Skip to main content

The Boy Scout Oath Explained

As a child, I was a Boy Scout and eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was honored as an Assistant Scout Master.


The Boy Scout Oath

I consider myself fortunate to had spent my childhood involved in the scouting program. It began with the Cub Scouts and progressed into the more complicated and revered Boy Scouts. I eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was afterward honored as an Assistant Scout Master. Unfortunately, this came at a bad time in my life and it was then I quit the scouting program. Although I severed my ties with the troop I am still, and will forever remain, a Boy Scout at heart!

At every Boy Scout meeting I went to, we routinely designated a portion of it to hold ceremony. This consisted of repeating The Scout Law, The Scout Oath and the Pledge of Allegiance to our beloved nation's flag. It was routine, but its purpose was not to help the scouts remember their words but to subconsciously instill their meanings into every boy's heart and mind.

Of these, there is one common thread among them: discipline. They each are self explanatory in their own way, but I would like to go a little deeper as to the meaning of one in particular. Let's take a look at The Scout Oath:

On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

When a scout recites the Scout Oath he is making a promise to uphold all that he holds sacred.

When a scout recites the Scout Oath he is making a promise to uphold all that he holds sacred.

“On My Honor...”

When a scout pledges his honor he is making a promise. To pledge one's honor does not simply mean he is saying he will keep his promise as a scout but also as a person; he is pledging with great respect his own credibility, morals and self-worth.

Honor is something that we lack in this day and age. Throughout history, honor was held in high regard. When a person swore his (or her) honor it was a binding contract. Nowadays, however, honor is sadly a fading trait.

Order of Boy Scout Ranks

  • Scout
  • Tenderfoot
  • Second Class
  • First Class
  • Star
  • Life
  • Eagle

“I Will Do My Best...”

In short, a scout is not lazy. When I was in the Boy Scouts, I learned to go the extra mile and to strive to do the best job I possibly could at the task I was assigned.

Aside from the good parenting I received at home, I proudly give props to the Boy Scouts of America and to the leaders of my troop for teaching me all about a little something called work ethic. A scout is not finished with his work until he can look back and see that there is nothing more he can do. This applies to all areas of his life.

The Boy Scout fleur-de-lis emblem is a symbol to remind the scouts of their three duties: Their duties to themselves, their duties to others and their duties to God.

The Boy Scout fleur-de-lis emblem is a symbol to remind the scouts of their three duties: Their duties to themselves, their duties to others and their duties to God.

Test Your Knowledge

“...To Do My Duty...”

Each man, woman and child has duties to perform; whether they are political, religious, civil, professional or moral. A scout is no different. He has been taught to work for his worth, and any self-respecting boy scout should settle for nothing less.

He pledges himself to the Scout Law, his country and community and to his family and peers. He will take part in events to, if anything, show his support and where he stands.

The scouting program is widely known for showing their support for their country.

The scouting program is widely known for showing their support for their country.

“...To God and My Country...”

Our nation was founded in the belief and reverence to God, and a scout stands by this by also showing his reverence to God, as well as, respecting the beliefs of others.

He removes his hat during prayer and at the dinner table. He remembers that his creator is the one that has allowed him to have the things he has, and he gives thanks for the things in life he is given.

He is loyal to his country. He respects the intentionally laid footsteps of his nation's forefathers and is diligent to honor the freedoms that were given to him. Thusly a scout will do his part to help his country when and where he can.

Scouts represented by showing their communal duties.

Scouts represented by showing their communal duties.

“...To Obey the Scout Law...”

The Scout Law is a list of characteristics and moral responsibilities. Each of which a scout is promising to follow to the letter:

“A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

The Scout Law is what defines a boy as a person. The public is quick to judge, and these are the traits that a person expects to see when in the presence of a Boy Scout. It also goes without mentioning that the Scout Law is what has given the scouting program its long-standing reputation.

“ Help Other People at All Times...”

A boy scout is not selfish. He knows to help make the world a better place he must show kindness and compassion even when no one else will. He will put the needs of others above his own and will suffer sacrifice for the betterment of his peers and for all mankind.

Greed and selfishness are everywhere you go. In my opinion, things are much worse now than they were 20 years ago. It warms my heart to see people helping one another, and it's good to know that Boy Scouts are still promoting this morality in its youth.

“...To Keep Myself Physically Strong...”

The scouting program encourages young boys to be active. They spend a lot of their time outdoors, and as the scout motto says, “Be Prepared”, they must be physically able to face any obstacle they are challenged with.

He should eat a more nutritional and well-balanced diet and hold off on too much junk food. This, coupled with daily exercise, will ensure his best state of fitness. This also goes to say that he must be energetic and flexible. It does not take much energy to walk to school, but it does take energy (and strength) to splint a broken leg and carry the person out to safety.

“...Mentally Awake...”

To be mentally awake means a boy should be aware of his surroundings at all times. It also means he should not allow himself to be influenced by anything that will compromise his wit.

