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"Compass" Tenderfoot Investiture Ceremony


THIS CEREMONY blends the symbolism of the council fire and the Scout Compass, and provides for participation in the ceremony of the Troop Committee, the Scoutmaster and his staff, all Scouts, and the parents of Scouts and candidates.

The ceremony is well adapted to an outdoor council fire investiture at a summer camp or Scout rally or an indoor improvised council fire investiture at the installation of a new Troop. The major part is carried on by Scouts themselves. The purpose is to impress the Scouts, parents and parent institutions with the high educational value of Scouting.

Eighteen to twenty-four Scouts, including Patrol Leaders, the Senior Patrol Leader, one to six escorts, and twelve Scouts to cover the twelve points of the Law, are required for this ceremony. The Scoutmaster and the Chairman of the Troop Committee, or his substitute, without the help of the entire Committee, or the presence of parents, may conduct the ceremony. But the ceremony takes on greater dignity, and the impression upon the candidates is far better, when their parents sit in the audience and the entire Troop Committee is present.

In the formation of a new Troop, the first candidates may be initiated by a Troop from a neighboring institution, which would come to the home of the newly organized Troop and put on the ceremony.


This ceremony may be conducted indoors, in a large room with open floor, or in the outdoors around the council fire. If indoors, candles may be used; if outdoors, torches are better. A gust of wind will not extinguish them.

Torches may be made by wrapping a strip of burlap and six laps of absorbent paper, 4 inches wide by 4 feet long, tightly around the end of a six foot staff, tied with wire, and thoroughly saturated with gasoline. These staves may be driven into the ground so as to stand about the height of a boy. Green staves one inch thick will not burn, otherwise use iron pipe. For the indoor ceremony candle-sticks of similar height should be improvised.


This is not a secret initiation. It may be advisable, however, to dignify the occasion by having guests on invitation only; and the invitations should include the parents of the Scouts, with an urgent request that the parents of candidates be present. Parents, Scouts, candidates, all members of the Troop Committee, the Scoutmaster and his staff, and the entire Troop should attend.

Guests may be seated around the room outside of the council circle, if an indoor meeting is held. If it is an outdoor meeting, guests may be arranged so as to fringe the council ring at a distance of 8 feet.

The place of honor for this occasion is at a point just outside the circle of Scouts, back of the "north pole." The chairman of the Troop Committee should be stationed in this position, with the Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader, and the chaplain or pastor of the church at his left, and on either side of these the members of the Troop Committee, Bugler, Assistant Scoutmaster and Patrol Leaders. Continuing this line around the circle will be stationed the Scouts of the Troop.

The Setting

Sixteen Scouts in uniform are deployed in a circle, 20 to 30 feet in diameter, with the council fire at the center, and a torch above the center of the council fire. For the ceremony the torches give sufficient light. The council fire is lighted at the close of the ceremony to provide light for the remainder of the program. Inside a log cabin, a tepee fire, constructed of soft wood that will send forth a bright blaze, is best. If indoors, the council fire may be laid up in log-cabin fashion, with a red electric light concealed in the center. On top of the log-cabin construction a large lighted candle may be securely mounted.

Four Patrol Leaders stand at the four cardinal points of the Compass,--north, east, south and west; and directly in front of each Scout is mounted a candle or torch at an elevation of five feet.  Twelve Scouts are stationed at the twelve intervening points.  completing the sixteen points of the compass; and before each of these stands a candle or torch at an elevation of four feet.

The Flag of the United States of America in charge of a color guard of two Scouts, is raised upon a staff at a point between north and north-northwest.   The Troop Flag, in the charge of a color guard, is raised upon a staff between the point north and north-northeast.

The Senior Patrol Leader, who usually acts as master of ceremonies, is stationed at the right of the Scoutmaster behind the Colors.

The candidate, or candidates are brought to the point of admittance, just outside the council ring, between south and south-east.  Any number of candidates up to eight, may be conducted as a unit through the ceremony.  Each candidate is attended by an escort, --a Scout in Uniform, who walks on the candidate's left and guides him by the left arm.  The escort should be a member of the Patrol which will receive the new member.


