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The Latin Scot

Question about the Outdoor Code!

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Hey everybody, I just had a quick question that has caught me off guard, since I have read almost every piece of literature and I have not found an official position (but lots of opinions).

 

Does one make the Scout sign when repeating the Outdoor Code?

 

I feel odd when the boys are just standing around mumbling it through, so I have my Webelos Scouts make the sign when they recite it. But when we visited the Troop last week, I was told by another leader that it was an inappropriate use of the sign. I am not inclined to agree with him on a number of matters, so I found his objection rather dubious, but still, if it's wrong it's wrong. I thought I would check here since there are Scouters here whose opinions and thoughts I respect far more than his. What do you say people? Can you help me out? 

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I have never seen anyone give the Scout Sign while reciting the Outdoor Code, but I cannot think of any reason why it would be inappropriate.

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I don't have my boys do the Outdoor Code as part of any ceremony.  It's taught onsite.

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No sign necessary. No problem if you use one. (Remember my rule #1?)

 

The goal is to get it into their little heads that they are to be clean in their outdoor manners and careful with fire.

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When did this code come onto the scene anyway?

 

It's not something I remember, and it always seems like an extra thing....a nuisance really.  One more thing that some well intentioned adult thought it would be good to add to the growing list of check boxes of things to be memorized.

 

Our other Committee members always ask the Scout to recite it after the oath and law, and the start of a BOR.  It's always an uncomfortable moment that I sit through, not wanting to make a big deal about it.  Scouts never know it, & I have sometimes hinted through questions or comments that perhaps these scouts might spread the word and come up with some way of learning this thing as a troop, so as to avoid this fumbling at every BOR.  They never do.  It's not important to them.  It's not really all that helpful.   So I suppose I'm not impressed with the idea.

 

before clicking save on this thread, I googled it and found this reference to answer my own question.....

http://www.outdoorethics-bsa.org/OutdoorCode.php

I guess it existed when i was a scout, but obviously we never made much out of it either.....

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The District guys started asking about it at Eagle Board of Reviews.  In response, the boys stated reciting at the opening after the Oath and Law.  I think they still have their signs up and I don't see anything inappropriate with that.  

 

Also, knowing it is part of the Camping merit badge, but I'm not sure when it became a requriement.

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It's part of the requirements for earning the Scout rank - repeat the Outdoor Code from memory and explain what it mean in your own words (summarized, not quoted).

 

It's a Boy Scouts of America pledge - like the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

 

The ultimate answer to the question though should be found in the Boy Scout Handbook since one of the requirements for the Scout rank is to explain when the Scout Sign is used - and how will the boy know that unless it's in the book.

 

Some online sources say it is used when giving the Scout Oath and Scout Law.  Others say it is used when reciting ideals of Scouting.  I don't have a copy of the handbook handy to check it's language.  If it says it is used for the Scout Oath and Scout Law, then if someone says it is not used for the Outdoor Code, they are technically correct.  However,  if it says it should be used when reciting the ideals (or similar words) of Scouting, then it should also include the Outdoor Code, Scout Motto and Scout Slogan.

 

Of course,  I would suggest that if it says it is used for the Scout Oath and Law, that this is a minimum requirement and Troops should be free to use it for the Outdoor Code, Scout Slogan and Scout Motto - after all, aren't those as important?

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The "Outdoor Code"   is an ideal we strive to live up to.   So too the Scout Promise, the Scout Law, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Smith System Keys to Safe Driving, the Direction to the Players from Hamlet,  the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, the book Common Sense,  The Beatitudes,  The Lord's Prayer , Kum By  Yah, Leaflets Three Leave It Be and the Golden Rule.  

 

Making the Scout Sign merely re-enforces the idea.   Some are "required", some are "good to know " and think about, and some are "tradition".  Some are perhaps held as more important than others. 

 

Hold the Scout Sign as long as thou canst.

