“The Scout, in his promise, undertakes to do his duty to his king and country only in the second place; his first duty is to God. It is with this idea before us and recognizing that God is the one Father of us all, that we Scouts count ourselves a brotherhood despite the difference among us of country, creed, or class. We realize that in addition to the interests of our particular country, there is a higher mission before us, namely the promotion of the Kingdom of God; That is, the rule of Peace and Goodwill on earth…” – Lord Baden-Powell
I recently got back from the 2017 National Jamboree. We spent a couple of days at the Duty to God tent. This tent was near the stadium and was big enough to set up many booths within. Each booth hosted diverse religions that youth and adults could visit to learn more about the different beliefs.
I witnessed Scouts of all ages interacting with the booths, engaging with a wide range of faiths. Jamboree even encouraged participants to discover other religions. Scouts who went from table to table and listened to what the speaker had to say earned a wooden chip. Those Scouts could then trade their chips for some sort of miscellaneous trinket, or they could keep and place them within a coin holder. It was a strong incentive for Scouts to reach beyond their own faiths and capture others.
Lord Baden-Powell has stated: “In the Scouts, each form of religion is respected and its active practice encouraged and through the spread of our brotherhood in all countries, we have the opportunity in developing the spirit of mutual goodwill and understanding.”
Being at the Jamboree was not an excuse to ignore the Sabbath. Sermons, talks, songs, and praises of all faiths filled Sunday morning. I had the opportunity to attend different religious services, one being Buddhism.
Because of the West Virginia rains, all services had to relocate to shelter. As we walked up to the building that was hosting the Buddhist service, we found a large line of Scouts in their rain gear, waiting patiently to get in. We asked around and found out that, because of the number of Scouts eager to participate in the Buddhist religion, the priest was doing a short 20-30 minute sermon per group that filtered in.
Not all of the Scouts that attended were Buddhist. A majority of them came to satisfy their curiosity. The Buddhist priest even admitted at how touched and overwhelmed he was with the number of visitors. He tried to answer any and all questions they had.
This is an example of Baden-Powell’s quote, “There is no religious “side” of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.”
Scouts didn’t worry about what religion they were. They participated in their ‘realization and service of God’ as a unified group.
Throughout my stay at the 2017 National Jamboree, I felt this sense of acceptance. It was not specifically towards me but as a whole. I observed so many different nationalities, cultures, personalities, abilities, disabilities, religions, and more. However, people from all walks of like had something in common: Scouting. It honestly didn’t matter what religion we were. Each attendee believed in the Scout Motto, Oath, and Law. They were there to learn it, understand it, and live it. Therefore, they were there to ‘Live Scouting’s Adventure.’
“Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation.” –Lord Baden-Powell