Room for one more? Your ideas for the 13th point of the Scout Law

Don’t panic! The Scout Law isn’t changing.

Why mess with something that’s been guiding Boy Scouts in this country since 1911?

The BSA’s version  — one of several variations from around the world — is a slight tweak from the 10 original points Baden-Powell published in his Scouting for Boys in 1908.

We all know it well, right? Say it with me: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Sounds good. But 100-plus years after it was written, it’s fun to think about what — if anything — is missing from the list. What would make a good 13th point for the Scout Law?

I turned to our Facebook friends, and many said they use this same question in Eagle Boards of Review.

Here are the top responses, sorted by number of mentions:

Hungry (19)

Chuck H. says, “There already is a 13th point to the Scout Law … A Scout is Hungry! I’ve known that since I was a Boy Scout 52 years ago!”

Humble (9)

David H. says, ” I have always said it should be ‘A Scout is Humble’ — Proud but not arrogant, confident yet open-minded and grateful for all that has and will come his way.”

Respectful (9)

Melony L. says, “My boys added Respectful onto theirs. They had a boy that talked back to his mother in front of them and they have added it on ever since.”

Tolerant (5)

Tara B. says, “I like Tolerant.”

Honest (4)

Mark W. says, “Odd that Honest isn’t in there, eh? So much is covered by the others though…”

Resourceful (4)

Janette H. says, “Resourceful, but not sure if that could be included in Thrifty … Making do with what you have.”

“Not a fool” (3)

James R. says, “Baden Powell said ‘the Scout is not a fool.’ How can one argue with B-P?”

Diligent (3)

Bill S. says, “A scout is Diligent, in his pursuits, passions, and beliefs.”

Punctual (3)

Mat D. says, “Punctual – a lost trait in this world.”

“Clean… but not afraid to get dirty”

Thanks to Mike Rowe for that one!

Others receiving votes

Aware, Conservation-minded, Curious, Grateful, Patient, Thankful, Adventurous, Athletic, Charitable, Confident, Courageous, Dedicated, Disciplined, Forgiving, Generous, Honorable, Integral, Lucky, Outgoing, Prepared, Safe, and Tucked (“as in uniform shirts”).

One more to consider

Lillian P. says, “Hydrated … Sincerely, your local camp medical officer.”

Related posts

These 1913 Scout Law postcards are the coolest thing you’ll see today

The Scout Law in the Workplace: Values that really work at your office

What do you think?

What, if anything, would you add to the Scout Law? Leave your idea below.

Photo by Flickr user mjrindewitt

40 thoughts on “Room for one more? Your ideas for the 13th point of the Scout Law

  1. This was a question at my Eagle Scout Board of Review in 2010. My response was something along the lines of ‘respectful’ or ‘open’ going toward being understanding and respectful of those that aren’t the same as you.

  2. “Accepting”–this was told to me by an Eagle Scout candidate. Based on recent events in Ohio around a Gay/Lesbian Scout Leader who was removed from their position when their sexuality preference was made public, I believe it is essential that we all learn to be accepting of our differences–race, gender, culture, sexuality, etc. I still can’t understand why we think it’s OK to be discriminatory to an entire population of people–does the BSA organization think the boys will “catch” something or are they just too afraid of the political and financial implications of accepting? Clearly this will be a hot topic at the presidential elections this year based on recent press. I know many adults who don’t support Scouting and outwardly speak against it due to this single scar on our name.

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to single out only one specific case for “accepting”. This would also entail the acceptance of boys with different levels of physical ability (sports jocks vs. others) as well as people with physical or mental disabilities (e.g. disability awareness programs). Acceptance can take on many forms and degrees. Accepting means that NO boy sits the bench; we all Do our Best; and we work together to integrate every schoolmate, friends, or any member into our nucleus Troop family community to help them feel that they are part of a greater good based on our Scout Law of morality.

      • I especially like that ‘accepting as meaning NO boy ever sit on the bench alone. Its not just the bench but in ALL activities as well that a scout should never be by themselves. With many scouts being loners as more and more get into gaming and computers where social skills get underdeveloped this is so important.
        It cn also cover diversity of others being different from themselves and learning to include them in and go the extra mile of understand that underneath all they are still the same.

