scout-oath

Task forces propose moving to one Oath and Law for all programs

UPDATE (Oct. 17, 2012): This proposal has been approved. Read more here.

Scouting’s core values are the same in every program, but the words used to express and affirm those values differ depending on whether you’re in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, or Venturing.

That may soon change.

The Scout Oath and Scout Law — engrained in the minds of Boy Scouts everywhere — also would be used for Cub Scouting and Venturing if a proposal by a group of volunteer-led task forces is approved.

That would mean Cub Scouts would recite the Scout Oath and Law instead of the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack. Similarly, Venturers would no longer use the Venturing Oath and Venturing Code.

Here’s what else I know: 

Why the proposed change?

After considerate deliberation, volunteers and professionals recommended the change to “reinforce the connection between all of our BSA programs and the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.”

Because “it is the mission of the BSA ‘to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law,’ it is the task forces’ judgment that this goal is best achieved if all programs use the Scout Oath and Law as their primary statement of values and ideals.”

When would it take effect?

If approved, the change would take effect during the 2015-2016 program year.

“The recommendation has been reviewed and endorsed by the national support committee responsible for program content changes. It has also been discussed and endorsed by the national officers of the BSA, and Wayne Perry has directed that the recommendation be brought forward to the National Executive Board at its October 2012 meeting,” according to the Scout Wire post (link below).

Hat-tip

The official BSA e-newsletter Scout Wire is where I first learned of the proposed change.

What do you think?

Share your opinions on the proposed change by leaving a comment below.

187 thoughts on “Task forces propose moving to one Oath and Law for all programs

  1. Although I disagree with Jdominik that this is “just plain and simple wrong” I do think he’s hit the nail on the head of a Scouting needs to be “continuum.” Cub, Boy and Venturing seem disjointed even though they are under the BSA umbrella and maybe that’s the intent of this proposal.

    As I mentioned earlier, the Cub Promise is very similar to the Boy Scout Promise. It’s not dumbed down, it’s made more simple for the age group. Why isn’t it possible to align these 3 groups a little more so that the system is more integrated? They system may not “be broke” but it might certainly could do better.

    I don’t think that younger boys not understanding every part of the Boy Scout Oath is that big of an issue. Five and six year olds aren’t going to grasp half of whatever we teach them because, well, they’re 5 and 6 year olds. But just like you didn’t understand the Pledge of Allegiance in first grade like you do now, you still know it VERY well because you started so young.

    As RLester1967 pointed out, the Cub program is adult led and the boy scouts are Scout led. I believe the Webelos program should be the beginning of this transition process with adult leaders bringing Webelos into the patrol method more and more. Many Scouts leave between Cubs and Webelos BECAUSE the Cub system still has the adults doing the work and boys becoming “bored with scouting.” Without instilling ownership in the boys at an age when they start wanting ownership, we’re bound to lose them to sports and other activities.

    4th and 5th graders are more sophisticated in some ways in the 2000′s than they were in in 1980s and earlier. Heck, my son might know more about Powerpoint than I do. The Cub program might need to change to adjust to new eras and a healthy discussion is a lot better than knee-jerk reacting with “I hate it” or even “I love it” comments.

  2. As a Cubmaster and former Den Leader (and Tiger den leader), I think the CS and BS oaths are similar enough that Cubs wouldn’t have a problem with using the BS version.

    I don’t know if the younger one especially could memorize the BSL, as they have enough of a problem remembering the Law of the Pack (which many of them still have trouble grasping the meaning of, too).

    However, I think moving the Character Connections to the points of the BSL is a fantastic idea! Individually, they’re just as easy to understand (and explain, for adults) as the points of the BSL, and it would reinforce the learning of the law (as currently, the character connections don’t mean much in the aggregate — to the boys or adults). It would also reinforce the connection between Cubs and Boy Scouts. I’m for it.

  3. I appreciate everyone’s comments. As a 411 Team member and the Personal Fitness Track Chair I have had the honor of a front row seat for this effort. We recognize and embrace age appropriate instruction and this change, if adopted, will be taught to reflect various levels of understanding. The concept of Akela is not going away and the Character Connections would be molded to reflect the 12 points of the Scout Law. We’re looking at many things during this process, most of all continuity of message, meeting the AIMs of Scouting and improving Cub Scout to Boy Scout retention. We are not looking to streamline Scouting into one continuous program. As an active Cub Scouter with two boys in the program I live the Scouting life. These concepts are not beyond the grasp of young boys – at least not any more than the current Promise and Law of the Pack. I’ve always found the Law of the Pack confusing – not just to kids, but leaders and parents as well. 12 points around which you can build understanding over the years I believe is the way to go. We are graced will several educators on the 411 Team, including language specialists, and they have concluded that while understanding will deepen over time the base concepts of the Oath and Law are suitable for understanding, and certainly memorization, at age 6. One big plus I believe is less memorization and quicker infusion into Scouting program when a boy crosses over. He will already understand the core values of Scouting at a time when he’s already switching to varying age patrols and boy led units which can be intimidating for some boys. We welcome all opinions. As for the make-up of 411, please know that all 40+ of us are active volunteer Scouters from across the nation, all with decades of Scouting service. I applaud BSA for choosing from among the rank and file for this effort.

    • So in other words, “thanks for your input, but this is the way we’re going to do this, regardless of what the folks who have to implement it believe”.

      • Not at all Steve, but we’ve been at this for about 22 months. We’ve discussed, debated, polled, surveyed, researched and focus grouped a lot of things. As one of those who will have to implement any changes I take none of this lightly. It’s a recommendation and is subject to the vote of the National BSA Board. Do you have some constructive criticism?

