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Ceremonies, Events to Remember

by Leslie Forward - The Leader - Sharing - November 1996

Think back to your childhood. What do you remember most about school and youth groups?

It's not the regular days and meetings, right?

You probably thought about the special, extraordinary times. The Beaver program has special events built into it. These are our ceremonites -- openings, closings, tail group celebrations, investitures, and swim-ups. Let's make these magical times in the life of our Beavers.

The Beaver Leader's Handbook describes basic ceremonies starting with the opening ceremony. Be sure your Beavers understand that they are bringing Big Brown Beaver up from the pond to share in their meeting. Put enthusiasm into it. Permit them to be loud and let off steam. Use Beaver names and lingo.

If you feed the Beaver at this time, get your Beavers to 'swim' (using the crawl, back-stroke or breast-stroke) across the pond to feed Big Brown Beaver. Wow! All of a sudden the ceremony will come alive. This may not seem important to leaders, but young adults have told me of the thrill they experienced in my colony as they 'swam' to Big Brown Beaver when they were children.

Don't just start on a high; end that way, too. The closing ceremony could begin loudly, but end quietly and reverently. Put the Beavers back to rest by leaving the pond silently. Some colonies sing Taps or the Beaver Vesper song. (There are several versions; see the sidebar for one.) Other colonies dim the lights while Beavers and leaders leave the meeting together.


(Tune: Oh Christmas Tree(

Softly falls the light of day,
As our campfir burns away.
Has each eager Beaver here,
Learned to work and learned to share?
Helping friends and family dear,
May we always learn to care.
For each other and our world,
Please guide us on, we ask Oh Lord.

Some leaders are concerned about standing in the middle when they lead the opening and closing ceremonies because their backs are turned to some Beavers. Why not stand on the river banks or in the dam instead?


Investiture is an important time in a Beaver's life. Let's go out of our way to make it extra special. Why not have a party?

Begin by inviting mom, dad and other family members. Plan games, stories, songs and activities, and involve everyone in them. You may wish to invite other members of the Scouting family like Cubs, Scouts, Scouters, committee members, commissioners or mascots.

Though the Beaver Leader's Handbook explains the investiture ceremony, use your imagination and add a personal splash of colour. Don't forget the left handshake. (I like to tell Beavers it's our secret handshake.) Give your children a vision for the worldwide Movement by telling them about Scouting youth like them who meet all over the world. Tell them about Baden-Powell. Beavers enjoy the story of B.-P. tracking his teachers and being able to draw with both hands.

Introduce each invested Beaver to the colony with left handshakes. Announce their names loudly and clearly so each child receives special recognition. Take lots of photographs.

Present small tokens of their Scouting involvement: a welcoming certificate, group/district/regional crests, campfire blanket crests or handmade gifts. Why not combine special effects in the investiture? Try campfires, candles, sparklers. Hold it outside in a park, beside a pond or stream, or even at a real beaver dam.

Everyone loves a party -- especially Beavers. End your investiture with cake or cupcakes. Ask a creative parent to prepare a cake decorated with a Beaver.

Celebrate Growth

Every colony presents Beavers with tails to wear on their hats. Beavers understand that these tails show their age group; they also know that they get a new one each year. Do they realize the tails show that they're growing socially, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually?

Leaders should celebrate growth! Draw your Beavers' attention to it. A tail celebration shouldn't be just another meeting. Express your excitement. This is another time for a party with cupcakes and a drink. Tint the icing with the tail colours. Plan a special tail celebration when White Tails get their tails too.

Let Beavers cut out the new tails and sew them on by themselves. (Don't pass out the tails for parents to sew on at home.) The finished product won't be perfect, but why does it have to be? Praise the Beaver's efforts and help only when needed.

Some colonies make a miniature, symbolic vest and attach the old tails. Then when the Beaver swims up to Cubs, the vest is presented as a going-away gift.

This brings us to binal (and for some) the most imprtant Beaver ceremony -- swim-up.


This joint ceremony must be planned with Cub pack leaders. It's too important an occasion to leave off the planning until you get to your meeting place. Organize a full one- to two-hour program with a gathering activity, openings, games, stories, activities, the swim-up and the closing. Remember: special meetings don't come together in a few minutes. They take time. Plan them in advance so members of the leadership team understand and fulfil their tasks and roles.

During the ceremony itself, make the White Tails feel important. Say each name loudly and clearly, and have the Beaver say good-bye to the others in the colony. Explain that they are going on to new adventures. Have Keeo introduce each Tenderpad to Akela and the other Cubs.

We can do many things to make the ceremony memorable. The Magical Light could be a strobe light, a flood lamp, a juggler with flaming batons, or a magically lit campfire.

Indoors, the Beavers might cross a blue paper/plastic pond or a wading pool. They might emerge from a lodge made from a small dome tent covered with branches. Outside, Tenderpads could cross a pond in a canoe or wade a small stream. Finish with a campfire, barbecue or wiener roast.

I Remember!

With just a little extra work, leaders can make meetings more special through creative ceremonies. Spend the time. Years from now a young adult, formerly of your colony, will express appreciation as she remembers the fun and relives the exciting memories.

Leslie Forward is an active Beaver leader from Newfoundland, who servies on the National Program Committee (Beavers)

"Reproduced with permission of the Leader magazine and the author."

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