TUOCS District Chaplain Handbook
The materials have been placed
here as a reference and resource to other Scouts, Chaplains and Chaplain’s Aides.
Please use these materials
in the spirit in which they are offered. We have made every effort to acknowledge authors where we have used their work. If
we have missed any, please let us know.
As far as we know, all the
materials here can be used without any third party copy infringements.
Manual for Chaplains .................................................................................................
Manual for Troop Chaplain
Manual for Chaplain Aides
Troop Worship Opportunities
A Scout's Duty to God and
Country ©1998-99........................................................ 11
The Bedrock of Scouting Values
An Historical Perspective
on ‘Reverence” in Scouting……………………………..13
What is a Scout’s Own
Manual for Chaplains
To serve as a Chaplain or
Chaplain’s Aide is a unique opportunity for ministry. While serving in these offices, you will have the opportunity
to help Scouts as they grow, both physically and spiritually. Modeling, mentoring, and offering faith-based experiences are
some techniques to be used.
Use this manual to help you
become better oriented to the duties, responsibilities, and opportunities of chaplaincy service in Boy Scout troops. In it,
you will find helpful information and resources to help you better perform your duties.
Declaration of Religious Principle
The Boy Scouts of America
maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes
the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely non-sectarian in its attitude toward that religious
training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which a member is connected shall give definite attention
to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy
Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.
(BSA manual Chaplain & Chaplain Aides, 2002 reprinted with permission)
Manual for Troop Chaplain
The Troop Chaplain is an
adult who may be the executive officer of a religious chartered organization, or serves in another leadership capacity. It
is customary (but not required) that the religious leader, or an appointee of the chartered organization, will serve as chaplain
if the troop is operated by a religious organization. A troop not operated by a religious organization may select a chaplain
from local members of the clergy.
1. Provide a spiritual element for campouts and troop meetings
2. Provide spiritual counseling when needed or requested
3. Provide opportunities for all boys to grow in their relationship with God and their
4. Encourage Scouts to participate in the religious emblems program of their
5. Be familiar with the chaplain aide section of this manual
6. Work with the troop chaplain aide to plan and conduct an annual Scout-oriented
religious observance, preferably during Scout Week in February
After housing and schooling
needs are met, one of the first contacts a new family has in the community is with a Scouting unit. As new troop members are
registered, you will learn of their religious preferences or interests and can extend an invitation to join your congregation
in worship, or you may direct them to other opportunities for worship in the community. At no time should the chaplain proselytize.
in a Group
When present, members of
the clergy or chaplain’s aides may be asked to lead the troop or other Scouting groups in a prayer. If the group consists
of members of mixed beliefs, or if the beliefs of the group are unknown, prayers should be of an interfaith nature. However,
if the group is of like belief, it is entirely appropriate to offer belief-specific prayer.
The chaplain is in an ideal
position to promote the religious emblems program and encourage Scouts to complete the requirements for the emblem of their
faith. Many troops include Scouts of various faiths; therefore, knowledge of all emblems is helpful.
Since procedures vary among
different faiths, the Duty to God brochure, No. 05-897A, is a helpful reference. In addition, call your local Boy Scout service
center or the council religious relationships committee for help in identifying ways to promote the religious emblems program
and emblem recipient recognition ceremonies.
An Excerpt from the Lutheran
Council on Scouting
You Recruited As a Chaplain?
Scouting is a resource for
religious organizations, schools, and community and civic groups to use in their program for young people. Scouting is an
educational program based on "Duty to God" and designed to enhance:
- A personal value system
- Leadership skills
- Citizenship responsibilities
- Career awareness
- Personal fitness
If the troop is operated
by a religious organization, it is customary for the religious leader to serve as the chaplain. The religious leader may ask
a member of the staff who is qualified to serve in that position. A unit not operated by a religious organization may select
a chaplain for the troop from the local clergy.
In this capacity, you as
the chaplain have an opportunity to be a friend to the Scouts and leaders and to contribute to their spiritual welfare and
growth. You as the chaplain, by virtue of your position and personality, can encourage the boys in their Scouting work and
other aspects of their total lives.
- Provide a spiritual tone for all troop meetings and camping experiences.
- Assure members and leaders of your interest in them and their activities.
- Provide spiritual counseling service when needed or requested.
- Provide opportunities for all boys to grow in their relationship with God and their fellow Scouts.
- Encourage Scouts to participate in the religious emblems program of their respective faith.
Many times one of the first
contacts a new family has in the community is with the Scouting unit. As new members are registered, you will learn of their
religious affiliations or interest and can extend to them an invitation to join you in worship. Or you may share with them
other opportunities for worship within the community. At no time should the chaplain proselytize.