        • Mr Armstrong,
          I mean you no disrespect by this.
          I am one of the unfortunate volunteers who have been caught-up in the Michigan “Area 2 Project.”
          This project went through many, many months of discussion, debate and attempted explinations.
          I’m not saying that the Project is completely “bad nor is it completely “good.”
          What I do believe is that the deciding group should have included more people who have their feet on the ground as volunteers.
          I went to a couple of meetings for this which were intended to answer questions, and I had no questions answered…I heard a good many “feel-good” statements, but nothing that clearly explained anything.
          When they showed a video which was intended to be “Fair and Balanced” it was neither…Therre were -0- opposing opinions.
          This is what was shown to the Charter Orgs before they voted on the merger…IF I were to only see this, I would have voted yes also.
          Unfortunately, I took a more active look at things, and I was very disappointed with the lack of information.
          I’m not saying this is the same, what I am saying is that without the majority of people being “on the ground”, there are a great many people who think that everyone really wants to be a part of something greater; unfortunately many do not want to participate.
          I am currently volunteering with 2 Troops [full-time], a Venture Crew, and I stop by the local Packs on several occasions each year just to keep in contact; but that’s just me. Many of the people in my area who do this much are either retired or are BSA Pros.
          They also run many Polls and surveys during the Area 2 Project…which makes sense, if the right people are polled and surveyed.
          Again, I mean you no disrespect nor do I doubt your intent…I am just wondering if the correct people have been polled.

        • None taken RLester1967, I welcome your inquiry. I can assure you the that 411 has made the most extensive use of national polling, focus groups and outside resources who are experts in various fields. As someone with a 25+ year background in survey research for my real job I’m confident it’s been done in a scientifically meaningful and accurate way and would not be shy about raising objects if I felt it wasn’t. It’s been fascinating measuring 35 years as a Scout & Scouter against scientific research. Affirms somethings, makes you think on others and provides genuine surprises on others. The BSA research has been tremendously instructive. It’s not the only source of knowledge, however. We’re using the personal experience of team members, the expertise of child behavior consultants, the traditions of Scouting and 102 years of success. We’ve completed the evaluation phase. Now we begin the program design phase after which any changes will be tested in real units with real Scouts before being considered as a permanent change to Scouting. It’s a slow, in-depth and deliberate process. Every phase adds more volunteers and is constantly evaluated. I’m confident that the end result will be an improvement and an update for the nation’s most successful youth organization.

    • Scott, I would like to thank you, the task force team and Bryan for putting this information out as it develops. It will allow us Scouters to absorb it and give feedback. I hope the rest of the 411 task force teams to the same. In this Information Age, it is really the way to go!

      • I appreciate that Bill. The 411 is all one Team (organized into 5 content area tracks), tasked with evaluating the current BSA for “Relevant & Dynamic Programming” and ensuring that current advancement meets the AIMs of Scouting. We are very cognizant of maintaining the traditions of Scouting and as experienced and active Scouters, are not tempted to change for the sake of change. So much of what we do in Scouting is excellent, but we’re taking an honest and deliberate look at the whole program to make sure what we’re offering the Boys is truly the best.

        • Thanks, Scott. What are the 5 tracks and what is the Personal Fitness Track concentrating on?

        • Bill — The Five tracks are Character Development, Participatory Citizenship, Personal Fitness, Outdoor Skills & Awareness and Leadership.

          Personal Fitness has three core areas – physical fitness, nutrition and healthy habits. As the chair for this track were making sure our Scouts are active and making smart choices without the program becoming too “nannyish” and, as our track members constantly remind our colleagues, “keep it fun”.

  4. Right on Mike Walton…
    As a Venturing leader, I will tell you that there are huge differences between Boy Scouts and Venturing (and not just the presence of girls).
    - Very few boys join Boy Scouts unless they were a cub first
    – Venturing attracts substantial numbers of youth who were never Boy Scouts (including Girls). Some of these youth did not want to be Boy Scouts, but are attracted by the “action” of Venturing
    - Boy Scouts are Boy led
    – Venturing is Youth Led on STEROIDS, down to selecting the uniform that they want to adopt, managing their own finances, even establishing their own Crew Code of Conduct.
    - Boy Scouts program is mostly defined for them, revolving to great extent around advancement
    – Venturing program is defined by the Crew, and may or may not include “recognition” (not advancement)

    Boy Scout Troops and Venturing crews have often had conflict, with Scoutmasters often viewing Venturing as “stealing their boys”, while Venturing leaders often view Venturing as a means to instill the values of Scouting in youth that missed out on Cubs or Boy Scouts, and a means to keep youth engaged in Scouting as long as possible.

    Want to mess up a growing and healthy program? Try to push Venturing to be more like Senior Boy Scouts (e.g. the One Oath Initiative)

    • “Boy Scout Troops and Venturing crews have often had conflict, with Scoutmasters often viewing Venturing as “stealing their boys”,…”

      It has been that way since the beginning of the Venturing program. Probably before then, but that is my experience. And it isn’t going to be fixed by the current Venturing program, because the truth of he matter is: Venturing by and large, with some rare exceptions, does steal boys from the troop program.

      • This hasn’t been our experience with our Troop and Crew. We have several Scouts that are cross registered, including my son. Most of our Scouts don’t bother with the Crew though. Our Crew is close to 50/50 male/female. Most of our Venture Crew members don’t do sports in HS, my son and one of the other Eagles that is cross registered both do HS Sports. Our Crew has picked up a few lapsed Scouts and one earned his Eagle through the Crew the same night as my son. By and large our Crew members are more interested in doing service projects and going on outings than advancement.

        If anything a well run Crew will keep the 16-18 Scout interested in the program at a time when there are many HS activities to keep them busy. When I was a Scout it was hard to keep interested as some of my older friends aged out and went on to their post HS life. As a SM I look at the 14-15 year old boys to be the leaders of a Troop, if I can get a 16 or 17 year old to be SPL it is great but not typical.

        • I agree Jeff. My Crew is also about 50/50. Most of the Troop doesn’t want to have anything to do with us. Earning awards is the least of their concerns – they enjoy hanging out and doing things – if they learn something that is a bonus!

  5. By the way, this defaulted to my pre-existing account which does not identify me. I’m Scott Armstrong from Syracuse, NY. Den Leader, former Pack Committee Chair, current Pack 244 Program Chair, District Cub Scout Activity Chair and VP/Executive Board of Longhouse Council. No “expert” in a distant tower here – just a well-intentioned Scouter dad & leader with 35 years of experience and loving every minute of it. The rest of the 411 team is similarly experienced or more, and all are active volunteer Scouters.

  6. I believe that this is one of those times where the addage “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!” applies.

    • On the contrary, our research, surveys and experience show the Law of the Pack in particular to be confusing and difficult for youth to grasp and adults to explain. This isn’t a recommendation made in a vacuum.

