May you have many years of Great Scouting!

INTRODUCTION to the Third Edition

By Robert Lynn Horne, MD, Executive Director, Las Vegas International Scouting Museum

In the past 104 years, over 550 million Scouts have raised their hands in the Scout sign and said the words of their Scout Promise.

Have there been changes in the Scout Promise and Scout Law since Robert Baden-Powell first wrote them 104 years ago? Yes. Will there be changes in the Scout Promise and Scout Law used by Scouts around the world in our second century? Absolutely! What can we learn from Promises and Laws used in the past to guide us in educating more youth with the character building, leadership development and values of the Scouting program?

The largest expansion in the Scouting Movement came under the visionary leadership of Secretary General Jacques Moreillon. Membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement rose from 16 million Scouts in 117 countries to 28 million in 154 countries. This coincided with the fall of the iron curtain.

I believe the largest opportunity for growth of the Movement in our second century is from youth in China, Viet Nam, Cuba and other "officially communist" countries who object to using "Duty to God" in the Scout Promise. Some countries’ Promise may contain a model they can use. Slovenia’s Scouts "Promise . . . that I will accept the Spiritual reality, develop it and live in accordance with the Scout Law." Serbia and Montenegro’s Scouts "Promise . . . to accept the Spiritual Reality and to search for its full meaning". Czech Republic Scouts "Promise . . .to serve the highest Truth and Love faithfully". Switzerland allows instead of a reference to God, "With your help and happily, I Promise . . .to search for the meaning of my life". Sweden’s new Scout Promise states in its entirety "I Promise to do my best to follow the Scout Law", but does refer to God in the first point of its Scout Law.

Scouting began in 1907 when Baden-Powell’s original Scout Law contained 9 points:

1. A Scout’s honour is to be trusted.

2. A Scout is loyal.

3. A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.

4. A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout.

5. A Scout is courteous.

6. A Scout is a friend to animals.

7. A Scout obeys orders of his parents, Patrol Leader or Scoutmaster without question.

8. A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties.

9. A Scout is thrifty.

Ernest Thompson Seton, 1st Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America, used this in the first 1910 printing of the Scout Handbook. James E. West, Chief Scout Executive, insisted that BSA add three more points, Brave, Clean and Reverent and the Executive Board voted to do so.

Lord Baden-Powell considered these additions and in 1911 he decided to add a 10th point to the British Scout Law: "A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed."

The current United Kingdom’s Law has only 7 points:

1) A Scout is to be trusted.

2) A Scout is loyal

3) A Scout is friendly and considerate.

4) A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.

5) A Scout has courage in all difficulties.

6) A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.

7) A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.

Today 10 points are still the most common, but they are not necessarily the same 10 points. For example, Azerbaijan’s 10th point is "A Scout is brave", instead of Clean.

The shortest Scout Law is from Singapore’s 1973 revision, only 5 points:

1) A Scout is to be trusted

2) A Scout is loyal

3) A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout

4) A Scout is courageous

5) A Scout is cheerful.

Denmark’s Scout Law has 6 points; Belize, Brunei, Lesotho and Mauritius have 7 points, while Bahamas, Cape Verde, Japan, Malta and Mozambique have 8 points.

Each of you can perform your own analysis and draw your own conclusions about the similarities and differences in the Scout Promise and Scout Law used by today’s 31 million Scouts throughout the world.

As you read, I hope that you will be inspired to do your best to bring the Scouting program to boys and girls who would not have the opportunity to be Scouts without your personal assistance. But let us never forget the words of 5  our founder, Lord Baden-Powell: Be faithful to your Scout Promise, even when you are no longer young and may God help you to do so!

Four years ago, when we published the first edition, it was 187 pages. Thanks to all of you, the improved second edition contained 321 pages. This third edition with more corrections and additions, has 334 pages. Because of: 1) Advances in technology, 2) A desire to follow the Scouting principle of conserving our natural resources, 3) Our commitment to making this volume about the Scout Promise and Law available to more Scouts, Scouters and researchers around the world, and 4) To follow the point of the Scout Law which tells us to Be Thrifty, the primary mode of publication of this Third Edition is electronic. If you need a "hard copy", please contact us so we can provide it for you.

Now I have a request to each of you, my readers, for further service. I have done my best to be accurate and complete in this edition, but I know there are both additions and corrections needed. We want to provide the Promise and Law of each section of each Scout Association and Federation in English and the official language(s) of every country. Sometimes we have different versions, but do not know precisely which years each was used. We also would like to expand the Fourth Edition to include the Promise and Law used by the millions of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world. If you can help improve the Fourth Edition, please email additions and corrections to me at Thank you in advance for your help.

COMING SOON!  The complete "One World, One Promise - The Promise & Law of 550 Million Scouts," complied by Robert Lynn Horne, M.D.