Perhaps it's just the warm(er) summer air here in MN these days. Or that school was almost out. But the last couple troop meetings have been disciplinary disasters with the troop basically running amok and not listening to anyone - not me, but especially not the youth troop leaders.
Boys will be boys, but I'm certain they wouldn't attempt this behavior at football practice. No coach would put up with it.
The difference is that I know they need Scouting. Even if they don't. And I can't simply say, "hey, if you don't want to settle down and participate, then don't come." Because some of the boys probably won't come back, and some of them are on the fence about scouting being "uncool" as it is.
I try my best to let the troop be boy-led. That means explaining to the youth leaders what needs to be done, and letting them do it. Even if sometimes that means the scouts waste an hour of the meeting doing 10 minutes worth of business.
I get funny looks from the other two adult leaders sometimes. And sometimes they jump in and with raised voices try to reel in the crazyness. However, I'm personally struggling with how to teach the boys to be respectful of their leaders (youth & adult) as well as the other scouts whose experience they're detracting from.
I don't want to be a bossy commandeering leader. Many of these boys get enough of that at home, school, sports. Many of them come from home lives that are less than idyllic. Most of them didn't actively participate in scouting as cubs, so they missed out on some of the structure and organization of the program.
We've tried the scout sign. I've tried silently waiting for quiet before I talk. I've tried simply explaining what needs to happen and then sitting back to let it happen or fall apart.
Perhaps I'm being too lax here. It is their program, but I know they'd enjoy it more if they behaved better and the program had more structure as a result, and was therefore more productive. However, I've had comments from some of the boys on more than one occasion that I'm the perfect Scoutmaster because I lead, and teach them, but don't boss them around. So I think deep down they get the difference, and appreciate the freedom I give them. But am I too lenient? I don't want to start forcing their parents to come if they're misbehaving, but I can.
I know it's not just the boys this age - because my 12 scouts in our local troop are 20 times more undisciplined than the whole National Jamboree Troop of 32 I'm leading as well. So it can't just be their age, and it can't just be me.
How do you let the boys lead the program, without destroying it. How do you teach respect, when they have no experience with it. Example doesn't appear to be enough.
How do you deal with discipline, and behavior in your troop?