I’ve staffed many regional conventions. Generally I’ve enjoyed them except for one part – the “game” that seems to get played at night. What is the game? Call it, if you will “let’s see if we can break the rules and not get caught.” Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, or sneaking into each others rooms (girls in guys cabins and vice versa), or going out and doing various pranks, it seems to happen to various degrees at many conventions. Sometimes the regional board joins in (or worse, instigates the activities).
Most members don’t even understand why this is a problem. I’ve heard individuals explain “pot isn’t even as bad as tobacco”, “we were just hanging out – nothing happened”, “it’s just a harmless prank – it’s traditional”.
And they are right – but in being right they completely miss the point.

The problem is that the reasoning they are using is “school” reasoning – it doesn’t take into account the unique nature of BBYO as a youth led organization. There are three reasons why “the convention game” should not be a part of BBYO.
Reason #1:
The rules (or at least some of them), are controlled by the youth. Can people switch rooms after they assigned? That’s not policy – that’s something usually decided by the convention coordinator – their goal being to get people from different chapters to mix. All staff usually cares about is that by curfew we have an accurate room list to use in the event of an emergency. Issues that are policy were often set, at least in part by regional or IBoard. The “convention game” expresses disrespect for the democracy that is BBYO, as members are choosing to break the rules rather than change them.
Reason #2:
By playing the game, members establish an “us against them” relationship between the members and staff. This forces staff into the role of cops. This is completely contrary to what the role of staff should be in BBYO – staff and advisors are supposed to be supporting the members, not policing them. It should be the job of regional board to enforce the rules among their peers – that’s what youth leadership means. When regional board does not enforce the nighttime rules, they are abandoning their position and responsibilities, and even the ideal of BBYO as being a truly youth led organization.
Reason #3:
Most important of all, consider this: Every single participant at convention signs an agreement to follow the convention rules. They may not agree with the rules, but they made a commitment to follow them during convention. When someone breaks those rules, they are breaking their word. They are acting without honor. They are acting like irresponsible thoughtless children rather than the men and women they desire to be.
Does this sound harsh? Perhaps. But BBYO is all about developing leadership and character, and the “convention game” is not really about breaking rules and getting away with stuff – it’s really about character. It’s about members choosing to be responsible members of a community where they take the lead on defining the rules and traditions of that community. It’s about leaders taking responsibility for the actions of the community even when it is difficult or unpopular. It’s about individuals making commitments and keeping them despite temptation to the contrary.
Those who play the “convention game” aren’t just breaking rules. They are violating the standards of the community. They are abandoning BBYO values. And above all, they are showing themselves to be untrustworthy. And these are far worse sins than getting high, getting some action, or pulling a prank.