The candidates my be required to enter the circle barefoot.  A sash of blue silk or bunting, similar to the Merit Badge sash in design may be over the right shoulder of each candidate.  A sash cord of red terminating in large tassels, is tied around the waist.


(The Scouts being stationed at the 16 points of the compass around the council fire, the candidates, each one blindfolded with the Troop neckerchief of his escort, are arranged in single file at the point of admittance outside the council circle, with escorts at their left.)

Lighting the Council Fire

The Chairman of the Troop Committee, as Council Chief, rising in his position at the seat of honor, addresses the group as follows:

Council Chief: "My friends I welcome you to our Council.   To prove our joy at your presence we shall make fire to symbolize the light of Scouting.

(One of the Scouts with fire-by-friction set in hand, proceeds to make fire with which the central torch on a staff rising out of the council fire in the outdoors, or the candle mounted on the improvised indoor circle fire is lighted.)

Council Chief: Friends and brother Scouts, we are now in solemn council.  Is there any important matter to come before us?  (The Scoutmaster in his position at the right hand of the Council Chief salutes.  Chief returns salute.)

Scoutmaster:  Oh Chief, it is our pleasure to perform here at this council fire so auspiciously opened.  I have word there are certain candidates without the circle of our fire seeking admission to our Council.  If is your desire, Oh Chief, may I suggest that we have and now heed their humble request and initiate these candidates, who I am informed have already been properly instructed and wait even now to be admitted to the membership of this Troop of Boy Scouts of America as Tenderfoot Scouts.

Council Chief: These are glad tidings indeed.  By all means proceed with the initiation.

Scoutmaster: (Addressing Senior Patrol Leader at his right): Senior Patrol Leader assume charge of our ceremony then as is the custom of this Troop and initiate the candidates if indeed they be worthy.  (The Senior Patrol Leader salutes the Scoutmaster and enters the council ring at the north pole and proceeds to a position near the center with the council fire at his right.)

(At this point the escorts, conducting the first three candidates, give the animal call of their Patrol three times.)

Senior Patrol Leader (as a master of ceremonies with right hand upraised, palm outward): Scouts!  What word have you for the august council?

Leading Escort:  Scout (gives his name) and other of our worthy Scouts have come to this council accompanied by candidates (gives names of candidates), who are eagerly waiting to be invested as Tenderfoot Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America.

Master of Ceremonies (Senior Patrol Leader):  This is interesting new by what right do these candidates seek admission to this Troop?

Leading Escort: By the right of every boy seeks to be a worthy citizen and a true Scout; and by the further right of their nomination to membership in the (Black Bear, Panther, Buffalo and Beaver Patrols, members of these Patrols assembled.) (It is assumed that each boy has been voted acceptable by some Patrol of the Troop and that as a result of said nomination the various Patrols have named an escort to conduct their candidate through the investiture ceremony.)

Master of Ceremonies: Have all of f these candidates satisfactorily passed the Tenderfoot tests?

Leading Escort: They have, sir; and have proved themselves after careful consideration worthy to be admitted to our Troop.

Master of Ceremonies (Facing about and saluting the Chief) : Oh Chief and members of the Council, seeking admission to this Troop. What is your pleasure?

Council Chief: What is the will of the council?

The Scout at Point East salutes the Chief and says: Oh Chief I move that the candidates be admitted.

Scout at Point West salutes the Chief and says, Oh Chief, I second the motion. All in favor say "How."

(Responses; loud chorus of HOWS from all Scouts and Scout officials present.)

Council Chief: Let the candidates be admitted for further examination and instruction.

Master of Ceremonies (Facing about and addressing the escort) : Escorts, conduct the candidates to a place within the council ring. (Escorts, with candidates, proceed in double column from the door of admission near the point south, and halt directly in front of the Master of Ceremonies, who is standing at the Council fire.)