Illnesses, and Other Problems
Ask the leaders to report
accidents, illnesses, and other problems of members to you. You should become aware of situations where a pastoral call would
be appropriate and beneficial. Leaders who are in regular contact with their members often are the first to know of situations
that may need pastoral attention.
If a member misses several
meetings, it may be an indication that something is wrong. Ask that the names of absentees be shared with you. As chaplain,
you have the opportunity to visit and discover the source of the problem. If the problem is with some aspect of the Scouting
program or leadership, you should discuss this problem with the appropriate individual or committee.
This person is the representative
of the chartered organization to the district and local council of the Boy Scouts of America. This person must be able to
represent the organization's concern in both policy-making and program. The chaplain should work closely with the chartered
organization representative for the interest of the chartered organization and its ministry, as well as for children, youth,
of Unit Leadership
Remember, volunteers sharing
their time and effort are what make Scouting work. Support them. Recognize them for a job well done. Commend them personally
for their ministry. Thank their family members, too, for their sacrifice makes Scouting possible.
Unit leaders are charged
with fulfilling the purpose of both the chartered organization and Scouting. The leadership should demonstrate awareness of
and understanding of both. It should be evident that Scouting activities are fulfilling spiritual needs, in addition to developing
Emblems Study Programs
Encourage Scouts to earn
their appropriate religious emblems. The troop possibly includes Scouts of various faiths; therefore, knowledge of all emblems
would be helpful. The chart A Scout Is Reverent, No. 5-206A, will be most helpful. Procedures within various faiths differ.
A call to your local council service center will help to identify the requirement book, method of ordering, and presentation
Every troop going away for
a weekend needs to plan to conduct or attend a service in keeping with the 12th point of the Scout Law. You may be invited
to conduct the services or work out a program with the chaplain aide and other adult leaders. An overnight event should include
worship experiences, either for the individual or for the troop. You may want to recommend scripture readings or devotional
readings to be used at the close of the evening or as a morning meditation.
Service projects for advancement
are required of all Scours. Helping others is a Scouting tradition. You have the advantage of being able to identify many
possible service projects for individuals and families, for the chartered organization
Manual for Chaplain Aides
The chaplain aide is an approved
youth leadership position in Boy Scout troops. The responsibilities of this position include encouraging the spiritual growth
and awareness of each member of the troop and assisting the troop chaplain (and adult committee members).
- Work with the troop chaplain (usually an adult member of the clergy) to plan appropriate interfaith
religious services during troop outings.
- Encourage troop members to strengthen their own relationships with God through personal prayer and
devotion and participation in religious activities appropriate to their faith.
- Participate in patrol leaders council planning sessions to ensure that spiritual emphasis in included
in troop activities.
- Help the troop chaplain (or other designated adult) plan and conduct an annual Scout-oriented religious
observance, preferably during Scout Week in February.
- Present an overview of the religious emblems program at troop meetings at least once a year.
- Help the troop chaplain (or other designated adult) recognize troop members who receive their religious
emblems, perhaps during a troop court of honor (note: most religious emblems are conferred during a service at the Scout’s
place of worship, but the achievement should also be recognized at a significant troop event).
- The chaplain aide must be mature and sensitive and have earned the respect and trust of his fellow
- The chaplain aide must be at least a First Class Scout.
- The chaplain aide must have received or be working on the requirements leading to the age-appropriate
religious emblem for his faith.
(BSA manual Chaplain & Chaplain Aides, 2002 reprinted with permission)
Troop Worship Opportunities
as a Group
When present, members of
the clergy or chaplain aides may be asked to lead the troop or other Scouting groups in a prayer. If the group consists of
members of mixed beliefs, or if the beliefs of the group are unknown, prayers should be of an interfaith nature. However,
if the group is of like belief, it is entirely appropriate to offer belief-specific prayer.
Interfaith Prayers and Benedictions
- For health, strength, and daily food, we give you thanks, o Lord.
- For this and all your mercies, Lord, make us truly grateful.
- For food, health, and friendship, we give you thanks, o Lord.
- For food, for raiment, for life, for opportunity, for friendship and fellowship, we thank you, of Lord,
- Come, o Lord, be our guest and bless what you have bestowed on us.
- Gracious giver of all good, we thank you for food and rest. Grant
all that we say or do please you.
- Lord, bless our Scouting leaders who spend so much of their time and energy to help us grow up well. Guide them in their work, give them patience and wisdom, and reward them in this life
and the next, amen.
- As our campfire fades, we thank you for the joys and blessings of this day. We lift our minds and hearts to you in gratitude for life, happiness, and the Scouting movement. Lord, protect our camp this night. May we rise refreshed and
ready to serve you, amen.
