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The BSA's 17 Ideals for Scouts

Scout programs around the world have a Scout Motto, Scout Promise, and Scout Law. While varying, they tend to provide a similar set of ideals for their youth and adults. The Boy Scouts of America's Motto, Slogan, Oath (with its three parts), and Law (with its 12 points) provide a set of 17 Ideals to live by.

Scout Motto

Be Prepared

Most Scouting organizations use a variant of this motto (often translated as "Always Ready", "Always Alert", or something close). Our Scouting in Every Country page shows the Motto for almost every Scouting country.

Here is a brief listing of all countries that I could find that use a Scout Motto that is different.

These countries emphasize being prepared for service:

These countries have various different mottos:

Scout Slogan

Do a Good Turn Daily

While most Scout organizations don't call it a slogan, the concept of the daily Good Turn is universal in Scouting.

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scouting in most countries uses the term "Promise", though the BSA more often calls its Promise the Scout Oath (Baden-Powell's original term was "Scout's Oath"). The BSA Oath consists of the three ideals of:

Most Scout Promises around the world also express the concept of a Scout's three duties or obligations, but more often follow the three obligations contained in Baden-Powell's original Scout Promise:

  1. Honour God and the King (nowadays usually stated as duty to God and country [or in countries of the British Commonwealth, duty to God and Queen])
  2. Help others
  3. Obey the Scout Law

The three fingers of the international Scout sign, and the three leaves of the international Scout insignia (fleur-de-lis), remind us of these three obligations. All Scout Promises include the concept of making a promise based on one's sacred Honor.

Scout Law

A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent.

The Scout Law varies quite a bit around the world, but most express the principles of honesty and trust, loyalty, helpfulness, friendship and courtesy, obedience, and cheerfulness. The BSA's Scout Law has twelve points; while most countries have from seven to ten points.

Each of the Scout Law's 12 points has a standard explanation that is part of the full wording of the Law. The original wording went unchanged for 61 years (1911-72). In 1972, the explanation was rewritten, and it seems the BSA just can't leave the explanation alone, changing it almost every time the Scout Handbook is updated, even though the 'improvements' are of questionable value.

1911-72 Wording

A Scout is:

1972 Wording

A Scout is:

1990 Wording

A Scout is:

1999 Wording

A Scout is:

2009/2016 Wording

A Scout is:

2019 Wording [changes to remove gender-specific wording]

A Scout is:

Another Interpretation

Here is another interpretation of the 12 points of the Scout Law, as we present them to our Scouts at the beginning of summer camp:

  1. Tell the truth—always!
  2. Stand by and stick up for the other Scouts.
  3. Help anyone who needs your help.
  4. Be a friend to every other Scout (yes, every other Scout).
  5. Be polite to everyone (everyone).
  6. Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.
  7. Do what you're asked to do (don't complain, don't whine).
  8. Be cheerful, even in the rain.
  9. Take care of your stuff, and spend your money wisely.
  10. Be brave, even if you are afraid, and stick up for what you know is right.
  11. Wash your Kool-Aid mustache, take a shower every day—and keep your mind, your thoughts, and your mouth as clean as your body.
  12. Keep God in your daily life, and notice his handiwork everywhere we go.

Cub Scout Promise & Law of the Pack
Venturing Oath & Venturing Code
Sea Promise

As of 2015, the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack, and the Venturing Oath and Venturing Code, have been replaced by the Scout Oath and Scout Law used by Boy Scouts since 1911. This means that everyone in the Boy Scouts of America, from Lion Cub Scout to adult, now makes the same Oath and same Law. Sea Scouts have always used the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and additionally have a 'Sea Promise' relative to safe boating: "As a Sea Scout I promise to do my best: To guard against water accidents; To know the location and proper use of the lifesaving devices on every boat I board; To be prepared to render aid to those in need; To let those less able come first."

Mottos of All BSA Traditional Programs

The BSA's 17 Ideals for Scouts (in Spanish)

As part of its outreach to the Hispanic community, the BSA has translated some of its handbooks and literature into Spanish, including the Motto, Slogan, Oath, and Law.

El Lema Scout [Scout Motto]

Siempre listo

La Divisa Scout [Scout Slogan]

Hacer una buena acción cada día

La Promesa Scout (El Juramento Scout) [The Scout Promise/Oath]

Por mi honor
haré todo lo posible
para cumplir con mi deber hacia Dios y mi patria y
para obedecer la Ley Scout;
para ayudar a los demás en todo momento;
para mantenerme físicamente fuerte,
mentalmente alerta y moralmente recto.

La Ley Scout [Scout Law]

Un Scout es: Confiable, Leal, Servicial, Amigable, Cortés, Bondadoso, Obediente, Alegre, Ahorrativo, Valiente, Sano, Reverente.

Last Revision to This Page: 5 June 2021
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