One of the methods listed for both Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting is the Scouting Ideals. This year we celebrated 100 years since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. The boy scouts originated in England in 1908. The movement was founded by Robert Baden-Powell. From the beginning, the idea of, "Do a good turn daily," was fundamental to Scouting. The scouting movement traveled to America with William D. Boyce. According to legend, he was visiting London and became lost in the fog. He was assisted by a boy scout and was so impressed that he decided this was something the U.S. needed too.
In his talk "Scouting Builds Men" Ezra Taft Benson had this to say about Scouting Ideals:
I would to God that every boy of Boy Scout age could have the benefits and the blessings of the great Boy Scout program. It is truly a noble program; it is a builder of character, not only in the boys, but also in the men who provide the leadership. And character, after all, is the priceless thing you build in this life and take with you into the next. I have often said that Scouting is essentially a spiritual program, a builder of men. It is established upon a deeply spiritual foundation.
In the first part of the Boy Scout Oath we declare, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” Scouting emphasizes duty to God, reverence for sacred things, observance of the Sabbath, maintenance of the standards of the Church with which the boy is affiliated. As each boy repeats that pledge, usually at every Scout meeting or function, he says aloud in the presence of those whose friendship he values most highly, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God.” It cannot help but make a deep and lasting impression upon him. It becomes the foundation upon which a noble character is built. The oath also pledges duty to country, and that too is basically spiritual.
Scouting stresses service to others, and again this has a spiritual base. The Scout pledges to help other people at all times. Was it not the Master who said, “Whosoever will be chief among you; let him be your servant?” The slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily” has become emblazoned upon men’s lives far beyond its place of origin in the Boy Scout movement. Scouting also emphasizes duty to self. How charged with spiritual meaning are the words “to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight!”
There is a tendency to think of fitness solely in terms of the physical, in terms of bodily strength. But to be truly fit, truly equal to the demands of life, requires much more than bodily strength. It involves the mind and the training of the mind, the emotions and their use and control. Yes, and it involves the soul and the spiritual growth too. And that is why Scouting challenges our youth to be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
It seems to me that the most successful program of complete youth fitness ever known to man was described in 14 words. They are the words of the beloved disciple Luke in the New Testament. He uses just one sentence to cover a period of 18 years—the 18 years in which the Savior of the world, after returning to Nazareth from Jerusalem, prepared himself for his public life: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” There is the ideal of any program of youth fitness, to help our youth increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. It covers everything: physical fitness, mental fitness, social fitness, emotional fitness, spiritual fitness.
The Scout Law is fundamentally spiritual. The points of the law are expressions of virtues, of ideals; they are the basis of sound character. These virtues of trustworthiness, loyalty, bravery, helpfulness, kindness, obedience, cleanliness, reverence, and all the rest are what the past progress of the world is built upon.
A recent news article about an incident between Baptist and Mormon Scouters in Montana prompted many comments along the lines of, "Religion doesn't belong in Scouting. The BSA should not allow churches as sponsors." This sentiment has been around for years, as has the attitude many Church members have that, "Scouting doesn't belong in our religion." Scouting founder Baden-Powell said, "I have clearly stated that our objective in the Scout movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God's Kingdom on earth." You could not get more in line with our goals as a Church than that. He also said, "We merely lay before the boys... the simplest fundamental ethics of religion, and get them to put these into practice...We put them as Christ taught them in their two simple forms: 'Love thy God with all thy heart; and the second is like unto it - Love thy neighbor as thyself.'"