The way of explaining the promise to the young people requires attention. They need to understand the implications of making a promise - that they are giving their word and that they are giving their word to do their personal best. It should therefore be presented as an important act, but not something that they need to feel apprehensive about. Another factor to be borne in mind concerns when a young person should make the Scout promise. Evidently, he or she will need to have had time to become familiar with the Scout law and its practical application in the group (i.e. that he or she will be expected to make an effort to develop and to adhere to the group’s code of living), and to decide whether or not he or she wishes to formally join Scouting. From a young person’s perspective, making the Scout promise is not simply about whether the code of living seems reasonable or not. Doing so is also a decision to continue to take part in activities with the young people that he or she has come to know. 

External factors apart (schoolwork, other interests, etc.), whether a young person decides to make the promise or not will therefore also depend on how interesting the activities seem and, especially, on the extent to which the young person feels integrated in the group. On the whole adolescents are likely to want more time than pre-adolescents to make up their minds. At the same time, from an educational perspective, a balance needs to be struck between giving the young person time to make up his or her mind, and the need for the real educational process to start. Until a young person makes the Scout promise, he or she is more or less a visitor to Scouting and cannot experience the richness of what Scouting can offer. In addition, the prolonged presence of “visitors” (i.e. those who simply turn up occasionally for activities) is disruptive for the young people who are committed to Scouting, to the group’s projects and life together.

Making the promise is a personal act of commitment. The adult leader’s task, therefore, is to encourage the young person, but not to force him or her before he or she is ready to do so, nor to withhold the right to make the promise, nor to ignore the matter altogether. A simple way of encouraging the young people would be to propose several dates over a period of several months. The adult leader needs to consider how to make the moment of making the promise a significant one for the young person - a small ceremony at the end of a camp, for example.