The Keys to Good–and Bad–Scout Ceremonies


COH backdrop 2

The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters explains the essence of good ceremonies: “All Scout ceremonies should be: dignified–simple–short. They should be based upon the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law and be conducted on a high plane so as to inspire the boy.”

That really says it all. There’s no place in good ceremonies for long-winded speakers, overly complex scripts, or anything that smack of initiations or horseplay. Here are a few other guaranteed ceremony killers:

  • Bad physical arrangements. The middle of an Eagle court of honor is not the time to realize that you need a chair on stage for the honoree or that you forgot to adjust the room’s thermostat.
  • Unprepared presenters. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the words in your script are if you presenters stumble over them.
  • Inaudible presenters. If microphones are needed, get them and use them. Presenters often mistakenly assume that if they can hear themselves talk, the people in the back row can, too.
  • Scripts that require memorization. Many Scouts (and adults) freeze up if they have to quote memorized lines. Memorization is also a problem in Scout Law candle ceremonies, where the recitation of the 12 points is interrupted by explanatory prose.
  • Poor coordination. Even when each presenter is prepared, the transition from one speaker to the next can be awkward; it’s also easy to assume that someone else is bringing essential props. The best solution is to rehearse ahead of time.
  • Announcements after the closing. Announcements are often a necessary part of ceremonies like courts of honor, but avoid making them at the end; doing so spoils the magic of the moment.

One thought on “The Keys to Good–and Bad–Scout Ceremonies

  1. Excellent stuff, Mark! Preparation, planning, and common sense. When it comes to ceremonies, I like to refer to this as seeing things from an entertainment perspective. And in the entertainment industry, a lot of these considerations fall within the realm of good “staging.”

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