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British Scouting changes oath

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The figures for the most recent scout registrations are all available on public web sites. I think its important to note that the figures for traditional Scouting have been trending down while LFL have been making up the difference.


Spin this how ever you want. The trend is troubling. I will gladly send you my Excel spreadsheet just email mmhardy1@excite.com.


Being located in Detroit our boys get the opportunity to mix with the Scout Canada units from Windsor-Essex. The Dorchester camporeee has more then its share of US boys. I think they depend on us to make the camporee a success.

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Here's what happened in the 70s....


The 1970s decade was a dark time for the Boy Scouts of America. The period from 1972-80 was a national disaster, when BSA membership declined nationwide by 34% (a loss of 2.2 million members)! Although many changes in our society had an adverse impact on all youth programs, much of the cause for the drastic BSA membership decline was due to the radically changed Scout program of the period. In 1972, the BSA made sudden and radical changes to the Scouting program, abandoning much of the traditional outdoor program, and applying inner-city programming to ALL of Scouting (what to do if lost?The new Scout handbook's entire "Lost" section showed a boy talking to a policeman with the instructions, "Ask for directions to find the way"). New, "politically-correct" terminology defined the era (the BSA had no "boys" or "Boy Scouts" because "boy" was considered demeaning; no longer an outdoorsman, the Scoutmaster became a "manager of learning" who taught Scouts the 11 "leadership competencies;" he guided Scouts through "personal growth agreement conferences" as they advanced through the various "progress awards.") The BSA began modifying the short-lived "Improved Scouting Program" in 1975, and finally scrapped the program in 1978-79, after only six years of use. The program stands in sharp contrast to Scouting before 1972 or since 1978. During the 1970s, the BSA finally updated its heavy-impact conservation practices to modern low-impact policies designed to protect our rapidly dwindling outdoor resources. BSA membership peaked at 6.5 million in 1972, and reached bottom in 1980 with 4.3 million. (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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Also in the early 70's, the Camping and Cooking MBs were dropped as required, many ranks were simplified compared to the older, more challenging versions, and the uniform was changed from the solid khaki cotton to the tan over olive polyester.


Those of us who lived through it remember the difficulties of working under two sets of rules- a hodge-podge of cut-off dates to earn rank by or you had to re-earn it the new way. New uniforms being phased in with strong encouragement to abandon the old uniforms even before they wore out or were outgrown.


Skill awards, the dread red berets (with NO guidance on how to wear a beret correctly!), the ugliest rank awards ever (many units nationally hated the new Eagle so much they commissioned their own versions fo the old design!) The ugliest (and shortest lived) Handbook covers ever (the two-tone light green over darker green).


Lots of big changes that made little sense to most of the youth and leadership- many of us felt abandoned by National and I personally knew MANY Scouts who were working on Eagle but missed a cut-off and would have had to re-earn it under the new rules- including earning a bunch of Skill Awards and a different mix of MBs. Each quit within a short time, heartbroken over the BSA's choices.


It was a really good example of what happens when you try to update a program with a poor plan. In many ways, I think we are still recovering because the disillusioned youth from the 70's are the parents today.

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I agree with the changes, mainly for PrairieScouter's reasons.

By the norms of 1907, an anti-monarchist was not a good loyal British citizen/ subject. I believe that the new Oath leaves the cornerstones of Scouting intact. "Unity in all things essential, diversity in all things non-essential."

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Hey, I resemble that remark, I loved the red berets, they are/were cool. It's not the BSA's fault some can wear the beret with the panache required and others look like little Madeline wannabees. Not everyone looks hot in the knee socks and shorts but some of us still manage(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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I was just entering Scouting in the UK when the Advanced Party Report (1969) changes were made and British Scouts went with green berets. This was part of the then new uniform, long dress pants, a long sleeved green dress shirt and each troop had it's own necker.

The Scout Laws were reworded and went down to only seven laws.

The change was tough on a lot of old timer and many quit. But as if to add insult to injury, they also came up with the idea that no one over 65 years old could be a warranted. A rule they changed.

However trying to get back on topic!!!

Looking at the Policy, Organisation and Rules the Scout Association, I went back to 2002 looking for a change in the Scout promise (Not Oath) and didn't find any change.

