An anthology of inspirational material, for use in putting together Scouts Own ceremonies
Exeter, New Hampshire
A "Scouts Own" is an inspirational ceremony, usually built around a central theme, such as friendship, world peace, save the earth, or appreciation of the world around us. Just about any topic consistent with the principles and program goals of Girl Scouting is appropriate. The important thing is that it be the work of the girls themselves---from start to finish.
In execution, a "Scouts Own" can range from lively to somber. The intent is generally serious, however, and usually reflective. Texts used can be spontaneously made up or taken from existing literature. If readings from sacred works (scripture) are incorporated, girls should be encouraged to choose passages that are less likely to offend (such as, not referring to the Deity by a name identified with a specific religion). [Remember pleuralism.]
Here are suggestions that can help make a "Scouts Own" successful:
[found on the wall of an old Inn in Lancashire, England]
3 An Opening
-- John Lockie, Ottawa, Ontario
4 A Closing
The longer one lives, the more one realizes the impact of attitude on life. Attitude is more important than facts, more important than circumstances, failures or successes, and certainly more important than what other people think or say. It's more important than appearance, talent or skill. Attitude can make or break a man, a home, a family, or an organization. It can shatter dreams, ideas, relationships, and children's futures
Every day, each one of us has a choice regarding not only the clothes we wear, but the attitude we present for that day. It's the last thing we put on as we leave our home. People should all have a mirror by the door, just to make sure their attitude is on straight.
We cannot change, as God cannot change, the past, nor can we guarrantee that those we smile or say "Good Morning" to will be pleasant or even civil, since anger has a way of inserting its sharp words into pleasant as well as strained conversations.
The time we spend interacting with people may vary from a few seconds to hours, and happens under all circumstances, such as walking down the street, or school hallway.
We may think that a head nod, or a brief "Hello" is insignificant, but think again. As a clown, I have come to realize that those few moments, are what children, or people remember.
Two weeks ago, another clown and myself were at a Friendly's restaurant in Concord. We had just finished a parade, and were still in costume. We were tired, hot, and hungry. Since it was during that heat wave, many parents were there with their children, and you know how clowns react with children. So we made balloons and passed them from table to table until all the kids had at least one. Just as our food arrived, a small boy, around nine years old, came from somewhere and tugged at my sleeve and said "When I grow up, I want to be just like you." We never did get to eat.
What I'm trying to say is that whether you interact with people in three minutes or three hours, you leave behind you a feeling (attitude) of caring or non-caring, of sensitivity or insensitivity, and as one clown said "You walk away leaving a legend or a Nightmare."
Each one of us should realize that as we walk away, we leave something behind. What that is depends on us.
6 The Black Door
There's a Middle Eastern story of a spy who had been captured and sentenced to death by a general of the Persian army. The general had fallen upon a strange and rather bizarre custom. He permitted the condemned person to make a choice. He could either face the firing squad or pass through the black door.
As the moment of execution drew near, the general ordered the spy to be brought before him for a short, final interview, the primary purpose of which was to receive the answer of the doomed man to the question: "Which shall it be---the firing squad or the black door?"
This was not an easy question, and the prisoner hesitated, but soon he made it known that he much preferred the firing squad. Not long thereafter, a volley of shots in the courtyard announced the grim sentence had been fulfilled. The general, staring at his boots, turned to his aide and said, "You see how it is with men; they will always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. And yet I gave him his choice."
"What lies behind the black door?" asked the aide.
"Freedom," replied the general, "and I've known only a few men brave enough to take it."
Like so many stories out of the Middle East, this one carries a pretty hefty message. The first is, of course, that we will often choose the familiar, even if it's undesirable, over the unknown, which might be a wonderful opportunity. And second, that few people are brave enough to choose freedom.
I'm not saying we should reject the familiar---not by any means. But we should question the familiar. Just because it's familiar doesn't make it good, better, or the best thing to do.