- May the great Scoutmaster of all Scouts be with us until we meet again.
Since troops often camp on
weekends, Scouts and leaders may not be able to attend their regular worship services. A troop worship service should be conducted
and all encouraged to attend. The troop chaplain aide and the troop chaplain (or other designated adult) should conduct these
services. Studies have shown that the youth especially feel closer to their God when in an outdoors setting. So while you
are out there have a service pre-planned if possible and have some ideas in your “hip pocket” if the occasion
arises. Many sources for conducting these field services are available.
Scout Funeral Services
On occasion, a troop may
experience the loss of a Scout or leader. It is a difficult time for everyone. At the request of the family or with the permission
of the family and religious leader, Scouts may participate in the funeral and memorial service to celebrate the life of the
Scout or leader. Some things that may be appropriate include:
- Attending in uniform
- Sitting together as a unit
- Serving as honorary pallbearers or ushers.
- Serving during the service by doing such things as reciting the Scout Oath or Law.
The primary concern is for
the family and its preferences. The involvement of the troop or Scouts in the troop is at the discretion of the family and
its religious leaders.
A Scout's Duty to God and Country ©1998-99
The fact that more than one-half
of all Scouting units are chartered to religious organizations reveals clearly that Scouting has a real contribution to make
to religious organizations. Among Scouting's outstanding values to these organizations are:
Scouting supports the
spiritual view of life that underlies the teaching of all denominations and faiths. Any boy, young man, young woman (Venture)
or leader who would be a member must profess a belief in God and promise to do his (her) best to fulfill the spiritual ideals
boys and leaders, according to their own convictions, to participate in the program of their church, temple, synagogue, mosque,
or other religious organization. Scouts are expected to fulfill their religious obligations and respect the beliefs of others.
Scouting helps boys
put into practice some of the basic truths they are taught by their parents and religious leaders. They learn by experience
to give of themselves, to share, to help others, to assume responsibility, and to understand the values of personal integrity.
Scouting gives boys
an opportunity to explore their interests and God-given talents.
Scouting helps boys
find their place in life and become happy, well-adjusted, useful members of the community.
Through the annual
charter, religious organizations are able to use the Scouting program in conjunction with their other programs for youth.
Although many Scout units
are chartered by a religious organization, no member of another denomination or faith can be required, because of his membership
in that unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly peculiar to the faith of the sponsoring organization.
The Boy Scouts of America
does not require membership in a religious organization or association for enrollment in the movement, but does
prefer and strongly encourages membership and participation in the religious programs and activities of a church, temple, synagogue,
mosque or other religious association or organization of his or his family's choice.
The Bedrock of Scouting Values
In our pluralistic society,
I find it interesting that some who champion individualism, tolerance, and diversity the loudest are the strongest critics
of values that are different from their own. If pluralism ... if diversity ... if tolerance are truly important in a pluralistic
society, then even though we may find fundamental disagreement with an individual or an organization, we must recognize and
respect the right of that individual or organization to their opinions, their values, and their lifestyles. "Scouting has
never sought to impose its values on anyone. We welcome all who share them, and we
respect the right of others
to walk different path."
Many of Scouting's critics
confuse our mission and our methods. If the Boy Scouts of America
was merely a recreation or social organization that taught kids how to camp, and nice things about crafts, and getting along
with their neighbors, it would not have thrived for more than 90 years, nor would it deserve the support and popularity of
more than 100 million alumni and members. Scouting is so much more. Scouting's mission, as an educational organization, is
to provide children with fundamental values that prepare them for life. In addition, yes, recreation is a part of Scouting,
but it is not an end in Scouting. It is merely a vehicle in which children, through a learning experience can gain the insights
of values and responsible life. The essence of the Boy Scouts of America is found in our Scout Oath and Law.
The bedrock of Scouting's
values is literally and figuratively ... duty to God ... "On my honor, I will do my duty to God and my country ..." To Scouting,
the question is NOT:
Can a person be honorable
without a belief in God? Rather, our commitment is that no child can develop to his/her fullest potential without a spiritual
element. The Boy Scouts of America is
not a religion ... it is an organization with strong religious tenets. It is a movement that is committed to developing the
entire child ... spirituality is very important in that total development. That is why we hold to duty to God. Whether it
is the Judeo-Christian ethic; or a Buddhist, Protestant, Mormon, Catholic, or Native American ethic; or that of any of the
other great religions of our world, the Boy Scouts of America
is committed to the proposition that no child can develop to his/her fullest potential without a spiritual element in his/her
In looking ahead to their
adult years, Scouting is in accord with the teachings of the world's great religions and is committed to the concept that
sexual intimacy is the providence of a man and a woman within the bonds of marriage.
