Boy Scout law provides words to live by

By Nanya Friend,, July 19, 2014


14654794326_d07ffbd5f8_kSummer is passing quickly, and an item on my to-do list remains.

I want to see the new Boy Scout high-adventure camp in Fayette County. Members of the public can buy passes to The Summit for Fridays and Saturdays through mid-August.

This week I gained new resolve to go.

Daily Mail Editorial Page Editor Kelly Merritt had just asked me for a column when I received a call from my brother, who lives in Houston.

As usual, we updated each other on the lives of our grown children. A close relationship is required to brag or whine about your kids without fear of being a bore.

I was expressing gratitude for the way my son’s many Boy Scout experiences had prepared him to deal cheerfully with challenges, and my brother began to speak eloquently about the influence of Scouting on his own life.

“I wish you’d write that and send it to me to use as a column,” I told him.

To my surprise, he did so. So I’m sharing this piece by Eric Gadd, who grew up with me on Charleston’s West Side:

“I ruminate on the eternal and powerful nature of words.

“If words are eternal, which ones will I chose to live by? The answer for me: those that resonate with my soul, ones that strike an immortal harmonic. Not to put too fine a point on it: if I infuse myself with the right words, I’ll gain everlasting life.

“For me, the Boy Scouts of America have aptly articulated words to live by.

14488603281_d414ef27aa_k“When I was an 11-year-old ‘tween’, my father commanded me to learn all the words adopted by the Boy Scouts — and there was no questioning his authority. Trust me, being the son of a Scoutmaster was tough duty but I’m thankful for his strict tuition.

“The Scout Law says that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

“Repeat these words 10,000 times and see if you can avoid their power. They shape your life. You become them. And, if you fall down in the practice of them, you know it.

“The Scout motto: ‘Be prepared.’

“These simple words directed me to acquire knowledge and skills before blindly striking out on a new endeavor. Honestly, they gave me the desire to chase adventures because I believed that I could figure out how to break down any risk into manageable tasks. Education is powerful.

“The Scout slogan: ‘Do a good turn daily,’ help an old lady across the street. Trust me, I helped a lot of old ladies. I mowed their grass, cut their weeds, ran errands, played cards and watched TV with them. Some people call this good citizenship. What I learned is that helping other people is a source of joy or, to borrow a phrase, ‘chicken soup for the soul’.

9714276166_4b0ec08d11_k (1)“The Scout Oath: ‘On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.’ Jesus said it more simply: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ This is a tough one, especially when people are disagreeable and when I become lazy. Not everybody is like me, so I’ve had to learn to respect their differences without sacrificing my values. I’ve also had to learn to exercise self-discipline. By the way, this didn’t happen overnight and is a continuing struggle.

“How do I know that these words from the Boy Scouts are powerful and eternal?

“Well … my sister and I used our sons in an experiment. With a nod to Dad, we made sure our guys became Scouts. And you know what: it worked. They absorbed the words (not without a few hair-raising episodes) and became capable, caring, independent, honorable men. I like to think of them as latter day knights. Excuse me, but in my heart, I’m a hopeless romantic.

“Not everybody will choose the words of the Boy Scouts as a path to intangible and immortal values for themselves and their children. If you don’t, please take the time and trouble to find the ‘word’ that will guide you and your family and be the source of joy in your lives.

“By the way, don’t hesitate to repeat that ‘word’ 10,000 times.”

My brother inspires me to actually make that trip to the new Boy Scout mecca in Fayette County.

For $25, visitors can see the gorgeous natural setting plus all the newly constructed features, such as a five-story treehouse and a winged bridge. A $55 action pass will let the able-bodied experience zip lining, climbing and more.

It’s West Virginia’s new proving ground for young knights from across the country.

Nanya Friend retired last year as editor and publisher of the Daily Mail.


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This blog is managed and written by staff of the Communications Department of the Boy Scouts of America.