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The Latin Scot

Using the neckerchief to teach the Scout Oath

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Has anybody heard of this? Some time ago I read somewhere of a wonderful way to teach the Scout Law using the neckerchief. More or less, it connected the long edge of the necker to our duty to God since it is the longest side just as it is our lifelong duty; the other sides represent our duty to others and ourselves; the folds as you prepare it for wear represented the many layers of our responsibilities, and then we wrap it around our shoulders just like the responsibilities we wear throughout our lives as scouts ...

 

... or something like that? 

 

If anybody has a more complete version of this that they are willing to share, please post it here. I want to use it in full for an upcoming Pack Meeting that will have a few new boys and leaders, and I remember it being much better explained than I can now remember. I would appreciate some help. Thanks guys! 

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Just saw someone present this last week. No clue as to it's origin.

The long side represented duty to God and country.

The rest of it you got.

 

I doubt there is any reason that this will help boys remember any better. Some, will picture it. Others will confuse that mental image with something else (e.g. Pass punt and kick).

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It's been around a while. I've used a version for when we give out neckers at the end of the year, when the boys are promoted to the next level. I'll need to look it up.

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It must be rather newish, since the older traditional neckers were square. This was back when they were useful and not simply decoration.

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Yeah I wish they were bigger now too. My father could easily sew a big one for me but as a Webelos Leader I feel the boys like seeing me wear the same plaid they are wearing. But if I ever move on the the older programs ...

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BSA did make a few larger size ones a few years back. Unfortunately there is not enough demand with folks going to 3rd party vendors to get properly sized neckers. So national quit making them. My troop is up a creek as the troop's necker is one they ran out of. Our resident seamstress has the supplies we ordered, but health problems have overshadowed the production at the moment.

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Such symbolism is often missed by our Scouts, as often as it is misplaced..   

I early on decided we had FOUR  main promises in the Scout Promise, easily discernable:

 

Duty to God

Duty to Country

Duty to Others

Duty to Self...    

 

Since when should our national patriotism be subsumed with out faith?   Ultimately,  our faith and duty to our faith must define and color how we deal with our country , other folks and ourselves.  But to include  the two as if they were the same one third of the Scout Promise is not quite right.

 

And yes, I say promise.  My faith requires me to NOT "swear an oath"  (Mat5:35 to start) but to keep my word given , which folks would  call a promise.   Yeah, it may be quibbling, but hey, to call such an "oath"  is a difference that some call important.   Most earlier Scout literature names this bit of ceremoniality  the "Scout Oath or Promise", you can even find such nomenclature in a lot of modern Scout literature. 

 

"But isn't an "Oath" just a more formal "Promise"?  "  You might say that, but why make the distinction?  Shouldn't my word be enough?   Why make it more complicated?   We ask our Scouts (and by implication, us Scouters, too)  to renew that Promise at many occasions.  We even ask them to enlarge upon it with the Eagle Charge discussed  elsewhere in these pages. 

 

Why is it ever necessary to meddle with perfection?   I dare say , if we thought about it, there have been occasions when SOMEBODY   thought it would be a good idea to MODERNIZE  the Scout Law and Promise.  Modernize?   Adjust?   Make it more "available"?  

Ranks have been modernized.   Merit Badges have been Brought Up To Date.   First Class no longer requires Morse Code, or Star Identification.   Cooking Merit Badge requires sanitation and disease prevention that was not thought necessary 25 years before. Computers and Robotics become a necessary interest.   Is this a "good thing"?    I hope so,  as our Scouts become more worldly at an earlier age. 

 

Referring the Scout Promise to folding the Neckerchief, ummmm.    I usually don't roll/fold  my necker, but  gather it together to stuff thru the woggle. 

One could get too concerned with perceived symbology   (Robert Langdon?)  to the detriment of the Game of Scouting. 

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If a little example like rolling the neckerchief becomes symbolism, then I can see how it could become a little too arcane for comfort, especially for Cub Scouts. But I do think it is wise teaching to make connections between ideas and the more tangible world around them. I like the idea of using the neckerchief as a tool to help them comprehend concepts such as duty and honor. Those can be hard for young boys to conceptualize, but they respond to concrete examples that draw what they see toward what they can then understand.

 

I did a simplified version of it with my Webelos Scouts when I first started as Den Leader, and a mother recently related to me that I have one boy who, bless his heart, washes and irons his neckerchief all by himself every week so that it will fold neatly and fit nicely around his neck every week. He asked me to go over the folding a few times with him just so he could watch how I do it, and his mom tells me he now folds it carefully before putting it on every week, and then folds it nicely when he puts it away after the meeting. I did the same thing when I was a Scout his age. It's a small behavior, but it shows me that he really thinks about what it all means, and what Scouting is meant to do for him. All of my boys in fact fold them neatly now, and they really take pride in how nice they look and how many people compliment them. They look unified, but what's more, they feel unified. It's absolutely heartwarming to see the Scouting program guiding these boys to grow into good, kind, and strong men.

