Room for one more? Your ideas for the 13th point of the Scout Law

Don’t panic! The Scout Law isn’t changing.

Why mess with something that’s been guiding Boy Scouts in this country since 1911?

The BSA’s version  — one of several variations from around the world — is a slight tweak from the 10 original points Baden-Powell published in his Scouting for Boys in 1908.

We all know it well, right? Say it with me: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Sounds good. But 100-plus years after it was written, it’s fun to think about what — if anything — is missing from the list. What would make a good 13th point for the Scout Law?

I turned to our Facebook friends, and many said they use this same question in Eagle Boards of Review.

Here are the top responses, sorted by number of mentions:

Hungry (19)

Chuck H. says, “There already is a 13th point to the Scout Law … A Scout is Hungry! I’ve known that since I was a Boy Scout 52 years ago!”

Humble (9)

David H. says, ” I have always said it should be ‘A Scout is Humble’ — Proud but not arrogant, confident yet open-minded and grateful for all that has and will come his way.”

Respectful (9)

Melony L. says, “My boys added Respectful onto theirs. They had a boy that talked back to his mother in front of them and they have added it on ever since.”

Tolerant (5)

Tara B. says, “I like Tolerant.”

Honest (4)

Mark W. says, “Odd that Honest isn’t in there, eh? So much is covered by the others though…”

Resourceful (4)

Janette H. says, “Resourceful, but not sure if that could be included in Thrifty … Making do with what you have.”

“Not a fool” (3)

James R. says, “Baden Powell said ‘the Scout is not a fool.’ How can one argue with B-P?”

Diligent (3)

Bill S. says, “A scout is Diligent, in his pursuits, passions, and beliefs.”

Punctual (3)

Mat D. says, “Punctual – a lost trait in this world.”

“Clean… but not afraid to get dirty”

Thanks to Mike Rowe for that one!

Others receiving votes

Aware, Conservation-minded, Curious, Grateful, Patient, Thankful, Adventurous, Athletic, Charitable, Confident, Courageous, Dedicated, Disciplined, Forgiving, Generous, Honorable, Integral, Lucky, Outgoing, Prepared, Safe, and Tucked (“as in uniform shirts”).

One more to consider

Lillian P. says, “Hydrated … Sincerely, your local camp medical officer.”

Related posts

These 1913 Scout Law postcards are the coolest thing you’ll see today

The Scout Law in the Workplace: Values that really work at your office

What do you think?

What, if anything, would you add to the Scout Law? Leave your idea below.

Photo by Flickr user mjrindewitt


  1. This was a question at my Eagle Scout Board of Review in 2010. My response was something along the lines of ‘respectful’ or ‘open’ going toward being understanding and respectful of those that aren’t the same as you.

  2. “Accepting”–this was told to me by an Eagle Scout candidate. Based on recent events in Ohio around a Gay/Lesbian Scout Leader who was removed from their position when their sexuality preference was made public, I believe it is essential that we all learn to be accepting of our differences–race, gender, culture, sexuality, etc. I still can’t understand why we think it’s OK to be discriminatory to an entire population of people–does the BSA organization think the boys will “catch” something or are they just too afraid of the political and financial implications of accepting? Clearly this will be a hot topic at the presidential elections this year based on recent press. I know many adults who don’t support Scouting and outwardly speak against it due to this single scar on our name.

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to single out only one specific case for “accepting”. This would also entail the acceptance of boys with different levels of physical ability (sports jocks vs. others) as well as people with physical or mental disabilities (e.g. disability awareness programs). Acceptance can take on many forms and degrees. Accepting means that NO boy sits the bench; we all Do our Best; and we work together to integrate every schoolmate, friends, or any member into our nucleus Troop family community to help them feel that they are part of a greater good based on our Scout Law of morality.

      • I especially like that ‘accepting as meaning NO boy ever sit on the bench alone. Its not just the bench but in ALL activities as well that a scout should never be by themselves. With many scouts being loners as more and more get into gaming and computers where social skills get underdeveloped this is so important.
        It cn also cover diversity of others being different from themselves and learning to include them in and go the extra mile of understand that underneath all they are still the same.

    • As soon as I saw this topic I knew the pro-homosexuality crowd would be all over it. Thank you, sir, for confirming my suspicions right off the bat.

  3. Not an addition to the Scout Law…but what about including the Scouting Heritage merit badge as a requirement for Eagle?

  4. Curious. We need to develop leaders who are not afraid to try new things, or of new ideas. None of the 12 capture this idea, which is implicit in BSA’s push to make Scouting more relevant to the current generation

  5. I hate it when scouts add hungry to the Scout Law. I tell my boys that a real Scout is prepared and knows how to take care of himself so that he doesn’t go hungry. Only a Tenderfoot is hungry.

