Thursday, May 31, 2012

The BSA's Declaration of Religious Principle

The BSA has a very well defined statement that is on all of it's application forms and many other documents, that explains it's exact stance on religious principals.  

Declaration of Religious Principle
The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which a member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.

As with anything on religion, There will be some that disagree with it. Some will argue that it is too inclusive, that they can't agree that all Religious faiths should be treated equally. There will be others that argue in the other direction, that by Excluding Atheists, the BSA is wrong.

But either way, it is a private organization, and this is the stance you sign on with when you register as a leader, or register your son as a scout. It doesn't mean you have to believe this outside of a scouting context. When I'm in church on Sunday, I'll definitely have my own opinions about what I believe, and I will say that the faith I follow is correct, and that others are incorrect. 

But as far as scouting goes, on Thursday evenings, that's not the place for me to be making that particular distinction.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

American Heritage Girls

So far, I've talked a lot about the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts on this Blog. There is another group that is rapidly growing, the American Heritage Girls.

AHG was started in 2005, by a group of parents that were seeking an all girl program for their daughters, that was more in line with their personal beliefs. As of 2012, they have about 19,000 members in 45 states. (Reference)

AHG is a specifically Christian organization. While there are a large number of overlaps with other scouting organizations, it does not have the interfaith approach that some other organizations do. From what I understand, Religious education is specifically built into the program. It is not specific to one denomination, but it is specifically Christian.

Several protestant denominations and some Catholic churches utilize the AHG program as part of their Children's ministries.

The BSA has also signed a "Memorandom of Mutual Support" with the AHG. I'm not 100% sure exactly what that entails, but some of the things I have seen occur are an AHG presence at Philmont, AHG Leaders are welcome to participate at BSA training events, including Woodbadge, and AHG units are encouraged to sponsor Venture Crews.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Faith Modeling vs. Faith Teaching

For those of us who view our scouting program as part of our church's ministry, this can be a very tricky line to tread. This is true especially for those serving in a role like Chaplain in a multifaith Boy Scout Troop.

Within Scouting, generally speaking, we don't want to try to impose our specific religious beliefs on others. These scouts each come from families which have their own faith tradition. As a Scout Leader, It's not my role to give religious instruction to the scouts. If they have questions, I can answer them, but my main role in regards to faith is to set a good model for them to follow. As I've heard it stated before, "We should be able to set an example, so that people around us will know we are Christians, even if we don't tell them." But from a scouter's point of view, I want to encourage the scouts to follow their family's faith. This is Faith Modeling, where I can show the boys what someone who sincerely follows their faith looks like. That means I've got to be on my best behavior and set a good example for them at all times.

Faith Teaching is something quite different. This is what one might do as a Sunday School teacher, or at Vacation Bible School, or in some specifically religious setting. If you have done a good job reaching out to the scouts in your unit and inviting them, hopefully some of the youth from scouts will also be in the sunday school class. But at any rate, their presence there at this kind of event means that the parents have entrusted you and your congregation to lead the child in a religious education. Although it might be the same leader, and the same kid, and in some cases even in the same classroom in the church basement... It's two different settings.

It doesn't mean that you quit being a Christian when you put on your scouting uniform. But it does mean that you respect the differences in situation, and remember that some parents have entrusted you with imparting Scouting's Values, while other parents have entrusted you with imparting specific religious beliefs. Although there is a HUGE overlap between the two, there is a distinction, and that's the difference between Modeling your faith and Teaching your faith.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah Grace

Just because we are being respectful to God when saying Grace, doesn't mean we can't make it something fun for the scouts. Here's a great one for the Disney fans out there. 
Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah Grace
(To the tune of Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah, of course)

Zip-a-dee-do-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay,
I am grateful for God's blessings today.
I've plenty to eat, drink and to share,
I sit at God's table and see love everywhere.
 Source: Songs for Scouts

Sunday, May 27, 2012


The seventh point of the scout law is:
A Scout is Kind.
A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.
A Few Bible Verses that seemed relevant to the points being made in this part of the scout law:
Proverbs 15:1 - A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Luke 6:31 - And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Proverbs 12:10 - A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Don't forget about your own differences

Way back when I was a Cub Scout, for one year our Pack was chartered by a Catholic Church. I had been brought up in a family that generally attended a Baptist church. Being in NC, most of the boys in the pack were more than likely from some protestant denomination.

