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Flag Ceremony – Thinking Day 2010

This is an updated version of my original post about Flag Ceremonies. The GirlGuidesCanBlog.ca asked if they could repost it for Remembrance Day and it appears there with a slightly different intro.  But both posts have the same instructions.

Two years ago our Brownie Unit decided to incorporate flag ceremonies into the Key to My Community program and we needed to know how to teach a basic one.

Thankfully, my former District Commissioner Margaret Bradford was able to fill in the gaps.  When she was a Brown Owl they had frequent flag ceremonies (so Brownies CAN do it) and she had lots of advice to offer (practice!).  She also loaned me a book called The Guider Handbook by the late Dorothy Crocker (1988 edition).  It is out of print, but is a very helpful resource (not just for flag ceremonies!) if you can get your hands on a copy.

Here’s how we introduce Flag Ceremonies in our unit

First, talk about what a colour party is and what the responsibility of each role is.

  • Colour: Flags are called Colours.
  • Colour Party: One colour bearer and two colour guards make up this colour party.  You can add guards in multiples of two.  Additional guards will follow the main party.
  • Colour Bearer (1 girl) –  The bearer stands in between the guards and carries the flag.  It is a privilege to carry the colours.  Since the bearer has the flag in front of her face, she depends on the caller to guide her.
  • Colour Guards (2 girls) –  Guards will march shoulder to shoulder with the flag bearer – one on her left, and one on her right.  Guards officially “guard the flag” but they also guide the bearer so she doesn’t walk into anything.
  • Caller – One of the Colour Guards will also be the Caller.  Her commands direct where the colour party will go.  (Pick an outgoing girl who can think on her feet for this position).
  • Leader – The leader (typically a Guider) will stay put in circle or horseshoe.  She will give commands to the colour party to get them started and to release them from their duties.
  • In addition: Flag respect is important – don’t let it touch the ground.  Don’t turn your back on the flag until final “Fall Out”

Next, practice… (without a flag).  

In colour party groups, have the girls march around (and around, and around!) the gym following the Simple Flag Ceremony Script below to get into a rhythm.  We want groups to walk together in formation.  They should be moving as one unit.   Once groups can demonstrate that they can work as one unit (and don’t be afraid to put them through their paces to make sure they get it right), they can try it with a real flag.

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Simple Flag Ceremony Script  (print the one-pager here)

Setup:

  • Flags should be placed or held “off stage”.  We use the meeting flags that are already on flag poles.
  • Flag stands should be placed in the front of the room (where you want the colour party to end up).
  • Colour party will start from wherever they are in the circle or horseshoe.

Script:

  • Leader: “Colour party fall out”
    Colour Party leaves the circle/horseshoe – one step forward, two steps back, then walk smartly to flag (around the outside).
  • Leader “Colour party fall in”
     Colour Bearer takes the flag, turns so she is facing the way she wants to start.
    Colour Guards position themselves, one on each side of the bearer (just touching, shoulder to shoulder with her).
    Colour PartyStand in position.  (Wait for Leader command).
  • Leader: “March on the Colours”
    Colour Party
    begins marching in place.

    This is the hardest part and they are tempted to march a couple of times and then jump forward.  Require that they get it right.  The goal is to get all three marching in step.  When they are in sync, one of the colour guards becomes the Caller.
  • Caller Commands move the colour party around the room.  The caller should be outgoing and prepared to say her lines loudly and in public.  Use whatever command suits your situation  – “Colour Party March”, “Colour Party Forward”, “Colour Party Stop”, “Colour Party Right Turn”, “Colour Party Left Turn”, etc.
     Colour Party makes their way to the flag stands.  When they arrive…
  • Caller: “Colour Party Stop (Halt)”
    Colour Bearer put flag in the stand.

    Colour Party step back.  Stand facing the flag.  Remain in this position until Leader gives “Fall Out” command.
    If the National Anthem is sung, colour party stays in position during anthem, facing the flag.  They should NOT  sing the anthem.
  • Leader: “Colour party fall out”.
    Colour party takes one step forward, two steps back, then they walk back to their place in circle/horseshoe.
  • Flag Ceremony Complete.

Here’s a link to our original Flag Ceremony meeting – Key to my Community: Proud to Be Canadian; Our Flag and Our National Anthem.

Sources: Notes from Margaret Bradford (Nov 2010) and The Guider Handbook by Dorothy Crocker (1988 edition) .

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This is our fourth meeting of the year and Enrollment is next week.  This year we are doing a joint enrollment with the Sparks so we’re working closely with them.  But our standard Brownie enrollment can be found here – we like tradition and don’t go too far off our favourite one with stepping stones. 

UPDATE after the meeting: this meeting – and the last one, actually – is a lot of talking and requires a lot of listening.   Next time we do this, we’ll try to add a few more run around and have fun activities to get the sillies out.   Perhaps the arrival craft could be done during program and a round of Romeo and Juliet would be in order.  The Tie Tying Relay (which I need to get Snowy Owl’s permission to write out was a great active break to all the listening).  But to note, other years we’ve done our rehearsal in place of campfire.  This year, we needed to do the rehearsal kind of mid-meeting to accomodate the Sparks who finish 30 minutes early. 

