Thursday, July 02, 2009

Flag Ceremonies

My Suggestions on Flag Ceremonies in Boy Scout Camp

I'll bet I've seen more Flag Ceremonies than you have. I love it when everything is done just right, when the Senior Patrol Leader knows every line, when the flag goes up fast and crisp, or comes down slowly, pulled hand over hand. But sometimes I also like to see mistakes: when the flag starts up the line that runs through the caribeener then comes down to be started up again, upside down, or when once brought to the top, and the boy comes to attention to salute it the flag starts back down on its own. There are the times when the SPL forgets the words, and when he says them wrong of funny. It is not these painful errors that please but the way they are met by the assembly of 300 boys standing at attention. I have yet to hear a snicker or wisecrack. How is it, I ask, that such a mob of teenagers can stand by while given a chance to mock a peer in trouble and hold their tongs. Respect, you answer. Respect, I say, and not a little bit of sympathy, and finally might I suggest, empathy. Especially form all the other Senior Patrol Leaders in the crowd who know that tomorrow it could well be them.

What more do we need to have as citizens of this great country that to have respect for each other, and sympathy, and empathy? The Flag Ceremony is an important part of camp. It is where citizenship is taught and lived, it is where information is shared, and it is where enthusiasm is built. A good Flag Ceremony is fun, it is inspirational, it is a direct link between the camp program and its administration and the boys and their leaders. It unites the camp in knowledge of what is going on and builds enthusiasm and participation in the camp's programs and opportunities.

I aspire to be an artiest and I know, in spite of all the Post Modern claptrap to the contrary, that beauty can only be produced by following rules. A good Flag Ceremony follows some basic rules. Once you have mastered them you can, like any great artist, “become creative.” What follows is for the Opening Flag Ceremony, the one that starts the day. I will provide variations for other ceremonies once we get this one down.

Rule one: the staff must be there ten minuets early.

Rule two: the staff must stand in a straight line, with hands behind their back at parade rest and pay attention.

Rule three: the staff must sing enthusiastically as the scouts assemble. I have a series of songs which we sing before each flag ceremony. I have them posted by day and by which flag ceremony it is so I can reference them. Practice them until your crew sings them loudly and well. They should be fun songs which are complicated enough to retain their interest and powerful enough to set the mood of the staff which sings them and the scouts who are listing. In the morning I make sure they are loud, fast, and up beat. I lead them myself. I like to theme them: Sea shanties, Celtic tunes, etc.

Rule four: have Commissioners or other staff helping the troops line up behind their SPL.

Rule five: have a Commissioner or other staff member in charge. About five minuets before the actual posting of the colors, have that leader start with a song which involves the entire camp. Some songs that we use are: “Fighting the Battle of the Morning Limbering,” “Father Abraham,” and “Atu Da Ta.”

Rule six: Have a single cheer which all the troops who are at the assembly area can participate in and have your Commissioner lead the camp, including the staff in doing this cheer. The staff should be particularly enthusiastic. I like “Mabuha”, “The Camp Mosquito”, “Igy, Igy, Igy, Oy, Oy, Oy.” I do not have troops give their yells in the morning – it takes too long.

Rule seven: Have the staff cheer the scouts. This cheer must be fun, enthusiastic, and well preformed. I like “Let me see you” “Dum Dum Duh Duh” and “Yesterday Was Hike Day.” These takes a good leaders, so I can have the best, I usually have my Program Director lead them.

Rule eight: START ON TIME, if the flag ceremony is scheduled for 9:30, at 9:30 the Commissioner in charge will turn the time over to the troop or staff Color Guard and the flag will be raised. Troops that are late will be asked to wait quietly to the side of the formation until the call of "at ease." After the first time, most of the troops will be there on time. If you wait even a minuet, troops will never become punctual. NOTE: Troops that present the flag ceremony should have been there early and practiced putting up the flag and their Camp Friend should have helped train them. I like to give a speech to the entire camp as part of the first flag ceremony (Monday Night) in which I explain how to behave. In short; that they should follow the commands hand salute and two, that those in uniform should salute and those not in uniform should put there hands over their heart. All none uniform hats should be removed. When the flag is brought down they can drop their salute after the flag has been removed from the halyards but they should remain at attention and quiet until the flag is fonded and the color guard dismissed. In the morning they salute through the pledge and then drop their salute but remain at attention until the color guard is dismissed. After the color guard is dismissed the staff should lead the assembly in polite applause.