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Many of these answers have been very helpful, thank you. I am a Webelos den leader, but my boys all have the oath and law memorized, along with the code, the slogan, and the motto. But that's because we talk about them at every meeting, and I want them prepared so that as soon as they graduate to the Troop, they can pass of their Scout rank at their first meeting. And they are so responsive! We have had some really meaningful discussions about living the principles we recite every week, and I am pretty stern about the fact that I don't want these codes and oaths to be things that we say, but things that we do. So I think I will keep having them make the sign when they recite it, since it adds to the sense of the importance of the code.

 

A few weeks back, I asked the boys "what is one reason you might want to live the Outdoor Code in your own life?" One boy answered "when I see how much you love the world and want to take care of it, it makes me want to be the same way." And then something wet got in my eyes and I had to take a minute to take care of it.   :rolleyes:

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We added the outdoor code to our opening ceremony this year because it is part of the new requirements.  The boys still have their hands raised in the scout sign when they make this pledge.

 

At last night's troop meeting we were remarking that the adult side of the room got very quiet when the boys were giving the pledge, we agreed we need to put in the effort to memorize it ourselves.

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Well, luckily it's super simple; it took me all of 5 minutes to have it memorized, so it shouldn't take them too long to have it down.

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Outdoor Code came in the late 1940s, early 1950s. It's been tweaked over the years too. Three times if memory serves.

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...... But that's because we talk about them at every meeting, and I want them prepared so that as soon as they graduate to the Troop, they can pass of their Scout rank at their first meeting. .....

I think that this is an outstanding goal.  I think a shortfall in WEBELOS is the lack of DL knowledge of patrol method.  The idea doesn't really get taught all that well it seems, and so really a WEBELOS and even an AOL really isn't all that much ahead of a boy walking into a troop meeting off the street.

 

A flip side to the idea though is that the scouts might get a bit bored earlier on.  

If the troop guide and instructor does what it is that they do, regardless the ability of the new scouts...

Or if the scouts and /or adults in the troop hold onto any preconceived notions about age and ability.

 

As an example, our SM has started an idea of a "high adventure patrol"...Open only to older scouts.... I forget the age exactly.  But the idea is sound..... let the older scouts do some fun stuff to help hold their interest.  I like it a lot.

but

what it's really doing is throttling the younger boys.

 

One example of a suggested activity was to canoe over to Cumberland Island, where it is possible to camp.... and it wouldn't be tailgate camping.

I asked why not let any scout come along that wants to go..... I know my son would enjoy it much more than having some older scout read to him out of the book about how to do some particular thing or another....such as build a camp fire.  But the answer i got back was that the younger guys wouldn't be able to handle it..... or some such thing......

 

so my point is this.... get them too ready and they may just get throttled back anyway to the point of being bored.

 

Might should prepare them while you're at it with tools on how to overcome adult influenced ideas....

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Actually, I'm two steps ahead of you there. First off, to keep things from getting boring I have a million and one different games and activities and exercises to help the boys remember the oath/law/code/etc. and we integrate them into the regular activities to keep them on their toes - that and I am a pretty energetic little guy, so I can keep things relatively fun (I teach preschool a lot, lol). But when the Scouting Adventure adventure (haha) requires them to practice the Patrol Method for a month, we practice the patrol method. Which means I teach them what it means and then let them go for it!

 

Secondly, I know for a fact that the ASM over the 11-year-old patrol is unproductive as a leader, and that there are scouts that he has had for a YEAR that still haven't reached the rank of Scout yet. So to prepare my boys for his lack of initiative, I am training them how to read and use the book to learn what they need while practicing the skills with each other - fortunately they will all stay in the same group when they cross over, so they already have an internal support network, and I am teaching them how to approach a leader to get things passed off and signed since he is definitely not the type that will stay on top of things - let alone the fact that that is the way things should be done anyway.

 

Basically, I want them to know how to be Boy Scouts before they become such - that way the idea of a boy-led organization will give them the drive to keep moving forward even if the adults in their unit don't lift a finger to help them. It's not ideal but they know what's ahead and they love Scouting, and I think they will succeed. Besides, their weekly meetings are in the classroom next to mine every week, so if worst comes to worst, they already know I am right next door and that they can come to me for anything, any time, for whatever reason, and I will be there to help them move forward. There will always be at least ONE leader who has got their backs. :-)

Edited by The Latin Scot

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