A Scout is Reverent. This is a phrase that is well-known among Scouts as a tenet of the Scout Law. Reverence is based on respect and one’s deeply-held, constantly evolving set of beliefs and ethics. It is “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe.” For some, it is embodied by organized religion. For others, reverence is represented by a respect for others and the world around us. 

The Boy Scouts have said as much in their own teaching about reverence.

From the BSA’s charter and bylaws:

“The activities of the members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be carried on under conditions which show respect to the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion, as required by the twelfth point of the Scout Law, reading, “Reverent.” A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.” 

My experience at a Wood Badge pilot course gave me a greater understanding of how reverence can be found in every aspect of Scouting. 

A Scout Is Reverent

wood badge pilotWhile there are many moments of games, exploring, camping, merit badges, and silly skits in Scouting, there are the profound moments when you pause…and be reverent. At Wood Badge, the Scouting crash course for adults, all tenets of the Scout Law are discussed and well-represented, particularly in the examples of the Wood Badge staff. Reverence may be at the end of the list, but as you recite that list, you may start to feel as I do: they all build up to reverence.

Some reverent moments at Wood Badge are found in the seriousness of the presenter’s message. Some are found in special moments of time with your patrol. And some of the moments, which stood out most to me, were found in the quiet grove of our nature chapel.

Day three of our 5-day pilot course included my introduction to the chapel grove. The staff guided us to benches hidden in the trees and waited for us to take in the peaceful surroundings. As the calm of the grove started to feel almost tangible, several members of the staff began to make their presentations.

They explained the importance of faith and its place in the Scouting program, no matter the religion. One after the next, staff members introduced a prayer or thought from varying faiths. The following morning, the participants assigned the role of Chaplain Aide presented a similar program.

I still remember the sincerity of each presentation, particularly that of my own patrol member, Kevin McCoy. Perhaps it’s because our patrol worked together on his assignment to present the translation of a Muslim prayer, but his approach was so respectful and, indeed, reverent.

We may have been adults playing at being Scouts for a week, but I’ve never felt more inspiration and commitment from a group striving to serve youth as I did from everyone at Wood Badge. At the end of the course, hearts were full, tears were flowing, and bonds had been cemented. Passion for Scouting and youth was stoked, and in those varied moments of laughter and tears, we remember: A Scout is Reverent.

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Angela Shelley
Japanese Tour Guide turned Jamboree Joy Ride. Combine a dad full of natural curiosity of the world and a love of learning with a Scouting momma whose passion for children, education and the outdoors and you get a family with many Dutch oven cooking, camp song singing, compass-confounded exploring, squirrel-chasing experiences. Despite that, I never would have guessed I would one day be a National Parks and Monuments tour guide for Japanese people. And I never would have guessed I'd then move on to work for Boy Scouts of America.

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