Hold up a hand ax in your right hand and ask the Scouts what it is. You’ll get several replies. The desired answer is that it is a tool that we can use both in and out of Scouting. Ask them what it is used for. Transfer the ax to your left hand. Take out a compass, hold it up in your right hand and ask what it is. After they respond correctly, tell them that this, too, is a tool that can be used both in and out of Scouting. Ask them what it is used for. The desired answer is that it gives you direction. Next ask how it gives direction. The desired response is that it points to the North. Looking at the compass, point in the direction that the compass tells you is North.
Transfer the compass to the left hand, by the ax head. The compass needle should swing to point at the ax (even if it doesn’t, they can’t see it). As you say, “Wait a minute, now North’s over there!”, turn to the left. The compass needle will still point at the ax. Each time you turn, tell them that North has moved again! They will all begin yelling at you that the ax is causing the compass to give a false direction. Repeat this to them, “What’s that? The ax is making the compass give me an incorrect direction?” After they all agree, tell them the following:
“Both of these items are tools that Scouting teaches you about, which you can use both in and out of your Scouting life to make certain tasks easier to accomplish. The Scout Oath and the Scout Law are the same thing. They aren’t just words that you need to memorize in order to make advancement, they are valuable tools that, like the compass, will help you to have a more enjoyable and profitable life, both in and out of Scouting. Learn to use these tools well and often.
Just like you saw with the compass and the ax, you will find outside influences that will try to draw you away from the direction you should be headed. Just as you have learned to recognize that iron-bearing metal will draw a compass off course, learn to recognize those things that will draw you off course from the things the Scout Oath and Law teach you about goodness, honesty, cheerfully helping others, being true to your religion, and being a positive and active member of this great country.
If you learn to use these two valuable tools, the Oath and Law, that Scouting has given you, you’ll be a better person for it.
You’ll need a hand-ax (hatchet) and a compass for this skit.
This starts out a bit raucous, as they respond to your questions, but it will get very serious at the end. Usually, when you are done, you’ll find the Scouts to be very quiet and left to ponder on the discussion.