Drugs and alcohol are all around us. And it has become easier than ever for a young person to get their hands on them. But underage drinking and narcotics aren't the only things that turn a child's mind to mush. Video games, television and cell phones are the toys of today's youth. And too much of any of them will zombify a kid in time if proportional restraint is not used.

A scout should entertain his mind with other things that will keep his brain active in a healthy way. Knowledge through reading and learning and honing his skills as a boy scout will ensure he will remain mentally awake.

Respect for our brave heroes. It is common practice for Boy Scout troops nationwide to place flags on military graves on Memorial Day.

Respect for our brave heroes. It is common practice for Boy Scout troops nationwide to place flags on military graves on Memorial Day.

“...And Morally Straight.”

It goes without saying that with every generation that comes along the world changes seemingly for the worst. As previously mentioned, drugs and alcohol are being influenced onto kids more now than they ever have before. But those aren't the only issues a scout must face. To be morally straight a boy needs to learn respect, manners and fairness. He needs to differentiate between right and wrong and hold his ground when the bad out weighs the good.

A boy needs to show self-discipline, even in the face of adversity. It also means he should know how to properly handle himself and his problems in a given situation and not let things get to him when he feels he is at the end of his rope. To name a sad example of this, the suicide rate amongst children is escalating to new highs. A good boy scout would never consider taking his life (nor that of anyone else) as a way out of anything.

Quiz Answer

The Boy Scouts was headed in Britain by British General Robert Baden-Powell in August 1907 and the scouting program began on January 24, 1908. The Boy Scouts of America, firstly known as the American Boy Scouts (also organized by Baden-Powell), began on February 8, 1910. The first official meeting was held February 1911 at the White House. Baden-Powell received a lot of static in the beginning as he was accused of trying to turn boys into soldiers.

Times have changed since scouting planted its feet in America. Boys today are being taught a whole new set of rules, and the attitudes behaviors aren't what they use to be. A lot of that can be blamed on society but what they are getting at home accounts for a great deal of it, too. A boy doesn't have to be put into the scouting program to learn the things listed above. But joining the Boy Scouts can teach him, not only the things I talked about here, but much more that he would have not learned otherwise. The next time you see a scout...shake his hand. Encourage him to stay with the program. There is much to be gained in scouting, and if he doesn't get anything else out of it the experiences and memories will be worth their weight in gold.


Anthony Davis (author) from Tennessee on November 07, 2019:

Wow. I'm sorry to hear this. I pray things turn out for the best!

Tylen Lilly on November 04, 2019:

this is cool

paulo panares on October 06, 2019:

im really honored to hear your explanation and thank you for this because this november is our scout camping and in also a tender foot and ill work hard to be a second class scout because you can wear a sash thank you and god bless

RoW on May 21, 2019:

My son is a scout leader, and my grandson is also a scout. My son and myself had a fallen out on different matters. I've tried many times to put what happened under the bridge, but his wife makes it worse. It is now 6 years later and he will not talk or call and haven't seen my grandson all this time. I write and send presents to my grandson, but not hearing and seeing is a grandparents worse nightmare. I write this because he does not live and follow the oath of the scouts, and respect to his parents. I pray for peace with him.

Anthony Davis (author) from Tennessee on September 23, 2018:

Hello Carlos!

I am very happy to hear you're in the Scouts! My advice to you and any other Scouts, never EVER give up! Stay with it, dude! Memories are one of the precious few things no one can take from you.

Have fun! And get that Eagle!

carlos costa on September 17, 2018:

i am a boy scout sir and i am here to train about the boy scout history and now im a tenderfoot class boy scout i hope that u keep me looking around bye

Anthony Davis (author) from Tennessee on August 17, 2018:

Thank you! And you're welcome! I cherish my scouting memories. Can't take those from me.

brian ladd on August 12, 2018:

Thank you for all your time setting this up. I encourage and support any boy in the boy scouts. brings tears to my eyes reading the Boy Scout Oath.

Anthony Davis (author) from Tennessee on September 19, 2017:

Thank you! It's my belief that not only have adults (and kids alike) gotten away from what the true meaning of scouting is, but also from what it means to be respectable human beings.

It's sad to see the way things have become even since I was a kid. Please, by all means, share away!

Joe Casarez - Asst. SM Houston, TX on September 13, 2017:

Your message is exactly what needs to be communicated to all those parents and scouts involved in the scouting movement and can be pointed to a reference to those outside of scouting of what the program is all about.

Well done. I plan to share this with as many as I can.

Anthony Davis (author) from Tennessee on July 18, 2015:

Thank you! I appreciate the compliment, and am happy you enjoyed my post!

Gary Malmberg from Concon, Chile on July 17, 2015:

Growing up "far from a Boy Scout," I had to suffer from hard knocks over a time to develop and understand the important values inculcated in these kids. The Scout Oath is especially impressive now after reading your Hub. Two thumbs yup.