The Scout Promise (or Oath) is a spoken statement made by a child joining the Scout movement. Since the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908, all Scouts and Girl Guides around the world have taken a Scout (or Guide) promise or oath to live up to ideals of the movement, and subscribed to a Scout Law. The wording of the Scout Promise and Scout Law have varied slightly over time and from country to country. Although most Scouting and Guiding organizations use the word "promise", a few such as the Boy Scouts of America tend to use "oath" instead.

Scout Promise or Scout Oath
German Scouts of the Federation Scout Europe (FSE; today: Union internationale des Guides et Scouts d'Europe) at a Scout Promise ceremony at the St. George's mountain near the Lake Balaton in Hungary
German Scouts of the Federation Scout Europe at a 1992 Scout Promise ceremony at the St. George's mountain near the Lake Balaton in Hungary
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Typically, Scouts and Guides will make the three-fingered Scout Sign when reciting the promise.

Original 1908 text edit

In his original book on Boy Scouting, Baden-Powell introduced the Scout Promise, as follows:[1]

Before he becomes a scout, a boy must take the scout's oath, thus:

'On my honour I promise that—
  1. I will do my duty to God and the King.
  2. I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.
  3. I know the scout law, and will obey it.'

While taking this oath the scout will stand, holding his right hand raised level with his shoulder, palm to the front, thumb resting on the nail of the little finger and the other three fingers upright, pointing upwards:—

This is the scout's salute and secret sign.

World Organization of the Scout Movement requirements edit

The form of the promise has varied slightly from country to country and over time, but must fulfill the requirements of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) to qualify a National Scout Organization for membership. Together with clarifying its Scout Law, the Constitution of WOSM states:[2]

Article II, paragraph 2: "Adherence to a Promise and Law"

All members of the Scout Movement are required to adhere to a Scout Promise and Law reflecting, in language appropriate to the culture and civilization of each National Scout Organization and approved by the World Organization, the principles of Duty to God, Duty to others and Duty to self, and inspired by the Promise and Law originally conceived by the Founder of the Scout Movement in the following terms:

The Scout Promise

On my honour I promise that I will do my best—
To do my duty to God and the King (or to God and my Country);
To help other people at all times;
To obey the Scout Law.

In order to accommodate many different religions within Scouting, "God" may refer to a higher power, and is not specifically restricted to the God of the monotheistic religions. The WOSM Constitution explains "Duty to God" as "Adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom."[2]

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), which is a sister organization to WOSM, has the very same wording in their constitution (Part 4, Paragraph 2: Original Promise),[3] and follows similar policies.

In 2014, the WOSM passed a resolution, "Spirituality in Scouting", recognizing the importance of spirituality, but without defining it with the word "God".[4] The WOSM then convened a 2015 "Duty to God" task force, which in turn produced another draft resolution to be considered at the WOSM 2017 conference.[5] The final 2017 resolution passed indicated a need for further investigation, and for WOSM to take into consideration a member organization's "culture and civilization" if asked to approve changes to their Promise or Law. Conversely, a member organization was asked to consider the global movement and its goals if it requested alternative wording.[6] Implicit to both resolution statements was the possibility of introducing an alternative Promise or Law within a member organization.[original research?]

Alternative promises edit

Although the Constitution of WOSM states that the Promise should include a reference to Duty to God,[7] Scouting founder Lord Baden-Powell approved the use of promises with reference to a higher ideal, higher truth, an optional reference to God, or without a reference to God, for Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Finland.[8] Three of these countries still offer this alternative promise (France, the Netherlands and Czech Republic). WOSM stated in 1932 that no new exceptions would be made and expressed the hope that the few remaining countries would stop using a promise without any reference to Duty to God.[8]

The Israeli Scouts, though founded in 1919/1920, and joining WOSM in 1951 and WAGGGS in 1963, also have no "duty to God" or apparent equivalent in their promise.[9][10] Adat HaTzofim, the religious Jewish Scouts in Israel, do have "duty to God" in their promise.[11]

In 1969, the Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs israélites de France decided to discontinue using the reference to God due to its inconsistency with religious beliefs and practices from a Jewish perspective. Use of the word God (Dieu), derived from Zeus, can be seen as an inappropriate pagan reference in Jewish texts or education.[12][13]

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, some WOSM and WAGGGS affiliated organizations have introduced alternative promises for their programs, giving adherents a choice. Examples include Scouterna (Sweden),[14] Scouts Australia,[15] and Scouts Canada.[16]

Non-WOSM Scouting edit

Scout sections that follow traditional Scouting, such as Baden-Powell Scouts within the World Federation of Independent Scouts, use several promises including the original Scout promise above that includes the reference to God.[17] Some, however, for example the 1st Tarrant Scout Group in Fort Worth, Texas use a blend of the original promise[18] and the "Outlander Promise" which, "according to tradition", B-P wrote for Scouts that had to omit the reference to God or a monarch for reasons of conscience.[19]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Baden-Powell, C.B., F.R.G.S., Robert (1908). Scouting for Boys (Part I ed.). London: Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0192805478.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b "Constitution of the World Organization of the Scout Movement" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1 August 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 September 2021. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Constitution and Bye-Laws" (PDF). World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 1 September 2017.
  4. ^ "World Scout Conference Resolutions 1920–2017" (PDF). Resolution 2014-05. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Background Document Regarding Draft Resolution 2017-F Spirituality in Scouting" (PDF). The World Scout Committee. 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 October 2020.
  6. ^ "World Scout Conference Resolutions 1920–2017" (PDF). Resolution 2017-06. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  7. ^ "WOSM Constitution and By-Laws" (PDF). World Scout Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  8. ^ a b WOSM and WAGGGS (13 June 2001). "Report on the Discussion on the Fundamental Principles of WAGGGS and WOSM" (PDF). pp. 7–8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  9. ^ "Friends of Israel Scouts: About the Tzofim's Oath & Commandments". Archived from the original on 4 December 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  10. ^ "הנני מבטיח הבטחה שלמה לעשות כל מה שביכולתי | | The National Library of Israel". Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  11. ^ בן אליהו, נעמה (17 February 2012). "שלושה דורות בעדת הצופים". צופים ברשת (in Hebrew). Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Promesses des éclaireuses et éclaireurs israélites de France". Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  13. ^ "Paracha Ki Tétsé 576 : Dieu ou Bon Dieu ?". Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  14. ^ "The Scout Method and the Scout Law | Scouterna". (in Swedish). Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Promise and Law". Scouts Australia. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Values (Promise section)". Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  17. ^ "BP Scouting". BP Scouting. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  18. ^ "B-P Scouts Introduction". 1st Tarrant Baden-Powell Scouts. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  19. ^ "B-P Law & Promise". Inquiry Net. Retrieved 10 March 2007.