Also, consistent with the
world's great religions, the Boy Scouts of America is committed to respecting the dignity of individuals or values with which
we disagree. In four places in the Scout Oath and Law ... when you read the descriptive terms ... you will find comments related
to respect. But, respect doesn't mean abdication of one's values. Nor does it mean the forced inclusion of others' values
in your life. What it does mean is the recognition of the right of people to have opinions, values, and lifestyles other than
yours and for all to be tolerant of each other's differences. When the Boy Scouts won the United States Supreme Court case,
you didn't see us "celebrating in the street."
The issue was not to vanquish
a young man who is an inappropriate leader within Scouting. The issue was the maintenance of our constitutional right and
our commitment to providing those faith-based values to our constituency in a respectful manner.
Scouting has never sought
to impose its values on anyone. We welcome all who share them, and we respect the right of others to walk a different path.
We don't expect everybody to agree with our standards and values ... but we do think it's fair to expect others to respect
An Historical Perspective on "Reverence" In Scouting
By Jim Howes, April 1, 1992
Whether one agrees or not
with the position of the Boy Scouts of America
that belief in
God is an essential part
of the Scouting program to build character and instill positive values in youth, a review of treasured Scouting memorabilia
from the past discloses that historically this view has often been presented in Scouting literature, whenever the Scout Law
("A Scout is Reverent") and the Scout Oath "to do my Duty to God" are discussed. Both the Scout Law and Oath are mandatory
for BSA members. For example, in its HANDBOOK FOR BOYS, of which over 30,000,000 have been printed since 1910, the Fifth edition
(1948) explained the phrase "morally straight" in the Scout Oath or Promise this way: "George Washington said that morality
cannot be lasting without religion. A morally straight Scout knows how to love and serve God in the way He wants him to...On
Mt. Sinai God gave to Moses the Ten Commandments. He laid down certain definite Laws for all. Not to steal, not to lie, not
to abuse your body are some of these Laws.
Keeping these Commandments
is an important step towards being morally straight...”
Similarly, the HANDBOOK FOR
BOYS had this to say about "Reverent": "Reverence is that respect, regard, consideration, courtesy, devotion, and affection
you have for some person, place, or thing because it is holy? The Scout shows true reverence in two ways. First, you pray
to God, you love God and you serve Him.
Secondly, in your everyday
actions, you help other people, because they are made by
God to God's own likeness.
"The 'unalienable rights' in our historic Declaration of Independence, come from God. All your life you will be associating
with people of other beliefs and customs. It is your duty to respect these people for their beliefs and customs, and to live
your own." -(c) BSA, Relevant to the issue of admitting atheists (or those who refuse to say the Oath's "Duty to God" provision)
to Boy Scouts is the philosophy espoused by the Founder of Scouting, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, O.B.E., in official scouting
literature written by him during the time he was Chief Scout of the World (1910-1941).
While it is true that no
one has deified Baden-Powell, nor even beatified him (at least by church canon, although his works have richly earned him
the sobriquet "the sainted B-
P" and he does have a memorial
plaque in London's Westminster Abbey), he, as the creator
of scouting, composed the Boy Scout Oath at issue.
It is thus highly instructive
to see what HE said about a scout's Duty to God and why HE included it in the Oath HE wrote and used, since HE, after all,
invented Scouting in the 1st place!
Baden-Powell's book *ROVERING
TO SUCCESS*, a 1930 handbook for British Rover
Scouts, is an excellent source
for understanding the goals and philosophies of scouting espoused by the founder of the movement himself, for two principle
reasons: It was written in 1930, after B-P had seen scouting grow and mature into a world-wide association over a twenty-year
span, hence he had the benefit of many years experience and reflection; secondly, "Rovers" is the branch of scouting (in many
countries other than the U.S.) for boys
over age 18 to mid-twenties. As such, it's on a more mature level for a serious view of B-P's scouting philosophy. "Rovering
to Success" begins by recounting, in the colorful writing style that captured boys' imaginations in the pre-MTV era, the time
he paddled a birch-bark canoe across a lake in Upper Canada.
He develops this parable saying: "The whole thing--the early voyage through the easy running stream, and then coming out on
the broad lake, the arising of difficulties, the succession of waves and rocks only avoided by careful piloting, the triumph
of overcoming the dangers, the successful sliding into a sheltered landing place, the happy campfire and the sleep of tired
men at night--is just what a man goes through in life." This he calls the Voyage of Life.