    I’ll second the idea of the Scouting heritage merit badge as a requirement for Eagle, though.

    • Tory, perhaps you’ll change your mind after reading this — the below and the link to explain why:

      “A Scout is Hungry. He thirsts for the new challenge, the new opportunity that his world, nation, community and neighborhood places in front of him. He hungers for knowledge and the ability to appreciate new things, to see things in the eyes of others. He gladly shares his knowledge and experiences with others, and is ready for the benefit, that “dessert”, in which after he shares his knowledge with others, that they in turn, do so with him”.

      Its well over 25 years old but still rings true.

    • Hungry for Knowledge, Love, Accptance, Respected, Being Needed and anything else you can think of, not food.

    • “Morally straight.” BSA threw that one away not too long ago. And I am not afraid of homosexuals..I do believe it is a sin and not something that should be taught as normal to our children.

  6. Amen for “accepting” and “respectful.” I think first about all the Scouts (and there have been plenty already and will be more in the future) who will discover, somewhere in their journey, that they are gay–what does the BSA anti-gay leader policy say to them? Certainly, that they are no longer welcome as future adult leaders, and likely, that they are “not good enough” as they are. Not to mention that this policy tacitly promotes discriminatory attitudes among boys we are trying to raise with ethical values. What would it mean for the BSA to stand up and say that we will not support discrimination or bigotry in any form? A lot, I would think.

    And, if I had a dollar for every parent who has told me that, although they think their son would “love it,” that they will not let him join with the current policy in place–well, I would be a rich woman!

    But yes, respect and acceptance go way beyond this one issue. I have been encouraged to see the recent disability-awareness programs in Scouts. These are two qualities I find myself discussing a lot; certainly more than “clean,” which is exactly what we are NOT after 2 days of camping!

  7. I like “hungry”. I think the others are great answers , but they are all ultimately results of living the 12 points.

    • Proud can conflict with humble. Yes we should be proud of our achievements but we should look for a word that conveys the trial and error ‘process’ to successful. I’m at loss for a good one word that conveys that try and try again to success.

    • That is a GREAT one. Recently at a ceremony that involved four unit groups: 2 Packs and 2 Troops where the Pack was already standing nicely and quietly where they can see for quite some time while waiting for the ceremony to start. One of the Troop who had been buy with setting up the ceremony finally got themselves together. They made a nice line but that line walked right in front of the Pack blocking the Packs view. The Troop forced the Pack to move themselves. The Troop had room to do their line formation in another location then the spot in front of the Pack. Here is a case that ‘observant’ would be key and help in courtesy. Many are not aware that their actions affect others and they need to be.

  8. I like Baden Powell’s consideration of the 13th law. He said “Observant” is what he thought it could be but left it at 12.

  9. A vote also for “conservation-minded.” I am tired of being the only one on our camping trips to suggest that we recycle our packaging, which seems to fall on deaf ears…. Considering our global “footprint” a bit more seems to be a pretty crucial need in the 21st century.

  10. “Resourceful” is powerful. When a Scout reaches the proverbial “End of The Road”, he knows he’s only at the trailhead!

  11. Resourceful – to me this goes beyond the 90 day tracking of your income and expenses for personal management MB.

  12. A Scout is

  13. Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point have an honor code that states “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” The part of this code that we should adopt is the tolerance portion. Whereas the cadet code talks about not toleration negative actions, a scout statement should not allow scouts to tolerate other scouts not living up to the points of the scout law.

  14. Hungry has for years been our troops “unofficial” 13th point of Scout Law . Realistically though ” Accepting ” would help with reinforcing the other points of the Scout Law.

    • Read the first two paragraphs:
      “Don’t panic! The Scout Law isn’t changing.

      Why mess with something that’s been guiding Boy Scouts in this country since 1911?”

    • You know National. They can’t wait to mess wit things that have been working fine since before some of them were born.

  15. 13th Point of the Scout Law is: “:A Scout is Safe” Each Scout has a responsibility to himself and his fellow scouts to identify the hazards present in each Scouting Activity and do his best to eliminate or reduce the hazards that could cause harm by following the “Safe Scouting Guidelines” for Camping, Hiking, Travel, and other activities.

    • There is no one in National who is 100 years old. Very few Councils want to have older people around, even if they bring lots of ideas and dreams for the kids. They do like us to bring Trail Snacks for kids as a validation of their worth to all of us. Observant is a good quality for Scouts. Hungry is for fun; Scouting should allow opportunities for fun for kids and their leaders. Good luck in trying to promote reverence; in Troops with which I have worked a prayer is rarely offered except at a Court of Honor. A few of us are known to profess the Christ-faith and are called upon to do invocations and blessings. A few!