  7. I worry about teaching the Boy Scout Law to tiger cubs. It’s just a list which I have had difficulty memorizing myself, but I do like linking them to the character connections, that seems perfectly sensible. The Oath is so similar to the Promise that I’ve always thought it was silly to have the boys memorize two different things that say the same thing, so I am in favor of this change.

    • Just an idea: as an experiment show the Scout Oath and/or Law to a Tiger Cub and see if they can understand the concepts. I don’t think anyone expect them to memorize them right off.

  8. Okay so I’ll first admit that I haven’t read all the comments above me, maybe about half of them before I realized I just didn’t have the time. It seems like a lot of people enjoy this idea however I find myself not liking the ideas as much. Don’t get me wrong I am for anything that helps smooth the transition between the programs. If we can make it easier / more desirable to transition from cub scouts to boy scouts and encourage scouts to continue from boy scouts to venture scouts then that is a good thing. However I don’t think this is the right way to do it. Having the same pledges from one program to another just doesn’t seem right to me because each program is different. Cub Scouts focuses more on family building and fun. Scouts teaches you basic leadership and builds character. Venture scouts takes it up another notch and works on high adventure / more learning. (I’ve simplified things I know) and I just think that branding them all together isn’t the best thing to do.

  9. Waste of time, money, energy…feel free to add more.

    Oh wait, I misspoke. It’s great. It’s great to make everything the same – they’re trying to get ‘morally straight’ into the Oath at every age level. (Sarcasm)

    Kids need age specific programming and material. There’s no reason to do this, other than to push a moral prerogative that doesn’t represent the bulk of Scouting anymore (just a few dudes with no names that hide in a closet at National). That, and they’ll get to sell a WHOLE bunch of new handbooks.

  10. Please DO NOT apply the Boy Scout code to Venturers – Crews are not Troops and most of my Crew anyway have not had experience with Boy Scouts. They do not mind being part of the BSA but it is funny hearing one my girls try to explain to an adult that she is a Boy Scout. If we are changing to “Scouts of America” and dropping the “Boy” then it makes sense – but until then let’s treat Boy Scouts and Venturers a separate entities.

      • Actually almost all my young women (NOT “Girls”) want to be known as Venturers and will correct anyone who labels them “Scouts”…

        • It looks like our experience differs then. Might be a good thing for the Venturing Task Force to poll.

        • Sorry – my girls are my girls and my boys are my boys – I am 42 and I consider myself a girl :-)

        • You can send an email to 411@scouting.org with your thoughts on the subject. I got an email from the Central Region Venturing President with Venturing specific questions they’re asking about.

      • But do they want to be know as Boy Scouts? Not Boy Scouts as in a Boy Scout but a Boy Scout as in part of the Boy Scouts of America. But not a Venture Scout either, but possibly a Venturer or a Scout.

        • My Crew are Venturers – plain and simple and that is what they like to be called. “Boy Scouts” only comes into the picture when people ask about Venturing because they are not familiar with the program.

        • They take great pride in calling themselves “Venturers” and sometimes will point out that Venturing is part of the BSA, but never will they refer to themselves as Venturing Scouts or anything like that (and many will correct the people who mislabel them a “Venture Crew”..

          BTW, apologies to Kathleen, but I’m really careful to never refer to the young women in our crew as “girls” — not because it is a perjorative, but because I want to set an example for the young men in our crew…

  11. Charles wrote in part:

    “Kids need age specific programming and material. There’s no reason to do this, other than to push a moral prerogative that doesn’t represent the bulk of Scouting anymore (just a few dudes with no names that hide in a closet at National). ”

    “A few dudes” (and dudettes) are not hidden in a closet at National. The 40 or so members of the 411 Task Force are publically noted — name and local Council — so there’s no “hiding” behind their recommendation. They made it on good faith, after doing a lot of research, reflecting on their own volunteer experiences and knowledge.

    Some of US, however, feel, that even with all of their research and talking with field Scouters, that those recommedations is NOT a good one to give to the BSA’s National Executive Board. Some of us feel as you do, “stop tinkering with stuff which has been working for decades and still works today…”

    Oh, and the National Executive Board members are also publically known. They are not in some closet at National either.

    I don’t like this. To me, I feel that making all of our programs use the same codes and the same laws is doing nothing to affect continued interest and “symbolic progression” I talked about earlier — the idea that one starts out small, then with time and experience gains more confidence, and then moves onward with a lot of experience, knowledge and reflection to get through life. That is how we learn. That is how we relate with others. That is how life itself operates.

    But to say that this was all conceived in a closed door session on the 2nd floor of the BSA’s National offices, well…no.

    • Mike, I was specifically referring NOT to the 411 group, but rather those behind the decision to continue to enforce Scouting’s stance on homosexuality. I don’t believe all of the 11 people who voted on that have come forward – if they have, it’s not ‘common’ public knowledge. Nor is their position on the previous issue.

      Mike, I simply see this as a continuation of the position to keep those of the LGBT lifestyle out of Scouting. The idea is to spread the Boy Scout Oath and Law to Cubs and Venturers. You know. The one with that statement ‘morally straight’ whose definition has been twisted to mean whatever suits National?

      I’m not sure we’ll see eye to eye on this, but I see this as one hand washing the other. Mr. Mazzuca has laid down a very hard stance on LGBT, and now we’re seeing the fallout.

      • I would ask that this topic be moved to another board and not continued under this heading. Thanks.

        • Mike M., that’s probably a good idea. But I think you may be missing my point. My perception, and it could be just me, is that this is a move that is running in tandem with the current reinforcement of National’s policy on LGBT lifestyles. I would think that the idea of changing things – or moving to change this at this time, is both premature and ill-advised. Reviewing methods of teaching the tenets of Scouting should be done continuously. But to do so on the same time table as to what Scouting is going through now smacks of collusion and outright railroading a position that isn’t popular throughout the organization, particularly at the volunteer level.

          I’m asking, suggesting, begging that this idea be shelved for a period of time. A year or three won’t make a difference. Then, when it’s clear it no longer isn’t a move that has the outward appearance of being politically motivated, it can be revisited.