In paddling one's canoe on
the "...adventurous voyage from the stream of childhood, along the river of adolescence, out across the ocean of manhood",
he warns of the dire need to avoid foundering on certain "Rocks", i.e., dangerous hazards/ deleterious influences, in the
lives of Scouts which, unless avoided, interfere with the scout's goal of achieving happiness in life..."the only true success".
These "Rocks" are then expounded
upon by B-P in the chapters
that follow: Chapter Title Topics discussed:
(1) "HORSES" Gambling, lack
of thrift, indolence, etc.
(2) "WINE" Alcohol abuse,
gluttony, foul language, etc.
(3) "WOMEN" Venereal diseases,
irresponsible sexual conduct
(4) "CUCKOOS & HUMBUGS"
Demagoguery, snobbery, jingoism, etc.
(5) "IRRELIGION" Atheism
*(quoting from introduction
to this chapter):
"The dark side of this rock
is the danger of atheism and irreligious. Its bright side is its realization of God and Service to Brother Men. To this the
study of Nature is a direct help."
(Then follows B-P's own chapter
"Irreligious: atheism is
being pressed on young men; irreligious is prevalent; religion is essential to happiness.
Safeguards against atheism;
God's work in Nature gives the lie to atheists; Nature knowledge is a step to realizing God."
B-P goes on to say, "There
are a good many men who have no religion, who don't believe in God; they are known as atheists...If you are really out to
make your way to success--i.e., happiness--you must not only avoid being sucked in by irreligious humbugs, you must have a
religious basis to your life. Religion very briefly stated means: recognizing who and what is God; secondly, making the best
of the life that He has given one and doing what He wants of us." The rest of the chapter on "Irreligious" is devoted to various
measures to help scouts "avoid atheism", to use B-P's repeated phrase, such as experiencing the grandeur of Nature as a (again
quoting) "step towards realizing God", to which he adds, "I advocate the understanding of Nature as a step, in certain cases,
towards gaining religion."
The 274-page book goes on
to discuss, with several examples and quotations, how first-hand experience of Nature's wonders can help one understand God.
For example, he quotes Abraham Lincoln: "I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon earth and be an atheist,
but I do not see how he can look up into the heavens by night and say there is no God."
As well as the Koran:
"Seest thou not that all
in the heavens and all on the earth serveth God; the sun, the
moon, the stars, and the
mountains and the trees and the beasts and many men"
Commenting on the inspiration
he drew from the outdoors, he wrote: "I love the homely beauty of the English countryside as I do the vast openness and freedom
of the rolling veld in South Africa. I
love the rushing waters and the nodding forests of Canada; but I have been more awed by the depths and heights of the Himalayas
and by the grandeur of those eternal snows lifting their peaked heads high above the world, never defiled by the foot of man,
but reaching of all things worldly the nearest to the Heavens." He mused that perhaps the reason so many of the world's peoples
at such high elevations are Buddhists is "the mountains almost talk you into it.
In the quiet of the night
you listen to their voices; you are drawn into the brooding immensity all round you. In warm cities, where men huddle together,
one must have something to cling to---a personal Savior, a lantern in a sure and kindly hand, and comforting voices in the
dark. But here ...there is a mystic purpose in Nature...”
It makes demonstrably clear
the fact that B-P was strongly opposed to atheism and would turn over in his grave at the thought of atheists as scout leaders
or permitting Scouts to omit "Duty to God" from their Scout Oath.
While it may be argued that
these ideas are outdated, or that scouting in the 1990's should change with the times to maintain its relevance, there is
ample historical evidence that Scouting's founder regarded atheism as something to be avoided, as foreign to the ideals of
scouting: individual happiness, fulfillment, and service to fellow man through doing one's duty to God. This has been Scouting's
core belief and its founding purpose since the beginning of the movement.
Viewed in this light, the
current insistence of the Boy Scouts of America that its members adhere to the Scout Oath's "On my honor I will do my best
to do my duty to God and my Country..." is merely remaining true to Scouting's basic founding spirit.
Why should a scout pledge
his Duty to God? In the words of Baden-Powell:
"Religion is essential to
happiness. This is not a mere matter of going to church, knowing Bible history, or understanding theology. Religion ...means
recognizing who and what is God, secondly, making the best of the life that He has given one and doing what He wants of us.
This is mainly doing something for other people."
All that scouting seeks to
impart to our young people...striving to do one's best and to do a good turn daily... flow naturally and logically from this
founding purpose of scouting, to equip boys as they embark on their Voyage of Life.
What is a Scout’s Own?
