The “bookends” of Scouting Ideals include the beginning of the Scout Oath and the final point of the Scout Law: a scout’s first duty is to God, and a scout is reverent.
Reverent is an old word that means, literally, to show or express reverence. So what is reverence? One dictionary expresses the definition as to show profound respect and amplifies this with “profound adoring awed respect” to illustrate that it is an uncommon respect not typically or commonly observed on a daily basis — it is held for something or someone very special.
Studying synonyms and antonyms can help to further clarify both the meaning of the word and what it may mean for a scout to be reverent.
- Synonyms: admiration, adoration, apotheosis, approbation, approval, awe, bow, deference, deification, devotion, devoutness, esteem, fealty, fear, genuflection, high esteem, homage, honor, love, loyalty, obeisance, obsequiousness, piety, praise, prostration, religiousness, respect, veneration, worship
- Antonyms: disdain, disregard, disrespect, scorn
A reverent scout may show deference, devotion, fealty (incorporating a sense of obedience), honor, love and loyalty to God. A reverent scout would not treat God with disdain, disregard, disrespect or scorn.
Does this mean that a scout must be firmly grounded in his religion, having all the answers, knowing all the holy teachings of his faith? No, but he would treat faith as a serious matter, respecting other’s right to believe and pursue God in their own way — not mocking or teasing or being dismissive of anyone who chooses to pursue a larger understanding of spirituality.
The scouting program in the USA has long-held that a pursuit of personal faith is a key to effective character development and participating citizenship. This is evident in the design of the Oath and Law, the incorporation of ideals into various advancement requirements from the earliest ages of membership through the accomplishment of becoming recognized as an Eagle Scout.
To help celebrate the annual anniversary of the founding of the scouting program in the USA, scouts started a week-long program to highlight one “method” of the scouting program each day of the week leading up to the anniversary date of February 8th. Until 1972, there were only seven methods (Leadership Development was added in 1972 as the eighth method): Patrols; Ideals; Outdoor Programs; Advancement; Associations With Adults; Personal Growth; Uniform.
On one day of the week, scouting units would camp out, another day would be devoted to Patrols working on their own, etc. This week would culminate in scouts being encouraged to wear their uniform to their worship service and volunteering to offer service support (i.e. act as greeters, ushers, etc.) This would typically occur on the Sunday prior to February 8th and the Saturday following February 8th.
Over time, the scout anniversary week-long celebration was curtailed to simply include the Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath events that most units are familiar with today.
So today is Scout Sunday and February 11th is Scout Sabbath. If you are an active scout or scouter, what will you do as part of the event celebration? How will you demonstrate your commitment to living out your scouting ideals?