          Plus, to echo others, it’s not a system that seems to be broken. Why do we need to fix it?

          Actually, please leave my comments on this discussion. If for no other reason than to point out that there is an alternative view to how this is being perceived.

        • Charles: You are completely off base. There is nothing happening in the 411 process to lend any credibility to your conspiracy theory. I’ll leave it at that.

        • Scott, I’ll let it go – I don’t agree with your stance and others, but I’ll walk away from promoting my view on this. But I do disagree with changing it for another reason – kids learn at different rates, and I think Cubs have a hard enough time learning what they need to learn without making the Oath they learn more complicated with words most fourth and fifth graders have difficulty translating into values they understand.

  12. All: Since this is very recent news for most I thought you might like some context regarding the 411 Task Force. Here is the 12-minute video of the presentation made at the BSA National Annual Meeting in June 2012 by 411 Chairman Russ Hunsaker.

    This presentation describes in detail the 411 mission and how it will impact the future of Scouting.

    • Hello Scott, I’m a Scout Volunteer in NJ. I was looking to message you but messaging is not available on your facebook page. Can you message me or request me as a friend. I have something I’d like to discuss with you regarding Dave Canterbury “Discovery’s co-host of Duel Survival” & Scouting.

  13. The only difference between the Cub Scout Promise and the Scout Oath is the last sentence: “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

    So is that what this is all about?

    • I just answered this over on Scouts-L but I’ll repost it here:

      “Close, Tony (Hooker, one of the regualars on Scouts-L) ; you wrote and suggested:

      “If I was starting from scratch, I’d be all in favor of going back to something similar to the original Oath. Which is by itself, remarkably similar to the current cub scout Promise.

      On my honor I promise that I will do my best:
      To do my duty to God and my country;
      To help other people at all times;
      To obey the Scout Law.

      (I Think this was the original BSA version, but I may be mistaken. It is very similar to the original one from BP, without the reference to God and King)”

      It is…but it is not the original BSA version, adopted in 1911.

      The original version added the phrase “and…to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

      “I don’t know when the last section was added to the current BSA boy Scout oath, but it sounds like it was designed by committee before being bolted on to the end”

      Well, it was done by committee, but a very small one according to those BSA scholars who study such things. It was Seton, Boyce and West who wanted the BSA’s oath to be more reflective of American ideals – and different from the British Boy Scout Oath which were being repeated by the first BSA Troops in the USA (because they didn’t have an “American Scout Oath” at the time). The three groups of words — “physically strong” (body), “mentally awake” (mind) and “morally straight” (spirit) were selected
      to remind the American Boy Scout of his obligation to be of “sound body, mind and spirit” as he performed tasks associated with being a Boy Scout.

      It was also intended to be like many other parts of the Scout Oath (three parts, three fingers of the Scout Sign, three original ranks (Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class), three higher recognitions (they were originally recognitions, later rank) — Life, Star (later those two to be reversed) and Eagle). Even the later Palms were selected in three stages: Bronze, Gold and Silver.

      There’s something about “doing things in threes” all throughout the Scouting program (triangle selected for Vigil Honor, three “degrees” of OA membership…etc. etc…)

      • So the answer is yes?

        If this is being done to add “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” to the Cub Scout Promise, why doesn’t BSA just say so? Why all the hand-wringing and academic talk? Or is that the way BSA National does things these days?

        • Keep in mind, Cwgmpls, I am NOT a part of the 411 Task Force. Until four years ago, I was unaware that such a group of Scouters working some really tough issues even existed!

          However, I’m going to try to answer your (and some others’) concerns about “why are are wanting to do this change NOW?”

          I agree with many others here that we don’t need to fix the three separate promises/oaths because we — the youth in the program nor most of the adults supporting the programs — don’t have a problem with this. WE KNOW that the basis for all of what we do and what we coach and mentor youth to do are found within the Boy Scout Oath or Promise and those 12 positive statements which describe what a Scout IS (the Scout Law).

          However, the public and many families DO NOT UNDERSTAND why the Cub Scout Promise or the Venturing Oath says things which may be in crosshairs with what the Scout Oath and Law states (or means) (or is interpreted).

          The Task Force’s recommendation — that all of our programs use the same Oath or Promise and Law — answers this. It’s NOT designed to “add body, mind and spirit” to either the Cub Scout nor the Venturing oaths — they have their OWN “body mind and spirit” parts…

          …in Cub Scouting, it is “The Cub Scout helps the Pack go… the Pack helps the Cub Scout grow…”

          and in Venturing, it is “…I will recognize the dignity and worth of all humanity and will use fair play and goodwill in my daily life.; I will acquire the Venturing attitude that seeks truth in all things and adventure on the frontiers of our changing world.”

          By placing all of our programs under the same Oath and Law it provides some bit of commonity for all programs. I personally do not like this because as I’ve stated earlier, it doesn’t provide a “progression” as a youth member moves from the Cub Scouting “helping the Pack go and the Pack helping me to grow” through the Boy Scout/Varsity Scout “obeying the Scout Law” and all twelve of those laws; and onward to thinking about my place in this world as a Venturer, which “seeks truth in all things and adventure on the frontiers of our changing world.”

          There’s a few “defending theorists” out there who are trying to twist this around to say “A HA!! THE REAL REASON WHY THE BSA WANTS TO DO THIS IS TO MAKE EVERYONE “MORALLY STRAIGHT”…. stupid.

          First off, if this was to be approved by the BSA’s National Executive Board, it would occur in 2015 — *not anytime soon*. Second, if that was the purpose, a simple change to the Cub Scout and Venturing promises would do the trick quicker and with a lot less researching and talking with volunteers and families than they did. Finally, “morally straight” doesn’t mean “straight” as in “gay or straight” no matter how hard people try to thump a book over your head. It means that the Scout has a sense of purpose, a direction he wants to go in and some idea of why he wants to go into that direction. He has a group of morals — those which he developed himself — to guide himself with.

          Like I said…I’m NOT on the 411 Task Force. I’m like you and many others out here, a volunteer working at the unit, District, Council and in my personal case, Region levels. I don’t like the recommendation and would rather that they limit it to the Character Connections program solely and leave the Oaths and Promises as is. There’s nothing wrong with them; they are simple to learn at each age grouping and they make sense. If parents and the community don’t understand why we do what we do…then it’s up to volunteers like you and me to help explain to them why we value so much the Scout Oath and Law as the underpinnings to all of our programs.

