Many Programs, One Oath and Law

The BSA’s National Executive Board recently approved a recommendation to use the Scout Oath and Scout Law across all Scouting programs. While the changes will be phased in over the next several years, it’s important that you understand the reasoning behind this effort, as well as the process we used to arrive at this decision. As always, please use the comments section to share your thoughts and questions about this change.

40 thoughts on “Many Programs, One Oath and Law

  1. It is unfortunate that the three groups can not keep a little individuality, but it will be interesting to see how advancement changes for all the groups. Will be happy once there will be materials on how to teach young cub scouts the oath and law.

    Thank you Mr. Brock,
    Patrick Lynch
    Assistant Cubmaster/Assistant Scoutmaster Pack/Troop 119

  2. I think tihs is a common sense approach toward buidling consistency of our brand through our programs. The change will definitely bring about some growing pains, but we’re 102 years strong–we can take it! Thanks to all who had the courage to suggest this change and put into motion the steps to bring it to fruition.

  3. Still happens at every Kiwanis,Rotary,etc when I am the guest speaker-I ask everyone who has ever been a Scout to stand and repeat with me the Scout Oath and Law.It is always very moving.This change is right on.It also is part of our Brand. Steve Cox FD GRC/BSA

  4. I think it’s a great move forward and I like the fact that it will use age appropriate language to teach the cubs the Scout Oath and Law. I agree that the longer they know the Scout Oath and Law, the longer it will stick with them and the more likely they are to live those values. Our values are the very thing this country needs badly in more and more of our youth and adults.

  5. I think this change further helps to centralize our core mission within our distinctively different programs. It should prove to be of tremendous benefit against the backdrop of mission consistency.
    *KUDOS to the committee that spent the time to “get it right”*

  6. This move makes perfect sense. The reinforcement of the Scout Law and Oath early on will have a positive impact on the youth, and a huge side benefit will be with Cub Scout parents who will be able to immediately identify the positive values and ideals that are the basis of our program.

  7. As long as we are making this change, how about replacing the Tenderfoot symbol with that of the first Class rank? Being first class in anything would not be a bad goal.

  8. Great move and some will go a long way to inculcate our values. There is a great amount of science and research that says that the more a young person repeats what he/she believes, the more the neuron pathways in their brains are wired. Each time a young person recites the Oath and Law, a thin layer of a waxy sheath called Myelin, is added to their neuron path, around the axon. Essentially, as a Scout says the words, “On my Honor, I will do my best…” etc, a thin layer of insulation is added to their belief system. Really cool stuff! They are reinforcing and becoming more hard wired to follow the Oath and Law. It has existed since our inception, in the Eight Methods of Boy Scouting as “Scouting Ideals.” The earlier we do it, the better!!!

  9. I see no downside in this….all upside. It simplifies our program in a hectic, multi-tasked pace life-while keeping true to our values. Sounds good to me.

  10. What is done is done. Perhaps it’s a good thing for elementary and middle school students to constantly repeat them. I work with Sea Scouts. We will change our requirement from discuss the Scout Oath and Law to memorize it. I will still discuss the them at my Skipper’s conference for the first rank, Apprentice. These are otherwise part of our Bridge of Honors (like a Pack Meeting or Court of Honor). They also make great material for Scouts Own Services.

    When it’s time for Quartermaster, we’ll ensure the Scout can say them cold before going to the District Eagle Board. Our unit will not otherwise require opening and closing our meetings with them. I need our Scouts to focus on the Sea Promise, which to us is an extension of the Scout Oath & Law. I need them to realize they are a team, and what the team does matters. We don’t even recite this promise every meeting either.

  11. Having been involved in Scouting in several programs since my Cub Scout days 1950 to the present I have seen them all evolve. In my opinion the Oath and Law should have the same underlying values and standards but should have age appropriate evolution also on the same messsage path. Most people see Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting to Exploring/Venturing as that advancement. Shouldn’t the Oath and Law be, in the same way, a learning advancement in our values and beliefs?

