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I have been doing the ashes thing since I was a cub. I really could not tell you where all the ashes have been since it started way before me. My Mom started with my brother and the only thing I can say is it has been around. Here is a list of places I know mine have been.


I know the ashes havs been to Philmont 3 or 4 times

1985 and 1989 Jambo

multiple summer camps and winter camps

I know the ashes attend a campfire with Green Bar Bill

My first camping trip, my brothers first camping trip and my sons first camping trip

They have attended Woodbage twice and multiple National Camping Schools with my mom

and pretty much every camping trip my brother went on from 1977 - 1987 and every camping trip I went on from 1985 - 1995.


Now it is my son's turn to take over the tradition.

What I do is get film canisters and fill them up with the boys so they can take a piece of the camp home with them and then I tell them why we do it.


Original B-P ashes? I'm not sure.... I'm guessing you would have to mix your ashes with ashes of someone who has been following the tradition for a long time.


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I do not have any of the original B-P ashes, but at Wood Badge a couple weeks ago we each received a container of ashes from the campfire with a printed history similar to the one I linked to earlier in this discussion. According to the history I received, my ashes go back to the Second World Scout Jamboree in Ermelund, Denmark, in 1924.


I would encourage you to start your own ashes tradition, keeping the ashes from your campfires and recording their history. Eventually you will get the opportunity to mix your ashes with someone else's, probably at a major event, and then you can combine your ashes' history with the other ashes' history. With luck, you might be able to work the history until it can be traced all the way back to the original B-P ashes. Whether you get there or not, the main thing is that the Scouts at each campfire have shared the spirit of Scouting with all those who have gone before.


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  • 4 months later...

I read this post w/much interest. I just came back from BALOO training and learned about this tradition. One of the individuals who went to the 75th reunion at Brown Sea brought back ashes from that camp fire that also included ashes from the first Braden Powell Campfires. You can only get ashes with this rich history from attending a fire ceremony in which ashes are presented. Individuals who have not attended the fire sould not carry the ashes.


My question is does anyone have a good idea on what to do with the ashes??? I've got film canisters. Do I put a handle on them, dedorate them, what?? Thanks for your time and for sharing. Warmly, Donna

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OGE, Maybe he"s SHOUTING because he knows that we are HARD OF HEARING???


My WB Course gave everyone a film canister (now that"s soon to be a term for an old person), with ashes in it dating back to the first B-P campfire. Now it has ashes in it from a few of my own troop"s fires.


Do a search on this site and you will find more info about the ash tradition.


John(This message has been edited by OldGrayOwl)

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It is no accident that the first point of the Scout Law is "A Scout Is Trustworthy".

I'd like to tell you two stories, one about ME, one about YOU.

(((insert story here from your own history about being trusted with something new, expensive, important from when you were a boy)))

Now, How many of you know your grand parents? Maybe your Great grandparents? Isn't that wonderful. When you go home from this((camporee, Webelos WE, etc)), visit them, call them. Ask them how things were when they were your age. They are walking history. My mother told me of watching the dirigible Hindenburg fly over her house. Hear them out before you have to say, "I wish I'd asked them about..."

Okay, now think back beyond your GGparents, your GGGGparents, think back 1,000 2,000 even a million generations. Some body, one of YOUR ancestors, first brought a hot burning stick back to his family's camp or cave.

He found it next to a tree that had been struck by lightning, or next to a lava flow. Somewhere along the way, they figure out that this hot stuff could be kept going by adding more sticks to it. WOW!! it kept us warm at night, kept the big animals away. OOPS, dropped that loin of Sabertooth in the fire (is that what we call it now? Fire...) ummmm smells interesting! AND BARBECUE WAS INVENTED!! but I digress...

Hey, look at this, if I hit these two rocks together, it..sparks...

Maybe if we... rub these dry sticks together...