          ——————————————————————————–

        • It’s taken BSA over 20 years to formulate its current statement regarding homosexual membership. Waiting a couple more years to have a consistent statement of values approved BSA’s National Executive Board doesn’t seem out of line with that pace.

  14. You mentioned educators that have green lighted the unification of oaths/laws, and I find it hard to believe that those same educators think the scout oath/law are essentially first grade level. Otherwise the educators are saying Moby Dick is first grade appropriate literature if explained is first grade terminology.

    I have an autistic child and two other handicapped children in my pack. Will there be age/mentality appropriate lesson plans for them as well? I hate being negative and hate to resist change, but why this change now with no appreciable, identifiable positive impact, only potential? I am an involved field leader trying to make a difference for my kids and the program as a whole. I live by the scout principles and my son does/will as well. Why are good leaders such as those herein being made to feel like we are just change resistant sticks in the mud?

    • Will – I will bring this to 411′s attention. Note that if this change occurs it is several years off. I’m reasonably confident that the BSA’s modifications for those with autism and other situational challenges will continue. I appreciate your situation as we have several autistic Cub Scouts in my own unit. As usual, the challenge to “make things happen” will inevitably fall to individual unit leaders. I’m not sure about your last sentiment and I hope I’m not the source of it. My efforts are an attempt to explain and answer questions, not pass judgement.

      As for the educators, you are correct. No one is expecting to have a 6 year old Tiger Cub to grasp the Scout Law with the same level of understanding and introspection as a 17 year old Eagle. If passed, program will be developed to reflect age appropriate instruction and expectations.

      • The same as the Pledge of Allegiance was for us as kids. We didn’t know the meaning our 1st few years & as the older we got, the more we learned & understood what is was and stood for.

      • Maybe you can point 411 to give a quick look to the comments on this post.

        Side note: Your example compares a 6 year old Tiger Cub and a 17 year old Eagle as two extremes of age and maturity. A better comparison would have been with a 20 year old Silver Award Venturer. But then again, Venturing tends to be ignored by National and Councils in favor of the much larger Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting, so it’s really nothing new.

  15. I would like to know why the BSA now thinks it must pasteurize and homogenize everything in sight. The Boy Scout Oath and Law have a 100+ year history; the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack have an 80+ year history (except when they changed the ‘square’ line); Venturing not so much, but each program is designed to stand on its own, and the wording is tailored to be easily understood within the age ranges of the programs.

    I’m certain the folks on the task force are a well-meaning group, but it sounds like by just taking on this debate they are catering to some individuals who may have some sort of unpublicized agenda. I have no proof of this, just a gut feeling.

    What brought on this sudden urge to “unify” the Scouting program? The public (at least those who look up from their i-Pads once in a while) already perceives Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing are all related programs, though for different age groups, regardless of the promises or oaths recited by the members.

    It sounds like the same sort of chatter I heard a few years ago from the people who believed Scouting is not supposed to let the self-esteem of the boys be injured by telling them they didn’t do something well enough to earn a badge, that the very effort of trying to do something should be enough for praise and reward, aside from the fact so much of what we truly learn comes from failure.

    Please don’t start homogenizing the different Scouting programs into one. I believe Baden-Powell created Boy Scouts, Wolf Cubs and Rovers with different aims, and different oaths. Do we really want to start messing around with the basic foundations of Scouting?

  16. With the current wording serving BSA perfectly well for over 80 years, there has to be something more going on. BSA wouldn’t waste time and money tinkering around with trivialities when it has some big issues on its plate.

    I get the feeling the BSA legal department senses something is brewing. BSA’s legal right to establish its own membership standards rests on the fact that BSA has an expressed statement of values that its members must adhere to. Clarifying that statement of values, and making it consistent across BSA, would go a long way to shoring up BSA’s defense against legal challenge related to its membership standards.

    This seems like a clear, proactive move to clarify BSA’s standards as a legal defense. BSA doesn’t pay its lawyers for nothing.

    • Cwgmpls: You’re making an assumption that “something’s gone bad” for the this task force to make this recommendation. Nope. It has everything to do with Scouting’s FUTURE, not the present or its past.

      The 411 Task Force was stood up, from my reading and undertstanding, in order to find ways to take the Boy Scouts of America far into the this century. It is more than a group of adults standing or sitting around saying “we need this” or “we don’t need that anymore.”

      You stated in part:

      “I get the feeling the BSA legal department senses something is brewing. BSA’s legal right to establish its own membership standards rests on the fact that BSA has an expressed statement of values that its members must adhere to. Clarifying that statement of values, and making it consistent across BSA, would go a long way to shoring up BSA’s defense against legal challenge related to its membership standards.”

      If this was a legal matter, the BSA’s legal team would have made recommendations to make this change well before now. As you said, the BSA does have good lawyers.

      However, this didn’t originate from the BSA’s law team. It originated after some studies and interviews and focus groups — and most of them occured in Quality Councils with strong Scouting programming already. Doesn’t mean anything except that they had strong Scouting programming. Again, this isn’t a legal matter — it is one way to tie all of the programs together better.

      The current wording as far as Cub Scouting is concerned has only been around since the early 70s (that’s when “to be square” was replaced with “to help other people”). That’s not 80 years….more like 40 or so…

      As far as the Venturing Oath, since Venturing has only been around for 14 years; and since much of the Oath originated with the Explorer Code, which that was written in the late 50s, I would say that the Venturing Oath has only been with us a little longer (14 or 60 years, take your pick)

  17. The Cub Program was just re-invented and pushed out to the masses with the release of Cub Scouting 2010. We haven’t even crossed over the 1st group to experience the program since the beginning to Boy Scouts. Why couldn’t this be addressed with those changes?

    As a Cub Leader and current Pack Committee Chair, it’s quite frustrating to attend District or Council functions with the majority of Boy Scouters and when it comes time to recite oathes and promises, it’s always the Boy Scout Oath & Promise. Some consistency would be nice. However, more needs to be done within the Cub Program to make the difference in membership and ultimately the communities that the programs serve.

