Memorizing the 12 words of the Scout Law (16 if you count “A Scout is” and “and”), and getting them in the right order, can be tough for Webelos Scouts working on the Arrow of Light. To make it easier for boys, here are some learning strategies that work better than rote memorization.
When Kevin Devin was a Webelos leader in Pack 584 in Bothell, Wash., he won a pair of large dice for placing first in the adult division of his pack’s pinewood derby. The dice didn’t go on Devin’s rearview mirror; instead, they went into his bag of tricks. He created a simple game with them to test his Scouts on the Scout Law.
Here’s how it works: Roll one die and have a volunteer (or the whole den in unison) recite the points of the Law up to the number that comes up. If you roll a one, they should say, “A Scout is trustworthy.” If you roll a five, they should go all the way through courteous. Once the boys master the first six points, add the second die.
Joyce Romito took a more musical approach as a Webelos leader in Pack 436 in Richmond, Va. She taught her Scouts “Trusty Tommy,” which is sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” While the song has a lot more words than the Scout Law, she says her boys actually found it easier to learn. “At least in our den we found that the boys preferred singing than repeating,” she says.
It also helps to challenge the boys by making them sing without the printed lyrics.
Divide and Conquer
Another popular technique is to divide the Law into four triplets: trustworthy-loyal-helpful, friendly-courteous-kind, obedient-cheerful-thrifty, and brave-clean-reverent.
Work on learning each triplet at a couple of den meetings. Once the boys have memorized all four, you can test them by calling out a letter from the acronym TFOB, comprised of the first letter of the first word in each triplet. The acronym helps boys remember the order of the triplets.
As Baden-Powell says, “A boy is not a sitting-down animal.” By turning the Law into a relay race, you can let Scouts burn off some energy while learning something in the process. Here’s how:
Make two sets of 12 cards where each card displays one point of the Law.
Put the cards in each set in random order and place them in two piles at the front of the room.
Divide the den into two teams and have each team line up facing one pile of cards.
When you say “go,” the first boy on each team runs to his team’s pile of cards, picks what he thinks is the first point of the Law and sticks it on the wall using masking tape. He then returns to tag the next player, who runs up, chooses the second point, and places it below the first. Continue in this manner until one team has all the points on the wall in the correct order.
If a team has the points in the wrong order, let them take extra turns, moving one card per turn. The first team with all the points posted in the right order wins.
Understanding what the words in the Scout Law mean is just as important as learning the words themselves. Evetually, you can expand your relay game to include the definitions. To do so, create new sets of cards showing the definitions from the Webelos Handbook. Have the boys race to put the right definition beside each point of the Law on the wall.
You can also include Scout Law discussions and memorization practice in other parts of your program, such as games, service projects, or campouts. And pretty soon, the Scout Law will take.
Trusty Tommy Lyrics
“Trusty Tommy was a Scout
Loyal to his mother,
Helpful to the folks about,
And friendly to his brother.
Courteous to the girls he knew,
Kind unto his rabbit,
Obedient to his father, too,
and cheerful in his habits.
Thrifty saving for a need,
Brave, but not a faker,
Clean in thought and word and deed,
And reverent to his Maker.”
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