US Flag

Simple Indoor Opening Flag Ceremony

Today is Veterans Day, so I know a lot of scouts will be participating in flag ceremonies. Many of our kids have not been exposed to flag etiquette before their first flag ceremony, so take the time to give them some basic instruction.

This is a very simple flag ceremony for Cub Scouts to use at Den and Pack meetings.

For instructions for closing, see Simple Indoor Closing Flag Ceremony.

Simple Indoor Opening Flag Ceremony for Cub Scouts

Flag CeremonyThe leader can be a member of the den (preferred), a Den Chief, or an adult leader.

Leader: “Will the Audience please rise?”

The audience rises

Leader: “Color Guard, POST THE COLORS. SCOUT SALUTE.”

Scouts carry the US & Pack or den flags walking double file. (see the diagram on the right for formation). Those in uniform do a hand salute. Everyone else places their hand on their heart.

Leader: “Please join us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I pledge allegiance …”

The audience says the Pledge of Allegiance.

Leader: “TWO.”

Everyone stops saluting.

Leader: “Color guard, retreat.”

The color guard walks back out double-file to wait at the back of the room.

Leader: “Color guard, dismissed.”

NOTES:

  • The US flag and other flags (ie Pack flag or Den flag) start in the back of the room. The US flag should be on the right side of the procession and should never be behind the other flags. When they come to the point where the flags must cross, the US flag should cross in front of the other flags.
  • The US flag should be displayed on its own right, as shown in the diagram.
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23 Responses to Simple Indoor Opening Flag Ceremony

  1. Greg Foreman November 12, 2011 at 8:27 AM #

    Why does the leader say “TWO” before telling the color guard to retreat?

    • Scouter Mom November 12, 2011 at 8:35 AM #

      Whoops! I left that part out. There are two steps in the hand salute. The start of the salute is “one” and the end of it is “two”. So traditionally in a flag ceremony you will hear “two”, often preceded by “ready” to indicate that it is time to end the hand salute.

      So when you hear “two”, end your salute. I’ll add that to the post.

    • Vince November 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM #

      Also, they can’t very well retire, be dismissed while holding the hand salute :) So the salute has to be be ended before they can be dismissed. (note they don’t retreat)

  2. Eric Ranney April 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM #

    This comes from the military when teaching drill and ceremony. It is the by the numbers method of teaching in which a military person would hold or execute the numbered position of a movement. This allows instructors to evaluate each portion of a movement for the details such as hand/weapon placement, carriage, and excessive or improper movement, In this case the hand salute is a two count movement. Position one being to bring the hand into salute position from the natural lay of the arm when at attention. Position two is reversed. For a more comprehensive guide to flag history, customs, courtesies and color-guards you may refer to Army Field Manual Drill and Ceremonies FM 3-21.5 Chapter 15 which is approved for public release.

    • Wolf Den Leader January 26, 2013 at 11:29 PM #

      Instead of a military manual, interested leaders can instead look to the Cub Scouts cermonies guide (33212). Last I knew, I joined the BSA and my Scouts joined Cub Scouts, not the US Army.

      • j February 20, 2013 at 10:47 AM #

        What do you think BSA which includes all honors and ceremonies is modeled after?

    • Webelos Leader August 4, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

      Thank you for that explanation. I often wondered what the “two” meant.

    • William Goolsby March 5, 2014 at 4:00 PM #

      You are entirely incorrect. I have trained hundreds (yes hundreds) of people from all five of the US Services as Ceremonial Guardsman since 2001. The Color Guard is not at all performed in the manner nor has it been for the last three decades. This particular flag ceremony is not modeled after anything the US Military does.

      As a Head Trainer and as the NCOIC of an Honor Guard I expect my troops to retain the highest respect for our flag; however, for a bunch of Cub Scouts, as long as they don’t disrespect the flag or the ceremony, I am good with it.

  3. Chris December 4, 2012 at 3:00 PM #

    I can’t thank you enough….I am such a girlie mom and was terrified when my church asked me to help be over the wolves. Your website is the PERFECT aid to the manuals provided by the BSA for us mommies that feel out of our element. This is so very helpful (entire website)!!

  4. Ron January 24, 2013 at 12:03 PM #

    This is the most clearly defined procedure on the web. Thank you for this…

  5. Deb February 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM #

    Can you please provide some information about the closing flag ceremony at the end of the event? Thank you so much!

  6. howarthe September 3, 2013 at 11:51 AM #

    I love how you eliminate “Color guard advance,” and just get right to “Color guard, post the colors.” I find the fewer commands the better. In fact, I leave out, “Color guard, retreat,” and I just end with “Color guard dismissed.”

  7. Cody September 10, 2013 at 8:52 AM #

    My name is Cody I am a Eagle Scout in Troop 115 in Tallahassee FL. I’ve had the privilege of conducting flag ceremonies for the past five years. I have seen them done properly and improperly. when it is done right it shows respect for the American flag and shows that the troop or pack takes pride in the American Flag. When it is done improperly it shows carelessness for the American symbol and disrespect for those Who gave their lives for our freedom.
    I have found the commands below the best technique for an indoor flag ceremony.

    Opening Flag Ceremony

    Color Guard, Attention!
    
