OBSERVANCES & SERVICES
SENSITIVITY TO RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES AND CUSTOMS IN PLANNING
Approach in the Early Scouting Days of Scouting
early days of Scouting, Baden-Powell devised a time for religious observance
that he called "The Scouts' Own." He explained it in the following manner:
Some Ideas on Scouts' Own
For an open Troop, or for
Troops in camp, I think the Scouts' Own should be open to all denominations, and
carried on in such manner as to offend none. There should not be any special
form, but it should abound in the right spirit, and should be conducted not from
any ecclesiastical point of view, but from that of the boy. Everything likely to
make an artificial atmosphere should be avoided. We do not want a kind of
imposed Church Parade, but a voluntary uplifting of their hearts by the boys in
thanksgiving for the joys of life, and a desire on their part to seek
inspiration and strength for greater love and service for others.
A Scouts' Own should have as
big an effect on the boys as any service in Church, if in conducting the Scouts'
Own we remember that boys are not grown men, and if we go by the pace of the
youngest and most uneducated of those present. Boredom is not reverence, nor
will it breed religion.
To interest the boys, the
Scouts' Own must be a cheery and varied function. Short hymns (three verses are
as a rule quite enough-never more than four); understandable prayers; a good
address from a man who really understands boys (a homely "talk" rather than an
address), which grips the boys, and in which they may laugh or applaud as the
spirit moves them, so that they take a real interest in what is said. If a man
cannot make his point to keen boys in ten minutes he ought to be shot! If he has
not got them keen, it would be better not to hold a Scouts' Own at all.
By Baden -Powell
Printed in The Scouter
Contemporary Concerns - Unit Leaders
In a time
fraught with lawsuits and vocal media criticism and with so many Scouts of
different religions, many Scouters are tempted to skip over the twelfth point of
the Scout law -- "A Scout Is Reverant." This is an understandable, but
unnecessarily harsh reaction that deprives Scouts from having an opportunity to
explore their own sense of spirituality.
the most difficulty comes with outings. What happens when a unit has a week-end
campout? What should the Scout leader do about religious observances and
services at outings? Should the unit conduct religious services? The answer is
not simple, because it depends upon the composition of the unit and religious
convictions of the Scouts. The fundamental planning consideration should be to
create an opportunity for the Scouts in a unit to have a time set aside for
religious observance. In planning, the Scout leader should take into
consideration the composition of the unit. In units where all of the Scouts are
of the same faith, a minister from that faith could be asked to act as the unit
chaplain and lead a worship service. In units that are more diverse, the time
could be devoted to a more inter-denominational service. In units that have
Scouts from many faiths, the time could be one devoted to responsive readings
that are non-denominational, silent reflection and prayer, and an extended
Scoutmaster's minute type thought tied in to the Scout Oath and Law.
the best approach is to set aside some time during the campout for Scouts to
have a non-denominational time of prayer and reflection. The leader should
announce that a time has been set aside for prayer and reflection and allow
Scouts to choose to either spend that time in personal reflection or in a group
this a successful experience for both the leader and the Scouts, consider the
about the religions of the Scouts, enough to avoid using material that would be
offensive to one or more of their faiths.
Involve the Scouts in the planning process and ask for their ideas.
religious instruction - this is the province of the Scout's parents and
Attendance must be voluntary. Similarly no Scout should be pressured to attend
or subjected to peer criticism for not attending.
the unit level, the religious observance should be simple and short using
material that does not indicate a preference for one faith over another.
Toleration for other beliefs should be encouraged.
Depending on the Scouts, you may be able to help foster understanding by
encouraging Scouts to share their beliefs with other Scouts. After all,
understanding is a necessary precondition for toleration.