What’s in the Scouter Code of Conduct, which every BSA leader agrees to follow?

A few years ago, 22,000 Britons registering to access a free Wi-Fi hotspot neglected to read the fine print before clicking “OK.” They didn’t realize they had each agreed to 1,000 hours of community service, including cleaning toilets, scraping gum off the streets and (eww) clearing sewer blockages.

The prank, devised by a British internet company, was meant to remind everyone that it’s smart to read the fine print.

As Scouting volunteers, we don’t have to be tricked into doing acts of service that others might avoid. But at the same time, we’re busy people who might not read every word of the endless legalese that crosses our eyeballs each day.

While it’s natural to breeze past the fine print when installing an app or activating a smart TV, we at Bryan on Scouting want to point out one bit of BSA “fine print” that’s worth revisiting.

When you completed the adult leader application to officially join Scouting, one of the eight “leader requirements” you agreed to meet was this one: “Abide by the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Scouter Code of Conduct.”

You probably have those first two memorized. But the Scouter Code of Conduct? That code, which we first blogged about in 2017, is a list of 10 things that, as Scouters, we agree to do our best to do.

When you review the list of 10 below, you shouldn’t find any surprises there. The Scouter Code of Conduct is just about using the BSA’s program as designed, including all of the program features designed to protect youth from harm, abuse or trauma.

In the years since we first covered the code, it has been updated to reflect the BSA’s introduction of SAFE, an acronym to help Scouts and Scouters remember which safety points they should incorporate into any activity, including service projects. SAFE, which we blogged about in March, stands for:

  • Supervision
  • Assessment
  • Fitness and Skill
  • Equipment and Environment

What is the Scouter Code of Conduct?

You can read it here, but we’ve also pasted it below.

On my honor I promise to do my best to comply with this Boy Scouts of America Scouter Code of Conduct while serving in my capacity as an adult leader:

  1. I have or will complete my registration with the Boy Scouts of America, answering all questions truthfully and honestly.
  2. I will do my best to live up to the Scout Oath and Scout Law, obey all laws, and hold others in Scouting accountable to those standards. I will exercise sound judgment and demonstrate good leadership and use the Scouting program for its intended purpose consistent with the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.
  3. I will make the protection of youth a personal priority. I will complete and remain current with Youth Protection training requirements. I will be familiar with and follow:
    • BSA Youth Protection policies and guidelines, including mandatory reporting: www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection
    • The Guide to Safe Scouting: www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss
    • SAFE: www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/safe
  4. When transporting Scouts, I will obey all laws, comply with Youth Protection guidelines, and follow safe driving practices.
  5. I will respect and abide by the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, BSA policies, and BSA-provided training, including but not limited to those relating to:
    • Unauthorized fundraising activities
    • Advocacy on social and political issues, including prohibited use of the BSA uniform and brand
    • Bullying, hazing, harassment, and unlawful discrimination of any kind
  6. I will not discuss or engage in any form of sexual conduct while engaged in Scouting activities. I will refer Scouts with questions regarding these topics to talk to their parents or spiritual advisor.
  7. I confirm that I have fully disclosed and will disclose in the future any of the following:
    • Any criminal suspicion, charges, or convictions of a crime or offense involving abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, or any misconduct involving minors or juveniles
    • Any investigation or court order involving domestic violence, child abuse, or similar matter
    • Any criminal charges or convictions for offenses involving controlled substances, driving while intoxicated, firearms, or dangerous weapons
  8. I will not possess, distribute, transport, consume, or use any of the following items prohibited by law or in violation of any Scouting rules, regulations, and policies:
    • Alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, including marijuana
    • Concealed or unconcealed firearms, fireworks, or explosives
    • Pornography or materials containing words or images inconsistent with Scouting values
  9. If I am taking prescription medications with the potential of impairing my functioning or judgment, I will not engage in activities that would put Scouts at risk, including driving or operating equipment.
  10. I will take steps to prevent or report any violation of this code of conduct by others in connection with Scouting activities.

A few more points worth mentioning

  • In the BSA’s Barriers to Abuse, which is designed to protect our Scouts from harm, remember that “The chartered organization representative, or in their absence the executive officer of the chartered organization, must approve the registration of the unit’s adult leaders.”
  • BSA registration includes a criminal background check and mandatory Youth Protection training

As proven by the Scouter Code of Conduct, there are absolutely times when reading the “fine print” is more than just a good idea. It could actually help keep your Scouts safe and healthy.

What else is on the registration form?

You know about the Scouter Code of Conduct. Here’s the full list of adult leader requirements from the application:

  • Abide by the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Scouter Code of Conduct.
  • Subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle.
  • Reside within the USA or a U.S. territory, or be a U.S. citizen residing outside the USA.
  • Be 21 years of age or older for primary leadership positions.
  • Be 18 years of age or older for assistant leadership positions.
  • Complete Youth Protection training (YPT) before application is processed and renew training as required by going to my.Scouting.org and creating an account.
  • Review the disclosure information related to the BSA’s background check process and complete and sign a Background Check Authorization form.
  • Take leader position-specific training at my.Scouting.org. Classroom training may also be available through your local council.
About Bryan Wendell 3183 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.