Baloo's Bugle

January 2009 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 15, Issue 6
February 2008 Theme

Theme: American ABC's
Webelos: Scholar and Engineer
Tiger Cub


What Do Ceremonies Do??

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

What do Ceremonies do?

Celebrate the Occasion

Our ceremonies often observe the importance of an event. We need to stop what we are doing and reflect on the moment. Ask: Why is this time important?  What really happened? What does it mean to us?

The range of events we celebrate this way is expansive from simple, personal to profound and universal. A ceremony can mark the opening of a den meeting: The fun is about to start! A Blue and Gold banquet acclaims: Scouting is one hundred years old! Special times like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July extol our heritage and history.

We stop doing our usual routines and honor something of value in our lives. We gather together, we hold a ceremony for the occasion. These moments are special and contribute to the meaning and spirit of our lives.

Ritual replaces our normal-day discourse and activities in these ceremonies. Reciting the Cub Scout Promise at a den meeting, singing the Star Spangled Banner or Take Me Out To The Ball Game at MLB games and throwing the bouquet at a wedding are just some of the rituals we use at these special times. They are important and we should do our best to punctuate our ceremonies with rituals that instruct and inspire.

Each pack and each den will have its own set of rituals that make Cub Scouting and its character connections part of a boy’s life. Families too have their own rituals, like those described by Michael Gurian in Scouting Magazine.

Protect your family rituals like they are gold.

We Recognize the Person

Our ceremonies acknowledge the importance and value of the individual. Ceremonies are formal opportunities to present awards and honors to Cub Scouts who have worked hard for them. Ceremonies are your chance to praise a boy's work in front of his parents, his friends and even in front of strangers, thus making him the focus of attention for a short, but significant period of time. At the same time ceremonies encourage other Cub Scouts to complete their own programs. The key to any and all Cub Scout ceremonies is the boy.

How often do parents get to thank
and praise their sons in public?


We respect the boy’s accomplishments when we present him with rank badges and arrow points. We use ceremonies to show how much we appreciate the fact that he is here with us. We call out his name and repeat it more than once during those few second he is in the spotlight. It’s the boy we applaud, not the badge. 

I am a big fan of dramatic lighting at ceremonies. A Scout trainer once pointed out to me that a single candle in a darkened room is effective because there is nothing else to look at except what the candle illuminates.  So when you use candle-lit ceremonies, make sure that the boy faces the audience and the light shines on his face so that everyone in the room can see just him. Don’t block the view. This is his moment!

We Commemorate the Importance

Our ceremonies fix the events in our memory. One of the most important aftermaths of a good ceremony is that we remember it. Years later we can recall what was done, what was said and what effect it all had on our lives. Make your ceremonies occasions to remember and treasure.

Surprising, dramatic effects help to make the ceremony memorable. Vary your methods enough each time so that you catch and hold everyone’s attention. Change the sight, sound, and atmosphere to catch your audience a bit off-guard. Both participants and the audience will pay closer attention and remember it longer.

The glow of a campfire or other lighting effects can emphasize the action and effects. Recorded sounds of nature or music add to the experience.  The smell of pine boughs or wood smoke evokes strong feelings that many hold dear.  Your ceremonies should trigger as many senses and communication channels as possible.

Symbols representing Scouting’s ideals are essential to make a ceremony meaningful and to perpetuate the experience. Typical are candle (fake or real) representing the spirit of Scouting and three lights standing for the critical Character Connection areas. Neckerchiefs are invitations to the outdoors and adventure. Use lots of symbols to emphasize your message.

Participation intensifies the experience.  Remember that boys are happiest when they are doing things so give them something to do in their ceremonies. Using simple props like the Ceremony Ladder or the Pack Advancement Board {How-To Book, pp1-2, 1-3} where the boy moves his token to the next rank work well.

Packs that tie their ceremonies to the monthly themes have lots of opportunities to surprise their members with unique and unforgettable times. Getting your badge as pirate booty or an astronaut discovering a new planet is a lot more vivid and easier to relive than just having it handed to you.  Activity badges have more impact when your ceremony ties the pins to Geology, Travel etc.  You may recall those spectacular Run-On awards of Kriste Ryan we related in the October 2007 Bugle. It’s worth the time to go back and read it again.


The Tiger Cub Scout who pops a balloon to discover that it contains his Bobcat Badge will remember that night. So will the graduating Webelos who is greeted at the far end of the bridge by Boy Scouts holding a flaming troop neckerchief.


Career Arrow -1967

There was a great Scouting Ceremony two years ago that lasted several months and that involved thousands of people.

Scout and Guide Spirit Flame

February 22, 2007 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Scouting’s founder: Robert Baden-Powell. On that day, several thousand Scouts and Guides from around the world assembled at his grave site in Nyeri, Kenya where a torch was lit.

The flame was carried by Scouts and Guides through Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium and finally the UK to arrive on Brownsea Island, UK on the eve of Scouting's Sunrise. After the Sunrise celebrations on 1 August 2007, the flame continued onwards to the 21st World Scout Jamboree.

The flame that traveled from Africa was used to light a campfire that burned through the night, marking the passing of the first 100 years of the Scout movement.

I would imagine that most of those who walked from BP’s home to his grave site, or lit the Spirit Flame, or carried the torch or who tended the campfire were moved by the experience and will remember it for years to come.

What are YOU going to do now?

Go get ‘em. We need all the help we can get.

    The best gift for a Cub Scout.......
                                     ......get his parents involved!

ü  Also, be sure to visit Bill’s website

to finds more ideas on everything Cub Scouting.

Have any Comments for Bill
just click right here!


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