Master of Ceremonies: Candidates, you are standing within the sacred council ring. You have already learned many things in your preparation for the rank of Tenderfoot Scout, and you will now be further instructed in the obligations and privileges of a Scout. Escorts, remove the blindfolds from the eyes of the candidates.

(Blindfolds are removed.)

Master of Ceremonies: Candidates you have entered this council ring in your bare feet and it is well, for all candidates must forever so enter. You will enter Scouting on the same level, for Scouting is a world brotherhood. Its privileges and benefits are open alike to the boys of all nations, classes, creeds and colors.

Over your right shoulder you wear a sash of pure white. This is the symbol of the purity of your desire to become a true Scout. Over your left shoulder you wear a sash of blue, which is the symbol of your loyalty of our Scout ideals. You are girded about the waist with a cord of red, which signifies the sacrifices you will be called upon to make in your daily life as a Scout, and your service as a citizen. You will always perform at least one Good Turn each day. These are also the colors of our Flag, to which we shall now and ever pledge our solemn allegiance.

(The entire audience stands at attention as the bugler plays TO THE COLORS. Scouts, if covered, stand at salute. Immediately thereafter the Master of Ceremonies leads the Troop and candidates in the Pledge to The Flag as follows:

"I Pledge allegiance to The Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Master of Ceremonies: (Lighting his candle or torch from the council fire, addresses the candidates as follows) :

My comrades you have already noted that this council, in its every detail is arranged in accordance with the Scout compass with which every true Tenderfoot is perfectly familiar. As every compass has a central point upon which rests a resistive needle responding ever to the outside pull, so at the heart of this council is a heart of fire symbolizing through the lighted torch, the awakening of your desire to be a real Scout, and it is well for first a boy must be a Scout at heart. The mere wearing of a uniform cannot make him a Scout any more than the mere wearing of a cap and gown can make of him a college graduate. Let us think of this pivotal point as your sacred pledge to do your best.

Upon this pivotal point rests an ever responsive needle, which is the Scout's sense of "duty and honor," and as this needle ever points to the "North Pole" there you will be further instructed in your duties as a Scout.

(Master of Ceremonies does "about face," leads the double column of candidates and escorts them along the line of imaginary needle to the North Pole, and halts the column with the leading candidate one place in front of the torch at the north pole. With his own lighted torch he lights the torch at the north pole, and takes his position at the left of the leading escort.)

(The lighting of each torch in turn is the signal for the guardian of the same to proceed with his lines.)

Scout North (Standing at attention and giving Scout Sign) : On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God. The north pole of the Scout Compass represents one's DUTY TO GOD. This is the first, last and eternal obligation of a Scout. All other duties rest upon this one. It is the first and greatest Commandment. I admonish you therefore, every candidate among you to consider well this sacred obligation before proceeding further. (A definite pause with bowed heads.)

Master of Ceremonies: You will then, my comrades, be conducted by way of the council fire to the point East.

(The double column of candidates and escorts do a "column left about," following the Master of Ceremonies, who does "about face ace," and conducts the double column by way of the council fire, which he passes on his left, proceeding along the line West-East, and halting the column with the leading candidate one pace in front of the torch, stationed at the point East. He lights the torch and steps one pace to the left.)

Scout East (giving the Scout Sign) : "On my honor I will do my best; to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law.

My comrades the point East on the Scout Compass represents your DUTY TO YOUR COUNTRY. Everything that a Boy Scout learns to do, from the Tenderfoot knots to the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout, is designed to increase his knowledge and skill for service. To live for one's country should be the worthy ambition of every Scout.

BE PREPARED is our motto, and this leads to the Daily Good Turn and spirit of service, which are the essence of good Scouting. A good Scout ever gives whole-hearted devotion to patriotic service wherever he may find himself. He is a true-blue under all circumstances. He gives his best to his country. (Cornet plays one verse of America.)

Master of Ceremonies: "Shall we journey then by way of the council fire to the South Pole of the Scout Compass."

(Doing "about face," the Master of Ceremonies conducts the double column, which again does "column left about"-passes the torch at the South Pole. Here he lights the torch at the council fire on his left, and halts at a point one pace in front South Pole and steps one pace to the left.) (A standard is here with numerous flags of foreign nations all at a lower height than the big Flag in the room.)

