“A Scout is Clean. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He chooses the company of those who live by high standards. He helps keep his home and community clean.”
In 2010, Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” spoke at the National Jamboree. He explained to the gathered Scouts, “I’m here in defense of dirt.” And went on to talk about being a clean person in a body that got dirty doing hard, honest work. His mantra for the Scouts was “Let’s agree, a Scout is clean . . . but not afraid to get dirty.”
Sometimes it’s funny to think of Scouts as clean when getting dirty and experiencing things is something Scouts love to do. But being clean doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands dirty as you explore nature, build things, and serve others. As you read this story with your Scouts, ask them what they can do to avoid the wrong kind of dirt without avoiding service, hard work, and outdoor activities.
Dirty Hands and a Clean Heart
In June of 1977, William R. Bradford shared with the Friend magazine a story about being clean and the lesson his son learned after playing in the dirt:
“Not long ago I glanced out the window of the mission home kitchen in Santiago, Chile. There behind the house I could see a large English walnut tree with a big pile of dirt under it. Playing in the dirt pile, I spied two little boys. It had rained recently and both boys were covered with mud. I could barely tell who they were. When they saw me looking out the window smiles broke out on their faces, and then I could tell it was my son Chris and his friend David. Chris’s face was so covered with mud that when he smiled his teeth showed through like six small marshmallows on top of a chocolate cake.
Later when it was time to come in and David had gone home, I sent Chris upstairs to bathe. We joked about how it would take three tubs full of water to get him clean. The first would have to be shoveled out just like pure dirt, the second, dipped out with a bucket like runny mud, and maybe we would be able to wash the third down the drain.
After Chris had soaked for a few minutes, I went in to help him get really clean and we had a serious talk that I hope he will never forget.
We worked together to get one hand scrubbed clean and then he compared it with the other that was still dirty. “Boy, Dad,” he said, “it’s sure great to have clean hands.” I explained how true that is, and said, “I want you to know that it is not the dirt of the earth that makes people’s hands really dirty. If a boy steals, if he is mean to his friends and hits them on purpose, if he tells his parents he will do something and then doesn’t, or if he is naughty or disobedient in other ways, this causes real “dirt”—the kind that you can’t wash off with soap and water. It’s the kind of dirt that you have to wear all the time and, even though others can’t always see it on you, you know yourself that inside you are not clean.”
I want all my dear, young friends to know there are different kinds of dirt; one you get on your hands from working and playing. This you can wash off. The other kind of “dirt” comes from doing bad things, sometimes called sin, that seem to stain your heart but can be “washed” away when you repent.
First you must do all you can to correct the wrong you have done. Then ask your Father in heaven and others to forgive you, so your hands and heart will be “scrubbed clean” from the dirt of wrong-doing.
The Savior said, “… entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.” (D&C 88:86.) He also said to those who had repented and were living pure lives: “Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.” (D&C 110:5.)
I hope that you will often get your hands dirty with hard work and play, but I hope that throughout your lives this is the only dirt you will have to get rid of and not the kind that stains your heart through sin or disobedience. I want Chris and all other children to remember that should you slip and fall into sin, you can be washed clean by true repentance.
What joy it is to have clean hands and a pure heart!”