The following is taken from


The purpose of Scouting:

The purpose of Scouting is to promote the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potentials, as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities.

The Scout Method:

The Scout Method provides an enjoyable and attractive scheme of progressive training, based on the Scout Promise and Law, which is guided by adult leadership. In practice the method is best seen when young people, in partnership with adults, are:

enjoying what they are doing;

learning by doing;

participating in varied and progressive activities;

making choices for themselves;

taking responsibility for their own actions;

working in groups;

taking increasing responsibility for others;

taking part in activities outdoors;

sharing in prayer and worship;

making and living out their Promise


I really like the way that is worded!!

The Scout Law:

A Scout is to be trusted.

A Scout is loyal.

A Scout is friendly and considerate.

A Scout belongs to the world-wide family of Scouts.

A Scout has courage in all difficulties.

A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.

A Scout has self-respect and respect for others


In my day the:A Scout belongs to the world-wide family of Scouts. Was a Scout is a brother to all Scouts. But with a Coed program, that would be kinda hard!!


The Scout Promise:

On my honour,

I promise that I will do my best

To do my duty to God and to The Queen,

To help other people

And to keep the Scout Law.


Rule 1.1: Variations to the wording of the Promises:

Scouting is open to all faiths and must therefore take account of the different religious obligations of its Members while upholding the essential spirit of the Promise.


In each Promise the phrase 'Duty to God' or, in the case of Beaver Scouts, 'to love God', is suitable for most faiths (including Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs).


Hindus may use either the words 'my Dharma' or 'God'.


Orthodox Muslims may use the word 'Allah' in place of 'God'.


Buddhists should use only the words 'my Dharma'.


Where some other form of wording is required for a member of a particular faith or religion advice should be sought from Headquarters.


Similarly it is accepted that foreign residents who may become Members of the Association owe allegiance to their own country.


To meet these circumstances the phrase 'duty to The Queen' should be replaced by the phrase 'duty to the country in which I am now living'.


In the case of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts the decision as to which permitted form of wording should be used in any particular case will be made by the Group Scout Leader in consultation with the parents of the young person concerned.


In the case of Explorer Scouts, Scout Network members and adults the decision as to which permitted form of wording should be used in any particular case will be made by the District or County Commissioner as appropriate in consultation with the person concerned


While many people would think that anything in The Sunday Times, has got to be true!! The best selling newspaper in the UK is the Sun. The Sun was famous for page 3, which was a photo of a half naked female!

Both the Sun and the Sunday Times are owned by Rupert Murdoch. Yes the same guy that owns:

Fox Movie Channel

Fox News Channel

Fox Sports Digital

Need I say more??

So being that there hasn't been any changes to the Scout Promise, what shall we talk about now?




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Sorry, as apparently the only Buddhist in the group, I was asleep at the switch. The link posted earlier, giving the comparisons between Buddhism and Christianity was pretty apt, I think. I would mention that Buddha was a teacher and Jesus was a teacher. Buddhists revere teachers of dharma (how to be Buddhist), but don't worship them as gods. Christians, of course, believe Jesus to be the son of and a part of God. There are many statues of Buddha around, mostly in Asia, but they are there simply as a reminder to us to meditate and aspire to achieve enlightment. We certainly believe in a supreme being, although there are some differences within Buddhism (as there are Christianity) about the exact nature and workings of that being.


I would also mention - going way back in the discussion here to what happened to British Scouting in the 1960's - that it was at that time that Lady B-P pretty much denounced those changes and parted ways with the SA. If you were at the 1969 Jamboree you heard her criticisms. She ended up leaving quite a lot B-P material to the BSA that otherwise would have gone to the British Association.

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Thanks to those who posted info on the changes in the 70's in response to my question. Interesting, and provides a good description, as another poster said, of what can happen if you try to make dramatic changes without a sensible plan. Didn't the "gay issue" first rear it's head in something like 1978? Makes you wonder if it might have been part of some sort of backlash against the changes that had been made earlier in the decade and were, at about that time, being dismantled.


Anyway, back OT, I kinda like what British Scouting has done with the Scout Law. The wording makes it something you can really think about, rather than be a list that is sometimes just rambled through at the beginning of a troop meeting. Unfortunately, right now, US Scouting might have a problem with being a part the "world-wide family of Scouts" given our different interpretation of some aspects of Scouting, but it gives us something to strive for, anyway.

