Scout Sunday and Religious Holidays

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Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath and Scout Jumuah

Each year on Feb. 8, the Boy Scouts of America celebrates its birthday. It’s a date officially known as Scouting Anniversary Day, and it’s the primary date to recognize the contributions of young people and adults to Scouting.

It’s also around this time when packs, troops, crews and ships can annually honor a Scout’s “Duty to God,” as the Boy Scouts of America designates the Sunday that falls before February 8 as Scout Sunday.

Through a trio of faith-based celebrations known as Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath and Scout Jumuah, young people in Scouting can give back to their religious communities. The exact dates may vary, but each one is an opportunity for Scouts to publicly demonstrate the 12th point of the Scout Law: A Scout is Reverent. It can be particularly meaningful when the Scout unit itself is chartered by a religious organization, and the Scouts and leaders of the unit use the occasion to recognize that support. 

What does that look like? It 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.

When is Scout Sunday?

While the first Sunday of February is most commonly the date of this event, a church can adopt any specific Sunday to celebrate. In the instance of the United Methodist Church, Scout Sunday is celebrated on the second Sunday in February. It also is permissible for a local church to celebrate on the Sunday most acceptable to the pastor and congregation. 

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When and What is Scout Sabbath?

Scout Sabbath commonly begins at sundown on the first Friday of February and continues into the next day. Jewish Scouts can 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 sets the dates of Scout Sabbath, 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. For more information, visit the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.

When and What is Scout Jumuah?

Scout Jumuah is most commonly the first Friday of February, 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 to sundown on Friday. 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.

Scouting and Religious Holidays

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them.

The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

There are certain holidays that individual Scouts and Scouters of different faiths celebrate each year. These holidays are not always on the same date on the calendar and may not be familiar to everyone. In order to respect the traditions of all Scouts and Scouters, care must be taken in scheduling Scouting activities.

The Boy Scouts of America has developed a religious holiday calendar for the use of local units, councils and others in scheduling Scout-related activities. It provides a brief description of each holiday, both in the overall list of holidays and following each month, and an indication of the significance of each as well. The calendar will be continuously updated to provide planners with a two-year holiday schedule.

This page was adapted in part from a 2021 Bryan on Scouting article, “Everything you need to know about Scout Sunday 2021, Scout Sabbath 2021 and Scout Jumuah 2021.” Check it out for more information, links, ideas for activities and suggestions for services.