By Scouter Liam Morland
A Scouts' Own is an important
part of the spiritual life of any Scout section. The whole educational approach of the [Scout] Movement consists in helping
young people transcend the material world and go in search of the spiritual values of life (WOSM 1992:5).
A Scouts' Own is an important
and often misunderstood part of a Scout program. Most of the Scouts' Owns that I have seen are essentially distilled church
services which do little for the spiritual life of those present, particularly those who do not regularly attend religious
This essay is intended to
help Scouts and Scouters run effective Scouts' Owns by providing a definition of Scouts' Own, some things that follow from
the definition, and examples of how this can be put into practice. While I will use Scouts section terminology for this essay,
Beavers' Owns, Cubs' Owns, Ventures' Owns, Rovers' Owns, and Scouters' Owns are important parts of their respective sections.
What is a Scouts' Own?
I will define a Scouts' Own
as "a gathering of Scouts held to contribute to the development of their spirituality and to promote a fuller understanding
of the Scout Law." Let's to a look at what this definition means.
A Scouts' Own is a gathering
of Scouts. This can be in groups as small as two or as large as a whole World Jamboree, though groups of a few patrols work
best. In smaller groups, Scouts are able to get involved, share their experiences, and see that spirituality is something
that affects everyone.
A Scouts' Own is held for
the development of the Scouts' spirituality. Spirituality is that which is beyond the material; that which gives meaning and
direction to one's life.
Scouting is primarily concerned
with how people live out their beliefs in everyday life. Hence, a Scouts' Own should connect in some way to the Scout Law,
the ethical code of Scouting. Usually, this is done by mentioning the Scout Law, making allusions to it, and/or including
a recitation of the Law as part of the Scouts' Own. Some Scouts' Owns may simply include ethical content which the Scouts
can connect to the Law themselves.
What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is that which
is beyond the material world, beyond the world of interacting matter, beyond the world of science. One's spirituality gives
meaning to the material world, so that we may see it not as just matter and energy, but as a wonderful whole, perhaps part
of a divine plan. One's spirituality also gives direction to how one should act in life, based on its meaning.
For example, if the meaning
of the world is that it is the creation of God, then one has a responsibility to protect and use responsibly the earth's resources.
Spirituality is not about creeds. It is about this search for meaning and direction, and is expressed in how we behave towards
others and towards the entire cosmos.
According to the World Organization
of the Scout Movement (1998:10), spiritual development in Scouting is directed towards developing the ability to: acknowledge
and explore a dimension beyond [humanity]; explore the spiritual heritage of one's community; understand the beliefs, practices,
and customs of other world religions; integrate spiritual values into one's daily life and in the global direction of one's
development towards and higher and more unified state of consciousness.
The first point above deals
with the wonder and emotion we feel when encountering the world. A flower may be colorful in order to attracted insects, but
it is also beautiful.
Acknowledging and exploring
this sense of beauty is an important step to finding meaning in the cosmos. This is why BP believed that nature study is so
important. Likewise, the ugly things in life such as pain, suffering, and inequality, give rise to a sense that we must all
work to right the wrongs of this world. We find the strength to do this in this dimension beyond humanity.
The second and third points
above deal with a Scout's knowledge of how others have answered the spiritual questions of the world. In order to understand
and get along with people of their own culture and those of other cultures, one must understand their spiritual beliefs, their
religions. Scouting believes that people may choose whatever spiritual path they wish, but that they should do so based on
sound knowledge. One must not abandon the religion of one's community unless one understands what one is giving up; and one
must not choose another path unless one knows what one is accepting. While most religions offer answers to questions of meaning
and value, Scouting helps people to ask the questions. Scouting hopes to help people understand the spiritual diversity of
the world so that Scouts can make responsible spiritual choices. The last point above deals with putting one's beliefs into
practice. BP believed that a person's religion is in how they behave, rather than in what they believe. This is where the
Scout Law intersects spirituality. Scouting hopes that Scouts will connect their spirituality to the Scout Law so that the
living out of their religion is also an active expression of the Scout Law.
a Scouts' Own
Scouts' Owns are made up
of a combination of stories with a moral or spiritual message; metaphors, such as describing learning in terms of packing
a backpack for life; prayers, where hopes, fears, emotions, and thankfulness are expressed; songs, which usually are prayers;
and sharing between those present. These elements can be combined in a variety of ways. One should not include any elements
that will not lead towards the goal of the Scouts' Own. For example, songs should not be included unless the members would
really enjoy singing them. Campfires are the place to introduce Scouts to singing, not Scouts' Own. These elements also need
not be combined in a manner that resembles a church service. When telling a story or parable, one need not explain its meaning.
A parable hides the truth from those who are listening until they are ready to understand it. The Scouts may be turned off
by the moralizing instead of leaving thinking about the story, later to find meaning in it.
