Scouting is one of those programs that has alot to offer in one big package. You can learn to cook, camp, hike, swim, canoe, kayak, build a fire, put out a fire, save a life, deliver first aid, care for the environment, start a business and much, much more. Scouts are groomed to be America’s Leaders and in the Scout Law, one Law always stands out because it is both the Law and the Oath – HELPFUL.
One of the things exceptional leaders do is they help others, particularly on their teams, to be as successful as they can be and to maximize their potential. Influential Leaders hold themselves Accountable for team mistakes and the team Accountable for team wins. This allows the team to grow and take risks. Scouting is no different. Influential Leaders are Patrol Leaders and Senior Patrol Leaders and while the BSA has a top down hierarchical structure, leaders are encouraged to lead by helping and training others using the EDGE (Educate, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable) Method. The Scout Law is clear, A Scout is Helpful. Leaders who are exceptional leaders are Helpful.
The Scout Oath every Scout swears is that they will “Help Other People at All Times”. The Scout Oath is our code, our moral guide – it is about Duty to God, Country, Community (others) and Self. Scouts have a Duty to Help themselves by keeping themselves “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” I have always said that everyone is a leader and the first person you must lead is yourself.
The difference between exceptional leaders and average leaders is that they are helpful to other people at all times. They think of others first, always, and themselves last, always. This type of servant leadership allows the leaders to be admired and honored for their ethical and moral decisions because they always put others first.
There are two types of Scouts:
On My Honor, I will Do My Best, To Do My Duty, To God and My Country, To Obey the Scout Law, To Help Other People at All Times, To Keep Myself Physically Strong, Mentally Awake and Morally Straight.
The first Scout ACTUALLY believes this. It gives them comfort, it sets goals, it guides their thinking and their decision making. It drives their Leadership to help others and to be Helpful at all times.
The second Scout rattles off the oath and then serves only himself. He can recite the Oath, but it means nothing to him. He can recite the Law, but they just get in the way of what he really wants – credit. Credit for being a Scout. And that credit says “look what I have done” In the end, one Scout is going to be an excellent leader of others and the other Scout is an excellent leader of themselves and will step on others to get what they want. Which leader will have the most admirers, colleagues, true friends when darkness falls on their campfire one last time?
An Oath is a choice. If you choose to take it, you will be held to it. The Scout Oath clearly states you will abide by the Scout Law, and if you take the Oath, will we hold you to the Law as well. As a youth, you will find it annoying, as an adult, you will find it to be the lantern in the dark and the beacon in the light.