The Boy Scout Oath Explained
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:
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.”
“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. Now days, however, honor is sadly a fading trait.
Order Of The Boy Scout Ranks
- Second Class
- First Class
“ 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 Emblem
Test Your Knowledge
What year did the Boy Scouts officially start in America?
“...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.
“...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.
“...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 mention that the Scout Law is what has given the scouting program its long standing reputation.
“...to 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 is every where you go. In my opinion, things are much worse now than they were twenty 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.
To be mentally awake means a boy should be alert 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 zombiefy 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 Heros
“...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.
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.