Conservative Values?

scoutlawbelieveitThe other day I got into a debate or more a less a discussion about Scouting and it’s Values with a co-worker of mine.  He contended that Scouting was too conservative in its values and that is what makes it unappealing in the Portland area.   He debated that conservative values don’t work well in America today as we are moving toward a Country that is more about the people.  Now, I don’t know what the heck that means and I won’t go into the whole debate, but what it did cause me to do was argue the point of values to my co-worker.  The basis of that argument was the difference between Conservative values and I suppose we would have to argue Liberal values as they would be the opposites of one another.
This is not a political discussion.  We are only talking about values here, but since he brought up the word “Conservative” I had to have an opposing side to compare with.
To make the debate not one of emotion or politics, I stuck with the basics.  Where do we get our values and what are our values in Scouting.  How we apply our values is up to the individual, but it is fair to say that in an organization like the Boy Scouts of America, our shared values become a part of our lives and we should not separate the Scouting life from every day life.
Scouting gets it values from the Scout Oath and Law, the motto and Slogan, and Outdoor code.
Lets start with the Scout Oath.  The Oath is the foundation promise of the organization.  It is the jumping off point that the individual takes an oath to “On his honor” he will live the following values.  He makes three promises in the Scout Oath.  He makes a promise to do his Duty to his God and his Country.  He makes a promise to help other people at all times.  And he makes a promise to himself, to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.  This promise lays the ground work for the way he is going to live his life.  So lets see, those three promises are conservative?  Then what do Liberals think and believe?
Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of our values, the Scout Law.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  12 words that define how we should live our lives.  Conservative?  If so are liberals not trustworthy, loyal, helpful etc?  Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to grow up living those values, after all, does not all of those 12 values lead America to a better place?  Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to develop good habits of service to others and being courteous?  Have you been to a mall in anywhere America lately.  We need more Scouts is all I am saying.  If rude, unkind, sad, and filth is this new America we are looking for then we are getting there quick.
What about thrifty?  Don’t we want our Scouts to develop good habits when it comes to money and how they handle it.  Don’t we want them to know that they have a responsibility to pay their own way and not be a drain on society.  Now that I will concede is a conservative point of view.  Scouts should never be looking for a hand out or to become a part of the welfare state.  Scouts should work hard and provide for themselves and their families and should not settle for other people paying their way.
So the Scout Law is our shared values that lead us to being better people and better members of society.
And what about the Outdoor code.  Those four requirements to be Clean in my outdoor manners, careful with fire, considerate in the outdoors and conservation minded.  Yep, they hurt us as Americans.  Those crazy conservative values that direct us to being better in when it comes to our time spent in outdoors and our stewardship to the land.
Now those of us that have been in and around Scouting long enough know that we derive our mission statement from our values and core beliefs.
To refresh our memories and to help my coworker see just how conservative our values are here is the mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America:   The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.  Hmmm… moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes.  What the heck are we thinking?  That is way to conservative.
How about the Vision statement of the Boy Scouts of America:  The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.  Every eligible youth to become a responsible citizen?  That is just conservative crazy talk and can lead to no good.  I think the part that scares the liberal-minded in the vision statement is the word LEADER.
So what is the point here?
This started as a debate about conservative values and the closer we look into them they are just good values.  What scares me is this.  If this is what we consider conservative, what the heck is the opposite?  What are liberals thinking?
I would think these are American Values and we should want every American to live them.
As this debate got me thinking, I did a quick Google search and came on this.  Thought it was worth your time to review.  Values of Americans.  Take a look at that and see that Scouting and it’s values do make a difference.
The point is simply this.  It is not political unless you make it that way.  If Scouting;s values are conservative than conservative is the right way to live.  Until I see liberal values that match those strong values that make good citizens that can make good choices and hold themselves to a standard of service to others and self-determination.  Being people who are not going to be a burden on society, rather people who are willing to work hard and make a contribution.  In short… Men of Character.
Now I am not saying that folks on the left lack Character.  What I am saying is that Character matters more when we look at the values of the Boy Scouts of America coupled with the mission and vision of the organization.  What I am saying is that if any of those values are wrong then we have some serious problems and I have major problems with the opposite of Conservative.
It is an interesting debate and the further we get into it the deeper understanding of how people like my coworker think the more I realize that we need more Scouts and people who are Scout like in America.
And now you know one of the reasons that I end each post with…
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. You had me until you raised the issue of liberal values. To me, the values of scouting are quite liberal., especially in their implementation. It is the adults that try to shade what those values mean.


