I try not to subscribe too heavily to pop culture phrases and fads. I could never bring myself to get my groove on during a rendition of "Who Let the Dogs Out" at a sporting event in a crowded stadium. I never learned the Macarena. When someone says, "You go girl (boy, whatever)," I cringe… noticeably.
However, I'm not averse to picking up a line here and there, if I find it's particularly poignant. I caught one that I have become fond of in a recent viewing of Changing Lanes, with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. In one scene, Jackson's character asks his counselor, "What should I do next?" The counselor replies, "Do the next right thing."
I'm no child psychologist, as is quite evident when my six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter are screaming bloody murder at each other over a Happy Meal toy.
What I do know is that children not only need, but crave, consistency, particularly from authority figures. That's why the teenage years are so tough for parents. Teens are notorious for playing one parent against the other to get their way. I'm sure you've seen this strategy employed against your own staff a time or two.
Consistency is the key to discipline. Stay focused, stay consistent and the need to discipline can be dramatically cut down.
Consistency means identifying the right thing first, getting the appropriate authorities on board and in the loop and then doing the next right thing in each and every situation.
It's foundational that each "authority" -- be it the camp director, his or her full-time staff or seasonal counselors -- is personally consistent. Those who show incongruity between their personal behavior and the camp mission -- cheating on their taxes or funneling "free" cable TV into their homes, as a couple of examples -- should not be entrusted with guiding children.
Poor ethical and moral choices, whether they're black-and-white bad or even "gray", are sure to bleed over to a person's professional life. Nobody's perfect and everyone makes poor choices now and again, but beware unethical behavior that is passed off with the various forms of self-justification… "Look, everyone does it," being one of those forms.
Okay. Preaching over. But I'd like your input on how you weed this out of your organization and protect those who count on your camp as a guide and an oasis in a world overflowing with negative messages.
Give me a call, shoot an e-mail my way, or send a fax… I promise a response as quickly as possible and will try my best to address the issues that affect you. After all, we want to do the next right thing.
Regan D. Dickinson
Phone: (830) 257-1012
Fax: (830) 257-1020
PO Box 291773, Kerrville, TX 78028