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Some folks are bound to be displeased by this answer, but so be it - history is what it is.


Baden-Powell placed no importance on reverence in his Scout Law at all. It doesn't even appear.


Here is Baden-Powell's Scout Law - all 10 points of it (note, the 10th point was added in 1911 so wasn't part of the original).


1) A Scout's Honour is to be Trusted

2) A Scout is Loyal

3) A Scout's Duty is to be useful and to help others

4) A Scout is a Friend to All

5) A Scout is Courteous

6) A Scout is a Friend to Animals

7) A Scout Obeys Orders

8) A Scout Smiles and Whistles under all difficulties

9) A Scout is Thrifty

10) A Scout is Clean in Thought, Word, and Deed.


My understanding of his Scout Law was that he considered all of equal importance.


Interestingly, the current UK Scout Law does not contain any reference to reverence, nor does it seem to appear in most countries version of the Scout Law. The US and the Scandinavian countries seem to be the exception in World Scouting in adding some reference to a need for reverence.



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CalicoPenn is correct, "reverent" was never part of Baden-Powell's Scout Law. Someone once asked B-P why there was so little "God" in Scouting to which he replied, Scouting is all about God.


Of course B-P was somewhat of a pantheist and found his God in "Service to Others" and the "Religion of the BackWoods,"


"The man who has been knocking about the world, the man who has tasted danger and faced death, the man, in fact, who has seen life in the better sense of the phrase, is generally deeply religious. But his religion would not be recognized by some; it is unorthodox --- it has not been formulated by man, but is the natural outcome of his constant communing with Nature. He probably could not define it himself, because it has no doctrine, no ritual." See:




Is the scout law in order of importance?


I believe that he considered some laws to be more important than others, with the first law being the most important. Baden-Powell Scout Law is more difficult to learn that the BSA list of single words, not only because each law is a sentence, but Scouts are also required to learn the commentary as well.


You can get some idea of the importance that he attached to each law by reading this commentary. Consider the 1908 text for "A SCOUT'S HOUOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED" (caps in original) which reads in part,


"If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge, and never be allowed to wear it again--he loses his life."


Being "cheerful" was serious business too. The 1911 commentary for "A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES under all circumstances" read in part,


"The punishment for swearing or using bad language is for each offence a mug of cold water to be poured down the offender's sleeve by the other Scouts. It was the punishment invented by an old British Scout, Captain John Smith, three hundred years ago."


For an easy to read comparison chart of the history of Scout Law commentary in the UK and the BSA, see:








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  • 1 month later...



I think we sometimes forget that what Baden-Powell attempted to create was a paramilitary organization for middle and lower class boys. The very name, "scouts", is derived from the military function of persons whose job it was to sneak into enemy territory and get information for military planners.


His experience in SA led him to believe that the men who were not officers, i.e., did not come from the upper classes, had insufficient background to prepare them for military duty in the sorts of places where the British Army did its work, the colonies in Africa and Asia. That is, they did not have the survival skills that would serve them well under conditions of the veldt, the bush, the "Road to Mandalay", etc.


In addition, he felt that their upbringing may not have had the same kind of honor-enducing education that good-old-boy upper classes in Great Britain went through. Thus, they needed to be introduced to that through Scouting.


All of this was directed at producing generations of young men who were well-prepared to step directly from a Scout uniform to a military uniform.


In his day, the public (i.e., private) schools relied heavily on rote learning and Baden-Powell applied that to the Scout Law, for instance: one had to learn and repeat a rather cumbersome set of laws (compared to the American version) along with the more cumbersome commentary. Of course, the fun version of this was Kim's Game. At any rate, it was directed at educating the lower classes and at developing their memories in the same fashion that the priviledged upper classes experienced in their formal schooling.


It is no mystery as to why "honour" and "loyalty" are at the top: these were two of the most important concepts one learned in the upper classes. If you will read some of the novels or poems of the time, "Beau Geste", "Gunga Din", etc., you will see these traits held in the highest esteem... on paper, at least.


So, how important is reverence as a skill for a military scout on a dangerous mission?



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If my memory serves me right David is correct. Baden Powell started Scouting to prepare boys for peace not war after the publication of Aids to Scouting.


"Baden-Powell wrote these ideas down in a small manual entitled Aids to Scouting, which he intended for military use only. Much to his astonishment, his Aids to Scouting was immensely popular with English boys - but it had been written to prepare men for war! What he wanted was a manual to prepare boys for peace."(This message has been edited by t158sm)

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I hardly know where to start. I have read much of what B-P wrote what has been writen about him. Further, I have spent considerable time at B-P House in London and absorbing much of what is there, a wonderful experience.


Here is an online list of the many books B-P wrote and he was a prolific writer:




Let me point out a few:


Reconnaissance and Scouting; this was written in the late 1800's and it is more than coincidental that Boy Scouts got its name based on military Scouting. B-P was a proponent of good military scouting and he chose the name for Boy Scouts very carefully.


How Girls Can Help Build up the Empire; this was co-written in 1912 by B-P for girls and the title says it all!


Marksmanship for Boys; Meant for Boy Scouts for wartime training. Written in 1915.


The website featuring the bibliography also features this:




Remember, other than being the founder of Scouting, he was the "Hero of Mafeking", a significant siege during the Boer War. It was there he observed the Cadets and their great value to the military effort. He cited their service as one of the inspirations for Boy Scouts.



B-P denied that Scouting was militaristic and, yet, at the same time he exulted in patriotism and stated that the kind of preparation Boy Scouting provided would be useful in wartime. Some authors think that he became sensitized to the notion that Scouting was early preparation for the military and he made statements to the contrary. However, the very words he selected to use such as Scouts and Patrol belied that. Remember B-P was a very literate man and could choose his words carefully!


Here is an online list of many of the books written about B-P:




Amongst them you will find some of the concepts I mentioned in my earlier note. I am not a B-P scholar and have contributed no primary knowledge about him: I merely have cited some of the many works I have read about him.


Finally, I wish to note that B-P was a product of his time, Victorian England. He was as much an icon of those times as were Rudyard Kipling and Benjamin Disraeli. They all took great pride in the notion that "The sun never set on the British Empire." And that fact was closely associated with the British military.







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