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Walt Whitman

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

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A. Conan Doyle

Handbook for scout masters

by Boy Scouts of America


In a review of the official English handbooks of Scouting it will be noticed that considerable change has been made in the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Scout Requirements to adapt them to American conditions. The laws have been increased from nine to twelve. The Scout Oath has been modified and the Scout Requirements changed to make them more representative of American life. All these changes have been made in order to more effectually help the American boy.

Reasons for Changes.

The attitude of the Scout authorities in making the changes has been that of open mindedness. Suggestions from all over the country were asked for, received and given careful attention, the one thing in mind being to get the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Scout Requirements as simple as possible for the normal boy. Much consideration was given to the suggested substitute for the term Scout Oath. It was agreed that the word promise was not strong enough to grasp the imagination of the boys; that the word pledge has been given a distinct temperance content, and that the word vow had too much of a religious significance. Therefore, the word oath was kept after due deliberation, it being thoroughly understood that the Scout Oath was not in any way like the oath taken in a formal court of law, but that it was more on the order of the knightly oath of the Middle Ages, where the knight pledged his w»rd of honor to reverence his king as his conscience, and his conscience as his king. It is indeed a pledge of fidelity by knights of a newer era for the building of a better and more social chivalry.

The Third Section of the Scout Oath.

It will be noticed that the Scout Oath has undergone considerable change. The third section of the Scout Oath has been incorporated with the first section of the new, and a third section has been added, namely: "To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." It is desired by this latter section of the Oath to keep before the boy the fact that it is his business to keep himself strong, to get for himself an education for life, and at the same time to keep himself clean in his resolutions, to himself, and to others, and to his Creator. The desire underlying the change was to sum up all the cardinal things to be brought to the boys' attention in the Scout Oath.

Aim of the Scout Law. The Scout Law is intended to inculcate those ideas which should underlie the life of each boy. The aim is to get the boy to understand the value of his honor, to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Laws 10, 1 1 and 12 have been added to the original number because it was thought that these things had been touched on in the Scout Oath but had been omitted in the Scout Law. Besides this, several additions and emendations have been made to the original nine, and General Baden-Powell, the author of the original law, has commended the changes and additions.

The Spirit of the Scout Law.

It will not be to the interests of the Scout Master to teach the Scout Oath and Law to the Scout without living up to the spirit of these himself. To-day we teach more by example than by precept, and the life of the Scout Master will be the most potent teaching that the boy can receive. In every activity the Scout Master should impress upon the boy that it is his business to manifest the -spirit of the law and that he should not allow himself to be side-tracked from doing his duty as set forth in the Scout Law.

Laxity Versus Discipline and the Scout Law.

The Scout Master should not be anxious to discipline the boy. There will be many little lapses on the part of the boy because the boy is not mature and is not possessed of a developed mind. In fact the Scout Master will make some of these lapses himself if he is not careful. The Scout Master should not be petty in his discipline but should stand on the high plane of honor in everything. On the other hand he should be careful not to be lax, and the Boy Scout should understand that when he has said a thing, he means it. Liberal and cautious in his judgment, but firm in his attitude when once his judgment has been made, should be the rule of the Scout Master in matters of discipline, if he has not come to the point where he can trust the boys to make their own laws and judge their own offenses. A form of punishment which has worked out well in other boys' organizations has been to delay the examination of the boy for advanced work because of his offense to a later time, thus depriving the boy of the pleasure he had anticipated. Law 3 and the Home.

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