Flag ceremonies are a beloved, time-honored tradition in Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA, highlighting patriotism and an appreciation for our country. Based on the Presentation of Colors conducted by the United States Armed Services, a flag ceremony teaches Cub Scouts about unity, respect, and proper flag etiquette!
What is the Significance of a Cub Scout Flag Ceremony? Cub Scout flag ceremonies instill youth with respect for the US flag, as well as a sense of patriotism. Making flag ceremonies a regular part of pack events teaches Cubs the values of citizenship and national pride in a memorable, interactive way.
PS. This article is a guest post collaboration with Eagle Scout and AOL recipient, Jonathan K 🙂
From the outside, a flag ceremony may seem like a simple, quick effort of moving flags from one place to another. But, you’ll soon learn just how much goes into it! These ceremonies can be challenging, engaging, and fun. In this article, you’ll learn my best advice on how to conduct a flag ceremony in a way that’s both respectful and enjoyable. 😀
Cub Scout Rank Requirements and the Flag
First though, let’s discuss when and why you’ll need to learn about flag ceremonies in the first place! As a Cub advances through the ranks of Cub Scouting, they’ll need to participate in flag ceremonies to complete adventures. For each rank, there is a requirement to learn about flag etiquette and, often, to take part in a ceremony.
Below is a list of every Cub Scout rank requirement connected to the flag!
- Lion: Adventure: King of the Jungle 1. Participate in a flag ceremony with your den.
- Tiger: Team Tiger 2. With your den, talk about your Tiger team. Then make a chart showing all the different ways team members can help the den. Volunteer to take your turn doing at least two different jobs, one of which is leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Wolf: Council Fire 1. With your den or pack, participate in a flag ceremony, and learn how to properly care for and fold the flag.
- Bear: Paws for Action 1. Learn about our nation’s flag. Display it at home for one month. Say the Pledge of Allegiance, and learn its meaning.
- Webelos: Building a Better World 1. Explain the history of the United States flag. Show how to properly display the flag in public, and help lead a flag ceremony.
How to Prepare for a Cub Scout Flag Ceremony
Before you jump into the flag ceremony, it’s crucial to prepare everything you need. Make sure you have the American flag, your Cub Scout pack flag, and any other flags or banners required for the occasion. Check if the flags are clean, in good condition, and properly folded if necessary.
Verify the height of the room you will be using to ensure the flags will not scrape the ceiling. Make certain the walking path will be clear, and try to avoid going around corners. Check the flag stands ahead of time, and make sure each Scout knows where to go with their flag.
This video (1:38) is a great example of what a proper Scout flag ceremony should look like!
To help the Cub Scouts feel less nervous during the event, run a rehearsal flag ceremony ahead of time. This is also the time to ensure that each Scout can hold their flag without letting it touch the ground. Flags can be heavy, and you don’t want an accident during the ceremony! 🙂
Here’s a quick summary of what to do before the flag ceremony:
- Conduct a rehearsal
- Make sure youth know the path and walking route
- Make sure youth know how to behave, if/how/when to salute, and whether to take off their hat
- Make sure the flag isn’t too heavy for youth to carry or too big that the flag touches the ground
- Check any barriers and explain to youth how to tilt the flag or navigate barriers (e.g., around basketball goals, doorways, low ceiling height)
- Put the flag stands in the correct position at the front of the room (ensure the U.S. flag stand is on the left side if the stand sizes vary)
Proper Flag Etiquette for Cub Scouts
I won’t be discussing the entire flag code, but for those interested, here’s a great flag code summary. It’s very important that you follow flag code at all times, even when not participating in a flag ceremony. No need to be nervous, though — respecting the flag and handling it properly will soon become second nature!
