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In a time when trust is at an all-time low, I’m thankful for Scouting

These days it’s hard to trust the driver in the next lane, the teenager swiping your credit card at the drive-thru or the stranger reading your Facebook and Twitter posts. So I’m grateful there’s at least one group of people you still can trust: Scouts.

If you don’t believe me that Americans trust one another less than they used to, just look at this Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in October (PDF link). It reveals Americans don’t much trust people when driving, shopping, dining out, traveling, hiring workers to come in their homes or posting on social media.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans trust people who swipe their credit card when making a purchase “just somewhat,” “not too much” or “not at all.” Just 30 percent of Americans trust other drivers on the road “a great deal” or “quite a bit.” And 78 percent of respondents said they trust people they meet when traveling “just somewhat,” “not too much” or “not at all.”

Those figures are enough to make anyone want to stay home, lock the doors and board up the windows.

But before you become a recluse, think of the millions of Scouts and Scouters out there. To me, Scouting represents one of our country’s last great hopes for stemming the tide of cynicism in America. After all, “trustworthy” is the first point in the Boy Scout Law, which Boy Scouts (and soon Cub Scouts and Venturers) memorize, recite and live by. 

The Boy Scout Handbook describes “trustworthy” thusly: “A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.”

That’s a refreshing change in a world where most Americans immediately assume every driver around us is drunk and texting, everyone who comes in our home is going to rob us and every restaurant waiter is stealing our credit card number or tampering with our food.

You’re likely to witness Scouts and Venturers, on the other hand, returning a dropped $20 bill, rendering life-saving first aid and participating in service projects. And not just when they’re in uniform or on an official pack, troop or crew event.

So here’s your challenge: Find even more young men and women to join Scouting and benefit from its values. And, of course, continue to prepare Scouts already in the program for a world in which trust is at an all-time low.

Together we can use Scouting to turn this dishonesty trend around. Trust me.

Your thoughts?

Today I challenge you to really consider that first point of the Scout Law. And, in the comments section below, to share times when you’ve observed Scouts being remarkably trustworthy.

16 Comments on In a time when trust is at an all-time low, I’m thankful for Scouting

  1. I think this vacuum of trust is from, mainly, hearing or experiencing broken trust. Most of us (people) are trustworthy – just the few bad apples get the press time and coverage that makes them seem more prolific in society than they are. I’m reminded of this part of a beat from The Drum: “One rotten apple is said to ruin a barrelful… One good apple in the barrel has sweetened all the others!” – The Good Apple, pg 28, The Drum by Tischitanissohen. Scouting creates these good apples!

    • Great point, Michael. It’s a sad reality that trustworthy people don’t make the local news very often.

  2. Nelson Block // December 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm // Reply

    When Roy Williams was Chief Scout Executive (2000-2007) the Shows staff at a national Order of the Arrow conference did separate video interviews of both Roy and the national chief. Each was asked what the most important point of the Scout Law was, and both immediately answered “Trustworthy”.

  3. Dennis Gallager // December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm // Reply

    Where are the rest of these old-tyme Scout Law points? I would be very interested in seeing the explanation for the other 11 Points of the Scout Law.

    • Here ya go Dennis: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2011/01/26/scout-law/

      • H. David Pendleton // December 3, 2013 at 7:32 am // Reply

        I believe the wording is taken directly from the 1911 Scout Handbook. I picked up a reprint of the HB recently and they appear the same.

  4. HERE, HERE!!! Thank you for this post, Bryan. I will share it with my pack parents.

  5. AMEN SCOUTING IS THE BEST

  6. I can’t figure out how to stop the slide show to read them all. Plus I need all these slides to present them at our upcoming Arrow Of Light ceremony. Can someone help me?

    • frank, to stop the slide show,(http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2011/01/26/scout-law/), press the double-bar Pause button at ther base of each slide. Right-click on the slide and select View Image or Save Image and save to a place on your computer that you can find your way back to. After each save, re-start the slide show by clicking on the arrow – then pause again and repeat until you’ve captured them all. Hope this helps!

      • Oh, when you’ve got them all, open a PowerPoint (or other presentation application) and insert them into your slides.

  7. I agree that “Trustworthy” is the most important element of the Scout Law that is sorely lacking in our society today.

    • Can’t argue with that. It’s to bad not many people take a note from the scouters and be a little more trustworthy and everything else.

  8. Wow, what a sad and cynical view of the world, Bryan. Give trust and you’ll get trust.

    • I think you missed the point, Matt. My contention was that statistics show trust at an all-time low, so it’s good that Scouting exists.

  9. Where did the image come from? I would like to get the law like that.

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