The Scout Oath – Boy Scouts have been saying it for years. Varsity and Venturing Scouts make the switch this year. And next year the “One Oath, One Law” initiative will be complete. When the New Cub Scout Adventure program rolls out next summer Cub Scouts will be dropping the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack and will instead be using the Scout Oath and Law.
This isn’t really new news, in fact it’s kind of old news. It was first announced back in the fall of 2012 and ever since then there have been lots of “have you heard” and “did you know” kind of rumors. I once had a scouter tell me that “Cub Scouts start using the Boy Scout Oath in Jan”. (this was back in 2012) First of all we don’t have to start using it until June 1st of 2015 and it’s not the Boy Scout oath and law, it’s the Scout Oath and Law.
When you actually compare the Cub Scout promise and the Scout oath they have lots of similarities. Do my best… Duty to God and country… help other people… obey… they say lots of the same things a little bit differently. In fact for some of us leaders this will be easier – we won’t get confused about which one we are saying/teaching.
When I was at the Philmont Training Center this past August (a really great experience by the way), one of our instructors reminded us that when you take off a band aid it usually hurts but if you rip it off quickly the pain goes away faster than if you try to pull it off slowly. Sometimes change is like that—you know it is going to be painful but you need to just do it and be done. Often times you find it didn’t hurt nearly as much as you thought it was going to. I will admit, I was not very happy about this “one oath, one law” idea when I first heard about it. I thought it was going to be much more painful that it is turning out to be. And because they gave us so much notice it’s been a “slow rip” but I maybe we need time to get used to the idea. It has grown on me over time.
So, what exactly changes for Cub Scouts with this change to the Scout oath and law?
Well, first lets mention what is NOT changing. The Cub Scout Sign. So, that means that Cub Scouts and Cub Scout leaders will all be saying the same oath as everyone else but they will do so while holding up the the Cub Scout Sign. (2 fingers, arm straight)
The other obvious change will be to the requirements for the Bobcat rank. Instead of saying the Cub Scout Promise and Law the boys will be required to say the Scout Oath and Law. No they don’t have to have it memorized yet. The Bobcat rank is still the first rank earned by every boy no matter what age/grade he is when he joins cub scouts.
The other big change will be to the monthly Pack meeting and Cub Scouting’s 12 Core Values. Currently each month is assigned a Core Value to be focused on… one of the 12 points of the Scout Law will be assigned instead.
(Handy that there happen to be 12 points of the Scout Law – one for each month of the year). And there will be supplemental theme ideas available online that can be used for Pack meeting too – just like there are now. This was a little hard for me (another band aid) because I really like the current 12 Core Values. But as I sat down to really compare and look at them they are not really as different as I first thought. Some of them (almost half) already relate almost directly; Courage & Brave, Honesty & Trustworthy, Compassion & Kind, Positive Attitude & Cheerful, Cooperation & Helpful. And then others can be taught and thought of in a similar manner like Respect & Courteous, Health & Fitness & Clean, Resourcefulness & Thrifty. I’m sure many of you can see other correlations that I haven’t. When you look at the big picture, the end result is the same, we will be helping boys become men of character. Isn’t that what we are really trying to do?
Also, with the change in the 12 core values comes a change in the current Character Connections. In the new handbooks (Due out May 2015) the boys will see images like this one below.
There won’t be specific requirements to talk about a certain value or practice it like there has been. The values are mentioned in the handbooks and just kind of woven in to the adventures.
The aims of Scouting are Character, Citizenship & Fitness and one of the purposes of Cub Scouting is to prepare them to become Boy Scouts. Adopting the same oath and law will help prepare them better and sooner. Now a boy will get 3 or 4 more years of practice/learning to live by the scout oath and law. That puts him further ahead on the road to becoming the man of character that we all want our boys to be.
Q: What is the transition timeline for using the Scout Oath and Scout Law?
A: The official timing for shifting to the use of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, per the National Executive Board resolution, is with the other changes in the Cub Scout program. We will begin transitioning into the new program beginning with the 2015–2016 Scouting year…. Many dens and packs are already beginning to use the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The National Council has no issue with this earlier transition since it gets us to the desired outcome sooner, but that is a local decision. The only implication is that the unit would need to discuss its alignment with the Bobcat requirements.
Author: Annaleis Smith, Council Cub Scout Chair