Important Flag Ceremony Rules to Remember
- The United States flag is always on the right during a procession and displayed on the left when at rest
- No other flag shall be higher than the United States flag
- If the American flag is displayed alongside other flags, it shall be in the center and higher than all others
- The American flag shall not touch the ground or anything beneath it, including chairs or trash
- Flags shall not touch each other during the posting of colors or when on display
Those are the rules for handling and displaying a flag, but they are not the only rules that should be followed during a flag ceremony! The Scouting values of courtesy and respect are especially important here. If you have any questions, you can always ask your den leader, but here are some basic etiquette guidelines for Cub Scouts:
- Stand up straight and at attention
- Do not talk to your friends
- Watch the flag and not your friends or family
- Remain as still as possible
- If you are in uniform, salute the flag using the Cub Scout two-finger salute
- If you are not in uniform, stand with your hand over your heart
- You can wear your Cub Scout hat during a flag ceremony, but all others must be taken off
Of course, this might be hard to picture for Cubs who haven’t seen a flag ceremony before. If you’d like an example of fantastic flag etiquette, look no further than this video of a BSA Scout Flag Ceremony (6:22):
The flag ceremony is a solemn event that must be treated with dignity and respect. From your first flag ceremony to your 100th, each is just as important as the last. Make sure to set a good example, and encourage the older Scouts to do the same!
Conducting a Cub Scout Flag Ceremony
When the flag ceremony begins, everyone will fall silent. The caller, typically the pack leader, will then give the command for the color guard to advance, which is when the Cub Scouts carrying the flags will march forward to the front of the pack.
Walking steadily and with purpose, the Scouts will bring the flags in front of the audience. This is when the caller will lead the pack in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. At this time, they typically say, “Scout salute! Please join me in the pledge of allegiance.” Remember not to lower your salute until the caller stops and says “two.”
The caller will then announce for the color guard to post colors, and they will place the flags in their stands. Once done, the caller will say, “Color guard retreat, and color guard dismissed, at ease” — that’s when the Cubs can go back to their den, having performed a job well done! Here’s a chart to help you remember these steps.
|What the Caller Says
|What the Cub Scouts Will Do
|“Color guard, attention. Will the audience please rise?”
|Pause to give the audience time to stand up.
|“Color guard, advance. Scout salute.”
|Scouts carry the United States and pack or den flags walking double file and stand near the flag stands. Remember, the color guard members don’t salute. The pack flag is lowered so that the U.S. flag is taller. Those in uniform do a hand salute. Everyone else puts their hand on their heart.
|“Please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.”
|Everyone except the color guard says the Pledge.
|Everyone drops their salute.
|“Color guard, post the colors.”
|The color guard places the flags in the stands and salutes the American flag.
|“Color guard retreat… Color guard dismissed. At ease.”
|The color guard walks to the back of the room before rejoining their den.
Scouting Memory: When I was growing up, my pack and, later, my Troop took part in the 4th of July and Veterans Day parades every year. We would march with a giant banner for our council, give out candy, and trade off who carried the flags so that no one got too tired. Being a part of my community was an honor and a memory I still cherish!
Conclusion – The Importance of the Cub Scout Flag Ceremony
As you can see, the Cub Scout flag ceremony is an exciting and respectful event that requires careful planning. Honoring our country before each meeting is one of the highest duties a Cub Scout can perform. Sometimes, different groups may even invite Scouts to perform a flag ceremony before their event or march with flags in a parade!
All of this is to say, don’t be intimidated by the flag ceremony! Instead, embrace this opportunity for the Cub Scouts to learn discipline, attention to detail, honor, and respect for the many generations of men and women who built the country we call home. 😀
Thanks so much for reading! Now that you know how to start planning an amazing pack flag ceremony, here are some other articles you may find helpful. Be sure to check out any of these awesome posts on ScoutSmarts if they spark your interest:
- Cub Scouts vs. Boy (BSA) Scouts: What’s Different? What’s Similar?
- Supporting Your Child In Cub Scouting: A Parent’s Guide
- Cub Scout Blue And Gold Banquets (Your Guide To Plan And Run One)
- Cub Scouting Awards: 13 Common Pack Awards That Cubs Can Earn
- The 5 Most Popular Cub Scouting Events (And How To Plan Them)
That’s all for now! Hope to see you back here at ScoutSmarts again soon. Until next time, I’m wishing you and your pack some memorable and impactful flag ceremonies ahead!