    First, ALL BSA programs need to embrace that Cub Scouting mattters and that it’s important. The Cub Program, as a FAMILY program has the opportunity to reach all members of the househould, not just the Cub. While my Council is BEGINNING to focus a lot of it’s professional resources on Cubs, it’s not picking the momentum up within the District. There’s resistance from the “Old Timers” who like things as they are. It’s difficult to cheerfully administer a program that, for all intents and purposes, really doesn’t matter in the eyes of the Troop Leaders. Nothing a Cub Scout earns, except for the AOL, crosses with the Scout. There is a real disconnect with the bridging and a better job could be done with preparing volunteers to help with that.

    I’d like to see a comprehensive orientation program for new families, regardless when their child begins a BSA program, provided and presented by Council (for uniformity with National standards) that explains the BSA History, Goals, Mission, Advancement Trails and age requirements and why each program exists. Also, a detailed explanation of the expected behavior by both parents and children should be addressed. Leaving this type of orientation to volunteers within a specific program tends to omit a lot of important information.

    These items would make life much easier on both professional and volunteers alike.

    • Stephanie: I’m curious because I’ve heard this comment before in other forums; and as one of the BSA’s uniforming and insignia volunteers, this gained my attention:

      You wrote in part:

      “Nothing a Cub Scout earns, except for the AOL, crosses with the Scout. There is a real disconnect with the bridging and a better job could be done with preparing volunteers to help with that.”

      Can you give me some examples of other awards and items which should “cross over with the Cub Scout” when he becomes a Boy Scout?

      Keep in mind that much of what a Cub Scout earns as a Cub Scout, there is a Boy Scout “version” or option to earn; and other items are not “crossed over” simply because there has to be space for Boy Scouting-type items.

      But there are PLENTY of items which the Cub Scout earns as a Cub Scout (other than the Arrow of Light, Cub Scouting’s highest rank) which *does indeed* transfers off his Cub Scout uniform and onto his Boy Scout uniform (from left to right):

      - Council Shoulder Patch (CSP) unless he’s going to be a Boy Scout in a different Council.
      - Year pin (there should be one…the highest year he has spent as a Cub Scout with a yellow backing)
      - Youth Religious emblem “square knot emblem” with a Cub Scout (or perhaps two Cub Scout) program device on the knot emblem denoting that he earned his faith’s religious emblem as a Cub Scout or as a WEBELOS Cub Scout
      - the Arrow of Light emblem
      - an Interpreter Strip (if he earned one)
      - his favorite temporary emblem (centered on the right pocket of his Scout uniform until he changes his mind and wants something else temporarily there as a Boy Scout)
      - and more than likely his Den medallion which will become his Patrol medallion

      Anything else?

      • I think Stephanie’s point wasn’t so much the patches but the “earning” portion of her statement.
        Cub and Boy Scouts are treated almost as two distinct groups. The Whittlin’ chit, for example, doesn’t apply in Boy Scouts but must be re-earned as a Totin’ Chit. (at least in my troop. not sure about national rules). Service hours from Cubs to Troop probably don’t transfer. The AoL helps in earning the Boy Scout Badge but doesn’t substitute for it.
        It’s the disconnect that a Cub is almost starting over again at Troop level that’s at issue and which I do see needing improvement. It’s not seemless, it’s an uphill struggle with retention. And in our District, Cub Scouts are sometimes an afterthought.
        It’s not broken but it certainly could use improving.

        • Mike, you hit the nail right on the head. I think the boys look forward to earning more insignia for their Boy Scout uniforms and we are careful to advise exactly what can be transferred over to the Troop uniform. However, it’s the “starting over” portion that becomes a sticking point. All of your examples are what I was referring to.

          Since service hours, camping nights and leadership roles are a HUGE part of advancement in the Troop, I’d like to see more emphasis placed on these items in Cubs. Perhaps a “Diploma” of some sort with all of these things itemized for the Cub to present to the Troop for some sort of recognition. Perhaps this diploma could be used to receive a “quicker” advancement to Tenderfoot. This shouldn’t be a problem because the Scouts who participate in these areas in the Pack will be the ones who advance within the Troop at a faster rate anyway.

          Much of the focus in Scouting is at the Boy Scout age and I believe there are studies showing that it’s the CUB SCOUT age that needs to be sought and hooked to improve retention and create a Scout for Life.

        • I think there is definately a notion that Cub Scouting ends and Boy Scouting begins that causes us to lose a lot of boys after the Cub Scoutign ends part. It isn’t looked at as a continuum for many parents.

      • Have either of you ever been to a Venturing event? The issues that you speak of are only magnified. Now imagine that you have two venturers, one who was in a troop and one who wasn’t.

        The funny thing is that the program itself is already great. It just need support on a National level.

  18. I posted a 110% approval for this earlier without any explanation. Please let me afirm why I think this is a good move. As a previous cub scout, den leader, Webelo Leader, District Chair, ASM, and now Scout Master I think this makes perfect sense. Look at it from a parent and cub scout perspective first, they see the results of the multiple oaths first hand at pack meetings. Have you ever watched those Webelo II boys muck up the Cub Scout Promise at a Pack Meeting? “Well, see we are now using the Boy Scout Oath. They have to learn it to be Boy Scouts, so we’ve fallen out of practice on the Cub Scout Promise.” Thats the excuse I’ve heard from more than one Cub Master or Webelo leader and its not an excuse its the truth. The transition is rough and the more complicated we make it the more boys we loose.

    I do support this theory that the Oath and Law should be the same, and I do recognize that it will be a huge change. I offer though that possibly it should be a progressive Oath. The Cub Scout Oath only being a portion of the existing Boy Scout Oath, and the Venturing Oath adding the parts that make it the Venturing Oath. It would allow for the whole thing to be memorized and learned by all, and allow for added depth to the meaning.

    • Our organization: the Boy Scouts of America only has one mission: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

      Well if we are ong to have a mission that says we are instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law in all our youth, then shouldn’t we have that Scout Oath and Law in every program? Just makes sense to me.