    • Since the Mission of the BSA directs us to instill the values of the Scout Oath and Law, the two task forces recommended this important work begin at the earliest age and continue throughout our program offering. However, in recognition of the developmental differences between Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and members in our older youth programs, age appropriate learning strategies and tools will be provided to leaders and youth to facilitate their journey of understanding and adopting Scouting’s values.

  12. I am really happy about this, and like most others on this feed, believe this is the right move for our organization. The Scout Oath and Law best define our “brand” and by keeping it consistent throughout all our programs we reinforce what we really stand for as an organization. It doesnt take anything away from each program’s unique curriculum and delivery elements -but rather brings them all together under one code that simplifies our core identity for both members and the community at large. Change is never easy – glad to see us take on “change” for the sake of doing the right thing long term!

  13. I am so glad my boys were Cub Scouts before the change because the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack were reasonable memorization challenges for them. It was exciting for them as Webelos Scouts to learn the Scout Oath and Scout Law as a part of earning their Arrow of Light and in preparation to become Boy Scouts. For them it was such an effective progression.

  14. Wayne, I think this change is a positive one. Considering that society these days seems to consider traditional values to be old fashioned, instilling the oath and law in young people at an early age will help be a hedge against the watering down of values that no one can argue with. These help us all be better citizens with a sense of duty to God, our Country, Others and Ourselves. I see no reason that a 6 or 16 year old cannot learn this. Perhaps if our leaders had been ingrained with such ideas we wouldn’t be in so much trouble today. It will be up to these scouts to take charge and straighten out our mess.

  15. I fully support this change. I think communicating one brand message is so important. This video was very informative and clear. But why is it only for employees? I have several volunteers that need and want more explanation to this change and I am sure they would appreciate seeing this video and the message coming directly from the Chief.

  16. This is a great move! I agree with what others have said here: There is one mission and it says we will instill in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

  17. I believe it’s a wonderful decision that will promote unity among all facets of Scouting, and give the Cubs a great boost toward becoming great citizens sooner in life.

  18. Its great in theory, but watching a Tiger struggle through their oath now, I wonder how long before they get frustrated and drop out? Youth leave the Boy Scout program for Venturing for more challenging activities. BSA has sucessfully eliminated young women, through this great committe, on more than one occasion from this program and it looks like were doing it again. The program is about program not the almighty dollar. You can’t run a crew like a troop, but you all are sure trying!

  19. I think that this is a great thing. I love the consistency in the values reinforced in the Oath and Law. There really is no need to have a Cub Scout promise when it is summed up in the Scout Oath and Law.
    The values expressed in the Oath and Law and timeless and can easily be learned by anyone. Those that worry about this have forgotten that a Cub Scout had to learn the Law of the Pack too… if he can learn that, he can learn the Oath and Law. We are not talking about changing the Oath and Law to Latin after all.
    Mr. Brock, thank you for all you do.
    Jerry Schleining

  20. The original reason for having different oath/ promise and laws still exist. They represented age associated programs.

    It seems that changing the Cub Scout promise renders everything prior moot. As far as Exploring and Venturing, you may be stepping on some toes.

    I see this as an effort to further ” dumb” down a movement that was doing OK with it’s existing materials.

  21. I agree and support the change. Thank you for explaining the process and reason. The dates for the change appear to be far enough in advance to make it smooth. Now the challenge is to get the word out to the volunteers and get the materials developed in time for them to prepare to use them. We have not done this well in the recently.

    Randy Thacker, Scoutmaster

  22. What else will we merge? One salute? One sign? One set of shoulder tabs? No blue uniforms?

    While unity might be great, so is distinctiveness and diversity. With an Eagle Scout square knot sewn on my shirt, I nonetheless proudly revel in wearing blue shoulder tabs and making the Cub Scout sign and salute when other district leaders use the Boy Scout traditions. I firmly believe that the traditions of Cub Scouts need to be similar, but not the same, as Boy Scouts. Why? Because I see that the Webelos II in my pack are outgrowing Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts needs to be different to be attractive. As it is, a Webelos wears a similar uniform to a Boy Scout, and if Webelos perceive that there isn’t much of a change in going to Boy Scouts, well … what’s the point?

