“A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean” ~ Boy Scout Handbook. 9th Edition (1979)

“A Scout keeps his body and mind fit. He chooses friends who also live by high standards. He avoids profanity and pornography. He helps keep his home and community clean.” ~ Boy Scout Handbook. 12th Edition (2010)

This time, I have chosen to give you quotes from two different editions of the Boy Scout Handbook. The first is from my personal Scout book (9th edition) from when I was a Boy Scout. The second is the most recent edition (12th). Do you see the difference? In the 12th edition, the following phrase has been added: “He avoids profanity and pornography”. It is not by accident that this phrase has been added.

Pornography has become a pervasive problem in our society. Since I was a Boy Scout, the availability of these destructive images has increased dramatically. The research is clear: Pornography changes your brain chemistry, it affects your body like a drug, it is addictive, and the addiction escalates over time. Pornography will permanently alter your view of healthy relationships.

Profanity can also destroy relationships. Your words can be a tool to build someone up, or to tear them down. There is no reason or benefit to using profanity. Dirty jokes, vulgar language, and racial slurs have no place in Scouting. Not only should you not say these things, but you should make it clear to others that you will not tolerate that kind of talk.

A Scout is clean is still about taking a shower once a week. Keep your body and your mind fit. Keep your home and community clean; but clean is also about guarding what you put into your body, and what comes out. Make sure that what enters your body through your eyes, ears and mouth is clean. Make sure that what comes out of your body (mouth) is also clean, and is used to build others up and not to tear them down.

Perhaps the most important step is the very practical phrase: “He chooses friends who also live by high standards”. Having a friend who will hold you accountable to avoiding the wrong things and filling your body and mind with the right things will be one of the best things you can do. If you want to talk to someone about how to be clean, I am available to meet with you, and if you would like to find a friend who can hold you accountable, I can help with that as well.

William Schmidt, Scoutmaster – Troop 204

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