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Cub Scouts Using Boy Scout Oath and Law

scout oath

In addition to the program changes, Cub Scouts saw another big change beginning June 1, 2015.  Instead of the Cub Scout Promise and the Law of the Pack, Cub Scouts adopted the Boy Scout Oath and Law.

So, why was this change made?  The Boy Scouts of America's mission “is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”  By exposing our boys to the Scout Oath and Law at a younger age, they are more likely to live by those values.

My first thought was that it will be difficult for younger boys to memorize the Oath and Law.  But our younger Cub Scouts won't be required to memorize them–only those boys working on their Arrow of Light rank will be required to recite them from memory.  The younger boys will need to “learn and say the Scout Oath, with help if needed.”

My second thought was that the younger boys won't understand the Oath and Law.  The task force that recommended the change asked for help from Scouters who have child development and linguistics experience and from Scouters who are educators.  Here is what they found:

• Both sets of value statements contain complex concepts requiring support and guidance for the user to fully understand and learn to live buy.

• Both sets of values statements are written at a relatively high reading level, but the Scout Oath is not significantly more difficult to read and comprehend than the Cub Scout Promise.

• The Law of the Pack is significantly more difficult for Cub Scout age boys to understand than either the Cub Scout Promise or the Scout Oath and contains concepts for which younger Cub Scouts are not developmentally prepared.

• Cub Scout age boys will be able to learn and comprehend the Scout Oath with support and guidance similar to that currently provided when learning the Cub Scout Promise (cards as prompts, guided discussion on meaning, etc.).

• Cub Scouts in early ranks should not be expected to memorize the Scout Law but are developmentally ready to begin exposure to the words of the Law and are ready to begin building understanding of the concepts with help.
Source:  Bryan on Scouting

As we discussed this at the Cub Scout training I attended at Philmont, Bob Scott (BSA's Cub Scout experience manager) compared the Law of the Pack, the Scout Oath and the Pledge of Allegiance.  He told us that the Scouters who studied this found that the Law of the Pack is written at about a seventh grade reading level, the Scout Oath is about a ninth or tenth grade level and the Pledge of Allegiance is at about an eighth grade level.

As Bob gave the analogy of the Pledge, it made me stop and think.  We don't hesitate to teach kindergarteners (and even pre-schoolers) the Pledge.  They don't understand it, but they learn it.  Understanding comes as they mature.  I believe this will be the case for our boys who are learning the Scout Oath and Law.

As part of this change, the Core Values of Cub Scouts have changed so that they align with the 12 points of the Scout Law.  Our new pack meeting plans reflect the 12 points.  However, they will not be in the same order as the Scout Law.

character compass

Instead of the very structured “know-commit-practice” process, our boys will read about real-life application of the Law through Character Compass points throughout their books.  Here is an example of a Tiger Compass point:  

To me, these points are much easier for a boy to understand because they are giving real-life examples.  Compare the image above to this excerpt of a Wolf “know-commit-practice” activity:  “Discuss these questions with your family: What is a promise? What does it mean to ‘keep your word?' What does honesty mean? What does it mean to ‘do your best?'”

So, what is staying the same?  We'll still have Akela as the Cub Scout's leader.  We'll also keep the current Cub Scout motto, sign, salute, and handshake.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this change.

Yours in Scouting,

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up below so you can stay up to date on the changes!


Saturday 16th of July 2016

I took the new bobcat requirements and ran with it, and in just a few weeks, the boys had memorized both by using these 2 songs. - Scout law - Scout Oath

We have several songs we sing before each Metting gets started, Make New Friends, Deep in the Heart of Cub Scouts and trusty Tommy are just a few we do to get things rolling. Music helps kids memorize things. It works!

Lori R

Wednesday 1st of October 2014

Since we heard of this change a couple of years ago, I have had my wolf scouts learning the Oath & Law. They are memorizing it already. They love saying it every week. I think this is a great change


Wednesday 22nd of October 2014

Great! Thanks for sharing.

Herbert Cohn

Thursday 28th of August 2014

Unfortunately, I cannot agree with the opinion discussed regarding the change to Cub Scouts learning the Scout Oath and Law. According to educators that I personally know the chance of a 1st and 2nd grader being able to memorize both is slim. It is also reasonable to assume that a 3rd grader in some cases may be able to memorize it but their ability to understand the concepts in the Scout Law is slim. I do not understand the statement that it will be easier then a Cub understand the concept of Akela (a leader being a scout leader, a parent or other adult, a clergy person, etc.) The concept of a Pack growing is quite simple as is a Scout growing. I am a Commissioner active in both Cub Scout Units and Boy Scout Units and can tell you that when I recently asked a Boy Scout what Reverant meant, he replied that he did not know.


Thursday 28th of August 2014

Herbert, thank you for your opinion. Yes, this is going to be a big change for us. One of the things we heard during the training class was that exposure to the concepts early may help alleviate the issue you mention of a Boy Scout not knowing what the points mean.

One thing to remember is that the boys will not be required to memorize the Oath & Law until they are working on their Arrow of Light rank.

We'll just have to see how our little guys do with these big changes!