Each year on Feb. 8, the Boy Scouts of America celebrates its birthday. It’s a date officially known as Scouting Anniversary Day.
But this is more than an excuse to eat an extra s’more and commemorate another year of Scouting adventures. It’s also when packs, troops, crews, and ships honor a Scout’s “duty to God.”
Through a trio of faith-based celebrations known as Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath, and Scout Jumuah, young people give back to the chartered organizations that give them so much.
The exact dates vary (see below), but each one is an opportunity for Scouts to publicly demonstrate the 12th point of the Scout Law: A Scout is Reverent.
That might mean an act as simple as wearing the full field uniform to worship services. It might mean participating in services by doing a reading, singing a song, or presenting religious emblems and awards to Scouts and Scouters. Or it might be something as grand as a service project to benefit a religious organization in the community.
However you choose to celebrate, it’s essential this year to do so safely. And so in addition to sharing dates and information about Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath, and Scout Jumuah, we’ve also shared some suggested pandemic-era modifications.
When is Scout Sunday 2021?
Scout Sunday 2021 is Feb. 7, 2021, according to the BSA’s Calendar of Religious Observances, which stipulates that Scout Sunday should fall on the Sunday before the BSA’s birthday on Feb. 8.
But it’s important to remember that units and chartered organizations are free to schedule Scout Sunday on any Sunday in February. In the United Methodist Church, for example, this year’s Scout Sunday will take place on Feb. 14.
That’s completely fine, according to the BSA’s official guidelines, which allow for full flexibility, saying that a local church can “celebrate on a Sunday most acceptable to the pastor and congregation.”
That means your unit and faith organization might celebrate Scout Sunday 2021 on Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 21, or Feb. 28. Just check with your local leaders before making any further plans.
You can buy official Scout Sunday gear, including the Scout Sunday 2021 patch, at ScoutShop.org.
Scout Sabbath (also called Scout Shabbat), for Jewish Scout units, begins at sundown on Friday, Feb. 5, and continues into the next day, Saturday, Feb. 6.
If local COVID regulations permit, Jewish Scouts are invited to attend their local Jewish Committee on Scouting-sponsored Scout Sabbath or their regular worship services in their field uniforms. If Scouts have earned any religious emblems, they should wear them to the service. (If your services have moved online, see some suggested modifications below.)
Though the National Jewish Committee on Scouting has designated Feb. 5–6 as Scout Sabbath for 2021, some councils or units will celebrate the occasion on other days. Be sure to check with your council or local Jewish Committee on Scouting to verify the date.
When is Scout Jumuah 2021?
Scout Jumuah is Feb. 5, 2021, but units may adjust this date to best meet their needs.
Muslims will observe Scout Jumuah (sometimes stylized as Scout Jumu’ah) from sundown on Thursday, Feb. 4, to sundown on Friday, Feb. 5.
Scout Jumuah offers a chance to recognize the contributions of young people and adults to Scouting within the Muslim community.
A Scout Jumuah program might include recognition by the chartered organization representative, a service project, or a display that explains the benefits of Scouting.
Tips for Celebrating Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath, or Scout Jumuah During the Pandemic
There are many ways you can help with in-person religious services, assuming local health guidelines permit them in your area. Be sure to check local and state health regulations, and review the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQs for even more helpful guidance. If you’re good to go, here are a few ways to help:
- Lead a portion of the service. This might include a recap of the unit’s service to its chartered organization, a sermon, or the reading of a religious text. Use youth whenever possible.
- Serve as greeters, welcoming guests (from a safe distance) while wearing uniforms.
- Present religious emblems to youth and adults who have earned them in the past year.
- Publicly commit to some act of service to the congregation and announce the plan to everyone.
Even as online worship services become our temporary reality in many places, there’s still plenty that Cub Scouts, Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Venturers can do to support their congregation. For example:
- Prepare a prerecorded message from the Scouts to the congregation. This could be anything from a fun, short video to a more extensive “report to the chartered organization,” modeled after the BSA’s own Report to the Nation, that serves as a recap of all that was accomplished in the past year.
- Sing in a virtual choir.
- Use a videoconferencing platform (like Skype or Zoom) to present religious emblems live — or share a prerecorded presentation.
- Create a brief, photo-heavy PowerPoint of Scouts in action over the past year to present to the congregation during worship.
- Incorporate a message into the virtual bulletin or digital program for that day’s services.
- Extend an invitation to the congregation to join your unit.
- Find a way for everyone to individually participate in some kind of Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath, or Scout Jumuah service project.
Text for a Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath, or Scout Jumuah Program
The BSA has prepared this text you can add to a worship service program (digital or print) on the day of your congregation’s celebration. You are welcome to copy and paste — or adapt it however you’d like.
The Scouting program at (name of congregation) is more than just an activity for our youth to learn about the outdoors. Scouting provides fun, fellowship, and training to our youth as well as youth in our community. It emphasizes honesty, self-reliance, and respect. Through a year-round program, it affects character, citizenship, and personal fitness. But the success of our Scouting depends on our volunteers, who serve in a variety of leadership roles so that our young people may benefit from our Scouting ministry. As the Boy Scouts of America celebrates its anniversary, we salute the splendid volunteers who serve as Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, and Venturing Advisors, and in other positions of leadership. Our Scout unit(s) would like to invite you and your family to be a part of their program. (Unit contact person/information)
The BSA’s National Religious Relationships Committee has prepared this helpful Word document containing suggested services for an inter-religious celebration, an Islamic celebration, a Jewish celebration, and a Christian celebration.
Scouts and unit leaders can pick one of the Scouting anniversary celebrations within or combine pieces in a way that works best for them.
You’ll find a suggested program that includes prayers, poems, songs, worship messages, sermons, scripture readings, and much more. Be sure to take a look at this fantastic new resource.
This article originally appeared on the “Bryan on Scouting” blog, January 8, 2021