In addition to recognition ceremonies during troop meetings, a troop holds a court of honor every three months. This is a formal recognition with families, friends, and the public in attendance. All Scouts who have moved up to any rank except Eagle Scout, or who have earned merit badges since the last court of honor, should be recognized.
If the troop decides, the following agenda can be used as a framework:
• The court of honor members enter.
• The color guard enters carrying the colors. The Scouts and audience members stand at attention. Standard Flag Ceremony
• The parents and audience members join the Scouts in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
• An appropriate opening ceremony is presented.
• The master of ceremonies convenes the court of honor.
• The master of ceremonies calls on members of the court to make awards presentations.
• Special program features are presented (Scout demonstrations, video or slide show)
• Retire the colors.
• Close. The court of honor may close with the troop’s regular closing ceremony.
Special Presentation of Scout Law and Scout Promise
– The equipment includes a small table, a simple candelabra with 12 candles to represent the 12 points of the Scout Law, a candelabra with three larger candles to represent the three parts of the Scout Oath, and a candle stick holder for one candle representing the spirit of Scouting. To begin, twelve Scouts line up, six on either side of the candelabra, facing the audience, odd numbers on the right, even numbers on the left. The senior patrol leader stands directly behind the table. When all is ready, the lights are turned out.
– Senior Patrol Leader (lights the small candle representing the spirit of Scouting): I now light this candle which represents the spirit of Scouting. On my honor I will do my best. (They hand the spirit of Scouting candle to the Scout designated to give the first point of the Scout Law.)
– First Scout (lights the first candle on the right-hand side, makes the Scout sign, and recites the first point of the Scout Law): A Scout is trustworthy. (The first Scout steps back and hands the candle to the second Scout, who recites the second point. This continues until all 12 points have been recited.)
– Senior Patrol Leader will light each of the three candles with the spirit of Scouting candle, as the troop recites the Scout Oath. Troop, attention. Scout sign, Scout Oath. “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty and to obey the Scout Law, (without pause, the first candle is lit) to help other people at all times, (without pause, the second candle is lit) to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight, (the third candle is lit and the spirit of Scouting candle is returned to its holder.)
– Variation: As each main point of the Scout Law is given, A Scout offstage using a flashlight reads the explanatory part of that point in full. For explanatory parts, refer to: Scout Law, Single Point Focus.)
– Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to project videos and large images on a screen or wall. Doing so, behind or to the side of the front table or podium, can serve to effectively compliment sections of the court of honor. Creating a series of slides in PowerPoint or Keynote is an excellent way to control what and when images are displayed. A troop or BSA logo, or special photo(s), can start things off or be featured between sections, and during the advancement presentations, projecting individual slides of the badges of rank adds impact. Scout / Tenderfoot / Second Class / First Class / Star / Life
Everyone who has earned any badge of rank or merit badge since the last court of honor is called forward and recognized. If a Scout has not yet been presented their badge, they can receive it during this ceremony. If they have already been given their badge during a previous troop meeting, they are also called up and recognized during this same ceremony. If there are pins to be presented to the Scouts’ parents, they also can be called up along with their child.
Recognition Ceremonies at Troop Courts of Honor
Some troops reserve the actual presentation of the badge for their court of honor, held every three months. Court of Honor recognition ceremonies can be a bigger production where the badges are presented in a more impressive fashion. As mentioned, in Planning Ceremonies, there are lots of pre-written ceremonies available from a variety of resources, but it’s always preferable to deliver a ceremony without reading word-for-word from a script. What follows is a general format that can be applied as a helpful framework for developing an impressive recognition ceremony:
- Bring the Scout being recognized to the front. (You might choose to have an appropriate individual serve as an escort. If decided, parents can also be invited to come forward.)
- While the Scout being honored faces the audience, explain why they are being recognized and the significance of receiving the honor being presented. (Provide some background information about the achievement. If decided, this would be a good time to enhance the presentation with candles.)