Scout South (giving the Scout Sign) : On my honor I will do my best: to do my duty to God and my Country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times.

My comrades have still other obligations. The South Pole of the Scout Compass represents one's DUTY TO OTHERS. This obligation includes all mankind. The Scout Movement is much more than our local Troop. It is a world brotherhood of boys which reaches beyond our Mother Land and grips the hands of thousands upon thousands of other Scouts in the Brother Lands of all nations. The sun never ceases to shine upon the banner of Scouting throughout the world. Let it be your aim to every way possible promote the spirit of peace and good will, to the end that wars may cease and all men live as brother Scouts.

Master of Ceremonies: You will now be conducted by way of the Council Fire to the Point West.

(Master of Ceremonies does "about face" and conducts the double column--which does "column left about"--passes the council fire on his left, and halts the column with the leading candidates one pace in front of the candle at point West. He lights the candle and steps one pace to the left.)

Scout West (giving Scout Sign): *Welcome, my. comrades, to the West, and now give heed. On my honor I will do my best; to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times: to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

The point West on the Scout Compass, the point of the setting of the sun, symbolizes your DUTY TO YOURSELF. When you come to the evening of life, when your years are spent and you stand finally on the brink of the Great Divide, we hope that you will look back upon these boyhood years as the hours of the morning which, because you have spent it well, led to the noon day sun, happy in the realization that you have put into your daily life, all along life's journey, the very best that you could give in service and self-improvement. Remember always that life is not lived years alone but in deeds done; in character achieved.

Master of Ceremonies: Comrades, let us journey yet further to the point of the North North-east. (Master of Ceremonies takes his position at the head of the column. The column does "column right" and proceeds along the line just inside the circle of torches to a point half way between North and East and takes his position in front of the torch at North-Northeast.)

Master of Ceremonies (addressing candidates)--Here ponder carefully my comrades between "DUTY TO GOD" AND "DUTY TO COUNTRY" we emphasize three Scout Laws: "A Scout is trustworthy," "A Scout is loyal," "A Scout is helpful," which are plotted upon three points of the Compass between North and East. (Indicates with a wave of his torch and then hands his lighted torch to Scout North-Northeast.)

Scout North-Northeast (lights his torch and gives Scout Sign) : North-Northeast represents the first Scout Law, "I Scout is Trustworthy. A Scout's honor is to be trusted. If he were to violate his honor by telling a lie, or by cheating, or by not doing exactly a given task, when trusted on his honor, he may be directed to hand over his Scout Badge." (Hands the Master of Ceremonies' torch to Scout Northeast.)

Scout Northeast (lights his torch, gives Scout Sign) : Northeast represents the Second Scout Law--"A Scout is loyal. He is loyal to all to whom loyalty is due; his Scout Leader, his home, and his parents and country." (Hands the Master of Ceremonies' torch to Scout East-Northeast.)

Scout East-Northeast (lights his torch, hands lighter back to Master of Ceremonies, giving Scout Sign) : East-Northeast represents the Third Scout Law--"A Scout is helpful. He must be prepared at any time to save life, help injured persons, and share the home duties. He must do at least one Good Turn to somebody every day."

(Master of Ceremonies then conducts the column to the point half way between East-South and says:)

Here is yet further food for thought: Between DUTY TO GOD AND DUTY TO OTHERS, we are bound by three Scout Laws: "A Scout is friendly," "A Scout is courteous," "A Scout is kind," which are plotted upon three points of the Compass between East and South. (Indicates these points with a wave of his torch, then hands his torch to Scout East-Southeast, who lights his torch and gives Scout Sign.)

Scout East-Southeast: East-Southeast represents the Fourth Scout Law: "A Scout is friendly. He is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout." (Hands the lighting torch to Scout Southeast.)

