A few years back, a reader named Barbara Knowlden told me about a neat idea she picked up at a court of honor. It would be especially meaningful at an Indian-themed ceremony (like the Order of the Arrow ceremony in The Eagle Court of Honor Book), but it would work in other settings as well.
Here’s the idea: You put a jar of different colored pony beads on the lectern and ask anybody who feels so inspired to come up, pick out a bead, and tell the audience why the bead’s color reminds him or her of the honoree. For example, the neighbor medic might choose red because it reminds him of the countless times the honoree came over to get bandaged up. Or the new Eagle’s little sister could choose purple for the countless bruises he put on her arm.
After telling their brief stories, the friends, family, and fellow Scouts then add their beads to a coup feather, which is simply an imitation eagle feather attached to a leather string, perhaps dangling from a hiking staff. Be sure to have someone write down what all the colors stand for and who picked them, so the honoree can have a permanent record.
If you try this idea, keep a few caveats in mind. First, give people some advanced notice before asking them to come forward; otherwise, there may be an awkward pause while everyone tries to think of stories. Second, have one or two people you’ve coached ahead of time go first to set the example. Third, keep the program moving and cut off the reminiscences when the program starts to drag. (Folks could always add to the coup stick after the ceremony if you run out of time.)
Caveats aside, the coup-feather idea can bring out some fun, memorable stories. As Barbara discovered, the time will go by faster than expected and the honoree will be left with some neat memories.
So what great ideas have you come across at courts of honor you’ve attended? The comments section is always open.