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Teaching flag ettiquette

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The other night, I as well as another ADL took the kids through a flag raising ceremony. We let all the cubs participate in raising / lowering the flag, and folding.


Before explaining a few basic flag facts, I asked if any of them knew anything about the flag.

The immediate responce was "Don't drop it or you will have to burn it!"

Okay, so they are right for the most part, but not entirely.

I tried to explain the difference between letting a flag sag, fall off the pole, get torn down by disrepair, weather or just not caring versus accidentally dropping the flag or letting one corner accidentally touching the ground in the process of raising the flag.


I mean, if a 7 year old cub , in nervousness, lets one tip of a corner touch for half a second, I see no disrespect of any kind.


The problem is, the kids have it in their mind that if it touches, you burn it, and are almost too scared to even try to do anything with it.

Anybody have any suggestions as how to approach this from a different angle?

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Hi, new guy here. I'm a Wolf leader and ACM. I've been lurkiing for awile, but figured I'd let you know what we do.


If a Cub let's the Flag touch the ground he has to kiss it. That way he's "saying" I'm sorry to the Flag and regains its respect. All the boy's seem to like this and even make sure that it's done.


Let's face it, it's going to happen after all most flags are bigger then the boys.



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Last year at Cub day camp, I developed and ran a module about flag skills. Of course, one of the questions was about a flag touching the ground. THe flag code of the United States does not require a flag to be disposed if it touches the ground. a flag may be repaired, cleaned, washed etc. If it gets dirty, wash it. Encourage the boys to wave it high.


It was a fun session and very well received by boys and parents. We had some trivia, folding exercises, proper display, stories and of course plenty of retirement ceremonies around the campfire.


Also, get a proper size flag. Our Pack had this huge behemoth that even adults have trouble holding it high enough.

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Kissing the flag? I dunno about that. An accident is an accident. Would you kiss someone's foot if you stepped on it inadvertently, or just say, "Ooops, I'm sorry!" and be extra-careful not do it again?


But kudos to everyone here for not perpetuating the touching-burning bit of urban lore, or imposing other nonsensical, nonexistent flag regs on their Scouts. There's enough of that floating around among veterans' groups and other people who should really know better.


Regarding teaching flag ettiquette in general, I've found that it's extremely effective not to mention the word "ettiquette." Instead, call the program "Rules of the Flag" or "Flag Use." Heck, I can barely spell the word half the time, and most Cubs aren't going to know what it means.


To help my den understand how to properly raise and lower the flag, put it at half-staff, etc., my old den leader made a small-scale flagpole with a block of wood, a dowel, small screw-rings, string, safety pins and a tiny cloth American flag that we could practice on. It really helped us visualize on a Cub-size scale just how to do it properly before practicing at a real flagpole.


I generally start off with a short talk about the parts of the flag and what they represent, do some hands-on flag-folding, then head to the flagpole. If you have access to some flags from the past to show how it's evolved, that's always very interesting.

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The flag store in Seattle I went to closed they carried a small display of historical American flags, but I found another on the web in Ohio that does: http://www.flagladyohio.com/store/historical-flags-miniature-historical-flags-c-16_25.html?zenid=5920539a3f77b7d8eeada8780d976210. I thought the Scout Shops carried it but it is not in the online catalogue. I sure there are other web resources.


A great flag history site is: http://www.usflag.org/index.html. The only thing it hasnt been updated in the last two years at least in the great section about the evolution of the US flag from 13 to 50 stars. It tells how each flag got its new stars, long it flew and what presidents served under it. It mentions the 48 star flag was longest flying one with 47 years, but the 50 star flag passed it up July 4, 2007.(This message has been edited by nwscouter)

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One of my boys got all over my case when a boy let the flag touch the ground and I didn't say anything. It was totally accidental, so it was no big deal except for this one other kid. I told them that I had read the rules and regulations over and over for flag etiquette and it doesn't say the flag has to be burned, but the one doing it had to be court marshaled and shot by firing squad if found guilty of treason. For a long time he believed me but about 6 months after that he came back, had researched the Flag Code and said that it didn't need to be burned and the person letting it touch didn't need to be shot either. :)


He's my next Eagle in the troop! Turned out to be a great kid with a keen insight into my sense of humor.



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When I was DL, then later became CM, up to now as an ASM the Flag was a big part of all ceremonies I have been involved in.


I also a retired Disabled Veteran.


One tip I give to leaders when working with Cubs on retiring flags is to explain "we aren't burning the flag" we are "honoring it by retiring it".


This will avoid (as much as possible) the most often heard "we burned flags at camp"! from the Cub.


Ask me how I know to stress this!

(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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We use the term "flag courtesy".


I am a substitute teacher for the public schools. I relish the times I am assigned to a middle school history class. I usually get to talk about flag history or trivia. The last class they were learning ( I hope) about the war of 1812. This inevitably led to the battle for Fort McHenry and the "Star Spangled Banner". Altho the regular teacher's plan, which I did follow, did not include it, I was able to get these ipod kids to think about the flag as more than a mere piece of history they needed to memorize. We talked about how the stars are added (15? 37? 48? 50? an art student's grade was changed?).

Talk to your Cubs about "intent". Did he MEAN for the flag to get dirty? Or did he quickly pick it up to prevent more dirt?


It can be fun, and worthwhile.



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