Flag Ceremonies

Flag ceremonies are very often part of larger ceremonies. They are also used to open or to close a troop/group meeting. Learning about the proper way to handle the American flag and to conduct flag ceremonies fosters a patriotic spirit in young people.

At a flag ceremony, you say the Pledge of Allegiance in the presence of a flag. You may also sing a patriotic song and repeat the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

Salute to the Flag

To salute the flag, stand at attention and place your right hand over your heart. Salute the flag when it is being raised or lowered, when it passes you in a parade, and when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Salute when you sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," with or without the flag present.

Flag Ceremony Guidelines

Simplicity is the keynote of any flag ceremony; emphasis should be on respect for the flag rather than on the commands or techniques. Some questions to be addressed when planning a flag ceremony:

1. Who will cary the flag?
2. Who will be the color guards?
3. Who will give the directions for the ceremony?
4. What song will we sing? Who will sound the pitch and start the song?
5. Do we want a poem or quotation? Who will say or read it?
6. After the Pledge of Allegiance, shall we say the Promise and Law?
7. In what order shall we do all these things?
8. when should we practice all this?
9. Where will the flag(s) be placed at the end of the ceremony?

Terms used in Flag Ceremonies

The color bearer (or flag bearer) is the person who carries the flag. There is one color bearer for each flag in the ceremony.

The color guard is a team that guards the flags. Any even number of guards may be used, but usually four or six are sufficient.

The Girl Scout-in-charge is a designated Girl Scout who announces or calls each part of the ceremony.

The standards are the stands that support the flag. The color bearers place their flags in the standards.


There is abosolute silence from the time the horseshoe is formed until it is dismissed. The color guard remains silent from the time they start to walk in until they walk out. They do not speak or sing with the group, but stay at attention.

The ceremony may be brief, but always takes place after the flag has been raised. Since the ceremony if for the flag, it should be in position during it! Often, the flag ceremony is part of another ceremony. If so, the color guard is dismissed before the other ceremony begins.

During a formal flag ceremony, white gloves should be worn by the color guards. The Girl Scout-in-charge may also wear them. Gloves are not necessary in an outdoor setting.

Indoor Flag Ceremony

The troop/group forms a horseshoe. the color guard is in position. All stand at attention.

The Girl Scout-in-charge says: "Color guard, advance." This signals the color guard to advance to the flags, salute the American flag, and pick the flags up. then they turn together and get into position facing the troop. Everyone stands at attention.

The color guard walks forward, carrying the flags to the formation. They stop in front of the standards.

The Girl Scout-in-charge says: "Color guard, post the colors." This signals the color bearers to place the flags in their stands. They remain at attention next to the flags.

The Girl Scout-in-charge says: "Girl Scouts, honor the flag of your country." The group salutes the American flag.

The Girl Scout-in-charge says: "Girl Scouts, recite the Pledge of Allegiance." This may be followed by songs, poems, or verses.

If the flag ceremony is part of a larger ceremony, such as an investiture, the Girl Scout-in-charge dismisses the color guard and then the main ceremony takes place.

Following the ceremony, the Girl Scout-in-charge commands the color guard to retire the colors by taking the flags to their place of storage. The following commands can be used:

"Girl Scouts, attention"
"Color guard, advance"
"Color guard, honor your flag"
"Color guard, retire the colors"
"Color guard, dismissed"
"Girl Scouts, dismissed"

Handling the American Flag

The display of our American Flag is governed by law to ensure that it will be treated with the respect due the flag of a great nation. Public Law 829, enacted by the 77th Congress on June 14, 1923, sets forth rules for the display and care of the Stars and Stripes, and prescribes penalties for violations.

Some of the rules that are most useful for Girl Scouts are:

*The American Flag should be placed in the center, and higher, when displayed with a group of state, local, or organizational flags flown from staffs. It may also be positioned to the right of other flags (if you were to hold the flag while facing your audience, your right side would be the flag's own right.)
*when flown from a staff on a speaker's platform, the flag should be placed on the speaker's right. If placed elsewhere than on the platform, it should be to the right of the audience as they face the platform.

*The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered slowly with dignity.
*The flag should never be allowed to touch anything beneath it, nor should it ever be carried flat or horizontally - always aloft and free.
*Never use the flag as a cover or place anything on top of it.
*No disrespect of any kind should be shown to the flag of the United States. I should be kept clean.
*The flag, when carried in a procession with other flags, should be either on the marching right or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
*When you display the flag on a wall or in a window where people see it from the street, it should be displayed flat with the blue part at the top and on the flag's own right (which is the observer's left).
*When a flag gets old and is too worn to use, do not throw it in the trash. It should be destroyed, preferably by burning.
*When displayed after dark, the flag should be illuminated.

Bridging Ceremonies

Fly-Up and Cross the Bridge

Flag ceremony
Brownies form a Brownie Ring
Brownie Leaders read:
You’ve been in Brownies and you’ve earned
Your wings of sunlight gold.
You’re ready now for Junior Scouts
New adventures you’ve been told.

Brownies may sing any song. There are several in the handbook.

Then they may recite the Girl Scout Promise.

