Scout Investiture Ceremony

Making a meaningful start to Scouting

By Scouter Liam Morland, 1998

The investiture ceremony is the time when a Scout, by means of the words of the Scout Promise, publicly announces their commitment to the Scout Law. At the ceremony, the Scout makes the Promise to the Scouts and Scouters of their troop and to all the Scouts of the world. It is once the candidate has made the promise that they is a Scout.

The investiture is the beginning of a special time in a young person's life. Scout-aged children are entering the stage of life when they desire to break away from their parents, find out about the world, and try to shape their own identity in it. It is Scouting's desire that a major part of the identity that these young people form is that of being a Scout.

For most Scouts, making the Scout Promise means making a commitment that their parents have not. Because of this, the point of making the Promise is an act of breaking away from their parents; of asserting a separate identity. If young people have the opportunity to safely break away from their parents, they will not feel the need to break away in other, less-safe ways, such as by joining teen gangs or by the use of drugs. In support of this, parents should not be present at the investiture ceremony.

The setting of an investiture ceremony should reflect the importance of the commitment, yet be familiar so that it feels safe. The ideal setting is at a nighttime campfire out-of-doors at camp. The campfire could also be held at the end of a day event. Suitable indoor locations include in a local Scout museum, in a church (for religiously closed groups), or other places that are special. The place were regular Scout meetings take place is the last choice, due to it not being at all a special place. Wherever the ceremony is held, efforts can be made through the use of things such as candles to make the setting special. A campfire at camp is the best.

The campfire can be in the centre of the horseshoe so that it lights the face of the Scoutmaster. All are wearing the Scout uniform and perhaps their campfire blankets. The ceremony should be dignified, but not solemn. The Scoutmaster's expression should be welcoming and friendly, yet filled with a sense of importance and excitement.

There are many possibilities for the use of candles to enhance a ceremony. A yellow candle, representing Wolf Cubs, can be used by the new Scout to light a green candle, representing Scouts. This represents the transition for one section to the next. (People new to Scouting can use a white candle instead.) Candles can also be lit as parts of the Promise are recited. When elaborating ceremonies in this way, it is important to keep them simple enough that they have real significant for the Scouts.

There is much debate about whether multiple candidates should be invested one at a time, or all at once. If the are invested one at a time, all the attention is focused on the candidate's individual commitment, however, the ceremony will not feel as special if each Scouts sees others going through it before they do. To solve this problem, the candidates should gather at a place away from sight and hearing of the ceremony until they are called, one at a time, to be invested.

The Ceremony

The troop is assembled in a horseshoe. There is a Flag Bearer holding the troop flag standing to the left of the Scoutmaster. The candidates for investiture are at a place away from sight and hearing of the horseshoe. The Scoutmaster briefly reminds the troop of what will happen in the ceremony then sends the Patrol Leader to bring the first candidate.

Patrol Leader, bring the [first|next] candidate for investiture.

The candidate's Patrol Leader fetches the candidate and leads them to the front of the horseshoe. As the candidate approaches the horseshoe, the Scoutmaster calls the troop to alert. The candidate stands centred at the front of the horseshoe, facing the Scoutmaster. The PL stands behind and to the right of the candidate.

In 1907, Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell led the first Scout Camp on Brownsea Island, starting a movement that has spread to the entire world. Since that time, hundreds of millions of people around the world have committed themselves to becoming better people by making the Scout Promise. Candidate's name, do you wish to join them?

Please recite the Scout Promise and Law after me. Troop, Scout Sign.

The Flag Bearer lowers the troop flag to horizontal between the Scoutmaster and the candidate. The Scoutmaster and the candidate place their left hands on the flag. All make the Scout Sign. The Scoutmaster leads the Promise and Law line by line; the candidate repeats after them.

Scoutmaster and candidate
On my Honour, I promise,
That I will do my best,
To do my Duty to God and the King,
To help other people at all times,
And to carry out the spirit of the Scout Law:

A Scout is Helpful and Trustworthy,
Kind and Cheerful,
Considerate and Clean,
And wise in the use of all resources.

Troop, steady.

Everyone returns to alert, the flag is returned. The Scoutmaster puts on the Scout's epaulettes one at a time.

I give you one epaulette to represent your duties to other people; to help them, to get along with them, to be part of building a better world.

I give you a second epaulette to represent your duties to yourself; to develop yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually so that you will be a better person.

Both of these duties are bound together by the Scouting Spirit and the Scout Law both of which guide your life.

Shaking Scout's hand:

Welcome, Pioneer Scout. Troop at ease. Shake hands with your Patrol Leader then go clockwise around the circle shaking everyone's hand.

If there is another candidate to be invested, the Scoutmaster directs their Patrol Leader to bring them. The ceremony repeats for all the candidates. The ceremony is followed by a celebration, such as a campfire with skits and songs. The Scouter's Five at the end of the campfire can be tied to the investiture in some way.