  16. With all that is happening in today’s world I can’t believe that only one person suggested responsible. All to often in my experiences people in general do not take responsibility for much of anything, it was “someone else’s fault”. With Scouting I feel that good or bad we should strive to take responsibility in what we do.

  17. I would not only avoid proposing another, but knock off the “reverent.” Has been interpreted mostly in ways that do not meet the common understanding of what “reverent” means. “Reverent” means respectful toward religion, but it has been used by Scouting mainly to limit membership to those holding specific religious ideas. Thus it keeps Scouting from giving leadership and character training to boys who might later be our leaders, and even might adopt more conventional religious views if exposed to others who hold them. “Reverent” was not a point of the original Scout Law, and was added later by well-meaning meddlers.

  18. We ask this question regularly at Eagle Boards of Review. One scout answered: INDEPENDENT. When he explained it he said a scout follows the path of his own making obeying the Scout Oath and Law.

    • I disagree with the idea of “knocking off reverent”. It actually sums every point of the Scout Law in a very deep and profound way. After all we have a Duty to God.

  19. My favorite has always been one of the now-defunct Cub Scout character connections, Perseverance … or if put in the Scout Law, “A Scout is Perseverant.”
    Defined at, “Sticking with something and not giving up, even if it is difficult.”

    What an excellent trait to instill in our youth. Perseverance could be used in so many parts of life: from not giving up on Scouting to getting one’s Eagle to finishing College to getting a job to sticking with one’s marriage to raising you children and on and on. Persevere, young men! Persevere!

    As I review the 12 laws, 10 of them are outward actions to others. Only two … cheerful and reverent … dictate inward feelings and thoughts.

    Trustworthy and Loyal come from keeping my word and doing what I say and sticking by you.
    Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind are how I interact with others.
    Obedient is doing what you say.
    Thrifty is spending wisely and Clean is taking a bath (but granted it can be a “clean” mind so this one might also be an inward thought.)

    Although I get what everyone is saying above about Tolerate, I’m not too hip on it.
    “Tolerant” speaks to one’s beliefs and understanding of the world. Just as Reverent doesn’t say which God to believe in, Tolerant is too broad a word or concept to dictate how we should deal with others. I shouldn’t be tolerant with a bully, for example. And we should “tolerate” homosexuals? Tolerate here is almost used pejoratively. Doesn’t sound very “friendly.”

    We might never be able to change a person’s mind on their views of homosexuality, BUT under the Scout Law, we should still be helpful, friendly, courteous and kind to them…no matter what we believe.

  20. I recommend that we re-add the “morally straight” tenant that the far left foolishly redefined a few years back.

  21. There’s already a 13th point of the Scout Law, it’s: A Scout gets away with whatever he can! Lol, just kidding. It should be Free, free to explore and make up his own mind in his own way. Free to chose the path he walks, free from fear, free from ridicule, free to be himself.

  22. This question often comes up in Eagle Boards of Review, and my favorite answer was “compassionate, because friendly and kind just aren’t strong enough”.

  23. I like two Honest and Respectful. ..qualities that seem to be lacking In a lot of people these days. Honest. all he does. Respecting…nature, others and authority ( superiors, elders, police, military) .

  24. I got this question in my Eagle BOR, my response was “flexible.” While Scouts are always supposed to be prepared, we aren’t able to prepare for absolutely everything so we must be flexible and willing to improvise.

    • Resourceful is in the definition of thrifty, dependable is in the definition of trustworthy, and respectful is in the definition of courteous.

  25. Our troop has been unofficially adding “Thankful” for about 20 years. When we are at a meeting it is said as loudly as the other points. When we are “in public” we add it in a whisper. We also always make sure the new scouts know it is not official, we add it because it covers most anything that the original 12 points may have missed.

  26. Resourceful is almost the definition of thrifty…
    I think half of the ones on this list are synonyms:
    Honest –> Trustworthy (its part of the definition of trustworthy)
    Respectful –> Courteous
    Tolerant –> Kind, Friendly (How can you be kind and not tolerant?…)
    Resourceful –> Thrifty (that is the definition of thrifty…)
    “Not a fool” –> Thrifty (You are resourceful with your resources — your mind is a resource, is it not?)
    Punctual –> Trustworthy, Obedient (you can be trusted to be on time, you get there when you are told to)

    I don’t think we need new ones, I think that we need to focus more on making sure everyone understands the ones that we have.

  27. We had a scout, at his Eagle BoR, who was asked what part of the Scout Law he thought was most important. His answer? “Respect”. It’s not there, but in reality, all other points go back to that – respect for self, God, others, property, time, etc.

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