You may have seen the announcement last week that the BSA is moving to a single Oath and Law for all of the families of Scouting. What this means is that Cubs and Venturers will no longer have their own Oath, Promise or Law of the Pack, but will instead use the Boy Scout Oath and Law.
One objection to these changes was the idea that Cub Scouts can't really understand the meaning of the Boy Scout Oath and Law, but it was determined that at each age, the Oath and Law will evolve to mean different things. I can agree with that. To be honest, I suspect that 90% of Boy Scouts can't even provide an accurate definition of each of the twelve points, let alone describe how they use the Scout Law to make better decisions on a daily basis.
I think the Oath and Law has a special place within LDS Scouting (or at least it should have). We are a covenant making people, and the Scout Oath is a tool that can better prepare young men to take on additional covenants through the Priesthood and in the Temple.
However, I'm not sure the Scout Oath is often used that way. By observation, it is often recited at the commencement of Scout meetings of different kinds, and it seems to be a favorite during Boards of Review. But mere repetition is clearly not enough. The Scout Oath and Law only become useful when they are applied to daily decision making, and that takes much more attention that passing off the requirement to memorize them.
Here are a five simple ideas to better integrate the meaning and importance of the Scout Oath and Law into our teaching, and to prepare young men to make and keep sacred covenants:
- Use the Scout Oath as an example when discussing covenants during Priesthood lessons.
- Frequently ask young men to define terms used in the Scout Law.
- Have a campfire discussion of the meaning of the Scout Oath and its particular applicability to Priesthood holders.
- Instead of asking more experienced Scouts to merely recite the Scout Oath, ask them to give an example of how they have recently applied it in their lives.
- Weave the Oath and Law into Scoutmaster minutes, or similar reflective comments.