Managing Discipline

Principles for the Camp Guide:
Questions and Answers

Preventing disrespect, misunderstandings, or harm done to others or property is the key to NOT having to discipline. Don’t confuse simple mistakes with premeditated insurrection. But given that you will likely be challenged with having to deal with misbehavior here are some thoughts.

Managing Discipline 1)

Q: How many general behavioral rules should there be?

A: Three.

Early in your time together, choose three rules that your adventure team agrees on.

When the general rules and their consequences for the adventure team are limited and concise and have been communicated and agreed to, it becomes more likely that everyone will remember them accurately.

Sometimes simple is powerful.

When we define rules we are also defining what is important to us.

Examples of Some Paramount Directions

  • Military creed: Leave no man behind.
  • Jesus: Go and make disciples.
  • Public parks (referring to garbage): Carry it in, carry it out.
  • Public pools: No running. No glass.
  • Mom: Chew your food with your mouth closed.
  • Dad: Turn off the lights when you leave. (Why pay the electric company for nothing?)
  • John the Baptist: Repent! For the kingdom of God is near.
  • Dinning Hall: Eat all you take. Don’t take more than you can eat.
  • Guarding dignity: No name calling.
  • Showing gratitude: Leave the place better than when you found it.
  • Showing honor: Physically rise or bow to show honor. Physically speak a vocabulary using title and curtesy due.
  • Respect one speaking: Listen, don’t interrupt.
  • Preserve integrity: Tell the truth, don’t lie.

Managing Discipline 2)

Q: When is it easy to enforce rules?

A: When you know that I know that you know.

When each person knows what the rules are, even peers can judge when a fellow participant violates a rule. Then, everyone, including the offender, also knows when judgement is just and correct. The offender is less likely to deny the obvious, which is, that all know and are in agreement with the rules. A concise rule system is clear and accountability becomes group affirmed if not self-administrated.

Accountability-Explorer Level

You (explorer) know that I (guide) know that you know.

Accountability-Adventure Team

We (our team) know that everyone (our team) knows that we (all) know.

Accountability-To God

I (God) know that you (person) know, so you pretending to not know, is useless.


I (God) know that you (Christian believer) know that I know and therefore you confess your sin, repent, and act according to Scripture.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Managing Discipline 3)

Q: What is to be my attitude in discipline?

A: The person is more important than the behavior.

Controlling behavior is often important for the safety and the good of others. But we want more. Consistency shown to all in the group by being fair, sets the stage for relationship and trust.

Changing character is harder than getting compliance. Character qualities are augmented through an earned bond, a time nurtured and tested connectedness that produces a respect for your authority. Seek to care before you correct. Shared hearts can share values.

Managing Discipline 4)

Q: How do you discipline?

A: Quickly and quietly.

Essentially reprimand within one minute, then move on and forget it. Discipline just apart from others, within view but not within hearing.

Overlooking wrong done to others when you are responsible is not a kindness. Over emphasizing a wrong is not a kindness.

… discipline… yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Hebrews 12:11

Managing Discipline 5)

Q: How large is your sphere of control in activities?

A: In general, if you won’t see it happen, you won’t control the ensuing circumstance.

Sphere of Control Examples

In a classroom, during a test, a teacher can enforce the rule that no one is to copy from another student. But the same teacher, for the same class, can not easily enforce that homework done outside the classroom not be copied.

At camp the classic game, Capture the Flag is played. Sometimes it is played in the woods or at night. In either case, because the rule giver can not be omni-present during the game to see the actions of every explorer, the rules need to be worded so that there is liberty for creative strategies.

Keep the Rules Simple

When possible, make rules that are easily monitored, decisive and controllable. Shy away from rules that set up players to break them. Unfortunately, some wrong doers believe that if they are not caught, they are not guilty.

A sad truth that some children have learned about adults is that, “If your fellow explorer hits you, don't hit him back. They always catch the second person.” May that not be said of you. Remove the mystery of “Who done it?” Order counts. Knowing who did what, and when makes the difference between victim and predator.

Managing Discipline 6)

Q: How do I discipline fairly?

Q: With truth baring perspective.

Three definitions of right and wrong from three perspectives personified by Eve, a little kid, and God:
    • Blame. Wrong doer's definition: Eve, “It was the snake.”
    • Hurt and loss. The feelings the person to whom the wrong is done to: “They took my lollypop.”
    • Truth. God's perspective is more encompassing: God says things like, if you live by the sword you will die by the sword, judge accurately, all have sinned, let me take revenge, I watch over the innocent, the widow, the orphan, and let it go, forgive.

So as we listen to the points of view of those involved in conflict, it is best to have God’s view. That may also be the hardest view to be accurate about. Nonetheless we are to act.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
– Eli Wiesel

Some may ask, “Isn’t just getting “peace” good enough?” Maybe sometimes. But authority that can bring justice but doesn’t (without having reason or cause not too), is irresponsible. We are to be the personification of God to do his will, to act on his instructions.

The purpose of discipline is after something bigger than a determination of right and wrong. Yet it is through the lens of right and wrong that the bigger thing is accomplished. That bigger thing is that those involved would use God’s definitions for morality, for justice, for kindness, for love. Discipline that yields Godly sorrow is unique. True repentance makes a different person. The different person is different in soul because they are now aligned to God’s view. That is why we are commanded to forgive a repentant person each time they repent. It is because they are not who they were, they are a “new” and different person.

Go to the next section: Q/A Managing Communications