Scout Southeast (lights his torch, gives Scout Sign): Southeast represents the Fifth Scout Law--"A Scout is courteous. He is polite to all, especially women, children and old people, and the weak and helpless. He must not take pay for being helpful or courteous." (Hands the lighting torch to Scout South-Southeast ).

Scout South-Southeast (lights torch, gives Scout Sign) : South-Southeast represents the Sixth Scout Law--"A Scout is Kind. He is a friend to animals. He will not kill nor hurt any living creature needlessly, but will strive to save and protect all harmless life." (Hands lighting torch back to Master of Ceremonies.)

(Master of ceremonies conducts the column to the point South-Southwest and says:)

Master of Ceremonies--Still there is much for every Scout to know. Between DUTY TO OTHERS AND DUTY TO SELF, we have yet three other Scout Laws: "A Scout is Obedient ... .. A Scout is Cheerful," "A Scout is Thrifty," which are plotted upon three points of the Compass between South and West. (Indicates with a wave of his torch, then hands it to Scout South-Southwest.)

Scout South-Southwest (lights his torch and gives Scout Sign) : South-Southwest represents the seventh Scout Law--"A Scout is Obedient. He obeys his parents, Scoutmaster, authorities, Patrol Leader, and all other duly constituted (Hands the lighting torch to Scout Southwest.)

Scout Southwest (lights his torch and gives Scout Sign)-. Southwest represents the Eighth Scout Law--"A Scout is Cheerful. He smiles whenever he can. His obedience to orders is prompt and cheery. He never shirks nor grumbles at hardships." (Hands the lighting torch to Scout West-Southwest.)

Scout West-Southwest (lights his own torch, gives Scout Sign) -. West-Southwest represents the Ninth Scout Law--"A Scout is Thrifty. He does not wantonly destroy property. He works faithfully, wastes nothing, and makes the best use of his opportunities. He saves his money so that he may pay his own way, be generous to those in need and helpful to worthy objects. He may work for pay, but must not receive tips for courtesies or Good Turns." (Hands lighting torch to Scout West-Northwest.)

(Master of Ceremonies conducts the column to the point Northwest and says:)

Master of Ceremonies: And now between DUTY TO SELF AND DUTY TO GOD, we are obligated to three final Scout Laws which are again plotted upon the last three points of the compass between West and North: "A Scout is Brave," "A Scout is Clean," "A Scout is Reverent." (Hands his torch to Scout West-Northwest.)

Scout West Northwest (lights his torch, makes Scout Sign): West Northwest represents the Tenth Scout Law--"A Scout is Brave. He has the courage to face danger in spite of fear and to stand up for the right against the coaxing of friends or the jeers or threats of enemies, and defeat does not down him." (Hands lighting torch to Scout Northwest.)

Scout Northwest (lights his torch, gives Scout Sign.) Northwest represents the Eleventh Scout Law--"A Scout is Clean. He keeps clean in body and thought, stands for clean speech, clean sport, clean habits, and travels with a clean crowd." (Hands the lighting torch to Scout North-Northwest.)

Scout North-Northwest (lights his torch and makes Scout Sign): North-Northwest represents the Twelfth Scout Law: "A Scout is Reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties, and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion." (Hands torch back to Master of Ceremonies.)

Master of Ceremonies (brings his column up so that it faces the seat of honor, salutes the Chief): Oh Chief, the worthy candidates have now completed a double circuit of our Scout Compass and a complete review of the Scout Oath and Law. What further instructions would you give them?

Council Chief: The Scoutmaster will further examine and instruct the candidates; and if he finds them qualified, he will in due time award the Tenderfoot Badges.

(The Scoutmaster salutes the Chief, Chief returns the salute.  Scoutmaster enters the circle at the North Pole and halts, facing the candidates, at a point one pace in front of the column.)

