The Scout Law……An Introduction

Most of us look up to some mentor, hero, or deity to follow as an example in how to live. In doing so, we work to improve ourselves and come closer to reaching our goals, whatever they may be. As a long time Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America, I have come to respect the original organization (notwithstanding the current drama unfolding). In the coming series of articles, I am planning to write about the Scout Law, a “pattern” on which if we live as men, will improve our own lives, and the lives of those around us.

Since the advent of feminism, the definition of manhood has been revised. Old aged virtues we are to strive for such has courage, integrity, morality and honor have been replaced recently with feminine traits such as nurturing, caring, compromising, and empathy. While these work well and are sought after in women, we are not women. In order to repair the discord between the sexes, we need to return to our God given roles.

The Scout Law

“A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.” -Boy Scouts of America

The original Scout Law appeared with the publication of “Scouting for Boys” in 1908 as follows:

  1. A SCOUTS HONOR IS TO BE TRUSTED. If a scout says “On my honor it is so”, that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, “I trust you on your honour to do this.” the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a Scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carring out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a Scout, and must hand over his scout badge and never be allowed to wear it again.
  2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy, or who even talks badly of them.
  3. A SCOUT’S DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL AND TO HELP OTHERS. And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure, or comfort, or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, “Which is my duty?” that is, “Which is best for other people?”—and do that one. He must Be Prepared at any time to save life, or to help injured persons. And he must do a good turn to somebody every day.
  4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL, AND A BROTHER TO EVERY OTHER SCOUT, NO MATTER TO WHAT SOCIAL CLASS THE OTHER BELONGS. If a scout meets another scout, even though a stranger to him, he must speak to him, and help him in any way that he can, either to carry out the duty he is then doing, or by giving him food, or, as far as possible, anything that he may be in want of. A scout must never be a SNOB. A snob is one who looks down upon another because he is poorer, or who is poor and resents another because he is rich. A scout accepts the other man as he finds him, and makes the best of him — “Kim,” the boy scout, was called by the Indians “Little friend of all the world,” and that is the name which every scout should earn for himself.
  5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS: That is, he is polite to all-but especially to women and children and old people and invalids, cripples, etc. And he must not take any reward for being helpful or courteous.
  6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS. He should save them as far as possible from pain, and should not kill any animal unnecessarily, even if it is only a fly–for it is one of God’s creatures.
  7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS of his patrol-leader, or scout master without question. Even if he gets an order he does not like, he must do as soldiers and sailors do, he must carry it out all the same because it is his duty; and after he has done it he can come and state any reasons against it: but he must carry out the order at once. That is discipline.
  8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES under all circumstances. When he gets an order he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow, hang-dog sort of way. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. When you just miss a train, or some one treads on your favourite corn—not that a scout ought to have such things as corns— or under any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same. The punishment for swearing or bad language is for each offence a mug of cold water to be poured down the offender’s sleeve by the other scouts.
  9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY, that is, he saves every penny he can, and puts it in the bank, so that he may have money to keep himself when out of work, and thus not make himself a burden to others; or that he may have money to give away to others when they need it.

Conclusion

While some of these traits have been made obsolete by the decrease in integrity of society (Should we be absolutely loyal to those who are dishonest?), if we value the positive qualities of those around of, we will be able to see an improvement. That old adage “no good deed goes unpunished” should not be the case.

Some of the definitions of these virtues have been bastardized recently. For instance, is it really brave to wear a dress like Bruce Jenner? Being loyal is great, but what if the premise of what you were originally loyal to has changed? While it is important to define what these are, it is just as important to define what they are not.

Where are good examples of these traits, and how do we develop them? I hope to explore some of these things that we, as men, husbands and fathers, can do to foster these qualities throughout society in the upcoming related articles.

Baden-Powell, C.B., F.R.G.S., Lieut.-General R. S. S. (1908). Scouting for Boys (Part I ed.). London: Horace Cox. p. 49.

Author: Jim Johnson

As a man in his early 40's, I grew up on a dairy farm in an irreligious home. Disgusted with the choice of women out there, I looked into religion to find a worthwhile mate. At 23, I joined the LDS (Mormon) faith, married, became a civil engineer, and now have six children. My favorite things are puppies, long walks on the beach, and the color blue (not really).