In many protestant denominations, communion is considered open to all who profess Christianity. In the Catholic church, they practice closed communion, where it can only be offered to those who follow their particular faith.

(I'm not going into the details of why here, but there are deeply held theological opinions on both sides as to why each church handles it the way it does.)

On Scout Sunday, all of us Cub Scouts were sitting there together, all in uniform, hopefully being well behaved. Anyway, when we got to the part of the service where it was time to receive communion, all the cub scouts lined up, not realizing that it was not open to all, as we had probably seen in our home churches. Our Den Leader who was Catholic had to grab us out of the line, and it was a little embarrassing to both us and her. I don't think it was ever explained well to us why we could not participate.

Anyway, my point of bringing this up, is that before you invite Scouts to participate in your own church's services, remember that you too may have some unique part of the service that the scouts and possibly their parents need to be made aware of. In that particular case, it was who was eligible for communion. At my current church, I had to make sure that all the parents knew what ages were welcome to go down to the Children's church part of the service, and where to get their kids after service was over.

Look over your own church service, and think about what things might need to be explained in advance to those who are visiting. That's probably a great rule for every Sunday, not just Scout Sunday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

LDS Venture Crews

On his 16th Birthday, a boy in the LDS can join a Venture Crew. For non-LDS scouts, the age range is 14-21.

Again, as with the other levels, a significant amount of religious instruction is included within their version of the program, as it is used as their young men's ministry program.

Next, I will discuss the LDS Religious Emblems, which are designed to be age appropriate, and work with the boy's maturity levels from cub levels up thru their days on a Venture Crew.

More detailed information about the LDS Boy Scout program is available here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

LDS Varsity Teams

On his 14th Birthday, a boy involved in an LDS scout unit can move up to a Varsity Team. For non-LDS units, anyone 14-18 can be in a Varsity Team. In LDS Units, this is limited to the 14-15 year old ages.

The Varsity Program is available to non-LDS groups, but is used much more frequently within the LDS chruch than it is for non-LDS scouts.

Again, as with the other levels, a significant amount of religious instruction is included within their version of the program, as it is used as their young men's ministry program.

As with all Varsity Scouts, as long as the boys have earned their first class rank in the Boy Scout Troop, they can continue on their progression to Eagle until their 18th birthday.

More detailed information about the LDS Boy Scout program is available here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

LDS Boy Scouting

On his 11th birthday, a boy joins the Troop, and is a member of the 11 year old patrol. This patrol is handled quite differently than the way non-LDS troops would run a First Year Scout program.

First, the boys are only allowed to camp 3 nights during the year, enough to meet the requirements for their first class rank. Each trip should be a one night trip, and is held separate from the rest of the troop. In other activities, including weekly meetings, the 11 year old patrol would meet separately from the remainder of the troop, and would not participate in most normal events, with the exception of Court of Honor ceremonies, etc.

When he turns 12, he can become a part of a patrol within the larger part of the troop. Administratively, this may seem unusual to non LDS members, but a large amount of significance is placed on the 12th birthday within that church, thus their reasoning behind the way the 11 year old patrol is handled separately from the rest.

At ages 12-13, they are members of the troop, and for the most part other than the prohibition about travelling to/from campsites on Sundays, there are not a lot of major differences for boys in an LDS troop.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

LDS Cub Scouting

There are a few differences between LDS Packs and Non-LDS Packs.

  • LDS Packs have boys move up based on age, not school year.
  • At 8, you become a Wolf
  • At 9 you become a Bear
  • At 10 you become a Webelos
  • At 11, you transition into a Boy Scout troop.
  • There is no Tiger Cub Program
  • Cub Scouts and Webelos do not have any overnight camping trips other than Family Camping Trips
  • No travel to or from camping trips will occur on Sundays. (Most will pack up Saturday evening.)
More on the LDS's Troop Level program tomorrow

Monday, May 21, 2012

LDS Church and Scouting

In a previous post, I mentioned how the Mormon Church (Also referred to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS) utilizes the Boy Scout Program as an integral part of their church's youth ministry. This Pamphlet talks about some of the details about the LDS-BSA relationship.