We have learned to use fire to keep us warm, to cook our food, carry us to the Moon and beyond. We use it to create and heal...and to kill and destroy. That choice is yours and mine to make. But one thing has remained.

The power of the naked flame to draw us together. Since the time of the neanderthal family in front of their cave, Scouts, church camps, YMCA camps, soldiers on picket duty, all know the desire to just sit around a camp fire and be together. We sing, we share stories, There Is A Fire At The Center. It is spiritual, it is visceral. It is universal.

Robert Baden-Powell recognized this early on and started a tradition of collecting ashes from the campfire he had just been to. In the morning, when the fire was cold, he would collect some small amount of ash and take it with him to the next campfire. When that fire was cold, he would collect some ash from that fire ring, and so on.

He kept track of the history, the "pedigree" of the ash trail.

I have here ((hold up baggy)) ash from the ((last camporee, Woodbadge, etc.)). The pedigree of these ashes includes the last jamborees, , campfires from Scouting events, church camps, and other places all the way back to the Brownsea Island Camp. ((throw the ashes in the fire)) . It is a continuation of that tradition, started so many years ago. If you would like a souvenir of this campfire, tomorrow morning there will be some baggies here and you may help yourself. The tradition will continue if YOU continu it. You can have a piece of Baden-Powells campfire. And your mom will ask "what's this bag of dirt doing on my kitchen counter?" And you can tell her.

Now, How do I know all this is true? Did these ashes realy continue the trail from Brownsea island? Because another Scout told me... and A Scout is Trustworthy. You have a good night..

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I love the idea and the tradition of sharing ashes. Does anyone have any ideas on how to make the ashes special? How to decorate film canisters or does everyone just use baggies for the ashes? When you bring ashes to a campfire, do you also bring sheets of where the ashes have been for the group or do you just rely on people emailing you lists? Just curious? I have been involved w/scouting for 4 years how and BALOO training this past month is the first time the tradition of the ashes ever came up! I'm wondering what other traditions I'm missing? Traditions I think makes the Scouting experience special for everyone! Just my thought. Donna

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OOps, forgot that part. I usually mention the website that I am familiar with that keeps track of the trail pedigree for my particular ash trail. The paper copy of this trail would entail about 50 or 60 pages.

That's why God created the internet.

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"Now, How do I know all this is true? Did these ashes really continue the trail from Brownsea island? Because another Scout told me... and A Scout is Trustworthy. You have a good night."


Yeah, I have the same problem with ghost stories. In December we will stay at Camp Stonehaven and we will on Saturday night tour the haunted castle. The ruins of the old poured-cement building do look stunning in the moonlight especially when you forbid flashlights on the pilgrimage!


The truth is that no historian ever references Baden-Powell saving any campfire ashes in his lifetime, let alone the ashes from the first Brownsea campout. Traditional UK Scouting officials who have dedicated their lives to preserving the traditions started by B-P report that this campfire practice is an American invention and that even now it is still not widely practiced in England.


If you do look carefully you will see that most of the campfire pedigrees that date the Brownsea ashes at 1907 note that the ashes were actually taken from a campfire on the island at a much later date.


My position is that the Scoutmaster should be the one Trustworthy person who does NOT lie when a Scout comes for the truth about ghosts, jackolops, snipe, the cheese moose, smoke-shifters, or Baden-Powell's ashes from the first Brownsea campout.


On the other hand I hate to spoil the romance of fictional Scouting traditions. So I usually answer such questions with another question designed to train independent thought, such as "How would a person find out if this is really the same Crystal Lake where "Friday the 13th" was filmed?"


It would be a moral cop-out for me to say "Well, if your Patrol Leader says that the rotting corpse of a Scout who fell through the ice still haunts this cabin, then it must be true because A Scout is Trustworthy."


I would note that the Scouters and BSA Scouting professionals who believe that it is OK to lie about history are usually the same moral conservatives who insist on holding Scouts to a much higher standard :-/



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