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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

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Opening a Scout meeting

Opening a meeting isn’t just about the flag. Why not use it to reflect?

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You’ll need

  • Flag(s)

Before you begin

  • Having a way to open a meeting is really important part of its structure. It gives everyone the chance to come together to say hello, put the stresses of the day to one side, and get in the right frame of mind. Routines can also be a really great source of support when people are learning new things.
  • There’s no one right way to do an opening ceremony, as long as it gives everyone a chance to reflect on the come together and say hello. When they do this, opening ceremonies bring people closer together.
  • Lots of groups choose to include ‘flag break’ as part of their opening ceremony. You don’t have to, and it might not be the best fit for your group, but we’ve included some instructions in case you want to give it a go. If you decide to try it, choose the person to raise the flag before everyone gets into a horseshoe shape. Make sure they feel happy and confident before you begin.
  • The best opening ceremonies are usually the ones that listen to young people and what they want their ceremony to look like. Why not get them involved with the design?

Share a thought

  1. The person leading the activity should choose two people to offer a thought for the day. They should give them plenty of notice. It’s up to the people whether they choose something related to the meeting’s theme or not.

Choose different people for each meeting: you could make it random or go down the register. Make sure everyone feels comfortable before you begin.

  1. Everyone should stand in a horseshoe shape.

If you have Patrols, everyone should be in them.

  1. The person leading the activity should welcome everyone and explain the plan for the meeting.
  2. The person leading the activity should ask the two people they spoke to earlier to share their thought for the day.
  3. Everyone should listen carefully, reflect, then applaud the people who shared their ideas.

Flag break

  1. The person leading the activity should make sure the flag is ready to be unfolded and hung – they should check that whoever used the meeting place before them left it correctly folded.
  2. Everyone should stay in the horseshoe shape.
  3. The person leading the activity should call ‘Troop alert’. Everyone should stand up tall and look smart, with their feet together and their hands by their sides.
  4. One person should walk out and around the horseshoe until they reach the flag. They should gently pull the cord to unfurl (unroll) the flag.
  5. They should secure the flag at the top of the flagpole, by securing the cord on the cleat hook using a cleat hitch. They should then return to where they were standing.
  6. The person leading the activity may call ‘Troop at ease’ before they give the first instructions for the evening while everyone’s together and focused.


Opening your meeting in a special way needs everyone to respect and trust others. How did people show respect during the opening? Hopefully everyone stayed quiet while other people were talking, listened carefully, and encouraged others. Was it hard to trust others enough to share personal things like a thought for the day? What makes it easier to trust friends? For example, if they listen carefully, respect your opinion, and try to help.

This activity also reminded everyone that they’re a local, national, and international citizen. Openings like this happen all over the world. Did closing the meeting remind people that they’re part of something bigger – a worldwide movement? Did they remind anyone of their Scout Promise?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

The person chosen to unfurl the flag could also hoist and tie the flag before flag break starts. This can be great chance to practice knots.

Make sure they have the option to say ‘not this week’ if they’re not comfortable sharing a thought for the week or breaking the flag. Work together to make it more manageable for everyone.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.