  19. I think that all scouts Cubs, Venturers, Sea Scouts, Varsity, Boy Scouts should have ONE unified Oath and Law. As a former cub and boy scout and a former Webelo Den Leader/current ASM – I remember I found it difficult to deal with two oaths and laws. I think it will be easier for the boys to learn it while they are young and grow in understanding as they age. I don’t think anyone would expect Tigers to memorize the Oath and Law, but they can learn to read it/repeat it as well as begin to learn its meaning. I think this would bring a tighter unification of the entire program.

  20. As a Scouter that was involved with the Cub Scout program for years, and is now currently a Scoutmaster and Venture Crew Advisor, I can see this being a tough thing for people to accept if they have been involved for any lenght of time. New Scouters coming into the program will have no problem adjusting to this since they won’t know anything but this. That being said, I do think that it is a good idea. The Cub Scouts may have some difficulty with it but I don’t think it should be a big problem if it is part of their weekly routine. If the program wants to have flow and continuity between all branches, as it should, then this is a move in the right direction. Each program should not have any difficulty retaining their own identity, because the program areas are designed to accomodate the appropriate age and skill level. But, when these programs overlap and interact it will be nice to see everyone able to recite the words together. I think it will give a connection to the areas that is not felt at this time.

  21. Please, no! Cub Scouts are not confused when they become Boy Scouts and have to learn a new Oath and Law. They feel more grown-up. And they are. Each age group has its own needs, and the current set-up reflects those differences. Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere.

  22. One oath is a great idea and I look forward to it! In my twelve years as a Cub Scout leader, I’ve met very few cub scouts who remember the Cub Scout promise and law. There’s just as few adult leaders who can remember the promise and law. BUT … almost every Boy Scout adult leader and most scouts have the Scout Oath and Law ingrained and will NEVER forget them.

    Plus, mixing the Jungle Book story in the scout ideals is confusing. Most adults and family no longer know the details of the story. They don’t know who’s who in the story. Then to play with the Jungle Book story for a few years only to replace it as a Boy Scout later is confusing.

    The biggest reason to me is that the Cub Scout promise and law are more functional than idealistic. The only values statemetns are the same as the Boy Scout Oath and Law. Talking about the “Law of the Pack”, “following Akela” and who helps who go or grow is confusing and distracting.

    I’d much much rather start focusing on the direct values … Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Odedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

  23. I support the change for Venturing Crews and Ships but not for Cubs. The older boys definitely need to stay focused on the values contained in the Scut Oath and Law. My observatoin is that it sends an unintended mesaage to the older boys that the Scout Oath and Law only pertains to younger boys and not them. Which is certainly not true. For Cubs, it is too long and too hard to understnad. Young boys connect well to the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack. It is simple and they understand it and if taught right they have fun with it. I have never seen or heard of a Boy Scout who had trouble with the transition.

    • Venturing is not just for boys, it is also for girls, and it’s a separate program than the Boy Scouts. Youth don’t think that way because they’re not in the same program anymore. If the Varsity Scout oath and law was different, I would understand where you were coming from. But Venturing is NOT the same thing as Boy Scouts.

    • Do you really think that the Venturing Oath and Code contain no good values?

      As a Venturer, I promise to do my duty to God and help strengthen America, to help others, and to seek truth, fairness, and adventure in our world.

      As a Venturer, I believe that America’s strength lies in our trust in God and in the courage, strength, and traditions of our people.
      I will, therefore, be faithful in my religious duties and will maintain a personal sense of honor in my own life.
      I will treasure my American heritage and will do all I can to preserve and enrich it.
      I will recognize the dignity and worth of all humanity and will use fair play and goodwill in my daily life.
      I will acquire the Venturing attitude that seeks truth in all things and adventure on the frontiers of our changing world.

    • I have to agree with you on your point that the Oath and Law are probably too long and complicated for Cubs to fully grasp. I admit that I have never really been all that big on the whole jungle book theme, but I also only joined as a Webelos, so that might be part of my individual issue.

      I do think that a unification of the Oaths and Laws would be a good thing for everyone concerned, however for the Cubs, I might recommend a shortened version maybe? Dropping those lines/points that are simply beyond most 5-9 year olds.

      Maybe something along the lines of:
      “On my Honor, I will do my best, to do my duty To God and my Country, and To help Other people.”
      and
      “A Scout is Trustworthy, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Cheerful, Brave, and Reverent”

  24. The Tiger Cubs once had their own separate motto and promise, and it WAS confusing when they became part of the Pack and the other boys were saying a very different set of words. So, the Tiger Promise and Motto were phased out, and that was appropriate because it made no sense to have separate promises in the same room full of young boys. However, the Cub Promise IS age-appropriate, and we teach its meaning as they grow up. Then, as Webelos Scouts, they learn what it’s like to be Boy Scouts, and learn the time-honored words of the oath and law. I was thrilled and proud the first time my Webelos repeated the Boy Scout words and took them as their own, and when I left the pack after 7 years I left them with those 12 words, representing what their sons were becoming through scouting. Although we certainly have the same goals and ultimate purposes, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are very different organizations, and I feel that separate promises and mottos are very well justified and should remain.
    Genny White, Great Plains District Tiger Lady, 1992-2013

  25. In my oppinion, one of the main reasons (obviously not the only on thou) that we’re losing so many boys when transitioning between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts is because we’re losing the distinction between the two. Cubs are doing so many things that use to be in the provence of Boy Scouts (like camping and being Webeloes for a year). Now we’re talking about blurring the line even more. I say keep the Cub Scout promise and law as it is and let them look forward to becoming Boy Scouts.

    • I’m not sure I understand when you said “being Webeloes for a year”

      I disagree with the camping. Cubs have always had some degree of ‘camping’. While it may be occasional ‘cabin camping’ at first and eventually to more frequent ‘tent camping’ and maybe a summer resident camp – it is still quite different than camping with a Boy Scout Troop, and in my observation of Packs versus Troops camping over the past several years, there is a clear difference and an escalation when moving from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting.

      • I thought the reason they lost so many boys was more due to burn-out and increased interest in alternative activities? We lose between 30-50% in most transitions after one year, and the number one cause for us is sports. Hockey, baseball, football, and more are becoming nearly year-round programs in our area. Even at the 6th grade level. It’s hard to compete when a kid has dreams of the majors.