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I found it! The more I read it the more I love it, and I will practice this for a few days so that my Webelos can get the full meaning of these powerful ideas. Especially with one boy crossing over this week and getting his new Boy Scout neckerchief, this is wonderful, timely stuff here. I quote in full:

 

"My first Scoutmaster taught the importance of the Scout Oath and Law using the Neckerchief. He would hold the open neckerchief in his hands and remind the young scouts of what was the last item of clothing they put on when they were getting dressed for the meeting: the neckerchief. He said that it was no coincidence that the neckerchief had 3 sides, just like the three parts of the Scout oath. He would run a side through his fingers and say "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God ..." The first and longest side is to remind you of your long standing duty to God. This whole side is hidden from view, just as your faith is deep inside you. But without that faith, there is no strength for the rest.

 

Holding on to the neckerchief by the point, he would run the next side through his fingers and say "To help other people at all times ..." This shorter side is to remind you of your duty to help others. Remember, it is some of this duty that shows to others, just like a part of this side of your neckerchief shows. So do your duty to others well so that people might see the good works you do in the name of Scouting.

 

The last side also shows. He would say "To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." This last side is your duty to your self. This shows to others as well. They will know that by seeing your uniform; you are a young man who is physically fit, has a strong moral foundation, and who is not apt to fall into the temptations of drugs and alcohol.

 

He would then say that this was a means by which we could remember the Scout Oath, every time we got dressed in uniform. He also gave us a means by which to remember the Scout Law. While wrapping the neckerchief up for wear, he said to wrap it tight in small twists, 12 in fact, and to repeat the 12 points of the Scout Law as you did so. Then as you placed your neckerchief around your neck for wear, the elements of the Scout Oath and Law were with you.

 

They were in fact part of you.

 

I hope my rambling remembrances of Mr. Clinton Cooper Troop 6 Nashua, N.H. from 1969 can be used by some. It is a memory that I have used through out my scouting career and have shared with Scouts and Scouters.

 

John Herrholz, Massabesic District Commissioner

Daniel Webster Council, New Hampshire"

 

I love this teaching tool. There is so much that can be illustrated with this simple garment. I could add that doing our duty to our Country can be considered as fitting into all of these three; we obey God by honoring this nation He helped establish, we help others by preserving and participating in our great democracy, and we preserve our own honor by defending and upholding the ideals of the Constitution. I might incorporate that into the folds of the neckerchief. I might also add that the two ends that hang from the neck can remind us of Truth and Knowledge, like the two stars on the Scouting emblem. And so much more!

 

I think if I break it up over a few weeks I should have my inspirational minutes covered till Christmas! Tee hee

Edited by The Latin Scot

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My boys have a 36" square necker.  They normally wear them around their neck, especially in colder weather.  In the hotter months, they end up water soaked bandanas.  Those are but two uses for them.  There's many more.

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I LOVE those big neckers! My father made our troop a big batch of them when I was a Scout but I didn't appreciate them much at the time; now I need to find a plaid that matches the official Webelos neckerchief so that I can enjoy the luxuries of the real deal while still matching my Webelos Scouts in their uniforms. :-)

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The latin Scot,

 

Hey John, great to see another Scouter from DWC here.  Great Story!

 

Paul Chadbourne

Unit Commissioner

Wannalancit District

I used to be a staffer N1-330-15 & N1-330-16-2

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That's great! But sadly I am not in fact Mr. Herrholz; I was actually just quoting his words, but I suppose I didn't make that clear enough in that post. My apologies! I am just a young scouter from Southern California. But John Herrhoz, whomever he is, deserves credit indeed - the story is a wonderful teaching resource and I think he has a good sense of how to make Scouting meaningful and relevant. Hopefully someday I can enjoy the honorable level of credentials you and he share!

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Hi Latin Scot,

Greetings to another Knight of the Neckerchief; it's good to know that there are still some of us here in the States that have not abandoned this revered symbol of scouting all over the world.

 

I, too, love the old full-square neckerchiefs.  The first one I ever got to own was the orange and white regulation issue that was the proper color for our troop.  It started me collecting, so that I now have lots and lots of these old beauties.  I especially like the ones issued in the 1930's as the cotton pongee material they used then is very light, soft and absorbent as well as strong.

 

Hopefully the neckerchief will make a comeback now that the current ones are a decent size, even if triangular.

 

"The neckerchief is first and last a necessity." Was it James Beard that said that?  Baden-Powell declared that "a scouts honor is bound up in his scarf."

 

 

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Since when should our national patriotism be subsumed with out faith?   Ultimately,  our faith and duty to our faith must define and color how we deal with our country , other folks and ourselves.  But to include  the two as if they were the same one third of the Scout Promise is not quite right.

 

I couldn't have said it better.

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