Archive for the ‘Scout Oath’ Category

Think about it. It is truly amazing. We spend a lot of our lives in line or lanes. We wait in line at the bank. We wait with our shopping cart at the store. We drive in lanes, sometimes one wide, sometimes two wide. These lanes and lines help us to get where we are going and help us to stay organized in our community.

What I find truly amazing is that many of these lines and lanes are nothing more than a line painted on the floor or road. Sometimes they exist only in our minds. We “create” the line, and then we and the people around us, follow it. And we all live happily ever after…

Until someone does not follow the line. It irritates us when someone cuts into the line at the store or theater. Tempers rise and words are said. People become unfriendly. When someone incorrectly crosses the line on a road doing seventy miles an hour accidents can happen and people can be killed.

We also have lines to follow in Scouting. Using a map and compass we follow an imaginary line to get to where we wish to go, possibly our campsite for the night. We stand in line to get a plateful of food, or to participate in an activity at a camporee.

The Scout Oath and the Scout Law represent two lines that a boy and adult agree to follow when they join a Boy Scout troop. When an adult follows these lines he sets a good example for the Scouts in his troop. When a boy follows these lines he has a good start on growing into a man of strong character. He will be an asset to his community. People will look up to him. He will be respected.

Of course, when a boy (or an adult leader) drift away from the line of behavior set by the Scout Oath and Law, the chances increase that he will find himself in trouble. The news is full of boys and men who have strayed from the line of good behavior. Too many times they find themselves in a small room looking out through vertical lines that keep them in place.

Which lines have you chosen to follow?

It is time for the scoutmaster conference for the Boy Scout’s latest rank advancement. We sit down and review his progress. When we get to Scout Spirit I ask him to repeat the Scout Oath or the Scout Law. The Scout suddenly looks confused. Confusion slowly becomes panic. He has become so nervous he can not remember which one is which.

If you are a scoutmaster I am sure you have had this happen once or a dozen times. When this happens we do our best to calm the Scout, put him at ease, and help them remember. They usually know it but just can’t remember it at that moment.

Over the years I have come up with a little trick to help some boys remember which one is the Oath and which one is the Law. The word Oath begins with the letter O. The first word of the Scout Oath is On, which also begins with the letter O. The Law has an A as it’s only vowel. The Scout Law begins with “A Scout is…” This seems to work well with some of the boys. It gives them a reference point.

Learning the twelve points of the Scout Law can be very challenging to a new young Scout. There may even be some words in there that the boy is not familiar with using. I have found that some boys learn the points easier when they lean them in groups of three: trustworthy, loyal, helpful – friendly, courteous, kind – and so on. Of course after reciting it for a year during troop meetings they usually do not have a problem.

The Scout Motto only has two words, Be Prepared. The word Motto has two syllables, two O’s, and two T’s. Coincidence? I think not! If a Scout remembers that the Outdoor Code has the four C’s (clean, careful, considerate, and conservation) he can usually remember them all, albeit maybe not in the right order.

So, there are my helpful hints for the day. Will they work for your Scouts? I do not know. But they have worked well for mine.

With the help of Mr. Bob, I am trying to set up a video podcast on iTunes. Unfortunately, I am not very smart when it comes to this type of thing. I have spent the evening trying to get the links up but the files are not working. The first file will be Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, reciting the Scout Oath. Oh well, I just have to keep trying I guess.

Hmmmm…. Maybe it is working. Here is the video:

You can subscribe to the new podcast at

The Boy Scout Law states that a Scout is physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. The Scout Oath states that a Scout is Clean: in body, mind, language, and environment.

So why are so many Scouts using bad language and swearing? It is not too bad in my own troop but I have seen it pretty bad in some troops. I hear Scouts swearing. I read bad language on their messages left on internet forums and on their myspace pages. I see it in the sign language they use.

I put a lot of the blame for this on the adults, the parents, and yes, even some adult Scout leaders. I firmly believe that if adults use bad language then the youth they are associated with will also use the same bad words. After all, if the youth hear it from adults then what is to stop them from using it.

During the last twenty-five years that I have been a scoutmaster I have enforced a policy of “no bad language” in the troop. When a Boy Scout swears during a troop meeting or activity he gets to do fifteen push-ups, right there and then. I have had Scouts do push-ups at meetings, on campouts, in parking lots, and various others places.

When a boy joins our troop I sit down with him and his parents and explain several things about our program, including the policy about bad language and push-ups. You know, in twenty-five years I have never had a parent complain about it.

Of course, boys will be boys, and sometimes someone will start teasing the Scout who is doing push-ups. All I have to do to stop him is to ask him if he would like to get down on the floor to join the other Scouts. That usually quiets them down quickly.

I expect all adult leaders and parents who attend activities to follow the same rules as the Scouts. They are usually happy to comply. In fact, there have been several times when a father gets to show the boys how to do push-ups after he has a slip of the tongue. Yes, I even remember there has been two times that I have done push-ups over the years.

It is truly amazing. The Scouts in our troop watch their own language doing troop activities, and they listen to everyone else’s words. They also tend to watch what they say outside of Scouting when they know I am around. It just serves as proof that if an adult refrains from using bad language, and expects the youth to do the same, that they will usually rise to the challenge.

A case in point… I was bowling with a few Scouts one Saturday afternoon. In the lane next to us was Brian, a former troop member, and a few of his teenage friends. When I heard one of his buddies swear after a bad throw I glanced over to see who said it and caught Brian’s eye. Brian immediately turned to his friends and told them they should not use language like that.

I smiled. I had not said a word to Brian and his friends about it. In fact, I had not even looked sternly at the group of friends. But Brian took it upon himself to correct his friend. He rose to the challenge.

Set a good example for the boys and they will follow it.