When you heard the story about the black door, you probably said to yourself, "I would have chosen the black door. I would have had nothing to lose; the firing squad was certain death." And most people would say the same thing. But actually faced with the choice, would you? How many doors to freedom have we passed up during our lives because we tend to cling so fiercely to the familiar?
How many times have events come about that we worried and stewed about--- even thought calamitous at the time---and that later proved to be blessings in disguise? Each of them was a black door through which we passed to greater freedom. But at the time, we would have chosen to keep things as they were if we had been given the chance.
At any rate, it's one of those stories that makes for interesting discussion at the dinner table, or with friends. Tell the story of the black door, and see what sort of reaction you get.
It's good to remember, if we can, that it is often those things we
worry about and most fear that turn out to be blessings in disguise.
7 The Blind Ones and the Matter of the Elephant
The following Sufi tale is contained in the book Tales of the Dervishes, by Idries Shah.
Beyond Ghor there was a city. All its inhabitants were blind. A king with his entourage arrived near by; he brought his army and camped in the desert. He had a mighty elephant, which he used in attack and to increase the people's awe.
From among this blind community messengers ran like fools to find it.
As they did not even know the form or shape of the elephant they groped sightlessly, gathering information by touching some part of it.
Each thought that he knew something, because he could feel a part.
When they returned to their fellow citizens, eager groups clustered around them. Each of these was anxious, misguidedly, to learn the truth from those who were themselves astray.
They asked about the form, the shape of the elephant, and listened to all that they were told.
The man whose hand had reached an ear was asked about the elephant's nature. He said: 'It is a large, rough thing, wide and broad, like a rug.'
And the one who had felt the trunk said: 'I have the real facts about it. It is like a straight and hollow pipe, awful and destructive.'
The one who had felt its feet and legs said: 'It is mighty and firm, like a pillar.'
Each had felt one part out of many. Each had perceived it wrongly. No mind knew all: knowledge is not the companion of the blind. All imagined something, something incorrect.
The created are not informed about divinity. There is no way in the
science by means of the ordinary intellect.
8 Carry the Sun Inside You
--Adapted from a prayer published in Australian Scout magazine.
--From "A Memorial to a Scouter" by Laird Vanni.
--Adapted from a Rover Prayer.
Based on a Native American Legend
Materials needed for each person involved with the ceremony:
1 Strip of leather about 7 inches long
1 pony bead of each color: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
Color streamers can either be attached to walls or placed on the floor where the colors are to stand---for a nice touch.
Once upon a time the colors of the world started a quarrel: all claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, the favorite.
RED shouted out: "I am the ruler of all of you ---I am blood---life's blood! I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."
ORANGE started next to blow her trumpet: "I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangos, and pawpaws. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."
YELLOW chuckled: "You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."
GREEN said:; "Clearly, I am the most important. I am the sign of life and hope. I was chosen for grass, trees, leaves---without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."
BLUE interrupted: "You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, all of you would be nothing."
INDIGO spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination: "Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me, all of you become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."
VIOLET rose to her full height. She was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the color of loyalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me---they listen and obey."
And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly, there was a startling flash of bright lightning...thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing closer to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamor, rain began to speak: "You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."
Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands. The rain continued: "From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The rainbow is a sign of friendship and hope for tomorrow."
And so, whenever the rain washes the world, look up... and as the rainbow appears in the sky, let us all remember our friendships new and old... and that tomorrow is always a new day."
Contributed by Theresa Rose, volunteer, Rio Grande Girl Scout Council
[Note: Theresa Rose, learned this ceremony at Chaparral Girl Scout
Council leader training. She adds, "We stood in a circle and were
handed the thin stips of leather. As different people read the
different colors, we were given the same color pony bead and put it on
our leather strip in order. When the last person was reading from 'And
so the colors went on boasting ...' we took our finished strip and tied
it around the wrist of the person to our right. The beads were put on
in the same order as the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo, violet. It was a very touching ceremony and I
remember it to this day and keep my bracelet in my purse."]
