Way back in 1915, a booklet was published called “The Scout Law in Practice” Written by Arthur Astor Carey, its chapters are “…based upon talks to the Sea Scouts during the cruises of the Boy Scout ship, Pioneer.”
Mr. Carey provides a frank look at scouting ideals. The language used might be called quaint, but I’d call it effective, efficient, and descriptive. Naturally, not everyone will share Mr. Carey’s opinions on all points; however, there are many interesting sections that serve to get us thinking and examining scouting ideals.
From time to time, I’d like to share short excerpts that might be helpful to getting us all to reconsider how we look at and deal with scouting ideals.
From Chapter Four, “The Rules of the Game”:
“We all know what a miserable thing a game becomes when it is not played according to the rules”
“The fact is that the rules of the game are the foundation of the game; because, when the rules are not kept and the game ceases to be play[ed], it becomes a scramble or a swindling match. And for this reason fair play has been the thing which men of our race have always loved most of all, because it represents faithfulness to an obligation of honor.”
“True sportsmanship rests upon this foundation: that a man would rather lose a point, and indeed lose the whole game, than play against the rules…”
Do our scouts believe that? Do they see that embodied in the “sportsmanship” of modern pro-athletes, government officials, teachers/professors or other elders? Do they feel a genuine call to want to see it embodied and are they willing to become part of a generation that strives to live differently?
Further along in chapter four we read;
“Now, when we speak of a number of laws which belong together for a common purpose, we call them a “code” such as the old Roman code or the Code Napoleon; but, when they are deeper than the civil law and apply to the inner thoughts and motives of men and not only to their outward acts [emphasis added], we call them a Code of Honor.
This is just what the Scout Law is, and therefore it is necessary for us to study and practice it. But we must remember one thing at the very start — that we can not understand it just by reading, or studying or even learning it by heart; but only by trying our best every day to obey it, and then carefully noting when we have succeeded and when we have failed [emphasis added]. Doing this will help us to understand the law better and better as time goes on, and to practice it with increasingly good results.
Just as a reminder, here’s the Scout Law (with the short explanations added):
- A Scout is TRUSTWORTHY. A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is a part of his code of conduct. People can always depend on him.
- A Scout is LOYAL. A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, nation, and world community.
- A Scout is HELPFUL. A Scout is concerned about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
- A Scout is FRIENDLY. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs that are different from his own.
- A Scout is COURTEOUS. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
- A Scout is KIND. A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not harm or kill anything without reason.
- A Scout is 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 disobey them.
- A Scout is CHEERFUL. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
- A Scout is THRIFTY. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
- A Scout is BRAVE. A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.
- A Scout is CLEAN. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.
- A Scout is REVERENT. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.
So what do we do as scouters? Can we afford to take a break, alter our character in a business meeting, “bend the rules” when it’s really critical? Of course not! Most may make a mistake, occasionally a bad choice, but as pointed out above “…by trying our best every day to obey it, and then carefully noting when we have succeeded and when we have failed” we will really understand the Scout Law.