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Baloo's Bugle

January 2006 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 13, Issue 6
February 2007 Theme

Theme: Aloha, Cub Scouts
Webelos: Scholar & Engiineer
Tiger Cub


Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

Be sure to check out Bill’s “Unofficial Roundtable Site”


If you wish to contact him with a question or comment, go to http://wtsmith.com/rt/gnolmm.html

In Cub Scouting circles, ceremonies dominate our concerns during February.  Big things go on and we want to celebrate them and commemorate them.

Celebrate and Commemorate means Ceremonies.

Ceremonies are one of the oldest forms of human communication. They pre-date history. Good Ceremonies are the ones that people remember. They commemorate something important that the people involved should remember.

Ceremonies also celebrate important events.  We stop our regular activities and mark these times.  We may rejoice, or we may mourn or perhaps we stand silently and focus on a mental picture.  It’s when attention must be paid.

Think about the great ceremonies you have experienced: weddings, funerals, graduations, and family reunions.  You may recall rights of passage like a confirmation, Bar Mitzvah, or a special anniversary.  Ceremony can distinguish the awesome as it does in awarding a Nobel Prize, or the mundane – the coin-flip at the start of a football game. Ceremony is public in the coronation of a monarch and also private as it is in a confessional.

So what do you want in your ceremonies for your pack and your boys?

What will be celebrated?
What will be remembered?

You want to the boy and his parents to remember, not just the ceremony, but what it all stands for.

Judy Yeager, that special Scouter from Heart of America Council, recalls:

Plus you can have fun, meaningful ceremonies that don't take a lot of time. My youngest will never forget his Wolf ceremony (and he's 17 now.) He was called forward with a few of his peers who had also finished and handed a balloon and a small plastic sword, accompanied by a few meaningful words about the badge. The boys were told to pop the balloons and voila--out popped a Wolf Badge!

That is the ceremony he remembers most - not the more verbose, more serious ceremonies that accompanied some of his other badge presentations.

To make your ceremonies that effective, try to incorporate drama, ritual, symbolism, and a message into each of the ceremonies that is celebrated in your pack or den.

Drama: Focus the audience's attention with the unusual. Use special lighting, music, props, and other effects. Do something unusual to grab and hold their eyes and ears.  A candle or artificial campfire in a darkened room works because that’s all there is to see.  Some religions use the aroma of incense to intensify the drama.  We can do it with the smell of pine or the recorded sounds of nature.  Ritual can cause complacence so brighten it up with some drama.

Ritual:Drive your message home with symbols and actions that are familiar and meaningful to all concerned. Your Tigers will remember how the Webelos are awarded their Arrows of Light and will be expecting something similar four years from now.  Ritual is reassuring.  Keep it dignified and comfortable to both the participants and the audience.

Symbolism:Use symbols to repeat parts of your message. Use sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste to underline your ideas.  The candles, the badges, the pine boughs, and the campfire can all represent elements of Scouting and its ideals.  Symbols are effective because they repeat elements of your message.  Keep reminding everyone what the symbols stand for.  Remember, new members of your pack might not be aware of what they mean.

Message: Your ceremony must say something important.  Pay careful attention to what it is that you want to say.  To whom do you want to say it?  How will drama, ritual and symbolism get your message across and make it memorable?  Above all, what is your message?  Start with that and the rest comes easily.

Use costumes, props, and your imagination. Anything that requires throwing, catching, hitting, running, jumping, breaking, popping, bouncing, stomping, rolling, crawling, climbing, swinging or dropping is bound to bring a smile to the face of a nine-year-old. 
Sean Scott


Ceremonies are important, even in the outdoors.  Outdoor pack activities usually call for an opening and closing ceremony (or closing campfire).  Outdoor pack activities that take the place of regular pack meetings should also include advancement ceremonies so awards can be presented promptly. 
The outdoors is a good place to hold the Webelos Scout Crossing the Bridge Graduation Ceremony when the weather permits.  (See Staging Den and Pack Ceremonies for more detail.) 
More info on planning outdoor ceremonies can be found in the Cub Scout Leader Book available at your Scout Shop.

Cub Scout Leader Book


I like the themes and ideas that are in Staging Den and Pack Ceremonies but I advise leaders not to copy them exactly.  The ceremonies there are just too long, too verbose, and too boring to make them effective. Use you own words rather than those in the book, and above all, keep it short.

Say the boy’s name (and repeat it) and why the event is important. Never try to read it if it’s dark and you are operating by the light of a candle or some other feeble light source.

Just before the ceremony, light your candles and let them burn for a few seconds.  This will make them easier to light during the actual ceremony.

Check sight lines ahead of time. Will everyone be able to see what is going on and especially be able see that little lad getting the badge?  If they can’t see, you may lose the audience.

When a boy is honored at a pack meeting and returns to his den, he should be recognized some how by his den mates. Anything from high fives to the den cheer goes a long way to emphasize what you tried to do at the ceremony. (You do have den cheers, don’t you?)

Bill’s Challenge:
Plan a ceremony to award a boy and his parents a Bobcat Badge.  Make it memorable, meaningful, and dignified for all involved.  And, oh yes, the boy happens to be blind.

BSA On-Line learning Center

Have you been to National’s On-Line learning Center??  National has taken all the courses they offer online and put them all together in one spot –

= On Line Learning Center

This site provides a variety of materials, from quick references to complete courses, all designed to help our members improve leadership skills and deliver a quality program.

At the OLC you can find the following E-Learning Courses -

  • Youth Protection Training
  • Cub Scout Leader Fast Start
  • Boy Scout Leader Fast Start
  • Venturing Advisor Fast Start
  • Safety Afloat
  • Safe Swim Defense

These courses can help adult leaders deliver quality Scouting experiences to youth. A log-in is required, however anyone may create a user account and view the courses. Registered members of the BSA may provide their member numbers (as part of the user profile) to receive credit.

They, also, have a multimedia course (They say “on-line exercises” for informational purposes.  It is

  • Venturing Crew Orientation

I am sure they plan to add more in the future

And a link to other helpful training information such as

  • Soccer and Scouting Basic Training
  • Courses at Philmont Training Center

So, get yourself organized and get your new leaders through Fast Start.  No more looking around to see where that old VCR tape or DVD went!!

Your new leaders can do these alone or your Pack Trainer can organize a group session and all watch the screen together and talk about it.

Check It Out!!

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