Within the LDS, Packs, Troops, Teams and Crews are sponsored by the church, and religious education is offered alongside the typical scouting program.

The LDS Church sponsors more BSA units than any other organization, 37,928 as of 2010.

This week, I'll be discussing some of the distinctive aspects of the LDS's Scouting program, and how it may differ from non-LDS units.

Disclaimer: I'm a Methodist, who is not fully familiar with the LDS Scouting Program. If I get any details wrong, I apologize. Please correct me if you notice any errors and I will correct them ASAP.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The Fifth point of the Scout Law:
A Scout is Courteous.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 reads:
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Christ sets the example that we should not value some above others because of their position or abilities, that all of us are important, and all of us are worthy of respect, whether we are the equivalent of the brain, the hand, the foot or even the big toe. All of us are important and worthy of respect.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chaplain's Aide

Within a Boy Scout Troop, Team or Crew, one of the positions of responsibility available is Chaplain's Aide.

The Requirements for this position are that they

  1. Be mature and sensitive and have earned the respect and trust of his or her fellow Scouts.
  2. For a troop chaplain aide, be at least a First Class Scout; for Venturing, be an established member of a Venturing crew.
  3. Have received—or be working toward completing the requirements leading to—the age-appropriate religious emblem for his or her faith.
This is a position that not every troop has filled. If there is a available boy who is not ready to fulfill this role in a mature, serious manner, it is probably best not to have the position filled, and have adult leaders take these responsibilities.

The Responsibilities of this position include:
  • Maintain the troop's religious emblems award progress chart.
  • Present an overview of the various religious emblems programs to the troop at least annually, instructing members to contact their own clergyperson or religious counselor to guide them in the appropriate study programs.
  • Compile and keep an up-to-date list of local clergy who have agreed to be counselors for the religious emblems programs.
  • Present an overview of the religious emblems programs to Cub Scout dens and packs on request.
  • Serve as the youth coordinator for the observance of the annual Scout Sabbath or Sunday in February.
  • Working with the troop chaplain, usually a member of the clergy, compose a Sabbath service appropriate for all troop members during weekend campouts. Invite the troop chaplain to visit a campout, eat with the troop, and conduct a worship service.
  • Prepare a troop prayer.
  • Assist the troop chaplain, or other appropriate adult, to plan and conduct a religious emblem recognition ceremony. Presentation of a religious emblem is the responsibility of the local religious institution in which it is earned, though it is appropriate for the troop to recognize boys who have received religious emblems at courts of honor.
  • Encourage troop members to strengthen their own relationship with God through personal prayer and devotions and participation in religious activities.
  • Participate in patrol leader's council planning sessions, ensuring that a spiritual emphasis is included, e.g., vespers, prayer before meals, religious observances, etc.
  • Working with the troop chaplain, compose an appropriate prayer for before and after meals. When composing these prayers, the chaplain and chaplain aide should be sensitive to the various theological and religious positions embraced by the faiths represented in the group.
  • Work with the troop chaplain to plan appropriate religious services for all members during weekend troop campouts. Troops may conduct their own religious services, invite the troop chaplain or an exemplary layperson to participate in the service, or they may visit a nearby church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or other religious institution.
The Chaplain's Aide is a position of responsibility that can be used as part of rank advancement while a scout is working toward their Star, Life and Eagle Ranks.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Prayer by Chief Yellow Lark, of the Sioux Tribe

O’ great spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!  I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may know the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

Written by Chief Yellow Lark, Sioux, 1887

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scout Vespers

One of the most beautiful scouting related songs, this is an excellent way to end a Campfire Ceremony, or a Scouts Own Service.

Scout Vespers
(To the Tune of Tannebaum or Oh Christmas Tree.)
Softly falls the light of day,
While our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask
Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
Everything to be prepared?

Listen Lord, oh listen Lord,
As I whisper soft and low.
Bless my mom and Bless my dad,
These are things that they should know.
I will keep my honor Bright,
The oath and law will be my guide.
And mom and dad this you should know,
Deep in my heart I love you so.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Buddhist Religious Emblems

Buddhist Scouts have different Religious awards that can be earned, depending on what scouting organization they are in.

Girl Scout Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors can all earn the Padma Award. There are 4 different sets of requirements, one at each level.

