Saturday, September 5, 2009

How to behave like an adult

In the tweet "LatterDayScout" asked:

Anyone have a good document/policy for adult leader behavior online? I thought I had one, can't find it.. want to put up policy b4 website[.]
A few Scout guidelines came to my mind:

  • Scout Oath / Law
  • Patrol method
  • Buddy system / 2 deep leadership
A reply to the original request mentioned the Oath/Law; I say more specifics are needed here, as not every situation is obvious to all. I added "Patrol Method" as another guide point - if the group agrees that a particular behavior is acceptable, then as an adult leader, I'm going to accept it unless I see a health/safety concern. For buddy system, think about asking another adult to concur with your web publishing ideas.

Youth Protection

The most recent time I updated my Youth Protection certification, the instructor was a long-time Scouter who has dial-up, uses email fairly exclusively, and has little understanding of blogs, wikis, much less Facebook or Twitter. I doubt this topic would get a fair hearing.

"Common Sense" should prevail. However, as new technologies appear, with previously unimagined data sharing capabilities, we need to continue communicating the risks.


Guide to Safe Scouting and

There isn't much there about the web or the internet. All I see on the Sep-2009 release are references to 2 Cub Scout publications:
Power Pack Pals Tackle the Internet (No. 33981)/Power Pack Pals: Seguridad en la Internet (No. 3344646)

Computer merit badge

I'm a counselor for the Computer merit badge, though I've yet to have any candidates despite being registered for several years. One of the first requirements is to talk about online safety. That's where a Scouter can coach a youth how to act responsibly. How a Scouter should act is a different topic.

I believe a Scouter should be a:

  • Mentor
  • Role model
... with the former being an active role and the latter being a passive role. I try to be a Mentor to other adult leaders (just ask @EthanDraddy :-). This involves reaching out with new ideas, comments or constrictive criticisms of other Scouters' online behavior, and, well, writing blogs like this one.

Being a role model is having the confidence that your online persona (and believe me, your posts are very persistent - there is a 1992 email from me online: ) represents the ideals of Scouting. I know that I vent sometimes about poor computer software, poor computer performance, and, yes, poor computer software support. I try to maintain a positive attitude, though, and try to find ways improve support, rather than just griping "Augh! I've been put on hold again!"


Adding friends on social media has been the trend for a few years. How should a Scouter behave here? First, there's a "degree of separation" between me (or you) and a youth or another Scouter. I have no problem asking Scouters to "join my network" - I belong to several.

Asking a youth is a different story. Here are my personal rules.

"Friending" is similar to photo-id'ing (tagging someone in an online photo).

I limit who I ask to:
- my troop members
- my OA chapter (or in some case, active lodge members)
- Ordeal clan
- trail crew (the youth who worked with me on ArrowCorps5, for instance)
- merit badge counseled (since I have met their parents / guardians)
- hikers (e.g., Nemat)

I prefer to have youth ask me, rather than me ask them.

Once they reach 18, I'm OK with posting camping trip photos.

Under 18, it's a good question whether or when photos should be posted.

If a Scout parent/guardian signs the latest health form where there is a "media release" question, I feel a little safer uploading photos.

Should a Scout participate in a public event (say, the Dundalk Fourth of July parade), then posting the troop photo seems not only permissible, but a fine way to publicize Scouting.

The main issue I look out for are situations where parents may not know where a Scout lives. This is the leader nightmare, of course, where a Scout's whereabouts are revealed unintentionally. But again, with a signed health form and other notifications - "I've updated the troop web site" I'm not losing any sleep.

Our troop site:

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