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The Tradition
Texana Campfire

Lake Texana Campout Ceremony
Pack 1020, March 27, 2004

(2004March27 Gordon G. Start from several sources)

The History
The taking of ashes from one campfire to another is a ceremony done by Scouts (Boy and Girl) all around the world. Legend has it that Lord Baden-Powell would always take a small amount of cool ashes from the night’s campfire and spread them into the next campfire as part of it's opening. This tradition began during his days in the British Army. He did this until his death on January 8th, 1941. Its purpose, he said, was to bring all Scouts and Scouters the history and international aspect of the world brotherhood of scouting.
Some feel that the ashes themselves contain the essence of the Scout spirit they felt as the campfires' brilliant flames turned to glowing embers. Other Scouts and Scouters would place the end of their staves in the fire's embers to hold on to the spirit felt there and help them remember the event.
Thus, ashes taken from a campfire and sprinkled into the flames of the next could have a written pedigree through Scout spirit and brotherhood. As Scouts and Scouting travel, the ashes circle the globe, thus binding the brotherhood together.
It is traditional that those present at the campfire ceremony may carry away those ashes, when stirred and cooled, to the next fire. If, by chance, more than one Scout or Scouter brings ashes to the same campfire, the pedigree lists are pooled, with all dates and places recorded and passed on. In many places, all those who wish to participate or carry away ashes must each bring a small stick, pinecone or acorn for the fire.
A charge should be included in the ceremony when these old ashes are sprinkled into the new flames of a fire. Any ceremony or charge can be used. If you wish to use any of these provided, just add the ashes at the pause in each charge.

The Ceremony
It all started in 1907, next to a campfire like this one, only near the ocean rather than a lake, where the sea could be heard breaking on two shores of sand, and where the Night Hawks where doing their night calls among a grove of pines and firs. The 21 boys who listened to yarns of war sat on the hard red clay, and looked off into a couple of boggy ponds to see if they could actually see the enemy in the overgrown rushes, so realistic were those stories.
The man telling the stories about his adventurers on the front lines was wearing a plain flannel shirt and tie, with a long white streamer hanging from his left shoulder seam. His unpopular shorts were long, hanging almost to his stockings and his Tribly cap looked like it had been in his pocket at some point during the day. The boy’s clothes were almost the same, but they wore a shoulder knot of yellow, red, green or blue and a donkey-style hat that was held up in the front with a makeshift fleur-de-lys badge.
(Pause and hold up the ashes.) Yes, that’s when these ashes started, at Brownsea Island, where Lord Baden-Powell tried his experimental Boy Scout Camp over 94 years ago. The ashes I spread into this campfire carry memories of past campfires dating back to 1907 and actually contain microscopic particles from that very fire.

I have two pedigree lines to join today. If there are any others with ashes, let all those come forward to join me.
(Pause as those come forward with other ashes.)

The pedigree of these ashes entered the United States in 1933. Since then, lines of the pedigree extend around the world from over 50 countries and 41 U.S. States. The lines of pedigree extend to over 50 Jamborees, 230 Woodbadges, and 50 Order of the Arrow ceremonial fires. The pedigree contains ash from three scout camps destroyed by Mount St. Helen’s Volcano and soil from Baden-Powell’s grave. Lady Baden-Powell lit at least two of the fires remembered in these pedigrees. Small events are also represented in numerous training courses, Boy and Girl Scout campouts, and outings.
(If others have brought ashes to share, let them give a few words about the pedigree.)

(Pour the ashes into the fire.) May the joining of these ashes with the roaring flames represent the unbroken chain that binds Scouts and Guides around the world with Greetings from Scouts of All Nations. Please continue the tradition. Also, at any Pack 1020 campfire, we welcome any additions to the ashes. Anyone here participating in this campfire is free to take a sample of the ashes. Let us carry our friendships in these ashes from other campfires with comrades in other lands. May the joining of the past fires with the leaping flames of this campfire, symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds scouts of all nations together with greetings from our brothers and sisters around the world, I add these ashes, and the fellowship therein, to our campfire.

Let me know and I will be able to provide the pedigree to you, detailing the campfires the spirit of these ashes have visited.

Anyone taking ash away today is reminded of the significance of the Flag Retirement. If at some time, you wish to dispose of the ashes, please take some time to give the same respect for the ashes, as we will with this fire today. Bury the ashes in an area not likely to be disturbed, and pause to reflect on today’s ceremony.

This charge is rumored to be written by B-P himself.

“We carry our friendship with us in these ashes from other campfires with comrades in other lands. May the joining of the dead fires with the leaping flames symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Scouts and guides around the world.” . . . “With greetings from Scouts of all nations everywhere.”


(Sources: "Campfire Planning NorthStar 2000"; J. W. Zeszutek, Gateway District Commissioner;
"The Spirit Ash Project",