write to people smarter than you with a sense of humor.
My Beaver, Cub, two Scouts and Venturer will hopefully look forward to another great year of scouting. Our group may be a little busier as many groups will be losing clowns who refused to sign the Code of Conduct and go inactive on September 1, 2017. They will likely be joined by another bunch of clowns who refuse to take the Respect online training but that is another blog post (hopefully not actually).
Yes, I agree that we need some more common sense in the team running Scouts Canada. The same can be said for most governments and businesses and even families. We all make mistakes. Without the mistakes we would never learn anything new!
Scouts Canada, I hope you are listening and learning from your mistakes. Scouters across the nation, I hope you are listening and learning from yours. If you want to troll someone, comment below. Try to keep your whiny drivel off of social media where it might influence other volunteers who have no idea how stupid we can be as adults.
I like to end my posts with a funny picture. If you don’t think this picture is funny… see the comment above about not reading my blog and whatever you do, don’t read my thoughts on our uniforms… or about gay scouting… or about abuse of the A-word in scouting… or… well, you get the idea…
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Shayne, well written. I did get a good chuckle. Common sense is a definite commodity in our world in general and scouting in particular! and…Ha, somebody read your blog. grins
Great to see people read my stuff and not want to beat me with a stick. I aim to make people smile… while getting informed of course.
It has come to my attention, thanks to Scouter Jennie from Chinook Council, that in following with the youth-led portion of the Canadian Path program, Beavers or Cubs may have written this document indeed. It appears that I may have been unduly hard on lawyers.
Oh Shayne… you do know how to stir the pot. I did not suggest it was Beavers or Cubs, but it certainly seemed to be youth led wording. 😜
Maybe I added the Beavers and Cubs part… but I didn’t put quotes anywhere so you are safe… and nobody reads my blog anyway. *smile*