Brownie Leaders say:
B - means to BE prepared for any new surprises
R - means you’re READY when the unexpected rises
O - you’re flying OUT of the ring that has held you close so long
W - means that you’ve earned your WINGS and you’ll be greeted with a song
N - means NO ONE can deny how much we really care
I - is for the INTEREST shown by leaders everywhere
E - is for the ENERGY and EVERY little thing

You’ve put them all together and made this BROWNIE RING!

All ages of Girl Scouts recite the Girl Scout Promise and Law. One by one the Brownies leave the ring. Each is met by her leader who pins her wings on her and greets her with the Girl Scout handshake. A Junior Scout steps forward and takes the Brownie by the hand and leads her to the Junior leader who pins the Girl Scout pin on her, and greets her with the Girl Scout handshake.

Junior Girl Scouts read together:

J - means you’re JUST the one we’ve needed all these days
U - is for the UPS and downs - you’ll have them along life’s way
N - just means we won’t say NO to religion, nor to race
I - means INTERNATIONAL - Girl Guides in a far off place
O - is for the OPEN hearts and hands we extend to you
R - means that we REALLY want you to try to like us, too.

Junior Leader reads:

Juniors you’ll be for three short years.
Make the most of each day that goes by.
Be cheerful and helpful and do a good turn, >br> And greet each Girl Scout with a "Hi!"

Ceremony may end with the singing of an appropriate song followed by "Taps."

Fly-Up Ceremony

Brownies form a ring at one end of the room. The Junior Girl Scout Troop forms a horseshoe at the other end of the room. The Brownie leader and Brownies to fly-up are in center of circle. Brownies sing their Brownie Song and add - "Now it’s time to say Goodbye - open the ring and out you fly." Leader and girls go to center of room between groups.

Brownie Leader:
Brownie, you’re just about to become a Junior Scout.
But when you have left the pack turn sometimes and just look back;
Remember that all Fairyland really lies so close at hand.
And if you’re happy, brave and true, you’ll find the world all magic, too.
In this new troop you soon will find Girl Scouts are loyal, true, and kind.
And if you bring your Brownie grin and some Brownie Magic in -
The troop, the town, the world and all will like you, even though you’re small.

Leader pins on wings and says:
So now I give you Brownie wings
That you may fly to bigger things.
(They salute each other with the Girl Scout sign.)

One of the Junior Scouts comes to meet them and says - "Who goes there?"
The Brownies give their names.
Junior Scout: By what right do you come?
Brownies: By the right of my wings.
Junior Scout then takes her to the Junior leader.

Junior Leader:
Now who is this with her dress so brown
Her smile turned up and her cap turned down?
We’ve heard of her ways all over the town.
Of course, why of course, she is a Brownie.
Oh, we are the Girl Scouts, a trusty band,
And we welcome this elf from Fairyland;
We’re ready to help her lend a hand;
So welcome, oh welcome the Brownie.

Leader may ask the girls to say the Girl Scout Promise and Law, etc.. and then pins the Girl Scout pin on the girls’ uniforms. The girls then enter the horseshoe.

All girls may sing a song together.

Court of Awards

A Court of Awards is a special ceremony at which Girl Scouts receive recognitions and insignia they have earned. It can be held anytime during the year, and as often as the troop wants.

A Court of Awards may occur at the troop's favorite hiking site and include such guests as the troop committee, program consultants, the service unit director, and parents. Or a troop may choose the troop meeting place inorder to exhibit decorations and improvements. This would be a good time to show appreciation to adults who have halped the troop and to invite a representative of the building in order to say an official "thank you" for the use of the meeting place.

World Trefoil Pin Ceremony

You will need

World Trefoil pin for each girl; flannel board with detachable parts of the pin.


Each girl is given a World Trefoil pin to hold in her left hand. Girls form a horseshoe with each girl having a partner. Parts of the pin are placed near the flannelboard. Two girls are involved in each section of the ceremony; one to read and one place a part of the pin on the flannelboard.

Sing: "Make New Friends" or another appropriate song.

Leader reads:

We are one with the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in other parts of the world, and we wear a special pin as a symbol of our friendship and unity. The World Trefoil pin is always worn above each nation’s Promise pin - to signify that the World Association is larger than individual members.

First girl reads:

The gold stands for the SUN which shines over us all.

Her partner places the yellow background on the flannelboard.

Second girl reads:

The blue symbolizes the SKY above us all throughout the world.

Her partner places the blue flannel on the yellow.

Third girl reads:

The gold trefoil is the symbol of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in all countries of the world. The three leaves stand for the THREE PARTS of the PROMISE.

Her partner places the three leaves on the board.

Fourth girl reads:

The star on the right stands for the GIRL SCOUT LAW.

Her partner places the right star on the board.

Fifth girl reads:

The star on the left stands for the PROMISE which all Girl Scouts and Girl Guides try to keep.

Her partner places the left star on the board.

Sixth girl reads:

The vane in the center is a COMPASS NEEDLE that guides us all.

Her partner places the vane in the appropriate place.

Seventh girl reads:

At the base of the trefoil is a FLAME of international friendship which burns in all our hearts.

Her partner places the flame on the board.

Leader reads:

Will partners now pin the World Trefoil pin on each other and then give the Girl Scout handshake.

Sing "The World Song" or Girl Scouts Together."

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