    The current Cub Scout Promise is like the Boy Scout Oath, only a litte bit easier. Memorizing the Boy Scout Oath is familiar for a former Cub, just a little harder, and from a boy’s view, more grown-up. It was the same with the old Boy Scout handshake. The old three-fingered, right-handed one was so much better because it was similar, but different, than the Cub Scouts’ two-fingered handshake.

    And why do we still call them “Boy” Scouts? Shouldn’t we merge ’em with Daisies and Brownies? After all, we’re all Scouts, and …

  23. I purchsed the new literature for the Cub program a year and half ago, and now your going to re-vamp the progam again. Poor planning, and that doesn’t include the price of upgrading again during these days of economic trouble.

  24. I can certainly see the upsides to this, paritularly with the idea of inculcating these values consistently throughout the program and doing so from an earlier age. But — contrary to those who above see no downsides — there are some, and we need to address them.

    Venturers do desire some individuality in their program, which they view as very much a part of Scouting, yet distinct in its own right. Personally, I wish we were maintaining the Venturer Sign and Salute, even with the dropping of the Venturer Code, among other symbols, which would allow them to continue to be a distinct part of the Scouting family. That said, I agree with comments above suggesting that we might as well ditch the current forest green and gray uniform if we are going to go this route, and replace it with the khaki uniform with kelly green epaulets. But, I fear resistance from Venturers if we do so, beyond what we are seeing.

    The Cub Scout Promise is a simplified version of the Boy Scout Oath, and I don’t see a huge loss there, but the Law of the Pack has its own message and character, distinct from the Scout Law, and there are ample reasons to keep the Law of the Pack in play. We might not want Cubs to memorize it has we have done in the past, but our literature should continue to reflect its own message, that of following Akela, making the pack go and the pack making the Cub grow, and giving goodwill — the last of which is a sound message we could use more in Scouting and society in general these days.

    To be sure, I will do my part to make these changes happen as smoothly as possible for our volunteers and the youth we all love to serve, but let us live the Scout Motto and “Be Prepared” for snags along the way.

    My $0.02, for what it is worth.

  25. I too feel compelled to offer my $0.02 cents as well. While I understand the train has left the station, I cannot say that either I or any of my fellow Cub Scouters are as sanguine about the changes as exhibited here in the comments. Many of us read the news with raised eyebrows and asked the question “who has a problem with the Cub Scout Promise?” I think that the BSA is abandoning the very traditions and continuity which has fostered multi-generational interest in Scouting. The story of Akela and Mowgli is a powerful tool to the extent that it is accessible to Cub Scouts and conveys the concepts of family, duty,helping one another, and showing respect; it is difficult to see the way ahead of maintaining the program to its presently high caliber while leaving the central tenets of the story behind.

    I am also skeptical that this is a good move from a branding standpoint. If anything, this weakens the brands of all Scouting programs, as it blurs the distinction between programs. This change is akin to walking in to the grocery store and finding that all the laundry detergents have been packaged in the same color bottle and the same color label.

    From a practical standpoint, teaching the longer Boy Scout Oath and law to 1st Grader Tiger Cub Scouts is at best a challenging proposition. I am concerned that the underlying meaning will be lost on the younger ones as they learn it by rote without intellectually appreciating the value of the words they are speaking. It does not take a degree in early childhood education to teach an elementary school child the meaning of a promise and keeping that promise. “On my honor” , however, has more nuance and a greater depth of meaning to it, and I wonder if our youngest Scouts have experienced enough of life to begin appreciating the difference. I also wonder whether at transition time whether the older cubs will regard it as “old hat”; without the newness of the Boy Scout Oath and Law to pique their interest in joining Boy Scouts (among, admittedly, many factors), it might play a role in their decision not to cross over at the margin.

    I will do my best to support whatever changes come, even if I don’t like it. My hope is that Scouting will not experience a lessening of its appeal across all its programs. I would strongly encourage BSA to make a more concerted and frequent effort at outreach to the membership regarding this matter, as experience suggests there are many other Scouters who share similar opinions to mine.

    Carlton Alford
    Eagle Scout, and Asst. Cub Master

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