The heart of the Scout Law is Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind. All the points of the Law are equally important and vitally important to Scouting. These four points, however, define the basics of how we interact with each other in the Scout Troop. Scouts who live by these four points of the Law will find their time in Scouting to be enjoyable and will avoid many troubles in life after Scouting.
A couple of times a year I sit down with the Troop during a regular Scout meeting, at a campfire or in a Scoutmaster minute and we talk about the Heart of the Scout Law. I often ask the Scouts to get out their Boy Scout Handbooks and read to me the definition of each one of these points. We then discuss and talk about what these mean in the context of the Troop.
A Scout is Helpful.
A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
A Scout is Friendly.
A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.
A Scout is Courteous.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
A Scout is Kind.
A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.
I really like to focus on Helpful and Courteous. I think most Scouts understand Friendly and Kind fairly well, though we do talk about those as comments and questions come up.
Helpful is extremely important in almost everything we do as a Patrol. No Helpful, no Patrol progress. The whole Patrol idea is built on helpfulness and cooperation. A Patrol where each Scout refuses to pitch in and help is a Patrol headed for trouble. Especially around mealtimes. Obviously, one of the best examples of Helpful is when a Scout pitches in and does his duty to clean up after a meal when it’s been assigned to him on the duty roster.
It is interesting to me that young Scouts often have very little idea what some of the points of the Scout Law actually mean. They’ve been with me for so long that I suppose that I forget that there was a time when I did not know some of this stuff (yeah, I know, back when dirt was being invented!). Two of these obscure points are often Courteous and Thrifty. The definition includes the word “polite” which is good, but I like to talk about the rules and guidelines that we as a society understand are necessary to normal human relations.
One of those guides include things like the Scout handshake. The handshake helps Scouts learn to interact with each other that prepares them for the adult version. The handhsake indicates that we interact as “equals”. We may not have the same position but we stand face to face as individuals. For instance, we don’t usually have relationships where one person bows or kneels before another person. We might talk about subjects like how to set a table, how to say thank you to a host, how to start and run a Patrol meeting and how to relate to adults. Most all societal norms are viable topics for discussion.
I think that it’s important that the Scoutmaster bring up the Scout Oath and Law during Scout meetings, Scoutmaster minutes and campouts. It’s very appropriate that the older Scouts discuss these with their Patrols but I think it’s also important that the adults also bring these up and emphasize their importance on a regular basis.