A Scouts' Own should be focused
on a few closely related concepts. If the topic of the Scouts' Own is too broad, the Scouts will be unable to grasp it. In
Beavers and Cubs, the Scouts' Own should concentrate on one very simple message which is illustrated with many examples. Kids
of these ages are unable to fully comprehend abstract concepts like justice. They can give many examples of what is just or
unjust, but they cannot deal with an abstract definition. Scouts can start to understand abstract concepts, but things must
still be kept to a few concepts.
To help the Scouts concentrate
on the Scouts' Own, it is a good idea to hold it in a special
place such as a lookout or
pretty clearing in the forest. It should be a spot not usually used for other activities, so that it will be somewhat special.
Many camps have a chapel area set aside. Be careful, however, as many chapels come with crosses which make them appropriate
only for Christian Scouts' Owns. Choosing a spot some distance from the camp site is beneficial in another way. At the end
of the Scouts' Own, the group can file back to the camp in silence and walking with several paces between each person, allowing
a time for silent contemplation of the topic of the Scouts' Own.
Scouts' Owns must be planned
by Scouts and/or Scouters. When planning a Scouts' Own, one can draw upon many sources for inspiration. Books of ancient wisdom,
such as the Koran, the Christian Bible or other religious texts; children's stories; The Best of The Leader Cut Out Pages;
the writings of Baden-Powell; and the Jungle Book are all good sources. Remember that a Scouts' Own does not need to fit any
prescribed framework: one does not have to include a reading or a prayer if one does not want to. In fact, pointing out that
what is being said is a prayer might distract the Scouts from the words.
If one is going to include
a prayer, ensure that it is appropriate for those present. One should never assume that everyone is, for example, Christian.
Often the difference between a Christian prayer and a universal one is the closing. References to Jesus or Lord are Christian-specific
(Father is marginal). A reference to God is not, as Scouting uses that word to refer to all conceptions of God. However, be
aware that many religions, such as Jainism and Humanism, have no conception of God. Prayers can be worded "We are thankful
for..." instead of "We thank God for..." to get around this problem. If people wish to say "Amen" at the end of a prayer,
they may do so, but if it is written on the Scouts' Own program (if you have one), then that suggests an expectation that
it be said, making the prayer Christian-specific.
While it is important to
set a Scouts' Own apart from the rest of the day, if one makes too big a deal of it, the Scouts may be distracted and the
point is missed. The Scouts should gain the understanding that thinking about spiritual concepts is a normal part of life
and should not be restricted to special places and times.
Most Scouters believe that
hats should not be worn and knives should not be carried at Scouts' Owns. The not wearing of hats is due to the Christian
tradition where males do not wear hats in church. In many other religions, however, it is expected that hats be worn during
prayer. In any case, a Scouts' Own is not a church service. At my Scouts' Owns, I make no comment about hats; people make
the choice to wear or not wear hats as individuals. The issue of knives is similar. At many Scouts' Owns that I have attended,
there has been a knife log into which one sticks one's knife upon entry to the area where the Scouts' Own is taking place.
The reason for this has been that Scouts should not carry weapons during a Scouts' Own as in a church service. However, a
knife is not a weapon to a Scout. A knife carried by a Scout is a tool that helps them to Be Prepared to carry out the Scout
Law. A Scout should Be Prepared no less at a Scouts' Own then any other time, so Scouts should continue to carry their knives
during Scouts' Owns.
A Scouter's Five has the
same purpose as a Scouts' Own, but should not last longer than five minutes and consists of a story or metaphor told by one
Scouter, usually without any interaction with those listening. A Scouter's Five should be held at the end of campfires and
I will now relate two examples
of successful Scouts' Owns that I have run. The first is a Cub's Own based on the concept of thankfulness. The Cub's Own started
with a hike to a clearing nearby to the camp site. I began by asking the Cubs what thankfulness was. They offered their suggestions.
After summarizing the ideas, I divided the pack into sixes and distributed the Scouters among them. I asked each person to
think of something that they are thankful for and to discuss these in their sixes to help each other think of things. After
a few minutes, I called everyone back and went around the circle asking each person what they were thankful for.
Cubs could repeat ideas,
but this happened little. After we had gone around the circle, I said what I was thankful for, summarized what the Cubs had
said, and added that I was thankful for being able to be part of a Cub Pack. This connected to the recitation of the Cub Promise,
which ended the Cubs' Own.
The second Scouts' Own that
I want to give as an example was with a Scout Troop. We went on a short hike to a clearing in the woods and sat on the ground.
