Remembrance Day is just a few short weeks away. Here is a wonderful post by Guider Cara on how to run a Flag Ceremony. This originally appeared on Cara’s own blog: Brownie Meeting Ideas.
I don’t know about you, but Flag Ceremonies seem really complicated… and as a busy volunteer Guider, I don’t have time for complicated. But, I’ve done the research and I can tell you that they really are simple for most Guiding levels. You just need to be prepared and leave time for lots of practice. Our Brownie Unit will be learning how to do this version of a flag ceremony as part of our Remembrance Day observances.
First, talk about what a colour party is and the responsibilities of each role.
- 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 the flag 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!) your meeting space following the Simple Flag Ceremony Script below to get into a rhythm. You want groups to walk together in formation. 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.
Simple Flag Ceremony Script (print the one-pager here)
- 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 flag party to end up).
- Colour party will start from wherever they are in the circle/horseshoe.
- Leader: “Colour party fall out”
Colour Party leaves the circle/horseshoe – one step forward, two steps back, then walks 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 Party: Stand 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.
And that’s it. There are more complicated ceremonies out there, but this one just works. I hope you try it. We’ll be doing this as part of our Key to my Community: Proud to be Canadian meeting.
Additional Resources: Notes from Margaret Bradford, former District Commissioner, Hawthorne District (November 2010), and The Guider Handbook by Dorothy Crocker (1988 edition). Chapter 8, page 191-201.
By Cara Hicks – Community Guider, Brown Owl and Blogger. Read previous posts written by Cara on our GirlGuidesCANBlog: Junior Leaders: How to Make the Best Use of Their Generosity?, What I Would Tell a New Guider, Online Resources: Guiding in the Cloud, and Getting Started: What to do About Badges.