From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Scout cleanliness: clean both physically, morally

by Father Terence Tully, for the Inland Register

(From the Jan. 17, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

“A Scout is clean,” the 11th point of the Scout Law, can be called a double point because it includes both physical and moral cleanliness.

As the Boy Scout Handbook explains: “A Scout keeps his body and mind fit.” Soap and water wash off ordinary dirt, we say. But many people did not say this in the 19th century before Doctor Louis Pasteur (1838-1895) put together the germ theory, namely that disease-causing microbes could infect farm animals and humans, sometimes resulting in epidemics. Thanks to Pasteur, epidemics are rare and the wisdom of washing and sterilizing food utensils is common practice.

By the time Scouting was founded in the 20th century Scouts were being taught to be clean not only at home but in the wilderness. Safe water to drink and safe disposal of waste products are built into Scouting. Related to cleanliness is respect for the rhythms of nature, protecting animals, birds, forests, and the earth in general from wasteful and destructive actions.

Morally clean
The other half of the 11th point of Scout Law, moral cleanliness, is harder to describe, and less comfortable. It is striving to clean up a different kind of dirt. This includes “foul language and harmful thoughts and actions,” says the Scout Handbook.

Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting, put much emphasis on this moral half: “A Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed ... he looks down upon a silly youth who talks dirt. (Rather, the Scout) does not let himself give way to temptations either to talk it or think it or to do anything dirty. A Scout is pure and clean-minded and manly.” Baden-Powell died in 1941, but I do not think his advice to Scouts would have changed if he had lived into the years of the sexual revolution.

In the last 15 or 20 years a third kind of cleanliness has received much attention from Scouting and other youth organizations. It is protecting Scouts and other youth from sexual abuse. By this the Scout is befouled by an aggressor, who usually tries to keep the Scout from reporting the offense.

Time to Tell is the title of a videotape produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The Scout is encouraged to throw aside any concern about politeness or respect and make a scene by yelling and otherwise calling for help. Another videotape from BSA is It Happened to Me for Cub Scouts. Parents are asked to view either tape first, then let the Scout see it. I have a copy of each tape and can lend them. For adult leaders, both professional and volunteer, the Boy Scouts of America have included additional tapes on this subject in its training courses.

Finally, in the Handbook there is 20-page pamphlet titled “How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.” It is lightly bound into the Handbook and can easily be taken out without damaging either book or pamphlet. The “Parent’s Guide” is a good help for discussing with a child the subject of abuse, how an abuser might approach a child, and what the child can do to prevent the abuse.

A handy checklist is the “Three R’s of Youth Protection”:

1. Recognize that anyone could be a child molester and be aware of situations that could lead to abuse.
2. Resist advances made by child molester to avoid being abused. Usually the abuser will back off if the youth makes a “scene” by yelling or calling for help.
3. Report any molestation or attempted molestation to parents or other trusted adults.

Coming Events
  • Bishop’s Recognition Day, Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, 1115 W. Riverside Ave., Spokane. Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002, 2 p.m. Bishop Skylstad will confer religious emblems on Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Campfire Girls and Boys.
  • Catholic Camporee, Camp Easton on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Sept. 6-8, 2002.

For information on the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting and its activities, contact Father Terence Tully, diocesan Scout chaplain, 221 E. Rockwood Blvd., Apt. 308, Spokane, WA 99207-1200; phone (509) 458-7674; or Joe Schmitz, chairperson, Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, 400 S. Jefferson, Suite 112, Spokane, WA 99204; (509) 747-7499.

For the National Catholic Committee on Scouting’s web site, click here!

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