Basic Flag Opening Ceremony for All scouts

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Basic Flag Opening   Basic Flag Opening Ceremony   Scout Ceremony

(have the scouts offstage, ready holding the flags. The US Flag is on the right, then State flag, then Troop flag on the far left.)

Leader: "Color Guard, Attention!"

Leader: "Audience, Please Rise!"

Leader: "Scout Salute! Those not in uniform, please place your right hand over your heart."
Leader: "Color Guard, Forward March!"
(wait for color guard to reach the front)

Leader: "Color Guard, Halt!"

Leader: "Color Guard, Cross the Colors!"
(State and Troop flags stop. US Flag crosses in front of other flags to left-most flag stand, then State flag advances, then Troop flag. Wait for flag bearers to move to the flag pole stands)

Leader: "Please recite the Pledge of Allegiance!"

Leader: "TWO!"
(Everyone drops salute)

Leader: "Scout Sign!"
(Everyone raises right hand making the Scout sign or Cub Scout sign)

Leader: "Please join us in reciting the [Scout Law, Scout Oath, Cub Scout Promise, Outdoor Code, ...]!"
(this is where the ceremony can be customized by the color guard. Choose what to recite. Could sing a song such as 'America the Beautiful'..)

Leader: "TWO!"
(Everyone drops Scout sign)

Leader: "Color Guard, Post the Flag of the United States of America! "

Leader: "Color Guard, Post the Flag of the Great State of [your state name]! "

Leader: "Color Guard, Post the Flag of [Pack/Troop] 123! "

Leader: "Color Guard, Honor your Colors!"
(Flag bearers salute the US flag)

Leader: "Color Guard, return to ranks!"
(wait for flag bearers return to formation)

Leader: "Audience, Please be seated!"
Did you try it and like it?             Or hate it?
Click a thumb to vote:              

 Feb 23, 2014 - Cubmaster Chrispy
There are several flaws with this ceremony. Namely, the state and pack colors should be "posted" first. The American flag should always be posted last. Also, those in attendance should hold their salutes until the colors are posted.
Mar 26, 2014 - Neal Swartzmiller
The comment by Cubmaster Chrispy is incorrect.  The US flag is always the first to be raised (or posted) and the last to be lowered (or reteived).  Review this official site of flag etiquette...specifically this section where mutiple flags are displayed:

Apr 09, 2014 - Patricia Johnson
I can't find an answer for this situation anywhere and I have been searching the internet.  What do I do with a Scout that that has a totally immovable arm (full arm cast-can't move it at all))when it comes to saluting?  And what do I do if I ever get an amputee or paralyzed scout regarding saluting?  In the case of the Scout with the cast he wanted to salute the flag, couldn't, and asked if he could use his left arm.  Any answers?  
Apr 09, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Patricia - There's nothing wrong with him simply standing at attention while the others salute.  If he prefers to salute with his left arm, that is ok.  Whichever way feels most comfortable to him.

Either way, someone might question it, but the only current guideline is to salute with the right arm.  So, precise interpretation would be if there's no right arm, no salute can be done.

May 20, 2014 - Ranger Rick
Out of curiosity, does the BSA allow rifle bearers in a color guard?
May 22, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Rick - Are there other non-military groups that would have rifles in a flag procession?  I have only seen them in military processions.
How does having Scouts bear arms in this manner support any of the Aims or Methods of Scouting?
I don't see the tie-in between rifle bearing and Scouting and would not do it.
May 26, 2014 - Hunter Deal
I've seen rifles carried by Boy Scouts in a color guard procession, but there was a naval lieutenant there leading and supervising it. Also they wouldn't have been real working rifles, they would have been dummy rifles that are made to be carried and spun.
May 26, 2014 - Ranger Rick
@Scouter Paul - I didn't think that it would be allowed.  I ask because there's some guy from the church where my troop is chartered who insists that rifles belong in a Boy Scout color guard.  He's been "training" several of the scouts in my troop and quite frankly, I don't think it's very appropriate to be imposing military drill on scouts who are barely 16.  I'm not anti-military by any means, I have a long history of Marines and Sailors in my family and I'm working on enlisting in the Navy myself.  However, military drill belongs in the military and not scouts.  This isn't 1912.  Thanks!
May 26, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Rick - Your views sound reasonable to me.  Good luck!
Jul 01, 2014 - @Ranger Rick
It was my understanding that Baden Powell didn't call them the Boy "Scouts" for nothing.  Scouts learn bushcraft, cooking, rifle and bow shooting, patriotism, reverence, etc.  All qualities desired in the dangerous role of a military scout.  Note that picnics aren't as popular as "Capture the Flag".  That said, it should not be the ROTC either.
Jul 14, 2014 - Scouter John
Our non-scouting color guard group uses swords or rifles in our color guard. The point is that the honor guard on the outside of the flags are symbolically supposed to be guarding the flag under arms. That said, I believe that it is perfectly ok for a Scout honor guard to symbolically guard the flag without carrying arms. Is it permissible for BSA to allow rifle bearers in a color guard, I suspect not and suggest looking at BSA's firearm policy for appropriate times for scouts to be carrying firearms.

