By Darryl Alder
Sep 06, 2015

Duty to God Efforts Increase with Program Updates

His is a personal quest, with of course the help of his family and religious leaders to come to know and do that duty. In fact this focus on religious duty goes back to our origins and our founder,

The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself. --Robert Baden-Powell

There is no religious ‘side’ of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God. — Robert Baden-Powell

Robert Baden-Powell, who once responded to a question about the importance of faith (religion) in Scouting by saying: “Where does religion come in? Well, my reply is … it does not come in at all. It is already there. It is the fundamental factor underlying Scouting and Guiding.” 

And while Scouting is “absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward religious training,”

BSA affirms the importance of a belief in God as evidenced in a number of new program updates for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturers. Each of these enhancements provide a clearer support for the importance of “duty to God” in Scouting. In addition, greater assistance is provided for adult leaders in their affirming “duty to God” as well as in teaching respect for the faith of others.

Venutrers Planning

These enhancements in the program updates do not reflect a change in “duty to God” perspective by BSA. For instance, in Venturing the Discovery, Pathfinder and Summit Awards all require you to: “Complete a structured personal reflection, and use this reflection and what you learned from the process to prepare for goal-setting and as part of your Discovery Award Advisor conference. Explore one of the following areas: Development of Faith,  Development of Self, Development of Others.” In addition for the Summit you must also: “Create a personal code of conduct. This code of conduct should be guided by your explorations in the areas of faith, self, and others.”

Boy Scout DreamsIn Varsity and Boy Scouting, beginning in January 2016, the Scout Spirit requirement for each rank starting with Tenderfoot to Eagle is expanding to have the Scout describe how he has done his duty to God. This means during the Scoutmaster conference the leader should be prepared to ask the Scout how his family or faith group defines duty to God and how he is living up to that definition. But remember that the focus is on the Scout’s understanding of duty to God, not the leader’s. Also, keep in mind that duty to God will be only one part of the Scout Spirit requirement.

Some of your Scouts may not be a member of a faith group, and not all faith groups offer religious emblems so specifically earning the “On My Honor” or “Duty to God” for their age is not a requirement.

In implementing the 2011-2015 National Council Strategic Plan, the BSA incorporated duty-to-God adventures in the revised Cub Scout program, tweaked the Boy and Varsity Scout requirements to reflect duty to God and added Faith Adventures in Venturing. These changes give Scout leaders an avenue to help Scouts better understand and live out duty to God in their lives. How do you plan to help your Scouts understand this first duty?


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