A Take on the Scouting Principles: What it Means to One Rover

By Anthony Lam

During Day 3 of the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group’s annual retreat, I was asked to speak on one of our Group’s core values, Scouting Principles, and what it means to me (for more on our Group’s core values, please click this link here).  I wasn’t given much time to prepare my speech, but having grown up in scouting, speaking to these values did not prove to be very difficult for me.

Scouting Principles

The first thing I learned when I was a Cub Scout was the Cub law:

I promise to do my best,

To love and serve God,

To do my duty to the Queen,

To keep the law of the Wolf Cub pack

And to do a good turn for someone every day.

Even at the age of eight years old, I found that law to be highly respectable.  Truth be told, I didn’t know what all of it meant, but even the simple words, like “do my best”, “do a good turn” and keeping the law of the Wolf Cub pack – to respect the Old Wolf and to respect yourself – was easy enough for the eight year old me to understand.  At that early age, living up to this promise slowly became my personal values and beliefs in everything I did – do your best, respect yourself, and do a good turn.

When I was old enough to move up to the scout section, one of the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group’s alumni advisors Scouter Eric Cheung was my troop scouter.  If you have never met Scouter Eric before, take it from me to know that he’s a really cool guy.  That’s the first impression I got when I saw him leading the scout section through axe and knife training in my last year of Cubs.  Seeing Scouter Eric made the notion of moving up to scouts an exciting moment for me because I finally reached the age and section where I can use a pocketknife, light fires and chop wood with an axe!  However, before the privilege of doing all that dangerous stuff was one thing Scouter Eric deemed to be even more important – that is, to learn the Scout promise:

On my honour,

I promise to do my best,

To do my duty to God and the Queen

To help others at all times,

And to carry out the spirit of the Scout Law.

This one wasn’t as easy for the ten year old me to decipher – most of the old stuff is still there, but a lot of this stuff… what did all of it even mean?  What did it mean to say “on my honour”, or to “carry out the spirit of the Scout Law”?  It didn’t take long for Scouter Eric to drive all of these points home.

On my honour, I promise to do my best” is actually your duty to yourself.  Your promise is a reflection of your character, and keeping the integrity of the promise is something you must do because, ultimately, keeping this promise is entirely up to you.  I understand that my promise is my own commitment to what I do.  To “do my best” means that I will always strive to reach my full potential rather than doing ‘just enough’ to get by.  I might not always be able to do everything – after all, I’m neither super human nor Superman – but I will always try to give it my best effort.

Perhaps I’m still in the process of self-discovery, but to date, I’m still not entirely sure what my duty to God is.  I’m sure I will understand what it means in the near future.  However, I am sure that my duty to the Queen means that I will always respect the law of the land, and to set a good example of what it means to be a good citizen – after all, citizenship is a large part of scouting.

To help others at all times” is my commitment and my responsibility to help others.  It is not just helping an old lady cross the road, but to also be there as emotional support for my peers when necessary.  This coming May, a group of us will be going to Mexico to do some humanitarian work, and without a doubt, that is certainly “doing a good turn”, but a good turn doesn’t have to be on that international scale.  It can be something small and local, such as helping someone change the ink in their printer.

The last part of the Scout promise is “to carry out the spirit of the Scout law”, which is the duty to yourself and to others.

A scout is

Helpful and trustworthy,

Kind and cheerful,

Considerate and clean

And wise in the use of all resources.

Following this spirit is the key to following the promise.

To end, living by the Scouting principles is actually very similar to living out our own Crew values.  Achieving excellence is in your continual commitment to do your best.  Integrity to the “excellence” lies in you keeping true to the promise of doing your best.  Support lies in helping others at all times – not necessarily just each other, but perhaps to anyone who is in need even if you don’t know them.

I try hard to live by the Scouting promise and law in all of my endeavours.  If you had ever wondered what that cryptic text called a “Scout promise” is, I hope I helped clear it up a little bit for you.  As scouts, I trust that all of you try to live up to the scouting principles every single day, but in case you don’t, I would encourage you to try.

At the end of the day, we are all still scouts through and through.  Living by the scout promise could help make this world truly be a better place.


Anthony Lam

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