  26. It is my belief that for Cubs, the Boy Scout Oath and Law has too many “cerebral” concepts to be understood by a 6+ year old – while they understand and grow into the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack. Once the scouts reach Webelos, they begin to learn and discuss the concepts contained within the oath and law, and memorize them as a TRANSITION to Boy Scouts – it makes them feel like they have accomplished something special, and are moving into something new, different, and special… I say keep them separate. (For venturing, I don’t necessarily see why that would need to be different – it’s still scouts, and so the Oath and Law should still be part of that program – but Cubs NEED to stay different, and AGE approriate.

    • Boyd,
      You are thinking like a Cub Scout leader- I will fight for MY program but not for the others because I don”t understand them.. (at least that is how it comes across- Please dont take offense because that is not how it is intended)

      Here is why the programs (ALL PROGRAMS) need to stay separated.. Think about all the differences between the Cub program and Boy Scout program. Now multiply them by two and make them Co-Ed and that is the difference between the Boy Scout Program and the Venturing Program. Add to that that there are TONS of Cubs, so they aren’t threatening to take away the Cub handshake and salute. But lets pretend that they are and layer THAT onto a program that has been badly neglected by the National Council and is JUST NOW starting to develop its own brand identity.

      Venturing is not STILL SCOUTS. We aren’t Venturing Scouts, we are Venturers. We have a different Program. We have a different program structure and a different aims and methods- we even TALK about those different aims and methods in Woodbadge.

      THIS is the reason that people are so willing to tear down the walls- if even well informed scouting leaders dont understand the differences in the programs, then we need to spend less time making them look the same and more time getting the word out.

  27. I like having separate a separate oath/promise and law/code for the different programs; it highlights that the programs are separate and distinct. I’ve seen too many Venturing youth and leaders who ignore the Venturing program and treat that program as simply another stage of Boy Scouts where they are still working on rank advancements and merit badges. Having the same Oath and Law for Venturers would simply strengthen that misconception.

      • Ronald,
        Technically Venturing is “a youth development program of the BSA” in the same way the Boy Scouts is a separate, distinct program from Venturing and Cub Scouts.
        I know what you are trying to get at: Venturing is a sub-program of Boy Scouts, but that’s not quite accurate. In some cases it does work that way, but in many other crews, the crew operates very differently and quite independently of other Boy Scout programs.
        I have an easy answer for this: Ask Venturers nationwide to vote (just like in the crews– no votes for adults) and see what they say. Should be pretty easy for National to set up a nationwide poll and ask Venturing leaders to send to their Crew Leadership, and from them to their crews.

        • John, Read what the BSA define it as. I’d rather understand what the organization says it is vs someones opinion of what it is or what it should be. Read the link. Maybe this is why the change, some people operating outside of what it was the program was designed for & this will attempt to get the goals standardized.

      • The Boy Scouts of America, as an organization, contains three different divisions: Cub Scouts (including Tiger Cubs), Boy Scouts (including Varsity Scouts), and Venturing (including Sea Scouts). When I referred earlier to Venturing being a different program than Boy Scouts I meant the Boy Scout program, not the larger organization (BSA).

        Each of the different divisions within the BSA is unique and separate in many ways from the other divisions. Each division has its own uniform, awards structure, methods, and (so far) it’s own oath/promise and law/code.

        Cub Scouting has always been tied closely with Boy Scouting, with one of its purposes being to prepare younger boys to become Boy Scouts when they get old enough. The same is not true for Venturing. There is nothing in the Boy Scout program that suggests that the next step, so to speak, is Venturing. It is a separate program (within the same organization) that serves what is often a different audience (young women).

        • Some more information: the term Boy Scout is sometimes ambiguous. It can refer to the Boy Scout program of the BSA or to the BSA as a whole.

          Cub Scouting is closely associated with Boy Scouting because there is no overlap of the programs, and individuals are encouraged to transfer from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting.

          Venturing, on the other hand, overlaps with the Boy Scouting program, and also includes individuals who are ineligible for the Boy Scouting program. Venture Scouts, however, are a subgroup in the Boy Scouting program which is essentially the Venturing eligible members of Boy Scouting but not an actual part of Venturing. This last part is what I believe leads to confusion over Venturing being part of Boy Scouting within the BSA and not a separate program.

  28. If you start revising the program in one area, you then end up finding the need to change something else to compensate for the first change and so on and so forth. ( like the above statement to change the Mission Statement ?) I think it is foolish to even consider such a change. There is a progression in Scouting that works the way it is. It is a building process, it is age appropriate and meaningful for the Scouts at the different levels they encounter. Retention is important; however, recruiting is far more important if we want to increase the number of Scouts in the program. We compete with so many other activities out there. Maybe the BSA should run ads? If we as volunteers help the youth to have as much FUN as possible, they will stay. Memories will be built that last a lifetime.

  29. Having been a Girl Scout and Explorer, Girl Scout leader from Daisy to Juniors, Tiger, Cub and Webelos leader, I can not support this change. Those tiger cubs have enough trouble learning the prpmise let alone 12 points of the Scout Law. What is the readability level of the Scout Oath and Promise, i’m sure it is not First Grade!

    Linda Hassler, 43 year veteran of Girl and Boy Scouting, District Chair-Twin Lights District, Monmouth Council, NJ

    • Word memorization is easy but meanings are the hard part. It needs to be learned. Just like the Pledge of Allegiance… Whet is reading level of the Pledge? In grade school you don’t know the meanings at first, you learn as you grow & develop.

      Why have 3 different pledges?

      • Why have a single pledge for the city flag, the state flag, and the national flag?

        There are three different Oaths because there are three completely different programs. They all have the same basic BSA core values, but approach them in a way tailored to their specific members.

        This proposal isn’t about changing the Cub Scout and Venturing Oaths with the Boy Scout Oath – it’s about getting rid of all three program oaths, the Cub Scout, Venturing, and Boy Scout Oath, and instead using a single organization oath, the BSA Oath, which just happens to be the same as the old Boy Scout Oath.

        • You started talking about the Pledge of Allegiance and then mentioned three different pledges. I assumed national/state/city was a reasonable breakdown for three pledges. It seems I was wrong and I apologize for attempting to figure out what you were saying. Could you clarify which three Pledges you were referring to?

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