Rule nine: Present information to the camp in an orderly method, department by department, following the same pattern every day. Make sure that the skits main purpose is to convey information and not just to entertain either the staff or the scouts. I usually go: Nature, Field Sports, Water Front, ACE, Commissioner, Camp Wide Business, High Inspection Scores, and then give the “Camp Time” for the day.

Rule ten: Never go over thirty minuets. Flag Ceremony must be done in time for the scouts to get to their respective activities for the day.

Rule eleven: The Camp Director should attend all Flag Ceremonies. This seems to go without saying, but it occurred to me that some may not understand. The Camp Director must show that Flag Ceremony is important to him, and he must be there to encourage, and critique.

I will next present detailed accounts of all of our morning flag ceremonies, including the agenda – a written copy of which is in the hand of our conducting Commissioner – and word by word descriptions of what is to be said and done. I will also include pictures.

Morning Flag Ceremonies

Tuesday Morning

Pre Opening

Songs by Staff - (lead by the Camp Director): "Will It Reach," "Fish Heads," and "I Love to Go,"
Participation song (lead by the Commissioner) "Fighting the Battle of the Morning Limbering,"
Troop Yell - (led by the Cinnussioner) "Mabuha!" (Stomp your feet, pound your chest, jump up and down and yell Mabuha!)
Staff yell - (Lead by Program Director) "Let me See you ____ Whats that you say!"
Flag Ceremony by troop #____.

Business (Each step introduced by the Commissioner who leads the chants.)

Nature Director, introduce by “Trees Flowers Dirt....
Polar Bear
Commando Corps

Field Sports Director, introduced by “Twang Bang Where's ...”
Dime Club / Top Archer
Hans & Frans - Range Shoot!

Waterfront Director, introduced by “Yo ho ho ho a pirates life for me”.

Anounce - Mile Swim, Safe Swim Defense, Safety AfloatBaywatch (Includes the tee shirt commercial.)
Overnight Canoe

ACE Director, introduced by “Its Ace and His assistant, Ace and his assistant...”
Activity of the day
Rock Jock

Commissioner Business:
High Landers & Wee Scout
Round Table – 11:00 AM @ the Chapel
Announce Scout Craft Skill Events @ 7:30
Tonight is also the Fellowship of the Moose
High Inspection Scores for the Day

Official Camp Time

Dismiss for Merit Badges and ACE activities.

Pictures from Tuesday Morning Fllag Ceremony

Steve Erwin's beautiful wife Terry explains the need to attend the Naturalist.

Steve's failure to attend the Naturalist causes him to misidentify the Polar Bear.
Too bad for Steve!

The Polar Bear explains how to join his exclusive Society.

Rambo - "Commando Corps; all the way!!"

The Pathfinder of Camp Loll confronts a French Castle.

He explains the migration of compasses.

Hans and Franz;

are here to pump you up.

Bay Watch uses their First Aid skills to battle the sun.

Where's the beach?!

It's ACE and his assistant.

The Rock Jock
I am the man!

The wee scout learns not to litter.

If you waist our Highlands we'll waist you!

