Roosevelt with John Muir at Glacier Point

The eleventh day of the 12 days of a Scout Christ­mas reminds us that a Scout is clean. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He chooses the company of those who live by high standards. He keeps the community and outdoors clean as well.

While young, President Theodore Roosevelt gained a desire for a clean, healthy body. The Art of Manliness states: “Theodore Roosevelt was not only one of our greatest presidents, he was also one of the greatest American men who ever lived. He embodied all the manly virtues and lived life with vigor and enthusiasm… [But] he was a sickly child, asthmatic (a condition that at the time was sometimes fatal), near-sighted, and home-schooled. His father, who desired a rugged son, was completely disappointed in him. He would not let Teddy languish in his frailties. One day he took Teddy aside and said:

“’Theodore you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. I am giving you the tools, but it is up to you to make your body.’

roosveltThe Art of Manliness continues: “From this moment on, Roosevelt become a tireless champion of what he called the ‘strenuous life.’ His goal was to live each day with vigor and conviction. He put fearlessness as a constant goal before him. …He became a strapping and hearty young man, taking up competitive boxing and rowing as a student at Harvard. Even so, after he graduated his doctor advised him that due to serious heart problems, he should find a desk job and avoid strenuous activity. Roosevelt decided to climb the Matterhorn instead. Because Roosevelt had thrown off his sickliness through willpower and discipline, for the rest of his life he had no sympathy for pansies.”

President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt hosted a “carnival” during the 1903 Christmas season for 500 children including dinner, dancing, musical entertainment, souvenirs, and a special treat in the form of ice cream formed in the shape of Santa and other Christmas novelties. President Roosevelt, an avowed conservationist, did not approve of cutting trees for Christmas decorations. However, his son Archie defied the ban and smuggled in a small tree that was decorated and hidden in a closet in the upstairs sewing room.—Christmas Traditions at the White House

As president, he worried about the fitness of youth and appreciated the Boys Scout movement as it started. Putting his full support behind the Boy Scouts of America, he became Chief Scout Citizen.

He emphasized the importance of keeping the outdoors clean. He agreed with other Scouting founders who feared the landscapes that made the American frontier were disappearing and, with them, the opportunity for Scouts to practice outdoor life and outdoor craft to “counter the drift of modern city life,” as described in the 1925 Handbook for Scoutmasters. 

In a speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, August, 31, 1910, just six months after Scouting was founded, he said:

“Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. …Moreover, I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few. …Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.” 

Being fit and following outdoor ethics are ingrained in BSA programs. Scouting and Venturing have a long, proud tradition of both.

Continue vis­iting the Voice of Scout­ing to find inspir­ing Christ­mas mes­sages based on the twelve points of the Scout Law: A Scout is trust­wor­thy, loy­al, help­ful, friend­ly, cour­te­ous, kind, obe­di­ent, cheer­ful, thrifty, brave, clean and rev­er­ent.

This year, the Christ­mas mes­sages will focus on the lives of his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and times when they exem­pli­fied a point of the Scout Law.

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