Walking into a Cub Scout meeting can be intimidating. If you are expecting small groups of uniformed darlings sitting quietly, softly humming Kum-Ba-Yah, you are in for a shock. Many packs follow a common theme. The boys proceed to blow off steam while the adults prepare for the meeting to come to order. Those beginning minutes closely resemble gerbils at a Rave. Several games of catch, tag, and keep-away are in progress, in the fast forward setting and at full volume. School is out, and the boys have been promised a good time, so hang on to your hat! I encourage all adults brave enough to enter to manage your expectations.
Scouting is one of the few places that teach proper flag etiquette. Because most Scout meetings begin with a flag ceremony, one of my favorite ways to bring order to the chaos is to engage the Scouts in Flag Protocol questions. These questions can be engaging and fun. Many adults are surprised at the complexity of the subject matter, and what the boys know that stumps the adults. Here are some of the questions I use – age appropriate and kid friendly, as are all things Cub Scouting (answers shown in red).
- If the United States flag is properly folded, what shape is it? A triangle
- Why did they choose a triangle? Fashioned after George Washington’s tricorn hat
- If I have a state flag folded correctly, what shape is it in? There are no guidelines in the Flag Code for folding state flags; most popular is square or rectangle.
- How many stripes are on the flag, and what colors? Thirteen – 7 red and 6 white. They represent the 13 original colonies.
- How many stars are on the flag? 50; they represent the 50 states.
- What is the blue square called? The union.
- There is a special name for the rope that pulls the flag to the top of the pole. What is it? The halyard.
- If the flag is hanging half-way down the pole, what does it mean? It’s called half-mast, and is a sign of respect when someone very important has died. Recent example – John Glenn, the astronaut.
- If I am displaying flags from a bunch of countries, which one flies higher? None –they are all level.
- If I am flying flags from the United States and a bunch of states, which one of those flies higher? The United States flag flies higher than the state flags.
I ask as many as needed to fill the time prior to the start of the meeting. This accomplishes multiple goals of restoring order, bringing the boys together in preparation for the official opening, and reinforcing flag protocol that is such an important part of Scouting.
Remember, if YOU’RE not having fun in Scouting, you’re not doing it right!