The Scout Law Around the World

Scouting is a worldwide brotherhood bound by the Scout Oath/Promise and Scout Law. However, the Scout Law is worded differently in many parts of the world. There are 172 organizations of Scouting listed with the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM). In my research, it was challenging to find English-translated Scout Laws, and had to narrow the list to 47. I quickly discovered that all that I found were profoundly similar. Many of the words were comparable and the order of them varied.

In the United States, the Scout Law is recited as 12 keywords. This is special as most of the Scouts in the world recite as a text phrase or type of mantra. Baden-Powell originally intended the Scout law to be memorized as a short speech. When establishing the Boy Scouts of America Ernest Seton heavily influenced the formation of the Scout Law. Seton had established the Woodcraft Indians organization in 1902. The 12 points outlined in the Birch-Back Rolls are defined as keywords. Using Baden-Powell’s original 9 and adding 3 more (brave, clean, and reverent) we find the American 12 point Scout Law we use today.

Most of the Scout Laws throughout the world are based on the original Baden-Powell Scout Law.

“A Scouts’ honour is to be trusted. A Scout is loyal to The Queen, His Country, His Scouters, His Parents, His Employers and to those under Him. A Scouts’ duty is to be useful (helpful) and help others. A Scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout, no matter to what Country, Class or Creed the other may belong. A Scout is courteous. A Scout is a friend (kind) to animals. A Scout obeys orders of his parents, Patrol Leader, or Scout Master without question. A Scout smiles and whistles (cheerful) under all difficulties. A Scout is thrifty. A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.” *

*The last sentence was added back in 1911.

The current day Scouts BSA, Scout Law is;

“A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”

The following is an alphabetical listing of all the countries researched in comparison to the United States 12 point Scout Law which is listed here first for reference. The last line of this spreadsheet is the percentage of how often a keyword or a similar word is used.

In short, the conclusion is… no matter how it is said the meaning is the same. Every Scout Law from every country is unique and represents cultural focuses. Be proud of your individual beliefs and support others with their beliefs. Live your life by your Scout Oath and Law.   YIS⚜