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Let's leave religious fanatics out of Scouting ! The Scout Law should not identify your faith or your loyalty to a nation. I agree, it should just include " Good moral standing " and "citizenship." Religion should be left in the religious institutions, to worship as the scouts parents want him to worship. If a church wants to award a religious scouting award, that choice should be available. You must remember that all religious traditions are man made, let them keep it in their domain, and don't force a naive kid of eleven to recite and promise which he can not comprehend the concepts of faith. ( former Eagle Scout,Scout exec, Scoutmaster, Chairman and etc. ) I say amen.

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>>US Scouting might have a problem with being a part the "world-wide family of Scouts" given our different interpretation of some aspects of Scouting, but it gives us something to strive for, anyway.

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Hi EagleDad,


Hey, I have friends down there in OKCity, Tulsa, and Enid. Any of those in your neck of the woods? Just curious.




Couple of thoughts.

The downturn in memberships in a wide variety of youth organizations has been discussed in these forums before, and one thought that has been put forward is that it's difficult to determine whether their changes in membership were brought about by their changes in policy, or are just part of a general downslide in membership occuring across the board. Girl Scouts, for example has always had a policy of inclusion; that wasn't something new as far as I'm aware. So, it's difficult to make that association, I think. BSA has had a downslide in membership without making any changes to their policies, making that connection even more tenuous. Scouting Canada did have a fairly dramatic downturn after their policy changes, but from what I've read, they were already sliding in that direction and whatever they did may have just aggravated the situation.


BSA has always marketed itself as THE youth program for American youth. The idea of it being a "private club" is something more recent and is somewhat at odds with the implicit marketing of the BSA program. As "America's youth program" (my phrase, not their's), I would like to think that BSA would be trying to match the social/moral beliefs of the country in general. Now, before you start thinking that that's some sort of radical statement, understand that in my view, America is not on some downslide towards moral oblivion. That's a conservative religious belief that I don't think is shared by the majority of Americans, who are by and large a good group of folks regardless of their religious affiliation. The conservative Right doesn't have a monopoly on morality in my view.


If BSA really wants to be the youth program for the religious conservatives, than they should state that up front, and get rid of those references to its non-sectarian nature. I don't think that that's about to happen. So, those of us who don't agree with the apparent tendencies of BSA to lean toward the conservative right, are here not because we're trying to invade someone else's turf, but because we think that BSA should be open to us as well as the conservative right. We do like the program, that's why we're here. I would say that most of us who don't agree with some of the more political aspects of the BSA program still agree with 99% of what BSA does. There are many who would make the case that it's the conservative right that's trying co-opt BSA for their purposes, and not vice versa, and that we're here to try and protect the BSA heritage. Baden-Powell, to my knowledge, never said that the Scouting movement was created to be the bastion of religious conservatives.


I don't agree that worldwide Scouting is headed down a destructive path, but I respect your beliefs in that area nonetheless.

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I'd have to agree with what someone said before, that the British changes to the Scout Oath require the Scouts to think about what they are saying before they say it. Essentially, each time they would repeat it they would be reaffirming their Oath to Scouting by making their own personal version of it. This version, in my opinion, forces the scout to take the Oath serious and thus it is not something just to be memorized and rambled off every week or so.



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With the continuing drop in enrollment each year in the BSA it would not surprise me to see similiar changes occuring in our program over the next few years. With our quickly changing society the relevancy of scouting to todays youth needs to be examined very closely. The program we all knew as kids honestly does not attract the youth of today as it did us years ago. We can't keep turning a blind eye to this issue, we may not like it but it is a reality of today. Look at what is happening in Canada, Europe and even here, scandals on the professional level,selling off of assets, dropping interest by the public and the United Way, etc. Maybe it is time to restructure an even stronger program, taking the best from the old ways and combining with new concepts to present an even better program that will really interest the youth of today. The old stance of it was good enough for my dad and me it should be good enough for them is just a denial of the reality of todays world. I love Boy Scouts, but I do not want to watch it errode away to nothing because we refuse to accept change.(This message has been edited by Backpacker)

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