Court of Honor Ceremony
By Rick Seymour
The opening of this advancement ceremony uses candles indoors, or torches when we do it outdoors at our yearly family picnic after summer camp.
A Court of Honor is much more effective if the Scouts never read from a piece of paper!
Use a script the first two times you rehearse, then collect them and have the Scouts muddle through the last rehearsals as best they can without notes. Examples of the Ideals of Scouting should always be expressed in the Scout's own simple words, always using very specific examples.
One of the purposes of the ceremony is a public relations message to parents: why Scouting is an important influence on their sons' lives, and not something that should be taken away as a punishment for bad grades. For this reason, I limit answers on the Scout Spirit Scavenger Hunt (from which the Scouts' lines below are taken) to examples of their behavior at campouts, and why each answer must include some small detail of what the Scout smelled, heard, saw, tasted, felt or did!
SCOUTMASTER (In pitch darkness): "A Scout is first attracted to Scouting by the fun that it offers: the adventure of cooking and camping in the great outdoors, swimming, white-water canoeing, or learning how to save a life. Scouting is a game, but for adults it is a game with a purpose: citizenship training through character and fitness. We call the purpose of our game the "Light of Scouting." To advance in Scouting, a boy must memorize our Scout Oath and Law, but at first these are just mere words. At this stage, the Light of Scouting is very weak, like this very room in which we are gathered tonight. But as the Scout advances through the ranks of Scouting, the Light of Scouting grows stronger within him."
SCOUTMASTER (Lights the SPL's candle if indoors, or torch if outdoors)
SPL (Holding up the candle or torch): "The Light of Scouting burns within every Scout, giving us direction in our daily lives."
SPL (Moving to the three torches or candles that represent the three parts of the Scout Oath): "The first duty of a Scout is to God, Country, and Scout Law."
TROOP (LOUDLY, as SPL lights the first torch): "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law."
SPL: "The second duty of a Scout is to other people."
TROOP: (LOUDLY, as SPL lights the second torch) "To help other people at all times."
SPL: "The third duty of a Scout is to himself."
TROOP: (LOUDLY, as SPL lights the third torch) "To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."
The Scout Law portion of the opening is more easily organized if your Troop uses the "Scout Spirit Scavenger Hunt."
The Scout Spirit Scavenger Hunt is a worksheet that can be used for the "Scout Spirit" requirements for every Rank. The Scout jots down examples of how he was trustworthy, loyal, etc. during a Troop Meeting or Campout and then discusses these examples during the Scoutmaster Conference. The Scoutmaster keeps the worksheets, and might make recommendations in the planning of the COH as to which Scout has a really good example of each Scout Law. Look for some tiny detail that turns each abstract Scout Law into a practical, common-sense rule to live by.
The Scout Spirit Scavenger Hunt is much more effective if you limit the experiences to specific examples from Scout campouts because in the Court of Honor, the Troop is bearing witness to each Scout's claim. The audience of parents may (for the first time) understand the connection between the Method of camping and their son's growth toward the Aim of Citizenship.
The following are a couple examples from my Troop:
The SPL hands the Light of Scouting torch to the Scout standing under the First Torch.
SCOUT 1 (To the nearby Troop members): "Trustworthy"
TROOP (LOUDLY, as the first Scout lights the first torch or candle): "A Scout is Trustworthy"
SCOUT 1 (Turning to the audience and speaking LOUDLY): "I was trustworthy when I planned the menu and went shopping for the last campout."
The SPL hands the Light of Scouting torch to the Scout standing under the Second Torch.
SCOUT 2 (To the nearby Troop members): "Loyal"
TROOP (LOUDLY, as the second Scout lights the second torch or candle): "A Scout is Loyal."
SCOUT 2 (Turning to the audience and speaking LOUDLY): "I was loyal to Scouts in school when I said that we get to use pocket knives, build fires, see bears, and go canoeing"
Giving Our Merit Badges and Rank Patches.
The Scoutmaster should keep notes during the Scoutmaster Conference as to what was the most difficult requirement for the rank. I write this down somewhere on the Scout Spirit Scavenger Hunt form. Likewise, when I sign the completed Blue Card for a Merit Badge I always ask the Scout what the most difficult requirement was.
The following exchange gives the Scouts and their parents a general idea of what requirements are involved in the Scouting Method of ADVANCEMENT, gives each boy a chance to shine in front of the Troop, and lets the younger Scouts know that the older boys find some things difficult too, and that it is possible to find ways to overcome these personal difficulties. Over the years the parents get to know each boy in the Troop as they catch glimpses of his development into a citizen though the Scouting Method of PERSONAL GROWTH.
SCOUTMASTER (As he prepares to give out the Rank Patches and Merit Badges): "One of the Eight Methods we use in Scouting is to provide opportunities for Personal Growth. In Scouting the Scouts compete against standards, not against each other. Although these standards are the same for every Scout, different boys find different requirements more difficult than others."
SCOUTMASTER (To Scout 1): "What was the hardest part of Swimming Merit Badge?"
SCOUT 1: "Diving to the bottom of the lake to get a rock."
SCOUTMASTER: "How did overcome that difficulty?"
SCOUT 1: "I just kept trying it until I could get down that deep."
SCOUTMASTER (Hands the Scout the Merit Badge): "Congratulations."
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Last modified: August 20, 2012.