Aug 01, 2014 - Scouter Dale
Quote from BSA: "The wearing of special helmets, scarves, gloves, unofficial leggings, and the carrying of ceremonial guns or swords by members of such organizations using the uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America is in violation of the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America."

The ONLY place a firearm is allowed with Scouts is on a firing range. Period. Fake firearms or swords are not part of a Scout uniform. Ranger Rick and others above have said that this isn't the JROTC. If they want to do a color guard with rifles, tell them to join the local JROTC and leave off  making the BSA into a junior training camp for military. It isn't.
Aug 01, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Dale - Hey, thanks for sharing that page address!  My search for rifles and firearms missed that.
Sep 23, 2014 - Cubmaster Steve
This isn't the military, so rifles are inappropriate. However, a Guard for the flags is completely appropriate (even in the military). When the colors are to be posted in a church/synagogue/place of worship, the carrying of weapons is completely inappropriate...tack on the regulations quoted above and we're pretty much outside of carrying weapons under any circumstances. While it's neat, it IS prohibited and we shouldn't do it.

The question of a scout salute when an arm is bandaged/incapacitated boils down to "do your best". I wouldn't expect someone confined to a wheelchair to stand. If someone is attempting to honor the flag and they are not being disrespectful, leave 'em alone :-)
Sep 23, 2014 - Anthony
The restriction on gun carry cited by Scouter Dale is targeted to outside organizations Drill teams, clubs, etc. wearing BSA uniforms to perform their ceremonies.

Basically the BSA does not want outside organizations showing up, donning BSA uniforms, and doing their ceremonies.  

The uniform guide does NOT say that BSA members cannot use a ceremonial rifle to perform a flag ceremony.  If that was the intent of the guide the language would have clearly said so. It does not.  

Baden Powell was a military man and set up an military oriented Scouting organization.  They used and sponsored rifle use as part of ceremonies in his time and it has long continued.  The uniform guide does not restrict the use by BSA members but to outside organizations wearing BSA uniforms.  If your not precise you don't see the difference but it is clear in the language and obviously important because it answers the question.  Yes, ceremonial rifles can be carried by BSA members in uniform.
Sep 23, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Anthony - The only people specifically allowed to wear the BSA uniform are registered BSA members.  So, no "outside organization" would be wearing it.
The portion of the Insignia Guide referenced by Scouter Dale is specifically directed at BSA members that are "members of bands, drill teams, or drum and bugle corps affiliated with a unit or a local council".
That means, for example, Troop 58's Drum and Bugle Corps is supposed to wear their BSA uniform when performing, and they are not to carry guns or swords.  Since these BSA-affiliated teams are not permitted to carry ceremonial rifles, I would use that same guidance for flag ceremonies and all other BSA activities.
The only instance I'm aware of in which BSA members can use simulated firearms is when participating in historical re-enactments.
Oct 01, 2014 - Dale
Get your ideals of a military BSA out of here. This is NOT a military organization.
Point 1: According to the Shooting Sports Manual, firearms are only allowed within the BSA at a shooting range and at sponsored range-only events.
Point 2: The uniform code does not allow weapons.
Point 3: The BSA's goals, as stated on their site, is to "...prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law." Don't see anything about training military there.
Point 4: Do Scout Shops sell ceremonial rifles or weapons? No.
Point 5: Tradition does not equal right. Just because someone did it when you were a Scout doesn't mean you should do it.
It all boils down to the final question: WHY? Why does a 13 year-old need to carry a rifle, simulated or not, when honoring our flag?
As Paul and the BSA has said: There is no allowance for weapons in the BSA outside of the range. Simple. Any inclusion is extraneous.
Oct 09, 2014 - Matthew
As a returning scout [I.E. eagle returning to lead] I have seen both scenarios in AUTHORIZED BSA functions [ 2001 National Jamboree there was a ceremonial color guard, west point also had one at the jamborees held there ]. Scouting IS based on traditions, so to say that traditions do not equal right does not hold in my book. Scouting was born here in america to teach children how to become leaders and men. During the big wars they were instrumental in gathering scrap materials. They were and now still are a place to groom leaders, whether in the board room or on the battle field. Some troops are more military based then others, I have been in both. If you do not like or agree with the way the BOYS run their troop change troops or stay home. The whole boy scout system is based on BOY run troops, NOT adult run troop.
Oct 20, 2014 - Ken Harris
I would like to know why BSA does not wear hats while on a color guard duty. Ive been in the military for 20 yrs. and I know BSA is not the military but there is a reason to be covered wether indoors or outdoors when on a color guard detail.
Oct 30, 2014 - Troy Schwable
I have a couple of answers to some questions in this blog, 1st, from CubMaster Chrispy, it was pointed out that you were incorrect about the posting, I would also like to point out that rendering a salute to the flag as it enters the door and passes the audience is in fact correct. Honors are rendered to a flag on a staff as it is considered to be "Flying" and as it moves the hand salute is to be rendered. You are confusing a folded flag that gets saluted after the color guard has advanced and is preparing to hoist the colors.
2nd. Ken Harris, there are courses in BSA that teach cover outside and no cover under cover. NYLT and NYALE teach this protocol. However, since Scout uniforms are not provided to the youth of units, we try not to force them to buy items that don't contribute to the program. And I was in the military and a Guidon Bearer and on the silent rifle drill corps. Only the rifle corps wore cover under cover.
Nov 01, 2014 - Dale
The BSa has answered this question. Their website states:
"Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking, or other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of a currently certified BSA national shooting sports director or National Rifle Association firearms instructor."

