A Scout Is Trustworthy

Scouting was a big deal in my family when I was a youngun. Both my brother and I earned our Eagle Scout badge. I’m old enough that I was in Scouting when it was all uncomplicated fun tromping through the woods trying not to get ticks or squashed by a moose. However, in more recent years, the Boy Scouts have taken a stand on the wrong side of history to discriminate against Scouts and Scoutmasters who are either homosexual or atheists (or both). It’s a shame the Boy Scouts have clung so hard to their religious convictions they would exclude others from the experience that was formative for me.

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but the reason I never sent my Eagle Scout medal back to the council in protest is because I have no idea where it is. Most likely, my parents have it somewhere, but asking for it will open a can of worms. If I were to create a resume, it would no longer include my Eagle Scout award. I’m ashamed to have been associated with such a discriminatory religious organisation.

While I can’t tie many knots these days and I haven’t spent any time in a tent in years (I’m so ashamed), at least one thing from my time in scouting has lasted: I remember standing in formation with a bunch of pimply kids and reciting the Scout Law, which starts with “A Scout is Trustworthy”. I don’t recall there being specific meditations or lessons on aspects of the Law, but being trustworthy is one of those things you can appreciate when you’re hanging around folks using knives, axes, and playing with fire. But there’s more to it than that, of course, trustworthy means you’ll pack the food you’re assigned for the camping trip so no one goes hungry. Trustworthy means you’ll test the knots you tied when building the rope bridge so no one plunges to their doom. Trustworthy means you won’t drop the axe just as I’m about to take charge of it. Being trustworthy is critical.

It isn’t hard to see how honesty flows from these object lessons in being trustworthy. “Did you eat the last granola bar?” Be careful how you answer that. Because, if you’re caught lying, your answer to the far more important question of “Did you check the knots?” might not be believed. If we can’t trust you to answer truthfully whether you checked the knots, should we bother to have you tie the knots? And if we can’t have you tie the knots, should we bother to bring you along?

Granted, if you don’t go on the hike there’s no chance you’ll get a tick or squashed by a moose. But you’ll also miss the amazing sunsets, jumping off cliffs into absolutely freezing crystal clear lakes, and the joy of cresting that hill with the view that goes on forever. So, is it worth the lie?