I told a story of a person who had been influenced by peer pressure to nearly steal a tire for the car that they and two others
were driving in. I asked the Scouts why this person, who is normally law abiding, would do this. I asked for a more complete
explanation when the answer of peer pressure came up. "We have a label, but what is peer pressure?" I asked. We discussed
its meaning and its many forms. Next I described psychologist Solomon Ashe's experiments on peer pressure, particularly his
experiments which showed that one brave dissenter in a group will be enough to encourage others to take a stand against wrong.
I cautioned the Scouts that one can be easily influenced to do things that are wrong by a friend.
As protection against this,
I suggested that the Scouts compare all that they do to the Scout Law to ensure that they are not being led to do wrong by
The key to success in a Scouts'
Own is to stick to the purpose: to develop spirituality and a better understanding of the Scout Law. The Scouts' Own must
be interesting to the Scouts and be at their level in order to be effective. If you leave behind any preconceptions about
a Scouts' Own being similar to a church service and you stick to spirituality that the Scouts can understand, you will succeed
in contributing to the spiritual development of your Scouts, meeting Scouting's Purpose.
World Organization of the
Scout Movement (WOSM).
1992. Fundamental Principles.
World Scout Bureau.
1998. Scouting: An Educational
System. (PDF) Geneva, Switzerland:
World Scout Bureau.
The chaplain is in an ideal position to promote
the religious emblems program and encourage Scouts to complete the requirements for the emblem of their faith. Many troops
include Scouts of various faiths; therefore, knowledge of all emblems is helpful. Since procedures vary among different faiths,
the Duty to God brochure, No. 05-897A, is a helpful reference. In addition, call your local Boy Scout service center or the
council religious relationships committee for help in identifying ways to promote the religious emblems program and emblem
recipient recognition ceremonies.
WHAT DO THESE RELIGIOUS EMBLEM PROGRAMS COVER?
A Scout's Duty to God and Country ©1998-99
Generally, each religious
emblem program is a progression of learning starting in Cub
Scouting and ending years
later as an older Boy Scout, Venture Scout, or Explorer.
Each program has specific
emblems that are linked with age appropriate requirements.
Many start by focusing on
the Scout's understanding of God at the Tiger level moving to the Scout's relationship to God at the Cub level. By the time
a Scout becomes a
Webelos the program materials
shift to an emphasis on the Scout and his family's relationship to God. At the Boy Scout level the program focuses on the
relationship of the Scout to his life in the community of his faith. In addition, at the final level the program examines
how the Scout will apply his or her faith in his or her life.
In each case the program
material focuses on similarities between how the Scout sees himself in successively broader relationships and his relationship
with God. In addition, each of the programs begins with simple concepts and moves towards a more complex understanding through
successive levels of learning about religious writings, religious figures, religious celebrations, acts of service and worship.
As the Scout grows in the
Scouting family, he can participate in successive religious emblem programs at each age level that are more and more challenging.
However, none of these programs at any level is a prerequisite to starting a program at another level.
These religious emblems are
presented by religious organizations to Scouts, who work with their religious leader or a counselor through a demanding program
of requirements that may take from a few months to a year or more to complete. By completing such a program, a Scout will
learn about his relationship to his religious beliefs and grow spiritually. At the same time that Scout will be developing
WHERE CAN I GET INFORMATION ABOUT RELIGIOUS EMBLEM PROGRAMS?
You can get more information
about religious emblem programs from:
- Your local church, temple, synagogue, mosque or religious organization
- The lay organization within each religious organization
- National Scouter Associations supporting religious emblem programs and local
Associations in your area
- The National Headquarters Office of each religious organization
- Programs for Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.) administers most
and Jewish awards.
11123 S. Towne Square, Ste. B
St. Louis, Missouri 62123-7816
- 1-800-933-PRAY or (314) 845-3318
- Fax Number (314) 845-0038
- Roman Catholic Diocese local Committee on Scouting
- Church of Christ
directly with their offices
- Latter Day Saints administered by the stake
- Roundtable meetings and training sessions
- Your Council Scout
Service Center (Scout Shop)
- Boy Scouts of America
-Request Your Church Can Serve Children, Youth,
Through Scouting, No. 17-111 (1992) and other publications listed in
book by writing directly to:
Boy Scouts of America
P.O. Box 152079
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
- The Learning for Life Division, Boy Scouts of America
Capitol Area Council
website : http://www.bsacac.org/metadot/index.pl?id=3165&isa=Category&op=show
- Specific religious group training and activities
MacScouter -A Scout is Reverent
www.macscouter.com/ScoutsOwn. This is a great site for
Chaplains and Chaplain Aides. Lots of information can be found here.