12 Communicating With Love
The following is from the newsletter The Holy Encounter. It is excerpted from the book Love is the Answer by Gerald Jampolsky and Diane Cirincione. This book is considered to be a sequel to Jampolsky's internationally best-selling book, Love Is Letting Go Of Fear.
Communicating With Love in All Our Relationships
We begin to truly establish loving relationships when we commit ourselves to listening with love, tenderness, receptivity, and understanding in all of our communications. We feel our interconnectedness in all our relationships when we listen with a gentle and patient energy that says, "I have all the time in the world to listen to you. You are important to me, and what you have to say is important to me."
Listening with love does not necessaryly mean that we have to agreee, but it does mean listening without attacking or being defensive. It means listening with no assumptions, no expectations, and no demands. It means listening with an open heart and with respect for the other person as an equal.
Listening doesn't just happen. Rather, it involves a choice, a decision. When we listen to the voice of the ego, we are tempted to not listen to anything else. When we listen to the inner voice of love, we will make the decision to listen with love.
Talking too much, not listening, and constantly interrupting other people before they have finished what they want to say are some of the more common traits of listening to the ego. The underlying message we send to the other person is: "I want you to listen to me because what I have to say is most important." Or, "I am too busy and absorbed in myself to listen to your irrelevant words!"
One of the reasons that so many conflicts occur between parents and children is that we have forgotten how to listen to each other with love and patience. Children learn this easily when it is taught and demonstrated by their parents.
There are some families where children are punished or yelled at sumply because they took the risk of sharing how they felt. Often children are not listened to because their parents simply may not be around or, if they are, Dad is too busy reading the paper or Mom is too busy talking on the phone.
Listening doesn't necessarily mean agreement. Listening with love doesn't mean we don't say no and set limits for our children or even the adults in our relationships. It does mean, however, giving our children, friends, coworkers, partners, spouses---virtually everyone we meet---the time and space to be heard, not for just the words but for the emotions that need to be expressed.
If there is a single skill necessary for establishing loving relationships, it is the art of listening. So many people, ourselves included, have such busy daily schedules that we often find it easy to tell ourselves that we can't take time to listen.
One way that helps us learn to listen to others is to set aside some time each day to quiet our minds, listen to our own thougths, and then open ourselves to others. You may find that you can do this best very early in the morning, taking a few moments to enjoy the specific music of a new day. Or you may find that you can do this best very late in the evening, when the house is quiet.
A young man by the name of Tinman Walker has been an important teacher for all of us who have known him at the Center for Attitudinal Healing. When he first came to the center, he was about fourteen years old. Two years before that, he had been hit by a truck while riding his bicycle. Following the accident, he was in a coma for more than eighty days.
When we met Tinman, he had worked very hard in physical therapy to recover from his injuries, but he still had spastic paralysis and a speech impediment. He talked very slowly, and it was often very difficult to understand him.
We remember Tinman's first meeting at the center, where he joined about fourteen other kids his age who faced life-threatening illnesses. Tinman announced that he wanted to tell a joke. Because of his difficulties with speech, a joke that usually took a minute or two to tell took Tinman ten or fifteen.
What followed was a most remarkable thing. As Tinman started telling his joke, everyone---and we mean everyone---listened with their full attention. They focused on every word. There was no impatience. There was no lack of attention. No one's mind wandered and no one tried to interrupt him to tell their own story or to try to finish his for him. While we watched and listened, tears came to our eyes as we recognized the caring and love and patience that everytone was expressing in that room.
When Tinman finally delivered his punch line, the room filled with laughter. Tinman's face lit up with joy. He went on to say that he had always had a good sense of humor. But since the accident, no one seemed able to take the time to listen to his jokes because it took him such a terribly long time to get them all out. This was the first time anyone seemed to have the patience to let him finish a joke. He added, with tears in his eyes, that he had never before experienced so much unconditional love...