Brownies will receive a certificate and the Padma pendant in chocolate on completion.
Juniors will receive a certificate and the Padma pendant in bronze on completion.
Cadettes will receive a certificate and the Padma pendant in Silver on completion.
Seniors will receive a certificate on completion.

Cub Scouts and Webelos can earn the Metta Award, while Boy Scouts can earn the Sangha Award.

[Karuna Medallian]

Campfire Boys and Girls can earn the Karuna Award,

Adult Scout Leaders can earn the Bodhi Award

The National Buddhist Committee on Scouting has more detailed information on all of these awards, and what must be done to earn them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Worship in the Outdoors

I've been in a number of beautiful churches, with stained glass windows, Comfortable cushions on the pews, elegant lighting, and a wonderful sound system. Our family was dressed up in our sunday best, ready to sit and listen.

But the most beautiful church I've ever had the opportunity to attend had none of those things. In fact, we didn't even show up in our sunday best. I'm pretty sure most of us still had yesterday's clothes on, and smelled of campfire smoke.

At Camp John J. Barnhardt, as you head toward the Outdoor Chapel, you come to the top of a hill. From the top of that hill, you look down on a beautiful forest, with a lake in the background. If you luck out on the weather, you might see rays of sunshine peeking out from behind a cloud as you find a seat.  It's a beautiful place to spend part of a Sunday morning, before breaking camp and heading back into civilization.
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver
What is your favorite place for an Outdoor worship service?

Monday, May 14, 2012

God and Service Adult Award

I have already discussed the God and Country awards for youth, but there is one additional award, named the God and Service Award that can be earned by Adults. It can be utilized by most of the same churches that award the Youth God and Country series of awards.

A God and Service recipient should:

1. Have a minimum of 5 years of service to the church.
2. Have a minimum of 5 years of service (be fully trained and exhibit past and present leadership) in the
youth agency (BSA, GSUSA, CFUSA, AHG).
3. Encourage and assist young people in earning the P.R.A.Y. award.
4. Promote religious observances at youth agency functions at all levels.
5. Encourage youth to participate in community service projects.
6. Recruit volunteers to give leadership to national youth agency programs.
7. Promote the organization of youth agency units among churches other than his or her own congregation.
8. Be a person whose Christian example is highly regarded by others in the church and whose lifestyle is a
model for young people.

A Nomination Letter, and a form must be submitted to the PRAY  organization that runs the God and Country series of awards.

There are several versions of this award, specific to particular denominations. All have the same requirements, but many denominations have a different appearance.

God and Service
African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion)

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Christian Methodist Episcopal
National Association of Anglican and Traditional Catholic Scouters

United Church of Christ
United Pentecostal Church International
Protestant, Independent Christian and Non-Denominational Churches

God and Service AME
African Methodist Episcopal (AME)

God and Service

God and Service Presbyterian
Presbyterian Church (PC USA)
God and Service
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

God and Service Methodist
United Methodist Church

There are several other denominations that use the God and Country Series of awards for youth, but use some other award than the God and Service Award. These include

Baptist - Good Shepard award
Church of Christ, Scientist - No Adult Award
Episcopal - Saint George Episcopal Award
Lutheran - Lamb Award,  Servant of Youth Award
Moravian - The Order of David Zeisberger Award
Salvation Army - Scouter's Award

Sunday, May 13, 2012


The Fourth Point of the Scout Law:
A Scout is Friendly.
A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.
I think the best scripture to illustrate this principle is the parable of the Good Samaritan
Luke 10:30-37 (NIV)
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
It is important to note that in the context of the times when Jesus gave this parable, Samaratans and Israelites hated each other. This person was not merely giving comfort to a person he knew, but even on someone from a completely different group, most of whom hated him.

Teach the Scouts you work with that it is easy to be friendly to people who like you. It's a much larger test of one's character to be a friend to those who may dislike you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Service Project Coordinator

One of the trickier parts of building a scouting ministry is matching the right people with the right jobs. Lots of people in the congregation will say they don't know anything about camping, or they aren't ready to commit a lot of time to volunteer with scouts. You have to find something they are interested in.

One position I am carving out is that of "Service Project Coordinator". This is not an official position in the BSA or GSUSA, but would probably fall under that generic role of "Committee Member"

This would be an ideal role for someone from the church who can help advise and suggest service projects for the Pack or Troop to participate in. Odds are, you have some people in the church that are highly involved in ministries that give back to the community, such as a Food Pantry, or Clothing Closet. These kind of people would be ideal for coming up with great ideas for service opportunities for your scouts.