  3. Not an addition to the Scout Law…but what about including the Scouting Heritage merit badge as a requirement for Eagle?

  4. Curious. We need to develop leaders who are not afraid to try new things, or of new ideas. None of the 12 capture this idea, which is implicit in BSA’s push to make Scouting more relevant to the current generation

  5. I hate it when scouts add hungry to the Scout Law. I tell my boys that a real Scout is prepared and knows how to take care of himself so that he doesn’t go hungry. Only a Tenderfoot is hungry.

    I’ll second the idea of the Scouting heritage merit badge as a requirement for Eagle, though.

    • Tory, perhaps you’ll change your mind after reading this — the below and the link to explain why:

      “A Scout is Hungry. He thirsts for the new challenge, the new opportunity that his world, nation, community and neighborhood places in front of him. He hungers for knowledge and the ability to appreciate new things, to see things in the eyes of others. He gladly shares his knowledge and experiences with others, and is ready for the benefit, that “dessert”, in which after he shares his knowledge with others, that they in turn, do so with him”.

      Its well over 25 years old but still rings true.

  6. I like Tolerant. That fits well with the interfaith religious stance and world view, as well as the embracing of Scouts with disabilities. Now if we can just get over the homophobic issue we will be there.

  7. Amen for “accepting” and “respectful.” I think first about all the Scouts (and there have been plenty already and will be more in the future) who will discover, somewhere in their journey, that they are gay–what does the BSA anti-gay leader policy say to them? Certainly, that they are no longer welcome as future adult leaders, and likely, that they are “not good enough” as they are. Not to mention that this policy tacitly promotes discriminatory attitudes among boys we are trying to raise with ethical values. What would it mean for the BSA to stand up and say that we will not support discrimination or bigotry in any form? A lot, I would think.

    And, if I had a dollar for every parent who has told me that, although they think their son would “love it,” that they will not let him join with the current policy in place–well, I would be a rich woman!

    But yes, respect and acceptance go way beyond this one issue. I have been encouraged to see the recent disability-awareness programs in Scouts. These are two qualities I find myself discussing a lot; certainly more than “clean,” which is exactly what we are NOT after 2 days of camping!

  8. Many years ago the Scouts in Troop 80 in rainy Cortland, NY, declared that “A Scout is Wet” was the essential additional point to the Scout Law.

  9. I like “hungry”. I think the others are great answers , but they are all ultimately results of living the 12 points.

    • Proud can conflict with humble. Yes we should be proud of our achievements but we should look for a word that conveys the trial and error ‘process’ to successful. I’m at loss for a good one word that conveys that try and try again to success.

    • That is a GREAT one. Recently at a ceremony that involved four unit groups: 2 Packs and 2 Troops where the Pack was already standing nicely and quietly where they can see for quite some time while waiting for the ceremony to start. One of the Troop who had been buy with setting up the ceremony finally got themselves together. They made a nice line but that line walked right in front of the Pack blocking the Packs view. The Troop forced the Pack to move themselves. The Troop had room to do their line formation in another location then the spot in front of the Pack. Here is a case that ‘observant’ would be key and help in courtesy. Many are not aware that their actions affect others and they need to be.

  10. I like Baden Powell’s consideration of the 13th law. He said “Observant” is what he thought it could be but left it at 12.

  11. A vote also for “conservation-minded.” I am tired of being the only one on our camping trips to suggest that we recycle our packaging, which seems to fall on deaf ears…. Considering our global “footprint” a bit more seems to be a pretty crucial need in the 21st century.

  12. “Resourceful” is powerful. When a Scout reaches the proverbial “End of The Road”, he knows he’s only at the trailhead!

  13. Resourceful – to me this goes beyond the 90 day tracking of your income and expenses for personal management MB.

  14. A Scout is

  15. Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point have an honor code that states “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” The part of this code that we should adopt is the tolerance portion. Whereas the cadet code talks about not toleration negative actions, a scout statement should not allow scouts to tolerate other scouts not living up to the points of the scout law.

  16. Hungry has for years been our troops “unofficial” 13th point of Scout Law . Realistically though ” Accepting ” would help with reinforcing the other points of the Scout Law.

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