The meaning of the Boy Scout Law

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFebruary is national Boy Scout Month. As an Eagle Scout, and the proud father of three Eagle Scouts, I can declare that Scouting, for very many reasons, has made a remarkable impact in each of our lives.

Despite being maligned in recent years for one of its more unfavorable stands, the Boy Scouts of America continues to do a great moral work in developing young men.

You may have heard about the Boy Scout Law (which is different from its Oath). Its twelve points are all timeless virtues: absolute standards that do not change with circumstances, time or point-of-view.

Those twelve standards are profitable for everyone—not just boys. When practiced, they lead to wise choices, generate self-respect and respect for others, and always support moral excellence and a collective well-being.

We would all do well to obey the Scout Law, and encourage others to join us. The following interpretation of its meaning is excerpted from the Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition, 1998:

A Scout is:

Trustworthy          A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.

Loyal          A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation.

Helpful          A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.

Friendly          A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.

Courteous          A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.

Kind          A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.

Obedient          A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.

Cheerful           A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

Thrifty          A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

Brave          A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.

Clean          A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He chooses the company of those who live by high standards. He helps keep his home and community clean.

Reverent          A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.