The plan for tonight:

6:30 – Arrival Craft.  We make Enrollment Invitations for families.  These pages are updated by me depending on the date and time, etc, then printed in advance.  Each girl gets either a First Year Invitation Template or Second Year Invitation Template.  These are pasted onto a pretty paper and the girl customizes it with her name. 

6:40 – Brownie Circles – Circle Time Quick!  There’s a lot to do tonight.

6:50 – Brownie Ring, Circle Openings, Brownie Opening, Brownie Promise, Brownie Handshake.

7:00 – Enrollment.

  • Girls may be enrolled once they
    • have attended four Brownie Meetings. 
    • know and understand the Brownie Promise. 
    • have completed Key to Brownies
  • What’s going to happen? 
    • This is a ceremony – like a graduation ceremony or something at church – that marks the occasion that you become a Brownie.  Your parents will be here and will watch you say your promise and receive your Brownie enrolment pin.  
    • This is the first time you will get to wear your Brownie tie.  

7:05 Enrollment Ceremony Rehearsal.   We’ll just rehearse the Toadstood story and stepping stones part tonight.

7:15 ish Spark and Brownie Rehearsal – combined

7:35ish – 1st years talk about promise and law, practise tie tying.  2nd years make tissue paper flowers for decorations. 

7:50 ish Tie Tying relay

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This ceremony is one we’ve tweaked through the years – but it started from something I found on Becky’s Guiding Resource) and it is based on the Toadstool Story in the Brownie Book.

Enrollment ceremony schedule:

  • 6:30 Arrival game for girls (something active to get the sillies out) – Romeo and Juliet?
  • 6:45 Welcoming Remarks by Brown Owl
  • 6:50 Sparkle Ceremony
    • Welcome, Intro Guiders
    • Spark Promise & Pin
    • Spark Opening
  • 7:05 Brownie Enrollment.
    • Welcome, Intro Guiders
    • Brownie Toadstool Story
    • Stepping Stones and Promises
    • Grand Howl
    • Brownie Opening
  • 7:20 Adult Enrollment
    • All Guiders say our promise together.  New Guider Pin ceremony.
  • 7:25 Campfire – ask parents to join circle
  • 7:30 Spark Closing, then Brownie Closing
  • Snack.

Brownie Enrolment Script:

Starting with an open circle facing chairs for parents, second year girls will be holding to toadstool, grass, mirror, owl, etc.

Brownie Toadstool Story

Starry Owl: Our Brownie law is to be kept at all times. Not only when we are at Brownies.
Brownie 1: As a Brownie I am honest and Kind; I help take care of the world around me.
Starry Owl: Our motto is like a secret code that only Brownies know.
Brownie 2: Lend a hand means helping others when we can.
Starry Owl: Brownies have a special sign and handshake that they must learn.
Brownie 3: Hold your right hand as high as your shoulder, then hold your first three fingers up like this.
Brownie 4: Don’t let your fingers flop. Hold them up straight. Now, using your left hand, shake my hand.
Starry Owl: Long ago, our founder Lord Baden Powell decided that Brownies should have something special in the centre of the Brownie Ring. He chose a Toadstool.
Brownie 5: (place grass) The toadstool stands on a carpet of grass, which represents the solid foundation that unites Brownies everywhere.
Brownie 6: (place stem of toadstool) The stem of the toadstoold stands for the Brownie Promise and Law.
Brownie 7: (pace cap) the cap stands for the crown of happiness. When a Brownie keeps her promise, it makes her feel as if she’s wearing a crown of happiness.
Brownie 8 (place owl) The wise old owl sits on top of the toadstool and teaches the Brownies how to lend a hand to others.
Brownie 9: (place mirror) Nearby there’s a magic pool. When a Brownie lends a hand and helps others, she can look into the magic pool and see a Brownie.

Enrollment Ceremony (Stepping Stones and Promises)

The Owls place fun foam stepping stones with the promise written on them around the grass.

Girls are called one by one – the Circle Leader (and Circle Second, if there are enough new girls) do the twisting and turning.  =)

Starry Owl: Mary (Circle leader), do you know of anyone who is ready be enroled as a Brownie?
Mary: Sandra (a first year in Mary’s circle) is ready to be a Brownie.
Mary will take Sandra by the hand, walk her over the stepping stones.
Sandra should say her promise as she steps on each stone.
At the end: Mary: Twist me and turn me and show me an elf, I look in the water and there see…
Sandra: Myself!
Brown Owl: Sandra – you are a Brownie!
Mary walks back to her place. Sandra walks to Brown Owl
Owls will pin, tie her tie on for the first time, and handshake, then send the new Brownie back to her place.
Once through, Brown Owl: “I would like to present the ###Brownies. Congratulations everyone” Big clap. then Brownie Circle, everyone says their promise, Grand Howl.

Does anyone else have a favourite enrollment ceremony?  I remember as a girl that I thought this was so special.  I loved that I got to step on the stones and say my promise in front of everyone.

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At Tuesday’s meeting we discussed Thinking Day and one of the girls asked about wearing her Brownie uniform to school on Feb 22.  

I’ve always said yes…but I can’t find anything online about it and there doesn’t seem to be anything about it on the GGC site.  Do your Brownies (or other Guiding/Scouting types) have the option to wear their uniform to school?   What kind of prep do you give your Brownies about it?

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