Audience, Please Rise!
    
Color Guard, Forward March!
    
Scout Salute!
    
Color Guard, Halt!
    
Color Guard, Cross the Colors! 

    Color Guard, Post the Flag of the United States of America!
    

Color Guard, Proudly Post the Flag of the troop/pack!
    Color Guard, Honor your Colors!


    Please recite the Pledge of Allegiance: 

    TWO!

    Boy Scout Sign!
    
Please join us in saying the Boy Scout Oath: 

    TWO!
    
Color Guard, reform
    



Color Guard, About Face!
    
Color Guard, Forward March
    

Color Guard, Halt! 

    Color Guard, At Ease!
    

Audience, Please be seated.

    Closing Flag Ceremony

    Color Guard, Attention!
    

Audience, Please Rise!
    

Color Guard, Forward March
    

Color Guard, Halt!
    

Scout Salute!
    

Color Guard, Retrieve the Colors!
    

Color Guard, reform


    Color Guard, About Face!
    

Color Guard, Forward March!
    

Color Guard, Halt! 

    TWO!
    

Audience, Thank you for joining us.
    Color Guard, Dismissed!

    • Stacy September 26, 2013 at 2:51 PM #

      I think the Boy Scout version of this is great, however, that is waaaay too many steps for these 8-10 year olds. My 8 year olds can barely follow the script for what I have condensed down for them, there is no way they could do the long version. This is what I came up with that seems to give the correct order but is simplified.

      Opening:

      Color Guard, Attention!
      Will the Audience, please rise!
      Scout Salute! Audience, please prepare yourself for the Pledge of Allegiance.
      Color Guard, Advance!
      Color Guard, Post the Colors!
      Color Guard, Salute!
      Please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.
      Two! The audience may be seated.
      Color Guard, Dismissed.

      Closing:

      Color Guard, Attention!
      Will the audience please rise and give the proper salute.
      Color Guard, retrieve the Colors. (wait for them to exit or to be at the back of the room.)
      Two!
      Color Guard, Dismissed.

    • Shannon A. February 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM #

      Thank you for sharing this. I want to teach the boys the correct way to do it so they are not struggling in the future and this was perfect!

  8. Jody October 21, 2013 at 1:57 PM #

    I agree with Cody. The problem with short cutting/eliminating steps is it is not properly teaching them flag. They will then struggle in Boy Scouts relearning the proper methods.

    Keep in mind that they shouldn’t be expected to learn flag in one meeting or even one year. This should be taught through at least three years of scouting. By the end of Webelos2/Arrow of Light they will have mastered the procedure.

    Repetition over and over. Every meeting. They WILL catch on.

    Do not short cut. You aren’t doing them any justice.

  9. Laura October 29, 2013 at 3:28 PM #

    Jodi, I disagree. Cub Scouts have to relearn everything for Boy Scouts, which is why we start teaching Webelos the Boy Scout information instead of the Cub Scout information. My Tigers, who can’t even read, could never do that many commands. They are 6, they can barely be serious for the short ceremony. Of course we teach them to respect the flag. Should an adult be the ‘caller’ who says the commands? No way, that is taking it away from the boys. I think we should expect greater complexity slowly over time. I don’t teach students to read by starting with Shakespeare- first we have to learn the alphabet!

  10. Tabitha January 20, 2014 at 9:54 AM #

    Thank You Cody,

    I am a Web 1 leader and will be starting your version of the falg ceremony at my den meeting tonight.

  11. Holly March 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM #

    I love your posts but would love to see you make them into PDF files so I can share them with other scout leaders at Roundtable. I am the Cub Scout RT for my district and your posts and info have been a wonderful source of ideas. Thank You!!

    • Scouter Mom March 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM #

      I recommend Print Friendly for turning web content into PDF format. It generally does a really nice job and lets you remove parts you don’t want just by clicking on them. They have a button you can install in your web browser to make it easy:
      http://www.printfriendly.com/

  12. Patty March 10, 2014 at 2:27 PM #

    Thank you for this simple indoor ceremony. I see that mostly men have replied that it is “incorrect.” However, I am finding out that not only my cub scout pack, but an ever-increasing number of cub scout packs in PA have women (i.e. mothers) den leaders. The number one reason? The men “don’t have the time to commit.” So, gentlemen, instead of taking all of this time to post the “correct” way to do a flag ceremony, how about getting into the dens and leading our young boys correctly? Scoutermom–thank you!

  13. Scout Dad April 1, 2014 at 3:53 PM #

    I appreciate the short attention span of the Tiger Cubs….but we need to teach our young men to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful of our flag….I think a difficult ceremony shouldn’t be a reason not to learn it. I’m going to spend some tonight with my Weblos standardizing our Pack’s flag ceremony and spending the next year and half teaching the other Dens. I’m definitely going to bring a little more ceremony to the fore.

  14. Shawn Mansfield June 3, 2014 at 3:06 PM #

    I like the short version, it’s easier to memorize. Once the boys memorize the script then it is executed more precisely.

    Respect for the flag isn’t measured with a stopwatch. Following some protocol doesn’t generate respect. The boys learn respect from learning what the flag symbolizes.

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