For Older Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, they may be able to help with Eagle or Gold Projects as well. Not so much handling the paperwork/documentation, but being a resource for the older scouts to explore ideas on how to help their community via a service project.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scouting as an internal ministry

A large amount of the posting that I have done here assumes that most scouting sponsored by churches is an outward facing ministry. That is, it is done with community involvement in mind. It welcomes people of all faiths,    and is not intended to include specific religious teaching from a particular set of beliefs.

There are certain exceptions to this. This would include cases where the scouting group is assumed to be open only to people already in that faith, and is run at least partially as an internal youth group would be run.

I wouldn't say one approach is superior to the other, but it is important to understand the difference between them. In a scouting group open to the community, a wide variety of faiths will be represented. In order to welcome others in, it is sometimes necessary to avoid focusing on the specifics of one's faith.

As an internal group, where all members are from within the same denomination, A scouting organization has a great deal more flexibility to incorporate important parts of the faith, and emphasize those, without worrying about what those in other faiths might think, since they wouldn't be part of the group, or hearing that particular lesson.

There is one major group that I can think of that utilizes scouting as an internal ministry. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (i.e. Mormon Church) commonly runs Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs that are intended to be primarily for members of the church. They utilize the framework of scouting as an integral part of their youth ministries.

It's definitely an important decision to make when a church begins a scout unit... Is this going to be primarily for us, or primarily for the community.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Adult Religious Award Square Knot

Adult Religious Award KnotSimilar to the Youth Religious square knot, adults can also earn one, that is Silver with a Purple Square Knot. The knot recognizes a person who has been awarded a religious scouting award from their own faith, such as the Jewish Shofar Award, the Roman Catholic St.George Award, or the God and Service Award, used by many Protestant Churches. has a list  Adult awards from various faiths.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Youth Religious Square Knot

If a Cub Scout/Boy Scout/Venturer has earned the Religious Emblem from their place of worship, they can also wear the Youth Religious Emblem Square Knot. It is purple with a Silver Knot. While the Religious Emblem Programs are part of each Religion / denomination, and are each unique depending on the faith, the Square Knot is a BSA award, recognizing the youth for being involved in their church, and earning that award.

If a scout has earned more than one religious emblem at varying times in his scouting career, there are devices that can be added to this to recognize each award. The example at the left shows one with the Cub Scout and Webelos Devices. There are also similar devices for Boy Scouts and Venturing.

  • Wear the CUB SCOUT device for the first level emblem (God & Me, Maccabee, etc.) earned as a Tiger Cub or Cub Scout;
  • Wear the WEBELOS SCOUT device for the second level emblem (God & Family, Parvuli Dei, Aleph, etc.) earned as a Cub Scout or Webelos Scout;
  • Wear the BOY SCOUT device for the first level emblem (God & Church, Ad Altare Dei, Ner Tamid, etc.) earned as a Boy Scout;
  • Wear the VENTURING device for the second level emblem (God & Life, Pope Pius XII, Etz Chaim, etc.) earned as an older Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, or Venturer.
Note that Webelos Scout and Venturing devices are used to designate the second level emblems described above, EVEN IF the boy isn't a Webelos Scout and/or Venturer when the member earns the appropriate religious emblem. Not all Religious Emblem Program ages line up perfectly with the BSA program ages.

Also, note that this award can be worn all throughout scouting, Even if earned as a Cub, they can continue to wear it as a boy scout, and even as an adult leader.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Webelos Requirements about Faith

As with the other Cub Scout Ranks, Webelos have some requirements related to faith they must complete before earning their rank. The Full Webelos Requirements are listed here, or in the Webelos Handbook.