- Face the Scout and reveal something special about them relative to what they have accomplished. (Personalize the presentation with something specific and positive about the recipient.)
- Describe what can lie ahead of the recipient relative to their present achievement. (Give some perspective as to how this specific accomplishment fits into a bigger picture and what new opportunities are available.)
- Present the badge or award. (Right before the badge is given, if decided, this also could be an opportunity for the recipient to light an appropriate candle marking their achievement.)
- Have the recipient face the audience and invite everyone to applaud.
This framework is adaptable for any rank, from Scout to Life. Using a framework like this provides the grounds for developing a ceremony that, in addition to being warm and personalized, flows well. During a court of honor, there are occasions to invite more than one Scout up at a time who are being recognized for attaining the same rank. When this is the case, all the steps in the above format can be presented in a way that applies uniformly to each recipient.
Ceremonies that use this framework as a point of reference are often more naturally presented by an adult familiar with the recipient(s). For added impact, a troop can consider assigning the various parts to more than one leader.
Simple Advancement Presentation Scenarios
There are no hard and fast rules about how to present badges. Here are some simplified approaches troops take:
• A Scoutmaster or senior patrol leader calls individual Scouts up to the front, one at a time, and the names of all badges they’ve earned since the last court of honor are read out. Any badges they have yet to receive are presented at that time.
• In a separate presentation for each badge of rank, Scouts are called forward in accordance with the rank they’ve advanced to, either individually or in a group.
• In a separate presentation just for merit badges, Scouts are called forward individually to be recognized for and/or receive all the merit badges they’ve earned since the last court of honor.
• The names of specific merit badges are read out, and those Scouts who have earned them are called forward in a group to be recognized.
An effective way to recognize all the Scouts present at the court of honor is to let them light a candle or candles in accordance with their advancement. On a table is a stepped candle display, large enough to accommodate each rank held by members of the troop. During the advancement presentations, Each Scout is individually called up. After they are recognized for the rank they have achieved, they light a bigger candle representing that rank, and then lights smaller candles corresponding to any merit badge(s) earned since the last court of honor. The smaller candles for the merit badges are spaced along the bottom of the display. The bigger candles denoting Scouting ranks are located on the steps. The higher the rank, the higher the placement of the candle on the display.
Spotlight Rank Ceremony
– Staging this ceremony is impressive, when a troop chooses to reserve the presentation of the badges of rank for the quarterly court of honor. The items necessary are a bright, wide-beamed flashlight and large wood or cardboard cutouts of the badges of rank, the cloth badges with safety pins attached, and miniature badge pins for the parents of those Scouts advancing in rank. Also, before the ceremony begins, a platform, large enough for a Scout to easily step onto is placed strategically at the front of the room.
– Starting with those Scouts who have earned the Scout rank, the senior patrol leader calls out their names and they line up on one side up front. As they do, a leader places the appropriate large cutout of that rank on the wall—positioned so that when the house lights are turned off, a flashlight trained on the Scout who has stepped onto the platform to be recognized will cast their shadow on the badge.
– The leader presenting the badge steps forward and makes a few explanatory remarks about this rank. Then, the senior patrol leader calls the name of the first Scout to be recognized, and they step forward onto the raised platform. The house lights go out and the flashlight directs its beam onto the Scout.
– The Scoutmaster or leader making the presentations, pins the badge onto the Scout’s left pocket and shakes their hand with the Scout handshake. The Scout steps down and proceeds to the opposite side of the room where they stand at attention until all awards for this rank have been made. The house lights go on, and the audience is invited to give the recipients a rousing round of applause.
– Parents of these Boy Scouts are now called up, and each Scout presents a parent with the miniature Scout badge. Everyone applauds as parents and Scouts return to their seats. This same procedure is repeated for the other ranks.
– Variation: As a substitute for the wood or cardboard cutouts and flashlight, use a projector casting images of the badges of rank as a spotlight.
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