So to recap: no. It is not allowed. And anyone who does is violating BSA policy. Firearms have only ONE purpose in Scouting: to teach marksmanship. Anything else is why shooting at human targets is a no-no and paintball and laser tag is too.
Nov 09, 2014 - Adam

This is a good discussion.  I have not researched the issue, so I don't know what the answer is.  However, the Boy Scouts differentiate between firearms and simulated firearms.  See, e.g.,  They mean different things.  You are misinterpreting a term of art -- "firearm."  You are absolutely correct, you cannot carry a functioning firearm on camping, hiking, etc. as specified in the passage cited by you.  Pretty common sense in most situations.  However, that does not address the question regarding simulated firearms, which the non-firing ceremonial rifles would be.  To make it clear, a firearm would be capable of firing a projectile.  Those drill simulated rifles cannot.

A logical reading of the Unauthorized and Restricted Activities section would be that several limits were placed on the use of "firearms," but the only limit placed on "simulated firearms" would be that they could not be pointed at people. YiS
Jan 19, 2015 - Feliscia
Are Scouts required to wear the uniform while participating in a flag ceremony. We've had several incidents when a den performs a flag ceremony while some of the boys are NOT in uniform. Im under the impression that you must be in full uniform in order to participate but I can't find anything specific to support that. Is there any clear guideline from BSA that support this?
Jan 19, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@Feliscia - Uniforms are not mandatory to be in the Boy Scouts of America.  This is in the Guide to Awards and Insignia on page 5.

Jan 21, 2015 - Feliscia
Scouter Paul, thank you for the post and the link. It was helpful however my question was more regarding participation in a flag ceremony. I suppose that may be a civic matter that I should ask the VA about. Or maybe there are no restrictions on dress code while participating in the ceremony?

Jan 21, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@Feliscia - If a group of scouts is performing a flag service for some other organization, such as VA, city council, high school football game, ... then that is a perfect time to look sharp and wear the uniform.  There is no BSA-specific requirement that a uniform be worn, but the organization can certainly request (or require) that all scouts be in uniform in order to be part of their ceremony.

The complete uniform includes socks, pants, belt, and shirt so you might ask the organization requesting the ceremony how much of that uniform they require - so that scouts don't show up in just the BSA shirt thinking that was good enough.
Jan 21, 2015 - Beverly Cook
I like your pages. I use your ideas often. We do scout reach and run 5 packs every week.
Jan 27, 2015 - Mark Barfield
The bit about "US Flag crosses in front of others" is confusing.  By the US Flag code, the flag is always to the "flag's own right"  (There is no front by this definition). The right-side is always from the flag's point of view, in the direction it's traveling/marching.

From the US flag code:

7. Position and manner of display
The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
Mar 13, 2015 - KWEST
Is there anywhere in the official BSA website that explains how to do a flag ceremony in the manner that the Boy Scouts of America wants it to be done? I find this detail very lacking. You would think this information would be easy to find.
Mar 14, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@kwest - There is no specific, absolute manner in which to perform a flag ceremony.  Scouts can create their own respectful ceremony or use scripts that others have created.
There is a BSA pamphlet discussing flag etiquette at the official BSA online store -

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