A Webelos Scout has two options. They can earn the age appropriate religious emblem from their faith, or they can pick any two of the following:

  • Attend the mosque, church, synagogue, temple, or other religious organization of your choice; talk with your religious leader about your beliefs. Tell your family and your Webelos den leader what you learned.
  • Discuss with your family and your Webelos den leader how your religious beliefs fit in with the Scout Oath and Scout Law and what character-building traits your religious beliefs have in common with the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • With your religious leader, discuss and make a plan to do two things you think will help you draw nearer to God. Do these things for a month
  • For at least a month, pray or meditate reverently each day as taught by your family and by your church, temple, mosque, synagogue, or religious group.
  • Under the direction of your religious leader, do an act of service for someone else. Talk about your service with your family and your Webelos den leader. Tell them how it made you feel.
  • List at least two ways you believe you have lived according to your religious beliefs.
Again, these are all areas that a Den Leader or Cubmaster should tread carefully. When it is something specifically faith related, in many cases a parent and/or a religious leader should be the one to work with them. 

A few notable exceptions are mentioned here, where it specifically tells the boy to talk about it with a Den Leader. The scout is not only asked to learn about their faith, but also be able to tie it back into the Scout Oath and Law, and asked to tell the den leader about what they learned. This represents the fact that the boys are growing older, more mature, and start understanding that these ideas from different parts of their life tie together.

After either earning the Religious Emblem of their faith, or doing two of the choices above, they are asked to do the following, as part of the Character Connections: Faith
  • Know: Tell what you have learned about faith.
  • Commit: Tell how these faith experiences help you live your duty to God. Name one faith practice that you will continue to do in the future.
  • Practice: After doing these requirements, tell what you have learned about your beliefs.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The "God and Life" Program Grades 9-12

A large number of religious groups offer Religious Emblem programs for the youth in their congregation. The PRAY series of awards is used by a large number of protestant denominations.

The God and Life award is one of four awards in the God and Country series. It is age appropriate is for 9th-12th graders.

Please note, that this program is not only for Scouts, it is appropriate for all youth of these ages. Many churches, open the participation in this program to all age appropriate youth in the congregation.

A Brief overview of the program can be found here.

The following is a partial listing of the denominations that use the P.R.A.Y. program: African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Assembly of God, Baptist, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal, Church of God, Episcopal, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and Independent Christian churches.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


The third point of the Scout Law is:
A Scout is Helpful.
A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
What does it mean to be helpful? Scouts know about doing a good turn daily, but it's not enough to simply check off a list, and say "I did my one good deed for the day!" Scouting isn't a once a day sort of thing, and neither should being helpful
Mark 9:35 - Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Encourage your scouts to reach out to the boys in their troop and those around them in the world to help them. Does that new scout need help figuring out how to setup a tent? Be sure to praise the scout who goes over to help them without having to be prompted. Service toward others is a crucial part of leadership.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Camping with Observant Jewish Scouts (Part 2: Food)

I came across a very helpful document that talks about some of the ways we as scouters can accommodate the beliefs of Observant Jewish Scouts. It has many tips on how to handle food prep for Observant Jews in your troop.

It is recommended that Friday night dinner be a cold meal or precooked and reheated at the camp site before sundown. Food preparation at the campsite Friday night, Saturday lunch and Se'udah Shelishit may include salads (fruit and/or vegetables), relishes, sandwiches, etc. All foods must be kosher and have the [Kosher Symbol] or other appropriate symbols of kashrut. If there are only a few observant Jewish girls in the troop they may choose to supply their own food, which must be prepared and cooked separately. No other changes would be necessary.

Some of the notes from this document on Preparing the Kitchen:

For kashering the kitchen, heavy duty aluminum foil is needed to cover the counters and line the refrigerator shelves. To kasher the stove you must thoroughly wash out the oven and burners. Turn the burners on to the highest heat and leave them on until red hot. Dish basins should be used in the sink. Paper goods and plastic utensils should be used. Disposable aluminum pans for cooking and serving makes cleaning up easier. Cans may be opened on Shabbat but must be emptied and destroyed.
Notes on Prohibited foods:

  • Pork products cannot be used.
  • Shellfish cannot be used.
  • Meat and milk products cannot be mixed or served at the same meal.

This is something that we as scouters should take as seriously as we would a person with a severe allergy when doing food prep. That may mean we have to change some aspects of the program, camping preparations, or have a separate meal, etc. Even if we don't personally follow that religious faith, it is important to respect it and those who do follow it.

If it is possible, I would suggest that at least occasionally, you have some of the dishes prepared for all the scouts in the troop to partake in, especially if it is something that they may not normally have. This also helps to make all scouts in the troop feel included.

Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish, and may not understand all the rules to follow here... If this is a particular concern for your troop or pack because you have observant Jewish Scouts, look to the scout's parents or religious leaders for more specific and detailed advice.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Camping with Observant Jewish Scouts (Part 1: Schedules)

I came across a very helpful document that talks about some of the ways we as scouters can accommodate the beliefs of Observant Jewish Scouts.

Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest, and is observed from Friday evening just before sundown until Saturday evening.

Plan to arrive at the campsite early enough on Friday that you can setup camp, perform meal prep, and do any other activities prohibited during Shabbat before sundown.

If your troop divides up chores among the scouts, make sure that the Jewish scouts chores are ones that can be done before or after Shabbat, to make up for the fact they cannot perform many activities during that day.

Menus, Schedules and activities should be discussed among the scouts before the trip, to ensure that activities done during Shabbat are all things that the Jewish scouts can participate in.

Also, be sure to have all bathroom facilities lighted before dark on Friday, as these scouts would be unable to turn on the lights during Shabbat.

Prohibited activities:

  • No fires may be lit or extinguished on Shabbat. If fires are set before Shabbat, they are to be tended properly and allowed to burn out on their own. Please maintain proper fire safety rules for your area. [Note: I'm not sure if this prohibition applies only to the Jewish Scouts or to the entire group, but I think other group members could start/tend a fire.]
  • Flowers and leaves may not be picked. This applies even if vegetation has fallen off by itself.
  • No Scout knots may be tied or untied.
  • Writing of any kind is forbidden.
  • Cutting with scissors is forbidden
  • Musical instruments may not be played.

Suggested activities:

  • Nature Hikes
  • Kim's Game - see appropriate G.S. publication
  • Skits - use Award handbooks as resource material
  • Songs
  • Try-Its, Badges and Interest Projects
  • Scouts Own
  • Show and Tell
  • Chess and Checkers

Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish, and may not understand all the rules to follow here... If this is a particular concern for your troop or pack because you have observant Jewish Scouts, look to the scout's parents or religious leaders for more specific and detailed advice.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Chaplain's Responsibilities

Among the responsibilities of a Troop Chaplain, are the following, listed in the BSA training documents.

  • Provide a spiritual element for campouts and troop meetings
  • Provide spiritual counseling when needed or requested
  • Provide opportunities for all boys to grow in their relationship with God and their fellow Scouts
  • Encourage Scouts to participate in the religious emblems program of their respective faith
  • Be familiar with the chaplain aide section of this manual
  • Work with the troop chaplain aide to plan and conduct an annual Scout-oriented religious observance, preferably during Scout Week in February 

The first point, about providing a spiritual element at campouts and troop meetings does not mean that the Chaplain needs to be present at all times. Remember, the BSA is a youth led organization. The Chaplain may lead a prayer sometimes, but one of their biggest roles is working with one or more boys from the troop to prepare them to run a scout's own service. They may have the formal title and position of Chaplain's Aide, but that is not neccesary.

Encouraging all boys in the troop is something that the chaplain can do, and should also be done by other troop leaders. These religious emblems are something done in the scout's own home church, but they should be recognized by and encouraged by troop leaders, and the chartering organization.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bear Requirements about Faith

Bear Cub Scouts Have to do one of two faith-related requirements to earn their Bear Rank.

One Option is to earn the Religious Emblem for their faith. The details of this will vary depending on what church the Bear Cub Scout's family attends, and what Religious Emblem program they use. (if any)

The second option is to complete requirement 1: Ways We Worship

(Bear Handbook - Page 26)
Complete both requirements.
  • a. Complete the Character Connection for Faith.
    • Know. Name some people in history who have shown great faith. Discuss with an adult how faith has been important at a particular point in his or her life.
    • Commit. Discuss with an adult how having faith and hope will help you in your life, and also discuss some ways that you can strengthen your faith.
    • Practice. Practice your faith as you are taught in your home, church, synagogue, mosque, or religious fellowship.
  • b. Make a list of things you can do this week to practice your religion as you are taught in your home, church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious community. Check them off your list as you complete them.
As with most Cub Scout faith-related requirements, this is typically done with the parent, not during den meetings. 

Some of the things parents might do with their son to practice their religion include Daily Prayers, Bible Reading, or doing service for others.