Ceremony from India




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5 Camp Fires
Council Fire
Week Program
Heart of the Camp
Ceremony from India
Mowgli Story
Oath Ceremony
Evening Pow Wows
Accounted For!
Scout Law
Story of Fire
Good Story Telling
Timber Wolf Ceremonies
Scout Yells
What To Do?
The Gray Areas
Philmont Song Book
Campfire Skits & Stunts
Scout War Songs

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by C. H. Tyrrell

Ask a Scout fresh from a well conducted camp which phase of the Troop's activities appealed to him most.  It is ten to one he will answer, "Why, the Camp Fire, of course!" The exciting sprint through the woods before the camp games, the swimming period, the signaling, the bridge-building, all have found a warm spot in his heart, but it is the mystery and romance of that evening hour around the camp fire which has given the word "Camp" to him so enchanted a meaning.

To all of us who treasure memories of camp, it is the picture of that happy brotherhood gathered round the flickering flame, joining together in song, story, chorus or game, which lingers on when other incidents have faded into oblivion.  And yet how few of our Troops take the trouble to bestow upon the camp fire ceremonies the care which they require! 

The council fire is not a Scout parade.  It is a gathering of the Troop around the sacred flame, where we let our minds go back to the times when the primitive tribes gathered around their own council fires to hear the wise words of their old chiefs and to hold a pow-wow upon subjects of importance to the tribe.  And in our own council fires, we must keep the romance and imagination which the thought of these by-gone days encourages. 

The council fire may be situated in the heart of the wood or in the center of the club-room; it may be composed of roaring logs, or of red tissue paper and a couple of candles, but the correct spirit must be engendered. 

For the time being we must be a lone tribe in the heart of a hostile country, every shadow perhaps concealing a deadly enemy, and every sound the signal of his approach.

The actual fire is prepared by the "Duty Patrol" for the day and should be ready at least five minutes before the Troop assembles.  The Troop is assembled by the Senior Patrol Leader in the absence of the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster, who wait in the offing until the signal for their entry is given.  Upon a whistle to the effect that all is ready the SM and ASM duly put in an appearance, the Troop standing until the Scoutmaster declares the council fire duly open.  The Troop, by Patrols, and the Troop leaders encircle the fire in suitable order.

There are many and varied ways of opening a council fire.  It doesn't really matter which of them be adopted so long as the method possesses a little touch of ceremonial.  The method I personally adopt, which I have found from experience to be one of the best, is for the whole Troop, on a signal from the SM, to stretch their right arms forward towards the fire, palms downward, while the Scoutmaster repeats a few appropriate verses, the musicians beating a rhythmic chant the while.

Upon conclusion of this ceremony, during which, by the way, everyone keeps perfectly still, the Scoutmaster announces "Brother Scouts, I declare the council fire duly open," when with their arms still outstretched, the Scouts slowly sink to a squatting position, after which the fun of the evening commences.

I should here explain a few of the duties of the various office-holders at the council fire. The tom-tom beater and the cymbal player; are two most important people.   During the opening words and any song which may take place during the evening's performance, they must be ready with a quiet rhythmic tapping, to mark the beat, while during the louder choruses and yells, they will do yeoman service.  The cymbals can be improvised by a couple of old pot lids.

The "Keeper of the Council Fire" is another important man. It is his duty to prepare the fire beforehand, and have it ready to light when the moment arrives and as it is most important that there should be no awkward pause while he gazes upon the failure of one effort and has a second go at kindling the "sacred flame," he must be a man who knows his job. He must also have an abundance of fuel with which to replenish the flame, which fuel is stacked in a neat pile in front of him.

But perhaps the most important of the office-bearers at the council fire is the Fire Scribe.  He is the man who prepares the program beforehand, who announces the items during the performance, and who takes a report, for record in the Troop

Log.  He is generally the Patrol Leader of the duty Patrol for the day, or else the Troop Scribe. He must have his program complete before the ceremony commences, and must be responsible that no hitches or pauses occur during the performance.  So you will see that the success of the council fire largely depends on his efforts.

C. H. Tyrrell, in The Scout Brother, Meerus, India.

Campfire Helps






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Peer- Level Topic Links:
5 Camp Fires ] Bibliography ] Firelight ] Council Fire ] Week Program ] Heart of the Camp ] [ Ceremony from India ] Invocation ] Mowgli Story ] Oath Ceremony ] Pantomime ] Pointers ] Evening Pow Wows ] Accounted For! ] Scout Law ] Story of Fire ] Good Story Telling ] Timber Wolf Ceremonies ] Traditions ] Scout Yells ] What To Do? ] The Gray Areas ] Philmont Song Book ] Campfire Skits & Stunts ] Scout War Songs ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.