The Scoutmaster’s Corner: A Scout is Obedient

“A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.”

~ The Boy Scout Handbook, 12th edition

Obedience is an important part of your daily life as a Scout. The most common example that Scouts give to me of being obedient usually comes in the form of “I take out the garbage when my mom asks me” or something similar. This is a great example of being obedient to our parents. Obedient children are the apple of their parents eye.

As the Scout handbook points out, obedience goes beyond doing what your parents ask. It also includes being obedient at school, within your troop and obeying the laws of your community and your country. I want to focus for a moment on being obedient in your Troop.

A wise Scout will quickly notice that there is a hierarchy to Scouting. The Senior Patrol Leader is handing out orders to his Patrol leaders who in turn are directing their patrols to accomplish a task. For many young men striving for independence and identity, this can manifest as a rebellion to the Scout leaders. Some Scouts think that getting into a position of leadership is a great way to boss around their friends. In reality, the opposite is true. When Scouts take on added responsibility in the form of leadership, they quickly find the added responsibility means leaders need to rely on the entire team working together to accomplish the Patrol and Troop goals. Additionally, a mature and disciplined Scout knows that obedience even when we disagree is the key to success in Scouting.

It is important to note that this point of the Scout Law also points out that if a Scout finds rules to be unfair, “ . . .he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner . . .”. Sometimes the rules are wrong, and just because someone is a leader does not mean they are always right. A Scout will work to change the rules (and laws) that he finds to be unfair or incorrect. But keep in mind the key part of this is “. . .in an orderly manner . . .”. There is always a right way to make change. Within the Troop, that is working with the Scout and Adult leadership when change is needed. In your community and in your country, there are other paths to orderly change.

Learning obedience now will equip you for your future in Scouting, in your family, in your school, and ultimately your workplace. Obedience is key to making this parts of your life work to their fullest ability. Remember that obedience to authority figures is important to accomplish common goals especially in Scouting. Your Senior Patrol Leader is not barking orders because he likes to boss your around, but he knows what needs to get done and needs the help of everyone to get it done. Also bear in mind that if you disagree, look to the orderly method to make change rather then simple disobedience.

~William Schmidt, Scoutmaster – Troop 204

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