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Scout Sign-- & Silence

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"...Their wireing doesn't always give them a grasp of social consequences..."


I haven't met a kid yet that didn't have issues with grasping the concept of social consequences. It's part of growing up. Even as an adult, I still learn (again and again) the social consequences of things I say and do.

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I want to thank all you posted. I am a firm believer that if you did not learn one new thing each day then you waisted 24 hours.


I was a scout and SPL in a large troop. We always yelled "signs up" when the signs went up. Thus, it became second nature.


Bob White, I am ashamed to admite that the whole purpose of the sign being silent (for stalking) went right over my head. Thank you for enlighting me.


Our first pack meeting I think I will make this note. Tell the boys that it will be a "game" to see how fast they can settle down when the signs go up so I don;t have to bellow, "signs up".


PS-OGE, great story.

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Fscouter,That wireing statement is actually a layman's way of stating a clinical symptom of ADD whether they be 12 or 40.

You are right that there is a learning process with all of us but it's much more difficult with these people to grasp the lessons.

(we seem to have strayed a bit from eagleSM's topic)

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Continuing search.So far the stalking hand signal sites I've found come up with special forces and sniper info.not sure I wnat to put that out here.

I did email the creator of the scout signals page asking the original question this thread started with.If he's responsive,I'll ask about the scouting stalking signals.I have a few people I know that I'll see at Conclave next week who are real scout history buffs,I'll try to remmember to ask if they know anything about the subjects.

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Here is response I got on search for stalking signs from old handbooks.Still looking for history answer for original question.

Probably "Gesture Signals," which came from Dan Beard. The collection in his

book "American Boys' Book of signs, Signals, & Symbols," is larger than the

ones that appeared in the old BSA Handbooks. Give me a couple days, and I will

add these. You might also be interested in his collection of trail signs, see:




(This message has been edited by wojauwe)

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I always find it amusing when a new SPL, who doesn't yet understand that the sign operates silently, stands up in front of the troop holding up the sign and yelling "SIGNS UP!" to try to get attention. But with some experience they learn to work the "peer pressure" aspect... the boys who notice the sign first and hold up their signs early in response really want the other boys to get quiet as soon as possible. Because the longer it takes to get silence the longer they have to hold up their arms, and it can become painful after a while.


I was troop leader for our boys at Camp Whitsett in the Sierras this summer and at the dining tent the camp commissioner made announcements during the meals. He told everyone that during the week we were going to get better at quieting down when he held up the Scout sign. There were more than 400 boys in the group and the first few times it took a half minute or more to get complete silence. The commissioner always told us how many seconds it took, and within a few days eight or ten seconds was normal. The last day at camp it was amazing to see a large group like that busy with a meal quieting down completely in a record 4 seconds!

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I've been awaya few days & the thread has gotten way beyond this but "be_Prepared"'s ref to the 2nd class requirement can be found in the 6th edition of the BSA handbook (my copy is the March 1965 printing). In that book reqs were actually written on the page w/ the info needed to complete them! BP had some listed ... I see Patrol File, Single File Half Circle, Circle, Assemble (or Come Back), Move Forward, Spread out, Hurry, Halt and Take Cover.


Obviously some of our con freres have found much more info.



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I've pasted the latest reply from signals website creator,Rick.

BW he's added the stalking signals to web site.So far 1948 is

the earliest mention of Scout sign for silence.

Concerning the usage in other countries.isn't Eammon from England?He may be able to give insight on that.


"I added Beard's gesture signals, See:




Note that Beard does not (in 1918) use the Scout Sign to indicate silence or



My 1945 BSA Handbook does not mention it either, but it does in 1948 (5th

Edition): under "The Scout Sign," it says "You use it when you repeat the Scout

Oath and Law. It may also be used by your leaders to call attention in Troop

or Patrol Meetings, or when on a hike. When you see a leader give the Scout

Sign, stand at attention, be quiet, and return the Scout Sign, waiting for the

instructions which follow."


Likewise, this 1948 BSA Handbook shows this sign for "Attention" under "Field

Signals" in the Signaling section. "Field Signals" replaced the "Gesture

Signals" Found in the 1945 Handbook. Field Signals are based on the "Silent

Signals" which appear on my website.


For the above BSA Handbook versions, see:




I'll ask around to see if anyone knows where it came from.


Rick "



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