    1. While I agree that by and large the scoutings values are more in line with conservative thinking…I did not make the distinction one way or the other…my co-worker was the one that made the”conservative” argument. What part of scouting’s values do you suppose adults sway one way or the other? Trustworthy? Could it be loyal? Paying your own way..that’s not a liberal please expand on your comment. Thanks


  2. I consider myself a conservative, as an innate part of being a conservative is conserving – old values, old ways of life (how many kids outside of scouting today know how to to do lashings?) , and the God-given environment with which we have been graced. I also think we should treasure the teachings and knowledge of those who have gone before us and not try to create the world anew with each generation. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

    Ultimately, though, I think liberals and conservatives within the Scouting community have more in common than those outside. I also think we should be careful in defining ourselves, and others, by words that we think are polar opposites but really aren’t. The author R.A. Lafferty said, “Things are set up as contraries that are not even in the same category. Listen to me: the opposite of radical is superficial, the opposite of liberal is stingy; the opposite of conservative is destructive.” We should all be liberal in giving of ourselves to others, radical in our commitment to those we seek to help and mentor, and conservative in preserving the best of the old ways.


  3. I think you may be ignoring the bear in the tent, so to speak.

    As the token liberal in my troop, I think I can assure you that the problem isn’t Trustworthy, or Loyal, or Helpful, etc. Nor is it Duty to God and Country, Help Other People, or any of that. In my experience, liberals have no problems with those at all.

    The liberals’ different view concerning “values” and the Boy Scouts is largely based on three things: gays, athiests, and agnostics. But wait, some will say, the liberals won the gay Scouts debate. To us liberal folk, the fact that the issue had to be debated at all is unfathomable. To us it seems obvious: discrimination goes against Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful, Brave, and Help Other People at All Times.

    But Reverent and Duty to God the argument goes… yeah, liberal folk don’t really see much of a contradiction. Many conservative folks do. Or at least the most vocal of them do.

    Regrettably, that’s the “conservative value” that gets the headlines. Morally straight (or more specifically, one definition of morally straight) trumps everything else. And those headlines don’t play well in Portland.

    Meanwhile, the discrimination against athiests and agnostics continues. The idea that a boy or an adult can be told he’s not good enough to join because of his lack of religious faith rankles us liberals. Just as incomprehensible is the fact that a Scout or an adult leader who tells another Scout that he no longer believes in God can be kicked out after years of dedicated service. “Just don’t tell anyone,” the argument will go. For liberals, it’s hard to square that with A Scout Is Trustworthy and On My Honor.

    Maybe these aren’t the arguments that your liberal coworker was voicing. But I suspect they were there in the undercurrents of his thinking.

    I hope this helps.

    And thank you for your blog. I enjoy it greatly.


  4. First off.. thanks for the comments and messages this post generated.
    I think something got missed here. I am not saying Conservative or Liberal.. Note the title has a question mark.
    It is my belief that these are good values… Not political values.
    If one can not be Trustworthy than it does not matter to me what party he/she belongs to. So it goes with all the rest.
    I also think that some of you missed the class on values.
    What a person does or how an organization acts are based on their values. The base values do not change.. how the organization or individual within the organization chooses to make those values a part of their lives is what it important.
    The Boy Scouts of America has not changed it’s values for 113 years. That is clear. How those values have been used is another story, but not the point of this post.
    When the “Inclusive policy” went into effect, I debated with a dear friend of mine about the values. Mine have not changed one bit since the policy change, and every meeting we still say and live the Scout and Law.
    Values and actions should meet… unfortunately on occasion they do not. One only look to our Nations leaders to see examples of that daily.
    Thanks for all the comments, DM’s, and emails. That is what this is all about.
    Have a Great Scouting Day!


  5. You know, I think in the political arena, the case for being liberal or conservative is one of the role of government in the lives of the individual. Liberals generally support larger government that plays a central role in the peoples lives (Social Security, education, and now health care). Conservatives generally support a smaller government that does only a few things, but does them well (protect the country with military forces, punish law breakers, protect peoples rights in court).

    To say that someone’s values are conservative or liberal is to peg them into one of these two opinions, which rise and fall according to the times and the prospective of the people. Few people are 100% in one camp or another, which explains why the political parties trade power every few years.

    To try to link these political movements to the scouting movement should never happen. The scouting movement is not and was never intended to promote one or the other political movement. Scouting is meant to train the boy in his journey to manhood by providing a safe environment to learn and practice life’s lessons and how to deal with other people. Scouters should never, within the hearing of a scout, comment on politics, candidates, or government policy, except perhaps to say, “find out what the liberals believe and what the conservatives believe, and make your choice.”

    People who want to use the scouting movement for political recruitment to either side should not be welcomed nor encouraged. Unfortunately to politicians at levels politics is seen as either a game to be won or a war to be won, and they are aggressive in winning it. This means conquering, vanquishing and using the means of political triumph, large groups of people. This can make scouting a tempting political target, and that goes all the way back to the Nazis commandeering the German scouting movement to make the Hitler Youth, and the Russian communists launching the Young Travelers.

    Adult scouters need to keep politics outside of the troop meeting, just as they should keep sex away. It is not in our realm, and should not be.


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