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the most important word...

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You are correct "A Scout" is not part of the Law; however, it is understood. This is the way that I remember my SM taught it to us back many, many moons ago. He would take each word of the Law and treat it individually with the words "A Scout is" in front of it. So it is implied that "A Scout is ... trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly..." Also removing the word "Scout" from the title ... all that we have left is the word "Law." To a young man ... the word law by itself has a negative connotation ... a barrier; on the other hand, by adding "Scout" the Law becomes a personal achievement.


I finally realize (many years later) that these words (qualities) together make a Scout ... a person that all of the SM, ASM, CC, leaders, and parents want for a boy to become. So ... if nothing else to me ... the word "Scout" is the most important word in the Scout Law.


... but that is probably not what Red Feather is thinking about ... :)


YIS(This message has been edited by Pack38Scouter)

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The most important word of the scout law to me is "IS"

(prominent politicians not withstanding)


"Is", a form of the verb "to be" denotes the present time.


A Scout "IS" trustworhty... "Is" means the scout will be these things now, not tomorrow, not at the campout next month, but now, today and tomorrow and the rest of time.


"Is" means the scout does not have a preliminary "warm up" period, you are either trustworthy or you arent. You cant just be trustworthy 16 hours a day and take time off. Its all or none. You aren't practicing,you are not trying, you aren't looking forward to the day when you will be, you "is" or you ain't


I beleive it was Master Yoda who said "there is no try, only do or do not" A scout either follows the scout law all the time, or he is just a guy in a uniform

(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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OGE, right on the mark. A Scout IS. Page 47 of the current handbook states :


Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverant.


Any one of the points of the Law is a good thing, many are better but when they are all put together they are what being a scout is all about. Remove one and the Law is weakened, as is the Scout.


Once a scout or scouter understands that they are living all twelve points of the Law then they have reached the knowledge of who and what they are. The simple word is ties all points together.


A Scout IS.



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  • 7 months later...

While perusing the wealth of knowledge and experience that exists within these forums, and stumbling upon this thread, I am reminded of how, as a Scoutmaster, I used to have a couple of standard questions that I'd ask each and every Scout in SM conferences. I especially liked to use one of them when I sat on Eagle Boards of Review in the many troops in and out of our District. That one questions was...


"Quickly, tell me which one of the 12 points of the Scout Law is most important to you, and why."


The object was to not allow the Scouts great lengths of time to think, but to get their first impressions, and gut reactions.


At first, when I was a novice SM, the question was simply one on the list of things to ask, and I made no notes in my written or mental diary of the boys and their growth. As time went by, the questions, especially a couple like this one, took on meaning that I could not explain to others, only to say that I cared not what word the Scout chose, for they are all equally important in my mind. What was important was the why. Why did the boy choose that word. The reasons given to my question, "...and why?". As each boy grew, through those answers, not the choice of word, I found I was able to glean more insight into how the boy grew, how Scouting might have impacted him, and how he might proceed from that day forth. And my little written and mental diary became quite important as I watched each boy grow to be a young man, Eagle or not.


I was, and still am convinced that there is no one most important word in the Law. That "importance", if we must seek it, is in the meaning the Scout finds in the word, not the choice of word.


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I agree. That's why I was so hopping mad about Bill Clinton's definition of the word "Is."


A Scout is ...


Powerful stuff. It's also stuff my mother didn't hesitate to use as ammunition when I screwed up.


It also amazes me still (after 15 years of professional service) how many old guys who were Scouts 40, 50, 60, even 70 years ago for a couple of years can still recite the Scout Law to me -- whether I want to hear it from them or not.


12 equal points -- but without A Scout is . . . they're empty words without more than a token substance.


Alright . . . time to get off the soapbox and watch the national news.



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Wow ... This is a great thread!!!! I can't believe I missed this going over the archives. I'm going to use this during my Scoutmaster's Minutes next Tuesday.


A Scout "IS". That is so on the mark. I would have thought about one of the 12 points, but like BW, I couldn't really choose just one.


You can't just take one part of the law and dissect for your convenience. The Law is a Whole and the verb "Is" brings that to light. Yes, it is easier to go through each point for clarification so that our charges understand. The Law as a whole is our lifestyle as is the Scout Promise, Motto, and Slogan.



It's either you do or don't.



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Matua --


Hafa Day -- I'm not being sarcastic, I just can't remember how to spell it.


You've got it. Without "is" there is nothing. It doesn't mean, "try" it doesn't mean "someday" it doesn't mean "practice" and it doesn't mean "yesterday."


It's what we are.


I envy you the opportunity to do the Scoutmaster's minute. It's a great moment in Scouting. If done correctly, everyone has something to reflect on.



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Hafa Adai DS,


Not to worry about the spelling. As long as your willing to learn, it's alright.


I've always asked scouts what is the most important part or point of the Scout Law. They would tell me what point they felt was important to them. With the question changed "to what is the most important word". That would get our scouts' to think deeper of the Law that we hold as one of the foundations to our lifestyle.



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  • 5 months later...

Just a minor point of correction..


Christ said that the greatest commandment was "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."


The second commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. Again, it may be a small point, but I submit that the second cannot be accomplished without the first.

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  • 1 month later...

Sigh. I know GSUSA missed the boat when the Girl Scout Law was rephrased to "I will do my best..."


Current phrasing is as follows, for those who are curious about such things!


I will do my best to be

honest and fair,

friendly and helpful,

considerate and caring,

courageous and strong, and

responsible for what I say and do,

and to

respect myself and others,

respect authority,

use resources wisely,

make the world a better place, and

be a sister to every Girl Scout.


Somebody even put up a page about the changes in the law over time...



I do actually like the current version compared to the one I grew up with (and I'll leave y'all to figure out which version that was!)

Peace out,

Anne in Mpls

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  • 2 weeks later...

Before the answer was given, I thought the answer had to be "Kind" because the Law can only be understood in the light of kindness. If you are to trust or be trusted, it is an inward and an outward act of kindness or it becomes secretive and guarded. If you are to be reverent, then there has to be a genuine kindness shown toward a person's God and Church or it is merely zeal and show. If a person is to be brave, then it must not be foolhardy but an act done with the utmost in giving, which underscores the kindness of a soul. If a Scout is thrifty, then caring how ones finances are to be used is the act of kindness towards one's family, self and others. If a Scout is to be clean, then he has to take into account that it is an act of kindness to himself, his health, and benefits others. Being helpful is kindness in action or it becomes a 'strings attached' act. The other parts of the Law readily fit into this idea of kindness and can be equally treated.


Kindness emanates from the spirit of the Law and not the letter of the law. Kindness is spirit by design and validates a person's action and exposes the heart, both to self and others. Fuzzy B.

(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)

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At the closing of our troop meeting prior to Christmas, I asked the boys this question. I allowed them to guess for a while, and got many good responses. One of them even got very close, but I didn't let on. I encouraged them to think about it over the holidays (we took Christmas week off). We held JLT last weekend, and several of the boys asked me about it. Even some of the parents asked me about it when I talked to them outside of the meetings.


At our troop meeting this week I gave them "the answer". Well, actually, one of them guessed it. It made them think. I told them that the Scout law does not say:

"A scout

- tries to be Trustworth

- sometimes is Loyal

- is Helpful when he has the time

- is Friendly to his friends

- attempts to be Courteous

- is Kind when he's in a good mood

- Obedient when he agrees with the rules

- does his best to be Cheerful

- is Brave when it's easy to be

- used to be Thrifty

- wants to be Clean

- is Reverent on Sundays.


Nope, it just says "A SCOUT IS". I like it. Great thread. Thanks Red.

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