Scoutmaster: Boys, you have learned that, The beginning and the end of the Scout Obligation is DUTY TO GOD. It is the first point of the Oath and the last point of the Law. We measure a Scout as we measure a man, by the eleventh Law--"A Scout is Clean" in body and thought. The secret of a noble life is found in the Twelfth Scout Law. It is the spirit of God in your heart and life. So here we end, where we began--A Scout is first made a Scout in his heart. You may repeat that with me. If the Oath and the Law are written deeply in your heart, you will always be a true Scout. (If time permits, the Scoutmaster may well at this point explain: The Scout Sign, Scout Salute, Scout Handclasp, Scout Motto, "Be Prepared," and the Scout habit, "Do a Good Turn Daily." Or if time is short these points may be left to a subsequent meeting..)

Scoutmaster: As your final test in the requirements of a Tenderfoot, I shall ask you to give me the Scout Sign and repeat in unison the Scout Oath.

(At the command "Scout Sign," candidates come smartly to the position of the Scout Sign and repeat in unison the Scout Oath: "On my honor I will do my best; to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

Scoutmaster: In token of your having been duly examined and properly initiated in the obligation and requirements of the Tenderfoot Scout, I shall now, on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America, present you with your Tenderfoot Badges.

(Beginning with the leading candidate and continuing down the line, the Scoutmaster pins the metal Tenderfoot Badge on each candidate, saying to each boy, as he calls his name and shakes his hand:)

Scoutmaster: I congratulate you upon now becoming a Tenderfoot Scout. You are assigned to (gives name of Patrol).

(Following the presentation, the Scoutmaster says to the group:)

Scoutmaster: Scouts, one and all, I am sure that you will wear these badges with credit to yourself and honor to the great Boy Scout Movement, of which you are an important part.

Scoutmaster (saluting the Council Chief): Oh, Chief, the investiture ceremony is completed. The candidates have been duly instructed in the requirements of a Tenderfoot Scout; and in token thereof I have presented the Tenderfoot Badges and have assigned them to Patrols. What further instructions have you?

Council Chief: Scoutmaster, you will now conduct the closing ceremonies and dismiss the Council.

(Scoutmaster, or one he designates, leads the council in singing the Scout prayer to the tune of "Marcheta.")

"Our Father in Heaven

Above us we ask thee

For guidance in our daily task,

May virtue and manhood

Stand strongly among us,

To Thee we give all of our thanks.

The Scout Oath-the Scout Law,

Their lessons unfolding;

Our youth in numbers untold:

Our motto-our Good Turn

May we live and teach it

Great Spirit of Scouting, we pray."

(Words by Talman H. Trask and Oscar B. Matthews.)

Scoutmaster then leads in the Scout benediction:

"May the Great Scoutmaster of all good Scouts watch between us and guide us along the trail which leads to Him."

After which the Council Chief, accompanied by the Scoutmaster and followed by the Troop Committee, proceed in double column through the council ring, entering at the point North. The Color Guard and the Troop Flag Bearers leading the way.

Scouts on the east half of the circle, bearing candles or torches, face right, those on the west half of the circle face left. All march toward the North Pole, forming a double column behind the color guard. The minor officials and other Scouts follow the torch bearers in double column, and the escorts and candidates complete the procession.

The Council Chief and Scoutmaster, preceded by the Colors, lead the column in silence from the council fire to a convenient point of dispersal.

The above ceremony is designed to accommodate a Troop which follows the plan of having prospective Scouts admitted to the Patrol and Troop activity at any time, but withholding their membership and formal initiation until a sufficient number have qualified in the Tenderfoot Tests to make a dignified and impressive investiture ceremony possible.

This ceremony could be presented in each Troop possibly four times during the year. For this number of occasions it would not be impossible or difficult to secure the attendance of the Troop Committee, and a large percentage of the parents of the candidates and Scouts. The ceremony should be very thoroughly learned and rehearsed--with regular Scouts serving as candidates so as to take more of the thrill from the boy about to be initiated. If conducted with dispatch and not allowed to drag at any point it will make a delightful evening. Rather than allow it to drag, better use a shorter and more simple investiture, for the sake of the candidates.

See Also:

About Investiture Ceremonies

"Triangle" Investiture Ceremony

"Circle" Investiture Ceremony

"Compass" Investiture Ceremony

Advancement Ceremonies






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.