Thursday Morning
Pre Opening:
Songs by Staff (lead by the Camp Director) "My Father" Twas 1800 & 53" "Tiz Advartized in Boston," 'I've Got Sixpence"
Troop Participation Song (led by the Commissioner) "Father Abraham"
Troop yell (led by the Commissioner) Igy Igy Igy – Oy oy oy
Staff yell (led by the Program Director or Commissioner) “Yesterday was hike day wasnt it Great...”
Flag Ceremony by troop #_____
Business (Each step led by the Commissioner who leads the chants)
Nature Director, introduced by “Trees Flowers Dirt....
Polar Bear
Commando Corps
Field Sports Director, introducedby “Twang Bang Where's ...”
Dime Club / Top Archer
Hans & Frans.. Range Shoot!
Waterfront Director, introduced by “Yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me”
Anounce - Mile swim, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat

ACE Director, introduced by “Its Ace and His assistant, Ace and his assistant...”
Rock Jock

Announcement from the Trading Post!
High Landers & Wee Scout (Not my Responsibility)
Round Table – 11:00 AM @ the Chapel
Announce the Highland Games, and after that the Honor Trail
Announce the Scoutmaster and all adult leader lunch w/ the staff yell
“Potato chips, Potato chips...”
High Inspection Scores for the Day ---
Then official camp time.

Dismiss for Merit Badges and Other ACE activities

Pictures of Thursday Flag Ceremony

Always have a Commissioner in charge
of directing every step of the program.

All the performers wait backstage.

"Steve" comes out looking for smaller
game, but will still meet the Polar Bear
and anounce the Naturalist.

The we have the dance of he Polar Bear.

Rambo hands out his awesome head bands.

A rather cocky Rambo finds out just
how helpful Bay Watch can be.

The ACE Assistant as a corn dog. The adventures
for the day are sailing and black powder shooting. Go

The Rock Jock demonstrates the
"chest hair growing" virtues of
the second-year rappell.

The Highlanders stand by to educate the wee-
scout on taking responsibility for everyone's litter.

Friday Morning Flag Ceremony

Pre Opening

Staff songs (led by the Camp Director) "Three Little Angels," "Herby," "Where Oh Where Is Suzzy,".

Troop participation song (led by the Commissioner) “A tu da ta a Tu da ta..” Yell for all the troops (led by the Commissioner) "Camp Loll Mosquito".

Staff yell (led by the Program Director) "Dum Dum cheer"

Flag Ceremony By troop #_____

Business (each stage led by the Commissioner who leads the chants)

Nature Director introduced by "Trees, Flowers, Dirt" chant.


Polar Bear

Commando Corps

Field Sports, introduced by “Twang Bang Where's ...”

Dime Club / Top Archer

Hans & Frans.. Range Shoot!


Waterfront introduced by “Yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me”


Mile Swim

ACE introduced by “Its Ace and His assistant, Ace and his assistant...”


Rock Jock

Message from the Trading Post


High Landers & Wee Scout

Round Table – 11:00 AM @ the Chapel

Closing campfire tonight

High Inspection Scores for the Day

Official Camp Time

Dismiss for Merit Badge classess and ACE activities

Pictures of Friday Morining's Flag Ceremony

The Polar Bear teaches "Steve" a lesson

on plant and animal identification

The Polar Bear addresses the Camp.

The Dance of the Polar Bears

The Old Bridge Keep confront Nepoleon Dynamite.

The Bridge Keeper does away with Napoleon Dyamite

Could this possibly be? Mutany!

The Captian and his crew learn the true meaning of life

"Marriage is what brings us together today."

The Rock Jock; so manly that only "real men"

can understand him.

The Wee-scout learns to access-her-eyes.

One of the Highlanders trys to go civilized; something
about a woman.

The Highlanders and friends find the Wee-scout even at home.
We have all their "blue cards".
As this post is getting a little large for me to work with I will place the evening Flag Ceremonies on a new posting above.


RealFruitBeverage said...

I don't know about rule 8. I think it more of a real harsh guidline than a rule.

Some of the best flag ceremonies that I have been to went about 5-9 minutes over. I think all depends on the chemistry of the staff and the scouts.

Lysis said...

Now you are speaking artistic license – which I would allow a master like yourself. However, I remind the “beginner” to stick to the guidelines until he has found his Muse.

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