By Andy Gibbons
Mar 17, 2016

Mentoring Varsity Scouts? Check Your Ethics First

This is part 2 of a 12-part blog series that explores mentoring skills and principles for adults serving teacher and priest-age boys (14-18):

The remaining posts will appear weekly.

Principle #2: Check your Ethics

Your ethical behavior as a mentor of youth makes you a model for a young man to emulate. The Scout Oath expresses a commitment, but the Scout Law, which is mentioned in the oath, is an ethical statement. “Trustworthy” is just the first of the ethical qualities possessed by a worthy Scout mentor.

Go through these qualities now in your mind, applying them to your own behavior as a mentor. Are you loyal? Helpful? Friendly? Courteous? Kind? Obedient? Cheerful? Thrifty? Brave? Clean? Reverent? Do you see yourself as a “brave” Mentor? Can you see yourself being “kind” and “courteous”? How about “obedient”?

Ethical mentors recognize a position of trust they hold and accept responsibility for their own behavior. Here are some additional ethical issues for youth mentors to consider:

  1. Youth ProtectionYour responsibilities as a mentor include promoting the welfare and safety of the youth. Youth Protection Training is an official requirement; applying the principles learned in Youth Protection Training is an ethical responsibility.
  2. As a mentor you must be trustworthy and confidential. If youth of trust you enough to share information about themselves, you must respect confidentiality, unless your training tells you that you must report an offense.
  3. As a youth mentor you must have integrity and be dependable. If you make a promise, keep it. If you make an appointment, be there on time and ready. No one will rely on a “sometimes” mentor.
  4. Promote justice. A mentor sees the individual youth interacting in situations alone and with others. Sometimes a mentor observes an unjust act, either committed by the youth or done to the youth. A mentor can teach principles and set expectations in advance that avoid unjust acts, but when they do occur, a mentor uses his influence to help set things right. Fairness is the issue.
  5. Respect rights and dignity. A Scouting mentor is not just “one of the boys”. He is an example of noble manhood. In this position of trust he must help youth realize that they have rights within the group. They need to respect the dignity of others so that they can expect the same for themselves. Shaming, criticism, and exclusion of a youth from the group may seem like the typical boyish behavior, but for a mentor it is a problem in need of a remedy. A mentor is a teacher as well as an example.

What other ethical issues do you think should be added to this list? What kinds of ethical mistakes do youth mentors tend to make most often? Consider these questions with the other Scout leaders you work with.

AuAndythor: Andy Gibbons | Vice-Chair, Western Region Varsity Scout Program Committee and author of the “The Varsity Scout Leaders Day Book


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